Hey all, my German class canceled our quiz, as such I will have chapter 9 for you! Bet I surprised you, didn't I, updating this soon? Oh, and I apologize for any formatting problems, randomly deleted some things from last chapter, perhaps it will be better behaved this time around.
Ocean's Depths: Chapter Nine
Vader stared at the tiny holographic projection before him. The small projection knelt before him. The dark Lord of the Sith was less than pleased with his minion. Theron should have had Fett by now. Even giving allowances for Fett's unusual skill the hunter was still young and should have been captured by now.
"I am sorry my Lord, the bounty hunter escaped. It seems he is not alone. There was a woman…" Theron's voice gave away his anger. Beneath the dark mask Vader smiled, he could use that anger. The man was already his, but it was always good to reinforce such bonds.
"You allowed a mere bounty hunter to escape you. Perhaps you are not as useful as you claimed."
Vader was rewarded by the confident look being wiped from the other man's face as he answered, "I will increase my efforts. He cannot avoid me for long."
"I should hope not, for your sake." Vader paused for emphasis, allowing the man's fear to reach him. Another opening for the dark side, but one useful only in underlings. He allowed himself to feel no such fear. "I will need the hunter soon if I am to implement my plans. If you do not complete your task I will have to find someone better suited to these duties."
"Of course my Lord."
Vader disconnected the com-link, dismissing Theron from his mind. If the man failed then he would be replaced, but the true irony was that even should he succeed Vader would no longer have need of him.
The Lord of the Sith leaned back in his chair considering. Fett was a businessman after all. Perhaps if he resorted to less violent measures he could draw the hunter in. Even though his contact with the bounty hunter had been slight he had felt the raw rage that motivated most of Fett's actions. It would not be difficult to reach that rage and to tap into it with the dark side, then the hunter would be his.
But this pleasant thought was interrupted as he remembered his underling's words. There was another involved, a woman.
Vader frowned; it could not be that Jedi. He thought back, trying to bring forth the memories of his last meeting with the volatile bounty hunter.
As his feet had touched the surface of the planet he had felt an overwhelming presence in the Force. It had seemed as if every living thing on the planet was alive with that power. It took a moment for him to get his bearings amidst so much of the light side of the Force but once he did it was almost an intoxicating feeling standing amidst so much power.
He had made his way deeper into the shadowed forest, between the ancient tree trunks. Worlds such as these amazed him even now. They were so different from the harsh desert world on which he'd been born; though he had never been able to decide if he enjoyed worlds so full of vibrant life.
He had found that it was on these worlds full of beautiful plants and animals were even more dangerous than the harsh deserts he had once been so familiar with. He could sense the predators of this world watching their movements, but they in turn could sense him and remained wary.
But as he had stepped into the clearing that power had faded. All that remained was a faint echo but even that faded before he could properly examine it. Rage had built in him as he had surveyed the destruction. At this memory the feeling of rage returned, drawing him deeper into the past.
At the stairs of the small crumbling shrine a young woman lay unconscious. Her clothes reminded him of a Jedi Padawan's, but there was no Force presence from her. And yet the fine ash that coated her had the shrine… The dark lord stood considering.
But a small movement drew his attention away. He glanced at the battered form sprawled on the ground. The Mandelorian armor was familiar, disturbingly so. He searched his mind, calling forth the name of the man who had last worn such armor, Fett.
So this must be the boy he had seen so long ago on another battlefield; Jango Fett's son. It seemed the boy was following in his father's footsteps, interesting. He stood over the fallen bounty hunter. He felt the hunter become aware of his presence.
"You destroyed the Record?" His voice was harsh. He saw no reason to conceal his displeasure.
The injured bounty hunter nodded slowly, seeming to struggle to remain conscious. Vader reached for the bounty hunter's mind, frowning as he felt resistance. He withdrew slightly, it was not worth the effort, and he had no desire to break the young hunter. He may yet have a use for this one if the rage he felt even now from the young man was any indication.
But someone would have to pay for allowing this to happen. Well, he may as well remind that insect middleman of his place, and it would be an excellent way to relieve some tension, more to himself than the bounty hunter Vader muttered, "I was too late once again. Crissc will pay for this." He turned back to Fett, "The girl?"
The bounty hunter answered him, though his voice was already failing, "Nothing… Jedi programmed coordinates into… her… hired me… to destroy…"
"Strange, I sensed an amazingly powerful amount of the Force here. I was sure…" Lord Vader spoke to himself considering at the Syntas' limp form.
The bounty hunter spoke again, but Vader barely heard him, too caught up in his own thoughts, "The Record did…"
After a long moment he faced the bounty hunter once again. "It is possible. Though even if it was her, there doesn't seem to be much left now. You destroyed something very valuable to me. I don't appreciate having things I want disintegrated bounty hunter."
"I will leave you here to live or die as you chose. It is a fitting punishment. Test your skills bounty hunter." He turned away from Fett, his cloak swirling behind him. A squad of clone troopers, their armor now slightly modified to go with their new name turned to follow him.
Vader clamped down on the rage as they boarded the ship. There was nothing that could be done now. He would have to turn to other means to find and either turn or destroy the Jedi that remained in the galaxy. As the ship lifted off Vader remembered a battle that had come and gone over a decade ago.
Perhaps now he could make use of his newly acquired servant. It would be a good test of his skills and his loyalty. But that man would not be the only one to play a role this time. The young bounty hunter had involved himself in the plans of the Lord of the Sith. He would not easily escape from this.
If the era of the Jedi was to truly end it must be drowned in the dark power of the Empire. Each Jedi must be obliterated or turned. Though he could not explain it this task seemed more important than any he had ever strived to complete.
He felt no remorse for those pompous idiots. It was their refusal to understand that had begun to twist what had once been beautiful and so the future of a young man not much older than the bounty hunter was now had changed. Looking back on the choices made and the actions taken that seemed the only explanation.
Coming back to the present Vader considered Theron. One of the last of his kind the man was certainly a useful servant, but Vader did not yet know if he could trust him. The dark side was tempting and as he well knew difficult to resist. But there were moments when it seemed that the man had not entirely surrendered to it. A strange thought considering he was without morals of any kind. But then he did not doubt Theron had an agenda of his own. Something in the man's eyes disturbed the Lord of the Sith.
He would be wary nothing could be allowed to go wrong this time. It was too important. He felt as if he stood at a crossroads. What happened here would decide not just his fate, but the fate of far greater things.
Alone in his shape Theron watched the planet below him drift peacefully through space. The light of its ancient sun cast harsh shadows on the man's face. There was no sound except for the quiet thrum of the small ship's engines.
His eyes never moved from the surface of that dead world. Even its atmosphere seemed frozen in some long ago moment never to move again. All of its dark surface bathed in the light of its ancient red sun, it seemed to be calling out a warning against such foolishness to any who came across it.
He remained motionless for a moment longer before reaching for the thrusters; pulling the ship about he sped beyond the edge of the system's gravity well, jumping to hyperspace without looking back.
Behind the fleeing ship the planet remained as silent as it had been for many years and would now remain for many years to come, abandoned by even this last man who had claimed it as a home world.
Syntas stirred uneasily in her sleep in the small rundown inn she had found in the spaceport of Mon Calamari. Her eyes moved beyond closed lids, as if trying to escape the torrent of images that poured through her.
Great forces gathered and mixed. People were born and people died. The Force moved through it all, connecting them, remembering them. It touched each of these people, marking them and changing them. From the largest to the smallest, both light and dark. Their lives spun through the sleeping woman's mind.
Syntas whimpered as the darkness grew. Again the burning man stood in her mind and rage washed over her, only to be replaced by a frightened child and then a man his finger poised over some sort of computer panel and finally a wave of destruction that burned all other images from her mind in a single fiery sweep.
Syntas sat up gasping; she could feel tears running down her face though she did not know when they had begun. Her face and hands felt hot as if she had stood too close to a fire. Whatever had gone through her mind was hidden by a strange image of flame. She took a deep breath, hugging her knees to her chest, alone. As she sat there, trying to banish the nightmare from her mind real tears ran from her face, landing on her arms and knees.
Fett carefully put all other thoughts from his mind. He had business to finish and a promise to keep. But he could not completely distance himself from the thoughts of the young woman who had so completely overturned his life.
He felt torn between his two promises. He could abandon neither but it was not he who had made that choice. Fett felt the familiar rage come to the surface once again. She had chosen. He should have know from the start what the choice would be.
The rage gave him the strength he needed to push her from his mind as it had done so many times before. He opened his mind to it, using it, allowing it to give him the strength he would need to do what must be done.
His decision made he reached to activate the engines of the Slave 1, taking it down into the planet's atmosphere.