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Based on Star Wars created by George Lucas

In the Shadows of Darth Vader” Copyright © John F. Rychlicki III Leilah Publications 2016

Cloud City, Bespin system, Interior VADER’S STAR DESTROYER – BRIDGE

Lieutenant Commander Jorin Clovis had only seen Darth Vader with his own eyes once, prior to his promotion and reassignment from Engineering.  He was off duty after pulling two shifts in Engineering when he was walking alone, silently gazing into deep space on the Command Deck.  Lost in thought, he wondered when he would see his home again on Corellia.  He heard it first.  The slow cadence of mechanized breathing.  Clovis froze.  He heard all the terrible stories of the Dark Lord of the Sith.  A creature that should be dead, rumors of his rise from the Jedi cult and mastery of ancient dark sorcery.  He believed all the stories, how the Dark Lord choked officers to death with the invisible grasp of his unnatural sorcery.  He was paralyzed with terror.

The mechanized breathing grew nearer.  Clovis had to force himself to tilt his head slightly and glance to the exterior corridor leading to the Command Bridge.  What he saw was a black cloaked nightmare, enshrouded in ebon amor striding through the corridor. Before he realized he had been holding his breath for nearly a minute, the Dark Lord exited past the long corridor and disappeared through the doors.  Clovis exhaled.  The mechanized breathing’s horrific cadence pierced his thoughts.  The unnatural echos would be the object of his nightmares in his sleepless nights to come.

Now less than a standard week into his promotion, he anxiously monitored his two control screens as they prepared to capture the Millennium Falcon.  The Millennium Falcon.  Clovis heard the stories about this unassuming Rebel YT-1300 Corellian freighter that held Lord Vader’s personal interest.  Rumors had it that Rebel leader Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker himself were cornered on Bespin.  It would be a day to remember for the Empire, if they captured these two Rebel extremists.

Clovis calibrated the 60 mm Point Defense Laser Turrets in the Tactical pit on the Command Bridge.   Then he heard it.  The mechanized breathing.  Darth Vader strode onto the bridge staring out the view screen.  Clovis’ heart skipped a beat as he froze in paralyzed terror.  Lieutenant Commander Ryjo noticed and nudged him at his console.  “Focus, man!” he whispered loud enough for just the two of them to hear.  Clovis breathed in rasps, unable to look at the dark madness that was a sick hybrid machine and man.  “They’ll be in range of our  tractor beam in moments, my lord.”  Admiral Piett said confidently.  “Did your men deactivate the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon?” Vader’s synthetic voiced boomed.  “Yes, my lord.”  Piett replied. “Good. Prepare the boarding party and set your weapons for stun.”  Lord Vader continued to gaze out of the view screen.  “Yes, my lord.”  Piett replied, opening his comlink. Finally, we’ll have both Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker.  Surely this will cripple the Rebellion. Clovis thought at his console.

Clovis forced himself to glance upwards to see Vader standing on the bridge, watching as TIE fighters chased the Millennium Falcon.  Clovis visibly cringed as the cadence ofVader’s synthesized breathing grew slightly faster.  “Luke.” Clovis heard Vader whisper.  Luke? Skywalker? He turned to see if the other Tactical Officers heard, but if they did they were busy at their consoles, pretending they did not.  Probably for the better.  “Son, come with me.” Clovis thought he heard Vader whisper. What?? Son?? Was Clovis hearing things?  He thought himself mad.  Did Darth Vader just say….who’s son?? Clovis wondered incredulously.  He abruptly rose from his console and crossed the Tactical Pit to get nearer to Vader.  He pretended to be monitoring the console next to the Tactical Gunner.  The two Imperial Officers exchanged looks of understanding, and confusion.

Luke… it is your destiny.”  There was no mistaking what Clovis knew he heard.  Skywalker??  Was Vader whispering about Skywalker?  Who was he talking to??  Clovis thought he was going mad.  Who’s son??  His heart and thoughts raced. Did Vader infer Skywalker was his son??  Admiral Piett’s command brought him back momentarily.  “Alert all commands. Ready for the tractor beam.”  Clovis heard Vader’s mechanized breathing slightly increase.  He turned his gaze to the giant view screen as the Star Destroyer closed in on the Millennium Falcon.

The Falcon soared into infinity and away from the huge Star Destroyer which by contrast, stood still.  Admiral Piett and another Captain glanced at Vader in terror.  Clovis froze, terrified.  Mechanized breathing echoed across the bridge.  We’re all dead.  Dead.  Clovis thought, paralyzed in terror.

Darth Vader turned slowly and walked off the bridge, his hands clasped behind his back in a contemplative gesture.  The Sith Lord’s mechanized breathing echoed across the bridge and in Lieutenant Commander Clovis’ mind.

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Endor moon orbit, Second Death Star – SHUTTLE DOCKING BAY

The galaxy was falling apart, chaos reigned everywhere.  Evacuation orders on the Second Death Star, had been issued by each sector’s Commanding Officers.  “There’s no time, Jamyl hurry!”  Commander Cyan Jove urged his long time mate.  Another loud rumble shook him and every other scurrying Imperial officer off balance.  Commander Jamyl Jove Spica couldn’t believe it had come to this.  She had no doubt the Emperor would regroup the fleet and wipe out the Rebels in one final blow they would never see coming.  It would not be from this battle station though.  She and Cyan heard unfounded rumors the Empire had began construction on a third much larger battle station.  It seemed the entire Rebel fleet was engaged.  We will fight the extremist swine to their deaths. She thought confidently.  Smoked and fumes cascaded about the Shuttle Docking Bay.

We’ve got to get out of here.  Orders are to regroup on the Vigilance.  Rae has the Rebels driven back on the far side of Endor.”  Jove shouted.  Cyan Jove and Jamyl Spica were life long friends of Admiral Rae Sloane, commander of the Star Destroyer Vigilance.  They ducked and sprinted towards a docked shuttle as sections of the Docking Bay ceiling bulkhead began to collapse.  Out of the corner of his eye, Commander Cyan saw two black clad figures stand out.  He turned and stumbled in disbelief.  There, in the Docking Bay, a black clad Rebel was dragging the unmoving body of Darth Vader.

By the stars…! ” Cyan Jove exclaimed in shock.  Another loud rumble and quake shook the Docking Bay and knocked them off their feet.  Commander Spica recognized the black clad man dragging Darth Vader.  She read the intelligence uplinks and saw the holovid archives.  “That’s Skywalker!”  She exclaimed.  “Luke Skywalker??”  Cyan was entering a state of shock.  “Yes! That’s him!” Jamyl said in disbelief. “What in the…”  but Jamyl cut him off before he could finish.  Were the rumors she heard true?  That Skywalker really was the Son of the mad Sith cultist?  She grabbed Cyan.  “Cyan!  Now!”  Her mate stared in shock as the scene unfolding before them.  Luke Skywalker was dragging the lifeless body of Darth Vader onto a nearby shuttle.

By the stars….” Cyan spat in shock.  The Docking Bay shook with another loud rumble.  Cyan and Jamyl ran onto another shuttle.  Darth Vader was dead.  The galaxy was falling apart.