Title: Anniversaries of
Summary: Darth Vader gets
his affairs in order before leaving for the second Death
Star and Endor
Anniversaries of the Heart
The holiest of all
holidays are those
The day turned to twilight as iron and silver tipped clouds succumbed to the luminosity of a gold dusk, then gave up their glory to the indigo night and twinkling stars that blanketed the skies of Coruscant, now called Imperial Center.
It would always be Coruscant to Lord Vader though, the Dark Lord thought as he looked out of the viewport to the city outside from his official chambers inside Imperial Palace. It was one of the only indulgences of disagreement with the Emperor he would allow himself, as the thought of banishing the planets former name from his vocabulary left with him with an ironic bitter taste in his mouth.
One would think that for its past transgressions, this bastion of Imperial might would be given fully to the Empire in Vaders judgment. It was something he could not explain himself, but he did not waste precious time pondering it. In fact, he did not waste time pondering anything these days. Everything presented itself to him through the Force in stark contrasts of black and white, or it had until recently. That clarity could almost be quite refreshing when one allowed oneself to feel, which was very rare.
Lord Vader frowned under the mask. For someone who didnt ponder, he was doing it with increasing frequency of late.
It was the height of Imperial Fair, as the local elite on Imperial Center called it, or Feté as it was known in the Old Republic, and the week long celebrations were starting.
Darth Vader loathed this time of the Galactic Year.
The pomp and tradition tried his patience immensely. Anything to do with the holiday or its former Republic name of Feté Week galled him. For him, only bad memories of a time when the galaxy wore a gilded veil of bureaucracy and corruption remained. Much like what was left of the accursed holiday of Imperial Feté. He did, however uncharacteristic, allow his subordinates time to celebrate and attend the many balls and celebrations held at Imperial Palace and on their various home worlds. It afforded him time to get his affairs at his residences in order.
He would have liked to have thought that this year was the same, but it was not. The incident with Skywalker at Bespin now haunted him, and he found himself thinking about his son more than was either healthy or intelligent. There were plenty of things to keep his mind occupied and away from Skywalker: like Black Sun crime lords, the ever-increasing presence of the Rebel Alliance on the Outer Rim or appointing the planning commission of the second Death Star.
That these items eluded him so strongly made him realize that he needed to focus his energies, now more than ever. He needed time to meditate and draw strength from the Force, the darkness always served to calm and center him. The comm on his desk buzzed and the presence of Admiral Piett drew Vader away from his reverie.
Although it was not widely known outside the Imperial Navy, serving in Darth Vaders fleet had its advantages. Besides being the most elite and prominent assignments, it provided the best training for advancement. It was not as bad as one would think it would be, if one played their cards right and kept a low, but dedicated profile.
The Dark Lord had a private, mysterious streak and if one was successful enough to make it to his inner circle - if it could be called that - they were privy to his more private moments, and his calmer demeanor. If they were really efficient and worthwhile, they might also know more important tactical and dangerous secrets, like the fact that his hunt for Skywalker was often left unlogged.
That was a matter of confidentiality that would surely be dangerous if exposed.
Often those who served Lord Vader well and had good heads on their shoulders were rewarded with commendations and promotions. Lord Vader had, in the recent past, started allowing officers and enlisted men time off around Feté to refresh and be with their families, although Lord Vader would never call it family time. Admiral Piett doubted there had ever been family for Darth Vader, or if there was, it was long, long ago. No, he couldnt imagine Vader with family at all, he mused as he entered the lift in the executive wing of Imperial Palace, and pressed the button for the floor of Lord Vaders official chambers.
Aye, youre the lucky one today.
Piett turned to look at the speaker, another occupant in the lift, a Grand Admirals personal assistant, judging by his insignia. He gave a soft sniff of derision and raised his eyebrows at the assistant. I beg your pardon?
Something for Lord Vader, eh? the assistant smirked. Ive always wondered what devilry he cooks up in those chambers. You look awfully calm for someone about to go in there.
There were always tensions between the Grand Admirals and Lord Vader. Darth Vader didnt give the self-important Admirals the time of day, and they were both jealous and leery of the special place he seemed to have in the galaxy. It could be said he was number two, maybe even a little more than that. Sometimes it was even whispered that deep down, Palpatine must be scared of him.
Piett regarded the assistant with hooded eyes, as the lift slowly stopped. Vermin, he thought. His upbringing in the Outer Rim had taught him the ability to recognize those who had attained status as a result of their family name or a favor owed to those in higher government. He loathed them.
He sometimes thought that he and the Lord Darth Vader himself were the only officers to work their way up in the Imperial government. When Piett first met Lord Vader he served under Moff Tarkin. He also remembered hearing that Vader had been a General in the Clone Wars. Darth Vader had paid his dues, maybe not all of them, but some of them. The suit left no doubt about that, but you could also tell by his bearing.
Dont be ridiculous. Hes only a man, he said disdainfully, and left the gaping assistant to continue on to his destination.
He punched in the private code to Vaders outer chambers, and received the signal that he was expected. Piett entered quietly and found him standing at the window, regarding the dying sunset pensively.
My Lord, Piett said. Will you be staying on Imperial Center as usual for the holidays?
No, Admiral, Vader said without turning from the viewport. Please have my shuttle prepared for Vjun.
Right away, My Lord, he replied, mildly surprised. Lord Vader rarely went to his private home.
He started to wish him a happy Feté season, and then stopped himself, thinking how absurd the statement would be. He bowed at the waist and left as quietly as he had come in.
Vader turned and walked to the far wall of his official chamber and punched the keypad beside a particularly drab piece of cityscape pretending to be art. It lifted to reveal a safe hidden in the wall that held the residential documents he would need for his trip to Vjun.
His gloved hand brushed the side of an item he had just recently acquired. A holo reporter had been paid anonymously to procure the item, and it had been secretly delivered to him two days ago. He had put it away in hopes of forgetting of its existence. The temptation was too great, however, and he withdrew the item from the safe.
It was a holopicture taken of Luke Skywalker by a reconnaissance reporter. Through one of his most trusted sources, Darth Vader had paid handsomely for it. Why, he did not know.
With a tap of his thumb, the lid popped open and the holo of his son flickered to life, spinning slowly. Vader stood transfixed by the blue eyes that stared into his knowingly. He closed the holo and went to put it back in the safe, then stopped. He shut the door to the safe and put the holo in the case with his documentation that would be making the trip with him. Snapping the lid on the case shut with finality, he turned and left for the shuttle.
Twisted spires of obsidian punctured the bleak, gray skies of Vjun. Their irreverence to the heavens betrayed the ambiance of the planet. Vjun was not known for its welcome to travellers. Above the gray shadows and pointed tips of castle turrets, the atmosphere wove a tapestry of deep russet, purple and red.
Below the thick, damp blanket of air, a swirling snow was falling slowly as Darth Vader disembarked from the shuttle on the landing pad of Bast Castle, his personal residence away from the capital. It cast a shadowy, dreary pall over everything, making it hard to see the way to the entrance of the castle. How fitting, he thought ominously. Things were beginning to change, just as they had in the dying breaths of the Old Republic, and the uneasy murkiness gathered heavier with each passing day. The landing pad door hissed behind him as he disappeared into the castle.
There are few choices in life if you are a girl child born to the untitled on Vjun: Administrative maid of a titled household or personal maiden of a titled household are two of the most prominent and prized. The difference, Myr's Mum had told her, was how the Lord of the Castle treated you and what he asked of you. Myr considered herself lucky enough to have been chosen for the better role of administrative maid of the household, she guessed, as her Lord had never said one way or the other, but asked nothing of her but to keep out any prying eyes while he was away and to keep things in order and to keep out of his way when he was on the property, unless called for.
She assumed she wasnt wanted for the role of personal maiden because of her somewhat plain looks. She wasnt ugly, nor was she breathtakingly lovely. She just was. Her dark brown hair hung in waves down her back when it wasnt pinned in her bun, and her soft brown eyes complemented her light olive skin. When she did have to consult with Lord Vader, she only had to humanize the mask he wore when outside his personal sleeping chambers. She had stood before him unflinchingly when she had interviewed for the job. She was sure it had been to her advantage.
He always arrived at a moments notice and the other servants would retreat to the safer, unseen duties, clamoring to remain invisible. She never knew what mood he would be suffering from, although she suspected he saved his more volatile moments for Imperial Center. She had long ago deduced that he came to Bast when he wished to be alone, to escape from whatever haunted his dreams so fiercely. He never seemed to escape them, though, from what she could tell. He would never know that she sometimes heard him in the night, pacing away his demons. It would be her death as sure as the winters were cold on this cursed planet.
The comm chimes rang, signalling that Lord Vader was being escorted from the hangar and smoothing the folds of her dress as she went, Myr hurried to welcome him home. She met her Lord at the foyer entrance and bowed, ready to take anything that was needed from the shuttle captain. A footman droid stood beside her, its servos whirring patiently as they awaited their instructions.
The captain handed the droid the small business case, and bowed to Myr. He then turned and saluted Lord Vader crisply and left Myr standing with the hulking figure of the Darth Vader alone. He waited expectantly and Myr almost forgot herself.
Im so sorry, my lord. Your room awaits your arrival, she said with another small curtsy. Would you like your case taken to your study?
No, the baritone voice resonated in the black marble foyer. You may have the droid take it to my personal chambers. I will be there for most of my stay.
He inclined his head slightly and moved past Myr to go up to his chambers. She gave him a wide berth and sent the droid upstairs.
The planet of Vjun had always attracted the Sith. Dark energy on the planet drew those that were brave enough to command the darkness to it like flimstys to honey. Most inhabitants of Vjun were slightly Force-sensitive, herself included. It was passed on through generations. In old times, some of the most powerful force-users ever had come from this planet of acid rain and damp clouds.
Her home had always been volatile, but it had been increasingly so in the last few generations. The last Dark Lord on the planet before her master was Count Dooku, who had taken a manor formerly occupied by the Viscount Malreaux. The Viscount had died of the madness that had infected everyone at that time of her planets history. Many attributed that madness to the darkness that surrounded the planet during the Clone Wars. Dooku had later died for the atrocities that he had committed, and rumors abounded that it was Darth Vader who had killed him, but no records were ever made public.
For all of the terror he struck on other worlds, Lord Vader seemed to have a calming effect on the planet of Vjun, according to those who had lived through the dark times. As ironic as it was, life seemed more balanced since his arrival over two decades ago. Their culture was not flourishing by any means, but the madness and murder had stopped the minute he had stepped planet side and claimed the high cliffs of Bast for his own. Unlike Dooku, he was a man of very few words and intensely private. He had only asked for an administrative attendant and a handful of servants to keep the droids maintained and the castle up while he was away on the Executor, his Imperial Star Destroyer or at his residence at the capital.
Winters on Vjun were especially harsh as the acid rain turned to sleet and snow. The skies took on a gray hue and the darkness made the castles and manors seem even more malevolent. The snow this season had been pleasantly surprising. Even though gloom still permeated the atmosphere, the snowflakes were fat and swirled in the air like tiny crystal performers in a strange ballet. It was beautiful, Myr thought as she settled into the chair by the fireplace in the large study. She allowed herself a moment of relaxation. She had tidied the study and prepared it for anything her lord might need, which wasnt much. He rarely stayed in the study when he was there. He seemed to have bought the whole castle for his private chambers.
It occurred to Myr that she probably knew more about his personal habits than anyone, and that was an intriguing but frightening thought. She had taken the position knowing that becoming intimately acquainted with the personal matters of Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith meant that she could never leave this position. She knew he was human under the strange armor somewhere. He also had quirks that were very human. She knew these quirks could not be integrated into a droid or highly intelligent cyborg strange idiosyncrasies like placing his lightsaber where it could be reached within an inch of his person, as if he could never replace it with another. He rarely ate or slept and he could often be found pacing restlessly and brooding out a viewport. The latter was something he seemed to do almost as a manner of existing.
He also had nightmares. As one who was familiar with the curse of nightmares, she had suffered from them herself, she knew the sounds one made after the lengthy silence of sleep. The abruptness of footfalls as one fought their way out of the black hole of a nightmare. Her nightmares had gone away as she got older. She would have allowed herself to pity her master, if she had not been of the opinion that he neither wanted nor needed pity from anyone. In fact, it was probably viewed as a very grave transgression.
Returning her thoughts to her surroundings, she allowed her eyes to wander over the various items on bookshelves and credenzas. Everything efficient and boring, she grimaced. Books or data tables on designed tactical flight patterns of various ships, or other such bone-jarringly monotonous subjects. She moved her fingers over each absently. Her hand stopped suddenly when it fell on a larger leather case the size of an extremely large book. She pulled the case out and opened it slowly, revealing a snow globe nestled in velvet padding shaped to conform to the design of the object. A beautiful castle like she had never seen stood in the middle of the three-dimensional landscape inside the globe. It was a pinkish brown color with rounded turrets of green. There was a fountain in the center of the tiny courtyard and if you turned the orb, a beautiful snowfall would whirl in the atmosphere and a magical, tinkling music would play. The music had a heartbreakingly sad quality about it. She righted the orb swiftly before the music could be heard.
Myr was entranced. She would never in a million years have expected to run across something so breathtaking in the items belonging to Lord Vader. Beyond that, she would never have expected him to have something so personal out in the open. So to speak, she said to herself. It wasnt really out in the open. It had been semi-hidden, Myr reminded herself. She turned the case to put the globe back inside before she was caught and made very sorry she was sure, when a small folded piece of flimsiplast fell to the marble tiled floor. She bent to pick it up and started to tuck it back where it came from when her curiosity got the better of her.
She opened the letter to reveal neat, florid handwriting. Her breath caught in her chest as she read the words on the flimsiplast. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew this to be very dangerous, but the words were so unexpected and seemed so unreal, that she had to fight to keep from reading them aloud.
My Dearest Anakin,
It is with a heavy heart that I receive the news that you wont be able to come home for the holidays. Naboo doesnt feel like home without you now, my husband. I will miss your arms being around me as I wake on Feté morning and your breath in my hair as you sleep. I am sending you this so that you can at least see the beauty of Theed in a Feté snowfall, and know I am thinking of you always. Please be careful, Ani. I will pray for the end of this war diligently. Come home to me soon.
I love you always,
Myr reverently folded the flimsiplast and tucked it back into its hiding place between the velvet padding and the edge of the case. Her heart beat out a tattoo as she tried to hurry and hide the evidence of her curiosity.
Who was Anakin? Was he one of the Jedi that had earned Darth Vader his reputation? And why would Lord Vader hold onto something like this that belonged to the fallen Jedi? Why would he care? He didnt seem the type to keep trophies of those he had bested.
Stop, Myr chastised herself. She knew she should just put the globe back and forget that she saw any of this, but she loved a good mystery and her life here sometimes got a bit mundane. Lord Vader was gone for months on end and there was precious little in the castle to occupy her time. She chewed her lip and then hesitantly put the leather case back on the shelf. Odd how the castle was still eerily quiet even with Lord Vader in residence, she thought as picked up her dust cloth and left the room. Just who exactly are you really, Lord Vader? She decided then and there that she would find out, even if it killed her.
Icy fingers of frost crept up the darkened transparisteel viewport of the private chambers of Darth Vader, like claws holding to a diminishing surface. The hyperbaric facilities were kept clinically cold due to his condition anyway, but this morning the temperature seemed to have plummeted past cold to frigid. He had already managed to complete many of tasks he had planned for the length of his stay in the time that he had been here. He finished documenting the staffing situation on the station that would be located in the orbit of the small moon Endor and decided he would make the holotransmission to the Executor in the study downstairs.
The transmission completed, he rose from studys the ornate desk to look at the snow through the viewport. It was something of an enigma to him, as he had never experienced it in detail until his time on Naboo. There had been snow on Ilum, where he made his first lightsaber, but it was hard and inhospitable, so different from the flakes that had blanketed the Lake House the first holiday that he had spent there with his wife.
And what is the big, bad Jedi going to do when a snowball hits him right between the eyes? Padmes eyes twinkled with mischief. In her upturned hand she held a snowball the size of a large guranga fruit.
He is going to grab the naughty, little senator and carry her back to the house and make her listen to Threepio tell the genealogical history of the four hundred and eighty-seven diplomatic clans of the Livuarian monks of Ithor. Hows that for aggressive negotiations? Huh? Anakin raised a brow mockingly to emphasize the seriousness of his threat.
Padme drew her hand back even more. She grinned and raised her brows, drawing back to throw the wet projectile at her husband, but before the snowball could leave her hand, Anakin grabbed her from behind. He broke her fall with his body and laughed as she looked at him in offense.
That is not fair! Padme playfully slapped his chest. You used the Force! You had to, that was way too fast! She slapped him again on the chest, harder this time. Thats it. This is war.
He opened his mouth to protest when his wife brought a whole handful of scooped snow down on his face. She sat up to straddle him and laughed out loud at the look of sheer surprise on his face.
Geez, Padme! That was cold! Im from a warm planet, remember? He started to get up when she leaned down and placed both hands on the ground beside his head. She then placed her mouth a mere centimeter from his.
Oh no, you were being a bully, throwing your weight around like you were some sort of Jedi Knight or Sith Lord or something, she smiled as she moved even closer.
Now you must pay, she said as she lowered her lips to his. Anakin forgot all about the cold and the snow.
Vader shook himself from the reverie. He very rarely indulged in memories, choosing to bat them away insignificantly when they crept up. Or at least he did before. It seemed that he was losing control over some of the capacity he had gained for shutting the past out. He despised feeling this lack of control. If it had been a sentient being that reminded him of his painful past, he could dispose of them. In fact, he normally did. But how did one keep oneself from visiting old, painful memories, especially when the search for a son brought them so vividly to the fore?
It occurred to him that he was, perhaps, fooling himself and it troubled him greatly. Over the years, he had unconsciously surrounded himself with reminders of his past. The girl, Myr, was one. He frowned under the mask. He could not put his finger on who she reminded him of, but he respected her gentle practicality and innate nobility. To share a residence with him, no matter how infrequently, took courage.
He knew the girl had been standing in the corridor for most of the time he had been in the study; he had felt it the moment she arrived. Normally he would have said something, but he decided to indulge her curiosity. He was in a generous mood today.
He turned towards her and said, What is it?
Myr nearly jumped from her skin when Lord Vader addressed her. She had thought she was being inconspicuous, she should have known better. Now what was she to say? Im sorry, Lord Vader. I was just standing here wondering if you were standing there thinking about your past She stopped the train of thought midway, horrified. She sometimes forgot the man could read minds.
He stood motionless, his hands resting on his belt, and she had the most peculiar sensation that he was frowning at her as if she were some afflicted imbecile.
What is it? He asked again, causing her to jump.
Im s-sorry, my Lord, she stammered. I was wondering if you would be staying as long as you had originally planned. It appears that you were very productive in your tasks.
He turned to look out the window for a second, and then turned back to her.
Yes. I will be staying.
He stood there still, unflinching and expectant, and Myr realized he wasnt wearing the cape.
She knew there had been something different when he turned to her, she just couldnt place it exactly. She found herself surprisingly pleased that he had said that he would be staying.
She mentally shook herself and continued, Wonderful, My Lord. I will tell the rest of the staff to expect you through the holidays. The entire planet is delighted that you will be here.
She dropped a small curtsey and left.
Vader stood for a second before gathering his things to take back to his private chambers. The girl was a bit capricious, from what he could tell, and very naive. He was still affected by the exchange; he didnt deal with civilians well. He never had. There had never really been a time when he was a civilian; he was uncomfortable in social settings. Not that it mattered. He had no interest in how people perceived him. In fact, the less he had to deal with others, the better.
Myr watched him leave to go to his private chambers and walked inside to the study. On the chair behind the desk lay his cape. She picked it up and rushed to the foyer, but the lift doors were closing.
She looked down at the
garment in her hand and wondered how many had ever gotten
this close it. It was a fine wool crępe with a heavy
silk lining and when she moved her fingers along the
edges, it flowed over them like water. Before she knew
what she was doing she held it up to her face, surprised
by the faint smell of clean leather.
Anakin, what is it?
She was horrified. Perhaps as much as he was.
Anakin ran his hands over his face and tried to compose himself, the rivulets of sweat rolling from his face too fast for him to hide. He rolled to the side and gathered the black sleeping robe from the chair, pulling it over his bare chest. He turned to his wife and gathered her to him.
It was nothing. You know me and my overactive imagination. Just a nightmare, it must have been the wine, he said with a tentative smile.
It didnt sound like nothing, Ani. You were frightened. Horribly so, Padmé said, her voice shaking with fear.
Please. How can I help you if you dont tell me what is troubling you?
Its nothing. Its the same old dream, from the past, so I know it cant happen. Its nothing. Its actually very silly, he lied. I want you to get some rest for the baby.
He hated to use their unborn child to end the argument, but he couldnt discuss this with his wife. He must find some other place to voice his fears, anywhere but Padmé. He turned to lay on his side, his real hand slowly and hypnotically rubbing his wifes swollen abdomen until her breath slowed into the steady rhythm of sleep.
He had been plagued with dreams, visions, or nightmares - whatever one chose to call them practically from birth.
His mother had seen them as evidence of his abilities. The Jedi saw it as evidence of his birthright. He saw it as a personal curse.
He could tell the significant dreams from the more capricious ones, for they always returned. Their importance made themselves known by the way they settled morbidly on his heart when he woke. He had felt them only a few times before.
The last time had been before his mother died.
He rose from the bed quickly; only remembering to check for his wifes sleeping form as he turned to leave their bedroom. He gathered the light sleep robe around him to ward off the chill and stepped outside to the veranda.
Padmé had insisted on having the veranda constructed and added to their Coruscant apartment soon after their marriage. She made the argument that she needed a place for a small ship to be able to dock in case she must make a fast get away. Her life had indeed been threatened at every turn. He laughed to himself as he imagined his wife, the senator, contrary to her nature, batting her eyelashes as the senate funding committee fell for the demure act his wife could pull off so well. They never stood a chance.
The slight breeze coming from the upper atmosphere of Coruscant washed over him as he stepped to the balcony and looked over the city, the muted lights and street sounds having the calming effect he had intended. He decided then and there that he would swallow his pride and see Master Yoda tomorrow.
The dream haunted him every night now. He was becoming more and more frightened with each passing day. Maybe the old Master would be able to extract some meaning from his dream. Maybe it wasnt a premonition, but a warning.
He had to find out. He would not lose his wife. He would do whatever he must to prevent it.
Darth Vader awoke violently. It had been over twenty-five years since that dream had come to him. The dream that taunted him like a cuda beast, dancing and taunting before its final strike, not killing its prey outright, but making it suffer with images of its own death before it came.
That dream had been the end.
He had sought counsel of everyone, his premonition of his wifes death as she gave birth to their child had haunted him to desperation in the last days of his former life. It drove him to madness, as he looked for a crack in the crystal ball that were his visions in the Force. He had even lowered himself to begging for an answer from Master Yoda, but the Master had only quipped sadly at Anakin's vague pleas about the acceptance of things to come. For it was from the Force
How dare he? Vader shook with fury even now. How easy it must have been to shake his green head in compassion for the young Jedi, when he had nothing to lose.
It was then that he had turned in desperation to the one place where he knew the answer could be identified. Palpatine.
Palpatine had spoken to him of the ancient mythological power of life over death many times, knowing Anakins interest in the subject. Anakin had accepted that power, only too late, as his life folded before his eyes in those last days of the diseased Old Republic.
The Jedi would never interrupt the work of the Force. He was the Chosen One and he had control over nothing, or so he thought. The Jedi had led him to this place as sure as the Force created all things.
It was after his wifes death that he had come to this place in his relationship with the Force. This odd sort of co-existence that led him to ask nothing of the Light, for it had laughed in his face and made a fool of him.
It had manipulated him as surely as if he were a puppet and it the puppet master. Anakin Skywalker may have been a Jedi, but in the end he was a fool and an idiot.
And now his son lived. He lived in spite of Anakin Skywalker and the Jedi.
Vader blinked away sweat and pushed the button on the sleeping chamber. He rose and paused to look at the holo rotating slowly at his bedside. His sons eyes stared at him knowingly. They were Anakin Skywalkers eyes.
He hated how the past came back in his weakest moments, while he slept. Somehow, he would get a grip on the situation before going to the construction site of the second Death Star. His son must be made to see his destiny.
He finished up his morning routine and prepared a mental list of the tasks he would need to get done today. He punched in the required code and exited his chambers, a strange sense of forboding settling on him.
Myr had been here, at this place in the dream, for the past two nights when she would wake in a cold sweat. The images haunted her in every sleeping moment - the woman, the birthing room, and the sounds of new life Myr would wake shaken and disoriented.
Her dreams had stopped years ago, just past her eleventh birthday, until now. It was one of the things that children on Vjun live with, dreams. They had become so expected and indeed, a part of life on this wretched planet, that they were nothing but whimsy. Once outgrown, dreams rarely returned and never in this much detail. So far there were never words, but tonight
The mother, whom Myr could never plainly see or hear in her dream, tonight, was given a name. Padmé. The woman from the letter in the snow globe case
Myr threw the covers aside and got out of bed. Her bedroom had grown colder in the night and she moved to the intricately carved fireplace and stoked the embers of the dying fire. She was sorry that she had opted for this as her heat source tonight, as the practicality of the modulated castle heating quickly overcame the whimsy of having a fire in her opinion. It was too late now. She certainly didnt want to be caught up rambling around the hallways of the castle in the middle of the night by Lord Vader. Myr lay back down and stared up the ornate ceiling above her bed. Angels blew on trumpets against the backdrop of a blue sky decorated with clouds on the beautiful mural. Thoughts of the ill-fated Padmé wouldnt let her rid herself of the remnants of her dream.
She decided to go to the kitchen and make some warm milk. She would drink that and take a sleeping tablet and perhaps get at least a little rest. She made it as far down the hall as her Lords chambers when she stopped. The floor of his sleeping chambers creaked with the weight of his footfalls. So he couldnt sleep either
Darth Vader pulled on a heavy black wool robe, tied the sash and drew the hood over his bare head. He walked from his bed to a tall, obsidian tinted window in his chambers. The panels on the sills blinked with status lights, attesting to the delicacy of the rooms atmosphere. It was the only place he could remove the accursed suit. The surface of the window had been dulled to opacity by design. Vader did not like being reminded of his lot in life by his reflection. He watched numbly as the snow drifted slowly to the surface of the lower parapets and roof. He shuddered. The sight reminded him of the peace that seemed to come at the end of battle, when the explosions and cries of death had died down and there was nothing left but the eerie falling of ash.
He remembered those days in the Clone Wars. Med units filled with half bodies and the tortured moans of those wishing fervently for death to take them from their misery. Walking in the muck and mud stained by the blood of Jedi, Separatists, and Clones alike. Death never discriminated, especially in war. He had loathed the ground battles, preferring the quick, clean, painless death that came with the guns of a star fighter.
It was times like this when he would ask himself if life had really improved under the Empire. It certainly had been a better system than the Old Republic and the galaxy had lived in relative peace for twenty years. Why then did the traitorous Alliance keep adding systems? The answer always unsettled him. He hated the feeling that after all this time, after all of this .war, worlds were still fighting, traitors were still living and his child was no closer to him than the before he donned the miserable suit.
At this point in Darth Vaders life, the ideals he had clung so steadfastly to as a youth seemed trivial. What good was power if there was no one to share it with? What good was peace if his family was gone? The circle of his dilemma never ended. He was still asking himself the same questions he had twenty years ago. He turned from the window and decided to go downstairs. This room permitted too many feelings. He needed to find a droid and spar. The idle time had begun to make him feel like a caged animal. But first, there were items awaiting his attention in the study that would require that the past haunt him one more time this wretched day.
In the study, Vader walked to the desk and looked over to find his cape folded neatly on the corner of the desk. He drew it around him, fastened the chain around his neck and attached it by the hook on the front of his shoulder armor. He frowned. He didnt remember leaving the cape in the study. He was much too distracted, of late. He walked over to the bookcase and moved his long, black-gloved fingers along the volumes until they rested on the item he was looking for, and withdrew it from the shelf.
He opened the leather case reverently and removed the seemingly ancient snow globe. It appeared so delicate against the hugeness of his hand, yet the weight of the glass seemed to hold the memories of a thousand years. He pulled the cases velvet padding aside and reached inside for the flimsiplast document and datacard that went with it. He withdrew his own datapad from his case on the desk and synced the data that his personal financier had prepared before his trip to Vjun into the data card from the case. He folded the flimsiplast, put the datacard inside the flimsicover and dripped the wax onto the closure and sealed it with the insignia of Bast.
The deed to Varykino how long had it been since his thoughts had strayed there? It seemed like at least twice a day now, he though derisively. He tilted the globe and set it down to watch the snow cover the courtyard inside the glass globe.
The street was covered in vibrant hues of pink and yellow in the village in the Lake Country. Anakin loved Naboo in the spring. He didnt think there could be anything that could make him unhappy at this moment. He was on a ten-day leave from the war, the war that looked like it might end soon, and had just spent the most amazing night with his wife. His arrival had been late, but they still made time to enjoy each others company.
Padmé loved the market and, upon waking this morning, she made Anakin promise to escort her through the streets of the tiny village to gather some items to take back to Coruscant.
Ani. Ani, wake up. Padmé shook her husband by the shoulder. She pulled Anakins freshly laundered Jedi robe on over her nightgown. She loved wearing it when he returned, the feeling of closeness and comfort that only something of Anis could bring.
Hrmmph. Anakin turned and pulled the covers over his face. It slowly registered through the fog in his mind that he didnt have a stitch of clothes on. Come back to bed, its freezing. He held his arm out to her from beneath the covers.
I want to go to the village and see the market, Padmé said as she lightly touched the skin at his hairline. She knew this would wake him, he was insanely ticklish.
Anakin shook Padmés finger away and turned over, pushing the covers from this face. You are making me get up, after tiring me so last night, he said, raising his brows.
Padmé laughed. Im serious, Ani. I want to go. I want to show you off, my own personal handsome Jedi protector, she said. Come on. She shook him again.
Do I at least get breakfast? he asked.
No. Youve been very naughty this morning, she said, barely concealing her laughter behind her mock sulk.
Actually, no I havent. But I will , Anakin said as he reached and puller her against him and threw the covers over both of them.
Ani! It is late! I want to get up now, we have to use our days wisely. Ani! Padmé laughed. Ani, come now. We have to get .Oh, Anakin . Suddenly, coherent thought wasnt within her grasp as her husband did wonderful, but terribly hard to resist things to change her mind about getting out of bed. Padmé was never able to deny him when he took charge of the situation.
An hour and a half later, Anakin hummed to himself as he drew his boots on. Padmé handed him his lightsaber and he clipped it to his belt. He stood up and reached for her hand. Padmé placed her hand in his as they walked to the veranda to catch the gondola.
The sun lit tiny fairy lights from the waves of the lake, making them dance with each gentle lap against the shore. Padmé sat watching her husband wade to ankle deep in the water.
Youre going to ruin your boots!
Anakin turned his head to look back at her, biting the laughter back. Yes, I should have thought of that. After all, Ive never been in anything as dirty as this, he said as turned back to the lake.
Padmé curled her lip and stuck her tongue out at him.
I will come make you use that tongue in proper ways if you dont watch out, he smirked.
She picked up a piece of bread a lobbed it towards him. I believe Ill find another husband, one who will sit with me. I need attention lavished on me, and you, Master Skywalker, are just not getting the job done. She watched a bird fly overhead in the distance. Here, throw more of the bread so the bird will come, she said as she tossed a couple of more pieces of bread to the ground near him.
Anakin turned back to regard his wife with a gleam in his eye. You want birds?
He turned back to the lake and held out both arms from his sides palms up. He closed his eyes and tilted his head to the sky.
Anakin, you goof. What are y-
Shhhh. Just be still and quiet.
Suddenly, Padmé saw them - birds coming from all directions over the lake. She got up from the blanket. Ani...?
The birds then lit delicately on Anakins arms and the shoreline around him. They were some of the most beautiful birds she had ever seen, their colors vibrant and beautiful in the sunshine. It was a breathtaking sight. She noticed a water otter trying to make its way towards Ani and the fish jumping out in waves just ahead. He was conducting a symphony of nature, just for her.
She swallowed a lump in her throat and thought to herself, I love this man more than life itself. What did I ever do before he came into my life? She stood there silently for a minute, watching in awe, then started walking towards him. A tiny blue and red bird perched on Anakins left shoulder looked at her intently as she made her way towards them. Finally, Anakin slowly moved his arms out in a forward-sweeping motion and the birds began to fly away. He turned around to find his wife standing right in front of him.
Padmé stood on her toes and took his head into her hands. She pulled him down into the sand with her as the tiny waves lapped against their bodies. Breaking free of Padmés kiss, he raised himself on both arms above her. What in the moons of Yavin brought this on? You are getting your dress soaked, he added between gulps of air.
I dont care, she said breathlessly as she pulled him back to her.
The sun set in a brilliant orange-gold display behind the mountains as the caretaker, Paddy Accu, steered the gondola to the dock. Anakin got out and held his hand out for Padmé. She daintily took it and their laughter echoed from the veranda as they went inside.
After they had changed out of their damp clothes, Padmé went to consult with Teckla on dinner. She had decided to have a light supper in the den with her husband. Anakin went to meditate on the veranda. He had taken his comlink with him just in case there were any communications he needed to return to Coruscant, as he wasnt carrying the blasted thing around with him while he was on leave. It had already gotten dark and two of Naboos three moons shone over the top of the mountains, making the night crisp and clear. He called Artoo inside and closed the double doors, shutting out the night.
When he turned around, Padmé was standing at the door of the den, a tray with two plates of food and two glasses of bubbly blossom wine. Anakin made a concerted effort to close his mouth at the sight of his wifes attire. Padmé stood before him in the gown she had worn on their wedding night, the fluffy white chiffon over robe parted to show her white bustier and thigh high stockings. She wore her hair down in waves, still partially wet from her shower. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes had a smoky haze that made Anakin want to forget dinner. She set the tray on the table beside the entrance moved slowly to stand in front of him.
Still reeling, Anakin robotically reached to pull her into his embrace as she drew him into a kiss that seared his soul. When she was satisfied that Anakin was sufficiently under her spell, she led him to the sofa in front of the fireplace where the fire matched her mood. She guided Anakin to sit on the sofa and sat beside him. She took his left hand in hers and kissed the tips of his fingers, never letting her eyes leave his. She smiled to herself. Anakins eyes had taken on the dark smoky blue that spoke of the depth of his feelings for her. She had him now.
She leaned toward him, her voice soft and husky. Would you like dinner?
Good, Id like to hear more about that kiss becoming a scar, she said, her eyes twinkling with mischief.
Im not in the mood to talk. Its so over rated, he said as he slid his hand behind her hair at the nape of her neck and drew her toward him slowly.
I agree, she said breathlessly. Her heart thrummed beneath her chest as Anakins fingers gently massaged her neck. Finally, his lips found hers and they lost themselves in each other, both wanting to ward off the galaxy for as long as possible.
If it werent for the breathing machine, Darth Vader wouldnt have thought himself able to draw breath. The memories that he had kept locked up for so long assailed him like the sands of a Tatooine storm. Before hed found Luke, he hadnt thought of her except in his weakest moments, his ability to draw the Dark Side in to ward off memories of another life kept him centered. Since Bespin, she would come to him at the oddest times, floating just above his consciousness. Like an angel. This particular memory was always the most painful. It was the last time they were happy. It was when their son was conceived. Darth Vader stood suddenly, fighting desperately to regain control of his emotions.
He walked to the balcony outside the study, the snow had stopped and all that was left was a bleak gray mist. He heard the sound of a hura lark over the distant rooftops, and without thinking, he held out both arms and tipped his head to the sky. The mask didnt allow for the freedom of too much mobility in his neck, but it would suffice. He closed his eyes inside the mask and tentatively reached for something in the Force that hadnt been touched in over twenty years. At first that place felt raw, like a wound just sewn back together, then suddenly it opened before him like the blossom of a wilting flower. The birds landed from everywhere. Their claws gripped the leather on his arms. They landed at his feet and on the ground around him. Vader smiled sadly to himself. For you, Padmé.
Myr watched as Sual stirred the contents of the morning meal. His hands deftly worked the spatula through the thick liquefied contents of the bowl. She had finished her milk and returned upstairs after her troubling dream only to get two hours of sleep. She finally gave up and got dressed for the day. Lord Vader was already in the study with the entry way closed when she came downstairs. She did not disturb him. Haunted by her dreams and tired from lack of sleep, she stared grumpily into the cup of caf that she twirled in her hands.
How long do you think hell be here? Sual asked finally. Cant say as I ever saw im stay around this long.
Im sure that Lord Vader has plans to return to the capital soon, she said. He hasnt really been around, just up in his chambers.
Well, theres no telling what devilry hes doing up there, Sual said under his breath.
Youd better be concentrating on that food, you hear? she said quickly. You dont want him to be overhearing you. Or reading your mind, she added silently. And besides, hes never been anything but civil to any of the lot of us here, she added pointedly. So you be glad you got a job in his Lordships castle.
Sual colored slightly and returned to his attention to his work.
Well, you certainly seem to have a way with him, he added. Cant say as Ive ever seen im say more than three words to you, but he seems satisfied with your work.
The console intercom buzzed and Myr raised her eyebrows; Lord Vader rarely called her. She usually had to check to see if he needed anything. The intercom buzzed again and Sual looked up at her with uneasiness.
Well, go on then, he said. We dont need im to be coming down here looking for you.
Myr stood and walked over to the console and pushed the button.
Yes, my Lord? she asked hesitantly. She felt the need to curtsey, then remembered she was on the comm.
I have need of you in the study Myr, he said the last word as if the sound of her name didnt roll off his tongue easily. She didnt think she had ever heard Lord Vader use her name before.
Right away, my Lord.
Sual gave her a brief apprehensive glance and as she left the kitchen.
Oh, Good Storms, she said under her breath, shaking her head. Its not as if he brings the carcasses of Jedi back here. It occurred to her that she was saying this as much for her benefit, as for Suals.
The entryway to the study was still closed. Her heart thumped in her chest as she hesitantly palmed the entry pad.
Had he found out about her invasion of his privacy? Could he tell that she had found the snow globe?
The entryway opened and Myr stepped inside. She looked to the desk and saw the leather case that held the snow globe and she felt a knot form in her stomach.
Good morning, my Lord, she said with a bow.
Vader waved impatiently for her to straighten up. Sit down.
Myrs heart lept to her throat. No matter how much she defended him to the other servants, the fact remained no one really knew him. Not here, anyway. She got the feeling that anyone that did, they had long since passed away.
I would like for you to take care of something for me, he said.
The rich baritone in his voice is almost hypnotizing, Myr found herself thinking before she snapped herself back to her senses. Yes, my Lord. Anything you wish.
Would she really do anything he may wish? That could entail quite a lot. The man was certainly no saint. She shook herself mentally to get her bearings. Being this close to him was strange. She was sitting closer in proximity than her usual habit of standing to receive his orders. He had a weird aura about him that hummed. That was the only description Myr could come up with for the feeling of energy that surrounded him. I bet you wouldnt want to be around that energy when he is in one of his infamous tempers, she thought ruefully. She shook herself again. For the stars sake, the man can read minds, she reminded herself.
He looked at her passively, as if he were reading her mind and was waiting for her to pay attention.
Are you listening to me? he asked her, his voice deepening even more. He waited for the answer the way one would wait for a childs retort upon being told to go to bed.
Myr jumped. Yes. I mean. Yes, sir, she stuttered. Yes, my Lord
Gathering the sides his cape with each hand, he rose and walked to the viewport. He stood motionless for a moment then clasped his gloved hands behind his back.
There are documents here that I wish to remain ambiguous, he said carefully. I will be leaving later today for another assignment.
He walked the length of the long wall behind the desk that held the viewports and turned back. Myr had the distinct feeling he was having trouble expressing himself to someone of non-military bearing. She got the feeling he was trying to not scare her. She took a deep breath and did a small calming exercise she had always used when she was nervous or scared. She relaxed immediately.
Vader turned from the window to regard her. She could feel his curiosity through the helmet.
You are Force sensitive?
Myrs heart stopped beating. She knew what it was to be regarded as Force-sensitive in Lord Vaders presence. She closed her eyes and swallowed. I think so most people here are.
There is no need for apprehension. You are hardly strong enough in the Force to be a beacon, but this will serve my purpose. He turned back to regard the view outside, seemingly pleased with the turn events had taken. This will serve my purpose, indeed, he said.
I have placed some very important items in this case, he said quickly, turning back to Myr. It is vital that they are delivered in the event of my death.
Myr blinked. His death? Could Darth Vader die? Of course he can, Myr chastised herself. Havent you been telling any droid or servant that would listen in this household that he was only a man?
My next assignment could prove very difficult. If the circumstance should arise that I am unable to return, I do not know what will become of this fortress, his deep voice rumbled matter-of-factly.
He lifted the leather snow globe case and held it out by the sides to a baffled Myr.
Myr took the case, checked the lock and placed it under her arm. She looked back to him in curiosity. Her mind worked furiously to hide the fact that she had ever seen the case before.
Treat it with the utmost care. I do not wish for it to be broken or destroyed before it is delivered to its intended recipient. Do you understand?
Myr nodded mutely.
Good, he replied. The password for the data inside japor.
He said the word japor haltingly, his voice faltering in a way Myr had never heard before. For a moment she thought there might have been a hitch in the breathing equipment.
He hooked his hands into his belt and stood for a moment, as if contemplating if there was anything he had forgotten. You will find more detailed instructions on the datapad inside. Do not open the case unless you hear that something has happened and I will not be returning. Is that clear?
Again, Myr could only nod, as she swallowed the sadness and dread that seemed to be snaking itself inside of her, settling in the pit of her stomach. She knew this sensation and she had a feeling that Lord Vader knew it as well. It wasnt just an idea or hunch; it was the Force. She shivered and waited for Lord Vader to finish.
His hands still hooked in his belt, he turned to the viewport again and said, Do not fail me.
Myr knew she was being excused. She walked toward the entryway.
And Myr he rumbled, Thank you.
She stood for a second and turned back to him. She studied the back of his profile for just a moment before answering, May the Force be with you my Lord. She left before he could see that she was fighting tears that threatened to spill on her cheeks.
Darth Vader awoke before dawn, the inky blackness right before a sunrise had always his favorite time a day. The darkness still held the shadows at bay, but the day also spanned out from that time, a day with the promise of something to do, away from nightmares and regrets.
This was why the memories, the very painful memories that his sons appearance dredged up had come back. The early morning brought memories of the pre-dawn hours when he would steal away from the Temple to his wife when he couldnt spend the night at the apartment they shared in secrecy. They would spend the early morning hours before the sunrise in each others arms, making each second count as though it was their last. Every day had brought a new peril in those times.
Hed once been asked what he knew of regret. He couldnt remember if hed allowed someone that foolish to live or not. He couldnt remember many things, but he knew regret every day of his hellish existence. After the accident, when death had been snatched away from him, he had vowed that he would do his duty to the Empire to rid the galaxy of the sedition that had cost it so much. It would be a reason to live, or a chance to die. This made it easy, as either way; he would be away from the grief, duplicity and torment of his previous life.
The past few evenings he had dreamed things he couldnt really call nightmares and it scared him as much as anything could these days. He had dreamed of Padmé again last night, the same dream. The relief of a real dream, a real glimpse of her face, with no fire, or smoke, or death surrounding her image was too much to ask, so he didnt contemplate it for fear of it fading into his dreams. The dreams he had of lava, betrayal, and hopelessness. A veritable hell.
These new dreams had been coming of late, though. He couldnt deny it. The only thing that stayed with him was Padmé waiting at a garden gate. That was it. He couldnt tell why she was waiting, but she wore the japor snippet in each instance and fingered it hopefully as she looked over the horizon, as if waiting for something or someone.
The dream shook him as much as the nightmares did, but for a different reason. It made him want leave this place and go to her. Leave the power, the glory of the Empire, everything he had worked so hard to build just to go to her at that gate. He slammed his mind down on the thoughts and drew on the Force. He thought of the work yet to do on the battle station and the Emperors face swam before his.
The familiar numbness spread through his body at the feelings these thoughts evoked. He turned away from the memories and the window of the study. He had left Myr instructions to have his things brought down last night, in preparation of an early departure. He left a few more minor instructions on care of the castle and financial orders to be taken care of on a data pad on the desk. He threw his cape around him and fastened it to the shoulder armor. He then gathered the small business case and hooking his lightsaber on his belt, he commed for Myr.
Myr made her way downstairs groggily. She had been up most of the night, unable to return to sleep after being awakened by nightmares worse than she had in a long time. She dreamed of exploding moons, lightning and destruction. She awoke with a headache.
The comm unit buzzing on the wall in the hall made Myr jump. She leaned into it to answer.
Yes, my Lord?
I will be leaving now. Please have my shuttle prepared for my arrival.
Yes, my Lord. She answered.
A pang in her chest bloomed at the thought of Lord Vader leaving this morning. The sense of foreboding would not leave her. She hurried to attend to getting his things in order for a pre-dawn departure.
After communicating to the pilot Lord Vaders wishes, she went to the study. She found Vader standing at the window, his gloved hands clasped behind his back in the manner she had become so used to seeing him. She walked forward and waited.
He turned from the window, and Myr bowed. Your shuttle has been prepared, my Lord.
Good. Have the pilot come in at anytime for the items on the floor, he said with a nod.
It is taken care of, my Lord. He is waiting in the foyer, she said.
Good work. Remember my wishes on the item I left in your care, he said as leaned forward and gathered some remaining flimsiplast items from the desk and handed to her.
These are for you, also. Read them later, after I have gone. They are not of an immediate nature, he said as he moved from the window. He walked to the door and stopped. He turned and Myr thought for a moment he had forgotten something.
Thank you for your service. Your loyalty has been commendable, he said haltingly.
He then inclined his head and palmed the entryway and left Myr, alone. She watched him go, overcome with a feeling of bereftness and the sad realization that they would never see each other again.
She wasnt sure what the future held, but the clarity of purpose she had always maintained, the optimism that her fortuitous nature would prevail, seemed light years away as she slowly put the items that Lord Vader had given her in the drawer of the desk. She left the study sadly and went upstairs to close Lord Vaders quarters down until they would be needed again. If they are needed again, she thought morosely.
When she reached his upstairs bedroom, she removed her earrings and placed them in the small tray by the entrance, then took off her silver-buckled shoes and placed them against the wall. She knew the pieces that made up Lord Vaders suit was created with an anti-combustible metal from the planet Kirfir, and she had been taught long ago that nothing metal could enter his personal chambers, where he lived without the suit. With a heavy heart, she palmed the entryway to her Lords private chambers open. Everything looked the way she had prepared for him upon his arrival more than two weeks ago. Pristine and clinical.
Her eyes fell to the cylindrical black bed against the far wall. She saw the lights still blinking and walked over to the unit and knelt to complete the shutdown sequence. She entered in the appropriate pass codes and waited for the unit vaporizer to shut off. A light on the console blinked red, meaning the sequence had not been finished. She tried again, this time entering Vaders personal back-up code.
Suddenly, from the side of the bed, a holo unit slid out and initialized. It blinked three times and then the face of a young man in a pilots uniform materialized. Myr watched in awe as the holo rotated slowly. There was something about the young mans eyes, she couldnt place it, but the holo left with an eerie feeling. She pressed another button and the name Luke Skywalker flashed at the bottom of the holo. Myr was entranced. Skywalker? The name reverberated in her mind.
She thought back to the couple mentioned in the holo-globe that Lord Vader had given her the day before. Why would Lord Vader keep a holo of the Jedis son...? With a clarity that could only be attributed to the Force she realized: Darth Vader was Anakin Skywalker. He had been a Jedi, and married .to the woman named Padmé
She looked to the face in the holo again. Luke Skywalker. This was Darth Vaders son. The rebel pilot who had destroyed the death star was Darth Vaders son. She sat down abruptly on the floor with the overwhelming feeling that she knew more than she could ever possibly comprehend.
Darel Karac had worked his way up in the Imperial ranks at a very young age and, at twenty-five, he was the youngest Imperial shuttle captain ever. But to be called to command Lord Vaders private shuttle, the Archimedean, and the Dark Lord himself from his private residence was an honor beyond anything he had ever imagined. To be assigned to this mission and to have Admiral Piett on board also was a treat, if one considered anything a treat in the Imperial Navy. So it was with supreme satisfaction that he formally accepted this assignment. When his peers found out, they were sure to be resentful. He didnt care. It wasnt like you got ahead in the Imperial Navy by making friends. In fact, one of the only ways, if not the only way for a pilot to obtain a certifiable position was to pass through Lord Vaders ranks.
To have served under the Dark Lord not only garnered admiration for persistence and courage, but also for sheer skill and talent. The man himself was a legendary pilot and could take any dogfighter the Empire or Alliance had to offer head to head. There was a reason he survived the first Death Star disaster, Darel thought wryly.
After announcing his arrival to Lord Vaders personal administrator, he returned to the shuttle to inform Admiral Piett of Lord Vaders arrival. He then prepared his men for Lord Vaders inspection and sent for the rest of Lord Vaders items.
Darel walked down the boarding ramp of the shuttle and waited with Admiral Piett for Lord Vaders arrival. When the hangar entry opened, Darels breath caught in his throat. He had known that Darth Vader was extremely tall, but up close he towered over those next to him. The cape swirled at Vaders booted ankles as he walked across the landing platform.
Darel had always heard that his presence could take ones breath away, literally, he thought to himself. Nothing had prepared him for meeting the Dark Lord in person. His presence was more than intimidating. It was big, but not just in the physical sense. Darel realized that the Sith Lord completely filled whatever space he occupied with his presence. He couldnt wait to get back to the base to tell the guys about this one. Everyone knew of the Dark Lord, but very few had been close enough to touch him. Even fewer were ever addressed by him.
He waited for Admiral Pietts cue and moved forward to stand at attention in front of the immense dark figure. Both men bowed and Admiral Piett took a step forward.
Lord Vader, it is a pleasure to have you back, he said with a bow.
Thank you, Admiral, the baritone voice boomed from the vocoder in the mask. You may stand at ease, Admiral...Captain, he nodded to the two men. Piett stepped back beside his subordinate.
Vader offered a small black case to Darel and for a moment, Darel forgot himself. It was easy to see why so many were intimidated by the mere mention of Lord Vader. Darel was standing at full height in his military boots, which added four inches to his height, and he still looked Lord Vader directly in the chest box. Darel saluted, swallowed and took the case. The three men then boarded the shuttle.
Stars expanded into lines of infinity as the Archimedean launched into hyperspace. Darth Vader secured himself in the passenger seat with an inward sigh and sat back for the long ride back to the Executor. He had always hated flying when he was not the piloting the craft. His Star Destroyer was stationed off the forest moon of Endor in preparation for the Emperors inspection of the battle station. He closed his eyes in beneath the mask and reached furtively for a meditative calm. Infuriatingly, it eluded him, dancing to the edge of his awareness then pulling away, leaving him with a feeling of anxiety he had not felt since his younger, more impetuous days.
What was Luke doing now? He reached out with the Force and felt...nothing. He drew a heavy breath through the mask; the thoughts of his son were with him constantly now, even to the detriment of the stability of his feelings around his Master. Darth Vader had learned more of shielding his mind in the past year than he had in the entire time of his marriage to Lukes mother. He groped mentally for the Force, unable to get his bearings. Wasnt something missing?
Ah. There it was. The thought of her came unbidden to his mind again. He was reminded of the dream he had night after night now - her vigil outside the gate. How easy it was to conjure her image these days, when it had been so impossible for the past twenty years. He could not recall the last time he had seen Padmés face outside of dreams. The details of her fate or his sons birth were unknown to him. Added to his list of most horrible transgressions... He had not attended his wifes funeral.
Their fates had been intertwined even in death, his fiery committal and subsequent interment side by side with hers. What would have happened if his wife had lived? Would he have been able to live as the Jedi Anakin Skywalker, then? Would he have given up his fate? Would he have given up his destiny? The truth settled his spirit, cold and heavy. Far away and dark.
He would have given her the galaxy. He would have given their children the galaxy. It was their birthright. It was Lukes birthright. His sons solemn blue eyes stared out of his mothers face and then she was there before him. Padmés face swam before his as he drifted to near meditation, her likeness to their son wrapping itself around his cold heart.
She stood at the gate again, her fingers absently fingering a handmade trinket from another time. He could never get close enough to see the details of her face. Was she crying, or laughing? What did she wait for? The winds whipped her skirt about her legs as tendrils of her hair danced at her elfin cheeks.
He was close enough to see her now and his heart beat a staccato in his chest. He held out his hand to her and was terrified to see the black glove still there, mocking him. He jerked it back to him and stood, terrified yet he could not move. His breath would not come and he was taken back to the lava, the horrible feeling of not being able to draw breath, of wishing that death would come quickly. Anything to end the sheer torture of not being able to breathe.
Suddenly she dropped the trinket back to her chest and looked at him, then closed her eyes and held out her arms.
The birds came from everywhere...
Darth Vader jerked himself from his meditation. This was to be his punishment, to be able to come close to the warmth of the light, but never to touch it again. Of that much he was certain. He wondered if the men who served under him or any of his unfortunate victims understood anything about his former religion, the religion of his old Masters, Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda and Obi-Wan. The Jedi believed that in death, you were brought back into the Force and into the fold of your loved ones.
The light surrounds us, binds us, make us whole.
There is no death; there is only the Force...
His life as their executioner was like the chef serving the most delectable meal...without being out being able to partake of it himself. How many times had he wished that they would be the victors? How many times did he surreptitiously wish that they would send him into the abyss so that it would all be over? He wondered how many truly knew that death was not punishment, but life.
The Jedi claimed they did not fear death, they embraced it. Vader knew differently. He had seen it on their faces. If they only knew what true demise entailed. Life without those you love, your possessions thrown to the wind of fate, destiny and prophecy...
The comm sounded, alerting Vader to Admiral Pietts presence at the entry to the private passenger compartment. Piett entered and saluted. Vader put his hand up to signal to Piett to continue.
What is it, Admiral? We are making our approach, Lord Vader.
Alert command of our intent to orbit Endor, Vader said
Piett bowed crisply and made to move away. The young pilot stood at attention a few feet behind him.
Vader turned to look at the pilot and signaled him forward with his right hand. What is your name, Captain?
The young man stepped hesitantly forward, clearly shaken by Vaders attention.
D-Darel Karac, s-sir. Captain Darel K-Karac, Darel managed to get out.
How long have you been at your post, Captain? he asked.
This is m-my first shuttle assignment, Lord Vader.
There was a pause as Vader sat, unmoving. Darel swallowed nervously. Had he done something wrong? His mind worked furiously at remembering the last set of instructions given to him by Piett.
You will stay on board the Executor, Admiral Piett, Vader said as he looked to his trusted subordinate.
As you wish, my Lord, Piett said without pause.
Vader motioned to Darel, You will act as shuttle Captain for the duration of my stay on the Executor, Captain.
Yes sir! Darel snapped a salute. He couldnt believe he was actually being commissioned by Lord Vader himself. He fought to contain himself. Remember, Karac, hes still the scariest guy in the galaxy. He admonished himself. But I am his private shuttle pilot for this assignment! He thought with restrained glee.
You are both free to prepare for landing, Vader finished.
Both men saluted and turned to leave.
Vader leaned back in his seat. His blood stirred in him again as it always did when there was work to be done. It was time to live in the present. He would get this infernal abomination under some kind of schedule so that he may leave it and go on to the more important task of finding his son. The Death Star was proving nothing more than an unwanted diversion and he loathed it with every fiber of his being. Jerjerrod had better have things back on schedule quickly or he would not be responsible for his actions, he thought irritably.
He had no patience for Imperial enlisted men who could not carry out the simplest of assignments. He was not a man to waste time holding the hand of over-privileged Officers even in his daily routine, he certainly did not intend to tarry past the time he had allotted to complete this obligation. He had many more important things that warranted his attention. He and his son had other things to do.
A slow smile spread on his face as he gave himself over to the feelings that his sons name stirred in him. Yes, he would soon find Luke and the Emperor would rue the day he had ever uttered the name Skywalker.
Myr woke to the gray and pink dawn creeping above the twisted mountain peaks. The orange-purple glow of the sunrise mirrored the melancholy that had settled itself upon her heart. She went to the window of her sleeping chambers and watched as birds swooped to their nests to feed their young. The oblique spikes that formed the outer turrets were home to the various fowl that inhabited Vjun. Mother birds fed their young and life went on as if nothing had changed, when indeed it had. The galaxy had been turned upside down. The unthinkable had happened.
It had been five standard weeks since Darth Vader had perished at the battle of Endor. Myr moved through the motions of daily life out of sheer habit. All other servants had been let go and she was here alone, with the exception of the footman droid, whom she kept for any heavy lifting she might have to do. Celebrations all over the galaxy were on the holovid, but other than that, she knew nothing of what had happened in the fateful battle above the small, formerly inconsequential moon.
There were various stories from different sources all over the Imperial holovid channels, but all of them said essentially the same thing that Darth Vader was a traitor and had killed the Emperor trying to either overtake the galaxy or giving him over to the Alliance. Myr couldnt reconcile the man who had inhabited Bast castle, the unyielding military mind and the most visible example of Imperial loyalty to the man that the holovids reported as a traitor to the Empire, the Emperors killer. Whatever the circumstances, Darth Vader had indeed died.
And Luke Skywalker lived.
Lord Vader had stated specifically that his final directions were to be followed only if she heard that he had perished and Luke Skywalker lived. He had told her that she was not to open the last set of documents until she was safely at the residence he had mapped on the holomap. Even in her sadness, she was pleased by his trust in her. He was not a man known for the habit of giving the benefit of the doubt.
A strange sense of peace and completeness had settled over her once the initial impact of the news of Vaders death had worn off. If Luke Skywalker lived, if Anakin Skywalkers son lived, something powerful must have happened on the small moon, and she had the strangest feeling that she had personally witnessed events unfold in galactic history of the most epic proportions.
With renewed determination, she set about her preparations to fulfill Lord Vaders final wishes and made arrangements for transportation off of the planet of her birth. Now she waited. She waited for fate and destiny, Lord Vaders constant companions, to lead her to her purpose. She knew now that trust in the Force would show her the way.
If her time in the Dark Lords employ had taught her nothing else, it had taught her to listen to her instincts. He had said as much once. Trust in the Force. It will not lead you astray. A strange statement for a Sith to make, but he never used the terms dark side or the Force lightly. When Darth Vader had spoken of his religion on the rare occasion that he gave an oblique reference or explanation, it was simply referred to as the Force, and most of the time, rather reverently. She hoped now that her trust in the Force would make the transport come before the Imperials.
Myr sat looking out over the cold, gray mist through the large viewport in the study; the one Lord Vader had always looked out of, as if he were searching for something. A memory of a recent conversation with Lord Vader rose unbidden into her mind. In a moment of strangely subdued and unexpected dialogue during his last visit, he had quipped that winter just was not his season he had never liked the cold. She watched as occasional patches of gold shone through the clouds, hitting the mist, creating tiny rainbows through the grayness. The weather had been strange this year as the cold winter season turned to renewal, as tumultuous as the state of the galaxy and the new order.
Not for the first time, she wondered if Lord Vader had seen some kind of premonition of his own death. It would not surprise her; he seemed to have the disposition of a seer. The directions left to her in the documents he had given her in their last meeting had an eerie fatalistic aura about them.
A light on the comm buzzed and Myr jumped. She had been sitting in the viewport of the study for so long, watching the mist move in circles, lost in memory and reflection, that she had lost track of time. The comm buzzed again, this time more insistently. The time had come. With a sense of finality, she grabbed the leather case that held the item Lord Vader had entrusted to her. She carefully tucked the snow globe case under her left arm and grabbed her one piece of luggage and called for the D7 footman droid.
When the D7 droid arrived, she gave him the message to her family and the final instructions from Lord Vader - the shut down procedure. When Dee Seven blinked in confirmation, she reached to touch his muted gray face.
Goodbye, Dee, she said sadly. She left hurriedly only to stop one last time in the door of the study. Swallowing her tears, she turned resolutely and stepped into the hangar and her appointment with fate.
The programmed nature of a footman droid is absolute loyalty. For many years on Vjun, households of the aristocratic families had depended on them for common household tasks, security, and nannies, among other things. Dee Seven, footman droid to Lord Darth Vader and sentry of Bast Castle had been modified even farther by his master after his purchase of the castle. It appeared sometimes to the droid that his master had a strange affinity for him, an understanding even. Footmen droids could be extremely dangerous if their charges were in danger, but they were droids, only doing what they were programmed to do.
Dee Seven had just finished shutting down the main power cells of Bast Castle when the shuttle arrived. A squad of Imperial troops blasted through the hangar door and made their way loudly through the halls of the deserted castle. Dee Seven moved quickly to initiate the security systems for the castle programmed into him so long ago. The white-clad stormtroopers overturned the statue of Darth Vader that had stood sentry at the center of the castle, and ripped draperies from the rods in the parlour. Imperial officers fired blaster shots into the ceiling and chunks of duracrete tumbled to the floor. All through the castle, obliteration reigned, accompanied by the orchestrated chaos of an Imperial garrison bent on the destruction of a traitors home. Dee Seven worked hard to compute, what did it matter? His master was already dead.
Dee made his way to upper levels of his masters private chambers, blaster bolts bouncing off of his muted gray coverings. He turned to lock his lasers on the intruders when he was hit from above by a falling chunk of the duracrete ceiling. For a moment his sensors blinked in and out, and he went into manual override. This meant he was no longer armed and at best could only hope to carry out his orders. He reached the entrance of Lord Vaders private chambers and initiated Level Nine lock down procedures, the highest level of security and self-destruction. In moments, a shield would cover the hyperbaric bed and the marble slabs of the floor would implode from the inside as poisonous gas leaked from the obsidian blocks.
The sound of Dees circuits hissing and spattering under the barrage of duracrete falling caused him to pause momentarily, but he continued on, determined to honor what he was programmed to do. His master had seen to his programming personally and he would not let him down. Dee saw the hyperbaric bed from security screen just before the image blacked out from the security procedure. His sensors noted curiously the small holo flickering on the side of the bed. This was his last deliberation as he saw level-nine confirmed. His permanent damage sensors beeped and the red light on his chest plate blinked out as he slid down the wall outside the entrance to the personal chambers of Lord Vader, oblivious to trembling walls of the falling fortress.
The planet of Naboo was beautiful, like something from a faerie tale told to children on her home planet. Everything was colorful and vibrant, and the air smelled of wildflowers and the spray of the many waterfalls that surrounded the city. It was so unlike the bleak, morose atmosphere of her home that it took Myr a moment to get her bearings. The planet entranced her. The sun shone so brightly it hurt Myrs eyes, and she shielded them until she could get used to the intensity. She watched as long-eared sentients and humans went about their day, all of them oblivious to the beauty that their planet held.
Myr stepped off the transport in Theed and consulted the holomap contained in the instructions given to her by Lord Vader. Her destination was in the remote mountains to the Northeast of Theed. She shut the holomap down and put it back in her pocket in the fold of her robe, and called for an air taxi.
The air taxi arrived at her destination and she paid in the unmarked credits taken from the account set up in her name when she closed it out for the journey. She stood for a moment at a loss for what to do when a she spied a gondola with faded yellow and red paint tied to the dock. Grabbing her luggage, she moved to the dock bay that held the gondola. She looked around for any sign of an owner or paddler and saw none. She was about to sit on the bench and consult the holomap again when a middle-aged man approached her.
Hello, Milady. Are you looking for someone?
Oh, no. Well yes, I think so, Myr faltered. She wasnt sure she had read the directions in the holo right. The gondola had the appearance of being docked a long time.
Im supposed to be going to the Mountain Country, she explained. There is a residence there
You mean Varykino, the man looked at her astutely.
Yes, Varykino, Myr said, a little surprised by his knowledge of something that she had taken to be so secret.
Well now, not just everyone gets passage to Varykino, Milady. No offense, he shrugged.
Oh, yes! Yes, I know! I have a code, Myr offered, she started to pull the holomap out then stopped, cursing herself for her naivety. Who are you?
My name is Gideon Accu, he said, holding his hand out to her. My father, Paddy, used to row this gondola for the owners. I took over his position on staff when he died.
Im Myr. Im the...an employee of .., she stuttered, grasping for a description that might save her from possibly being hauled off to the nearest government official upon hearing the identity of her former employer.
The code? Gideon asked, raising his brows.
The code? Myr said in confusion. Oh, the code, she blushed. Im sorry. Im just tired from my journey and a little unused to all of this. This is my first time away from my home.
Gideon shifted his feet and looked down at her with a patient, but bemused expression. Youll be having a code if you are to go to Varykino. Even though the owners are deceased, the staff is still very loyal. The place is kept up and security has always been tight. Theyve been left instructions, he said warily.
Now, you dont look like the type to be a spy for our recently deceased good Emperor, but one never knows, he chuckled and looked down at her good-naturedly.
Myr relaxed as she realized he must be employed by the estate. No. Im not employed by the Emperor, she said with a smile. Actually, Im not employed by anyone .now.
What brings you to Naboo? Gideon asked sincerely.
I Im carrying out the last orders of my my former employer, she said guardedly. I have some things to return to to his family.
Yeah, we never saw much of him, Gideon said shrewdly. He never returned after his wi- after the war.
Myr gasped. You know who Im here for, she whispered, her fingers unconsciously went for the leather case beside her on the bench.
Gideon eyed the case astutely. He looked back up to her face. You never did tell me the code.
Japor. The code is japor, she said breathlessly, her eyes never leaving his.
Gideon nodded and motioned to the gondola. Shall we go Myr, is it?
Myr woke up to golden light and a light breeze floating in the tall arched window of her guest room at Varykino. She took a moment just to breathe in the scent that wafted through the luxurious but comfortable room. A tinkling sound caught her ear and, spellbound, she crossed to the window to find the source of the unfamiliar sound.
It was such a small sound, but its light, airy and somewhat melancholy noise was magical to Myr. It wasnt melancholy in the sad sense of the word; just more of a wistful, yet peaceful melody. Like a sigh after a long hard day. Myr chided herself for her over-active imagination. It was three or four light notes by some unnamed instrument, not a metaphor for life.
She spotted the source of the tinkling melody in the form of a wind chime hanging from a tree in the garden overlooking the lake and mountains. She drew a deep breath. The air here smelled of flowers and mist. She didnt think she had ever smelled or seen any place more beautiful. It was like something out of dream.
Just the thought of Lord Vader ever stepping foot in some place so light, much less owning it, was incredible to her. She decided she would take the caretaker, Tendra up on her offer of a history lesson over breakfast in the garden. Today would be the day she would open the last set of documents left in her care by Lord Vader.
Good morning, Milady. Im so glad you decided to accept my invitation this morning, Tendra, the caretaker, said as she held out her hand daintily. It has been so long since we have had visitors.
Myr smiled shyly and took the seat offered by the middle-aged woman. Myr felt instantly at ease with the caretaker, whose warm brown eyes and rich brown hair seemed to be the prevalent physical characteristics of the human population on the planet. Thank you so much for your kindness, she said as she unfolded the napkin on her lap.
The food smelled delicious and the fragrant spices made Myrs mouth water. She had thought she would be so excited to learn more of her former employers estate that she wouldnt be hungry, but she was wrong. She was famished and the relaxation of a good nights sleep in a comfortable bed only increased her appetite.
They ate breakfast in relative silence, with bits of polite conversation dotted here and there. Myr found it odd that there seemed to be an air of curiosity surrounding Tendra regarding her purpose at the villa. Myr could only guess what story they had been told. In fact, she wondered if they had been told anything at all in preparation for her arrival. Maybe a code was all one needed to be let into the inner circle of the residence. She looked up to find Tendra studying her curiously. The caretaker quickly averted her eyes.
Im sure youre wondering why Im here, Myr started hesitantly.
No, actually, we knew you would be coming, Tendra interjected with a smile.
We received a short encoded transmission from Lord Vader several months ago, alluding to your arrival and directions to make your stay as comfortable and as long as you would like. It was his last transmission before his death, she said.
A pang of sadness flitted across Myrs heart at the mention of Lord Vaders death. She looked down at the table and asked, Did he come here often?
Oh, stars no, Tendra said. We never actually saw him in twenty-one years, can you believe that?
The former owners, the Naberrie family, were allowed to come and go as they pleased, being loyalists and all, she shrugged. Of course, Im sure Lord Vader had no shortage of homes and had no reason to come here. When he did come to Naboo, he was at the Emperors retreat. We always got the feeling that some glorious gift from the gods kept us from being turned over to the Emperor or one of his governors as a private residence. We were glad that it turned out to be Lord Vader , her voice trailed off and Myr realized Tendra might have let her guard down in reference to Lord Vader owning the villa. She wondered just how much the caretakers knew of his real identity. He must have visited at least once to have wanted to own the place after Imperial occupation.
So, the Naberrie family owned this place before Lord Vader? Myr asked.
Yes, at one time. Then their daughter, Senator Amidala, was the last true owner before Lord Vader, Tendra said.
Myr noted a tone of hesitancy entering Tendras answers now, as if she was undecided on how much to say. Myr could only assume that Tendra was trying to figure out as much about her and she was Tendra. She decided to simply ask and be done with it. She had no idea who the Naberries or this Senator Amidala were, but before she could utter the words, Tendra got up from the table and gestured to the doors leading off of the garden.
Come. Lets show you around, shall we? Tendra said with a patient smile.
Myr followed into her the parlor. The room was polished marble and wood, but had deep pile rugs and whimsical statuaries littered throughout. It was opulent, yet comfortable and homey. The fireplace had silversteel accoutrements polished to a high shine like a Naboo ship, and flowers were on the table beside the sitting area. Myr looked over to a wall that spanned between two tall arched windows and caught her breath.
The wall unit was lined with holos in various sizes between two larger holos on either side of the section of smaller frames. The holo to Myrs left shimmered in color over a real matte painting done in traditional Naboo realism style. It was a state portrait of Queen Amidala standing in front a backdrop of marble. She wore the splendid red and gold dress that Myr now remembered she had seen in a couple of holo documentaries growing up.
A tassel hung from each side of the arched golden headdress and on her delicate painted face was the solemn expression so often caught of her likeness by the holo journalists of the time. It was all Myr could do to not walk over and run her hands over the piece of fine art. The painting was magnificent and powerful and beautiful and several other words that tumbled to the edge of Myrs lips before being bitten back, so as not to sound the bumpkin from the planet that had only blood and darkness as its pitiful contributions to art.
When she finally pulled herself from the grip of the painting, she looked over to the other large holo of a couple standing in the garden. The holo looked like it had been taken from a crouching standpoint or by someone shorter than the pictures subjects. Her breath stopped in her lungs when she realized that the woman in the light blue dress with loose curls cascading down her back was none other than the same queen in the picture to its right.
This was the woman from her dream. And the tall, erect man in Jedi robes beside her, holding her dainty hand with his own black glove, must be Anakin Skywalker Darth Vader. Even without the bulky armor, there was no mistaking the way he held his shoulders and stood with his legs squared. Positively piercing blue eyes stared into the holo camera.
This is a more formal picture of Senator Amidala and her husband, Tendra said as she eyed Myr shrewdly, confirming Myrs suspicion that the caretakers here knew as much or more than she did about her former employer.
Homes in Naboo are quite often decorated with family portraits, both casual and formal. Most homes of the higher classes have at least one with the Lord and Lady in formal pose, she explained.
This picture, she gestured toward the picture of the couple, is the one that has remained on display since the Senator was in residence. It is not, however, the one she displayed when she was here, at her home.
Tendra palmed a small pad next to the window and the holo rotated to show a different picture. This holo showed the same couple reclining on a sofa with the high arched windows behind them and dappled sunlight dancing on the edges of the sofa. Anakin was sleeping; his long lashes curled against his cheek and his golden shoulder-length hair disheveled. He was shirtless and one of his bare feet was propped on the marble table in front of the sofa. Padme lay in the crook of his arm against his chest, her back to him and his other, mechanical arm thrown casually across her middle. Her bare feet rested on his outstretched leg and she looked up to his face, her cheeks split by a grin, while a golden protocol droid and an R2 until looked on. They all seemed to be deciding if they should play some imaginary joke on their poor sleeping victim.
Myr swallowed the knot that had formed in her throat at the sheer comfort and laziness of the whole scene, the sense of peace that seemed to permeate the holo. She knew that Lord Vader had never known that again.
She chastised herself silently for being so daft in not putting the two images of the woman into one: Queen Amidala, Senator Amidala Padmé Amidala. This was Vaders wife, the child queen that saved her planet so many years before the Empire. Sadness settled itself into Myrs heart. She wondered absently if Tendra knew of Luke.
Myr brought her attention back to the conversation at hand, Tendra, perhaps you and I should go look over my final set of instructions and documents. She suddenly had the desperate wish to get everything out in the open, as if it were to stay inside her one moment longer, she would burst. She didnt know how much the past, even if it wasnt her own, could weigh on a person. Especially if it was hidden in shadows or mired in sadness. She left Tendra standing in the parlor to quickly gather the items she had guarded with her very life these past few weeks.
Myr returned from her quarters with the case that contained the sealed documents Lord Vader had given her the last day he was in residence at Bast. These were the documents that he had directed her to leave intact until she was at her destination - this place, Varykino. Tucked under one arm, she held the leather case that contained the snow globe. It now felt like years since she had stumbled upon this small possession of Lord Vaders in the study, and for a second, she felt a lump rise in her throat. She quashed her sentimentality and gestured towards the small dining table right outside the parlor.
Perhaps we could spread out here, she said.
Before we get started, Tendra, I have to ask: why have you stayed here all this time? Myr queried, settling herself into a seat at the rich brown dining table.
Tendra looked down at the table. She clasped her hands in front her and smiled, Senator Amidala Padme, was a very special person. There was something about her that rose above everything its hard to explain, she said hesitantly, as she turned to gaze out the window.
She had her moments. She could be haughty and bossy and she could turn her emotions off at a whim and don what Anakin used to refer to as her political face, Tendra chuckled. He absolutely hated it when she would put the mask on, as he called it. They didnt talk politics when they were here. We got the feeling that Anakin didnt care for the subject of politics at all.
But underneath the mask of the political figure, she was the most kind, gentle person one could ever meet. She genuinely cared about people and her duty was her first priority. She saw the best in people and believed in democracy with all of her heart, Tendra smiled, shaking her head.
Duty. That was always her purpose in life. Well, almost always , Tendra continued, her face taking on a far away look. There was one person who could make her forget duty. Her eyes used to get this light in them when she spoke of him or was expecting a holo. She truly became a different person when he was around I think we here at Varykino are the only people who knew of their marriage, and we were sworn to secrecy. My family has always been the caretakers of this estate and we would go to our grave carrying our secrets for Padmé, Tendras voice faded off. She was lost in memories and Myr hesitated to speak. She knew exactly how Tendra felt, for she had held the same station in Padmés husbands life.
Myr opened the case and removed five flimsiplast documents, a data chip, and a data pad. She placed the data chip in the data pad and turned each flimsiplast over as she read it.
Oh Stars, Myr said as she scanned the last bit of the documentation. He left him everything.
Him? Who? Tendra asked.
Luke, his son, Myr answered.
By Padme? Tendra asked, blinking. She had no children. Her child was never born.
Thats what someone wanted everyone to believe, Myr said slowly. These accounts reside on Imp- Coruscant.
She reached for the datapad and watched as an image of the snow globe appeared on the screen. In a matter of seconds, it disappeared and was replaced by instructions about contacting a bounty hunter who would know her by name. A new document came up with the word copy not official flashing in the left hand corner. She scanned down the document and realized it was a copy of the deed to this very residence.
She read the remaining information. A bounty hunter trusted by Lord Vader had been contacted with instructions to contact Myr upon Lord Vaders death. He was to take the copy of the deed to Luke Skywalker as proof, and she was to retain the original and give it to the Jedi when he arrived. There were a few other items that were in storage, with instructions for the bounty hunter on how to retrieve them from the Capital.
She turned the data pad off with a sigh and put it back in the case, turning back to Tendra. Well, I guess there is really only one more thing to do, she said wearily.
What is that? Tendra raised her brows.
Go to the snow globe, Myr said. She reached over the case to retrieve the item that Lord Vader had entrusted to her.
She opened the leather case reverently, carefully removing the snow globe and placing it on the richly carved dining room table. She took out the velvet pillowed lining and laid it aside.
There, in the bottom of the case, lay a flimsiplast envelope with her name handwritten on the outside. She took it out and opened it, and found there were three documents inside. The first was the letter from Padmé to Anakin that Myr had stumbled across all those months ago. She swallowed a lump as she thought back to the castle and how her life seemed to have changed as she was drawn more into Darth Vaders personal realm.
The second document was the original deed to Varykino, with the official seal of the Theed magistrate at the left bottom corner. She scanned down to the end of the document, read the simple words, bequeathed to my son, Luke Skwalker and the initials LDV out to the side almost as an afterthought.
Myr sighed inwardly. Always efficient to the end, she thought sadly. She looked back to the very bottom of the copy, scrawled boldly and floridly in blue was the signature: Lord Darth Vader, Anakin Lucas Skywalker. She wondered how much it had cost him personally to sign the name of his former self. He never used anything but the name she was accustomed to in public, at least, and she felt that was by design. How odd it must have seemed to answer to a name that was not your own.
So, there will be a new owner? Tendra asked with a note of concern as she watched Myr fold the deed back into the envelope.
It appears so. Maybe things will work out, Myr laid a hand on Tendras arm. She knew the caretaker had devoted her life to the resort and taking care of its owners. Im sure it will be fine. After all, Ive heard only good things about this Luke Skywalker.
Yes, but what would he want with a place like this? Tendra asked.
Myr wanted to comfort her, but had no idea what would happen, so she simply squeezed her arm in comfort and understanding.
Tendra reached over and picked up the snow globe. A wide smile split her face as she tilted the glass orb delicately and watched miniscule flakes of snow fall over the tiny courtyard. Theed in winter. There is nothing as magical, she said with a smile. We must take you there when the snow comes.
She carefully placed the snow globe back on the table. I remember when she purchased this, and the visit that inspired her to do so, Tendra said wistfully. Im going to go help with lunch. Theres no use worrying about it, we cant change it. She started out the door and stopped, Oh, and Myr
Myr turned from the table to regard the caretaker.
You are welcome here as long as I am caretaker, no matter who owns the lake house, Tendra said with a smile. She then turned and left Myr to her task.
Myr wearily laid the items back in the leather case and replaced the snow globe, and left the dining room.
After eating dinner and dessert with Tendra and Neckle, Myr retreated to her guestroom for the night. Only one or two things remained and then she would be done. She sat on the window ledge and picked up the last document, a handwritten letter the bore the same flowing handwriting of the signature on the deed, and read:
If you have received this letter, I am most likely dead and perhaps you have escaped the fate that befell me. I do not know if you will indeed end up serving the Empire, but I know that you will do well in whatever you choose to do if you do not underestimate destiny; it has a way of bringing about the inevitable. Each breath drawn and issued from this mask can attest to this. If I can tell you one thing, it is to never fight the will of the Force. Never forget that, my son. Always listen to the will of the Force. You will find that it will never lead you astray, but it cannot be found in Jedi teachings or Sith holocrons.
I will not waste time in apologizing for the misdeeds done in this long war of peace and democracy, not to anyone but you. I have seen and done horrible things in the name of peace and the end of war, and if I'm honest there is regret, but the time for this has past as of your reading of this letter.
My one regret is that you did not hear of your mother, I owed her your memory and it seems I have failed her again. Your mother did not let the ugliness that surrounded the Old Republic touch her soul as I did. She was perhaps the one good thing in the evil that was the Old Republic. Perhaps I should not have been so certain that I knew your destiny, but whatever the outcome I am certain that you overcame because of the incredible compassion and ability to see good in places others fear to look. This is a trait you inherited from your mother, and it seems to have survived the curse of being my son.
I am leaving you the estate where your mother and I were married. She would have wanted this. We spent our happiest moments there, before the madness, when the war and politics were a galaxy away and we planned for our family.
I find I cannot pass up the opportunity to tell you of the pride I feel that you are my son. May the Force be with you.
Myr carefully folded the letter and looked out the window at the twilight fading to purple and black. Stars were starting to twinkle in the skies above the lake house. She had received a transmission from the bounty hunter Lord Vader had hired and his final plan had been set in motion. All that was left was for Myr to sit back and wait for Luke Skywalker, the galaxys new hero, to arrive. She closed her eyes as a breeze rustled the branches of flowers outside her windows. She could swear that she heard laughter tinkle with the wind chimes in the garden.
~The End ~