Darth Vader was finally going to meet the two officers that would be his second and third. They entered his quarters and stood at attention.
Admiral Kendal Ozzel was a middle-aged man with blond hair, a mustache, and blue eyes. Captain Firmus Piett was a few years younger than Vader and had brown hair and brown eyes. He seemed familiar, but Vader knew he had never seen him before.
"Tell me about yourselves."
"I was born into a military family and began my career in the Clone Wars. I briefly served alongside General Kenobi and Skywalker."
Vader nodded then looked at Piett.
"And you, Captain?"
"Traitor-born," Ozzel growled.
If the Sith had any eyebrows left, they would have been raised. Piett looked like he was between blushing and giving the admiral a deadly look. He settled for simply ignoring him.
"I suppose you could say that. My father was a Jedi. However, shortly after I was born my mother asked an old, childhood friend of hers to take me as her own to give me a better life. She agreed, and I was adopted into the Piett family. Once I was old enough, I joined the Academy, and it went on from there."
"I think your mother got rid of you because she was ashamed."
Now Piett was glaring at Ozzel.
"No, she wanted me to have a better life that what could provide for me."
"Enough. Dismissed, except you, Captain," Vader rumbled.
Ozzel left, and Piett looked at his commander, fearing he would be killed for his Jedi blood.
"Do you know what Jedi was your father?"
"Yes, sir. My father was Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn."
Vader stared at him. Now he knew why Piett had seemed familiar.
"Did... did you know him, sir?"
"Yes, but only for a short time. We met a few days before his death."
The younger man's expression saddened.
The Dark Lord softened a little. The captain probably knew little to nothing about his father.
"He was a good Jedi and a great man. He was one of the few Jedi I truly admired, even now. I'm sure he would be proud of your accomplishments."
Piett blushed slightly.
"Thank you, sir."
"Who was your mother?"
Vader felt like what was left of his stomach had just dropped to his feet.
"My birth mother's name was Shmi Skywalker. Yes, sir, Anakin Skywalker was my half brother."
He was stunned. Piett was his half brother!
"Captain, Anakin Skywalker is still your half brother."
He looked at the Sith.
"But, sir, he's dead. You killed him yourself."
This must be so hard for Piett, to serve the man he thought killed the brother he had never known.
"That is what we wanted people to believe, but Anakin Skywalker still lives."
His expression lit up with hope.
"Where is he?"
"He is here."
He grew even more hopeful.
"Aboard the ship?"
"He is before your very eyes."
Vader paused for a moment.
"I am Anakin Skywalker."
Vader gets a surprise and gives Piett a surprise.
Piett stared at him, stunned.
"W-what?" he asked, praying that this was some sick prank.
"I am Anakin Skywalker."
Vader watched his brother step back, body tensed to bolt should he find any kind of reason to do so.
"No. It can't be. You... you killed Anakin!"
He could hear the desperation in Piett's voice, trying to convince himself that his commander was lying.
"Search your feelings, Captain. I am Anakin, your brother."
Piett felt only truth. Dizziness swept through him, the floor rushed to meet him, and all went black.
Vader jumped up when the captain fainted. Swearing, he gently lifted his brother and set him in his chair. He didn't blame the younger man for fainting, he would have done the same in his position.
"Captain. Captain, wake up. Piett. Firmus!"
He blinked awake at his first name and jumped at finding Vader so close.
"I know this is a shock for you, Captain, but what I say is true."
Piett swallowed a couple times before finding his voice.
"I... I know,... Anakin."
"However, that does not mean you may call me by my old name."
"I apologize, my Lord."
Vader stepped back, and Piett stood.
He looked at him.
"Our... our mother. What was she like?"
"Another time, Captain. You're dismissed."
Piett left Vader's quarters, his head spinning. He couldn't believe it. Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker were one and the same. It seemed impossible, but everything in him screamed that it was true. It was hard to process and even harder to accept. The man he had spent the last twenty years believe to be his brother's killer had turned out to be his brother. So many questions burned in his mind.
Why the deception? Why the suit? Why the change?
The destruction of the Jedi was considered to be Vader's greatest conquest. Now that Piett knew that he was Anakin, the destruction of the Jedi now made even less sense than before. Even despite the revelation that they were brothers, he didn't dare to actually ask Vader any of these questions.
The days passed with little to no contact to between the brothers. Then, one evening, Piett was just leaving the bridge for the night when a young Ensign approached.
"Captain, sir," he said, saluting.
He looked at the young man.
"Sir, Lord Vader had requested your presence in his training room."
"Very well. Dismissed."
When he entered Vader's training room he stopped and stared. Vader was battling one of his training droids. Upon sensing Piett he shut down the droid and looked at him.
"You, uh, wanted to see me, sir?"
"Yes. I have something for you."
The captain blinked in surprise.
He followed the Dark Lord over to a cabinet of lightsabers. Vader opened it, took out one of the hilts, closed the cabinet, and held the weapon out to Piett. His brother hesitated, looking from the lightsaber to him.
"It was Qui-Gon's, so it's only right that you have it."
Piett slowly took it with a trembling hand. It was his father's!
"You are strong in the Force. I can teach you to use a lightsaber and the Force."
The captain activated the lightsaber and gave it a few test swings, admiring the emerald blade.
"I'd like that."
So Vader began training Piett. He proved to be a quick learner. Once he had the hang of his lightsaber they made a band to attach it to Piett's right arm. His sleeve was just loose enough to keep the weapon hidden, and he began carrying his lightsaber everywhere.
One day Piett was on the bridge not far from Ozzel. Suddenly, the Force cried a warning, and he saw the image of Ozzel dead. Turning, he saw an Ensign raising a hand as if to touch the admiral's shoulder, but Piett knew better. His lightsaber burst to life before he had even processed calling it to his hand. All eyes were on him, though he didn't notice as he swung at the Ensign. The young man screamed as his hand was severed and fell to the floor, still clutching his knife.
Piett kept his saber pointed at the Ensign's throat.
"Explain yourself," he ordered.
The man glared at him and spat in his face.
"Drop dead, Imp," he growled.
Never moving his blade, he wiped his face off.
"So you're a Rebel."
He turned to some nearby storm troopers.
"Take him to the detention center while I tell Lord Vader."
Piett deactivated his lightsaber as they left the Rebel away and headed for Vader's quarters. After interrogating the Rebel, Vader had everyone swear not to tell anyone off the Executor about Piett's lightsaber, fearing it would catch the attention of the Emperor.
Weeks later, word came that Piett's adopted parents had died in a speeder crash. Vader gave him three months of personal leave, knowing such things as funeral preparations and transferring belongs to his name and any adopted siblings took time..
After the funeral he headed for the wild planet of Dagobah due to urgings from the Force and a dream of his father telling him to go there. Not long after he arrived on the swampy planet he encountered one of the smallest beings he had ever seen.
"Come here many humans do not. Why here are you?"
Piett couldn't help but smile.
"Mainly because of a dream, a dream of my father."
"Oh. Your father. Who is your father?"
"Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn."
The creature's ears twitched as he wasn't sure what he just heard.
"In my dream he told me to come here for more training, I don't know how to do that when there's no one here to train me."
"Yoda. Send you he did to Yoda."
Piett blinked. Master Yoda had been a legend.
"Do you know where I can find him?"
"Yes. Take you I will, but first eat you must. To my home we go. Come, come."
The captain sighed but followed. After a while he noticed that his companion was tiring. He gently lifted him onto his back and followed directions to a small hut. He soon found himself sitting in the hut, which was hardly tall enough for him to sit up straight in, with a bowl of some sort of stew.
"Why wish to become Jedi to do you?"
"Well, I don't. I just want to be able to understand and use the Force."
The creature's face became serious.
"Train this one I cannot."
Piett looked at him, surprised by the sudden change.
"Just because he doesn't want to be a Jedi doesn't mean you cannot train him," said a calm, deep voice, one he recognized from his dream, his father's voice.
Realization dawned upon the Imperial.
"Much fear and conflict in him. Too exposed to the Darkside."
Piett was about to reply when his father's voice cut him off.
"He is strong and has a good heart."
Yoda gave a firm 'humph'.
"Much faith you have in him."
"And why not? He is my son."
"Hmm. Even so, much anger in him there is, like his brother."
Piett finally spoke.
"I'm not leaving until I learn something."
"Hmph! Your son he is indeed. Your defiance he has, Qui-Gon."
"Very well. Trained he shall be."
"Thank you, Master Yoda. I won't let you down."
Green eyes locked with brown.
"See we will. See we will."
And so Jedi and Imperial meet, and Piett begins to further his training.
Piett was used to early wake-ups and woke even before Yoda had. Not one to just sit by, the captain crawled out of his lean-to and began doing stretches. Vader had taught him many warm-ups, which he set about doing.
Yoda exited his hut to see his new student engaged in warm-ups. He could practically see the Force flowing through him, and there was no doubt in his mind that this man was indeed Qui-Gon's son. He was so like the late maverick.
"Strong you already are."
Startled, Piett ended his handstand warm-up in a graceless face-plant in the mud. He sat up and shook his head to rid himself of the mud.
"Startle you did I?" Yoda chuckled.
"Yes, Master. I'm still not used to sensing the presence of others."
The ancient Jedi nodded.
"Used to Vader's breathing you are."
The Imperial nodded.
Training was demanding, yet Piett met each demand with determination. He grew stronger and was exceeding even Yoda's expectations.
After he left to return to the Executor, Yoda sat in his hut, thinking over the past few months.
Piett landed his personal shuttle at a small spaceport. He still wore his civilian clothes, which he had worn on Dagobah. He headed into the restaurant and went to order. Just as he sat down to eat, a powerful presence of the Force hit him. He looked up and was drawn to a blond young man with sky blue eyes who sat with a brown haired, brown eyed man.
"Hands up!" bellowed a voice, breaking off his study.
He turned to see a group of men, made of up of one human, two Twi'leks, one Gungan, and one Rodian. Each held two blasters.
"Hand over all your valuables, now!" the human barked.
Piett scowled, brushing his now long bangs from his face. Someone needed to teach them a lesson, and apparently the young man shared his sentiment.
"What if we don't want to?"
"Luke!" his companion hissed.
Luke ignored him.
The Gungan and Rodian moved towards the young man, their postures threatening.
"You're a fool, boy," the Rodian said.
Piett sprang into action, and Luke's eyes went wide at the sight of the lightsaber in his hand.
"Jedi! Kill him!"
The captain deflected the blaster bolts and cut down the Rodian and Gungan. He let the Force flow through him, knowing if he left one thug alive, they would take a hostage or even kill someone. He Force Pushed the human into the wall as the two Twi-leks made a suicidal charge at him.
"Jedi scum!" one snarled.
He dispatched them with ease, though still disturbed by the kills, and then ran the human through. He deactivated his lightsaber, called the bag of his meal to his hand, and hurried out to his ship before anyone could try to talk to him.
Piett turned to see the two young men.
"You're a Jedi?" Luke asked.
The boy pulsed strongly in the Force, much like Vader.
"Please. I'm Luke Skywalker."
Piett nearly choked on the piece of food he had just put in his mouth to give himself an excuse not to answer Luke's question. He spat it out and whirled.
"Did you say Skywalker?"
"Any relation to Anakin Skywalker?"
"He's my father."
The captain flung himself into the cockpit.
"Look, boy, it's best if you left me alone."
With that he took off, thousands of questions whirling in his mind. Once he landed aboard the Executor, he exited his ship, ignoring salutes and greetings of his men, who recognized him despite his clothes and longer hair. He went straight to Vader's quarters.
"What?" Vader demanded.
He looked his younger brother up and down, amused by his disheveled appearance.
"Luke Skywalker. Your son," Piett said.
He sensed his brother's shock.
The captain nodded.
"I met him."
He relayed the story. Once he finished, Vader said nothing for a moment.
"You were foolish to use your powers and lightsaber out in the open."
"Really? You just found out about your son, and that's what you're going to focus on?"
Vader sat in his chair.
"I thought he died with his mother."
"Well he didn't, and he knows something about your old life. He was interested in knowing if I was a Jedi, so he at least knows you used to be one."
"My old Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, started his training before I killed him on the Death Star."
"You killed your- I'll never understand how your mind works, though at the moment I could care less."
The Dark Lord was a little surprised at how bold his sibling was being but didn't bother to try to talk him out of his boldness. He was his father's son, so he couldn't really expect anything else from the younger man.
"Are you finished, little brother?" he asked somewhat teasingly.
Piett snorted irritably but stalked off to clean up.
Vader smiled to himself. The stubbornness of Qui-Gon and the determination of Shmi was a dangerous mix. Piett now had no qualms about telling his elder sibling off. Of course he would never actually harm the captain, but Piett didn't know that.
Later the brothers were sparing.
"You've furthered your training. Impressive."
The younger of the Skywalker brothers answered with only a powerful blow that surprised Vader with the sheer strength of it.
"You've been trained."
"So what if I have? No Jedi is a threat when they're too old to fight."
Vader decided to let it drop for now. If Piett felt the Jedi was a threat he would say so. He was still an Imperial.
The captain executed a back flip, avoiding the crimson blade that swung towards his stomach. Upon landing he leaped high into the air, came down behind Vader, and stabbed at his back. Vader moved to block, but Piett adjusted his angle in mid stab. The Dark Lord found himself staring at the tip of the emerald blade as it rested just over his shoulder, alongside his neck. Had it been a real fight Piett would have killed him with such a move.
"I believe I have won this round," Piett said.
Their blades deactivated at the same time.
"It takes a highly trained eye and homed reflexes to pull off such a move. Most impressive."
The captain returned the hilt to the band on his arm.
"Well, I've had practice."
He left the training room to take his shift on the bridge.
Vader stayed behind, thinking. His brother had grown very powerful, and if he was not careful, he would catch the eye of the Emperor. That had to be avoided at all costs.
Uncle and nephew meet at last, but only Piett knows of their relation.
After the Battle of Hoth, despite his sudden promotion, Piett had the premonition of Luke going to Dagobah.
"I know where Luke is, or at least where he's going."
Vader looked at him.
"To train. I can meet him there. You know he won't go within a mile of you or this ship."
The Dark Lord nodded.
Piett changed into his civilian clothes and took his ship to Dagobah. He arrived in the rain to find Luke inside Yoda's hut.
"You're that Jedi from the diner," Luke said.
He sat down, bowing his head to his Master, before replying.
"More or less. Name's Firmus, Firmus Piett."
"Luke, but I told you that before."
Piett nodded, smiling slightly.
"So what brings you here, Luke?"
"Would you believe me if I said a ghost?"
He thought for a moment then smiled.
"A dream of my long dead father brought me here, so yes I would."
"So,... what do you know about my father?"
"Not as much as I would like to, I'm afraid."
The Rebel looked at him.
"What do you mean?"
Brown eyes met sky blue ones.
"Anakin Skywalker is my half-brother."
Luke stared at him, wide eyed and opened mouthed, in shock.
"Anakin Skywalker is my half-brother. We have the same mother, Shmi."
Piett then said nothing else, letting the news and shock sink in.
"So... you're my uncle?" the young man asked after a few minutes.
The admiral nodded.
"So, if you're my uncle, why do you have a different last name?"
"Well, your father had already left Tatooine by the time I was born, he and my own father never knew about me. After I was born your grandmother asked a visiting friend of hers to take me with her so I could have a better life than what my mother could have given me. So she took me, and I was adopted into the Piett family. I was told the truth when I was fifteen, and by then it was too late to meet my mother or Anakin."
Luke nodded in understanding.
The next morning, Luke went outside to wait for his training to start to see Piett doing warm-ups.
"Not bad," he called.
Piett smiled and flipped from his one-handed handstand to his feet. Luke's eyes widened in surprise and admiration.
"Wow. I'm impressed."
His uncle chuckled.
"Don't worry, you'll be able to do that too someday, most likely very soon."
"I hope this training doesn't take too long."
Piett walked over to the young man.
"Why are you interested in being a Jedi, Luke?"
"Mostly because of my father. I want to be like him."
Which side of him? Piett thought dryly.
"Also, if I become a Jedi I'll be able to avenge my father."
Piett stared at his nephew.
"What do you mean by 'avenge'?"
Luke's eyes hardened.
The admiral swallowed quietly. That was what he had been afraid of.
"I see. Luke."
"Yeah, Uncle Firmus?"
He paused to allow a small smile. Luke had been rather accepting of him as his uncle.
"Do you honestly think that a few months of training will be enough for you to defeat Vader, who is not only much older but also much stronger and far more experienced that you?"
His nephew was silent, thinking that over.
"Vader's killed fully trained Jedi Masters, Jedi who have trained their entire lives. A few months, even a few years, won't be enough for you to beat him, he has nearly forty years of experience."
The young Jedi-in-training scowled.
"I don't have any other choice, Uncle."
"I know, but-"
Luke cut him off.
"And why are you trying to talk me out of this? It's almost like your defending him or something. I would have thought you'd want him dead just as much as I do."
"Luke, that's not the point. My point is; do you really expect to stand a chance against him when he has the advantages of strength, power, control, and experience?"
The young Skywalker frowned.
"It's only chance I've got, so I guess we'll find out, won't we?" he asked snappily.
"All right, fine. You've made up your mind, and I can see there's no convincing you otherwise."
Just like your stubborn as a bantha father, he though wryly.
The weeks passed as they trained, and both Luke and Piett grew stronger. Piett often assisted in the early lessons since he had already had them. Finally, Yoda brought them to a cave.
"I feel cold. What is this place?"
"Into the cave you must go, Luke. Your weapons leave. Need them you will not."
Luke looked at their Master as if he had grown another head and walked into the cave with his weapons. Yoda sighed softly, and Piett sat down next to him.
"What's in the cave, Master?"
"Strong in the Darkside the cave is. Show younger Skywalker his own Darkside it will. A test it is."
They sat in silence for a few moments, or as silent as it could get on Dagobah.
"Will you send me in there as well?"
Yoda shook his head and looked at his older student.
"No. Face the Darkside everyday you do. In tuned to Vader's darkness you are. Connect you to it your link with him does."
He gave his teacher a confused look.
"I don't understand."
"When angry Vader is, when using the Darkside, feel it do you?"
Piett thought for a moment.
"I feel... something."
"Feel what do you?"
He paused to think of how to describe what he would feel.
"I feel... cold and... almost... hollow."
"Powerful the Darkside is, but leaves one empty and broken it does."
The ancient Jedi then sighed, his ears drooping a little.
"What is it?"
"Failed the cave's trial young Skywalker has."
Piett sighed softly as Luke emerged.
Days later, Luke had a vision of his friends in danger. After much arguing, Luke left to go after them with Piett following. They landed atCloudCityon Bespin. Once inside, Piett felt the presence of his brother. He sent a mental nudge across their bond.
/Welcome back./ came Vader's mental voice.
/Luke is with me./
There was pause.
/Bring him to me. I am in the carbon freezing chamber./
/I'll see you soon./
"Luke, this way."
Knowing that Piett was older, wiser, and further in his training that he was, Luke followed his uncle down to the carbon freezing chamber. The lights turned on, revealing the hulking figure of Darth Vader.
"The Force is with you, young Skywalker, but you are not a Jedi yet," the metallic bass rumbled loudly, echoing slightly in the chamber.
Luke calmly walked towards him and activated his lightsaber. Vader's own red blade hummed into existence. Behind him, heard Piett activated his own weapon and smirked. His uncle would help him defeat this monster.
"Put it away, Luke."
His smirk vanished, and, without thinking, he turned to face his uncle.
"Put it away," Piett repeated, his lightsaber pointed at the young Jedi.
"But how am I supposed to fight him without my lightsaber?"
The admiral shook his head.
"You're not. We don't want to hurt you, Luke. Now put it away."
Luke looked between Vader and Piett, and it clicked.
"You're... you're an Imperial."
Piett sighed and nodded.
"Yes. I'm Admiral Firmus Piett of the Executor, second-in-command to Lord Vader."
"How can you work for him? He killed my father, your brother!"
Now Vader spoke, making Luke jump, having momentarily forgotten that the Sith was still there.
"No, Luke. I am your father."
Dun dun DUN! Eh, you all knew it was coming.
Piett watched his nephew's face fill with shock, horror, disbelief, and denial.
"No. No. It's not true. It's impossible!"
"Search your feelings, Luke, you know it to be true."
Luke's face fell into an expression was of devastation.
"Noooo!" he cried.
The admiral couldn't help but feel sorry for the young man. Luke had told him while on Dagobah that more than anything he had always wanted to know his father, especially after learning that he had been a Jedi. Now the image he had imagined of his father, a heroic Jedi, had just been shattered by the harsh truth that his father was in fact the one Luke had thought to be his murderer, the man he watched kill his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who tortured his friends, and a Sith Lord.
The young man dropped his lightsaber and fell to his knees in tears. Piett deactivated his own lightsaber, knelt beside Luke, and hesitantly put a hand on his back, unsure of how his nephew would react.
"Ben, why didn't you tell me?" he pleaded to his dead mentor through the tears.
The Imperial bit his lip and hesitantly drew the Jedi into a hug. Luke accepted it, falling willingly into his embrace, and crying on his shoulder, his need for comfort outweighing his anger and feelings of betrayal.
Vader watched his brother and son. It was clear that during their time training Luke had come to trust, and quite possibly love, Piett enough for those feelings, or at least his trust, to overcome his negative feelings and allow the older man to comfort and hold him. It seemed that Piett had also inherited Qui-Gon's ability to very quickly earn someone's trust and, on occasions, love.
Once Luke finally got a hold of his raging emotions, he moved back and pushed Piett's arms away, now scowling at his uncle, the hurt and betrayal shining in his eyes. Piett looked away, his heart clenching at the sight of those anguished eyes, eyes that he had come to know to sparkle with mischief, shine with happiness, glow with love, burn with determination, and flame with righteous anger. Eyes that now held betrayal, sadness, hurt, and denial.
"If you come quietly your friends will go free," Vader rumbled.
Luke nodded numbly. Vader picked up the young man's lightsaber, instantly recognizing it as his old one, clipped it to his belt, took out some binders, clasped them on Luke's wrists, and pulled him to his feet.
Piett took his nephew's arm and led him through the palace, following Vader to his waiting shuttle. Once aboard the Executor, Vader turned to his brother.
"He will be your responsibility, Admiral."
"Yes, my Lord," he said, answering as the admiral since they were in the hangar with a few men not too far away.
He led the Jedi to his quarters.
"It's not much, but it's better than the wet ground of Dagobah," he said after closing the door.
Luke said nothing. He didn't even look at him. Piett sighed softly.
"Luke, I'm sorry you had to find out like this. I know that you've always wanted to know your father, especially after learning he was once a hero. I'm sorry that image has been destroyed. I understand."
He finally looked at him, glaring at him.
"Understand?! No one would understand how I feel!"
"No? Did you forget that Anakin and Vader being one and the same makes Vader my brother?"
Luke winced inwardly. He admittedly had forgotten that in the shock and turbulence of emotions.
"I'll admit this to you; you reacted better than I did," Piett said.
His uncle nodded.
He smiled slightly, and Piett chuckled then grew serious again.
"Luke, even though it make seem like it right now, it's not the end of the world. You'll get used to it in time, trust me."
The young man nodded and sighed softly.
The admiral smiled.
"You're welcome. Now, I'll take the binders off, but you cannot, under any circumstance unless it is life or death, leave my quarters. Understand?"
Piett looked him in the eyes, knowing it was impossible to lie while looking someone right in the eyes.
He unlocked the binders.
"All right. You may practice with the Force, but not on or with anything breakable."
Luke nodded, knowing his uncle wouldn't be very happy if he broke something.
"If someone comes use the surveillance to see who it is. If they seem like they might be a threat to you of some kind don't open the door, so in other words; use common sense."
He smiled and nodded again.
"Also when checking visitors, use the Force, it should give you some kind of hint about them and/or their intentions."
"Good. Now I've got to get the bridge. I'll see you later. Lock the door behind me."
Piett left, and Luke locked the door as he had been told. He then sat on the floor and began to meditate. He reached out to the ship. He found a few people with some Force strength but not much. He found and recognized his uncle's signature. Luke soon found another presence, one that was much like his own and a little similar to Piett's, but this one was stronger and much darker. He then realized it was Vader.
Intrigued, he cautiously probed deeper with his father and uncle. They stood out against the framework of the Force, like himself, only more so than he did, practically glowing with its power. Vader was cloaked in darkness, and the darkness also reached for Piett. However, his uncle didn't seem to be bothered by it, and Luke wondered if he even noticed it.
On the bridge, Piett suddenly felt the familiar chill and emptiness that crept across his bond with Vader. He could now truly sense the Darkside. He let it simply flow through him rather than using or fighting it. It was an everyday part of his life, it had been for the past few years. Though he was by no means used to it, he recognized it and let it go through him.
While the Darkside itself no longer really bothered him, he was still bothered by the injuries and killings Vader caused with it. Though he knew that his brother would never willingly harm him, he still wished the Sith didn't find it necessary to kill his own men.
Now that he knew what the chill and emptiness meant, he often would quickly act almost like Vader's conscience, speaking mentally to him, finding out what was happening, why he was angry, why he was trying to killing someone, and then, if he did not agree with the person's death, would attempt to calm his brother and get him to see the rational side. Most of the time it worked, and the death rates aboard the Executor had gone down, much the shock of everyone else. However, there were times when Piett's calming attempts would fail or he would agree with Vader on the unfortunate person's death and not make any attempts to calm his elder sibling.
/What?/ came the snappy reply.
/Who are you trying to kill now?/
/Lieutenant Hunter, and I'm not trying to kill him, I merely giving him a warning./
/Dare I ask for what?/
/He has been late for his shifts for the past week and a half./
/So you're choking him?/
/I'm only giving him a warning./ Vader insisted.
/A verbal warning would do just as good./
/That's not how I like to do things./
Piett just barely managed to keep from rolling his eyes.
/And you wonder why the men are afraid of you./ he sent sarcastically.
Vader sighed mentally, and Piett felt the chill and emptiness leave as Vader released the unfortunate Lieutenant, stopping his use of the Darkside.
/You better be right about a verbal warning working just as well./
/Have a little faith in me, won't you? Just trust me./
Another mental sighed.
Piett then withdrew, ending the conversation.
Vader knew his brother had inherited many things from Qui-Gon, and they were really showing through now that he was further in his training. Piett had his father's stubbornness, which had always been there and shown, his kindness, a rare thing in the Imperial Navy, his humility, which was even rarer, his wisdom, his strength in the Force, and his strength of heart. Like his father before him, the admiral was protective of his loved ones, had no qualms about fighting to keep them safe, was fiercely loyal, was cautious about who he trusted, was courageous, and, in rare moments, a little reckless. Though he would never admit it out loud, the Sith loved his brother and would do almost anything to keep him safe.
It's finally in writing that Vader loves his little brother. We just kinda left Luke alone in Piett's quarters, but we'll get back to him in the next chapter.
Luke came out of mediation when Piett returned with a tray piled high with food.
"Hungry?" his uncle asked.
Luke's stomach answered for him, growling loudly. He blushed as Piett laughed, settled down across from him on the floor as easily at he'd sat on the ground of Dagobah.
"I'll take that as a 'yes'."
The two ate in silence, and for a moment it felt like they were back on Dagobah, eating after training. Luke almost half-expected the little Spiny Bograt that was never far from Yoda to climb up onto Piett's head and beg them both for a piece of their food. His mind drifted to his friends as he hoped they were okay and that that Artoo and reunited with them.
Piett looked up, a little startled, as if he hadn't expected Luke to call him that after what had happened, and Luke felt a twinge of guilt for how he had yelled at the man.
"Can you find out what happened to my friends?"
Piett took a drink before answering.
"I'll ask Vader when he and I spar later."
Luke paused with his fork halfway to his mouth.
The Admiral nodded, smiling at the silly image his nephew currently made with his fork in the air, food still hanging off it, staring at him with wide eyes.
"Don't leave your food hanging there, Luke."
Blushing, the young man went back to eating.
"Yes, your father and I spar when we have the chance."
Luke scowled but didn't protest him calling Vader his father, for which Piett was grateful for.
"I might be able to convince him to let you watch rather than sit in here all day and night. Sometimes we'll fight as a team against his training droids, but sparing with him is better."
"Because he can think for himself and anticipate things, where the droids can't."
"Isn't it dangerous to fight with him?"
Piett ate a little more, thinking on how to word his answer. He decided it would be best just to be honest.
"Yes, but not for the reasons you might think. He's never hurt me on purpose, but it has happened where one of us, usually me, has gotten hurt. However, the worst I've ever gotten was a broken wrist when he hit too hard, miscalculated, and the hilt of his lightsaber hit my left wrist, rather than his blade hitting mine."
Luke winced. He didn't know that Piett was downplaying the injury. Vader's blow had actually shattered the bones in his wrist and hand. It had been a while before he could properly use his left hand again.
They finished the rest of their food, and Piett sent a nudge along his bond with Vader.
/Have time to spar?/
He could sense his brother's pondering as he decided whether or not he either had time or even wanted to spar.
/Yes. I will meet you there./
/Mind if I bring Luke to watch? He doesn't need to just sit in my quarters all the time./
Again came Vader's consideration, and Piett waited patiently. He wasn't going to press the issue if Vader said 'no'.
/See you soon./
"Come on, Luke. You'll be watching us spar."
Luke brightened a little at the idea of watching the fight and getting out of Piett's quarters for a while.
Vader sensed them even before they opened the door. Piett was shielded, but since Vader and Luke was used to his signature, they could sense him. The pair walked in, and Piett motioned Luke over to a bench off to the side. Vader watch his son sit down and wait for them to begin.
"His friends. What became of them?"
He looked at his younger brother, who did not repeat the question but simply waited for an answer with an expectant look on his face that had no doubt come from Shmi. He was well aware that Vader had heard the question and would not repeat it simply to try to save some of the Sith's dignity at being caught not paying enough attention. That was from both Shmi and Qui-Gon, Vader was sure of it.
"Captain Solo is on his way to Jabba the Hutt with Boba Fett. The others escaped with Calrissian."
Luke's relief washed over both his father and uncle. There was still hope then. Han could be rescued by Leia and the others.
"What were you doing in the carbon freezing chamber?" Piett asked, having been confused by the location choice.
"We froze Solo."
Horror and shock slammed into Vader from both Luke and Piett.
"You what?! You carbon froze a person?!"
"Yes," Vader answered.
A piece of metal from an earlier spar with a droid, smacked into his helmet, thrown by Piett's use of the Force.
"What was that for?!"
"You carbon froze a person?!"
"Yes! I already said that!"
Luke could only watch, mystified at the rather odd behavior both men were displaying, particularly Vader.
"Has the mask finally affected your brain?! What were you thinking?! Why would you even attempt such a thing?!"
"That's not the point! You carbon froze a person! Are you insane?!"
Vader's hand shot out, and Luke felt a flash of fear for his uncle's safety.
"Ow!" Piett yelped, clutching his head where Vader had just hit him.
"Are you done yelling at me for something that cannot be changed?"
The younger of the brothers sighed.
"Fine. Lets spar. It's why we're here, not to argue."
Luke just stared, trying to wrap his brain around what had just happened. Vader was notorious for killing his own men when angered, his favored method being the Force Choke. Piett had been outright yelling at him, but all Vader had done was cuff him on the head.
Life was making no sense today.
The brother's argue. Piett resorts to throwing something at big brother's head. Vader resorts to hitting little brother on the head. Luke is just confused. Lets face it, you'd be confused, too.
Luke watched his father and uncle ignite their lightsabers and face each other. The deadly hum did not decrease, which meant neither one had lowered the setting. The blades were lethal.
Vader struck first from the left, but Piett swiftly parried, twisting away to let Vader past rather than try to stand against his brother. Vader turned and blocked Piett's own strike, pushing him back. The Sith wasted no time in pressed the advantage. Piett dodged and parried, backing up continually. He performed a backflip, dodging another attack, kicked off the wall, and sailed over Vader's head, landing behind him.
Luke shifted in his seat, watching eagerly.
Vader spun around to block his brother's next attack, and with that, Piett pushed him into defensive mode. The Admiral made use of his smaller frame, ducking under higher strikes, and proved to be faster than Vader, who was hampered by the weight of his armor and prosthetics. As Vader began using the Force to aid him in speed, Piett slipped into acrobatics, something Vader could not compensate for as easily as he could speed.
Ozone filled the air, the deadly hum of the lightsabers and their clashes rang in their ears. The Force flowed through the two combatants, and Luke was drawn in, unable to look away. A clash of Light and Dark, and for a moment he feared it would turn deadly.
A slip in concentration at a gasp from Luke at a too close for comfort block, a flash of blinding light, the fight stopped.
Vader clamped a hand over his exposed eye to shield it from the bright lights of the training room. Piett's strike had just missed his eye but had destroyed the right lens of his mask. In fact, a good chuck of the mask had been destroyed. He looked at his brother, who wore an expression of utter shock and horror at the fact that had he been any closer he would have carved right into Vader's face.
"I believe you win," the Dark Lord rumbled.
With that, the trio departed, but rather than going back to his quarters, Piett led Luke after Vader and into the Sith's personal rooms. Vader disappeared into his meditation pod, and Piett removed the damaged mask from the machine, putting in one of the replacements Vader kept. Then he removed a tray from a workbench that was filled with parts to create a new mask or repair an old one.
Luke watched as his uncle selected the parts and tools he would need then return to his side, sitting down with the mask in his hand. The young Jedi flinched at the sight that met his eyes when Piett turned the mask over.
"It looks like a torture device."
"No one ever said the Emperor was a merciful man, Luke," Piett said as he began to repair the mask with an ease that said he'd done this before.
His nephew watched him work, seemingly aware of just how important and delicate the mask truly was. He worked with infinite care to repair the damage he had caused, chilled by how close he had come to seriously injuring his brother, possibly even killing him. He had drawn deep into the Force, as had Vader, and for that brief moment, their relationship had ceased. All he had been aware of was the evil presence he was fighting. As he'd made his attack, he had snapped back to himself, remembering that he was sparring with his brother, not fighting to the death with an enemy. It had been close, far too close.
"I could have killed him."
Luke, having grown used to the quiet save for the sound of Piett working, started at his uncle's strained voice.
"Force, Luke, I nearly did kill him. For a moment I just... didn't recognize him. For a moment he was just an evil presence,... not even a person, just..."
"Evil you have to destroy," Luke finished for him.
Piett nodded, and Luke now understood even better why his uncle was white-faced. He knew the accident had rattled the Admiral, but to hear that he had been so drawn in the Force that he no longer recognized his own brother made it all the more horrifying. His uncle had reached so deep that the Darkside had, however briefly, taken hold, and because of it, Piett had almost killed Vader.
He finished the mask and lay it down, allowing himself to shudder at last.
"It was a horrible feeling, cold, dark,... vile. The Darkside. How does he do it? How does he willingly reach for that everyday? I feel sick from what I felt for only a few seconds."
Luke had no answer, and Piett wasn't expecting an answer, at least not from his nephew. He was shaken by what had happened, and he was now more aware than ever the danger of reaching deep into the Force in the presence of a Darkside user.
Vader sat in his meditation chamber, thinking. He had heard his brother's confession. He, too, was rattled by the accident, by close he had come to losing his eye or even his life. He, too, had been deep in the Force, deep in the Darkside, and it had traveled along their bond to his unprepared younger brother. This was something none of the Skywalkers would soon forget.
There may be more screaming matches between Piett and Vader in the future. It was fun to write such a normal thing like two brothers yelling at each other with two brothers that are normally not in such a situation.
An unprepared Piett has his own brush with the Darkside. It seems Vader's use of it may prove to be more of a danger than ever before.
Piett traced the scar along his arm. The culprit was dead, and the thought brought him great satisfaction. A tremor in the Force followed by the door of his room opening announced his brother's presence. He didn't bother to rise from his chair. Vader would say why he was there. There was always a reason they interacted. No more simple talking or meditating together. No, that had all ended the day Luke died.
Vader did not speak, and Piett finally looked up to sneer at his elder sibling.
"What?" he growled.
"I saw the news. The massacre of the royal family of Diran."
Piett arched a brow, uninterested in whatever Vader was trying to say or if his brother was trying to get a reaction out of him.
"It was you."
"So what if it was? I followed the Emperor's orders."
Vader stepped closer, towering over the younger man, who refused to be intimidated any longer by the Dark Lord's great height.
"You slaughtered the children."
"That doesn't matter. I killed yours."
Vader physically flinched at the mention of Luke's grisly murder at the hands of his own uncle.
"Keep your wits about you. One day, you'll end up just like him, brother," Piett spat.
Vader lunged, his control snapping.
Piett shot up in bed with a gasp. He looked around wildly, covered in a cold sweat. He was in his quarters aboard the Executor. He looked beside him in a panic. Luke was snoring softly in the spare bed, safe. The Admiral felt sick. A dream where he had fallen prey to the Emperor and the Darkside. He had murdered Luke and slaughtered a family, threatening to do the same to Vader. Shuddering, he stumbled to the 'fresher, where he promptly threw up, wishing he could expel the nightmare as easily as he had his dinner.
With no desire to return to the land of dreams, he dressed and slipped out, leaving a note for Luke should the young man wake and find him gone. He had no destination in mind, but his feet brought him to Vader's quarters. He stretched out with the Force, alerting his brother to his presence, then went in. He reached the pod and sank down beside it, watching it open to reveal Vader, his mask in place. The sight of the mask brought back the accident as well as the nightmare.
Piett dropped his head to his knees, suddenly unable to look at his older brother. He felt a wave of concern and a mental nudge, followed by Vader's hand on his back.
He opened the bond and sent Vader his memories of the dream, unwilling to speak of it aloud.
Vader felt the echo of his younger brother's horror as he viewed the dream. It was disturbing to see Firmus like that. The idea that he would murder anyone, especially Luke, and be prepared to do the same to him was certainly a disturbing idea.
"How do you do it?" Piett croaked.
"What?" Vader asked, unprepared for the sudden break in silence.
The Admiral lifted haunted eyes to meet his own through the lenses.
"How do you touch it, use it, everyday?"
The Darkside. Piett's brush with it and the resulting accident had clearly rattled him more than Vader had previously thought. It would also explain the nightmare. The first time or so it often brought about bad dreams, but one grew used to immersing themselves in the Darkside of the Force, so such dreams became rare.
Firmus shuddered, rubbing his arms in an attempt to stave off the chill that came not from the temperature but from the memories of today. One would think being near Vader would only make it worse, but at the moment his elder sibling was not using the Force, not reaching for the Darkside, so there was no affect from it. It was silent and dormant within the black, armored giant.
"It made me feel sick. I felt so... cold inside, so... empty. It was like all the warmth and life inside me was gone, even for just a second."
Vader said nothing, knowing that his brother wasn't finished speaking. He didn't press him however. He knew Piett would continue on his own time. Today had shaken them all, the Admiral most of all.
"I didn't feel any of the power I've heard you talk about. I felt.. broken. How do you do it? How do you do it everyday and not break?"
As he gazed into his brother's eyes, Vader found he had no answer for him. Firmus, however, seemed to sense this and dropped his head back onto his knees, growing quiet. For whatever reason, beyond any reason Vader could come up with, being near his brother was a comfort, and the younger of the Skywalker brothers slipped back into the land of dreams, leaning against the side of the Dark Lord's meditation pod.
No more nightmares haunted Piett that night as he slept, the towering shadow-like form of his brother keeping watch as he dreamed of a home and family with those he loved.
Piett had a nightmare and goes to Vader, forcing Vader to realize that when confronted with how he can immerse himself in the Darkside everyday he doesn't have an answer for his shaken brother.
This was ridiculous. They had been arguing circles around each other for three days. It was getting them nowhere, and neither of their tempers were going to take much more before snapping.
"You cannot let this fear control you."
"It's not as easy as snapping my fingers and making it go away!"
"This must not hinder your training."
"Who said I wanted to be trained further after what happened?!"
"I am growing tired of your childish refusal."
"Childish?! How is it childish to not want to train further and risk not being able to recognize the people I care about most and possibly attack or even kill them in a fight, even a friendly spar?!"
"The Force is strong in you. You cannot ignore that."
"Maybe I can't, but that doesn't meant I want to train more and risk the Darkside."
"This defiance and stubbornness is your father's fault."
"It could have just as easily come from Mother."
Both sighed and sat down, back-to-back. For several moments all that was heard was their breathing as their sole witness just waited awkwardly for one of them to do or say something else, having no idea what to say or do himself.
"Because of the Darkside I almost killed you. Even if I grew accustomed to it, is that really the kind of person you want me to be? You always say I'm so much like Father and Mother. Why change that? What if one day I can't regain control of myself in time?"
For a moment, Vader said nothing, and Piett waited, feeling every breath his brother took against his back.
"Being immersed so deeply in the Darkside is rare. I have been, but only against the most powerful of enemies. You would not have to worry about it nearly as much I did as I did it most often against Jedi."
Both brothers spared a quick glance at Luke.
"The Emperor will kill you if he does not believe you to be loyal to the Sith."
"I am loyal to the Empire, but he might kill me anyway just for being Force-strong," Piett countered.
Vader had no response, knowing his brother was right. It would be a huge risk to present Firmus to the Emperor no matter when he did it.
"Treachery is the way of the Sith. You told me that. The Emperor has betrayed both master and apprentice. Even if he accepts me, how long will it be before he tries to replace you with me, or with Luke?"
Luke made a pained, disgusted noise.
"He will not."
"Dooku probably thought the same. He was killed to be replaced with a younger, stronger apprentice. You are just as expendable. Even if the Emperor doesn't turn me against you if I turn to the Darkside, how long until I turn against you on my own? You wish to kill the Emperor, so what's to stop me from wanting to kill you down the road?"
"We are family," Vader said, confident in the bond between him and Firmus.
Piett leaned a little more heavily on Vader, letting the cyborg's strength hold him up.
"I hope that will be enough," he said softly.
The Skywalkers sat in silence. The argument had taken a dark, disturbing turn down a path none really wanted to think about but all had to eventually.
"I know, Firmus. As am I. I know how disturbing it can be the first time, but it has been so long I did not care to think on it. I will not push you towards the Darkside, but I will not give up on your training either."
Firmus sighed softly.
"I know, and you're right. I can't let it stop me from training. I'm not a Jedi, and I'm not a Sith, but maybe one day I'll be faced with one in a real battle. I can't let the Darkside keep me from fighting."
The brothers stood, and Vader motioned for Luke to join them. The Jedi approached and watched as Piett unlocked the binders, handing him his lightsaber.
"All right, Luke. Today, you and I will spar."
Luke nodded. He had since accepted the fact that he wasn't going to escape. Even if he got away from his father and uncle, he had no idea where the hangar bays were on this ship. He still wouldn't be able to find his way back to Piett's quarters from here.
Vader sat down on the bench to watch, curious to see his son's abilities.
Two blades ignited, one green, one blue. Luke and Piett circled each other until Luke make the first strike, coming from the bottom right. Piett jumped over it, striking from above. He immediately pressed his advantage of being stronger and a little heavier than his nephew. He was further in his training, as well, which gave him more experience.
Blow for blow, they clashed again and again as Vader watched with a critical eye. Piett was a bit more refined that Luke, but he had been doing this longer.
Firmus half-spun and kicked out. Luke's teeth clacked together as his uncle's blow connected with his jaw, sending him back. These were moves that were useless against Vader but very effective against his nephew. He wasted no time in exploiting the opening left by his kick and ended the match with the tip of his lightsaber a scant few centimeters from Luke's throat.
They switched off their blades.
"Well fought, Luke."
"That kick caught me off-guard," Luke said, rubbing his jaw.
"That was the point. Be prepared for physical attacks, too.
The young Jedi nodded and reluctantly let Piett clap the binders back on his wrists.
"Impressive, both of you. With more training, your ability and skill will only grow."
"Do I really need these binders? Where am I gonna go?" Luke asked, not sure what to say in response to Vader.
"It's just for traveling between places. The crew can't think you're ever not cuffed for their own safety. If they see you wandering the ship they'll question us, and we need them loyal."
"Okay, I get it. Binders mean crew sanity."
"I guess that's one way to put it."
Another screaming match, and Luke and Piett spar a little.
Something wasn't right. He should be hearing the running footsteps of the officers and troopers around him. The alarms should be deafening him. The shouts of the men should be all around him. Yet there was silence save for his breathing and his pulse pounding in his ears. The running men didn't seem to notice him yet did not hinder him as he walked.
Where was he going? He didn't know, but he knew whatever he was looking for was up ahead.
With each step a feeling of dread filled him, yet he had no idea why. As he walked, he could see something ahead, through the mass of bodies. Someone was kneeling beside a fallen person. The dread increased.
He at last reached them, and the kneeling person looked at him.
Tears ran down Luke's face. He hesitantly reached for the fallen person, somehow knowing they were dead, and dreading what he would see. Turning the person over, he jerked back in surprise. The man had been killed by a lightsaber, judging from the hole scorched through his chest. His eyes traveled up to the dead man's face. Horror and shock filled him.
Crazed laughter rang out.
Vader woke with a start. It took him a moment to realize he was still in his meditation pod.
Not again, he thought.
Every-time he had dreamt of someone's death it had happened. Now he had seen Piett dead, killed by a lightsaber. The laughter at the end of his dream had been the Emperor's. Had his Master killed Firmus, or worse, had he himself murdered his brother in a loss of control?
He reached along their bond, finding the fuzziness of sleep. He withdrew, satisfied. There was no reason to wake his brother when sleep had been hard to come by for him during the past week since the accident. It was becoming clear to the men that their Admiral was not completely well and thus had a shorter temper than usual. While Piett's temper wasn't dangerous, no one aboard the Executor fancied kitchen, laundry, or droid repair duty, or any of the dull, utterly boring tasks he punished them with that made men groan just at the suggestion of them. If he was sleeping well tonight, Vader wouldn't disturb him. He could wait until morning to speak with him about the nightmare.
However, Vader couldn't keep the dream out his mind for very long. Would this one come true like with his mother and Padme? He shuddered at the thought of his brother dying much as Qui-Gon had so long ago. He couldn't let Firmus die, certainly not the same way his father before him had. Obi-Wan had told him years later that Qui-Gon had suffered great agony before he finally died. Lightsaber wounds were painful, he knew this all too well, but he couldn't imagine the agony of being stabbed with one.
Abruptly he realized the path his thoughts had taken. He had been thinking about the past a lot recently, forgetting that he had been trying to separate himself from Anakin, claiming that Anakin no longer existed. A losing battle, and Firmus, and now Luke, had simply been reawakening his past self. For so long he had tried to destroy or at least bury that part of him. He'd lost that fight quite some time ago, it seemed.
A mental nudge from Piett snapped him out of his thoughts.
/What are you doing awake so early?/
Confusion flooded the bond from his brother's end.
/Early? It's 0800./
Vader blinked then looked at the chrono to find that Piett was right. He had been lost in thought for the past three hours.
/Well, I know you are there, so come in./
Piett entered, still looking a little confused at his apparent lack of ability to tell time.
"Are you all right?" he asked worriedly.
"Just a long night. What do you need?"
"The Emperor has ordered you to contact him."
A feeling of dread came over Vader, trickling across his bond with Firmus before he could close it off. The Admiral blinked at the feeling coming from his older brother but, wisely, did not question it, at least at the moment.
"I will do so now."
Piett left, and Vader steeled himself for the conversation to come, tightly shielding his mind to prevent Palpatine from learning about his brother and his power.
"What is thy bidding, my Master?" he asked as he knelt before the hologram of Emperor Palpatine.
"I sense you have secured young Skywalker. Why did you not bring him to me immediately?"
"I am working on gaining his trust so that his turn to the Darkside will be easier to accomplish. Bringing him directly to Coruscant would have only made it more difficult, Master."
Palpatine seemed to consider this then nodded.
"Very well, Lord Vader. However, I expect to be updated on your progress."
The call cut out, and Vader felt a wave of relief. Crisis avoided, at least for now. He went to the training room, dueling with some droids until Piett's shift was over. His brother joined him, this time without Luke. Vader knew he should tell him about his nightmare.
"What's bothering you?" Piett asked as he parried one of the Dark Lord's attacks.
"I had a dream about you."
His younger brother flashed him a smirk.
"Should I be disturbed?" he joked.
"Firmus," Vader said sternly.
His smile faded, and he grew serious.
"You were dead."
Piett stopped fighting.
"You were killed by someone with a lightsaber. Just before I woke up I heard the Emperor laughing."
The Admiral was silent for a few moments, switching off his lightsaber.
"You think the Emperor killed me in your dream?"
"It is possible."
"Well it was just a dream."
Vader said nothing, and Piett frowned.
"You don't think it was just a dream... do you?" he asked.
"I have had such dreams before. I dreamt of our mother dying and later of my wife dying. Both times it came true. This... felt like those dreams."
Firmus swallowed nervously. If what Vader said was true, then it seemed very likely he would die when faced with the Emperor. He had known that would be a very real possibility because of his strength in the Force but to have it confirmed in what seemed to be a premonition from Vader, who had a history of such things, made it all the more real and terrifying.
Vader has a dream, and it seems like Piett's fate hangs in the balance.
The Force flowed through and around him. Luke sat, watching him intently. Piett was focusing, immersed in the Force, spare components of lightsabers and crystals from most of Vader's 'trophies' as well as the Dark Lord's own personal supply were all around him. Only Qui-Gon's weapon was untouched, currently in Luke's hands. At Vader's suggestion, the Admiral was attempting to build his own lightsaber.
The pieces began floating as Firmus slipped deeper into the Force, along with most of the loose items in the training room. Luke briefly grappled with Qui-Gon's blade while ducking a datapad that zoomed over his head and quickly snatched his own weapon from the air. Everything spun around them as if in a tornado, and the young Jedi was forced to scoot much closer to his uncle to avoid getting hit. Pieces being moving to a place between uncle and nephew, arranging themselves to fit together in the form of a lightsaber hilt.
Luke ducked the incoming crystal, absently noting that it was green, much like the one in Qui-Gon's lightsaber. He spotted three balde-protectors as well and watched eagerly, waiting for all the pieces to come together and be merged with the Force into a new blade. The hilt took shape, though they were not completely together yet. It was elegant in design, with no color except for black and silver.
The door hissed opened, and Vader's presence and breathing filled the room. Piett snapped out of his trance, and the unfinished lightsaber fell to the floor, the pieces scattering once they landed.
Piett and Luke stared in dismay then shot annoyed looks at the Dark Lord.
"My apologies," Vader rumbled, apologetic at least.
The younger of the Skywalker brothers sighed and got to his feet, spotting the time on the wall chrono.
"I'll start over later. I have to get to the bridge."
Luke stood, letting his uncle clap the binders onto his wrists. With a nod to his father, he followed Piett back to his quarters and slipped into meditation.
Piett's attempts to build his lightsaber continued to be interrupted until he finally gave up and set the project aside for a later date. The Admiral could not shake the knowledge of Vader's dream nor the lingering feeling of his brush with the Darkside weeks earlier. It still bothered him. While he had no problem slipping into the Force, he did not reach deep into when Vader was immersed in the Darkside, fearing another loss of control. He sought answers in the Force and was granted with visions of Dagobah. He knew what he needed to do.
Vader sensed his brother even before the younger man entered his quarters.
"I need to go. The Jedi Master holds the answers I need for this issue with the Darkside I've had since the accident."
The Dark Lord considered for a few moments the nodded.
"Let me take Luke. He'll be safer with me than here."
Again Vader agreed, knowing his younger brother was right, and soon Piett and Luke were making the jump into hyperspace for Dagobah.
"Do you really think Master Yoda can help you, Uncle Firmus?"
"I'm not going for Master Yoda, I'm going for the cave."
Luke blinked in confusion.
"I thought Master Yoda said-"
"Master Yoda was wrong, Luke. The visions I've had all lead to the cave. Feeling the Darkside through my bond with Vader isn't the same as facing my own Darkside, which is what I need to do."
The young Jedi grinned.
"Master Yoda won't like that you said he was wrong," he teased.
"Eh, he'll just have to get over it, won't he?" Piett said with a smile.
Dagobah had a strange feeling of 'home' to them when they exited the shuttle. They hurried to Yoda's hut, eager to see their Master.
"Master Yoda! Master Yoda, we're back!" Luke called.
Piett opened the door, sticking his head inside.
He stepped back, closing the door.
"Where could he be?"
"I don't know, Luke."
They reached out with the Force, and at last, a familiar presence made itself know. Yoda dropped down from a nearby tree.
"Hmm. Sensed for me first you should have, Padawans."
"Yes, Master," they said, taking the reprimand.
He eyed his students.
"Changed you both are. Stronger you have become."
"Master Yoda, I need to face the cave as Luke did. I must face my own Darkside."
The ancient Master studied Piett for a moment then nodded.
"Ready before you were not. Recognize the Darkside you did not. Recognize it now you do. Face the cave you will."
"Thank you, Master."
Yoda shuffled towards his hut.
"But first eat you must. rest. To the cave we will go tomorrow."
He smiled at the twin groans from his students.
"Well, at least that hasn't changed," Luke said.
"Guess I'd be worried if it had."
They obediently followed him into the hut. They ate then returned to the shuttle for the night.
Piett turned on his bunk to face his nephew.
"What do you think you'll see in the cave?"
The Admiral was silent.
"I'm not sure. I'll find out when I go in."
The run through the swamp to the cave was tiring yet reminded them of all their training exercises.
"Into the cave you may. Need your weapons you will not."
Piett hesitated for a moment then handed Luke his lightsaber and blaster. Taking a deep breath, he entered the cave.
What will Piett see? Tell me what you think in the comments.
Chapter 12: Firmus' Darkside
Piett faces his own Darkside. Time to find out just what he'll see.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The cave was dark and dank. Piett slowly made his way deeper in, shivering slightly.
You must choose.
He whipped around, seeking the source of the voice. There was no one.
Of course there's no one, you dolt. Besides you, Yoda and Luke are the only ones capable of speech, and they're waiting outside for you, he thought angrily to himself.
He pushed through a thick patch of vines to come into a large cavern.
You must choose.
There was that voice again. A shiver ran down his spine, this one not born of cold. He nearly jumped right out of his boots at the familiar snap-hiss of a lightsaber igniting. His eyes widened as a green lightsaber lit the gloom, wielded by...
"Father?" he choked.
Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn stood tall, his blue eyes hard, scanning the darkness. Suddenly a blade as red as Vader's, followed by a second, burst into existence. A red and black Zabrak descended upon the Jedi. The two began battling fiercely. With a jolt, Piett suddenly realized who this was. Vader had told him of Qui-Gon and the Sith responsible for the maverick's death. This was Darth Maul.
As they battled, however, Darth Maul began to change, his dual lightsabers becoming only one blade. He grew taller, his robes changing, and a sound that sent a bolt of shock and horror through Piett with it's familiarity filled the cavern. Darth Maul had shifted into Darth Vader. The two continued to fight, Qui-Gon using his agility to outmaneuver the stronger Dark Lord rather than meeting him head-on.
You must choose.
The voice was clearer now than before. In fact, there were actually two voices. They were male voices, one a bass, the other a tenor.
"Choose? Choose what?" he asked aloud.
Two figures materialized before him, and Piett quickly recognized the late Count Tyln Dooku, but the other took him a moment. He stared until he realized he was looking at an aged Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi.
"You must choose your allegiance in the Force," Dooku said.
Obi-Wan nodded to the fighting forms of Qui-Gon and Vader.
"Your father and your brother, the Light and the Dark. Each followed a different path. Each made a different choice."
Piett watched the fighters for a few moments.
"You are your father's legacy, and you may also be seen as your brother's as well. They both have laid out a path before you. Even if you do not choose one now, there will come a time when you will have no choice but to choose one or the other," Obi-Wan continued.
"I have to choose between the Lightside and the Darkside?"
The two spirits nodded.
"That's an easy one. The Darkside made me feel sick and empty. I don't want to be like that for the rest of my life."
"That's how Vader felt after surrendering to the Darkside when your mother died."
Piett jumped at Qui-Gon's sudden entry into the rather strange conversation. He looked to see his father's spirit had joined them, and the image of Vader was gone.
"The Darkside is as seductive as it is vile."
Dooku voice was laced with regret, and the Admiral felt a wave of pity for the fallen Jedi. The Count had probably spent the last two decades lamenting his crimes and all that had come about from his hand in not only creating the Empire but bringing about Vader's fall to the Darkside. As if aware of this, the old man gave Firmus a sad smile.
"Do not pity the dead, boy. Pity those who live without regret, for the weight of their chains in the afterlife will be greater than those who acknowledge their regrets."
Suddenly, chains appeared upon the fallen Jedi, and Piett took a startled step back, his eyes wide.
"See the chains of my choices and my crimes. My burden was lessened by my regrets in life, but still they are heavy, numerous, and long. Such chains will bind the soul of Darth Vader when he passes, and they will surpass my own. Beware, young one, that you are careful with your choices and aware of your regrets that judgement may not be so harsh upon you."
The Count faded away, leaving him with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.
"Remember, son of my Master, even with good intentions, the Darkside of the Force will twist and warp you into a being of hatred."
Obi-Wan faded away as well, and Piett faced his father.
"I thought the cave would show me my own Darkside."
Qui-Gon smiled gently at his son.
"This is your Darkside, Firmus. You fear the price of the Darkside yet still you are truly undecided about what to choose. You are revolted by the Dark yet your love for Vader pulls you close to it everyday. You see some of the real him, despite his use of the Darkside. This is affecting your decision. Your Darkside is you indecision and your fear of being pushed one way or the other before you can choose for yourself."
The Admiral swallowed and nodded in understanding. He felt like he was balancing on a knife edge between the Light and Dark.
"You have come far, Firmus, but your journey is not yet over. Be mindful of everything around you. Do not let the future distract you from the present, or your choice may be made for you."
Qui-Gon began to fade as had Dooku and Obi-Wan.
"Not matter what you choose, or what is chosen for you, I will watch over you, my son," Qui-Gon said as he faded completely.
Firmus stared at the place where his father had disappeared then slowly turned and left the cave. Yoda and Luke were waiting for him, or rather, Yoda was waiting and Luke was asleep. The ancient Master gazed up at his older student and smiled, nodding in approval.
Piett had passed the test of the cave in discovering and facing his Darkside. He knew he had to make a choice soon. Would he choose the path of his father or of his brother? Would he choose at all or would his path be chosen for him, be it by Vader, the Emperor, Yoda, or even Luke? He had no idea. As Yoda had said to them once before, the future was clouded. Only time would tell, and Piett just hoped that when the time came he would make the right decision.
Piett's Darkside is his indecision. We get an appearance from Obi-Wan, Dooku, and, briefly, Maul.
Piett meditated, or tried to. Luke was nearby practicing with a little remote droid. He didn't really need it, but Piett suspected that his nephew was doing it to try to keep from being bored. The Admiral was just slipping into meditation when Luke yelped and a 'thud' announced that he had fallen over.
"Ben! Don't do that!" Luke snapped.
Firmus's eyes snapped open, and he looked to see the ghostly figure of Obi-Wan standing over a waylaid Luke. The Jedi chuckled.
"You were not being mindful of Force, Luke. That is the only reason I was able to sneak up on you like that."
The young man picked himself up out of the mud as Piett stood up.
"Okay. Okay. Lesson learned."
At his uncle's snort, Luke slung a glob of mud at him, nailing him in the face.
"What brings you here, Master Kenobi?" Piett asked as he wiped off his face.
"You cannot stay on Dagobah. The final confrontation approaches, and you must be a part of it. Return to the Executor and to Vader, but be wary, things are not all as they seem."
Obi-Wan faded away, and Luke and Piett exchanged looked.
"Think he means the Empire and Rebellion?"
"Possibly, but more likely he means the Lightside and Darkside," Firmus answered.
Bidding Master Yoda farewell, uncle and nephew made their way back to the Executor. Once they landed in the hangar, Piett put the binders back on Luke and led him to his quarters. Both felt a mental nudge from Vader, who had been getting along rather well with Luke since the accident, welcoming them back. The Admiral released Luke then headed for the bridge for a report on what had happened during the last few days that he had been gone.
His experience in the cave was always on his mind, not matter what he was doing. He stopped sparring and training, becoming consumed by the knowledge that he carried the burden of having to make such a choice. When Vader and Luke sparred he meditated or simply sat deep in thought. Father and son were growing worried, as nothing seemed to hold his attention except whatever seemed to be plaguing his thoughts. Luke knew it had to be whatever his uncle had seen in the cave. Choosing his words carefully so as not to give away Yoda or the planet of Dagobah, he told Vader about the cave and trial of facing your own Darkside within it.
"He did not tell you what he saw?"
Luke shook his head.
"No. I've asked, but he told me that it's not something I can help him with."
Vader was silent for a moment, then looked back at his son.
"What did you see?"
Luke looked awkward and looked away.
"I saw you... then me in your armor. My Darkside is the fear of losing myself and becoming you, or the you everyone fears, at least."
The Dark Lord did not take offense, to his relief. It was a legitimate fear, and becoming the version of him that the galaxy feared was not good, even he would admit that.
"However, Firmus shouldn't let whatever he saw affect his training and practice," Vader rumbled.
"Well, I haven't had any luck, so it's your turn. Besides, you're closer to him than I am, so maybe you'll have better luck."
The fact that Luke seemed to think that somehow he and Firmus were closer than them was a little surreal to Vader, considering just how close his brother and son were. He had no time to think on it, however, as Piett was entering the training room. Luke nodded towards his uncle, giving his father a pointed look, then turned to spar with one of the droids.
Vader headed over to his brother, who had just slipped into meditation.
"Firmus," he said, giving the Admiral a nudge with his boot.
Piett opened his eyes to scowl up at his older brother, annoyed by the interruption.
"We must speak of your recent lack of training and practice."
Piett gave a frustrated sighed.
"There's more to life than training and practice, you know!" he snapped.
Vader was silent, startled by his brother's sudden drop in mood and attitude. Even Luke glanced at his uncle in surprise, nearly losing his head to the droid he was fighting due to his inattention. He managed to duck in time and ran the droid through.
"I never said that was all you had to do, but recently you have not been doing it at all."
"I have other things on my mind."
"That is no excuse."
Piett shot to his feet, and Vader found himself leaning back to a little to avoid getting the Admiral's finger in the grill of his mask as his brother pointed at him in a moment of role reversal, unknowingly copying Vader's action and stance.
"Don't give me that 'no excuse' bullshit, Vader!"
Luke about fell over in shock and whipped around to gawk at his uncle. Vader felt his own jaw drop, and he couldn't even form a thought, let alone a word.
"My Darkside is my indecision considering what side of the Force I'll ally myself with! I thought I'd chosen after the accident, but apparently I didn't! It doesn't help that I know you'll turn it into not just choosing the Dark or Light but also choosing Sith or Jedi! You, Luke, and even my Jedi Master don't seem to understand that I am not a Sith and I am not a Jedi! Just because I use the Lightside doesn't automatically make me a Jedi! I'm sick of choosing sides! I haven't made a decisive one yet because I know it will be twisted into me having to choose between you and Luke, and that's not what I'm doing! You're both my family, regardless of what side of the Force you use, yet the choice is being shoved down my throat! I don't see why it matters! If you're right about your dream, I'm going to die when we meet the Emperor anyway! I just don't care anymore!"
Firmus stood there, breathing a littler heavier from his rant. Luke and Vader just stared at him, and though he couldn't see Vader's expression, he somehow knew it mirrored Luke's, who looked he had just picked a piece of scrap metal and smacked him in the face with it. Their shock swept over him with the Force, their minds buzzed idly across the bonds he had with them.
"That's what this is about? My dream?" Vader asked, finally finding his voice.
"In part. It's also why it seemed so utterly important that I choose my allegiance in the Force. I'm just one man. I don't see what makes my choice so important."
Luke finally snapped out of his shock and stepped forward.
"Everyone's choice is important. So you're not a Jedi or Sith, we're not making you be either."
He glanced at Vader.
"At least, I'm not."
Vader punched him in the arm.
"I have not pushed you towards the Darkside or the Sith. I stated once that the Emperor would be a problem if you weren't loyal to the Sith. Speaking of which, do not let my dream trouble you so much. You are powerful, and when we are together even the Emperor would not be able to stand against us."
"I feel like I'm balancing on a knife's edge. If I don't choose, the choice will be made for me. It's not a comforting thought."
"Father's right, Uncle Firmus. Nothing can stop us when we work together, or even just the two of you. I sure wouldn't want to be fighting against the two of you."
"Thank you, Luke."
The Admiral sighed again then smiled.
"I guess I can't mope around anymore, can I?"
"No," came the chorused answer of his brother and nephew, making him grin as they looked at each other in surprise.
"Well then, Vader, up for a spar?" he asked, drawing his lightsaber.
Vader drew his own blade.
Luke grinned and sat down on the bench, watching as the brothers began to fight. Piett had not made his choice, but somehow the young Jedi felt more at ease about the future and the final battle that loomed on the horizon. Maybe things would turn out all right after all.
Piett loses his cool, cracking under pressure. The final battle is waiting, will they be ready for it? One swear word, sorry if that offends you.
The Rebellion was getting desperate. They had learned that the Empire was building a second Death Star, and this time, Luke wouldn't be there to destroy it. No one knew what had happened to him. Many wrote him off as dead, but Leia and Han, recently rescued from Jabba the Hutt, held out the hope that their friend still lived. They knew he wasn't captured. There was no way the Empire would keep it quiet that they had captured the one who had destroyed the first Death Star. However, it was a shallow comfort. Not knowing where he was or if he was all right was torture. Still they kept up their hope. Hope was all they had.
Luke was currently asleep, snoring softly. Piett tossed and turned in his own sleep, dreaming of a childhood memory of play wrestling with his adopted father and brothers. Well, he dreamt until he rolled right out bed, hitting the floor with a *thud* and sleepy grunt. He sighed and was flattened when Luke also rolled out bed and landed on top of him.
"Luke!" he snapped, awake now.
"Huh?" came the sleepy reply.
Huffing in irritation, Piett heaved himself up, dumping his nephew onto the floor.
"How do you move so much in your sleep every night? I should make you sleep standing up like Master Yoda threatened a few times."
Luke, too sleepy to think of a response, settled for merely sticking his tongue out at his uncle and climbed back into bed. Piett sighed at his behavior and got back into bed as well. It was rare night of, mostly, peaceful sleep, if one discounted falling out of bed. Nightmares had become frequent for all three of the Skywalkers, Vader in particular, which disturbed his brother, who featured in most of them.
His thoughts latching onto the Dark Lord, Firmus reached along the bond that he shared with his elder brother. He was meet with the fuzziness of sleep and let Vader's own sleepy feeling lull him back into the land of dreams.
Morning came with new orders that made Piett's blood run cold and the Force surge briefly.
"We are to go to the moon of Endor and get the construction of the Death Star II back on schedule," Vader said.
As the Executor went into hyperspace, Piett was filled with turmoil. The Death Star. The only thing that had truly shaken his loyalty to the Empire. The destruction of Alderaan. So many innocent people murdered at the whim of a madman. Secretly, he commended Luke for destroying it, even if he resented the loss of life of those aboard, not counting Grand Moff Tarkin.
Luke was more open about his feelings when he was informed later in the training room.
"There's another one?!" he cried in dismay.
"Yes. The Emperor will be arriving them after we do to personally oversee the final stages of construction."
Piett snapped out of his meditation trance, his still unfinished lightsaber once more falling to the ground.
"What?! The Emperor will be there?!"
"Yes, and you both will be presented to him."
Uncle and nephew exchanged anxious looks. Neither one was looking forward to this.
"Do not fear. We are stronger than the Emperor."
"It's not that much of a comfort, Vader. The Emperor is strong. You told me yourself that he defeated members of the Jedi Council and matched Master Windu, one of the most powerful Jedi."
Luke swallowed nervously.
"That was over twenty years ago, Firmus."
"So he may not be as good with a lightsaber as he was then, but it doesn't mean he's weaker. The Darkside is strong, and you know Luke and I won't use the Darkside."
His brother had a point. He and Luke would be at a slight disadvantage when faced with the Sith Master.
"He will not have much of an advantage. He will not win if he makes this a fight."
The Admiral sighed.
"I hope you're right, Vader. I hope you're right. The end is coming, and the Force is clouded. I can't even begin to guess to how this all will turn out for us."
The Death Star II was impressive and foreboding, despite being unfinished. Piett felt a shiver go down his spine at the sight of it. He hated it. He hated what it was intended to do and what it stood for, the maniacal, murderous whim of a madman who wore the title of Emperor.
/You look ready to blow it up yourself./
Piett mentally scolded himself for being so wrapped up in his inner turmoil that he had neither sensed or heard his older brother's approach.
/I hate it. I know I shouldn't, but I do. I hate everything about it./
/Not even a Jedi would condemn you for feeling such emotion, only for using it. It is the difference between the Jedi and the Sith. The Jedi accept that such feelings are natural to have, they are part of being a living, feeling thing, but they did not use those emotion. The Sith embrace such feelings./
/Every time I ever fought with my anger I regretted it. I either lost because I couldn't focus and think clearly or because I went too far and everything spun out of control. I could never be a Sith./
/Then do not. You still have a choice to make, Firmus. Trust your instincts and listen to the Force. You will find your place./
The Admiral turned on his heel.
"Captain Jereks, the bridge is yours."
Piett returned to his room and flopped down into a meditative pose.
"Rough shift?" Luke asked, concerned.
His uncle sighed.
"That monstrosity needs to be destroyed."
Luke eyed the Admiral for a moment.
"Should I be concerned about that qualifying as 'Rebel talk'?" he joked, trying to lighten the mood.
"Not all Imperials are like the Emperor. Luke. Many good men died on the first Death Star, men drafted or there so they could feed their families. War isn't black and white. There are heroes and villains on both sides."
The Jedi lowered his gaze. He had felt twinges of guilt over all the deaths from those aboard the first Death Star before, but right now he felt like downright scum.
"I guess I just always tried to block it out."
"I'm sorry. I'm not trying to bring you down. Guilt can eat you alive. No one is innocent in war, we're all guilty, Imperials and Rebels. Sadly, the Empire takes more of a immoral stand and does not always consider the consequences."
"It's happened with the Rebellion a few times, too," Luke admitted.
"I'd be surprised if it hadn't. Like I said, we're all guilty, whether we want to believe it or not."
Luke sighed and settled into a meditative position as well.
"I guess whatever happens over the next few days will decide the end of everything."
"Obi-Wan was right. The final confrontation is coming. I can sense it. It comes with the Emperor. The end is near."
I can't believe how hard this chapter was to write. Han and Leia return briefly. They'll feature more in the next chapter. The Skywalker men have arrived at Endor, and soon the Rebellion will join them for the final battle.
Piett stood on the bridge, masking his signature in the Force for the Emperor's arrival. Vader was on the Death Star, awaiting Palpatine's arrival to greet him in person. He had told Piett to mask himself in the Force so that the Sith Master would not sense him. He had then warned his younger brother that though Palpatine would not sense him, he would be able to sense the Emperor.
A shuttle came out of hyperspace, and Firmus immediately found himself torn between screaming, vomitting, and passing out. The presence that filled the Force and assaulted his senses was dark, darker beyond he had ever felt from his older brother, evil, and vile. It felt diseased, and its owner gloried in his own madness and evil.
"Sir?! Admiral, are you all right?!"
Slowly his mind registered the voices of his concerned bridge crew. Hands were on him, and Captain Jereks was attempting to meet his eyes. He blinked and realized he was on his knees, doubled over, his arms wrapped around himself, gasping for breath. He could feel the sweat running down his face. He struggled to stand, and the hands helped him rise, Jereks also giving his aid. He looked to see who had helped him to find Commander Gherant. Everyone on the bridge was staring at him in shock and horror. He didn't blame them. The presence of the Emperor seemed to have appeared to make him have a fit of some kind. That must have been disturbing for these men to see, especially since they had no idea what caused it.
"Sir? Do you need medical attention, sir?" Jereks asked, obviously concerned for his commanding officer.
"No, Captain. I will go rest, however. The bridge is yours."
Piett entered his quarters to see Luke looking just as sick as he felt.
"You feel it, too?" hie nephew asked.
"The bridge crew no doubt thought I was having a fit."
Luke grimaced but still managed an understanding look.
"I thought I was going to be sick. His presence is... horrible."
The Admiral nodded in understanding as he settled down on his bed to rest from the episode on the bridge. He was rather tired from it. Despite it not being a real fit, it had still affected him.
Vader returned to the Executor and made his way to the bridge. Captain Jereks was there to greet him with a salute.
"Welcome back, my Lord."
"Where is Admiral Piett?"
The Captain hesitated for a moment, but Vader let it go as he sensed that the man was simply trying to figure out how to word his response.
"He is resting, sir. He seemed to have a fit of some kind earlier. He refused medical attention and returned to his quarters to rest."
"How long ago?"
"An hour, my Lord."
Vader turned and swept back the way he had come. He stepped into his brother's quarters. Luke came out of meditation, and Piett half-sat up, trying to re-engage the waking world, his uniform rumpled from having slept in.
"What happened on the bridge, Firmus? Captain Jereks said you had a fit."
His younger brother grimaced and sat up the rest of the way.
"I guess you could call it that. It was my reaction, I suppose, to the Emperor's presence."
"I see. How did you fare, Luke?"
His son seemed to think on how to describe his own reaction.
"I thought I was going to be sick, and for a moment I thought I going to pass out."
Vader did not speak for a few moments.
"The Rebellion will attack. The Emperor allowed them to learn the location of this battle station and that he would be aboard."
Luke went pale, and Piett looked surprised.
"Why take such a risk?"
"The Emperor does not believe they are a threat, and he has set a trap for them."
Firmus put a hand on his nephew's shoulder.
"I must take you to him now. You as well, Firmus."
His son and brother both swallowed nervously but stood. Piett clamped a pair of binders on Luke's wrists, and they followed Vader to the hangar bay. The moment they had been waiting for with dread was upon them at last, and not one of the Skywalker men could see how it would end.
On the forest moon, Han waited anxiously for Leia to return from chasing some stormtroopers on speeder bikes through the trees. She returned, but she wasn't alone. With her came a group of what, to the Rebel General, looked like giant teddy bears. They carried spears and were easily startled, first by Chewbaca and then by Artoo. When they saw Threepio, however, they immediately thought the protocol droid to be some kind of deity.
The creatures turned out be called Ewoks and, in the morning, would take the group of Rebels to the bunker that controlled the deflector shield that protected the Death Star. They were to stay in the Ewoks' tree-bound village for the night, and Han slipped out of the large, community type hut, where Threepio was telling the Ewoks about all their adventures, to find Leia staring up through the trees at the unfinished Death Star.
She jumped at his voice but relaxed once she realized it was him.
"Han, I... I can't explain it, but... I know Luke's on the Death Star."
"Leia, I know you miss him and all, but that's crazy. Why would Luke be up there?"
"I don't know, but I do know that the minute we have the shield down, we have to get up there. This is like those feelings Luke would get that always ended up being right."
Now it was Han's turn to sigh.
"If you really feel that way about it, then we'll do it, but I still don't think he'd be up there."
"I know, and I can't explain why I feel that he is, I just do."
He gently pulled her close.
"I know. I miss him, too. Part of me hopes you're right."
The Emperor arrives, and the ground assault on the shield generator will soon begin. Leia and Han make plans to search for Luke aboard the Death Star. Everything is coming together.
The Skywalker men stepped into the lift that would bring them up to the throne room where the Emperor waited. At Vader's urging, Piett unmasked his signature and submitted to Palpatine's mental probing, bringing his loyalty to the Empire to the front of his mind. He relaxed when the Sith Master's presence left his mind, apparently satisfied with what he had found. He brought his lightsaber from the band in his sleeve and attached it to his belt so it hung at his left hip, while his blaster hung at his right hip.
The lift stopped, and the door opened with an ominous hiss that Luke thought suited the situation perfectly. Before them, in this dark, dimly lit room, waiting the Emperor, seated in front of the spiderweb-like window. His deformed face and glowing, yellow eyes sent a shiver down the young Jedi's spine, and he could sense his uncle's discomfort as well. The Darkside swelled around this evil creature, for neither Luke or Piett could bring themselves to call him a man.
The trio approached, and Vader and Piett knelt before him, while Luke remained standing. He was rather sure that if Piett was not an Imperial he would have remained standing as well.
"Lord Vader, why did you keep this man's Force Stength and relation to you a secret from me?"
"I was waiting to be absolutely sure that his powers would serve you well, my Master. He is loyal, and he is powerful. He will be of great service to the Empire with his abilities beyond his use as an Admiral."
Emperor Palpatine turned those terrifying eyes to the Admiral kneeling beside his apprentice.
"The son of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and Shmi Skywalker. You are powerful indeed, however, you are strong in the Lightside of the Force. I have little need for a Light-user."
"He is loyal to the Empire, Master. His use of the Lightside could be an advantage to us. There may yet be some Jedi in hiding, without the Darkside about him, he could get close to them and reveal them to us. The men who serve under him respect him, as well. They follow him without question."
The Sith Master was quiet, thinking over what Vader had said.
"Perhaps he can of use to us after all. Now, rise my friend, and you as well, Admiral."
Vader and Piett stood up, and then Vader stepped forward to present Palpatine with Luke's lightsaber.
"Skywalker's lightsaber, Master."
Palpatine smiled at the sight of the weapon, causing the two younger Skywalkers to shudder at the sight.
"Ah, your old one. I wonder if young Skywalker knows how you last used it."
A wave of confusion came from Luke before he reigned in his emotions.
"So you do not. Allow me to educate you then, young one. At my command, your father attacked the Jedi Temple, killing all within. With this very lightsaber he slaughtered all in his path, from the oldest Master to the youngest child."
Piett felt horror coil inside him, and shock, disbelief, and horror from Luke spilled across their bond. Piett had known that Vader had destroyed the Jedi, but to know that he had sunk as far as to slaughter the children was something he hadn't known. The Admiral withdrew into his thoughts, hardly registering the arrival of the Rebel Alliance and the battle beginning outside as the deaths began to echo through the Force. He snapped back to reality when Luke attacked the Emperor, prompting Vader to stop him, which began a duel between father and son. He reached for his own lightsaber to try to stop them.
/Do not interfere!/ Vader snapped across their bond.
Luke regained control over his emotions and began trying to coax Vader back to the Light. Piett allowed himself a small smile as the cracks in Vader's resolve grew. They had a chance to bring him back to the Light and restore Anakin.
Move! roared the voice of Count Dooku.
Piett obeyed, but he had no time to wonder why he was hearing Dooku, as fire bloomed in his torso, and the end of a lightsaber blade as red as Vader's came into sight, sticking through his chest. It disappeared a moment later, and he collapsed, hearing two screams that sounded miles away just before everything went dark.
Han and Leia exited the shuttle, disguised as stormtroopers with a sense of deja vu. They hurried across the hangar bay to the nearest lift.
"Okay, got a 'feeling' about what floor Luke might be on?" Han asked.
Leia concentrated then pressed the button, beginning the lift's journey to the throne room. The door opened, and they stared at the sight of Luke and Vader dueling. Then the Emperor, with a lightsaber of his own, stabbed the Imperial officer near him through the back. Luke and Vader jerked as if struck and whirled to see the officer fall.
"NO!" they both screamed.
The two Rebels watched in shock as Jedi and Sith abandoned their fight with each other to descend upon the Emperor.
"Come on!" Leia exclaimed, running for the downed officer.
They reached him, and Leia ripped off her helmet to carefully put her head to his chest. After a moment she heard his heart beating.
"He's still alive."
"Yeah, well he won't be for long if he doesn't get medical attention," Han said, pulling off his own helmet.
Luke rushed over.
As Luke and Leia hugged, Han looked to see where the Emperor was. He was currently busy trying to fend off the stronger Vader.
"Nice to see ya, kid."
Luke checked the officer.
"Can you two get him out of here?"
"What about you?" Leia asked.
"I've got to help deal with the Emperor. Please, take care of him."
Han grabbed Luke's wrist.
"Hang on a second, Luke. This guy's an Imperial. Why do you care?"
"Because he's my uncle, and Vader's my father."
His friends stared at him in shock.
"Vader is your father?!"
"Yeah. I'll explain everything later, I promise. Please, get him help."
Han and Leia nodded, and Luke rushed back into the fray. Neither he nor Vader were fighting in anger any longer. They fought to destroy the Emperor because they had to, because he needed to be stopped. As Han and Leia tried to figure out how to get Piett out of the Death Star without making his injury worse, Vader, at last, spotted an opening and struck, his blade finding the Emperor's heart.
"It's over," Luke breathed.
They hurried over, and Vader carefully gathered his brother into his arms, carrying him bridal style so that his wound wouldn't be aggravated as much. Switching on the comlink with the Force, he ordered the Fleet to stand down and await further instructions. Leia, at Luke's approval, changed it to a Rebel frequency, and, as they hurried to the hangar bay, Vader proposed peace negotiations with the Alliance High Command in exchange for a cease-fire.
The Emperor is dead. Has Vader's dream come true?
Peace was formed between the Empire and Alliance. Vader returned to Coruscant as the new Emperor and restored democracy from the inside. Luke formed the New Jedi Order with Master Yoda and other surviving Jedi coming out of hiding.
Firmus recovered from his wounds. Dooku's warning had been just enough to prevent the Emperor's attack from being fatal. Though he later learned from his father that he had been meant to die that day, and Dooku's interference had been met with the price of oblivion. The fallen Jedi no longer even existed anymore. In saving him, Dooku had destroyed himself completely, and he had done so willingly, fully aware of the punishment. The Count's sacrifice only strengthened Firmus' resolve in his choice to give his allegiance to the Lightside of the Force. He took on the surname of Jinn-Skywalker to honor his birth parents and strength both had shown in their lives.
Luke offered him a place in the Order, and eventually he accepted, following in his father's footsteps. Firmus eventually met and married a noblewoman from Serenno, Mira Whiwood, and they had two children, a son they named Tyln in honor of Dooku's sacrifice that had saved Firmus' life, and a daughter they named Shmi.
Vader took back his old name of Anakin and was often found in the company of family. Over the years he would assist in training some of the Jedi, especially his grandchildren, Jacen, Jiana, and Anakin Solo and Ben Skywalker, and his niece and nephew.
Though the New Republic faced many challenged, the Skywalkers and Solos were always there to run to its defense. Even long after the deaths of Anakin and Firmus, their descendants continued to protect democracy and honor their legacies.
That's it. 'Link to the Past' is finally complete.