Note: this was written for the sw mythology community on livejournal, hence the themes listed.
Themes: 21. Children of the Gods (Heros and/or Villains); 28. Nirvana (Spirituality)
Claim: Darth Sidious/Palpatine
Characters: Darth Sidious, Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker
Time Period: from the end of RotS - the end of RotJ
Genres: Supernatural, Horror, Drama
Summary: Dreams merge with reality, and the line blurs between the identities of polar opposites and the one that ties them together. Cosmic balance is found through the looking glass.
Disclaimer: Star Wars and the characters within belong to George Lucas. I am not making any profit off this story. The poem preceding it is by E. E. Cummings.
Warnings: Surrealism; disturbing, horrific images
maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)
and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and
milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;
and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and
may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.
For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea
—maggie and milly and molly and may, by E. E. Cummings
Through the Looking Glass
Lord Vader watched the body of Anakin's former Master turn to ash inside the burning desert homestead alongside Owen and Beru, the only living connections he had still had to his mother, to his former life. The angry, scarlet eyes of the setting suns bled behind the blazing building and into the endless waves of sand in the distance, like red tears being wrung from the sky to heal the parched land. The lightening of a distant sandstorm flashed, briefly illuminating the crimson heavens before brutally cleansing cyclones of sand dropped from the clouds and partially blocked the bloody sunsets from view.
Something in him howled in sick remorse as he watched the flames consume the bodies of his step-family and brother, but the voice was muffled, smothered, the barely remembered echo of the conscience he had mercilessly strangled into silence nearly two years before.
With unnatural suddenness, those twisting, angry tempests of sand seemed to appear right beside him; their howling winds would have been close enough, had the storms been more than illusions, to cleanse the charred flesh from his bones. As the twisting currents of wind somehow drew his mind into the brutal, writhing rapids of time and the Dark Side of the Force, he was mentally drawn into the eye of one them, swallowed by the ravenous savagery of his home planet like his mother before him.
Abruptly, he was reliving a familiar scene from his nightmarish memories, but from a different perspective than he usually saw it from. This time, instead of watching himself fall to the Dark Side from his younger, undamaged eyes, he saw everything from the eyes of an old man, ancient as the black, primordial power that crackled and swirled about him, setting every cell in his decaying body on fire with incendiary joy as if the lava flow of Mustafar was some kind of perverse elixir of life for his soul.
"Do you pledge yourself eternally to the Sith Order?" he rasped, feeling himself become drunk on perverse joy as he watched a younger, undamaged version of Anakin Skywalker kneel before him. Destroying the Chosen One was one of his greatest accomplishments, and though he had unwittingly begun to care for Skywalker over the years, he still got no greater pleasure than watching the one who was prophesied to defeat him and annihilate the Sith Order take such great steps to ensure his own destruction.
The part of Vader that was not lost in this strange, out-of-body vision cried out in horror, yelled out a warning to his younger self, useless and raw.
"Yes, my Master," came the mechanically flat reply, his inflectionless tone bled dry of humanity, the voice of the living dead.
"Then I dub you…Lord Vader."
The memory continued to play out to its conclusion with unforgiving candor, though he was forced to view the first crimes he had committed as a Sith from the eyes of his younger self, for his Master had taken no part in what he had done in the Council's chamber. Younglings fell under his blade, small hands were severed from chubby arms, and the pathetic sobs of one of the youngest, cowering behind Master Yoda's Council chair and holding onto it like it was a lifeline, were silenced forever by a blue blade that sliced through his voice box and spine. Sickness and joy warred for dominance within him as he expressionlessly watched the boy's head fall from his shoulders and hit the floor with a thud, until a cleansing feeling of power and omnipotence, more wonderful than anything he had ever felt in his life—
What about your love for Padme, or have you really fallen so far that you've forgotten her?
—overwhelmed all other sensation like an icy wave flooding his mind, and he grinned with predatory delight.
They were your family, your children, how could you?
No! They were Anakin's family, Obi-Wan killed Anakin on Mustafar. He's dead—it's too late for him!
His mind was swept away from his memories and onward in time by the bloody currents of the Dark Side, and he was seeing flashes of a vision, witnessing vivid fragments of a horrible possible future...or was that all it was?
Don't make yourself relive this memory! You won't ever have enough power to change the past, even if you sold your soul again, so why force yourself to relive something you can't change?
He was in a detention cell in the Death Star, and a beautiful young woman lay writhing, screaming with animal desperation on the durasteel slab that passed for her bed, begging him to make the pain stop. His own laughter, as deep and dark as empty space, filled his ears as he impassively scrutinized the princess's pain levels through the Force, and delirious joy rose in him as he fed on her growing terror and rage as if it was the most blissful of all drugs.
—He wanted to comfort her, shield her from harm; something in him, some deep, long buried instinct begged him to heed her pleas, to make her pain stop and protect her at any cost—
"Where is the rebel base, Princess? If you tell me that one simple piece of information, I promise I will make all of this pain go away."
He was torn away from the detention cell, and thrown into different shards of the same horrifying future with dizzying rapidity…
"It's too late for me, my son."
"Sister? Sister? Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. If you do not turn to the Dark Side, perhaps she will."
He was on Tatooine again. The glaring red light of the setting suns spilled onto his natural, non-mechanical hands, making them look as if they were soaked in blood. The bodies of his loved ones were smoldering only meters away from him, and the sweet scent of their charred flesh wafted into his mechanical sensors, making his stomach churn.
A weather-worn grave caught his eye…
What would your mother think of what you've become?
Stop! he ordered his chaos-torn mind, desperately trying to hold back the flood of feelings that were suddenly overwhelming him. They deserved it, all of them, Obi-Wan left me to burn alive—
Did your children? Did Padme? Padme never did anything to you and you still killed her! You owe her a debt, a debt that can only ever be paid by joining her in the grave you put her in, joining her in the Light Side of the Force—
Gasping, he reached out blindly for the soothing, icy blanket of the Dark Side, desperately trying to drown out his memories and conscience. He reached and found—
Light. Pure, untainted, blinding light, so hot that it burned him, so good that it made him recoil, nauseous with the pain of self-knowledge, as bright as a star gone supernova but dimming every second.
Suddenly, in his mind he was inside the burning homestead, choking on grey clouds of smoke. He staggered blindly towards the door, gasping desperately for air while he cried for his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. He was too little, he couldn't find his way out on his own, and when some instinct told him that his aunt and uncle were no longer able to help him, he did the only thing he could think of to do. He called for his father, though Aunt Beru had told him that he was dead…
I can't let him die, I have to save him! He's my son, and he still believes in me, he still forgives me, even after…
Electric heat screamed up every one of the nerves in his helpless body as two black-clad figures towered over him, fiends right out of the worst of his nightmares.
"And now, Jedi, you will die!"
"Father, help me!"
The rapid cooling of that bright, soul-piercing warmth in the Force warned him that his time to act was quickly waning. The ghosts of the past and the whispers of dreams blended together under the cooling ire of Tatooine's suns, and suddenly Vader was running straight into the hell-fire flames that were devouring the burning home as fast as he could, hoping, knowing that he couldn't be too late, not this time.
He spotted the two-year-old boy's unconscious body, miraculously untouched by the encroaching flames, laying the middle of the only home he had ever known, the home that Vader had lit on fire with barely a thought, and dove through the circle of fire to reach him, shielding his body from the flames until they were out of the burning building…
Tatooine, along with its nightmare blaze, began to slowly fade from sight like a horrible mirage as another place, as unwelcoming as the first, began to solidify before him: the throne room on the Death Star. The sweet smell of burnt flesh remained, however, and it was a while before Anakin realized that it was his own. Waves of white-hot electricity had shorted-out the circuits in his life-support suit and mechanical limbs, fusing his wiring together and partially cooking his internal organs.
His physical strength left him completely as he collapsed near the rail surrounding the reactor core of the second Death Star, watching Vader's former Master and his worst enemy, his mentor and creator, fall to a death of his own making. Anakin smiled behind his mask as his grown-up son cradled his now useless body in his arms and told him that everything would be all right. In the distance, someplace beyond time, a little boy with eyes as blue as sparkling Naboo seas coughed up smoke and took a shuddering breath, beaming up at him from where he lay on the cooling sand with the innocence of a child that was too young to comprehend his father ever being unable or unwilling to protect him.
"Luke, you were right…and you were right about me. Tell your sister, you were right."
No monsters would haunt his children's dreams this night.