You stare at me with those bright blue eyes, eyes that have remained vibrant and vivid though the rest of you rots and withers away, kept alive thanks only to the machines that keep your lungs from collapsing and the sheer force of will that keeps you on your feet.
They say, Lord Vader, that the eyes are windows to the soul, and yours have certainly never been an exception. It amazes me, even now, how you could ever have been a Jedi, when your passions are revealed so nakedly in your gaze. Your emotions are written in your eyes, my lord, and they always have been.
So now you sit there and stare at me levelly, meeting my gaze with your own, and your emotions are plain. Those rabid passions that clamor to be released, sharpening their teeth on your soul and on your bones as they devour you from the inside out. That fire that blazes deep within your eyes and your soul, burning and eating at the remains of the man you used to be until only the ashes are left --
You hate me.
And by the stars it's amazing, this hatred: so perfect and clean, unadulterated by any baser emotion. Virgin and pure: an intoxicating, heady passion that would destroy any lesser man yet burns in your eyes like a sun. And maybe it's ridiculous, but I've always taken a certain degree of pride in inspiring that feral hatred -- you only feel that passion for me, and me alone.
It's neither the confused hatred you hold for your old master Kenobi, interlaced with respect and love and the remembered taste of a companionship that was, nor the contempt-filled loathing you hold for all those Jedi you slaughter by the dozen. Nor is it that feeling you hold for she whom you once called wife, the love and hatred mixing so thoroughly that you hardly know what name to give it at all.
And I've earned it, my lord, have I not?
I led you to this, after all. I brought about your downfall, engineered your rebirth. I planted the seeds of hubris in the young Anakin Skywalker, nurtured his pride as he grew from a precocious young boy into a Jedi prodigy.
I stood at your side as you grew, sowing those first beginnings of dissent and rebellion against the Jedi and all they represented. I turned you against your master, against your Order, and I led you away from that path of light and so far into the dark that you can scarcely remember the taste of the sun.
And this, perhaps what you hate most of all: that I planted those first doubts about your wife, about your Padmé ... and that you believed me, when you heart should have known so much better. That I whispered the doubts into your ear that made you question her love and her fidelity, though you should have listened to your heart from the first.
Yes -- that's what hurts, isn't it, even now? Knowing that she loved you? And that you gave that up of your own free will?
And perhaps I should be afraid. The hatred of a Sith Lord, after all, is nothing to be taken lightly, and anyone who inspires that passion burning deep within your eyes had best tread carefully ...
I suppose I would be frightened, had I anything to fear.
Because you know you can't kill me. And you know that whatever you do, I'll always be here to taunt you, to laugh at you, to remind you of exactly what kind of failure you are. The galaxy may tremble in fear at your name, but you and I know better: your hatred is worthless, because we both know that you can't do a damned thing about it.
So maybe you'll try to be rid of me again tomorrow, just as you've tried every day of all these long years. Bring up that saber at your side, ignite it with a familiar snap-hiss and get ready to strike me down. You’ll snarl and grimace, those eyes filling with that decades-old hatred, those nostrils flaring, those lips curled in angry defiance ...
... but you'll change your mind at the last possible moment, lose your resolve. Because you need me here, you need me as a focus for all that futile rage you have pent up inside your little black heart.
And then you'll stand just there again, looking into this mirror and into this reflection of your own bright blue eyes -- hating with all that perfect fury, hating the galaxy and hating the Emperor, but hating yourself so much more.
But not even you, Lord Vader, can destroy your own reflection.
Original cover by obaona. HTML formatting copyright 2004 TheForce.Net LLC.