Monuments, he thought derisively. Monuments were the galaxy?s way of honoring the ?heroic?, the powerful?and the dead; monuments of stone, marble, duracrete, and obsidian- monuments glorifying the ancient, the scholars, and the angels. He had seen more monuments made to honor the ideals of fools and politicians than he cared to think about. Many of them lined the halls of Imperial Center, attesting to the greed and bureaucracy of the Senate and the wars fought in the name of that ever elusive peace. Due to duplicity, sedition and treason, the galaxy had not changed from the sick, wasted galaxy of the Clone Wars, but that was not what he cared to think about here, at this place. This place deserved quiet and calm and he would call it to him even if it meant giving up the darkness, his constant companion and only refuge, if only for this moment. She deserved this.
The sun had always shone brilliantly on Naboo, its warmth and light one of the galaxy?s true comforts in the old world- his old world. His home planet?s suns were brighter and more intense, but nowhere near the beauty of the light here. It had been many years since he had thought of beauty, his life had been forfeit for another cause long ago and that elusive call of peace was always one step in front of him, reminding him of his duty and the price paid to achieve it. Still, when his guard was down and he was weak, this planet and its treasures would find their way back to his memory.
He had purposely stayed away as long as possible. Now, twenty-one years later, the Emperor saw no need to keep him away. After all, had two decades of darkness not eradicated anything that might have been left of the weak flickering flame of some weak man from long ago? Had it not oppressed it with the damp, cold shadows until it did little more than sputter? What did Palpatine have to worry about when calling him to his sanctuary on his home planet? There was a war going on, and a Rebellion still thriving. The Death Star had just been destroyed. Palpatine cared nothing for sentiment, and he was sure that his most trusted apprentice did not either.
The Emperor had nothing to fear, what had happened so long ago lay buried beneath the blossoms of this planet?s most treasured flowers. Or so the Emperor thought. There was a reason he had not accepted invitations over the years to the Emperor?s private compound, even when duty called for his presence. He had always found some way to be needed elsewhere, some dingy outpost or forsaken planet in his hunt for the Rebellion, even if it were a lie. And somehow, the Emperor had always known better than to test him on this, in his wisdom he knew that there were some things better left buried and dead.
But here he was today, after finally being summoned when there was no escape. He had been summoned to come and brief an Inquisitor, one of Palpatine?s personal minions, on the Death Star disaster. The Emperor was in no mood for the usual excuses and regrets. After leaving Palpatine?s retreat, he had found himself here, despite years of denial and rejection.
He looked up to the monument, its curves and corners dappled in the sunlight. He had no sense of smell, but he knew the smell that surrounded the monument in the blossoms and wildflowers. It had haunted him for over twenty years. In a happier time, he could recall that smell at will. It kept him sane in battles and made the longing for home a little less hard to bear. He would have been wary of passersby, but this place was out of the way, in a small garden in the court of Theed. A small voice inside of him stirred.
She shouldn?t be here. Her home was at the lake. That is where she would have wanted to be.
But where was the voice when the time came to let those who buried her know what her last wishes would have been? Where was he when she had given birth to their child? Where was he when that child died? Where was he when she had needed him? He was her husband. Had she loved him even at the end? Had she ever given up on him? He should spend his life not knowing, but he did. He knew. And because of this he hated that man with a hunger so ferocious that it fed the dark in him more than anything Palpatine or the Rebellion could ever do. He stepped away from the monument, looking through the mirrored lenses at the angelic face carved in stone. Even in granite, she was an angel. He looked down to the words etched at the base:
Padm? Nab?rrie Amidala, Former Queen and Senator
In duty, there always comes honor. In darkness, there always comes light. In sadness, there always comes hope.
Darth Vader stood for a moment, nothing but the sound of the mechanical breather grating against the silence of the garden. He had no flower to place on the gravesite; he had not planned to ever be here.
She should not be here.
He snuffed the voice and the feelings of despair that threatened their way inside the dark shell. It would not do now to go back. He must make his despair useful. He must always be vigilant in his all-encompassing hatred of the man that was Anakin Skywalker. She deserved this.
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