– An excerpt from Life Boat, chapter four:
Once flight preparations were complete, the SFS-204 ion engines roared to life, and they were quickly in orbit above Mustafar. Lord Vader stood at the threshold of the flight deck observing the crew’s actions. In his right hand was the force-locked diplomatic case containing his master’s coded message. His left rested at his belt, just above his lightsaber. Seeing that all was in order, he descended the ramp into the cargo hold. At the far end, the two crimson-clad sentinels of the Emperor’s guard stood motionless except for the gentle sway of the ship’s movement out of the upper atmosphere. For his master to part with two of his precious guards, this mission must be important indeed. However, he disdained the overabundance of caution. The mighty Sith Lord, Darth Vader, had no need of bodyguards.
Once orbit had been achieved, Vader retired to a private state room aboard the shuttle to view his master’s message. He laid the case before him and outstretched his hand. He sensed the locking mechanism with his mind, using the force as a key to manipulate the durasteel bolt holding it shut. He could feel every electrical impulse in the room. He reached out with his mind and lowered the lights to a dim glow. After a moment, the latch flipped, and the lid slowly revealed the contents. The small holo-projector disk floated across and into the cradle at the center of the table, where a miniature visage of Emperor Palpatine erupted upward and began to speak.
“Lord Vader, you will travel to the moon of Jedha and oversee harvesting of the remaining Kyber Crystals within the temple at Jedha City. The Death Star project is stalled and depends on your success. Commander Kyson has failed to quell the rebels there, led by the outlaw Saw Gerrera, and is grossly behind schedule. Remind him of the price of failure when you take command.”
The recording flickered briefly, scrambling the image of the Emperor for a brief second, but his voice continued without pause.
“The rebel leader is a target of opportunity; however, he is not your objective. My agents within Jedha City have made a discovery. Two artifacts have been recovered within the Temple of the Kyber that are of great import to me, and to us; a holocron and a text. I am certain you feel the disturbance as acutely as I. It seems they have found something we have been searching for after all this time, my old friend.
Only you can I trust to bring what they have found to me. Make haste. Secure the artifacts and see to the extraction of the remaining kyber crystals. Once the excavation is back on schedule, bring the tome and holocron to me on Coruscant.”
The tone of Palpatine’s voice then turned dour. Vader sensed the uneasiness in his master’s next words.
“A usurper has risen from the Unknown Regions. I have dispatched the 7th Fleet to eliminate him. I will not suffer another rebellion. He will be dealt with swiftly. Until he is crushed however, he could be a threat to us. Speak of this discovery to no one, not even your most trusted servants, until you are in possession of what has been found. Secrecy must ever be our ally.”
The recording paused a moment as the shuttle settled into its hyperspace lane, suspending the tiny blue image of his Emperor like a marionette puppet before him. The radiation shielding required during travel through hyperspace often played havoc with hologram signals; a necessary annoyance Vader had dealt with since his early days of hyperspace travel during the Clone Wars.
Vader crossed arms in contemplation. A usurper from the Unknown Regions? If the Emperor has sent the vaunted 7th Fleet to dispatch him, he must be more than a passing annoyance to the Empire. Although he and Thrawn competed for Palpatine’s favor, Vader held his exceptionally skilled rival in high regard. This new threat would receive no mercy at the hands of the Empire’s favored Chiss admiral. Who could present such a challenge that required this much firepower to quell? He noted to further investigate the matter when he arrived on Coruscant. After a moment, the hologram started again.
“You will find the skills of young Lieutenant Seeda useful for this mission. It has been brought to my attention that he is fluent in the ancient Sith languages spoken on early Ziost and Korriban. Plagueis often scribed his notes in the old tongue to protect them from prying eyes. Keep Seeda alive. You will need him. I have foreseen it.
I have also sent two promising acolytes to assist you. Both Captain Vario and Sergeant Krest have proven to be capable warriors loyal to me. No doubt you have discerned they are force-sensitive. You will find that trait beneficial on this assignment, my apprentice. Use them as you see fit. Should they survive this mission, I shall consider them for my Sovereign Protector corps. Until then, they are at your disposal. Do what must be done.”
The image fades and the holo-projector falls silent.
He can hardly believe it.
For years, his master has promised they would tear the galaxy apart to find the writings of Darth Plagueis the Wise. The Emperor said his former master would tirelessly collect and record all of his research into immortality within a small tome, and then a holocron, both of which had been lost to time.
Have they finally been found? If these were the lost works of Plagueis, and the looming threat from beyond the Outer Rim has divided the attention of the Emperor, this could be his opportunity to be free of his yoke forever …
… to be in control his own destiny …
… to rule the galaxy as he saw fit …
… and with Padme, at long last, again by his side.
*This story is in no way affiliated with Disney or LucasFilm. It is a work of fan fiction that, when complete, will be free for all to read on this site as well as other established Star Wars fan fiction websites.