Part I

The vast expanse of star filled, unending night dominated his vision. Darkness, broken only by the occasional burning, spinning planet, soothed him and quieted his mind. This was his meditation. He no longer clung to the teachings of his foolish mentors from so long ago. His peace was here, the blackness of space which mirrored the blackness of his thoughts, and his soul. It was possible for him to stand here, like this, for many hours. It was unwise to disturb him. Admiral Piett therefore felt decidedly sorry for himself, as he was, unfortunately, the means of disturbing the second most powerful man in the universe.

Vader could feel him approaching long before Piett reached him. He could sense the Admiral's agitated mind…..but it was obviously something extremely important. Piett was no fool. It was this reason he had survived with Vader for as long as he had.

Admiral Piett stopped a respectable distance away and bowed, waiting for Lord Vader to speak first. He had realized long ago that Vader would acknowledge him when he was ready to. There was no need to announce his presence by verbalizing it. The Dark Lord of the Sith was not a man of many words….just as many as were necessary. He would wait.

Piett had a reasonably good guess as to what occupied Vader's mind. It was the single objective that had taken precedence over every other. Vader was obsessive about it; this objective consumed his every waking moment and probably, Piett mused, his every unconscious one. One thought, one mission, one desire: Luke Skywalker.

The Emperor had, of course, given Vader permission to find him. Indeed, he had ordered it. But Piett was not a simple minded Nerf herder. He listened, he watched, he observed. He also had his own spies. The Emperor had other things on his mind for Skywalker contrary to grooming him as a Sith prince. Piett was aware that Vader knew this as well.

"What is it, Admiral?" Vader's voice rumbled across the hall. He turned to face him. For a moment, Piett took in the sight of Lord Vader, standing in a seemingly painted in universe, framed by the impassive silver of the bulkhead. If he were a critic, he may have considered it a fine example of allegorical artwork. But he'd never had any appreciation for allegory anyway. He was a practical man.

"My Lord, we have received an encoded transmission from the Baldor sector. The encoding is Imperial, but hasn't been used by the Navy in several years."

"What is the message, Piett?"

"Whomever is sending will only speak to you. He wants to be given your private channel code and will contact you only then."

Vader considered this information for a moment, trying to seek out the message sender in the Force. It could be related to his son…..but it could also be a waste of his time.

"Was there any more to this message?" Vader asked.

"Yes, milord. The final line of code was in a language native to Tattooine. It is spoken by the Jawa. Our translators had a little difficulty with it, the language is hardly ever heard spoken outside of Tattooine." Piett hesitated. Even he, non-Force user as he was, could sense Vader was becoming impatient. "It translates to Basic as, 'A traitorous father is better than no father at all.'"