When one of our favorite couples is separated by death, how far is he willing to go for vengeance? The Darkness beckons; will he answer its call?
It was said that whoever could accurately predict Coruscant's weather even fifteen percent of the time would never be allowed at the sabbacc tables. They were just too lucky.
Too lucky or a Jedi.
A lone figure stood in the highest of Coruscant's many cemeteries that night, the wind and rain raging at his dark form. Shrouded in darkness and cloaked in night, his solitary form appeared to be- to the untrained eye- no more than a shadow amongst the shadows, a darker spot amidst the gloom. He blended in perfectly with his surroundings, a silhouette only slightly darker than the stormy sky, face and body hooded and shrouded from all the world.
At least he would have blended in perfectly if it wasn't for the rose he carried.
It was a strange rose: beautiful but strange. Not as beautiful as the other exotic plants, from all the other billions of planets in the galaxy, but beautiful with an innocent simplicity all the same. Two colors only, not the myriad of rainbows that decorated the more garish flowers, just only the red of the petals and the green of the stem. Not blood red like most other roses, either, but a fiery kind of orange-red, the color of flame. The color of a cheerful hearth as family and friends gather round for warmth and comfort. But, at the same time, the color of the dreadful fire that flared within this lone figure, flaring in his broken heart, a blaze that threatened to devour his very soul.
The rose, he reflected, was so much like her. Beautiful, of course, but dangerous. Especially when one did not watch for thorns. But, once one got past the thorns, one saw a beauty unmatched by any other in all the galaxy.
They had chosen an angel to mark her grave- an intricate statuette of one of the mythical creatures rumored to exist on the moons of Iego. The most beautiful creatures in the galaxy, seldom seen but often spoken of by the veteran deep-space pilots.
She didn't deserve to be buried here. Alone among strangers. She should have been buried with her friends, her adopted family. Her adopted homeplanet, even. Not here. Not on Coruscant, in some forgotten corner of a cemetery long abandoned.
The real irony was that this was not meant to be a forgotten site; it was meant for the heroes of the Republic. Her grave was the newest among them: fresh where the others were old, the angel grave-marker still standing tall as the others around it crumbled. But, as always, things happened. People died, governments fell, and in the midst of all that new futures were forged from the shadows of what may have been.
The storm that raged outside on the planet's surface was a perfect reflection of the storm that raged within the grieving Jedi- former Jedi, perhaps? Fallen Jedi?- as he stood by his wife's grave. Conflicting emotions- anger, surrender, hatred, love, despair- rushed through his slender frame as he tried to control them as he had been taught to do. To tame them, to direct them, to release them....
The figure pulled back his hood to reveal a handsome, finely chiseled face and unruly locks of tousled blond hair. Ice-blue eyes seemed to look far beyond the here and now, into a place where no others could see as he contemplated the Code of his Order:
There is no emotion; there is peace.
There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
There is no passion; there is serenity.
There is no death; there is the Force.
"No emotion," he breathed, his voice the hoarse whisper of one that had cried very recently. "Peace." No emotion. No anger, no sorrow. But, at the same time, no joy, no happiness. No bliss, and no delight.
No, he decided. That was false. There was emotion. And he had yet to find peace.
"No ignorance. Knowledge." Another lie. Hadn't ignorance been what led him here in the first place. Ignorance of the ambush that killed her? The willful ignorance of the Republic that had led them to this crossroads?
There was ignorance then.
"No passion. Serenity," he continued softly, fist still clenched round the fragile rose. No hatred. But, at the same time, no love. He had felt love. Had felt its liquid euphoria running through his veins, its ecstasy affecting his mind and heart. And the one he had loved lay before him, cold and still, bound in eternal sleep.
"No death, only the Force." He chuckled at that one, his laugh- like his voice- hoarse from disuse. No death? Then why, exactly, was he standing at the grave of the only woman he had ever truly loved? The second half of his soul, the keeper of his heart?
No death indeed.
Another lie, then. The Code for which he lived was a lie. The Order to which he had dedicated his life was based on a lie. Not that lies were new to him, of course. He'd been lied to ever since the Jedi, taking advantage of his youth and naivet?, had whisked him off Tatooine and away from everything he had ever loved or cared for. And now, now that he had finally found someone else to love and care for, she had been taken away, too.
Everything was a lie. His life was a lie. And the Light, the Light that he'd served all his life, was that a lie, too?
Suddenly, he fell to his knees, weeping, sobs racking his lean frame. "Why?" he bellowed at the uncaring sky, bitter tears mixing with the rainwater on his cheeks. "Why? What did I do wrong? I served you for all my life, gave you my time, my energy, my sweat, my blood! My soul!" He paused breathlessly, as if hesitant to continue on this heretical accusation.
But he pressed on. "And once I give my heart to her," he whispered brokenly, "you take her away from me. Where did I go wrong? Why?" he demanded, banging his fist against the cold wet ground. "Why, why, why, why, WHY?"
The sky didn't answer. Not that he had expected it to, of course. His despair had not driven him over the edge of madness- not yet, at any rate. Not quite.
But something else answered. The tiny little voice he had always kept locked away in the farthest reaches of his heart, the deepest, darkest depths of his soul. Revenge, it whispered to him, promising not comfort, but vengeance. Vengeance and power of a sort he had never dreamed.
I can't, he answered it. I touched the Dark Side before. And I didn't come away unscathed.
No you didn't, it agreed. But you accomplished what you set out to do.
That was true. He had accomplished what he'd set out to do. Beyond his wildest expectations. So was it, after all, the ends that mattered, and not the means at all?
It will destroy my soul.
What soul? the voice demanded. How much of a soul do you have left without her?
How much of a soul did he have, indeed? She was- no, had been- his soulmate, the other half of everything he was. Of everything that made him? him. Without her? what else was there?
What else... but Darkness?
Vengeance, the voice hissed again, promising something that the Light could never offer, would never give, the single word floating through his mind, preventing him from gathering any coherent thoughts. Any thoughts of resistance, of argument, fled immediately, leaving him in a haze of uncertainty. Vengeance. And power.
He closed his eyes for a moment and reached out to the omnipresent Force. It was there, of course. It was always there. The Light that he'd served for so long, the Light to which he'd devoted his life, was still there; its purity still shined just as strongly as ever. But the other side, the darkness and shadow, were looming closer than ever before.
He reached out to it, hesitantly, carefully. It came to him quickly- eagerly, even- flooding his senses with a dark clarity he had never before experienced. He drank it in greedily, hungrily, letting the icy darkness flow through his veins to numb the pain of his broken heart. To bury whatever was left of his soul, his heart, his humanity under layers and layers of Darkness.
And it felt good.
Stars, it felt good.
A sudden bolt of lightning flashed across the sky, startling him from his reverie and illuminating the last name on the grave-marker. --- Skywalker.
Skywalker. Indeed. A name known across the galaxy to belong a hero, a warrior of the Light in the eternal war against Darkness. She, then, had been the perfect example of a Skywalker, even though she had chosen to keep her maiden name. The quintessence of all that had been right and good in the world. Once upon at time he had been as well. But that was before he had tasted the true power of Darkness.
Well then, maybe he wasn't a Skywalker anymore. Maybe he was a Vader.
He could rule this galaxy. He knew it. He had the power of the Dark Side at his disposal for whatever use he saw fit. He could harness that power to conquer this galaxy, take it away from its captors once and for all. And take the galaxy into his own hands, to shape it, to rule it as he saw fit.
Emperor Vader, he mused to himself. Emperor. He could get used to that.
Full lips quirked upwards, then, in a grim smile. Not a Skywalker's smile. The feral smile of a predator.
He leaned forward toward his wife's grave-marker. Although his raven form covered his actions from sight, a faint scritch-scratch could be heard just over the sounds of the dying storm.
By the time he had finished, the storm had calmed. The night, though, was as dark as before. The sun had not yet risen and it was a still a long time before dawn.
When he leaned back, finished with his work on the plaque, these words could be seen:
Mara Jade Skywalker:
Below, a single word had been added.
"Luke Skywalker is dead, love," he whispered. "Luke Skywalker is dead, and the Dark Lord lives again.... And this time, no one's holding the other end of his leash."
The man who had entered this cemetery as Luke Skywalker died there. Lord Vader, reborn in a holocaust of hatred and despair, walked away, leaving only a single rose as token of his passage. A single droplet of water, whether rain or tear Force only knew, lingered on one of its fiery petals, creating the momentary illusion that the rose itself was crying.
The day has ended. Here comes the night.