Chapter One

I dislike being on the Imperial City.

My master knows it. I can see it in his eyes, feel it in the smirking satisfaction when he orders me to come to the planet. I believe it is why he orders me here, why I must remain here rather than where I would be useful to the Empire. I ask him why I must come, and he merely tells me that he wishes for my rest.

The planet has changed since the times of the Republic. Its nature is more stifled, more subdued. None can forget the shadow above them of the Emperor's Palace, looming over their heads, its black spires seeing everything. It is ever-present, choking even mere whispers of rebellions or plots. Stormtroopers are stationed everywhere. Passers-by do not look at each other, do not exchange conversational words even in greeting, for fear of being overheard. My Master's spies are everywhere. The aura of fear, nauseating and claustrophobic, seems to stream away from the capitol in rivulets.

The Senatorial apartments have long been destroyed. What is the use for them if you no longer truly have senators? I did not even consider it when it happened, did not spare a second glance for the flowing, beautiful architecture that was replaced with gray uniformity. It was not like I could actually appreciate aesthetics anymore. The suit's substitute for eyesight no longer has the ability to recognize beauty.

More than anything, I hate the feeling of restlessness that invades me when I am here. Relaxation is impossible more than anything. I feel useless, edgy. The fear of the populace that I should be feeding off of, glorifying from, only manages to reflect onto me. Anywhere else I would feel secure, would revel in the power that nourishes me. The Dark Side of the Force is insufficient now, and I am agitated constantly.

I am not in control on this planet. I answer only to the Emperor, yet it seems like there is something unseen that influences me here, taints the dark pool of anger that swirls within me. Memories stir in me, my mind returning to patterns of thought that are completely forbidden. Voices from long ago capture me, radiating with simple power that I am unable to resist.

I stand at the window, staring out at the sky for hours, unresponsive to anything, immersed in my own thoughts.

It is harder to repress Anakin Skywalker now. Doubts creep in where there should only be power. Tenderness, dizzying and strange, assaults impenetrable shields of anger. I can do nothing but think, think of people who should be forgotten, of a woman whose name I am too afraid to even breathe.

Bitterness seeps in, clouding memories of love and happiness. Her voice betrays me over and over again, her eyes shining with disgusted revulsion. Part of me echoes the hatred in her eyes, and everything turns inward.

I am pulling more and more on buried grievances and wounds, sinking deeper into the darkness to pull me from the light. I am becoming hopelessly twisted, even more than before. I long to forget, to leave again the shackles of my old life behind, to ascend to further glory. But I am not rising; it feels only as if I am sinking into the mire of despair. I cannot revel in the Dark Side, in power. They are slipping through my fingers, and I am drowning.

I am continually assaulted by waking dreams, here. Nightmares have followed me from sleep to life, and I can find rest nowhere. They speak to the buried spirit of Anakin Skywalker, resurrecting him from where he is shackled. And I am awash again in throbbing, destroying hatred, wounds that are being ripped open. Part of me wants to feel the pain, wants to immerse myself in it for all that I have done.

That part of me, dead elsewhere, so far buried as to be nonexistent, pulses with anguish and feeling here. I have no self-control, no mastery over myself.

I hate Coruscant.

I have an apartment. It is suitably lavish, filled with everything that Sidious's Second-in-command deserves. Furniture coats it in decadence, lavish with everything as possibly expensive and opulent as it could hope to be. I have a chamber in which air flows into my useless lungs, a chamber in which I am free for a few precious moments.

But I am not useful.

I cannot repress the other life within me, the life that is Skywalker's. When I am commanding armies, I am Vader, fully and completely, and I am an emissary of the Dark, my Master's servant. Power swirls around me, others' fears sustains me and I am content. But here, emotions sweep around me, across me, and I am suffocated. I remember her here, and there is nothing separating me from the terrible radiance that is her presence in my memory.


I watch the sun set, my eyes seeing only a blur of color, nothing beautiful or practical. I am reminded again of my hate for Obi-Wan Kenobi. He has taken everything from me.

Something is calling to me, suddenly. It is difficult to name the feeling, difficult to place. It soft, yet contains infinite power, speaking through a barrier from far away. It is the voice of the Force, attempting to regain power over me. It calls to Anakin Skywalker, whispers to the dormant instincts within me.

Anywhere else, I would bury it with a surge of irate fury, but here, I am helpless to resist. My hands clench around each other as the urge grows to a compulsion, a desire within myself.

Go, a voice whispers. Walk among the people.

I cannot resist, finally giving in, stalking away from the window. I have destroyed anything here that reminds me, however faintly, of my past. The decorum is self-mocking in its splendor, because the memories are inward and they can never be purged.

There is nothing to disguise me from the people as I exit my dwelling. The suit was not built to allow me to merge, to become another anonymous face. Furtive glances will follow me now, filled with fear and supplication. No matter my purpose, I am inseparable with the Empire in every mind. I am merely an extension of its purpose, of its might.

I bow my head, the urge to walk among the citizens of the Empire not diminished, only growing. I can feel their glances, the quickly-hushed whispers as I sweep past them on the street. I can taste their thoughts, can feel the aura of the Force darkening with terror. I am nothing more than a harbinger of doom, to them. I am less, and more, than human.

My eyes do not take in the surroundings, as the whisper within me is leading, not my own sense of direction. It drives me farther and farther away from my home, into the criminal underbelly of the planet. Crime still thrives; not even strict Imperial rule can stop that.

Raucous conversations held in loud voices quiet into murmurs at my approach. I look at nothing, as the whisper within me has grown until it is the complete and total focus of my attention.

Run, the voice within me shouts, and I do, scattering inhabitants, something urgent tugging at me. I can feel it, and it is the source of anxiety, the cause. Everything that has been surreal suddenly clicks into focus. Nothing matters anymore, not the Empire, not the repressed memories, not my hate or my anger, only the very real presence that I feel. It is growing, slowly, and I recognize it, from long ago.

Hidden thoughts are becoming revealed, dormant dreams that I long thought dead are awakening, pulling at me in the tide, the ebbing currents of the Force. They are mine, and they push me onwards, with an anxiety I had not known I possessed. I can feel the devastation behind me, can hear the terrified sobs of those who have felt my presence, but they do not concern me, not now.

The whisper is now a scream, pulling at me, tugging at my very essence, almost to the point of ripping me apart.

I slow as I reach my destination, and everything falls into place. The universe spins sickly for a moment, everything turning over on itself, fear and love and power all combining into one explosion.

A woman is crouched in a corner, her arms upraised, shielding her head as if to forestall some inevitable wrath that will come upon her. She is trembling, I realize, and the revelation shakes me. Her arms do not drop, but she opens her eyes slowly, tears of dread falling from her cheeks.

Time stops as her eyes regard mine. I do not see the terror there, the tempest of terror and bewilderment. I do not see the cruelty of age on her face, the hints of hardships. I only see her.