Author Note: I have not seen the Rogue One movie so this is based on the original and prequel trilogies.
I don't own Star Wars, obviously!
Darth Vader's Star Destroyer Devastator
Darth Vader turned in irritation. He had captured the Tantive IV eight hours ago, and found no trace of the missing Death Star plans on board. Nor had Princess Leia Organa been found. A brief but thorough interrogation of the Rebel captain had revealed that the Princess had escaped the Tantive IV a mere 10 minutes before Vader's Star Destroyer had come out of hyperspace and attacked the Rebel ship.
Vader had troops scouring the surface of Tatooine's sandy plains in search of Princess Leia, but thus far had found only traces and tantalizing leads, not the Princess or the plans.
Governor Wilhuff Tarkin was angry. Several hours ago, Vader had endured a supremely annoying conversation with the cadaverous old man, filled with Tarkin's superior gibes about Vader's incompetence. If Palpatine hadn't placed his mantle of protection on Tarkin, Vader might have been able to summon the Force power to strangle the man over the necessary parsecs.
Emperor Palpatine was probably even more angry, but fortunately Vader hadn't had to talk to him.
He turned to the officer who was approaching him on the bridge. The man looked harried, which brought the Dark Lord some small measure of satisfaction.
When he was unhappy, everyone else on board had better be unhappy too.
"My Lord, we received a report from the surface of Tatooine. It appears that Princess Leia was found by a patrol, but the patrol was destroyed by her companions."
Vader looked at the officer with disdain, "Send four additional patrols to her location. If she has moved position, follow her."
Really, that was Imperial Tracking 101. Why did Vader have to say it? (Of course, he could go down there himself. But…no, surely that wasn't necessary. Surely he wouldn't have to descend to that cursed planet himself.)
"My Lord, there is a particularly disturbing facet to the destruction of the patrol. It appears that…it appears that a Force user is supporting the princess. The individual used a lightsaber…"
Vader froze in disbelief, then, shoving the man out the way with a Force push, strode over to a large screen.
"Show me the video feed," he barked.
Another officer fumbled for a few moments, and the screen lit up. The picture was stable, which indicated it was from a sensor mounted on a shuttle instead of on a stormtrooper.
Vader watched as a group of stormtroopers entered a typical set of Tatooine dwellings on an all too typical moisture farm. The buildings were the familiar earth color of his youth, and the sand spread as far as the screen allowed.
Vader could almost feel the sand against his face, the sand that got into everything, the sand that blinded eyes and closed up the mouth and the nose. The sand that buried everything with slow, methodical, deliberation.
How he hated the sand.
There were a few calm moments showing troopers cautiously entering various buildings, and coming out empty handed. But after a few minutes, several troopers emerged from the largest building with three prisoners in bonds.
Vader leaned forward eagerly. Two prisoners he dismissed from consideration immediately. They were old, no doubt beyond their years, worn from long years toiling in the hot sun of Tatooine. But the third – yes, it was definitely the princess of Alderaan, Leia Organa! Two troopers were guiding droids, a protocol droid and an R2 unit. (Memories of similar droids tugged at him, but he firmly pushed those remembrances into his subconscious.)
The princess was pushed near the shuttle, close enough that Vader was able to pick up voices above the winds of the desert.
A black clad Imperial officer, the leader of the patrol, stepped forward and grabbed her chin, tilting it upwards.
"How very pleasant to see you, Princess Leia Organa. Lord Vader is most eager to welcome you to his ship. It is regrettable that you left the Tantive IV so quickly, or your meeting with him would have occurred far sooner."
The princess replied with typical spirit, "The Imperial Senate will not sit still for Lord Vader's interference with my movements, Captain…"
Her words were abruptly cut off by the sound of a lightsaber springing to life. Vader heard yells from the patrol, and then a robed figure sprang into view, blue lightsaber flashing. The princess and her two fellow prisoners dove for the ground, and within two minutes all the troopers were dead. The princess rolled to her feet and picked up a discarded blaster, pointing it at the photosensor and discharging it. The image went black.
Ignoring the officers and men gathered around him on the bridge, Vader ran the video again, slowing it to quarter speed when the lightsaber wielding individual came into view. The robed figure's face and form were obscured for most of the fight, but he could estimate the height based on the standard height of troopers. More importantly, the fighting style, when adjusted for the infirmities of age, was very familiar.
Again, he backed up the recording, and moved it frame by frame by frame until…
Yes, for one moment, the robe's hood shifted and light played across a face old but familiar.
Vader gritted his teeth. Whether he liked it or not, he would have to descend to the surface of the planet of his youth. He had been hunting Kenobi for almost two decades. He would not let him slip away from him again.
"Bring my shuttle," he ordered coldly, and walked rapidly to the main docking bay of the Devastator.
Less than an hour later, his shuttle was closing in on the farm where Kenobi and Organa had been spotted. He had no expectation of his former master still being there, but it was a starting point. He would likely be able to pick up a Force trail once he arrived at the location where Kenobi had appeared after 19 years of silence.
19 years. 19 years since Kenobi and Vader had fought on the shores of the lava flows of Mustafar, 19 years since his former master had severed 3 limbs and left him to burn nearly to death. 19 years since the love of his life and their unborn child had perished at his own hand.
He clenched his hands as the familiar agony of guilt and rage and grief struggled to overwhelm him. Again, he pushed it down, forcing himself to use his internal agony to power the Dark Side, to reach out with it. Kenobi would no doubt be shielding, but now that Vader knew he was here…
What was this? Vader stilled, aware of a sudden and dramatic shift in the currents of the Force.
Yes, he was sensing someone, but not Kenobi! Directly ahead, where the moisture farm lay in its parched glory, Vader could sense a beacon of power in the Light Side of the Force. There was a Force user there, but whoever he was, it was not Kenobi. He sensed youth, and limited training.
Who could it be?
He strode to the cockpit of his shuttle and peered into the distance. The suns were sinking towards the horizon, though he knew from experience that the heat of the day was still oppressive. His mechanized breathing increased the tension of his pilots, which was good. The sooner they arrived, the better.
The shuttle landed, and Vader strode down the off ramp as soon as it settled into the shifting sands.
At the bottom of the ramp and 15 meters away, was a squad of stormtroopers, led by another black clad officer. Vader noticed, peripherally, that the bodies of the previous squad had been hauled off and were being cremated, to disguise the death of Imperial stormtroopers at the hand of a hostile Force user. The farm too was being burned to the ground.
The stormtroopers were surrounding two figures, both on their knees, both with hands bound in front of them. One figure was small and cloaked, too small to be Kenobi. Vader focused on the other individual. It was a youth, hardly more than a child. The red tinted visual scanning apparatus in Vader's helmet did not allow him to easily analyze color, but the young man seemed to have blond hair and was thin and wiry. He was dressed in the typical loose garb of the human natives of Tatooine. Vader noted absently his face was marred by a black eye and several developing bruises, which meant either he had resisted arrest, or been battered in an attempt to get answers out of him. Vader tensed slightly. For this scrawny boy was the source of the raw Force presence Vader had sensed. He was incredibly strong. He was like a nova in the Force. How had Vader missed this boy? How had the Emperor himself?
The officer stepped forward, interrupting Vader's musings.
"My Lord, there is no sign of Princess Leia or her companions. These two prisoners were discovered in the main building of this complex. They claim to have no knowledge of Organa's whereabouts. The woman seems to be intellectually limited but the boy is smart enough, and I am certain he knows more than he is telling. Our resources here are limited, and I would advise that he be transported back to the Devastator for further interrogation."
This sensible statement provoked a violent reaction from the cloaked figure.
"No, no, please don't hurt him, no!"
The voice was… the voice was familiar. Incredulously, Darth Vader stepped forward even as the woman threw her head back, causing the hood to slide off her head.
For a brief moment, Darth Vader thought his heart would stop.
19 years rolled away in an instant.
There were new wrinkles, and the hair had streaks of gray, but the face was the face of his Angel.
His vocoder barely picked up his croaked, incredulous question.