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By : Nemesis

Archived on: Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Four years after his capture aboard the Death Star and the interrogation that left his mind damaged beyond repair, Luke Skywalker has the truth in his hands at last. Now he has it, he must choose - justice or mercy? Truth or blood?
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The datapad begins to hum as I finish inputting the last command, and its screen quietly goes blank as it turns all of its meagre processing capacity to interpreting the instructions I have given it. Beside me, scrawled in my own awkward handwriting across a crumpled sheet of flimsy, are two twelve-digit numbers. One of them is the number that has become, over time, as familiar as my name. Archive 168, sector 919, subsector 552, sample 002: the precise location in the central database of the blood sample taken from me the day I arrived aboard the Death Star.

Somewhere in those vast memory banks is a record of the blood of every sentient ever to set foot aboard this station. Somewhere else, deep inside the cold caverns of the uninhabited sections near the centre, is the blood itself, filed neatly inside two hundred and thirty towering storage columns chilled to six degrees below zero. The blood archives are unlike the rest of the Death Star: all dim red light and the slow throb of the cooling systems, to be in one is to imagine yourself reduced to the size of a single cell, floating in red light as the heartbeat of the host surrounds you.

Only the cold is unnatural.

It chills you to the very core of your being. Down among the blood, in the red half-light, even a vacuum suit keeps out little of the cold. It was in the deep archives that I found the second number that now rests by my hand; the barely legible writing is a consequence of holding the stylus in fingers that could scarcely move. A little questioning and a little luck brought me there, to column 168 and a smudged label with a name I knew very well.

Not hers. Her surname was Organa, after her adopted father.

Four years ago. It seems like forever has passed since I came aboard the Death Star, and I heard her name for the first, last and only time on that first nightmarish day. The twenty years of life on Tatooine before that have faded almost into nothing; the interrogation I underwent destroyed part of my memory and damaged more. They say that what is not known cannot be missed, and perhaps it is true.

Little of who I was remains to me. Sometimes I wonder if that is the reason why so much of what has happened seems . . . unexceptional, when doubtless to an outside observer the course of events would be beyond understanding.

Most of those serving aboard the Death Star now know me simply as Luke, the prisoner Lord Vader took a shine to, the quiet one who's not quite all there. I come and go freely, on Lord Vader's orders. The others know I am not to be obstructed. There is no harm in me, not the desire nor the capability.

Some might say that what Lord Vader has done to me is horrific. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it really is only brain damage that prevents me fully grasping what I now am. I am healthy, able to care for myself, and the Death Star is not an unpleasant place to live once the mind adjusts to the permanent day.

The datapad is chirruping at me. Its screen flickers back to life, and listed on it are dozens of names, each matched neatly with the corresponding sample number, ordered according to their degree of correlation with the data on my own blood.

Further down the screen, the first set of results has been crossmatched against the second sample number I found. It was hard to find, deleted from surface records, well hidden in the deep-level ones. And yet when I found it, it was so very close.

If I had been asked beforehand to locate it, I would have said without hesitation that it was not possible. But perhaps not. It was not easy, but neither was it difficult; the difference between negotiating hellish terrain with and without a guide.

It seemed to me, yes, as though I had a guide. A presence, a consciousness not my own, perhaps, guiding my hands.

I cannot explain it. I of all people know that my mind is not held together securely. Imperial interrogation reaches deeply, and if a small error is made the consequences can be horrible.

Leia Organa was not so lucky as I. The interrogation she underwent killed her.

That, at least, is the version of events held as true.

I scroll down the datapad, and finally see the single line of code confirming everything. Leia Organa's name, and beside it the blood-crimson star-shape marking an exceptionally high level of similarity. I open the files, compare her blood to mine.

Yes. The diagnosis bar at the base of the display gives the probability of error as less than one in a million; the diagnosis which is so certain is as I expected.


She was my sister. How long have I known? Perhaps a few seconds . . . but at the same time far longer. A feeling of kinship was all I had to go on. Then later, far later, I began to hear the rumours that said unexpected data had been extracted from the memory of the R2 droid that had been hers. The stolen plans had been found, but under deep-search the droid's memory yielded many things.

Later still I saw the data with my own eyes. A well-rewarded mole and a late-night meeting, and an old and corrupt file from a previous owner: a fuzzy, automatically recorded hologram of a medical chamber, a woman still as death, and in the arms of a man whose face I almost remember, not one child, but two...

Further still down the screen, the result from the second crossmatching. The second set of data, its number transcribed from a sliver of holostrate memory down in the red cold, in the alphabetically ordered archives held next to my own, without regard for the name that is now so feared that the mere whisper of it sends chills down even an innocent spine.

The mind may change, but the dumb chemistry of the blood does not. And neither does it lie.

I stare at the datapad for a long time. Minutes, hours; time is still hard to judge. Numbers dance, the machine information translated from the complex chemical language of blood and genes. Who ever would have thought that such complexity would ever enthral the farmboy from Tatooine? Maybe more of my mind was damaged than I know...

Another red star, as if the blood itself has seeped out of the streams of code and pooled behind the screen of the datapad, and another precise diagnosis. Strange how machines can be at once intelligent and mindless; I, with my brain damaged beyond repair, can comprehend the enormity of what it has shown me, when the electronic crawl of its own teeming processors cannot.

More time. I am numb, still, so still that for seconds or centuries the universe spins around the centre I have become.

Did he know as Leia Organa died that he killed his own flesh and blood? If he did, would he have hesitated? Blood is strong, and yet the strange darkness driving him is strong, too. Is it stronger, then, or does the power it gives come in exchange for a sapping of the soul? Does it merely corrupt, or consume as well?

My mind is fractured, incomplete, and I can no longer look at the world as another might. But I can understand, even if I cannot always explain. I found solace in data, truth in blood, and a home with the Empire where so many have found only death.

Leia Organa was one of those.

All these things I understand, and yet none of them are simple to explain. I understand that the blood of the man called Anakin Skywalker still runs in the veins of the man called Darth Vader, and yet to explain how and why is beyond my knowledge, or my capacity to know...

If I told him that he has already killed one of his own children, would he hesitate to kill the other?

Does a side of the same presence that guided me drive him?

The datapad begins to hum. My fingers skate across the keys, hesitating over the last command. To finish the work that has driven me for these four years, since Leia Organa died, until at last in these few strands of computer code I hold a truth that all others who knew are dead...

He murdered my sister, his own child. Some would say that is all the reason I need. To conceal the truth would not be justice. It would be mercy.

Leia wanted peace. And peace is what we have, because with her death, and then with the destruction of Alderaan and Yavin, the Empire lost all sympathy the people of the galaxy had had for it. And not even the most tyrannical of rulers can force their will upon a people who would sooner die than obey; free will is powerful.

He murdered my sister, and yet she died for peace.

If she had lived, who is to say that the other deaths would have been averted? I cannot know.

I will not judge my father. She would not have wanted it.

Let the future judge me.

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Original cover by Nemesis. HTML formatting copyright 2007 TheForce.Net LLC.