Darkness. All I see is darkness. I move my eyes but all I am faced with is a vast sea of nothingness. No colours. No shapes.
Are my eyelids closed or have I somehow been blinded? I try to open my eyes yet for some reason I cannot. Why? They don't feel heavy and I don't feel tired. In fact, I don't feel anything. So if I don't feel anything then perhaps my eyes are already open and I truly have been blinded. Perhaps I had an illness or an accident of some sort that has caused me to lose my sight. Yes, that might be the reason.
But then again, it doesn't feel right. Something doesn't feel right. Something - I don't know what - is telling me that nothing could have caused my blindness. But why? I am merely a man. And any man can succumb to such an illness or fall victim to an accident. Perhaps I was injured performing a duty of some sort?
Why does that word sound so familiar? Duty. Perhaps I was once a soldier. Perhaps I still am a soldier. Maybe I have been blinded in a war of some sort. If only I could remember something - anything. All I can do is seek comfort in the thought that I may have been blinded carrying out some act of heroism.
Perhaps I was - am - a war hero.
Yes, now that does sit right. A hero of a great war that raged across the galaxy! A hero who stopped the tyranny of our oppressors! If only I could see their faces now! Damn this blindness which prevents me from seeing the look on the faces of our fallen enemies! Damn this blindness for taking away my right of seeing the joy that our victory has brought! Damn this blindness for stopping me from inspecting my many medals of honour - and I bet there are many! In fact, damn everything! I am a hero so why has my sight been taken from me? It's not fair! Not fair at all.
But what can I do?
Answers. I need answers. No, I want answers! Perhaps someone is here with me, wherever here is. Perhaps he or she or they are keeping virgil by my side. Well, if that is the case and I truly am blind, then they would not be able to tell if I am asleep or awake. Perhaps if I call out then someone will answer and I won't feel so alone.
Oh well, here goes nothing...
And nothing is all I get. No answer from a doctor. No answer from a relative. No answer from a friend. Surely I must have a friend? I am a war hero and war heroes have plenty of friends!
That is...that is unless they are all jealous!
Jealous because of my abilities. And I must have abilities otherwise I wouldn't be a war hero. Yes, I bet that my so-called friends aren't here because they are all jealous of me, the idiotic fools!
So if my friends aren't here, then where are my relatives? A relative wouldn't be jealous of my abilities - only proud. So where are they? Have I a mother? A father? A wife? A family? I think I have but I just don't know. Damn my memory! Why can't I remember?
Hell, if I haven't a family sitting here with me, then surely a doctor must be nearby, or somebody observing me in case I wake up!
Why won't anyone answer me? I am awake! I may be blind, but I am awake! So why has no one answered me? I don't know how much more of this I can take. My mind is in such as mess right now. Did I even speak? I am sure I did - I must've done, I am only blind after all.
Dammit, did I speak or not? Did my mouth even move? I can't remember! Perhaps I did and the words were heard. Perhaps someone is talking to me right now. Well then, if that is the case, why can't I hear? If I cannot see, then I must be able to hear!
But what if...
No, oh no. Please...don't let me be deaf as well as blind! Is taking my sight not enough? Am I to be further mocked with the burden of silence? Everlasting silence! Is this any way to treat a war hero? Somebody will pay for this outrage!
But first I must try and get up.
Dammit, why can't I feel my arms or legs? Why can't I feel my arms and legs? I have still got arms and legs, haven't I? Come on, try and feel something dammit! All I want is one feeling. Just one. Maybe if I concentrate hard enough, it will stir up one particular feeling and the rest will follow. I have to try. I have to.
Here we go. Come on! Feel! Feel! Feeeeel!
It is no use. No matter how hard I try, I cannot feel a thing - except tiredness. Why am I so tired? I am unable to move, so why am I tired? Perhaps my mind is telling me to sleep so I can awake from this nightmare. It has got to be worth a try.
Darkness. Again, nothing but darkness. Am I now awake or still asleep? I just don't know. Why has this happened to me? What has happened to me? Was I involved in a ground battle? Was I a pilot who was involved in some sort of crash? Did I fall in a dual of some sort? I just don't remember. I mean they all seem familiar, but so unlikely. Something deep inside of me is telling me that I am too good at what I do for any of those things to happen to me. But what exactly am I good at? It is so frustrating not knowing! Perhaps this is just a nightmare. Perhaps any minute now I might wake up with the full use of my arms and legs and my sight intact.
Or perhaps I won't.
If I cannot tell whether I am asleep or awake, then how can I tell if I am alive or dead? Maybe that's the point. Maybe I am dead and this is just a temporary resting place whilst I come to terms with it. Maybe there's a place somewhere in the heavens that is being prepared for my arrival at this very moment - a place that is befitting for a war hero like me. It is a soothing thought, but one which isn't enough to stop me from trying to remember. To remember who I am.
Or how I died.
What were the events which lead to my death? Come on, think! I'm convinced that I was a soldier, and that I did fight in some sort of war, but that is all. Come on, think. Think. Think!
Wait. Something is coming to me. A name. A solitary name!
Anakin? The name is familiar. Very familiar. Could it be a name of a friend? Or the name of an enemy? Perhaps this Anakin is the person who killed me. Or if I am still alive, the person who put me in this condition - helpless and alone. Perhaps he was a friend who was jealous of my abilities. Perhaps he was so jealous of the things I could do that he felt a need to betray me.
Why does that word make me feel more angry than the thought of being dead? What happened between me and this Anakin to make me feel this angry?
Why do I feel the need to hate him so much?
Am I justified in hating him? Did he really betray me? What if it was I who betrayed him? Maybe I deserve to be here. No, that cannot be, I am a war hero, not a betrayer! This is destroying me. Why can't I remember the reason behind me hating him - because I am now certain that I should be hating him. But why? Why? Why?
Because I am him that's why! I am Anakin. Anakin Skywalker - Jedi Knight and protector of the Republic! And I hate myself because I showed weakness. Weakness to what I don't know, but it is enough for me to feel angry to the point of wanting to kill someone, and someone in particular. In fact, I am beginning to wonder if this person is the one who I really feel angry with. I mean, I feel some form of hatred towards myself but the anger I feel towards this person is so intense that I cannot help but think he is the reason as to why I am here, in a place where I am neither alive nor dead!
I am not sure how long I have been in this place now, but one this I do know is that I hate this person. Oh, how I would love to remember who he is and what it was that he did for me to hate him this much. Oh, how I would love to be in a position to show him the extent of my hatred and do to him what he has done to me.
In fact, I have got this feeling that one day I will get my chance!
The feeling is such that it has given me a reason to believe that I am not dead. I may not be alive either, but the anger inside of me has swelled to the point where I know I am not dead! What destiny has in-store for me I don't know, but I do know that this person lies somewhere along its path. But for now, all I can do is hate him.
Time has passed, although I'm not sure how much, and I can see things so much clearly now that I have a purpose. Things have begun to enter my head, things that are beginning to help me piece together this puzzle, and they are things that are so far away from this rage that if I where to remain there, I could easily forget about it. But as things stand, and I remain here in darkness, I have no desire to. I want to know my enemies, but still they elude me.
Someone doesn't though. I can see a face through this darkness and it is becoming more and more clearer as each second passes. That face, it is familiar. She is familiar. Yes, I think I remember!
She is my wife! My beautiful wife! My one true love! My Padme!
How I would love to open my eyes and gaze upon her angelic face and run my hands tenderly over her soft skin. How I would love to share with her a tender moment and tell her just how much I love her. How...how...I would love to feel the first kick from our unborn child.
That is right. I was to become a father to a son. Oh, my beautiful boy, I do hope that wherever you are, you are safe and under the protection of the Jedi.
Oh, my wife...my son.
I cannot help but feel a certain emptiness and sadness in my heart - emptiness because I fear I will never again be able to be a husband to my Padme, and sadness because I will never experience the joys of fatherhood. And as certain as I am that night-time still follows day, even as I dwell in this dark place, my sadness once again turns to rage! Pure undeniable rage! How I want to destroy the person who left my wife without out a husband and my son without a father! How I would love to make him suffer.
He will pay!
Oh, the anger! The relentless anger that flows through my veins! Why does something that I am supposed to suppress invigorate me so? I am a Jedi, and am not supposed to feel like this. But I cannot help it. Feeling angry feels right! Feeling hatred feels right! And something is telling me that I should no longer deny it!
And it is this feeling of anger and hatred that leads me into confusion. Why do traits of the dark side consume me so?
The dark side.
Obi-wan always tau-
Obi-wan? I remember him. He is my former Master - my friend. I wonder what has become of him? Does he now share the same fate as I?
I am confused. Why doesn't my anger subside at the very thought of him like it does with Padme? Why don't I feel a similar sadness with the thought of never seeing him again as I do with her? In-fact, why have I suddenly developed this overwhelming urge to meet with him again? For some reason, I want to see him more than I do Padme.
Surely my wife would be the one person I would like to see more than anyone else. But she isn't.
Did we have a falling out? No, we couldn't have. We were too close, so much so that he was like a father to me.
But what if we did?
It would not matter because he couldn't have done this to me - I would never have allowed it, my superior powers would have dictated so.
In that case, what could have happened between us for me to feel immense anger at the very thought of his name? Anger which shows no sign of easing!
What did you do, Obi-wan Kenobi? What did you do?
If I could just see through the anger enough to remember I cou-
Wait! What was that? I'm sure I've just heard something. It was only faint, but it was definitely something!
There, I have just heard it again! It was a voice! A muffled voice! Perhaps it is a medical droid! Perhaps I am in some sort of medical facility. Please, let this be real and not just some cruel trick of the imagination.
No...it is real! It spoke again. And I heard a word! It was only one word, but it was definitely a word.
Begin what? What is going on here? Just where in the galaxy am I? What is about to begin?
I must clear my mind of these questions. I must concentrate hard enough to hear that which is about to begin!
Droids! I can hear droids, and they are moving closer - getting louder. How many of them I don't know, but there are many - three or four at a guess.
For the first time since I began to remember again, I feel afraid...and I hate it! Being afraid is a sign of weakness, and I despise weakness!
But still, I must concentrate. I have to!
I am not sure how much time has passed but my hearing must be improving because the sounds, I can hear more of them. I can now hear the sound of sparks flying, as if two things are being fused together. It is a somewhat familiar sound, but one I cannot yet identify with. Whatever it is, it sounds absolutely horrible.
And it is everywhere!
Just what exactly are those droids doing? Are they fixing something? If so, do they mean to insult me - a hero of the Great Clone War - by carrying out maintenance repairs whilst I am in a state of recovery? Still, whatever they are doing, I cannot shake the thought of how familiar it sounds. The sound, it feels so personal...
...as does that smell! Have I regained my sense of smell as well, or was it simply that there were no smells present before? Either way, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that I can smell something now, something acrid!
It is the smell of burning flesh. My burning flesh!
What are they doing to me?
The sounds, the smell, they are all familiar because I have experienced them before...when, when, when...I had a mechanical arm fused to my body!
Oh, please no, what are they doing to my arms and legs?!
Wait, I am beginning to feel something...
Arrrrgh! Heat! I can feel heat! Unbearable heat coming from my arms and legs! Please, somebody stop them! The pain, it is too much! I can't handle it! Please....stop! Arrrrgh!
The heat! The fire! The pain! I remember! I remember it all!
Arrrrrrrrrrrgh! That is right! I am no longer Anakin Skywalker! That weak fool is dead! Arrrrrrrrrrrgh! Along with the rest of that traitorous order! Yes! I dealt with them! Windu, Drallig, the lot of them - all rightfully destroyed by my own hand!
Arrrrrrrrrrgh! Yes! The Emperor, my Master! He sent me to Mustafar to show the Separatist traitors the extent of our mercy! Yes! And I showed them! I showed them the true power of the dark side! How I enjoyed slaying them all!
Arrrrrrrrrrgh! The heat!
And Kenobi! How I hate him! He is the one who did this to me! He was lucky though. He had help! She made me lose my concentration and it was enough for me to have paid the price!
Arrrrrrrrrrgh! She betrayed me to him! Padme, why did you betray me? You told him where I was! How could you do that to me? How could you break my heart even further by telling me that our son is dead? He was my son so he would have been strong! How could you let him die?
I thought you loved me! I thought you loved our son!
How I hate you both for doing this to me!
Arrrrrrrrrrrgh! How I cannot wait to see the look on both your faces when you see that I am not dead! Not even the destructive nature of lava was enough to keep me from dying! See, Padme, I told you I would find a way to prevent death!
Arrrrrrrrrrrgh! It's just a pity that Kenobi hasn't! Because he will meet his soon enough! I will see to it personally!
Arrrrrrrrrrrgh, the pain! When will it ever stop?
The hate! Will it ever stop?
Not while I still draw breath it won't! I won't allow it! I shall have my revenge, and my hate will fuel my desire to enact it!
"Wake him up..."
That voice. It is familiar.
Yes, I know who it is.
You cannot awaken what is already awake...my Master.
Arrrrrrrrrrrgh! What are you doing? Why has the pain started again? My blood, it feels like it is on fire!
Arrrrrrrrrrrgh! Why are they electrocuting me? I am awake! I am already awake!
"That should be enough."
Why is my Master letting them do this to me?
"His respirator is now fully functional. He will start to regain consciousness in a few moments".
"Good. Now lower the helmet and his transition will be complete."
Transition? What transition? Just what have they done to me?
Wait! I...I am beginning to feel. But my arms, my legs! They feel...different - cold, as if not my own. And my face! What is this mask that they have placed over my face?
And what is that strange sound that keeps on occurring every time I breathe? I don't know what is happening, but my lungs, they feel strange. They feel stronger!
And what is that noise? It seems to be coming from above and is getting closer. It feels like a helmet of some sort. Why are they putting a helmet on me? I hate wearing helmets!
What have they done to me?
I must break free! I must destroy those who have done this to me!
It is no use, the restraints are too strong! I must wait for my strength to return and then...
...All will pay!
But wait! My eyesight, it is returning! I am in a room. It is dark, not as dark as the limbo I have been dwelling in, but dark all the same. It is now slowly starting to brighten up. It has a clinical look about it.
I can now see a figure in front of me. Could he be my Master?
"Can you hear me, Lord Vader?"
Vader? That name...
That is right, it is my name! I am Darth Vader, a Lord of the Sith, and my Master has called out to me. I must answer to him! I must try and speak!
"What...is thy bidding, my master?"
I spoke! But my voice, it is different - much deeper - more mechanical!
I can now see more clearly. It is my Master, Emperor Palpatine. But his face, it looks different, older, more twisted. I wonder what has happened to him.
I look away from him and try to inspect my body. What has happened to it? I cannot feel any warmth in my arms or legs! And what are these garments that I am wearing? And this "thing" on my chest?
Has any part of me survived the lava? Have I any humanity left? What have they turned me into?
And Padme. What would she think if she were to see what I have become?
I must find out where she is.
"Excellent, you may now arise."
"What has happened to my wife, my Master?"
Why is he smiling? His smile looks so evil coming from that twisted face.
"Oh, I'm afraid she was involved in a fatal accident Lord Vader, one which you are fully responsible for carrying out."
I couldn't have killed her, I couldn't have! He must be lying! But what if he isn't?
Please, she can't be dead! Not my Padme! I didn't mean what I said, I don't hate her!
I must find out the truth!
"Release me from these restraints!"
"Control yourself, Lord Vader!"
He has just told me that I have killed my precious Padme and he expects me to control myself? I must break free, I will break free!
Rarrrrrrrrrrgh! The anger, the rage, they have never felt so strong! I cannot control it!
"Goooood, I can feel your anger growing. Now release it and retake your place by my side."
Join him? Join him? I would rather crush him with my bare hands!
My restraints, they are starting to buckle. Yes, I am breaking free, and when I do, he will pay for his lies! For I will show him what the true meaning of the dark side is!
I hate him for doing this to me! He has made a grave mistake by lying to me like this. Now I am going to destroy him! And Kenobi will soon follow!
I am almost free, yet he just stands there cackling. Why is he cackling? Is he mocking me? He is a fool if he is. He should not be mocking me, he should be fearing me!
But still, he just looks at me and cackles.
How I hate him!
I will have my revenge though because...
...My restraints have snapped! I am free!
And for some reason, as all of my anger and rage comes flooding out, all becomes dark again. Like before, all I can see is darkness...and Kenobi. Without Padme, he is the sole reason for my continued existence, and I will not rest until I crush him!
He has destroyed my life! And for that, he will be destroyed!
"Arise, Lord Vader."
I look about the room and it appears to have been greatly damaged by something. It looks as if has imploded on itself. What happened to this room? Why did I suddenly return to that dark place? Is this what I am fated to spend the rest of my life as - a slave to the darkness?
My thoughts at the moment centre on my hate. My hate for Kenobi! My hate for the Jedi! My hate for those who oppose the Empire! But most of all, my hate for this thing that I have become!
And what of my Master?
Regardless of the immense hatred I feel towards him, I know now that I must obey him. He who looks on at me with that horribly twisted face.
"I can sense much hate in you, Lord Vader - it has made you stronger, more powerful. Do not be afraid to use this power, for you are now a servant to the dark side."
A servant? A slave. They are one and the same, and maybe one day I will finally be free.
But until then...
"I do not fear the dark side, I embrace it."
Original cover by Reihla. HTML formatting copyright 2004 TheForce.Net LLC.