Link to the Past

Crushing Pressure

Piett meditated, or tried to. Luke was nearby practicing with a little remote droid. He didn't really need it, but Piett suspected that his nephew was doing it to try to keep from being bored. The Admiral was just slipping into meditation when Luke yelped and a 'thud' announced that he had fallen over.

"Ben! Don't do that!" Luke snapped.

Firmus's eyes snapped open, and he looked to see the ghostly figure of Obi-Wan standing over a waylaid Luke. The Jedi chuckled.

"You were not being mindful of Force, Luke. That is the only reason I was able to sneak up on you like that."

The young man picked himself up out of the mud as Piett stood up.

"Okay. Okay. Lesson learned."

At his uncle's snort, Luke slung a glob of mud at him, nailing him in the face.

"What brings you here, Master Kenobi?" Piett asked as he wiped off his face.

"You cannot stay on Dagobah. The final confrontation approaches, and you must be a part of it. Return to the Executor and to Vader, but be wary, things are all as they seem."

Obi-Wan faded away, and Luke and Piett exchanged looked.

"Think he means the Empire and Rebellion?"

"Possibly, but more likely he means the Lightside and Darkside," Firmus answered.

Bidding Master Yoda farewell, uncle and nephew made their way back to the Executor. Once they landed in the hangar, Piett put the binders back on Luke and led him to his quarters. Both felt a mental nudge from Vader, who had been getting along rather well with Luke since the accident, welcoming them back. The Admiral released Luke then headed for the bridge for a report on what had happened during the last few days that he had been gone.

His experience in the cave was always on his mind, not matter what he was doing. He stopped sparring and training, becoming consumed by the knowledge that he carried the burden of having to make such a choice. When Vader and Luke sparred he meditated or simply sat deep in thought. Father and son were growing worried, as nothing seemed to hold his attention except whatever seemed to be plaguing his thoughts. Luke knew it had to be whatever his uncle had seen in the cave. Choosing his words carefully so as not to give away Yoda or the planet of Dagobah, he told Vader about the cave and trial of facing your own Darkside within it.

"He did not tell you what he saw?"

Luke shook his head.

"No. I've asked, but he told me that it's not something I can help him with."

Vader was silent for a moment, then looked back at his son.

"What did you see?"

Luke looked awkward and looked away.

"I saw you... then me in your armor. My Darkside is the fear of losing myself and becoming you, or the you everyone fears, at least."

The Dark Lord did not take offense, to his relief. It was legitimate fear, and becoming the version of him that the galaxy feared was not good, even he would admit that.

"However, Firmus shouldn't let whatever he saw affect his training and practice," Vader rumbled.

"Well, I haven't had any luck, so it's your turn. Besides, you're closer to him than I am, so maybe you'll have better luck."

The fact that Luke seemed to think that somehow he and Firmus were closer than them was a little surreal to Vader, considering just how close his brother and son were. He had no time to think on it, however, as Piett was entering the training room. Luke nodded towards his uncle, giving his father a pointed look, then turned to spar with one of the droids.

Vader headed over to his brother, who had just slipped into meditation.

"Firmus," he said, giving the Admiral a nudge with his boot.

Piett opened his eyes to scowl up at his older brother, annoyed by the interruption.

"We must speak of your recent lack of training and practice."

Piett gave a frustrated sighed.

"There's more to life than training and practice, you know!" he snapped.

Vader was silent, startled by his brother's sudden drop in mood and attitude. Even Luke glanced at his uncle in surprise, nearly losing his head to the droid he was fighting due to his inattention. He managed to duck in time and ran the droid through.

"I never said that was all you had to do, but recently you have not been doing it at all."

"I have other things on my mind."

"That is no excuse."

Piett shot to his feet, and Vader found himself leaning back to a little to avoid getting the Admiral's finger against the grill of his mask as his brother pointed at him in a moment of role reversal, unknowingly copying Vader's action and stance.

"Don't give me that 'no excuse' bullshit, Vader!"

Luke about fell over in shock and whipped around to gawk at his uncle. Vader felt his own jaw drop, and he couldn't even form a thought, let alone a word.

"My Darkside is my indecision considering what side of the Force I'll ally myself with! I thought I'd chosen after the accident, but apparently I didn't! It doesn't help that I know you'll turn it into not just choosing the Dark or Light but also choosing Sith or Jedi! You, Luke, and even my Jedi Master don't seem to understand that I am not a Sith and I am not a Jedi! Just because I use the Lightside doesn't automatically make me a Jedi! I'm sick of choosing sides! I haven't made a decisive one yet because I know it will be twisted into me having to choose between you and Luke, and that's not what I'm doing! You're both my family, regardless of what side of the Force you use, yet the choice is being shoved down my throat! I don't see why it matters! If you're right about your dream, I'm going to die when we meet the Emperor anyway! I just don't care anymore!"

Firmus stood there, breathing a littler heavier from his rant. Luke and Vader just stared at him, and though he couldn't see Vader's expression, he somehow knew it mirrored Luke's, who looked he had just picked a piece of scrap metal and smacked him in the face with it. Their shock swept over him with the Force, their minds buzzed idly across the bonds he had with them.

"That's what this is about? My dream?" Vader asked, finally finding his voice.

"In part. It's also why it seemed so utterly important that I choose my allegiance in the Force. I'm just one man. I don't see what make my choice so important."

Luke finally snapped out of his shock and stepped forward.

"Everyone's choice is important. So you're not a Jedi or Sith, we're not making you be either."

He glanced at Vader.

"At least, I'm not."

Vader punched him in the arm.

"I have not pushed you towards the Darkside or the Sith. I stated once that the Emperor would be a problem if you weren't loyal to the Sith. Speaking of which, do not let my dream trouble you so much. You are powerful, and when we are together even the Emperor would not be able to stand against us."

Piett sighed.

"I feel like I'm balancing on a knife's edge. If I don't choose, the choice will be made for me. It's not a comforting thought."

"Father's right, Uncle Firmus. Nothing can stop us when we work together, or even just the two of you. I sure wouldn't want to be fighting against the two of you."

"Thank you, Luke."

The Admiral sighed again then smiled.

"I guess I can't mope around anymore, can I?"

"No," came the chorused answer of his brother and nephew, making him grin as they looked at each other in surprise.

"Well then, Vader, up for a spar?" he asked, drawing his lightsaber.

Vader drew his own blade.

"With pleasure."

Luke grinned and sat down on the bench, watching as the brothers began to fight. Piett had not made his choice, but somehow the young Jedi felt more at ease about the future and the final battle that loomed on the horizon. Maybe things would turn out all right after all.

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