Work Header

Fragmented Star Systems

Chapter Text

Vader had been forced to do a lot of things in the last seven years of his life. Things that would have made him uncomfortable if he allowed himself to actually think of them. So he never did. He played the loyal lap dog and did as he was told. 

This though, this far surpassed uncomfortable. He had known it the moment he was given the assignment. He knew without the need of a thought, that the Emperor had realized as much himself. He was certain it was why he was being sent here in the first place. His Master wanted him to have that extra dose of pain to fuel the Darkside along. 

Except, Tatooine wasn’t just an extra dose of pain. It was more akin to continual, excruciating torture. Having to deal with Jabba the Hutt of all beings only made that torture worse. He knew it would take all of his control not to just end the miserable slug’s life. 

As the shuttle came to a stop, he let out a sigh and resituated the cloth mask over his lower face. He knew he would need the extra dose of oxygen to get through the forsaken landscape of this hellish dust bowl. He would not be suffocated by sand. He would rather be killed by a tooka, no matter how embarrassing. Though, he also had no intention of allowing the Hutt a single indication of his weakness. 

With the oxygen modulator on and hidden, he felt as ready to face the planet as he could be. He made sure his hood was also secure before reluctantly opening the shuttle to step down to the dust and sand. 

Two troopers followed after him, and with a quick brush of the Force he felt that it was Appo and Jesse. Good. His own loyal men would make this a much easier embarkment. He wouldn't worry about having to watch his back as well as deal with Jabba. Hopefully they could get the fake pleasantries over and done with soon and then leave. He wanted off of this hellscape the instant he could. 

The cursed planet was as hot and dry as he remembered. He had barely set foot on the sand and wanted to turn around. It was oppressive. It curled into the black of his robe and layers beneath like a predator's claws to its prey. He remained stoic in the face of it though. He would not let a single sentient know the extent of his discomfort. 

The troopers followed behind him in almost comfortable silence, despite the fact that they had to be as miserable as he. Sand within those suits could not have been a pleasant feeling. Vader was thankful for their silence though. It allowed him time to stew in peace. 

He made an attempt to drown out his surroundings by wrapping himself in the Darkside. He knew it was what he was supposed to do. What was expected of him.  It was not as comforting as he had hoped. In fact, it did nothing to calm him at all. 

When they reached the slug’s home, he was hit by a feeling he wasn’t used to anymore. A feeling he had all but forgotten five years before. A feeling that did much more to calm him then the Darkside ever had. Warmth and light. Hidden within the palace walls was a miniature sun flooding the Force in its light. One he was, somehow, vaguely familiar with.

Curiosity and annoyance warred within him. How was there a Force sensitive presence he only thought he knew? It could not possibly be a Jedi hiding. He would have known the signature immediately. This one though, somehow felt like a balm to his burnt soul. Vader did not like it. What started as a comfort set his teeth on edge when he couldn't place its familiarity. 

He needed to find that light, that strange warmth. He needed to know why it felt so wrong to know that it was inside the palace of a Hutt. He didn’t know what he needed to do with the light once he found it, he just knew that he absolutely had to do so. 

The sun only grew stronger as he entered the palace. He wanted nothing more than to abandon his task and hunt it down. It was only with gritted teeth and the desire to avoid his Master’s ire that he prioritized his mission. Ridiculous posturing with disgusting slavers was never lower on his list of desires than it was in that moment. 

Enough so, that he decided to not even speak to the slug. He allowed Appo to greet him on Vader’s behalf. He had thought to do it himself, as the kingpin wouldn’t be expecting him to do so. Yet now that he was here, Vader wasn’t sure he could hold his tongue. Not when he wanted to flay the slaver alive, not worship it as so many were forced to do. 

When the protocol droid translated a very redacted version of Jabba’s derisive greeting, it was all he could do not to roll his eyes. Sometimes, he wished he wore a full face mask. The want to express his irritation to himself thrummed strongly. Especially with the incompetents he was forced to be around. Or the disgusting life forms like the one before him. 

However, this was taking far, far too long. When Jabba asked why they were seeking his audience in the pompous way only a Hutt could, Vader decided to speak up before Appo got a chance. Perhaps if they forwent the middle men, he could get this over with, find the hidden sun and get back to the Executor as soon as possible. 

“The Emperor sends his greetings,” he remarked in dry Basic. “He sent me to assure the continued allegiance of the Hutt clans.”

Jabba’s droid gave another cleaned up version of the gangster’s reply, but Vader was no longer paying attention. The sun had just entered the room. Attached to a chain that a Twi’lek passed off to Jabba. 

He was a young boy, likely no older than eight. If that. He was fair with very golden hair and something about him screamed through the Force at Vader. It rammed against his battered heart and pleaded with him to listen. To notice. Though notice what, Vader was unsure. 

When the boy looked up, his uncertainty vanished. He met Vader’s gaze with the brightest blue eyes. Bluer than the sky. Than the far too little amount of cloth wrapped around the boy’s waist. So blue, and so familiar. It was like looking into a mirror to the past. His chest hitched and he was certain his oxygen modulator had ceased working as he could not breathe.

“I see you’ve noticed my favorite slave.” Jabba declared with laughter in his voice. Vader didn’t even notice the droid repeating. “He’s good for many things, Lord Vader. Mechanics is his specialty, though he’s also my best little waiter. I’ve rented him out before, if you’re interested. For a variety of things, though some enjoy him for a bit more fun.” He chuckled again and Vader seethed. 

He ignored the slug entirely and addressed the young boy. “What is your name, child.” he asked him, the softness in his voice surprising even himself. 

The child hesitated and Jabba yanked the chain around his throat. “Answer him, boy!”

“Luke Skywalker, my lord.” he replied in a meek voice, eyes downcast. 

That anger that had been thrumming under his skin erupted like an inferno. Before he could stop himself, his hand was lifted and the Force was wrapping around Jabba’s throat. 

The slug gurgled and angry shouts exploded around them. Vader lashed out with his other hand, snapping the neck of any being aiming a blaster at him and his men.  When they were no longer a threat he growled out in Huttese, “How long has he been here? Where did you get him?”

“What are you doing?” Jabba gasped and Vader tightened his grip. 

“Answer me!”

“Four years!” he exclaimed as much as he could. “Some farmer, Lars, sold him to pay his taxes. He’s about seven now. Good slave. If you want him, he’s yours Lord Vader! He’s just a slave! I’m sure we could work something out!”

“No.” Vader’s grip increased once more. Seven years. The boy was exactly who he thought he was and this slug would not live a moment longer for having harmed him. “He is no slave. He is my son.”

Jabba’s eyes managed to widen only a fraction before Vader twisted the Force and his lifeless body was crashing forward. Vader paid it no mind and immediately turned to face his child, though he did address his men first. 

“Release the slaves. Kill anyone who tries to stop you.”

“Yes, sir!”

As they hurried to follow his orders, Vader slowly knelt down, despite the twinge in his knees, so he was at the very small height of his son. “E’assa ursee’ahs.” He greeted in a language he was sure he had forgotten. 

The boy’s eyes went wide at the use of Huesmic and he began to fidget with the fabric at his waist. “Is, is that true?” he asked, “Are you really usee’ahs?”

Vader gave an immediate nod and lifted his flesh hand to run through Luke’s hair before gently resting it against his cheek. “Yes, little one. I am your father.”

“Why haven’t you come for me?” he asked in a small voice. 

“I am sorry, ursee’ahs. I thought you had perished with rasee’iyais.” 

The thought of her made his chest hurt as always, though this time a twinge of anger accompanied it. If their child had survived, he had not killed her on that damned planet. Sidious had lied. Now was not the time to dwell on such thoughts though. He had his very traumatized son to think of. 

Luke was staring at him with wide, hopeful eyes. “If you had known I was alive, would you have come for me?”

“In an instant.”

“And you want to take me with you now?”

Ursee’ahs, I will never leave you behind again.”

Vader was barely able to brace himself before the small child was launching himself at him. He caught the boy, holding him as tightly as he dared. He was far too thin. Almost skin and bones even. It took all of his self control not to grit his teeth in anger at the fact. 

That control was almost snapped when he felt the collar around Luke’s neck dig into his shoulder. He didn’t hesitate to reach out with the Force and snap the offending metal in two. 

The release caused Luke to break out in sudden sobs. Vader removed the glove from his flesh hand in order to run the fingers softly through the boy’s hair. “You are free, Lukkeen. Se’ae’a ursee’ahs. You will never have to kneel before another. Never have to call another master again. I promise you.”

Luke nodded and buried his face in Vader’s shoulder, slender arms gripping tightly along his waist. Vader could not remember the last soft touch he had given, or received. It was hard to wrap the concept around his mind. Yet he couldn’t imagine touching Luke in anything but the softest embrace. 

He continued to comfort his son as Luke cried himself into exhaustion. Vader had no intention of ending the embrace until he did. He didn’t even want to look away from him, as he couldn’t bring himself to miss even one hitching rise and fall of his chest. He only removed his eyes from the child’s golden head when he heard his troopers' return. 

Vader looked up to them and Appo immediately gave a nod of his head. “The slaves have been liberated and slavers dealt with, my lord.”

“Good, remove your helmets. Your faces will put Luke more at ease.” 

Both men immediately did as requested, their nearly identical faces looking at him and his son with quiet intrigue. 

Vader gently lifted Luke into his arms and stood. As he got to his feet, he ran his hand gently down Luke’s back and said softly, “Luke, I’d like to introduce you to two friends of mine.”

He lifted his head and glanced at the two of them cautiously, “Hello.”

“Hi, Luke.” they chorused together. 

“This is Appo, and Jesse. I have something I need to do, but they’re going to take you to their brother. He is a medic and will make sure you are healthy. He will also get the chip out of you.”

Luke’s eyes went impossibly wide. “Really? You promise?”

“I promise.”

“Will you be gone long?” 

“No, ursee’ahs. You will likely still be with Kix when I return.”

“They’re your friends? You trust them?”

“I trust them with your life, Lukkeen.” he swore to him solemnly. “You have nothing to worry about from them.”

“You’ll come back soon?” he asked once more, voice still small and nervous. 

“Very. You will go with them to my ship and I will be there as quickly as I possibly can.”

Luke suddenly looked eager. “Ship! Like in space!”

“Yes, little one. The largest Super Star Destroyer in the Navy fleet.”

He gasped. “Really! And it's yours!”

“In a way, yes.”

“I want to see the stars! Can I?”

“You may see all the stars you like as soon as Kix clears you.”

Luke nodded eagerly and allowed Jesse to take him from Vader’s arms. As soon as he was situated, Vader leveled a very pointed look at the man holding him. 

“Protect him with your life, Jesse.”

“Yes, my lord.”

The two left the desolate palace and Vader turned to Appo. The commander’s lips tilted up in a small approximation of a smile. 

“He’s your son, isn’t he?”

“Yes.” Vader answered easily. “Though his name will likely only clue your brothers in on that fact. I’d like to keep it that way for now.”

“Yes, my lord.” Appo made to leave, but Vader’s call of his name stopped him. 

“Tell Kix, if at all possible, let Luke watch the chip removal.”

“I will.” he hesitated for a moment and then added, “where are you going, sir?”

“To get some answers.”