Celebrations...and Dark Arrivals
New Blood in a New Hope
By Michael Weyer
Celebrations…and Dark Arrivals
Buffy didn’t even wait for the ladder to be brought up to the Y-Wing before she leaped out to the ground. She threw her helmet off and away as she raced toward the waiting X-Wing in the hanger. Xander was right behind her, a bit miffed over the fact no one had even complained about him zipping right past the lookout tower at high speed. Then again, he figured, escaping imminent death would kill any angry mood.
A large crowd was gathering, all jubilant as Luke exited his craft. Buffy thought she heard him call out some other name when he saw Leia but couldn’t really make it out. She moved in, pushing past everyone to give Luke a strong hug. “How the hell did you do it?” she yelled.
He laughed as he hugged her back. “I…well, I just had an old Jedi watching over me, I guess.”
“Hey, kid!” Han and Chewbacca made their way through the crowd to more cheers and embraces. Xander let out a loud laugh as he moved in to slap his captain on the back. “I knew you’d change your mind!”
“Ah, wasn’t going to let you guys get all the glory and rewards, was I?” the smuggler quipped.
“I knew there was more to you than just money!” Luke proclaimed.
Han made a glowering face. “Watch it! We have reps to maintain!”
Willow moved to pull both her friends into a strong hug. “Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming back alive!” she said.
“Come on, have I ever let you down once?” Xander asked as he returned the hug. “Twice, three times, sure but once, never!”
Buffy punched him in the arm as they broke apart. They turned to see Artoo being lowered from the X-Wing. The droid’s dome was a blackened mess, smoking with wires askew from the laser blast he had taken.
“Artoo! Say something!” Threepio frantically said. “Sir, you must repair him! You must!”
“We’ll have the techs get to work on him right away,” Leia promised.
Threepio turned to Luke. “Sir, if any of my circuits are compatible, I’ll gladly donate them.”
“Don’t worry, Goldenrod, they’ll get it done,” Han said.
Xander raised an eyebrow. “That mean you’re going to give back the metals?”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves…” Han said as the group made their way to the main control room.
Captain Firmus Piett stopped and turned toward the officer who had called him. He was making his way through the main bridge of the Star Destroyer Accuser as it made its way through a tour of the system. The ever-solemn looking captain paced back to the communications station. “Yes, Leiutenant?”
The younger officer pointed to his screen. “We just picked a craft coming into our range, Captain. It appears to be similar to a TIE fighter but in a different configuration.”
Piett frowned. “Is it alone?”
“No other ships in the vicinity, Captain.”
“Not yet but…wait.” He checked as a flashing message came in. “Yes, sir, we are getting a distress call over the Imperial bandwidth.”
“Does the code check out?” Imperial codes were ever shifting to keep any Rebels or smugglers from pulling a ship into a trap.
The man nodded. “Decoding now, sir. It appears…” He stopped, his eyes widening and his face going pale.
“Lieutenant, what is it?” Piett impatiently asked.
The man swallowed and pointed at the screen. “The…the code signature is…SL-1.”
Every man within earshot stopped what he was doing and stared with looks of awe and fear. Piett did his best to hide it, appearing calm but inside was as rocked as everyone else. Only one person in the entire Imperial fleet utilized that code.
Piett shook off his confusion to give out orders. “Helm, bring us to an intercept course. Inform the hanger to be prepared and have an honor guard standing by. I shall be down presently.” He turned to march out as the ship’s crew went to work.
A few minutes later, Piett marched into the hanger. A squad of stomtroopers were lined up on either side as the strange-shaped TIE fighter sat before him. Piett stopped and brought himself to attention, fighting to keep his fear in check. His eyes appraised the fighter, noting the large burn and damage to one wing as if it had been struck by something.
The lower half of the main cockpit came loose from within. The sound of mechanized breathing began to echo and then Darth Vader exited the craft, immediately striding forward as soon as his boots hit the deck, his black cape flowing behind him. Aside from a few scuffs and scrapes in the armor, he appeared to be no worst for wear. Piett swallowed and bowed his head. “Lord Vader, are you all right?”
Vader strode past him and Piett quickly turned to follow. “My Lord?” Piett asked again. “Do you require medical attention?”
“No,” Vader said in a voice that left no room for doubt. “What is your current status, Captain…?”
“Piett, my Lord,” he answered. “We were on a standard patrol and were preparing to rendezvous with the Death Star.”
“The Death Star is no more,” Vader snapped. “The Rebels managed to destroy it.”
Piett was shocked but kept his stride up. “I…I see. What are your orders, Lord Vader?” He wasn’t sure how to take the destruction of the Death Star. Its construction had been debated among the ranks, some feeling it was too much a waste of resources and more to flash the Empire’s power. Some felt it would be good to show the military it had more power than some Sith Lord but Piett found such talk dangerously close to treason.
“Send a message to the Emperor,” Vader commanded. “Tell him the Death Star was lost with all hands due to the Rebellion. Let him know I have survived and will speak to him in detail later.”
“Yes, my Lord,” Piett quickly said. “Is there anything else you require?”
“Is the meditation chamber ready?”
Piett nodded. As per orders, all of the latest Star Destroyers had been outfitted with a special chamber for Vader’s own personal use. Some had grumbled at the waste of space but it was insisted upon. Piett could see such a move was now necessary.
“I shall be there,” Vader stated. “Set a course for the Core Worlds and do not disturb me unless the circumstances are dire or if the Emperor contacts me.”
“Yes, Lord Vader. I shall also have our mechanics see to your fighter at once.”
Vader glanced at him, surprised at the offer. “Thank you, Captain Piett.” He marched off as Piett broke away to relay the orders. Inwardly, he was shaken by the news of the Death Star’s destruction, as he knew the rest of the military would be. Up to now, the Rebellion had been considered little more than an irritant but if they were capable of taking out the most powerful weapon/battle station ever created…Then the rules of war were changing in a way Piett did not find comforting.
The morning had dawned beautifully on Yavin IV. The night before had been one of celebration with mourning for the pilots lost in the attack. Yet the joy of survival and the mighty blow the Rebellion had struck had offset the pain, making their sacrifice worthwhile.
Han had almost thrown a fit when it was made clear that liquor was as sparse to the Rebellion as money was. Buffy was grateful for it, knowing the last thing she needed was to have Xander and Willow needling her for “Cavegirl Buffy” again. The whole night was something of a blur before sleep while the morning promised something new.
“Will you relax, Han?” Luke said. “You’re pacing too much.”
“Me and Chewie aren’t big on this ceremonial stuff,” Han argued. He was dressed in, for him, nice clothes, a clean shirt, crisper jacket and a better pair of pants. Luke wore dark pants and shirt with a yellow jacket he’d borrowed. Xander was wearing a set of blue pants, light tan shirt and a navy blue vest of the same style.
“They’re giving us medals, Han,” Xander said. “They’re not lining us up to shoot us.”
“Still not happy with it,” Han argued. He glanced at Chewbacca. “No wonder you turned the medals down.”
Chewbacca shrugged and growled a few words.
“Yeah, yeah, honor, lifedebt, Wookies not into decorations and all that,” Han answered. “You just didn’t want to put up with this show.”
Luke sighed. “Well, I admit I feel kinda the same way. I still can’t believe I’m being honored for this.”
Han’s face grew serious. “I’m sorry about Biggs and the rest. They deserve the medals, not us.”
“They died for something they believed in,” Luke said.
“Just what made you turn around, Han?” Xander asked to change the subject.
“Ah, the Wook got emotional about it.” Chewbacca grunted at that.
“Come on, Han…” Xander pressed.
“All right, all right,” the smuggler said. “Some of the stuff you guys said…well, it got to me.” He looked to Xander. “Sides, you did help me and Chewie out the last few months. It didn’t seem right to just let you march to your death without helping out.”
“A good thing you came when you did,” Luke said. “Those TIEs had me cold.”
“I couldn’t nail the leader in the prototype,” Han admitted. “He was good. But, hey, I gotta know…how the hell did you make that shot without the computer. And don’t give me that ‘Force’ garbage!”
Luke was chuckling when Buffy entered the small room. “Okay, we set?”
She saw them all looking at her and rolled her eyes. “Damn, owe Willow ten credits.” She was wearing a lovely blue dress that offset her curves quite well. Her blond hair had been done up in a slight bun with a small tail hanging off it. While she had argued, Willow had insisted she also wear a small ring of pearls around her neck. She crossed her arms as she glared at Xander. “Not. A. Word.”
Xander let out a whistle that Han echoed. “You clean up good, girl,” the smuggler said.
“Don’t make me hurt you, Solo,” Buffy threatened as she carefully walked forward in the heels she now wore. “I was fine with a pair of jeans and a jacket but Willow insisted I get into the ceremony of it all.”
“Ah, beauty is a curse to bear,” Xander remarked lightly.
Buffy looked to Luke, who was staring at her open-mouthed. She leaned in and physically pushed his jaw shut. The young man shook his head. “Sorry, it’s just…never seen you like this before.”
“Good,” Buffy snapped.
“Come on, Buffy,” Xander said. “You look better than you did at Prom or Homecoming.”
“Yeah and remember how those turned out?” Xander shut his mouth at that.
The large stone doors before them began to slowly open. “Showtime, kids,” Han announced as they quickly gathered together. Luke and Buffy found themselves in the lead with the three smugglers behind. Together, they stepped through the doors and into the central chamber.
The throne room of the Temple was a massive hall that reminded Buffy of photos she’d seen of the great abbeys of Europe. The sunlight shone through the large openings at the far end. It was so huge that almost the entire personnel of the Rebel base were able to fit in, standing in long rows to frame the aisle.
The five walked down the aisle, heading toward the central platform. Han and Chewie glanced around to see the rows and rows of soldiers who watched them with grateful pride.
At the platform, Leia stood, more beautiful than ever in a long white gown with a diamond necklace, her hair in a tight bun atop her head with a ringlet. Next to her, Willow was clad in a brand new red gown, her hair pulled back and beaming at her friends. Nearby was See-Threepio, his plating now polished to a shine and Luke and Buffy both felt joy at seeing Artoo-Detoo rolling up beside him, fully repaired and also polished.
“Gentlemen…and lady,” Leia announced as they stopped before her. “On behalf of the Rebel Alliance and the free people of the galaxy, accept these medals of bravery.” She reached to take on from Dodonna and looped it around Xander’s neck. She took the other as Han bowed his head. “Still couldn’t come up with any cash, huh?” he whispered.
“I will strangle you,” Leia hissed, her smile still in place. “Buffy?”
The Slayer bowed her head and felt the medal slipped on. She looked to where Willow beamed. “She deserves one too,” she told the Princess.
“She turned it down,” Leia said. “She felt you deserved it more.”
Xander and Buffy glanced at each other and nodded. They reached up to remove their medals as Leia sighed. “Wait.” She glanced over to Willow who nodded and reached into her dress to pull out the medal she had. “Told ya,” the redhead whispered with a smirk.
“She’s cleaning up on bets today,” Xander whispered to Buffy as Luke bowed to accept his own medal. The group turned to face the audience, who erupted in applause and cheers. At Buffy’s wave, Willow made her way to join her friends.
“There’s still a lot to do,” Han pointed out to them over the din. “Empire got a black eye but it’ll come back for more.”
“Good,” Luke said. “I’m going to fight as long as it takes.”
“I’m with you on that,” Buffy replied.
“Three of us against an army of evil,” Xander noted. “Ah, so nice to see things back to normal.”
“Or ab-normal as the case may be,” Willow said.
“Will you all be quiet and enjoy your moment?” Leia whispered. “We have time for more worry later. For now…you’re heroes. Take a moment to accept it.”
Amidst the sun-filled throne room and the cheers of their fellow freedom fighters, the Slayer, the Wicca and the Hacker decided to follow her advice.
In the dimness of the meditation chamber, Darth Vader angrily brooded. The loss of the Death Star wasn’t concerning him. Tarkin had been in charge from its construction to its defense and any flaws in its design and the failure to repulse the Rebel attack were on his shoulders. He was sure the Emperor would feel the same way and thus did not fear any reprisal.
But it still rankled him that this pack of Rebels had humbled the Empire so badly. This would be a huge blow when news reached the rest of the planets of the Death Star’s destruction. It would show that the Rebellion was much stronger than most had believed and gain them more support from other worlds. It would also weaken the Empire’s standing, especially among the financial arms. And then of course, there was the loss of so many officers and equipment.
The Rebels would pay a severe price for this, Vader vowed. And none more than that pilot who had made the fatal shot. Somehow, Vader knew this was the young man who had followed Obi-Wan. After the smuggling ship’s escape, Vader had studied all security tapes for signs of the former Jedi’s companions. A motley group indeed but his attention was drawn to the blond-haired man and woman who seemed close together. The girl…something about her was unique, especially when one of her friends referred to her as “Slayer.” But the boy….something about that boy who was so strong in the Force made Vader decide that finding him was his first priority.
A beeping sound echoed and his eyes opened behind his mask. He remained cross-legged on the floor, his cape at a table nearby. There was only the central dais and one table, no bed or other furnishings. It was sparse to the extreme, just as Vader preferred it. While he could have activated the mechanics to remove his mask for a brief time, he preferred it on as he balanced his thoughts.
“Enter.” The door opened and Piett carefully walked in, bowing his head. “What is it, Captain?” Vader rumbled.
“Lord Vader,” the captain carefully said. “We have a…situation I believe you would wish to know of.”
“What situation, Captain?”
Piett licked his lips. “It is…I believe, my Lord, it would be better to show you than to tell you.”
Vader was intrigued. Something in Piett’s manner indicated fear, but not of Vader, which was quite rare. “Is it that important, Captain?”
Piett nodded. “I would not disturb you otherwise, my Lord.”
Vader paused before rising to his feet. At a wave, his cape floated to his shoulders and attached himself as he strode forward. Piett bowed his head before accompying Vader down the hallways, careful to keep a few steps behind.
“About an hour ago,” Piett began. “We detected a strange shift in pressure in one of the cargo holds. I dispatched a technical crew and when they did not report back, I sent a small squad of stormtroopers in and they found…the intruder.”
“Intruder?” Vader was instantly alert. “A Rebel?”
“I am not certain as of yet, My Lord,” Piett admitted. “In truth, we are not quite sure what he is. He does not match any known species although some of the DNA traces do match to human. But there are some…oddities.”
Vader stopped and turned to face him. “Captain, do not mince words. What did this intruder do?”
Piett swallowed and replied. “He killed both members of our tech crew and two stormtroopers before we could finally subdue him, my Lord.”
“He was armed?”
“Actually, my Lord, one of our men had his neck snapped. Another was apparently thrown across the bay into a pillar and the last two had their throats ripped out. They’re still cleaning the bay.”
Vader turned to continue his walk as Piett followed. “Is he alive?”
Piett sighed. “That is one of the reasons I wished to inform you of this, Lord Vader. You see, according to our medical scans, the man should be dead. He has no pulse, no heartbeat, his body temperature is nowhere near warm enough for a human and scans show little cellular activity that is consistent with aging.”
“Yet he is alive enough to kill several men,” Vader noted.
“Exactly, my Lord,” Piett said. “Not only that, but he also seemed little effected by a pair of blaster bolts he took. His strength and speed are greater than a normal human’s should be. It took four stun blasts to finally subdue him enough to be taken to the brig. I have a full stromtrooper squad on guard inside and outside the cells and doubled patrols nearby.”
Vader glanced at Piett, impressed. Most officers he met were either disdainful of him due to his Sith beliefs, fawning and giving him false humility to curry his favor or completely incompetent. Piett was something different. He was obviously intimidated by Vader but did his best to hide it and, unlike many, was not afraid to speak his mind or admit mistakes. He was a good soldier who believed in the might of the military but was loyal to the Emperor to the core. Vader made a note that when construction was completed on that special Destroyer, he would recommend Piett for its captain. It would be good to have a competent officer on hand for a change.
Vader entered the prison area, the troopers on guard snapping to attention. Piett keyed the code on the pad and the door to the cells opened. Vader saw more stormtroopers on high alert, facing a nearby cell, the force field glimmering. It was dim inside so he could only just make out the rear of the figure standing in the corner. He could see the man’s face was almost feral, ridges on his forehead and nose. He glanced up at Vader with eyes that seemed to flash and when he spoke, Vader saw the points of razor-sharp canines in his mouth.
“So….you must be the head honcho around here.” His voice had an odd accent Vader could not place. But that was throwing him less than the fact that this man gave out the more pure evil he had ever felt outside the Emperor. It was as if there was a gaping hole where his inner Force should have been, nothing but pure malevolent darkness. Whatever this man was…the Dark Side was obviously with him.
“I am Darth Vader,” the Sith Lord stated. “Who are you and how did you get on this ship?”
“Ship?” the stranger asked. “Huh. Doesn’t feel like we’re floating.” He rubbed a shoulder where Vader could see a scorch upon his skin. “Or am I right in guessing this isn’t Earth?”
“I have not heard of…Earth,” Vader said. He turned to Piett. “You said he was injured.”
Piett nodded. “He was, my Lord. However, it appears he has an amazing rate of healing. Our doctor would have studied it more but the…patient broke his restraints and attempted to throttle him.”
“I don’t like being poked and prodded,” the stranger snapped. “Listen, you’re obviously the guy in charge. How about you let me out of here now, let me go my way and in return, I won’t feel the need to rip your head off later, kay?”
Vader narrowed his eyes. “You think much of yourself.”
The stranger laughed. “Yeah, I guess I do. But I can back it up. Let me out and I’d show you, black mask.”
Vader glared at him. “I demand to know who you are.”
“And I demand to know who does your tailoring cause I am dying to get those boots!”
Vader threw out his hand, his wrist clenching. The figure stiffened, reaching to his throat. Then, to Vader’s surprise, he laughed. “Oh, cute trick. Sorry, pal but kinda hard to do a magic choke hold on a guy who doesn’t need to breathe.”
Vader’s eyes narrowed and he turned his hand slightly. The intruder yelped as he was lifted into the air and slammed against the wall. Vader made a motion with his other hand to shut off the force field and moved forward. Ignoring Piett’s cry, Vader ignited his lightsaber and held it before the man pinned to the wall.
“Tell me,” Vader hissed in a voice that sent a tremor down every spine present. “Would your physical abilities be able to grow you new limbs?” From the silence of the man, Vader guessed the answer was no. “Then you shall tell me your name and your mission here.”
“Mission?” the man barked. “Listen, Doctor Doom, I have no idea what the hell I’m doing here. I’m enjoying some newly won freedom, ready to go on a massacre run and some big flash of light hits me and I’m dropping into some bay. I have no idea who you are or where I am and I don’t much care either.”
“Then I see no use for talking to you.” Vader slammed him against the wall as he turned back. “Captain, stun him and then tell the science department they may use his body for study. Concentrate on his abilities to regenerate and if they can be copied.”
“Oh, great,” the stranger grimaced as he rose. “I’m finally free of that damn Slayer and now I’ve fallen in with….”
“Slayer?” Vader stopped in place. “You said…Slayer?”
“Yeah, so?” the man asked as he rose to his feet.
Vader slowly faced him. “Would this Slayer be a blonde-haired human of roughly twenty years of age?”
The man stared and made a twisted smile. “Hmmm…small but packs a wallop, big mouth, good looking in a naughty school-girl way?” At Vader’s nod, he let out a long laugh. “She’s alive and she’s here…Oh man, someone down there must like me!”
“You know of this Slayer,” Vader intoned.
“Oh, yeah.” The smile vanished from the man’s head. “We go back a ways. I know her inside and out.” The smile returned. “In every way.”
Vader stared at him for a long moment. “Perhaps…I may have use for you after all. Perhaps the Emperor might feel it is time for the Sith to grow.”
“Sith?” the stranger asked. “What is that?”
“You shall learn,” Vader stated ominously. “Captain Piett!”
“Yes, my Lord?” Piett started, enthralled by the strange conversation.
Vader’s gaze never left the stranger. “Inform the medical staff we shall require a collar.”
“Yes, my Lord,” Piett bowed.
“Collar?” the man raised an eyebrow. “Oooh, you’re a kinky one, aren’t you?”
Vader glared at him. “It is armed with a small explosive charge that will be detonated either by remote or if you attempt to flee. I shall put on a special command to activate it if you attempt to attack any more of my troops.”
The stranger was thrown. “Hey, wait a…”
“Until I can bring you before the Emperor,” Vader intoned. “Argue and I will have you ejected and while you may not need to breathe, I suspect your body could not handle the elements of space.”
“Space?” The stranger was confused. “Don’t suppose we can negotiate this?”
Vader crossed his arms. “You will comply or you will be executed and this ‘Slayer’ you speak of will be allowed to go free.”
The intruder answered his glare with a slow nod. “Fine.” Her eyes narrowed. “But don’t press me, buddy or I’ll rip that fancy flashlight of yours away and shove it up your armored ass, got me?”
Vader had a brief flash of a young, headstrong Padawan long ago only without any trappings of morality. “We understand each other. Now…as to your name.”
“I’ve had a few over the years, most unfit for polite company,” the man answered as he carefully walked forward. “But if I had to pick out my fave…”
He stepped forward and his features changed. The ridges vanished, as did his fangs, his eyes returning to a normal color. He was handsome, his short black hair well-combed, fitting with his black shirt, pants and long coat. His lips seemed turned into a permanent smirk as he finished his introduction.
“You can call me Angelus.”
If you read that last bit and the first thing that went through your mind was the Imperial March…then I’ve done my job.
So this closes out A New Hope. Debating whether to jump right to Empire Strikes Back, pick up with Slayers of the Old Republic (which, btw, is based on the best Star Wars game EVER and worth a look) or do some “side stories” to pick up threads that will be shown more in Empire.
I do plan for some interesting characterizations with Empire with a few faces for romance with both Xander and Willow as well as the deepening of Luke and Buffy. I want to thank everyone for the great comments that have helped the story out and hope to do more to keep you enjoying it.
Thanks and hope to have more soon.