Saturday, June 03, 2006

Chapter One

The smokey skies floated by. Two buildings in the distance were smoldering due to recently extinguished flame.

The Rebellion, as the newest group of Separatists had started calling themselves, had made a rare strike on Coruscant soil. Sentinel mused that no-one had actually seen Coruscant soil in millennia... the only souls that worked down there now being robotic minions who raised vegetables and animals under false sunlight in storey after storey of artificial surfaces.

Did the animals even remember what real sunlight looked like?

Would they panic and run, if set loose at “ground level” of the skyscrapers, trying to find a lighted cave, with dirt and grass underfoot?

Sentinel's next mission, per the request of the Emperor, was to assist Lord Vader in tracking down a group of Jedi who were rumored to have survived the order 66 of 5 years ago, and were hiding out on a little known planet called Latern. It was a few thousand parsecs from Coruscant, so the travel time in hyperspace would actually be a few days.

She had been in training under one of the Emperor’s Sith trainers, and often under the Emperor himself. He apparently had several on the Sith planet Korriban. She had heard the whole “there can be only two”, but apparently the Emperor wasn’t willing to allow the Sith to be so easily defeated by the destruction of himself and Lord Vader. And there was little risk, however, of the two of them being destroyed from within: there just weren’t that many Force sensitives left in the galaxy who, even combined, could take on the Emperor and his right hand man.

Sentinel would never herself be strong enough to take on either Vader or the Emperor. She was a strange student of the Sith in that she was wise enough to realize this, and be satisfied merely with the enjoyment of exercising her powers within a smaller sphere of influence. The Dark Side was with her, but she was strong enough to not be pushed towards overextending herself. She mused about this, ironically rather smugly. She mused about the smugness itself with some self deprecating humor. But whatever. She could be one of the few Sith in existence who could enjoy power without being power hungry or unnecessarily violent.

Maybe she would be the compromise between the Jedi and the Sith. Blasphemous thought, that. But she was more than willing to learn, on the sly, how to use the Light Side of the Force. She thought there were benefits to using both sides, and only embracing one side was just... short sighted.

She was meeting Vader at his new home some distance from the center of government on Coruscant. He had been assigned a mansion, by order from the Emperor. He had been living in a suite some stories below the Emperor’s suite. The Emperor also had a mansion of his own, and would spend half his time there, and half his time in his suite.

Vader’s mansion was rumored to be very spartan... she wondered at the cause of that. She’d heard rumors that he had once been a Jedi, but she knew better than to ask anyone about that.

She had read up on all of Vader’s exploits in the past 5 years. She had followed his career with a strange passion. She realized her passion was a little... unconventional, even for a future Sith Lord.

She landed the sky speeder at one of the many landing platforms along the top of the Dark Lord’s mansion, and jumped out with practiced ease. She got down on one knee, with her hood hood in place, eyes lowered, waiting in abeyance. The door at the far end of the platform remained closed, as if reminding her that it was her duty to wait on him, her superior. She breathed slowly, letting the tension of the moment infuse her with both calm and energy. This was an incredible moment in her career. It was a moment she had been dreaming of. It could also be the moment of her death. Piss off this important person, and end in a puddle of useless flesh and bones, quivering in the throes of death, on the floor.

But it was worth it. Career ending, even life ending, it was worth it to get to meet him.

She couldn’t deny it to herself. She had been attracted to him from the moment she first saw his images on the holonet. The black knight. His face forever hidden. His deep voice... his unchanging uniform.

“Yes, I am one sick puppy”, she thought to herself. Then she thought she heard the whine of the elevator behind that closed door, and she cleared her thoughts quickly. She wasn’t sure if her adoration of Lord Vader would be appreciated or despised, or even advantageous to her if it were appreciated. Best to not be an open book at this point in time.

The door slid open. A figure stirred in the shadows within the lift. But she did not see him. Her eyes remained downcast.

Footsteps... then only a few feet in front of her, the ominous black boots. She heard him stop in front of her, the shiny boots the only thing she could focus on. The billowing cape blocking her field of view.

“Rise, young Sith”, Vader gently rumbled. She almost thought she could detect some humor in his electronic voice. With some trepidation, she rose from her kneeling position and stood to face... his chest. Oh, yes, you are a tall one. She raised her chin to look him in the “face”.

“My Lord, I am here to serve you on our assignment to take out the Latern stronghold. How may I be of service to you?” Her voice held an unusual confidence.

“We will be leaving shortly. I trust you are prepared?”

“I am packed, m’Lord. And I have all the equipment we should need, m’Lord, in the event that we do need anything more than our lightsabers.”

“Good. Everything I need is already aboard our ship. Bring the cargo and come with me.”

“M’Lord...” Sentinel turned to unhook the antigrav carrier the cargo was resting upon. The cargo and the carrier were both inside the cargo hatch of her speeder. Upon ignition, the carrier rose slightly, and Sentinel easily pulled the cargo out of her speeder, maneuvering it around in front of her, to push it hastily after the retreating form of her fellow Sith.

She followed his form to an adjoining platform, much larger than the one she had landed upon. Thereon sat a ship about the size of a Correllian space freighter. Vader flicked a hand towards the ship, and the cargo hold ramp lowered. Sentinel pushed their equipment up inside it, locked it in place, grabbed her bag from on top of the equipment, and walked down the ramp.

“Come with me”, Vader rumbled.

She followed him up the main ramp, which started to lift and close behind her. They reached the cockpit. She saw no other Imperial staff on board.

“M’Lord, are we picking up the rest of our crew at the military base?”

Vader sat in the pilot’s seat. “The Emperor gave me last minute instructions. This is to be a stealth mission. Imperial troopers are not known for their... stealth...” Vader began to power up the engines.

Alone. With him. Awk....ward. Completely awkward. She sat in the co-pilot’s seat, checked that the navigation computer was on.

Stealth? How were they going to be stealthy with the most recognized person in the galaxy?

“I sense you have some concerns, young Sith?”

“M’Lord, forgive my impudence, but I am wondering how our stealthy entrance to the stronghold is to be accomplished...” she trailed off.

“... because I am not someone who can enter a location unnoticed?”

“’Er...”

“Perhaps you should let me worry about my stealthy entrance, and you worry about your own abilities?”

“Yes, m’Lord. I beg your forgiveness...”

“Spare me the simpering apologies, Sith.”

“Yes, m’Lord”.

Vader piloted the ship into space, expertly avoiding the shipping lanes, and clearing the planets traffic. “Plot our course.”

Sentinel negotiated with the Navputer for a moment. “Plotted, m’Lord.”

Vader pushed the lever, and the ship became a streak of light in the sky.



Goto Chapter Two

2 Comments:

Blogger Radioactive Jam said...

Good start. Nice flow, mix of dialog and introspection.

There's a double word - "hood hood" - about halfway through.

When Vader approaches Sentinel she hears his footsteps; might she also hear his breathing? Her attention might shift from first-heard footsteps *to* his breathing. I imagine the sound progressively filling her head, almost hypnotizing her. Holonet images captured his appearance but didn't prepare her for his presence... etc.

And - you might postpone certain thought-based revelations: Sentinel's views on light side powers, and her possibly being a compromise between Jedi and Sith. It just depends on how "long" you expect the full story to be. If this is a chapter, and there's 15+ more, then you have plenty of time to develop and reveal those key aspects.

Or... as-is also works. I can't say one way is better; just suggesting you think about alternatives. I geuss what I'm saying is - I think Sentinel is an engaging character, and if she was portrayed as pure evil Sith at this point she'd be no less interesting. This early she can be a mystery, an enigma. Suppose there's some battle ahead and she fights with skill and zeal, but isn't cold and ruthless. Vader might pick up on that; she might not even be fully aware of traces of "lightness" in her.

Okay that's enough. One more thing, back to the start: "The smokey skies floated by." That's because Sentinel is in flight, right? When I first read it I was thinking ground-based perspective and floating skies didn't make sense. "She landed the sky speeder" clarified the p.o.v. but that's ten paragraphs after the floating skies. Not sure you need to change anything, but if there's a non-kludge way to let readers know they're in flight, it might be good. Maybe a reference subtitle like Coruscant Approach.
:-)

6/03/2006 7:39 PM  
Blogger Sith Snoopy said...

Thanks, RAJ, for the constructive criticism. :)

Once this story is finished and has been up on Blogger for all to read, I am going to be reposting this story in two versions: original and unedited (but easier to read in chronological order), and new and edited (and also chronological order).

Thanks also to those who emailed me their constructive criticism. :)

6/05/2006 6:21 AM  

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