CHAPTER 1

The officers and men aboard the Executor were confused. Just as they had finally thought they had figured out how to deal with their fearsome commanding officer, he changed. The change was not for the better. Indeed, if anything, Lord Vader had become more terrifying than ever, for his single minded obsession with finding the rebel responsible for destroying the Death Star verged on madness. At least, that is what the men thought.

Vader had always been a draconian, incredibly demanding commander, but at least the men knew what to expect from him. If you mess up, you die. If you question him, you die. If you say the wrong thing, you might just get tossed against a bulkhead, unless he was in a particularly foul mood, in which case you would die. Since being given the command of the super star destroyer, Vader had established his iron rule in very short order. The men actually had a pool going to see who would die on any given day. Vader knew about this, though the men didn't realize it. He secretly found it amusing that the men took their own lives so lightly that they were willing to wager their monthly earnings on who would die.

As for Vader, his own life had been, for the past 20 years, in service to his master, the galactic emperor, Palpatine. He had no other purpose but to serve him and keep the Sith alive and well. All that had changed when Vader had learned the name of the rebel who had destroyed the Death Star: Luke Skywalker. Vader had turned his back on the Skywalker name two decades ago, and all it represented. That was the day his soul had been irrevocably consumed by the Dark Side, the day he learned that he had done the unthinkable, the unforgivable, the day his master had told him that he had killed his Angel.

But now everything he thought he knew had been turned upside down. His son was alive! Our son... How is it possible that the child lived when Palpatine had told him that the mother had died still bearing him? Vader himself had seen footage of the funeral, had seen her swollen belly as the coffin carrying her moved slowly through the streets of Theed. She was still pregnant when she had died, pregnant with his child…with his son…

None of it made sense, and it had caused Vader to question the very reasons he had sworn allegiance to the emperor in the first place. Palpatine had promised to help him save her, but this promise had been conveniently forgotten in the carnage that Vader had committed in the name of galactic peace. How did it all go so astray? And what had become of her? If this son lived, what had become of the mother? It was not surprising that the men aboard the Executor had found their commander to be more moody and irritable than usual, for his mind was in turmoil over these difficult, life altering questions.