Photosynthesis

(I'm just a beginner author practicing her writing (and trying to figure out Fanfic spacing issues!). I don't own any part of Star Wars, but if I did, I'd hopefully close the plot holes like how did Vader know how to get to Cloud City, how was Luke awake for over 24 hours in ROTJ, etc. Anyway, this story involves the daughter of a Jedi encountering Darth Vader because, you know, "they" say to write the story you want to read. I came up with the idea for this several years ago, and was influenced by two fanfics: Memories of the Empire by Shezan and Tales of Miklinar by Miklinar (and borrowed one plot point from Miklinar). Nothing graphic here. Enjoy!)


"How long were you with Vader?"

Lyra looked up. "About three years. Yes, my story starts about a year after the destruction of the first Death Star." Lyra cupped her hands around the steaming cup of caf. "Mmmm. A good cup of caf was one thing that helped me stay sane during those years."

"I want to stress again that you are under no investigation. Alliance Intelligence has found no criminal activity on your part. The new Republic government does not consider you a criminal or a collaborator in any way. We would love, though, to hear your story."

Lyra sighed and sat back in her seat. "Well, my story actually began before I was born. In fact, what happened before I was born was a direct cause in how I ended up where I did. My mother is a priestess and head of the Order of Kir Zaleh, or rather the Order of the Path in the Esfir system. I don't know if you've heard of them, but they're based on the philosophy of former Jedi Shelantu Das, who was a "grey Jedi," or rather, people whose beliefs are similar to those who believe in the Potentium. I see your eyes glazing over. I agree. The Path believes in walking a path perfectly in between the light and dark sides of the Force. After the Jedi Purge, they heard from contacts on Coruscant and other places that the Empire was hunting Force-sensitives, so they hid for a time, and when no one came for them, they re-emerged and just called themselves Force philosophers.

"Before all that, though, my mother had a relationship with a Jedi knight, and I was the result. To her chagrin, though, I was Force-blind; I was a bit of a black hole in the Force. I couldn't sense it or be controlled by it. Very inconvenient for whatever plans the Order had.

"So, I was taught some of the Kir Zelah ways, but, now I do give my mother credit for this, I was allowed to choose my own "path," shall we say, and attend a regular school and then a university. I was not stuck on Esfir blathering about the Cosmic Force, the Unifying Force, blah, blah, blah. I worked as a leadership consultant for various companies until my position was eliminated. I went to Coruscant on the advice of a friend who had a job lead. Also, since I was from a noble house, a minor branch of a minor house, my friend was also able to finagle me an invitation to a reception the Emperor was having at the palace. Now, who's going to turn down an invitation to a glamorous party at the palace, right? It would also give me an opportunity to ask around about my father, to see if anyone remembered him from back in the day. Boy was I naive."

This was the first time Lyra had been anywhere like this, so she played it safe with a navy, strapless, mid-calf, velvet chemise. Over the whole dress was a sheer black tulle with tiny shimmering beads that gave a plum or purple sheen depending on the light. This paired with a sheer black shawl and black low-heeled sandals resulted in a simple yet elegant look. Safe. A reception at the palace was not the place to try something showy, at least not in Lyra's book.

Lyra took a taxi speeder to the palace entrance where her old friend Aari was waiting.

"Hey!" Aari said giving her a hug. "You look wonderful! Be careful, the Emperor might decide you're his new girlfriend."

"Yeah right," Lyra laughed. "I'm so glad you were able to get away from the hospital tonight. This will be much more fun having someone I can make snide comments with."

"Comment away! I should be okay tonight unless something drastic happens with one of my patients. Here we go, this way." Aari motioned Lyra forward, and they joined the line to be checked through security. After passing through security, Lyra and Aari made their way down the palace's Grand Corridor towards a large reception area. As they strolled along, they marveled at the size of the palace and the art work displayed.

"Look at these," Aari gestered. "These are Ch'hala trees. The sound vibrations cause them to change color."

"How beautiful," Lyra exclaimed. The trees lining the Grand Corridor shimmered in response to the conversation and laughter of the guests.

"You know," Aari said, "rumor has it that these trees are also a way to eavesdrop on people, to make sure they're not plotting bad things."

"I think you'd have to be stupid to plot right in the Emperor's palace. I do know that part of this complex is made up of the old Jedi temple. I imagine they still have records here. I'd love to look through them. My father was a Jedi master, you know. Beyond a few memories from when I was small, I only know what Mother has told me about him. I'd love to find out more. I wonder if anyone here knows more about the Jedi."

Right then, they arrived at a large reception hall. Scores of officials and other guests milled about the marble-lined room. Floating glow globes glided overhead. At the head of the room, a dias held an ornate gold and red chair. Not the official throne, but opulent enough to be for the Emperor.

"Oh my," Lyra said looking around, "it looks like people have rather different ideas on what 'cocktail attire' means." Right then, a scantily clad Dothan female passed by, swishing her tail suggestively behind her.

"Yep, well, we look fabulous and appropriate," Aari said, turning his head to watch the Dothan's tail.

At that moment, a herald pounded his staff on the floor. "His Imperial Majesty!"

The crowd fell silent and parted for the Emperor. The guests bowed deeply as Palpatine glided past, a tall, buxom human female on his arm. Lyra and Aari watched from the back of the room as Palpatine greeted favorites as he moved past. He settled into the chair on the dais, and waved the woman away. The musicians resumed, and the crowd continued their conversations.

"Oh wow, look, no don't look, but look! Lord Vader." Aari whispered looking over at Vader by the Emperor's side. "I had a patient once who was pretty well-connected, and she told me that Vader is not only the Emperor's enforcer, but is actually his heir. The smart people in the court stay well out of his way, and no one knows what's under that suit."

"Hmmm," Lyra stood on her toes to get a better view of the Emperor and Lord Vader. "He doesn't look too friendly, does he. How about we avoid that area and find the food."

"Good idea," Aari said, ushering her towards the hor d'oeuvres tables where they looked over an amazing assortment of mouth-watering items.

"You know," Lyra murmured, looking around to make sure no one else heard, "I never really realized until now how the Empire looks down on non-humans. I mean, of all the different life forms in the galaxy, most everyone here is human."

"Some, like the Faleens over there, are tolerated because of the power and wealth they have," Aari reached over and picked up a sugar-coated Xylan fruit pastry. "Things the Emperor can use," he said very softly.

"So I assume Vader over there is human," Lyra said, looking everywhere but at Lord Vader.

"I'd say so," Aari agreed. "Is it me, or is he like one of those paintings where the eyes follow you? I swear he seems to always be looking our way."

Lyra choked on her pastry and laughed. "I know! I doubt it though. We're not the rich and powerful here."

"Thanks goodness," Aari agreed.

Lyra and Aari soon joined a group that Aari knew from his work at the Imperial Medical Center. One man, a retired military chief of staff, had them all in tears from laughter with his tales of pulling his medical personnel out of various compromising situations around the galaxy.

"The Verpine soon found out that a nerve probe is not something you want up there!" Dr. Halryndor proclaimed.

Lyra gasped with laughter and searched her purse for a tissue to wipe away the tears from laughing. As everyone settled down, still snickering, Dr. Halryndor turned to her. "I don't believe we've heard where you're from."

"Aari and I grew up together on Esfir. We're both children of the desperately dull priestesses of Kir Zelah."

"Yep," Aari added. "We're the smart ones who broke away and became normal people."

"You got that right," Lyra nodded. "We both went to a normal university and got normal jobs. That's actually why I'm here on Coruscant, to interview for a job. Aari was nice enough to bring me along tonight. Plus, while I'm here, I might be able to find out information about my biological father since part of this palace is the old Jedi temple."

"Ah…" Dr. Halryndor's eyes grew wide. "The Jedi temple?"

"Yes, my biological father was a Jedi, and I had hoped to maybe find out something about him here, but maybe that's a bit far-fetched." As she said this, Lyra noted the nervous glances between others in their group.

Dr. Halryndor drew close. "A bit of advice, that's one topic you might want to avoid. The Jedi are not popular here." Raising his fingers to his lips, Dr. Halryndor made a turning the lock motion.

"Oh, sorry, I didn't realize." Lyra face grew red. "No more."

"Good girl. Now, I see my wife motioning for me. Time to go; we elderly turn in early. Nice to meet you, and good luck with the job search." Dr. Halryndor bade the rest of the group a good night and left.

The rest of the group soon dispersed, and Aari and Lyra made their way to another group nearby. Lyra soon forgot her faux pas and enjoyed the evening.

About an hour later, Aari was called back to the hospital. Not wanting to leave just yet, Lyra selected another glass of Corellian champagne from a passing tray and moved away from the party and down a corridor displaying artwork from the top artists of the universe. Wonderful pieces, what an opportunity to see such works up close, and without the crowds of a museum. Lyra paused before a scene of the beaches of Xantos VII, marveling at the changing colors of the tide.

"Excuse me, ma'am, this way please." Lyra turned and found a palace official standing before her. "Please, this way," he repeated, jestering with his right arm.

Lyra didn't budge. "I'm sorry, what is this about?"

"A very important person would like to speak with you. In the ballroom."

"I don't know any important people here," Lyra said, shaking her head.

"Please, this way," Mr. High and Mighty Official said firmly. "Follow me."

Lyra followed the official into the ballroom ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble. Over the last hour, most professionals had departed, and the remaining guests were more of a salacious nature. Hardened, with an undertone of sex and violence, laughing too long and too loudly. The official led her to a group near the head of the room. Milling about were several well-dressed men arm in arm with about five "ladies," each in a very flashy and very revealing dress. The smell of alcohol and lust lingered over the group. As Lyra approached, the group parted, and Lyra gasped.

"Oh yes, here she is. Well my dear, you have created a bit of a stir this evening." Emperor Palpatine shifted away from the scantily clad Dithan and moved to the center of the group and stood right in front of Lyra. Lyra was so taken by surprise that she barely registered Lord Vader, who had just re-entered the party through a side door.

"Your Majesty," Lyra stammered and bowed, remembering to subtly place her clutch to her chest to avoid flashing the Emperor. Although he'd probably love it.

"Not many people have the temerity to come to the Imperial Palace and ask about the Jedi." The group politely laughed at the Emperor's comment.

Lyra's face burned. She swallowed reflexively. "My apologies, Your Majesty. I… I was just hoping to find information on my biological father, that was all. He was a Jedi…" she said, trailing off.

"Surely you know the Jedi were exterminated after their treasonous rebellion." the Emperor said, not smiling this time. "Your father is most certainly dead." The Emperor turned to move back to his informal throne.

Lyra forced herself to stand up straight. "Your Majesty, my father actually died when I was a small child, long before the Jedi rebellion. I met him a few times when I was very small and wanted to know more about him as a man, not so much as a Jedi master." Is it possible to have a hard time hearing over your own heart beating?

Palpatine paused in mid-turn and looked back at Lyra. "A Jedi master? Who was your father?" he rasped.

"His name, Your Majesty, was Qui-Gon Jinn." Lord Vader's head turned sharply in her direction.

"He was a master but not on the council," Lyra noted, briefly glancing over at Vader and then back to the Emperor.

Palpatine turned back to Lyra. "Jedi were not supposed to have relationships. Are you certain this man was your father?"

"Yes, Your Majesty, Jinn and my mother, a priestess of Kir Zelah, had a casual relationship for several years. When I was four, he visited, and she introduced me to him as his daughter."

"Strange, Jinn was strong in the Force. I sense nothing from you."

Lyra smiled and shook her head. "No. When I was small, the priestesses discovered that I'm what they call a "black hole" in the Force. I cannot sense the Force at all," Lyra responded, careful to leave off any mention of how other Force sensitives, careful to keep a low profile in these times, could not sense or manipulate her with the Force.

Palpatine suddenly lost interest. "Stop your questions. You are treading on dangerous ground." With a wave of his hand, he dismissed Lyra and turned to the Dithan.

"Maybe you'd like to party with us," one of the women in the group called out to Lyra. Lyra looked over at a woman who had her arm draped around a smirking court official. The woman smiled suggestively at Lyra and slowly and exaggeratedly ran her tongue around the edge of her lips.

Okay, um, no.

"Sorry," Lyra smiled politely at the woman, "I've got to be going." Lyra nodded at the group and bowed slightly in the Emperor's direction and turned away. The group burst into laughter as Lyra moved off.

Lyra made her way across the reception area towards the opposite exit. Lyra glanced back towards the dias as she walked. The Emperor was in a conversation with the barely dressed Dithan. Vader was still there, standing off to one side near the dias and looking in Lyra's direction.

"Hello," a voice murmured right in her ear. "You look lovely tonight. Weren't you just talking with Lord Vader? Why waste your time with him? I can give you exactly what he can't." The voice laughed softly as an arm slid around Lyra's waist and a tongue ran around the rim of her ear.

Lyra spun away from the arm. "Stop that!" she said sternly. A hand grabbed her wrist and pulled her back.

"Take your hands off me!" Outraged, Lyra spun around to face a tall Falleen looking at her like she was a prime steak to devour. He practically licked his lips. Prince Xixor.

"Now, now, none of that. Aren't you a nice one." Xixor pulled her close and ground his pelvis into her.

Infuriated, Lyra exclaimed, "Let me go, now!" Apparently the good ole Falleen pheromones don't work on Force black holes.

Xixor laughed. "What will you do, huh? You're lucky. Most women would love to spend time with me. Now why wouldn't you want to be my friend?" Xixor's hand closed around Lyra's breast.

That's it. Lyra tensed and as she raised her knee, Xixor, wise to that move, twisted out of range. Laughing, he grabbed the back of her head. Lyra wasn't quite sure what he was saying, because all she could see was a wrist right near her mouth when she twisted her head just so. Lyra bit. Hard.

"You bitch!" Xixor roared. The crowd near then stopped to watch. Several laughed. Xixor let go, and before Lyra could get away, he backhanded her right in the face. Blinded by horrific pain, Lyra fell backwards and landed hard, hitting her head on the marble floor, her clutch flying in one direction and a shoe in the other. Holding a hand to her nose, Lyra sat up quickly and scrambled to her feet. Guards were rushing to restrain Xixor. Lyra spotted her purse lying nearby. She limped over and grabbed it, then found her shoe. Luckily, her skirt had not come up. No one, of course, came forward to help her. Still with a hand under her nose, which by now was pouring blood, Lyra darted out the entrance and down to the nearby ladies' room. Feeling faint, Lyra grabbed a hand towel and held it to her nose while she sank into a chair. A couple of women passed her by, looking at her curiously.

Lyra tilted her head back and held the towel to her throbbing nose. Best to get ice on it soon and get to a medical droid for the knot on her head and the pain in her left elbow. Probably fractured given that it hurt like hell to move. Lyra thought through the route to the exit. She would have to get back to the Grand Corridor and then proceed down it quite a ways. There was no easier way out. If she could get the blood to stop, then maybe she wouldn't attract much attention. Also, where was Xixor and his people? Would they be after her? Best to get out of here as soon as she could.

Lyra rose to her feet. Stuffing the towel into her purse, she grabbed another one. Terribly sorry to steal from the Palace, but they'd have to understand. She peered out the door and darted out towards the Grand Corridor.

"There, there she is. You. Halt!" A guard stepped out in front of Lyra. "Come with us."

"Prince Xixor attacked me. I'd like to fill out a complaint."

"Move." The guard was joined by another, who grabbed Lyra by the shoulder and spun her around. Lyra gasped as pain radiated up her arm from her elbow. She followed the first guard down the corridor to a lift and up several floors. The door opened to a long corridor lined with maroon carpeting and gold fixtures. The first guard stepped out. The second guard gave Lyra a small push, and she exited too. They move down a corridor and approached a set of doors guarded by two red-clad Imperial guards.

"We have the woman the Emperor requested." The first guard said. Another guard stepped out from a side door and motioned them in. Inside the room, one guard searched Lyra's purse, not saying anything about the bloody towel in it. Another guard ran a security wand over her despite her having cleared security when she entered the palace. Satisfied that she had no weapon, the guards let her keep the towel pressed to her nose and escorted her back out to the hall. One guard nodded to the Imperial guards, and the doors opened. The first guard entered, and the second guard nudged Lyra to follow. They entered a spacious and elegantly furnished room overlooking the cityscape. Both guards bowed. Xixor turned and looked at Lyra triumphantly. Emperor Palpatine and Lord Vader also regarded her. The raspy sound of Lord Vader's breathing stood out without the noise of the crowd to muffle it.

The carpet's dark green. How odd. Oh, look how the lights of the city reflect off Lord Vader's helmet. Does he get lint on that cape? Lyra felt faint and swayed as nausea rose. She supported her left arm with her right hand and stared at the carpet, concentrating on staying upright.

"Thank you, your majesty. I will take great pleasure with this one. I'm not used to being denied by a woman." Xixor moved around Lyra and looked her up and down. "It will be amusing to teach her her place."

"Master," Lyra flinched at the sound of Vader's voice. "I too desire this woman. A reward for putting down the Kessel revolt.

"Your majesty!" Xixor exclaimed.

"Now, now, Prince Xixor. Lord Vader has a point. He has well earned his reward, and it will be amusing to see what he does with this woman. All right Lord Vader. This woman is yours to use and dispose of as you see fit."

"Thank you, my master." Vader said, bowing to the Emperor. He turned to the first guard by Lyra. "Take her to my shuttle."

"Your majesty, please!" Xixor protested.

"That is enough, Xixor, you may go." Palpatine turned to Vader. "Now, a situation has come up with the delegation from Onderon. Pay them a visit..."


Vader strode through the vast palace corridors, a swirl of emotion. Any thought of his first master and savior brought the same pattern of thoughts and feelings: gratitude, dismay, guilt, anger, and worst of all, regret. In the very back of his mind lurked the thoughts Vader didn't want to acknowledge: Qui-Gon Jinn had saved him and without him, Vader would never have become a Jedi. By choosing the dark, Vader had betrayed everything Jinn had stood for. If Vader ever saw the chance to make it up to Jinn, if that were possible, he would leap at it. That chance had just been rescued from Xixor and would still need to be protected from him.

Several minutes out from the palace landing bay, Vader radioed his shuttle. "Prepare the shuttle for my arrival. Take the woman to the chief steward at my residence. Tell him to put her in a guest room and give her what she needs."

"Yes my lord. Is she free to move about?"

Vader paused. "No, not for the moment."