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Saga Saga - PT Resonant (Pre-OT/ AU; young Luke, Vader, Inquisitors)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Starith, Jul 1, 2020.

  1. Starith

    Starith Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Apr 5, 2020
    Title: Resonant
    Author: Starith
    Timeframe: Takes place between RotS and ANH
    Genre: AU, drama, action, multi-chapter
    Characters: Luke, Vader, Inquisitors

    Summary: When Luke is discovered by the Inquisitors, he never could've imagined how much his life would change. He knows he must escape, but that is easier said than done, and the presence of a certain Sith Lord may just make things that much harder...

    Notes: This is an AU premise I've had for a while. Starting off with something of a prologue... Hopefully it's not too shabby.

    ______

    The grey-bearded man smiled as the boy eyed the metallic device with curiosity.

    "This was your father's lightsaber," he said, with a gaze that was both calm and attentive. "The weapon of a Jedi Knight. Now yours, Luke."

    He placed the silver cylinder in his hands. Luke looked at it. And as if it was ingrained in him, his thumb floated over to press a red button on the handle.

    A trail of light shot out, making him flinch. It stilled to make a blade of pure plasma, and it hissed and hummed, softly, and so did his heart. Luke made some swirls in the air, staring at the intense brightness at its core, making "whoas" and "wows" under his breath.

    Lightsaber... Jedi Knight... He was so engrossed he didn't even question what these words meant.

    His father's weapon... and now it was his...

    Ben continued to observe him, his grey-blue eyes scanning the round, tanned face of the boy. His smile waned slightly to something more solemn.

    "Use it well," he told him.

    And Luke looked at him, beaming, and nodded. "I promise... I promise I will!"


    ______​


    The air of Lothal had a pale sky, empty and unclouded. In its mist sat a structure. It was jutting out from the blurred depths, its flat surface standing on an overlarge base far above the plains and grasslands below. The structure stood in the sky, elongated and narrow.

    Like a floating needle, Luke thought as he looked out from the viewscreen of his seat — he was drawing closer to it. Gradually he could make out more detail of the sky-abiding complex. Its sheer size, the wide landing platforms docked with ships. Freighters, transports, much like the one Luke was on right now. The sun was setting, and soon the building was overshadowed in the dusk.

    The shuttle settled down on the landing platform. Luke waited, along with all the other passengers, seated boys and girls who were chatting eagerly. Luke was quiet, as he usually tended to be, lost in his thoughts more than his reality.

    An officer came through the door. The room fell quiet.

    "We will depart now. Line up, single file," the stout man declared with a quick gesture.

    Luke, his heart taut in his chest, took his bag and shuffled along with the other kids, many of which towered over him, and after getting elbowed a bit he managed to find a place in the line. The officer nodded and turned with a wave of his hand. "Very good. Follow me."

    They followed him. Luke stayed silent, as did everyone else. The officer led them out of the confines of the ship and onto the platform.

    Luke lifted his gaze. The grey structure loomed overhead, stretching out with its steely walkways. The officer brought them to the front entrance where two patrol-droids stood. Glow panels trimmed the door frames and a large insignia was on the frontmost display, what looked loosely like a black gear.

    Two other officers stood at the entrance, a man and a woman. They nodded and then took reign of the group.

    "Welcome," the woman said with a smile, "to Pretor Flats Academy."

    Luke felt a wave of bundled excitement, like his insides were glowing. His mind raced as the two officers spoke in turns, but he only took in the barest grain of their words — "strive for excellence", "chosen few", "honor of attending one of the fine institutions of the Galactic Empire" — and he registered that the group was moving again. He went along with it. They entered the building, the patrol-droids inching aside to let them pass.

    Inside it was sleek and spacious. More gear-like Imperial insignias were embed on the walls. The man and woman showed them the general areas of the facility, the mess hall, the labs, the training rooms. Luke stared in wonder at the pristine state of everything, the build, the equipment, and his excitement soared when he got a small glimpse of the flight simulators. Chairs next to huge decked machines on pedestals, all aligned in a dimly-lit room.

    But soon they were moving again. One of the officers began to talk about requirements, space engineering and computer science, and giving them a quick rundown of conduct and rules. Luke tried to listen, but he ended up zoning out.

    When it was finally over, they were assigned to their personal quarters and dismissed. After a couple minutes of walking through the halls, and trying to look composed as faculty and much older-looking students passed him by, Luke found his quarters easily on the third level. He entered and started to unpack.

    Hours later, he lay in his cot. A holograph of TIE fighters glided over his head. He watched them, mesmerized.

    Everything was so... new-looking here. Not like home. A cooling unit circulated pleasant air into his room. The door was automatic. He had his own room, his own refresher, and provided gadgets like a data-planner, a holoprojector, a stationary chrono. White uniforms were set up in a dresser in his size.

    It felt odd. All these commodities, just for a simple living space. To think that this place was called ''the Bottomfeeder's Academy"... Was he just too oblivious to the wide galaxy outside of Tatooine that he couldn't see why? Most kids here would probably be used to all this, he guessed, and the thought made him slightly nervous. He hoped his unfamiliarity wouldn't show too much... or worse, that he'd prove too much of a rube even for this ''low-level'' school. Pretor Flats was the best Luke could've aimed for, being one of the few academic establishments in the Outer Rim.

    And when it came down to it, it still offered him what he wanted. He had gone through a lot to get here... it had to be worth it...

    Luke remembered his pre-training examinations, determining his education, his piloting, his technical skills, his problem-solving... The importance of Imperial protocol —Respect. Obedience. Diligence.— repeated like a mantra on all the ads and pamphlets he'd studied beforehand. He had dreamed of attending a flight academy for years... and now he had succeeded. He'd get the experience he needed to win real battles with real starfighters... learn to defend himself, how to handle a blaster...

    And then I'll leave, Luke determined. Attending an Imperial school was one thing... nearly all militaristic schools were under Imperial regime... maybe he'd even go on to Skystrike Academy after this... but there was no way he would join the Empire. Even crop dusting would be better. And there were plenty of other jobs in the galaxy that needed a good pilot... Lots of people probably didn't go on to serve the Empire and went elsewhere with their careers...

    Luke let out a breath, his chest caving. Thinking about his future always made him uneasy. He looked around and noticed the time. I should probably get ready for bed...

    Suddenly locks triggered on his door. The sound made Luke jump. He chewed his lip. The locks were automatically set for the evening curfew, he realized, and he took in a deep breath, released it, and repeated. He sat cross-legged and close-eyed on the bed for a while; it was a practice that sometimes served to calm him. After a minute or so, he felt more relaxed and sleepiness began to dull his senses.

    Luke turned off the holographs, then the lamp, and he settled in. His head sunk into a soft pillow. Slowly but surely, his thoughts emptied and he drifted off.

    He didn't know how long it had been when he was awakened by a loud thudding sound: the sound of his door unlocking itself.

    Luke started. He sat upright in his bed and floundered in the encompassing dark, but he couldn't find the light switch. His fingers found only air.

    The door shifted open. A very faint light bled into the room, and in the threshold stood a dark, misshapen figure. Panic-stricken, his throat tightening, Luke could only stare as it made its way into his small quarters.

    "Stay where you are," Luke heard. It was the bland, electronic voice of a droid, which didn't ease Luke's dread at all. As it came closer Luke could make out a tall form, a can-shaped head atop a heavy, bulky body. The droid set its tiny glowing eyes on Luke.

    His mind raced momentarily, dreading, worrying. Was this a surprise drill? An emergency?

    "W-What's going on?" he said, his voice jittery. He scrambled out of bed. "What—"

    "Quiet," came the the droid's buzzing monotone, and the plates on its arm folded away to reveal a blaster. The droid pointed it straight at Luke. "Make no sound. Make no resistance."

    Horrorstruck, Luke slid back until his back hit the wall. "What?"

    Before he knew it, the droid lurched and Luke felt his arms being grabbed and yanked so hard he thought they could've been pulled form their sockets. He was dragged to his feet. Binders were being clasped around his wrists. Luke swayed violently, heaving. "What — what are you — let me go! I'm not — y-you can't—"

    A metal hand covered his mouth, quieting him, and he felt the blaster being pressed against his neck. Luke froze completely. Then he felt himself being pulled toward the door. Too petrified to struggle, he was dragged out of the room.

    Then further out, down the quiet corridor. Past the main hall. Gradually Luke began to thaw from the fear. He squirmed, tried to scream, tried to kick the droid's non-existent shins, he used every ounce of strength in his scrawny body to wrestle free, but it only managed to slow the droid down slightly. It continued hauling him along.

    Luke tried to cause a sound, a thump in the night loud enough to wake someone or attract a patrol-droid. He managed to kick a table that had a decorative statuette, which fell and shattered to the floor. It made a sharp, echoing crack, but was followed by dead silence. Nothing happened. Nobody came.

    They passed a few doors until eventually they came to the lower levels. Luke felt his muscles ache, both from the droid's mechanical grip and from his own struggling.

    They entered a dark hangar garage. It looked empty as if it had been cleared out, save for one active vessel: an Imperial shuttle.

    Its ramp was lowered and Luke watched, nonplussed, as a large female Dowutin strode down it. She was covered in an armored bodysuit and wore two large visor lenses over her eyes. In her clawed hand she held a datapad, which she regarded. She spared a glance down at Luke, then regarded the datapad again.

    "Wow," she said, her tone devoid of enthusiasm. "Nice record here... Luke. Top performance results in the pre-testing selection. Inhuman reflexes, they said... yeah, real special." She made a snide frown. "But faking your age to enter the academy? Tsk... Still, not bad for a fourteen-year-old runt from the Outer Rim."

    Luke felt the blood drain from his face. He weakly shook his head. He tried again to make a sound, wanting to question, to deny, to explain himself... but his voice was still muffled against the droid's metal hand, instead making a squealing semblance of Who are you?

    The Dowutin twisted her lips, then turned around. "Who, me? I'm Ninth Sister. Part of the Inquisitorius. And if you don't know what this is all about, don't worry. You're about to find out." She headed up the ramp, gesturing with a lazy wave. "Bring him onboard."

    Again Luke tried to jerk out of the droid's grip. Again he failed, and Luke could do nothing but wriggle and groan as he was shoved onto the awaiting starship.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020 at 1:58 PM
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  2. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2005
    Wow, what a fascinating look at an AU for Luke! I've read a few Luke goes to the imperial academy stories in my time (I do love them so I'm always open to more!) but this is really unique.

    I really loved Luke in wonder about all of the things that were so new to him having grown up in a place that didn't have those resources. That others probably think nothing of those things because they are a part of life for most is really a fantastic point that can really be applied to a lot of things for us. I also really liked that he's planning on using the academy to learn and then get out, that he has a bad feeling about the Empire. That shows us some of that instinct from the Force we know he has in there and it's already serving him well.

    And one of the Inquisitors coming for him.... uh oh!

    =D=
     
  3. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Great start! Luke definitely has that sense of wonder and "head in the clouds," so to speak, that Yoda wasn't too happy with in another timeline. ;)

    I agree with mavjade - it was neat to see the basic academy room from the perspective of someone who'd never had access to those resources before. It was made even more realistic by Luke's concern about what the others would think if his unfamiliarity with these "everyday" items showed too much.

    Though now it looks like it might become a moot point with an Inquisitor taking him away. Blood tests and Skywalkers don't mix, apparently. :p

    Keep up the good work!
     
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  4. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Amazing start! Want to see how Luke wriggles out of this one. Also a nice look at the difference between the world he grew up on the the privileges that he's now encountering (or was encountering before it all got stuffed up).
     
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  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I was fascinated by Luke getting his father's lightsaber so early and then joining the Imperial/pilot academy. I can believe that he would not want to automatically join the Empire after completing the training but do something else with the pilot certification. I'm also not surprised he maxed out at the top of all the examinations.

    Yikes, the Inquisitorus!
    Things have taken a very ominous turn. =D=
     
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  6. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2002
    An Inquisitor! Uh-oh. [face_nail_biting]I enjoyed Luke's fascination and awe of everything he was seeing. Very descriptive. Nice start. =D=
     
  7. Starith

    Starith Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Apr 5, 2020
    Thanks for the comments, everyone. Glad there's interest for this fic. [face_coffee]

    Next part now...

    ______

    Luke woke up. Blurry-eyed, he blinked several times before things came into focus.

    He was surrounded by black air, empty and eerie, like he was in some kind of netherworld. Silvery light came down like a spotlight, cutting through the darkness. Half-dazed, he squinted up at it. Luke pushed himself up to stand and looked himself over. He felt sluggish, his head ached... but he didn't seem injured anywhere. He felt more or less the same, looked the same, still dressed in his simple light-colored sleeping clothes...

    This couldn't be a dream, but then what was it? Where was he?...

    He scanned the misty blackness, and the more he looked around the more he could at least see he was in a room. The floor was metallic, and the light was filtered from an illuminator installed on the ceiling. Luke drifted around, curious. He made small, incremental steps, trying to find any hint of a wall. He rubbed his head and grimaced at the pummeled feeling left there.

    He remembered... Pretor Flats, waking up in the middle of the night, seeing the droid... dragged out of bed, down the halls...

    The Dowutin... that odd name she'd called herself... Ninth Sister... That Imperial ship...

    Luke tensed, a shiver running through him. His memory rushed out more of what had happened: forced up the ship's ramp, a voice telling him to stop struggling before a giant fist came down on his head like a rock...

    And now, this place.

    A soft whir came from behind. Luke flung his head in time to see a door slide open and two figures walk in. One was large and muscular, the very same Dowutin who had brought him into the Imperial shuttle. In front of her was a tall humanoid man, his ashen skin consisting of creased lines that trailed down his face and over his bald scalp. A Pau'an, Luke was sure they were called. Markings were on his face, and like the Dowutin he wore dark-grey armor over a dark-grey uniform. Both their bulky shoulder plates bore the Imperial crest.

    The Pau'an strode before the boy. There was a prudent air about him, his posture was stiff, his expression grim. The Dowutin stayed to the side of him, her arms crossed and her wide mouth set in a scowl. They both stood at the edge of the spotlight and watched Luke with a strange, idle attentiveness.

    Feeling distinctly like an animal locked in a crosshair, Luke swallowed.

    "Ah, so this is the one," the Pau'an said, his voice carrying a clear Core accent. His head nudged toward his larger companion. "The Pretor Flats boy?"

    "That's him. Didn't take much, the droid did most of the work. Like I said, puny, this one."

    "That he is."

    The Pau'an man pulled out a datapad. He swiped at the screen, checking over the contents. Luke stared wide-eyed at him and the Dowutin. Questions roiled inside him, possibilities swept through his brain... The Dowutin had mentioned finding out about his age — how had that happened? And all this... He knew the Empire was horrible, had horrible rules, but surely something else had to be going on...

    And the thought of that terrified him even more.

    The man studied the datapad a moment longer. His hairless eyebrows lifted as he shifted his attention to the boy. "Well. Those were some foolish lengths to go to just to get into a second-rate academy... I'm interested in understanding... just why you did what you did."

    Panic sprung up in Luke. He didn't know what to do — what could he do? He just stood there, silent and stupefied. The man came further out of the shadows. The yellow irises of two black eyes bore down on Luke. He gaped in silence, trying to hide how unnerved he felt. His mouth twitched until it finally worked. "Who... are you?"

    "I am the Grand Inquisitor. And I will be asking the questions here." The Pau'an lifted his chin. "Now, let's cut to the chase. We know you created an I.D. when you signed up for the Pretor Flats' evaluation..." Again he lifted the datapad. He pinpointed each thing as he read it. "Two weeks ago, Tythal City, Sector 12's eastern registration station. First name: Luke. No last name given. Homeworld: Lothal, in the Outer Rim. No address or residence. No relations. Born two standard years BFE. We all know the latter isn't true, and having no past records is hardly surprising for a Lothalite. Dirt-poor farmers, derelicts, criminal gangs... that's the Outer Rim in a nutshell. Lawless obscurity. But more to the point... you created this fake I.D... Just how fake is it?"

    The Pau'an leaned forward, his mouth clenched slightly, enough to reveal a row of long, splinter-like teeth, the incisors of which curved inward. Reflexively Luke shied away; he couldn't help it. Up close in the dark, that skeletal, war-painted face was like something from a nightmare. And it wasn't just his appearance; both he and the Dowutin gave off a cold, deadly air... They were like charged thunderclouds ready to smite him to dust at any moment... and Luke perceived the calm-mannered Grand Inquisitor was the more threatening of the two. But the man's ashen face stayed an impassive mask.

    "We merely want the truth," he attested softly.

    Luke compressed his lips and looked away.

    "What was your motive for enrolling in that academy?" the Inquisitor pressed. "What is your real history?"

    Luke's mouth rippled. He remained silent.

    Ninth Sister sighed. "You want me to get it out of him? Save us all some time?"

    "I'll call for your assistance when I need it, Ninth Sister." The Grand Inquisitor's eyes narrowed at Luke. "A mere youngling after all... I can feel the fear rising in this one. He knows what trouble he's in."

    Luke frowned. "What... what do you mean you can... feel..." He trailed off when he saw the grin on the man's face. Luke's stomach lurched, a cold lead in his throat. He gathered his voice again, meaning to sound calm, but he ended up stuttering. "N-No, I... I didn't... I never meant to..." He inhaled. "I did... I did lie to get in... I had to lie, but I never—"

    "Oh, we know. We saw what happened. You approaching the sign-up station, telling the man you were fourteen — and after he told you the age requirement was sixteen and dismissed you, you went back and claimed you were sixteen... and then he admitted you." The Pau'an's gaze was unblinking. "Almost as if he had changed his mind. Or his mind had been changed for him."

    Luke went white.

    The Grand Inquisitor's mouth curved. "Is it setting in now? Yes, boy. The surveillance cams caught everything."

    Stunned and mortified, Luke just stood there, his heart racing. His brain, his whole body, nothing seemed to work. Then he found himself breathing in and out in a certain rhythm... Be calm... Push the fear out, shed it, send it away with each passing breath... But the fear stayed clung to him like a second skin. At a loss, Luke could only stare ahead vacantly, helplessly.

    The Grand Inquisitor stood motionless in the shadows, resigned and watchful. He took his time before he spoke again. "When we reviewed the footage... we decided to wait. Perhaps the man was simply foolish, simply soft-hearted, letting you slip by out of pity... after all you did do an awful lot of begging and pleading..." The lined Pau'an face scrunched, then loosened. "Oh, but you proved our suspicions correct with those results. Speedy reflexes, precise aim, along with all of this... very impressive for one so young. You'd make a good—"

    "Why are you doing this?" Luke shouted all of a sudden, and both the Grand Inquisitor and Ninth Sister made a start. Luke eyed them both in turn. He felt explosive, his fear was still gnawing at him, but his temper was too, something was pounding in his ears, blazing in his limbs. "Why — why did you take me away? Why let me into the academy just to take me away? Why? Why? I don't understand!"

    He screeched aloud. Then, blindly, Luke turned and flew at the airy blackness of the room, aiming to run, to get away. He ran straight into a wall, hitting his nose and biting his lip. Infuriated, he punched the wall: clang. He beat his fists upon the wall again and again as if to beat it down. Clang clang clang clang clang.

    Ninth Sister cocked her head and made a grunt. But the Grand Inquisitor seemed bemused as he watched the boy, who only continued to flail himself against the hard durasteel.

    "Well, Ninth Sister?" he said, raising his voice to account for the continued noise. "Is he being truthful?"

    "Must be. Why else would he sign up to an Imperial school? Putting himself right under our radar... he'd have to be ignorant or an idiot. I don't sense he's putting on an act."

    "I just wanted to become a pilot!" Luke spat, landing another balled fist against the wall. "I didn't... I didn't do anything!..."

    The Inquisitor scoffed. "Haven't you been listening, boy? Your pre-testing results were abnormal. The Empire has these mandatory evaluations in place for finding cases such as yours. It's not just about education levels and fitness checks. We're rooting out a disease." He inclined his head and his tone suddenly deepened. "The disease of the Jedi."

    The fury in Luke wilted. His fists froze against the wall. He couldn't move. No muscle in his body so much as twitched.

    "So you do know of them," the Grand Inquisitor goaded quietly.

    Luke's fists trembled and slid down the wall, making awkward squeaks against the metal. It was a long moment of dead air. All Luke could see was the dark sheen of the steel against his sore knuckles, and all he could hear was his own uneven breathing. He found himself mumbling. "I don't... know..."

    Ninth Sister growled. "There's no use in lying."

    "I don't... know anything..."

    She lifted her head, the reddish lenses over her face glinting in the light. "Listen, kid, I read people. I can take in emotions like a nexu takes in the scent of blood on a battlefield. I know you're hiding something. Make this easy on yourself and fess up."

    "I don't... know... anything!"

    "Keep saying that, brat, and you'll find yourself being shut up in ways you don't want to think about—"

    "Enough!" the Grand Inquisitor exclaimed, stamping his foot down impatiently. He rounded on Luke. "Answer me now: How much do you know of the Jedi? Were you taught by one?"

    Tight-lipped and stone-faced, the boy met the Inquisitor's scrutinizing gaze. Silence prolonged. The Pau'an frowned and veered closer until he was inches away from Luke.

    "Who is your master?"

    Luke moved to shift away, but the Grand Inquisitor took a side-step and blocked him. A hand caught Luke by the shoulder.

    "Let go—" Luke hissed and tried to pull away. "Let me go! I d-don't know anything about— about any Jedi—"

    "How unfortunate," drawled the Inquisitor. "Then I'm afraid I don't know how to not cause you considerable pain."

    Eyes wide, Luke tried again to pry himself out of the Pau'an's hold. The Inquisitor didn't let go. He twisted Luke's arm.

    "Stop!" Luke cried, thrashing and jerking to no avail, his nerves and joints trickling with pain. The Inquisitor looked down on him, the lined white face lax and smooth with indifference.

    Luke managed to send him a scathing look from under his bangs. "S-Sleemo..."

    The Inquisitor's eyes lit. He barred his long, angular teeth and suddenly took hold of the boy's other shoulder. "Ignorant child, you think you should protect them? The Jedi are not worth fighting for, not worth lying for — they themselves are the lie! They are a disease... Perhaps you'd care to see what happens to those who let themselves become infected?"

    Before he could utter a word, Luke felt the very structure of his bones bending — buckling— then snapping.

    He cried out. He pushed and kicked wildly at the Inquisitor, smacking only the solid armor, pulling away as hard as he could, desperate to wrench himself free. His arm throbbed with pain, his eyes welled, on fire with tears.

    Then he was let go. Luke swerved and dropped to his knees, his mouth open in a soundless scream, clutching his now dislocated arm.

    "Confess," he heard the Inquisitor hiss over him. "Your teacher, your background. Everything."

    But only agonized groans escaped Luke.

    "Talk," barked the Inquisitor. "Articulate. Enunciate. Make words."

    Luke could force nothing out.

    There was an impatient growl. Then Luke found himself suddenly propelled away as if by a blast. The back of his skull hit hard against the wall, momentarily numbing him. Luke's face meshed against the floor. Luke sobbed, pressed his eyes shut, tried to hoist himself up. His arm... it was a gnarled, hot spasm of pain... he couldn't ignore it, the pain was sapping him...

    He moved his head. In the distance floated the sallow, skeletal face of the Inquisitor. His form was now reduced to a melted shadow through Luke's watering eyes. He spoke again, but Luke couldn't make them out. His head was swimming... He felt himself losing all trace of thought...

    The Grand Inquisitor let out a sigh. He glanced at Ninth Sister. "Read him, quickly, before he blacks out."

    She nodded and took a step forward. She rose a clawed hand.

    "Huh... well..." she said after a moment. Her orange face contorted. "I'm picking up... pain. Lots of it—"

    "Observant of you, Ninth Sister, but I already gathered that he's in pain. Perhaps you'll pick up on, say, who the Jedi is?"

    The Dowutin glowered. "It's a fine line between reading emotions and reading memories. But there is... someone. I'm getting an impression. It's..." She trailed off, steadfast in her concentration. Several seconds passed.

    Finally she spoke again. "Wait, I'm getting a name... Ben... Ben Kenobi."

    A moan escaped the boy.

    "Kenobi? Not Obi-Wan Kenobi?" The Grand Inquisitor's face lifted in surprise. "Why, that would be a great find. He is high on the old target list, one of the few Purge survivors that was never found. But Ben Kenobi... could that be a relative?"

    "I definitely get the impression it's the same guy. It's foggy, but... a Jedi Master... a robed human guy with a beard... fits his description. Yeah, I think it's him."

    "Location?"

    "Give me a second, the kid's almost knocked out and his thoughts are a mess... Kenobi, he's... I'm getting... sand. A desert, I think... A sunset... with two suns..." She paused. "...Tatooine. That's the place. The kid's got a lot of resentment towards it."

    The Inquisitor stroked along his jaw. "The boy could be Kenobi's son. It's been fourteen years since the Purge, the boy provided no last name, it would all fit..."

    Ninth Sister gingerly prodded the boy's head with her foot. "Well, he's passed out now. Best to pick this up again later. Gotta say, I'm surprised I had to read him. I thought he'd be blabbing two minutes in. He was trying to mind-trick us, you know. And you saw him doing that meditative breathing technique when he was all frazzled?"

    "Of course I noticed. Padawan lesson number one," the Pau'an dryly remarked. "And that will do, Ninth Sister. You can stop trying to reaffirm the information you acquired with your extraordinary emotion-reading abilities."

    "Hey, pays to be thorough." She made a gruff, muddled sound under her breath. "Especially when failure could mean a visit from a certain Sith Lord we all know."

    The Grand Inquisitor paused. He slowly lowered his head. "True."

    Quiet filled the room.

    "Anyway... what about other testing? Should we get a blood sample from the kid?"

    "There's no point in midi-chlorian testing now. He's clearly Force-sensitive, clearly Jedi-taught. We have more than enough information to go on... and strong-willed or not, in time the boy will crack like the rest of them. We'll soon have another addition to Project Harvestar." He grinned. "Not to mention a new target for us to look forward to... It has been a rather dry spell for Jedi-hunting as of late... Yes, I think our work is done for the moment."

    With that he headed for the door, his hands clasped behind his back. The Dowutin followed him. The Grand Inquisitor pressed a few buttons on the control panel and the illuminator shut off. The room darkened. A tinge of light peeked from the doorway, emanating briefly on the fallen form of the boy before the door shut and the room was completely enshrouded in darkness.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020 at 1:58 PM
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  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Gripping confrontation, as Luke's efforts to get into the Academy to be a pilot are revealed to have been noticed all along, as well as his Force talents, which he may not be aware of altogether, i.e., they haven't been formally trained or refined, so :eek: [face_worried] the Inquisitors can twist them to their own uses. =D=
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2020
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  9. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Uh-oh. [face_nail_biting]I have a bad feeling about this. Great update. =D=
     
  10. Starith

    Starith Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Apr 5, 2020
    Thanks for the replies, everyone. Been a while, but here's the next part. This took... a lot of rewrites, and it probably still needs work... but here goes.




    Geonosis.

    Pointed spires and formations were spread across the landmasses like a dry-mold cast. Harsh wind pressed over various remains, crumbled debris, and insectoid bodies scattered across the dried-out world. In the center of what was once the Stalgasin Hives sat a large building near a flat, pitted area. A tri-winged Lambda-class shuttle landed there.

    The ship hovered, brushed up dust, and set. It powered down, the rail descended, and out walked Darth Vader.

    He came out of the shadow of the shuttle, his black form cast in the arid daylight, his boots meeting dried rock ground. The Dark Lord steadily looked at his surroundings. Spires stood in the distance, sturdy structures with channels made for labor and cavernous excavating. A path led to the entrance of the large building, what was once a Geonosian droid factory. A lookout tower was nearby. From the very top a security device worked, scanning the area.

    Vader studied the former factory for a moment. It was dome-shaped to resemble a hive mound, but made of metal, with exhaust pipes and many tiered levels. It looked abandoned. Appropriately so. It had been over a decade since the cataclysmic sterilization of Geonosis.

    Vader lingered before the building for a moment, silent save for the neverending cycle of his respirator. Memories inevitably crept into his mind as if reverberating from the depths of the factory itself. Images, faint and swift. Droids hanging from their heads. Giant mechanisms plowing down. Metal clashing and compressing.

    Lasers, droids. Rampaging beasts. Chases, danger, daring, dodging — and amidst it all...

    Vader lulled these thoughts; quieted them. Soon they dissipated like smoke, like vapor faded into the air.

    This visit would be a short one, he reminded himself. Soon he would return to matters worthy of his presence. So he wasted no more time and started down the path that led into the factory.


    _______

    Inside the building, the long, spacious corridors stretched far, hollow and heavily quiet. From the higher levels, the once-processing plant could still be seen, implemented with large vats, power units, and a rusted out-of-use crank system attached to the upper walls, once used for processing Geonosian battle droids.

    A group of Initiates passed through the doors, slightly disturbing the stillness of the warehouse. They walked through the many grey-slated, hollow areas, led by their Inquisitor escort, a stern-faced Devaronian. She walked in a hurry and stopped only to open a door or press buttons on a turbolift. The Initiates trailed after her in their clustered silence.

    They passed into the next hallway until they came to a large door tabbed with panels. The Devaronian accessed them. The door opened and white lights powered on as they came in, revealing a room expansive enough to be a ship hangar. The floor was bound with large carved slabs and the walls were like metallic stone.

    "Come on, come on," the Inquisitor said impatiently, her red face compressing. She waved to a faceless grey droid that appeared from the side. It hastily wheeled over, carrying a metal case. It opened the lid, revealing several stacked lightsabers.

    "You know the drill," the Inquisitor said, and she walked off and exited out the door.

    The Initiates all ambled to grab a handle. They were training sabers, not as strong as true lightsabers, but still capable of hacking off a limb with enough accurate strokes.

    They stood in the wide, half-lit chamber, waiting, gripping their weapons. They kept glancing to the side, to the droid, anxious for the countdown to begin. There were seven Initiates in the group, all of different species. Appearance-wise, they matched only in their attire, wearing tunics, pants, belts, and boots all in black and grey. They all stood separate from each other, none sharing eye contact, their attention set only on the droid. Meanwhile the droid was regarding a holographic datachart, a glowing blue outline that contained info on all Initiates present.

    The floor rumbled. Hatches began to part and slide. Platforms powered up with clamorous thuds, rose, and green panels lit up on their edges. A glowing white line appeared along the walls. One platform at the far side gleamed red. Many of the platforms began to rotate like giant, slow-moving propellers, powered by mechanisms installed in the ground and walls. Some of the Initiates made audible noises of displeasure. No one liked the shifting platforms exercise.

    "Get ready," briefed the training droid, wheeling in the center as it put away the datachart. "The rules are simple: get to the red platform. Levitation is prohibited below the glowing line. Engage in combat if you must, but please, try not to damage the equipment. Your performance will count toward your ranking."

    "Yeah, yeah. But what level of intensity?" came the raspy voice of a Zabrak girl. "Can we damage each other?"

    "Points will be awarded for injuring or otherwise besting an opponent," the droid answered her. "If you work in tandem with another Initiate, you are disqualified. If you fall below the line, you are disqualified. Get ready now, please. Countdown will begin."

    All the Initiates stepped forward and took their chosen stances. The room dimmed.

    "Three... two... one."

    A forest of red blades bloomed. There was leaping, running, stumbling as they all reacted in turn to the shifting environment and sudden darkness. The shadowy arena was soon buzzing with scarlet swordstrokes and the green blurs of moving platforms. Then there were the red lasers of remote droids. They zipped by, shooting at the Initiates as they jumped from one site to another, some managing to deflect the beams, others missing. The platforms dragged across, up, down, flipped. There was a yelp as a Quarren took a direct blast to the gut and hugged his stomach.

    From behind a one-way transparisteel wall that offered a grand view of the obstacles and the Initiates engaging in them, the Grand Inquisitor frowned as he watched. A Clawdite was in the lead, but suddenly stopped in his tracks and lunged at a Phindian who came up the side. They swatted their sabers at each other as the platform under them vibrated. The Clawdite spun around, tripped the smaller Phindian, and pushed him off. There was a loud thump.

    "Initiate Two is down."

    A yellow Trandoshan then came up to the Clawdite. Unlike the others, he didn't wield a lightsaber. The Clawdite backed away, intimidated, but offered a defensive swipe with his blade. The Trandoshan stepped aside. The platform then began to pull away back into the wall. The Clawdite lost his balance and his opponent delivered a sharp-clawed uppercut to his chin. The Clawdite fell.

    "Initiate Four is down," announced the droid.

    "Ridiculous," murmured the Inquisitor, his pale reflection scowling back at him on the windscreen. "Two down, in the first minute..."

    "That is most disconcerting."

    At the sound of the deep, mechanized voice, the Grand Inquisitor made a slight frown.

    "Lord Vader," he greeted quietly. "You were... not expected so soon."

    Coarse breath ushered into the small observatory as the Dark Lord entered, his presence filling the room like a swathing black mist. Vader stopped when he reached the windscreen.

    "You wished to process the Initiates before my arrival," he said. The black mask titled slightly. "You seem unprepared for my visit, Grand Inquisitor."

    "Not at all," insisted the Pau'an. He gestured out toward the combat arena. "This is well-timed, actually. This demonstration should show you that the Inquisitorius training program is going well."

    "Initiate Five is down," came the droid's voice again, just after the Quarren was hit by a stream of lasers.

    "Clearly," remarked Vader.

    The Inquisitor pursed his lips and turned to the black-clad cyborg, trying his earnest to appear unruffled. "We take our training program very seriously, Lord Vader, as I'm sure you know. After all, we can only pass on your teachings."

    The Sith frowned behind the mask. He knew what the Pau'an man was inferring. It had been some fifteen years since the Emperor had given the Inquisitors to Vader, to train, to utilize, and this was not the first time the Grand Inquisitor had implied any failure that came from them was the Dark Lord's doing. He was the only one who dared to imply it.

    "Do no shirk responsibility onto me, Inquisitor," Vader said, as a blue-skinned boy struggled to balance himself while the platform beneath him split into smaller sections. "The training of Initiates falls upon the Inquisitors. Seeing them in action is evident enough of this. There is nothing in these youths that you could not find in a Jedi Padawan. They rely on the most base instinct. They are slow. Unrefined. Sloppy blade work."

    "I ask that you give them a chance before passing judgement, Lord Vader. The session has only just begun. Continue observing and I think you'll find that these students are quite well-rounded. Certainly not so lowly as Jedi Padawans—"

    "You wish to lecture a Lord of the Sith in the ways of combat." Vader's tone drew out, quiet and edged with intent.

    The Pau'an hunched, considering his response for a moment. "No, my Lord. I'm sure you are... correct. These Initiates... have room for growth. But we have trained them for years and have done the best we can." He paused. "Perhaps things would be more in line with your standards... if they had the guidance of a Sith Lord such as yourself..."

    Vader's frown deepened. Again the Grand Inquisitor with his less-than-subtle badgering. It was well-known that Vader rarely came to oversee the training program in person, and in truth the Grand Inquisitor was the one who handled it. Vader, however, was still expected to supervise, to check on it every so often. It was grating to think that this was his responsibility, to watch a display of teenage trainees fling lightsabers at one another, in this old Geonosian droid factory now turned into a secret training center. It was not a job he wanted to say the least.

    "Perhaps I should indeed step in," Vader remarked, his tone laced with sarcasm. "If the training of a few children is too much to expect from you."

    The other man dipped his chin. "Lord Vader... I only propose that, naturally, these Initiates would be better equipped to serve our Emperor if they were prepared by those who serve him best. Do you deny that you serve our Emperor best?"

    Vader stared squarely, silently, at the other man. Arrogance. It was nothing new. In his time, Vader had dealt with the Grand Inquisitor, and several pompous officers and Moffs, enough to know these sycophancy games. The prodding exchanges, the false bravado, the petty reverse psychology. After years of being apprenticed to Darth Sidious, there was no other contest of wills that could rattle him. So Vader said nothing.

    Outside, two Initiates were locked in lightsaber combat, close to the red-lit platform, the end point. A human boy dislodged and aimed his blade at the Zabrak. She dodged and suddenly swiped at the neck of the boy, her red blade drawing blood. The human wrenched and dropped, the platform beneath him caving in as if sensing his defeat.

    "Initiate Six is down."

    The Pau'an made the slightest smirk. "A fine sling-away and break from the Zabrak."

    Vader crossed his arms. "It was by chance. A last-resort offense."

    "She took the risk in leaving herself open, but she still succeeded. Certainly there is some merit—"

    "That you continue to defend and applaud these children only further confirms the flaws in this program. And in the Inquisitorius itself. You realize this."

    The Inquisitor stiffened. "You speak of flaws... but we still remain. You do not think we are of use. You have always thought so. But results do not lie, Lord Vader. We are still tracking down threats, even now. It was only months ago that I myself eliminated the meddlesome Master-Padawan duo of the Phoenix Cell. And did we not find and eliminate that Togruta in league with them? And dispatched of the light side-worshippers on Jedha? Was it not the Inquisitors that dealt with the situations on Bracca, Raxar VI...?"

    Silence. Vader was unresponsive. He kept his dark gaze steadily forward, viewing the continuing combat in the arena as if transfixed. Two of the few remaining Initiates were wrestling with each other, both having lost their lightsabers.

    "And the siege of Mon Cala," the Inquisitor pointed out after several passes of the Sith Lord's breath. "We have helped you dominate entire worlds, Lord Vader."

    "Feats that have been done by the likes of clones and stormtroopers," Vader growled. "Do not flaunt your credentials as though they are unparalleled."

    "Unparalleled, no, but we have served you faithfully." The Pau'an pressed a gloved hand to his chest-plate. "And whether or not you agree, the Emperor does see a future for us. That is all that matters in the end. These Initiates are products of your own leadership, they were handpicked from Project Harvestar to become the next Inquisitors, and they will serve the Empire... So with respect, Lord Vader... I suggest that you come to terms with whatever... qualms you have regarding them. They will be hunting Jedi with you soon enough."

    "Judging by this display, Grand Inquisitor, they will not manage to exit the training room, let alone execute any Jedi." The dark-red lenses regarded the Inquisitor briefly. Indignity rose on the pale face, a frozen scowl caught in restraint, but the Pau'an made no retort and only bowed his head. Vader turned away and headed out of the small room. The starkness of his artificial breath quieted until he was gone.

    Out in the arena, the Zabrak was Force-pushed into a wall by another Initiate. Her lightsaber slipped and spun out in the air like a scarlet wheel, slicing into the metal base of another platform. Sparks flew and the Zabrak rolled away, down into the darkness.

    "Initiate Three is down," the training droid declared diligently.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020 at 2:02 PM
  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent battle of words between Vader and the Grand Inquisitor. Your voice for Vader continues superb! You can sense his disdain for the Inquisitor program, feeling it serves no valuable function. [face_thinking]
     
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  12. Starith

    Starith Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Apr 5, 2020
    Thanks, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha. Hopefully it's an OK Grand Inquisitor too. I haven't watched a whole lot of Rebels, I kind of know the character more from the Vader comics.
     
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  13. Starith

    Starith Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Apr 5, 2020
    Here we go, next part, continuing with the Vader POV...



    Hours later, after conferences and scant reports by both Inquisitors and officers via hologram, Vader had stalked the dim halls of the warehouse, in a foul mood and wishing for refuge. He found it in an empty room that was home to a small repair station. Some of the remote droids from the training demonstration were being worked on there, heating tools from the installed devices working to meld them with new spare parts.

    As they worked, Vader stood by a small viewport that offered a glimpse of the barren land outside. The day was drifting into evening. At last it was quiet and still around him, save for the mild noise of the mechanisms working in the corner of the room, which he did not mind.

    What he did mind was staying still where he was, much as he appreciated the solitude. Staying here, in this place, on this planet. Seeing the Geonosis sunlight ebb, a whole day wasted after attending to the Inquisitors' trivial matters... as if he were a subordinate...

    It tried his patience. It settled and gathered in him like residue. Steep, silent resentment. He couldn't meditate on it, draw on the anger like he normally would, as when he was put under the authority of Tarkin. He didn't want to enact some violent urge, he wanted only to distance himself. To leave this place. All its history. All its pointless waste.

    But, of course, there were his obligations. The Emperor was still set on his two grandiose projects, Stardust and Harvestar. One entrusted to Vader, the other which had initially been entrusted to Krennic, a self-important weapons' specialist that had died years ago. It had been no loss to the Empire; Krennic had been leading the project at a disastrously slow pace for almost a decade. It seemed only fitting that the man had been assassinated in a squabble over elluxomite and kyber resources on Arhim, resources Krennic had so foolishly tried to snatch away with ease — and with an underestimated amount of military support.

    The project had thereafter been given to Tarkin. Also arrogant, but admittedly a more well-suited individual for the position. His approach could not have been more of a contrast to Krennic's; rather than keeping the project's crew limited to a few select factions and scientists, Tarkin had vastly expanded the workforce across several divisions. Production had sped up considerably under the management of Tarkin.

    Until finally this year, when the project had reached its turning point. The secret weapon was complete. The Empire had its Death Star.

    Vader was not taken to the idea of the weapon, much less the contemptible hubris surrounding it, but he couldn't deny the impact. It had inflamed the galaxy with fear. Surviving Jedi and their hopefuls had reared their heads in light of it, and Vader and the Inquisitors had been more than willing to do some beheading in accord. Part of the "brilliance" of the Death Star, Tarkin often said, was merely the idea of it, how it would inspire terror and desperation that would only draw out their enemies.

    And it had worked. Purge survivors that had tried to spearhead a movement or make some heroic last stand had only made themselves easier targets for Vader and the Inquisitors. Most that were found were hardly capable of putting up a fight; just out-of-practice former-Jedi and their woeful pawns, all aimless without an Order. Indeed, it had been a short-lived resurgence. Now the Jedi were more scarce than ever, reduced to the barest murmur in the living Force.

    And other forces had taken such risks. Rebel cells had risen, trying to fight, to sabotage, to secure intel from Imperial networks. Planets building alliances, sending spies, criminal syndicates reassessing themselves... it was all an array of chain reactions to this colossal planet destroyer. The setbacks to the Empire were there: military losses, security leaks, the inner struggle of simply trying to keep the Death Star running, but the scattered rebel activity had only left dents on the exterior of the Empire. They were winning. They had all but won.

    Vader felt both part of and apart from it all, from this new age of the Empire. And truthfully, he wanted to be. To be among all this glory and accomplishment, yet not at its core, almost a bystander... it was unprecedented. This strange new age without regard for the all-encompassing power of the Force; like the Jedi it was just a remnant, a memory that few remembered. This was the age of the Death Star. Technological triumphs, mechanical marvels.

    But we still remain.

    The Grand Inquisitor had been right about one thing: there were still threats of the Jedi, however small. Tarkin had his goals, his own field of expertise, and Vader had his.

    And so long as one Jedi lived... just one...

    To think who that one could be...

    The digits of his metal fingers dug into his palms, screeching with the leather. He loathed the thought of that Jedi still living. Loathed and yet relished, for it meant he could face him again. Him, now empowered, older and wiser. It meant he could see and feel his suffering as he melted the old Jedi's chest with his Sith blade. He could watch the life drain out of those timeworn eyes until the man was but a limp corpse...

    Vader had not found anything concrete to Kenobi's whereabouts. There had been past rumors, rumblings... He knew that he still lived; yes, that he could be sure of, he could feel it. Vader knew he wouldn't be content until that death, until that one kill by his own hand.

    All the more reason Vader saw no need for the Inquisitors. He wanted no interferences. Having to tolerate them during the early years of the Purge had been one thing — Vader had detested receiving help, but having other lightsaber-wielding Force-users to help eradicate the Jedi had at least made practical sense. Now...

    He knew the implications for why they remained, the suspicions that stormed his mind. The real reason why his master had begun the Inquisitorius in the first place. Having several other dark warriors available to do his bidding... ones who would be more than willing to become a Sith apprentice should Vader ever fall...

    And what better way to keep that option on the table than to have another back-up line of candidates, another, younger generation... Again Vader squeezed his metal-and-leather fists. Treachery was the way of the Sith, and Sidious was not bothering to hide it. If anything, he was showcasing it.

    Vader's train of thought was interrupted — there were sounds bristling in the distance. In the halls... footsteps, he realized. Light but loud enough to be distracting. The steps were quick, of someone running. And there was other noise. Soft buzzing. A distant, loud voice. Vader glanced over his shoulder, bothered but stirred by the commotion. He stepped away from the viewport, waved a hand and the doors of the room slid open. He passed through them.

    He strode down the corridor, following the noise. Echoes carried and bounced along the tunnel-like passages. He entered an open, barely-lit hallway section, hints of light spilling from the ceiling. The footsteps were nearer, thumping upon the duracrete behind the sturdy walls. Vader stopped and stood readily. He waited. He turned his head and looked at the automatic doors to the left of him.

    And as if his gaze had opened them, the doors shifted apart. A boy trampled in.

    He came to a sharp halt, waving his spindly arms to balance himself as he noticed the Dark Lord standing in the darkness. The boy, clothed in grey, bounded back in alarm. Vader scanned him over shortly.

    There was a flash of red.

    The boy, still short of breath from running, froze in place as Vader pointed his crimson lightsaber towards him. It hovered inches away from his chin. The light colored the young Initiate's face, sweat shining down his temple, his large eyes filled with fear. Vader peered at him, taking in the boy's dread as it permeated through the Force.

    "It seems... that you have made a wrong turn," the Dark Lord said, the words soft and deadening. He took a step forward. He rose the blade over the boy's blond head.

    To his surprise, this did the opposite of intimidating the boy further, and instead seemed to snap him out of his shock. The boy winced. He eyed the red blade before him. He seemed at odds with himself, struggling with his own nerves in these fleeting seconds, and just when it looked like he was about to move, he froze up again. He looked up at the Dark Lord and screwed his face.

    Under the mask, Vader narrowed his eyes. He almost, almost, felt provoked. But the boy was just that, a boy. A blip of activity taking up his time. So Vader kept his patience and silently held him in place with his lightsaber, trapping him in this fearful state of uncertainty, waiting for his reaction, daring him to move.

    The doors behind the boy opened. A pair of drones floated in. At the sight of them, the boy turned and bolted for the other doorway. Vader merely watched as the drones zoomed after him, stun-blasts were sent, there were flashes of light, and then a high-pitched yelp. The boy dropped to the ground, unconscious. The encounter was over as quickly as it had begun.

    "Finally! Stupid droids, how hard is it to catch..." An Inquisitor appeared from the threshold, a broad, strong-built humanoid. He paused in surprise as he noticed Vader, who stood nearly camouflaged in the darkness. Vader pointed his red saber at him.

    "Eighth Brother. Explain."

    The grey-skinned man frowned, straightened, and tried to grasp for words. "Yes... yes, my Lord. It's... well, it's just one of the Initiates. He got loose during transfer to his cell. But the situation is—"

    "The situation is under control."

    Vader did not bother to look behind where he knew the Grand Inquisitor was, standing like some all-seeing housemaster. Feeling a hint of annoyance, Vader lowered his blade but kept his grip as it continued its blazing hum.

    "Eighth Brother, collect the Initiate," the Grand Inquisitor ordered promptly. "See that he's put in the disciplinary center."

    Eighth Brother nodded. He made a stiff head bow to Vader, then picked up the boy. He disappeared into the corridor, carrying him over his shoulder, the drones hovering after him.

    "Apologies for the... disruption, Lord Vader." The Pau'an stayed his distance, and Vader didn't move either. He faced the corridor where Eighth Brother had gone, his back turned to the Grand Inquisitor. After a moment's silence, there was a faint murmur by the Pau'an. "I suppose... you will add this to our list of failures—"

    "The training demonstration." Vader deactivated his saber and clipped the weapon to his belt. "He was not present for it."

    There was a pause before the Inquisitor quietly answered, "No."

    "Yet he is an Initiate. He is physically capable and in the same age range."

    "Yes, but... as you just witnessed, he has... behavioral issues. An exemption was necessary, but all the others were present. I fail to see how it's problematic."

    "Your definition of problematic is an irony, Grand Inquisitor, one that is becoming more evident by the hour." Half-exasperated, Vader turned, his black cape swaying. He once again faced the Pau'an. "He was attempting to escape. And only by chance was he prevented from doing so."

    The Pau'an pressed in his lips, barely hiding a snarl. "He is not the first Initiate to try to escape, I admit this. But none ever have, and none ever will. The boy has only been in our training program a few months since his service in Project Harvestar. He wasn't brought up at an early age, or born on an Imperial world — he was even Jedi-taught at one point. Considering those disadvantages, such behavior is to be expected." The Pau'an waved a hand. "It's nothing we haven't dealt with before, Lord Vader."

    Vader studied the Inquisitor for a long moment, a muted rage in his blood. All words were a thin disarray, his mind glossing over them. Only one word rang in his head, an endless, echoing taunt:

    Jedi.

    "The boy," he said, "must be terminated."

    The Inquisitor blinked. "Lord Vader... I realize how this must all look... I realize your disappointments... but this is all part of the process. Training, conditioning, disciplining, sifting through the weaker Force-sensitives to find the strongest among them. And we only have a handful of them. To throw one away over something so—"

    "I see your inadequacy is still in full effect," the Dark Lord said, louder, the words burning like plasma through the vocoder.

    The Pau'an winced. A wave coursed down his throat, barely hidden behind the long black collar around his neck. He made a slow nod.

    "Very well. It shall be done," he conceded. He then paused. Something crossed his white face, a tick, as if something bitter had resurfaced itself from his memory. "Perhaps it is for the best... The boy wasn't only taught by a Jedi, we believe he might've been the offspring of one. An old, unfound target, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Actually, his death could make for a fine demonstration to the others, an example of what Jedi influence can lead t—"

    He was cut short; a sharp coldness swept into his armored form, and it slammed him against the wall. The Inquisitor's black-yellow eyes enlarged, the coldness holding him there like invisible chains, and Vader stood before him, still in the shadows, a leather hand outstretched in a clear Force-hold.

    "No," the Dark Lord said, the baritone voice brazen with a sudden urgency. But it suddenly shifted, diffused slightly to a seething calm. "No. I will deal with this boy."

    With that, he released the Grand Inquisitor. The cold, slithering energy unpinned itself from him, melted away, and the Pau'an slumped, nearly collapsing as the Dark Lord hastily retreated.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020 at 2:02 PM
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  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Fantastic confrontation and a fascinating end-point. Eager to see what happens next.
     
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