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58. See The Climax Of Episode VI Through Darth Vader's Eyes!

This is an account written by Anakin's Force ghost. Darth Maul (see chapter 42) never became one.

I delivered Luke to the tower atop the Death Star, where the Emperor used the Force to release Luke from his binders. After Palpatine ordered the Red Guards out, I presented Luke's lightsaber. Hm. Seems to me like the Emperor is confident that he'll join us.

Unimpressed, Luke refused to join the dark side. However, his confidence was badly shaken when the Emperor confessed that it was he who had allowed the Rebel Alliance to know the location of the shield generator and the Death Star, and that the Empire was completely prepared to deal with the following banter.

I can feel his increased anxiety. As the space battle progressed, it was obvious that the Rebels didn't stand a chance. While the Emperor remained seated on his throne, he continued to taunt Luke, urging him to give into his hatred. Again, Luke refused.

But then the Emperor revealed that the Death Star's superlaser was fully operational, and issued a command for the Empire to use it. An intense beam shot out from the Death Star toward a large Rebel Cruiser, which exploded like a mere fly.

The Emperor continued to goad Luke into retrieving his lightsaber. "Strike me down with all of your hatred," the Emperor spat, "and your journey toward the dark side will be complete."

I was a bit surprised when Luke finally Force-grabbed his weapon, activated it, and swung fast at the Emperor. But I swung faster, activating my own lightsaber to block the attack. Then I used my lightsaber to drive Luke away from the Emperor. I could beat him once. And the Force is with me now!

As our duel carried out across the throne room, I sensed that Luke was drawing from his own anger to fuel his attack.

And then Luke kicked me off the stairway. Crashing upon the floor, I roared as I felt a cybernetic cable snap. From his throne, the Emperor said, "Good. Use your aggressive feelings, boy!" And I realized with some resentment that my Master wanted Luke to win. I will not give him that satisfaction. I will not be--

And then, Luke suddenly deactivated his lightsaber.

"Obi-Wan has taught you well," I said as I headed back up the stairs. Once at the top, I said, "You are unwise to lower your defenses!" With that I moved for Luke's head, but with incredible speed Luke reignited his lightsaber and parried the blow. I swung again and again, but Luke blocked each move. Soon I found myself breatihng hard through my respirator. No! I can't let Luke defeat me. I won't let the Emperor have him!

And then Luke tried to distance himself with a catwalk stretching across the throne room. "Your thoughts betray you, Father," he said. "I feel the good in you, the conflict."

My lightsaber still humming, I replied, "There is no conflict."

Moving across the catwalk, Luke stated that I couldn't bring myself to kill him on Cloud City, and that he predicted that would repeat itself again.

"You underestimate the power of the dark side," I replied, shifting my focus to the metal supports securing the catwalk to the ceiling. "If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny!" I flung my still activated lightsaber upward, using the Force to guide its path. Luke ducked the red blade, but was unable to stop it from cutting through the catwalk's supports, which tore from the ceiling and sent him tumbling to the floor below. I watched Luke roll out of view.

My lightsaber then deactivated and landed on the floor several meters away. As the Emperor continued to goad Luke, I used the Force to call my lightsaber to my hand, then walked down toward the area below the platform. Outside the Death Star and on Endor's moon, the battle continued, but I couldn't care less.

Searching the shadows for any sign of movement, I reminded Luke he couldn't hide forever.

From the darkness, he repeated that he refused to fight.

"Give yourself to the dark side," I urged. "It is the only way you can save your friends." I was now aware that Luke was thinking of his friends. "Yes...your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong. Especially for.." Luke was unable to stop me from accessing his mind. "Sister! So...you have a twin sister. Your thoughts betray her too. Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete." Moving deeper into the recesses below the platform, I continued, "If you will not turn to the dark side, then perhaps she will."

"Never!" Luke screamed, igniting his lightsaber as he slid out from his hiding place. Sparks flew as we traded blows in the dark, cramped area. I was forced to retreat out fro under the platform and toward the edge of a short bridge beside a deep, open reactor shaft.

A glancing blow ruptured my life-support system, and as I fell back against the bridge's railing I was unable to stop Luke from severing my hand. Both my hand and lightsaber clattered into the apparently bottomless reactor shaft. Badly wounded and utterly exhausted, I looked up to see Luke's lightsaber angled at my throat, ready for the death blow.

The Emperor had risen from his throne to stand behind Luke. Once again, he congratulated Luke and then said, "Now, furfill your destiny. Take your father's place at my side!"

So this is how it all ends...

But then Luke deactivated his lightsaber and threw it aside. "Never! I'll never turn to the dark side. You have failed, your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me."

The Emperor scowled. "So be it...Jedi. If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed!"

Still lying against the bridge, I watched as the Emperor unleash blinding bolts of blue lightning from his hands. The lightning struck Luke, who crumpled to the floor. No. Not like this!

As The Emperor continued to assault Luke with his barrage of lightning, I struggled to my feet. One leg was broken, and the other wasn't working right. Moving awkwardly, I stood up to stand beside my Master. On the floor, Luke was writhing in agony and close to death as he called to me for help. I watched Luke curl up as the Emperor hurled an even more staggering wave of lightning at his victim. I have no doubts Luke is about to die. My son continued to scream. Not just my son...

The Emperor unleashed another round of lightning.

...or Padme's son...

Luke screamed louder.

...but my son...who loves me.

Luke's clothes began to smolder as his body involuntarily spasmed. Suddenly, I realized I was no longer concerned about my own personal future. Despite all the terrible, unforgivable things I'd done in my life, I knew I couldn't stand by and let the Emperor kill my son. And in that moment, I knew I was Darth Vader no more.

I was Anakin Skywalker.

It took all of my remaining strength to seize the Emperor from behind, lift him off his feet, and carry him to the reactor shaft. The wretched Emperor continued to fire lightning bolts, but they veered away from Luke and arced back to crash upon me and my Master. The lightning penetrated Vader's life suit and electrified my organic remains, but I lurched forward until I could throw the Emperor into the reactor shaft.

Palpatine screamed as his body plummeted down the shaft. Still trapped within Darth Vader's armor, I collapsed at the shaft's edge, but heard the explosion of dark energy that consumed the fallen Emperor.

Hearing my own breathing as a rasping rattle, I knew that Vader's helmet respiratory apparatus was broken. I felt something tug at my shoulders, and realized Luke had crawled beside me and was pulling me away from the edge.

To my surprise, Luke managed to haul me to the hangar that contained my shuttle despite his own injuries. The journey was made even more difficult by the fact that the Rebels had disabled the energy shield projector on the Endor moon, and the Death Star was now under heavy attack. Trying to keep his own legs steady as the battle station was racked by explosions, Luke dragged me to the shuttle's landing ramp before he collapsed from the effort. He's not going to make it. Not with me.

"Luke," I gasped, "help me take this mask off."

Luke knelt beside me and said I'd die if he did. I told him that nothing could stop that coming. "Just once, let me look on you with my own eyes," I pleaded.

Slowly, carefully, Luke lifted my helmet, then removed the faceplate from the black durasteel shell wrapped around my neck. As my scarred features were exposed, I was surprised to find tears welling in my eyes. It's over. The nightmare is over.

I smiled weakly, then told Luke to go. He refused. "I've got to save you."

"You already have, Luke," I choked. "You were right...about me. Tell your sister...you were right."

Closing my eyes as slumped back against the shuttle floor, I had every reason to believe I was about to embrace eternal darkness.

Not for the first time, I was wrong.

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