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.