Luke Vader: From Slave to Dark Lord of the Sith
Part 6: First Missions
By SJ 24-07-00/23-10-00
Disclaimers: None of this belong to me; everything in the Star Wars Universe
belongs to George Lucas.
See my home page for more details.
Special thanks to my shy, secret beta-reader and best friend, Adrianne, for
help with the final editing of my new stories. Thanks for giving
me some of your precious time, my friend :)
That evening, Luke, now black-haired, assumed his role of servant with the
boys which his master had selected for his reception. Almost an hour after his
own arrival, Baron Tsui of Manale arrived with his retinue.
*Mara, he's just arrived,* he sent to his friend.
*I'm in position but I have to wait for the guard's shift; it should take
in one hour,* she informed him shortly.
*Okay, let me know when you are done,* he told her seriously.
*Will do. Jade out,* she sent, then reintegrated her full senses.
Luke for his part picked up another platter of canapis and resumed offering
to his master's guests as he toured the room. While he fulfilled his role of
servant, his senses never lost track of his target, then three platters later,
he finally came around his target's group to offer them his food.
The adults practically ignored him as they served himself, and paid even less
attention to him when he left them. Thus, his target never noticed the small
bug that he left in the folds of his jacket. With both his senses and the bug,
Luke knew that he wouldn't lose track of him now. He brought his platter, in
the servant's ready room, then took a moment in the 'fresher to activate the
tracking device which was hidden in his large, metal bracelet. The other boys
also wore such a bracelet-cuff to allow 'him' to camouflage his own device. The
moment that he rested his finger on the activation zone, the target appeared on
the small screen. Luke removed his left finger from the print reader and the
image disappeared; the gadget looked once more like the 'cuff' it was supposed
to be. Before he returned to his duties, he took a moment to double-check that
his other weapon was still secured under his shirt.
Everything was perfect.
He resumed his serving duties.
An hour later, Mara crept toward the apartment of the baron; she began to
intent to gain access inside the quarters before new guards' could return for
the shift room. Using the Force as her friend had taught her to do, she opened
the door and slipped inside the baron's quarters.
The door had barely finished closing when she felt the return of the guards
the door. It had been close, she thought to herself as she took a moment to
survey her surroundings. Her friend had indeed been right, she realized; no one
was left 'inside' the quarters. Without wasting time, she went into the Baron's
office, found his computer and turned it on. Her mission was to find his files
concerning a new secret weapon that his government hadn't given to the Emperor
because they hoped to use it against him.
Under her veil, Mara smiled grimly. Tonight, she resolved, Manale would learn
to not cross their master. She set her gloved hands on the keypad and began to
call for directories and protected files. She mentally sneered as she
discovered how amateur the encryption of the files was. She broke into them in
record time and cut them out of the computer and onto her reader disk.
Next, she set a bomb in the office, sitting it next to the computer, then
programmed it to give herself two minutes. The baron's quarters would be such a
mess, she thought in approval of her friend, that Security would never be able
to figure exactly what had happened. Luke's idea truly was excellent, she
admitted even as she made her way back to the door.
Ten seconds from the explosion, she closed the door on her skillfully
dispatched, first victims, and ran as fast as she could toward the closest
entrance of the secret corridors.
Behind her, the deserted level was eerily quiet.
But it didn't last. The bomb went off in a cacophony of loud noises. She
closed the secret entrance behind herself, took a moment to remove her shroud
and catch her breath, then she contacted her friend.
Luke heard her message and mentally nodded in understanding. While he picked
another platter of food, he drew the small poisoned dart from his shirt and hid
it under his silver plate. Then, he checked once again the location of his
target was; he had just returned from a walk in the surrounding garden. Luke
made his way toward the groups that were as far from the man as possible,
levitated his dart above the crowd until it was above his target, lowered it
until he was in good position, then propelled it toward his target.
While the adults around Luke served themselves, the baron began to choke for
breath on the other side of the room; five seconds later, the man's companions
expressed their horror when he collapsed on the richly tiled floor, alarming
everyone present that something had happened. The ensuing commotion was such
that many guests instantly ran out of the room in panic. Having recovered his
full senses, Luke did his best to avoid being trampled while not making a mess
of his glasses of champagne, just like every other servant who was in the room
was attempting to do.
When he disentangled himself from the throng of frantic guests, he found
behind the table with the rest of his 'team'. From there, he grimly surveyed
Baron Tsui of Manale was dead; he himself knew that the dart had already
dissolved, making it look like an unexplainable death. Stormtroopers showed up
less than two minutes after the panic had begun and blocked the issues,
entrapping everybody inside the room. Luke used that new distraction to destroy
the microscopic bug on the baron's clothes.
On the dais, his master barely nodded in his direction before refocusing on
advisors. Luke could feel that he was pleased with the results. He could only
hope that it would remain so after Security had studied the body.
Three hours later, the guests were allowed to leave the room. The
his own father, 'hadn't' been able to figure out what had happened and had taken
everyone's names for later interrogation, then had left with the Emperor.
An hour and a half later, having finished their clean up of the reception
the servant boys also left to return to their masters. Luke first walked with
the others, then he swiftly disappeared in a secret nook behind a wall and
entered the secret corridors.
He and his friend rendezvoused in the secret corridor near the reception
knelt on one knee and waited for their master to acknowledge their presence.
*Good work, children. Today, you have officially completed level one of your
training,* he told them solemnly yet implicitly warned them that they were but
at the beginning of their training.
*Thank you, Master,* they answered together.
*Whose idea was it to hide the theft with an explosion?* he asked them with
a trifle sign of annoyance.
*It was mine, Master,* Luke answered humbly, slightly worried that he had
*A good idea, young Vader,* the other praised him slightly, *but try not to
destroy my whole palace in your next missions,* he warned him more seriously.
*Yes, Master, I will try to find other alternatives when we will work in your
palace,* he promised earnestly.
*Good. Mara Jade, do you still have the copy of what I asked you to
*Good, make a detour by my rooms before you retire for the night. Dress the
part,* he advised her.
*Excellent. Report tomorrow like usual,* he ordered them before cutting the
*Yes, Master,* the children said, bowing their heads in respect, then
reintegrated their full senses and looked at each other. They smiled in
With this first flawless success, they both knew that they were going to see
more real action.
Up in the throne room, the Emperor reintegrated his full senses and glanced
his silent right arm.
"Your son certainly has unique strategies in mind," he commented coldly.
"I'm sure he didn't mean to upset you in any way with the explosion,
the dark lord answered smoothly, instantly rising to his son's defense.
For a moment, the Emperor remained silent, a thin smile playing on his lips
he witnessed yet another sign that his right arm had developed real care for his
son. It wasn't just a desire to use him now, he understood, but the real care
of a parent. He decided to test how far it went.
"Yet he still ruined close to five living quarters and breached the
of the palace. 'That' wasn't necessary to accomplish their goal," he replied
with a note of false dark annoyance in his voice. "Tell me, Vader, do you
condone his action?"
The black-clad giant remained silent at that, slightly shifted from one foot
another as if in growing discomfort... then he finally shook his head.
"No, Master. Had I known that he was planning this, I would have told
change tactic," the older Vader answered truthfully.
"And that would have saved him from punishment," he retorted
right hand forming into a fist as he kept his eyes and senses locked on the
Vader naturally bristled slightly at the thought of his hurting his son, then
seemed to turn cold in worry, but right on the heel of those unfaithful thoughts
came the one thought which saved both himself and the boy from punishment: no
matter what, he heard him thing, he had to agree with his master's bidding and
would teach his son to serve him better. Vader, the Emperor smiled to himself,
was still devoted to him only, his cold obedience overpowering his corruptive
Pleased with the results of the test, Palpatine suddenly unclenched his hand
waved with it as if it were inconsequential. "Were I not satisfied by the
overall results, of course," he smiled meanly at his servant who visibly relaxed
at this revelation. "However," he added more seriously, "do teach him to not
overdo it. I shall not always be lenient with him."
"I will, Master," Vader reassured him.
"Still," he reflected out loud while he stood to his feet, "it
does prove to us
that he isn't ready to be involved in any of 'your' missions, my friend," he
commented coolly, playing again with his servant, this time to make 'him'
justify his decision to keep the boy where he was at the moment. "The child is
still impetuous, he would attack too fast and be killed."
"Yes, I understand, Master," Vader nodded. "He is good in
simulations, but good
against a living, conniving Jedi is something else."
"Exactly, my friend," the Emperor smiled thinly, amused by how
easily he made
the other say what he wanted him to say without touching his mind in any way;
Vader truly was an extension of his will, he thought in contentment. "Now, tell
me how you will explain the demise of 'dear' Baron Tsui," he cackled in
As his right arm proceeded to tell him how he would play his own part in his
son's plan, Palpatine reflected about his plan with the children. They had
proven to him that they were up for spying/stealing missions now. Young Jade
had also been very satisfying against the four guards while young Vader
obviously more than mastered his skills with the Force, and, he conceded, he was
quite a tactician already. During his contact with the children, he had felt
that most of the ideas had come from the boy, but he had been tempered by the
girl. Upon that thought, he smiled slightly once again in dark satisfaction.
The depth of their bond was even more efficient than he had first surmised;
more reliable than a comlink connection, it allowed them to be in constant
contact without anybody being the wiser. In short, he smiled to himself, the
children truly were his future best elements--- but only as a team, he decided
as he envisioned two possible future. One was glorious, the other,
disappointing. Without the boy's help, Jade would be little more than a good
agent and the boy would become a problem because of his bond with his father.
No, he resolved once again, those two would not be separated anytime soon, not
even if the boy came to prove himself worthy of helping his father.
In front of him, Vader continued with his report about the evening.
The following morning, Luke and Mara showed up at the training center as if
hadn't been in a mission the previous night. Nobody could even tell that they
had barely gotten three hours of sleep since they had used a refreshing trance
to rest. They reported to their flight instructor who then brought them in a
new training room.
The moment that they entered the new room, the children realized that it was
a training room; it was a real hangar, with real fighters waiting for them.
Despite their growing control over their emotions, both children couldn't help
but gape as they understood what was about to happen.
"What are you waiting for?" their instructor snapped. "Get
onboard and do your
"Yes, Sir," they both saluted, then, after exchanging a glance of
toward the ships and climbed up their ladders.
Mara chose the headhunter fighter; Luke picked the zebulon ship. Once inside,
they both switched on the piloting mode and began their checks. Engines,
weapons, navigators, shields, steering, everything turned out correctly.
Then, the signal came to lift off. Luke turned on the repulsorlifts, hovered
until he was out of the opening hangar, then pulled on the throttle and soared
toward the sky above them. Behind him, Mara followed suite with perhaps a
little more flourish than he himself had displayed.
"Go to the coordinates Mu-9076." their instructor ordered them.
While they made their way to their rendezvous, Luke and Mara exchanged a
*What do you think is going on?* he asked his friend.
*I don't know. Do you think he'll pit us against one another?* she suggested.
*It wouldn't be fair considering our different ships,* he observed.
*Yeah, but a fight is never fair, flyboy,* she reminded him.
*Touche.* he conceded.
A volley of energy bolts came their way, making them pull apart to regroup a
*Heads up, it's us against them!* he told her, flipping the stick to avoid
another volley of fire.
*No kidding.* she muttered humorlessly. *Sideways or linear?*
*I'll take the front,* he told her, bringing his ship in front of hers.
Ahead of them, the drones began to disperse to take them from all sides at
once. Following the guidance of the Force, they both dropped under the line of
fire before veering sharply to the left, then pulled back up and destroyed two
drones by attacking their underbellies. Shielding their eyes from the orange
explosions, they both continued their loop upward while twisting on their
vertical axis to avoid more fire until they were heading back toward their
Luke came down hard again on another drone; Mara grazed the other's reactor
it also exploded. With four enemies left, the children used a different tactic
and separated, thus confusing the drones who were still adapting to their
tactics. The young Jedis managed to hit three more adversaries and destroyed
the last one together.
"Can you see any other one?" Mara asked him even as she swiveled
her head from
right to left to check their surroundings.
"No, nor can I feel anybody but us," he added.
"Then we're done," she commented coolly.
Luke heard her open a channel with the 'base'.
"We're done, Sir," she informed their instructor.
"Come back home," he answered shortly before cutting off the transmission.
"All right, let's go," Mara told him.
"You check the sensors, I'll find us a way in," he retorted,
closing his eyes to
feel a guidance in the Force... and there! "Got it," he told her.
"All right, flyboy, lead the way."
They flew in silence for perhaps thirty seconds before Luke spoke up again.
"Nice maneuver you pulled back there, Jade." he praised her.
"Thanks, you were not too bad either. If I didn't know better, I'd----"
Both children sensed the danger a nano-second before an attack group came
them, straight out of a micro hyperspace jump. The kids instantly pulled apart,
reinforced their shields and tried to regroup, but this time, the attackers were
faster, more agile, and wouldn't let them regroup.
'All right,' Luke thought grimly. 'You want to play? I'm game.'
He turned on the heavier weapons of his ship, kept on his evasive maneuvers,
then shot two torpedoes. With a Force barrage, the torpedoes were redirected
backward and destroyed two of his four pursuers. He used the distraction to
climb out of range, then came back on the two remaining ones. It was his turn
Meanwhile, Mara had completed a reversed flip, going downward before coming
up, using the greater strength of her engine to outdo the drones. When she dove
again, they were in her line of fire. She hit three of them before they had
been able to avoid her. She spotted her companion and noticed that her own
quarry was trying to rally with its companion; and an idea came to her.
*Luke, lead him toward me. They'll take care of each other,* she sent to her
Young Vader was quick to answer. He veered off and headed into firing
of her own quarry. Naturally her quarry took potshots at him, but since his
shields were stronger than the average, her friend was able to bear this attack
until he felt the other one fire at him from behind. He dove down; the two
drones killed each other. Jade pulled up to avoid the two explosions. It was
After that surprise attack, the children warily made their way back to the
training center, keeping themselves alert for any new attack--- but none came.
Luke shut down his fighter and leaned back in the seat. Whew, that had been
quite some session. Unlike the other ones, he might have been cooked for real,
he admitted in very dim fear... He turned his head to his left and saw his
friend vault over the side of her cockpit before she landed on the floor. He
noted that she wasn't giving off any sign that this exercise had shaken her.
'Fool,' he berated himself. 'Of course you shouldn't be distraught; you knew
that it would happen sooner or later. Besides, you were against real enemies
yesterday; if they had spotted you, you would've been against real weapons.'
He mentally shook himself and got out of his fighter.
Their training had just taken a new, more challenging turn.
After that session, they reported for their armory training and demonstrated
their skills, using all kinds of weapons to do so. Both children now mastered
any model of blasters, bombs, and other short range weapons. Mara was agile at
knife attacks while Luke's forte was to throw them at his targets.
When it came to the heavier weaponry, Luke could easily manipulate almost any
kind of weapons whereas Mara had to restrain herself to weapons that were no
longer than her arm. However, she made up for that weakness by having a
flawless aim with whatever she manipulated. Finally, after they learnt their
new lesson about the specs of different armies, they demonstrated their
abilities with very heavy weapons such as quad guns, air-defense lasers, and
Last on the list of the day were the weapons from different species. By the
of the day, they could both use a Stokhli stick any way they wanted, same thing
with a bowcaster, a gaffi stick, and any other weapon that was traditional in
the different civilizations they had studied for the past months.
Luke ignored his cramped arms and continued to strain against the bolt that
would give him access to the compartment that he needed to reach to fix the
navcomputer of the shuttle. Beside him, Mara was busy fixing the hyperdrive.
Finally, he managed to pry the plate and calculator free and began to study what
was wrong with it.
It was kind of like repairing repulsor lifts, he reflected, except that it
much more complex. Much like their training now, he conceded. Between
missions, he and Mara were spending more and more time at the training center,
facing down challenges after challenges. They were no longer tested in one area
only; instead, their tests were about several skills at the same time.
Like at the moment. To succeed, they had to understand Huttese writing while
fixing a mechanical mess. Before that, their fighting session of the morning
had pitted them against armed droids and remotes; they had needed both weapons
and their self-defense to get out of the room with only minor injuries.
He himself had almost sprained his ankle while Mara would have a blaster burn
nurse for a few days, but it didn't matter, he reminded himself . They had
succeeded. Having found the problem of the calculator, he focused on his
welding and redid the broken connections. The lights returned to green on the
unit; it had worked. He plugged it back in the navigator, then attacked the
next problem: the missing connections between the console and the nav computer.
"Pass me the twelve," Mara told him, her head buried in the console.
He gave it to her before they both resumed their fixing. They didn't waste
in pointless chit chat; time was of the essence. The clock was ticking; they
wouldn't fail, he resolved, because he and Mara were perfectly synchronized in
their efforts. They would collect yet another perfect score.
And so it went, day after day, after day...
Another two months later, Luke came back at his father's palace and sank into
the couch of his father's favorite living room. He closed his eyes and tried to
decide if he was going to take a nap right now, or if he would go to bed early
if not now. He decided to watch the news, perhaps try to catch something that
would prove useful for his next mission, then he would go to bed. He turned on
the vid, settled himself comfortably, then listened to the news person.
Boring, they weren't even talking about his father's ongoing mission against
During the adds, he closed his eyes and reflected about his and Mara's latest
mission earlier that day.
They had been with a group of tourist to infiltrate a factory, then they had
quietly slipped away and stolen plans for a new kind of shielding apparatus.
Even now, he smirked in pride, nobody knew that the copy had taken place.
The master had been very pleased with this success, the latest in a series of
five missions, he sighed in contentment, then in eagerness.
And a new one was coming up, in a few days. It was going to take place in the
Palace once more, during the night--- The news person came back on line.
"Today, the University of Alderaan has opened a new unit to her
Luke watched the images, then sat up , transfixed.
He hadn't seen her for almost two years, ever since he and his then 'master'
stopped by the planet to collect rebellion propaganda in fact, but the little
girl still captivated him most intently and instantly.
On the vid screen, Princess Leia Organa was walking with a group of adults,
looking around herself with great interest. She was, of course, wearing very
fine clothes and she behaving most properly. Her hair were also pinned up quite
elaborately on her head, even more so than Mara managed, he dimly noted.
However, his brain returned to a null status when the journalist asked her if
she wanted to study at the university when she would be older; he found himself
literally drinking her words. Why did he have the feeling that she was familiar
somehow?.., he wondered. The news changed and he recovered his cooler mood.
This was ridiculous, he told himself even as he tried to shake the princess'
remaining memory from his brain. She was just a girl, and an unknown one at
that, he reminded himself. He had never reacted that way with Mara, he then
rebuked himself. He spent much time with Jade, even considered her as a sister
sometimes, yet he had never drunken her words like he had just done with the
rich little princess. He should, by any right, dismiss the princess as
inconsequential, he tried to rationalize, and yet... Mara would tell him that he
were being a fool, he thought non too gently at himself, then softened as the
thought of his companion brought a smile to his face.
He really enjoyed the time he was spending with her, he admitted. She was
nice, a most reliable ally but... he could also tell her things he couldn't talk
about even with his father. He was sometimes more content to stay with her than
to return home... but that was simply because he had company, he told himself.
He loved his father and wouldn't want to miss one minute of sharing with him...
the problem being that his father wasn't home very often... Cursed Jedis who
were still keeping him separate from his father.
For the almost eleven year old boy, the separations were getting longer and
harder to bear up. But he had to get used to it, he scolded himself as he
caught his thoughts. It was the price for serving the Emperor, and it was a
price both he and his father gladly paid to have this honor and to be together
to do so. He turned off the vid and laid back on the couch, selecting it as his
bed for the night.
A little rough night would toughen him, he decided.
Three months later, the children had yet another mission to accomplish in
master's palace, this time, during the day. According to their information,
their target, a rich merchant, was supposed to leave with his family for the
day; they themselves planned to take advantage of their absence to infiltrate
their quarters and to retrieve information about an organizing movement which
meant to offer save hiding for the fewer and fewer Jedi anarchists. Their
master suspected that this particular merchant was the main covering 'agent' for
the hiding-Jedi business; he wanted them to expose him.
Luke was more than glad to have be assigned to this mission. The faster the
Jedi would be killed, the faster his father would return home; he hadn't seen
him for almost half a year now, and busy or not, the long separation was
beginning to become very hard to bear.
Both garbed like regular children of Imperial dignitaries, Luke, now browned
hair, and Mara, momentarily black haired, skipped in the corridors on their way
to the playground/garden which were located nearby their target's quarters. For
a long while, they played in the courtyard, waiting for the alley to be desert
from both the merchant's bodyguards 'and' their master's troops.
A few hours later, the field was finally clear for them. Careful to not
attention on themselves, they returned in front of the unguarded door, then, now
set on the spying mode, Luke hacked their way inside while Mara guarded his
back. Once inside, they headed for the merchant's room and methodically scoured
the room and his computer. Since the man was only a visitor on the planet, they
both figured that any sensitive information would be hidden in his luggage, not
the suite that was lent to him for the duration of his stay--- and they were
right. Luke uncovered a secret compartment in one of the suitcases and
retrieved its content; he brought the small disc to his friend who was busy with
*Let's try this,* he told her.
Wordlessly, Mara loaded the disc and called up the directory.
*Jack pot, flyboy,* she retorted with a cold smirk.
Luke exchanged a grim glance with her, then began to put together the parts
the small bomb that they would use to draw their master's security in here where
they would find the data disk and put the man and his family under arrest.
Unlike the last time he had used that strategy, he had been careful to take a
very small charge which would mimic the explosion of a computer, a more than
regular incident in their technology-surrounded world.
He selected the communication console which was the closest to the fire
The fire would be controlled in no time, and the people in charge of the
investigation would find the disc in the man's luggage. Mara put it in one of
the most easy-to-think hiding places, then joined him in the living room.
*Time to go, flyboy,* she sent through the Force.
They waited for the corridor to be deserted, then resumed their childish
skipping as if nothing had happened. When the surveillance cameras picked them
on their screen, the surveillance agents never suspected them of anything--- not
even when the bomb went off. They pretended to be scared out of their wits and
ran for all their worth.
Well, Luke amended, not their full worth, but as fast as what a child of
age could normally manage.
A week later, and a few other missions and lessons, Mara woke up in the
room after another session of their bearing-pain training.
Darn, how she hated that exercise, she thought to herself even as she
closed her eyes to force down a groan of complaint. It was necessary in their
training, she reminded her. Because of it, she hated getting hurt in missions,
and if she were, on very rare occasions, her injuries never stopped her. Up to
now, neither she and Luke hadn't gotten seriously injured since they had always
accomplished their missions under cover, but, she thought more seriously as she
opened her eyes again and gazed at her friend nearby, she could somehow feel
that someday, their pain-bearing training would come in handy for him. For her
too, of course, she rebuked herself, but, she then conceded, she had a very
strong feeling that her friend would need it more than herself. It was just a
feeling, she tried to reason herself, if a powerful one. She watched him as he
too rested from their last session.
She knew that she was lucky to have him as a friend and partner. No other
servant had ever been allowed to fraternized with another one like they had.
She didn't know if it was because he was Lord Vader's son, or if it was because
her master had felt their potential as a team, but she was glad to have someone
to talk to, someone of her age. Being an imperial servant was sometimes
difficult, she sighed tiredly, and since admitting weaknesses was a flaw, she
had nobody to talk to when she needed to share those things. Except Luke.
She dimly wondered if they would be friends for the rest of their lives...
Ten minutes later, Luke awoke too, complained about the same aches that she
feeling, then they were told to report to their next teacher.
Weeks later, at night, both children crept from one shadow to another,
for the headquarters of yet another company. This time, their target was
creating computer programs and their master was particularly interested in their
new droid concept. He didn't want the businessmen to develop it; he wanted that
technology for himself.
Once the children reached a blind corner of the huge complex, they pulled out
their climbing equipment, fastened the magnets to their hands and knees, then
swiftly began the long climb.
Half-an-hour later, once they reached the higher, wind-swept levels, they
to move sideways on the facade of the complex, heading for their target: a
ventilation exhaust port. When they reached it, they unscrewed it and pulled
it free, working as if there weren't a kilometers-long drop under them. Luke
held the grid with the Force while his companion stowed the screws in her
pockets for later use. Mara climbed first in the port, pulled the grid inside
with herself, then Luke followed suite.
After getting rid of their magnets, they quickly but silently walked on four,
following the infiltration path that they had selected during their planning.
Once they reached the research lab, Luke pulled a device from his pack while
Mara took care of the new grid, then once his friend had pulled the grid free,
he expertly deactivated the laser/alarm system.
*Okay, count two minutes,* Mara told him before she dropped down in the
Luke closely monitored her while keeping the alarm system in check.
One minute twenty seconds later, Mara was back. She jumped and he pulled her
with the Force before he helped her back inside the pipe.
Twenty seconds later, they were back toward their exit, and thirty minutes
later, heading for the nearest secret entrance of the Emperor's private
corridors. Both children grinned proudly; they knew that nobody would know that
the data had been stolen, not erased by accident.
They also knew that their master would be pleased, again.
The seekers were floating in the air, as if waiting for the children to make
first move. The children were also floating in the air, easily finding their
equilibrium in the zero-gs environment.
The first times that they had trained in 0gs, they had all but controlled
tumblings, but they had learnt how to move and balance themselves in such an
environment; after countless bumps into walls and each other, they had developed
the techniques, and were now ready for their first firefight in zero-gs.
As usual, the remotes were set to kill. Luke and Mara exchanged a grim gaze,
then Luke turned on his lightsaber and drew his blaster while Mara drew her two
blasters. The remotes began to attack. Luke shifted his stance and deflected
the bolts, again and again, slowly pushing himself toward the far wall, then he
barely pushed himself away from it, tumbled over the remotes and shot two of
them dead before they had corrected their aim. He easily stopped his drifting
with the other wall, controlling his rebound by establishing as light a touch as
he could with the mentioned wall.
Behind him, Mara equally used the wall to move away from the little hornets.
She pushed herself under them, barely moved to flip on her back and shot them
from under. However, Luke saved her from a shot in the leg by pushing himself
from the floor and intercepting the bolt with his lightsaber before slashing up
the last remote.
That was their first, easy victory.
Four, gradually more difficult exercises followed.
On the day of his eleventh birthday, Luke was given a great gift: his father
returned home after months of absence. It was his only gift since he had long
learnt that a birthday wasn't an important thing for an imperial servant, merely
a way to keep track of time, but for Luke, it was a special day this time, and
he couldn't have asked for a greater present. When he had returned from three
long days of preparation suddenly interrupted as per the Emperor s order, he had
been so concerned about his displeasing him in any way that he had completely
failed to notice the returned presence of his father in the Force... Until he
walked out of the turbolift and woke up . The moment he understood what he was
feeling, he ran as fast as he could toward his father s location, then screeched
to a halt once he faced the open door. His father s black silhouette was
standing just behind his desk, contrasting sharply with the vista of Coruscant.
He could barely believe that he was home again; it had been almost eight
since he had left for another mission. For a moment, as if afraid that he were
dreaming and that he would wake up from it if he moved, he held still, barely
breathing in fear of shattering the precious moment--- then his father turned
toward him and held his gaze. Forgetting everything he had been taught or how
he was supposed to behave now, Luke resumed his run, then leaped and fastened
his small arms around his father s neck as he bent down to return the upcoming
Father, he cried despite his best attempts to not show weakness. You re
really here, he said even as he tightened his hold on his neck.
Yes, I am, I missed you, Son, his father answered warmly, returning his hugs
tenfolds before standing up once again with him in his arms.
I missed you too, what took you so long? he asked--- then caught his rebuking
tone of voice. I m sorry, he hurried to add, I just missed you so much...
I understand what you mean, Luke, his father reassured him. I would have
come back earlier, but trouble kept coming up until last week.
I don t doubt it, Father, Luke answered, slightly pulling away from his
father s neck to look at him. It s not my place to question you anyway. I m
No apologies are necessary here, his father shook his head, then hugged him
closer once again. It is wonderful to see you again, at last.
I m also glad you re back, Father, the boy answered, feeling fresh tears of
happiness welling up in his eyes.
His father was back; he wasn t lonely anymore.
Lord Vader had meant to surprise his son by not allowing him to feel his
presence until he were closer, but he had never expected the boy to be this
delighted to see him again. Every time that he had tried to contact the boy, he
hadn t been in the palace and he couldn t relay his calls to the training center
or the Emperor.
By all rights, he conceded, the child should have begun to grow cooler, more
distant after such long separations... but no. Luke was as loving,
enthusiastic, and caring as ever. Despite the fact that such feelings didn t
sit well with the Emperor s requirements, Vader was glad that his son s training
didn t affect his true personality. Luke was still his son, the boy who was the
greatest gift that life had given to him in a long, long time. And thinking of
gift, he reminded himself, it was once again the boy s birthday today.
Say, he began seriously, I believe someone is getting older today, he teased
him lightly. Happy birthday, Son, he wished him warmly.
Thanks, and thank you for the gift, Father, the boy answered earnestly,
pulling away from their embrace to look at him.
What gift? he asked, puzzled by his comment. Although he had wanted to give
something to the boy, the Emperor had expressly forbidden him from ever giving
birthday gifts to the boy. A gift, he said, had to be earned through hard work,
not because one was getting older.
You, his son answered, cutting in his thoughts. I was beginning to wonder if
you d ever come back, he then commented seriously.
And I wondered if I d see you again, he nodded in answer. I tried to contact
you though, Luke. You were never here when I called.
You did? the boy gaped slightly in surprise, then shook his head. I m sorry,
I guess I was at the training center when it happened... I do spend most of my
time there now, he admitted almost shamefully.
Vader gently brought his fingers under his son s chin and made him look back
at him. You don t have to apologize, Luke, he told him seriously. This is
your duty, and I can only encourage you to do everything you can to fulfill it.
The Emperor is very pleased with what you and Mara Jade have accomplished so
Thanks, the boy blushed slightly, then saddened, However, I fear that we ve
upset him somehow this time, he commented with a wince of worry.
Vader instantly answered that worry by worrying with his son. Why do you say
this? he asked him, tilting his head to the left.
He canceled our new mission. In four days, we were supposed to infiltrate an
embassy and steal data from them... but we just got his order to stop everything
and go back to our quarters. What does it mean, Father? the child asked, his
voice wavering slightly as he lost some of his self-confidence.
Thanks to his son s explanation however, Vader s worry dissolved; he knew why
the Emperor had called the children off. Don t worry, Luke, he has another
mission in mind for you, that s all. Tell me, how is your training going? he
asked him with interest.
At first, the child stared at him in confusion, then slowly, he answered him,
telling him everything he remembered about his training and missions. The more
he asked him questions, the more the boy revealed to him how successful he and
his friend were, and the more his self-confidence returned until Vader knew
that his son was ready to hear the permission that had managed to obtain from
"If you are this excellent, Son, he commented seriously after his son s
retelling, then you and Mara can indeed help me in four days," he stated with a
proud smile in his voice.
Luke was flabbergasted. Had his father just said what he thought he had said???
"You mean... go in a mission with you?" Luke asked, gazing at his
He had never been allowed to help his father before, and the Emperor had
been adamant about not allowing him to take part to them. Things couldn t have
"Yes, his father nodded seriously, the Emperor pulled you off your other
assignment so that you can leave with me tonight and prepare for a mission on
Alderaan. Do you feel ready for this?" he asked him meaningfully.
"Yes," Luke smiled, trying hard to hide his great joy.
At last, he would finally fulfill one of his dream: he would serve alongside
father. What a pleasure it would be.
Good, then get ready, we re leaving in three hours, his father commented with
a last comforting hand on his shoulder, then he stood once again to his full
height. I must see the Emperor; I will pick you up after my meeting.
Yes, Father, he reflexively bowed his head, then turned on his heel and left
for his room.
A mission with his father, he thought more seriously. He had to prepare well
for it if he didn t want to disappoint him.
Four days later, Luke was indeed part of his father's mission, but it wasn't
like what he had thought it would be. Instead of seeing more action, his father
had been schedule to attend a diplomatic reception on Alderaan.
At first, Luke had been disappointed by the turn of events, but he had
pushed back those unfaithful thoughts and focused on his task. He was still
on a mission if not an active one. He and Mara had to set up discreet trackers
that would allow his father's Intelligence to spy on Jedi-sympathetic
individuals. Luke's part of the operation was to probe each guest when they
came near him and thus pick out the traitors from the allies. Then he had to
transmit the names to his friend who would then either take care to plant the
listening device or transmit the information to the other spies who were on the
planet with them.
It was a very important mission, he reminded himself, and much rested on his
shoulders. His father was here as a dressing window while 'he' was at the core
of the operation. He had no time for sulking. Hence, he waited patiently out
of the main room, standing still like a good slave boy who was allegedly taking
care of his master's comlink, filtrating the calls to warn him if something
extremely important came up.
In fact though, whenever someone came out of the doors, he tested them for
Two hours later, and at least a hundred and fifty probe, a new figure came
of the room. Luke inconspicuously scanned her too, then froze in mid-probe.
She was the young princess... the young girl he had seen only twice in his life.
He couldn't resist his curiosity and dared look up to see her for real. She was
looking in her back, as if checking if she were being followed. She was dressed
in a fine light-blue dress and her small neck was adorned with a very delicate
pearl necklace. She turned around, and for the shortest of moments, their eyes
They instantly gaped at each other in shock, and Luke felt as if was drawing
them toward together although he was unable to follow its guidance. Remembering
his role of a slave, he hurried to drop his gaze back to the floor. The
princess gaze didn t leave him; he felt her pity, her curiosity, but she didn't
come closer. She was tempted to though. On the other hand, she didn't even
address him, probably because she knew not to put a slave in harm's way by
talking to him, he surmised. Even though slavery wasn't allowed on her planet,
he had no doubts that the young girl knew that the best way to help slaves if
they came to her home planet was to not talk to them--- To his surprise, the
girl took a step toward him---- but before she could do something else, the door
of the reception room opened again and a woman's voice spoke up.
"Leia, what are you doing?" the woman asked the young girl.
"Nothing, Mother, I was just tired to be in that room," the
Luke scanned the woman while she spoke with her daughter. She was Jedi
sympathetic. So was the girl in fact.
"Come now, don't stay here," the queen gently prompted her.
Although he couldn t see the adult, Luke felt her as she motioned toward him,
then she lowered her voice to whisper in the girl's hear; he easily enhanced
his hearing with the Force.
"You don't want Vader to hurt him because of you, do you? He looks
enough as it is," the adult said to her daughter.
Luke felt the young princess's eyes on him once more, then she followed her
mother back inside the room. Once alone, he had to restrain a slight smirk from
crossing his lips. Fragile? Really? He was far from fragile, but his new,
long, ample-sleeved shirt was creating that illusion. He didn t have any
choice to wear that kind of shirt tonight, he reminded himself; his arms were
too muscled to not betray his intensive training anymore. However, since he had
had to cover his real slave mark, he now bore a forged slave mark on his neck to
identify him as a his father's servant--- The comlink went off in his hand.
Mara finished to plant her listening/tracking device in her target's ship,
checked which other ones she had to take care of. Lord Vader's agents had
barred off three ships while she had been busy with her chosen target. That
left four targets, Alderaan's castle included. She selected that one as her
own, gathered her equipment, then found her stealth speeder bike and flew in the
Once she was above a room with an open window, she jumped and landed lightly
the curved roof, controlled her slide downward with the Force, then grabbed hold
of the window s upper ledge, flipped her position to change her momentum and
jumped inside the open window. Since she didn't know where the Viceroy's
apartments were, she waited for her friend to pull the information out of the
Three minutes later, she was on her way. The corridors were mostly deserted,
if the viceroy didn't need guards, she reflected. He was a fool, but she
certainly wasn't. She kept her senses alert, cat-footing closer and closer to
her target s room, then slipped inside the unprotected door. She took a moment
to study the layout of the room and decided to plant her device near the
couple's bed table. Once this was done, she pulled out her remote caller and
contacted her speeder bike.
Two minutes later, she had jumped from the window ledge and back on it; she
headed back for the dark lord's shuttle. Luke had just warned her that he was
on his way out. On her way in, she allowed a smirk to crease her lips. That,
she reflected, had been one of her easiest infiltration ever.
Back on the reception s level, Luke stepped in behind his father, keeping his
head lowered. While the viceroy was escorting the dark lord toward the lift,
Luke felt the young princess's presence behind himself.
She was looking at him. He was tempted to look at her one last time, but he
knew that he couldn't. He dimly wondered why she was paying him so much
attention, unless, he suddenly understood... she had never seen a slave of her
age before. Yeah, that was probably it, he surmised. He could understand her,
he conceded, but she was too sensitive for her own good, he thought more
seriously. As he probed her further, he realized that when she would be older,
she would meddle in a other s business if no one taught her otherwise. He also
knew that this kind of attitude was one of the surest ways to get into very deep
trouble... Shame for her, he thought more glumly. She looked like an
interesting person and didn t mean any wrong. She was just too caring... kind
of like him, he conceded, but his father and the Emperor were teaching him to
control his flaw. He knew that he wouldn t get into trouble because of it...
the princess however...
He climbed in front of the speeder, turned it on, then brought his father to
They were now settled in the shuttle and ready for the short ride up to his
father's ship, but when the pilots tried to turn on the repulsorlifts, they died
out on them. To Luke's surprise, his father didn't seem upset by the small
problem. Instead, he told the pilots to fix the anomaly, then left the shuttle.
Luke watched him leave, bemused. Now there was a strange reaction coming from
his father, he thought seriously. His own first impulse was to berate the
pilots for fools, then to shove them away from the compartment and fix the
problem himself, but of course, he couldn't give in to his desires. Instead, he
remained in the prisoners' compartment. While he waited for them to do their
job, he felt his father search something with the Force but, he realized, he
always came up dry. There was something here, he finally understood, something
his powerful father had detected. He tried to help him, but instead of
achieving much, he fell asleep before he was aware of what was happening.
He hadn't realized that he was dead to the world.
When they finally reached the Executor, Vader still hadn't been able to
the secret of the strange feeling that he had had as long as he had been on
Alderaan. Somehow, he conceded, he had had the feeling to be leaving something
He had scanned the Force, had opened up his mind to its guidance, but had
up dry. There was something on Alderaan though, he thought seriously.
Something which was attracting him in a strange way yet remained hidden from
him. It wasn't power, it wasn't danger, it was... something else.
The shuttle set down in the hangar bay of the Executor. He stood up and
for the ramp, expecting his son to join him--- but Luke failed to show up.
Slightly worried, he retreated on his steps and checked in the prisoners'
compartment; his son was fast asleep, looking as vulnerable as any eleven-year-
old boy in the galaxy. For a moment, Vader simply gazed at him, then he
conceded that he was moot to wake him up. The boy had done a great job tonight,
deserving every second of sleep he could get. He was equally aware that his
son's young body had to recharge himself after his skillful uses of the Force.
He also had no doubt that the young girl Mara was also fast asleep in her secret
cubicle. He wouldn't wake her up either.
Careful not to wake his son up, he delicately picked him up from his sitting
position on the bench and took him in his right arm, balancing him against his
shoulder and chest. The boy muttered slightly, then laid his head on his
father's shoulder and sleepily wound an arm around his neck. At that moment,
Vader felt a warm feeling of love for his son. He was tempted to cradle him in
his two arms, to hold him close to himself, but he knew that it wouldn't be a
good idea. He had to keep up the illusion of his son being his slave. He
settled for carrying him in one arm.
The pilots gaped at the sight of their lord carrying his slave.
"Sleep is his reward when he serves me well," he commented curtly,
interested to see any upstarts of rumors about himself and the boy.
The two pilots bowed their heads in understanding. Vader walked down the
and headed for his quarters, his son balanced in his right arm. Luke never
steered, completely unaware in blissful sleep.
The next day, Vader brought the two young people back to Coruscant,
that he had to report in person to the Emperor. The first thing he did once
they were on their way was to remove the fake slave mark on his son's neck.
The boy sat on a high bunk while he himself lightly scraped it off with a
special solution. The less he saw his son's different marks, even faked ones,
the better he felt.
"I have had word that the operation is a success," he informed the
"Intelligence is currently tracking the down the targets. The dignitaries will
lead us to the Jedis."
"That's great, Father," Luke smiled, bending his head to the side
to allow easy
access to another part of his special tattoo.
While his father continued to work on his neck, Luke reflected that he liked
those moments of closeness with him. The sensation of his gentle, gloved
fingers on his neck, his strong presence closed- by... It was making
him feel strong too, and invincible, and completely contented. He was with his
father ; he couldn't ask for anything else at the moment.
"Princess Leia came close to you, didn t she?" his father asked him.
"Yes. I think that she wanted to talk with me, but her mother stopped
her," he commented seriously.
"Princess Leia?" Mara asked from her perch on the other bunk.
She was nursing a blaster burn on her arm which she had gotten aboard one of
targets; it was minor injury, but even though his friend was as tough as he was,
he could feel her relief to finally be able to tend herself. She was also
tired, but then, he conceded, who wouldn t be after a night in a hiding
"She was there yesterday," Luke explained to her. "and, around
think she tried to escape her parents' notice to talk with me."
"Why would she do that?" Mara wondered while she dabbed at her injury.
Luke understood what she meant: a slave normally was beyond notice, except
her, he wanted to tease her but kept himself from doing it. His friend would
deny her care till he admitted his wrong judgment.
"She's never seen a slave this close before," his father supplied
Luke could answer her without ribbing her. "That girl is so much sheltered,
the adult then commented, that real life will hit her in the guts when she will
face it for the first time. Luke was probably nothing more than a curiosity for
her." he finished wisely.
"Oh," Jade nodded shortly.
"In fact," Luke continued while obeying his father's wordless
bending his head toward the left, "she is already flawed. She cares too much
and doesn't think enough," he commented coolly.
His father finished to clean up the special ink, then gently wiped the
from his skin.
"You are right, Son." he agreed with him. "There, it's
"Thanks, Father. It was getting itchy," Luke smiled, turning toward his father.
"I have no doubt of that." he answered him. Body painting isn t
meant to last
for more than thirty-six hours.
The two of them gazed at each other, then his father's hand touched his face.
Luke instantly knew that something was troubling him.
"What is it?" he asked.
Mara watched them for a little longer, then she turned away, giving them
*I wish I could do the same thing with your real marks, Luke,* he sent him
through the Force. *You deserve so much more than what you have because we have
to keep up that charade,* he commented in mild frustration.
*I know, Father, but without that charade,* he reminded him, *we wouldn't
met. I guess it's the price to pay,* he said in precocious wisdom.
*You shouldn't pay any price,* his father retorted, definitely frustrated
*You haven't done anything; the Jedis have... I have.*
Luke took his father's hand in his and squeezed it reassuringly. *No, Father,
none of this is your fault. It's the Jedis'...* he told him wisely, then took
on a more dangerous mental tone of voice. *And that is why they will pay with
all of their lives, Father. We will destroy them all,* he promised, a dark fire
of revenge blazing in his cool eyes.
*Yes, we will,* Vader agreed, returning his squeeze.
He then leaned down to hug his son.
"I love you, Father." Luke said out loud as he wound his arms
"And I love you, Son." Vader said, hugging his child to himself.
The Jedi would pay dearly, Luke promised himself. No one had the right to
his father, to make him think that he was at fault. No one could do this to
him, except their master of course. He himself was going to dare ask if he and
Mara could be assigned to the Jedi cases now. He could feel that he would be
able to help his father if he were allowed to. Behind them, Luke felt his
friend's curiosity about the scene that was unfolding less than a meter away
from her. His father disentangled himself from him and straightened.
"I will be in the cockpit," he told him coolly, implicitly
informing him that he
would leave him alone with his partner for a while.
"Okay," both Luke and Mara answered lightly.
The dark lord silently exited the small cabin.
"You know," Mara began, turning toward him, "having a family
seems like a very
nice experience," she commented thoughtfully.
"It is." Luke agreed. "And, it isn't the same thing to have a
real family than
a fake one. I was never as close to my guardians as I am to my father...
perhaps my aunt... but certainly not my uncle," he commented, disgruntled.
"I don't doubt it after what you told me about him. Was he really this
you?" she inquired seriously.
Luke hopped down from his bunk and onto the other one to sit beside her. She
turned toward him.
"Yes and no," he admitted. "He was just very cold, very
demanding, and never
satisfied. He never showed me much care while I was with them, and he never
hesitated to punish me if I disobeyed him," he told her wistfully as he
remembered the past. "At least, Father showed care for me, even when he was my
'master'. He gave me more than Owen ever gave me," he finished seriously,
Mara nodded in agreement. "I can understand the comparison, but I am
beginning to understand what a family is about," she told him, applying a new
bacta patch to her burn.
"What do you mean?" he frowned slightly.
His friend sigh sadly. "I wasn't with my real parents when the Emperor
me. They had abandoned me and those other people were simply 'grooming' me
until I was old enough to be sold for a good price. I simply can't say how my
parents were," she sighed again, this time in resignation.
"It's sad," Luke tried to comfort her, "You were truly lucky
to be found by the
"Yes I was," she agreed. "But while he is a good guardian, he
is not a father,"
she pointed out glumly, casting her eyes down as if in regret to have said her
"Well," Luke sighed, leaning back on his hands and trying to
lighten the mood of
the suddenly heartrending discussion. "if you look on the positive side, Mara,
you don't have a weak heart like I do," he commented lightly.
She raised her small eyebrows in confusion. "Weak heart?"
"Every time I am separated from my father," he explained. "I
miss him. I
really, really miss him," he added wistfully. "And, no matter how I try to
harden myself, my heart is still my weakness. You don't have any flaws, my
friend," he told her in envy, touching her shoulder with his hand.
"Well," she smirked, letting him draw her out of her blue mood.
"I have to
disagree with you since I am currently nursing the result of such a weakness."
Luke returned her smirk. "We'll just have to work harder on that,"
her with the knuckle of his left index.
"Count on it," she returned.
While they held their gaze for a little longer, Luke reflected that they had
truly developed the automatism to learn from their mistake now; they never
whined over them. He knew that it had served them right up to now and he could
see that his friend would do everything she could to prove it useful once more.
He watched her as she dropped her patch and tried to wrap her forearm in a
bandage. He knew that she wanted to do everything on her own, but when she
failed her first attempt, he decided to help her.
Wordlessly, he took the two ends of the bandage and began to expertly wrap
arm with it.
"I could do it, you know?" she told him, obviously irked.
"I know," he acquiesced. "I'm just saving you time."
"Besides, I owe you one for tending my back after that near miss back
"Right..." she conceded, somewhat grudgingly. She 'had' patched him
up when he
had gotten hurt during a zero-gs simulation.
"You know," Luke began thoughtfully, coming back on their previous
prefer to be with my father, even if we are often apart, then to have a family
like the princess's. She is our age, yet she can't even think on her own," he
explained in despise. "They are still telling her what to do. I prefer my
independence," he stated seriously.
"I think I prefer being alone," Mara told him in a similar fashion.
"Yeah. Solitude fortifies one's soul," Luke agreed as he finished
"Although... personally, if I could, I would like to have a pet," he admitted
"A pet?" his friend asked her, bemused.
"Yeah, a small, cuddly animal that you can pet and play with when you
I know it's not worthy of an Imperial servant but..."
"Then why would you want one?" Mara asked.
Luke sighed and ran his hand in his short hair.
"Because it's something I've always wanted ever since I was three. Long
die hard, you know?" he smiled lamely.
"Well, personally, I want what the Emperor wants, and I do not think
other things," his friend told him coolly. "I know he wants the best for me
"And that is why you are very lucky," Luke nodded, lightly nudging
arm yet again. "You don't have to unlearn what you have learnt and lived. I,
on the other hand, have to work hard on that,... especially my bad habit of
caring..." he sighed in resignation.
"Perhaps, but," she began with a smirk. "you haven't had to
sleep in a small
compartment yesterday. I have."
Luke returned her smirk and jumped down from the bunk.
"I'm keeping you from getting some more sleep, right? I'll let you
"Luke, wait, she apologized, that wasn't what I meant," she said,
shoulder to keep him from leaving.
"But it's still true, Jade. You do need to sleep you know?" He
eyebrow at her. "Or didn't you see yourself in a mirror? You would recognize
the signs that we're supposed to avoid at all costs," he told her coolly.
If the trainers back home saw her right now, he reflected, they would punish
for being puffy eyed and tired-looking. She seemed to understand this as well.
"Okay, you go then. I'll get rid of those."
"Excellent," he smiled shortly, then headed for the nearby door.
Behind him, his friend settled in for a restful rejuvenation trance.
Luke exited the medbay and joined his father in the cockpit. He sat in the
copilot seat and reflexively surveyed the board. Everything was in order; they
were a little less than ten hours away from Coruscant.
"I take it that she's catching up on her sleep," his father stated
"Yes. She's not going to be punished, don't worry," Luke answered,
hesitated slightly before saying his next sentence. "By the way, Father, sorry
to have fallen asleep yesterday. When his father s helmeted head slowly
turned toward him, he then hurried to ask. "Why didn t you---"
His father made him fall silent by resting his gloved finger against his
"First, Son, after making that much use of the Force, rest was more than
especially for a child of your age, and two, even if I had wanted to, I wouldn't
have been able to rouse you. You were too deeply asleep. The best option was
to just let you rest," he told him in his cool, modulated voice.
"But you have had to carry me!" Luke defended once his father
finger. "A master doesn't carry a slave. You should have at least left me
there for the night," he tried to argue.
"That was out of question," his father retorted in a mildly
"You have it rough enough as it is. I carried you; nobody will question it," he
finished in a tone which meant that no other argument was welcome.
Luke pursed his lips, then relented. Who was he to argue with his father
"If you say so," he commented, subdued.
A silent moment passed between them.
"Are you going to stay home with me?" he asked his father even
though he knew
"No, I'm sorry. With the leads you uncovered, the Jedi hunt has started
"Do you think the master would allow Mara and I to take part to it if I
him?" he queried hopefully.
"You mean before finishing your training?" the dark lord asked him,
toward him, his tone of voice implicitly reminding him that they had talked
about this before and that it was a subject best left alone with their master.
Oh, right..., Luke conceded, he had forgotten about that. "Once it is
"This is in the future, Son, and in the future, I will be done with the
his father assured him.
"So it's no," Luke accepted, feeling glum.
He wanted very much to help his father in this thing, he thought in
He wanted to be at his side when he killed the hated Jedis. He wanted to kill
them himself. He too had a personal vendetta against them. But of course, he
was a mere child, not even a fully-trained agent; the adults couldn't risk
endangering their plan with his mistakes, even if he was a dark Jedi already.
It all made sense, he reminded himself, even if it didn't make it any easier for
him to truly accept it. Glumly, he crossed his arms, sank in his seat and
pouted slightly. It wasn t fair...
Vader sensed his son's disappointment and mentally shook his head. The boy
wanted so much to destroy the Jedis that he still forgot himself in the process.
That was probably why, out of other reasons, he wasn't allowed to leave with
him, he conceded. The child was not ready yet for this, no matter if he had
completed the Jedi training or not. He was still a child, and too earnest for
his own good.
However, he admitted, his son s devotion to their common goal was touching.
meant that the boy was sharing his hatred of the Jedis, of the men who had
separated his family before Luke's birth. His family; their family. What would
it have been like to have Amidala with them, he wondered dimly? Would they be
like they were today? Or would things be completely different?
The boy sighed and slumped in his chair. His gaze never left the motley blue
hyperspace. Luke was barely eleven years old, he reminded himself, yet when he
took on that faraway look, lost in thoughts, he looked like he was eons older.
Even more so today than the last time he had seen him, he conceded as he
indulged himself in a new study of his boy. Last time he had seen him, he had
already begun to show signs of his training, but now, they were undoubtedly
present. For the untrained eyes, his large shirt concealed his athletic shape,
but not to him who knew him well. Every muscle that could be used in his son s
body were now ready for action. He was also better coordinated although his
uneven growth was slightly hampering him. Still, he smiled to himself at the
memory of a training session between the children, the boy had adapted well to
his changing body. He was a head taller than he remembered too. However, his
body wasn t the only thing that had continued to grow during his absence. His
mind was now filled with information that even a royal child such as Princess
Leia Organa would never acquire, his constantly developing Jedi powers had now
given him access to a source of unlimited power, wisdom and extra knowledge, and
his intelligence allowed him to put all his abilities and knowledge together to
please the Emperor with the results. In short, he summarized, Luke's mind and
body were more like those of a regular sixteen-year-old teenager now, perhaps
even eighteen... but he was still just a child he reminded himself as he
refocused on he sight of his pouting boy.
His heart truly was grounded in the present and his childhood, he noticed,
all the dreams, the yearnings and the impatience it meant. His training had
taught him to not focus on them, but they were still there. He was a
Skywalker/Vader, he smiled in fatherly pride: for him, the future wouldn't come
"Luke," he called gently.
The boy focused on him with his serene/troubled gaze.
"Come here," he invited him.
At first, pride battled with his son's desire to be with his father; his
pride lost. He walked over the chair and sat on his father's lap.
"Don't worry, Son," Vader said kindly, resting his arms around his
will have all the time in the galaxy to live adventures with me. You are still
only a child," he told him wisely.
"I know, Father, but I----it's too long to wait," Luke pouted childishly.
A true Skywalker/Vader, Vader smiled inwardly. Gods how he loved that boy,
"Yes," he conceded, more coolly than he felt, "but patience is
a virtue that
even a dark Jedi can use, Luke. The Emperor is a very patient man, and so am I.
We wait for events to happen, just like you should wait for your time of
recognition to come," he advised more seriously.
"Some day, Father," Luke said, leaning against his father's chest.
"I promise I
will be as good a servant as you are." He craned his neck to look up at his
father. "I will be a very powerful, invincible dark Jedi and I will make you
and the Emperor proud of me."
Vader ruffled his son's hair, hoping yet again that he could show him the
that was creasing his lips at the moment.
"I am already proud of you, my son... my little dark Jedi," he
wrapping his arms around the boy. "Now enough gloomy talk," he commented more
lightly, then he began to tickle the child s ribs to change his mood.
Luke jumped up, trying to draw away from his fingers, but he was unable to
escape him of course. Besides, Vader reflected, he himself liked too much to
hear his son laugh to make it easy for him to put an end to it.
A child was made to smile and laugh, he now knew, and the best way to balance
his boy's very serious life was to allow him to be a child once in a while.
Hence, he made him laugh, and laugh, and laugh until he begged for mercy. After
that, they sat together and silently watched hyperspace fly by them, content to
be together for the moment.
It took Luke and his friend almost another year to complete the training, a
during which they alternated between missions, learning new skills, living on
different planets for a while to practice their survival skills, and more. After
a long while, the two children wondered if it would ever end...
But finally, it was time to report to the Emperor and wait for his final
The children waited in the corridor, nervous despite the fact that they knew
that the outcome of the meeting could only be positive. Their trainers had
taught them their whole curriculum and they themselves had faced down anything
that they had thrown at them during the final tests.
They were ready and they knew it. They could crack, reprogram and take
advantage of any kind of computer system, they could use any kind of weapon from
blasters to planetary defense systems, they could blend in any civilization in
the galaxy as well as spy on them without ever being detected, and they could
pilot anything that could fly, move on the ground, skim the water or any other
possibility of transport. They could also kill any kind of being in less than
ten seconds with little more than their hands and feet, no matter what species
Yes, Luke admitted, he could feel, deep inside him, that they were worthy to
serve their master now, not just on sparse mission but as regular spies. He
threw a look at his friend, saw that she was sharing his opinion, and refocused
on the floor.
They were finally summoned in the throne room. They walked inside, Luke
following Mara as if he were her assigned slave. They noticed that the guards
had left the room; they were alone with their master--- and his father, he
realized in delight when his father dropped his shield. He hadn't thought that
he would be present for their final report; the last he had heard about him, he
had been stuck in a small guerilla-afflicted zone, chasing a few remaining,
straggling Jedis while trying to keep the locals from destroying Imperial
He raised his head and walked proudly beside his friend. They knelt together.
"Rise, children," their master said, himself getting to his feet.
"I have had
word that you have completed the training," he told them with a touch of pride
in his voice.
"Yes, Master," the children bowed.
"With honors, I shall mention. Congratulations, both of you," he
slightly, standing in front of the two children.
"From now on," he began, resting his spindly hands on the
children's heads, "you
will be my ghosts, my hands, my will. I nominate you Emperor's Hands," he told
Luke stood tall, like a good imperial servant. Beside him, his friend beamed
with pride. He flicked a very quick glance in his father's direction. He was
glowing with pride and contentment. Luke reveled in the thought that this was
the greatest day of his life.
Less than half an hour later, he was following his father again, pretending
be his slave once again. However, both needed to talk to each other, so they
entered a small room where they would be able to take a break from their parody.
His father turned toward him and crouched to be at his level; he set his hands
on his shoulders. Luke knew that he wouldn't hug him, they hadn't done that for
a while now, after the Emperor had strained the point that such behavior only
weakened him. Hence, ever since his father had come back from his most
important victory against the Jedis, namely the destruction of their secret
rendezvous point, they had decided that they would be less effusive to
demonstrate their care for one another.
His father spoke, bringing him back to the present.
"I am so very proud of you, Luke. Do you realize the honor that is yours
today?" he asked him seriously.
"Yes, I do, Father," he answered proudly. It also means that I am
on the right
path to be one day recognized by him, doesn t it?
That it does, the older Vader nodded. And it also means that even if we
don t hunt the very last Jedis together, we will still work together, if from a
I know. This is the greatest day of my life, Father. I mean, since you freed
me of course, he added with a shy smile.
And The only other time I felt as proud as I do today was on that day, Son,
his father commented warmly. Now, what do you want to do to celebrate your
nomination?" he asked him seriously.
Luke took a moment to consider, then a sly grin curved his lips.
"I have an idea," he told his father. "If you're up to it, Dad
," he finished,
teasing his father with a moniker he rarely used except when he wanted to make
him feel like he had to show him what he could still do despite his older age.
As always, his father rose to the challenge, but not before a light rebuke
his chosen address.
Ten minutes later, he found out that his father was indeed up to his
Both of them soared above the water in their TIEs, pulled stunts that had never
been seen before; they skimmed the surface of the small sea every time they
came out of their loops, then kicked up again to regain altitude. Luke had to
restrain himself from whooping in delight, but it was okay. He was flying with
his father and they were challenging each other to mimic each other's moves;
they were having a great time together. It was almost as thrilling as flying in
combat with him, or among the stars, something which, he reminded himself, he
would soon be doing on a very regular basis. He couldn't wait to soar among the
stars in the service of his master. At last, he thought seriously, he would be
useful for real.
A few kilometers away from the place where the Vaders were displaying their
flying skills, the Emperor sat in his throne, tracking the two fighters with his
eyes despite the distance. He had tried to delay the moment when the boy would
come one step closer from being able to fight alongside his father, but his
trainers had completed the curriculum, and even his brightest counselors hadn t
been able to come up with any new requirement that he could force on the
Even more important, he conceded as he fastened his yellow gaze on the boy s
ship, the twelve-year-old children were now more apt to face down anything that
crossed their path than any other agent he had in his service at the moment. He
knew exactly how he could use these unique assets, but... he conceded, he had
meant to rid the boy of his disgusting good heart before freeing him from his
necessity to study . Even now, he could feel his and Vader s happiness, not
just satisfaction, but happiness to be together and successful; he could feel
the spot of lights that were piercing their dark personas. Oh, he conceded, the
Light was very diffuse, and only showing up when they were together, but he was
still worried of the consequences if it managed to corrupt his hard work of
entrapping those two in the Dark Side.
Still, he thought coldly, the boy and his father were still under his perfect
control, both were now totally devoted to him to retain his favors, and the boy
was still young enough to be molded further. And, he added with a machiavellian
smile, he knew exactly how he could make the boy s Light falter forever.
Even more than Mara Jade, the boy would kill for him.
Continued in part 7: the Destroyers
Copyright 2000, SJ (email@example.com)
(Any positive stuff is welcome, but any mean stuff won't even be read.)
Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV | Part XXV
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