Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Chapter Nine

“When can I please get out of this bed?”, Sentinel asked.

“Tomorrow morning.” The medical droid responded.

“Ugh.”

“I could give you a sedative. It would be best for you to sleep as much as possible, anyway, Ma’am.” the droid said.

“Thank you, no. I think I’ll do some reading and listen to my music. Or watch the HoloNet.” Sentinel said.

“Of course, Ma’am. Oh, lunch will be delivered in about an hour.”

“Thank you, Dee-X-Three”

The droid rolled out of the room with some examination equipment rolling behind it on an attached cart.

“At least I can sit up today.” Sentinel propped herself up, piling pillows behind her back.

She looked at the closed door, longingly. She hadn’t seen Vader since he’d left before dinner yesterday.

She stared at the door. She sent out her feelings, stretching them out. He was near. Somewhere in this complex, and not in the ship.

She tried to sense his mood. Was he even thinking of her? But all she could perceive was that he was busy.

She sighed, and turned on the HoloNet feed. Lunch eventually arrived, and she picked at it before finally pushing it away. About an hour later, she fell asleep, with the HoloNet purring in the background, sound muted.

Vader entered her recovery room. Seeing she was sound asleep, he held his breath, and crossed the room. He attached the breathing hose, and restarted breathing in a much quieter fashion. As quietly as possible, he removed his helmet. He turned down the light using the Force as he simultaneously removed the front of his helmet. With the helmet placed on a table nearby, he turned to regard her from his standing height.

She was snoring through her nose, mouth closed. He couldn’t help but smile. Her snoring was rather cute.

He sat down next to her.

He had been thinking about the two of them all day. He wasn’t sure where this was going to go. They were both Sith. He was not her master, she was not his. But they technically should be vying for the same positions, that of the position of Darth Sidious, or the position of Darth Sidious’s apprentice. He knew that once he had learned everything he could from Sidious, or everything that the Emperor was willing to share, that when the time was right, he would overthrow Sidious and take his place. It was the way of the Sith, the way of absolute power. The way of the Dark Side of the Force. It was a survival of the fittest.

Where would she fit into all of that? If she held no Force powers, he would expect her to simply be his... concubine, perhaps. Maybe his wife. But he shied away from that thought... he had had a wife, and she had betrayed him, had chosen not to trust in his decisions. He wasn’t sure he was willing to give any woman that title once more.

But Sentinel... she was Sith. Eventually it was practically her DUTY to betray him. She would learn as much as she could from either him or the Emperor, or both. She might help him overthrow the Emperor, and then become his own apprentice. Or she might overthrow him, to take his place as the Emperor’s apprentice.

It was highly unlikely, but she could even try to overthrow the Emperor herself, and make Vader her apprentice!

Would she willingly simply sit on the sidelines, maintaining loyalty to him alone, disregarding the Sith creed of attaining power at all costs? He greatly doubted it.

There was nothing saying that what they had started needed to have a life beyond this mission. The odds were good that they wouldn’t see each other for a long time after this mission was completed. Perhaps he should consider this an ironic vacation from living the Sith creed. Not worry about making her his apprentice, or being replaced by her. Simply enjoy this gift he was given, for the duration he had it.

Vader sighed. Or course, there were other concerns.

He had been badly damaged on Mustafar. Everywhere. Everything still worked, so to speak, but... Vader knew he just wasn’t a pretty sight.

He had synthetic flesh covering most of his body, replacing the charred remains of what had been his skin and flesh. That particular place was no exception.

He frowned. He probably shouldn’t have allowed this relationship to start.

Sentinel turned in her sleep, murmuring, frowning. Cute little lines formed just above her eyebrows as she frowned. Then she became quiet again... at least until the snoring resumed.

He chuckled quietly. He reasoned with himself: she didn’t seem to mind the appearance of his face, of the still not-quite-healed wounds on the back of his head. His appearance wasn’t the attraction. Perhaps what Yoda had said, and ironically the Emperor had reiterated, was true: we are not just these crude beings of flesh and blood. Maybe the appearance of... the rest of his body... would not repulse her.

The Emperor. Now, there was a possible problem. If Vader should decide to extend this... relationship... beyond the realm of this mission... would the Emperor have issues with it?

Would the Emperor decide it was something that would hurt Vader’s effectiveness?

Or worse, would the Emperor decide that they had joined together in order to overthrow him?

Vader wondered if he would find himself willing to stand up to the Emperor to defend their relationship.

The Emperor was willing to afford him certain freedoms. Maybe this would be one of them?

She turned again in her sleep, a lazy smile crossing her features, more murmuring, then the snoring started up once more.

He would have to take this one day at a time. It had only just started, anyway. And there was no reason to believe, based on only one kiss, that this relationship had any future.

But he sensed he and Sentinel had something special. He sensed it the same way he had known, when he’d first met Padme, that he would one day marry her.

He realized he had found Sentinel attractive from the first moment he had seen her. But he had dismissed the attraction as a distraction from his true purpose. After all, he was already married: to the Dark Side of the Force. But although his reliance and connection to the Force had only gotten stronger, he still found that relationship to be rather lacking. But nevertheless, would a relationship with a woman be detrimental to his relationship with the Dark Side?

How ironic, he thought. That was the last thing on his mind, where his wife had been concerned.

He closed his eyes and cleared his mind. Too many worries and concerns. Focus on the moment.

And the moment was currently being slept away. Must fix that.

He opend his eyes, leaned over her sleeping form, and kissed her softly on the lips. She stirred under his touch, waking, kissing him back, stretching. He moved to kiss her forehead, but her hands came up and pulled him back to her lips.

They kissed for a long time.

They finally broke off. “I was wondering when you’d come to visit me.” she purred.

“You needed your rest.”

“I’m bored to tears.” she frowned.

“You don’t know how to entertain yourself?”

“There’s only so much sleeping, reading, meditation, HoloNet viewing, and listening to music that one person can do before they want to talk to another living being.” she responded.

“I think you want to do more than just talk.” he mused.

“Well, that’s part of the problem.” She grinned.

“When can you get up?”

“Not until tomorrow morning. I’m under strict orders from my doctor.” She frowned again.

“Perhaps I should let you continue resting, then...” Vader feigned leaving.

“No you don’t!” She grabbed his arm.

He grinned.

Something flashed in their view. They both turned towards the muted HoloNet display in the upper corner of the room. A battle was being reported upon, with casualty numbers being displayed in the lower corners of the holograph.

“The conflict continues.” Somehow, even without his voice altering mask, even though his voice wasn’t what it must have been before his horrible injuries... somehow his voice still rumbled.

“The war is over, yet new enemies keep springing up.” she sighed.

“You and I will ensure peace returns. It is merely being delayed by those who cannot accept how things must be for peace to exist.” Vader said.

“Why won’t they let it go?”

“They need to be forced to let it go.” he stated, firmly.

She looked down at the foot of her bed.

“What if it’s the tighter reign of control that they are fighting against? What if it’s their waning freedoms that is causing them to rebel?” she asked.

“Freedom to have wars on their own planets? Freedom to engage in continual dissension against the ruling order, the peace?” Vader asked.

She looked him in the face. Sighed. “You’re right. I know you’re right. We are doing this for their own good. Many of them will never see it that way, but they still must be made to understand, and forced to lay down their arms.” Another sigh. “You’re right.”

“The way you think... the things you say... You make me think that you are not a true Sith.” Vader said softly.

She took a moment to think before responding.

“There are aspects of our teaching that I don’t embrace as fully as you or the Emperor. I believe we must do what needs doing, yes, but I ...” She licked her lips. “I often have problems with the methodology. I don’t think so many have to die in order for our goal of peace and order to be achieved.” She looked back at the foot of the bed.

He sensed she was not finished, and watched her closely.

She continued. “I think there are too many innocent casualties of this cause.” She rushed ahead, afraid if she didn’t say it now, it wouldn’t be said. And she wanted to be completely honest with him. “And I think that while the Jedi were foolish to hide from attachments, from passionate emotion, that the Sith need to better control their emotion, to control their anger, and to use more than just the darker emotions to feed their Dark Side powers. I believe love and joy can feed the Force just as well as hate, anger, and fear. And I want to be one of the Sith Lords who is capable of controlling my anger during the times it would be best to take, shall we say, the ‘Jedi approach’.”

She turned to look back at him at that point, searching his face carefully. She was worried he would take her opinions as a slight against his own anger management issues.

Instead of the reproachful look she thought she would see in his face, she saw instead a questioning, searching look of his own.

“Who, in your anger, did you mistakenly kill?” He said softly.

Her eyes widened. “Am I that transparent?”

“Who did you kill?” he repeated.

She looked back at the foot of her bed. Took a deep breath, and felt it shudder out of her.

“My parents.” she said, almost whispering.

“Tell me.” he ordered.

“Heh. Oh, I get it. I don’t get to ask personal questions, but you do.” She turned to smile at him ruefully, then looked back at the foot of her bed.

She composed herself, and started to tell her story. “Well, we were very poor. Lived on a dirty little backworld planet called Sevast, where survival against the elements was a daily concern. My parents... my Mom was a waitress, and my Dad worked in the mines. My youngest brother wanted to go into the military academy when he was older. He wanted to be a ‘Trooper. My parents disapproved. Thought he would get hurt.”

He watched her start to worry at a piece of loose thread in her blanket, pulling it out.

“When I was very little, I had been tested for MidiChlorians. Even on that backwater planet, the testing was performed. I scored quite high. My parents elected not to release me to the Jedi. Hmmm... I guess I’d either be on the run or dead now, if they had.”

The thread was getting longer.

“I learned of my abilities. I decided I wanted to be a Jedi, and started training by myself, since my parents wouldn’t let me go to the Jedi Temple. I found out as much about the Jedi and their methods as possible. I read everything I could on the Jedi in the library. I trained in secret, since I knew my parents wouldn’t have approved.”

Vader’s interest peaked. She had trained herself how to use the Force!

“I had some assistance from some shamons, who trained in martial arts, and also had learned how to manipulate the Force to a small degree in order to heal. They helped me learn how to meditate, and also improved my ability to defend myself. I learned how to use a sword from swordplay with them.”

She took a deep breath.

“Then, I learned that the Jedi had betrayed the Emperor and the Empire. My affection for the Jedi had already been waning before that event. I had discovered their dislike for emotional attachments. I was glad that I hadn’t gone to the Temple... long before the Jedi were shown to be the pretentious scum they were. Any group of people that is willing to take children from their parents, and train them to be free of any emotions whatsoever... Even love! The Jedi couldn’t even marry!” she snorted in disgust.

Vader nodded to himself. He wished he had understood what he was getting himself into when he had gone with Qui-Gon Jinn. He wasn’t sure how he could have... arranged things... so that he could still have developed his abilities, and still have had time to get to know Padme and win her heart. But things surely would have had a more pleasant outcome had he been free of the Jedi Order’s insane rules.

To not have had to keep their love a secret... it might have changed how everything had gone.

“The Emperor looked through the Jedi records, and found me. He had me approached by one of his men, a Lieutenant Taaz, I think his name was. We spoke. He said the Emperor was interested in me because of my MidiChlorian rating. Would I be interested in being trained, professionally?” Sentinel said.

“’To be a Jedi?’, I asked? Honestly, I sneered. ‘No’, he said. ‘To be Sith, like his right hand man, Lord Vader.’ I was delighted. I wholeheartedly agreed. I made arrangements with the Lieutenant, and went home to tell my parents and my brother, and to pack my things.”

She had started working on a second thread. If her story got any longer, there wouldn’t be any blanket left, Vader mused.

“I went home. I told my parents. My parents hadn’t even realized I was training myself to use the Force. My father was most displeased. He slapped me, twice. ‘That’s for training against our wishes, and that’s for wanting to join a second group of Force users, when the first group screwed up the Galaxy! You think this new ‘Sith’ group of Force users is going to be any better? One, Lord Vader, is enough.’ I screamed at him ‘This is my ticket to a better life, and if we work this right, a ticket to a better life for all of us! The Emperor trusts Lord Vader with his life. It was the Jedi order of Force users that were corrupt, not the Sith.’”

Thread number three came loose at her plucking. Vader put a hand over hers to stop the slow destruction of the blanket. She looked up at him.

“My father said, ’This family has stayed out of the war, and intends to stay out of any further entanglements. We survive by sticking together. If you leave, don’t even come back.’ Well, that was fine with me. But I couldn’t leave my brother in their grasp. He would never escape without my help. He wasn’t as strong as I was. I said ‘Fine, but my brother is coming with me, if he wants to.’ My brother wanted to, but that was the last straw for my Dad. He came up, threw my brother back into his chair, and punched me hard in the face. And that was it. I....” she broke off, closing her eyes, shuddering.

Vader squeezed her hand.

She took a deep breath. “I threw him across the room with the Force. I had never lifted anything so large before, but it was like he was as light as a feather. My father’s head hit the wall, and he ceased to move. My mother... my own mother came at me with a knife. I moved out of the way... the Force told me where to move to avoid her. I plucked the knife from her hand, and sliced her throat... from ear to ear. She dropped like a rock.”

She looked up at him.

“You were defending yourself.” he said.

“My father only punched me once. That was all he had left in him. He... he wouldn’t have hit me again. I killed him outright, from uncontrolled anger. My mother was the same... I had taken the knife away from her, there was no reason for me to ... do that ... to her.”

“What did your brother do?”

“He was in shock. I think I was too, once I calmed down. I checked to see if my father was really dead... he was. I didn’t check my mom, I knew she must be dead. I can’t believe I was so... cavalier... about it, but I told my brother to pack his things, then I went into my room and packed what little I wanted to take with me. When I got back out into the living room, my brother was there with a bag. He looked like he wasn’t sure what was happening. We left together. We didn’t speak. We got to the transport, and I told them my brother wanted to enlist. They directed him to another ship. He’s serving on board the Hunter. I haven’t seen him or heard from him since that day.” She closed her eyes, tears escaping her eyelids.

The room was quiet except for the light buzzing of the muted HoloNet display.

“Sometimes... our growth in the Sith... will require sacrifices.” He paused to choose his words carefully. “We will do things we didn’t intend, or we will do things that we have to do, but wish we didn’t have to do. Our duty and our... learning curve... can be hard to face up to. But they are both necessary... to our growth, and to the eventual peace and order that rule under the Sith will bring.”

She looked up into his eyes. “I can’t tell if you are saying that for me, or for yourself.”

He gazed down into her green eyes. “Maybe a little of both”, he admitted.

“You still won’t tell me, will you?” she asked.

“Is that why you told me your story? So I would share my ‘secret sorrows’ with you?”

“No. I told you because you asked. And I guess because I wanted you to know.” she said, softly.

He looked at her a moment more, then leaned over and kissed her very gently.

“Thank you for telling me.” he whispered, before pulling back fully from the kiss.

“You’re welcome. Thank you for listening.” she responded.

“You’re welcome.” Vader said, smiling gently. Then he sighed, and stood up. “And now I have to go.”

She held onto his hand. “So soon?”

“You still need your rest, and I’ve got my... duties.”

“When will I see you again?” she asked.

“You can get up tomorrow morning, right?” Vader asked.

“Yes...”

“After breakfast. I’ll come and fetch you, and take you on a tour of the base.”

“Promise?”

“Would I lie to you?” Vader asked, grinning.

She considered, couldn’t help but grin as she said “I don’t know!”

“Well, I’m not lying now.” He put his mask back on, and unhooked himself from the breathing hose.

“Tomorrow.” He stated.

“See you tomorrow.” She responded.

He turned and left.



Goto Chapter Ten

2 Comments:

Blogger Radioactive Jam said...

The thread / story imagery is a nice touch, and works well. Good pacing, too.

8/04/2006 7:26 PM  
Blogger Sith Snoopy said...

Wow! Thank you! :)

8/04/2006 8:09 PM  

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