Author Chester Burton Brown
For new material please visit my main blog, CHEESEBURGER BROWN: SCI-FI STORY WALLAH.
Author Chester Burton Brown


Darth Vader Superstar

My name is Anakin Skywalker.

I was born forty-nine years ago, less a day. I was born a slave, as billions are born slaves. When I was a child I did not immediately imagine that I deserved freedom, for this was not my mother's attitude. Suffering was to be endured. She admitted a patient hope for less cruel masters, when we were between them. She taught that if freedom was in our destinies, fate would find us.

We were not starved, and were seldom beaten. I didn't think it was so bad. My mother Shmi and I looked out for one another. When the loathsome Gardulla the Hutt lost us to Watto the junk-dealer I got my first chance to take machines apart and put them back together, and it was amazing. The more I fixed things the more things Watto gave me to fix. My mother was also profitable. It was a happy relationship that more than halfway resembled a family, much like the one Watto had lost years before on Toydaria.

Everything changed after the Mandalorian came. With a cold manner he made his cruel desires plain. My mother refused him. Watto backed her up and the Mandalorian attacked him, casting him about the shop like a sack of meal. He could not protect her. I ran out and stuck a knife in the Mandalorian's thigh. He struck back at me savagely. I lay dazed in the corner as he laughed and turned on my mother.

I could not protect her.

I was six.

That is when the dreams began, in which I could fix the mechanisms of life as easily as I could machines. At night I saw an elaborate tapestry of iridescent threads that connected all things to all others, backwards and forwards through time forever. To play a song upon its fibres required only the gentlest flexing of my mind, the resonating harmonies describing new patterns in the network of connection that in turn rippled through to the arrangement of real things. The dreams were incredible. Like flying. Like being free.

One night near Boonta Eve I was working to exhaustion to repair Watto's sponsored racer in time for the next day's qualifier. I was so tired I began to dream with my eyes open. I could see the strands that bound all things with my waking vision, swimming and forking in reaction to my thoughts and movements. Suddenly the solution to a vexing problem with the starboard thruster was as clear as day -- it was obvious, when one could read between the lines.

And then I dreamed that I wielded a sword of fire, and that I slay any enemy that stood in my path. I dreamed I was a warrior, and that I could protect everybody. It was better than flying. I was a hero.

I mentioned the dreams idly to my mother one day. To my surprise she took the matter very seriously. "Anakin," she said, touching my shoulders and looking into my eyes, "has anyone ever told you about the Jedi?"

I shook my head. "What's a Jedi?"

"They are warrior-monks from the Republic. Their weapons are laser-swords."

"Just like in my dream!"

"Just like in your dream," she echoed. "You are a very special boy, Anakin, and I believe that the Force speaks through you."

"What's the Force?"

She smiled and closed her eyes for a moment, asking me to do the same. I closed my eyes. She said, "Anakin, in the quietest night, without sand-crickets or womp-rats, when the temperature is so perfect you can't even feel your blanket, and everything is still, and your mind is quiet...even if you seal out every part of the world you feel -- there is still something there."

"Yes," I whispered.

"That is the Force, Anakin," she said, putting her hand on my heart. "And it will never leave you. It is always there for us. It is a part of being alive."

That was a long, long time ago.

It is she, Shmi Skywalker, who haunts my thoughts tonight as I stare out over the night forest of Endor's moon. I miss her. But in some ways she is alive again, for I saw her spectre in my son's eyes, and heard it in his voice. It was a like physical blow.

Galaxy save me.

My son said, "I know there is good in you. The Emperor hasn't driven it from you fully. That was why you couldn't destroy me, that's why you won't bring me to your Emperor now."

He looked out into the forest spread out beneath the landing platform, his back to me. I ignited his light-sabre, its green glow filling the corridor. Smooth action, nice gyroscopic response. I always end up fiddling around with gadgets whenever somebody says something that makes me feel uncomfortable. "I see you have constructed a new light-sabre," I said, retracting the blade and turning the handle over in my hands. "Your skills are complete. Indeed you are powerful as the Emperor has foreseen."

I turned away then, my feelings threatening my composure and the stability of my left leg. I felt Luke's mind open to my own, reading my heart in a rush of communication I was too slow to interrupt. His thoughts were flavoured like mine, and my defenses could not discern them. His mind is mine.

"Come with me," he implored suddenly.

Through the fabric of the Force I could feel him reaching out to me, his hand open. It just about broke my heart. Only Shmi Skywalker knew love that pure, and I felt her spirit stir within him to my horror and shame. I took hold of the railing, fearing I would fall.

And then I felt the slithering tentacles of Darth Sidious' mind descend upon my consciousness, encircling my wounded heart and cooling it. A voice in my thoughts asked me what destiny of chaos I would have the galaxy face if not for the strength of the enduring New Order. My spirit suffused with a dark light, and my leg began to feel normal again.

I turned around to face my son. "You don't understand the power of the dark side. I must obey my master."

Luke made his appeal again, stepping up to me and searching my lenses with his eyes. "I feel the conflict with you, let go of your hate!"

Poor fool, if only he knew. Innocent as a junior temple youngling, he parroted the dead preachings of an extinct order of loveless charlatans. If only the difference between dark and light were so simple as not being afraid. He cannot conceive of the fear he must know if he is to face the burden of the true Force.

It is too late for me. My hour has come and gone. Words would gain us nothing. And I could stand the torment of his gaze no longer. I ordered Skywalker be flown up to the Death Star without further delay. "...My father is truly dead," said my son as the lift closed.

My leg drooped and I stepped over to the railing again, facing my own dim reflection in the windows. My throat filled with bile as I considered that I had just lost the faith of the one person in this universe who would forgive me, and whose love could redeem me. I have just closed the door on my salvation...

My name is Anakin Skywalker, and I am responsible for the death of my mother, because I broke our bond to pursue my ambition. I am responsible for the death of my wife, the mother of my child, the only woman strong enough and smart enough to win my faith. I am responsible for the death of Jedi Master Obi-wan Kenobi, who once tried to show me the real meaning of friendship and loyalty. And then there was Qui-gon Jinn who could have been like the father I never had, but Palpatine stole him from me.


I think I have always hated him, channeling my jealousy at his power and dignity into a sick kind of devotion. I wanted him to love me, but he is not really a man with a heart -- whatever daemon rules him has its tonsils deep in the darkest layers of this galaxy.

I know now that my master, Darth Sidious the Emperor Palpatine, means to betray the Sith and subvert the prophecy. He means to replace me with my son as his prodigal servant. So armed he means to rule the stars himself, forever.

This job has a glass ceiling.

I should never have been born. Without me, Palpatine would be lost. I was essential. But now I am nothing. My very life inside this mechanized mockery of a body relies on the raw power of the dark side that is focused through him. I could not be without his blessing. And his blessing fails, so I go to join Tyrannus.

I was not strong enough. I have failed everyone.

...And yet, there is my son with Shmi in his eyes -- a product of love, before the storm. He is no Jedi, for his passion blows too hot, but perhaps he is not Sith, either. He is an instrument of change. He is the catalyst at the centre, the fulcrum on which pivot fates. To see him is to be blinded by the glory of the Force that orbits him like living netting.

My meditation was interrupted by the scintillating spirit of Qui-gon Jinn appearing at my elbow. "Anakin," he called, his voice sounding far away. "Take heart: the prophecy is fulfilled on the morrow."

"But how?" I asked, shaking my head. "How can that be? What can I do?"

Qui-gon's eyes sparkled. "You will make the right decision, when the choice lies before you."

"Sidious must die, but I cannot slay him. And Luke cannot hope to have enough power to do so himself."

"There are different kinds of power," Qui-gon pointed out. "You are the Son of Suns. Nothing can change that, Ani. Just because you cannot see the path does not mean it is not beneath your feet."

And with that he faded away, leaving me alone.

The world crept back in. First crickets, then the buzzing lights of the corridor, the call of a raptor, the rustling leaves. The living Force undulated around me, my breath carried away to mix with the wind. I drank deep. One must never forget to taste the present, the fleeting, sweetest moment you can ever know no matter how many adventures you pursue. There is nothing like the now, to cleanse you.

Qui-gon was right. My mother was, too. The Force has shaped this life of mine, from birth to this holy now. Every turn in the path has been an instruction in a series of lessons designed to make me the monster I am, to breed my unwilling heart for whatever lies ahead tomorrow.

Qui-gon said I would have a choice. I cannot fathom it but I have faith.

If he's right, I need not die a slave.

The sun is rising. Morning birds are singing. The mist is burning off the trees. I have already delayed too long. I must join my son on the Death Star, and bring him before my master. Come what may.

And so, dear reader, I must bid you adieu. You have been along with me for much, but you cannot join me on this final journey.

I go now to meet my destiny.


Here Comes The Son

The air is rich with portent. Destinies flicker in snaking forks from the fabric of space. Luke Skywalker is here now, on Endor's forest moon below.

Mood: everything!

I waited an hour in the anteroom to the tower of my master Darth Sidious the Emperor Palpatine before the crimson-clad Imperial Guards motioned to me that I was now cleared to proceed. It's always pomp and circumstance with those guys. I stepped inside the lift, and when the door slid back again I saw my master's throne turned away toward the stars.

I climbed the steps and stood before him. After a pause he turned his throne only partly and muttered with irritation, "I told you to remain on the command ship."

I explained about the rebels aboard the Tyderian shuttle. Sidious turned to face me, the corners of his mouth drawn down in a sneer of contempt. "Yes, I know," he said sharply, yellow eyes piercing me from the shadows of his mantle.

"My son is with them," I added.

I felt his surprise ripple through the Force. "Are you sure?" he asked, his eyes narrowing.

"I have felt him, my master."

"Strange that I have not," he said airly, his fingers playing thoughtfully against one another. I felt his mind touch mine, probing around its edges, quietly deflected by the cloud of obfuscation I felt myself generating without conscious effort. Sidious leaned forward. "I wonder if your feelings on this matter are clear, Lord Vader."

"They are clear, my master," I said with terror in my heart.

It was an agonizing moment before he replied, and I felt certain he had penetrated my intimate mind and seen the confusion there. Instead he sat back in his throne and said, "Then you must go to the Sanctuary Moon, and wait for him."

"He will come to me?"

"I have foreseen it," enunciated Sidious crisply. I sensed that his thoughts lacked the conviction of his demeanor -- he was troubled by the shadows in his vision. I felt his mind lick at my spirit again, feeling over the exterior veneer. "His compassion for you will be his undoing," said Sidious. I hesitated, so he continued with strained patience: "He will come to you, and then you will bring him before me."

He turned his throne back toward the stars.

"As you wish," I said, and took my leave silently.

In the corridor I nearly ran into Moff Jerjerrod, who flinched back from me with wide eyes. "Lord Vader," he whispered, his throat raw from yesterday's little incident between us, "General Veers has signalled from the surface. He says a rebel terrorist has surrendered to his forces."

So, my master's vision is not entirely enshrouded! The surrendering rebel could only be my son, Skywalker, as Sidious had foreseen. I took a moment to absorb the information, breathing slowly as I stood over Jerjerrod.

I heard a trickling splash, and looked down to see a small puddle gathering around the good Moff's boots.

Like I said before, joy in life is found in the little things. To Jerjerrod I said, "Prepare my shuttle. I will see to this personally."

"Yes, my Lord," he squeaked and then scurried away. Which was fortunate timing, because I would have been embarrassed to have him witness the way I fell against the corridor bulkhead, my left leg jerking spasmodically under me.

I recovered myself with an effort, and again summoned the tendrils of Force I would need to wrap through my leg's control circuitry and restore me to a dignified level of function. I did not sleep last night and the exhaustion has magnified my limb's recalcitrance. I felt overwhelmed with melancholy, and suddenly so very weak.

As I made my way through the Death Star I found myself looking upon it with a strange nostalgia. There is always something going on aboard the Death Star -- from the galleria mall to the competitive gymnasium -- and though I have always felt apart from the life of the men I have never felt so disconnected as I do today.

I stopped in for a quick pick-me-up at the Imperial House Tavern, and by coincidence ended up standing at the bar next to Admiral Piett his newest protege, a third-class midshipman with blonde hair and a vapid expression. "What a pleasure!" Piett greeted me warmly. "Can I buy you a drink, m'Lord?"

"Corellian wine," I said. "I will take it in my private booth." I began to walk away and then paused. "Why don't you join me, Admiral?"

Piett looked stricken for a fleeting second. "Sir," he replied with a nod.

He came around with the drinks in just a few minutes, his new boy following timidly on his heels. They ranged themselves around the octagonal table as the door hissed shut. Piett placed a goblet before me. "Thank you," I said. After a brief pause I announced awkwardly, "I will take off my masque now."

"Of course, m'Lord," said Piett. I saw him swallow hard. His boy kept his eyes on his drink, stirring it nervously with his pinky.

I disengaged my hood and then removed the upper section of my face-plate, my burned and scarred features visible above the breathing apparatus at my chin. Piett maintained a rigid composure betraying no shock, but the midshipman could not help but gape. With a snortling suction sound the private booth's life support umbilicus attached itself to a port on my neck. "I propose a toast," I said.

Piett and the midshipman raised their glasses expectantly.

"To destiny," I said simply.

"To destiny!" they echoed, and we all drank. There was an awkward moment after that. Piett coughed and then asked, "Pardon my candor m'Lord, but is there something troubling you?"

I sipped my drink again. "Do you have any children, Piett?"

"Children?" he replied, looking faintly amused. "No, m'Lord, no children."

"I have a brother," offered the midshipman helpfully.

"I have a son," I said. Piett's eyes widened but his expression remained smooth.

The midshipman grinned. "Congratulations!"

Piett watched me with concern. "M'Lord?" he prompted gently.

"My son is a member of the Rebel Alliance," I confessed, eyes cast down at my drink. "He has surrendered to Veers, and I go now to take him into custody."

I heard Piett sigh. "Blast," he said under his breath. He finished the rest of his drink in a swallow. "Is there -- is there something I can do, m'Lord? You know you can ask anything of me, sir."

I nodded slowly and gave his shoulder a squeeze. "You are a good man, Piett. But I must face him...alone."

After a few more moments of silence I finished my drink and replaced my masque. Outside the booth came the sounds of laughter and merry chatter, and it made me feel hollow inside. I flexed my fingers and stood up. "You understand, of course, this conversation never took place."

"Of course, m'Lord," replied Piett.

"Unfortunate about the boy," I added, glancing over at the blonde midshipman.

Piett blinked, and then regained his composure. "There are plenty more where he came from, m'Lord."

"What do you mean?" asked the midshipman right before his head dropped heavily to the table, his last breath pressing windily out of his lungs. I tossed a few Imperial coins down and left. "Sorry about the mess," I muttered to the proprietor.

Now I am aboard my shuttle, taking these idle moments to chronicle the day's events before I go to meet Skywalker on the surface. I do not know when I will next have a chance to write. Even now my shuttle has crossed the terminator into the forest's moons shadow, descending through the wet, night air toward the landing platform where Veers' walker will meet us.

The time of confrontation is at last here!

Daddy's home.


This Is Tense

It begins.

How do you track one man named Luke Skywalker amid a teeming galaxy of quadrillions? Today, the question answers itself.

When I awoke this morning in my newly repaired hyperbaric chamber (rent asunder as it was during yesterday's tantrum) I sensed a disturbance in the Force, followed immediately by a pain in all the diodes down my left side. I winced. Sensing activity, the chamber's automated intelligences swung into action, uncoupling my life support systems from the charger and reconnecting my respirator and masque.

As I rose I stumbled, so useless was my leg. My new leg! I cursed the roboticists and their crude work as I summoned the stream of Force I would require to soothe the malfunction.

Uneasy, I rode to the bridge and took my post before the wide viewports, gazing out at the apparently unfinished Death Star orbiting the verdant marble of Endor's forest moon. That is when I spotted the Tyderian shuttle stretch out of hyperspace and proceed toward us, a speck against the velvet.

The Force sang.

I strode over to Admiral Piett as he bent over the deflector control officer and inquired about the shuttle. They had transmitted an old code, but a valid one. The shuttle's arrival was no doubt according to the designs of my master, Darth Sidious the Emperor Palpatine.

"Seems normal enough to me," contributed the deflector control officer. "It's not like they're trying to keep their distance or anything."

"Shall I hold them?" prompted Piett, sensing my interest.

I closed my eyes and probed deeply, feeling my way along the dense network of the Force to the cluster of nodes that entwined the shuttle and its occupants. I knew at once that Han Solo was alive, and that Boba Fett must be dead; I saw a faceless droid, a primitive, and a woman bathed in the glare of destiny, lost in the halo surrounding my son, Luke Skywalker, his spirit blazing so that I cringed.

My left leg failed, and I found myself jigging across the bridge unceremoniously. My focus returned and I steadied my errant limb, straightening slowly and stepping back toward the console. "Do not concern yourself, Admiral," I said in answer to Piett's quiet look.

I ordered the shuttle be let through. The defensive screen was collapsed and the Tyderian craft dropped away toward the forest moon.

My son is here! I knew something was happening. The cloaking veil has grown, and I know not who generates it -- never the less, nothing could hide his presence from me. Does my master see what I see? Dare I tell him?

This is tense.

I rushed aboard my shuttle and had it flown directly to the Death Star. Even as we landed in the hangar I had not decided my strategy. I moved briskly toward the Emperor's tower, striding through the corridor toward his private lift, the entrance to which was flanked by two Imperial Guards in crimson robes.

Before I reached them Moff Jerjerrod stepped out of the shadows between two bulkheads. "Lord Vader, what an unexpected surprise," he grinned condescendingly, blocking my path. "I'm afraid His Excellency does not wish to be disturbed at the moment."

I cannot fathom what hallucination fuels his arrogance! In answer I raised my gloved hand and willed his airways closed. Jerjerrod grabbed frantically at his collar, dropping to his knees and gasping. I said, "I will see the Emperor. Now."

Jerjerrod nodded weakly, but the Imperial Guards took a sudden step forward, their force-pikes levelled and crackling. Their will reflects the desires of Darth Sidious directly, and so I knew I dared not stand against them. I nodded my assent silently and released my hold on Jerjerrod, who collapsed to the deck in a fit of agonized wheezing and voided his bladder.

"I will await the Emperor's convenience," I declared, and then turned heel and swept out to the anteroom.

An hour later Moff Jerjerrod emerged escorting my master's Imperial ministers and two tall Kaminoans, their white heads bobbing gracefully as they walked. They proceeded to the main lift. Two Imperial Guards emerged next and stood before me. "The Dark Lord grants you audience tomorrow morning, Darth Vader."

Tomorrow morning? I could not believe it. But all I said was, "As the Emperor commands."

I am feeling more and more dispensible every day. I have taken up my quarters aboard the Death Star again while I wait for morning, gazing out at the clouds of the Sanctuary Moon. I spent some time trying to reconfigure my leg circuitry, but I cannot even seem to find the problem. I listened to some music, and did not eat much supper.

If indeed my master does plan to betray the Sith and pervert the succession, is there a way I can act to preserve the prophecy? This is the question that contorts my mind tonight.

Am I now truly irrelevant to the galaxy's fate?


Darth Vader's Day Off

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Do you know what I think about being ordered to sit on my hands and wait aboard Executor? Blast it. You heard me: blast it right where the Sith don't shine.

I woke up this morning in a foul humour coupled with the determination not to spend another day staring at the walls in my hyperbaric chamber. In fact, I smashed my hyperbaric chamber -- which may have been overzealous, but it felt really good.

Klaxons rang out and a platoon of stormtroopers rushed through the doors. I pushed past them and into the corridor, breezing past a flotilla of stunned-looking repair droids and into the lift. While it ran through the levels I cracked my knuckles and grumbled to myself. Blasted Palpatine! Blasted galaxy!

When the ride stopped I noticed a minor clerk cowering in the corner of the elevator, sweat running down his cheeks as he whispered over and over again in a paralyzed mantra, "Please don't kill me, please don't kill me, please don't kill me..."

"As you were," I rumbled, and swept out into the landing hangar.

I crossed the floor briskly, ignoring the queries and then shouts of the deck officer, heading directly for the bank of sleek TIE fighters parked against the starboard berth. A group of pilots dropped their conversation to watch me approach, suddenly nervous.

"Good morning, Lord Vader," called the senior pilot. "What can we do for you today?"

"I will take that fighter," I declared, never slackening in my pace as I bore down on their small group.

"My Lord, you're not actually authorized to --"

I proceeded to the mounting ladder, his limp corpse dropping to the deck behind me. The other pilots took a respectful step back.

Once secured in the cockpit I used the laser cannons to smear the deck officer across the hangar in a long, black streak. His subordinates jumped to action in the control booth and I saw the green signal for launch clearance flash on my TIE fighter's display. A timid voice crackled through the communicator: "Enjoy your flight, Lord Vader. She has a full tank."

"Very good," I replied and then without further preamble blazed the thrusters and sent the nimble fighter to the glowing mouth of the atmospheric shields and out into space, pilots and crew jumping aside to avoid the skim of my wings.


Infinite, unthinking, beautiful -- there is no peace like it in this world, whether by trance or narcotic. Married with the joy of flight the unblinking starscape becomes my paradise. Weightless, my ruined body feels young strength. Boundless, my spirit soars.

I veered tight across the bridge of Executor, no doubt causing Admiral Piett to spill his tea. I carried her over the deflector shield arrays and then plunged down Endor's massive gravity-well, thrusting hard at the last second and shooting out along the planet's limb followed by a trail of burning sky.

The silver clouds of the gas giant careened away to port as I throttled back and steered her toward a volcanic moon. I skirted the surface, dodging between pillars of sulpherous spume, hurtling between the rocklet baby moons the ashen orb carried as it crawled around Endor.

A little blue light indicating that I was exceeding the fighter's design parameters kept flashing, so I popped it with a thought. Bloody engineers!

In the tranquility born of extreme evasive manoeuvring I found my thoughts drawn to Sullust. The Force may work in mysterious ways but its sense of symmetry is uncanny: the Rebel fleet is massing on exactly the other side of the galaxy from Endor, cast off in the darkness of the opposite rim.

Twin foundations separated by a galaxy, one sworn to uphold order and other sworn to disturb it.

The Sanctuary Moon loomed in my scopes, the Death Star hanging like a jewel above it. As I drew nearer I felt each tendril of Force my ship crossed, thousands of threads of connection from all across the cosmos converging in the heart of my master, the Dark Lord Sidious and Emperor Palpatine. And yet...

And yet there is a cable of causality that snakes from hyperspace to this world, trillions of life destinies somehow knitted into its fabric. It blazes against the blackness of my closed eyes, its wandering fringes caressing both the forest moon and the battle-station, nodes of fate quivering at the edge of actualization behind the velvet....

And yet it connects to my master not at all.

There can be but one explanation: the galaxy prepares for my ascension. The fulfillment of the prophecy is nigh.

I have never felt so alive.