So. It's two months late. It's short. I haven't replied to reviews. And I'm putting the author's note at the top again. I promise you, next chapter will not be delivered so inauspiciously, but I hope y'all will enjoy this one anyway.
Days at the Imperial base in Theed followed a strict protocol. Wakeup call was at six standard units past the Nubian midnight- unless of course you happened to be on night guard duty.
After making an unfortunate remark that could have been construed to concern the weight of a ranking officer's sister, BR-114 had been on night guard duty for the past week. And he was not ashamed to admit that it had been hellish. Yes, he was trained and bred to serve his Empire- and he did. But it was one thing charging heroically into battle against Rebels, and entirely another to spend seven nights in a row, in the smoky darkness, fending off vagrants. It didn't help that shooting said vagrants was officially discouraged. No, BR had been forced to use diplomacy, which he had not been trained for, in several cases.
Shavit, he had hated night guard duty.
But now, with the base commander missing and the remaining staff overwhelmed, things were finally looking up for the miserable stormtrooper. Tonight, he would be able to sleep. Today, in fact, he would be able to sleep. Before the sun had quite come over the top of the broken dome to the east-BR had come to know the pattern of Naboo's sun's rise quite well over the past week- he would be fast asleep in his bunk, dreaming happily of shooting Rebels.
His thoughts continued in this happy vein until Han Solo shot him point blank.
Leia looked down dispassionately at the bodies of the two guards. Han had looked a bit shocked to see that she wasn't using a stun setting any more than he was, but the pirate could stand a bit more shock in his life.
Yes, he was definitely the one whose life needed to be spiced up with more impulsive decisions. Certainly not her.
But- Leia reminded herself, as if she had to- these people had Luke. The Empire would not hesitate to kill Luke, although perhaps stopping first to torture him. By all logic, in fact, he should be dead already.
He just wasn't. He was in there. Leia knew it. She knew it as firmly as she knew that there was still air going into her lungs or that the untrustworthy smuggler behind her would have her back to the death. Loathe as she often was to admit it, Han and Luke were- maybe not family. But the closest she would let herself have.
Leia kicked one armored body to the side- startling Han yet again- and grabbed a keycard from the belt of the other. She slid it into the lock.
Nothing happened. With a muttered curse, Leia slid the card into the lock once more.
"Not working," said Han unnecessarily. Leia paused to glare at him, and he raised his hands defensively. "Just sayin'. There must be something else to it."
Leia shook her head. "If there is, it's not visible. This base doesn't seem to be high security to begin with, and this is the back door." She gave the doorway another once over, then jumped slightly as Han's fist slammed past her.
A segment of metal and plastic buckled, and the door slid open.
"Always works with the Falcon," he explained.
Leia stalked past him.
Darth Vader had learned, even when he followed the Jedi, much about how the minds of sentients worked. He knew when a being had been broken. He'd seen it in the Clone Wars, and worked for it during the Purge.
The young man before him was not quite broken. But he was close.
Closer than Vader really wished.
He had not really thought, until that moment, of what precisely he was going to do with a sudden son. Capture him, obviously. Find out who he thought he was, what he thought he knew, what in the world could possibly have motivated him to be at Padmé's tomb.
But a broken shell would be no use. No use at his side. No use to destroy Palpatine. He wanted his son to be strong, and he would show him the truth. Everything would be as it should have been twenty years ago. Vader had spent those years alternately longing for what he had lost and trying to forget every despised, irrelevant memory of it.
But he would never be tempted by her grave again if he had an heir at his side. He was sure of it. His longing for Padmé was his longing for the missed chance to overthrow Sidious. Nothing more.
His son- Skywalker, as they had told him to call himself- though, was the future.
"They have lied to you," intoned Vader. "They have lied to you, my son, about a great many things."
A low, ragged breath escaped Skywalker. It sounded eerily like one of Vader's own. But he made no further answer.
"I can show you the true power of the Force."
His son shook his head. "You don't know anything… about the Force."
And that statement, simpleheaded and just simply wrong as it was, was perhaps the best opening Vader could have hoped for. His son was not leaping up and immediately throwing lightning about, or at least promises of loyalty to the Empire. But that was to be expected.
He had been misused, and twisted.
But Darth Vader was sure, now, that he could be salvaged.
Corporal Yaskii paced.
And paced yet more.
He was probably wearing holes even in the metal portions of the floor by this point. He didn't really care. The past day and night had been incredibly, incredibly, beyond the worst time period of his life. But, if he looked on the bright side- what bright side?
No. He would not give into despair. If he looked on the bright side- Vader was leaving soon. That was something. He'd ordered the flagship to maintain a close orbit. And after that, maybe his brother would slink back, everything would return to normal, and he could forget that any of this ever happened.
That would be nice.
Then, of course, a crackle came over his comlink.
"Sir! Intruders in corridor twel- argh! Intru…"
What did the galaxy have against him?