Luke hid in the shadows of the Death Star’s throne room; He listened as Vader, his own father, goaded him.
“Give yourself to the darkside, Luke. It is the only way to save your friends. Yes, your thoughts betray you, son. Your feelings for them are strong, especially for –“ Vader stopped, he just read something very disturbing. “Sister? So, you have a twin sister. Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me, but now his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the darkside perhaps she will.”
“NEVER!” screamed Luke as he sprang from his hiding place. He ignited his brilliant jade lightsaber and proceeded to lay into this perversion of evil that had once been his father. However, it was not just Vader that fuelled his anger.
In his mind Luke could hear his uncle Owen saying “Just another year,” and he could hear Ben - “He was betrayed and murdered by a young student of mine called Vader… from a certain point of view.” Luke could hear Yoda telling him he was not a Jedi.
Luke concluded, as he drove Vader back, that there was no lightside; that all he had been taught was built on lies, and now he controlled his destiny, not two Jedi masters who were too scared to do what Luke was doing.
Blow upon blow fell on Vader’s scarlet blade. The Dark Lord Of The Sith was on the retreat. He had no counter to the anger his son had unleashed. In truth, he would have been proud if he wasn't too busy fighting for his life.
This isn’t how it was supposed to happen, thought Vader. Why did I stop Luke from hacking down Palpatine? We could have ruled the galaxy. It’s too late now.
All of a sudden Vader fell to his knees, exhausted from the amount of strain his scared body was forced to endure. He lifted up his sabre to ward off another blow, but in his weakened condition he miscalculated and felt his hand come off at the wrist. Despite himself Vader let lose an anguished groan, not so much from the pain as from the realisation that this was the end.
Suddenly the Emperor was out of his throne, the final test of his new student now at hand.
“Good!” Palpatine gloated. “Your hate has made you powerful. Now fulfil your destiny and take your father’s place at my side.”
Luke turned to stare at the humbled Vader. They were just the same; in anger Vader had taken Luke’s hand but now Luke had done exactly that. They were just the same, except now Luke simply had the advantage.
Suddenly there was a flash that seared deep into Luke’s eyes and brain. Time seemed to stop. As Luke blinked the light from his eyes he suddenly noticed old Ben was standing beside the fallen Vader.
“Ben?” asked Luke, suddenly aware that in this stilled moment his voice seemed very loud. “What’s going on?”
“I am not the one you knew as Ben,” replied the image, “I chose this form to make it easier for you to accept. Ben was the man who introduced you to the Force, so this form was chosen to help you with what comes next.”
“What come’s next?” Luke questioned, this time suddenly aware that he sounded very much the Tattooine farm-boy with no idea of the workings of the galaxy.
“Quite simply the time has come for me to intervene,” stated the calm voice of Ben. “The very fabric of the Force is in danger and, if I failed to act, the balance of the Force would be forever altered.”
“Is this Palpatine’s doing?” enquired a puzzled Luke.
“In a way, yes. Palpatine is merely acting as the Force intended him to act. Like most corporeal beings with an affinity for the Force he believed that the Force was his tool to achieve his ends. But he is a servant of the Force.”
“You mean the Force was served by Palpatine murdering Trillions on Alderan? The millions more he kills every time the Empire mobilises, and the Force was served by the thousands of Jedi he and my father slaughtered?!” Luke demanded, unwilling to entertain the idea.
“It will be best if I show you, Luke Skywalker,” replied the image of Ben Kenobi, with that maddening sense of calm that was so familiar to Luke yet not quite the same Ben he remembered.
With another flash of light Luke’s mind was filled with thousands of images at once. He saw a being of Light binding with his presence in the Force. He watched the boy become a man, fighting along side a younger Ben Kenobi. This being of pure Light could only have been Anakin Skywalker, Luke’s own father.
Years went by in seconds, he saw this Light become corrupted by the machinations of politicians; restricted by the jealousies of Jedi that feared this being’s power. Worst of all, Luke saw a being of pure Darkness and shadow bask in the Light of Anakin; he saw the Dark man whisper poisonous truths into Anakin’s ears.
In the depths of the fires of galaxy wide war he saw the Light in Anakin begin to wane, but that was not the end. More images of the past flowed into Luke’s traumatised mind. He saw his father fall in love with a woman who looked so much like Leia that it was painful. He saw the Light in Anakin fade more as his soul went to war with itself. Love for the woman destined to give him children, fighting for the love he had for the Jedi and Kenobi in particular. In the midst of this war the being of Darkness pulled strings and sucked yet more of Anakin’s Light away. The Darkness became Chancellor of the Republic; became Dark as even the blackest night, as war and death ended the light and lives of untold quadrillions of beings in the galaxy.
Luke wanted to the images to stop. Intellectually he knew Anakin had been a Jedi who was corrupted, and who ended up betraying and murdering his friends and comrades, but now he realised he hadn’t ever really processed that information. Now he had no choice but to process it.
He saw fear and doubt snuff out the last of Anakin’s light and, with the flash of a lightsaber and a cry of pain, he saw his father forsake the Light and allow the Darkness to enter his soul. He saw the man the Holonet News called the Man Without Fear conquered by fear.
More images followed. Luke saw early model Stormtroopers turn on Jedi across the galaxy, and saw his father murder young and old Jedi in their Temple. The soundtrack to this was the evil cackle of Palpatine as the Sith had their revenge and the galaxy was plunged into the endless night of Palpatine’s rule. Liberty died to rapturous applause in the waning days of the Senate.
On a planet made of fire and brimstone Luke saw what was now Vader launch a desperate attack against Kenobi. He felt the phantom pains of a lightsaber severing limbs, and the agony of fire consuming what was left of Vader’s body.
In the midst of this Luke witnessed his own birth followed by Leia’s. On what was to become the first secret base of the Rebellion he saw his mother cry for Anakin and whisper that she was sorry even as the life left her broken body.
“Enough!” roared Luke, finally able to give voice to the invasive images that threatened to drive him beyond grief. He had known for several years now what had happened - how Anakin had fallen from grace. Mon Mothma, one of the Rebellions architects and driving forces had taken the time after Cloud City to tell him what she remembered of the Republic’s dying days, but to see it and not be able to look away threatened to break Luke’s sanity.
With a final flash of blinding light Luke found himself in a familiar swamp sitting on his favourite log outside Yoda’s small hut. Standing beside him again was the image of Ben Kenobi as Luke had seen him last.“I am sorry you had to see all that, Luke Skywalker,” said the pale ghost of Ben, “If I could have spared you I would have. You needed to see the truth as it happened in order to enact you role in the next part.”