Here's an Imperial-crazy story! I always love diving into daily life for Imperials rather than just the militaristic look that you see in the movies, so this is a fun story for me. I have to admit, though, that looking at the plot made me think I needed to be admitted to a mental hospital. -_-' Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!

Title: Little One

Rating: T (violence, VERY mild adult themes)

Summary: The Executor is picking up new recruits. Old recruits are nervous to be on the bridge. Darth Vader is brooding. The day seems to be a regular one in Death Squadron... until Vader gets himself into more trouble than his Imperials can handle. R&R!

Disclaimer: If I even tried to own SW Darth Vader would choke me. O_O I don't see how Lucas survives with that Sith on the loose! *googles "sith collar/leash"*

Space was as silent as ever, a black void, when suddenly the fabric was torn by a Super Star Destroyer emerging with an entire fleet following it; Death Squadron, Darth Vader's fleet.

Jifo Hu sighed as he sat down in the mess hall of the Executor. A voice announced that they had just arrived at a stop-off station for refueling. The windows on the ceiling turned transparent once again after going opaque during the trip in hyperspace. The light of the system's sun shone through, illuminating the tables in the large room. The sound of utensils against plates resounded around the room as people ate cheerfully but quickly.

Jifo himself was far from cheerful. Tomorrow was creeping ever closer, when he would be on the same bridge as Darth Vader. Chills went down his spine and he could feel the hair on the back of his neck standing up.

"Hey, Ji!" a voice called from the entrance.

Jifo turned and saw the only other person he knew on the ship, Lieutenant Kobayashi Beillane. He saluted him.

"Ji cut it out with the saluting nonsense!" he shouted cheerfully, his thin dark brown eyes gleaming. "We're in the bloody mess hall, for goodness' sake! Relax!"

"Easy for you to say," he replied, sitting down after Kobayashi seated himself beside Jifo with his dinner. "You're not going to be on the same bridge as Lord Vader."

Kobayashi paused, looking at him. "You're what?"

"You heard me," he said, looking panicked. "I can't even eat. What am I going to do? I swear, I'm going to mess something up, and then it'll be the end of me…"

Kobayashi held up his pale-skinned hands for emphasis. "Hey, easy, Ji; it'll be okay. Everything's going to be fine. Lord Vader won't even notice you."

"How would you know? You're not stationed on the bridge!"

He shrugged in reply. "I've been on the bridge plenty of times, Ji. My immediate superior works on the bridge. From what I've seen, if you do your job quietly and you do it well, he'll never notice you."

Suddenly, another officer (who obviously knew Lt. Beillane) came running over. "Hey, Kobayashi!"

Jifo stood up and saluted the officer, who returned his salute.

"Who might you be?" he asked.

"Ensign Jifo Hu, sir." He replied quickly and crisply.

"Lieutenant Commander Kerrick Chelcu," he introduced himself courteously before returning his attention to his friend. "Kobayashi, did you hear? We're supposed to be getting some new recruits at this station."

"We are? Poor souls," Kobayashi joked.

Jifo listened vaguely as the two continued their conversation, eventually walking away. If there were new recruits, he had better go investigate it.

Exiting the mess hall and entering the long grey hallways that were all over the ship, Jifo made his way to the hangars. It would be interesting to see new recruits coming; the last time any new recruits had arrived in Death Squadron, he had been one of them.

A few minutes later, Jifo reached his destination with some other officers, just in time to see the recruits descending down the landing craft's ramp. Most of them looked nervous, some looked terrified, and others excited. However, they all went through the typical customs perfectly.

Beside Jifo, a fair skinned man with dark brown hair and eyes nodded to himself, muttering, "Of course; only the best are allowed on the Executor."

Jifo looked at the man and then inched away subtly, walking over to Kobayashi, who was still with Lt Cdr. Chelcu.

"Hey, Ji," Kobayashi whispered to him after Jifo saluted him and his companion. "What were you doing near Captain Mentzer? He's not a pleasant person."

"I didn't even know he was there until he said something." He rolled his bright blue eyes, which shone out of his brown skin.

"What did he say?" Lt Cdr. Chelcu asked.

"Something about the best people coming to the Executor."

Kobayashi looked over at the man. "Hmm… Well, I wouldn't worry about it."

"What do you mean he's not a pleasant person, anyway?" Jifo returned his gaze to the new recruits.

"It's just what I've heard, but I don't doubt that it's at least partly true," Kobayashi answered, also watching the recruits. "He can really rake you over the coals if you don't do something correctly… he doesn't exactly have a lot of friends on the ship."

"I can't really blame them," Chelcu piped in. "He unnerved me a few days ago… but we really shouldn't be talking about superiors here. Let's go back to the mess hall."

The three walked out of the hangar and returned to the unofficial lounge for the people serving on the Executor.

After once again seating themselves at a table in the corner, they continued their conversation.

"What did he do that freaked you out, sir?" Jifo asked curiously.

"Well, he practically glorified Lord Vader for one thing. I think he's mentally unbalanced." Kerrick laughed. "But seriously, he's just a little odd. Maybe it's a façade, but I wouldn't know; nobody really knows the guy."

"Hey, sounds like a job for me!" Kobayashi smiled. Jifo and Kerrick, although they had only just met, exchanged knowing looks; any friend of Kobayashi Beillane knew that he loved being sociable and making new friends.

"One of these days, someone's going to turn on you, Koby," Jifo warned, addressing him by his nickname. "Not everyone in this galaxy is nice. I would've thought that going through the Imperial Academy and then serving in Death Squadron for three years would teach you that."

"Don't I have a right to be optimistic?" he replied indignantly.

Jifo and Kerrick both rolled their eyes and then sighed.

The door to the mess hall opened to reveal some of the new recruits looking around. Kobayashi smiled and stood up. Jifo and Kerrick hesitated before following him.

Kobayashi walked towards them and then paused. Curious, Jifo and Kerrick looked around their friend to see a man talking to a woman in low tones. The two scanned the room before turning to leave, the door hissing shut behind them.

"Whoa…" Jifo muttered. "Did you see that?"

Kobayashi shook his head slightly and blinked a few times. "New women on the Executor? Somebody must have shot me, because I think I'm in paradise!"

Kerrick laughed. "You two think that."

Jifo looked over at his new friend. "Aren't you interested, sir?"

"Not at all," the lieutenant commander replied.

Then Kobayashi laughed, turning to face Jifo. "Kerrick's married, Ji! You should see his wife… Drop. Dead. Gorgeous."

Kerrick raised an eyebrow in reply, causing Kobayashi to hastily add, "Not that I'm interested in that, but you can admire from a distance, can't you?"

Kerrick sighed before chuckling. The three walked out of the mess hall and turned the corner around the hall when suddenly Kobayashi stopped dead in his tracks and held his arms out to stop the other two.

"Wha—" Jifo started to say when Kobayashi silenced him with a look before motioning for them to listen.

Off in the distance, heavy footfalls could be heard with the distinct suck-hiss sound of a person breathing through a respirator echoing down the hall. The three paled.

What do we do? Jifo mouthed to the other two. Kerrick straightened his uniform and stood up tall, the other two mimicking him. He then resumed walking ahead with his friends stiffly following him. They reached the end of the hallway and turned left to see Darth Vader himself standing right in front of them.

Jifo felt like he was about to pass out when Kobayashi grabbed his arm and dragged him over to the wall. Darth Vader walked by without sparing them a second glance.

After the sound of his breathing stopped reverberating in the grey passageway, the three breathed deep sighs of relief.

"Were you trying to get yourself killed?" Kobayashi said seriously to Jifo. "When Lord Vader walks in the same area as you, you stay well out of his way!"

"I… I—I…" Jifo tried to explain, but was trembling too much to do so.

Kerrick looked around before wiping the sweat off his brow. "I think that's enough of a thrill for me today. I'm turning in. I'll see you two later, then?"

"Oh, hey, wait!" Kobayashi called out as his friend turned to leave. "Are you going to be on the bridge tomorrow?"

"Possibly," Kerrick responded.

"So is Ensign Hu!" Kobayashi said, adopting the typical military protocol since they were out in the open. Then he lowered his voice, saying, "You'll keep an eye on him for me, won't you?"

Lt Cdr. Chelcu nodded, smiling reassuringly, before entering a turbolift.

Kobayashi turned to Jifo. "Well, I'm going to turn in, too. Good luck tomorrow."

Jifo nodded and walked off, heading to his own quarters. Tomorrow was going to be interesting.

Darth Vader walked gloomily towards his meditation chamber.

New recruits were always a nuisance. They always asked more questions than they needed to and were always in the way. To top it off, they seemed insistent on irritating him in any way possible because they either wanted to behold and admire the great Darth Vader or they were scared to death of him.

Personally, Vader didn't care if they were terrified of him. In fact, he preferred it that way; it made life a lot easier because it meant they would obey his every command for fear of death. On the other hand, their constant trembling and peeking around corners to see if he was there was extremely vexing.

Vader finally reached his meditation chamber and exhaled slowly. Tomorrow was hours away… he had absolutely nothing to do right now.

Might as well meditate on getting out of this thing… he thought dully.

On every possible occasion, Vader always tried to access the Force so he could heal his lungs and get out of his own personal prison, his suit and respirator. Being able to breathe on his own was something he constantly craved.

He had gotten close a few times. He had opened his meditation chamber without the respirator on and managed to breathe perfectly fine for the first few seconds… but the Dark Side feeds on anger and hatred, not on joy, which would be the next feeling he would have coursing through his body… so inevitably, he would start suffocating again before retreating into the confines of his chamber.

Tonight he was going to try harder. Focus more. There had to be some way of doing it…

As he felt the Force rippling around him, he remembered the times when he could access its powers easily. When he was younger… far, far younger…

In his mind's eye, he could almost smell the sweet aroma of food, flowers, even exhaust from speeders. He could almost taste the delights of freshly dried chokie…

The longing made him feel so empty. It was like a deaf musician aching to hear his composition again… it was just an empty echo in his mind.

Despair flooded Vader, but he pushed it away; he was going to find a way. After all, he never gave up in the past; why should he start now?

Vader smiled, even though it hurt. Yes, when he was Anakin Skywalker, even though that person had been weak, it had been enjoyable to drive some people—particularly the Jedi Council—up the wall.

So now he was longing to be the very person he had destroyed… what an irony.

Vader sighed. So this was his destiny… to forever wish for something that would never bless him again…

…Something that was Palpatine's fault…

…He would get his revenge.

Why worry about revenge? It will leave you emptier than before.

Vader's head shot up. Where had that come from? That voice…

Will revenge help you get out of your situation? The voice asked in the back of his mind.

Of course it will! Vader replied. I will show Palpatine that I am not to be toyed with! I will take his throne and become Emperor!

Then what? The voice asked, sounding genuinely curious. What will you do after you're at the top?

That's none of your business, Vader snapped, although he really didn't have an answer for the voice.

He looked away, slightly astonished at where his thoughts were going. If the darkness wouldn't help him… maybe the other… maybe the light…

NO! He shouted at himself.


Sighing, Vader thought about it for a fleeting moment. Perhaps if he just used it for an instant it wouldn't be so bad…

Timidly, he sought out the light. It was only an experiment…

Suddenly, he felt himself being bathed in warmth.

Startled, Vader let go of the Force, physically jumping back…

That's when he realized he wasn't using his respirator.

He almost expected to feel everything spinning as he ran out of air, but he didn't feel anything. Nothing happened. Curious, Vader looked down at his respirator to see that it wasn't operating. It wasn't even on. What in the blazes happened?

Just after that question went through his head, he went into a world of pain. It was nothing compared to being set on fire on Mustafar, but it still hurt.

Vader moaned and fell to his knees, hearing his body collide with the floor more so than feeling it. Pain washed over him, and then the spinning came.

Lieutenant Commander Kerrick Chelcu relaxed on his cot, looking at a holo of his family. It had been taken half a year ago when he last had some time off to see them.

They were outside in a park that was near their house. To Kerrick's left was his carbon-copy of himself: his blonde-haired, blue-eyed older brother, Numm—who shared their large house with them—and Numm's wife Myri. Then to his right was his own beautiful brunette, deep blue-eyed wife, Lynorri. In front of them were their children; Numm and Myri's children, their fourteen-standard-year-old daughter Delaana, wearing a pale blue dress and a black string choker around her neck, and ten-standard-year-old Nayru, whose glowing smile was only bested by her long, curly golden hair. Then there were his and Lynorri's children: their three daughters, sixteen-standard-year-old Anjylle, twelve-standard-year-old Sei, and nine-standard-year-old Kaia; in front of them sat five-standard-year-old Nash, Kerrick and Lynorri's only son.

Kerrick smiled fondly as he looked at his large family, smiling without a care in the world. He missed them so much…

Suddenly he heard a loud thump from the level above. He jumped, startled, and then looked at the ceiling for a while, listening. After hearing nothing for a few minutes, he rolled his eyes, sighing, "Party animals."

At that, he put the holo down, turned off the lights and went to bed.

Even though Death Squadron was docked, Outpost 37752 was mainly teeming with personnel from other squadrons and locations. There were so many people that no one noticed a lone young man stumbling out of the Executor in Darth Vader's armor.

The sandy blonde-haired boy looked around, panting for air, as sweat trickled down his face. He managed to limp over toward a room that seemed vacant, entering after the door opened. Inside, hundreds of clothes were being washed; he was in the laundry.

Moaning in pain, he slumped against the wall and slid to the floor. The clothes he was wearing were so heavy

Looking up, the boy saw Imperial uniforms being washed. A small smile made its way across his face. That would work.

Beep, beep, beep

Lt. Beillane growled at his alarm, but it didn't help. It continued to make that blasted racket.

Grumbling under his breath, Kobayashi slammed down on the alarm and got dressed quickly. He washed his face and then exited his small quarters, wandering towards the mess hall before he started his busy schedule. As junior officer under the second-in-command of all communications aboard the Executor, he already had his platter full, but he was also the unofficial officer in charge of morale among other things, so he had a lot of work to do on Darth Vader's flagship, especially with new recruits.

Kobayashi entered the mess hall, hearing loud talking the moment he did. Over in the corner he saw Lt Cdr. Kerrick Chelcu eating solemnly. Nearby sat Ens. Jifo Hu, whose normally dark face was awfully pale.

He's probably nervous about being near Lord Vader, Kobayashi thought. Quite frankly, he couldn't blame him; even he, optimistic Kobayashi Beillane, was unsettled around Darth Vader. Kobayashi normally tried to look for the good in people, but he never even considered Vader even being born with any... honestly, Darth Vader didn't even fall into the category of being a person in Kobayashi's opinion.

Walking over to his friend, he decided to worry about dealing with the new recruits later; it looked like Ji needed all the help he could get.

"Hey, Ji," he said in a friendly tone. Jifo didn't hear him.

"Hello-o…" Kobayashi waved his hand in his friend's face. "Is anyone home?"

Jifo started and then looked up, recognizing him. "Kobayashi! Sorry, I didn't notice you…"

"It's all right, Ji, just relax," Kobayashi told him as he sat down across from him. "Don't worry about Lord Vader; he won't even notice you."

"I hope so…" Jifo trailed off as he looked down at his food and picked at it aimlessly with his utensil.

Kobayashi patted him reassuringly on the shoulder. "I know so."

Jifo smiled in return and the two had a pleasant conversation over their breakfast before Jifo excused himself to go to the bridge. Kerrick passed just after Jifo left, looking dazed and somewhat crestfallen, so Kobayashi hopped up and walked alongside him.

"Hey, Kerrick, why so forlorn?" he asked him.

"Oh, nothing," Kerrick replied evenly. "I suppose I miss my family on occasion… but I'll live with it; I have for five years. I'll see you at lunch."

Kerrick picked up his pace and walked ahead. Kobayashi paused, putting his hands on his hips. Everyone's so tense, he mulled over in his head. It's probably just a phase. Now, to find those new recruits…

Kerrick sighed as he walked out of the mess hall and headed towards the bridge. Kobayashi meant well, but he just didn't want to be around anybody; he missed his family so much it hurt… but he had a duty to do, and he would do it to the best of his ability. His family would just have to wait for another half-year.

After reaching the bridge, Kerrick noticed people bustling around, a little more tense than usual. Was Lord Vader in a bad mood?

Kerrick looked around the bridge, but he didn't see Vader anywhere. Capt. Mentzer walked up to him.

"Lt Cdr. Chelcu, make sure all personnel are aboard this Destroyer in ten minutes. We're leaving at 0700."

Kerrick nodded curtly. "Yes, sir."

The captain walked off, attending to other duties. Still curious as to what was going on, Kerrick stopped a lieutenant on his way to his station.

"Do you mind telling me why everyone is so tense?" he asked the man.

"Lord Vader hasn't been seen since last night, sir," the lieutenant replied nervously. "No one's heard from him, either. At first Capt. Mentzer thought he was meditating or something, but when he didn't show up this morning like he normally does… well, people are just a little confused. We don't know what's going on. The captain's going to call Lord Vader to the bridge when we leave the station."

Kerrick nodded and let the lieutenant continue with his duties. Darth Vader had not been seen in ten hours? Vader normally spent much of his time alone, but he always came to the bridge every morning to check up on everything. For him to break that schedule was very odd indeed.

Pushing it out of his mind for the moment, Kerrick went off to follow through with his orders from Capt. Mentzer.

Like it? Yes? No? Please review!