Title: A call for help
Disclaimer: Star Wars is not mine
Beta: Love to StarWarrior72
Warnings: AU, violence, foul language
Summary: Luke and his friends fell in the hands of a group of bounty huntes. The situation seemed helpless as Luke called out to the only person able to safe them from their depair- and his call got awnsered.
A call for help
Groaning, Luke opened his eyes, or rather, he tried too. They were far too swollen to open, and it hurt like Sith to even try.
"Luke?" An ice-cold hand touched his fevered face gently, and he recognized Leia´s voice.
"Leia." Speaking alone made his dry throat hurt, breaking his split lip once again and he tasted his own blood in his mouth.
"Oh, Force, what have they done to you?!" Leia carefully brushed a strand of sweat-soaked hair out of his face.
Luke couldn't answer; his whole body felt like it was on fire. He simply pressed his face into Leia's hand, which gently cupped his blue cheek.
"Han?" Luke rasped after a while, turning his head in an attempt to look at Leia.
Leia stiffened and stayed silent for far too long, already answering Luke`s question.
After whoever their abductors were, most likely some Imperials, had tried to get some information out of Luke, with no avail, they were trying their luck with Han. Luke's heart contracted with fear and sorrow for his friend. He had to learn firsthand that their captors weren't too squeamish to get information out of them in any way possible.
Luckily they had kept their filthy fingers away from Leia, but who know for how long? Han was a tough bastard and if he would keep as close mouthed as Luke, they might not mind torturing a girl so much.
The chattering of chains and a pained whine ripped through the semi-darkness of the small cell they were held in. Luke tried to turn his nearly-blind gaze to Chewbacca, wincing at the pain that exploded in his head.
The Wookiee lay, hands chained, and beaten, in a corner of the cell. Their captors didn't seem to think him worthy of questioning, but this didn't stop them from having a little fun with him.
A piercing scream ripped suddenly through the calm air. Leia sobbed, not even noticing she had, and Luke winced, feeling Han´s pain as it was his own. Oh, how he wished he could get them all out of here!
Over Han´s tortured wails, steps and voices could be heard nearing their cell.
"Put him in with the other scum!" A cold voice said as the door was pulled open.
"Well, now you can celebrate your happy reunion." The voice spat and someone was tossed roughly through the door.
Luke looked at the person who now lay on the ground next to the door, groaning in pain before he got up on shaking legs. It was Lando.
"Lando!" Leia turned her watery gaze to the dark man, one question clear on her filthy face.
"I`m sorry, Princess," Lando said, wincing as he moved towards her. "There are too many disruptions. I wasn't able to send a message."
With those words their last hope vanished into thin air. Lando had been able to elude their captures, at least 'till now, and Luke and his friends had hoped that he would be able to send a message to the Alliance. Perhaps they could send a rescue team and get them out of this hell-hole, but now it was clear that they were completely on their own.
In the distance they still could hear Han´s pained screams and wondered what was being done to him, all filled with sorrow, pain and anger. How could you treat another being like this? They were at war, but that wasn't an excuse to leave all humanity behind! Another bloodcurdling scram reached their ears, making Chewbacca howl in anger and Leia call out in despair. Luke winced in compassion.
"What the hell are those bastards doing to him?" Lando demanded, first looking at the closed door then from Leia to Luke, whose head rested in her lap. A small gasped escaped Lando`s lips as he saw his condition.
"Oh, Luke, you look like a Bantha had stepped on you. How do you feel?"
"I don't know. I just hope someone has the number of the Imperial walker that ran me over." Luke tried to joke, but failed miserably.
Han had gone silent and minutes later the former smuggler was carelessly tossed in the cell. He slumped to the floor, unmoving. Leia tried to turn to her boyfriend without moving Luke´s head. Lando was on his feet the moment the door had closed again.
He went to his friend, kneeling down next to him. A small groan reached his ear and showed that Han was still alive. Carefully he turned Han on his back.
Chewbacca growled from the place where he had slumped against the wall, the chains that held his hands together rattled as he saw the condition his friend was in.
The man looked just as bad as Luke, and was barely conscious, only whimpering once in a while.
"Hold on man, you hear me, you have gone through worse." Lando said to Han as he tried to lay him in a somewhat comfortable position.
Chewbacca growled an agreement, before asking Leia if Luke was faring any better.
"He is sleeping now, but he looks bad, I hope he doesn't have any internal injuries." Leia answered, absentminded stroking Luke´s hair, as he finally gave in to his exhaustion and pain and started to drift of into an uneasy sleep.
Leia watched his beaten face closely, wondering. She didn't really know what it was, but she felt that there was a connection between her and Luke, she cared for him deeply, even more deeply than for Han sometimes and she couldn't explain why. But now was not the time to wonder, perhaps the future, if they had any future left, would provide an answer for her.
At some point guard brought them something unrecognizable to eat and what they could only assume was water.
They ate and drank and even forced something down Luke and Han's dry, hurting throats. With difficulty the two swallowed what was presented to them and Luke tried his best to keep the strange stuff down, feeling more than once how his stomach protested.
Han dry heaved and Leia pulled the spoon away from his mouth.
"Can you drink some water?" She asked, concerned. Han nodded and she put the used-looking cup against his swollen lip. Carefully he drank, not caring that it tasted more than moldy.
"Thank you." Han gently lifted his hand, grabbing Leia´s, stopping the cup midway to his mouth.
Leia put the cup down, watching for a moment as Lando helped Luke to take a few sips from his own cup, 'till he turned his head away, showing that he had enough, his stomach making a few dubious noises.
Sure that he could keep everything inside, Luke carefully lay down, trying to get as comfortable as his condition and the cold, hard floor would allow.
Han made similar protests at the pain as his weight stressed one of his sore points.
Soon relentless exhaustion caused sleep to overcome the five rebels.
So, you little shits! Let's see if you are a little more willing to talk now!" The sneering voice ripped Luke and his friends out of sleep. Blearily. Luke tried to sit up, but before he came up completel, one of the men kicked him in the chest. Groaning, he fell back on the floor.
Chewbacca growled, furious. He fought to get up and knocked some of the guarts, who had entered their cell out of the way. He eventually stopped as one of the guards kicked Han in the stomach and threatened to continue his assault against the already wounded man.
"Very wise of you." The guard told Chewbacca with a nasty smile, while the Wookiee sunk, still growling, back against the wall, stopping his assault so they wouldn't harm his friend further.
Han lay curled up and groaning on the floor while Luke fought to get himself on his knees, holding his newly abused ribs. Hate and aggression filled the air around them, freezing his insides and making him wonder what the Rebellion had done to them to arouse such destructive feelings.
"Well, yesterday you two weren't so communicative." A bald, middle aged man said, his cold grey eyes wandering over his prisoners till they stayed on Leia, who sat on the floor. Lando, in a protective gesture, threw himself in front of her. She stared, unmoving, over his shoulder at the cruel man.
"I`m sure that your other friend would be just as close mouthed as you both, so I decided to have a little chat with the girl." An ugly smile appeared on the leader's face.
Fear gripped Luke's heart. That was the last thing he wanted Leia to go through. He knew she was strong, but still, he just had the feeling that he had to protect her.
Lando immediately shot up, trying to push Leia even further behind his body.
"How brave of you." The bald man grinned, showing his white teeth. "But to no avail."
Two guards pulled Lando away from Leia, but he fought back, not wanting to let these bastards get their filthy fingers on the princess. One of the guards gripped Lando on the upper arm and tossed him against the wall. Lando tried to brace himself for the impact, but too late. His head crashed against the stone wall, making him see stars, and he sank on his knees.
Chewbacca tried again to get up and help Lando to protect Leia, but was roughly hit by three guards at once. The assault stopped his movement, and he let himself fall back against the wall, growling in anger.
Leia watched her friends' fruitless attempts to help her. Eventually Han came up to all fours but with another well placed kick, he fell back on the floor. A guard reached for Leia, grabbing for her and got hold of her braid. Not caring, he tore at her hair, pulling her towards the cell door.
Shocked, Luke watched how Leia was treated. She didn't make a sound, but her face showed clearly that she was in pain. Luke reached for the Force and tried to fully get up. He had to help Leia, though every fiber in his body screamed.
One of the guards noticed his movement and shoved him back. Luke groaned but didn't fall, he stepped forward. "Please, let her be." He tried to reason. Their captors only laughed.
"No, boy, you had your chance, now it's the your pretty girl's turn. Don't worry, we'll try to not damage her too much." The leader said, and without warning kicked Luke in the side. He fell back and landed next to Lando, who watched the scene with hate burning eyes, blood running down from a cut on his temple.
The guard pulled Leia again with her braid, apparently thinking that it would make a good leash for her ignoring Leia's slight wince of pain.
Luke came up on his knees again, every breath he took hurt like fire, and his vision was spotted with black dots. It was hopeless, completely and utterly hopeless.
"Father, please, help us." Luke pleaded softly, falling forward on his hands, only half aware what he was doing.
"Oh, is our little boy calling for his Daddy now?" The bald leader mocked, stepping in front of Luke, towering over his beaten form.
Luke lifted his gaze up to the man, breathing hard, but he didn't say anything. Then the leaders bent down and hauled him on his feet by his collar.
"Are you calling for your daddy you dirty rebel scum?" He asked again, bringing his face closer to Luke`s, but Luke stayed silent.
His friends sent him questioning and frightened looks, all too aware of the fact that Luke´s father was dead. They hoped that the stress and pain of their current situation wasn't taking its toll on his mental health. Little did they know about the shocking truth of what really had happened to Luke´s father.
"Do you think he could help you and your friends out of here?" The leader scoffed before he tossed a petulantly silent Luke back on the floor. He turned to leave the cell and motioned for his men to go along with Leia. As all the guards had left, the man turned once again and kicked Luke in the head.
Blackness effulged him as he fell to his side, and deep inside he felt something against his mind-something powerful and dark.
Unnatural yellow eyes snapped open, glaring at the wall of a small room. With a silent command, a mask and helmed slipped into place, closing over a burn disfigured face, and unnatural, mechanically-aided breathing filled the silence.
The capsule opened and the tall dark figure slipped out and into the bustling activity on board the Executor.
"Admiral Piett! I want you to take course towards Abbaji. Immediately!" Darth Vader ordered the moment he stepped on the bridge of his Star Destroyer.
The capable officer turned to him, confusion showing clearly on his face.
"Abbaji, my Lord? But we are ordered to search for the Rebels. Apparently they are ganging together somewhere near Kashyyyk."
"I don't care. We change course to Abbaji." Vader told the Admiral, his voice clearly showed that he wasn't in a mood for any kind of discussion.
"As you wish, my Lord." Admiral Piett nodded sharply and gave the necessary orders. He'd worked for Darth Vader long enough to know not to question him. He had no intention to get into trouble, or even end, like some others that had displeased the Sith Lord once too often.
His head felt like it would explode as Luke came back from unconsciousness and the room around him spun. He had to close his eyes so as not vomit at the disorientation.
"Luke?" A hand touched his shoulder and he recognized Lando. Luke groaned and tried to sit up, feeling the carousel in his head taking up speed again.
"Easy there." Lando helped him to sit and leaned his back against the nearest wall.
Still not able to see straight, Luke touched his head and felt a new bump there. He winced; for he was sure that this one was the mark of a concussion.
Eventually Luke´s vision cleared and he found Han leaning on the opposite wall, a shaking Leia in his arms.
He must have been out for longer than he had thought. He had neither heard what they'd done to Leia nor when she had been brought back. Perhaps it was for the better.
Luke's gaze searched Han´s with a silent question. Han`s eyes narrowed, but he mouthed that she doesn't look so bad as they. Luke nodded grimly.
The next hours felt like days, or perhaps they were days. No one came to take one of them for questioning, but neither were they brought water or food. Thirst and hunger plagued Luke and his friends. Their tongues stuck to the roofs of their mouths and felt swollen and dry. No one spoke a word, all sunken in their own thoughts. Luke tried to mediate; perhaps the Force would show him a way out, but to no avail. He still wondered why in the name of the Force he had thought to call for his father. How could he explain this to his friends? He was barely able to accept his heritage, so how could he think his friends could? And would his father ever come and rescue them?
A sudden explosion ripped Luke out of his thoughts. Frightened, he looked towards the cell door.
"What the hell?" Han forced out of his dry mouth, pulling Leia tighter against him.
Lando carefully crawled to the door, pressing his ear against it cool surface, listening what was going on outside.
Shouts and blaster fire filtered through the door.
"Is it possible that your message got through after all?" Leia asked Lando.
Lando shook his head, "No. Either we have a lot of luck, and they searched for us anyways, because we didn't reach the base on time, or…" he paused. "Or we're in a lot more trouble now."
Something hit the outside of the door, sliding down on it, probably a body.
"Where are the rebels you are holding prisoner?" A hard voice asked. The answer couldn't be heard. Lando crawled back from the door, sitting on his haunches and sending Han an uneasy look.
"This doesn't sound like one of us." Han rasped, his eyes boring into the door, as though he was trying to look right through it.
"No, I wonder who they are." Leia lifted her head from Han´s shoulder and knelt next to him, running a hand through some lose, dirty strains of hair, her eyes also glued on the door, waiting for it to open.
At first it looked like nothing would happen, then the sound of someone working on the lock could be heard. The five rebels held their breath, wondering what awaited them.
Forcefully, the door was ripped open and Lando´s eyes fell on white boots. His throat constricted with a fear he didn't even know was there. Chewbacca growled out a curse as he saw that Lando´s apprehensions had been true. They were in a lot more trouble now.
Luke stared at the two stormtroopers in the doorway with disbelief. A strange feeling filled his insides.
"We found them my Lord!" One of them turned around, shouting into the hallway.
Luke felt nausea, not believing what was just happening. He looked at his friends. They sat there, fear radiating from them, fear, anger and a feeling of total defeat.
No, this can´t be true! What in the name of the Force have I done? Luke´s thoughts roared through his mind. He had delivered himself and his friends right into the hands of the Empire!
Harsh breathing overcame the sound of shouts and sporadic shots. Then Darth Vader's tall, dark form appeared in the door of the cell, taking in the beaten and bruised prisoners but, in the end, his eyes stayed on Luke, who cowered against the far wall like a wounded animal.
Luke opened his mouth, wanting to say something, but his thirst and fear dried mouth wouldn't cooperate. His tongue stuck to his palate and only a small gurgling came out.
Vader's eyes narrowed under the mask.
"Get the medic, and some water!" He ordered briskly, stepping into the cell.
Leia watched the Sith Lord with the same disbelieving look she had given him as he had stopped Boba Fett from shooting Chewbacca.
Next to her, Han narrowed his eyes. What the hell!? This is so not like Vader. I wonder what he's up to. The former smuggler thought as Lando carefully sat down next to him.
The two friends shared a look, the same question written openly over their faces, but neither could give the other the desired answer, still in one thing they both were sure of- they would all end up in a cell once again.
A medical droid entered the cell, carrying a box with some bottles. One of the stormtroopers snatched it from his grip and took one bottle out of the box. It was ripped out of his hand even before he knew what had happened and landed in Darth Vader's outstretched hand.
The other bottles were tossed in reach of the other rebels like food was tossed in front of an animal.
"First Skywalker." Vader ordered the medic-droid then he turned to Luke´s friends, who hadn't touched the water bottles, only looking at them with suspicion.
" The water isn't poisoned. Drink it."
Leia glared at the man, staring into the black sockets of his mask as if to see what was behind them. Then she took one of the bottles and opened it.
"Leia?" Han was unsure if this was a good idea, even when he would kill for a glass of water right now. Leia smelled at the open bottle, then took a tentative mouthful and waited for a moment. As nothing happened, she gulped down the water as fast as her dry throat and her nervous stomach would allow.
Han and Lando didn't need a second invitation, each grapping a bottle. Han opened one for Chewbacca and pressed it into his handcuffed hands, so he could drink too.
The cool water felt heavenly on their sore throats and chapped lips, reawakening their spirits.
In the meantime the medic-droid examined Luke and treated his wounds.
Vader watched the process closely, his tall form blocking everything that happened from sight. Eventually the med-droid stepped away from Luke.
"And?" Vader's booming voice asked.
"He's suffering from a concussion. Apart from that he has some cuts and bruises, but no broken bones nor internal bleeding."
Vader nodded then sent the other prisoners a fleeting look.
"Look them over too." He ordered the droid, who immediately walked over to Han. At first Han watched the mechanical doctor with suspicion. Something was going on here he didn't understand. The imperials, and especially Vader, were acting completely out of the ordinary. Either these people were imposters or there was something going on that he didn't understand, but after some hesitation Han let the medic-droid examine him.
Leia watched closely as her boyfriend was treated then she looked for Luke. Her eyes widen. Vader knelt next to him, opening the water bottle and pressing it into his unsteady hands.
"Drink this." He ordered, but there was something strange in his voice Leia couldn't identify. It wasn't the voice he normally ordered his men around with.
Luke drank slowly; careful of his split lips from the bottle, then he leaned back against the wall. Leia narrowed her eyes over his somewhat weird behavior.
Luke watched Vader very closely but other than that he didn't seemed all to alarmed over the close proximity of the Dark Lord. It was more like they belonged together.
Impossible! Leia shook her head, not believing her train of thoughts.
Vader had cut off his hand; Luke was sure to be afraid of him! But perhaps he had better ways to hide his fears than the rest of them. Happy with the answer she'd just found for herself, Leia gazed at Han again. The man now leaned at the wall next to her, emptying the last contents of his bottle.
Seemingly satisfied with Luke´s behavior, Darth Vader turned to control the progress of the medic droid. The mechanical doctor was at the moment moving from Leia to Lando examining the cut on his temple.
"Ouch!" Lando jumped slightly as the medic droid took care of the cut. Vader made something that sounded like a derisive snort at his reaction before he turned his attention back to Luke.
Shouts and noises echoed from the hallway and moments later another stormtrooper appeared in the door.
"My Lord, we now have the last of the bounty hunters." He informed Vader. The Sith stood up from where he still crouched next to Luke and walked towards the door. In the dim hallway stood a group of twelve people, of different species and genders. One of them was the bald man, who appeared who appeared to be the leader of the group. Vader glared at them intently.
"Three of them are dead." The stormtrooper informed Vader, who nodded in understanding.
"Bring them out. I will come." He commanded.
The stormtrooper nodded again and indicated to those who guarded the criminals to move on. They didn't need to be told twice, and the twelve bounty hunters were shoved roughly outside the small building they had hidden in.
Outside, the jungle cast dark shadows over the cramped front courtyard and the air was warm, sticky and difficult to breathe.
In the inside Vader took a look at the imprisoned rebels, the med-droid had finished his work and was now ready to leave.
As Vader walked out the door, following the droid, he made an unnoticed gesture with his hand and Chewbacca's handcuffs snapped open, rattling to the floor. In disbelief he looked at his now free paws and massaged his sore wrists. For a moment he was tempted to attack the remaining troopers that had stayed to watch over them, but a hissed warning from Han stopped him. Perhaps it was really better to watch what would happen. The whole situation was far too unrealistic to take an unnecessary risks, or make any mistakes.
"Come!" One of the two stormtroopers said gruffly to the unmoving rebels. Luke and his friends shared unsure looks then stood up on shaky legs and wobbled out of the cell that had been their prison for the last days.
The two troopers waited till they had left the cell and followed them; pointing out which direction they should take. Hysterical screams could be heard as they neared the door that would lead them outside.
Unsure and timid, the Rebels walked out of the building and into the pressing heat.
The space was cramped with the Millennium Falcon, an imperial shuttle and the ship that most likely belonged to the bounty hunters.
Stormtroopers stood around, pointing their weapons at their prisoners. The unlucky group crowded together staring with fright at the black figure towering over them, two of their comrades at his feet- dead, cut down by the glowing red blade of Lord Vader´s saber.
Luke stopped his walk and watched with disbelief as his father towered over his tormentors, obviously threatening them. The once so bigmouthed scoundrels now crawled in front of the Sith, begging for their lives.
Next to him Leia came to a halt, she griped for Han´s arm, shocked over the scene unfolding in front of her. The blatant brutality of it fitted a lot more into their view of the Empire.
"What the…!" Lando murmured, not sure why Vader was so interested to scare the shit out of the bounty hunters, normally the Empire hired them to take some of their dirty jobs.
"Stop talking! Walk!" The trooper behind them shoved Lando roughly with his weapon in the back, making him stumble on the muddy, uneven ground.
The rebels reluctantly walked forward, not knowing where to go, or what awaited them.
"Why are you doing this?" The bald man looked up Darth Vader's tall form, not understanding what was happening in the least.
"Because you deserve it for what you have done."
"What we have done?" Disbelief showed clearly on the leader's face, who barley tried to stand up from the position he crouched in the mud. "What are you talking about? What's so special about these rebels?" The man nearly shouted. "We were only trying to gain some information out of them! Aren't you interested in what these Rebels are up to? And why do you care so much what happened to this scum?"
A young man next to him watched the scene with uneasiness, and then gripped for the man´s arm, pulling him back. The furious man turned to him with blazing eyes.
"Dad, don't do this! He would…" He wasn't able to say any more, an unseen force gripped the young man like a ragdoll, lifted him in the air and tossed him against the nearest tree where he fell lifeless back on the floor.
"You bastard!" The leader screamed, red with anger and nearly attacking Darth Vader. Only the red blade that was raised at him stopped his violent attempted.
"That was my son." The man pointed at the young man who had been promptly trashed against one of the trees. He lay motionless in the dirt, while two of the bounty hunters kneeled next to him, searching for a pulse. There was still one, but only faint and he was bleeding from an alarming wound on the back of the head.
Vader, still pointing his lightsaber at the throat of the enraged man regarded him silently.
Luke felt dizzy and he was filled with all kinds of conflicting emotions, which even his Jedi training couldn't control. It got even clearer what was happening here and he couldn't believe it, didn't want to believe it! He started to sway on his feet and he was grateful that he was finally allowed to stop walking.
Next to him his friends came to a halt too, all watching the macabre show with uneasiness and some confusion, not understanding what those criminals had done to draw Vader´s anger on them.
The stormtroopers didn't force them forwards anymore, only staying near them, sending them occasional glances, as if they were planning anything, but nothing more. To be fair, they didn't treat them like prisoners at all, but they weren't very friendly with them either. Of course, they were their sworn enemies after all.
Han stole a few glances at the troopers around them, calculating if they have a chance to escape.
"What do you think?" He mouthed to Lando, who, next to him, also tried to evaluate their situation, if there was any chance to reach the Falcon and disappear.
"Banthas might fly if we could get out of here." Lando murmured back, his eyes weighing on the troopers who stood by the hatch of the freighter.
The Imperial soldiers were strewed around the area, watching their leader, as he had his way with the scum they had just captured in their raid, but they wouldn't be so distracted to let them walk into their ship unchallenged. Of this the rebels were sure.
Leia wound her ice cold hand around Han´s and leaned her head against his shoulder, considering their situation just as hopeless. A feeling of complete exhaustion, physically and mentally, overcame her; she only wished that she already knew what was in store for them.
Pushing a sweat soaked strand of hair out of her face she turned to Luke, wondering what he made out of their situation. She found him staring as though paralyzed at Vader and the bounty hunters; nothing gave away what he really was thinking. Leia decided she wouldn't ask right now, instead she just watched him for a moment, before she turned back to Han.
Vader drove the bald leader a few feet back with his lightsaber, eyes boring into the man from behind the mask.
"I knew that he is your son." Vader said in a cold voice. "That's why I did it."
The man's eyes widened and some bystanders felt disgust rise inside them. Why would anyone do such a thing? Hurting a child, even when it was already an adult, to get to the parents! What a bastard one must be to do such a thing! But well, they were talking about Vader and he certainly was an expert in acting like a complete swine.
Luke felt sick. He didn't want all of this! He didn't want his father to take revenge for him!
And the whole scenario looked exactly like it. Frantically, Luke searched for a way he could stop this madness without showing himself as Darth Vader´s child. Eventually he calmed down, and with the growing inner peace he found a way. It was so simple.
Sinking in the Force, Luke searched for the presence of his father, calling for him like he did before. "Father! Please! Please stop this! You don't have to do this!" He pleaded, but soon noticed it was pointless, he was pulled in a twirl of raging anger, red furry, hurt and a boundless need for revenge. It seemed impossible to fight a way through this uncontrolled, bubbling emotions and reach the man`s awareness and perhaps find a way to talk some sense into him, if this was possible at all.
Apparently Vader had felt his son´s presence and slowly turned towards the young man, staring at him. Luke suddenly felt a demanding presence in his mind. He started to sway, the pictures in front of his eyes started to spin.
"No!" A booming voice echoed in his mind. "They wouldn't get away unpunished!"
"Please!" He tried again, weaker this time.
"Luke!" Leia´s frightened voice sounded far away as it eventually penetrated his mind.
"Luke? Hey, kid! What's the matter?" It was Han, he gently shock Luke´s shoulder, trying to gain his attention, bringing him back into reality.
"What´s the matter with him?" Lando, appeared next to Han, sending Luke, who´s eyes had nearly turned into the back of his head, a worried look.
"We don't know." Leia said, bringing her attention from Luke to Lando. As she turned her head to look at the man she realized something- Darth Vader was staring at Luke, or at least it looked that way. Her eyes narrowed. Was the Sith doing something to Luke? Was he the one who caused his strange behavior? Suspicious, she watched the black figure as Luke, without warning, stumbled forward. One adjusting step later he found his composure once again, his eyes now normal and clear like nothing had happened.
"Luke?!" Leia carefully asked, turning him so he had to look at her. "What happened?"
"I´m alright." Luke told her, trying to send her a comforting smile, but failed wasn't ready to tell her what happened and she didn't ask again.
Luke felt completely drained. He was confused beyond words, and would do almost anything for some meditation to try to understand his feelings.
But there was something more. Luke had realized something as he had touched his father´s mind, something he never thought possible, but still it was there. Letting the fact sink in, Luke´s blue eyes widened and he could only stare at his father´s broad back.
Vader´s attention had returned to the leader of the bounty hunters; his eyes boring into the still enraged and confused man who, if looks could kill, would be dead already.
"You're a monster!" The man spat at Vader, not caring what the Sith would do to him.
Vader looked like he didn't hear the man, but behind his mask a cruel smile curling his lips, his unnatural eyes lay on the red blade of his saber, absent mindedly turning it slightly in his hand before he, in a unexpected move, pulled the saber back and slicing the cloth of the man open. The smell of burned skin and hair suddenly filled the air and the man sunk groaning on the floor.
"So, I´m a monster? Why? Because I hurt your son?" Vader asked the kneeling, whimpering man who cowered before him, his saber still pointed at him.
"Well, if that´s the reason, you can call yourself a monster too." Vader continued, his victim looking up with confusion clearly written on his face.
"I`m nothing like you!" The bounty hunter growled, his hand tightly pressed over the burning, but not fatal injury on his side, his eyes burning into the black sockets of the mask.
"Yes, you are. Or have you ever wasted one thought on the fact that even the Rebels are the children of someone? Do you think their parents would appreciate that you tortured them?"
The confusion in the bounty hunter grew, as did it in most of the bystanders. Since when did Vader care? Normally he didn't give a shit about anyone.
"What are you talking about?" The thug asked. His gaze wandered to his still unconscious son, then to the rebels, wondering about Vader´s words.
"You would have done the same! Or would you have touched them with velvet gloves?" The leader panted angrily. "We only wanted to sell the information and collect the bounty put on their heads, that's all! We earn our money like this, you know."
"Perhaps, but…if you had read the advertisements correctly you would have know that it was explicitly written that I, personally, want Skywalker, and that I want him unharmed!" Vader stretched the last word to emphasize the meaning.
For the umpteenth time this day, Luke felt all eyes resting on him.
"I really wonder why he takes such an interested in you." Han wondered, sending Luke a curious glace. Luke didn't answer, only held Han's gaze for a moment, before turning his attention back to what was happening.
Luke was aware that his friends wondered about Vader´s strong interest in him, and he had never had told them what really had happened on Bespin. At least not the whole truth.
He knew that his friends were aware of that, he had been shocked to the core afterwards, but they believed it was due to the loss of his hand and not some shocking truth he had learned.
A truth, he knew now, his friends would know soon too, and he wondered how they would react to this declaration.
Still, one thing was completely clear to him and that was the fact that he would stay faithful towards the Alliance. He never, ever would join his father on the Dark Side and even help him to become the new Emperor.
"Well,…yes, but…we thought that a few bruises wouldn't make such a huge difference." The bald leader answered unsurely.
"Perhaps it doesn't matter to you, but it does for me!" Darth Vader said, his tall form leaning down towards the frightened and irritated man. "Do you know why?"
The man shook his head. No, He had no clue what was going on. Alright it was well known that Darth Vader was a mysterious, opaque and dangerous man, but this was the last thing he had expected. What was so special about this Skywalker that the Dark Lord would run amok to make them pay for a few bruises they had put on the little shit? Wondering, the bounty hunter turned his gaze to the young rebel, who was looking at him closely.
Vader leaned even closer to the man in front of him. "No?" He quietly asked, but his voice still audible for all around.
Trying to get some distance from the Sith, the man crawled back and shook his head again.
"Well, you weren't so happy when I went after your son and you aren't the only father who would be angered by that."
The leader looked at the mask that watched him with wide eyes, not understanding what this was about, or perhaps not able to see the obvious in front of him.
"What do you mean?" He asked with an unsure voice.
Vader straightened up. "Because he is my son!"
The silence that followed was eerie, only broken by the dull impact from the falling head of the bounty hunter's leader which now rolled over the damp soil. Vader had beheaded him in a move so fast that no human eye could follow.
Luke felt like the floor was pulled out from beneath his feet. He was aware that all eyes were on him again, even from some of the Imperials and it was a situation he would rather not be in. A gentle hand touched his arm, ripping him out of his shock.
"Luke? Is this true?" Leia asked her eyes stared at him with pure shock.
He turned to her, searching her gaze but still stayed silent.
"Well?" Han dug deeper, watching him closely.
Eventually Luke nodded, confirming what Darth Vader had just said. He was the son of the Dark Lord.
"Well, I never would have guessed, but now we knew why he was so frantic to get his hands on you." Lando shook his head in disbelief, his eyes boring into Luke, wondering how this could be possible, while Chewbacca growled something incomprehensible at this revelation.
"This doesn't happen much, but, well, I`m out of words." Han said, still staring at his young friend. "Since when do you know?" he asked. "Bespin?"
"Yes," Luke absentminded looked at his prosthetic hand, remembering the events in Cloud City as clear as it had happened yesterday. "He had told me after…" he didn't have to say more, his friends understood.
Leia gently pressed Luke's arm, she watched her pale, dirty hand on the black material of Luke's shirt, feeling the warmth of his body underneath. Gently she rubbed over the spot in a soothing motion wondering why she didn't feel disgusted at Luke for what she had just learned, but again there was this strange feeling of connection between her and Luke. She just couldn't be disgusted with him, even though he was the son of this monster. She didn't know why but she just knew that he still stood for their beliefs and that she could trust him with her life.
Han watched the young princess and Luke. He didn't know how to handle this new information; there was no way in hell that this warm-hearted kid could be the son of this ...this man! Life couldn't be so cruel! Han knew how much Luke had adored his father, the father he never got to know, even became a Jedi to honor him, and now he has to live with the knowledge that his presumed dead father was still alive and one of the most feared people of the galaxy. A twinge of sadness filled him as Han let his soul wander out to Luke.
Eyes filled with fear and disbelief stared up to Darth Vader.
"We,…we, didn't know." One of the remaining bounty hunters stuttered. Eyes twitched in between Vader, Luke and the headless body of their leader.
"Of course you didn't." Vader said his saber driving down, killing two more of the cowering criminals before him in one stroke. The two dead bodies fell on the pile.
"Still, ignorance is no excuse!"
Closing his eyes Luke took a few calming breaths, blocking out everything around him. Silence filled his mind for a moment and blue eyes opened again. This has to stop. Now!
Luke felt his wobbly feet nearly give out beneath him as he took an unsure step forward.
The next one was a little stronger as Luke made his way towards Darth Vader.
"Luke?" Leia´s gentle voice reached his ear but Luke didn't react, only pulling out of her gentle touch. She watched him helplessly as he walked away.
Even stormtroopers stepped out of the way as Luke made his way down to his father. None of the Imperials dared to stop the son of their commanding officer on his way, even though he was one of the Rebels and the one and pilot who had destroyed the Death Star, killed many of their comrades in the process.
"Father?" Luke´s voice was so faint that he himself barely heard it himself. Vader still towering over the remaining bounty hunters, who cowered together before him, now even smaller and frightened. All pride was gone; no smart talk anymore, only a picture of pure misery was left.
"Father!" Luke tried again, this time a little louder. Leia felt chills run down her back as she heard him address Vader in such a colloquial manner. Only vaguely did she feel the hand that closed around hers in a comforting gesture.
Imperials and Rebels alike followed Luke´s movements closely, all curious what would happen. The respirator aided breathing was the only sound that could be heard; even the animals in the forest around them seemed to stay silent, waiting.
Slowly Vader turned to look at his son, staring at him from behind his mask.
"Father, please stop this." A black gloved mechanical hand made an indicative gesture towards the bounty hunters.
It was impossible to say what the Dark Lord was thinking, but his black masked gaze never left his son´s face.
The bounty hunters crowded even closer together, watching the conversation in front of them like hawks, a man wound a protective arm around a female's shoulder.
Leia rested her head on Han´s shoulder and the smuggler wound his arm around the petite woman.
"Please, don't kill them!" Blue eyes never leaving the black mask, Luke stepped in front of his father, closer than anyone else would ever dare. Motionless, Vader looked down at his son, not bothered by his closeness at all.
Han felt uneasy as he watched Luke and he heard Chewbacca wine a warning.
"Damn it, Luke, what are you doing?!" Lando murmured, nervously.
The tension around the friends grow with every passing moment, all hoping that Luke wasn't making one big mistake.
"They only are getting what they deserve." The dark, booming voice answered, the masked face turned slightly back towards the group on the ground.
"But why? Do have to kill them? Couldn't you just put them in a cell, or something?"
Her hand balled into a fist 'till the nails cut painfully into the palm, but Leia didn't feel the pain at all. Like her friends, she was holding her breath, hoping that Luke wouldn't get himself killed. Even some of the stormtroopers stepped nervously from one foot to the other, hoping no one would notice, but never had they ever seen anyone address Darth Vader so openly.
Perhaps this was the prerogative of a son, but well, this was Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith and no ordinary father. Vader and father at all was an unthinkable combination, but obviously he had an offspring and a feisty one too.
Once again hidden, intense, yellow eyes stared the young rebel. "And why should I do this? They are of no use for me."
"Perhaps, but…" Luke didn't back down, not sure if he strained his license, if he even had any, by speaking to his father in this manner. But he had to try.
The bounty hunters didn't really believe what was happening. The young man they had brutally tortured only hours ago was now trying to save their lives. Still, they wouldn't let hope bloom too much in their hearts. After all, Darth Vader was after their heads and the Sith wasn't known to be all too merciful. Rumors told he even killed some of his subordinates when they had disappointed him one time too often.
Their fear wasn't unfounded.
"Enough!" Vader roared, irritated, making Luke step back instinctively, and not only him.
Red light moved through the air, so fast some of the bystanders eyes couldn't even follow. Only the stench of burned flesh and the sickening sound of falling limbs told what the man was doing with the group of bounty hunters.
Defeated, Luke looked down on the pile of corpses now strewn in front of him, as the red light of Vader's lightsaber died down.
The Dark Lord took in his handiwork before he stepped over the now sliced open body of the female, looking directly at Luke without uttering a word. Then he walked away.
Luke followed his father with his eyes, watched him approach one of his officers, and then he turned to look for his friends. He feared what, now that the bounty hunters were gone, would happen to them.
"Commander, you and your men go back on board, make everything ready for takeoff." Vader commanded the officer. Anxiously, Luke walked over to them; he wanted to know what would happen to them. No one stopped him and he soon stood behind his father, listening to the conversation.
The trooper straightened as he was addressed but before he walked away to fulfill the order he paused.
"Um, my lord, what about the rebels?" He carefully asked. His eyes rested on Luke, who stood behind his father.
"I`ll take care of them, now boarded the ship." The warning in the deep voice was obvious and the man hurried towards the Imperial shuttle. His colleagues followed him on the heel, but not before they send the group of rebels strange looks, especially Luke, but tried to not be too obvious with their staring.
"Luke." He turned towards the voice and saw into the black mask that hid his father´s face. Once again Luke wondered what he looked like without it, but somehow he also was afraid to know the answer.
"Will you join me?" Vader stood before him, and Luke felt his eyes boring in on him. "I will complete your training. You have no idea how much potential you have, what you truly could achieve."
A small part of Luke wanted to go with him. To know his father and learn more about the Force, but his rational part told him that this wasn't the kind of knowledge he sought and that he would make his friends and himself unhappy, if he were to follow his father´s path.
Steps neared from behind Luke and moments later his friends appeared at his side.
"Luke?" Leia gently touched his arm. The boys only watched silently, hoping that he would make the right decision. None of them made the slightest move and use the opportunity to get the Falcon ready and perhaps flee before the Imperials could get a hold on them.
"I can´t, you know that." Luke said, thankful for the silent support of his friends. "I will not join the Dark Side."
"You don't know what power you will gain in joining me. And, more importantly, you and your friends would be able to live in peace."
"What peace would that be? The Empire would still oppress the galaxy!" Leia couldn't hold her tongue now. Vader`s attention turned to the feisty princess.
"If Luke joins me there would be a lot of changes in the Empire, I can promise you." Vader said, the innuendo in his voice told them exactly what he was implying.
Leia send Luke an inquiring look.
"I will not join you and I have no interest in ruling the galaxy. I want a new democratic Republic, like it was before."
Vader snorted, crossing his arms over his broad chest.
"I`ve seen democracy, all greedy egoists only interested in their own welfare."
Now Han snorted, "Look who`s talking."
Leia sent him a warning look, but Vader didn't seemed to feel the need to react to Han`s insult.
"Luke, come with me!" This time there was more force in Vader´s voice, showing that a "no" would not be accepted.
"I can`t, I will not betray my friends. You have to arrest me with them I'm afraid." Luke said, setting his jaw in determination.
Heavy silence followed Luke´s words. Vader´s eyes never left his son´s face, staring at him intently, only his noticeable breathing could be heard.
The rebels watched the Dark Lord closely, unsure what to come, if they would be killed too, arrested, or if they should try to flee.
"Captain Solo." Vader said suddenly, turning his attention to the former smuggler. Han looked taken aback as Vader turned his black mask towards him, the uneasiness in him grew. He didn't like the close proximity of the Sith Lord in the least. It had brought him already so much suffering that even he must admit that he feared this man, or whatever it was beneath this black armor.
"You have one standard hour, after that the hunt will be opened."
Without another word Vader turned and hurried to his shuttle, cloak billowing behind him.
"Did he just let us go?" Han asked no one in particular after a stunned silence, the roaring of the engine of the Imperial craft nearly drowning his words.
Lando was the first to collect his wit, spurting towards the waiting falcon shouting: "Let´s go! They'll be after us in less than an hour." Chewbacca followed him with long strides.
Han, still confused, watched Vader as he entered his shuttle then turned to follow his two friends. Time was money, especially when the Imperials were at your heels.
Leia too ripped her eyes from the now closing shuttle, as she spotted Luke who still stood rooted to the ground, only staring in the direction Vader had vanished.
Leia reached for his arm. "We have to go!" She said and Luke nodded.
"Yes, I know." He finally made a move towards their freighter but before they entered the Falcon he once again turned to look after the now nearly invisible shuttle. Afterwards he walked over the hutch and into the familiarly of the ship, hoping that they stood a chance against the imperials.
The Falcon soared out of the atmosphere right towards a group of Star Destroyers.
"Sith!" Han cursed instinctively searching for a way to avoid a direct confrontation.
"I thought they give an hour time before they would go after us?" Frantically Han and Chewbacca pressed buttons and switches.
Lando and Leia watched then with sorrow as Luke entered the bridge, after activating C-3PO and R2-D2 again. The two faithful droids had been deactivated and looked in a small chamber after the Falcon and his inhabitants had been captured.
"What´s going on?" Luke stepped next to Leia trying to get a look out of the front panel.
"Star Destroyers are what´s going on." Han answered sarcastically, till searching for a way around them.
"I thought your dad said he would give us some advance, apparently he had changed his mind." Lando said, his dark eyes flicking to Luke then searching space for any nearing TIE-fighter.
Luke felt a brief flash of disappointment as he spotted the Imperial fleet in front of them, his hands wound around Han´s pilot seat before he let himself sink into the Force. It didn't take long before he found the powerful presence of his father.
Luke? What do you want?
I thought you would let us have some advance, but now you are directly in our way.
Yes, but we will not attack. I keep my promises.
Luke sent a mental nod and pulled back, the cockpit of the Falcon became sharp in front of his eyes again.
"They will let us pass." He told Han, from behind his seat.
"And how do you know that?" The older man asked skeptically, turning so he was able to look at Luke.
"Father said so." The answer was the last thing Han expected.
"Is he listening in on us or something?"
"No, he can't do that. But we can communicate through the Force." Luke explained what he had just done. Han´s eyes widened.
"Well, I don't know about all this Force stuff, but this whole thing is scary, you know."
"You don't have to tell me that. I know exactly what you mean."
As promised, the Imperials let them pass and minutes later the space contorted around them, as they made the jump into hyperspace.
An hour later Luke sat at the small table recalling the event that had just occurred. He still wondered why his father had come for him, or more, why he had let them go, but well, perhaps he knew the answer already. He had seen it, seen it as had touched his father's mind. There had been something, something faint and buried deep under all the darkness, but still it was there. Perhaps, Luke thought, Perhaps, it isn't too late for him. Perhaps there was still a way to save him from himself. A faint smile stole over his face.
A smile that made Han even more worried what was going on in the kid´s mind. He watched Luke as he sat there obviously caught in his own thoughts. It was still nearly incomprehensible for him that this gentle and sometimes naïve young man was the offspring of Darth Vader.
But what made Han wonder even more was the behavior of the Sith today.
He had heard Luke´s call for help, marched in and killed all the people who had laid a hand on his son. Still this didn't explain why he had let them flee after Luke had refused to join him. This was so unlikely Vader, or what was told about him.
Han watched Luke for a moment longer, as the answer hit him like a bucket of ice water. It was so simple, so obvious and jet so unbelievable, thinking that it concerned the dark lord. Darth Vader was Luke's father and so he did what most parents did with their child.
Vader loved Luke.