He?s been through the process hundreds of times, but each time it happens, the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader, feels the hatred and fury of the first time he had to submit to such processes.
Cold, mechanical arms carefully disengage the seal around Vader?s breath mask. With a loud HSSSSS! the ship?s air mixes in with the air from the Dark Lord?s environmental suit, stinging his face. To be the second most ? no, THE most powerful ? being in the galaxy, and have to submit to this is?
Machines reach into his life support system to sustain his labored, mechanical breathing. Vader patiently waits as the familiar feeling of the pin-like interface terminals exit his skin.
His mentor and Master, Lord Sidious, Emperor Palpatine had designed this room within the Executor, flagship of his Imperial Starfleet. To its commander, Darth Vader, he described it to be a meditation chamber. Seething inside, Vader knew it would amount little more than the latest of tedious nurseries for ancient wounds.
?Thank you, my Master,? was all he could say.
Darth Vader sits silent as the Visual Enhancement Screen is moved away from his face. He winces as his organic eyes take in the environment. He is seated centrally in a perfect sphere. A bank of machines are situated directly above him. The cube opens and shuts tightly around its equator like a jaw with teeth-like projections, ready to swallow him into his own brooding.
Vader looks at his helmet as a robotic arm moves it back, while another arm comes forward to tend his systems. Scarred, pale, white skin is illuminated by light. This is the closest he feels to being human. But being human makes him feel weak, and reminds him of how dependent he is. He hates this.
He prefers order.
He prefers control.
He prefers obedience.
He prefers bending things to his will.
The Force is powerful in him, and it is meant to service his wishes. Through the Force, he can feel every room on the ship. He can feel the entire crew. He can feel all of the service droids. And through the Force, he can kill any one of them on a whim.
Vader realizes he has been curling his fist as he thinks, and looks over at his left arm. He still feels pain in the parts where flesh meets machine. He has been like this for over 20 years now; held together by his anger and hatred, and his sadistic urge to punish those responsible for his monstrous visage. If he is going to live in Hell, he is going to be sure that everyone else knows what that feels like. Obi-Wan paid dearly for his part. In this, Vader finds a sick satisfaction, and it shows through a twisted grin.
Vader feels the machine arms servicing him. These are the only things he allows to come this close to him. He can?t even remember the last time he was touched by another human being. It was a lifetime ago. A life he has grown to believe was just a dream.
Another machine invades his body armor to clean out bio-waste. His breathing slightly faster, Vader continues his train of thought.
For him to dwell on something as ridiculous as love, is to dwell on pain. As far as he is concerned, love is much, much more twisted than anything he has ever been accused of doing. Everything he has ever loved is dead. Everything he has ever touched has died. Every time he has ever reached out, he has lived to regret it while the object of his attention decays into blackness.
But out of this blackness, comes a ghost from that old life. Something he never counted on, and something that throws everything that he had been trying to destroy right into his face. That ghost?s name is Luke Skywalker.
Vader first learned of Skywalker after Imperial spies reported the identity of the pilot who had destroyed the Death Star. To all those present, the name was just a word. So many years had passed since that name was widely known. Yet to Vader, the word may as well have been another light saber carving into the pit of his black core.
I have a son. I? have a son.
His own flesh now, undoing all he had sacrificed to build. Upon further reflection, he recalled how strongly the Force was in him during their dogfight in the Death Star?s trenches. Yet for all of his contempt of political defiance, Vader sees in this boy a mirror of his former self?s ideals and recklessness. Ideals and recklessness which led him?
More mechanical arms reach over to insert nutrition tubes into compatible slots in the Dark Lord?s armor. For all of his power, Darth Vader could not even chew his own food.
As the mechanical arms finalized their tasks, the plan began replay itself in Vader?s mind. Luke Skywalker would be cured of his impulsiveness and lack of focus. Vader would re-shape his son into the man he should be. A man who?s talents could free him of the one person in the galaxy who could make Vader feel sickening fear. The man who Vader simply called ?Master.?
But those who had served under him were offering him placations and excuses, not results. As the dark breath mask once again began its descent, the Force told Vader of the approach of such a groveling worm.
As interface terminals once again pierce Vader?s flesh to provide their enhanced sensory information, he imperceptibly winces. Visual Enhancement Screens activate, and Vader?s red world resumes.
Centering himself, the Dark Lord of the Sith coolly spins his chair around to the nervous and forlorn-looking Veers.
?What is it, General??
?My lord, the fleet has moved out of light-speed?.?
Original cover by thebleetingnicodemus. HTML formatting copyright 2005 TheForce.Net LLC.