In memory of the 11 Israeli athletes who were killed in the Munich massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Darth Vader stalked the low-ceilinged area below the elevated platform in the Emperor's throne room on the second Death Star. Holding his lightsaber ready, he searched for his son, Luke Skywalker, in the semi-darkness and said, "You cannot hide forever, Luke."
From the shadows, Luke answered, "I will not fight you."
"Give yourself to the dark side," Vader urged. "It is the only way you can save your friends."
Luke closed his eyes. I'm sorry, Leia and Han. I'd do anything to save you, but I must resist the dark side. Suddenly, Luke felt a dull ache in his head, and sensed that Vader was using the Force to probe his mind.
"Yes, your thoughts betray you," Vader spoke, confirming Luke's suspicion. "Your feelings for them are strong. Especially for..."
Luke tried to block his thoughts--and failed.
"Sister!" Vader said. "So...you have a twin sister. Your feelings have now betrayed her, too. Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the dark side, then perhaps she will."
"No!" Luke screamed in anger as he ignited his lightsaber and rushed at Vader. Sparks flew as they traded blows in the cramped area, and Luke felt the hatred within him build with each passing second. You'll never take Leia, and you'll never take me!
He kept swinging, forcing Vader to retreat from under the platform, until they arrived at the short bridge that overlooked the elevator shaft. Vader fell back against the bridge's railing, then was knocked to his knees. As he raised his lightsaber to block another onslaught, Luke slashed through Vader's right hand, severing it at the wrist. Metal and electronic parts flew from Vader's shattered stump, and his lightsaber clattered uselessly away, rolling over the edge of the bridge and into the apparently bottomless shaft below.
Luke angled his lightsaber at Vader's throat, then held the blade there, watching Vader's struggling form.
On the stairway behind Luke, Emperor Palpatine was unable to contain himself. "Good! Your hate has made you powerful. Now, fulfill your destiny and take your father's place at my side!"
Luke knew what the Emperor expected. He wants me to kill Vader. He wants me to kill my own father. Luke looked at his father's mechanical hand, then to his own black-gloved right hand. Am I becoming like my father? Is that my destiny after all?
Then Luke made the decision for which he had spent a lifetime preparing. He deactivated his lightsaber, turned to the Emperor, and said "Never!" Luke flung his lightsaber aside and stood there unarmed.
The Emperor scowled.
"I'll never turn to the dark side," Luke vowed. "You've failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me."
"With immeasurable displeasure, the Emperor said, "So be it, Jedi."
In the Emperor's throne room, Darth Vader remained lying against the railing on the bridge above the elevator shaft. Vader had known Emperor Palpatine long enough to know what would happen next. He watched the Emperor descend to the bottom of the stairs and face Luke.
The Emperor said, "If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed." Then he raised his arms and extended his gnarled fingers toward Luke. Blinding bolts of blue lightning shot from the Emperor's hands, and Luke was suddenly enveloped by crackling bands of energy. He tried to deflect the lightning but was so verwhelmed that his knees buckled. He collapsed onto some canisters near the bridge's railing.
As the Emperor continued to strike Luke with energized bolts, Vader struggled to his feet. Badly wounded, he moved slowly to stand beside his Master.
Sneering at Luke, the Emperor said "Young fool...only now, at the end, do you understand."
More blue lightning coursed over and through Luke. He fought to remain conscious and clutched at a canister to keep from falling into the adjacent shaft.
"Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the dark side," the Emperor leered. "You have paid the price of your lack of vision." He released another bombardment of power at Luke, who writhed on the floor in unbearable pain.
Using the last of his strength, Luke lifted his arm and reached out toward Vader. "Father, please," Luke groaned. "Help me."
Vader could see that Luke was on the verge of death. He looked to the Emperor, then back to Luke, who had curled into a fetal position on the floor.
"Now, young Skywalker..." the Emperor snarled, "you will die."
Luke had not imagined pain beyond what he had already suffered, but then he was hit by a wave of power that was even more staggering. His harsh screams echoed across the throne room.
Beside the Emperor, Darth Vader continued to stand and watch. He looked to the Emperor again, then back to Luke.
And then, in a moment, something changed. Perhaps he remembered something heard in his youth a long time ago: an ancient prophecy of the Chosen One who would bring balance to the Force. Perhaps the vague outlines of someone named Shmi and a Jedi named Qui-Gon struggled to the surface of his consciousness. The most powerful, the most repressed thought of all could have emerged from the darkness: Padme...and her undying love for someone he once knew well. And despite all the terrible, unspeakable things he'd done in his life, he suddenly realized he could not stand by and allow the Emperor to kill their son. And in that moment, he was no longer Darth Vader.
He was Anakin Skywalker.
He grabbed the Emperor from behind. The impossibly wretched Sith Lord gaped and squirmed in his embrace, continuing to release blue lightning, but the bolts veered away from Luke and arced back to strike the Sith Lords.
Dazed, Luke looked up to see the lightning travel through Vader and the Emperor. A burst of high-energy photons made Vader's own damaged skull briefly visible through his armored helmet. Somehow, despite his severed hand, Vader had managed to lift the Emperor high over his head. With one final burst of his once-venerated strength, Darth Vader hurled the Emperor into the elevator shaft, then collapsed at the shaft's edge.
Emperor Palpatine screamed as his body plunged down the seemingly bottomless shaft. When he was almost beyond sight, his body exploded, releasing dark energy and creating a rush of air up through the throne room.
From where he lay, Luke could tell by the rasping rattle from Vader's helmet that his breathing apparatus was broken. Luke crawled the short distance to his father's side and pulled him away from the edge of the abyss.