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Star Trek/Star Wars – Galaxy at War: Part Thirty-Eighty Revenge of the Sith Part III Duel of Fates



Star Trek Dimension – August 2735 C.E.

A Rogue Planet deep in the Typhon Expanse Beta Quadrant, night

Darth Sidious clad in a traditional black Sith robe his face obscured in the shadows cast by its thick hood stood in an immense stone chambered decorated with towering statuary of fearsome horned beings craved, along with the vast subterranean temple complex itself, by some forgotten species. These depictions were of Siqsa known colloquially in this region as "Pah'Wraiths" & "Fire Spirits" they were called "Smoke Demons" by the ignorant masses of Sidious' own galaxy. Sipsa were Dark Side entities, sentient manifestations of the Cosmic Force. Long ago, in the dim mists of prehistory, there had been only one type of Force Spirits until the Siqsa came to understand the power of darkness. After a war with the spirits who embraced either the light or consider themselves in the middle, the Siqsa were driven out of the grand junction between the Cosmic and Living Force. Following their defeat, Siqsa hid in places strong in the Dark Side of the Force. Places such as the Typhon Expanse. Here they awaited the hour when they would emerge and destroy their accursed brethren and the Dark Side would reign supreme within the Cosmic Force. Only a special few scattered across the vastness of the universe like Sidious knew of the Siqsa and their primordial history including the hazy information about Dark Side imbued locations where they dwelt and how to commune with them if needed. The nature of this area was why Sidious came here.

The Typhon Expanse was a place of dreadful legend for the inhabitants of the Milkyway Galaxy. As long as there had been spacefaring civilizations there were stories about the area usually half whispered on ships at night by old captains to brash young recruits. These stories told of giant monsters that swallowed entire fleets whole and evil spirits that drove the unlucky mad. It was here in 2152 C.E. the USS Enterprise NX-01 allegedly encounter the missing Vulcan science vessel Seleya her crew transformed into bloodthirsty zombies. Two centuries later in 2368 C.E. another Enterprise the USS Enterprise-D encountered the time-warped USS Bozeman in a deadly game of temporal chicken. Klingons believed the barge that ferried the dishorned dead to Gre'thor plied this troubled region. Hardened Klingon warriors would break down and openly weep rather than enter the Typhon Expanse. Although less superstitious than the Klingons, who often scoffed at over such matters, the Romulans to would avoid the area at all costs.

Sidious grinned thinking of the foolish stories he had learned of by examining the databases of the inhabitants of this galaxy. The Typhon Expanse was indeed dangerous to the unwary but not because of ghosts. Rather the Expanse itself was a massive Dark Side nexus similar to the Maw region of his own galaxy. The planet on which he now stood was at the very apex of this swirling maelstrom. Which made it the perfect place to conceal himself while he conducted his business in this galaxy. No one would stumble upon his hiding place because of the fearsome reputation of the area. Fear was a useful tool when correctly applied.

"How much longer must we wait here, Lord Sidious?" General Grievous said tapping his right foot in irritation.

Grievous remained angry with Sidious over the latter revealing himself to be Supreme Chancellor Palpatine during their meeting with Darth Maul in the Works of Coruscant three days earlier. Only a dose force lightning had prevented Grievous from attacking Sidious and Maul then. Sidious did not care much how Grievous felt as long as the cyborg continued to follow orders.

"Patience General, I'm sure my new apprentices will be along shortly," Sidious said not sparing his companion so much as a passing glance.

Grievous' body was wracked by a fit of coughing. There had not been enough time to fully repair the damage Mace Windu's force crush had done to his lungs and heart, or so Sidious claimed. Truth be told Sidious decided it would be best in Grievous remained in a compromised state should the General become unruly. With the Grand Plan rapidly nearing completion Grievous' usefulness would also soon be at an end. A weakened Grievous would prove far easier to dispatch than one operating at peak efficiency. Divesting himself of Grievous was always part of his end game. Should events unfold as he had foreseen within a standard solar week perhaps a bit more perhaps a bit less the Jedi of his own galaxy would be no more nor would the Separatist Alliance. The Empire would rise from the ashes of the Republic. Once uncontested unrestrained political power was his he would declare war on the powers of this galaxy. Meanwhile, his two powerful apprentices would seize control of the so-called "Sith Imperium" after they dealt with that upstate Dooku. Under his instruction, Vader & Imera would rename the polity the "Sith Dominion" (a nod to the vanished Dominion Founders to better ensure flagging Vorta, Jem'Hadar & Cardassian loyalty) then after entering into a patch with his Empire the two organizations would crush the Alliance in a pincer maneuver; one attacking from the Alpha Quadrant the other from the Beta Quadrant. The Sith would then hold sway over two galaxies rather than one, how delightful.

Darth Vader and Darth Imera finally arrived in a wash of purple energy. To Sidious' surprise, they were not alone. An angry looking Senator Amidala was with them as were Skywalker's bewildered padawan Ahsoka Tano and his & Amidala's two troublesome droids C-3PO and R2-D2.

Grievous glowered at the new arrivals before again coughing. He remembered how both Tano and R2-D2 had frustrated his plans in the past. Oh, how he wished he could dice them into small pieces with his lightsabers. If only Sidious and the others were not present he would teach the brat and her droid pal a painful lesson in respect.

"Lady Imera, Lord Vader how nice of you to at last join us. I see you've brought along guests. Why wasn't I informed of this development? I thought we agreed, no hostages." Sidious said sharply. He did not ever try to disguise the displeasure evident in his voice. Taking hostages was not part of the plan hostages could become a liability.

"I've altered the plan, Lord Sidious," Vader said brazenly not backing down. "The twins Padme is carrying will be born soon. They rightfully belong to me, as do the droids." R2-D2 bleeped his disagreement with Vader's statement. "Be quiet before I decide you're more trouble than you're worth," Vader warned R2-D2 before he turned his attention back to Sidious. "Imera and I intend to raise the twins." Vader and Imera had left their flagship Wrath behind outside the Expanse, as Sidious and Grievous did before them with Malevolence. Due to the numerous navigational hazards which plagued the region traversing its core was only possible in small maneuverable vessels like shuttles or fighters.

"Over my dead body!" Padme said.

"That's the idea," Imera said coldly.

"What of Tano?" Sidious asked gesturing at Ahsoka who felt her skin crawl as this monster of the dark side turned his baleful gaze upon her. His pale yellow eyes shone from within the dark confines of his hood.

"I think she can be turned," Vader said. "She would make a powerful and useful ally."

"Perhaps," Sidious said doubtfully.

"I'll never turn. I'll rather die than become one of you," Ahsoka said mustering every ounce of conviction she could.

"Then you'll die, girl." Imera snapped back at Ashoka.

"We are keeping these four with us. Our stance is nonnegotiable." Vader said.

"What say you Lady Imera?" Sidious asked. "Do you agree with Lord Vader in this matter?"

"I and my husband are one mind regarding this matter," Imera said she paused briefly. "Of successfully turning girl I have my doubts. The droids, however, will prove assets once their memories have been wiped. The twins will be raised Sith by us. I keenly anticipate being their mothers as Lord Vader does being their father." Imera gave Padme a predatory smile which sent a shiver up the Padme's spine. "Be warned Lord Sidious, I shall not relinquish them without a fight nor shall Lord Vader. I need not remain you any such confrontation would jeopardize our arrangement, which would be a shame at such a critical juncture."

"Very well," Sidious said. "These four along with the future twins are your exclusive domain. I hereby wash my hands of the matter."

"Take these four to one of the temple holding cells. Make sure they are comfortable and well guarded." Grievous commanded the group of Jem'Hadar who stood a respectful distance back from the gathering of their gods and commander between his coughing fits.

"Yes General Grievous," The Jem'Hadar First said.

"Don't do any permanent damage. They are to remain unharmed unless I or Lady Imera ordered otherwise." Vader said.

"Is there a skilled medical officer onboard your vessel?" Imera asked a wicked thought had occurred to her.

"Only my personal physician the medical droid EV-A4-D," Grievous said after another nasty bout of coughing.

"Have him beam down. I want the droid to examine the condition of the twins. If it should determine they can safely survive outside of their mother's womb, it can perform a c-section to deliver them. The sooner they are birthed the better." Imera said.

"What a wonderful idea my dark angel," Vader said grinning savagely.

"No Vader, you can't. Such a procedure might endanger the twins." Padme said rushing up to Vader in spite of Ashoka telling her not to.

"I make the rules here not you! If I want to take the risk we'll take the risk!" Vader said.

"You heartless monster!" Padme said slapping Vader across his face.

Vader reared back with his mechanical hand to strike the defiant Padme. Padme to her credit did not flinch but stood her ground. R2-D2 beeped nervously while C-3PO covered his optical sensors unable to watch any longer. Without considering the possible consequences of her actions Ahsoka force pushed Vader back several steps. Soon a crimson blade was at Ahsoka's neck.

"Defy us once more I'll slick you in half, girl," Imera said. Imera glanced at Vader. "Control yourself, dear. I promise once the children are born you can beat Padme to death with your own hands if you so desire." Ahsoka wished her lightsaber had not been confiscated. If she had the weapon now she might stand a chance against Imera and Vader, might.

"Something to look forward to," Vader said his voice deadly calm. Sidious, Grievous and the Jem'Hadar watched the scene unfold without comment or action.

"When Anakin finds us you'll be sorry," Padme said staring down both Vader and Imera.

"Of course he'll find us." Imera laughed her blade still dangerously close to Ahsoka's throat. "We told him we are here and provided him with a partial map of the complex."

"The two of you did what!?" Sidious exclaimed genuinely surprised which was a rare occurrence. Beside him, Grievous grumbled unhappily.

"There is no need for concern, Lord Sidious. We have the situation firmly under control." Imera said dismissively.

"My double will be trapped like a fly in a spider's web," Vader said to Padme. "I'll take great pleasure in snuffing out his life. Take them away." Vader ordered the Jem'Hadar.

"Anakin will stop you both! Do you hear me! You'll never get my children, never!" Padme shouted as she, Ahsoka and the droids were carted away. Imera and Vader simply laughed at Padme's words.

"I think we had best be on our way, General," Sidious said a moment later.

"But, but my medical droid. I need him more than ever given my condition." Grievous said coughing.

"I'll find you a more skilled physician who can better manage your current medical needs," Sidious said. "Should everything go well Imera & Vader travel to Cardassia Prime in two days time to execute your special mission. I'll contact you before I pass through the Barzan Wormhole a day after that with further instructions."

"I thought you wanted to give us further instructions now?" Imera asked putting away her deactivated lightsaber.

"Originally I did," Sidious said. "However, I can see you are preoccupied with other things. I would prefer your undivided attention. You both know the plan we agreed upon, do your part."

"Do you have it? Is it ready?" Vader asked Sidious all but ignoring Sidious' instructions which greatly perturbed the other Darth.

"Here you are as promised, Lord Vader. The Venom of the Dark Side." Sidious said withdrawing a thick six inch or fifteen centimeters long vile of bubbling neon yellow liquid from a hidden pocket of his robe.

"This will do what you promised?" Vader asked taking the vile from Sidious. Interestingly it felt cold to the touch in spite of its roiling contents

"It will," Sidious said offering the younger Sith a toothy grin. "The Venom of the Dark Side will physically scar any living flesh it comes into contact with. The marring it produces can never be undone not by force powers or medical intervention no matter how advanced. If a victim uses the Light Side of the Force there connection will become muddled as a result of exposure. In time if they persist in their usage of the light they die a slow agonizing death. For a Jedi, there is no worse fate."

"Excellent," Vader said. Sidious instructed Grievous to call for a beam out which he did. Vader and Imera were alone in the temple save for the seven Jem'Hadar and the recently transported EV-A4-D who they instructed to go examine Padme where the Jem'Hadar were.

"He thinks we'll fail against Skywalker," Vader said turning the vile over in his organic hand. "I could sense his misgivings through the Force."

"As could I," Imera said. "Do you think we should abandon our plan to trap Skywalker here, my dark warrior?"

"We'll defeat Skywalker and whomever he may bring, if he should find any allies foolish enough to follow him here, with ease," Vader said. "We've slain multiple Jedi already. Skywalker is no different than they. His death is the final piece of our puzzle. Once he and Padme are no more our future as a happy family with the twins is a certainty. I have every confidence he'll fall before us. It is our destiny, my destiny. The Sith'ari is invincible so it is written so it must be. "

"I love it when you talk prophetic," Imera said sashaying over to Vader. She leaned against Vader nuzzling his neck with her face.

Cell Block, several hours later

Ahsoka tossed and turned on the stone bench. She was having a fitful sleep. Earlier it took everything she could think of but she had finally, with help from her droid friends, somehow convinced EV-A4-D not to operate on Padme. EV-A4-D seemed to take sadistic glee in frightening Padme and making her examination as thoroughly unpleasant as he could. The twisted droid was one sick puppy that was for sure. Ahsoka only managed to discard him from performing a "necessary c-section" by telling him if anything went wrong Vader & Imera would have him dismantled. EV-A4-D reluctantly decide to err on the side of caution. He said he would be back in the morning to reevaluation Padme's condition with either Imera or Vader in attendance.

"Hello," Ashoka said spying a man in Jedi robes directly ahead of her.

Ahsoka emerged from a milky white void into a clearing located in a vast forest. It was night. All was calm. Overhead a dazzling array of stars speckled the sky. A warm breeze ruffled the knee-high grass which tickled her legs.

"Hello, little one." A bearded human male with long grey hair said greeting her with a warm smile.

"Who are you? Where is this place?" Ahsoka asked.

"I'm a friend. This place is whatever you make of it." The man replied cryptically. "Once I was known as Qui-Gon. You may call me Qui-Gon if you wish little one." Qui-Gon Jinn said. Ahsoka did not understand the significance of the name Qui-Gon. Neither of her masters had spoken much about their own fallen mentor. Qui-Gon Jin's smile faded. "Little one the people that have you and your friends are bad people. Once Padme delivers her twins they won't allow you to live much longer. You know that, don't you?"

"I do," Ahsoka said softly.

"A storm is coming. Be strong little one." Qui-Gon Jinn said as a rumble of distant thunder sounded, the sky began to darken and a violent wind blew.

"Ahsoka are you alright?" Padme asked her friend a concerned expression on her face.

"Yeah, I'm okay. Why do you ask?" Ahsoka said sitting up groggily.

"You were talking and thrashing around in your sleep," Padme said.

"I just had a bad dream, that was all," Ahsoka said.

"I wish we could get out of here before that demented medical droid cuts me open." Padme lamented.

R2-D2 bumped into Ahsoka's leg beeping. "What is it Artoo?" She asked. The compartment of R2-D2's domed head popped open revealing a sharped piece of metal that had once been part of a metal lattice of some sort.

"Artoo thinks it might prove useful. Goodness only knows how." C-3PO said. "Poor Artoo they removed his shock probe. He is as defenseless as I am. Dear me whatever will we do?"

Ahsoka palmed the piece of metal. Like C-3PO she had no idea how it could be used to remedy their present dire situation. Still, having it was somewhat better than being empty-handed she decided.

Altar Room, that morning

"Nice place," Anakin Skywalker said glancing around at the towering Siqsa statues that served as silent guardians of the huge chamber. Their ugly faces stared down at him 'The Dark Side is so prevalent here. It is suffocating.' He thought. "Where are you, cowards!? I'm here like you wanted!" Anakin called out peering into the inky darkness of the dimly lit chamber.

With a snap-hiss, a crimson blade ignited. Vader twirled out of the darkness his twisting blow aimed directly at Anakin's head. Anakin barely ignited his own azure blade it time to block the incoming attack.

"You've grown soft pretender," Vader said breaking their brief saber lock. "Suckling on the Federation teat has made you complacent and dulled your senses. You've absorbed their pacifist mindset weakling."

"Your efforts to mentally undermine me won't work, Vader," Anakin said. "Unlike your own fleeting values, my convictions are unshakable."

"I'm pleased by your commitment to mediocrity, Anakin," Vader said sarcastically. "It'll make a fitting epitaph for a meaningless existence full of wasted opportunities."

"Where is your partner in crime?" Anakin asked deflecting around wild swing from Vader. "I would have thought she'd have been here. Aw, has she left you already?"

"Hardly," Vader said unloading a flurry of vicious erratically angled strikes which staggered Anakin. "My beloved angel of darkness is making sure your friends fail in their attempt to take away our family." Vader smile savagely at Anakin's startled expression. "I knew you'd use a distracted. After all, we are the same to some extent only I'm better!"

Vader took advantage of Anakin's loss of focus by slamming Anakin with the Force into the base of the nearest statue so hard it cracked in multiple places. Vader leaped at Anakin intending to impale Anakin with his blade. Anakin rolled out of the way. Vader got his blade stuck in the fractured statue base. Anakin kicked Vader in his side sending the Sith lord skidding away.

Anakin pulled Vader's lightsaber free with a mighty force pull. He then went after Vader with both blades swinging; blue in his right hand red in his left. Vader backpedaled around the room ducking or dodging whenever Anakin got to close. Luckily for Vader, the large open space offered plenty of room to evade his pursuer. Trying of this after a minute or so Vader broke off and pulled down via the Force the head of one of the statues. Anakin and Vader both rolled aside to avoid the falling head. When they regained their footing Vader fired a surge of force lightning from his organic hand. Anakin instinctively put up his own lightsaber to block the attack. Vader retrieved his own lightsaber from Anakin's loosened grip with the Force.

Vader jumped in the air kicking off of a statue based with his right foot. He aimed yet another downward thrust at Anakin who once more parried the blow. This time Anakin followed up the attack with a barrage of his own. The Jedi Knight went on the offensive for a change. Vader fought back vigorously. Soon the two were exchanging fluid quick paced strikes that led directly into counter blows rather than the previous blocks. They worked their way around the chamber occasionally tossing bits of broken statues at each other by way of the Force. A full ten minutes later neither had gained an advantage even though at one point Vader once more attempted to crush Anakin this time beneath a section of fallen ceiling be pulled down. This was a duel for the ages. A duel both men needed to win and neither could afford to lose.

Meanwhile in the Cell Block

"We can't wait any longer. Perform the procedure or else." Imera commanded her fingers sparked with barely restrained force lightning. Four of the seven Jem'Hadar had their blasters pointed squarely at Ahsoka and the droids who had been placed in a corner to prevent any foolhardy interference.

"Right away mistress," EV-A4-D said looming over the terrified Padme who was strapped to the flat stone table. "What fun, I haven't been permitted to operate on purely biological beings since my moral subroutines were found to be corrupted." EV-A4-D's spidery arms unfolded one of which held a laser scalpel.

A loud thump was heard. "What's that?" Imera asked.

"I think it came from outside, mistress." The Jem'Hadar First who stood next to Imera said.

"Investigate," Imera snapped.

"Yes, mistress," The Jem'Hadar First said he signaled for the two Jem'Hadar nearest to him to accompany him.

When the Jem'Hadar First opened the door he was hit in his chest by a phaser beam as was the Jem'Hadar to his left. A blue lightsaber slashed a deep gouge across the chest of the third Jem'Hadar. Pandemonium ensued as the four Jem'Hadar guarding Ahsoka and the droids turned to fire on the unseen attacks as Imera frantically ordered. Ahsoka seized her chance. Using force speed she jumped forward and stabbed the nearest Jem'Hadar in his neck with her hidden weapon. His arrant plasma bolt struck EV-A4-D's chassis blowing the evil droid to bits before he could slice into Padme. She pulled the knife free then stabbed a second in his neck. R2-D2 rolled forward knocking over another Jem'Hadar. Even C-3PO pushed the Jem'Hadar in front of him from behind. Four quick paced phaser bolts finished off the injured Jem'Hadar.

"Ahsoka, catch," Barriss La Forge shouted throwing her spare lightsaber at Ahsoka who caught it activating the blue blade.

Armed with phaser pistols William T. Riker and Deanna Trio entered the room. They, Barriss, Ahsoka and the droids encircled Imera. "No, no, no, no," Imera ranted seeing she was surrounded. Imera's right hand went to her lightsaber which she quickly unclipped and activated.

"Don't try it," Ashoka warned.

"You're outnumbered," Riker said. "It's over."

"Not yet," Imera said.

Imera lunged forward her lightsaber aiming for upper body of the restrained Padme. Riker and Troi fired their phasers but Imera deflected the beams with her red blade. Barriss jumped between Imera and her target. Their blades locked as Imera's swung downward toward Padme holding her lightsaber with both hands. Barriss was slowly losing the battle to hold back the stronger Imera.

"Foolish Jedi," Imera spat. "I will not be denied my-," Ashoka's borrowed blade slashed deeply into Imera's midsection passing under her guard. Imera's body went slack as her lightsaber fell from her hands and she crumpled to the ground dead.

Ahsoka stood there as still as stone. She felt numb. She had never directly killed anyone in combat before only Battle Droids, and they did not really count. Ashoka deactivated Barriss' spare lightsaber and began to sob uncontrollably.

Barriss held her distraught friend close to her. "Hush, it'll be okay Ahsoka." She said soothingly.

"We need to leave," Said Troi who was freeing Padme.

"Yes, let us leave this dreadful place Mistress Troi. The sooner the better." C-3PO said.

"I can't help but wonder," Riker said checking to be sure Imera aka Sela was truly dead. "If she really was Tasha Yar's daughter?"

"I suppose we'll never know," Troi said.

"Where's Anakin?" Padme asked standing up with help from Troi and Riker.

"He's with Vader in the altar room," Riker reported. "He insisted we find you while he kept the other Sith occupied." Everyone exchanged worried glances.

The Altar Room, not long afterward

The entire room was a mess littered with chunks of statues, portions of the roof and the ornate altar itself. Vader had broken it in half with the Force at one point. He had tried to eviscerate Anakin with the top half but failed.

Vader could feel his double weakening. Anakin had mainly fought a defensive battle, something he was unaccustomed to doing. Anakin was on the verge of exhaustion especially mentally. Vader only needed a mistake to exploit then victory would be his. He knew what he must do.

"Your children will call me father unless I prefer they call me master instead!" Vader taunted.

That was all it took. With a scream of rage, Anakin swung wildly at Vader who easily parried the blows. He slipped under Anakin's guard tagging Anakin's artificial right arm which temporarily locked up as a result.

"Bye, Bye, Ani," Vader said gleefully raising his blade overhead for what he assumed would be the final time this duel.

Somehow Anakin found the resolve to trip the overconfident Vader with the Force. When Vader realized what happened his neck was at the apex of an x shape made by his own and Anakin's blades. Vader readied a blast of force lightning. He gasped in shock when invisible fingers encircled his neck.

"Bye, bye, Vader," Anakin said force choking his double until Vader saw stars.

"Anakin," Padme called out running to her husband's side. Behind her were the others. "He's beat. I'm safe. Please don't kill him."

"I'd very much like to," Anakin said glaring down at the red-faced Vader.

"Anakin it is not the Jedi way," Padme said. "Be the man the Jedi I love that I married. Be the Jedi our children can be proud of."

"Consider yourself very lucky Vader," Anakin said releasing his force choke. "Unlike your victims, you get to live. But I want you to remember this day, your humiliation. Know that you can never win."

Anakin and Padme turned around and walked away from Vader who lay gasping on the ground. Rage built within Vader until it became a self-consuming inferno. He would not let this latest travesty stand! His organic hand slipped inside his tunic. He drew forth the vile of Venom of the Dark Side. He would avenge his unaccountable defeat. He pushed himself to his feet.

"Anakin," Vader bellowed his eyes a horrible orange.

Anakin and Padme turned around in unison. Vader no longer cared if Padme or the unborn twins were present and stood within inches of his target. Nothing mattered more than his revenge. With a gleeful laugh that sounded thoroughly unhinged, he threw the vial at Anakin.

"Look out," Riker shouted drawing his phaser as did Troi. It was Troi's phaser beam that hit the vial shortly after it left Vader's hand shattering it.

"Arrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh," Vader cried in agony.

The roiling neon yellow liquid splashed on Vader soaking his face and upper body. Acrid grey-white smoke spilled from him as Vader's exposed flesh began to melt. Clutching his destroyed face he ran off down a corridor before anyone could stop him.

No one knew what to say. They decided silence was the best option. Riker used an automated control unit from the runabout to beam them away from the temple and off of the dark world.

Malevolence, hours later

An obsidian entity that resembled an ancient Sith Battle Droid rose from medical a table. Experimentally the entity flexed his leather-clad arms. He touched his long cape with his gloved hands. 'Was the cape truly necessary?' He silently wondered.

"I want a reflection device." The entity said in his booming electronically generated voice. A medical droid was about to carry out his order when it halted.

"I'm not sure that is wise at this juncture, Lord Vader." Sidious who stood nearby said.

"I need to examine myself in more detailed," Vader insisted.

Behind his skull like mask with its frilled helmet and featureless black eye lenses Vader's heavily scarred face frowned. He hated his new artificially generated voice which had been necessitated by the damage his vocal chords had suffered. He considered himself lucky the Malevolence had been within easy range of his fighter otherwise the damage might have spread beyond his face, neck, and chest. Sidious had sensed Vader was in peril and brought the ship as close to the Typhon Expanse as he dared. 'At least I still have my three organic limbs and my internal organs are undamaged.' Vader thought. He shuddered at the thought of requiring a life support system or a respirator.

"If you insist," Sidious said. "Show him," Sidious commanded the droid.

The droid brought Vader a small holographic mirror. A moment later Vader crushed the mirror with the Force. Damn Anakin Skywalker and his friends! They would pay dearly for this indignity!

"Where is Imera?" Vader asked part of him thankful his wife had not yet beheld his new hideous form. When Sidious did not reply Vader repeated his question. "Where is Imera? Is she safe? Is she alright?"

"It would appear the Jedi and their Federation allies killed Lady Imera." Sidious after an unusually long pause.

Suddenly the ripple he had felt through the Force while dueling Anakin made sense. In his heart, he knew it was true. His beloved angel of darkness was gone forever. Curse the Jedi! Curse the Federation!

The entire room shook. Lights shorted out. The medical droids crumpled. Sidious was thrown against the wall where he remained pinned. Never before had Sidious felt such raw power. It was equal parts frightening and exhilarating. Vader stalked towards Sidious intent on ending the old deceiver.

For a brief moment, Vader recalled the warning he received from Qui Gon Jinn in a Force dream. Maybe he should have heeded Jinn's words? Maybe we should have changed his ways? No, this was not his fault! The Jedi were responsible! They were always to blame for his problems as were their self-righteous friends in the Federation! He would see them all laid low after he dealt with Sidious!

"You promised me, us, power! Now I have nothing! My body is scarred and my beloved lost to me! Give me one good reason why I shouldn't break every bone in your miserable body!" Vader yelled from directly in front of the helpless Sidious.

"Because only through me you can obtain knowledge which will hone your raw potential into unparalleled abilities," Sidious said. With great effort, he pulled back his hood to reveal the smiling face of Palpatine! "I've never led you astray, my boy. Unlike the Jedi, I have always had your best interests at heart. Today I tried to advise caution but you wouldn't hear my pleas. I speak the truth when I say long have I wanted you to join me as my apprentice and heir. None are more worthy of my adoration than you, Vader. So what if your face is marred and your voice damaged? Your phenomenal power in the Force remains unimpeded. One day you'll become the most powerful Sith ever. I have foreseen it. Join me and together we'll sweep away the Republic, the Federation & her allies, and the impenitent Jedi! Be my pupil, my son."

Vader considered Sidious' words carefully before he released his hold on the senior Sith. "I accept your offer, father," Vader said dropping to one knee he bowed his head respectfully. Throughout his entire life, other than Imera, only Palpatine nay Sidious had ever cared about him everyone else had only used him he could see that now.

"Together we will destroy all our enemies," Sidious said smiling. "But first, you must learn respect." Sidious unleashed an intense storm of force lightning that paralyzed Vader. "I am the master, you are the student! I will not tolerate any further insubordination! Do you understand!"

"I understand, master," Vader said his voice crackled due to electrical interference. "How does one defend against such power, master?"

"You'll learn, in good time, my apprentice," Sidious said. His force lightning ceased. "For now our focus is Dooku. He must be eliminated."

"I'll take great pleasure in destroying him," Vader said getting to his feet.

"I'm sure you will, Lord Vader, I'm sure you will," Sidious said grinning wickedly.

To Be Continued

Author's Note One -

Don't hate me for killing off Sela/Imera. Moving forward I feel her death best serves to motivate this far more badass and physically intact version of Vader. This was part of my plan from the start so that I can set up the events of the original Star Wars Trilogy (in AU format of course) down the line. Still, ending the journey of a character I in part made my own and grew to love hurt a great deal. I will not pretend it did not.

Author's Note Two -

I placed the events surrounding the Vulcan ship Seleya in the Typhon Expanse to add to the mythology of the region.

Author's Note Three -

Vader's suit/armor is of the same outward design seen in canon but with no life support of artificial limbs beyond his already missing right arm. The chest plate is simply black padded leather in this version and the respirator vent is a voice amplifier. Vader is still as strong as he was pre-suit there is no lose of Force potential. If anything, the Venom might even boost him slightly because of his reliance on the Dark Side.