The life-size hologram was not
the most detailed; at the time when the recording had been taken, the technology
simply did not allow for color or much visual depth. Nevertheless, the Jedi
Council chambers were impressive, the ghostliness of them not impeding its
visual impact. There were high arched ceilings and beautifully set stone, marked
only by the unadorned seats of the Council. It was a mixture of simplicity and
something simply intimidating.
Most intriguing were the Jedi Council members themselves, of course, and Ben studied them closely. He stared at the stern visage of his grandfather, stilled in the moment, brooding and calm among the other Jedi. In this static image, Obi-Wan Kenobi looked at Anakin Skywalker from his seat, a reserved expression on his face. Ben knew that, if he let the holographic recording play, he would see that gaze continue, that carefulness that came from a desire to watch and help his former Padawan succeed.
Of course, Anakin Skywalker was not on the Council long. He never attained the rank of Master.
Ben turned at his father’s soft call, smiling slightly to reassure. Luke studied him for a second, not blithely taking that reassurance. Then his father broke his gaze and walked up to him, regarding Anakin Skywalker as Ben had been.
“What do you see when you look at him?” His father spoke distantly, not warmly as he often did when speaking of the man formerly known as Darth Vader.
Ben carefully repressed a start, surprised at the question. “A lot of things,” he finally answered.
Luke looked at him sideways. “Tragedy, death, darkness? More than a relative, a symbol, perhaps.”
“How did you know?” Ben asked quietly, realizing his father had, once again, seen far more deeply than Ben could himself. His father always made him feel younger than he was, almost sixteen now.
“I’m not unaware of what he was, of his ... meaning, I suppose you could say,” Luke said, tone thoughtful. “But that’s not all you were thinking of, Ben, that I can sense.”
“No,” Ben admitted, returning his gaze to his grandfather. Why did they all have blue eyes? Eyes like that, which could be so dark. “I was thinking about destiny, I guess.”
“Yours, or his?”
“Both,” Ben said, smiling wryly. “Was he destined to be so different from the Jedi? Was all the comfort they could offer him, at the death around him, was ... people die? It seems so meaningless, Dad, from that point of view. Why save people at all, if this life is not worth something, if it’s not so precious you’d do anything to save it?”
“The old Jedi Order was not perfect,” Luke said bluntly. “And neither are we. What mistakes will new generations see in us? Will they judge us?” He paused. “I think they will.”
“So do I,” Ben said softly.
His father said nothing, and Ben let the silence settle.
“Why does this concern you, Ben?” his father asked finally, turning away from the hologram, intently – almost fiercely, like Mom – looking at him. “What’s wrong?”
“If you could change it all, would you?” Ben asked, meeting his father’s eyes, exactly like his own. “Would you stop your father from turning at the moment he fell, would you try to save the old Jedi Order?”
Luke looked at him for a long, awkward moment, utterly taken aback. “Yes,” he breathed at last.
“Then all this would be gone,” Ben said quietly. “Mother. Me.”
Clearly not expecting such a painful jab, Luke took a moment to collect his thoughts. “Who is to say which path is better?”
“Exactly,” Ben said intensely. “If you changed it, would it be worse? Would the Order stagnant and become worse than that which they fought against, the Sith? Would they echo the Republic in their fall and denigration?”
“And what of all the dead?” Luke inquired, folding his hands in his robe.
“What of all the dead that would be?”
“Do you think it is as predestined as that?” his father asked, saddened. “That everything would be destroyed anyway?”
Ben closed his eyes, turning away. “I don’t know. I wonder about my destiny, Dad. If I hear the darkness call, is it for a reason?”
A stunned hesitation, then his father grabbed his shoulders, forcing him to face him and open his eyes. “Don’t you ever say that. Never. It’s not true. The darkness always lies, my son.”
“That’s right,” Ben whispered, tears in his eyes. “I am your son. So what will happen to me?”
His father caressed his face, wiped away the tears that had not yet fallen. “You will live your life. You are not fated to be me, or your grandfather.” He paused, searching for something in Ben, but Ben just looked back at him helplessly. “It is always a choice to turn. The Force moves within those choices, using them so the light always shines again, but it is choice that can bring darkness.”
“What if I fall?” Ben’s voice broke.
“Don’t,” was what Luke said. He didn’t deny it could happen. “I will always help you. Ben, tell me what’s wrong? What has happened?”
“Nothing,” Ben said, shaking his head. “Yet, anyway,” he added with a slip of sarcasm.
“If the dark side is calling to you this strongly, there is something in you that is weakening to it,” Luke said quietly, not with any accusation to his tone, but firmly nevertheless. “You were born with great strength in the Force, Ben. I cannot take that from you, I can’t ease that burden. But I can help you. I won’t fail you.”
“I’m afraid,” Ben said, lowering his gaze.
“The friends I’ve lost, the thought of losing you and Mom. It could be any mission, that you ... go,” Ben said with a shrug, like this was normal, something he should be able to deal with. “Like the Jedi of old said, attachment leads to the dark side, right?”
“Fear is natural,” Luke said finally. “But you can’t let it control you, guide you. You can’t let your fears dictate how you use the Force, or the rightness of your actions.” He paused. “Your mother and I will be all right. And all considering, if your mother can’t handle whatever happens, what makes you think you or I ever could?” he added with a slightly pained, but mostly genuinely amused smile.
Ben choked on a small laugh. “Yeah.”
“Have you sensed something specific?” his father asked, and Ben didn’t flinch away from meeting his even gaze this time.
“Not exactly. I’ve just been having these really bad dreams,” Ben said, twisting his lip.
“Then you can tell me about them, and we will do our best to make sure they aren’t visions of the future,” Luke said firmly. “And we will do it as Jedi,” he added softly.
Ben gave him a small smile. “And die as Jedi?”
“If that is what happens,” his father simply said.
“But Dad, if you die ... I don’t know how I could stop myself from falling to fear and anger. It’s not fair, Dad,” he insisted, rubbing his face, really a way to not see his father’s calm face. “It’s not fair.”
“Life is not really fair, Ben,” Luke said, and the words seemed to be almost pulled from him, like a shattering he did not want to be responsible for. “But it has balance. I’ve known peace and contentment as a Jedi, a sense of purpose that I never could have had otherwise. And would I ever have known my father otherwise? Met your mother? Had you?”
“I don’t know, I heard your first meeting with Mom didn’t go so great,” Ben quipped.
His father laughed. “But it was memorable nevertheless.”
Ben just nodded.
Not speaking again, Luke gathered Ben into a firm embrace, breathing into his son’s hair, holding him as tightly as he could, and that made Ben want to tremble. But he simply hugged his father back with desperate strength, which gradually faded into something calmer, warmer. He had to trust his father’s wisdom.
Though in his father’s embrace he could not see it, Ben sensed his father open his eyes and stare at the stilled face of Obi-Wan Kenobi.