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Saga - OT A Matter of Time (AU, ESB) H/L, Luke, Vader, Lando

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Ridley Solo, Apr 5, 2018.

  1. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh, @Ridley Solo -- that was AMAZING! =D= =D= Speechless with wow! Eagerly awaiting the next update!
     
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  2. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    I'm happy that Anakin seems to have won the battle with Vader. I hope they don't have any trouble finding the Rebellion.
     
  3. Darth_Drachonus

    Darth_Drachonus Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Oh wow. Awesome! I can't wait for more! :redsaber::bluesaber:
     
  4. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Yes! I knew it! I called it! I so called it!
     
  5. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha "Speechless with wow"? That's a new (and very awesome) description! You needn't wait any longer, though, 'cause here comes the next!
    @Sara_Kenobi Oh, don't worry...
    @Darth_Drachonus Here comes some more!
    @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Yes, you did. Congratulations!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Part Eighteen

    Luke woke suddenly to find himself lying down across several passenger seats, a gloved hand on his forehead. Darth Vader’s breathing filled his ears. Instinct and disorientation made him flinch and pull away.

    “I'm sorry,” murmured Anakin, pulling away with a grimace. I shouldn’t be surprised. Waking to see this monstrosity is enough to frighten anyone... “Be still. Your head injury seems worse than I thought.”

    “What happened?” Luke mumbled, his one hand going to his head. It was throbbing with the worst headache he’d ever had and making it difficult to remember much of anything. He blinked the haze away from his eyes.

    “What is the last thing you remember?”

    “Um...groundquake...Sheol...you saved me.” A brief smile touched Luke’s face. He chewed his lip on concentration. “We took a shuttle and then…that’s all.”

    “We’re headed back to the Alliance. After the jump to hyperspace, you fell unconscious.” Anakin shook his head regretfully. “I should never have let you fly. You are far too injured.”

    Luke eyed the bandage on his father’s arm. “Well, you don’t look much better.” He cleared his throat, still blinking, and tried sitting up. “I should check the navicomputer-”

    Anakin held him down. “We’re on course. Lie still. You shouldn’t be moving yet,” he warned.

    Luke winced, but pushed his way up anyway. “Neither should you.” Maybe his father was right. Sitting up just made things worse. His stomach lurched and threatened to expel his last meal. That’s not good. “How long was I out?”

    Anakin wished his son could see the concern on his face. “Several hours. You seem to have a concussion.”

    That would explain things, thought Luke. He rubbed his aching head and nodded. “Yeah...feels like it...I’ve had one before, but..."

    Anakin steadied Luke’s shoulder. “Are you ill? Is there double or blurred vision? Dizziness?”

    Luke nodded ruefully. “Yeah. And about the worst headache I’ve ever had.”

    “Lie back down, then,” Anakin gently pushed his son back.

    “What about you?” Luke asked. He peered at the bloodied bandage and frowned.

    “I’ll live. You rest.” While Anakin’s arm was in utter agony, he was far more concerned about Luke. Still the boy pushed back. “Luke, please. You’ve been unconscious for nearly five hours. Moving around with a head injury only invites trouble.”

    Blinking hard, Luke shook his head. “Well, that bandage should be changed, and you can’t do it by yourself. Let me help you...”

    Anakin frowned. “I can use the Force to take care of it. Now lie down,” he ordered, physically pushing Luke back to the cushion. He sighed at the face Luke was making. “You are incredibly stubborn, but you come by it honestly.”

    Luke tried cracking a smile. “You were just as bad?”

    Anakin smiled sadly behind his mask. “Your mother was worse. I think you have a bit more of her in you than me. She was very stubborn...and very kind,” he sighed distantly. Even after twenty-four years, the pain of losing her hadn’t eased. “She would have been very proud of the man you’ve become.”

    Luke watched his father, feeling a slight, quiet connection. It was a new experience just holding a conversation without any sense of darkness. His curiosity about his mother rose. “What was she like?”

    Anakin closed his eyes. He could still see Padme's face in his mind’s eye. “Strong...courageous… dedicated to helping others...and so, so beautiful...” A lump rose in his throat, and he shook his head. “She deserved better.”

    Luke turned away. The sense of grief rolling off his father was so strong, it made him want to cry. He must have loved her very much. The thought was something of a comfort, though it pained the young man to wonder what could have been if Anakin had rejected the Darkness. Enough, he thought. It’s in the past, and it can’t be changed. At least you have your father now. The resulting, tentative smile faded when a roll of nausea swept over him. “Um...maybe...I think I need to take another nap,” he said, rolling on to his side.

    Anakin nodded. “You need rest, son. Is there anything else I can do? Are you hungry?”

    The idea of eating made Luke’s stomach twist all the more. “No. Not right now. Father…?” He looked over his shoulder.

    “Yes, son?”

    “Thank you.”

    * * * * *

    The next three days of hyperspace travel were an exercise in patience for both Skywalkers. Luke slept off and on for the first day and ate nothing. He had tried after his second nap, but everything came right back up in minutes. After a while he gave up on normal nations and relied on nibbles of bland pilot bread and sips of water to keep going.

    Anakin’s condition deteriorated quickly. It was clear that an infection was taking hold in his arm. He hid his symptoms well with the Force, but even he knew he couldn’t keep up the charade much longer. Both father and son had only the use of one arm, so treatment was clumsy on both ends. He fervently hoped that the Alliance wouldn’t shoot first and ask questions later.

    While Luke was awake, he had questions...many, many questions, mostly regarding the Jedi. Anakin answered what he could, but the guilt of wiping them out was at times overwhelming. He couldn’t stay on the subject for long and rejected Luke’s requests for instruction in the Force. He thought of himself as a fairly dismal teacher after what had happened with Ahsoka, and would not risk failing his son.

    Meanwhile the crew members made regular pests of themselves. They were given adequate food, water, and access to the refresher unit, but would not stop railing against the Alliance. On the last day Anakin lost patience with their noise and stunned the protesting Imperials. The Rebels could deal with them.

    Luke and Anakin’s relationship as father and son progressed at a crawl. Luke flinched every time he woke to find his father bending over him, and Anakin struggled with strong emotions. Both knew it would take more than a few days to gain the trust, respect, and affection that had been lacking for twenty-odd years. And while Anakin honestly did love his son, he wasn't sure how to show it. Treating Luke like a child certainly didn’t work.

    Nearly eighty hours after their departure from Sheol, the reversion alarm beeped, rousing Anakin from a light doze in the main hold. When he looked for his son he found the compartment empty. "Luke?" he called.

    There was no answer.

    Anakin inched up to a standing position, still favoring his painful left arm. It was a simple matter to probe the four corners of the ship for Luke's presence. His feelings were mixed upon discovering that his son was in the cockpit...sound asleep, though the alarm from there had to be twice as loud. Hopefully it was just fatigue and not his head injury acting up.

    Wordlessly he headed forward. Sure enough, there sat Luke, slouched in the pilot seat, arms crossed loosely about him, eyes closed, and mouth hanging open.

    My son… On impulse Anakin rested his hand on Luke’s head. “Luke...Luke,” he called quietly.

    As usual, Luke flinched awake. His heart pounded a little hearing the voice and seeing the face of Darth Vader...but it only took a moment to sense the concerned presence of Anakin. Am I ever going to get used to that? Wondered the youth as he ran a hand across his tired eyes. “Oh. Reversion. Right.” The hand flew across the controls and carefully brought the ship out of hyperspace. “Next stop, the Rebel fleet.”

    With a slight whine, the shuttle eased back into normalspace. Starlines shrank back into billions of tiny stars, while directly ahead sat-

    Nothing. The Fleet wasn’t there.

    Luke’s shoulders fell in disappointment. “What? No...this can’t be right. They were supposed to be here!”

    Anakin cringed. “Perhaps, given your injury, you typed in the wrong coordinates.”

    Luke shook his head. “No. I just rechecked them. This is the rendezvous point we were supposed to meet after Hoth. Where is everyone?”

    Anakin sighed. “It has been over two weeks since the escape of your friends, Luke. They may have heard the rumor that you defected and...moved the fleet to keep everyone safe.”

    Luke slouched into his seat. “Great. How are we going to find them now?” A staccato series of beeps interrupted him, and he checked the console. “Oh, boy. We’ve got four snub fighters on our tail.”

    “We are being hailed,” announced Anakin.

    “Maybe they can tell us what’s going on.” Luke flipped on the mic.

    "Imperial Shuttle, identify yourself!" barked a young male voice. "You are now in the custody of the Rebel Alliance."

    “Wedge!” cried Luke as four X-wings came in and filled the corners of the veiwport. He mashed the pickup. “Rogue Squadron, this is Commander Skywalker. Stand down. This is a friendly vessel.”

    “Luke!?” Shock registered in Wedge’s voice. His jaw had probably fallen open. “Com...Commander Skywalker, please confirm. Is that really you?”

    Luke nodded and quickly rattled off his confirmation code. “It’s me, Wedge. I’m back.”

    A young, elated whoop echoed through the speakers. “I knew it! I knew you weren’t gone. I just knew it!” crowed Wes Janson. He sounded emotional.

    “Good to hear you, roo, Janson,” smiled Luke, trying to clear away the lump in his throat. “Wedge...what’s going on? Where is everyone?”

    “We thought you were dead, Luke. We heard...” Wedge hesitated. “We heard you’d joined the Empire. The Alliance moved the fleet. What are you doing in an Imperial shuttle?”

    Luke cringed. It was going to be a heck of a welcome home. “It was the only ship I could find. Look, Wedge, whatever you’ve heard about me joining the Empire, it’s not true. I swear.”

    Wedge was quiet. “Scanners are picking up four life signs. Who else is on that shuttle?”

    This is going to be interesting. Luke grimaced and turned to look at his father. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. But I did have to stun the crew. They weren’t...exactly… accommodating...” Luke shook his head. The dizziness had returned, worse than ever.

    “Luke, you okay? You don’t sound too good.”

    “Long story. Probably...gonna need...medics.”

    Anakin turned to his son, worried. Luke’s head was acting up again. “Go and lie down. You must rest.”

    Luke shook his head. “No...no, they...they’re not going to...listen to you,” he mumbled. “Just...let me...get us in...”

    Wedge sighed with worry. “Luke, you know what I have to do. We have orders to detain any Imperial vessel in the vicinity, no matter who’s on board.”

    Luke nodded drowsily. “I know...do what you have to.”

    Cursing under his breath, Wedge extended his X-wings and broke formation. “Strap in. We’re going to knock out your engines, navigation, and tracking systems, then tow you back to the fleet. You better hold on to something.”

    Luke cringed, but he understood the need for it. He buckled his restraints and turned to Anakin to be sure his were done. “All right. Fire when you’re...ready.”

    Wedge wheeled around to the back and began a systematic sequence, firing carefully so he would only disable and not destroy. A series of small explosions overtook the aft section.

    Anakin held on for dear life as the shuttle went through a series of violent shakes. When the engines were hit, the shuttle lurched forward. He was thrown against his restraints. Concerned, he turned to Luke and found his son slumped forward, once again unconscious. “Luke...Luke!” Luke didn’t stir. Anakin’s heart sank. Oh, no. Maybe the impact had worsened his concussion.

    “All right, we’re through. You still there, Luke?” called Wedge.

    Anakin cringed. The Rebels are never going to believe me if I answer. They may only destroy the vessel. I haven't come this far only for my son to lose his life. So he said nothing, instead unbuckling his restraints and trying to roust the boy. “Luke, wake up...please, Luke.”

    “Commander Skywalker, please confirm,” grunted Wedge. Concern rose in his voice. “Luke, come on. Luke...Luke?” Seconds ticked by. “Dammit! I must have hit him too hard. He’s not responding. All right, boys. Lock on your tow-beams and program the jump. Let’s bring him home.”
     
  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Yikes, Luke's head injury is worrisome! [face_nail_biting] Excellent and realistic sense of awkward between Luke and Anakin, with Luke's understandable curiosity etc. I can well believe there is a ton of adjusting to this unexpected relationship. :p

    Glad it was Wedge -- a good friend and someone with sense ;) who greeted them. Things will get handled properly. I know Han, Leia, and Chewie will be relieved that Luke has come back, and beyond surprised at who's with him. LOL
     
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  7. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    Hopefully Luke's injury will get better soon for him. =D= I can't wait to read the rebellion's reaction to seeing who else is with Luke. :p
     
  8. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Yes, a heck of a lot of adjusting. You can't really go from a jailer/prisoner relationship straight into a father/son relationship. Surprised? Oh, you have no idea... :p
    @Sara_Kenobi Don't worry too much about Luke. He may be prone to injuries, but he mends pretty fast. And...wish granted! ;)

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Part Nineteen


    The Mon Calamari cruiser Liberty was abuzz with activity. Frantic officers hurried left and right, unsure of what to do. Leia had to dodge them carefully. The reason for all this was beyond belief.

    Several hours ago, Rogue Squadron had intercepted an Imperial shuttle exiting hyperspace at the former rendezvous point. When questioned, a tired Luke answered the comm, though he was reluctant to identify the three passengers. After Wedge had fired on the vessel to render it harmless, Luke stopped responding. The request for medics did nothing to alleviate Leia’s unease.

    Then the unthinkable happened. Once the shuttle arrived in Rebel space, none other than Darth Vader- or at least someone with his voice -answered the comm. After a heated debated it was decided to wait until after the shuttle had set down and Vader’s identity confirmed before making any moves. It might even be some impostor with a twisted sense of humor...or a death wish. Every single pilot in the Rebellion wanted a clean shot at the Dark Lord and none of them would hesitate if given the chance.

    But what if it wasn’t an impostor? What if it really was Vader on that shuttle? If so, why would Luke bring him back? Had he been captured as a prisoner and then broken loose from his bonds? The idea that even a young, skilled warrior like Luke could take down Vader was ridiculous. This had to be some sort of ruse. Only Leia’s concern for Luke kept the gunners from blasting the shuttle to oblivion.

    That didn’t mean the Rebels were going to take any chances. Every single security officer, sniper, and fleet trooper was sent to the hangar with orders to open fire if there were any moves of aggression.

    Of course, if it really was Vader on that shuttle, blasters would be useless. The man could easily deflect the bolts with lightsaber and Force, disarm the troopers, and then march in, spreading death and destruction with every step. The contingency plan was a pair of snipers stationed at either end of the hangar. Rather than blasters they held tranquilizer guns such as were used for large animals. Assuming some part of Vader was actually flesh and blood, they could take him down with the element of surprise and enough sedatives to knock out a bantha.

    The former Princess of Alderaan felt her heart pounding with anticipation and dread as she raced along the corridors toward the hangar. She wanted so badly to see Luke and know that he was going to be all right...but she was in no hurry to meet Vader again. Presently Han, who was hard on her heels, gave her arm an encouraging squeeze.

    Leia bit her lip. She’d told him not to come. He’d already gone against Vader and failed. But Han wouldn’t take no for an answer. He wanted to see Luke just as much as she did, and he had developed a deep need to be there for her. Leia was grateful for his presence.

    Han’s expression was grim as he hurried along beside her. While one hand rested in the curve of Leia’s back, the other was on his blaster. His reaction to the news had bounced between anger and disbelief. He spoke with confidence that Luke had given Vader hell...though even he had to admit the idea of anyone dragging the Sith Lord along after physically defeating them was ludicrous. He wanted to know what had possessed Luke to leave Vader alive...unless things had gone sour and now Vader was the one with Luke as a prisoner, playing passive until the time was right and he could toss everyone aside like rag dolls. Even now, he could have been faking his ‘defeat’.

    For this reason Han had insisted on Chewbacca taking both droids to the Falcon. While now an officer in the Alliance and dedicated to defending his fellow Rebels, Han’s main concern was for Leia. If everything went to hell and it was every man for himself, Han planned to drag her and as many friends as he could grab back to the Falcon and beat a path out of there. No sense in everyone losing their lives...and he’d be damned if he saw Leia back in the clutches of that monster.

    The shuttle had just landed a matter of minutes ago, but the hangar was already crowded. Everyone with a blaster was ready and waiting as the loading ramp lowered and the door slid open.

    Leia found herself shaking as she edged in beside Madine. His blaster was already drawn. As he turned to her to get permission for the occupants to emerge, she saw how uneasy his blue eyes were. Leia suppressed a shudder as she nodded. Here we go.

    Madine thumbed on his commlink. “Imperials coming out. Squad leaders, stand ready. Watch your friendlies.” With a swallow he raised his voice. “Attention, shuttle crew and passengers! We have the ramp completely surrounded! Come out, one at a time, hands behind your head. Come quietly, and none of you will be harmed. Any moves of aggression, and we will open fire.” He swallowed as a shadow entered the doorway. “Now...come down the ramp slowly...” He signaled the fleet troopers kneeling in the front row to aim their blasters at the ramp.

    Wide-eyed with confusion and fear, a single black-garbed pilot edged down the ramp, hands behind his head. “H-hey...easy, don’t...don’t shoot. I’m unarmed, all right?”

    Once the man was clear, a fleet trooper moved in with a pair of cuffs. He was marched directly to Leia. “You’re in the custody of the Rebel Alliance. Cooperate, and you’ll be treated fairly. Understood?”

    The pilot gulped. “Yes, Ma’am. Stang...” he looked around at the serious company.

    “All right, now I want you to answer me quickly and truthfully. How many more are aboard that shuttle?”

    “Uh...th-three...another crewman...Vader, and...some blond commander I’ve never seen before. He must be one of you, ‘cause he stunned us.”

    Han stepped forward hopefully. “What happened? The blond commander; what’s his name? Is he all right?”

    Leia held out a hand to slow Han down. The grilling would have to wait. “Not now, Han. Lieutenant, take this man to the brig. We’ll send his companion to join him. Thank you, Commander,” nodded Leia to the Imperial.

    “I dunno who he is,” gulped the pilot as he was led away. “All I know is he doesn’t look too good.”

    Leia’s stomach clenched and he had to hold Han back again from asking more questions. The second crewman came down and was taken into custody. He reconfirmed the news about ‘Vader and the blond kid.’ He also confirmed that both were hurt, and the last he’d seen, the ‘kid’ was unconscious. Hold on, Luke...she turned to Madine. “General, is the medical team down here yet?” he asked with a catch in her voice.

    Madine nodded. “Standing by, Princess. Remaining passengers, exit slowly with your hands behind your head!”

    After a long moment passed, the sound of filtered breathing echoed about the hangar. Every Rebel present gave an involuntary shudder. Several took a step or two back and checked the safeties on their blasters.

    Leia stiffened as Darth Vader edged into view. Brief memories flashed in her mind. Torture aboard the Death Star...his iron grip on her shoulder as Alderaan was destroyed...his cold stillness in the carbon freezing chamber. The young woman took a deep breath to try and calm her ragged nerves. She felt Han stiffen in turn beside her, saw his glare out of the corner of her eye and heard the click of his blaster. On impulse she took his free hand.

    Around them, every Rebel in the first two rows checked their aim, tensing and preparing to fire. A couple glanced at Leia for the word. Madine lifted his brows, asking the same question; So do we shoot him, or not?

    The whole of them flinched when Vader spoke. “I surrender. Do with me what you wish, but… Commander Skywalker must have medical care.”

    “What’d you do to him?” blurted Han, his voice strangled with emotion. He aimed his blaster while knowing the Dark Lord could just rip it away with the Force as he had before.

    “Come down the ramp...slowly,” ordered Madine. He glanced desperately at Leia. “Princess, we have four security teams waiting, but you know as well as I do no cell can hold this monster.”

    “I know...” Leia glared at the man in black even as she tried to see around him. “But we have to keep our word. If we kill an unarmed man in cold blood, then we’re no better than the Empire.” The words tasted sour in her mouth, and she swallowed the bile that rose. “Do whatever you can to restrain him.”

    “Leia...this is Vader, we’re talking about!” hissed Han. “Just let me shoot him.”

    “No,” said Leia firmly. “It wouldn’t do any good, remember?” She tried to see past Madine. “Alert every level. Keep all corridors clear until Vader’s in the brig. Back cell, solitary confinement, as much security as you can manage.”

    Vader edged clear of the door, one hand behind the head, the other in a sling.

    Madine aimed his blaster again. ”Both hands, Vader. You can quit the injured act.”

    Slowly Vader lifted his left arm, wincing in the process, to bring it behind his head. The arm shook as he took further steps. He paused and glanced back inside. “Will you not see to Commander Skywalker?”

    Han cursed. “It’s a trap. He’s using Luke as bait.”

    Leia grimaced. “Maybe. But hold your fire. That’s an order,” she glared. “General…are the snipers ready?”

    Madine lifted a brow. “Both ready and waiting for word...but I don’t know if those darts will make it though that armor.”

    “Aim for the bandage on his arm. I can see blood,” gulped Leia. She prayed this gambit would work. “Give the word.”

    Madine picked up his comm. “Danson, you’re clear. Aim for the bandage on Vader’s left arm and fire when ready.”

    Two seconds later, a dart flew into Vader’s left arm. He grunted in pain, looked down at the dart, and immediately began wavering on his feet. “Luke...” he muttered as the sedative kicked in. He collapsed to the ramp with a loud crash.

    A full minute passed before Madine cleared the security teams to move in. Every type of restraint they had, from stun cuffs to simple leather straps, was used before the large, hulking prisoner was dragged away, a wide path clearing around them.

    Once Vader was gone, Han and Leia didn’t wait any longer. They hurried up the ramp, waving the medics in behind them. “Luke!” cried Leia when she found him. He was on the floor, stirring and looking disoriented. A nasty bruise adorned his head and his right hand was missing.

    Presently the young pilot lifted his head, light filling his tired eyes. “Leia...Han?” He rose unsteadily to greet them. “Han...you’re all right!” The boy’s limbs shook, and he stumbled.

    Leia and Han caught him and sat him back down, arms enfolding the tired, wounded youth. “Okay. Okay, buddy. We gotcha,” murmured Han. A unexpected lump came to his throat as he and Leia hugged the young man. Poor guy’s all beat up. Urgently he waved the medics over with a free hand.

    “Han, I didn’t think I’d see you again,” said Luke in a hoarse voice. “Vader told me about the bounty hunter...” His voice broke completely, and quiet tears flowed.

    “Hey,” croaked Han, rubbing his friend’s back. “Don’t you start gettin’ mushy. Whaddya, think some old buckethead’ed get the best of me? I’m all right, pal.” He pulled back to give Luke a crooked smile.

    Luke wiped his eyes, smiling back. “Me, too. I’m just so glad to see both of you...glad to be back.” He tried pushing to his feet, but his friends held him down. “I’m all right,” he insisted, though his rapid blinks and grimaces were enough to tell anyone he was in pain.

    Leia gently gripped his shoulder. “Luke, stay put. You’re hurt.” Her eyes darted to his vacant wrist. While it seemed healed, the sight was still a shock. His hand is gone...I can’t believe his hand is gone. “What happened? How much can you tell us?”

    “Um...” Luke’s hand went to his aching head as the medics started looking him over. “Ow,” he winced when they probed the large bruise on his forehead.

    “Easy, Commander,” steadied the medic as he ran a scan from a miniature unit. “You’ve had a hell of a knock on the head, haven’t you?” Luke nodded ruefully.

    “How bad?” Leia wanted to know.

    “Moderate to severe concussion,” frowned the medic, moving his attention to Luke’s arm. “We’ll know more once we get him on the Redemption. How about the hand, Commander? Do you remember how and when you lost it?”

    Luke winced at the memory and closed his eyes. “Bespin. Vader...we dueled...” The boy’s eyes flew open in alarm and he looked around. “Where is he?”

    Han narrowed his eyes. “Don’cha worry ‘bout him, kid. We ain’t lettin’ him anywhere near ‘ya.” He laid a comforting hand on Luke’s shoulder. “Shoulda killed him, though...”

    Luke let out a heavy sigh. He’d been hoping to tell his friends the truth about Vader...the fact that it was Anakin they now saw...that he was Luke’s father. Not now, he reflected sadly. They wouldn’t understand. “No...that’s all right.” He waited as the medics completed their exam and frowned when he saw the hover-gurney. “I can walk-” Pushing to his feet only resulted in his fatigued legs giving out on him and a wave of dizziness overtaking him.

    “Easy, buddy. Let the medics take care of ‘ya,” Han said quietly.

    “No...I’m just tired-”

    “Hold still,” ordered Leia. “Whenever you need to talk, we’ll be there. Just take it easy for now.”

    Luke frowned, but didn’t protest further as the medics got him onto a floating gurney. I’m home. My friends are safe. My father is here. I can relax now.

    When the hover-gurney was raised, dizziness once more overtook him. This time he didn’t fight it and let sleep return.
     
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  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb update. Understandable caution with Vader and gladness over reuniting with Luke. He certainly has a lot to tell them, and they will absolutely be floored. =D=
     
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  10. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    I can't wait for everyone's reaction to Luke's news. I'm glad Luke and Vader are with the Rebellion now. I think that Vader will have a hard time convincing the Rebellion that he's good again. =D=:)
     
  11. Darth_Drachonus

    Darth_Drachonus Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Excellent update! But..damn those cliff hangers! LOL I'm wondering how they'll remedy the suit problem, if they don't execute him (which, I have a feeling they won't) because the suit is a symbol of the Empire, and Anakin won't want anything to do with that anymore. :redsaber::bluesaber:
     
  12. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Floored? Hmm, that's an interesting way of putting it... [face_thinking]
    @Sara_Kenobi Well, imagine someone like, say....Hitler's second in command surrendering himself to the Allies during World War 2 and claiming to want to switch sides. Would anyone believe him?
    @Darth_Drachonus Dangit, you guys keep jumping a step ahead of me! Have you read this already....? :p
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Part Twenty


    Luke slept through the entire trip to the Redemption as well as 2-1B's examination. He continued to lie in slumber as the droid approached Han and Leia to give his diagnosis.

    "Commander Skywalker has suffered a serious concussion, as well as various contusions, cuts, burns, and a traumatic amputation of his right hand. All but the concussion have either healed or are in the process of healing, but the buildup of scar tissue over his wrist suggests minimal medical treatment. He is also slightly dehydrated and suffering from low blood sugar. Judging by the mental state in which he was found, the amount of adrenaline in his system, and extreme fatigue, initial observations suggest torture," explained the droid.

    Han closed his eyes upon hearing the news while Leia stood with fists clenched, cursing Vader. "Will he be all right?" she asked, struggling to keep her voice even.

    "His physical recovery seems certain with enough rest and nourishment. A bionic prosthetic will of course be offered to compensate for the amputation. Mental and emotional recovery may take longer. He will need his friends."

    Leia was unable to respond again beyond a stiff nod. “We’ll be here for him.”

    Han held her close and nodded to the droid. "That goes double. Let us know when he wakes up, will 'ya?"

    Too-One-be nodded. "Of course, Captain Solo."

    Standing together, leaning on one another for support, Han and Leia watched Luke through the observation window. He looked so young....so fragile...so vulnerable. It was gratifying to see the peace on his face as he slept, but that did not erase what had happened.

    Han swore. "Why you keepin' Vader as a prisoner?"

    Leia rubbed her temples and shook her head. "To be honest, I'm not sure...but we can’t just kill him."

    "Why not?" Han wanted to know.

    "Han, he’s second in command to the Emperor himself. If anyone could predict Palpatine's next move, Vader could. Any information he could give us would be invaluable. Besides...even prisoners have right. The Alliance doesn’t execute prisoners without a trial." Leia spoke these words as if she'd learned them by rote. She personally had no use for keeping Vader alive...save a very un-diplomatic desire to repay the Dark Lord for everything he had done.

    Han scoffed and crossed his arms. "Right. Even if he does talk, you can't trust anything he says."

    The former princess let out a heavy sigh and opened her eyes. "We have to try, Han. At least, where he is, he can't hurt anyone else."

    * * * * *

    Clearing ones’ body of toxins or other substances with the Force was difficult, but possible. Anakin had learned the trick as a Jedi and put it to good use with the heavy amounts of sedatives in his system.

    Upon awakening in the brig, however, Anakin’s first thoughts were of Luke. He worried about his son’s recovery and tried sending his thoughts in that general direction, but found Luke still unconscious. Maybe that was for the best. He has his friends now. He’ll be all right.

    Anakin tried to rise...and found himself thoroughly bound at elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles, further secured to the cot by long, thick straps. All he could move was his head. He paused and sighed. This is fair. They may always see me as Darth Vader. In which case, I’m fortunate they’ve left me alive.

    His left arm was already throbbing. Even flexing the muscles of his bicep sent waves of agony from elbow to collarbone, and he winced. His internal bio-monitors were already broadcasting the alarm of infection. He knew if his arm wasn’t set and cleaned soon, he’d end up losing the rest of it. The fever and blood loss had made him weak. He wouldn’t have been able to resist arrest if he’d wanted to, though of course his captors didn’t know that. Hopefully the rumor’s of Luke’s defection wasn’t affecting his treatment. At least he’s resting. The man took the opportunity to look around.

    Anakin had been in quite a few unsavory places in his life both as a Jedi and a Sith lord. The brig aboard the Liberty didn't even rank in the top fifty. As a matter of fact it was almost pleasant. Clean, dry, well-lit, with such amenities as a thinly padded cot, a refresher, and regularly circulating air, the tiny room would have been nice...if he wasn’t bound so tightly.

    Just as Anakin was making the attempt to call on the Force to ease his pain, he sensed a presence outside the door...three, actually. The door slid open, and they stepped inside.

    There were two well-armed security guards and one medic, who carried a sizable medpac over one shoulder. The latter paused at the doorway, biting his lip and radiating nerves. “That figures. A whole ship’s worth of medics and droids, and I’m the one they send over here,” he whispered under his breath. Glad I wrote up my will, he thought as he stepped inside. “Darth Vader, I presume.”

    Anakin cringed, wondering when he could drop his former moniker without arousing too much suspicion about Luke. “My name is Anakin. And you are?”

    The medic swallowed, edging up to his charge. “Lieutenant Sal. I’m, ah...ordered to give you whatever medical care you need. Standard procedure for prisoners. If you don’t cooperate, they have orders to shoot,” he warned, motioning to the guards.

    Anakin nodded once. “Understandable. I give you my word not to cause any problems.”

    That doesn’t make me feel any better. Sal continued inside at a snail’s pace, edging carefully up to his patient. His found his hands shaking as he pulled out a portable health scanner. “I’d...heard that Darth Vader was just a droid...a machine that couldn’t be hurt or killed,” he remarked nervously.

    Anakin nodded again. He knew about the rumors surrounding his former life as a Sith Lord. He was feared throughout the galaxy. Sal was broadcasting it like a beacon. “As your scanners can tell you, I’m not all machine. There is still some human left.”

    Sal pursed his lips. Biologically, at least. ‘Human’ was too kind a word for this...thing. His brows knit as several injuries registered on the scan. “That blood is yours, then?” he motioned to the bandage.

    “Yes.” Anakin bit down on a cry as the bandage was removed. He sensed surprise as Sal examined the wound. “You didn’t expect me to feel pain?”

    “Well, you still have nerve endings, so...” Sal grimaced despite himself at the ugly wound. “I’m more surprised you were able to move your arm at all. It’s a real mess. I don’t suppose you’d tell me how this happened?”

    “My arm was crushed by a large stone during a groundquake on Sheol,” answered Anakin. He clenched his teeth as Sal continued probing the wound. It was a struggle not to revert to his old habit of choking someone who caused him pain.

    “That would explain your prosthesis. I doubt even our techs could fix this,” he remarked doubtfully. Sal’s frown deepened. “Ah, great. The break is infected. Temperature, 41 Celsius? Oh, boy...” He pulled a comm from his belt. “Your Highness, this is Sal. We’ve got a situation here. Your prisoner is going to need a full medical team.”

    41? No wonder it’s so warm, thought Anakin distantly. His skin was so damaged that he couldn’t sweat, but the heat radiating from his body was very uncomfortable. The suit could only do so much to regulate his temperature. He heard Princess Leia’s exasperation on the other end of Sal’s comm.

    “Lieutenant, I’m going to need a very good reason why we should expend our resources on...him,” said Leia.

    Sal cringed. “The short answer is without prompt attention, you’re not going to have a prisoner in a few days. He has a severe compound fracture to the left humerus, resulting in a Class 2 infection. His fever has already spiked past 41.”

    Leia hesitated, as if weighing her options. “What kind of treatment are you talking about?”

    “Surgery. We need to realign the bones in the humerus, drain, and treat the infection. We should also remove the left prosthetic arm, as it’s been crushed beyond use.”

    Anakin took the news calmly. He couldn't blame the Princess if she said no and just let him die. It was no less than he deserved. His only worry was Luke...

    Meanwhile the Princess sighed heavily. When she spoke, it sounded as if she was loathing her words. “Very well. Whatever helps you keep him alive, I’ll authorize it...but I’m not letting you move him until you’re absolutely certain he can’t hurt anyone. Knock him out, if you have to.”

    Sal nodded. “Yes, ma’am.” He turned to Anakin with lifted brows. “You’re in luck. She wants you alive. Are you going to cooperate?”

    Anakin nodded. “Yes. You’ve nothing to fear from me; I don’t intend to harm anyone.”

    Yeah, when ugnaughts fly. Sal shrugged and fished out an old-fashioned hypodermic with a very long needle. “Well, just to make sure, you’re getting another nap.” Quickly he injected the solution into Anakin’s arm.

    Tired as he was from infection and blood loss, the sedative worked quickly. Anakin drifted back to the world of unconsciousness.
     
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  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent update, very much in character particularly for Leia who naturally would feel conflicted over what to do with Vader/Anakin.
     
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  14. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    I'm glad that Leia decided to allow Anakin treatment. Great update!
     
  15. Darth_Drachonus

    Darth_Drachonus Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 2005
    @Ridley Solo I'm sorry, I tend to get ahead of a lot of things with my thinking.
     
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  16. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    People are understandably suspicious, but his good behavior will probably help.....eventually. I think. Maybe.
     
  17. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha and @Sara_Kenobi Thank you!
    @Darth_Drachonus That's OK, I was just teasing. [:D]
    @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 ;)

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Part Twenty-One

    It was more than twelve hours before Luke finally awoke. When food was offered, he polished off a large plateful of bland rations. Before he was through he was asking Too-One-Be when he could be released.

    That was when the medical droid mentioned the attachment of a prosthetic. The idea gave Luke pause and he was forced to think about the possibility yet again. He still had no intention of following in his father's footsteps. He had adapted reasonably well to using one hand and didn't see many problems ahead if he refused a bionic replacement.

    Then again, he might have been able to save himself on Sheol if he had two hands. Luke was thankful that the event had provided the catalyst for Anakin to come back to the light...but he had no intention of coming that close to death again. He was going to need more time.

    Too-One-Be was in the midst of doing another examination on his wrist when there was a buzz at Luke's door. The long-limbed medical droid turned to look before regarding his patient. "You have visitors, Commander Skywalker. They may enter if you so wish."

    Luke nodded eagerly. He wasn't skilled enough in the Force to identify individuals other than his father, but the presence on the other side was warm, speaking of friends.

    Accordingly the door slid open, and in walked the five that Luke cared for most...Han, Leia, Chewbacca, Threepio, and Artoo. They all had a cautious manner about them, as if uncertain about this visit, but both Han and Leia broke into relieved smiles upon seeing him.

    Luke couldn't help but smile back. "Leia...Han, Chewie..." His eyes stung with happy tears. "Threepio, It’s good to see you. Artoo!"

    "Oh, Master Luke! It is such a relief to have you back. These last days have been very worrisome," admitted Threepio. "But, I knew you would return!"

    Artoo gave a quick series of indignant whistles.

    "I did not say he wasn't coming back!" the golden droid retorted angrily. "Nor did I ever believe those ridiculous rumors that he had joined that dreadful Empire-"

    "Threepio," interrupted Leia with a frown. "Luke is still recovering. Why don't you let him rest?"

    Threepio seemed taken aback. "Oh, dear! I do hope I haven't upset you, Master Luke."

    Luke shook his head tiredly. "That's all right, Threepio."

    The golden droid looked from Luke's hand to his face. "Well...again, it is so good to have you back. I wish you the speediest of recoveries." With a stiff bow, he turned and waddled out the door. Artoo followed for a time, then turned to regard his master with a worried whistle.

    Luke craned his neck to look at the blue astromech with regret. "Artoo...I'm so sorry. I never meant to leave you behind. Are you all right?"

    Artoo beeped a positive, then launched into a sentence that sounded like a concerned reprimand.

    "I'll be fine, Artoo. I promise." Luke smile returned. "Go ahead with Threepio and make sure he stays out of trouble."

    Artoo gave a beeping 'laugh' and then rolled out after his counterpart.

    Now Luke could focus on his other visitors. He found himself unaccountably embarrassed having them there as Too-One-Be treated him. His arm was bare to the elbow and the scar on his wrist was ugly and drawn.

    Han was the first to break the silence, hands stuffed in his pockets, strained smile on his face. "You are lookin' a whole lot better. How you doin'?"

    Luke managed another smile. "It's amazing how much good a nap and a little food does."

    Han lifted his brows. "From what I heard, you slept almost thirteen hours and ate like a starving Wookiee. Looks like you needed it."

    Luke nodded. "I haven't been sleeping much..." Distracted, he turned to the droid, who had finished the exam.

    "How is he, Too-One-Be?" questioned Leia.

    "Commander Skywalker's condition has begun to improve with rest and nourishment. He should be fully recovered in several days," reported the droid. He turned to Luke. "Commander? The scan is complete. While the scar tissue is thick, it is still possible to locate the nerve endings for a prosthetic hand. You will please inform me of when you have made your decision?"

    "I will. Thanks. Are you finished?"

    "Yes. I will come by again to check on your progress in several hours, but in the meantime my services are needed in the surgical theater. If you will excuse me, Captain Solo...Princess Leia...Chewbacca...." With that, Too-One-Be exited the room.

    Leia, in the meantime, moved to stand at Luke’s side. "How are you feeling?" she asked, laying a gentle hand on his shoulder.

    Unconsciously Luke pulled his sleeve back down to cover his stump. "Better, now that I've seen all of you and know that you're all right..." His eyes stung again, and he blinked them away with a deep breath. Calm down, he told himself. They're fine.

    Chewbacca shuffled over with a soft purr of concern.

    "I'm fine, Chewie," smiled Luke. "I'm just glad to see everyone. I missed you all so much," he said, looking about the room.

    "We missed you too, Luke," said Leia, giving him a brief, gentle hug. She squeezed his left hand before settling next to him. Her eyes couldn't stop moving to his right arm. Poor Luke. He seems ashamed of it...we need to let him know it’s all right...that we’re here for him. Gently she took his forearm in her hand. "How's your arm?" Luke pulled away, and she shrank back in apology. "Did I hurt you?"

    Quickly the young man shook his head. "No. It doesn’t really hurt now.”

    Han exchanged a glance with Leia and sank into the seat on the opposite side of the bed, straddling it and resting his arms on the back. "You don't have to keep hidin' it, Luke. It's not your fault. Nothin’ to be ashamed of.”

    Luke frowned. Yes, it is. I was foolish. He opened his mouth in protest.

    Leia spoke first. "Han’s right. It wasn't your fault. Don’t think for one minute it is. And don’t be embarrassed about it."

    Luke gave her a smile. “I’m just a little self-conscious right now. To answer your question, it’s fine. I’ve actually learned how to get along pretty well with one hand.” To prove his point, he pushed up with his wrist to shift his weight.

    “Good.” Leia smiled back, then settled into her chair. “Luke...I know it’s not going to be easy for you to talk about, but...can I ask what happened? We looked all over Cloud City for you and...all we saw was a security recording.”

    Luke took a deep breath. Thinking about the incident made his arm throb. “How much did you see?”

    Han grimaced. “Saw ‘ya go after Vader...saw him come back without ‘ya.” He cleared his throat of emotion. “Dammit, Luke. We thought you were gone.”

    Luke hunched his shoulders, shaking his head. “I’m sorry to put you through that. I never should have gone after Vader. He was toying with me, at least at first. But then he was pushing me back to the processing vane. He had me cornered. When I hit him, it...it made him angry, and that’s...that’s when…” Luke’s wrist ached all the more. He winced and shut his eyes, covering his arm. He could still feel Vader’s blade...the pain, and even worse, the shock of the news. He shuddered. Easy. It’s over now.

    Leia rubbed his shoulder. “You don’t have to talk about it right now.”

    Luke shook his head. “No...it’s all right. I want you to know. After he...took my hand, I...there wasn’t any other way out. He...he asked me to...join him-”

    Han snorted. “What is he, nuts? Join somebody who just did that?”

    “He sensed my power and thought he could turn me to the Dark Side. I decided I’d rather die than do that. So...I just...jumped.”

    Leia tightened her grip on his shoulder. “Luke...”

    Han went pale. “Stang, kid. How’d you get away?”

    Luke shrugged. “I didn’t. I was sucked into one of the exhaust vents and landed on an antenna under the city. A rescue craft picked me up, but...it was sent by Vader.”

    Leia closed her eyes. To go through something like that, and then be captured… It was terrible to think of, and she could see the conversation was upsetting him. “Well, it’s all right now. You’re here, you're going to be fine, and we’re not letting Vader anywhere near you.”

    Luke stared at his wrist for a moment. He wished he could tell them...but the mention of Vader made his brows knit. “What did you do with him?”

    Han turned away, shoving his hands in his pockets and glaring, while Leia cringed. “Don’t think about him. You just focus on getting your strength back.”

    Luke sighed. “I’m not afraid of him. I just want to know where he is...” His voice drifted as the Force answered the question for him. His father was near. "He's not on the Liberty, is he...he's here, on the Redemption..."

    How did he know? Rather than lie, Leia made a face. "There wasn’t much choice. There’s an infection and he needs surgery. The Rebellion isn’t in the habit of valuable prisoners die, and he may be the key to bringing the Empire down."

    Luke nodded slowly. "That's where Too-One-Be went…"

    Han scuffed a boot on the floor, clearly angry. "Waste of good equipment," he muttered.

    Leia seemed apologetic. "I'm sorry, Luke. I don't want to upset you. But if we can get any information out of him..." she shook her head. "Maybe this is a mistake.”

    Luke grimaced. "No. You did the right thing. Killing unarmed prisoners is what the Empire does, not the Alliance."

    The thought seemed to be of no comfort to Leia. There was a long moment of silence between the three of them.

    "Does they believe the rumors?" Luke asked after a while. He’d seen a guard outside his door. “The Alliance...do they think I joined the Empire?”

    Leia shrugged helplessly. "Luke, they don't know what to believe. It certainly raised a few eyebrows the way you came back. No one can understand why you brought Vader back with you. Can you tell me?"

    Luke closed his eyes. She saw only Darth Vader, the murderer of millions. How could he tell her that it was really Anakin Skywalker….his father? Not yet. She wouldn’t understand.. “I can’t.”

    Leia pressed her lips together in frustration. “Luke, it’s me. Don’t be afraid of the truth. Whatever it is, you can trust us.” She took his arm and smiled when Han nodded his agreement.

    Slowly Luke shook his head. While he knew and acknowledged the truth himself, he simply couldn’t bring himself to tell his friends. A lump rose in his throat. “Leia, I...I’m sorry. I just...can’t.”

    Clearly the subject was too difficult for him. Too-OneBe mentioned torture. Something terrible must have happened! Silently cursing Vader, she rubbed Luke’s shoulder in comfort, then pulled him into a gentle hug. “It’s all right. You don’t have to talk about it right now.”

    Luke let out another shudder as his submitted to the hug. He knew Leia felt badly for him because she thought he had been traumatized by Vader. She saw him as emotionally fragile. While that was true- to some extent -Luke’s main upset at that point was losing his father so soon after finding him...and his friends never understanding why he would mourn Vader. He was able to smile when Han joined the hug.

    A muffled call for Leia made her pull back. “Luke, I have to go now. But I’ll be back, all right? Any time you need to talk...about anything...don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll be here.” She squeezed his hand.

    Han nodded his agreement. “That’s right, buddy. We’ve got your back. Take it easy, ‘kay?”

    Luke managed a smile. “Okay. Good to see you, Han.”

    “You too, pal. Hang in there.”

    “I will.”

    And so, with a final parting from Leia, she and Han ducked out of Luke’s room. The young pilot was left alone as his thoughts drifted toward his father.
     
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  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh, Ridley! You have the friendship supportive dynamic so exquisitely perfect! =D= [face_love] And even the droidish snark [face_laugh]

    I adore this. It has such an OT feel. :)
    @};-
     
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  19. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    I love that Han and Leia were there for Luke. Hopefully, in time, he'll confide in them.
     
  20. Darth_Drachonus

    Darth_Drachonus Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 2005


    [:D] All good, I do some times get WAY ahead of myself though LOL :vader::redsaber::bluesaber:
     
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  21. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Wow, I am still thrilled with the story.

    You write the entire defection attempt of Anakin so real, so thoughtfully.

    One can really see that a rebel leader like Leia acts with more fairness and humanity than Saw Gerrera or Dravits Draven would have.

    @};-
     
  22. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Finally caught up, and I have to say...wow!!^:)^=D= The return of Anakin Skywalker was fantastic. I really hope Luke learns soon that he can tell his friends the truth. They aren't going to judge him.

    Wonderful story!=D=
     
  23. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Thank you so much! [:D] One of the things I wanted to fix in this iteration was making Han and Leia stay in character. Looks like it worked...
    @Sara_Kenobi Don't worry. A secret of this magnitude can't be kept forever.
    @Darth_Drachonus Hey, I do the same thing. ;)

    @AzureAngel2 Well, thank goodness neither Saw nor Draven is around...[face_relieved]Both of them would have shot first and asked questions later. But even Leia isn't perfect...
    @JediMaster_Jen Welcome back! Soooo glad you're enjoying the story! [:D]

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Part Twenty-Two

    Anakin had never been fond of needles, scalpels, or any other kind of medical equipment. During his life as Darth Vader such things had become routine. That didn't keep him from hating every minute of such treatment. Vader had preferred to be treated by droids, as medics had been choked to death for pain they inflicted. Droids were easier to replace.

    When Anakin came out of the anesthetic hours after his surgery, he was dizzy and disoriented. His left arm throbbed. Pain turned to relief as he saw clean white bandages in place of thick leather. His arm once again ended at the elbow, wrapped and immobilized in a splint. It was startling to see how much smaller it was compared to the armored, padded arm on his right. After Mustafar, his biceps were shadows of their former selves.

    Anakin didn’t care. He had grown to loathe every one of the ill-fitted prosthetics and it was a relief to have at least one of them gone. There was some disappointment in knowing the rest of this mechanical prison was still in place, but perhaps that kind of relief was too much to hope for. If only this blasted mask was gone. That, he knew, was what people associated with the persona of Darth Vader.

    Lt. Sal entered the room, flanked with guards, and checked the monitors. He nodded in satisfaction and tapped notes into a datapad. "All right. The infection's just about gone and the biomechanics from the left arm have been removed. We’ll keep him on antibiotics for the next couple days. Humerus is healing, vitals are good..." he shrugged. "Well, he’s going to live."

    He doesn't sound very happy about that. Anakin stirred, though the movement deepened his ache. "Thank you."

    Sal flinched and looked down at his patient. “Oh. You’re awake?” He shifted his weight uncomfortably. "Um...how’s your pain level?”

    “A bit high,” grunted Anakin. His arm felt nearly as bad as when the stone had crushed it.

    “That’s odd. You’re not on the roster for pain meds...” Sal’s brows knit. Withholding painkillers from one who had just had surgery could be called torture. While he couldn’t bring himself to feel much sympathy for Vader, the oath he’d taken as a medic bothered him. He’d always tried to treat all his patients with equal consideration no matter who they were. He told himself it was what set them apart from the Empire. But it’s Darth Vader... At last Sal shrugged. “Must have been a mistake.” He made a note on the datapad and looked up. “Well, rest up. As soon as the anesthetic wears off, we have orders to take you back to your cell.” And the medic turned to leave.

    “Wait...lieutenant,” called Anakin, lifting his head. “Could you send a message to the leaders of Rebellion for me?”

    Sal froze in the doorway, gray eyes darting left and right. “That depends...I’m only here to keep you alive and healthy.”

    Anakin breathed deeply. “I’d like to tell them that I am ready and willing to answer whatever questions they may have. As a matter of fact, I intend to defect.”

    He did not just say that… Sal’s eyes bugged out of his head and he nearly choked on the information. “You...defect?”

    Anakin nodded. “Yes. I no longer want any association with the Empire.”

    That’s like an amphibian going to live on Tatooine, thought Sal with plate-sized eyes. It didn’t even seem possible. Slowly he backed out of the recovery room. “That...won’t be...necessary,” he stuttered. “The, ah...security...cameras...you can, uh...tell them yourself.” And then, nearly tripping over himself in his hurry to get out, the medic retreated from the room.

    Security cameras? Anakin craned his neck to look in the corners of the room. Sure enough, there were several cameras and microphones scattered about. Of course. You’re the most infamous prisoner they’ve ever had. Well, in that case, he could go directly to the source. “If the leaders of the Rebellion are monitoring this, let me say again; I wish to defect.” He was greeted with silence. That’s going to take a while for them to digest. Tired and sore, Anakin shifted his weight to go back to sleep. At the last minute he lifted his head again. “Oh...and could anyone tell me how Commander Skywalker is faring?”

    * * * * *

    Deep within the security center for the Redemption, Leia stared with disbelief at the footage and ripped off the headphones. Darth Vader says he wants to defect? Again she wondered if her ears were working properly.

    Standing beside her, also wearing headphones, Madine lifted his brows. “Hmm. This is interesting.”

    Leia turned to him, incredulous. “You can’t think he’s telling the truth. This has to be a trap so we’ll let our guard down. We can’t do that. Not with Vader.”

    Madine slid off his headphones. “Agreed. However, I do think it’s time I had a word or two with our prisoner...and Skywalker. Rather odd, that request, isn’t it?”

    Leia pressed her lips together and gave a firm shake of her head. “I don’t care how odd it is. No one is to tell him anything regarding Commander Skywalker. I don’t want to give him any more power over Luke than he already has.” Luke...he’s not ready for this. “And General, I’d like it if you gave Luke more time before you start interrogating him. He’s still recovering from a very serious concussion and Too-One-be said he needed at least another three days before holding any long or stressful conversations.”

    Madine nodded. “Maybe you’re right. As a matter of fact, it might be wise to give both of them some time. Vader’s still in the Infirmary, and he might not stay conscious long enough to talk. By the way, what was that about painkillers?” He knit his brows at Leia. “Did someone give an order not to let him have any after surgery?”

    Leia avoided his eyes. “Too-OneBe isn’t sure about his metabolism yet...he’s still analyzing the suit...too high a dose might be dangerous.” It was a feeble excuse. She hated herself for stretching things.

    Madine could see the truth in her body language. She wanted Vader to suffer. While he couldn’t really blame her, torture wasn’t something the Alliance condoned. “Hmm. Well, then. We had better make sure the orders go through that, as soon as it’s safe, the medic has permission to administer them. Shouldn’t we?”

    Leia nodded without a word and ducked out of the security center.
     
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  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb contrast between the Imperial versus Alliance medics. Sal doesn't trust Vader nor have any genuine sympathy for him but does so professionally, wants to not bring undue harm to the patients under his care. And well! [face_thinking] Leia was behind those orders/the "neglected" pain killers. @};- Like Madine, I'm not surprised. Gives Leia a depth of realism though, i.e., that she's not impervious to acting in emotion. =D=
     
  25. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2002
    I can certainly understand Leia's want for Vader to suffer after all the crimes he's committed. Superb writing. =D=