"Why did you save me, my Master?"
I am kneeling at my Master's feet, a position I seemingly assumed the day I was born. This observation is not very far off the mark, for I am but a newly born creature of darkness. Mere months have passed since the lava of Mustafar, since I was transformed from what I had been to what I exist as now.
He does not answer me immediately; he seldom does. That habit, I think, is just one more way he keeps me in my place. It is one more weapon that he holds over my head lest I start to contemplate the tradition of the Sith too closely. We are always a treacherous pair, we Sith.
My trust in my master, and his in me, is necessary, though it is warily given. We both know what we are and what we are capable of doing. How can we not? So we circle around each other cautiously, like snarling battle dogs, each looking for a weakness in the other and ready to pounce.
The Emperor looks out at the dark space beyond the viewports and keeps his silence. I do not move. My knee remains bent to my dark Master and my head bowed.
Freedom is not quite as liberating as I had anticipated.
Then, at last, I hear his voice over the terrible and relentless sound of the machines that breathe for me.
"You are mine," he tells me. "Mine to save...or not."
There is a cackle of laughter at this last statement, which is just another reminder that my very existence is subject to the whims of his questionable mercies.
His throne turns and the shadows face me. From within that deep well of blackness, his cold voice emanates.
"Why do you ask, my young friend?" Any other being might have taken his tone for kindness, but I am well acquainted with the variances of his voice. A subtle hint of warning is laced in those seemingly innocent words, and inside my black armor, I flinch.
I have learned to fear my Master's anger.
The lightning he can summon so easily would kill me, destroying the machinery that keeps me alive. That is one weapon that I will never wield. My old Master took away that possibility when he sliced away my remaining hand. My new Master takes no small amount of spiteful enjoyment at the loss.
His superiority over me is once more validated. The apprentice would be wise to heed the Master.
This, like so many other things about my new servitude, has simply become a fact of existence. I accept much that once would have caused me to despair. When one is so completely lost, any guide might be thought a savior.
"Do you wish I had left you to smolder on those black sands, Lord Vader?" There is only mild curiosity in his voice. Something deeper and darker lurks there, however, setting off warning bells within my mind.
I bow my head even lower to appease him until I am satisfied the moment of danger has passed. I can never be quite sure of what will move this new Emperor to rage, and I have learned to be observant for the signs of an approaching storm. My survival depends on it.
Feeling safe in coming to my feet at last, I stand before him.
I am his creation as much as his servant. He created what men see when they look at me, and I remain hidden behind his masterpiece. I feel safer this way. My vulnerabilities are not visible anymore.
"You could have left me to die," I muse.
He chuckles and I feel a cold frisson of revulsion slide through me. "In that you are correct, Lord Vader." His gnarled hand lightly caresses his throne, as if he seeks to remind me of exactly who holds the power. I need no such reminder. "You would do well to remember it in the future."
"Yet you took me from those burning sands and saved my life," I persist, my need to know temporarily overcoming my own sense of self-preservation. "Why?"
That black throne turns once more and he brings his rapacious gaze to the viewport, to all of the unseen systems that are under his control, all the beings that he rules. The imbeciles still have no idea what they have given themselves unto, and I feel a rush of dark amusement at their naivet?. It will be years yet before they realize what leads them.
By then it will be far too late.
I am convinced that he will not answer my question when he sighs deeply, as if my relentless questioning has been an inconvenience to him. He acts as if he is only indulging my curiosity because he holds some unfathomable affection for me.
"Because you hate so ardently, my young friend," he says softly. "You hate with more passion than most men can love."
There it is.
That is truth; I sense it so clearly.
I can hate much better than I can love. My love had not been enough to save her, and yet it had been just enough to condemn me. I have no reply to this revelation, though I shudder under the terrible weight of it, so I remain silent.
"Do you understand now, Lord Vader?" He feels my pain and revels in it.
Darkness feeds on darkness and gives it back again.
I offer him the only answer that is left to me.
"Yes, my Master."
He calls me to his side and I go to him, standing beside the throne I helped him ascend. He wears his mantle of darkness and I my cloak of shadows, and we stand united, Master and Apprentice, Emperor and Enforcer.
Together we look out over the galaxy we rule, and I contemplate our relationship. I had planned to overthrow him, to slay him just as he had murdered his own Master. That had been when there was something to live for, someone to whom I could present the shining jewel of the galaxy as a token of my love.
Those days are long gone and I must content myself with ruling at his side. I have no other choice. There is much I still must learn, and until the time for my treachery comes, I will serve him.
He is my Master.
He has given me my answer; I know why he saved me. Am I grateful that he had done so?
I am very much afraid of the answer.
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