As incredible as it seems, there is actually a chance that the Rebels will destroy the Death Star. Arrogance, that's what it is…, sheer arrogance! I tried to warn those simpering toadies not to put so much faith in a space station, but what do they know? They have no idea of the true nature of the universe, of the power that exists beyond their narrow scope of understanding. And now it has come to this; the rebel alliance, a ragged assembly of riff raff from across the galaxy, has managed to amass a fleet large enough to pose a real threat to this mighty space station. Part of me almost hopes they succeed, if for no other reason than to prove that those idiots were wrong.
It has been too long since I piloted a ship of my own…far too long. I can almost forget the fetters of my shackled body when I'm in the cockpit of a fighter…one with the controls in the vastness of deep space. The fighters flank me, clones, with nothing but orders to justify their very existence. They are good; they will do their job, for they always do.
Easy…too easy…these rebels don't pose much of a threat at all! Is this the best that they can muster? Pegging off womp rats back on Tatooine was never this easy…
Close your formation... The clones follow me into the trench. I can sense their momentary unease as the walls close in around them, dangerously close to the wings of their fighters. They say nothing though- knowing perhaps that they would receive no word of encouragement from me. They know what I expect...what I demand.
The fighter before me disintegrates in a burst of flame that evaporates quickly into the coldness of space. There is but one left between me and the ….what is this that I am sensing? Is this the Force? How can it be? I haven't felt such a tremor in years...no, never have I felt such a tremor. Who is this pilot? This rebel? How is it that the Rebellion has managed to hide one such as this from me until now? Should I destroy him? I could do so, so easily…his droid is finished…what will he do now? WHAT!
My craft spins out of control, out of the trench and into deep space. Through the force I feel the exultation of the One who has destroyed the death star...the One who I must find…
The Executor looms ahead of me, silent in the stillness of space. My head throbs as I guide my craft into the belly of the metal monster. Home… I reflect…or the closest thing I have to home...home is too warm a term for that behemoth of glass and steel out there...someone once told me that home is where your heart is…but what if you no longer have a heart? Does that mean home is no where?
"Lord Vader!" exclaims Admiral Ozzel as he rushes to greet me in the hangar bay along with a handful of troopers. "When we heard about the Death Star, we feared…"
"Summon the most cunning spies in the Empire," I cut him off brusquely, the pain in my skull growing with each breath.
"Spies, milord?" asks Ozzel stupidly, falling over himself to keep up with me.
"You heard me," I bark back. "At once, do you hear?"
I stalk off, leaving the simpleton to stare at my retreating figure in bewilderment. I need to sleep, I decide as I board the turbo lift. Alone now, I slump against the smooth metal wall, exhausted, the pain in my head like a vice, dizzying me with its intensity.
Finally in my quarters, my sanctuary, I am free to explore my thoughts once again. Who could this be? Who could create such a tremor? My mind gives me no answers, for I am too exhausted to think straight, and give in to the demands of my body and retire to my meditation chamber for a much needed rest.
Anakin, all I want is your love…come away with me...help me raise our child…Anakin, you're breaking my heart!
I wake up with a start, my heart pounding; the images from my dream have left me shaken, as they always do. Helpless in slumber, my subconscious mind is easy prey to the agonizing memories that I have learned to repress. Locked away in the strongbox that is my mind they remain, unable to inflict pain until sleep comes. And then they creep into my brain to torture me, to remind me that all I have left in the universe is the Darkness that has enabled me to live this past twenty years.
It has been 48 hours since the destruction of the Death Star. The casualty list is enormous. Though clones have no families, the hundreds of officers and men serving on board do…did... and the onerous task of contacting them has finally been accomplished. My Master, Lord Sideous, is not pleased with me. I know he holds me responsible for allowing Organa to steal the plans and for failing to retrieve them. I must find the rebel responsible, find where the traitors are hiding; perhaps only then will my Master's faith in me be restored.
6 months later…
"My lord! My lord!"
I turn to see a young officer, Piett, running towards me.
"What is it Captain?"
"My lord, the spies are here. They have given us the name of the rebel who destroyed the Death Star."
Finally…it's been nearly 6 months since I dispatched the fools..I say nothing, waiting for Piett to continue.
"Well?" I ask at last, impatiently.
"Skywalker was the name of the rebel, milord," replied Piett. "Luke Skywalker."
Skywalker! The sound of that name resonates in my mind, a name from long ago, belonging to a man who no longer exists. Luke Skywalker…
I turn away from Piett and stare out the huge window at the endless sea of stars, my mind grappling with what I have just been told. Piett stands wordlessly at my side, awaiting orders, knowing me well enough not to question my sudden silence.
My son…who else could he be? Who else but my own child could create such a powerful tremor in the Force? But how? How is this possible when...
Suddenly the memories flood my mind unchecked and relentless…Padmé…Mustafar...my grip on her throat…but she did not die…I could feel her life force even as she lie there…but Master Sideous told me that I had killed her...he lied…but why would he? HE LIED! She lived to give birth to your son…his very existence is proof of that! I close my eyes, unable to control the swell of emotions that crash over me. My son…I see Padmé's face, her eyes full of trepidation as she tells me she is pregnant...how happy I was at that moment! All these years without him...without her…all because of a lie…
"Lord Vader?" Piett speaks up at last, undoubtedly growing nervous in my brooding presence. "Admiral Ozzel requires your orders, milord."
I look down at Piett, grateful that he has pulled me from my painful thoughts. I am silent for a moment longer, as I formulate a plan.
"Probe droids," I say at last. "Ten thousand of them, dispatched to every corner of the galaxy. Immediately."
Piett's eyes widen, but he is smart enough not to question me.
"At once, milord," he says simply with a bow, and then leaves me.
Piett is one of the only men on this ship with half a brain in his head, I realize as I watch him hurry away. Ozzel will no doubt have questions, and I know it is only a matter of time before my master demands a progress report. Do I tell him? Perhaps he already knows...perhaps he's known all along and has kept Luke from me all these years, just as that coward Kenobi did…
"Lord Vader, I must speak to you at once."
I turn and see Ozzel approaching me, an ashen faced Piett at his side.
"What is it Admiral?" I ask.
"I want to let you know that this incompetent ninny," he said, gesturing brusquely to Piett, "has just told me a most preposterous lie. He claims that you asked for 10 thousand probe droids to be dispatched and..."
"That is exactly what I have ordered," I cut him off, growing more annoyed by the moment by his pomposity. "You find my order preposterous?" I add menacingly, folding my arms over my chest.
Ozzel's face turns white, and he glances nervously at Piett, who, I have to admit, looks rather pleased with the turn of events.
"Err..uh..well.." stammers Ozzel. "It's just that such an enormous number of probe droids is not at our disposal, milord…to muster such a vast number would take weeks, milord…months!"
"I want them sent out in 24 hours," I continue, nonplussed by his dire protestations. "I am not interested in your excuses, Admiral. Make it happen, or I will find someone who will. Am I making myself clear?" I do not raise my voice, there is no need. Ozzel is now perspiring, perhaps expecting to feel the iron grip of my fingers around his windpipe.
"Perfectly clear, Lord Vader," replies Ozzel, bowing as he backs away.
I watch the two officers hurry away, wondering how I keep from killing the lot of them.