Lifeboat: A Star Wars Fan Fiction, Part V

Last time in our fan fiction Star Wars: Lifeboat

Inda Krest, Meera Dyre and the rest of the surviving Imperials from the Death Star II arrive at Volusia to raid the Aloo Family star yacht, only to be ambushed by the opportunistic bounty hunter, Gekko!

Now, in Part V, we flash back a final time to join Darth Vader and Lieutenant Seeda at The Temple of the Kyber on the ancient moon of Jedha. The Emperor has ordered his apprentice to restart the stalled Kyber crystal excavation and retrieve two artifacts from the temple. While the crystal mining gets back underway, a rebel faction on Jedha, led by the outlaw Saw Gerrera, learns of Vader’s arrival at the temple and attempts to take him out. And now, Part V

Temple of the Kyber, The Holy City, Moon of Jedha – 1BBY (5 years earlier)

credit: Luscafilm

Darth Vader never felt such a strong disturbance in the Force as he did the day his ship entered orbit over the ancient moon of Jedha. Many considered the moon to be the site of the first Jedi Temple. In reality, Jedha held the largest known deposits of natural Kyber crystals in the galaxy, and the Empire’s mining operation of those crystals had stalled. Completion of Project: Stardust depended on restarting the mine, despite the obstacles the operation faced. Kyber wasn’t the only thing plentiful on Jedha. The moon was crawling with troublesome rebels, known as The Partisans. Completion of his fortress on Mustafar would have to wait. The Emperor needed Vader on Jedha to ensure the crystals were harvested without further incident.

His master commanded. Vader obeyed.

He sat in his stateroom watching their approach from the video feed at the nose of the ship. The Holy City of Jedha sat atop a mesa in the middle of a vast desert. The smashed ruins of the Imperial ground base sat in the foothills before it. Rebels had sacked it a month prior, delaying Kyber harvesting and forcing the mining operation to move aboard the Star Destroyer Dauntless, which now hovered above the city. As he watched, the disturbance pulsated as the crystals cried out in agony. Something was disturbing them, sending shock waves through the Force unlike anything he had ever felt.

Imperial Navy Destroyer Dauntless over Jedha City

In the shadow of the Dauntless stood the ancient Temple of the Kyber, dominating the skyline of the bustling city formed around it. The two towering forked spires jutted into the sky as if to tune the very winds to the will of its masters. He noted the similarities the structure to Momin’s final design of Fortress Vader back on Mustafar. A simple coincidence? Perhaps the Force brought me here with purpose after all, he mused. He surmised the design must be significant in channeling the energies of the Force. He would consult with Momin’s depraved Sith spirit upon his return home. Fortress Vader on Mustafar must serve the same purpose as the temple here on Jedha, but to a greater degree. Still, the crystals wept.

Four TIE-Interceptors took up flanking positions on their final approach to the Dauntless. The comm speaker buzzed and a caption appeared on Vader’s screen showing the burly Commander Kyson, resplendent in the fineries of his formal Imperial uniform.

“Lord Vader, you honor us with your presence on Jedha. How may my forces and I be of service?”

“Commander Kyson,” Lord Vader growled back. “Your Kyber refinement production is behind schedule. I am here to update your process and reignite your passion for meeting The Emperor’s deadlines.”

“I assure you, my Lord, we are operating at full capacity,” came the timid reply. “We boast the highest efficiency rating from Imperial Industrial Command, and from Director Krennic.”

“The Emperor does not share your enthusiasm for that rating. What is the status of your progress?”

“In a word, my Lord, remarkable. We are excavating the largest crystal ever recorded in the Imperial archives. The size is well beyond what is needed for Stardust’s main weapon. It connects into a chamber under the temple we cannot explain, and we are studying it’s structure before proceeding. Removing it could collapse the whole temple. Surely this momentous discovery merits a merciful delay.”

“The Emperor is a great many things that I am not, Commander, and one of them is merciful. Prepare to receive my shuttle and appropriate escort to your excavation site. I’ll will see this progress-hindering crystal myself,” Vader replied in annoyance.

“Of course, my Lord. Our finest battalion will escort you at your leisure.”

“Tell me of the rebels that plague your operation,” Vader asked, abruptly changing the subject.

Kyson shifted uncomfortably. “Vermin and local scum, my lord. Nothing more than paltry annoyance, I assure you. My men are dealing with them swiftly.” He tried to sound confident, but Vader knew he was lying.

“That is your error, Commander. You do not deal with rebels; you crush them. Your lack of fortitude emboldens their attacks. I will assume command of your three attack battalions and see them destroyed. Have your battle plans prepared for my review.” Kyson kept his composure, but Vader could sense the insult spark an anger brimming over in the sluggard officer. For too long, Orson Krennic’s pet, Commander Kyson, has sat safely on his laurels. It was time for a change to his operations, whether Krennic wanted it or not. “The rebels have continuously embarrassed you and the Empire, Commander Kyson. I will no longer accept delay as an excuse for laziness.”

“At once, My lord. We await your arrival with great antici—”

“Your pleasantries are not required, only your compliance.” He ended the transmission.

The only thing Vader expected to find in Kyson’s strategy was more excuses, delays and failures. In his mind, Vader already knew the battle plan he would follow, using himself as bait to lure out the rebels. No doubt the brazen extremist Saw Gerrera would seize the opportunity to strike such a large target as Darth Vader, and when he did, the trap would spring. He tapped a key at his console and the Empire’s last verified image of Gererra—in a flickering, blue-lined hologram—emerged upward from the projector.

The Emperor knew Vader would be tempted to prioritize hunting the rebels over recovering artifacts, especially considering the history Anakin Skywalker and Gerrera had during the Clone Wars. Darth Vader was no errand boy. Seeda and his two pet Royal Guards could excavate the entire moon if they wished. Vader was a warrior, and today he would strike down his old rebel opponent without mercy.

“All those years ago, you should have died on Onderon with your sister, yet here you are—still vexing my authority,” Vader said to himself, staring down into the image of this rebel from his past. He reached out with an open hand and his lightsaber flew to his side, pulled to him by the Force and ignited the room in a bright red glow. “It will be my pleasure to finally end you.”

At the rear of the shuttle, Lieutenant Seeda looked out the viewing window at the desolate landscape trailing behind them.

Ruins of ancient Jedi civilization crumbled to dust in their wake. Jedha was a historical treasure-trove of Jedi lore. Seeda was excited to be here, though he could not outwardly express it. He couldn’t wait to get down there to root out Jedha’s secrets, but enthusiasm for anything other than the Empire’s goals was frowned upon. The pilot announced their final approach as the shuttle passed underneath the great shadow of the destroyer. Seeda could see other large cargo shuttles taking off for the surface after unloading their Kyber hauls.

“Lieutenant Seeda,” came the booming electronic voice of Darth Vader behind him, startling Seeda and making him jump with surprise. How could he have not heard him approach? “Are you prepared for your mission?”

“Yes, my lord. My apologies, you startled me. I am completely prepared. I’ve uploaded the latest Imperial archives on Jedha and her histo—”

“Good. When we arrive, you will have access to all records of artifacts recovered from the temple. Report to me immediately if any discoveries contain ancient Sith references. When your analysis is complete, you will muster with the escort protection detail and proceed to the Temple.”

“Of course, my lord. Though, Jedha was the home of ancient Jedi, not the Sith. Do you expect we’ll find anything to the contrary?”

“Focus on your area of expertise, Lieutenant. Once you have something, report to me at once. Tell no one of your discoveries except me. Is that clear?”

“Yes, Lord Vader, perfectly clear.”

As the shuttle settled into the hangar, they gathered at the ramp to debark. Through the viewing window, they could see another shuttle being off-loaded with canisters of what Seeda assumed were Kyber crystals. The only sound among them was the intermittent electronic breath of Darth Vader. The sound made Seeda uncomfortable.

“If I may say, it does appear moving the mining operation aboard the Dauntless has guaranteed greater security,” Seeda said and instantly regretted it. The casual manner of their conversation lulled him into a false sense of familiarity with the Sith Lord. Darth Vader did not answer to anyone except the Emperor, especially not a lowly Imperial Navy lieutenant.

Seeda braced for reprisal for his insolence, but the response he received surprised him.

“Your observations on security protocol is not required,” Vader dismissed the notion with a wave of the hand. “However, your assumption is wrong. The loss of surface operations has doubled the resources needed to refine the crystals. Commander Kyson is a fool. He has more than enough troops to secure the city, yet he hesitates because he is weak. I will not tolerate interference from his ineptitude, nor the rebels, with this mission.”

Seeda looked up at the massive black-clad figure with a puzzled look. “Won’t you be joining our expedition force to the Temple site?”

“The Emperor’s pets will keep you safe,” Vader said, gesturing to the guards behind them. “I have a more important matter to attend. I will join you once my trap is set.”

“Trap, my lord? I don’t unders—” The hiss of the nose ramp lowering drowned out the rest of his statement. In a flourish of black robes, Vader turned down the ramp with Seeda in step. Immediately after him, the two guards filed behind. A throng of pristine, white-clad Storm Troopers in a robust display of Empirical might were assembled on deck. At their head, a hulking officer in his formal Imperial uniform turned to greet them.

“Lord Vader, this is a most unexpec—” were the only words he got out. Vader extended his hand, stopping his speech in mid-sentence. The large officer lifted from the ground, his shined boots flailing as he clutched his throat and gasped for air. With a slow twist of other his wrist, Vader plucked the struggling Commander’s code cylinders from his breast pocket. They hovered out before the wide eyes of Kyson as he gasped. The tiny cylinders flew to Vader’s outstretched hand.

“Commander Kyson, you are relieved.”

Vader flicked his wrist, and the officer soared across the hangar to the open cargo bay doors. His breath returned in time for Seeda to hear his final scream as he plummeted from the Dauntless into the sands of Jedha far below. Vader turned to Seeda and extended his hand, passing the cylinders to him.

“The records I require reside in Kyson’s office. You may begin.” Vader then turned to address the mass of Storm Troopers assembled before them. “You will stabilize a route to the Temple below. Clear the streets and lock down the city. Let none stand in your way!” His challenge was met with a stomp to attention and a thousand white-armored raised fists.

Residents of the Holy City below were about to understand what it meant to be ruled by the Empire.

The holotable in Kyson’s office was already lit when Seeda arrived. The guards took flanking positions outside the door as it hissed shut, leaving him to work undisturbed. Before him, projecting up six feet into the room, was a holographic maze of green lines outlining the tunnels explored thus far beneath the Temple of the Kyber. Blinking red dots showed at the end of each tunnel with active excavation, and dots of blue marked tunnels already mined and abandoned. At the base of the map was a large, flashing yellow arrow. A few taps at the keyboard told Seeda this is where excavation has halted because of a massive crystal blocking the path forward. He zoomed in the projection to the highest resolution on the yellow area and could see why this brought production to a stand-still.

The crystal truly was a one-of-a-kind discovery. A quick scan of his Imperial archive records showed no other of this size or arrangement ever recorded. Even more unique was the crystal, itself. It was hollow, creating a chamber within, but the energy signature of the structure blocked whatever was inside it. It was also directly beneath the split towers, making the massive crystal an integral part of the foundation.

So that’s why you delayed all this, Kyson, he thought while intently studying the holographic data. One wrong move and the whole temple comes crashing down.

Seeda sneered. He hadn’t properly set foot on Jedha yet, and her secrets were already spilling into his hands.

Based on his records, a Kyber crystal of this size and properly harnessed could power half of Coruscant for decades. He understood Kyson’s desire to harvest it whole. That feat would certainly have gained favor with the Emperor, but patience was not a virtue encouraged by the Empire, as Kyson probably realized when he fell three-thousand feet to his death moments before. He was about to close his data-pad and compile his report for Lord Vader when a filename blip on the screen caught his eye:

Whills – Black Sun Sith glyph

The title said Whills and followed by an ancient Sith symbol; Borzûm, the Black Sun. “Well, hello there little symbol, what are you doing here?” Seeda again tapped again at the keys bringing up the file.

The symbol was a small black circle with black rays emanating forth, very similar to the symbol adopted by the Empire but not encircled. To the untrained eye, it could easily be mistaken for a sloppy rendition of the latter, but Seeda recognized it immediately. He plugged Kyson’s code cylinder into the console and the file opened. Seeda drank in every word and image within, reading as fast as he could. Kyson had made an incredible discovery and didn’t even know it! He ran to the door, knocking over his chair in his excitement. He burst into the hallway, where Captains Vario and Krest were startled by his sudden appearance. They dropped their Force pikes into defensive positions, ready to attack before realizing it was just their charge in an excited state.

“Quickly, Captain!” he shouted at Vario. “Contact Lord Vader immediately. I’ve made a momentous discovery!”

Within minutes, the office door hissed open to a mass of black robes sweeping through the opening. “What have you discovered?” There was never fanfare with Darth Vader. He spoke, and others obeyed.

“My lord, I’ve made tremendous progress!” Seeda could no longer contain his excitement, even in front of the terrifying dark lord. “Commander Kyson was on the verge of the most incredible find in galactic history and didn’t know what he was doing!”

“Unless you wish to share his fate, explain yourself,” Vader commanded. “Speak plainly, Lieutenant.”

“It’s not simply just a large Kyber Crystal, per say—,” he replied.

“I grow tired of your enigmatic mutterings. What have you found, Seeda?”

“My lord, it’s a vault… A vault of the Whills.”

Vader was silent for a moment as he mulled over Seeda’s claim. He knew of midichlorians and the Whills, however, he long ago dismissed their existence as Jedi dogma; a way for the Republic’s Jedi Masters to arbitrarily judge the worthiness and strength of a Jedi Knight. Just another myth perpetuated for control. For now, he would entertain Seeda’s notion until he could discover the true nature of this revelation. “And what is in this vault?”

“What’s inside it is what’s inside you, Lord Vader… inside is what you desire most!” Seeda replied in excitement. “You see, the Whills ar—”

Vader was intrigued, but not convinced yet. “And what of this Borzûm? This Black Sun?”

“A mystery I cannot yet explain, my lord,” Seeda turned back to the keyboard and brought up the symbol on the holotable. The glyph spun in a slow circle, casting long shadows throughout the room. “The Borzûm is an ancient Sith philosophical symbol, a Memento Mori of sorts, used by Sith Lords of old as a reminder of mortality; a glorification of the idea we are all dead men walking under a black sun. For the most ambitious of them, the Borzûm was taken as a challenge to achieve immortality and defeat death before it defeated them. But why a Sith symbol is prominently carved into the wall of a Jedi holy site eludes me. It shouldn’t be here.”

Suddenly, all the pieces of this mystery began to fall into place in Darth Vader’s mind.

Could this truly be what he has sought after all this time? Is this how he can return Padme to the world of the living? The works of Darth Plagueis were here, finally, a mere parsec of where he stood. So many questions with so few answers. He must find out more. “You believe the vault contains the arcane Sith knowledge to cheat death?” he asked Seeda.

He shuffled a moment in uncomfortable silence. Not having an answer for Lord Vader could be a death sentence at times. This could be one of those times, as Seeda had no idea what was inside the vault. “I cannot answer that for certain, but all I have seen on the subject suggests that yes, it may be so.” He braced for the reply.

“Make preparations, Lieutenant,” Vader said with impatience and spun on his heel toward the door. “We leave for the Temple at once.”

The streets to the Temple were lined with Storm Troopers going house-to-house. The people of Jedha City were strewn about around them; standing with their hands up, lying prone as their homes were searched, or laying dead in the gutters. All of them were facing the barrel of an E-11 standard-issue Imperial Blaster. The Empire descended like a hammer into the populace and laid waste to those who resisted. The armored transport rumbled through the middle of it, finally halting in front of the Temple steps where Darth Vader and Varon Seeda debarked to begin the second part of their mission. Captains Vario and Krest took up flanks beside them. A battalion of Storm Troopers formed ranks between them and the street rabble behind. Even so, Lieutenant Seeda was nervous.

“We should have taken a shuttle, my lord,” Seeda remarked as they went inside. “You are too exposed using ground transport. The city’s unrest could boil over any moment.”

“Again, you offer assessment of security protocols without prompting. A third assessment will ensure you are transferred to the ISB front lines.”

Seeda knew when it was best to stay silent. Vader did not need further reply from him, only compliance. He mounted his holo-pad to his wrist and the same map from Kyson’s office sprung up from his hand projector. “The tunnel entrance is behind the altar. This way.” They marched through the crumbling ruins of long-forgotten statues of ancient Jedi and columns carved in Aurebesh, and other languages Seeda could not begin to understand. He wanted to stop and study each one, but Darth Vader remained laser-focused on the tunnels below. As he said, on the floor behind the altar was a large hole into the ground. A stone-carved stair went down into darkness. “The excavation continues below. We need to be mindfu—”

“The Emperor’s prize awaits us, and he is not as patient as I. Lead me to the vault.” Vader commanded. He could still hear the crystals and their wails of agony. The closer they drew to the altar, the louder they were. Something beneath the Temple was making them scream out through the Force.

Seeda descended first. Darth Vader took one step down and suddenly, the wailing of the crystals ceased. Silence.

Vader could sense them all turning their attunement to him, reaching out to him, searching his mind to find out who now walks among them so powerful in the Force. He could tell the Force-sensitive guards noticed the quiet as well. He could hear a tiny voice echo through to him but could not discern what it said. With each step deeper into Jedha, the voice steadily grew. Then, he could hear it plainly.

Come to us, Chosen One, it said. We await your presence.

He did not reply, but pressed on behind Seeda, his hand at the ready over his lightsaber. He detected no danger in the voice, but something about it made Vader uneasy.

Beware, Chosen One, it said again. One among you is not what they appear. You are in danger.

As they descended further down, they passed Imperial workers continuing to mine their crystals, though they stopped at the spectacle of Darth Vader passing among them in the tunnels. Each stopped working and saluted smartly as the party passed, but Vader paid them little mind. The voice kept speaking to him with each step, warning him.

You are in danger, Chosen one. One below will betray you. Enter the kyber vault. We will protect you and your companions. The others shall perish.

They wove a path through the gaunt faces of miners. Most were prisoners or conscripts from the locals. Storm Troopers from the 43rd Salagori Lancers were stationed every few meters to keep them in line. Their eyes all fell to the ground when Vader passed. He could sense their fear as he traversed the tunnel lower and lower to the source of the voices. He could not determine if the Royal Guards heard them, too. If they did, they did not react.

Kyber foundation of The Temple of the Kyber, Jedha

The deeper into the cavern they went, the more workers were present.

We await you, Chosen One. Make haste.

“We’re almost there, my lord. The entrance should be just ahead.” Seeda adjusted his instruments and zoomed in on their location. “The energy emanating from these caverns is creating interference with—”

“It is not the crystals…” Lord Vader stopped. Turning to his left, he reached out his hand and a shriek of agony came from a group of prisoners huddled against the wall. The Royal Guards ran forward and pulled forward a man in rags, and in his hand was a transmitter beacon. Two Storm Troopers rushed forward and forced the man to the ground, but it was not necessary. Vader had already crushed his windpipe. He took his final gasp as the transmitter rolled from his dead hand to Seeda’s feet. He picked it up and turned it off. Suddenly, his instruments sparked back to life.

“He is here…” Vader said. He turned swiftly to the two Lancers and they snapped to attention. “Troopers, form ranks behind us and remove this rabble from our path! Seeda, get me to that chamber. We are not safe here for long.”

Hurry, Chosen One. It is urgent we speak.

As the troopers herded the miners back up the tunnel, blaster fire erupted behind them. Seeda jumped with a start.

“Keep going, Lieutenant.”

The sounds of battle erupted behind them as they quickened their pace down the tunnel. Vader could feel the walls tremble as they delved deeper down. The crystals reached out to him, driving him lower into the mine, drawing him closer to the source of the voices.

Make haste, Chosen One. Your enemy is upon you.

The cavern opened around a sharp bend and opened into a small chamber. The walls glittered with kyber fragments, drawing their eyes to the back of the chamber. Before them was a solid wall of opaque crystal, easily five times the height of a man. They could not see the top or bottom, and both sides were occluded by the rock walls. There was no way for certain to determine how big it actually was. On the floor before it, in a sunken and faded relief carving, was distinctly the Borzûm.

They are behind you.

“Welcome to Jedha, Darth Vader,” came a raspy voice from the cavern entrance. They all turned to see a large man in well-worn armor, flanked by four heavily armed miners. The Royal Guards took defensive positions in front of Vader and Seeda. Vader suddenly lit the small room red by igniting his lightsaber.

“Saw Gerrera.”

Saw Gerrera confronts Darth Vader

“This is indeed a joyous day, my brothers,” Saw said as he took a long pull of oxygen from a face mask in his armor. “Today, we remove a major piece from the galactic board. Today will be remembered as the day we buried Darth Vader beneath the Holy City.”

“And there is your mistake, rebel. Your arrogance has blinded you and your sycophants.” He pulled a communicator from his belt. “Moff Raythe, fire when ready. Vario, Krest, attend me.” A massive explosion shook the cavern, causing rubble to fall from the ceiling. The guards collapsed back to either side of Vader, pushing Seeda back against the crystal. Saw and the rebels looked around in confusion.

“You’ll kill us all!” Gerrera shouted.

“It is you who will be buried here, Gerrera. You will never make it out in time. This cavern will be your tomb!”

“And yours! My sacrifice will be small to yield the death of the dark lord of the Sith!” He reached to his belt and armed a thermal detonator, hurling it at them with all his might.

“As the Temple Masters used to say, all is as the Force wills it. Guards, touch the crystal!” They reached back and placed their hands on the smooth surface. Vader retracted his saber and grabbed Seeda’s arm with an iron grip. When he placed his other hand between the two guards’, a brilliant flash of light erupted as the detonator exploded at the same moment he touched the shimmering green crystal. The world suddenly became brilliant white light and total silence.

When Darth Vader awoke, the red tint of his helmet lenses was gone. He could see and feel brilliant white light all around him. It was warm and inviting. He rose, catching a shocking glimpse of his hands; his pink, fleshy hands. Gone were the mechanical digits he had grown accustom to. They quickly went to his face, and did not feel the cold, hard edges of his fearsome helmet, but of more flesh. His face was uncovered. A brief moment of panic set over him as he took in a deep, unassisted breath with his own lungs, not the iron machines that breathed for him. His clothing was layered black and brown robes. His hands ran up to the top of his head and felt hair.

“What sorcery is this? Am I dead?”

His voice, for the first time in many years, was his own rather than the modulated growling of his helmet.

“Hello?” He yelled. “Is anyone here? Lieutenant Seeda? Captain Vario? Krest?”

No response.

In every direction around him was a wash of opalescent white with no horizon. He was not floating, but he also could not make out what he stood on. He scanned as far as he could see for a point of reference, but could find none. Whatever he was treading on felt solid, so he walked. After a few dozen steps, a feeling washed over him. The Force was pulling at him from multiple directions but he could not detect its meaning. It was very strong here, unlike anything he’d ever felt. He tried to reach through it and sort out the source, to search for others, but none could be found.

credit: Luscafilm

“I must be dead.”

No, Chosen One, you are not dead. The same voice from the cavern rolled through his head. You are safe within the Vault of the Whills.

He looked around but could not find where the voice was coming from. He sat cross-legged and closed his eyes, focusing on the voice.

“Reveal yourself. Why do you hide?”

We do not hide from you, Chosen One. We are here if you would only see us.

“Enough games! Show yourself!”

He opened his eyes and before him was an even brighter orb of light, shimmering and turning. “What manner of creature are you?”

We are not creatures. We are the watchers of all who are strong with the Force in the universe, both light and dark, and those between. My cousins and I have been waiting for you, Chosen One. The shimmering ball expanded into a humanoid female form in a black robe, wearing a broad white mask showing a blank expression. Her two-toed feet hovered above the surface.

credit: Luscafilm

“Is it you who spoke to me in the tunnels? What do you want of me? Why do I appear in this form?”

So many questions. In this realm, all appear in their true form before the Force. Here, you appear as the Jedi Knight and General Anakin Skywalker.

“Anakin Skywalker is dead. I am Darth Vader.”

A lie you perpetuate to yourself. The beast is you, and you are the beast. Try as you might, you cannot escape the destiny set before you, Chosen One. To fulfill your destiny, you must know yourself—your true self. That is why you appear in this form. Your true self is Anakin Skywalker.

“You speak in lies and riddles.” He reached down to his waist, but the familiar hilt of his lightsaber was gone. “Why am I here?”

The Watcher’s form glowed brighter, then split into another visage, though the mask of this one appeared angry. She moved down within inches of his face and yelled.

Cousin, this one would strike us down for speaking the truth to him! He is not worthy to possess what he desires! Expel him immediately!

“You do not know what I desire, fiend!” He yelled back. “Tell me who you are and why I am here!”

I am Serenity, and this is my dear cousin, Anger. We appear to you because we are the emotional instruments you live by. You are driven by your anger, but you seek the serenity of love and family. Search your feelings. You know this to be true. You seek the serenity of a life with the one called Padme Amidala. You seek to restore her from her place in the cosmic force.

Vader was stunned. This being had reached into his innermost recesses of suppressed thought and extracted what he wanted most; to leave the Empire and the Emperor behind and live out his days in peace with Padme at his side. How could she know this much? He stood up to plead his case.

“If you know these things then you must know how I can bring her back! You must tell me! How can I bring her back?!?”

Anger moved up into his face again. Foolish boy! She is now one with the Cosmic Force. She cannot return! The one known as Sidious has fooled you. He, too, visited us with the one known as Plagueis asking the same questions. Life. Death. Immortality. The Cosmic Force is all-powerful! Seeking to control it is folly!

In his heart, Vader knew she was right. He could feel anger rising inside him. He didn’t know if he was furious with the visage of Anger for saying these things, or with himself for being fooled. Within those same hidden recesses of his mind, he’s known all along Padme could never be returned to him. A single tear rolled down to his trembling lip. The anger welling inside him was about to boil over.

“Tell me how I can bring her back!”

He reached up, extending his hand at Anger and feeling for her air way. He would choke the answer from behind her treacherous mask. He felt within her neck piece, searching for her throat, but found… nothing. Suddenly, her robe collapsed to the ground and her mask tumbled down within it, coming to rest in a neat pile and leaving behind her violently flashing orb. Anger let out a maniacal laugh and shot toward him, smashing into his chest, knocking him down and stealing the air from his lungs.

credit: Luscafilm

Foolish boy! You have been deceived! Bringing her back is a fool’s errand! The orb of Anger disappeared. Serenity still hovered before him as he regained his footing, coughing and choking to recover his breath. He then fell to his knees, seeing no other avenue than to beg for her mercy.

“Please, I beg of you, please return her to me. Please!”

It is not within our power to interfere with the destiny of others. As is my purpose for being, I am compelled to help those within the Living Force that seek it find serenity, and alas, you are the Chosen One. You are destined to bring balance to the Living Force. I will help you, but be warned, Anakin Skywalker. What you seek—the possessions of the one known as Darth Plagueis—carry a great darkness with them. A darkness that, if uncontrolled, will create a wound in the Force not easily healed. Your actions will have a ripple effect that cannot be stopped. The ancient one known as Nihilus sought this ability, and nearly succeeded, though the results were disastrous. These artifacts became interred in this vault for a reason. Once removed, their darkness will consume you. Do you accept this great and terrible responsibility?

Darth Nihilus

“Yes! Yes, anything… just please show me how to bring her back.” He collapsed in sobs of anguish. The realization of all the evils he had done washed over him in an instant. Killing his fellow Jedi, the Younglings, all the incalculable deaths across the galaxy credited to him came crashing down on his shoulders. “Please… I’ll do anything…”

Very well. And in another brilliant flash of light, the visage of Serenity was gone.

Darth Vader awoke in the main hall behind the altar of the Temple of the Kyber with his face pushed into the ground. His right eye could see clearly the dirt and rubble of the temple floor. In his left eye returned the familiar red hue of his lenses with a diagnostic readout running. Then the labored, mechanized breathing apparatus heaved him to life. Pushing himself up from the floor, he could see his hands were once again machine parts and tattered black gloves. Around him was a nearly shredded black cloak, covered in burns and rips.

He looked to his left to see stirring both Captain Krest and Vario. Their uniforms were also in tatters as they regained their composure. Seeing Vader’s condition, they rushed to his side to defend while he recovered, but they were both injured as well. Behind them, lying face-down, was Lieutenant Seeda. Vader reached to him through the Force and felt a heartbeat, but he also sensed something else. Walking over, he used the Force to roll over Seeda and beneath him was a small wooden box. In the top was a gold inlay of a Borzûm. He pulled the box to him through the air and opened it. Finally, he held in his hands what he long desired. Finally, there was a chance to save Padme.

A chance for him to once again experience… serenity.

Seeda awoke, groggy and injured as well. He barely got to his feet when his communicator started blaring that a shuttle was en route for Lord Vader. He looked over to the opening where they entered the tunnels. It was filled with rubble and rock. He had no idea how they got out of there before it collapsed. Vader sensed Seeda’s confusion.

“Do not ask questions there are no answers to. Saw Gerrera is dead and we have the Emperor’s prize. You have done well, Captain Seeda,” Vader said through a cracked and damaged face shield. Seeda tried not to stare, but Vader’s right eye was exposed. He could clearly see the red and orange striations of his iris surrounded by the scarred and pale gray skin of his face. He looked down to see the Borzûm box in Vader’s hands. With all that was running through his mind, it was difficult to focus on the fact he just received a battlefield promotion from Darth Vader, himself.

The injured Vader and his party emerged at the top of the Temple steps where the remaining Lancers that were not buried in the tunnels secured a wide area where a shuttle was now landing. “You will return to the Dauntless by ground transport. See to your injuries, then send your mission report directly to my shuttle. These artifacts are precious to the Emperor. I leave at once for Coruscant with our spoils. He commands, and I must obey.”

In a flourish of ragged black robes, Lord Vader turned and limped up as the ramp hissed closed behind him.

Seeda looked on as the shuttle climbed through the atmosphere and disappeared behind the clouds, watching until it was well beyond his sight.

“When I get back, I must remember to tell Commander Junus about this. He’ll be upset he missed attempt number eighty-nine.”

Next time in Star Wars: Lifeboat!

Darth Plageuis. (Image credit unknown)

Captured! The crew aboard the Emperor’s shuttle finds themselves in the clutches of the bounty hunter Gekko. They’ll have to bargain for their freedom if they are to proceed with their mission to find the missing journal of Darth Plagueis and the kidnapped son of Captain Inda Krest!

Go back and check out Lifeboat from the beginning with Part I here!

To learn more about Star Wars, visit the official website at www.starwars.com. May the Fourth, and the Force, be with you!

Disclaimer

The preceding is a work of fan fiction based upon and utilizing locations, characters, and/or plot points from the Star Wars universe, originally created by George Lucas and trademarked to Lucasfilm, Ltd. The author makes no claim whatsoever of ownership of the Star Wars name, characters represented, or the Star Wars universe generally. This work is created of the author’s own imagination and is intended for entertainment purposes only. It does not purport to be an “official” Star Wars story or part of existing Star Wars canon in any way. The author is not profiting financially in any way as the result of the creation or publication of this piece of fan fiction.

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