Luke was drifting. He perceived vaguely that Leia was beside him, that he was in a bunk, that a tourniquet encased his maimed right arm; but none of it felt real. His mind had shut him down, disconnecting him completely.

Leia laid a damp cloth on his forehead, leaving her hand on it. Luke turned his face to the wall so it slipped off. Leia withdrew her hand.

The ship tilted sharply, and he heard a muffled boom from somewhere behind the far bulkhead. Leia glanced over her shoulder and made to get up.

She kissed him softly. "I'll be right back," she promised.

Luke barely heard her. He could not care.

He didn't stir as she ducked out of the sleeping quarters, but his Force senses fanned out a little, saturating the ship without his trying, and he found her in the cockpit a few seconds later. Chewbacca's familiar mind, and the strange one of the dark man, held only the jittery fear of capture and death. Leia's was a different fear, a deeper, darker one. That made sense, Luke reflected listlessly. She was a leader of the Rebellion. Her knowledge in the hands of the Empire would strike a devastating blow at the very core of the Alliance. Her fear was for the whole galaxy.

Luke curled onto his side, cradling his maimed arm to his chest, and closed his eyes.

He frowned, counting minds. Only three…. Where was Han? He wasn't on the ship. Luke felt the first worm of worry in his stomach, which, he supposed, was better than the horrifying nothing.

Han must be nearby. The Falcon must be going to pick him up.

In his wan satisfaction at solving this trivial puzzle, Luke almost missed the subtle contact of another mind. He did recognize, though, the darkness and pain and suppressed violence of the other, and the realization of what was about to happen smothered him in despair.

It was Vader. Vader was going to break his mind and his will and make him a slave of the Emperor, and Luke was not strong enough to defend himself. He was not now; he never had been. And, he reflected darkly, since his will was about to be leached away, he likely would never be.

Arrogance—his fatal flaw. He had not been prepared to face Vader alone, let alone the Emperor.

At least you know that now. Much good may it do you.

He heard Vader's voice in his mind. Luke.

But—was it Vader's voice? It was Vader's mind, so it had to be his voice, but it sounded…wrong. It wavered between the familiar, resonant monotone, and the lighter voice of an ordinary man of about forty years.

"Father." Luke tasted the word. It felt different, heartbreakingly so. For the first time in over twenty years, Luke had an actual person to pin to that title. And, it turned out, his father was not the skilled pilot, the Jedi warrior, the noble victim of betrayal. No—his father was the traitor, the murderer of thousands and a slave to the Emperor and his own hatred. He was not kind or gentle. There was no love in him—only control.

The pain of knowledge was more than Luke could bear. He thought he would die of it.

Son. Come with me.

Luke's mind shut him down again, pulling all his Force senses inside, shielding him from the pain—and effectively blocking Vader's mind-probe. Vader could not get in. Luke could not get out.

He would not be comforted by his father's memory anymore, nor his family's. He could not take any more pain, he felt, without shattering into a thousand agonized pieces.

Only one warm memory left, in a world made of ice.

"Ben," Luke whispered, squeezing his eyes tightly shut. He'd said he couldn't help if Luke took this path, but surely he could hear. "Ben—why didn't you tell me?"

Silence. Luke's heart ached anew.

He swung his legs off the bunk and pulled himself upright, keeping the blanket wrapped around his shoulders for comfort. He couldn't stay in this place of pain. He had to get out of here.

He settled for lumbering up the hall toward the cockpit, staggering against the walls as the ship took her beating. Why are we here? he wondered. Why aren't we in hyperspace? Han, that's it. Can't leave Han behind. Where is he?

He stumbled into the cockpit, mutilated arm cradled to his chest. The dark man put out a steadying hand as Luke collapsed into one of the pilot's chairs.

Chewbacca executed a nausea-inducing flip that had the Falcon skimming the hull of a gigantic Star Destroyer. The TIEs on their tail pinwheeled in their haste to follow and one became a ball of flame, expanding for the briefest of moments, bright against the darkness of space, and then dead and gone. Nothing more than an impersonal consolation letter home now.

Luke didn't know whether to laugh or weep. It was all so futile.

With his mind off his pain, his Force senses unrolled a little, achieving their natural state—a small area of sensitivity that told him what was going on in his immediate vicinity and warned of anything coming his way.

So he was able to sense the waves of rage and hatred—they felt almost habitual—rolling from the command center of the Star Destroyer, freezing his mental skin and reawakening his pain.

"It's Vader," he said to no one.

Vader's on that ship.

Vader is the primary target.

Vader is my enemy.

Vader is my father.

The anguish drowned him.

"Ben," he breathed, heart thudding in his chest, cocooned once more in the Force's kindly nothingness. "Why didn't you tell me?"