Part 1: Darkest hours
By SJ 12-23-01/05-03-02 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimers: Nothing in the Star Wars Universe belong to me; everything belongs
to George Lucas.
See my homepage for more details.
Special thanks to my shy, secret beta-reader and best friend, Adrianne, for
help with the final editing of my new stories. Thanks for giving
me some of your precious time, my friend :)
It was now three weeks since Leia's death, three weeks since a new war had
against the remaining Rebels.
Lord Vader stood in his favorite spot near the main bay-window of the bridge
his flagship, the Executor.
Behind him, the reports kept coming in from the spying droids that were
stationed all along the main hyperspace routes, informing him if they detected
the presence of dubious spaceships currently in hyperspace transit.
While he had been the first one to greatly doubt his son's idea and the
feasibility of such a detection tool, he now gladly admitted that he had been
Luke, with the help of the best technicians at his disposal, had developed a
type of probe droids which could pierce the veil of hyperspace and scan each
flashing-by-ship for weapons, unusual amount of passengers in non-registered
cruise ships, and even for vaguely rebel-reminding designs.
If the droids identified a suspect, they tracked down its trajectory and sent
under a priority one signal to the Executor.
So far, the new gadgets had functioned marvelously well. His part of the
had intercepted half of the ships which had used the main routes throughout the
galaxy, and only fifteen percent of those captured ships had proven harmless and
His son's strategy was once again genius, he reflected with pride, then he
wondered where he was taking all his inventive tactics; he himself would never
have thought about the hyperspace routes as a mean to intercept unsuspecting
Rebels. However, he would have blockaded planet after planet until he were sure
that no rebel base or sympathizers were gathering on its surface.
He had to admit that it wouldn't have been quite as efficient as his son's
He didn't resent him, of course, but, he conceded to himself, he was slightly
upset that his son was slowly supplanting him in the Emperor's favors.
Oh, he admitted, his child had more than earned everything he was granted,
it was also long overdue as far as he was concerned, but he had never expected
that his son's rising out of the shadows would mean that he himself would slowly
yield his favored position with the Emperor.
He... wasn't ready to retire yet, he thought seriously. He was still
young, and he too wanted to avenge his daughter's murder at the Jedis hands.
After all, he thought , feeling a fresh surge of anger at the memories of the
past, it was their lies and the resulting brainwash that had caused Leia's
death. Without them, she would have taken her place in her rightful family...
and she would still be alive.
Suddenly feeling a dangerous wave of sadness invade him, he hurried to shut
sensitive mental door that he had just opened and hurried to recover his initial
track of thoughts.
His son, he remembered,... and his shining more darkly than ever in the
He would never, ever keep his son from enjoying what was his due, he
seriously, not even if it meant for him to step out of the spotlight.
Right now however, he didn't want to be left in the background for their very
important mission; it meant just as much to him as it did to his son.
Of course, he conceded seriously, he hadn't been exactly 'as' vocal about
as his son had been, but then, he had never been the talkative type either.
However, the Emperor had shown a little 'too much' interest in Luke's ideas
he himself had almost given the impression that he didn't care about his role in
But he 'did' care.
He wanted to take out as many rebel units as he could, and he would make sure
that no other family would experience what his children, his wife and himself
had been through because of the Jedis and the rebels, two hated groups which
were issued from the same propaganda that never brought anything but destruction
to its followers.
But not for much longer, he reminded himself darkly as he envisioned his and
son's goal. Soon, Imperial peace would truly settle over the Empire and his
daughter's death would be avenged.
And, he added in personal pride, he would show the Emperor that he wasn't
getting old now that Luke had grown into an adult servant. He could still serve
him as well as before.
"Prepare for the jump to hyperspace," he ordered to Admiral Ozzel
who had been
silently awaiting his orders. "Those Rebel pirates won't escape us," he snarled
Parsecs away, aboard his own super star destroyer, the Annihilator, Luke
watched in dark satisfaction as a battle kept raging all around his division of
Mara's information had once again been right, he smiled meanly as a Rebel
exploded right in his line of vision.
One more death to avenge Leia's.
While he surveyed the rest of the battle, leaving the specifics to Admiral
Piett, his hand-picked second-in-command, he thought back to the past three
The moment that they had exited the Emperor's throne room after Leia's death,
and Mara had boarded the Annihilator and set up their plan for the final
destruction of the Alliance. Then, his father had agreed to carry out his
strategy to keep an eye on the main intergalactic-traffic lanes while he himself
would focus on the bases of the renegades. The sole purpose of his ideas had
been to insure the success of his goal, he conceded, but it had happened to
greatly please the Emperor, a rare occurrence in itself.
His master had commanded him for his genius creativity and resourcefulness,
especially since it didn't involve destroying any imperial resource for once.
Luke had to admit that he appreciated the ruler's rare praises; for once, he
hadn't seemed to mind his care for his sister and the rest of the population.
Well, he conceded, it was driving him onward this time; it more than served
the Emperor's purposes.
Throughout the past two weeks, he had served him well indeed.
While he himself had concentrated his attacks on the bases that Mara
for him, his father had patrolled the Galactic main corridors of transit to
intercept either Rebel sympathizers or Rebel pirates which were now threatening
the safety of the good citizens.
Luke scorned at that thought: pirates...
He knew that his sister would never have let any rebel stoop this low...
Even worse, he snarled inwardly, they were taking advantage of their 'new'
activities to spread the news of their re-emergence, enrolling new soldiers
aboard the ships they captured.
They 'had' to be stopped, he thought again with fresh, dangerous determination.
When the last rebel fighter exploded, he turned away from the huge bay-window
and returned to his tactical display.
New data from Mara had been downloaded in it. While he studied it, he dimly
surmised that she had probably sent it just before she had jumped into
hyperspace with the few 'survivors' who had been allowed to escape. Much like
when he himself had been a 'rebel' but no one would know that, he smiled grimly.
Despite her being his consort in the Imperial court, Mara was still unknown to
everybody. Nobody could relate her to him while in missions.
Pressing his right hand against the edge of the table/display, he flipped a
switch with his left index and compared the data with the one that had been
gleaned by the Intelligence spies.
Soon, he decided, they would have to intervene in the regular population, not
only where Rebel bases were located.
There were only two of those left, he smirked darkly.
At the Rebel base on Criartro 11, Mara Jade forced down another rebel ration
without grimacing too much.
While she knew that the lack of supplies meant that the Rebels would soon be
history, for real this time, there was still a limit as to what was considered
edible and the rebel's bars were at its very limit. As she continued her
insipid, disgusting meal, she reflected that she could now understand what her
boyfriend had been through to be allowed to claim his true name after bringing
them victory. She promised herself that she would never tease him anymore when
he would complain about that time of his life. Low technology, tin cans for
fighter ships, dirty clothes... almost no warm water in the hideouts, and
horribly bad food: now she knew why he spent so much time in their quarters when
Even more, she would now be delighted to accompany him... when he would
her, of course. When they would have avenged Leia...
Leia... It was still hard to believe that she would never see her again---
"Hey, Arica!" a young, inexperienced and annoying pilot suddenly
called as he
stepped closer to her. "You'll be late for the meeting if you don't get there
soon," he smiled at her.
Mara refrained herself from rolling her eyes in annoyance; the Kid was
undoubtedly stricken with her. She pretended to recover her full-awareness,
then looked up as worriedly as she could at the youth.
"Oh, uh... just worried, I guess," she explained as she stood to
her feet. "So
little of us made it through this time," she continued, making her voice crack
slightly in tension.
"I know," Yuli nodded, then cheered up a bit, "but I think
we're not done yet.
High command has a back-up plan, or so I heard."
Interested for real this time, she straightened up, then gazed seriously at
young, foolish man.
"Then what are we waiting for?" she asked him with a barely
perceptible edge in
The kid completely missed it; Mara made the best of her new opportunity to
her boyfriend avenge his sister's death.
On Coruscant, deeply ensconced in his throne, the Emperor jubilated.
When the Skywalker girl had appeared in his world of perfect control, he had
a foreboding feeling that she would cause him trouble, especially with her
brother whom he still hadn't been able to corrupt completely.
However, his worries had proven vain.
The girl's relationship with her family had served him better than anything
could have foreseen, driving the remaining members into a frenzy of revenge that
more than served his dark purposes. The son was now as ensnared as the father
had been for years now, ever since the death of his wife in fact. Even now, he
didn't have to tell the Vaders what to do to please him; they did it by
Of course, he conceded, they always did those in 'her' name, but their hatred
was so pure and strong that he didn't mind... for the moment at least. He kept
a close eye on them though, making sure that their hatred remained aimed at
their enemies, not himself. He knew all too well how intelligent his servants
were, and how they 'might' unravel the chains which he had so carefully wrapped
them with. If they became aware of those, he had no doubt that they would blame
him for the death of the girl... and their powers would be turned against him.
However, he reflected seriously, he didn't worry much about the Vaders
they were both his slaves, had never known anything much in their lives except
their service to him, and they were content with it, but, he shrugged inwardly,
he hadn't become Emperor without being wary about potential trouble.
And trouble it would be if his slaves were to turn their revenge against him;
the two men were much more powerful than he himself was, especially the youth
who still held a remnant of his disgusting good heart in himself.
Upon that thought, he called up the latest report from one of his spies
the boy's ship. His Hand, a man this time, hadn't detected anything abnormal
with his 'Lord'. He was driven to destroy the Rebels and stopped at nothing to
reach his goal.
'Just so,' the Emperor smiled to himself in brief relief. As long as he
he couldn't care, let alone love.
Except Mara Jade.
When the two of them had been partner, allowing their closer relationship had
served him magnificently, but now that they were serving him separately, he
reflected coldly that he would have to force them apart without their being
aware of it. The genuineness of their love for one another downright sickened
him, and more than displeased him when it came to his control over them.
Love was like the Jedi Order: a pestilence to get rid of.
Yes, he thought seriously, he would slowly push the two youths away from one
another and would continue to monitor his three servants; if he ever detected
even the slightest sign of a change of attitude, he would remind them 'who' was
their master. He called up another report, this time from Vader's flagship, and
continued his study of his actual operations.
A week later, Lord Vader stalked down the noisy corridors of the captured
frigate, separating Rebel sympathizers from the rest of the passengers... and
doing his best to ignore the cries of the children and/or companions of the said
rebels as they were separated from their loved ones.
'It is for the best,' he reminded himself sternly as he watched his troops
yet another struggling man away from his frightened family. Those few
sacrifices would serve the larger population by bringing about true peace and
happiness, he reminded himself yet again.
However, even his cool reasoning couldn't resist the wails of a fair-haired
toddler who had just been pulled away from his father; he himself turned away
from him, unable to bear his despair and grief.
He wouldn't let this affect him, he berated himself, then forced himself to
focus on the ongoing operation.
Unfortunately, instead of taking note of his troops efficiency against the
struggling prisoners, or to even feel content that the captured cargo would hurt
the remaining rebel fighters, the only thing that he was aware of was the rest
of the passengers who were being contained by his troops... The women or men who
were trying to break free to rejoin their lost ones... The children who were
clutching the legs or waists of their remaining parents.
The sadness of he had generated with his intervention aboard this ship.
For one of the rare times in his life, Lord Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith,
his eyes in disgust at the pain he was responsible for, then caught himself and
forced them to re-open. He wouldn't feel regret, he resolved seriously; he
Reaching a decision, he stepped closer to the crying child, who reminded him
much of his own son when he had met him--- and swiftly picked him up from where
he had sat down on the floor to cry as loudly as he could. As he had expected,
his action scared the child mute; the rest of the crowd also grew deathly quiet.
"Don't hurt him, my Lord, please!" a woman nearby suddenly begged.
Vader gazed a little longer in the scared, brown eyes of the toddler, then
at the assembled passengers.
"I will not harm any of you..., nor your loved-ones," he added on
surprising himself with his decision.
Nice, he instantly scolded himself. Now he had to deal with that without
As he expected, everyone present gaped at him in disbelief, prisoners and
plate-covered stormtroopers alike.
"I will not harm them," he repeated seriously, "but I will not
return them to
you until they pledge never to defy the Empire again," he finished, inwardly
sighing in relief.
That had been close, he admitted to himself.
"Without the Rebellion, there is no war, hence, no suffering. Always
that," he commented with a threatening touch in his voice. "All of you...
"...we're doing this for your own good and happiness," Luke Vader
While the older teenager seemed angry enough to try and jump him, his younger
sisters and brothers reflexively nodded out of fear of the young Dark Lord.
Luke locked his warning glare on the young man for as long as he felt danger
from him, then, once the other had subsided, prepared to leave.
Behind them, his troops had finished to hustle the adults outside; the rest
the area had also been cleared out and all the rebel sympathizers were being
gathered in waiting transports.
Since they would be leaving children to their own devices, the help that Luke
had ordered the local governments to provide was already there. Two elderly
women came up in the entrance of the house, ready to take care of the children.
Luke refocused on the group of children.
"Now, be good children and be faithful to the Empire," he told them
turned on his heel and left the house.
"I want Mommy!!" a little girl instantly cried, piercing his cool
her scream of despair; he tried to ignore her.
However, when he exited the house to step into the night, he heard similar
and cries from the other children nearby.
This was the unpleasant part of his job, he decided sadly, but he had no
he sternly reminded himself. If Rebel sympathizers weren't dealt with, then
other children would be forced apart from their parents... perhaps even from
their siblings. He wouldn't allow it, he resolved once again; he strode toward
"My Lord," General Veers bowed to him as he came up in the area
that was lit by
his shuttle's landing spots.
Around them, some troopers were still dealing with prisoners while others
destroying the confiscated Rebel propaganda.
"Are we finished, General?" he asked him even as he dimly wished
that they were,
indeed, done here.
They had made enough children cry for a while...
"Yes, Lord Vader," the man nodded. "The Rebels have been
stunned as per your
orders and are being transferred to the Avenger for transportation to the mines
"Belay that order," he commented almost out of reflex, surprising
his own set of mind.
"My Lord?" the other asked uncertainly.
For a moment, Luke gazed back at the well-lit houses that used to be filled
young laughter and love. They would be empty of such feelings for a long
"Transfer the prisoners to my ship," he ordered, recovering his
turning back toward his subordinate. "I will take care of them myself."
"As you wish, my Lord," Veers bowed, then left him alone to correct his orders.
Luke for his part turned once again toward the area that they had just
then closed his eyes in grief.
If only there weren't any Rebels, he wished fervently, then he wouldn't have
separate those children from their parents... Yes, he decided as he re-opened
his eyes and gazed steadily at the results of his operation, the Rebels were the
problem, not him nor the Empire. It was time to end it once and for all, he
resolved, then whirled around and headed up the ramp of his waiting shuttle.
Aboard, his pilots waited for him to be seated before they initiated their
Later that night, Luke sat pensively in his chair of his tactical room.
While it lacked the round meditation/environmental chamber of his father's
reception room, he had kept the round design for the boards, thus making it
possible for him to sit in the middle of them... while he was surrounded by a
huge hologram of the galaxy.
However, he wasn't paying much attention to it at the moment; instead, he was
staring absently at his next target, the rebels' last base while reflecting yet
again about the events of the day.
He didn't want to kill the children's parents, he finally, reluctantly
to himself. Even though some of them had been rebel leaders in-the-pod, they
had still had a family, children to love and care for... He would be as bad as
the Jedis had been if he killed the parents as if they were vulgar Rebel
soldiers and thus deprived their children from them... like he himself and his
sister had been deprived of their parents, he thought sadly at the past... On
the other hand, he reflected more coolly, forcing himself to recover his
composure, he couldn't let them go. He wouldn't allow the Rebellion to go on,
thus causing more suffering.
His tactical holo suddenly disappeared as a calling signal informed him that
someone was trying to reach him.
Slowly, he swiveled his chair toward the comm board to see who was calling
he threw the activation switch with the Force. His father's helmeted head
appeared on the comm screen of the wall which was now in front of him.
Unlike the Emperor's huge holos, he and his father preferred to not invade
other's environment 'too' much when they contacted each other.
"Father," he greeted, remaining in his seat.
"Son," his father returned coolly. "How was your operation on Carlama?"
"Successful," he answered shortly, refraining himself from showing
any sign of
his regrets regarding the results of the operation. "And you? Did you catch
"Yes," his father nodded briefly.
Then, both fell silent... as if waiting for the other to say something.
"Their children were with them," the older Vader finally informed him.
Given his own recent experience, Luke understood immediately what he meant.
father had the same problems that he himself did.
"We can't kill them as if they were soldiers," he surmised even as
he nodded in
understanding and compassion.
"I take it that you had a similar experience then," his father
"Yes, I did," Luke admitted, slightly casting his eyes downward at
glancing upward once again. "I don't know what to do with the prisoners," he
continued, allowing himself to share his incertitude with his father.
Except for Mara, he was the only being with whom he allowed himself to be his
true self, caring, not always sure of himself, yet devoted to their master.
"I do," his father answered, slightly turning aside from the screen
some data on his end of the communication. "I didn't know if I could share this
with you or not," he then commented as he faced his screen once again.
His father was worried that he wouldn't understand him?, he wondered. This
to be the first time that something seemed to come between them, he reflected
seriously. Then he read the data that appeared on his screen and understood.
Saving the lives of traitors wasn't the regular attitude for either dark lords.
However, he realized as he read on, his father didn't mean to simply release
them, but to re-educate them...
Luke admitted that it was much more clever than any of the ideas that he had
for the past hours.
Sectors away, Vader studied his son while he read his suggestion.
How different he was from the young slave whom he had purchased so many years
ago now, he reflected with a touch of sadness... His small, young face had
changed into the handsome features of a young man who would, were he not a Dark
Lord of the Sith, still attract his fair share of womanly attention, he admitted
in fatherly pride.
His small body, for its part, had developed into an athletic, strong frame
his cloak and leather-dress uniforms took care to enhance, leaving no doubt as
to his status of near-absolute power.
His very sharp mind, which had allowed him to survive his trials, had turned
into a shrewd tactician and efficient commander, and, finally, his depthless
potential was now tamed, allowing his son to be perfect control of his almost
limitless Force abilities.
He truly was his father's son, he smiled, bitter-sweet.
"This is very interesting, Father," the younger man finally
you ever tried it before?"
"No," he admitted, "but deeper brainwash never failed. With
the Force, we could
make sure that this one focuses only on the aspect of their rebellion, leaving
the memories of their families and every-day lives safe."
"And we would be able to return them to their children," his son
finished with a
nod. "Does the Emperor agree?" he asked almost instantly.
Vader frowned slightly at the mention of their master, surprising himself
"Why wouldn't he agree?" he finally inquired seriously. "We
will accomplish our
"I know," his son nodded, "but it is also unusual for us to
spare our targets
like this," he pointed out seriously. "I don't want to attract his
disapproval," he finished, somewhat grimmer.
Vader conceded that his son's wariness was more than understandably after his
last punishment; the Emperor wasn't lenient when his servants' tactics didn't
"He won't be angry this time, Luke," he reassured him. "While
we will keep
those beings alive and return them to their families, their rebel personalities
will be annihilated."
His intelligent youth took a moment to ponder his suggestion, then he finally
nodded in agreement.
"You're right. We could even establish this as a standard procedure for
two of us," he suggested seriously.
"Beginning tomorrow," the older Vader agreed instantly. "I
don't want to keep
those children orphaned any longer than I have to," he continued, his voice
suddenly filled with an emotion that he recognized as sorrow...
For his actions, he realized in stark shock; he forced himself to refrain
himself from showing any signs of his inner thoughts to his son.
"Me either," Luke answered, having missed his peculiar set of mind,
"but I will
return them 'after' I took care of the last base," he commented seriously,
giving him one more proof that while his son still cared about the innocents, he
was more driven than he himself was in regards to the Rebels.
However, he was slightly afraid that his son's hatred and anger were
close to snuff out what he loved most in his dear boy: his good heart.
"Once this threat is dealt with," the younger man continued coolly,
brainwash and release the apprehended citizens. Their children are in good
hands for the moment; a few days won't matter much. However, a few more days of
Rebel activity in the galaxy 'will' make a big difference in all our lives."
Vader absently nodded in agreement. In fact though, he was... distraught by
son's speech. He had sounded exactly like he himself had before he had met him,
nearly nine years ago now...
Before he had realized what a monster he had become.
Before he had hurt his own son because of his dangerous anger and hatred.
He didn't want Luke to become like this, he suddenly realized, didn't want
to stop caring about the innocents and the children.
"Don't delay anymore then," he commented out loud, as if he were
to finish it with the Rebels.
In fact though, he was more and more aware that he meant to not delay his
intervention with his prisoners so that they could be returned to their
"I won't," Luke answered, smiling tightly in grim determination.
"Good night, then, Son," he told him more gently than he intended.
His son perched an eyebrow at him, but he didn't comment on his sudden lack
"You too, Father," he wished him back, his voice equally gentler
their whole conversation.
He wasn't completely consumed by the Dark Side, he sighed in relief; his son
just temporarily giving a little more into his hatred, but not too much either.
They both turned off their communication devices.
Once alone, Vader allowed himself to shake his head at himself.
What was wrong with him these days, he asked himself in annoyance. First, he
had grieved his daughter in the wake of her death, something he hadn't even
done for her mother, then he cared about his victims, and tonight, he didn't
want his son to be consumed by the Dark Side... What would come next? he asked
himself sarcastically. Return to the Light and its feeble skills???
He impulsively whirled around, meaning to spend his disgust and frustration
physical way--- he stopped short in utter disbelief.
Right in front of him, where he had thought that there was only thin air...
angel was standing, surrounded by an aureole of light.
"Good evening, Father," Leia said gently.
TBC in part 2: Messenger
Found it interesting? Hope so :)
SJ: Skyjade@globetrotter.net (any positive stuff is welcome, but negative or
mean comments will be thrown down the Sarlacc s throat without being read.)
Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X
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