The Death of Darth Vega
As the Shadowlaw coasted in its orbit around Coruscant, the Sith Lord gazed out from the wide window of his quarters across the vast darkness of the galaxy. The tiny pinpricks of stars and the planet systems that populated them all brought a sinister smile to his face; for the plans had been set in motion for centuries and soon -- so very, very soon -- all of it would belong to him. Nothing would stand in his way; nothing could stand in his way. Not the Galactic Empire, not his ignorant rival, Darth Vader; not even the Emperor himself. The Emperor: a guise that the entire galaxy bought into. Darth Sidious had conjured an amazing trick, but to rule the galaxy would require far more force than the mere existence of dual personalities. Vega had foreseen multiple outcomes of Sidious’ rise to power; all of them ended in his death. The most prominent of these visions were his end at the hands of the Skywalkers. But Vega was impatient and to wait several more decades for Skywalker the Lesser to grow into his role as the Last of the Jedi would be to leave his goals in the hands of abstract ideas such as fate and destiny. Vega’s fate and destiny were of his own design; meticulously plotted and calculated like a sculptor that etched his finest work out of stone. Even the arrival of Vader’s secret apprentice had been weaved into Vega’s elaborate tapestry. No, not even Darth Sidious himself could stand in Vega’s way of Galactic Conquest.
Starkiller arrived on the Shadowlaw with an impact that rocked the massive vessel. Once inside, he navigated through the ship with the greatest of ease thanks to schematics provided by Proxy pre-op. The opposition he faced within the confines of the ship went down just as easily, his green hued lightsaber sliced through flesh and droid alike. Not even a blaster bolt touched him or singed the fabric of his tattered suit. Unbeknownst to him, Darth Vega had rendered his defense droids moot and had plagued his private soldiers with an acute case of exhaustion: a loss to the Sith Lord, but a necessary one.
Starkiller unleashed a spherical concentration of kinetic force at the sealed durasteel blast doors that could only belong to the quarters of the Jedi he had been assigned to kill. His Master had given him explicit instructions of not leaving anything to chance; that this Jedi must not survive under any circumstances. The impact of his hidden projectile bent the doors at the center and unhinged one from their collective frame. Inside he could see the Jedi clearly: he stood facing a massive window with his back towards Starkiller. He wore a black cloak secured at the shoulders by two guards, and a bright red cap atop his head that suggested a militant order about him. When he spun around to greet Starkiller, his appearance sent a shock wave through the Force that rocked every nerve ending in Starkiller’s body. It wasn’t the vibrant, red uniform that he wore, or the metallic wrist guards that adorned it; nor was it the winged skull on the face of his cap – the same symbol that Starkiller had seen on the hull of the ship—or the pure whiteness of his eyes that felt absent of all life and consciousness. It was the smile that split the man’s face into two separate halves and the teeth that showed behind his lips. It was vile, sinister; the smile not of a Jedi, but of something dark and evil. And though he had never met Darth Sidious and had never witnessed his Master’s masked face bare a smile, Starkiller knew that the smile belonged to a Sith Lord.
“You’re no Jedi,” Starkiller stated bluntly.
“Nor are you,” the man said and then something inexplicable happened.
The man no longer stood at the window behind an ornate desk. He stood directly in front of Starkiller, a mere yard away. In the cloud of chaotic confusion that clouded Starkiller’s mind, the questions of what just happened and how is that possible sparked like lightning before a storm. Teleportation technology, although attempted, was impossible and certainly unfeasible for an organic being. Yet, that’s what Starkiller had just witness, for no one – not Jedi nor Sith – could move so fast that without blinking, the young Sith apprentice could have not seen it. In a manner of seconds all of these thoughts passed through Starkiller’s mind before his instincts took control of his body and ignited the youth’s lightsaber. It sparked to life and filled the darkened room with a vibrant green ambiance. He then struck out at the supposed Jedi with a similar technique he had used to enter the room. The wave of Force energy pushed the man in red back to the window where he hit it with a thumping thud. The window cracked and spider-webbed from the impact and Starkiller charged. He beckoned the Force to assist his movement and was upon the man in a single leap and his saber fell fast to split the man in half.
Yet it didn’t.
The green blade of his saber was held at bay mere inches from the man’s face by a lightsaber of his own. One that defied everything that Starkiller knew about the weapons and further defied everything he knew about the inner workings of the universe itself. Its blade was a void; devoid of all light, yet emitted an eerie, violet glow that clashed against the green glow of his own weapon and illuminated those vacant, dead eyes of his opponent.
Starkiller leapt backwards, his mind full of questions, and watched the man in red rise to his feet. The stillness in the air between the two provided Starkiller with the opportunity to reach out into the Force for some kindle that would ignite the fire of understanding his conscious mind had denied him. He found nothing. No, less than nothing. An entity of negative space: a void of an unnatural manipulation of the Force itself; a hole torn into the fabric of reality. Whomever – whatever – this man was, he simply shouldn’t have been; his very existence an impossibility.
Once to his feet, the man in red tore the black cloak free and tossed it away. His saber, that dark horrible thing, ignited again and he launched himself at Starkiller: the duel had become official.
Darth Vega toyed with the apprentice of his rival for the better part of an hour. He dodged and parried; deflected and countered as the deadly dance of the duel progressed. His intentions were never to kill the apprentice, but to challenge him in a manner that even Vader couldn’t imagine. To increase the emotional charge of the duel for the apprentice he even allowed the youth to land several strikes against the armor on his shins, forearms and shoulders. The armor had been molded from an ore that, once solidified from its liquid state, became near indestructible. Thus the apprentice’s saber did no damage and left no marks. Then, it seemed, that the music had ended and the dance was over. It was time for Darth Vega to end this charade.
The duel had exhausted Starkiller. His muscles and joints ached and it seemed as though the Force itself had ceased to provide him with any sort of support. This man, whatever he was, was far more powerful than the two Jedi he had previously faced and defeated and the void-like aura that surrounded this being told him that the man even surpassed his Master in sheer power. Perhaps even the Emperor himself.
His lightsaber had grown too heavy to wield with one hand, as his preferred style required of him. He took a traditional two handed stance for his next flurry of attacks. All of which he thought to be futile – and proved to be – as he felt death as it crept closer and closer still as time passed on. The duel’s conclusion approached fast and surely his opponent knew it as well. Him with the vile weapon; him with the vile smile; him with the veil of mystery that seemed to bastardize all in existence.
Still, better to die at the hands of the enemy than to return to his Master in shame.
Then it happened.
The man in red spun around violently, his dark saber making a grand arc through the air, and left himself open. In less time than it took for him to blink, Starkiller flipped the saber in the palm of his hand to his preferred style and jammed the blade into the man in red’s chest to the hilt before the man’s own foul weapon finished its path. The intense heat of Starkiller’s green blade cauterized the wound and let no blood flow freely. The opponent dropped his weapon, which went dead as soon as it hit the floor, and fell to his knees. Starkiller waited until all traces of life left the man in red’s face before he withdrew his weapon. From the hole in the man’s chest erupted an ethereal violet flame that consumed the entirety of him and left a pile of ash and burning hot metal in his place. When Starkiller touched the black lightsaber, it, too, was reduced to ash.
He stopped and stared in amazement with thoughts roaring in his head. Perhaps this whole ordeal had been nothing more than a figment of his imagination. Or perhaps it was an ancient trial concocted by the Sith and implored upon him by the Dark Lord that was his Master. He accepted that and agreed with himself with a silent nod that this was merely another test that Darth Vader had set upon him. It was the most logically satisfying resolution to the problem, the mystery, that his mind could conjure up.
He deactivated his weapon and set out to finish the task at hand.
“What happened in there?” Juno Eclipse asked when he returned to his own ship, the Rogue Shadow.
“I…” Starkiller paused, his thoughts were blank on the subject. “I don’t remember. I remember boarding the ship and now this. Everything is a blank.”
Juno stared at him. Her eyes and the expression on her face told him everything he would want to know.
“I’m not crazy,” he said. He dismissed any further conversation and went to Proxy. “Detonate it.”
The Shadowlaw erupted in a burst of immense flames then went black in the vacuum of space as Juno pulled the Rogue Shadow away. It was true, what he told his pilot. There was a hole in his memory between the time he entered the Shadowlaw and when he departed. All that remained in his mind’s eye of the event was the image of a terrible smile.