Vader paced the walls of the senate building, nervously. Or so it would appear.
But Darth Vader was never nervous: he was a sith lord, it was whispered by anxious passerby (the fools who believe I cannot hear them, his mind rumbled) he wasn't even human,
merely a droid: a machine to do the Emperor's bidding.
(You're a slave...) Vader balled his fists.
She would never have allowed this to happen. No, if it was up to her, democracy would have prevailed long ago. No doubt she would have joined in with the Rebellion...
Or would she have? Would she have insisted, as she always had, war was not the answer, there was a diplomatic solution?
(Don't think about that...)
It was time to move on. Well beyond that, truthfully, a decade was more than enough time to mourn the loss of a loved one.
And yet, he had never let his mother go either, had he? No, he had slain two angels, and he would carry them in his heart. He would not insult their memory by forgetting.
No, he cared too deeply for that.
Today was Empire Day, marking the anniversary of the Republic's fall just as much as the Empire's rise, and Darth Vader had better things to worry about.
Bail Organa was coming for a meeting, and unless Vader could uncover evidence incriminating the senator of treason, as Vader's master wished, the sith apprentice would be severely punished.
Then, of course there were the miniscule thorns in his side: the standard propaganda to spew of how the Empire was so carefully tailing the Rebellion's movements, completely in control-- although in all honesty, the locations of Rebel affiliates were beginning to slip through the fingers of Lord Vader's subordinates. And through the fingers of Lord Vader himself....
But it also marked the anniversary of her death, something the grand, benevolent Emperor would doubtlessly fling in his face. How he expected Darth Vader to function was beyond him...
But he was Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith, Second in Command to the Empire, who answered to only one man, who was more machine than person, and he would function,
because that was all he was built to do.
(I am a slave...)
"Lord Vader, Senator Organa is here to see you." An officer crisply stepped into Darth Vader's view, the young man's face pale and taught. "Send him in." Vader dismissed the man. "Yes, sir!" The anonymous man barked. He whipped around, allowing the senator access to his doom.
The heavy blast door slid open. Bail Organa stood before him, head bowed in a galactic gesture of respect. (Respect... the man made a mockery of it, Vader growled.)
"Lord Vader," Organa intoned monotonously, "you asked to see me?" The old man's (Old? He is hardly in his fifties... Vader mused) dark eyes were fractured, as if distracted. Of course...
Organa would be mourning her death, as well. Did the senator hate Vader, too, for the crime the sith had committed? (For the sin, the only sin I cannot live with...)
Because Vader was sure that the Senator knew the true cause of Padme's death, he saw it in Organa's eyes when the man looked at him on this hated day,
the way the senator's presence was always concealing something bitter. Or maybe everyone with a functional brain looked at him that way, too, and the sith had never bothered to notice.
The thought sickened him.
"Organa," he said shortly. Vader was tired, so tired.
When was the last time he had felt like that? Further more ,when was the last time e had rested? (There is no such luxury bestowed to a droid.)
"You are suspected of treasonous activities against the Empire." Vader finished his phrase quickly. He mentally rebuked himself for the lapse in concentration. When had he succumbed to be so careless, so distracted?
Meanwhile, the senator raised his eyebrows, his face a cool mask.
"I'm sorry, my lord, but I'm afraid that you'll have to elaborate. I haven't the slightest clue what you mean." Organa slickly lied.
Beneath his nightmarish mask Vader growled softly, much too softly for the mask's modulated voice to pick up. He let the tense silence drag across time, grating on his adversary's nerves. "It would be wise of you to respect the intelligence of the Empire, senator." Vader ominously advanced upon the man.
Carefully, undetected, he sifted through Organa's mind, looking for something, anything specific enough to be of importance to the Emperor.
(One minute left until detonation.) Vader nearly stepped back in shock as the thought rang clear as a bell throughout the senator's mind- echoed throughout Vader's.
Vader left the small office without another word. Whatever it was, he had to find it...
Not a parsec, not a system, not a planet or even an entire block away from Lord Vader, Master Kenobi wove through the confusing streets of Coruscant, counting down the seconds in his mind.
(Fifty-five, fifty-four, he kept careful measure) "Widow, I'm not close enough."
"Are you able to rig the AT-AT third from the front?" he murmured into his comm. link, questioning his disguised colleague. A beat skipped through time. Perhaps she was considering the prospect.
Widow's bright, melodic voice lifted through the small comm. unit concealed in the palm of Kenobi's hand. "Sure thing, General."
He sighed inwardly. (Hardly a general anymore...) The Jedi master hadn't chosen that particular call sign.
It had been a sort of general consensus among the Rebellion, the way clone troopers had given their brothers-
(Don't think about that.)
"You know, we should really do something about these code names. They don't leave much to the imagination, put in the right person's hands." The Jedi remarked.
She would understand what he truly meant. If Vader ever discovered what the pair of agents called themselves, he would know immediately the pair was made of a Jedi Knight and Vader's former--
--and Widow. Kenobi glanced over to his cloaked companion. Widow would understand why she should change her call sign... even if she didn't understand it was Vader, not the Emperor, who would decipher her nickname's hidden meaning.
Kenobi hardened his resolve as her birth name danced at the edges of his physche.
He had trained himself never to think of his friends by their actual identities, and he had taught them to do the same.
It had been her idea, in all honesty, a sort of fall-back in the event any of them were captured. (In the event they were captured by Vader... by the Emperor... by another mind-reader...)
"I know," Widow sighed, replying to Kenobi's earlier remark, "but does 'Riene Bar' have the same ring?" Kenobi sighed as well.
Scrambling her true name would hardly do any good once the title reached Imperial code breakers. (Then again, my name is hardly less subtle, the Jedi scorned himself.)
"Does Jace Quinlan sound any better?" He jested. He too, had named himself with a purpose- after Quinlan Vos, a fallen Jedi who had returned to the light at great personal cost.
It was a foolish bit of symbolism, he knew, but some tiny piece of him had still believed in Anakin then. As for what he believed now... (The Rebellion is in the right. I can believe that.)
(That much, at least, I know for sure.)
Shaking himself from his musings, Kenobi forewarned his comrade: "Riene, you have twenty seconds before the charges activate. Get moving. And please," he added, "try not to get yourself killed."
Kenobi could have sworn he heard her smirking as she replied. "Gee, Quinlan, when have any of us followed that advice?"
Pressing a hand to his forehead, Kenobi admonished her. "Riene, ten seconds."
"Right," she swiftly replied. Kenobi's comm. hissed as she efficiently cut the connection.
Kenobi slipped away in the crowd, drawing his hood tighter to his face.
(I have a bad feeling about this... the Jedi thought uneasily.)
And for that singular instance, in the smoke of the detonations, Lord Vader felt precisely the same.
More chapters illustrated soon! (Or, read the rest now through the link in the description!) And a GALAXY of thanks to fanfiction.net's sydthekidney, without whom this story would not exist. Merry Christmas! And may the force be with you, Lucie Alphonsa :)