I know I know, it's been forever and a day, and I really am sorry about the wait. College and work and essays rather than stories have beem sapping my creative juices lately. But, here is the next bit anyway, a little shorter than I would have liked but it sort of ended itself if you know what I mean, and attempting to drag it out completley killed the mood.
Thanks again to all you reviewers, and those who dropped me a PM, you're so sweet.
"Yes." Vader said, and reached though the ghost to shut off the image.
"But then you were…" And Piett trailed off, not sure if this was territory on which he could tread; the origins of the mysterious Darth Vader. But this certainly threw an interesting twist into history, one of the Old Republic and the Jedi Order's greatest heroes abandoning and betraying it in it's moment of greatest need, one of the most revered heroes of the Republic days, celebrated by rebels and simple non-threatening traditionalists alike, not a martyr as he had been celebrated, but a traitor. Ruined and scarred and hidden behind a mask, trailed by a ghost with blood on his hands.
"The past is best left in the past, Tomas." Vader said, with just a hint of warning in his voice. Piett nodded, but wondered silently just how well Vader himself managed that particular feat, judging by the ghost at his feet, perhaps not very well.
"Does he know?"
"So he believes…what the rest of the galaxy believes, that his father is dead, I mean."
"And you want to find and, I suppose, capture him so that you can," Piett ventured a guess, "enlighten him?"
"Yes, among other things." Vader seemed lost in thought again, and Piett realized suddenly that perhaps even Vader himself didn't quite know what he would do when he had captured the boy.
"Does the emperor have any say in this?" Piett asked, as usual feeling that fearful dropping sensation in the pit of his stomach of stepping out into dangerous territory; questioning the emperor.
"The Emperor wishes for Skywalker to join us or die."
"By us you mean the Empire I assume.
"By default." Piett let the evasive answer slide, a fearful tingling sensation running up his spine as he remembered rumors of Sith Lords.
"And what do you think of the Emperor's wishes for your son?" Vader turned back to him at the reference to Skywalker as his son, and Piett glanced down at the ghost, mirroring Vader's movement with that same wistful almost-smile.
"I am uncertain."
"But you're still chasing him." Obsessively , Piett added to himself.
Vader was silent, and for the first time that Piett had ever seen, he looked down at the specter huddled against his feet.. For an indefinable moment, the two that were not two after all, looked into one another's eyes.
"All I know," Vader said, in the softest voice that Piett had ever heard him use, "Is that I want …my son."
Standing there, watching the ruins of what had once been a hero staring into his own soul, Piett glimpsed something that was truly, beautifully, undeniably human, something of what it meant to be human, something he didn't think he would ever be able to put a word to but rang too deeply true to be denied. So with heat behind his eyes he hadn't felt in years, Tomas Piett told the man that had once been Anakin Skywalker that he would do everything in his power to bring him his son.
And he did.
Because if Darth Vader could love, there was hope for the rest of the galaxy after all.