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.


Darth Sidious: People Person

Something queer is afoot. I am uneasy.

Light lunch. Meeting a fan. Brisk, cool audience with the Emperor of the Galaxy.

The day began with a tedious set of inter-departmental meetings debriefing the operational tests we have conducted on this battle-station's systems over the past few days. Moff Jerjerrod was extremely pleased with himself, and took up an entire hour with a self-indulgent, morale-boosting lake of verbal diarrhea about surpassing our own benchmarks by honing our core competencies, or some such similar malarkey. "The operational efficiencies of this Death Star will serve as a template for all Death Stars to come!" he preened to scattered applause.

I had such a headache.

For lunch: leek soup and toss salad. I took my meal alone in my chambers, my gaze cast out over Endor's forest moon below as I enjoyed Pla'ateth's Concerto for Laserphone in D minor, a new recording from Muunilinst Grammophon with thirty-two distinct spatio-aural channels (and four additional channels left over for direct psychoneurotropic input, if that is your cup of tea -- myself, I am too old fashioned). Impressive. Most impressive.

I was interrupted by a high priority signal from across the galaxy, which is so classic: always when I'm eating. I donned my masque and rotated my hyperbaric chamber to face the holoprojector, which crackled to life at my command and displayed the face of Thet Moor of the Imperial Secret Service.

"My Lord," he began without preamble, "indications are that the Rebel squadrons we've been chasing are converging together at a point off the ecliptic, in a lake of void beyond the Sullust Star."

"Have you reported to the Emperor?"

"Yes, my Lord."

"Your service will be remembered, and rewarded," I intoned. Thet Moor bowed his head and broke transmission.

I was meditating on this new information when a call sounded at the door. It was Moff Jerjerrod stopping by to tell me the Emperor commanded my presence. I made a mental note to crush his trachea with my mind at the first politically reasonable opportunity, and made my way to my master's tower with the snaggle-toothed idiot loping at my heels.

We rode the elevator with a junior lieutenant whose skin prickled at the sound of my respirator. He seemed on the verge of passing out for most of the ride, his adam's apple working in his throat. Just as the door slipped back with a hiss and I moved to leave he managed to call, "Lord Vader," in a pitiable squeak.

I paused, and turned back to him.

He took a deep breath. "I just wanted to say, sir, my Lord -- well, that I've always looked up to you. I don't know if people ever take the time to say...thanks. Thank you, Lord Vader. You're an inspiration to us all."

I hesitated, uncertain what to say, and in that moment of silence the young lieutenant began to stammer an apology. I stopped him by holding up one gloved, open hand. "Thank you, Lieutenant," I said evenly. "I hope to see you one day commanding the fleet."

"Yes, my Lord!" he grinned, saluting smartly. The elevator sighed closed and he disappeared. How charming!

"Shameless sycophancy," grunted Jerjerrod with that little smirk of his pulled tight over his mouth. "Let's not dawdle now, Lord Vader."

Using every ounce of self-control I barely avoided simultaneously breaking every bone in the Moff's body with a spasm of pointed thought. He continued to make light banter as we walked, endangering his life. We paused at the threshold of Palpatine's tower. "Recognize this, Jerjerrod," I said, pointing my index finger menacingly in his face. "Had the Emperor not specifically requested that your life be spared for the time being, you would even now be holding your own quivering giblets in your hands."

Jerjerrod wet himself mutely.

I nodded with satisfaction and proceeded to the audience with my master. His Excellency's ministers stepped aside as I ascended the steps to his throne overlooking space. That is one thing my master and I have always shared: a common penchant for a scenic view.

Our discussion was brief and bewildering.

My master Darth Sidious was not interested in the terrorist fleet amassing at Sullust. He simply commanded me to leave the Death Star and await further instructions at my post aboard the Super-StarDestroyer Executor. His tone was discernably terse and dismissive. I could feel Jerjerrod smirking at my shoulder the whole time. Dismayed as I was, it is not my place to question my master...

And so here I am, back home so to speak. I already miss my view of the Sanctuary Moon for my Executor chambers are without ports, nestled deep within the heart of the ship out of harm's way. I am restless and irritable. I have nothing to do.

Admiral Piett dropped by to welcome me back, and had his yeoman sing me an entertaining ballad they had heard at last night's Ewok barbecue after I left. I admit most of it was lost on me as my thoughts wandered to Sullust, but I did pick up a bit at the end:
Time and again our history plies the same synclastic waters;
The affairs of old live on again to haunt our sons and daughters.
And the wheel of the worlds turns round and round,
The wheel of the worlds turns round.
By the blood of the martyr Darth Revan, I swear fate stalks this moon. Even the low men can feel the weight of destiny in the air. And yet I am commanded to go to my room and sit. This is a waste of a dark overlord.


The Tao Of Sith

Big day. Receiving the Emperor. Ruminations on the Sith mission statement.

My master, the Dark Lord Sidious, Most Excellent Emperor of the known galaxy Palpatine, has arrived at Endor. Amid only minor pomp and circumstance he debarked from his shuttle and I escorted him to his tower where he has now retired to recuperate from his journey and align himself with the local Force.

It was he who broached the subject of Luke Skywalker. I felt his presence slither among my thoughts and I held my consciousness stock still, repulsed by his cold probe but powerless to resist him. He knows my thoughts dwell on my son. He knows I yearn to take up my post aboard Executor and resume the chase.

And yet he denied it me.

My master's thoughts are an impenetrable miasma to me now, but for a shallow gloss of ritual trivia he maintains like a wig over his true mind. It has not always been this way.

I am no fool. I know he has cast a cloud of obfuscation between us.

Does he prepare himself for death? He is ill, and I tell you this in the strictest confidence. He is gravely ill, he has confessed this to me. This is why turning Skywalker is so vital: who better to be my dark padawan, when my master has been released from this plane?

"You were conceived by the galaxy, my friend," Palpatine has told me. "You are of it, and the immaterial part of you is bound inextricably with the fate of it. Your blood carries the will of the Force, as surely as if it were written in a book."

I am indispensible to the galaxy, but my master is not. He knows this to be true and has accepted it into his heart, for the way of the Sith commands an unflinching communion with pain. "There can only be two," he has reminded me. "When destiny reveals your apprentice, I shall be slain. I am but an instrument in this affair."

And yet, I find myself wondering about my master sometimes. What kind of man did it take to covertly apprentice oneself to the Force, and then engineer a rise to total power? Beyond the guidance of the way of the Sith, what kind of a man does it take to begin such an undertaking?

About Palpatine's childhood on Naboo I know nothing. The archives have been purged. How he escaped the eyes of the Jedi examiners is a mystery. But somehow his gifts remained his secret. By Korriban he learned the way. He had the strength of spirit to look into the darkness and come away alive. By the stewardship of Plagueis he came to know the power of the dark side...

Wait a moment. Do you even know the difference between the light side and dark side of the Force?

It must be understood that the Force is, above all, singular. The so-called "sides" arise from differing matters of perspective. (If you study the way of the Sith you will find that many of the truths we cling to depend entirely on one's point of view.)

The opposite of the singular Force is the all-encompassing void of death. Time began with the Force, and will end in desolation. This is the way of things, and an inevitable consequence of the flow of events from the past into the future.

Without the inertia of the fall toward the abyss, the Force would have nowhere to go.

For in the chaotic tumble toward doom the stuff of the worlds enact loops of complexity that change the grade from life to death, introducing valleys, peaks and cycles. Between creation and destruction comes a flutter of improbability, a brief sonnet of meaning against the noise of time. Life!

It is the causal contagion that ties every ounce of us together through the network of the Force, our actions resonating against our almost-actions and our non-actions in a web of fleeting possibility that spans this galaxy and beyond. The beat of a child's heart detonates supernovae, the beat of a bug's wing tilts the orbit of worlds.

We are all connected.

Anyone who awakens to the Force knows this. The divisive issue is what to do with this knowledge.

When you can run the mechanism of the universe forward or backward, scrubbing through possible histories with a thought, a theme develops. You cannot escape it. Death, death, death. It is the final destiny of all things, great or small, matter or idea. But there is astounding beauty in the arts of the not-death, the filigree dances of life's loops as it spins from light to void. If you are human, it moves you.

It should move you. But this is what the Jedi Order denies. They preach that the heart of a beast cannot judge the destiny of a galaxy. They preach dispassion and detachment, a condescending compassion for the damned. They stand by the sidelines and watch history happen, intervening only in trivia that offends their effete sensibilities.

Every Jedi knew the cycles of civilization, and every Jedi knew an age of barbarism was nigh. And yet they did nothing.

In contrast, the way of the Sith is predicated on a love for man. We have inherited the godhead of the galaxy by colonizing its every world. Though lesser species might have flourished given infinite time, it was our kind who got there first. We have won this galaxy with thousands of generations of our blood and our dreams. We call the others "primitives" because we are their kings.

And we will not sit idly by as it all careens toward a morbid interregnum. Inspired by our passions we will act to bridge the gulf between civilizations, shortening the period of disorder by decisively maintaining connections between societies from one side of the galaxy to the other. We will weather the storm.

Hate! Love! Misery! Joy! These are paths to the dark side, for to invest in the emotional life of civilization is to care about its fate. To care is to suffer, and suffering is real.

The Jedi were mere spectators.

They jabbered amongst themselves as a committee, no one of them wielding enough power to see through my master's veil, their light resting on the shoulders of three. In contrast by the Sith way the Force is gathered and concentrated in a single individual, making him a catalyst for vision. With Jedi arts a gifted one can see the next moment -- with Sith arts a gifted one can read the decade. The Force is focused through my master so that I might by way of his preternatural alignment also brightly see the many forked face of destiny.

Because of this the Dark One traditionally exhibits a bewildering confluence of humility and potency -- the bleak peace of one who has seen the endless doom at the end of time and returned with an oath to steer life well.

Though I wonder lately about my master's humility. How long has it been since he has gazed into the naked face of the Force, and how arrogant has he become in the while? Could he scheme to live forever, as Xizor claimed? Could he truly have forgotten that the prophecy is about me?
And in the time of greatest despair there shall come a saviour, and he shall be known as the Son of the Suns.
...Unless Darth Sidious schemes to use my son in my stead. It is, I think you will agree, the only logical conclusion. There is another Skywalker, and that means I am no longer unique.

I feel my master's shadow breathing over this world. It runs far and it touches many things, but there is no thread that runs to Luke. I alone can sense him, and as I am blocked from my master's intimacy by his cloud of obfuscation my son is not included in the fatescapes my master cultivates...

There is a schism in the Force and it rolls this way like thunder.

I have a bad feeling about this.


Ewok Cook-Out

Touring the forest moon. Getting back to nature. Singing around the bonfire.

Wondering whither Luke Skywalker. Musings on my reign to come.

I have spent the day touring our facilities on the Sanctuary Moon from which we emit the invisible energy-condom that protects the still incomplete Death Star orbiting above. This world is an explosion of life, every inch teeming with creeping vines and scurrying insects and rustling leaves. Our tour ended up at the stormtrooper garrison where General Veers was hosting a barbecue.

"Have you tried one of these Ewoks, m'lord?" asked Admiral Piett, offering me a crisp kebab. "Delectable!"

Veers himself was surrounded by a cadre of identical troopers holding their helmets in one hand and their drinks in the other. "Lord Vader!" Veers greeted me. "I'm so glad you could join us. Did somebody get you an Ewok?"

"I'm fine, just fine," I assured him. "Your forces seem to be in excellent shape, General."

"Thank you, my Lord," he smiled. "Have you met Lieutenant Twenty-Six? He's responsible for the new drills we've been using to tighten up the scout platoons."

"How do you do?" I said, shaking the cloned trooper's hand briefly. He nodded respectfully. To Veers I quipped, "How do you tell them apart?"

Everyone had a good laugh over that.

While the men kibbitzed I took a stroll through the nearby glen. I cannot remember the smell of the world anymore, but with my boots stepping through the bracken underbrush and with the dappled sunlight playing over my helmet I can almost fathom was it was like to know scent.

Twigs snapped and I paused. Animals were about -- animals with minds. When I closed my eyes I could discern their wispy spirits sparkling behind the glow of the thoughtless canopy. They had smelled the meat of their kin and it set their hearts racing, dreaming of revenge. But they scampered before my shadow. I moved on, pushing through the bush.

I came to a rise overlooking a shallow ravine in which was situated the auxiliary entrance to the shield generator bunker. I considered: why a back door?

When I returned to the clearing I asked General Veers about it. "The Emperor specified it," he told me. "As you can see, my Lord, the auxiliary entrance lies just to the west of that rocky cache. His Excellency has commanded me to station a legion of walkers behind the ridge at all times..."

"Go on, General."

"Loath as I am to speculate, my Lord, I can only assume the Emperor is baiting a trap for rebel spies."

The General may be on to something, for there is movement in the Force. Even now I sense a restlessness in the galaxy, a yearning of hyperspace to eject matters on our very threshold. I meditated on this growing disturbance as the men stuck a fresh Ewok on the spit and lowered it over the fire.

"Doesn't that smell great?" whistled Lieutenant 26.

The sun set and the party became more boisterous. Several of the men took turns leading the others in rounds of song. I declined when asked, but made a special request for the classic popular anthem Burn, Rebel, Burn which they took up with enthusiasm. In listening to the lyric carefully I developed a theory that the song may in fact be ironic, but I am a bad judge of such things: from my point of view most popular music these days seems to be a joke on its audience.

"Where's Moff Jerjerrod?" I asked.

"Back on the Death Star crying because no one invited him," chuckled Admiral Piett, his arm around his new yeoman.

"Does nobody like that guy?"

General Veers shook his head emphatically and everybody laughed. I knew where they were coming from. The man is annoying. If the Emperor himself had not forbidden me from crushing Jerjerrod's trachea with my mind I can assure you today's barbecue would also have been a merry wake.

The air was alive with the chirping of insects.

I looked upon the bonfire blazing into the forest night and felt a shiver run down my spine and into my cybernetics, though I know not why...

Now I have returned to the Death Star to finalize preparations for arrival tomorrow of my master Darth Sidious. I know he blinds me to his designs in the affairs that the Force tells me are threatening to unfurl here at Endor, and it makes me feel so very alone. Can it be that yet another man who has pretended at being a father forsakes me?

I am too willing to stand in another man's shadow, to win his approval.

Tomorrow I shall pierce his fog with my focused vision when he comes here. I shall know his mind and yet mine will remain a placid pond to him, the mirror surface giving no hint of what eddies churn within.

Too long have I been the learner. I must now prepare myself for my future, when I am the Dark Master. I cannot afford to be negative -- I have to know Luke will turn. He will come to study the Sith way from me. It is the only interpretation of the prophecy that makes sense!

Though I have devotedly worked for his love and bowed to his reign, I admit to you I will smile when Palpatine dies. My whole life I have waited to stop being somebody's padawan.

I am ready for bed. I have to stop journaling. Big day tomorrow. And yet...I sense something -- a perturbance in the Force I have not felt since...

Deep in space, I feel the strings of the Force grow taut. The Emperor is not the only gifted one traveling to this moon. There is another. Skywalker!

They come together to clash, and thereby make me Emperor.

Soon this will be Darth Vader's galaxy, and the people will willingly raise statues of my gargoyle face in celebration of an era of stability and order like no other the worlds have ever known.

In anticipation of portraiture, I applied a fair gob of Boba Fett's new skin cream before I clapped off the light and lay down to sleep, the air whistling soothingly through the ventilators of my hyperbaric chamber.


Blasted Contractors!

Work is a disaster. The blind leading the blind leading the Force-choked.

Cracking the whip. Setting a new tone of efficacy around the Death Star.

Due to the haste with which we are proceding through the latter phases of this battle-station's construction we have been forced to employ scores of civilian contractors from across the galaxy in addition to our own Imperial Corps of Engineers. This had led to a certain clash of working cultures.

For instance, this morning I critiqued a tragically sub-par piece of workmanship on a tractor-beam repulsolift inversion assembly by snapping the neck of the site supervisor and throwing his limp corpse down a disused elevator shaft.

Imperial engineers would have snapped to crisp attention, of course, but all these civilian contractors did was give me was grief. "Oy, you do that again and I'll have the union on you!" barked one red-faced buffoon.

"It is vital that you enhance the inter-departmental syngergies of your operation," I said. And then I killed him.

On a more positive note the world-smashing superlaser seems to be working admirably, much to the relief of the stress-incontinent Moff Jerjerrod (and the relief of his cleaning service). The lower ranks now giggle when he enters the room, whispering about yesterday's chat in the landing hangar in which Jerjerrod greeted the news of Emperor Palpatine's imminent inspection by losing control of his bowels. Though no one let on at the time, you knew they had to be smelling it. It was certain they not be able to hold off on the jokes for long, since Fett's penchant for toilet humour is famous and every cloned trooper is a reflection of that spirit.

After destroying one of Endor's lesser moons I treated the men to a round of Corellian wine. Admiral Piett signalled from Executor that the moon has been completely incinerated, reducing the likelihood of damage from the kind of outflying debris we saw when we toasted Alderaan. The safety control officer was tickled pink.

Tomorrow I have elected to take a tour of the facilities on the forest moon below. My office is packing a picnic.


Vader's Pastorale

Dull day. Arrived at Endor. Made Moff Jerjerrod cry.

My quarters aboard the new Death Star are quite satisfactory. The smooth and precise action of the robotics in the hyperbaric chamber are beyond reproach: I had barely sat down before it had neatly divested me of my masque and slaved my life-support systems into the host recharger. Also, I have a really spectacular view -- three large triangular ports that look out upon the green and white face of the Sanctuary Moon, the bright sun cantering shadows across the verdant mountains and pillarous cloudscapes while the silver crescent of Endor itself marches in stately orbit behind.

There is something exhilarating about so much life. It is at once inspiring and daunting, and a part of me quails at its chaotic splendor and wishes for the homeliness of a wasted world like Tatooine.

But where there is life there is the Force. Life nourishes it, causes it to grow. It is in the crannies of life's microscopic machinery that the computer of the universe reaches its greatest calculatory density: the probable fates multiply a millionfold, and reality itself ripples in anticipation. A thousand times beneath the perception of low men, the fabric of space quivers at the touch of even a microbe.

When I close my eyes I can see the song this world describes in the webs of the Force, uncountable infinitesimal tendrils coalescing into a great hollow orb that rides beneath this station, pinwheeling through space about the white light and black chute of the galactic fulcrum.

To wit, to wank: I enjoy the view.

Tomorrow I will oversee the testing of this Death Star's new weapons systems. Since things have fallen so woefully behind schedule I anticipate crushing not a few tracheas. Shape up or sputter to the floor unconscious -- that's my motto.


Keep On Darthin' In The Free World

Been a while since my last entry. Lots of catching up to do.

Also, I have a brand new leg.

I do not know by what means these transmissions reach you, but if you have experienced a long hiatus on your end it is because I have been exceedingly busy lately. That is no real excuse, I know, especially since I have found speaking my thoughts into this journal so very cathartic. I apologize, and swear no such lapse will come again, as long as I shall live.

I am aboard the StarDestroyer Avenger, en route to the outlands of Mordell at the galactic rim -- but I started my morning on Coruscant. I was having my morning tea when the new girl came through to tell me the Emperor commanded my presence at the palace.

"Is your breakfast quite satisfactory, Lord Vader?" she asked.

It was not, but we shall let her next of kin worry about that.

Despite the light rain I elected to walk rather than take a transport, in no small part because I wanted to give my new left leg a bit of a go. It is such a relief to finally have good circuitry in place after suffering so long with that enigmatic malfunction that threatened to cause my calf to spontaneously jig if I let my attention wander. Now I feel whole again. Were it not for the necessity of maintaining an appropriate level of Imperial decorum I think I might have kicked up and clapped my heels.

My master, the Dark Lord Sidious and the Emperor called Palpatine, was also in a jaunty mood. The rain ran down the wide windows of his offices, drawing undulating sheets of translucent shadows that slithered across the floor toward the throne. "Yes, come in my friend!" called Sidious, rotating his chair away from the cityscape.

"What is your bidding, my master?" I asked, and then I noticed the Bothan nailed to the wall. "I did not know you had a guest," I added.

"Ah yes," cackled Sidious with a grin, "my Bothan friend and I have been discussing the location of the massing point for the Rebel Armada." He took his cane and walked over to the wall where his furry visitor hung. "It has been most enlightening," he enunciated crispy. The Bothan moaned.

"Splendid," I said. "Then I can resume my hunt?"

"Not yet, Lord Vader," sighed my master, shaking his wizened head beneath his cowl. "There remains yet one duty I bid you perform..."

And so my master appointed me the task of overseeing the final phases of activating the armaments of the New Order's greatest work of engineering: a new DEATH STAR, ten times more powerful than the first, a glorious rebirth of Tarkin's dream. (And this time we've built it without the need for a vulnerable secondary thermal exhaust port, right below the main port.) His Excellency demands that the weapons systems be fully operational even before the superstructure has completed construction, for reasons that remain his own.

It is not mine to wonder. I must obey my master.

Besides, I have always enjoyed engineering. I look forward to accomplishing the impossible, to the shock and awe of the low men. Mark my words: the first thing that snaggle-toothed moron Moff Jerjerrod will say is that it cannot be done. He will ask for more men. And then he will soil himself when I tell him the Emperor is due to arrive on Friday.

The richness of life is found in the small pleasures.


For Shmi

When will fools learn that the Empire always strikes back?

Also, reflections on my mother.

Mood: somber.

The StarDestroyer Avenger has broken from the fleet, and makes for Coruscant. Aboard Executor Admiral Piett commands the hunt for the newest hiding place of the destructive Rebel Alliance, while I am returning home to report to my master, the emperor of this galaxy and a master lord of the Sith. He is...unhappy about recent developments in the whole son-of-Skywalker business and, though I am not privy to the reasons, he was extremely put out that I failed to bring him Leia Organa.

"I underestimated her importance to you," I said as I knelt before my master's flickering holograph. "My failure is indeed complete."

"Your blindness in the matter redeems your fealty," he whispered, fondling the head of his imaged cane as his imaged eyes gazed down upon it. "It is not a significant issue, my friend. Not. Significant. At all."

And indeed, now that I think about it, it isn't all that significant. Perhaps I did undervalue the importance of relaying the known rebel spy Organa to Coruscant, obsessed as I have been with confronting my son. No doubt it is this obsession about which my master wishes to question me in person. Matters of the gifted come before the affairs of low men, as His Excellency himself reminded me when he admitted Organa to be insignificant.

"Chin up, Lord Vader," my master continued. "The Empire will strike back, and that pitiful pocket of anarchists will be stamped out forever."

"But master, in my son they may have a new hope for the return of the Jedi."

"Enough of this," grunted Darth Sidious, waving his gnarled hand dismissively. "We will speak of Skywalker when you come before me on Coruscant. Make haste for the core, my servant."

"Yes, my master."

The transmission ended, and I have remained ensconced in my guest chambers aboard Avenger ever since, staring out the port-holes with my hands clasped behind my back, meditating on the shining stars and pin-prick worlds and the unholy voids that separate them.

My thoughts have ranged to my mother.

She was born to merchants, hard-working but prosperous, plying the lanes of space for their daily bread and legendary fortune if it could be found. Nomadic for generations, the Skywalkers were renowned for panning the galactic rim for the rarest artifacts and most delightful primitive curiosities, eking a living selling wholesale to the Corellians who made a killing re-selling their wares in the core.

In the days of the Old Republic the tentacles of a corrupt federation came to ensnare every trade route of every civilized system, pressing even the once mighty Corellians into the margins. Individual tribes of merchant-nomads like the Skywalkers had no chance. They were pushed further and further into the periphery, forced to buy and sell in the smaller, dirtier, meaner markets of the outer rim -- Tatooine, Dantooine, Terminus...

The greatest force in their universe became the gangster Hutts, jealous gods on whose appeasement rode the success or failure of entire franchises. But hard times meant bribes went unpaid, and the Skywalkers' ships were beset upon by pirate raiders. The pirates stole their cargoes, their virgins and their children. My mother, Shmi, was a girl of seven years when she was kidnapped, ferried away in conditions unfit for beasts, and eventually sold in a Huttese market to the highest depraved bidder.

Some masters were kind, and others were cruel. She came to Tatooine and worked beneath the twin suns. When she became "inexplicably" pregnant she was sold for less than her weight in meat, from Gardulla the Hutt to Watto, a Toydarian junkman with a soft heart despite a hard tongue.

And I was born.

"Two for the price of one! How do you like that?" is what my mother says Watto yelled out to everyone who came by the shop that day. Then he slapped my mother's ass and reminded the men of her impressive flexibility. "Fifty oldster-standard nuggets for an hour, hah? Good bargain, hah? Smile for the nice men Shmi."

And she would. She would smile. My mother could always smile. She smiled as she died in my arms.

I just wanted to say thank you. Thanks, mom. You took an unbearable burden and gladly made it heavier so that I could stay innocent as long as possible. You made every sacrifice in the hopes of wresting for me a better life -- unhesitant, unflinching, without regret. You never once questioned that the underlying force that holds people together is love, even when all you knew was suffering.

I love you. I still do. Even now. I still think of you. Every day.


Parenting 101

Okay, I admit it. I cut off the kid's hand. Everything went downhill after that.

Blast! Blast! Blast! I am such an idiot.

I surveilled my son as he walked through the city, my eyes closed, my back to the security monitors. His spirit danced and rained, his emotions farting out bright, flickering clouds of micro-causal flotsam in every direction. Lumbering arcs of probability swung around him in sick, drunken orbits, any one of them threatening to actualize at a sneeze.

Quite a lightshow, really. People who cannot see the Force have no idea what they are missing.

I was able to discern that the callow youth's undisciplined powers were being channeled into a keen signal by the famous blue astromech droid R2-D2, whose ability to manipulate or be manipulated by the Force is something I have never understood. Whether he is some kind of midichloric instrument or mechanical idiot savant, it cannot be ignored that his presence aids the boy.

So the first thing I did was separate them, by sealing a fire door between them.

Skywalker himself I teased through a maze of corridors into the bowels of this city, dangling a shadow of my presence before his nose like a carrot. I studied his mind, and found his first thoughts were not of his friends: it was only me he sought now. The Force called to him, I reasoned. Or perhaps the ghost of Kenobi whispered in his ear.

I meditated in the carbon freezing chamber as Skywalker approached. Out of the steam strode Qui-gon Jinn, shimmering and insubstantial. "Anakin," he called. "The time has come to test him."

"He is only a boy."

"He is stronger than you think," Qui-gon pronounced, and vanished.

So...chalk one up for Qui-gon. The boy is strong. Stronger than I could have imagined. Through his clumsy, novice staggers the Force blew enormous rage, a hot wind of raw power I struggled to hold my own against. I had toyed with him at first, but I soon found myself working hard. He knew none of the classic moves: his foil play was dictated directly from his heart, clubbing at me with an instinctive passion that dodged my every stratagem.

And, of course, my left leg was acting up like crazy.

I used what ounce of my will I could spare to exert control over the misfiring circuits, wrestling my wayward limb to do my bidding as I fended off the broad, single-minded thrusts of the bitchfire youth. He knocked me down and I felt his confidence swell. I realized: he loathes me!

I escalated my own level of brutality, and he lost ground. Still I found place to wonder: what fires his naked hatred? This is not the sting of a political idealist.

He popped out of the carbon chamber before I could freeze him, which was a neat trick. The duel ranged. I threw objects at him with my mind, which was obviously beyond his ken as he reacted by trying to dodge them like a low man. Then I blew him through a window.

It went on and on.

He didn't even want to talk about the power of the dark side.

And then it happened: down on the catwalk as we clashed again and he struck me with his sabre, glancing my shoulder. He struck me, and I just lost my cool -- without really thinking it through I lopped off his hand. Little bugger!

He was as raw as he was going to get, though he exerted an impressive will to keep his fear from boiling over. As he crawled away from me across the catwalk I figured I had nothing to lose. It's time to spill the beans. It's now or never. I took a deep breath: "Luke, Obi-wan never told you what happened to your father..."

He screamed and jibbered, clinging over a chasm fathoms deep. His pain moved me. And not in the usual good way. I mean I felt for him. So I did as I said I would: I reached out to him. I told him we could be in it together, come what may.

Luke jumped to his peril.

The Force is strong with him, however, and he survived his fall. I felt him call out with his mind, and watched the fabric of the Force contort as the Millennium Falcon piloted by the escaped prisoner Leia Organa and the surprisingly slippery Lando Calrissian abandoned its flight, returning to Cloud City to rescue Skywalker.

I returned aboard Executor and waited to snare the freighter as it stalled in space, unable to jump away due to a sabotaged hyperdrive (ha, ha). As the ship climbed out of Bespin's gravity-well I let my mind play out along the filigree ladders of the Force until my tendril found him, honing in on the corporeal pain of his severed arm and the throb of his psychic wounds. Luke's spirit squirmed away from my connection, burned by the truth. But I could see that he was strong enough to face it, his resolve hardened but uncracked. Impressive. Most impressive.

The crippled freighter sailed into my view from the bridge, crossing the crescent of Bespin and making for black space. In moments we would have them!

"This will be a day long rememebered," I said.

...Which is pretty much when the Millennium Falcon escaped to hyperspace.

I sighed. Why me?

I was even too dispirited to crush Admiral Piett's trachea.

Now I am in my hyperbaric chamber, listening to music (Rotan's Sonata for Holotyne) and trying to get a grip on things. Betrayed by a mimbo, surrounded by incompetence, my soul in knots; lost Skywalker, lost Organa, sold Solo...

The Emperor is going to barf when I tell him.


I Don't Know If It's Art, But I Know What I Like

Human science experiments. A meditation on sculpture.

Today we put Captain Solo into the carbon freezing chamber, in order to test the system before capturing Luke Skywalker for delivery to my master, Sidious, on Coruscant. Everything went swimmingly -- the punk smuggler was put into perfect stasis. And people question the merits of human experimentation!

Captain Solo's body was half-visible, fused in mid-emergence from the face of the carbon brick. He was frozen in a cry of agony, hands grasping like claws, pelvis turned.

It made a beautiful sculpture. A perfect captured moment of a man in bondage, his heart blackened by hopelessness and pain.

It really spoke to me. Made me feel weird.

The worst of it is that his friends will try to rescue him, no matter how fruitless the attempt. They will die trying to save him. He will stay in that block of carbonite, reaching out forever until they come. And they will try.

I have felt Skywalker as he landed at this city, just moments ago...

"Well, I'm off to the wop-wops," said Boba Fett genially as he stood beside me in the carbon freeze chamber. He was looking forward to his reward from the Hutts. "Crash hot kai they have on Tatoonine," he said with relish. I had no idea what he was talking about so I just nodded. In front of the prisoners and the men I bid him farewell formally and he escorted Solo's carbon prison away. "Bounty hunter," I said with a small bow.

Calrissian balked when I ordered him to take Leia Organa and the wookiee to my shuttle, but I could steer his mind with my pinky. It does not require much concentration to puppeteer fools.

...Though I admit my mind is now focused on my son. He is here!

Gotta go.


I Hate Waiting

Awaiting the arrival of Skywalker. A personal moment.

My words yesterday about Leia Organa got me to thinking. Specifically, I was thinking about the way I referred to her as her. Am I so weak that I cannot bring myself to pronounce her name?

Her name was Padme Naberrie. And she was my wife.

Do you know what I liked best about her? It was not her laugh, or her tresses, or her even her kisses: it was the fire that lit in her eyes when she was angry. That fire told you who you were dealing with: not a mere mortal, but someone who would bring rain to deserts if it suited her. A stubborn godlet, in a girl's frame. Her spirit shone so vividly I could never read her mind for all the glare.

And she had this amazing power of dignity that meant that no matter how much someone might underestimate her initially, after the first few words out of her mouth they were forced to take her seriously.

People never took me that seriously. (I mean, they do now -- but not then.) I had to kill people to get them to take me seriously.

They say I killed her, that I killed Padme. But it is not true. I choked her, yes, but it was childbirth that took her. The Force traded Padme for Luke, the boy who now races to this city to rescue his friends. As he draws nearer the strings of the Force hum in anticipation, new nodes of causality blooming at the intersections of its interstellar strands...

I wll reach out to him.

As I reached out to Obi-wan Kenobi and was denied, and left to burn, I shall reach out to take Luke's hand when he is fallen before me. I will have in abundance what no one had for me: mercy, forgiveness, understanding, trust.

When I close my eyes the sky is alight with the whorls of the Force, coalescing here around this city in the clouds. How can I doubt the truth I have divined? Luke will join me.

It is his destiny.