A crack school AU for prayforpiett! It was her lovely idea that she let me write. She has a beautiful brain that I adore!


Sometimes, Darth Vader was way too good at his job.

His primary goal after the rise of the Empire had been to hunt down and destroy the remaining Jedi. He'd spent years taking great pride and pleasure in fulfilling that role. But with each success, it brought him that much closer to losing his purpose.

And now, eighteen years later, the remaining Jedi were either dead or so deep in hiding it was no longer his top priority. Sure, there was the Rebellion to occupy his time, but they didn't offer nearly any sort of challenge. The moment he stepped onto a battlefield, the battle was won. They were just...too easy.

He was, simply put, bored out of his mind.

"Take up a new hobby." The Emperor suggested when he expressed his frustration. "Torturing people is quite an elegant art form."

It was the first thing he tried, and it proved interesting the first few times...but then that grew boring as well.

Then, one morning while glancing at the latest headlines on the holonet (they painted him more as a phantom than as a living man, he wasn't sure he was amused), he noticed an ad in the top corner of the data screen.

Reinvent Yourself! Was the headline over a smiling, young man. Then underneath was a quote, "I've grown in ways I never thought possible! -Marie Radar, class of '16 AFE."

He stared at it, completely ignoring the captain who was giving him a status report on Rebellion movements. It was a stupid ad for a equally stupid school. Who even knew if Marie Radar existed, much less gave a quote for an ad? And yet…

He'd never been to school.

Before the Jedi, he...wouldn't have been allowed to go. Then after joining, they'd enrolled him in their own education system, focusing almost solely on practical skills outside of Force abilities. He'd never even thought about getting a traditional education.

It...could be interesting. It would give him something to work on in his spare time.

While the captain was still talking, he began searching for actual, credible universities. If he'd grown up as a normal person, he knew exactly what he would have gone into instead.

Engineering.

So he looked up schools with a good engineering program. Most seemed to be in the core or mid-rim, but those schools often played so by the rules they lacked innovation. They were handed everything, so why bother thinking outside the box? Some of the best engineers in the galaxy came from the Outer Rim…

He searched there, and found a viable option: Eriadu. It was a planet important to manufacturing and trade, so it only made sense that the Outer Rim's most prestigious Engineering program was located there.

He scrolled through the site for a while, noting that the program was even comparable to the universities in Coruscant, and even better, it had online options.

Perfect. He could do his coursework on his own time and relieve himself of this infernal boredom.

Except...he couldn't exactly enroll as Darth Vader. That would cause too much distraction for other students, and he didn't feel like automatically getting perfect marks simply because his instructors would be terrified of him. He'd get perfect marks anyway, but he wanted it to be on his terms. He couldn't enroll as Anakin Skywalker for...many reasons, either.

So, who…?

He glanced up at the captain who had fallen silent, probably waiting for his response to the boring report he'd completely ignored.

"What is your name, captain?"

If he was offended that he didn't remember his name, he didn't show it.

"Captain Firmus Piett, sir."

He was already pulling up his file. He was from Axxila, also in the Outer Rim, and though he'd had education in the Imperial Academy, he didn't have an education career that would make a school board look at his application twice.

"Captain," He said, already downloading the information, "I will be using your information to enroll myself in Eriadu University for an Engineering degree. You may receive some introduction pamphlets by accident as a result."

The Captain stared at him. "I...wasn't aware you were interested in an Engineering Degree, My Lord."

Well, he didn't say no or argue with him. Vader took note of the desirable trait as he hacked into the school system to enroll himself under Piett's name.

"Tell no one of this if you value your life, Captain." He warned. Though, he supposed anyone who'd seen his private ship collection or his private workshop could probably guess that he had an interest.

"Y-Yes, My Lord. Is there anything else I can do to be of service?" He sounded wearly, like he'd aged ten years in the span of sixty seconds.

He finished splicing into the university's enrollment records and uploaded the information, generating an acceptance into the Engineering program. "No. You are dismissed."

When Vader continued about his duties, he found himself almost looking forward to the new hobby, and his mind continued daydream about what attending a real school would be like.

About a week later, his first class began. Sitting sealed up in his meditation chambers, he logged into the system and began familiarizing himself with his online courses. They included General Chemistry for Engineers, Calculus for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Introduction to Computers for Engineers, and Analytical Physics 1.

He was certain he already knew most of the information in these courses, but he figured he could at least show the young people of the galaxy what it meant to be a true, practical engineer.

He was proven correct, and he sailed through the first day's course work. That is, until he reached Introduction to Computers. After reading through a brief introduction to the course, he reached the first assignment:

Introduce yourself to your classmates and list three things you hope to gain from this class. Then, comment on three other students' intros.

He squinted at the datapad, wondering if he was reading correctly. What the hell did that have to do with computers?!

He would not participate in such a stupid assignment.

He immediately clicked the "Contact Professor" button and waited. A few minutes later, a chat bubble appeared.

Professor Straton: Good morning, Firmus. How can I help you?

He almost snapped that his name was not Firmus, how dare he forget who he was...then remembered he'd registered under one of his captain's names.

Right.

Firmus Piett: I have an issue with the assignment.

That seemed collected and reasonable enough, he thought, watching the professor's chat bubble indicate he was typing a response.

Professor Straton: What exactly is the problem? It seemed simple enough for a first day assignment.

Vader stared at the screen. How did he not see that the assignment was a complete waste of his and everyone else's time?

Firmus Piett: The assignment is pointless. It has nothing to do with engineering or computers. I am not here to socialize or make friends. I am here to learn.

He grinned as he hit send. He was doing his fellow students a service. The professor would see the error of his ways, and…

Professor Straton: I appreciate your eagerness to learn, but part of going to college, even in an online course, is to make social connections. It helps prepare you to work well with others when you achieve the job after graduation.

He snarled in frustration. He already had his job. He was Lord Vader, second in command of the entire Empire. If this man knew who he was speaking to…

But, no. He wouldn't blow his cover on his first day. He was better than that. He was better than this idiot teacher. And if he wanted to waste his time forcing him to play nice…

Well. It was certainly something interesting, even if it was stupid. Plus, he wouldn't fail a assignment that simple.

Firmus Piett: Fine, but I will be honest in my responses.

Professor Straton: That's fine, just please be respectful.

Vader growled and exited out of the chat. He'd show him respectful, he thought as he typed out his intro.

Good morning fellow students, he started. Oh yes. This was certainly respectful. They would all be awed by how respectful Lord Vader could be if he wanted to be.

My name is Firmus Piett. I am a first year Engineering student, but I have already had plenty of practical experience in the Imperial Navy. A clear reminder to everyone that he was better than they were.

I am here simply to gain a degree. I already know most if not all of the information that will be taught to us. I also am looking for something to relieve me of my boredom. Already, this simple assignment is fulfilling that objective. As for my final objective, I want to graduate top of this class. Given my experience, I will be well on the way towards this goal by the end of the semester.

Sincerely,

Firmus Piett

There. He hit submit. A professional introduction that listed three things he hoped to get from this stupid course.

Now onto the next portion of the ridiculous assignment. And, in his opinion, the worst part of it.

He purposefully scrolled through the list of intros, picking the shortest ones. But even then, it was physically painful to think of something professional and not something a Sith Lord being given an idiotic assignment would say.

You are from a geographically important planet to the Empire. Good for you. He told someone from Lothal.

To the person who wrote that they had a goal to be an engineer on Darth Vader's flagship, he almost snickered as he wrote, Darth Vader himself is his own engineer, and getting aboard his flagship is the most difficult position in the Empire. It will take quite the resume to get there. You should look into a backup plan.

It was as he was finishing this message that a notification appeared on the screen: You have one new reply. It said.

He grimaced. Was someone actually wanting to engage with him? He had better things to do than have a useless conversation with some kid with no experience.

Nonetheless, he clicked the notification and was brought back to his original post. Someone with the name Luke Lars had decided to use his post as one of his three. He hadn't considered that...perhaps he should have ended his intro with a "do not respond to this" note.

It was too late though, and he rolled his eyes before reading the message.

Oh, wow! You work in the Imperial Navy? That's awesome! I was going to join, but my family didn't want me to get involved in the military. It was a miracle I managed to convince them to let me go to college. I sure do hope you achieve your goal in graduating top of the class, though I share the same goal, so look out!

Yours,

Luke Lars

Urg. Competition. If he was there, he'd simply strangle the boy...but then his eyes caught on the boy's profile picture. It was clearly a self-taken picture, and it showed a boy barely old enough to even think about attending college. He had a mop of dusty blonde hair, sun-kissed skin, and bright blue, innocent eyes, and he smiled for the camera with a blinding grin.

Vader frowned, studying the picture, not sure why it looked so...familiar. Then, before he could stop himself, he searched the forum for the boy's intro.

He found it quickly enough.

Hi, I'm Luke Lars! It began. Not at all professional.

I'm from Tatooine, where I grew up working on a moisture farm, but I had plenty of experience working on speeders, droids, vaporators, you name it! I'm here mainly to get off my planet and achieve a good education. I have goals of becoming the top student in our class. I want to learn as much as I possibly can so I can help improve technology access to less privileged worlds in the Outer Rim. I would also love to learn how to build a ship from scratch! I look forward to meeting all of you and working with you!

It was almost like he was reading an over-excited introduction given by a Tooka Kitten. The enthusiasm was so thick it made him make a face. How was it possible that anyone could be that innocent in the middle of a galactic war? Especially if they were from Tatooine? That place was a hell, and when the Death Star was complete, he had every intention of having it be the first world destroyed for the crime of simply existing.

And yet…

He was typing a response.

I am sorry you had to grow up on Tatooine. It is a hellish planet, filled with Hutts and scum of the Earth. You should thank your parents for allowing you to leave that dust ball to attend something worthy of your talents. I look forward to competing for the top spot with you.

He would beat the boy, no doubt. And for all he knew, the boy was all talk. But the idea of some competition…

Well. It certainly would be interesting.

With his assignment complete, he flipped the switch to lower his helmet back onto his head so he could continue with the rest of his day.

All the while, the boy's profile picture continued to pop to the forefront of his mind, a taunting memory he couldn't quite understand.