A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
Surrendering to the Imperials was simple...and strangely so. They were already on patrol and high alert since receiving the news that Rebels had infiltrated the Moon of Endor.
It was a relatively short run in the forest, from the Ewok village to the nearest patrolling Imperial outpost.
The ride in the AT-AT was less than pleasant, and Luke Skywalker wasn’t going to answer any of their questions.
He had decided that he would only admit that he was alone, and that he wanted to speak with Lord Vader.
It was then that they began to look at him sideways; the officers were not going to argue with a man who clearly had a death wish.
The AT-AT met the bunker platform with a lurch, and they motioned him into the hallway. Waiting for him was the impending figure of Darth Vader—Dark Lord of the Sith. …his father.
He watched the exchange between the Imperial officer and his father with great interest.
No, correction: he watched his father with great interest, hoping to see some sort of slip that he was his father and not the man-machine that stood, looming, before him.
The words that passed between them had blurred in his mind since they had forced him into a detention cell. He only remembered his parting words –“Then, my father is truly dead.”
The words reverberated in his head.
Luke knew that he had hit the mark, because he had felt the rung of pain in his father’s heart—if the dark lord was still capable of having one.
As they were leading him into the cell, he heard, off-handed, that he was to be transferred to a shuttle for the Death Star in approximately three standard hours. There, the Emperor would be waiting.
He sighed, as he knew he had one last resort, and he was given a gift…time.
Three short hours before he was to meet his fate.
Fighting his way out of the cell was out of the question; it wasn’t his goal to escape.
At the back of his mind, he knew what he wanted …what he had always wanted.
He had always had questions about his life. With Ben gone and Yoda gone, perhaps this was going to be his last chance to get them.
The same surge of adrenaline that had convinced him of this plan of action was still coursing through his body. Although he could hear his heart beating heavy in his chest, Luke sat calmly upon the only comfort his cell provided and relaxed his mind. Letting the Force flow into him, he reached out to the one person who he knew could sense him immediately.
But instead of having a direct communication, Luke sent out the simplest message that he could fathom in this moment, an image, an invitation, to his father: the garage on the Lars homestead…the dusty alcoves covered in spare parts, the family skyhopper parked in the back room, an oil bath in the corner.
In his vision, he dressed himself in farm wear, his trusty baggy pants and dusty tunic, standing over his work bench, and grunted quietly as he tried to force a piece of metal back into place.
As soon as he felt the other accept the images, Luke could feel the new presence within his vision; slightly off to the side, in the dark recesses of the room, the presence hovered there, as simple as a shadow.
The presence stood, not moving, and he could see ominous dark form from the corner of his eye.
Even though this environment was created within the Force, the air was still thick, heavy and tense, despite the sound of a Tatooinian breeze that could be heard beyond the confines of the room.
It was now that Luke decided that it was acceptable to speak.
He lifted his head from his work and announced to the workroom. “I’d like to speak to my father, if I could?” -being very specific on who was welcomed in this surreal place, and who wasn't.
The shadow in the corner wavered slightly, and paused before moving from the confines of the corner that it found itself in, but didn’t leave.
He could sense the apprehension in the other presence, with his attention to the work in his hands, he continued to talk to the air without the appearance of acknowledging the shadow. “The stabilizer keeps on pulling the ‘hopper to the right on the down-thrust…I’m trying to work it out…” Luke mumbled as he worked.
The shadow paused. Its senses seemed familiar with the place but not at all comfortable that it was there. “Where are we?” it asked, in a voice that was neither mechanical, nor malicious. The voice quivered, almost shuttering over the simple words, suspicious of the world his son had constructed, uncomfortable with the casual surroundings as if they were foreign to him.
Its voice was warm, full, human, and Luke could detect just a slight Rim accent in it.
“The farm’s workroom.” He answered, not looking up, shrugging. “Well, my room. I’m really the only one who comes down here.” He stopped, considering, then going back to his make-work project; his eyes darted over nonchalantly to the corner where the shadow had defensively wedged itself into.
He tried to make the pretense for his constructed surroundings sound more believable. “Aunt Beru is making dewback tonight. We have some time, before dinner, to talk." He paused. "I want to ask you a few things.”
The shadow wavered again, as if still looking for an escape, but came closer anyway... draw in by its own curiosity.
Luke didn’t dare look in its direction. He knew if he did, there was a good chance that it would disappear, and all of his opportunities for answers would be over.
“Beru?” it asked, almost repeating the name from a long-lost memory.
“Yes, Uncle Owen’s wife.”
“Owen…” The shadow repeated, whispering, as if remembering.
Luke didn’t want to his waste time, so he went to his first question, pretending to force the metal to bend into shape again. “Was Shmi my grandmother? -your mother?”
The shadow quivered at the mention of the name, but then it grew denser. “Yes.” It answered.
Luke sensed something...regret? sadness?
“Oh...” He said, feigning interest, not reacting, nodding slowly. “That makes sense. Aunt Beru told me that Grandfather Cleigg freed her and married her…and that he really loved her. Aunt Beru also said that Shmi was most beautiful and kindest person that she ever knew.”
The shadow drew closer, as if interested in what he was doing on the workbench, but still listening to his son's words.
“That would mean that you were once a slave too?” Luke asked, still keeping his concentration on the object in his hands, but feeling the pull to look over, resisting.
He felt the swell in feelings coming from the shadow before it answered with a hiss, “Yes.” ...hatred... anger...
“I know." Luke paused, and then reached for a tool beside him, still working on the unyielding part in his hands. "I remember when I was younger and Uncle Owen took me to Mos Espa once. Someone asked my name -I told them, and they wanted to know if I was owned or not—They wanted to buy me.” He looked up from the bench, remembering that moment himself. “Uncle Owen rushed me right out of there…we never talked about it again.”
The room had an ebb and flow like the winds that could be heard outside, giving a reprieve from the heat when they could.
Luke could feel like the shadow had some questions of its own, and not just a son that it had never known, but for so many things that been left unanswered by time.
He thought about the shadow for a moment; could his father not remember what he looked like? Was he afraid for his son to see him?
He decided not to ask; it wasn’t one of many questions that he needed answers to.
Silently, he gave the shadow permission to ask its questions by relaxing his own nervous energy and accepting the other's presence.
“I thought Kenobi raised you?” The shadow was curious and unsure.
“Ben?...No, I actually didn’t see him very often. He kept to himself on the outskirts of the Dune Sea. I saw him once when I was really sick as a kid.” He answered aloofly as possible, faking it for the sake of the moment; the memories were coming back to him now. “Uncle Owen was away, selling the harvest, and I got some sort of fever... Aunt Beru was really scared." Luke sighed, but kept on working. "I don’t remember much, but I do know that Ben stayed with us until I was better and Owen came back. Then, I remember Uncle Owen chasing him away.”
Luke shrugged. “I didn’t see him again until I came across the droids," he paused before knowingly adding, "and the plans for the Death Star.”
The shadow shook at the realization that he had been so close to finding his son…the droids…if he had only followed the droids…
“He gave me your lightsaber. He told me that you were like a brother to him, a good friend, and started to train me around that time.” Before he continued, Luke paused, then intentionally added, “After the Empire killed Beru and Owen.” Trying to contain the sudden swell of emotion in himself.
The shadow moved closer. “Then, who trained you?” it asked; more curious, not intentionally dismissive.
Luke sighed as the pain of losing another friend and mentor was still very fresh and real for him. He figured it wouldn’t harm anything now that the Master had passed on. “Yoda.” He said simply.
“Yoda.” The shadow repeated, coming closer still. The pieces were fitting into place.
With the shadow being so near, Luke dared to say something obscure just to see how it would respond. “Well, if you’re going to stay here…you should make yourself useful, and help me by cleaning that rubial napper.... the scoring on it is pretty bad from the last sandstorm.” Luke gestured to the spare part on the work bench beside his own.
He knew he sounded a touch too much like Uncle Owen right then, but he figured he would take the chance. Chances were the only things that he had left.
To his surprise, the shadow moved closer to the adjacent bench, and then, slowly, the rubial napper started to move within the shadow’s hands, polishing the surface.
Luke was still forcing himself not to look directly at the shadow; it was just enough to know it was there.
He knew his time was limited, but he thought he would open the door a little more, so he mumbled to himself, but to the shadow as well, sensing that it would understand, “Life just seems so much easier when you’re working on something.” The younger man muttered without much thought to the significance, but knowing that it rang true for him.
The shadow stopped and turned to look at Luke, and held its gaze. Without looking over, Luke could feel the shadow's intent attention on him, as well as a strange sensation around him.
It was as if the Force paused, almost 'sighed', for just one single brief moment, giving a reprieve for the tension that surround them.
Then, the shadow slowly turned back to its work at hand, working out the fine scratches in the small mechanical part.
Time shifted in a Force vision. What could seem like mere minutes may have taken hours in the outside the realm. They worked in silence side by side; toiling away in a place and things that weren't real, but contented to do so peacefully.
And then it was time for Luke to ask what he always and truly wanted to know.
Since finding out who his father was, and rumors that surrounded the Dark Lord, Luke had secretly begged, that please, please let this one thing be pure...
Breaking the silence, with no preamble, he gathered his resolved. “My mother…did you love her?” He asked in a voice loud enough to pierce any veil that might have separated them.
The shadow immediately froze, startled.
The warm air turned cold in the room.
The moment passed, as if the shadow was thinking of what to say. Luke could feel the anguish of memories long suppressed, and then the shadow said somberly, “Yes…very much…she was my everything.”
The pain…Luke could feel the pain, but he knew he had to ask more.... heartache... life-altering heartache... sadness... loneliness... soul-crushing remorse...
“What was her name?—no one would tell me... could tell me.” He shared his own pain of missing a mother that he never knew.
The shadow put down the part it had been working on and moved away from the workbench, rattled, reliving, shaking its head as if considering to answer.
And after a long moment, with his back to his son, the ambiguous form relaxed the semblance of shoulders, and said, “Padme…her name was Padme.” The shadow exhaled her name, holding himself back,his words almost cracking in his voice.
“Padme” Luke whispered. He could feel his heart warm and swell with the sound of her name; he smiled to himself, thinking of her, thinking of what her smile must have looked like... would she smile?... of course she would... it would light up the galaxy...
With the realization that perhaps too much had been revealed, released, the shadow panicked and started to recede, choosing the darkened corners of the room rather than being there, looking for a way out... As if it had said too much....As if it was remembering too much.... And it couldn’t stand another moment.
If this was going to be Luke’s last chance, he decided to take it.
“I loved you all my life.” He said abruptly and louder into the air, without turning to follow the shadow's movements; knowing that it had caused enough of a schism in his father's psyche.
The shadow stopped it's hasty retreat; shocked that it was hearing those words...shocked that it was possible to ever hear those words...
Exhaling, Luke said the only other words that he knew to be the truth in his soul; a confession that he never made to anyone else.“I only wanted to know who you were…the man who people called ‘a hero’…but I didn’t want to know the ‘hero’ --I just wanted to know the man.”
The air was still thick in the room, but not with tension, with the emotion that had brewed. The shadow stood, listening. But there loomed the inevitable, and they both knew it.
“Father,” Luke said firmly, head up, looking directly at the wall in front of him. “I know what you need to do, and I know you feel that it’s right. But I know what I need to do, too.”
It was a human exhalation, but it mimicked the mechanical one; punctuating the moment. “It is your destiny.” The shadow said firmly, unwavering in baritone, without any animosity.
“I know.” He replied, solemnly and with conviction in a low tone, accepting.
Slowly, the vision dissolved between them.
In the detention cell, Luke blinked his eyes open, bringing calm and peace into himself.
The door to his cell opened…and his destiny awaited.