Among A Hundred Brothers
by TangledAria

"Aller hundert Brüder dieser eine . . ."
-"Isis und Osiris", Robert Musil

He is not how she remembers him. She remembers him this way: an eager youth with skin slightly tanned by the Coruscant sun, his hair that curious mix of blond and brown, a characteristic he shared with their father.

But now, now.

He's been somewhere dark, gone so long the blond has disappeared from his hair, leaving it a muted, flat brown. His skin has faded in color, no longer golden, no longer warm. The fine tracery of veins that run under his pale skin is changed, no longer a pale blue but a black that speaks of the strange new power that runs in his blood.

Their power used to be the same, something they shared with their father. Only now his is perverted, dark.

He smiles at her as she enters, and it's the same smile she remembers, without any hint of malice. It reminds her of the old Luke so much, she halfway thinks it might all be a lie, some clever prank dreamt up by her equally clever brother.

She almost smiles back, in spite of herself. But then she sees the blood that darkens his robes, black splotches of wetness on already black robes.

"Dear sister," he says.

He moves towards her, his movement hindered by the binder around his left wrist. The other end is chained to a loop in the wall. His other hand-

She lifts her own hand to her mouth, trying to hide the horror that she is sure is all too plain on her face. Where his right hand should be there is nothing but a wet red stump.

"Father and I had a slight disagreement," he says.

She's thankful then for whatever technology the Republic has dreamt up that supresses the Force in the crowded little cell. Her fevered imagination is offering up a thousand scenarios of what might have happened, and she has no desire to see the truth from inside his own mind.

He was always the more powerful one, almost as powerful as their father. But she knows that the only way their father would have resorted to dismembering his own son, or anyone for that matter, would be if there was no other way. Her father was, is!, a kind man, warm and caring. There was no way he would casually cut off someone's hand, only if it was a battle he couldn't win.

"What did you fight about?" she asks, her voice sounding empty and far away, even in the cramped space of the cell.

Her brother looks at the space where his hand used to be and she can see the muscles moving in his forearm, as if he's flexing a hand that is no longer there.

"I wished to terminate his leadership and join my new master." He looks up and meets her eyes. The blue color of his irises is gone, replaced with an empty blackness that is either the expanding of his pupils in response to the pain, or something more permanent.

"What new master? Luke, you've been gone for months without a word. Mother's been sick with worry and neither Father nor I had any idea where you were."

He leans back against the cell wall and smiles again. But she knows this smile and has never seen it on her brother's face until this moment. Cruelty, despair, hate.

"No," she whispers.

"My new master is quite powerful."

She had almost convinced herself it had all been some horrible misunderstanding, that her brother had tasted the darkness and found himself overwhelmed, not that he'd devoted himself to it fully.

"Father," she says suddenly, latching on to the man who had always made things better, who had chased away her nightmares and some how made even the darkest night seem bright.

But this nightmare was one she was never going to wake up from.

"Don't be a fool, Leia." He's leaning towards her, pulling at the binders holding him to the wall. "Even father is no match for the Dark Lord of the Sith."

"Father," she says again, automatically reaching out for the Force, groping in the dark like a blind man. "You're wrong about him, Luke. He's more powerful than you could possibly imagine."

She turns and leaves, running out of the cell and letting it lock behind her. She's gasping for breath, the sound of it echoing in the hall of the detention floor. Suddenly, she thinks she can hear his laughter coming from the cell, skittering across the metal like broken glass.

She starts running and never looks back. She barely notices when the Force returns to her, only that her anguish echoes loud enough for a swell of power, black and seductive, to rise up and meet it. She refuses to embrace it, and continues to run, her brother's laughter echoing in her head.


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