The flames consuming him have long since gone out, but Anakin thinks they must still be licking his flesh, dissolving his skin, devouring his lungs, with how much every part of him hurts.
Letting that pain consume him, allowing the Force to envelop him and take away everything completely, is almost too much not to welcome. Yet Anakin snarls and spits his curses at death, long after Obi-Wan has left and the shape of Padme's ship blinks away into space. He does not allow it to take him.
There's no one here that can hear his rabidly lowering cries now, save droids that lack the ability to deviate from their programming, and miners who pass him by without a second glance.
(Vader almost feels joy when he razes the place months later, killing each miner as slowly as possible, allowing them to know intimately the feeling of crying for help and having nobody answer. Almost.)
It isn't long before even his resolve to be aloof breaks, and instead of cursing his name, Anakin is begging for Obi-Wan to come back, even when he knows the older man has long since left the volcanic moon. When his lungs deteriorate completely from the noxious fumes, and his throat feels like he's swallowing shard of glass, he sobs through their dormant bond. Screams. Wails.
He's fucked up before, hasn't he? But Obi-Wan has always been there to forgive him. To side with him. To convince him that there is always a way to fix things.
Anakin wants him to return over the crest of the hill so badly that it aches worse than his mangled, charred flesh. He stares at it, retinas burning from the heat of the lava river nearby (he can't blink, his eyelids have since melted into place halfway down his eyeballs). He pleads, shouting his love at a mute bond, shouts it until he can barely even recognize the word anymore.
Eventually, someone does come to pick up his mutilated body, and for one half-coherent moment, Anakin believes it to be Obi-Wan. But t isn't. It's only someone he will also learn to resent calling Master, and never, ever truly care for.
Anakin doesn't want Palpatine's whispers through the Force, urging him to live. He wants Obi-Wan's gentle firmness, egging him on and encouraging him.
He doesn't want medi-droids tearing his crisped, dead flesh from red muscles and slicing him open to replace half of his body with machines. He wants Padmé's tender hands and soft words, calming him and cooling him, telling him everything will be just fine.
(Where is Padmé where is Padmé where is Padmé? When he loses all other coherent thought, that races through his mind like a mantra. A prayer to the stars. Constant and loud and painful.)
When he awakens, is reborn, as Darth Vader, he discards Anakin Skywalker like an old cloak. Throws away his name, his face, everything that was ever a part of him, because everything that made Anakin Skywalker who he was IS gone.
Save for Kenobi.
Anakin wouldn't have killed him. Despite his fury, he couldn't have done it. He would have hurt him, yes. But never killed him. Death was too final.
Vader is the opposite. He doesn't need fury to kill Obi-Wan Kenobi now. He just needs a lightsaber. The Force. And lacking those things, his hands.
He would have given Obi-Wan the respect of watching him die. That, at least, he would have done. Not left him alone to burn.
So Vader does what Anakin Skywalker always did, and chased after Obi-Wan Kenobi. And like Anakin Skywalker, he never quite caught up. Not until Obi-Wan deemed it necessary.
Vader is given his chance for revenge decades later, killing a tired, old man that looks nothing like his former Master. An old man that doesn't even put up a fight.
Vader rails at the Force for that. At the sheer unfairness of it.
He expected happiness to finally grace him with Obi-Wan Kenobi's death, but instead he feels lost. Yes, he relished that one final execution stroke, but nothing after. He'd expected death gurgles, pleading,
being told he was still loved, but none of that had happened. Instead, he was left with, most curious and vexing of all, an empty cloak and a lightsaber.
Vader is well accustomed to anger. Regret is something he hasn't felt this fiercely in much too long.
After toeing the cloak to make sure this wasn't some form of trick, Vader painfully stoops to scoop up the lightsaber. His helmet readout gives him all the technical information he needs. It's old, but functional. Many parts have been replaced, but Vader still recognizes the black ridged handgrip, which occupies the central third of the hilt, and the throttle-style activator, the same sort Anakin Skywalker had once emulated for his own lightsaber design.
He becomes so lost in examining it that he hardly notices the Corellian freighter making its escape. He turns from Kenobi's "remains' and clips the lightsaber to his belt, making some offhand comment to the Stormtroopers near him to capture them, knowing full well the tractor beam is deactivated and that they can't. Vader doesn't care. He intends to retreat back into the relative comfort of his personal quarters and, more importantly, his mediation sphere. He wants to look at this lightsaber at least once with his actual eyes before shipping it off to Vjun.
That's when it hits him. A strange, powerful tug in the Force; something inaudible that urges him to turn back around.
The pile of cloaks and tunics is gone, and in their stead stands a young man garbed in nearly similar Jedi attire, looking just as confused as everyone else in the entrance to the hanger bay. Even Vader is shocked into inaction, but only for a moment.
Instinct takes over, and he ignites his lightsaber. The red plasma blade screeches out, and the young man's grey eyes widen at it before narrowing in disgust.
Strange. Vader expects fear.
But instead of screaming, as most did when faced with Vader brandishing his weapon at them, the young man holds out his hand. Vader feels a pull at his utility belt, just before Kenobi's lightsaber is torn off of it and flown into the young man's hands.
So, he is trained. Good. Vader straightens up, itching for a challenge. The young man senses his intent, and takes a step back. There's something familiar about him, something Vader can't seem to remember and doesn't particular care to. It's never wise for one to think in battle. Action is what is necessary to succee.
The young man's eyes flick from Vader to the surrounding Stormtroopers (all too dumbfounded to even raise their blasters. Pitiful. Vader misses the skill of Clonetroopers) as if he's searching for someone. When it seems he can't find whom he's searching for, he turns back to Vader, baring his teeth.
"Sith." he growls, in a learned, horridly familiar Coruscanti accent. His lithe form stoops down into the beginnings of a fighting stance...when another Trooper comes shooting down the corridor, yelling loud enough to nearly overload Vader's sensory input, and forcing him to turn. All eyes are on the fool for a split second, but it's more than enough for the young man.
Vader feels the whoosh of Force in the air around him. He doesn't need to be told the young man used Force Speed to race as far and fast as he could.
It matters little. The Death Star only has one area to dock and disembark from.
"Lock down the landing bay," Vader commands swiftly. "Do not allow any ships out."
The Docking Officers nod and hurry off, and Vader turns to the remaining squad of Stormtroopers at his disposal.
"Find him!" Vader growls with a flourish of his hand, and they obey. He follows behind, moving toward where the Force wills.
I hope everyone knows this will be unabashedly shippy.
I don't give a damn if Vader's in a life-preserving suit of armour that he can never take off. They can get creative. A penis will be touched before this is over, mark my words.
Vader eventually breaks off from the group of Stormtroopers, making his way further and further into the indistinguishable bowels of the Death Star. A buzzing in his head, different from the usual strain of headaches he's used to, grows louder and louder until, finally, it coalesces into a question.
Vader's blood runs cold, and he increases the speed of his footfalls.
He comes to a stop before a nondescript storage area, with the blast door tightly sealed and no tampering apparent. It's no wonder none of the Stormtroopers have thought to search it yet, but something in the Force urges Vader within, pulling at him like a windstorm.
Opening the door, Vader is met with complete darkness. The eye covers on his helmet immediately switch to infrared vision, turning the inky darkness into a myriad of cool greens and blues.
Vader walks in slowly, making sure to seal the blast door shut behind him. He swivels his head, listening and sending tendrils of the Force around him.
That voice again in his head, so loud it's nearly vibrating his inner ear implants.
...Anakin...Anakin, where are you?
Vader hears a muted thump, like something just barely hitting the floor somewhere nearby him, and whispers continue to echo in his head, taking on a troubled edge.
Stay hidden...Sith here...
Vader stops and stands perfectly still. If he'd been able to hold his breath, he would have. But his inorganic lungs never cease their mechanical functions, even when he wishes them to.
He's never been much for stealth anyways.
Without preamble, he ignites his lightsaber, the crimson blade bathing the dark storage room in red heat.
As expected, a second slash of plasma heat comes crashing into his. And, also as expected, Vader is ready for it (he's hunted enough Jedi to know their ways. They assume his cumbersome appearance will make it easy to attack him unawares. How wrong they were).
He catches the young Jedi with one hand just as the young man starts to edge back into the dark. Vader lifts him up easily as he struggles, attempting to pull at the inhumanly strong hand around his neck. He clicks off his lightsaber and clips it to his utility belt.
Vader tugs Obi-Wan's lightsaber out of the young man's hand next, propelling it across the room with a push of the Force.
The young man thrashes harder against the grip, and attempts to hit Vader's solar plexus, then rams the heel his boot into his groin. Neither have much of an effect save to annoy the Sith Lord; his suit protects him from something as trivial as hand-to-hand combat.
Vader widens his stance, keeping himself firmly planted to the floor.
"Who are you?"
No answer, except for a Force Wave that Vader brushes aside.
"Why are you here?"
The young man grunts in answer, and attempts to swing himself up and over Vader's head. Vader adds the Force to his hold in answer, and the young man goes rigid.
"You will answer all of my questions," Vader says, loosening his grip ever so slightly to allow him to speak. "Who are you, and why are you here?"
"My name is of no concern to you, Sith."
Vader's mind snaps elsewhere at the sound of the voice, to a time so long ago it feels more a story than his actual life. For an instant, he feels the brush of a Padawan's braid beside his ear once more, the echo of the Force newly opened up to him, the warmth of light upon his skin, and a man with hair like the sands of Tatooine at sunset looking down at him with a sad smile in his eyes. Larger than life, the strongest man he'd ever known. The wisest man he'd ever known. His Master, his friend, his...
No. It's impossible.
This was some trick.
He brings himself back to the present almost painfully, and squeezes the young man hard enough through the Force that Vader fancies he can hear his ribs clashing together like spears.
He releases the crushing Force hold, and the young man sags limply in his grasp, his toes not even brushing the floor. His hands are still wrapped around Vader's synthleather-clad forearm.
"Answer me," Vader repeats deliberately slow, imbuing his words with the Force. "Or suffer the consequences."
Vader sees the young man swallow, bare chin bobbing against his gauntlet. Vader can tell he looks up at him, even if his infrared sensors don't allow him to see the details of the young man's face.
"My name is Obi-Wan Kenobi," the young Jedi finally says. "And I don't where here is, exactly."
Usually, when Vader is given a surprise, his first instinct is to kill it.
For once, that isn't the case. He's more curious than anything. Curious, and angry.
This could not be Obi-Wan Kenobi. He had just killed Obi-Wan Kenobi.
He pays for getting sidetracked.
'Obi-Wan' uses the Force to pull a tower of weighted crates down atop them both while Vader is distracted, and Vader is forced to release his hold to keep them from crushing him. 'Obi-Wan' somersaults through the air as they come crashing down. He lands on the balls of his feet, gathering the Force around his legs, but Vader tugs him off balance just long enough to keep him from running off again.
Throwing the crates hard into the bulkhead, which will hopefully serve as an alert to any nearby Stormtroopers, Vader steps up to 'Obi-Wan' as the young man turns to face him once more.
Vader ignites his lightsaber again, pointing it at the young man's heart. It's time to end this farce.
"Where is my Padawan?" 'Obi-Wan' says to the 'saber.
Vader cocks his head. "Enough talking."
"Wait!" the young man nearly shouts, holding up his hands. "You may kill me. Do whatever you bloody well please to me, but spare my Padawan. He is only a youngling, and has no quarrel with you or your ilk. He had nothing to do with the death of that other Sith Lord."
"What other Sith Lord?" Vader growls.
'Obi-Wan' doesn't lower his hands, but his tone changes to one that is icy and bitter and filled with hatred. "Darth Maul. I assumed you were his Master," he pauses. "This is revenge of some sort, isn't it?"
Yes, but not in the way you think.
Vader holds his lightsaber steady. This next answer will seal it for him; convince him that this isn't just some foolish attempt to confuse him.
"Who is your apprentice?" he demands.
The true name of Obi-Wan Kenobi's apprentice is lost to time, whited-out from history by the ministrations of both the Empire and Vader. There is no one left alive that should recall it, least of all someone this man's age.
The young Jedi glares directly into his visor.
I know I said I wouldn't by doing A/N, but I feel I should clear this up. The version of Obi-Wan in this fic is 26 years old, so about a year or so older than he was in Episode I. I can link a reference pic to what *I* feel he looks like, if any of you dweebs are actually curious.
Vader has a rare moment of having no kriffing, Hutt-sucking idea what to do next. A warning flashes across his visor from his pulmonary and cardiac systems, and then Vader can feel the unsettling ache in his chest as his machine-regulated breathing and pulse are forced back to normal.
He's spared having to say anything else when the blast door behind Obi-Wan flies open, and a squad of Stormtroopers come racing in. They form a half circle around Obi-Wan, blaster rifles pointed straight at him.
Now with the ability to actually see his face instead of vague blobs of warmth, Vader knows immediately that the young Jedi Knight could fight his way past the troopers with ease, lightsaber or not.
Vader gestures one hand at the closest Stormtrooper.
"Yes, Lord Vader. Clasp your hands, Rebel scum!"
The trooper jumps to his task, clicking a pair of energy cuffs so tightly around Obi-Wan's wrists that the young man can't even pull his hands apart. He doesn't say a word until it's finished, his glare focused solely on Vader as he calls the older Obi-Wan's lightsaber to him, and clicks it back onto his belt.
"You will not attempt escape." Vader says.
"Where is my Padawan?" Obi-Wan asks with the projected calm of a Jedi thinking he can negotiate.
Vader ignores him.
"I shall take him to the detention area myself," he commands the Stormtroopers. "Search the rest of the area. Make certain there are no other infiltrators about."
The last thing he needs is for a young, stupid Anakin Skywalker to actually be running about.
He pushes Obi-Wan ahead of him through the throng of white-armoured bodies, and out into the brightly lit corridors of the Death Star. Neither of them speaks until Vader plants a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulders, and the young man shrugs it off hard.
"I had no idea the Sith were so well equipped," Obi-Wan notes, in a scathingly calm, conversational matter. "The Jedi Council will not allow for it to continue once they become aware, and neither will the Senate. I hope you're aware of that."
"The Senate has no say in the matter."
Vader turns down an adjoining corridor, gripping Obi-Wan bicep to lead him along. Obi-Wan pulls himself out of the hold once more.
Obi-Wan scoffs. "The Senate may be filled with dullards and politicians, but they make up the strongest Galactic force in the Republic, and not a single one of them would condone whatever is going on here."
Vader can feel his patience beginning to fail.
"This is no longer the Republic--"
"Spare me your deceptions, Sith," Obi-Wan cuts him off, brows furrowed as he surveys his surroundings keenly. "I may have given myself over to your most tender mercies, but that doesn't mean I care to listen to you. Now, where is my Padawan?"
Even now, he refuses me respect. Vader may have been impressed, if decades old anger were not building itself up in his chest. He balls up his fist, leather creaking audibly. Obi-Wan glances down, noticing the shift in the air around him, and remains quiet the rest of their way.
At least he has more sense than half the Empire, Vader thinks sardonically.
This young Knight is a far-shot from the man Vader had called Master in his youth. He chalks it up to childish idolization -- he'd seen less of the man himself and more of the idea. The picture of a strong, disciplined Jedi garlanded in light and justice.
Vader knows better now.
Of course, this Obi-Wan has the makings of the man he would become. Though bare-faced, his ginger hair is long and wavy down his neck in the style he'd favored before the Clone War, and his eyes are exactly as Vader recalls. A vibrant grey-green-blue that tells of an acute wisdom.
He also has that same infuriating, obdurate personality.
Obi-Wan glares up at him from the center of the cell he has been thrown into. "Where is my Padawan?" he asks again.
Vader fills up the doorway, standing as still as a final breath.
He'd been stretching his senses the entire trip down to the brig, searching for any wayward Force signature. He'd found nothing.
Thankfully. Whatever will of the Force that had brought Obi-Wan here had brought him alone. So there is only one person Obi-Wan could possibly be sensing, even if he didn't yet realize it. Vader would prefer that he never did.
"Where is my Padawan?" Obi-Wan demands.
"I killed him." Vader answers, and waits to see what the young man's response will be.
It surprises him when Obi-Wan lets out a dry little chuckle, and shakes his head at him.
"Anakin is not dead," he says, with complete assurance. "I can still sense him, Sith, however remotely. I have complied with everything that has been asked of me. I am your prisoner now, so take me to my Padawan, please. He is just a boy--"
"And as weak as the rest of the Jedi!" Vader snaps, silencing the Jedi Knight with a sweep of his arm. "He is dead."
Obi-Wan raises his beardless chin up at him defiantly. "He is not."
The assurance in his tone, that deep, unshakable faith that Vader hasn't known in nearly twenty years makes the Dark Lord doubt himself. For a single breath, he wonders. Is Anakin Skywalker truly gone?
In the next, he is Force Choking the phantom of his past given flesh.
Obi-Wan gasps for breath as his boots are lifted off of the metal floor. Vader descends into the cell, and stands directly before the young Jedi Knight struggling within his grasp.
"If that is what you truly believe, then I suggest you cease your attempts at antagonizing me," Vader snarls, the vocabulator built into his mask giving his words the exact kind of harsh edge he prefers for moments like this. "Or his fate will be the same as yours."
With that, Vader drops him coughing to the floor and turns on his heel out of the small room. The events of the last few hours have shaken him more than he cares to admit, and meditation seems like a most welcome respite.
Vader hears Obi-Wan sputter after him as he exits the cell. He looks over his pauldron just before the door seals shut behind him. "I am aware you could easily escape this cell once I've gone, " he says. "But know that if you do, you will not see your apprentice again. Am I understood?"
He allows the door to slide shut before he hears an answer, and Vader strides to the nearest duo of Stormtroopers.
"If he attempts anything, you will alert me immediately." he commands, jabbing a finger at both of them.
"Yes, Lord Vader!" says one.
"Yes, sir!" says the other.
They both nod vigorously, blaster rifles against their chests. It's a rather poor salute, all things considered, but Vader is too preoccupied to care.
He leaves without further instructions, mind lost in things long past.
...I was just fucking with you guys up top, hee hee. Here is how I imagine his face to look (that link up top works pretty well, too ngl), while his hair is around this length. Maybe a bit shorter. Just...longish,but not quite Episode 2 mullet status. I like to think that after his Padawan braid was cut, Obi-Wan just did what every new Knight does and let his hair get as horribly, awkwardly long as possible, with no styling because SCREW THAT HE IS A FULL ON JEDI HE CAN MAKE HIS OWN DECISIONS. It's like going into college. Might as well, right? Poor Anakin. He never got to grow past his grungy hair phase.
My guy Tarkin shows up and pussy-whips Vader for a bit.
(I am not using pussy-whipped in the correct context, and you know what? I don't particularly care. It's a fun word. I'll use it wherever I damn well please.)
Unfortunately, Vader isn't given the opportunity for rest before Wilhuff Tarkin catches him.
"I see you managed to actually apprehend one of the Rebels, Vader," the cadaverous-looking man notes. "When do you plan on having an interrogation droid sent down?"
Vader can feel a muscle twitch near the needle stuck above his right eye. "A torture droid would be redundant. He will be interrogated by me personally. "
Tarkin raises one questioning brow. "And when will that be, exactly? Are you honestly thinking of taking a nap at so crucial a moment? The Emperor won't be pleased to hear about that."
Vader clenches one hand beneath his cloak, and purposefully speeds up his gait, forcing the smaller man to have to almost run to keep up with him.
"I am most aware of what my Master desires, Governor Tarkin. Your interference is unnecessary. I will acquire any information he may possess."
"Just as you acquired information from the Princess, I'm sure."
The Grand Moff gives him a bored look when Vader stops in his tracks and turns to him. In any other instance, Vader might have respected the man's arrogant superiority, even if he still would have killed him for it. Now, however, it takes every ounce of self-restraint not to simply throw him out an airlock, favorite of Palpatine or not. His Emperor could always find a new toy to please himself with.
"It was because I suggested we plant a homing beacon upon that smuggler's freighter that we have any lead at all. What exactly have you done, aside from destroy a planet?" he says instead.
Vader then turns on his heel so quickly that his cape nearly slaps Tarkin.
"You insisted upon using a droid before, and it proved most ineffective. I shall bear results, without your assistance."
He strides off down the corridor, Stormtroopers hopping out of his way as he passes.
"The Emperor will hear of this insolence." Tarkin calls after him.
Vader doesn't respond.
After a measly amount of time spent in his mediation chamber, Vader comes up with a plan.
He cannot have Tarkin speak to Obi-Wan, let alone have too close of a look at him. The Eriadian was one of the few remaining Imperial officers that could possibly recognize Obi-Wan, and whether or not he believed the young Jedi to be a time-traveling will of the Force or simply some hoax, he would most certainly bring his discovery to the attention of the Emperor.
Vader does not want that.
He will tell his Master when he sees fit.
So he decides he will have Obi-Wan sent to the Executor. There, Vader can deal with him in his own time, once this business on Yavin 4 is complete, and the Rebels eradicated. It shouldn't take very long at all.
As Vader makes his way back down the dark hall of the detention center, he spots one of the Stormtroopers he'd assigned to watch Kenobi exit the cell.
A surprising, cold dread runs through him. "Why were you with the prisoner?" he demands.
The Stormtrooper moves away from the cell door, nervously clutching his blaster.
"Apologies, Lord Vader! He kept asking about a boy, and I was trying to--"
Vader snaps his neck with a flick of the wrist, and steps inside himself. He finds Obi-Wan leaning against the bulkhead of his bunk, breathing harsh and heavy. The Jedi Knight startles up when he hears Vader step over the threshold, and despite the fresh bruises blooming on his face, he scowls.
"Oh, great, you again."
Vader remains silent (or as silent as his respirator allows).
Obi-Wan watches him for a moment, then scoffs and pushes himself to standing. "I hope you're here to take me to my Padawan."
"I am not," Vader answers coolly. "But you are coming with me nonetheless."
"I wasn't aware I had a choice in the matter." Obi-Wan graces him with a contemptuous look Vader recognizes a little too well.
Vader motions for him to move ahead. "You do not." he reminds him.
"Obviously." Obi-Wan says, and makes his way out of the cell. His eyes move to the dead trooper, and pity wells up deep within their grey-blue depths. He seems about to say something, but thinks better of it and instead glances up at Vader for confirmation on where to go. Vader cocks his head down the hall towards the turbolifts, and Obi-Wan moves forward silently.
As they walk, blood dribbles freely from Obi-Wan's nose and mouth, but he isn't able to wipe it away with the binds around his hands.
Vader does it almost on instinct, wiping the back of his glove across Obi-Wan's mouth, and even he's surprised by the move. Obi-Wan jerks back as soon as the dark synthleather touches his skin, eyes widening before narrowing into furious slits.
"Do not touch me." he all but spits.
"I shall do as I please." Vader replies, though he makes a point of tucking his gloved hand close to his side. It had been too long since he'd done something so abhorrently
intimate childish. What was coming over him?
They reach the landing bay, which is up and running once more (under Tarkin's orders). Vader leads Obi-Wan to the transport he's secured, with a pilot that - at the moment - can be trusted (Vader will kill him once he returns, to be safe).
"Where am I being taken?" Obi-Wan asks as he begins to ascend the boarding ramp.
"Away from this station," Vader replies, purposefully cryptic. "You will not attempt escape."
"Or my Padawan will suffer because of it, " Obi-Wan mutters under his breath. " I'm well aware of the consequences, Sith."
"You will address him as Lord Vader!" A lieutenant snaps at him, and Obi-Wan gives the man a hateful look. Vader remains silent, curious to see what Obi-Wan will do.
The young Jedi squares his shoulders and offers Vader a perfunctory bow. His every move is forced and stiff. "Apologies for my lackluster manners, Lord Vader." he bites out.
Beneath his mask, Vader's scarred lips almost twist into a smile.
Here's a fun image to keep you guys occupied 'til Monday: Palpatine and Tarkin having sweaty, XXX-rated, evil old dude sex.
Just let that stew in your brain.
Their wrinkled old bodies sliding up and down each other; liver spots, protruding veins under translucent skin and receding hairlines galore...Unf, no?
Nah, but I'm totally implying in this fic that they're doing it (or, you know, something equivalent to it) lowkey on the side. Why? Idk. Guess I just like the fact that Tarkin would be kissing ass both figuratively and literally.
Damn Pop! Dayyyyyyyum Pop! Back at it again with them daily updates!!
What can I say, it was fun doing it last week. Thought I might try it again.
Anyways. Right. No author's notes. I'll shut up now.
Vader spends 10 days, 8 hours, and 12 minutes listing through deep space after the destruction of the Death Star, if the internal chrono of his suit is anything to go by.
He uses most of that time to think. He can almost call it meditation, but, honestly, he can never focus enough while his helmet is still on to meditate properly. It's too confining, and meditation requires a certain feeling of freedom.
Really, he hasn't meditated properly in years, no matter what he name he gives his hyperbaric chambers.
He thinks about the pilot that blew up the Death Star. Whoever they were, they'd piqued Vader's interest. Something in the Force whispers to him when he allows his attention of to focus on them, urging him forward with a insistence he hasn't felt in a very long time. Could it be the beginnings of training bond, he wonders. A new apprentice? He quickly tosses the thought aside. Starkiller had been enough of a burden; he doesn't need another.
But he will find out more about the pilot, if only to settle his curiosity before killing them.
He thinks on Obi-Wan. Not the young copy (hopefully) still waiting aboard his flagship, but the old Obi-Wan.
He hopes the Emperor doesn't know about Obi-Wan yet. Either of them. The one he had grown with, hurt with. The one he had once considered as close a companion as...Padmé.
Yes, he thinks about Padmé, too. And it still aches worse then his scarred, necrotic flesh. He's wise enough now to know she would hardly approve of what he is now, what he does now...but that hardly matters. She is gone, has been for a long time, because of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. Familiar fury flares inside him, pushing aside the constant pain for a moment. But it doesn't last, and in the quiet of space he's rather glad for it. There is nothing to be done about what happened decades ago; the dead cannot pass judgement on the living.
Yet Vader still feels that deep, horribly stutter in his chest anyway, whenever he thinks her name.
He contemplates staying out in space forever. Sometimes, he fancies he is made for the stars, and to float through the dark like one of them seems a tempting alternative to dealing with the aftermath of the Death Star's destruction.
But he begins to get warnings that his suit needs to be recharged, and even after he uses his spare power cell to push away the inevitable, the warnings flash across his visor again much too soon.
His body hurts. He knows he's late for his monthly diagnostic checkup on Coruscant, and the familiar flashes of pain across his amputated limbs and carved up torso are quick to remind him of that fact. Constantly.
So Vader finally pilots his damaged TIE to Imperial Relay Outpost V-798, the closest outpost to him, commandeers a shuttle for himself, and makes his exhausted way back to civilization.
He isn't particularly happy about it.
Bae shows up.
Kneeling before his Master is always painful. It pulls the raw muscles of his knees, pinching them between metal joints, and standing back up feels like a battle against gravity he is slowly but surely losing (yet stand he always does, his prosthetic legs makes sure of that). Vader often needs hours before the aches finally leave his body.
The Emperor usually gets a disgusted sort of amusement from it, especially when he and Vader meet in person like this. Now, though. Now it is mostly disgust.
Vader waits for his Master to give him leave to rise, but the words do not come. Vader finally stands himself, exhausted and rather uncaring about what punishment the Emperor may bestow on him. Force Lightning to his suit, another hand cut off. It doesn't matter. He plans to make his way to SuRecon immediately after this.
Vader is surprised when the Emperor looks somberly at him instead.
"Vader, I can sense your dismay. You've been thinking about the past again, haven't you?" It's his soft voice, his Palpatine voice. The one he laces with such subtle threads of Force Persuasion that even Vader, linked and bound to him for decades, has trouble noticing it.
He inclines his head, wary. Lying would only make his Master delve deeper. He quietly reinforces the mental shields deep in his mind, and adds a layer of nonsense to his subconscious mind. He does this all in the span of a moment.
"I have," he pauses, not sure how much his Master is already aware of. "I encountered Obi-Wan Kenobi aboard the Death Star before its destruction, and killed him."
The glare that had been building at the mention of the Death Star fades into a sadistic grin. The Emperor laughs, a sound akin to a slow, wet gargle.
"So you have finally had your revenge on the man who killed your wife and unborn child," the Emperor does that on purpose, Vader knows it, and his Master knows he knows it. The change in his Master is subtle, but Vader has learned through years of experience one small twitch in Palpatine's facial muscles can mean a star system of things. When the Emperor speaks again, his voice is scratchy and harsh. "At least one of us has achieved a goal, then."
Vader stands tall. "Yes, my Master."
Sidious studies him, mouth curling in disdain. "Your failure has cost the Empire dearly. Without the Senate or the Death Star, the galaxy will descend into unruled chaos. You have destroyed everything we have worked so hard to achieve."
"Yes, my Master."
That infuriates the Emperor. Vader can feel the few hairs that remain on is body stand on end as the air crackles with electricity.
"It seems your attention are still focused on things it shouldn't be. Your body, the life you once led," Sidious says. "How painful that must be. Allow me to aid you, old friend."
Vader feels a slick, pressured touch within his mind, and slowly, like ice forming across his senses, he begins to grow numb to the pain of his body. His memories come next, each one freezing over until thinking on anything before he was placed within the suit was nigh on impossible. This is all he was, all he is, all he ever will be.
It hurts, yet doesn't. It's the aches of a different person.
The pressure in his mind slides away, and the Emperor sighs as he moves to stand before the great round viewport set in the wall. Vader follows after, docile.
"You are a tool fit to be wielded, but never given his own power," the Emperor growls. "Once your business on Coruscant is over, you will return to the Executor. Hunt these Rebels down. An Imperial Officer will be going with you, to report on your progress," he continues to watch the horizon outside. "Do not fail me again."
Vader almost feels the urge to bite down a retort in answer, but his thoughts don't quite connect with his body. It almost frustrates him, and he knows he will be angry later. Infuriated. He always is after meeting with the Emperor.
He bows his head, mechanical voice a monotone drone.
"I will not, my Master."
I'm starting to dip a bit into Darth Vader comics land. Sorta. Kinda. Not really. But the influence is there. Mañana, the exciting return of Obi-Wan! (I'm trying to hint that Doctor Aphra is gonna show up. Is it working? Well?? Did you guys get hinted?)
Sorry about the promise of daily updates going completely out the fucking window. I made some...let's say *interesting* choices on Wednesday night, and it basically threw my entire schedule. Anywho, another week another chance!
Vader lands on the Executor with the Emperor's chosen spy: a pompous, newly promoted officer who thinks that simply because he can flounder through Vader's private files that he is somehow important.
Vader will enjoy watching him die.
As soon as he is clear of the docking bay, Vader finds himself striding towards the detention deck on instinct, instead of making a line straight for his meditation chamber as he usually does. The entirety of his time spent on Coruscant, as well as the hyperspace leap back to his flagship, had been spent dwelling on Obi-Wan, as well as the mysterious Rebel pilot. He feels that if he doesn't manage to investigate one or the other, he is liable to explode.
And since Obi-Wan is more readily accessible (and unknowingly tugging at Vader's Force signature since the moment Sith Lord disembarked) Vader goes to him first.
He really wishes he hadn't.
As soon as the cell door slides open, he very nearly kills the man.
Because this Obi-Wan looks so much like his old mentor had. In the weeks Vader had been gone, he'd managed to a grow a scruff. Not quite the beard Kenobi had prided himself upon, but near enough that for a moment, a split second of pure agony, Vader is twenty years in the past. On Mustafar, bleeding, burned, broken, snarling after the man as Kenobi clears the black hill and doesn't look back leaves him to die alone and screaming--
He's pulled out of his reverie by this Obi-Wan mentally short-circuiting his aural implants with desperate cries for his apprentice.
Anakin, where are you? Anakin, answer me! Anakin, please...Anakin, are you alright?...Anakin...Ani...
The voice throbs in his head, and Vader bites out, "I can sense you attempting to contact your apprentice. Cease."
Obi-Wan's mouth thins and Vader senses the considerable mental shields in his mind building even higher. The fool. He has no clue that he has given Vader easy access to his mind, by keeping the link with his apprentice open. Vader simply chooses not to follow along it, because a bond such as that works both ways. No, he definitely does not need that.
"Sith," Obi-Wan straightens up, staring Vader's chest-plate down with a near-perfect scowl. "I demand you tell me where Anakin is."
Vader says nothing, letting his respirator fill the silence until Obi-Wan finally squeezes his eyes shut and snaps, "Lord Vader, will you please tell me where my apprentice is being kept?"
Vader ignores the question, watching the worry and apprehension play themselves across the younger man's face, and suddenly Vader has the urge to be in control of him. To have Obi-Wan answering to him, following after him like his life depends upon it,
never ever leaving his side again.
It is such an intense feeling that even Obi-Wan glances up at him in confusion, taking a step back at the sudden wash of unwarranted possessiveness flooding over him.
"What in the hells..." Obi-Wan mutters, bolstering up his shields even further, until it seems to cause him physical distress. "Vader?"
"Henceforth, you shall call me 'Master'." Vader replies, coldly.
The glare Obi-Wan gives him shows that he would much rather run the Dark Lord through with a lightsaber.
Vader gives a wild guess as to why. This version of the man is still rather young, after all.
"I will not be replacing Qui-Gon Jinn." Vader says, and, truthfully, he has no desire to. Jinn had been a Jedi worthy of his respect -- one that understood the inherent weaknesses of the Order, and who had defied them to allow Anakin Skywalker to be taught.
Obi-Wan grimaces at him, and there is a deep wound there. One that has yet to scar over completely.
That may prove most useful to Vader.
"Don't you dare say his name, Sith," Obi-Wan growls, low. "I will never call you or your like 'Master'."
Vader crosses his arms. "Then the one that calls you such will die. Horribly." He reminds him.
Obi-Wan's rage is slowly replaced with a mollified expression. It is nearly pathetic enough to make Vader feel guilty about lying to him. Nearly.
"I apologise...Master." Obi-Wan says, quietly.
I nearly forgot to mention that the awesome lacefedora drew fanart for this fic! The pic is over back in chapter 3, so definitely take a look when you get the chance, and send that sweet lady some love.
Aside from that? I got nada.
Vader takes Obi-Wan out of the cell, still shackled, and proceeds to lead him down the hall.
The crew of the Executor is nothing like the one that had served aboard the Death Star; they've learned not to question Vader, nor to even give him curious looks as he stalks the corridors with a man dressed like a Jedi in tow.
Obi-Wan notices the stark obedience of those around them, and the younger man seems to tug the Force like a boundary around him. It isn't quite fear, closer to thoughtful consideration: an invisible wall to keep others at bay; to almost not even take notice of him. Vader is mildly impressed.
"Your underlings are quite terrified of you." Obi-Wan remarks.
"As they should be."
Obi-Wan looks sidelong up at him, bringing up one hand to rub at the almost-beard on his chin. Vader is hating it more and more by the second.
"And I'm sure that's quite alright with you...at least up until the point they manage to land a blaster bolt in your back."
Vader doesn't turn his head to look at Obi-Wan, instead opting to make use of the way his infernal helmet hides his face and looking down with only his eyes instead. The younger man making a point of staring straight ahead.
"They will not."
Obi-Wan's mouth twists up into a sardonic smile that he thinks Vader doesn't notice.
"That's what all tyrants think. Nobody can rule with fear for long."
Vader's eyes narrow, the words echoing with familiarity. "And what fool told you that?"
"A young Queen, wiser than you in the ways of people by far, it seems," Obi-Wan pauses, weighing his words (and good that he did, because Vader can feel them melting into fury in his mind, and any further mention of it would surely have sent him spiraling into a murderous rage). "Where are you taking me? Will Anakin be there?"
"No," Vader leaps upon the change of subject eagerly, even if that sentiment isn't reflected in his voice. "You, and only you, are to be kept in my private quarters."
"Your private..." Obi-Wan blanches, mouth tightening into a single thin line. "What exactly are you planning to do with me, Vader?"
"Nothing uncouth," Vader assures him in annoyance. "And it is Master now. You would be wise to remember that."
Obi-Wan doesn't say a thing.
Vader's quarters are really nothing exciting. A plethora of black and metallic grey, with absolutely nothing to suggest he has any type of personal life whatsoever. It's bigger than standard, with his mediation pod taking up the bulk of the main room, along with a terminal, and a workbench scattered with droid parts. Obi-Wan stares ruefully at the last thing before Vader sweeps past him, opening a door to the side that more often than not remains closed.
He gestures into the bedroom. "You shall sleep there."
Obi-Wan peeks over his arm, and then around the entire main room once more.
"There's only one bed." he finally says.
"Obviously." Vader responds.
Obi-Wan's disdain is palpable in the Force around them. "I will not share a bed with you."
If Vader had been capable of it, he would have let out a long suffering sigh. Instead, he rolls his eyes (something he has found he needs to do quite often) and says, "You needn't worry. I do not use it."
Obi-Wan scoffs. "Are you trying to tell me that you don't sleep? You are sentient, aren't you?"
The comment wasn't a complete lie. Vader rarely ever did, but never lying down. Not anymore. It was too painful, tugging at old flesh, and as for actually sleeping, he managed every now and again to fall asleep in his meditation pod. But it never lasted long. His dreams -- if one could even call those anxious spells of darkness and memory mixed with nightmare 'dreams' -- always tore him awake, often even more exhausted than he was before. Vader had finally settled on a system of meditation and drugs. Where the former could rejuvenate him enough to survive on the bare minimum of sleep, the latter could sink him into one a sleep so deep no dreams could penetrate them. However, things like that are taxing on his life support systems, and dangerously easy to overdose upon. So Vader uses them sparingly, and keeps personal record of the dosages.
He doesn't know if they're addictive or not. The Emperor has provided them to him since the first year in his suit, and refuses to tell him what they are. Vader has attempted his own research, but can find no similar concoction to know for sure. They may very well be another shackle he isn't fully aware of, but he continues to use them anyway. He has little choice.
Vader tilts his helmet down. "Sentient enough," he responds, and gestures within again. "Go." he orders smoothly.
Obi-Wan's gaze flicks from him to the dark room, before he finally takes a deep breath and walks inside.
"Do you at least have a refresher?" Obi-Wan asks, his tone just a step short of mocking (or it very may well be. Vader was never good at catching Obi-Wan's driest wit). "Or do you not require one of those, either?"
Vader doesn't respond as he makes his way to his personal terminal. Obi-Wan isn't quite so blind that he cannot find it himself.
I kinda snapped under the weight of build-up in this chapter, so NONCON warning for, like, pleasure-torture Force touching. No sex yet, unfortunately. But we'll get there. Don't worry. *pats*
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Obi-Wan comes out once more to have his manacles taken off, and then seems to be absolutely swallowed up by the other room.
Vader doesn't mind. This close, he would sense if Obi-Wan attempts anything. So he relaxes into his general routine, or is about to when his terminal comm chimes on. With barely contained menace, Vader answers the call, and the holographic image of the command deck fills his screen. A portly man that seemed to have been sewn into his uniform regards him, and Vader recognizes him as the one that Palpatine had sent along to watch him.
"Lord Vader, it is--" even the man's voice is grating, and Vader tunes it out when he begins to make personal introductions. It isn't until the words 'records' and 'private' are mentioned that he gives it his full attention.
"What reasoning do you have to go through my private records, exactly?"
The man sniffs, adjusting his cap. "It's part of my required job description, Lord Vader. The Emperor has requested that I analyze all of your going-ons, as well as your flight records, to determine how much of a role you played in allowing the Death Star to be destroyed."
The sound of metal crunching causes the officer to turn, just as part of the terminal behind him twists into an unnatural angle. Vader schools himself into calm as the officer turns back, proper fear in his eyes.
"I'll need to record that in my report to his Excellency as well."
Vader will find a way to kill this man soon. "Do whatever is necessary." he says, and shuts the link off sharply.
"That monstrous battle station of yours was blow up?"
Kriff. A twinge of frustration mixed with the urge to kill something passes through Vader, along with that niggling curiosity about the pilot that had done the deed, as he turns around in his seat. Obi-Wan's copper hair is a dark red, heavy with water. At least he had managed to find the shower, even if he was still dressed in his raggedy Jedi attire (along with his equally raggedy almost-beard). "It was."
Obi-Wan's eyes widen marginally as he smiles smugly, and it could almost be called handsome if there weren't so much disdain behind it. "I applaud whomever managed to do it."
"You seem to be forgetting someone." Vader reminds him coldly, and he sees Obi-Wan's throat bob as he swallows. Obi-Wan searches along his bond with his apprentice on instinct. Vader is more than a little relieved to know the shielding he has been practicing on is finally beginning to work, and sadistically gleeful knowing that Obi-Wan cannot sense the young boy he'd once been.
"I could've sworn..." Obi-Wan begins, before shaking his head. "And my Padawan?" he asks, softly.
Vader is silent for some time. There are many ways he could go about this. He could say that Anakin had been killed, but then Obi-Wan would have no reason left cooperate. He could say that Anakin was being kept on a separate ship, but, again, that could breed rebelliousness.
It crosses his mind to finally end this farce and admit the truth, but he shoves it away as soon as it does. Vader decides on something immediately after that.
"The Rebels have him."
Obi-Wan's brows crease. "They ones that blew up your station?"
"How did they manage, then, to have time to take my Padawan before that?" Obi-Wan demands. "And why? What use would a prisoner be to them?"
"Do not question me." Vader booms, standing up and letting his full fury and frustration wash through the Force. Obi-Wan wisely takes a step back, and Vader stabs a finger at him as he does. "You should be thankful that I have revealed that much. It is unwise to question your Master."
Obi-Wan's mouth deeps into a murderous scowl, and he steps forward, slapping Vader's hand away. "It was unwise of you to tell my that my apprentice is no longer under threat of you, Sith," Obi-Wan spits. "You have nothing left to threaten me with. You can no longer keep me here!"
And there it was.
If one's breaking point were audible, Vader assumes that his would be akin to a supersonic boom. It must have certainly felt like one to Obi-Wan, when Vader uses the the hand he had just slapped away to lift him to face level by the throat.
"I'm not threatening enough, am I?" Vader tightens his mechanical fingers.
Obi-Wan kicks viciously, hands already calling to the two lightsabers clipped to Vader's belt, as his bared-teeth expression is reflected in the insect-like visors of Vader's helmet.
Vader easily keeps the lightsabers where they are, before swinging his arm and throwing Obi-Wan across the room. Obi-Wan hits the deck-plating of the wall hard, landing on the worktable and scatterings parts and plans as he rolls off, landing with a thump on the floor.
Before he can right himself, Vader stalks over and slams his boot down into Obi-Wan's back. Obi-Wan lets out a sharp gasp that continues on into a low keen as Vader presses forward, allowing the full weight of his suit to bear down on the younger man for a moment.
"It seems you require a lesson in power."
Using the Force, and little else, Vader drags Obi-Wan into the bedroom and lifts him onto the bed. Obi-Wan lets out a painful hiss when his back hits the sheets unceremoniously, sending dust motes swirling through the air like distant stars. When he begins to lift his head, Vader pushes it back down with the Force, along with the rest of his body. Obi-Wan's fingers twitch pathetically as he attempts to break the hold.
Vader's visors glow crimson in the dim light, as he looms over Obi-Wan.
Warnings flash across his vision, of his pulmonary system, his cardiac system, his-- kark it! Vader ignores each and every one of them, focusing all of his attention upon the struggling man spread-eagle across the large bunk.
In this faint light, he looks exactly how his Obi-Wan had. The one that had betrayed him, left him for dead, allowed his wife and child to be killed by him. The one that had failed Anakin Skywalker in every single way possible, and that had been Darth Vader's reason for continuing on in this walking hell of a life for almost two decades. That Obi-Wan had taken both Skywalker and Vader's chance at revenge.
But not again.
The Force had granted him another.
He would no longer follow after Obi-Wan Kenobi, Obi-Wan Kenobi would follow after him. He would be the one Kenobi chased; he would be the one Kenobi hates; and he would be the one that Kenobi loves. He would be the center of Kenobi's universe. Kenobi would be his to command, and his to kill again if he so wished.
"You are mine, Obi-Wan," Vader growls. "You will never leave again, unless I will it...and you will learn to appreciate my mercies and to fear my wrath."
With those words, the stagnant Force bindings holding Obi-Wan down take on a different nature. They begin to slide across his body and mental shielding like hundreds of invisible hands, one moment hurting and the next soothing.
Obi-Wan's cheeks are red from the pressure he is exerting to keep his mouth closed. Blood bubbles up from where his teeth break the skin of his bottom lip. One particular movement of the Force sends his back arching, and Obi-Wan bites back a strangled curse.
Vader watches, seemingly disinterested, until a low chime sounds from the terminal in the other room. Vader leaves, making sure to keep Obi-Wan pinned down and...occupied...as he answers the call.
The Emperor's chosen lackey appears on the screen once more. "Lord Vader, you are required in the briefing room." he says, with little preamble.
Vader ignores it when a particularly loud cry from Obi-Wan drifts in the from the other room, even as the officer squints in confusion and attempts to look over Vader's shoulders to search his quarters.
"I will be there momentarily." Vader says, and ends the call without another word.
Vader takes his time returning to the sleeping quarters. When he finally does, he finds Obi-Wan writhing on the bed, one moment gritting his teeth in pain and the next letting low, needy moans escape him. The invisible mental hands continue to drag across him, merciless in their task.
"Have you sufficiently learned your lesson?"
Obi-Wan yells at him in answer, and Vader allows it to go on for a few more moments before dismissing them all at once.
Obi-Wan collapses onto the bed, fingers curling into sheets and his chest heaving. His eyes dart up at Vader, and are filled with such malice that even the Force rings with it.
Vader muses over him, feeling almost giddy.
"I will be leaving for a time. You are to remain in these quarters. Any attempt at escape will be dealt with. Severely."
"You're not even going to use Force dampeners on me?" Obi-Wan chokes out, suspicious.
"No," Vader replies. "They are unnecessary. If you defy me, your Padawan will die by my hand. Even if I must raze every Rebel stronghold in the galaxy to find him. I assume that will be sufficient incentive, and if not, you are now well aware that I have other means to get you to comply."
After a moment to mull that over (and a terrific glare) Obi-Wan shrugs, the image of calm aloofness (though it would have had a much stronger effect if his face and neck weren't quite so flushed). "Quite."
Vader departs then, rather unfazed about having to deal with Palpatine's little spy. This is the closest to happy he has felt in decades, or at the very least, sated.
It's painfully wonderful.
*claps* And that's how the Sith punish people. With semi-erotic Force tickling!
Well...this particular Sith. With...this particular person. He's not developing a soft spot, not at all. Vader was only obsessed with Obi-Wan Kenobi because he hated him. No other reason. None at all.
As soon as Vader is far enough away that Obi-Wan can no longer sense his oppressive presence in the Force, he begins his escape.
The first part takes the longest, and is when he feels most ready to jump clear out of his skin. If Obi-Wan has any chance of escaping this infernal ship, he needs to be at his strongest. So he heals, carefully concentrating his Force signature around the area on his back that Vader had stomped upon. The bones mend together, an odd feeling, liquid-like feeling moving beneath his skin, and when he finally allows his mind to wander away from his task, Obi-Wan can at least sit up.
He ignores the less physical aspect of his injuries, pushing that vile, defiled feeling creeping like a slug along his connection to Force far enough in the back of his mind that for a few precious minutes he can think without it looming over him.
He takes stock of what he has.
His clothes. His life. He'll need to leave his lightsaber behind with that detestable Sith, but he has no other choice. Anakin needs him.
Rocking himself onto his feet, Obi-Wan moves back into the main room. His shoulders crick painfully from the movement; seems even with healing arts he won't be forgetting Vader's "lesson" anytime soon. The man -- if he even was a man, which Obi-Wan was greatly beginning to doubt -- was horrendously heavy.
His thoughts snap of their own accord to a hellish scenario, with the Sith Lord atop him, crushing him, taking him, Force hands replaced with real ones, groping and gripping and--
Obi-Wan takes a deep breath. He exhales, visualizing the negative thoughts leaving with the air existing his mouth. That will not happen. He is going to be long gone from this place soon, and the Sith will never be able to lay a finger upon him again.
Obi-Wan searches the unadorned grey-plated walls until he finds the ventilation shaft grill, set a little above the over-sized meditation sphere.
He jumps, body aided by the Force, and lands deftly on the upper half of the open sphere. He clings to it like a monkey-lizard, working his way over to the grill. When he's near enough to pull the bolts out of place and lower the mesh of metal away, Obi-Wan closes his eyes and allows his awareness to expand.
He senses to security cams within, and -- tightening his eyes in concentration -- he shuts them both off, and wriggles inside.
It's a claustrophobic fit, his shoulders just a hair's width away from being to wide to move. Obi-Wan clenches his teeth and pulls himself all the way inside, and then carefully replaces the grill behind him with the Force.
That's the first part over, but Obi-Wan doesn't give himself time to celebrate. Now it's a race against the chrono.
Obi-Wan memorized the layout of the ship as soon as he was brought aboard (Vader as well as his troopers were fools indeed, not even bothering to cover his eyes as they all but gave him a tour of their vessel) and he knows exactly where he wants to go as he worms his way through the duct system.
The docking bay, with those odd, round ships. They looked easy enough to pilot, and even easier to steal.
But he has to hurry. Obi-Wan assumes the Sith had more than just a couple of cams as security in his own private quarters, and sure enough, as soon as he thinks that a klaxon alarm begins to blare. And then another, and another, until the entire ship is shrieking.
Obi-Wan kicks open a duct grate, and lands in the middle of a grey corridor. It takes a moment for him to gain his bearings, but as soon as he does he's running at a breakneck pace toward the landing bay
He keeps part of his mind focused on making sure he doesn't move anywhere near a certain Force signature.
The first couple of white-armoured troopers he runs into have no clue what to even do. They tell him to halt (which he doesn't) and then they call for backup (before he promptly knocks it out of their hand.)
He wasn't quick enough, however, and another pair of troopers is already racing down the corridor towards him. They fire a few stun rounds, which he easily dodges. Obi-Wan wonders for a split second why they aren't shooting to kill, but the reasoning that hits him a moment later is crystal-clear. He obviously has some sort of value to the Sith, and woe be to he who damages Lord Vader's goods.
The thought is enough to send a rush of furious adrenaline coursing through him (there will be plenty of time to meditate on it later, Obi-Wan promises himself) as he whips about sharply on his heel. He rams his fist into one trooper's solar plexus, and kicks in the knee of the other. He has no clue who would manufacture such mediocre armour.
After that, it isn't long before he's in the landing bay. The place is humongous, filled with those ball-shaped ships with hexagonal wings either lifting off or landing or simply sitting there, ripe for the taking.
The alarm is also blaring in here as well, as the blast shield are closing.
Obi-Wan goes for one connected to a fuel line, jumping on a pilots head to propel himself up to the top of the ship. He hops inside and closes the latch firmly behind him.
Figuring out the ignition sequence is easy enough, flying it is an entirely different matter.
The strange ship wobbles as it thrums to life, and Obi-Wan moves to get it through the force field before the blast shield closes completely.
The ship freezes in midair.
Obi-Wan looks at the rear viewport cam to see Vader standing below him, one hand raised.
Obi-Wan throws the thruster controls (or at least, what he hopes are the thruster controls) to full power, and pushes them even further than that, until the stick is vibrating in his hands. He sees the flickering image of the Sith take a step forward to keep his hold.
Obi-Wan feels his cheek twitch, and he braces himself as he lowers the power for a moment, allowing it to appear that his ship is listing back. Then he blasts it forward once more, this time adding a Force push as well.
The ship groans from the strength of two Force users pulling it in opposite directions, and with a final, weak creak of durasteel, the poorly-made ship is torn in half.
Obi-Wan goes flying, and only just manages to press his forearms over his head to protect him from the worst of the debris.
He crashes into a corner of empty containers, and before he's even caught his breath is surrounded by the white-armoured troopers, blasters aimed point-blank at him.
Then Vader stomps over, and he does appear pleased or, as he would likely put it, merciful.
His helmet tilts as he looks Obi-Wan over, and with one crook of his finger, Obi-Wan feels the Force close around his throat. He's dragged to his feet, and his wrists pulled painfully behind his back and clasped tightly with stun cuffs.
To bring the point fully across, he's shot with three stun rounds, until his legs go limp and quivering beneath him, and the troopers are forced to hold him up the moment Vader draws the Force away from his throat.
"Take him to the medbay," Vader says in a chillingly calm voice. "I will accompany you."
Wowzers, she's actually doing the daily update thing?! For the time being, yes! *jazz hands*
Anyways, I know I said no rambly authors notes, but I do gotta mention a bit of a medical torture mention thing this chapter. I mean, it's nothing overt, buuuut if you don't like the idea of forced medical procedures, I would probably skip this chapter.
Although you'll probably be real confused if you continue on.
PS: The lovely lacefedora colored that nice piece of art work she made for this. It's a few chapters (chapter 4, or thereabouts) back if you want to take a gander. It looks so fucking good.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Obi-Wan is restrained to an operating table in a private surgical theater, tubes feeding into various places on his body.
His smooth, pale back is bathed in surgical lights, accentuating shadows and curves. It is all but devoid of markings, save for a purple, boot-shaped bruise near the center of his back.
Vader realizes he is searching for old scars that could not possibly be there anymore -- this version of Obi-Wan is still much too young to have suffered the hurts of the Clone War -- and shifts his attention away from him with some effort.
"Do you have it prepared?" he asks, turning to the nearest medical droid.
The muscles in Obi-Wan's shoulders shift and stiffen. "What am I being injected with?" he demands.
"Anesthesia, for your surgery."
The beeping on the monitor beside him accelerates, and Vader knows Obi-Wan is fighting to keep his calm facade from breaking.
"I don't want it." he says.
Vader knows the sentiment well. He still recalls bits and pieces of the time just before being put in his suit. Of pain and blood and endless needles and drugs. He hadn't wanted it, either.
The memories fuel his ever-present anger, wrapping around him like a second cloak, and any qualms he has about this fade.
"Nevertheless, it is happening," Vader says callously. "You will be implanted with an inorganic control chip," he taps a gloved finger on the side of Obi-Wan's freshly shaved skull, "Here. It will not allow you farther than a ship's length from me unless I command it, and may act as a tracking device if necessary. It will also inhibit your use of the Force and allow your personality to be malleable."
The modified version of Clone War Era Inhibitor Chip had many improvements from the older models used on Clone troopers. These ones could be successfully transplanted into a grown sentient's cerebral cortex, with only a 70% mortality rate. Many were still used on Inquisitors, and had proven -- more often than not-- to turn out successful on Force-Sensitives.
Vader doesn't doubt Obi-Wan will survive the procedure.
One grim, grey eye looks up at him, then back down.
"Did you put something so atrocious in my Padawan's brain?"
Vader is mildly surprised by the question. Obi-Wan's affection for his lost apprentice is admirable, even now.
It's also a weakness he can readily exploit, and he plans to until the point that Obi-Wan is completely his.
"No, but when he is recovered from the Rebels I shall, if you do not cooperate fully."
Obi-Wan shuts his eyes and nods, as a medi-droid makes its way over with a filled syringe.
"Get the fuck on with it, then."
It ain't exactly important, but it is worth noting that Vader totally took this opportunity to have Obi-Wan's beard shaved off.
Two birds with one stone, you know?
Gonna try for the daily updates again, folks.
Let's do this.
Once the surgery, and subsequent recovery are complete, even Vader has to admit that the change is nothing short of astounding.
The first thing Obi-Wan does upon waking up nearly three day cycles later is pull himself from the medi-bed and get down on one knee before the Sith Lord.
“Lord Vader.” He says, without all the fire and ire that had been in his voice before the operation. In fact, there does not seem to be any emotion behind the flat words. When he looks up, his expression is one of a calm so heavy he seems almost like a droid. Eyes open, unblinking, he stares up at Vader. “I am at your disposal.”
Obi-Wan, lacking much else, is put into an Imperial officer uniform.
The double-breasted tunic fits him well, accentuating his lean, strong physique, as do the trousers. But it's obvious he's uncomfortable in the tight, form-fitting clothes. Vader can tell simply by the way he continuously tugs at the round collar in annoyance.
Obi-Wan forgoes the command cap, and keeps his red tanker boots with him. Vader allows it, if for nothing more than for it to serve as something he can take away if Obi-Wan displeases him.
The belt is slightly less than regulation, with a clip that allows Obi-Wan to carry his lightsaber.
"I couldn't fight a cold in this absurd thing," Obi-Wan remarks, pulling at the collar again. "I can barely breathe."
The initial lack of emotion had worn off quickly enough once Vader had taken Obi-Wan back to their quarters. Now it seemed the younger man was an odd amalgamation of his usual self, and the one that Vader had forged. The Sith Lord still isn’t quite sure whether he prefers that or whether he will take Obi-Wan back for modifications quite yet.
Vader doesn't say a thing at Obi-Wan’s complaint, letting the loud rasp of his respirator do all the talking for him.
Obi-Wan glances up at him, and as realization begins to hit, quickly looks straight ahead instead. A glazed expression stiffens his face once more, and the monotone, controlled speech returns.
" Apologies, my Master. I will think before I speak."
Tagge, you're it.
*runs screaming back into this fic* LET'S GET THIS SHOW BACK ON THE FUCKING ROAD, HUH? Daily updates are a solid maybe-baby.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
With Obi-Wan dressed the part, and the waiting officers growing wary for their meeting, Vader makes his way to the meeting room with Obi-Wan at his side.
He's been detesting the thought of this meeting for some time -- particularly where it concerned the commissioned officer that his Master had left in charge of him -- but there was little way he can avoid it now, aside from killing the officer and his lackeys.
Vader had considered it, but that would bring too much unwanted attention from his Master. He decides that with Obi-Wan at his side, it should be marginally easier. Perhaps even like the negotiations they had attended together in his youth.
Vader tastes steel on his tongue the moment he steps into the room. Only the simple fact that Obi-Wan is there with him, standing silently at his side like he was born to be there, keeps Vader from losing all patience with his Master's human tool that thinks himself of any import.
Vader can sense the curiosity from his other various officers seated around the matte-grey, oblong table. Some even have the sharp tang of jealousy directed towards Obi-Wan in their minds, though whether that's from the fact that Obi-Wan is wearing a high-ranking officer's colors, or the sight of young, handsome man in a room of old men, Vader doesn't know nor care to find out. If any of them were to attempt anything, he would kill them. Or simply order Obi-Wan to defend himself to his full capability.
A thickly-built, broad-faced man as equally detestable in every way as Tarkin had been, stands up and introduces himself as Grand General Tagge.
Vader recalls him. Cassio Tagge, although the 'Grand General' part is new. Tagge says it with as much pompous pride as possible, smiling like a shark while he does.
The other man Vader had assumed to be the Emperor's pet sent to spy on him is in the room as well, sitting a few seats away from Tagge and sweating like a pig roasting over a fire. He seems to be nothing more than a lackey of the lackey himself. His small eyes twitch towards Vader, and then to Obi-Wan, where they linger far longer than necessary.
Tagge brings Vader's attention back to the meeting with a swift question, "Who is this, Lord Vader?" he asks, waving a hand at Obi-Wan. "He isn't on the roster for this meeting."
"He is my assistant. Aside from that, he is of no consequence to you," Vader answers coldly, silently daring the man to press the issue further. "Continue on, if there was even a purpose for this meeting."
Tagge lowers his eyebrows at him. "Very well," he says, and turns stiffly towards the table. Vader is more than aware that identifying Obi-Wan as such will have consequences, but with the fake identity he's planted into the ship's system during Obi-Wan's recovery, it should be some time before anything questionable is sent to the Emperor. "We're here to discuss the growing amount of pirate raids on Imperial vessels in this area."
We're getting into Darth Vader comic area now, yippee!
OOOOoooohooooooooooooooooooooooooooo someone is CRUSHIN' HARD.
One day you'll get an actual, serious chapter summary from me. Maybe in the next century or so.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The meeting drags on as official Imperial meetings often do, with very little of necessity said and a great deal of posturing shown. Boredom plucks at the fringes of Vader's mind, and if it weren't such a problem for him to begin with already, he assumes he may have well fallen asleep in his suit if it had gone on for much longer. His mind starts to drift -- a dangerous thing for him -- so Vader forces himself to focus on something to keep him entrenched in the present.
Obi-Wan is well suited for that purpose.
Obi-Wan stands somewhat off to the side of the official table, legs pressed together, hands held neatly behind his back, and his face an inscrutable mask. He hasn't said a word, and Vader knows he won't unless otherwise pressed by Vader himself (the perks of a control chip, even if it does cause a twinge of regret deep inside Vader. Obi-Wan would have had many things to say during this meeting, all of them showing these Imperial officers just how woefully incompetent they truly are).
Vader focuses on Obi-Wan's features themselves next. His hair has always grown quickly, and his scalp is already showing a dusting of orange-gold hair across the skin. Vader suspects that within the month, the fresh scar on the side of Obi-Wan's head will be completely covered. His chin is still bare, showing off a strong, dimpled chin. His eyes are downcast. His--
The meeting ends promptly and suddenly, pulling Vader back to what he'd come here for in the first place. Unfortunately.
"That concludes this meeting for the time being," Tagge says, shutting down the hologram graphs he'd been going over and looking around the room. "Go about your business, and keep me up-to-date on any changes in this pirate incursion." As the officers begin to stand up and talk amongst themselves, Tagge turns to Vader. "Lord Vader, a word, if I may?"
Vader obliges, walking over to Tagge, since the man seems to find himself too important to be uprooted from the spot he'd been standing on for the last three hour cycles.
Tagge begins to speak to him, and Vader quickly starts to tune him out. His focus is on Obi-Wan. Particularly, on the portly officer from before, a man named Briag, that had made his way over to Obi-Wan as soon as the meeting was dismissed, and opened up a hushed discussion with him. Vader can't hear what's being said, but with how close Briag is standing to Obi-Wan, how he plants a hand on his shoulder and squeezes... Vader knows he doesn't like it.
Vader does his best to keep his attention on what Tagge is telling him, but he finds himself consistently returning to where Obi-Wan stands silently as Briag speaks to him. Briag has started to pluck at the high collar of his uniform, swallowing and coughing as if something is caught in his throat. Vader twitches his fingers slightly, and the man hacks loudly enough to turn a few heads. All it would take is for Vader to close his fist, and the man would be silent forever. He would be away from Obi-Wan forever.
Vader immediately drops his subtle hold on Briag's throat, and nods at Tagge. It's clear by the man's tone that this isn't the first time he's called out to him. Tagge frowns. "The welfare of the Imperial fleet may be unimportant to you, but it is to myself and to our Emperor. Should I continue?"
Vader grinds his teeth together, and out of the corner of his eye he spots Obi-Wan staring at him, unblinking. He forces himself into calm.
"If you must," he says. "Although it's clear enough to me that we will not learn anything about these brigands until we've captured them."
"Then capture one of their vessels, Lord Vader, and report back to me once you have," Tagge replies, before waving another officer -- a young, frigidity man -- over to them. "This is Oon-ai. He'll be reporting to me on your missions, as well as your personal terminal uses. He is to be allowed access to all your accounts."
Oon-ai doesn't even look like he has access to anti-anxiety stims. He's all but shivering in Vader's presence. It would be simple to take care of him later.
"As you wish," Vader intones, making a point of acting as if the clerk isn't there. "Is there anything else?"
"No." Tagge presses his lips together until they're little more than thin, white strips of skin. "I suggest you offer me a little more of your attention next time, or it will be noted in my report to the Emperor."
Vader is already walking away when Tagge says that, and he stops before Obi-Wan, looking down at the younger man as he answers the Grand General. Briag slinks away. A wise decision.
*deep breath* I've had to start rereading the Darth Vader comics for the plot to this fic. I am since reminded about how amazing those comics are. Definitely grab 'em if you get the chance.