Before the Storm

The Empire discovers the Federation and hatches a plan for control- can the Federation resist?

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7. The Truth

A scanner that monitored brain activity around the clock had so far not yielded a single clue as to why Captaim Benjamin Sisko was still gripped with pure rage toward Captain Jean-Luc Picard.  Bashir felt exhausted, having spent hours studying every aspect of the problem, either in the Infirmary or in his quarters, utilising every last tool at his disposal. 

Captain Picard himself had stopped by once or twice, staying out of sight of Sisko, talking to Bashir quietly.  Major Kira had also dropped by to offer moral support to her Captain, as had Jadzia. 

“Maybe I’m going about this all wrong…” Muttered the young doctor to himself, as he sat hunched over his console in his office, staring at readouts with his chin cupped in his palm.  “Maybe it’s nothing to do with the body and more to do with the mind.”

Psychology was not Bashir’s strongest area, though he had made a cursory effort to look at the field when he became a doctor.  The mind was a complex and often contradictory thing, so difficult to figure out that Bashir suspected most psychologists and counsellors (aside from the telepathic ones) were making educated guesses the vast majority of the time.  It was a pity (to say the least) that Counsellor Troi was on the Enterprise, back at earth- Bashir could have done with her talents.

Getting a cup of awful coffee from a replicator, Bashir returned to his desk, following his new line of reasoning.  Could it be that Sisko had snapped?

What would trigger something like that, so many years after the death of his wife?  It was true that the captain had been under a lot of pressure since the Empire showed up and it was true that he felt slighted by Starfleet following their decision to put Picard in charge of negotiations, but Sisko had been in pressure-cooker situations before and had never shown an inclining that he was failing to handle it.  Try as he might, Bashir couldn’t fathom a reason.

Rubbing the bridge of his nose (and absent-mindedly wondering what it would be like to feel ridges like Bajorans did), he sighed, and got back to work.

 

Imperial ships were still docking at Deep Space Nine on Admiral Beniga’s order, to experience firsthand the cultures that made up the quadrant.  Some officers were filled with wonder, some with derision, and some simply didn’t care one way or the other.  Others were regular visitors who had grown to like the place.

Some had personal agendas.

Mara Jade had felt empowered as she wielded her lightsaber for the first time in a long time, letting the power of the dark side aid her in capturing the crew of the Falcon.  Through that simple act she had come to understand a little more what the Emperor and Lord Vader told her about the dark side- about its benefits.

Why was it then that when she saw the familiar circle that was Deep Space Nine, she had inwardly wilted, hit with pangs of guilt?

Her transport had been due to dock with the station to let off crew eager for shore leave, though Mara had not intended to be amongst them.  Still, as the station had drawn closer, she had felt a tangible pull on her, almost as though the Force was whispering to her.  Against her better judgement as an acolyte of the dark side, Mara had disembarked the transport and was now on the Upper Promenade, watching the man she cared for, the man she lov…

No.  This was foolish.  The Emperor was always reminding her that she had a destiny.  What possible part in that could a doctor from another galaxy have to play?  How could these feelings possibly help her to wield the power of the Sith?  They left her feeling weak and confused and that was all.

Bashir then emerged from the Infirmary, looked tired and miserable.  A jolt of pain shot through Mara like a knife in the back.  She had done this to him, she was responsible for the anguish that he now felt.

Keeping out of sight, drawing on the Force to help keep her hidden, Mara watched him.  Watched Bashir move drearily down the corridor to Quarks, where he disappeared into the crowd.  The Force though, allowed her to see him as he sat at the bar, looking crestfallen. 

This wasn’t right.  How could any of this be right?

 

As Mara wrestled with her demons, another man did the same.  Admiral Beniga had retired to his quarters on Milky Way One to rest but sleep was refusing to come to him.  Instead, his thoughts drifted to the plight of Captain Sisko and his hand in destroying a man he might have called a friend.  Images of what the Milky Way would look like once it was little more than an extension of the Empire floated through his head; they were destroying peaceful societies for the sake of the Emperor’s greed. 

How could he think of himself as an honourable man and still do this?

How could the Empire be so noble if it would resort to such a travesty?

Something inside him snapped.  Beniga rose from his bed, got dressed and set off to fight for what he believed in.

 

A transport dropped out of hyperspace about an hour’s travel from earth, meeting with a Star Destroyer.  The transport’s passengers were quickly transferred to the warship, which then departed, heading back for earth.

 

The first thing Han Solo noticed when he awoke was that it was cold. 

The second thing he noticed was that he was in a cell.

It was a small room, with a bench for a bed and crossed in three steps.  A sealed door with a small window adorned the side farthest from the ‘bed’ and everything had a rust-coloured hue to it, which may have been the result of a low-level red light in the ceiling.  The walls looked like metal grating and the floor was the same.  The ceiling was too tall for Han to get to, so there was no chance of accessing the power source of the light and using it somehow. 

A quick physical check told him he was fine, and also still in his uniform- he didn’t remember anything after the red-haired woman had captured him and the others, so he figured that they must have been stunned.  There was no means whatsoever of time-keeping in the cell, but the view from the window did thankfully yield something- the ship was in orbit around a planet.  From the number of shuttles flying to and from the surface, and from the lights just visible on barely viewable night-side of the planet, Han’s conclusion was that the planet was an important one.

His time to contemplate his situation was cut short as the door slid upwards with a ‘whoosh!’  His blood turned cold as he sighted the jet-black armour of the most feared man in the galaxy- Darth Vader. 

Stormtroopers flanking Vader led Han to a small chamber, where, under the supervision of an Imperial Intel officer, he was strapped to a table, a table that sat next to another table, one that had a great many implements on it, raging from thin pieces of metal to what looked liked medical canisters.  None of them looked pleasant. 

“Now Captain Solo.” Spoke Vader, his voice somehow penetrating straight into Han’s heart and mind, spreading fear into his veins.  “You will tell me everything I want to know- or you experience pain that you have never known before.”

 

There had been much talk by some of the Stormtroopers as to the prospect of interrogating a Wookiee.  Not one of the guards wanted to get close enough to the enraged being to subdue him, as right now the Wookiee was roaring, pounding on the door with a fury that seemed to make the door rattle, and as the guards watching the security feeds could see, putting dents into the bench that ten men would find hard to match. 

As if Chewbacca hadn’t been angry enough, the sound of his friend’s tortured cries of pain had pushed him over the edge and into blind rage.  Chewbacca had no idea what was happening to Han, but he could hear his pain.  He had sworn an oath to look after Han for as long as they both lived and to be stuck in a cell, at the mercy of the Empire whilst they inflicting suffering on his friend, was too much to bear.

After what seemed like an age, the cries of pain stopped.  Chewbacca held his breath, listening for any sign of the guards returning Han to his cell.  At first, he heard nothing, and the prospect that Han was dead, literally tortured to death, crept into his thoughts.  The Wookiee immediately forced that notion aside- his friend was not dead- he couldn’t be dead.

Finally he heard the sound of shuffling feet and the murmurs of a human, an exhausted human.  A door whooshed open and then closed again, and then the door to Chewbacca’s cell slid open.

Chewbacca surged forward, intent on taking out as many guards as he could and freeing the others so they could escape.  He nearly grabbed one of the guards, was about to wrench the gun from his fingers, when he felt a hand tighten around his throat, squeezing firmly.  He gasped, clawed at his neck to remove the hand, but there was nothing there.  He looked up, and saw Lord Vader, his first clenched, staring at him. 

“You will not cause any trouble Wookiee, or you will die.  It is useless to resist me.”

 

As he voyaged across the Milky Way, desiring to find the answers he craved, Luke Skywalker felt something.  A flash from the Force, a stab right into his very being.  It was an image- an image of great pain, of suffering.  He tried to ignore it, but again the Force spoke to him, pushed the image into his mind, though it was blurred, unfocused.

Dropping out of hyperspace near a small nebula, Luke tried to concentrate.  The Force was trying to tell him something, something important, but what was it?

His stomach felt like a cobra had taken up residence there.  His heart pounded and his mind flashed with more images, of hate, of anger, of a desire for vengeance and power.  Someone was on the receiving end of that hunger, experiencing agony like they had never experienced before.

A face materialised amidst the chaos of the Force, one that came into focus slowly, despite Luke focusing all his energies on it.  He narrowly missed ploughing into a stray comet, such was his intense concentration.

Luke brought his X-Wing to a complete stop, calming his nerves and taking deep breaths.  He stretched out with his feelings, letting the currents of the Force guide and shape them, as Obi-wan and Yoda had taught him. 

It was then that the face took focus- a face contorted by pain.  His friend, Han Solo, was in the clutches of none other than Lord Vader himself, and he was dying.

Earth was their location, therefore it became Luke’s destination.  Without a second thought, he punched in the coordinates and blasted into hyperspace.

 

Beniga had travelled to Deep Space Nine and was making his way to the Habitat Ring to meet with Captain Picard when a voice called to him, the voice of Mara Jade.

Immediately the Admiral took stock of himself- he could not allow the Emperor’s Hand to have even an inkling of the thoughts running through his head.  She would not tolerate betrayal any better than the Emperor himself- and she had a lightsaber.

Turning, Beniga faced the young woman as she walked briskly toward him, her face stoic.  If she had gathered anything of Beniga’s intentions she was not showing it.

“Admiral, I must speak with you, in private, right now.  We have matters of the Empire to discuss.” She said curtly, looking him straight in the eyes.  Beniga was all too aware that she could see much more than that.

“Are there any other kind of matters to discuss Miss Jade?” He replied formally.  “Come, walk with me.”  He gestured for Mara to walk beside him, who fell into step perfectly as soon as he resumed his travels.

“There is a problem with the Empire.” Said Jade, facing forward.  Beniga looked at her, smiling ever so slightly.

“There are many problems Mara- the Rebellion, savage worlds like Kashyyyk, backwater worlds like Tantooine- you’ll have to be more specific.” Beniga clasped his hands behind his back, returning his gaze to the path in front of him.

Now it was Mara’s turn to look at her companion, and she did so with a less than amused look on her face.

“You forget Admiral, I know the Force.  I know what you are thinking and what you have been thinking.  And I want you to know- I agree with you.”

Beniga stopped dead in his tracks and Mara stopped with him.  They faced each other for a moment, with Beniga keeping his expression neutral and Mara- well, she looked like she was searching his face for a glimmer of hope.  Was this some kind of test?

“Enlighten me Miss Jade.  What have I been thinking?” He asked carefully.

“You are a man who follows leaders that you believe have the best interests of the people at heart.  Until recently, you truly believed in the Empire, that it was the best means of ensuring order and peace.”

Beniga noticed that Mara was looking intently at him for a reaction, but whether her look was one of anger at betrayal or expectation.  What did she want?

Keeping his expression calm, Beniga folded his arms and looked straight back at Mara with inquisitive eyes.  “Go on.”

Mara didn’t speak at first, perhaps having thought that Beniga would let slip some hint or sign that he knew she was close to the mark, but she took a deep breath and continued.

“When you came to this galaxy, you saw a myriad of cultures, some with practises that you don’t agree with it and can’t ever imagine yourself agreeing with.  Others though, have made you wonder if there is a better way than the Empire.  Some governments, like that of the Federation, appeal to you more than you want to admit.  After all, there are no Tantooines in Federation space.”  Mara ever-so-slightly placed an emphasis on her last sentence.

Beniga looked at his feet, giving out a small chuckle, then looked back at Mara.

“I will admit that there are aspects of the Federation that appeal to me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still believe in the Empire.”

Now Mara’s expression softened, and her eyes seemed… sad. 

“You don’t believe in any organisation that pits good men against each other, the way I pitted Sisko against Picard.  You know that to be wrong, and so do I.”

With her last sentence, Mara struck a chord, and she knew it.  Beniga couldn’t help but react to that, with the look upon his face, with the regret that suddenly welled up in him.

“The Empire is wrong Admiral.  You know, and I know it, only I didn’t know it until after I had made the mistake of obeying your order to mentally assault Sisko.  Where is the peace and order in this mission?  Something must change- they must be warned.  They must be aided.” Mara was speaking louder now, a determined edge to her voice.  The enthusiasm of the young….

“Mara…” Beniga took her hands in his and held them firmly.  “We will find a way, but we must be careful.  You know better than anyone that if we act before we are ready, we will have Lord Vader to contend with.  Not to mention half the Imperial fleet.  We will act, but you must follow my lead.  Listen to my words, watch my actions.  We cannot be hasty in this.”

Mara nodded, and for the first time in a long time, the two of them felt less alone.

 

The Federation 11th Fleet was stationed to a somewhat uninteresting sector of space, noteworthy only because it contained a small shipyard and a communications relay to enable near instant contact between Andor and several outlying star systems not far from Klingon space.  Normally the 11th Fleet would patrol those systems, but now a trio of Victory-Class Star Destroyers and their support craft were doing that.  Now over a hundred ships hung in a loose formation near the yards, a mixture of older designs and the newer more advanced star ships. 

The day had so far been completely uneventful, with only a stray, boring old comet for company.  The only reason that the fleet was even gathered together was so they could respond if an enemy attack were to somehow overcome the defences the Imperials had established.  Some of the captains felt that they were babysitting Goliath.

Still, at least it was peaceful.  Boredom was preferable to death and destruction, even if it was boredom on a colossal scale.

That boredom was shattered in one brutal instant.

From nowhere dozens of Klingon warships de-cloaked, firing the moment they were able.  This wasn’t reckless fire though- they had de-cloaked in position to knock out the warp cores of the more powerful star ships- the tiniest Birds of Prey had peppered Galaxy-class vessels with disruptor and torpedo fire the moment they had shimmered into sight, rendering the Fleet’s heaviest guns powerless.

Before they had even had a moment to raise shields and mount a defence, the Federation fleet had lost over fifteen ships and another eleven had been disabled by the pinpoint fire of the patient Klingons.  Now the Klingons pushed home their element of surprise, with the Birds of Prey swiftly strafing Miranda and Excelsior-class ships, weaving in and out of the Federation formation, as the Starfleet vessels tried to manoeuvre back into a position of strength.

The large Klingon warships engaged their Federation counterparts at point-blank range, a tremendous volley of torpedoes crashing against the shields of twisting Akira and Steamrunner vessels that managed to break free of the encircling Klingons and return fire. 

With their advantage of surprise gone, the Klingons now deployed their next surprise.

Behind the shipyards, another cloaked fleet received a signal to attack.  The new fleet de-cloaked, immediately firing furiously upon the shipyards, ignoring its defences and focusing entirely on bringing down the shields. 

The twist was that the new fleet was a combination of over a hundred Gorn and Sheilak ships.  The unsightly combination of the chaotic Sheilak vessels and the angular Gorn ships aimed at the yard’s central spine, hammering at it.  Federation ships tried to break off to engage, but the Klingons were entangling their lines.  One plucky Norway-class vessel was joined by an equally determined Nebula-class ship, but both ships lost their aft shields to the aggressive assault of a Vorcha attack cruiser, one that kept coming even as her forward shields were taken out, even as phasers scorched her hull and torpedoes bit chunks out of her warp nacelles. 

The feisty and agile Birds of Prey lived up to their name, swooping upon Federation targets that tried desperately to avoid the incoming fire, whilst hoping to land a blow of their own.  Disruptor fire burst through shields and melted deck plating, and on a dozen Federation ships captains screamed for damage control teams to fix their defences, as more shots shook them and sent debris falling about the Bridge.

The crew of the shipyard had done all they could.  Phaser fire had crippled a number of enemy ships, but their shields were failing.  Attempts had been made to send out a distress call, but the enemy were jamming them.  The shields dropped in strength with every passing second, until finally, they collapsed, and the enemy raked them with phaser fire, burning holes in support struts and chewing fiery gaps in every part of the yard. 

One by one, the Federation vessels succumbed to the Klingons passionate attack, the outcome of which became inevitable as the Gorn and Sheilak joined the onslaught, having completely disabled the shipyard. 

With no options left, some captains gave the order for ramming speed, their broken ships crashing headlong into the nearest enemy target, splintering their ship and the enemy’s in a brilliant fireball. 

Other ships didn’t get the chance.  They were utterly destroyed. 

Within minutes, the fleet, the shipyards and finally the communications relay had all been destroyed.

 

Across the border regions, news came in of attacks from a combined force of hostile governments.  The Klingons had apparently shared cloaking technology with the Sheilak and the Gorn, and then the three empires had attacked a number of Federation installations.

They had been clever, mused Picard, as he sat waiting for Admiral Beniga.  He had just barely sat down when Dax had contacted him.  He sipped his tea and grimly studied the initial reports, wondering where on earth the quadrant would go from here.

The Klingons and their new allies had managed to sneak fairly deep into Federation space, then attacked bases and colonies that did not yet have Imperial ships protecting them.  They had launched precise, quick, and deadly assaults, before cloaking again and leaving before reinforcements- Federation or otherwise- could arrive.  They had even feinted an attack on Betazed, destroying the planet’s Star Base.  Over a hundred thousand people had died, at least a thousand of those being civilians, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Picard was trying to get the implications of what had happened straight in his head when the door chimed.  Before he could answer, the door opened and Admiral Beniga strode in, with Mara Jade, the attaché, right behind him.

“Captain Picard, thank you for agreeing to meet with me…” Began Beniga, but Picard stood, cutting him off.

“My apologies Admiral, but I have to go.  There’s been a… well, you might call it a tragedy.  The Klingons have attacked a number of Federation bases and worlds.  Thousands have been killed.”

As Picard watched, both Beniga and Jade suddenly looked very bitter and… angry. 

“Those fools.” Said Beniga to himself.  “What have they done?”

“Admiral?”

Beniga straightened himself and marched right up to Picard.

“Captain, it is now imperative that I speak with you.  The situation is far more complicated than you realise.”

Picard was apprehensive and suddenly very alarmed.  He saw the look of urgency in the older man’s face, considered what on earth could be so important that it could over-ride this horrible event. 

“Alright…” Replied Picard reluctantly, allowed a little bit of impatience to show in his voice.  He sat back down and waited with clasped hands on the table, waiting.  Beniga and Jade sat down too, beside each other.  “… What is going on?” Asked Picard, with all the authority he could muster.

“The Empire has been, and still is, lying to you.  To the entire quadrant.” Came Beniga’s blunt statement.

What?” Said an astonished Picard. 

“The Empire is not a benign entity Captain.  Our warships bristle with firepower beyond what you can imagine and our weaponry has been deployed to devastating effect on more than one occasion.  Dissent is crushed, often via the means of destroying entire cities.  The media is totally controlled by the state and whole worlds have been enslaved to provide a labour force for some truly evil projects.  The Emperor sees the Federation, and indeed, this entire galaxy, as a resource to exploit, strip mine and if necessary, leave in darkness.  Everything that has happened- the Klingon Empire’s hostility, the campaign against the Borg- even the acts of friendship between our peoples- has all been an elaborate ruse, so that the Empire could bring more ships and troops into your galaxy.  There is already a spy network in place here, and Imperial fleets orbit many Federation worlds with a view to one day controlling them.  The Empire is worse than the Borg Captain- we have been slowly assimilating your government since day one.”

Picard was silent.  He glanced at the data pad and its reports of Klingon attacks.  The reports of death and destruction.  He thought of the wormhole, and all the Imperial ships that had sailed through it, their commanders extending the hand of friendship whilst operating with a view to enslaving the Federation.  Images of Earth’s citizens in shackles came to his mind.  Worse yet, came the picture of an earth mined bare, or scorched by Imperial weaponry. 

Picard stood, staring out of the window, able to look upon the huge Imperial station that sat beside the dormant wormhole. What had once seemed like a glorious new frontier now held doom for the Federation. For over a year Picard had believed he was doing the right thing, pressing ahead with diplomatic relations, when instead he had allowed an evil Empire to snake its way into nearly every aspect of the Federation.
"There's more Captain." Said Mara Jade, standing as well, looking at Picard with sorrowful eyes. "When we learned that Captain Sisko was voicing doubts about Imperial motives, we knew that there were many who would listen to him. We couldn't allow that to happen, so we took action."
Suspicion now mixed with anger as Picard faced the young woman.
"What do you mean?" He snapped.
For a moment Mara hesitated, but she gathered herself.
"Captain Sisko's attack on you was the result of outside mental influence. I tapped into his lingering feelings of anger he had toward you, about your time as a Borg, then I twisted that anger into murderous rage. I have the power to influence others Captain, and this was not the first time I have used that power. Every time I joined you on a mission to an alien empire, I used my powers to subtly affect their opinions of the Empire." Mara closed her eyes for a brief moment, taking a deep breath.
"I am responsible for the death of Commander Riker. If I had not used my powers on Captain Sisko, then the tragic events that took place on your ship would never have happened."
Picard was silent. Part of him felt numb, stunned to the very core of his being. Just how much had the Empire manipulated the quadrant, manipulated him?
Part of him was also more furious than he could ever remember being. His first officer, his friend, was gone, and the man responsible for his death was in fact, an unwitting pawn in a much larger conspiracy.
"I can help Captain Sisko. I can use my powers to undo what I did." Offered Mara hopefully.

"Oh you will. You will do everything in your power to undo the damage you've done." Growled Picard. "In the meantime, Admiral..." He said, looking at Beniga. "I need to warn the Federation of this. A defence of sorts has to be mounted."
"I'm afraid you can't do that Captain. Imperial sensor nodes monitor Federation communications. The moment you contact Starfleet, a message will be sent through the wormhole to an Imperial facility on the other side. Imperial forces will flood into your galaxy and begin an invasion. It's a contingency plan, in case the primary plan fails."
Picard was silent, so Beniga continued.
"The Klingon attacks on your territories could not have come at a worse time, but they acted on their own in this instance. The Empire will seize advantage of this to send more ships into Federation space. You can't remove them by force Captain- your fleet would be hard pressed to defeat one Star Destroyer, let alone a fleet of them. Your best chance now is to quietly contact anyone you think can help you mount an underground resistance. In the mean time, I will seek out some allies."
"Allies?"
"Yes- well, they don't know it yet, but they are allies of mine. The Rebel fleet can aid us Captain. Not only are they used to the tactics of guerrilla warfare, they have numbers."

“I thought you said they could not be trusted, that they were holding on to the old ways of a decrepit government.” Spoke Picard accusingly.

“For what it’s worth, I don’t believe in the sort of government they wish to put in place, but we do share the same immediate goal- the removal of the Empire from this galaxy.” Replied Beniga calmly. 

Picard turned away from Beniga and struggled to take everything in.  This was a bombshell, a complete and total shock to his system.  The potential for disaster suddenly outweighed every other thought in his head. 

“Do what you have to do Admiral.  I will do the same.”

 

In orbit around earth were the twinned Sovereign-class vessels Valkyrie and Enterprise.  Space Dock and the Star Base also encircled earth.  Several other Federation ships were in the vicinity, but they were not the focus of excited discussions and feverish attention.

The huge Super-Star Destroyer and her many escorts presented a fearsome sight to anyone entering the system, and for that matter, anyone in Europe could look up and actually see the behemoth in the twilight of a setting sun.  No one had ever seen such a gargantuan vessel.  The only other ship that anyone could even begin to compare it to was a Borg cube, which was an uncomfortable comparison.

If they had met the individual who commanded that ship, they would be even more uncomfortable…

Lord Vader strolled purposefully to the holding cells, where once more, Han Solo would find out what it meant to defy a Sith Lord.  Every fibre of his being yearned to kill Solo.  He wanted to reach out into the smuggler’s mind and heart and twist with the Force, subjecting the arrogant captain to the utmost pain, before crushing the life out of his lungs.  Nothing would have brought Vader greater pleasure at that moment.

Again though, he remembered Palpatine’s teachings of patience, of control.  The Dark Side was a powerful ally, the only ally that he needed, but it was not to be wielded without control, for then, it would become a force unto itself. 

Composing himself, Vader prepared instead to inflict pain on Solo through a different means. 

Stormtroopers and Imperial officers stood in deference to Vader as he arrived at the prison deck.  Vader could feel their fear and inwardly was pleased.  They would fear him even more after his latest demonstration of Sith torture.

The doors to the prison deck opened and Vader entered, walking so briskly that even the Stormtroopers struggled to keep pace with him.  He looked like a wraith, ghosting toward the cells that contained the Rebel agents.

Stopping outside the doors, Vader glanced at an Imperial officer, a lieutenant, and ordered him to open the doors.  He wanted all of them to see what was about to happen.

The troopers flanking him, Vader deactivated the force field that was keeping one of the occupants trapped.

Chewbacca flew from the cell, moving faster than anyone would have thought a Wookiee capable of.  It was often forgotten that Wookiees were raised to be agile, nimble and above all, decisive in battle, for on their home world, they faced any number of large and dangerous predators and they had to learn to face them with whatever resources they had available.  It was part of their training, part of their culture and part of their very lives.  Chewbacca was as fierce and as strong and as nimble a warrior as any to come from Kashyyyk.

He was however, no match for a Sith Lord.

Before Chewbacca could get near Vader, he was tossed through the air like a rag doll, crashing into the wall behind Vader.  The troopers had their weapons ready but Vader waved them away.

“Leave him alone.  He is mine.” Growled the Sith. 

Chewbacca was back on his feet, snarling.  Han and Rieekan were shouting, but Vader blocked them out.  All his focus was on the Wookiee before him.

Chewbacca charged, swiping at Vader, despite all Han’s warnings for him to stop.  Vader calmly sidestepped each lunge, punch or swipe, then, drawing on his anger, he responded with an attack of his own.

His lightsaber in his hand, Vader ignited the weapon and the crimson blade of energy extended right in front of Chewbacca’s face.  Fear flashed on the Wookiee’s face, as though he had only just realised who he was up against.  He hesitated, and Vader took action.

Using the Force, Vader slammed Chewbacca upright against the wall facing Han and Rieekan’s cells, then marched toward the Wookie, his saber by his side, pointing at the floor.

“Now learn the fate of those who defy the Empire.” He intoned, bringing his weapon to bear against the Wookiee, but not as anyone watching had expected.

Rather than simply plunging his saber through Chewbacca’s chest, Vader brushed his saber against the fur of Chewbacca’s legs, which caught fire.  Chewbacca grunted but did not cry out, as the flames slowly ignited more fur, and skin. 

“No, Chewie!  Stop this!” Cried Han, his hands pummelling the force field.  All he could do was watch as the fire spread slowly up his friend, scorching his flesh.  The smell was unbearable, making him gag, but still he watched- looking his friend in the eyes, looking at Vader, at once both furious and pleading. 

“You monster!  Stop this!” Raged Han, but Vader did nothing.  The Force kept Chewbacca pinned to the wall, unable to do anything, as the pain overwhelmed him, and he roared and growled in agony.  The Wookiee writhed as the flames licked higher, to his torso, to his chest, spreading more quickly now.  In a matter of seconds, the fires had consumed Chewbacca, and Vader did not seem inclined to lift a finger to save him, or even to give him a quick, painless death.  He did not seem to care at all, even as Chewbacca howled with agony, even as Han pounded on the force field with tears of rage filling his eyes, even as Rieekan gaped in horror.

Within minutes, Chewbacca was dead, his corpse burnt to a cinder.  Vader held Han’s look of fury and inwardly smiled.  If Luke was not already on his way, he would be now.

Turning on his heel, Vader bade two of the Storm troopers to dispose of the carcass.  It was time to finish his trap.

 

“We are receiving a message from the Imperial vessel Executor.” Said the on-duty security officer, a Lieutenant Marlow, a young man in his early thirties.  Blond hair and blue eyes, he was considered quite the ladies man, but on duty was all business.

“Put it on screen.” Ordered Data, the acting Captain in Picard’s absence.  In his moments where he had activated his emotion chip, Data had found sitting in the Captain’s chair to be a… novel experience.  It certainly felt good, considering what the position stood for, but Data was not sure if he wanted such a role permanently- he made such concerns easier to cope with by switching off his emotion chip.  The crew envied him, for he could also switch off from the grief and sadness over the loss of Commander Riker.  Others, such as Troi, had felt that loss all too keenly, and she could find no respite from her pain, being aware of the feelings of everyone else onboard.  Deanna had confined herself to her quarters for the last couple of days, asking to be left alone.  When Data’s emotions had been switched on, he had understood Deanna’s wish for privacy.  He could barely function himself.

The screen came to life with a flicker to reveal the face of Admiral Piett, an Imperial officer that Data had spoken to briefly a day ago.  He wasn’t the actual commander of the mighty Executor, with that honour bestowed upon someone called Lord Vader, but he appeared to be the point of contact- unusual, but perhaps that was how the Empire conducted affairs. 

“Greetings Admiral, what can we do for you?” Asked Data pleasantly.

“Commander Data, I have been instructed by Lord Vader to ask something of you and your crew that you may find to be, uncomfortable.  We have need of your ship.” Replied Piett.

Curious, Data cocked his head to one side.

“May I enquire as to why you need the Enterprise?”

“Certainly.  A major Rebel leader is heading here, with a view to causing the utmost carnage and disruption to Federation affairs.  Lord Vader intends to lure him aboard your ship, by using himself as bait, then arrest this individual.”

Now Data was thoroughly intrigued.  “Could Lord Vader not use his own vessel to set the trap?”

“Unfortunately not.  This Rebel officer would never board the Executor willingly, for he would suspect a trap almost immediately.  It has to be a neutral vessel, and I must ask that your crew disembarks, so that there is no risk posed to them.”

Cocking his head to one side, Data considered Vader’s plan.

“Perhaps we can help prepare this trap.  Our ship can mimic life form readings, that would convince this Rebel more easily that his friends are aboard.”

Piett nodded, appeared to mull the idea over, then nodded again.

“Very well.  Myself and Lord Vader thank you for your assistance in this matter.  Piett out.”

“Now what?” Asked Marlow quizzically. 

“Now Lieutenant, we evacuate the Enterprise.”

 

A thunderous sensation of intense, incredible pain nearly sent Luke’s X-Wing into a spin as soon as he came out of hyperspace.  R-2 bleeped and whooped nervously, as Luke fought with the controls, finally getting his craft under control, to a relieved whistle from the astromech droid. 

Luke’s head was awash with ghastly images, his heart filled with torturous agony.  Something terrible had happened, he could feel it.

R-2 let out a series of variously-pitched whistles and clicks.

“I’m ok R-2, I just… lost my concentration back there.  Can you detect Han or the others”

Wheep bloop wee.

“A Wookiee?  That must be Chewie.”

Luke had come out of hyperspace at the urging of the Force, near a large gas giant, that had a huge red spot and a hue of various shades of red and orange, to mention many, many moons.  The complicated magnetic field of the planet was interfering with Luke’s sensors, but R-2 was plucky and resourceful, somehow finding a way to punch through the radiation and distortions. 

“What ship R-2?” Asked Luke.

Another series of bleeps followed.

R-2’s information indicated a large ship nearly seven hundred metres long, moving at sub-light speed, in his general direction, but not actively scanning for him.  It appeared to be moving clear of the magnetic field of a much smaller planet, a rocky world that his sensors told him to be the fourth planet in the system.  A quick hyperspace jump from this world’s magnetic field and he could get the drop on them.

“R-2, program the co-ordinates of a jump to take us as close to that ship as you can.  Look for a fighter bay if you can, and jump near that.” It was a tall order, but R-2 was up to the challenge, Luke was certain of it.

Sure enough, after a couple of seconds, the little droid bleeped and wooed, indicating that the co-ordinates had been programmed.  All that remained now was for Luke to make the jump.

 

In the medical bay of Deep Space Nine a red-haired woman could not bring herself to meet the eyes of the man who had, somehow, inexplicably changed her life.  Nor could he bring himself to look at her, given the horrible revelation he had been confronted with. 

Instead, he led her, in silence, to a darkened corner of the Infirmary, where, on a bio-bed, surrounded by instruments and readouts that hummed with gentle precisions, laid Captain Sisko, kept unconscious by drugs. 

The woman stepped up to the bio-bed, and leaned over the captain, placing one hand on his forehead, and one on his chest.  Calling upon forces that Sisko and Bashir could not comprehend, she reached into the captain’s mind, found the twisted remains of a memory she had planted, and she forced that dark memory aside, allowing Sisko’s true memories to return.  His mind healed, she withdrew, leaving without a word.

Because it was too painful for her to speak.

 

Jumping upon the alien ship’s landing bay, Luke was more than a little surprised to see that the hanger doors were already open, with only a force field between the bay and the vastness of space.  Either this was an unusual protocol of the society that built the ship, or something was wrong.

The Force warned him to be mindful.  R-2’s bleeps held warning in them too, sounding shrill and worried.  Something wasn’t right.

Still, Luke’s friends were aboard and he couldn’t just abandon them now.  If this was a trap, he would spring it. 

Swiftly, Luke brought his ship into the bay, and as he had suspected, the hanger doors started to close behind him.  His X-Wing was a fairly comfortable fit, though he did scrape a couple of box-shaped vessels within the bay, jolting his craft enough to make R-2 squeal with indignation at being rocked.

Opening the hatch, Luke climbed cautiously out of his craft, observing that the hanger was empty.  What was going on?

As he approached the large doors in front of him, Luke reached out with the Force, letting it flow through him, as Obi-wan had taught him, stretching out with his feelings to gain an impression of the crew, of any possible threats…

He felt nothing. 

The ship had no crew.

Now Luke knew- this was definitely a trap.  He couldn’t even sense his friends!

“I don’t like this R-2, fire up the engines, we’re getting out of…” Something changed.  The deck had begun to rumble, almost beyond perception, beneath his feet.  The Force told him that the ship had jumped to a faster-than-light speed.  His X-Wing would be torn to pieces if he attempted to leave the ship now.

From the X-Wing, R-2 let out a distressed whistle.  Luke silently shared the sentiment- he didn’t like this ether.

“Well R-2, I am going to see if I can slow this ship down.  Look after the ship.” He ordered, walking to the door, which slid open automatically.  R-2 was now making shrill whistling noises that indicated he did not want to be left alone.

“Easy, easy!”  I’ll be back before you know it!”  With that, Luke left the hanger, but not before he overheard one final whistle that was best translated as ‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this.’

 

The ship still echoed of her crew- a crew that approached everything they did with one goal in mind- to better themselves and the world around them.  As Luke moved down corridors, brightly lit and coloured softly- he could feel the good in the hearts of the crew, and wondered why they would set a trap for him.  He couldn’t even begin to understand why such people would ally themselves with the Empire.

With the Force as his guide, Luke looked for an engine room, or a master control centre, any place from where he could shut down the FTL drive.  Surrounded by the harmony of such a good crew, Luke was able to draw upon that spirit and use it to enhance his perceptions still further.

That is, until he brushed the darkness.

The Force had guided him to a lift, which he had quickly discovered was voice-activated.  In fact, the computer itself was voiced-activated, and Luke had tried getting it to drop back into normal space, but the command codes were required to do that and Luke had no idea what they were.  The Force was of no help with that- so instead, using the Force to subtly nudge the computer, Luke had learned that the Engineering level was his best bet for shutting down what was called the warp core.  The lift had not even stopped when Luke felt the icy chill of the dark.

Hesitating for a moment, Luke stood in the lift, wondering how best to proceed.  A tinge of fear had crept into his thinking.  What should he do?

Taking a deep breath, Luke exhaled, expelling his fear.  He breathed in again, of the Force, remembering Obi-wan’s training; to let his body become a vessel of the Force. 

He also remembered Yoda’s training, focusing and concentrating and emptying his mind of everything except his immediate task. 

Centred, and ready, Luke stepped into Engineering and deeper into the dark.

The lights were bright and various control panels on the walls hummed with power, but Luke could perceive something else.  He could feel that darkness had tarnished this ship.  The air almost seemed to be getting colder, more oppressive.

Arriving at a set of double-doors marked ‘Engineering’, Luke could feel the blackness encroaching on him from all sides.  It snaked its way into the Light, whispering to him of death, of power, of destruction and of destiny.  Luke squeezed his eyes shut, once more remembering what he had learned, letting the Force surge through him, like energy surged through the control panels. 

The doors parted and Luke entered the heart of the ship.  Towering straight through the middle of the ship was a cylindrical tube, except it wasn’t a tube, but instead a red tower of exotic energy that Luke could feel in the Force.  On either side of the device were two small pods, labelled as coolant.  Control consoles adorned the room and there was a ladder to another, higher level, with a few more consoles up there. 

The icy cold blackness was stronger here, and yet, Luke could feel something else too.

At the centre of the darkness, there was an inferno.  A fiery volcano of pure rage, of unrestrained anger.  Of uncontrollable hate.

Try as he might, Luke couldn’t find the source of that hate.  It was resonating throughout the room, bouncing off the walls- and straight at him, but he couldn’t find it.  The enveloping cold was making it impossible for him to concentrate.

Then, into view, stepped a man from behind the warp core.  Only to Luke’s altered perceptions, it was not a man.

Projecting the Dark Side, enveloped in the angry fire, was the monster who had murdered his father.

The evil creature who had betrayed the Jedi and helped destroy them.

The most feared and reviled person in the galaxy.

Darth Vader.

“Welcome young Skywalker.”  Came the almost droid-like voice, so harsh, so devoid of anything except malice.  “I have been waiting for you.”

Without thinking, without trusting anything except the tremors of the Force, Luke unclipped his lightsaber from his belt and gripped it firmly. 

“You have learned much…” Said the cold voice.  “But you still have much to learn.”

“We’ll see.” Came the calm, collected response of the Jedi.

“Yes, we shall.”

The blood-red blade of the Sith ignited in Vader’s hand and Luke activated his own blue weapon in response. 

Luke slowly circled Vader, who simply tracked Luke’s movements, keeping his saber pointed upwards in a one-handed grip.  Behind Vader, the warp core pulsed.  The lightsabers hummed.

Beyond that, the only sound was of Vader’s methodical, mechanical breathing.

The next sound was the clash of lightsabers as Luke moved in, in a two-handed blow that aimed to cleave Vader straight down the middle. 

Vader simply angled his saber to block, and pushed back, shoving Luke away. 

Luke came at Vader again, first with a series of jabs, feinting to gain an opening then attempting to drive Vader’s saber away further to get in close enough for a killing blow.  Vader however, simply stood his ground, subtly altering his stance and posture to deflect Luke’s blade, or force the young Jedi to change his own posture so that the strikes Vader did not parry were forced wide by a matter of centimetres. 

After a moment, Vader launched an attack of his own, gripping his saber in both hands and angling it behind him as Luke swung for his midriff, then forcing Luke’s blade away as he brought himself and his saber around in a fast spin, the crimson blade flashing menacingly and only narrowly missing Luke’s head because the Jedi  used the Force to fling himself unceremoniously away from danger, clattering against a console behind him in a small alcove.

Vader pressed home, using a combination of styles to upset Luke’s balance and more importantly, composure.  He had Luke backed into the alcove and came at him with heavy, two-handed strikes that jarred Luke’s shoulders, following up with fast, one handed lunges and almost acrobatic swings of his blade, then launching into more subtle, angled slashes at Luke’s stomach.  It was all Skywalker could do to parry or divert Vader’s attacks, desperately seeking an opening to strike back but not finding one.

As they duelled, Vader became aware that Luke was fighting very much as Obi-wan once did.  His style was defensive, whether by choice or necessity, and he was giving ground continuously, though that policy did not serve him well here.  Backed into the alcove, Luke was rapidly running out of room to manoeuvre and Vader did not give him a moment’s pause with his dizzying array of attacks, his red saber spinning and whirring so fast it was almost a blur.

Whenever their sabers locked it was Vader’s strength that separated them, either forcing Luke’s weapon aside or driving Luke back further still.  Consoles that were unlucky enough to get in the way burst into a shower of sparks and superheated plastics. 

Luke was nearly out of room and Vader was confident that Jedi sense would prevail and Luke would surrender.  Dying for no reason would surely not be the will of the Force.  If for some reason Luke tried to fight his way out of the alcove, Vader would be left with little choice but to wound or even kill him. 

Then came a surprise.  Luke kicked off from the wall behind him and used the Force to roll beneath Vader’s attack, even snapping a swipe at Vader’s feet, forcing the Sith to leap out of the way.  Quick as lightening, Luke was on his feet and launching his own, incredible attacks, elaborate swings of his blade that Vader could only just defend against.  More consoles were shattered and melted as their sabers passed through them; the burning smell of their demise filled the air.

Luke had switched styles suddenly and had wrong-footed Vader.  Now the Jedi was using that to his advantage- now it was Vader’s turn to be driven back into the alcove.  It took him a moment to realise that Luke was using Ataro- the style that had once allowed Master Yoda to be shed the restraints of age and stature and fight so effectively.  The wielder of Ataro used the Force to grant themselves extraordinary speed and power- Luke was pivoting on the spot with his saber following him with deadly precision, aimed at cleaving Vader into many, many pieces. 

Vader though, had the advantage of experience. 

It was time to the change the rules of engagement.

A not-so-subtle shove of Dark Side power sent Luke flying from the alcove and crashing into the side of one of the coolant pods, knocking the air from his lungs. 

Saber angled toward the floor, Darth Vader approached…

 

Sisko stirred slowly, his head foggy as he sat up.  The lights were dimmed to give his eyes a chance to adjust to the bright world beyond the Infirmary.  His brain felt sore.  In fact, every muscle in his body felt sore.

“Captain, how are you feeling?” Came a familiar voice, a gentle, probing voice, that of Doctor Bashir.  It sounded very far away.

“I… I feel… I don’t know…” He mumbled in reply, swinging his legs over the side of the bio-bed to give himself an extra boost as he sat up.  The quick movement made him feel nauseous, and he groaned miserably, putting his head to his head.  Bashir stood over him and Sisko felt something cold pressing to his neck, then heard the sound of a hypospray hissing, and his sickness began to pass almost immediately.

“You were unconscious for a few days- we had to keep you sedated- how do you feel?” Asked Bashir again softly.

Sisko looked up at the doctor, his eyes full of confusion.

“I feel like someone’s been playing Klingon opera in my head for three days solid, then sung drunken pirate songs very loudly.”

Bashir smiled sadly.  The Captain had no idea how much truth was in his words.

“Do you remember anything?” He enquired.

Sisko shook his head, as he slowly got to his feet.  He still felt a bit unsteady, so he leaned on Bashir.

“It’s all a haze.  I remember… I remember arguing with Captain Picard… I…” Sisko trailed off as, in a flood, it all came rushing back to him, a torrent of terrible memories.  He had been filled with rage, determined to exact revenge for Jennifer.  He had taken a phaser to the Enterprise and he had tried to kill Picard- but he’d failed- instead he’d fought with him, then the phaser was in his hand again, only he was firing at Riker…

The phaser had been set to kill.

He’d killed Commander Riker.

Sisko staggered, hit hard by guilt and shock.  Bashir held onto him, steadying him, and led him back to the bio-bed.

“I think it’s best if you stay here for a little while longer Captain.  There’s more you need to know, and it might get overwhelming for you.”

Sisko closed his eyes and exhaled, trying to expel the sight of Riker’s lifeless body from his mind.  He felt like he’d been cut to pieces, and from the look on Bashir’s face, it showed.

As he sat Sisko back down, Bashir attempted to comfort the Captain.

“Sir, what happened, it wasn’t your fault.  You were under the influence of… lets call it telepathy, because I don’t understand it yet myself.  Captain Picard and Dax are outside, they can explain it better than I can.”

Face Picard now?  Sisko wasn’t sure if he was remotely ready for that.  However, Sisko also knew that this wasn’t going to go away, however much he desperately wished it would.

“Send them in.” He said, with as much strength as he could muster.

Bashir nodded, then left.  Sisko could hear him quietly talking to Picard and Dax, probably warning them of his fragile state, then came the fall of footsteps, and Dax rounded the corner.

“Benjamin” She said warmly, her eyes full of concern.  She rushed over to him and took his hand in hers.  That simple gesture calming and soothing, though as Picard rounded the corner a moment letter, the feeling of drowning in emotion returned.

“Captain Sisko, it’s good to see you well again.” He said, stiffly.  Hardly surprising that he wasn’t as pleased to see him as Dax was, mused Sisko.

“It’s… good to be me again.  Well, as good as it can be under the circumstances.  Captain, I am so sor…” Picard waved him off.

“No need for apologies.  You weren’t acting of your own free will, I know that.  You are as much as victim of all this as anyone else.”

“I’m not sure I understand.” Replied Sisko curiously.

Picard sat down on the bio-bed opposite, looking pensive and, to a lesser degree- was that defeat in his eyes?

“Captain, about an hour ago, Admiral Beniga and his attaché, Mara Jade, came to me with information that has left me questioning the future of everything we hold dear.  You were right to be suspicious, the Empire is not what it appears to be.” The foreboding in Picard’s voice did not ease the pain that had gripped Sisko’s heart.

“What do you mean?” He asked.

Picard took a deep breath.  “The Imperials mean to subvert and control the Federation, and any other government that has welcomed them as friends.  Nearly everything that has happened- from Martok’s apparent attack on Imperial forces, to the rumblings of a full scale attack- has been engineered by the Empire as an excuse to bring in war ships and troops, all under the pretext of helping to defend the Federation.  They want us to come to love the Empire, so that we will be so completely enamoured with it, that we won’t see the truth until it’s too late.”

The bottom had dropped out of Sisko’s world.  He had harboured his doubts about the Empire, but he had sincerely hoped he was wrong.  Everything he believed in, everything he cherished and held up to be good and virtuous was going to end, sooner or later. 

“There’s more Ben.” Dax took up the reigns of the conversation, looking at Sisko with deep, sympathetic eyes.  “Your voice carries respect and authority in many corners of Starfleet.  The Empire feared that people would listen to you, so they used you.  They coerced you into attacking Picard, to discredit you.”

It was too much, too soon for Sisko to take it all in.  He couldn’t believe it.  He’d killed a man, because the Empire wanted to discredit him?

“We can’t contact Starfleet about this.  The Empire is monitoring our long-range communications.  If we so much as hint that we know their true nature, they will request reinforcements from their galaxy and begin a full-scale invasion, one we can’t possibly hope to stop.” Dax sounded pained.  Sisko couldn’t blame her.

“So our only choices is to be corrupted insidiously, or be conquered out-right?” He asked.

Picard was about to reply when his communicator bleeped.  Frowning, he tapped it.

“Picard here.”

“Sir…” Came the no-nonsense voice of Major Kira. “we’ve received a message from Commander Data.  The Enterprise is heading toward Klingon territory at maximum warp.  He allowed the Empire to set a trap onboard, for a high-ranking Rebel, but the Empire said nothing about taking the ship into Klingon space.  He’s filed a protest, but the Empire assures him it’s all part of the trap.”

“Have any ships been sent to pursue the Enterprise?” Asked Picard.

“Negative.  The Empire has promised to prevent the Enterprise from being destroyed though, they will have a Star Destroyer available to intercept any Klingon forces that threaten her.”

Picard harrumphed.  “Acknowledged Major, Picard out.”  To the others he simply said: “It seems like a day for problems.”

 

Wall panels and isoliniar data chips were ripped out of walls and consoles by hot, boiling Force energy and sent flying through the air at the young Jedi called Skywalker, who did his best to deflect them, either with his saber or with Force pushes of his own, but Vader’s power was immense and in the first few seconds of the storm of material, Luke had been nicked several times.  A small gash had opened up on his right forearm, and a slightly deeper cut was present just above his left knee.

Luke had recovered quickly from his violent encounter with the coolant pod, back-flipping over a table-like console that looked to be some kind of main control system.  Vader had gathered his power and was now using it to send items in Luke’s direction, aiming to cause maximum injury.

With a display of raw Dark Side power, Vader ripped from the wall a power conduit, which crackled and fizzed with energy.  The lights dimmed through Engineering and the computer complained of a partial power failure.  The blue and crimson lightsabers gave the room an eerie glow.

The conduit was already losing power as Vader hurled it at Luke, but it would still break his ribs if it hit him. 

Luke did the one thing Vader had not expected- he dropped his saber. 

Then Luke used the energy of Vader’s push to send the conduit back around in an arc, adding his own push to it, sending it straight back at Vader like a boomerang.

Snarling, Vader leapt clear, and narrowly avoided losing his head to the thrown saber of Luke, now ignited again.  A deft one-handed parry in front of his face saved him, but he could not recover in time to stop Luke- who had moved so quickly- from snapping a hard, Force-assisted kick into his stomach.  Grunting in pain and anger, Vader went down, but rolled backwards and back to his feet in time to meet the well-timed strikes of Ataro, that were unrelenting.

Vader was able to defend himself well enough, for Luke’s attacks still bore some of the hallmarks of a Padawan, but he allowed himself a moment of pride.  His son had learned quickly and had become powerful.  If Vader could convert him to the Dark Side, nothing would be able to stand in their way!

Locking their sabers together, Vader spoke.

“You fight well young one, but you are not a Jedi yet.  You still have much to learn.”

“You’ll find I’m full of surprises!” With that, Luke again kicked Vader in the stomach, but Vader stood his ground this time and responded by forcing Luke’s saber to one side and delivering an elbow to the face. 

The two combatants faced each other warily, circling, waiting for an opening.

“You are powerful, as the Emperor has foreseen, Skywalker.  Together, we can defeat him and end the destructive conflict that plagues our galaxy.”

“What do you mean ‘together’?  I will never join you!”

“We are alike, you and I.” Intoned Vader.  “More than you know.”

Luke looked angry, which was good.

“We are nothing alike!”

If Luke could have seen it, Vader would have smiled.

“Obi-wan surely told you otherwise?” He asked.

“He told me enough- he told me you killed my father.” Spat back Luke, who swung a speculative strike at Vader’s neck that was easily blocked.

So Obi-wan, you denied Luke the truth.  Time to set the record straight then.

“No Luke.  I am your father.”

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