The Empty Grave
Part 1: A New Journey
Chapter 6

It didn't last, while he could survive for almost half an hour with out his mask Vader still needed the almost constant supply of whatever was in there. The good thing was he had rigged it to ration the stuff he was breathing. As the days turned into weeks he helped Dawn with her research, he described the Force as the energy of life and while the concept of a soul wasn't new to him the idea that they were the same stunned him. It also helped with the whole "What is the dark side"

As far as the two of them could understand the soul was a power source based in balance. When you went to one extreme mood or another it corrupted that power and tapping that corrupted power corrupted you. After that revelation Dawn joked that they'll find the answer to life next. While figuring out what had happened was easy they couldn't think of a way back for him, if there was a way back. In essence the combined power that both he and Willow drew on in one instant ripped space and time apart. While he just wanted to leave the crypt Willow desperately wanted Tara back. This pulled him through the hole the two of them had created. Then he had fallen through the same portal that the Key was used to open because the whole place was still unstable, or was. The act of a balancing force of evil to Buffy's act of sacrifice, which on the whole was good, stabilised the whole region.

It was shortly after that discovery Dawn decided to spend the rest of the summer veg-ing out over cartoons after brain overload.


Buffy meanwhile made a decision to look for another job between slaying vampires and trying to keep up with the two researchers. Not that much of a leap after the two of them forgot to wake her up for a week. Buffy hated pink slips but Dawn still found it funny to stick some colour on Vader.

Something like a month after he had arrived the three of them were at the table, Dawn had started a discussion that had been going on and off for most of that month. She found it strange that he insisted on being called Vader. Not Darth Vader or Anakin, just simply Vader. His counter argument was that he wasn't either of those people anymore, not Sith and not a Jedi so pretending to be either of those people was wrong. Buffy was on his side which prompted Dawn to joke about Angel that left an uncomfortable silence. They had heard that Angel was missing and had avoided thinking about it.


Over the weeks Vader had come to see this little family of theirs as his friends that included the young man who came around every other day but in his heart he knew he could not stay. The damage he had done in his Sith days was still to be corrected. He had seen the images created that had told his story to everyone in the world and he knew that a great many people died because of him and the emperor. Despite his friends assurance that it was fiction he knew it was real and that he must do something about it.

'I have been thinking. There has to be a way for me to get back to where I belong. The only lead I have is this Lucas, I must talk to him.' he broke the silence as he put down his empty glass.

'Well your in the right state but I don't think he'll believe you and he's not listed…' Buffy shrugged

'I was thinking, what do you call it; "Road trip"?'

'That would be cool, the four of us on a road trip.'

'Sorry little Dawn but your sister is needed here. I told you that there is a Dark Force power rising in this town. She must stand against it as I must make a stand against the Dark Side I left in my home galaxy.'

'So what, you're leaving?' Dawn asked, sounding confused.

'I thought you said there's nowhere for you.' stated Buffy

'There is nowhere for me, as much as it pains me that includes here. You have been my friends and my early guides in this world and I can't thank you enough but I must try. They might just be characters to you but they are my children, somewhere. I have to find and help them.'

He had told them he was leaving only a few days ago but it felt like forever. He thanked Xander for lending him the old camping gear and said his goodbyes before casting a glamour that changed him into a normal Joe you wouldn't look at twice.


Buffy had volunteered to walk him to the bus station, on the way she thanked him for helping Dawn. Over the weeks he was staying over he had learnt a great deal but he had also taught. Thanks to him Dawn survived summer school and aced her catch up exams. 'She is a bright young girl, more powerful than you can imagine and passionate.'

'What do you mean "Powerful"?' they turned the corner.

'I sense a great power hidden within her. Whatever she was is still within her, a green energy. If she ever taps it great or terrible things will happen, soon she will wish to experiment. You must find away to stop her, train her in your world. Do not let her tread the path of the Force, with her temperament she would be unpredictable and even more unstoppable than myself.' He looked her in the eyes, she knew that it was just a glamour Dawn had found for him but the all too human eyes bore into her.

'The Key… you can see that?'

'You forget I too was born of the Force, as was she. My true destiny is clouded from all but the glimpses I have seen in dreams. Her's is too far in the future for anyone to understand.'

'Your true destiny? You die throwing that Palpatine guy into a reactor.'

'Perhaps that was once true but now I tread a different path. To where I will find out one day but for now my return is paramount.' They were at the station and if she was honest with herself Buffy was glad he was leaving. This small talk had disturbed her in more ways than one. 'Train her, teach her and take her mind off magic's or the Force. Let her study, prepare her for the future. She needs a purpose. Without one she has no path.'

Buffy was so caught up in her thoughts she could only mutter a thanks, as he got on the bus he nodded to her and went to the back.

Getting home she saw the amount of Magic books and lore that Dawn had read though and had a brief flash of panic. 'Hey Dawnie, looking for something to do?'


Dawn was bursting with energy as normal, she had made plans for how to spend the last week of the holidays and completely ignored them. Now in time honoured tradition she would cram it all into the last day… Quite how she was going to brake her leg, to get out of the first few weeks, was still a question but she had a whole day to figure it out.

Skipping down the stairs She picked up the post, yep a letter from Willow. There was also two bills, an advert and one unknown. It was addressed to all of them which meant she could read it without Buffy complaining. It was hand written but she didn't recognise who it was from. For a brief moment she thought it was Spike but when she started reading it she knew it wasn't:-

Dear friends

How are you fairing in the world? It has been several of your weeks since we last spoke and it would be behove of me not to at least attempt to contact you. I have met with George and discussed the situation with him. Once he had calmed down and recovered we became fast friends. While he has no idea how this could come to be he assures me that he used no magic or Force abilities to describe my existence in such detail.

At first I would have been sceptical but his recently shaken belief that magic was impossible is quite convincing. I have since discovered he possesses a small stone, that while innocent in appearance, is in fact a piece of advanced technology that accesses the Force. As far as I can understand it is an impressive long range communication device that can access a Force receptive humans mind. While George does not have an extensive connection he does have limited access. I believe this allows him to receive the device's transmissions on a sub-conscious level. This has helped me immeasurably for I now have the coordinates for my home galaxy. I have yet to discover how much time has passed or a means to travel there but a large problem has been solved.

I decided that knowledge of this would only disturb him further and spared him the confusion. Further to that decision I left to investigate the possibility of a mystical/technological hybrid of similar manufacture to facilitate my return home. As such I am now travelling through this continent trading information and simple menial service for other information or lodgings. I have found that my old knack of fixing things has not completely deserted me! Interestingly I have been able to repair many of you automobiles including a two wheel vehicle I salvaged for my own use.

I understand that you, little Dawn, are rapidly approaching an important event know as the first day of high school. I suggest you do not attempt anything reckless in these last few days of freedom as your sister would most likely see through any foolish attempts to extend them. Unfortunately that is not your families only problem. While I am unable to discern quite what the true meaning of the portents are I know that something is coming. The Dark Side is clouding my ability to foresee upcoming events in any great detail. I do however find a phrase constantly repeated:- "From beneath you it devours." While I lack any further knowledge I have been able to discern it is directly connected to the Hellmouth and your family.

While I do not wish to finish with such an ominous statement I find that there is little more to say. May the Force always be with you and guide you through the dark days ahead. Not specifically during Dawn's High School adventures but I believe they should be included.

Yours sincerely

Vader

Dawn read the last sentence and laughed, Vader has actually told a joke! It wasn't a good one but you had to know what to expect. That and the thought of him riding a motorbike like a hells angel was enough to keep her smiling all day.


Andrew sulked. There was nothing to do, at least when he was an evil mastermind he could make plans to defeat Buffy. Her or the locks in the female only gym. Now here he was in slayer central as a "guest-age". Just last night Buffy had killed the freaky super-vamp, destroying the First's plan. While that was exiting the morning after was incredibly dull.

Dragging his feet down the hall he watched Dawn skip down the stairs just in time for the post. That wasn't fair how could he steal the post now. She flicked through the letters as she always did just in case, Andrew had figured that out while he was still tied up. Suddenly she squeaked with triumph at one of them, tearing through the envelope she rushed into the kitchen.

Picking up the scraps Andrew read the Galactic Basic some one had scrawled on the bottom corner. While he was a bit rusty with the Star Wars language he was still the only one of the trio who could read the pictographs (something he was particularly proud of). It read "To my friends, please be careful.'

Andrew followed Dawn, 'Who's that from?' He wanted to know who could write in Basic let alone someone they knew.

The girl just laughed; 'Here! Read and find out.'

Dear friends

I wish I could have written earlier but I know you wouldn't have had the time to read my words. By now you know what it is that you are facing, a living manifestation of the Dark Side. Over the last two months I have heard rumours that you are gathering the Slayer line there, I have also foreseen the great battle that Buffy fought the night before this letter arrived. Congratulations are in order but far from accurate. I have seen much now that the First has revealed itself. It's hope is to inspire despair and weaken you. In the case of last night that backfired however still more threats rest on the horizon. The only way to protect this world and save yourselves is trust, friendship and unity. No matter where that leads you through the light side of the Force will always be at you side, as will I in sprit.

I did not wish to leave you on such a depressing theme so I started with the warning so that I can move past it. My journey around this world has lead me beyond the boundaries of land. I am now what you call well travelled. My knowledge of the Force has increased with leaps and bounds as has my information of this world.

My main goal was to learn exactly where my "universe" is. I have learned that not all is as we thought. My home is not as distant as we thought, through part time employment at various observatories and deep space sensor installations I now know my galaxy is one of the many in this reality! What is more is a theory of mine that my galaxy was once colonised by a race of hyper-advanced humans that built the transmitter that George was using (I have, since my last letter, deactivated it). It is possible that this world is either the original source world of this race (in which case I am from a far and distant future) or that you are the descendants of this race after surviving a cataclysm unrecorded in your limited history.

I am back in this country now and looking into developing your own technology to explore this theory in more detail. I have examined various ways to investigate this. The most obvious is to research using your primitive computers. However I may have to improve upon them to bring them up to date. I find the standard visual interface you call Windows quite unsatisfactory.

I wish you and your guests good fortune and may the Force be with you all.

Vader

'This is from Darth Vader?' Andrew gasped and Dawn just laughed again.


Dawn didn't much feel like going through the post again. To be honest she didn't feel like getting up. She had made a mistake and thrown Buffy out of the house last night. How could she have done that, Buffy might have been acting like a jackass the last few… well months… but they should have talked about it sooner. Or tried something else, anything else not abandon her.

Looking through the post she saw Andrew watching her again. It was getting freaky now, she should never have told him but she felt sorry for the king of the geeks. Perhaps if he knew how cool Vader was he would at least try and be cool himself. Not much of a chance but it was the same as meeting Darth Vader. Amongst all the letters for the Slayer want-a-bees and adverts was a little folded envelope with a printed address. Handwritten inside was one note in Basic.

You've done what you had to. If, as you say, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" can something good come out of something bad? Don't feel sad little Dawn everything will be alright.

Dawn folded the scrap of paper into her pocket. She believed him.


Buffy looked out over the crater. Nothing was left of Sunnydale, of the Hellmouth or of Spike. Now that they had gone and what made her unique now made her rare it was the end of one life and the start of another. A new, better life. One which she was older, wiser and knew absolutely not to buy a home on a Hellmouth again.

Into this quiet scene came the sound of a van coming down the road. In the dead silence the Fed-Ex van slowly pulled up next to the school bus and a man stepped out with a good sized box before stopping and staring out at the rubble.

'Urm Hello?' asked Xander.

'Hello. I've got a package for a Miss Buffy Summers?' the guy looked shell shocked and Buffy decided to let it be. She held he hand up as the gang pointed to her. 'Here Miss Summers, can you sign here?' she did, he smiled turned around and went back down the road in reverse.

'That was… strange. Who's it from?' Giles asked.

Buffy opened the letter attached to the top and read it out loud:

"Congratulations! As I promised Dawn everything did turn out for the best. With the notable exception of your good friend. I must warn you that I foresaw this outcome several months ago as did the First. I believe this is why it started killing the Slayer line. Amusingly this is what lead to you having the idea! This is the last letter I will be able to send to you. I recently discovered that a device exists that I could possibly use to transport myself back to my home. I have included some medical equipment I procured and some cash to help you survive and to pay back what I owe your family. I do not envy your responsibilities Buffy your new path is one dedicated to guiding new Slayers in theirs and you thought you could have a holiday.

May the Force be with you and your whole family no matter how distant from now until the end of days.

Vader."

'You think that's the last we're going to hear of him?' Willow asked.

'The Force surrounds us and is part of us…' Dawn started

'…and everything is part of everything else. We might not hear but we'll know.' Buffy finished. 'You know what I want to do now? Have good meal and get some sleep.'

End Part One:- A New Journey

Authors postscript:-

That was the end of the first episode of "The Empty Grave".Part Two should be up on the Stargate SG-1 pages in the next few weeks. Yes the device Vader finds is the Stargate and what does he get up to with SG-1, a super charged motorbike and extensive magical/Force powers?

Mountain King
A.K.A. Thomas Fishwick
Written:- June to October 2005
Posted :- October 2005 to January 2006