This wasn’t real. He wasn’t real. He was supposed to be a myth, a legend, a bed time story. To scare the rebels into line, a lie for Imperials to spread on the street. For the masses to share, to make it seem like a reality. He wasn’t supposed to exist, wasn’t supposed to be an actual entity. He shouldn’t be, and yet there he was. Or, in honesty, it was probably more the fact that no one wanted him to be real.
Clad in black, face covered by an emotionless dark death mask. Tall, broad shouldered, towering over his peers. Intimidating by size, cape falling swiftly behind him as he walked in a confident, casual stride. Each step long, making the young admiral by his side stumble and half jog to keep up with the pace. The echoing of his mechanical, rhythmical breathing echoing and drowning out the buzzing and beeping of data pads and monitors. He had yet to speak a word, as the young admiral continued to recap the events of the latest rebellion strike on an Imperial base.
He stopped then, looking out the front window of the star destroyer into the dark of space. Folded his arms across his chest, defiant. The admiral immediately silenced, clearly at a loss for words. The room had gotten strangely cold, a chilly sensation passing through the stomach of every staff member residing there. Numbing their fingers, their toes. Leaving their faces ice kissed and flushed. Goosebumps covering their skin, and they shuddered in their seats. The admiral’s shoulders came up, and he was wrapping his arms around himself.
“Lord Vader?” he croaked after what seemed to be an eternity of nothing, voice trembling.
Vader did not reply. He simply kept his gaze locked on something in the distance, something within the clusters of stars ahead. His breathing device as punctual and periodic as ever; not a soul within the room daring to speak a word. None of the usual hushed whispers or muffled giggles, none of the camaraderie of the coworkers to pass time. Only Vader’s inhales, Vader’s exhales.
“Who was in command during the attack, admiral?”
When Vader finally spoke up, his voice was deep and booming. Loud, seeming to resonate within the four walls. Bouncing off of the dura-steel surrounding them, amplifying its intent. Another shiver passed through the crew members, all of them attempting to keep attention on their work duties. All of them peering over their shoulder. They were all freshmen, new recruits. Had barely been station for a couple of weeks. Some more seasoned members spoke of Vader, dared barely whisper his name for fear of conjuring him up. Some had never even seen the man. None of the current staff knew if that would have been a blessing or a curse.
“General Sarkk, milord,” stuttered the pale faced admiral, his eyes scanning the side of Vader’s mask frantically; wavering and unable to hold still for too long.
“It is the second time he fails to fulfill his duties favorably.”
Vader’s voice, full of animosity despite it being almost monotone. It was clear that General Sarkk’s days were numbered, from the way the tall figure drummed his gloved fingers against his bicep. Impatient, slow motions. The admiral gulped audibly, several of the crew members catching the choked sound.
“He is of no use to the Empire, if he cannot defend his own stationary base.”
A harsh statement, but no one dared dispute it. The fact that Sarkk had even been offered a second chase after his last failed mission was a small miracle. Apparently, Sarkk had been working in close contact with Moff Tarkin for years and was therefore awarded with some lenience - as per the Emperor’s orders. Despite Vader - spoken of as a ghost or a monster to intimidate - being rumoured to have offed numerous failing employees. Now, it was easy to see why, and easy to believe in those rumours.
“What is his current location, admiral?”
“I, uh - the Sierra star system, milord. But, I believe he’s available on Coruscant for the time being. He - he’s been invited to attend the senate meeting, and their subsequent debate.”
“Indeed. And you are certain of his whereabouts?”
“I see. It appears we have our destination.”
Another chill, running down the spines of the staff. There seemed to be a playful, almost amused undertone to the word. As if Vader was looking forward to taking the general’s life, to punish him for his mistakes. Another tidbit often added to the stories; that of Vader’s non-existent sense of compassion. He showed no mercy, held no remorse.
As soon as it was said, a clear demand of full attention, Captain Cilla was up on her feet. Approaching in a hurried, subordinate manner and giving a curt, well practiced bow as she stopped on her heel. She was by no means a big woman, and next to her, Vader seemed nearly a giant. He tilted his head only briefly to the side, as if studying her posture. She remained unwavering, arms at her sides; feet close together. Unlike the admiral, she was good at hiding any fear she might harvest. Surely, Vader would appreciate the effort.
“Yes, Lord Vader,” she said, no hint of trembling to her voice.
“Set the coordinates for Coruscant, we are travelling to the inner rim,” said Vader, pointing his index finger threateningly at her face.
“As you wish, milord.”
“I shall see to Sarkk personally upon landing.”
Another nod of agreement from the captain, as she waited patiently to be dismissed. The danger of turning your back on Vader without permission surely something she too had been well informed of. Keeping her head hung low in respect, she waited as Vader remained silent for a moment, the hollow black eyes of his mask still on her. Then, he slowly turned on his heel towards the young admiral. The man all but forgotten, arms still around himself to stay warm - or perhaps to restrain any quivering, so as not to betray his own fear. His chin was visibly wobbling, his breath coming out as mist through his nostrils. As was the captain’s.
“Admiral Junta. Are you a fresh recruit?”
The boy seemed taken aback by the sudden attention, clearly jolting in surprise. Wincing, shoulders tensing up. He looked up, and nodded an affirmative; forcing his arms down to his sides to match the captain’s stoic stance.
“Ah - yes, milord.”
“You have something on your mind. You wish to implore me, are you questioning my capabilities?”
“No! No, of course not Lord Vader,” gasped the young man, eyes wide with terror as he vehemently shook his head in denial. “I would never, milord.”
“Your thoughts betray you. Do enlighten me, admiral.”
Vader sounded almost amused, as if he was somehow taking delight in every word he spoke. As if he was thrilled to terrify the hapless freshly promoted boy.
“I - just - the Emperor himself resides on Coruscant, doesn’t he? Wouldn’t he have adequate and sufficient staff to see to his needs on location, without you needing to bother yourself, milord?”
There was a long pause, as Vader seemed to regard the man. Staring into his soul, as Junta grew all the more uncomfortable. Had he been a lesser, weaker man, he may have pissed himself. There had been instances of cadets losing control of their bladders. Rumours, of course. Yet, it was said that Vader did hardly find anything funny about the offensive response to his stature. Those cadets would never see a promotion, much less another day.
“When were you assigned to the commando bridge?” said Vader finally, as if contemplating.
“Fourteen days ago, milord,” stuttered Junta, gaze once again wavering as he struggled to meet Vader’s gaze through the dark lenses.
“I would have assumed as much. You ought to pay heed to your superiors. Learn to know your place, boy. I shall not be as forgiving, come future encounters. Consider this an act of mercy, I do not take kindly to your kind.”
Everyone could swear they felt the wave of terror coming from the young man, as Vader’s accusatory finger point landed on his face. Washing over them, watching how his face went deathly pale; ashen and white as snow. Watched how he bit his bottom lip to still its persistent quivering. As he bowed lightly, to offer his apology. He almost appeared as if he was about to tear up and cry.
“Of course, milord.”
Vader simply turned back to the captain, and waved a dismissive hand at Junta; clearly paying no heed to the fright he’d just given him - or perhaps, he was just satisfied with the reaction he’d spurred. Rumour said; Vader tended to be sadistic and revel in intimidation tactics.
“Very well. Now, you are dismissed. Return to your position, admiral. As for you, captain, you have my orders. Do as you are requested. You, too, are dismissed.”
“As you wish, milord.”
Cilla turned on her heel, as swiftly as she had when approaching, and immediately headed back to her position to write in the appropriate coordinates for Coruscant. The route would take a couple of hours, at best. If the staff had expected (or secretly hoped for) Vader to vacate the area in favour of returning to his own quarters, they had been gravely mistaken. Where even were his quarters anyway? Did he have any? With the way he had remained an unknown passenger for at least twenty four hours since last docking, he might as well have been a phantom.
The aura of darkness seemed to vibrate, the sensation of something heavy weighing down on everyone’s shoulders remaining intact as the sinister figure stayed in place. Turning back towards the window, going back to staring aimlessly into the void of space ahead. Breaths still steady, still mechanical. Tapping of data screens and keypads, beeping of monitors as a background soundtrack accompanying Vader’s eerie presence. Focused, as if lost in his own mind. Not that anybody would dare approach without permission; Junta lingering cautiously by the farthest away console he could locate. Still on edge.
When they eventually - finally - had time off; they would all be left rattled. Shaken. As if they had witnessed something supernatural, something impossible to explain. But they would all know. Vader was not just a story, made up to frighten trajectories and traitors. He was real. If flesh and blood, they could not say. But he breathed, so he must be alive.
And in his wake, no one felt very safe.
So I wrote a second part - might add more too, in the future - of Vader being a spooky fucker. Here, he’s intimidating his own staff as per usual Extra shenanigans. Hope you enjoy, I made up the Imperial names as I went along, haha