Summary: Vader unwittingly discovers the Farfalla stone of Tandoria. With it, he chooses to make a trip back in time to change things to the way he wants them to be. His greed gets the better of him, and he takes another trip. Each trip brings a new disaster and helps him discover more and more about the true nature of those he accused and of the lie that started him down the path to the darkside.
Like unyielding stone, he stood outside on the steps of the capital, waiting for the captives to be brought forward. The distance roar and cries of the citizens below for their captured heroes did not move Darth Vader's heart to sympathy for now it mirrored his exterior. The people were caught up in their fear of being fired upon as the storm troopers held them back with their weapons.
In the midst of the chaos, several imperial officers marched four civilians towards the capital steps. Three of them were prisoners. Their hands were bound before them with chains around their ankles and a single chain linking one prisoner to the other. The fourth civilian was a man unbounded and unchained, dressed in black. His beady little eyes shifted back and fourth as he nervously kept his distance from the three prisoners before him and the officers behind and beside him. He dreaded this one inevitable moment and he hoped that what he'd done to save himself would be enough to grant him a merciful pardon.
The ominous breathing of the dark lord grew louder as he began to ascend the steps. Against his fears, he looked up and received confirmation that today would be the day Lord Vader would surely deal with him. He flinched. So still was Vader that the approaching prisoners questioned whether a statue stood before them. The light of the orbiting moons glistened on his helmet and gentle breeze slightly shifted his cape.
Democracy had been swallowed up by tyranny and imperialism nearly two years ago and since then life was filled with horrifying stories regarding the emperor's second in command, Darth Vader. Word spread fast throughout the galaxy regarding Lord Vader's cruel effectiveness. After the empire came to power, the need to establish this regime received much negative feedback resulting in several uprisings, none of which flourished. And so Vader was sent to the Nar system to extinguish a small uprising in the main capital of Veylun before it gained any more support.
Suspicion invaded his thoughts when he considered the emperor's reasons for sending him to end this small rebellion. This was a task fitting for imperial high command, such as Tarkin. Tarkin was instead sent to investigate rumors of an exiled Jedi hiding on one of the moons of Axium. A Sith would have been more suitable for the job. Vader knew there was something not right here. He sensed it. He narrowed his eyes as he carefully pondered these things.
"Lord Vader." An imperial officer stopped three steps before him and straightened his back as he saluted. Vader did not acknowledge him. He snapped his heels this time and cleared his throat in hopes to get his attention, "Lord Vader."
Without moving his head, Vader lowered his eyes and addressed the officer, "Commander Sooj, are these the leaders of this insignificant little rebellion?"
The shortest of the
three prisoners took a step closer but was restrained by nearby
Nevertheless he spoke up, "If you think this rebellion so insignificant, why would he send you then? Why send his most trusted and most powerful servant to complete such a menial task?"
The prisoner's insolence caused Vader to turn his black helmet towards him. There was truth in his words, for Vader was also thinking the same thing. There was a moment of silence before the prisoner's throat muscles began working frantically for air. The sound of him gagging and the sound of Vader's breathing overshadowed the clatter of the chains between his feet and wrists as he desperately struggled to free himself from the invisible threat.
"The designs of the Emperor are not for you to know." Vader released his force choke, leaving the prisoner on his knees, coughing and gasping for air. "Instead, you should worry about the fate of your loved ones, as well as your very lives."
Another prisoner spoke without looking directly at him, "There is nothing you could do, Lord Vader, that would put fear in me." She set on her brown eyes on him. "I am not afraid to die." Her back was straight and her head held high. Her brown tendrils danced in the wind.
He blinked. He didn't know why, but something in him stirred- a flicker of a memory, once vivid but now dimmed. It was like déjà vu. She did not recoil at the sight or sound of Vader. It was an unusual quality he rarely found outside of the higher ranks of the empire. She reminded him of something or someone but the notion was too lucid and irrelevant to linger or dwell upon.
"No." Vader raised a finger, "But I sense your apprehension of it."
Vader dropped his hand, "For your lead roles in the insurrection, you three are charged with treason and therefore sentenced to death. Your families will be stripped of all assets and sent to the prison mines on Luxnir to serve a standard 3 to 5 year term."
The third prisoner fell on his knees, prostrating himself before the dark lord, "Mercy Lord Vader! For my family, please! They are innocent!"
"Perhaps you think me too cruel?" Vader paused, "I could always have them executed with you."
Commander Sooj stepped forward and asked, "What manner of death for them my lord?"
Vader did not answer but pointed to his left toward three transparent caskets filled with squeaking and clicking flesh eating moon beetles. Commander Sooj swallowed and looked pitifully on the three prisoners beside him. The shortest of the three collapsed weeping bitterly on the ground.
The third prisoner's eyes filled up and his chin trembled with anger, "You'd have us executed on the steps of our capital?"
Vader turned his head toward him, "I couldn't think of a better place."
Vader continued, "There is one for each of you. I have already chosen the hour of your execution. It will be viewed in public. Your families and followers will watch all of you die a slow and painful death before their own sentences are carried out. Your followers will suffer the same fate as well for supporting this insurrection. However their deaths will be quick and merciful. Their families will also fulfill a 3 to 5 year prison term. You and your supporters are being made into examples. Treason will not be tolerated in the empire." Vader turned away from them, waving them off, "They may go."
The prisoners were led away from the steps of the capital and taken toward the near holding facility until their execution. The female prisoner did not shed a tear nor beg for mercy. And as she was led away, she never looked back.
The fourth civilian was left standing on the steps with four storm troopers and one imperial officer. Vader turned around again to face the last civilian. He nervously passed a shaking hand over his bald head, stopped at the first landing and bowed submissively.
"Lord Vader, what of the informant?" the imperial officer asked.
"While Mr. Bashir has done the empire a good service in providing us with the location and names of the insurgents, he still must pay for his treachery."
"But my Lord, I have told you everything! Please be merciful!" He clasped his hands and shook them.
"As agreed, by leniency of the empire, his family will be spared."
"Thank you my lord." The rat bowed again.
"As for you, you will serve out your life sentence in the Rotark prison mines--"
"Oh thank you! Thank you my lord Vader." Bashir looked up smiling.
"Bereft of your eyes and tongue." Vader leaned closer to Bashir who face had fallen into shock. "They belong to me now." Vader enjoyed that moment. Bashir could almost feel the coolness in his mechanical voice. No one would know it, but at that moment, Vader was smiling. "For now, I will deliberate on your hands."
Vader straightened and addressed the officer beside him, "He is to carry out his sentence immediately."
Bashir was speechless and dared not move an inch as he watched Vader turn and walk away. Once the officers took hold of him, he began struggling and pleading to be spared. He screamed, wailed and most assuredly wet himself as he was led away.
Once aboard his star destroyer, Vader walked through the halls toward his quarters. The officers that worked feverishly through their tasks as he passed by, prayed to whatever god they served that Vader would not stay near them. But Vader's mind was pressed on more intriguing matters. Thinking back to the last few weeks, the emperor had been behaving strangely, sending him on missions that were minimal and tedious, an uprising here, an annexation submission there. Once inside his quarters, he ascended the stairs to the metabolic chamber, sat in his chair and remained still, momentarily in the midst of thought. The questions the prisoner had dared to ask the night before on the steps of the capital reverberated in Vader's mind awakening observations of how painfully obvious the emperor's attempts to keep him occupied had been.
Surely the emperor is hiding something from me. Whatever it is it must be of great importance…something he greatly fears me to know…or have.
Vader's mind stretched in all directions as he wondered about the emperor motives. Closing his eyes, he quieted his mind and allowed the force to speak to him. He let the tendrils of the force wrap itself around him and whisper it's will.
Vader pressed the comlink button on the arm of his chair. The holoscreen against the wall switched on showing an alert imperial officer standing at attention.
"Yes, Lord Vader."
"Set your course for the Axium system."
A/N: I've got to give a shout out to my beta, Kelia for doing this for me. Thank you.
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Coming up - TWO: A major discovery!