DISCLAIMER: SW belongs to George. Luke belongs to George. Vader belongs to George. Everything belongs to George, including that funky laundromat on theforce.net's humor page... what's the world coming to?!

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Comes the Night:

PROLOGUE

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It is said that whosoever could accurately predict Coruscant's weather even fifteen percent of the time would never be allowed at the sabbacc tables. They are just too lucky.

Too lucky, that is, or Jedi.

A lone figure stood in Coruscant's cemetery that night, the wind and rain raging at his dark form. Shrouded in darkness and cloaked in night, his solitary form appeared to be, to the untrained eye, no more than a shadow amongst the shadows, a darker spot amidst the gloom. He blended in perfectly with his surroundings, a silhouette only slightly darker than the stormy sky, face and body hooded and shrouded from all the world.

Or, at least, he would have blended in perfectly if it wasn't for the rose he carried.

It was a strange rose, beautiful but strange. Not as beautiful as the other exotic plants from all the other billions of planets in the galaxy, but beautiful with an innocent simplicity all the same. Two colors only, not the myriad of rainbows that decorated the more garish flowers, just only the red of the petals and the green of the stem. Not blood red like most others roses, either, but a fiery kind of orange-red, the color of flame. The color a cheerful hearth at Yuletide as family and friends gather round. But, at the same time, the color of the dreadful fire that flared in this lone figure, a blaze that threatened to devour his very soul.

The rose, he reflected, was so much like *her*. Beautiful, of course, but dangerous. Especially when one did not watch for thorns. But, once one got past the thorns, one saw a beauty unmatched by any other in all the galaxy.

She didn't deserve to be buried here. Alone among strangers. She should have been buried with her friends, her adopted family. Her adopted homeplanet, even. Not here. Not on Coruscant, in some forgotten corner of a cemetery long abandoned.

He wasn't even supposed to be here. It was supposed to be impossible for anyone to get here. But, again, they hadn't counted on Jedi.

The storm that raged outside on the planet's surface was a perfect reflection of the storm that raged within the Jedi (*former* Jedi, perhaps? *Fallen* Jedi?) as he stood by his wife's grave. Conflicting emotions, anger, surrender, hate, love, despair, rushed through his slender frame as he tried to control them as he had been taught. To *tame* them, to *direct* them, to *release* them....

The figure pulled back his hood to reveal a handsome, finely chiseled face and unruly locks of tousled blond hair. Ice-blue eyes seemed to look far beyond the here and now, into a place where no others could see as he contemplated the Code of his Order:

*There is no emotion; there is peace. There is no ignorance; there is knowledge. There is no passion; there is serenity. There is no death; there is the Force. *

"No emotion," he breathed, his voice the hoarse whisper of one that had cried very recently. "Peace." No emotion. No anger, no sorrow. But, at the same time, no joy, no happiness. No bliss, no delight.

No, he decided. That was false. There *was* emotion. And he had yet to find peace.

"No ignorance. Knowledge." Another lie. Hadn't ignorance been what led him here in the first place. Ignorance of the ambush that killed *her*? The willful ignorance of the Republic that had led them to this crossroad?

There was ignorance, then.

"No passion. Serenity." No hatred. But, at the same time, no love. He had felt love. Had felt its liquid euphoria running through his veins, its ecstasy affecting his mind and heart. And the one he had loved lay before him, cold and still, bound in eternal sleep.

Passion, too.

"No death, only the Force." He chuckled at that one, his laugh, like his voice, hoarse from disuse. No death? Then why, pray tell, was he standing at the grave of the only woman he had ever loved? The second-half of his soul, the keeper of his heart?

No death indeed.

Another lie, then. The Code for which he lived for was a lie. The Order to which he'd dedicated his life was based on a lie. Not that he was unused to lies, of course. He'd been lied to ever since the Jedi, taking advantage of his youth and naiveté, had whisked him off Tatooine and away from everything he'd ever loved or cared for. And, now that he had found someone to love, she had been taken away, too.

Everything was a lie. His life was a lie. And the Light, the Light that he'd served all his life, was that a lie, too?

Suddenly, he fell to his knees, weeping, sobs racking his frame. "WHY?" he bellowed at the uncaring sky, bitter tears mixing with the rainwater on his cheeks. "WHY? What did I do wrong? I served you for all my life, gave you my time, my energy, my sweat, my blood! My SOUL!! ... And, once I give my heart to *her*, you take her away from me. Where did I go wrong? WHY?" he demanded, banging his fist against the cold, wet ground. "WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY??"

The sky didn't answer. Not that he'd expected it to, of course. He wasn't that far-gone into the depths of despair yet.

But something else did. The tiny little voice he'd always kept locked away in the farthest reaches of his heart, the deepest, darkest depths of his soul. *Revenge,* it whispered to him. Promised him not comfort, but vengeance. Vengeance and power of a sort he'd never dreamed.

*I can't,* he answered it. *I touched the darkside before. And I *didn't* come away unscathed.*

*No you didn't,* it agreed. *But you accomplished what you set out to do.*

That was true. He had accomplished what he'd set out to do. Beyond his wildest expectations. So was it, after all, the ends that mattered, and not the means at all?

*It will destroy my soul.*

*What soul?* the voice demanded. *How much of a soul do you have left without her?*

How much of a soul did he have, indeed? She was his soulmate, the other half of his soul. The keeper of his heart. So, without her, did he have half a soul and no heart at all?

*Vengeance,* the voice hissed again, promising something that the Light could never offer, would never give, the single word floating through his mind, preventing him from gathering any coherent thoughts. Any thoughts of resistance, of argument, fled immediately, leaving him in a haze of uncertainty. *Vengeance. And power.*

He closed his eyes for a moment and reached out to the omnipresent Force. It was there, of course. It was always there. The Light that he'd served for so long, the Light to which he'd devoted his life, was still there, of course, its purity still shining just as strongly as ever. But, now the other side, the darkness and shadow was looming closer than ever before.

He reached out to it, hesitantly, carefully. It came to him quickly, eagerly, even, flooding his senses with a dark clarity he had never before experienced. He drank it in greedily, hungrily, letting the icy darkness flow through his veins to numb the pain of his broken heart. To bury whatever was left of his soul, his heart, his humanity under layers and layers of Darkness.

And it felt good.

Stars, it felt good.

A sudden bolt of lightning flashed across the sky, startling him from his reverie and illuminating the last name on the tombstone. *--- Skywalker*.

Skywalker. Indeed. A name known across the galaxy to belong a hero, a warrior of the Light in the eternal war against Darkness. *She* had, then, been the perfect example of a Skywalker even though she'd chosen to keep her maiden name. The quintessence of all that had been right and good in the world. He had, once upon a time, been, too. But that was before he'd tasted the true power of Darkness.

Well then, maybe he wasn't a Skywalker anymore. Maybe he was a Vader.

He could rule this galaxy. He knew it. He had the power of the darkside at his disposal for whatever use he saw fit. He could harness its power to conquer this galaxy, take it away from its captors once and for all. And *rule* it as he saw fit.

*Emperor Vader,* he mused to himself. Emperor. He could get used to that.

Full lips quirked upwards, then, in a grim smile. Not Skywalker's smile. The feral smile of a predator.

Vader's smile.

He leaned forward towards his wife's tombstone. Although his raven form covered his actions, a faint scritch-scratch could be heard just over the sounds of the dying storm.

By the time he had finished, the storm had calmed. The night, though, was as dark as before. The sun had not yet risen and it was a still a long time before dawn.

When he leaned back, finished with his work on the gravestone, these words could be seen:

*Mara Jade Skywalker: Forever missed. Forever mourned. Forever loved.*

Below, a single word had been added.

*Avenged.*

"Luke Skywalker is dead, love," he whispered. "Luke Skywalker is dead, and the Dark Lord lives again.... And this time, no one's holding the other end of his leash."

The man who had entered this cemetery as Luke Skywalker died there. Lord Vader, reborn in a holocaust of hatred and despair, walked away, leaving only a single rose as token of his passage. A single droplet of water, whether rain or tear Force only knew, lingered on one of its fiery petals, creating the momentary illusion that the rose itself was crying.

The day has ended. Here comes the night.

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A/N: Just curious, but how many of you thought it was Anakin until Mara was mentioned?

Should I continue? Or doom this story to be a stand-alone, one-post angsty thing?

UPDATE: I'm going to continue. Someday soon....