No, I am your father…
Luke Skywalker awoke, once again in a cold sweat, once again at the very same point in the dream he'd been having. Was it a dream? Or a nightmare? Luke himself didn't know for sure even now. It had been six months since he'd learned the terrible truth of his patrimony; the truth that had been hidden from him all his life. Darth Vader is my father. Luke had wanted to deny it; his initial reaction to the Dark Lord's revelation had been one of horror and outrage. But it hadn't taken Luke long to realize that it was true. Search your feelings; you know it to be true! Vader himself had forced Luke to examine his feelings, and once Luke had, he knew there was no denying it. I am the son of the most notorious man in the galaxy…the son of a murderer, a monster, an inhuman cyborg…
Six months was a long time to think, and Luke had done a great deal of thinking since Bespin. Having left Leia with the Rebel fleet, Luke had returned to Tatooine to recover, and to decide how he was going to deal with this staggering turn of events in his life. I wish Ben were here, Luke had often thought as he walked around in the old Jedi's home. Luke could still feel Kenobi's presence in every corner of the tiny abode; but it didn't help him come to grips with what he had learned. You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father! Luke accused his onetime master silently. Why did you lie? Why did everyone lie to me? Deep down inside, Luke knew the reason why; the truth was kept secret in order to protect Luke. But now that he knew, the young Jedi hopeful was only filled with more questions than ever. Why had his father never come to find him on Tatooine? Why had he turned to the Dark Side? And what had happened to Luke's mother? Luke knew that to get these answers would mean to face Darth Vader again; and even then, there was no guarantee that the Dark Lord would be willing to answer.
Dawn was breaking as Luke left the small abode. His eyes squinted in the bright light as the two suns slowly rose on the horizon. I swore I'd never come back here, he remembered. But so much had happened since he'd left; his life had changed in ways he'd never imagined possible. He'd left Tatooine nearly two years earlier as a naïve young farm boy, full of dreams and idealism. And now things seemed so much more complicated, so much more difficult. His dreams of becoming a Jedi were still very much a focus for Luke; but right now he needed to focus on other things. Han Solo, a man who had saved Luke's life more times than he wanted to consider, was in trouble, and needed his help. Leia and Luke had devised a plan to free Han from the palace of Tatoonine's most notorious gangster, Jabba the Hutt; but it would take time to make it work. Six months had already passed since Han had been taken, and Luke had spent most of those six months here on Tatooine. One of the things he'd needed to accomplish was construct a new lightsaber, having lost his on Bespin. Luckily he'd found the materials he'd needed in Obi-Wan's home, and had spent the past few months painstakingly building a weapon that was distinctively his own. He'd even selected a different coloured gem than his first saber, the one that his father had built as a young man. I'm not like him, Luke averred; I will not end up like him. I'll die first.
As the sky grew brighter, Luke's eyes could see in the distance the tell tale signs of an approaching sand storm. It was the season for such unsettled weather, and Luke had certainly experienced his share of storms. Some of the folks in Mos Eisley, where Luke went occasionally for supplies, were talking about an approaching super storm, one that could, according to them, last for days. Although Luke knew that people often liked to exaggerate; he'd made sure to purchase enough supplies just in case they weren't. And judging by the colour of the sky, their warnings had been justified.
By noon, the winds outside of Luke's small adobe home were howling ferociously, the sands pelting insistently against the roof and walls of the building. Luke looked up briefly from his work, frowning worriedly at the sounds outside. He'd been in sandstorms before, but had never quite got accustomed to them. I wonder how Leia's doing, he mused as he returned his attention to his half finished lightsaber. He had been in almost constant communication with her since they'd parted ways, and he knew that Leia was doing her best to keep her hopes up. Luke didn't want to tell her how difficult it would be to rescue Han Solo, how well guarded he'd be, or how ruthless and cunning Jabba the Hutt was. Leia didn't need to hear that- he needed to support her in whatever why he could. Leia had not really understood why Luke needed to be alone, for he had not told her his terrible secret. She would never understand, he told himself; she would never look at me the same way again…
Deciding he needed to hear a friendly voice, any voice, Luke left his work and keyed in the frequency for Leia's comlink on his small portable communications computer. He worried that the sand storm might interfere in his ability to contact her, but decided to try anyway. Luke waited a few moments for a response to his hail, and then heard a voice. But it was not Leia's voice he heard; it was the voice of a man.
"This is the Phoenix," the man said.
Luke frowned. "The Phoenix?" he asked. He didn't recognize the name of the ship, and for a moment thought he'd raised an Imperial vessel. "I…I'm looking for Princess Leia Organa."
There was silence at the other end, and Luke could sense the man's confusion.
"Princess?" the man asked. "This is a Republican assault vessel," he explained. "No princesses here."
It was now Luke's turn to be confused. "Republican?" he asked with a frown. How can that be? The Republic had been gone for twenty years… "I'm afraid I don't understand," Luke said finally.
"Look, if this is some kind of prank…" the man began, growing annoyed. "I don't have time for it."
"No, I promise you, it's not a prank," Luke insisted, trying his best to comprehend what was going on. "I just don't know how your ship can be a republican vessel when the Republic hasn't existed for twenty years."
More silence, and this time Luke could sense the man's agitation upon hearing this. "What the hell are you talking about?" he demanded.
"I'm sorry," Luke replied, his own confusion growing. "But...where I'm from, there is no Republic. The Empire rules the galaxy, and has for my whole life."
The man at the other end considered this. "And where are you from?" he asked finally.
"Tatooine," Luke replied. "I'm there right now."
"Well, Tatooine is sort of outside of the Republic's jurisdiction," the man replied, "the Hutts rule there."
"You've been here?" Luke asked, amazed at the coincidence.
"You could say so," the man replied, and Luke could sense that this was a touchy subject for him. "I left when I was a child," the man continued. "Have only been back once since, before the War started."
"You mean the Rebellion?" Luke asked.
"Rebellion? Is that what you think this is?" the man asked hotly. "The Separatists are traitors, you understand?"
"Separatists?" Luke asked.
"Who do you think we're fighting against?" the man replied, his voice betraying his anger. "Who do you think have already slain more Jedi than I …"
"Jedi?" Luke interjected. "Wait a minute…you're saying that where you are, there are still Jedi?"
There was a long silence at the other end, as though the man was trying to comprehend the confusing exchange that was taking place. "Of course," he said finally. "I'm a Jedi myself."
Luke frowned, wondering how that was possible. The Jedi had been extinct for more than twenty years; he only knew of one other who was alive, Yoda, and that voice at the other end was decidedly not Yoda. "What's your name?" he finally asked.
"Why do you want to know?" the man asked suspiciously.
"Because I'm confused as hell," Luke responded, "and need to understand what is going on."
"You're not the only one who's confused," the man admitted. "I can tell you're being truthful…I just don't understand how what you're saying can be true. I know that doesn't make any sense, but…"
"It makes complete sense," Luke replied. "I feel the same way." But there was more that Luke felt, something intangible, something that he couldn't quite identify. It was almost as though he already knew this person, even though that was probably impossible. "Will you please tell me your name at least?" he asked finally. "My name's Luke."
"I'm Anakin," the man replied, deciding to trust Luke. "Anakin Skywalker."
Luke sat for a long moment, scarcely able to breathe. "Can you repeat that please?" he asked finally.
"Anakin Skywalker," the man said again. "You've probably heard of me, even where you are. I'm kind of in the news a lot these days."
Luke could feel his heart thumping in his chest as things all started to fall into place. The storm had somehow enabled him to reach into the past, and it was his own father he was talking to. No, that can't be it, he told himself with a frown. I'm losing it…
"I have heard of you," Luke said finally. "You're fighting in the Clone Wars, aren't you?"
"Is that what they're calling it?" Anakin asked.
"Yes," Luke replied.
"I guess that's as good a name as any," Anakin responded.
"And where are you right now, Anakin? Where's your ship?" Luke asked.
"In the outer rim," Anakin answered. "Can't tell you much more than that, Luke. Don't want to give away my location, you understand."
"Of course," Luke answered. A thousand questions rushed to his mind, but this man he was talking to, if indeed Luke's theory was correct, was not Darth Vader; he was the good man who had become Darth Vader. But how? Why? He was a Jedi Knight, a hero! How could this have happened? I have to be sure, he told himself. I have to know…
"So what's it like?" Luke asked. "The war?"
"Just as you'd imagine," Anakin replied. "Scary sometimes, boring others. Lonely all of the time."
"Lonely?" Luke asked. "Don't you have comrades?"
"Sure," Anakin replied. "But I miss my…someone special. Someone that means more to me than anyone or anything."
"Your wife?" Luke asked, wondering if he was now possibly talking about Luke's own mother.
"I'm not permitted to have a wife," Anakin answered automatically.
"But you do, don't you?" Luke persisted.
Anakin said nothing for a long time, and Luke began to fear that the connection had been lost. But finally he heard the voice again.
"I don't know how you know that," Anakin replied finally. "But if Kenobi and the Jedi Council ever found out, I'd be in big trouble."
Luke nodded, a lump rising to his throat. Kenobi…there was no doubt that this was his father that he was talking to; some miracle of nature, or perhaps of the Force itself, had allowed this. I have to tell him who I am, Luke thought, realizing that this was an opportunity that he'd never get again; I have to tell him what happens. But how?
"Anakin, there's something you need to know," Luke replied. "And I don't have a lot of time here, so you need to listen."
Anakin remained silent, but he could sense Luke's elevated level of tension. "What is it?" he asked finally.
"My name," Luke replied. "My name is Luke Skywalker," he went on. "I'm your son."
Another long silence ensued, even longer than the last one. "My son?" Anakin said finally, and Luke could tell that he was laughing. "Look, you undoubtedly must have some …medication to take, so I'll…"
"I'm not crazy!" Luke insisted. "I promise you! Somehow we're talking to each other over the expanse of not only space but time as well," he went on. "I don't know how it's possible, but…"
"It isn't possible," Anakin retorted. "You're obviously delusional. I'm ending this transmission right now."
"No, please don't!" Luke cried. "I have to tell you what happens! You have to stop it from happening!"
But there was no reply. The transmission had been terminated. Luke sat, trembling with emotion, staring at the computer. He has to come back, he thought desperately; I have to tell him…I have to warn him. I have to prevent him from turning to the dark side.
Twenty-three years earlier…
Anakin sat with a frown, staring at the communication panel. He'd been trying to raise Padmé; the middle of the night was the only time he could do so without Obi-Wan discovering what he was doing. But instead of Padmé, he'd reached some strange man, some insane man who'd claimed to be his son. I wish I did have a son, Anakin mused. A son with Padmé, that would be the most wonderful thing imaginable…maybe one day we will have one…maybe…Anakin frowned, unable to put the unsettling conversation out of his mind. Was it possible? Could that truly be my son? My grown up son? It was beyond Anakin's ability to determine why anyone would make such an audacious claim. Is it possible? Could it possibly be true?
Deciding that he'd get no more rest until he'd determined once and for all what was going on, Anakin reopened the transmission, hoping that he'd be able to raise Luke again.
"Luke? Are you there?"
"Yes, yes I'm here!" came Luke's anxious voice. "I'm so glad to hear your voice," he added.
Anakin nodded, sensing how earnest the young man was. But more than that, he sensed his truthfulness. "I'm not sure exactly what's going on," he began. "And I'm not saying that I believe you," he hastened to add. "But…I need to know for sure."
"I understand," Luke replied. "I…I don't even know where to begin," he continued, laughing a little nervously. "This is …it's incredible. Really."
"So if I'm your father, where am I right now?" Anakin asked. "In your time I mean? Do I know you're talking to me?" That sounded really weird…
Luke was silent for a moment, and Anakin could feel his tension level escalate.
"Luke? Did you hear me?" Anakin asked.
"I heard you," Luke replied. "I'm just not sure how to answer the question."
Anakin frowned, Luke's answer making him uneasy. "What do you mean?" He asked. "Am I dead?"
"No, you're not dead," Luke replied at once. "I'm not sure where you are, actually," he answered honestly.
"And your mother? Where is she?" Anakin asked.
Luke didn't answer right away, and Anakin felt his heart leap to his throat. "Answer me!" he cried. "Where is she? Where is Padmé?"
"I never knew my mother," Luke answered finally. "I'm sorry- I was told that she died when I was born."
Anakin sat absolutely still as he heard this, his mind refusing to believe it. "Who told you that?" he demanded. "I don't believe it!"
"My Uncle Owen told me," Luke replied. "I …I was raised by him and my Aunt Beru."
Owen and Beru? Why was my son raised by my step brother?
"Why did they raise you, Luke?" Anakin asked at last. "Where was I?"
"You …you weren't around," Luke replied. "You…"
"I wasn't around?" Anakin cried. "What are you saying? I abandoned my own child?"
"I don't think that's how it happened," Luke replied. "You…something happened to you, you probably didn't even know I was born."
"How could I not know?" Anakin cried. Unless….was I at the war? Was I injured? Is Padmé pregnant right now? "Luke, you are holding back something, I can feel it," he said finally. "Just tell me what you know. All you know."
"I don't know a lot," Luke admitted. "And I only recently found out that you're alive. You see, I was told my father died. I was told a lot of lies about you, actually. My uncle told me you were a navigator on a spice freighter," he explained.
Anakin frowned. Why had Owen felt the need to lie? What had happened that was so terrible that the boy had to be lied to? "And now you know the truth," Anakin suggested.
"Well, I knew that you were a Jedi," Luke explained. "Obi-Wan told me that."
"You know Obi-Wan?" Anakin asked incredulously.
"I knew him," Luke replied sadly. "He died over a year ago."
Anakin nodded his frown deepening as he sensed great uneasiness from Luke. "Obi-Wan told you how we were good friends?" he asked.
"Yes," Luke replied. "But that…that you had been betrayed by someone who had been Obi-Wan's pupil."
"I'm the only pupil Obi-Wan has ever had," Anakin replied. "Unless there was someone else, someone after…"
"No, there was no one else," Luke replied. "You see…you…you turned to the Dark Side," Luke said, deciding just to come out with it. "You turned to the Dark Side, Anakin. That's why you didn't raise me."
Anakin said nothing in response, for the words he'd just heard were too ugly, too horrible to consider. It couldn't be true, it simply couldn't be.
"You're lying!" Anakin declared finally. "I don't believe any of this! And I won't listen to any more, do you understand? This conversation is over!" And with that, he ended the transmission.
I was a fool to listen to this bullshit, Anakin told himself angrily. Padmé will not die in childbirth, I will not turn to the Dark Side, and the Republic will not fall! It's all lies! He stood up, needing to put some distance between himself and the comm., as though the device itself were responsible for the horrible way he was feeling. He paced in the small room, his arms folded tightly over his chest as a war raged inside his heart and mind. It's lies…it's all lies…all lies! The sound of someone hailing him on the comm. cut through the silence, and Anakin's head turned sharply to look at the device again as it did so. It's him, he thought, knowing with dread certainty that it was Luke. It's my son…
Twenty-two years in the future…
Luke sat, holding his breath, waiting for his father to answer his hail. Please answer, Father…please answer me! Everything depends on it!
Several more moments passed, the only sounds to be heard were the howling winds outside and the plaintive chirp of Luke's hail. He had almost lost hope when finally he heard the transmission open. "I'm here," Luke heard his father say.
Luke smiled the relief as the relief filled him. "Thanks for coming back," he said. "I know what I have to tell you is really hard to hear, but I have to. The future depends on it."
"I don't know if I believe you, Luke," Anakin said. "I can't imagine how I would ever turn to the Dark Side."
"I don't know why," Luke replied. "I only know you did," he added. "You see, in my time, you're known as Darth Vader," he went on. "You're the Emperor's right hand."
"And who is the emperor?" Anakin asked, believing he'd finally found a hole in the story.
"Palpatine is his name," Luke replied. "He became emperor about twenty two years ago, around the time I was born."
"Palpatine is emperor?" Anakin cried.
"You know him?" Luke asked. "I mean, in your time?"
"Yes….yes I know him," Anakin replied. "He's the Chancellor of the Republic."
"But in the future he becomes the emperor," Luke told him. "He turns out to be an evil despot, and rules the Empire with an iron fist. You are his henchman."
Anakin sat listening, unable to deny the truth that he sensed behind his son's words. The only thing was, how? Why? That was a question he doubted Luke could answer.
"Anakin? You okay?" Luke asked.
"No," Anakin replied. "How could I be? What you've told me is…it's horrible beyond words."
"It is," Luke agreed. "But don't you see? You can change it; you can make sure it doesn't happen. You can change the future."
Can I? Anakin asked himself. How can I prevent it? How can I undo my fate?
"I…I don't know how," he said at last. "How can I prevent something I don't understand? How, Luke? I don't know why I turned to the Dark Side, so how can I make sure it doesn't happen?"
"I don't know," Luke replied. "But you must. The future depends on you, Anakin….Father. Only you can change it."
Anakin began to say something, but his voice was growing distant. Luke realized what was happening; the storm was passing, and whatever had created this incredible frequency was ending.
"Father? Father are you there?" Luke cried, desperately to hear his voice. But there was nothing on the other end but static.
Luke sat for a long time, waiting desperately for his father's voice to emanate from the small device once more. But it didn't, the connection was gone. Emotionally spent, Luke decided to get some sleep. Standing up, he listened for a moment, noting that the wind had died down at last. He sighed, and headed for bed, wondering if he'd wake up and realize that he'd dreamed the whole thing.
The next morning
"Luke, Luke wake up. It's almost nine."
Luke's eyes fluttered open, and for a moment he was discombobulated. He'd had an unsettling dream, but wasn't able to remember it. He looked up to see his mother's smiling face looking down at him.
"Goodness Luke, didn't your alarm go off?" Padmé asked, picking up the chronometer on the side table. "I told Threepio to set it for 8 o'clock sharp."
Luke stared up at his mother, her beautiful face aglow with the morning light that was streaming into the room. And then he heard another voice.
"Is Luke still asleep?"
Luke looked over at the doorway to see Leia, his sister, standing there looking at him with a smirk.
"It would be nice, just once, not to be late going to the Temple," Leia sighed melodramatically.
"You won't be late," said a voice that Luke recognized at once. He sat up in his bed as his father, Jedi Master Anakin Skywalker, walked into the room. Anakin smiled as he put an arm around Leia. "Don't you know by now that I'm the fastest pilot in the galaxy?" he asked her with a smile.
"That's it, encourage them to speed, Ani," Padmé said, shaking her head. Anakin laughed and pulled her into his arms as she made for the door.
"You love it when I go fast," he whispered into her ear, making his wife smack him on the arm in mock indignation.
"You are such a bad influence" she teased, giving him a smile. Luke watched the exchange, seeing how much his parents loved one another. His musings were interrupted by a pillow that hit him in the face.
"Move!" Leia commanded, hands on her hips, before she left the room.
"Guess I'd better move," Luke remarked with a grin as he got up.
"Good plan," Padmé said, smiling at her son. "I'll see you downstairs."
Luke nodded, and walked over to his father, who was watching him. "You okay, son?" Anakin asked.
"Yeah," Luke replied. "I had a weird dream, but I'm not even sure what it was. It's strange."
Anakin smiled knowingly. "Come on, let's go have breakfast," he said, putting an arm around his son's shoulders.
Luke smiled, and left the room with his father.