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Gungan to the left

Facing Death (PG)

By : Mcily Nochi

Archived on: Monday, July 1, 2002

A young doctor forced to treat Darth Vader discovers that he is more than just a machine.

"I am ready."

Doctor Tabith Drula jumped up, startled. "Lord Vader!" she stammered. "I did not see you come in!" She bowed hastily, remembering proper etiquette. "I apologize."

He waved a hand, his black mask conveying no emotion, yet somehow stirring fear in the depths of her heart. "It is no matter."

She nodded, not sure how to respond to that, and there was an awkward silence. "Would you please be seated?" she said finally, gesturing to her medical chair. Vader stalked past her, silently unfastened his cape, and took a seat, somehow making the medical center seem like a throne room. "Do you require anything before I begin the examination?" she asked, hesitant. "I was told very little about the procedure, and as you know, I've never done this before." She swallowed, remembering why. Vader was notorious for killing every doctor who saw him without his mask. The task was only given to mediocre, second-rate doctors, or women. She knew she would die at the end of Lord Vader's physical. She put the thought aside, knowing it would only serve to distract her from treating him efficiently.

She moved to the side of the chair and adjusted it until the Dark Lord was lying flat on his back. She realized she had never before seen him without his cape. Not that that even matters now, she reminded herself dryly. Soon she would see more of him than any living person ever had.

Tabith reached for the anesthetic, but an iron grip stayed her arm. "I require nothing," Vader said darkly. "A Je-- a Sith feels no pain."

Her knees quaked. She knew that removing his mask and protective body armor would be painful to him. Surely denying him pain killers would be signing her own death warrant.

As would ignoring a direct command. "As you wish, my Lord." She lifted a small pair of pliers and unfastened the tiny, almost invisible clasps of his mask. She gently lifted his head and removed the front cover and the back in one smooth motion.

He was hideous. Tabith stifled a small cry at his face, which was pasty white and streaked with angry scars. His scalp was smooth and pure white, traced with angry red scars and oozing sores. She gasped and froze, pinned in place by the icy blue stare that seemed to promise her death. The eyes widened slightly, continuing to stare. Without moving a muscle, he suddenly looked pathetic. The giant, black-clad terror was only a man after all, his face disfigured beyond recognition. She found herself wondering how it had happened, and what he had endured in the healing. [i]If this can be called healed.[/i]

The frightening eyes flashed once, and Tabith realized with a jab of foreboding that Vader could not breathe. She immediately fastened the specially designed breath mask into his mouth, and he looked away again. She got the eerie feeling that he never made eyes contact with his doctors-- but she didn't know whether to be flattered or terrified.

She carefully removed his chest plate as well, carefully linking up the life support machines that made his torso so intimidatingly huge. He looked almost like a normal human being now, and she was struck again by how helpless he was. He could not move, and had nothing but his dark powers to stop her from killing him on the spot. Not that those weren't more than enough . . .

She sighed and began to examine his skin for irritations. He had a raw sore in his neck that was beginning to blister, and she went to a cupboard and retrieved some salve, then, dipping her hand liberally into it, gently rubbed it into his skin. He shivered slightly.

"I'm sorry, it's cold," she told him sympathetically, warming the next coating of salve in her hands before applying it. He grunted. She searched the rest of his body for blisters, then sprayed bacta over the lacerations caused by wires, and burns from overheated circuits and flying sparks.

Tabith turned her attention next to a large burn on his stomach. She coated her hands in bacta salve and began to rub it gently. He tensed. "It's okay," she whispered soothingly, forgetting for a moment who he was. "I know it hurts, but this will make it better."

He growled low in his throat and his face contorted with anger at her words. She sighed and continued treating the burn. "Oh hush. You're going to kill me anyway so I might as well say anything I like. You won't do anything with your armor off, because if I'm dead then there's no one left to put it back on you."

His eyebrows knitted and he looked at her again.

"Puzzled, are you? Good. You shouldn't know everything all the time." She finished rubbing in the salve and began spraying a protective coating over it to prevent the burn from being irritated again when he put his suit back on.

The rest of his body was mostly machine. She couldn't look long at the places where the long metal robs plunged into the stumps of his arms, wires puncturing his skin and keeping it from healing fully. He was a poor, broken man.

The treatment complete, Tabith gingerly lifted the chest plate, clicking it into place. The tiny indicator lights flickered for a moment, then came on brightly. "There you go," she said, injecting a cheerful note into her voice, although her death was now looking her in the face. She discovered that she did not care any more. It was worth it. She had seen the human inside the Dark Lord of the Sith.

She picked up the helmet and leaned over him thoughtfully. "I don't think you're as evil as you like to pretend you are," she said softly, staring into his blue eyes, which turned toward her and locked gazes for the third time. "I'm sure someone once loved you and was hurt with you when whatever caused this happened." On a whim she touched his cheek with the tips of her fingers; not a medical probe, but the response of one human to another in pain. "I'm sorry," she whispered.

The light blue eyes widened again as they were covered by the mask. His face was once again shiny, black, and impassive, yet the man was still there beneath it, looking back at her. Tabith smiled. "Nice to meet you, my Lord."

"The pleasure," he responded, his voice deep and breathy through the mask, "was all mine." She moved him to a sitting position and he stood, once again commanding the room.

Tabith bowed. "I am honored."

He paused at the door and turned to look back at her. His artificial face showed no expression, but he hesitated as if unsure of what he should do next. "I know." He paused a moment longer, then shook himself and swept out of the room.

Tabith smiled. Vader might hate her from that day on, but she knew that he would never order her death. She was safe.

HTML formatting copyright 2001 TheForce.Net LLC.

Fan Fiction Rating

Current Rating is 8.88 in 152 total ratings.

Reader Comments

Add a comment about this Fan Fiction

Author: darth_morgana
Date posted: 7/1/2002 8:07:22 PM
darth_morgana's Comments:

Cool :)

Well-written, and the character of Tabith was developed well.

Author: Kevin
Date posted: 7/1/2002 10:53:42 PM
Kevin's Comments:

Very good. A story with a more human Darth Vader is always a good one.

Author: darth_hospodar
Date posted: 7/2/2002 9:16:20 AM
darth_hospodar's Comments:

A good story, but I've always been one for NOT having Vader be a "hidden softy"...after all, this is the guy who KNOWS Luke is his son, yet still wants to kill him for not fighting...

If this is placed soon after the "transformation", I would think Vader would be at the height of his anger...if it is around the OT time, then it works more for me...especially if it is between ESB and ROTJ, when he talks to Luke after capturing him on Endor.

However, on a writing and narrative scale, EXCELLENT.

Author: Quiller  (signed)
Date posted: 7/2/2002 9:50:50 AM
Quiller's Comments:

An enjoyable read. You string out the tension of 'will he or won't he' very well. I think I breathed a sigh of relief right along with the good doctor.

Author: Senator E.T.
Date posted: 7/2/2002 11:18:22 AM
Senator E.T.'s Comments:

Very interesting. I particularly liked this line:

"'I require nothing,' Vader said darkly. 'A Je-- a Sith feels no pain.'"

It seems that Vader still has a good side, just like Luke said.

Author: ~Becky~
Date posted: 7/3/2002 8:59:04 PM
~Becky~'s Comments:

That was *really* good! I'm so glad that the ending wasn't horrible...I was preparing myself, but I'm glad it turned out okay. Nice perspective from a completely new character. ;)

Author: Tolcsa Vamel
Date posted: 7/4/2002 1:19:33 AM
Tolcsa Vamel's Comments:

A strong piece of writing, which reveals the humanity of both characters simultaneously through Tabith's perspective.

Steve Perry also tried to show us a sneak preview of the man under the mask in Shadows of the Empire, but to see it through the eyes of another sentient being is far more fascinating.

The piece is so atmospheric that I couldn't help recalling in my head the softer version of Vader's theme which accompanies his unmasking in ROTJ - a score which like this story underlines the tragic figure beneath the armour.


Author: csenosiain
Date posted: 7/4/2002 9:46:15 AM
csenosiain's Comments:

i loved the ending and how the doctor decided to tease vader since she thoght she was going to die anyway

Author: Darth Sipid
Date posted: 7/4/2002 2:41:07 PM
Darth Sipid's Comments:

Very, very well done... a difficult subject handled with believeability and terse, tight language; giving unexpected glimpses of character!
I am both pleasantly suprised and a little blown away... A+

Author: Jedi Anakin Solo  (signed)
Date posted: 7/4/2002 7:27:37 PM
Jedi Anakin Solo's Comments:

In a word: wow.

Great job, Em. I hate not being able to say anything constructive, but "wow" is all that comes to mind. This really shows the Anakin - or maybe just the human - in Vader really well. Great job.

Author: Rogue 8
Date posted: 7/5/2002 8:46:29 PM
Rogue 8's Comments:

truely facinating. A new propective. The doctor was well developed in a short amount of time

Author: Mat Bulman
Date posted: 7/6/2002 12:40:28 AM
Mat Bulman's Comments:

This is a great story, seeing Vader's good side, and I like the way that the doctor thinks that she will die, but doesn't.

Author: UrbanJedi  (signed)
Date posted: 7/6/2002 5:50:16 AM
UrbanJedi's Comments:

You know Mcily, I find myself more and more becoming a big fan of your work. The way you write is fantastic. Very nicely done.

Author: Leia_Solo
Date posted: 7/10/2002 11:32:50 AM
Leia_Solo's Comments:

This is really cool.

Author: Anakin Starkiller  (signed)
Date posted: 7/11/2002 3:52:20 PM
Anakin Starkiller's Comments:

Very nicely done. I liked the bravado of Tabith since she beleived she was facing death. Its interesting to see Vader who is an embodiment of power to be powerless while in the examination chair.

Author: dskywalker
Date posted: 7/19/2002 3:00:22 PM
dskywalker's Comments:

I enjoyed reading your story. I'm partial to stories that explore Darth Vader's humanity. After all, Luke sensed it, right?
Well done! I wanted it to continue!

Author: Darth Doom
Date posted: 7/20/2002 8:10:42 AM
Darth Doom's Comments:

Very good! *standing ovations* I especially like the sentance: "I'm sure someone once loved you and was hurt with you when whatever caused this happened."! I can imagine Vader(Anakin)thinking about Padmé Amidala for a brief nanosecond, rembering his honourable past!

Author: Silent_Darth
Date posted: 7/20/2002 2:53:08 PM
Silent_Darth's Comments:

I liked this one, but I didn't love it. I think the idea is very good. Vader must need some sort of physical medication sometimes, and this explores one of those ares that we normally wouldn't think about. The fact that this story isn't very predictable makes it good, but Vader coming across as a softie does weaken it a bit. Vader would be unable to let her live because if word of this got out, then he would be weakened politically. Therefore, he has to kill her afterwards, even if it pains him in some small way. Like I said, a good story, with only 1 small problem for me.

Author: Seriana
Date posted: 7/22/2002 5:05:51 PM
Seriana's Comments:

Way cool! This was such a strange mix of an utterly normal situation in the extraordinary world of SW, that really offered a 3-dimensionalism to the world and characters. (Sorry; I made up a word there.)

Author: Boba Fett 2K2  (signed)
Date posted: 7/30/2002 7:30:28 PM
Boba Fett 2K2's Comments:

This is a prime example of fan-fiction from the mind. An idea like this that seems so cool, something not touched in the films. An idea like this doesn't make a long story, and doesn't have too. Great work.

Author: HaiGan
Date posted: 7/31/2002 4:23:00 PM
HaiGan's Comments:

There's a lot said in a very short story- and I mean that as a compliment. You manage to convey a great deal, very succinctly, without it feeling as if it lacks description. I like the doctor's fatalistic humour, for some reason that struck me as very beleivable in her situation. It was also interesting to have Vader silent (or nearly so) through most of the piece. Vader without the rasping of that respirator? Spooky thought.

Author: Nad-To Ann
Date posted: 8/7/2002 5:55:54 PM
Nad-To Ann's Comments:

Great Story. I really liked it. I never thought of Vader like that before. Great story. Great Idea.

Author: anakinsfire  (signed)
Date posted: 8/16/2002 8:01:49 AM
anakinsfire's Comments:

Very good story, one of the best I've ever read. It portrays the human side of Vader very well.

Author: marojade
Date posted: 8/23/2002 6:50:11 PM
marojade's Comments:

Please don't flame.

We don't require that you like every story, but try to provide constructive criticism next time.

Author: good story
Date posted: 1/19/2003 10:33:07 PM
good story's Comments:

Very good story, showed the real guy in Vader! GREAT JOB!

Author: JackRob
Date posted: 3/11/2003 8:59:19 AM
JackRob's Comments:

Great story. I wish it was a tad longer.

Author: murda osak
Date posted: 3/26/2003 6:06:41 PM
murda osak's Comments:

breathtaking detail and immensly descriptive well written and worth commemoration

Author: Jedi Dax Jentor
Date posted: 4/4/2003 1:51:50 PM
Jedi Dax Jentor's Comments:

Interesting idea. I enjoyed it.

Author: Cody Lover
Date posted: 4/21/2003 5:21:15 PM
Cody Lover's Comments:

I really enjoyed this short story. From the first moment I saw Darth Vader in the first movie I felt there was more there. I think the doctor saw it also.

Author: Fish
Date posted: 5/25/2003 12:38:41 PM
Fish's Comments:

This fanfic is one of my favorites. I liked how you were able to show the good in Darth Vader. I also liked how you described his eyes locking with the doctor. She wasn't afraid to.

Author: Phantom Jedi  (signed)
Date posted: 6/10/2007 4:58:36 PM
Phantom Jedi's Comments:

Very good! I first came across this piece over at Bast Castle and I'm quite glad to have the opportunity to comment on it.

I do like the doctor's wry, almost gallows-style humor. She knows she can get away with just about anything because she figures she's dead anyway, so why not?

The part that really made me smile? When she teases him about being confused, and how he shouldn't know everything. Combined with his confusion at the end, it was quite amusing.

One minor continuity thing: did he pick up his cloak before leaving? The way it's written doesn't seem to suggest that and I can't imagine him leaving without it.

Author: Writernoob12
Date posted: 7/2/2008 12:13:27 PM
Writernoob12's Comments:

I liked the use of dialogue for protraying the emotions, it was an excellent touch. There could have been a little more about the treatment but I suppose that's not especially important. All in all it was a really good fan-fic. One more ting I think maybe Talbith should have had more of her thoughts shown but it was over all very good

Author: Yarlenii
Date posted: 12/1/2015 10:07:01 PM
Yarlenii's Comments:

I thank you humbly for shriang your wisdom JJWY

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Comments to Mcily Nochi or post it in the Jedi Council Fanfic Forum.
Archived: Monday, July 1, 2002

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