Anakin Skywalker drifted in a trance that slowed his vital signs down so they would not be picked up by the ship's sensors. They weren't really equipped for picking up single life signs, but if the sensors were adjusted correctly, they could pick him up even in this state. Though it was doubtful that any of them knew either that such a state was possible or how to calibrate the sensors to detect such a subtle thing as a heartbeat of less than 50 a minute. He could actually depress his vital signs a great deal more, but wouldn't be able to stay conscious during that.
Piett was supposed to be dropping his shuttle out of the ship, just before they went into hyperspace. It was going to be a long wait though. It would have been even longer if he didn't have the Force, as it would have been nearly impossible to move toward the shuttle, but it was merely a small inconvenience for him.
Jacen was starting to realize why his father had never really bothered replacing the Falcon. The constant repairs required were an excellent excuse for not dealing with people. Since learning that he was Jace's grandfather, Bail Organa had proven to be a source of much consternation to Jacen. He was actually a likable person, and Jace had yet to find a reason to dislike him, which inherently made him suspicious, so Jace had decided to retreat and think. His presence was proving a distraction for Leia at the negotiations table-he realized that, and had offered to work with his father for an afternoon while she did the majority of negotiations on a particular point with some members of the Alliance. Jacen disliked politics almost as much as his biological grandfather did.
He nearly punched a wall in frustration, as he realized all anyone was seeing in him was how much he was like Anakin Skywalker, and where that had led previously. He knew how much the dark side had cost his family, and he wasn't about to tread that path. Maybe he could talk with him about it when they returned. Until his brother had died, Anakin Solo had been the family's shining star, some people thinking that because he bore that name that he was their grandfather incarnate. Uncle Luke had not, and he'd tried to make other people see Anakin the way that he did-a very talented young man from a very talented family, but Anakin's abilities were close to what their grandfather's were. He was the hope of an entire generation, and it had finally crushed him.
Myrkr had been one of the Jedi's most costly victories against the Yuuzhan Vong, but the war hadn't yet started. Perhaps he could give them enough information about the Yuuzhan Vong to keep the war from getting to the point where the Mission to Myrkr was the only way to stop the advance. It hadn't helped, any more than any other mission had. The attack on Myrkr hadn't stopped the invasion of Coruscant, nor the destruction of trillions of lives because of it, all it had done was stop the Vong from using one of their creations. Though the destruction of voxyn had possibly been worth it. Hard to say without Anakin around.
Perhaps they could find Zonama Sekot before the war started, and convince them of what was going to happen. The war didn't start for twenty-five years, perhaps in that time it would be possible to make the galaxy uninhabitable for the Yuuzhan Vong. There was always hope. Perhaps Jania was right. Perhaps this could be better. Maybe his grandfather was right. He shook his head. He didn't know who he was anymore. So much had happened in the four years since Anakin's death, so much had changed. But hope glimmered in his heart for the first time in years. Could he prevent the deaths of so many? Chewie, Anakin, Ikrit, Eryl, Bela, Jovan, Ulaha, Lar Le'ung, Krasov. He'd stopped remembering names after his capture. He'd stopped feeling after his capture and torture. He'd never really told his parents what had happened; he'd hidden it. But now, confronted with his family, with his ever-hopeful sister in three-year-old form, untouched by the tragedies that had befallen the family, he couldn't stop himself from feeling. He couldn't stop the hope, no matter how he'd tried to crush it, and that made him feel worse than he had since Anakin's death.
But maybe Vergere was right. There was no dark side, no light side, only what was on the inside of a person. But a person could truly be evil. Did it really matter if the darkness came from within or without if the darkness was there? His memory flashed to the day he had escaped the Yuuzhan Vong. 'We've both been dead a long time, Ganner,' he had told a fellow Jedi, 'And today...Today is the day we stop breathing.' He hadn't though. He'd kept going, even if Ganner hadn't. But something had died within him with his brother. Anakin was gone and some indefinable part of himself had left with him. "Anakin," he whispered to himself. "Jaya's right. She's saving all three of us this time. She may be the Sword of the Jedi, but that doesn't mean she is in this alone."
Piett performed the last duty that he had to Commander Skywalker before they reported his "death" and he ceased to be a concern of the Empire. It had been difficult to ensure that everything went smoothly, but with some pointers from the self-same Commander, he'd managed it. The exterior sensors were pointed away or on loop tracks; and the docking bay sensors had been jammed to report Vader's personal craft on board regardless of its actual status, and he would be personally responsible for making sure that no one knew that it was gone. A bit of subterfuge would keep the Empire unaware of the fact.
"We have entered hyperspace, sir," the man at the con told the captain.
Piett listened, strangely detached. He had done what was required. A New Republic. Sooner than he could have imagined. In their lifetimes at the very least. He listened to the various reports coming in with little attention. His presence was not necessary, but he did not have any other obligations to keep him from it, and this was the most interesting place he could be. Besides, he had the impression that if he pushed at Captain Wermis enough, the man would make his decision as to what to do with the shocking turn of events and Vader's "death."
Traveling through space was one of Anakin's most basic skills. Usually. Because he was usually in a ship. It took him a few tries to work out the mechanics of traveling in space without a ship. It came down to Force-pulling the ship toward him and Force-pushing himself at the same time. Once he was in his ship, with the coordinates to Alderaan programmed into the Nav computer, he knew that it was time. It was time to divorce himself from the Dark Side, and to try to re-find himself in the Light Side. He set up an automated responder beacon for when he would arrive at the planet, because he didn't know if or when he would wake from his trance. But he knew that he could no longer maintain his connection to the Dark Side. Besides it taking a toll on his body, as he was just beginning to realize it was doing, if he was going to join his children on their endeavor, he couldn't do that in his present state. Also, the Dark Side kept him in contact with the Emperor, and if he was "dead" that would be rather awkward to explain. He'd done a great deal of cleansing just having contact with Jaya; this would simply be completing the process. Once everything was set up, he pressed the lever to put the ship into hyperspace, and released himself to the will of the Force.
Obi-Wan looked up in startlement as he felt something wrench through the Force, and it was agonizingly painful. He wasn't sure exactly what had happened, but he knew that it concerned Anakin. He realized that he hadn't truly thought of his brother as his brother in the last 19 years, ever since the twins had been born, and that part of himself that he'd locked away as too painful to handle suddenly came undone. He swallowed. Anakin had released his connection to the Dark Side and it had cost him. He couldn't trace the old training bond and get a response, so he wasn't sure exactly how much it had cost him. The only thing to be done was to wait.
"Obi-Wan?" Leia asked, shaking his arm. She'd apparently been trying to get his attention for a while.
"Yes, I'm sorry, what did you need?"
She bit her lip. "What was that?"
"Anakin releasing the darkness within him."
"That was that second plan that the two of you wouldn't discuss with us, wasn't it?"
"It was. If he saw an opportunity, he wanted to come here and give us some time. The only real issue with that is the problem of the Death Star."
"Which we still have to resolve," Leia said. "The weaknesses that our technical analysts have come up with are small, almost too small to be of use."
"That depends on what they are, Princess."
She sighed. "There is a two meter wide hole in the side that goes all the way to the reactor core, but I know of no pilot who is good enough to hit a shot like that straight on and it get through without scraping the sides, which would reduce the vent port to so much rubble, and make it totally useless for another attepmt."
"Anakin could hit that. With training, either you or Luke could as well. I don't think these old hands are quite steady enough to do the work on that tight of a mission."
"How long do you think it would take to teach me or Luke?"
"A few days. It would be more instinctual than anything, but you would have to learn to trust your gut completely."
"I hope Father is alright."
"I hope so as well. I cannot tell from this distance if his unresponsiveness is due to death or unconsciousness, though I rather think the latter; this did not have the feeling of finality that I have learned accompanies the death of one who is attuned to the Force."
Bail Organa was not really sure what to make of the ship that was incoming. It was the middle of the night, and there were few up, but Traffic Control was always manned. The ship was coming in squawking an automated distress code, but it wasn't a standard one. There was some sort of code embedded in the code, but his decoders couldn't figure it out. What was worse was that it looked like an Imperial fighter, though most of those didn't have any sort of hyperdrive.
A pair of small feet padded into the room. He didn't know how it was that the three year old had gotten halfway across the city, but she had. "Grandpa," she said sleepily, putting her tiny hand in his, and rubbing her eyes with the other one.
"How did you get here?" he asked her quietly.
"I snuck into your speeder before you left," she told him unrepentantly. "Granda is coming," she said quietly. "I think he's sick."
Bail nodded. It made sense that the ship that was coming in would be that ship. "I'll take care of it," he promised her. "Let the ship land. No one is to go near it. I will have a special team go out and take care of it," he told the Traffic Controller, then he strode out of the room with Jaina at his side.
"I think it's time to go home now," she said sadly. "I miss Anakin terribly, and Jace isn't right now, either."
"I know that is a hard decision," Bail said. From what Jacen had told them, it would be a number of years before the twins were born. But knowing them beforehand had softened a lot of the hard feelings that he had toward Vader. It did no good for him to hold onto resentments from the past when it was obvious that he was going to have to work with him. And that he was going be included as family-not by him, but by his daughter, and his granddaughter.
"I hope you will be there when we go," she continued. "But I want to see Granda before I leave."
"Why this sudden change of heart, my dear?"
"I am afraid. I'm losing my memory of what it was like to live with my brothers and Auntie Winter."
"Maybe it will be different this time."
She shrugged. "I don't know," she told him quietly as they got to Bail's speeder. She was uncharacteristically silent on the trip, and Bail called to the palace telling them to get the Jedi out to the Palace landing pad, where Traffic Control had directed the ship. He kept glancing at her sideways, and while she was wide awake, there was a difference from the way she'd been before.
They landed quietly near the ship, which had already landed. It was a Lambda-class shuttle with some obvious modifications. The number stenciled on the side was ST 321, and the ramp had not been let down. "I don't know if we can get into that without harming the ship."
"Master Obi-Wan can," she said quietly. "I didn't mean for Granda to get hurt," she said, tears welling in her eyes.
"I think on the whole you've done more good than harm," he told her gently. "And I don't think that Anakin will mind this part, considering the other possible outcomes."
Jaina nodded, and climbed into his lap. He wished he could tell her for sure that everything would be fine, but she was too smart and sensitive for him to lie to her, no matter how comforting it would be to both of them right now. Another speeder landed, and Leia hopped out before it settled completely. "Jaina," she cried, rushing over to them. "I didn't know where you'd gone, you had me worried."
"I'm sorry, Mommy."
"It's ok, I don't mind that you were with Dad, but tell me next time you leave the building?"
"What's wrong, Jaina?"
"I want to go home."
"Why?" Leia asked, her heart torn. She knew that Jaina needed to at some point go home, but she didn't really want to let her go.
"I didn't mean for Granda to get hurt. I love him."
"Sweetie, it's ok. You didn't do this."
"Yes, I did. This is my fault. It wouldn't have happened if I wasn't here."
"Yes, but no one would be standing on this planet if you hadn't come here."
Jaina gulped. "I didn't think of that. I love Grandpa, too."
"Hopefully this is just a temporary illness, Jaina," Bail told her encouragingly. "I think we can go see how the others are coming with unlocking the door."
"Ok, Grandpa," she said and they headed over to the Lambda shuttle. In that time someone had managed to do something to open the ramp, and it was about to touch the ground as they caught up to the others.
In the Imperial Throne room of the Death Star, Palpatine sat awaiting the arrival of Darth Vader and the Devastator, when he felt a rending of the Dark Side, if not his apprentice's actual death, something close to it. He immediately attempted to comm the Devastator, but it was no use; they were in hyperspace. He reached out through the Force, but could not find his apprentice. There had been no warning, no notice that they were going into battle, no evidence that it would be needed. There was no reason for this, at least not in his ability to discern. He immediately retreated to his meditation chamber and left instructions for him to be disturbed only when the Devastator docked.