THE DARTH SIDE: MEMOIRS OF A MONSTER - The True Confessions of Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith and servant to His Excellency the Emperor Palpatine.
Cheeseburger Brown



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Parenting 101



Okay, I admit it. I cut off the kid's hand. Everything went downhill after that.

Blast! Blast! Blast! I am such an idiot.

I surveilled my son as he walked through the city, my eyes closed, my back to the security monitors. His spirit danced and rained, his emotions farting out bright, flickering clouds of micro-causal flotsam in every direction. Lumbering arcs of probability swung around him in sick, drunken orbits, any one of them threatening to actualize at a sneeze.

Quite a lightshow, really. People who cannot see the Force have no idea what they are missing.

I was able to discern that the callow youth's undisciplined powers were being channeled into a keen signal by the famous blue astromech droid R2-D2, whose ability to manipulate or be manipulated by the Force is something I have never understood. Whether he is some kind of midichloric instrument or mechanical idiot savant, it cannot be ignored that his presence aids the boy.

So the first thing I did was separate them, by sealing a fire door between them.

Skywalker himself I teased through a maze of corridors into the bowels of this city, dangling a shadow of my presence before his nose like a carrot. I studied his mind, and found his first thoughts were not of his friends: it was only me he sought now. The Force called to him, I reasoned. Or perhaps the ghost of Kenobi whispered in his ear.

I meditated in the carbon freezing chamber as Skywalker approached. Out of the steam strode Qui-gon Jinn, shimmering and insubstantial. "Anakin," he called. "The time has come to test him."

"He is only a boy."

"He is stronger than you think," Qui-gon pronounced, and vanished.

So...chalk one up for Qui-gon. The boy is strong. Stronger than I could have imagined. Through his clumsy, novice staggers the Force blew enormous rage, a hot wind of raw power I struggled to hold my own against. I had toyed with him at first, but I soon found myself working hard. He knew none of the classic moves: his foil play was dictated directly from his heart, clubbing at me with an instinctive passion that dodged my every stratagem.

And, of course, my left leg was acting up like crazy.

I used what ounce of my will I could spare to exert control over the misfiring circuits, wrestling my wayward limb to do my bidding as I fended off the broad, single-minded thrusts of the bitchfire youth. He knocked me down and I felt his confidence swell. I realized: he loathes me!

I escalated my own level of brutality, and he lost ground. Still I found place to wonder: what fires his naked hatred? This is not the sting of a political idealist.

He popped out of the carbon chamber before I could freeze him, which was a neat trick. The duel ranged. I threw objects at him with my mind, which was obviously beyond his ken as he reacted by trying to dodge them like a low man. Then I blew him through a window.

It went on and on.

He didn't even want to talk about the power of the dark side.

And then it happened: down on the catwalk as we clashed again and he struck me with his sabre, glancing my shoulder. He struck me, and I just lost my cool -- without really thinking it through I lopped off his hand. Little bugger!

He was as raw as he was going to get, though he exerted an impressive will to keep his fear from boiling over. As he crawled away from me across the catwalk I figured I had nothing to lose. It's time to spill the beans. It's now or never. I took a deep breath: "Luke, Obi-wan never told you what happened to your father..."

He screamed and jibbered, clinging over a chasm fathoms deep. His pain moved me. And not in the usual good way. I mean I felt for him. So I did as I said I would: I reached out to him. I told him we could be in it together, come what may.

Luke jumped to his peril.

The Force is strong with him, however, and he survived his fall. I felt him call out with his mind, and watched the fabric of the Force contort as the Millennium Falcon piloted by the escaped prisoner Leia Organa and the surprisingly slippery Lando Calrissian abandoned its flight, returning to Cloud City to rescue Skywalker.

I returned aboard Executor and waited to snare the freighter as it stalled in space, unable to jump away due to a sabotaged hyperdrive (ha, ha). As the ship climbed out of Bespin's gravity-well I let my mind play out along the filigree ladders of the Force until my tendril found him, honing in on the corporeal pain of his severed arm and the throb of his psychic wounds. Luke's spirit squirmed away from my connection, burned by the truth. But I could see that he was strong enough to face it, his resolve hardened but uncracked. Impressive. Most impressive.

The crippled freighter sailed into my view from the bridge, crossing the crescent of Bespin and making for black space. In moments we would have them!

"This will be a day long remembered," I said.

...Which is pretty much when the Millennium Falcon escaped to hyperspace.

I sighed. Why me?

I was even too dispirited to crush Admiral Piett's trachea.

Now I am in my hyperbaric chamber, listening to music (Rotan's Sonata for Holotyne) and trying to get a grip on things. Betrayed by a mimbo, surrounded by incompetence, my soul in knots; lost Skywalker, lost Organa, sold Solo...

The Emperor is going to barf when I tell him.



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