Preamble: Well, the empire has struck back and poor Darth becomes pensive as he feels the return of something may be nigh....
(Previously: PART I - Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10; PART II - Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19.)
THE DARTH SIDE
by Cheeseburger Brown
PART II, Chapter 20 - For Shmi
When will fools learn that the Empire always strikes back?
Also, reflections on my mother.
The StarDestroyer Avenger has broken from the fleet, and makes for Coruscant. Aboard Executor Admiral Piett commands the hunt for the newest hiding place of the destructive Rebel Alliance, while I am returning home to report to my master, the emperor of this galaxy and a master lord of the Sith. He is...unhappy about recent developments in the whole son-of-Skywalker business and, though I am not privy to the reasons, he was extremely put out that I failed to bring him Leia Organa.
"I underestimated her importance to you," I said as I knelt before my master's flickering holograph. "My failure is indeed complete."
"Your blindness in the matter redeems your fealty," he whispered, fondling the head of his imaged cane as his imaged eyes gazed down upon it. "It is not a significant issue, my friend. Not. Significant. At all."
And indeed, now that I think about it, it isn't all that significant. Perhaps I did undervalue the importance of relaying the known rebel spy Organa to Coruscant, obsessed as I have been with confronting my son. No doubt it is this obsession about which my master wishes to question me in person. Matters of the gifted come before the affairs of low men, as His Excellency himself reminded me when he admitted Organa to be insignificant.
"Chin up, Lord Vader," my master continued. "The Empire will strike back, and that pitiful pocket of anarchists will be stamped out forever."
"But master, in my son they may have a new hope for the return of the Jedi."
"Enough of this," grunted Darth Sidious, waving his gnarled hand dismissively. "We will speak of Skywalker when you come before me on Coruscant. Make haste for the core, my servant."
"Yes, my master."
The transmission ended, and I have remained ensconced in my guest chambers aboard Avenger ever since, staring out the port-holes with my hands clasped behind my back, meditating on the shining stars and pin-prick worlds and the unholy voids that separate them.
My thoughts have ranged to my mother.
She was born to merchants, hard-working but prosperous, plying the lanes of space for their daily bread and legendary fortune if it could be found. Nomadic for generations, the Skywalkers were renowned for panning the galactic rim for the rarest artifacts and most delightful primitive curiosities, eking a living selling wholesale to the Corellians who made a killing re-selling their wares in the core.
In the days of the Old Republic the tentacles of a corrupt federation came to ensnare every trade route of every civilized system, pressing even the once mighty Corellians into the margins. Individual tribes of merchant-nomads like the Skywalkers had no chance. They were pushed further and further into the periphery, forced to buy and sell in the smaller, dirtier, meaner markets of the outer rim -- Tatooine, Dantooine, Terminus...
The greatest force in their universe became the gangster Hutts, jealous gods on whose appeasement rode the success or failure of entire franchises. But hard times meant bribes went unpaid, and the Skywalkers' ships were beset upon by pirate raiders. The pirates stole their cargoes, their virgins and their children. My mother, Shmi, was a girl of seven years when she was kidnapped, ferried away in conditions unfit for beasts, and eventually sold in a Huttese market to the highest depraved bidder.
Some masters were kind, and others were cruel. She came to Tatooine and worked beneath the twin suns. When she became "inexplicably" pregnant she was sold for less than her weight in meat, from Gardulla the Hutt to Watto, a Toydarian junkman with a soft heart despite a hard tongue.
And I was born.
"Two for the price of one! How do you like that?" is what my mother says Watto yelled out to everyone who came by the shop that day. Then he slapped my mother's ass and reminded the men of her impressive flexibility. "Fifty oldster-standard nuggets for an hour, hah? Good bargain, hah? Smile for the nice men Shmi."
And she would. She would smile. My mother could always smile. She smiled as she died in my arms.
I just wanted to say thank you. Thanks, mom. You took an unbearable burden and gladly made it heavier so that I could stay innocent as long as possible. You made every sacrifice in the hopes of wresting for me a better life -- unhesitant, unflinching, without regret. You never once questioned that the underlying force that holds people together is love, even when you all you knew was suffering.
I love you. I still do. Even now. I still think of you. Every day.