Darth Vader was a simple man, in the eyes of the Imperial public. A towering monolith of darkness and power, unfeeling and completely subservient to the emperor. It was an image he continued to keep during his time as the High Commander of the Imperial Fleet. However, for those that served with him, they knew a different side. To the men who served directly under him, Darth Vader was a loyal, and honorable commander. He fought shoulder to shoulder with his men, doing his part in the field without question. If he wouldn't do it himself, he would rarely ask it of his men. It was the major reason why he absolutely hated most of the imperial officers he had to serve with. When a soldier made a mistake while serving in Vader's presence, they would be reprimanded, and probably scared shitless. However, when an officer endangered the lives of soldiers, marines, and cadets with an imbecilic mistakes, Vader held no pity for them.
And when he made the mistake?
Vader had underestimated the capabilities of the White Fang, and it had cost the lives of his own soldiers... Good, strong men of the 501st. Some of them were clones, others were torn from thier families across the galaxy. And now he was responsible for their deaths... He was the reason why they would never see their families again. As he stared down upon Remnant, watching the sun began to crest over the curve of the planet from the bridge of the Executor, he made a silent oath to stamp out these vermin. These so called 'Freedom Fighters.' The rebellion had more of a claim to that title, especially now that they had engaged in open war with the Empire. No, these little factions and their petty squables would have to be dealt with before the Empire arrived. A planet divided amongst itself would stand no chance against the might of the Empire.
"General," Doc stood behind the man, his clone armour gleaming white from restoration. "The Rebel high command wishes to speak to you."
Vader slowly turned to face the clone, a single eyebrow raised behind his tinted lenses, "Did they explain what would be so urgent as to contact me in the middle of their war?"
Doc shook his head, frowning slightly, "No, sir. Mon Mothma simply expressed that she had something to discuss with you."
Mon Mothma wished to speak with him... alone? Interesting. He nodded after what seemed to be an eternity, "Very well. Patch her through to my private quarters. I will speak with her there."
Doc saluted, quickly exiting the bridge to relay the instructions to their communications officer. Vader waited on the bridge a bit longer, watching the sun rise completely. If he tried hard enough, he could almost imagine the soft warmth of the sun, brushing against his face. And then it was gone, replaced by the searing, aggravating pain that consumed his very being at all times. He turned sharply on his heels, marching briskly off the bridge, "Admiral Piett, you have the bridge."
The uniformed officer nodded curtly, giving Vader a crisp salute before stepping up on the raised deck. Vader began the short trek to his private chambers, mulling quietly over what Mothma could possibly want. The last time he had seen her was right before she had cut communications on them. The Schnee girl had obviously infuriated Mothma by disrupting her powerbase during their last meeting. He recalled the incident with a small, painful smile. He had felt that the girl had some talent, but even he could have never expected how the girl used her half hour crash course of Galactic politics. Padme would have...
Vader paused, grief flickering in his mind as he realised where his thoughts were going. He looked down slowly at his hand, the one he had lost in Geonosis. He couls still remember their wedding... That day on Naboo. And then the war... maybe if it hadn't been going on for so long, Mustafar would have never happened. He never would have killed Padme... But he didn't did he? Obi-Wan confirmed that he never actually killed his wife, that she had died during childbirth. His eyes stung as he thought of his children, the twins he had never met. They only knew of him as a monster... He knew nothing of either one, only that Luke had been told that Vader had killed his father.
The sound of his chamber doors sliding open tore Vader from his musings. He looked up, mildly surprised that he was already at his destination. The doors shut behind him as he sat within his hyperbaric chamber, the device sealing shut and spinning so that he could face the viewscreen. He activated it with a flick of his wrist, not bothering to remove his helmet. There was no need to give an impression of weakness...
Mon Mothma appeared with a soft hiss of hyperspace static, looking none to pleased, "Lord Vader, I have been waiting here for thirty minutes. If you are going to be a part of this rebellion, I expect a prompt response time."
Vader resisted the urge to chuckle darkly at Mothma's attempts to command him, "Mon Mothma... what a pleasure to see you again. Tell me, what can the New Alliance Army help you with today?"
Mothma twitched, hiding her displeasure at having her original question ignored, "The Death Star is missing."
Now, whatever Vader had been expecting when Mothma called, this was not it, "Missing? How? It's a planet destroying battlestation the size of a small moon! It even has its own gravity well!"
Mon Mothma scowled, obviously hearing the incredulity in Vader's synth-baritone. She made a frustrated gesture, trying to find a decent answer, "We have absolutely no idea. Our entire fleet had mounted an attack on the station, struggling to make any real headway, when it suddenly jumped into hyperspace. No messages were intercepted, nothing has been said about the sudden relocation, and none of our cells in the Empire have seen it."
Vader frowned, steepling his fingers as he thought carefully. A missing battle station, capable of destroying planets, and potentially entire star systems... Krif. The Sith Lord shook his head, "I advise that you inform your Bothan spies of this development, and begin placing them in orbital shipyards and upon Corescant itself. And attempt to locate the Emperor. I feel that he is no longer content with staying in his palace."
Mothma grit her teeth, irritation in her eyes. She had already deployed her spies! Did he think her incompetent?
"No, Senator, you are not incompetent. However, you do not know how to truly wage a war," Vader smirked behind his mask as he watched the human woman jump out of her skin and mutter something about the rumors being true. He couldn't actually read minds in the way she believed, but that wasn't going to stop him from letting her think that. He was just really good at reading people at this point in his life. The former senator muttered a hasty good-bye, with a promise to let him know of any news concerning the Death Star. He nodded, cutting the communications off, and opening his Hyperbaric Chamber. He blinked owlishly at the sight of the First Seargent of his personal guard standing with Miltiades. He nodded slowly towards the odd pair, standing and leaving his private chambers... not so private now. Miltia was peering at the hollow chamber curiously, taking note of the various tubes and pumps attached to it. He sighed, getting her attention with a slight tug on the Force, "Miltia, what do you need? Thank you, Doc."
The old clone trooper stood at attention, before leaving the two as quickly as possible. Miltia grinned, excited to be on the Executor, as usual, "Nice to see you, too, old man. I got lost, looking for the bridge. Ran into Doc as he was coming to relieve the guards outside your door, so he brought me here."
Vader rolled his eyes at the girl's lack of formalities. She and Melanie were always like this, though Miltia seemed worse once she was off planet, "What in the Galaxy could you possibly need on the Bridge? Why aren't you with your sister and Neo, in the simulation bays?"
The red themed girl shrugged, gesturing a bit, "Eh... I got bored running the simulations, since your men refuse to let us take any higher levels, so I decided to see Firmus."
Firmus? Vader raised an eyebrow, pausing slightly as he looked down at the girl, who was suddenly very interested in a small Gonk Droid. "I was unaware that you were on first name terms with my Admiral, Miltiades. In any case, Admiral Piett is far too busy running the ship at the moment. I left him in charge of the bridge while I took a call."
Vader could feel the girl's bristle of irritation as she glared at him lightly, crossing her arms, "Hey, don't you think you're working him a bit hard? I mean, come on... it's not like your Empire is going to just blast out of hyperspace and-"
A sudden tremor rocked the floor beneath them, causing bright red lights to blaze alight accompanied by bellowing klaxxons. Miltia looked around in confusion, opening her mouth to ask what had happened. Befopre she could, though, Vader had walked over to a near by communication's node and entered in a password, "This is General Vader to Engineering, status report."
It took several long seconds for the response to come, but a garbled, yet understandable, accented voice came back, "The temporary fixes to our main sublights finally gave out, General. Hyperdrive was damaged in the explosion as well. Orbital maneuvers are still green, but other than that, we're dead in space."
Vader sighed, thinking quietly. After a moment, he shook his head, "I will be down shortly to assist with repairs."
"There's no need for that General. We can do a temporary patch like last time, but unless Remnant can supply us with equipment, there's nothing to be done. Why don't you take a break, General? We have things covered down here, and from the looks of it, Admiral Piett is doing a fine job on the bridge."
Vader could feel a blood vessel throbbing in his temple. Had he still been in the Imperial NAVY, the engineer would have been throttled without a second thought. But they weren't there anymore... and these men were following him out of a sense of duty to the ship, not respect for his self given rank. He grumbled audibly as he shut off the comms unit, shaking his head. Take a break? He had been on a glorified vacation for nearly six months while the Executor limped to Remnant!
"Hey, um... General Vader?" Miltia shuffled nervously, an idea flickering in her eyes. "Since the simulations are too easy... do you think you could take us out on a real starfighter?"
Vader stopped grumbling, turning to look at the girl, "You know, most people your age wouldn't dare speak to me, much less ask me for flying lessons."
"Well, most people haven't lived with your for the last six months."
Vader scrutinized the girl, pleasantly surprised at her backbone. The people of Remnant were made of sterner stuff than those from Corescant and the Galactic Core worlds... He nodded, "Okay then. I will speak to the Overseer for the simulation pods. If he feels that the three of you can begin flying, then that is what we shall do."
"Yes!" Miltiades cheered, letting out a whoop of joy as she rushed ahead of Vader, excited to tell her sister and Neo the good news.
"Why do we have to learn how to do this again? It's not like we're going to be pilots, right?" Melanie grumbled quietly, strapping into a passenger seat in the Lambda Class shuttle Vader had decided to use for them. She looked at the flight suit she was wearing distastefully, frowning at the ugly blue-grey colour. She was in stark contrast to her sister, who was practically buzzing with nervous energy in the co-pilot seat next to General Vader, who was calmly explaining to the girl what the basic controls did.
"Calm down, Mel. You and your sister will do fine. Both of you excelled at the simulations."
Melanie glanced over at Neo, who was looking serene as always. She sighed, shaking her head, "That's easy for you to say, Miss Sith Lady. You have the force to help you. We're just regular old humans."
"Darth Occulus is correct, Malachite. From what the Overseer said, the two of you set records on the simulator. While normally, I would feel perfectly fine with placing you behind the joystick of an Interceptor or star fighter, none of you have ever piloted an aircraft. Most individuals who join the Imperial NAVY to be a pilot have at least flown a land speeder. This shuttle will be a decent substitute for that missing portion of your learning curve."
Melanie groaned, shaking her head, "Oh, no... Professor Vader is here."
Vader blinked owlishly, realising that she was right. He had slipped into his lecturing mode without even thinking. A shudder ran down his spine as he remembered Obi-Wan's surprise at the news of him teaching a class of teens. "I do believe that you girls are ruining me."
Neo looked up at him in confusion, not even bothering to ask what he meant.
"I was feared throughout the Galaxy before coming here. And now I have students coming up to me, asking for tutoring... I need something to kill."
"The only thing you're allow to kill are Grimm... and maybe Cardin Winchester."
Vader glared at Miltia, "I would be doing this world a favor. Stop trying to find good things for me to do. I am a Sith!"An irritated scowl formed on his face as the three girls broke down into giggles.
"Flight Control to General Vader, you are cleared for take off."
Vader glanced down at the radio, nodding and firing up the engines. The giggling quickly stopped when he did so, and Neo noticeably tightened her grip on the straps, paling slightly. When Melanie looked at her in question, she glanced over at Vader, "He nearly blew out the engines on General Ironwood's personal VTOL."
Mel's eyes widened, and she quickly mirrored Neo's actions. There was no need to worry though, as Vader was allowing Melanie to guide them out of the bay, while he carefully lead her through the process. The usually reserved girl was a bundle of nervous energy at this point, smoothly flying the landing craft out of the bay. She looked over at Vader, who was putting commands into the ship's computer. He told her to take the craft a few hundred metres out from the ship, explaining that standard proceedure for a hyperspace jump for the empire usually meant obtaining a minimum safe distance from a large gravity well. Neo and Melanie both perked up at the mention of the faster than light mode of transportation, looking at each other curiously. Where could they possibly be going?
"Apprentice... Melanie, and Miltiades, you are about to make history. Please, come up to the cockpit."
The two girls hesitantly unstrapped themselves, walking up carefully to the Sith Lord's side. Neo gasped in shock when she saw where they were pointing, and Mel's jaw dropped.
They were going to the moon.
And here we are again, finally. Now, some of you may feel a bit iffy about this chapter, and I'm sorry about that. It's just a little tidbit for the story itself, and some interactions with Vader and his girls. Just a reminder, Piett was de-aged to about 18-20 years old.Anywho, this is actually the last chapter of this story. I will begin working on the sequel shortly, though it likely won't start coming out for a bit. I have other stories, and ideas to work out. SPeaking of which, there is a poll going on for another one of my stories, if anyone is interested in voting. Nothing much to say here though, so thanks for reading!