Luke turned. A woman stood behind him. Silently, she beckoned him nearer. The Force urging him on, he hesitantly took a step forward. She smiled, and beckoned again, then turned and walked away. The light followed her, and Luke raced after her.
Vader turned. The woman was back. She beckoned him towards a doorway filled with light, but he hesitated. She smiled, and beckoned again. Something pushed him forward, though when he looked behind him, he saw nothing. Looking forward again, he saw the woman had vanished, and the door seemed to grow faint. He raced through the door, not wanting to be stranded Force-knows-where.
Unknowingly, the footsteps of the two men mirrored each other. Each time they walked through a door, the woman would appear, and beckon them on. Each time they raced after her, and each time she disappeared. No sooner had she disappeared then a whisper would sound in their ears, and they would whirl, searching for her. But they never found her.
Suddenly, Luke fell to his knees with a cry, clutching his head. Images were forced into his head, images of a young, sandy-haired boy on a desert planet: His father. Music began to swell in the background of his mind as Luke began to relive his father’s life, from the very beginning, until the very end. He saw his grandmother as she had been in life, saw Anakin’s life as a slave, and the strange Jedi who changed everything. But then, after Anakin had been accepted into the Jedi, things changed. Luke now saw things from an outsider’s perspective, and Anakin was not the sole focus of his visions. Ben Kenobi, or Obi-Wan Kenobi as he had been known back then, entered into the visions with surprising frequency. So too did the then-Chancellor Palpatine, and Luke began to realize just how much Palpatine had manipulated his father’s life. He watched as Anakin met the beautiful Padme Amidala Naberrie, and felt tears well up in his as he recognized she was his mother. He watched, and could only watch, in horror as Palpatine entrenched himself deeper and deeper into his father’s mind and exerted control over him. He watched as Anakin and Padme fell in love and were married. He watched as his father teetered on the brink of falling to the Dark Side, and cried out in horror when he watched Anakin killing younglings. He watched as his mother sought out his father, as she fell to Anakin, and as Obi-Wan stepped in and fought his father. He watched as Anakin burst into flames, and Obi-Wan walked away, returning to his fallen mother. He watched as Padme gave birth to twins—Leia, his sister!!!—and breathed her last. The visions ceased and he collapsed onto a metal floor.
“I am sorry,” a voice spoke above him. “I did not mean to cause you any undue harm, but you must know of your father’s past if you are to save him from it.”
Looking up through tear-blurred vision, Luke beheld the woman from earlier. Up close, he saw that her eyes were jade, and her hair the color of dark amber. She offered him a hand, and he took it, his own hand trembling.
“What do you mean, ‘save him’? He’s fallen to the Dark Side.” Luke wiped his eyes. “I’m not even a real Jedi yet. How can I do anything?”
“Because you are his son,” the woman said, her eyes boring into his. “And your mother was right: there is still good in the man who once was Anakin Skywalker.”
“But what can I do?” Luke asked quietly.
“Forgive him.” The words were simple, said with practically no inflection, but Luke acted as if he’d been burned.
“Forgive him? Forgive him for what he did to Leia? Forgive him for what he did to me? Forgive him for what he’s done to thousands of people, to innocent children?” Luke sighed heavily. “You make it sound so easy.”
“It will not be easy, but it must be done,” the woman said quietly, but firmly. “Otherwise, you too, will fall to the Dark Side.” She smiled sadly. “Either that or your sister kills you.”
Luke looked at her in horror. “Leia wouldn’t do that!” he protested.
“She would not be Leia anymore if she fell to the Dark Side,” the woman said. Luke reeled back, stunned. Leia, fall? He thought about his sister, and realized that she held onto quite a bit of anger, and fear.
“Fear is the path to the Dark Side,” the woman said. “Fear leads to anger; Anger leads to hate; Hate leads to suffering, and the Dark Side.” She reached out and touched his temples. “Now, sleep, and dream of your father, before he fell. Dream of your mother, before she was taken too soon from this life. Dream, and learn, and grow.”
Luke fell into a deep soft blackness that enveloped his mind, dragging him into unconsciousness. The woman caught him as he fell, and laid him in a bed with raised sides. Blue light rose up and covered the bed in a dome, casting an azure light on his sleeping face and the surrounding walls. The woman smiled, and a chair descended from the ceiling. The woman sat, and waited for her second guest to arrive.
He was not long in coming. A door at the far end of the rood opened soundlessly, and in walked a figure in black armor, onyx cape billowing behind him. Vader froze as he saw Luke asleep in the capsule, then rounded on the woman.
“What have you done to him?” he roared. “Release him at once!” He strode over to the capsule, but could not find a control panel with which to release the sleeping young man.
“He will awaken when he is ready,” the woman said in an unconcerned tone of voice. “Until then, he remains where he is. You and I must talk.” She rose from her chair, and a wall of energy shot out from around her, knocking Vader back. The area changed from a simple room to what appeared to be the interior of a spaceship; more accurately, the med-bay within a spaceship. The woman raised her left hand, and Vader’s helmet and armor disappeared. He froze, but there was no warning twinges of pain, no loss of breath in this place outside of reality. The woman looked with sad eyes upon the scarred and broken husk of a body that Vader was forced to use.
“Oh, Anakin,” she whispered. “Let me help you.”
“You cannot.” Vader found his voice was deep, yet not husky, but smooth. “I am not Anakin Skywalker.”
“You once were,” the woman said, “and could be again. The choice is yours.” She raised her right hand, and Vader was thrust into a vision: a vision of what could have been. He saw Padme, alive and well, laughing as two children fought for her attention. He saw his old self walk in, and the children run to him. It was then that he saw that Padme was pregnant again. The vision blurred, and he saw a different future, one where Shmi had lived, and was there when he married and Padme bore his child. Countless other futures flashed before his eyes, until he cried,
“Enough! Take them away! I do not wish to see any more!”
The visions vanished, and the room re-materialized around him. Disoriented, he looked around and saw that his armor had been restored to him. The woman looked at him sadly.
“The door is behind you,” she said, and vanished along with the capsule. Vader howled in rage, destroying everything he could, then stalked out of the door.
Luke awoke to find the woman sitting in a nearby chair.
“And what is your decision, son of Skywalker?” she asked.
“You know it already,” Luke said. She smiled.
“How do I return to myself?” Luke asked.
“The door is that way.” She pointed towards the far end of the room, where a simple door stood in the wall. Luke bowed to her, then turned and headed towards the door. “Farewell,” she called, “Child of Hope.”
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