I always get nervous by this part. I mean, the thought had always occurred "what if this isn't the right thing to do?" Kyber crystals had been used by those mystics for years. They were an untapped source of power, and a vastly renewable energy source, all about the size of a Stammy bug.
And I couldn't think of anything better to power my GL-1977. I have been obsessed with this vehicle since I was eight years old. I remember how old I was because my mother introduced it to me. It was the same place we would go every year for my birthday.
The Mos Eisley Junkyard. An amazing time had by all on my birthday. At least, it was what we could afford.
"If you could carry it, then it's yours." That was the rule mom made.
It took me years for me to build Artoo. I would carefully pick out piece by piece parts that were too hard to find elsewhere. Well, not too hard, but too expensive.
The GL initially caught my eye because it was sleek and powerful. Wasn't flashy, but had an amazing line to it, much like those vehicles at the races every weekend. My mom loved going to those and would take me as to not leave me by myself at home, and hopefully teach me something along the way.
She was a mechanic by trade and had worked on many of the racers there. She would know when the driver was not utilizing her craftsmanship to the fullest. The roar of the engine in certain gears, as well as its pitch would let her know if the driver was shifting properly and using the vehicle the way she intended.
Shmi Skywalker. Shimari Ann Skywalker to be exact. The best mechanic on all of Tatooine. She would say all of the Galaxy.
Being dragged into her garage was not an ideal way to grow up between lessons of Basic, Math, Bantha Pharmacology, and every other class I had to take at standard. I hated Standard.
And although I hated doing the work, it centered and focused my busy, and often, distracted mind. And in time, I realized that I was quite the mechanic myself, and would often create my own things. Well, my mom noticed, and began to encourage my passion.
I was six when we first went to the junkyard. Massive piles of steel, wires, and clear. The steel was often off of old trade ships. Some still fully intact. Those ships are incredibly big. The size of small cities. And seeing them when I was young was grandiose.
Those ships would get stripped over decades. And it wasn't from the scavengers lack of procuring parts of the ship at an incredible rate, but because of its tremendous size. Memory Units. Heads up displays. Ray shield generators. Tractor Beams.
And those weren't small items. They would be the size of public transports. Keep in mind, these were the ships that they were sending to the junkyard. The damned junkyard. I could only imagine what they ships that they had built to replace them.
Since the destruction of the Imperial Rebellion, the Galactic Federal Empire saw no need for these ships and either had them dismantled, or sent to Desolate planets with Junk Stations. They needed to be desolate in nature for a couple of reasons.
One, it needed to be a planet that wouldn't attract too much attention as to not gain scrutiny from the public. These planets' inhabitants usually were of a lower class and wouldn't poorly reflect on the political dynamic necessary to influence the outcome of public perception.
In other words, the Galactic Federal Empire viewed the people on these planet's contribution as minimal, to insignificant.
Two, in conjunction with the the political aspect, the source of revenue that the Trade Ships provided was also good for the Indigenous peoples of those planets. Not only for those who owned and ran the junkyards, but for the local street merchants reselling those parts as well.
Business as usual.
And, that illustrious day on my sixth birthday, I met good old Artoo.
He came from one of these ships. I found a head and arm from an old wire processing unit. These droids helped lay the foundation and structure for communication throughout the entire galaxy before being replaced by emittance tech.
Emittance Tech rendered the droids useless. Most of them would have been repurposed as maintenance units for health structures since they were incredibly precise and could be easily reprogrammed to work on any creature or droid.
That seemed to be the running theme. Robots replaced everything. Even other robots.
And that's what Artoo was on this particular trade ship.
Keep in mind that this Artoo isn't the same from when I first created him. There's several Astromech droids, with different purposes and uses thanks to his transferrable memory unit that I created. His initial processor is still intact. That innate ability to be precise and pinpoint across a multitude of task proves him to be the best mechanic's assistant, even to this day. Well, that's my astute opinion anyway. I really like him. More than most people.
And in this current mode, he was putting the finishing touch on an self-generating power source for my GL.
"Annie!" Pamde shouted from the house.
She, is one of two that get away with calling me that. Also, only in private. It's happened a couple of times in public when I usually turn the color of a Rynick Minotaur from embarrassment. At home though, she was my queen and could say anything she wanted.
"What's up dear?"
"You've been out here for about 4 hours. You're gonna be late for work...for the third time...this week."
She knew I would often lose track of time in the garage. I guess it was from being so wrapped up in the GL restoration that I would forget to keep track of time, or the fact that I hated my job, but I never cared about being on time to work.
Being around machines was calming. I had tinkered with them and become more familiar and at peace around them. I could be myself. I didn't have to to think about my hair, or about managing the feelings in my head that were sometimes a bit off kilter.
They, in turn, became my best friends. I was never judged. I was never harmed. I was always able to be me.
Then along comes Padme. She's about 6 years older than me, but a Collindrical Studies Phenomenon. She was granted her degree at about 20 standard years and began her own debating practice.
She focused on the cases that nobody wanted to take. The poor. The downtrodden. Mainly those who had suffered at the hands of either the Imperial Rebellion, or the Galactic Federal Empire. Both were equally impactful in their own ways, only seeking what would be best for themselves.
Padme came from royal lineage but never saw herself in that role. She renounced her throne amicably and allowed her siblings to assume royal duties. On occasion she is called upon to make an appearance, but it's rather seldom and usually in the best interest of the GFE.
And on that sunny day when she walked into my mom's garage to help with a Union labour dispute. I was instantly in love.
"I got the twins ready for Standard, would you mind dropping them off on the way to work?" Padme said.
"Of course love." I said without hesitation. Without that woman, I would be an absolute wreck. And, although the grays were coming in, she was still as beautiful as the first day I met her, and more wise beyond her years which was her most valuable asset to me. I often get stuck in my own head and she helps me sort those things out...usually.
"Luke. Leia. Let's go." I said. The twins were now eight. Damn, time flies.
The twins, in full fashion, wore their usual attire. For some reason, they loved to dress the same, and both were willing to switch clothing outfits. It was a fun and clever interweaving of their personalities.
"What you do you think dad?" Leia asked.
I looked down to a rather unique ensemble. A hat with a Turnook feather, elaborate silk robes, a rather bright metal sash, a pair of fluff pants, and foam-soled sneaks.
"Absolutely amazing my little princess." Padme hated when I called her that because it was technically true and it was so far removed from her personality, that it made it all the more amusing. Well, to me anyway.
"I can't stand the shoes dad." Luke whined. As usual. "They aren't the right size and are really hurting my feet." Leia looked at him sideways. "I love everything else though." Luke quickly added.
"Well, we can't..."
"beep. urrrrrllllllll. beep." The Holodevice interrupted me mid sentence only to have Captain Ackbar come up on the screen.
"Vader!" Ackbar said.
"Yes sir!" I said reluctantly. I hated these new videocron projections. I had to pretend to be interested or care about what he was saying. Even though he was one of the few higher ups I respected, it was still a Videocron.
"We have the Mystic Council coming in to the precinct this morning and I need you to be there to brief them." Ackbar said.
"Ok sir. I will be there as soon as I can." With that, I performed one of the most satisfying actions I can think of, the click of the closing of the Videocron. "You guys ready? Let's go."
Luke and Leia were always ready for me to drop them off before work. Because it wasn't just a drive to Standard, it was a high pursuit chase through Coruscant. The sirens would whir, while the station cruiser dipped and dove through lanes and lanes of traffic.
I always loved to drive fast. It takes me back to my days growing up on Tatooine. Watching the races. Hearing the engines roar. Seeing the cars zip by. It was always something I loved to dabble in, but I never had a chance to do it professionally. And this, was now as close as it would get; Drifting in and out of traffic and trying to scare the daylights out of Luke and Leia.
It never worked.
They would often shout "faster dad." Or, as it were today, they asked "can we go to Wedge's?" Ah, good ole Wedge Antilles.
Wedge had a shop and a track just on the outskirts of the 19th. He had vintage racers and some custom ships that he would let me try on occasion. Wedge was a retired pilot for the Rebellion, now part time smuggler for, various parties interested in his services. Spice. Kyber. Randers. You name it, he's probably smuggled it.
And, he's one of the best pilots that I have ever seen...next to me anyway.
Some Standard morning drop offs would end up with the kids and I playing hooky for at least the first half of their day anyway. I would take them to their favorite breakfast joint to grab a quick bite, then off to Wedge's. Wedge always loved having them come to the track. He always said that there was something "special" about them.
"Yeah." I would say, "They were raised by their mother."
Wedge had a pair of speedsters in the garage he kept only for them. Custom built. Identical in style, color, performance, and speed. And on those hooky days, it was always entertaining to watch them woosh around the track.
The speedsters wouldn't go too fast, but had some kick to them. The kids would ride them for hours. I would even manage to get a couple of laps in from time to time, but eventually knew that I had to get them to Standard. And, as a built in reminder when time got away from us, I had my information as the primary contact when the Standard would call to ask where they were. My main concern was to avoid the wrath of Padme.
"Twin Dynamic Evaluation" is what I would always tell Ms. Burl, the attendance enforcer. She actually really scares me. It was a program for "gifted" siblings. And not just siblings, only twins that were conducted privately by the Schmi Antilles Tattooine Exchange.
It was a very private and reclusive experience within the highest ranks of the Tatooine/Coruscant Program trials which is why it couldn't be researched or tracked by normal means.
It was a stretching of the truth to keep the kids entertained, and give them some real life experience. And, the TDE days were good because it gave me a break from work as well as some special time with L and L.
"No LL-TDE today guys." I said in response. "We're almost at school and dad has some stuff to handle at work."
"Are you worried about it?" Luke asked. "You feel a bit weird."
There it is. "Feel". How does he know how I "feel"? Leia would do it also. I remember growing up I would get certain vibes off of people that were trying to swindle my mom, or if a person was trying to harm or attack me. I just never thought of it until I had the twins.
"No, I just remembered that I have a ton of digital indexing that I forgot about and that Ackbar was going to be upset." I lied. I felt how odd the words were when they came out of my mouth and on some level, I think that the twins knew as well.
Every time I enter the Mid-14th precinct it's always the same. A mildewy musty dank hole in the wall with a smell that can't be removed from the memory, or the nostrils for that matter. Of all of the precincts on Coruscant this was the busiest, as well as its most ran down.
Great people worked at the M14. Great people lived in the M14. It was just one of the biggest and easiest means of acquisition and dispersing of all things illegal. It wasn't limited to just Coruscant regulars, but to travelers from all over the galaxy.
At any given time, the number of people resided there can make up to eighty-five percent of the planet's total population. Foreign merchants, dignitaries, royal and alike, all reside there for short stints of time. If Mos Eisley had a sibling, this would be the Overacheiving, Award Winning, Straight 1 in Standard, Entrepreneurial, perfect family younger brother.
The attraction of legal gambling and other pleasures appeared to be on the level. The all glitz and glamour, attracted many people as a prime destination. It also played well into the hands of the underworld and black market for the running of rare goods; mainly slaves.
It wasn't out of sorts to see a 2 billion Galactic Credit yachtical vessel parked outside the Reserve, or a high end loft. These weren't your standard lofts, these lofts were the size of small cities and were often self-contained. A full working staff, restaurant, gambling detail, and Heerackti Ball Course all contained within.
Celebrities and CEOs of large corporations would come there often. Just them. No friends. No Family. Just a basic wait and maintenance staff. And usually that staff would have its' memory wiped after every guest. Usually. There was always some journalist looking for dirt and would find ways of getting information they would deem fit to share with the public.
I was invited by a friend to visit once. Jozian Dellick Palpatine. More formally known as Grand Emperor Palpatine, or just Palpatine for short. He noticed me going through the Essential Trooper Academy Training. Since he was once a trooper himself and worked his way through the ranks, he understood the struggle between the extreme physical regimen as well as the mental toll that the academy and job play.
He is the reason I became Vader. It is a position for the highest ranking trooper without equal. There is only one Vader, and that Vader at this point in time, is me.
Through spending time together, he taught me ways to channel my anxiety and worry through meditation and relaxation. It made me feel more poised, alert, and stronger. And, about once or twice a year he would come to M14 to escape it all.
However, I always found it a bit ironic; Seeking some sort of refuge from the public amongst a multitude of people. It's almost as if they wanted to garner attention from getting away from having attention. If I ever really wanted to get away, I would go to Tatooine, or Jakuu. Nobody wants to go there. And, if you come from there, you really don't announce it people. Most people think I am a Coruscanti and I don't go out of my way to correct them.
Nobody claims to be a Tatooininan.
If I could summarize the M14, it would be the world's happiest full-fledged child playground for adults. It deals in all things. If you can think of it, it probably exists here. And, if it didn't exist, it would find a way to adjust in order to accommodate deep pockets.
On this particular morning when I walked in I happened to see that Ackbar was already waiting for me at my work station. That is never a good sign.
"The Mystics will be arriving shortly. Are you ready to talk to them?" Ackbar frantically urged.
"What could they possibly want?" I said annoyed at the question.
"There is something wrong with their "force" as they call it." Ackbar said behind rolled eyes, before turning more serious adding "Children, who they had deemed to be possible force wielders, are being taken. No ransom. No warning. They were told that you have a way of finding people who don't want to be found."
Ah, the reputation of Vader. Always the hard ass. Always handing out punishment without due process or laws. I often leave those details out when discussing with Padme. "Feelings" don't work with a person who Debated for a living.
Facts. Solid facts.
Those were the underlying solves to complicated cases. However, I have a 100% conviction rate. The people I catch, are guilty. Period. No trial. No jury. Only justice.
However, I see where Luke and Leia get their "feelings" from.
"Uh, yeah. I don't like dealing with all that force nonsense." I said because I really don't. It takes me to a place that I don't like to go. There were some incidents in my past where "things happened" and I don't remember. I remember standing over dozens of bodies. All of them with blasters or weapons in hand still. All of them either slightly breathing, or dead.
I have gone to a place that doesn't decipher friend from foe, and it scares me.
"Vader, I need you to get it together to deal with these Mystics." Ackbar replied to my dissent.
"Okay. Okay." I responded.
There was a particular mystic that I had dealt with several times. His mannerisms and nature truly do seem to be kind and thoughtful. Like I said, I have a sense of these things. But there is something definitely under the surface. Something menacing that has always seemed to bother me.
I was on a crime scene in the 14th. The Zentacost district was the "elite" district on Coruscant. It was reserved for those who were usually affluent government officials, dignitaries, and major heads of states and planetary systems. It wasn't a district, more so than a small self-contained city. It had its own ecosystem.
A market with local, and not so local, foods, drink, and inebriation. Private schools who's educational professors were the best in the galaxy. Not planet, galaxy. The tuition for one of these schools for a year couldn't be afforded for 3 families in a lifetime.
And, usually, the private security that Runs Zentacost is normally enough to handle any domestic or public disturbances. They "police" their own. These security guards were mainly ex Galactic Federal Military elite outfits. These were trained assassins hired as more of a security force for outside threats than inside disturbances.
Since only 20-30 families resided in ZC, they felt the need to have as many protections as possible. Quick and stern internal conflict resolutions outweighed the overwhelming desire from any outside authority interactions. A kid joyriding a speeder would not be treated the same as a person who was caught trespassing.
Usually those caught trespassing disappeared.
It's separated by a large forged abyss to keep the "less fortunate" from entering in. There are various security checks to go through in the main entrance and exit. They scan any and all things that come through. Be it organic, or inorganic, these scans so sophisticated and precise that they can tell the chemical make up of any said organic and inorganic material down its the microscopic atoms.
And, unlike those who could be bribed, or tricked, these Caurbay Scanners were infallible. Well, that was until the day that a person went missing; when I first met Obi-Wan.
"Greetings. I am Obi-Wan Kenobi."
He was just under 2 meters tall. His built was athletic, but slight at the same time. I could tell he had seen things that most would consider disturbing, but his demeanor was poised and charismatic. Even in the aqua shrouds that they Mystics wore, his presence still made a profound statement without saying anything. It's the way that he moved. That's what was the most eerie thing about him. He almost seemed to float.
Calm, and calculated. His voice was pleasant and inviting. "Commander Vader I presume."
"Just Vader. Mystic Obi-Wan Kenobi. A pleasure."
A pleasure? Seriously? I couldn't believe I said that. Was it playing too much into the kiss ass territory. Would he see through it? They can "feel" what you are thinking apparently.
"And just Obi-Wan for me Mr. Vader." Kenobi responded.
"What is your first analysis of the scene? It seems as if this was done by an outside organization, but how? The ZC is widely known for its security protocols and procedures."
I guess he felt the the need to dispense with any formalities or small talk. This meant that he was a results driven person. No need for chit chat, or pleasantries.
I really like that.
And since Mystics operate outside of any judicial processes or conventions, we are instructed to just cooperate and do what they say.
"Well, right now we are questioning the family. They said that they don't remember anything that happened. The last thing they remember was going out for dinner..."
"Was their child there with them?" Obi-Wan interrupted.
"Yes she was." I answered.
"Well, what happened next?" Kenobi quipped.
"'They don't remember' is what I said. It was three days ago." I quipped back.
"Well, I see." Obi-Wan said as he stroked his beard and contemplated my words. He was meticulously gathering his thoughts and I could tell was formulating a plan of how to do his own interrogations on the family.
"Our job is to maintain the integrity and purpose of the Mystic ways. We are keepers of the peace as well as knowledgable mentors in political and judicial manners. This child was important to our cause and make no mistake, we will find them."
Obi-Wan's words made me take notice. He was unmistakably upset by what had transpired and was not holding back about how he felt.
"If it is alright, I will continue my own line of questioning with the family and see if we can be a bit more...successful with them. Hopefully we can jog some clues or memories from what may have happened".
I watched as Obi-Wan glided towards the missing child's parents. They seemed very at ease to see him. He simply placed his hand on the fathers shoulder, and the father began to visibly weep. The mother looked on with no expression or visible emotion. She did not know what to do, or how to respond to what she witnessed.
It all took about 20 seconds. From the time he walked over to them, to the time that the father broke down. Obi-Wan's "tactics" seemed to have worked.
Creepy, but commendable. I need to find out how he did it, but not now.
"The father was in contact with an individual called Fulcrum." Obi-Wan said. "This individual is a top priority for us and these parents have provided crucial intel into Fulcrum's whereabouts. You need not concern yourself with this matter anymore Mr. Vader."
Obi-Wan's tone made it sound as if he was trying to convince me to walk away, and I even felt a slight tug to let it go, but then I inquired "Who is fulcrum?"
"Like I said Mr. Vader, you need not concern yourself with that." Obi-Wan's tone was even more piercing than before and he waved his hand. The tug came again once more, but I ignored it.
"I feel it is a concern of mine seeing that this incident occurred in my district. As Vader, it is my job to make sure these "matters", as you called them, are attended to with the utmost care and tact."
Obi-Wan appeared a bit taken aback initially, then added "Of course, Mr. Vader. I would not want you to feel as if we are undermining your duty."
With a gentle nod of the head and a slight turn Obi-Wan began to walk away when I inquired once more "Who is Fulcrum?"
With his back towards me still, Obi-Wan simply turned his head ever so slightly and said "A former Mystic with the skillset and tact of our people with no sense of love, care, or concern for anybody else."
I was waiting for it. I was now in for another tale or sorcery and mythology that surrounded the Mystics and the "Force" as they called it. But it never came. Obi-Wan continued to walk away and his entourage of Mystics followed.
When I went to confirm Mr. Kenobi's story with the parents, neither could remember their conversation with Mr. Kenobi. Not only speaking to them, but also what was said during their conversation which I clearly saw.
And as I watched the Mystics take off in their ship, I knew that Obi-Wan was somebody that I had to keep close to the vest, but also never trust.
Obi-Wan commanded such a presence that you couldn't help but take umbrage in the pure splendor of it. His strut was confident, yet wasn't menacing or intimidating.