Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars. I earn no money from the writing and posting of this. I am quite poor. Therefore, don't sue me!
Author's Notes: Firstly, the most important thing to know is this: DO NOT EXPECT THIS STORY TO UPDATE WITH ANY REGULARITY! This is, at best, a side project, and will only update when time and inspiration strike me. Misunderstood V2 and Exile are my top priority and will remain so. I do have several chapters already written, but once I've posted them, it could be MONTHS before anything new appears.
Secondly, this is an AU set in the Original Trilogy (Episodes 4, 5, & 6). Specifically, it falls between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi in the first few chapters before jumping ahead into what is roughly Return of the Jedi territory.
Thirdly, on old version of this is posted on my LiveJournal. I'll be editing what I have already written so, while the initial chapter or two will be pretty much the same, the later chapters will be significantly different.
And fourthly, this story is similar to plenty of other stories out there, most notably Remade, My Daughter, and Memoires of the Chosen One by TheRealThing (which I highly recommend, go read them if you haven't already!), but I assure I'm not ripping it, or any of the others off with this. I actually started writing this story BEFORE I started the original version of Misunderstood. That was nearly TWO YEARS AGO. So I swear, the plot of this story came entirely from my own head, and any similarities to anything else are purely coincidental.
Now, sit back and enjoy!
An agitated Dark Lord of the Sith is a very bad thing. Those who displease the irate Dark Lord, or even have the simple misfortune to be nearby and lack an obvious purpose, tend to die rather painfully. Even those who have an important function and place can still fall victim to the annoyed Lord's wrath if they display the right amount of incompetence. When a Sith Lord is angry, people generally start to die. This is a known fact to any who serve in the Imperial military. Most especially those who serve under Darth Vader himself.
Admiral Thomas Piett was one who was quite experienced in the many dangerous moods of the Dark Lord Vader. He owed his very rank to Vader's wrath. The late Admiral Kendal Ozzel had been an arrogant egotist and a fool. He thought he was above them all, even Lord Vader (though he never said so out loud and certainly not within said Dark Lord's hearing), and he had the misfortune to make one mistake too many. Vader killed the pompous buffoon with a simple gesture and bumped Piett up to fill the rank. Piett had held on to his new position by possessing the one major quality that Ozzel had lacked: competence. Knowing when to shut up and melt into the background helped too.
Lately, after the failure at Cloud City on Bespin, Piett had been fading into the scenery more and more. The Admiral had been certain that when the Millennium Falcon had vanished into hyperspace before the tractor beam had locked on that Vader would kill him. He'd killed Ozzel for less, so his death had seemed assured. But strangely Vader had simply stalked off the bridge and sealed himself in his quarters for the rest of the day. From then on Vader had been less predictable than he normally was, hence Piett's fading into the background.
Now Piett stood near the rear of the Executor's bridge (lower level) and busied himself by hovering by a bridge technician's shoulder. Nothing was really happening on or in the vicinity of the Super Star Destroyer Executor, but the Admiral was down here hovering to avoid his commander, the Dark Lord. While Darth Vader held no official military rank, he was to be obeyed by anyone and everyone unless one of his orders conflicted with one of the Emperor's orders. And Vader's orders carried a special weight here because this ship had been awarded to the Sith Lord by the Emperor, making the Executor very nearly Vader's property, his domain. Here, more than anywhere else, Darth Vader was God.
Admiral Piett willed himself not to flinch when Vader entered the bridge (upper level). The sinister hiss-rasp of Vader's frightening black breathing mask made the hair on the back of Piett's neck stand on end, but he did not turn away from the screen he was so intently studying. Unless Vader called for him, there was no need to draw attention to himself. If luck was on his side today Vader would ignore him and either leave quickly or Piett's shift would end without incident and let him escape to his personal quarters. Today fortune smiled upon him.
The terrifying specter that was Darth Vader hovered on the bridge (upper level) for several long minutes. Then, seemingly satisfied with what he saw, he left again. The instant the door hissed shut behind him there was a universal sigh of relief. The tension, which had been palpable when Vader had been present, drained away to almost nothing. While Piett did not appear visibly affected by Vader's visit, his internal reaction was the same as the rest of the bridge crew.
Survived again. Now if only I can decide if that's a good thing or not…
Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, was not in a good mood. This was not unusual in the least. For him, a good mood was the unusual state. The moods that were most common in him were angry, furious, irritated, depressed, lonely, and numb. He would never admit to anyone (not even himself) that he experienced the last three, but he still did. And since he was perpetually in a poor mood, the only thing that varied was the intensity of it. If he was very angry, people tended to die. If he was only mildly angry, then his crew was mostly safe from his wrath. Mostly.
Right now he was in an intensely bad mood and his veteran crew knew it. As he stormed down the halls of his Super Star Destroyer, Executor, the ship's residents scattered from his presence like Freighter Roaches scattering for cover when a light was turned on. Through the Force he could feel their fear of him. It swirled around him like a frozen wind and lashed at his soul like icy sea-spray. Their fear and their reactions only fueled his terrifying rage.
Vader strode into his private quarters, locked his door, and began to pace about angrily. He stalked from one wall to the other in the spacious main room that contained his meditation and maintenance chamber. For once he wished he had some furniture in here because he would really like to throw things around or smash them. He always could leave his quarters and seek out some lowly crew members to kill, but he forced himself to refrain from such behavior.
Months earlier during his obsessive hunt for his son he'd gone on a crew killing spree of sorts. He had no regrets concerning his slaying of Admiral Ozzel. The man had been incompetent and highly irritating and his foolish move during the approach on Hoth had been the last straw. But his strangling of Captain Needa he did regret. Needa had been reliable, competent, and responsible. It hadn't been his fault that the infuriating Captain Solo had managed to slip away from him. However his rage had flared up out of his control and before he realized it, Captain Needa had expired. Vader had no wish to make the same error again. Good help was simply too hard to come by in the Imperial military.
The black clamshell-like metal sphere of his meditation/maintenance chamber began to rattle and groan as Vader's rage disturbed the Force energies around him. Force damn Kenobi! Damn him for everything! He held me back and held me down! He turned her against me, made me kill her! He took my legs, my left arm, and my lungs from me! He left me to die as he was professing to love me! He hid my son from me! Lied to him, poisoned him against me like he did to her! He warped my child so much that he would rather die than stand beside me! I held out my hand and he chose the bottomless shaft below! Kenobi made him hate me! Hate me…
Vader stopped pacing and slumped against a wall. The hot fiery rage drained away, leaving an aching icy void behind. It was always this way when his fury abandoned him. Each time the void grew larger as more and more of his soul was consumed by his rage. He wanted to sink to the floor and cry, but he could not afford to indulge in such weakness, not even in the privacy of his own quarters. He was a Dark Lord of the Sith, he had no heart to have broken and cry over like a weak child.
His son had rejected him. His own flesh and blood had spurned him and his offer of power. His child had leapt away down the chasm in the bowels of Cloud City instead of taking his father's hand like he should have. He'd told Luke the truth and the young Rebel had treated it like it signaled the end of the galaxy. True Vader had maimed the boy, hacked his hand off to disarm him, but hands could be replaced. And so what if he'd tortured his 'friends', they were Rebel scum with no real value and could easily be replaced as well. With the power that Vader had offered him, anything was possible, yet Luke refused to see that.
All he saw were the lies that the Rebels filled his head with, the lies that the last Jedi (Kenobi, damn him!) told him. All Luke saw was an evil entity that needed to be overthrown, a dragon to be slain. He saw nothing but corruption and darkness and sought to bring an end to it. He saw all these things in anything of the Empire, especially Vader, but this was simply not true. The corruption was the Emperor's doing, not Vader's. Vader wanted to end it and the Rebellion and bring peace and order to the galaxy. He'd told Luke so and still the boy remained blinded and delusional. He threw his life away instead of accepting his proper place by his father's side.
That hurt Vader. It hurt him far more than it should. It incited in him both boundless rage and deep despair. It fed his desire to kill and his wish to die and escape the pain once and for all. It shattered his focus and birthed doubts and confusions. It had him reeling and he had yet to regain his balance.
Desperate for some clarity, Vader straightened up and left his chambers. He strode purposefully down to the main hanger. A flight would settle him down. Flying always helped. His last joy, his last freedom. No one could take that from him. Not Kenobi or any of the Jedi, not the Rebels, not even his Master.
When he reached the hanger bay, he waited impatiently for his personal fighter to be prepared. His TIE had none of the weaknesses of the mass-produced craft that the rest of his fighter pilots flew. Every spare moment that he had he'd spent modifying his TIE fighter. It had shields that could easily shrug off any Rebel fighter's energy weapons, it was capable of firing up to six proton torpedoes, and it was hyper capable. His TIE was the perfect fighter and it was bliss to fly it in or out of combat.
Vader smothered his impatient eagerness and slowly entered his craft. Calmly and deliberately he lifted off and sailed into the black void of space. Dark Lords of the Sith did not dive into their cockpits and blast off with reckless abandon unless they are forced to by the need to get into battle. It was imperative that he preserve his image for his crew. But once he was clear of the shadow of his mighty ship Executor he was free to fly as he pleased. And he pleased to fly fast and loose.
He accelerated to near dangerous levels, rocketing out into the void like a madman. Vader snapped his TIE into tight spins, dizzying rolls, and nauseating combinations of maneuvers. Few pilots could hope to match his skill in the cockpit and it brought him some faint, grim satisfaction. No doubt his fighter pilots and off-duty crew were finding some screen where they could watch him perform. Watching him fly like this was probably the only time that they were glad that he was on their side.
Just as Vader was really starting to unwind and calm his flight path a little, everything went down the tubes. A cluster of fighters, not TIEs, abruptly dropped out of hyperspace right on top of him. They were clearly Rebels and he could sense their panic. They had no idea that the Executor was here and had probably believed this barren system to be…well, barren.
Vader snarled and tried to extricate himself from the middle of their squadron, but the panicking Rebels lost formation. His modified TIE nearly crashed into three separate X-wings as they swarmed around him. He fired several shots at what he determined to be the leader, but that pilot had gathered his wits enough to raise his shields. With a few Huttese curses Vader managed to break out of the Rebel fighter swarm only to be clipped by a blast from an X-wing pilot with an itchy trigger finger.
While the energy blast did little surface damage to his TIE, it wreaked havoc on multiple internal systems. The control stick nearly froze up in his hands as the view outside the cockpit started to spin crazily. Alarms screamed and warning lights flashed. Vader tried to raise the Executor on his comm but he didn't even get any static, it was fried. The dual ion engines made horrible groaning noises underneath the constant shriek that they normally produced and the fighter bucked around him. And then the hyper-drive spontaneously activated, the stars stretched out into long beams, and then he found himself streaking through the white-blue mists of hyper-space.
Normally flight in hyper-space was a smooth affair, the only jolting felt was during the transition in and out of it. Tumbling end over end through hyper-space was most definitely not normal. Vader clenched his teeth and struggled to reach the controls, but the pressure from the tumbling and progressive failure of the inertial dampers prevented his mechanical hands from reaching the sparking panels. The Dark Lord was at the mercy of his failing ship and he hated every nanosecond of it.
Then, just as suddenly as his ship lurched into light speed, it dropped back down to sub-light speed. The jolt was so incredible that his restraints snapped, sending him crashing forward into his control panels. Vader felt several important things go crunch and before he blacked out, he managed to form one final thought.
Damn it, this is just not my day at all…