|The Man in the Mask
Author: Idrelle Miocovani PM
Secrets never fully die. Vader/Anakin. Inter-trilogy. Originally written in September 2005.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Tragedy/Suspense - Anakin Skywalker - Words: 1,338 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 7 - Published: 11-16-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4659867
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Another fic from the depths of my fanfic folder, originally written September 2005. You can take this from either a literal point of view, but I personally choose the metaphorical one…
The Man in the Mask
Deep within the Imperial City lies a realm of darkness. In that dark place, there are cells… many cells. It is a dark, dank prison, filled with the emotional strife of prisoners who have been locked away for years, waiting a time when the light will come.
Light signifies death in this dark realm. When the lights come, your time is near the end. That is the accepted nature of the prison – for all accept one.
In the darkest, deepest cell, far beneath the surface of the planet, far away from the faintest light, is the Emperor's darkest secret. It is a powerful secret; a subject that most people know about, but it rests under the cover of mysterious waters.
It is a deadly secret known only to three people. Of those three, Darth Vader is haunted by it the most.
In that dark, dank cell where no light can penetrate lies a man. This man wears a mask. The mask is heavy, made of some unidentifiable metal, and is dark, smooth… polished. It is molded into the shape of his face. This mask hides who he is – unlike the mask that breathes life into Darth Vader.
This mask hides the secret.
The secret is the man.
Darkness breeds secrets.
The man in the cell only knows light once a year when he receives a visitor of great importance. Unlike the other prisoners, who live in he cells on the floors above him, he is there to stay forever.
His cell is old-fashioned. The door does not retract into the wall. The door is a series of bars across an archway. Why it is like this, he does not know. But his cell serves a place to hide him. No one must know he exists. Not even the executioners who customarily come and choose their weekly prey. And the Emperor cannot get rid of him easily. A power greater than the galaxy's dictator – the Force, perhaps – won't let the man in the mask be destroyed, No one knows why – no one, except, perhaps, Darth Vader.
The Dark Lord of the Sith is the king of dark secrets. He is the man's yearly visitor. When he comes to visit, the man's sense of fear rises and his heart begins to thump wildly. All the while, his mind stays calm.
He knows Darth Vader better than anyone. That familiarity of who the Dark Lord is, and was, creates his fear. He knows what truly lies beneath the Dark Lord's mask, just as the Dark Lord knows what lies beneath his mask.
There are no secrets when Darth Vader comes to call.
And so the man lies in the dark, anticipating the moment when the bright lights will dart into his eyes, causing excruciating pain for one moment before his eyes erupt with a tirade of watery tears and blinking.
He is not surprised when his prison of darkness is broken by the harsh yellowish light and the sound of approaching footsteps – hard, cold, booms: the sound of Darth Vader's boots.
There is the grating sound of his cell opening, followed by Darth Vader's distinctive breathing.
Hollow inhale. Rattling exhale. Hollow inhale. Rattling exhale.
"You have come." The man's voice is as hollow as Vader's inhaling. Emotionless. "What is it that you want this time?"
The tall, monstrous-like Dark Lord surveys the mask-man. For many minutes, he is silent.
"I am obliged to come," he says, his voice strong and powerful.
"Why?" the other man asks. "Year after year you come, and yet you never ask me anything. You merely stand there, watching."
"I remember who you were before the war," Vader snaps, his voice quickening and becoming louder.
"As if I could forget," the mask-man replies shortly. "Does it still scare you?"
The Dark Lord pauses.
"I can feel you everyday through the Force," the man continues, his voice soft. It is almost as if he pities his enemy. "And everyday I feel your pain. I feel your loss. But it is consumed by your power of hate and anger – fear and aggression. You blot out your past with it, turning your back on what you were before, on what you did!"
"Do not remind me," Vader growls.
The man in the mask is standing now. His voice is growing louder, stronger; it is as if he has spent many months planning this conversation, choosing the exact words, and perfecting it over and over in his mind. "Your pain becomes even more powerful every time you come here. It is beginning to blind you. Why do you come?"
"The Emperor commands me," Vader snaps.
"Is that so?" the man replies coolly, a hint of sarcasm biting his words.
"Where are the children?" Vader growls.
The masked man remains still and does not answer.
"Where are the children?" Vader repeats, louder this time. The Force ripples with his power, with his anger.
"I do not know," the man whispers. "They are hidden from me, too."
Vader growls. "You know where they were taken."
"I do not," the man answers firmly. "I do not know where Padmé took them."
Something tightens around the masked man's throat. It is not a tangible thing; he cannot bat it away with his hands. Instead, he uses the Force to prod the power constricting his throat away. His breathing becomes lighter.
Vader's anger is burning coldly, furiously. "Do not mention your wife's name to me," Vader hisses. "Where are the children?"
"They are hidden from you, Vader," the man repeats calmly. "Our wives have took them where you and your Master cannot find them. They will not come to harm. They will be protected from the dark side, as you and I should have been from the very start."
Vader looks at the man through the darkness. "Is that so?" His voice is a low rumble – like thunder. "I will find them and I will bring them to the Emperor."
Behind his mask, the man smiles.
"I don't think so. The Skywalker heritage will be preserved. It will not fall prey to the dark side of the Force. Only you, my brother, will have touched that evil cesspit."
"The dark side is my ally," Vader responds.
"Oh yes," the masked man murmurs. "I know. How I know. It was I who tracked you down, after all. It was I who fought you on Mustafar. It was I who damaged you beyond compare. It was I who introduced you to the dark side, my brother. It was I who brought us to this."
"You blame yourself for something you cannot comprehend," Vader growls. "You could never understand, Anakin. You are the scum of all Jedi – you deserve death."
Anakin's laugh is a short bark. "How epic like this is – good brother against bad brother. Emblem of hope against the symbol of darkness. Good hero against evil hero. The battle of the light side and the dark side contained in one bloodline."
Vader's anger is quelled. He has had enough of his raving brother.
"The darkness suits you, brother," he spits angrily, "much more than the light of the Jedi Temple ever did. You can leave your prophecies in here, Skywalker. You are nothing but dust and ashes beneath the Imperial City. A lost hero of a lost cause."
The Dark Lord of the Sith turns and leaves the dark cell.
Hollow inhale. Rattling exhale. Hollow inhale. Rattling exhale.
Booming footsteps slowly echo away into nothingness.
Anakin Skywalker rests in the dark place, contemplating what his brother has said and done.
Beneath the Imperial City there are secrets.
Those secrets remain in darkness until someone sees fit to save them.