Preamble: Darth considers what tomorrow may bring. (The son of suns will come out, tomorrow, tomorrow, bet your bottom credit that tomorrow, force what may....)
(Previously: PART I - Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10; PART II - Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20; PART III - Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7.)
THE DARTH SIDE
by Cheeseburger Brown
PART III, Chapter 8 - This is Tense
How do you track one man named Luke Skywalker amid a teeming galaxy of quadrillions? Today, the question answers itself.
When I awoke this morning in my newly repaired hyperbaric chamber (wrent asunder as it was during yesterday's tantrum) I sensed a disturbance in the Force, followed immediately by a pain in all the diodes down my left side. I winced. Sensing activity, the chamber's automated intelligences swung into action, uncoupling my life support systems from the charger and reconnecting my respirator and mask.
As I rose I stumbled, so useless was my leg. My new leg! I cursed the roboticists and their crude work as I summoned the stream of Force I would require to soothe the malfunction.
Uneasy, I rode to the bridge and took my post before the wide viewports, gazing out at the apparently unfinished Death Star orbiting the verdant marble of Endor's forest moon. That is when I spotted the Tyderian shuttle stretch out of hyperspace and proceed toward us, a speck against the velvet.
The Force sang.
I strode over to Admiral Piett as he bent over the deflector control officer and inquired about the shuttle. They had transmitted an old code, but a valid one. The shuttle's arrival was no doubt according to the designs of my master, Darth Sidious the Emperor Palpatine.
"Seems normal enough to me," contributed the deflector control officer. "It's not like they're trying to keep their distance or anything."
"Shall I hold them?" prompted Piett, sensing my interest.
I closed my eyes and probed deeply, feeling my way along the dense network of the Force to the cluster of nodes that entwined the shuttle and its occupants. I knew at once that Han Solo was alive, and that Boba Fett must be dead; I saw a faceless droid, a primitive, and a woman bathed in the glare of destiny, lost in the halo surrounding my son, Luke Skywalker, his spirit blazing so that I cringed.
My left leg failed, and I found myself jigging across the bridge unceremoniously. My focus returned and I steadied my errant limb, straightening slowly and stepping back toward the console. "Do not concern yourself, Admiral," I said in answer to Piett's quiet look.
I ordered the shuttle be let through. The defensive screen was collapsed and the Tyderian craft dropped away toward the forest moon.
My son is here! I knew something was happening. The cloaking veil has grown, and I know not who generates it -- never the less, nothing could hide his presence from me. Does my master see what I see? Dare I tell him?
This is tense.
I rushed aboard my shuttle and had it flown directly to the Death Star. Even as we landed in the hangar I had not decided my strategy. I moved briskly toward the Emperor's tower, striding through the corridor toward his private lift, the entrance to which was flanked by two Imperial Guards in crimson robes.
Before I reached them Moff Jerjerrod stepped out of the shadows between two bulkheads. "Lord Vader, what an unexpected surprise," he grinned condescendingly, blocking my path. "I'm afraid His Excellency does not wish to be disturbed at the moment."
I cannot fathom what hallucination fuels his arrogance! In answer I raised my gloved hand and willed his airways closed. Jerjerrod grabbed frantically at his collar, dropping to his knees and gasping. I said, "I will see the Emperor. Now."
Jerjerrod nodded weakly, but the Imperial Guards took a sudden step forward, their force-pikes levelled and crackling. Their will reflects the desires of Darth Sidious directly, and so I knew I dared not stand against them. I nodded my assent silently and released my hold on Jerjerrod, who collapsed to the deck in a fit of agonized wheezing and voided his bladder.
"I will await the Emperor's convenience," I declared, and then turned heel and swept out to the anteroom.
An hour later Moff Jerjerrod emerged escorting my master's Imperial ministers and two tall Kaminoans, their white heads bobbing gracefully as they walked. They proceeded to the main lift. Two Imperial Guards emerged next and stood before me. "The Dark Lord grants you audience tomorrow morning, Darth Vader."
Tomorrow morning? I could not believe it. But all I said was, "As the Emperor commands."
I am feeling more and more dispensible every day. I have taken up my quarters aboard the Death Star again while I wait for morning, gazing out at the clouds of the Sanctuary Moon. I spent some time trying to reconfigure my leg circuitry, but I cannot even seem to find the problem. I listened to some music, and did not each much supper.
If indeed my master does plan to betray the Sith and pervert the succession, is there a way I can act to preserve the prophecy? This is the question that contorts my mind tonight.
Am I now truly irrelevant to the galaxy's fate?