The droid stood between her and the door, unmoved by her request. It was not letting her in.
"Please step aside, so I can enter."
"Negative. All access to this room is forbidden at this point. Please wait for guards to detain you."
Derra cursed silently. To get this far, only to be stopped by a stupid droid. Surely there must be a way to persuade it?
“Look, I really…”
“Repeat: Please wait for guards to detain you,” the droid interrupted her. “If you resist detention, you will be painfully and bloodily executed.”
Stunned into silence, Derra looked at the seemingly simple droid with horrid fascination. What kind of droid was this? It looked like a protocol droid, but its battered plating and rusty patches suggested experiences beyond the shelter of the Senate building. She did not recognize the production series, nor did she ever hear a droid speak in such remarkable expressions.
Destroy it, came a voice in her head. Any moment, Derra expected to see the red robes of the Senate Guard coming for her. This piece of soon-to-be scrap metal stood in her way. She ignited her yellow lightsaber.
“Repeat: If you resist detention, you will be executed.”
“Yeah yeah, I know. Try me,” Derra said casually while taking a swing at the droid.
To her amazement, the droid easily stepped away from the blade and produced two firearms from apparently nowhere.
“Perceived hostility. Painful and bloody execution is imminent,” its lifeless voice said, and rapidly loosened several shot. Derra could hardly reflect them in the narrow hallway and she tumbled backwards. Getting back on her feet, she used the Force to sense her opponents moves rather than her eyes. It moved closer, weapons ready.
Now that the initial shock had passed, Derra could focus on avoiding getting shot and attempting to hit her metal foe. Speed is something Derra excelled at, being nicknamed Blur more than once, and soon one of the droid’s arms was on the floor, along with its head.
However, a droid is different from an organic opponent, and this one simply kept on fighting and taunting without a head. It unnerved her.
“Perceived criminal action: Damaging a government-owned droid. Penalty: Compensation through loss of offender’s comparable parts. Please wait while your left arm and your head are removed, then wait for guards to detain--”
The droid’s voice stopped abruptly as Derra’s lightsaber damaged its voice modulator and continued to increase the number of parts the droid consisted of. At last, nothing moved except for a tiny piston, causing an unrecognizable piece of machinery the size of her fist to erratically move towards her. She crushed it with her foot.
You have done well, the familiar voice said. Enter, and meet your destiny…
Derra had first heard the voice when she was but a young apprentice, unable to sleep in her quarters within the Jedi Temple.
Earlier that day she had gotten into a mild argument with one of the teachers over the need for lightsaber training. If the Jedi advocated peace, why should they skill themselves with instruments of war? Thinking it over in bed and being stressed about being unable to incorporate both views into a logical whole, a voice in her head said, it’s good to be critical.
At first she thought someone had snuck into her room and whispered in her ear, but after a quick inspection assured her there was nobody there, she figured it must have been her imagination and tried to fall asleep.
Doubt is essential for gaining knowledge, the voice came again, this time clearly.
“Who’s there?”, Derra exclaimed, getting scared. She looked around the otherwise empty room.
No answer came then, and none ever did.
Get down, the voice warned Derra, and she quickly obliged, hiding behind a large statue. Several imposing figures, dressed in white durasteel armor, moved by her without notice. At second glance, she recognized them as clonetroopers. What were they doing at the Temple?
Mere moments later, the clonetroopers started firing at everyone in sight; Jedi Masters and Padawans alike. In their midst, a fury of lightsaber moves and dark side energy, a dark hooded figure came down on the overwhelmed Jedi.
Derra’s heart appeared to stop beating. Anakin Skywalker?
Anger rushed up in her, and she got ready to ignite her blade and place it somewhere in his arrogant face, when the voice stopped her. Don’t, it simply said. Another destiny awaits you.
The mysterious voice, which had guided Derra through many situations and seemed to possess knowledge of things even beyond the Jedi Master’s, started guiding her out of the Temple and into Coruscant’s busy streets.
Looking back after a careful and long journey, she saw the Temple for the last time. Clouds of smoke rose from several places, and explosions were heard even at this distance. Derra softly swore that she would avenge the destruction.
Yes, you will avenge. But not yet. I have a quest for you.
“No fraggin’way,” Derra replied. “I’m not going on a pitiful quest when my world is burning.”
Hardly your world anymore. Besides, there is not much to return to, and your potential needs room to grow if you want to face the renegade and be victorious.
Through many days and many nights, the voice guided her. At times chastising weaknesses and at other times complimenting her ingenuity, it seemed to train her for an unknown future. When asking about it, Derra received no answer.
It never seemed to give answers.
In the end, after what seemed several months or years, the voice guided her here, to the Senate Building, and the chamber guarded by the droid with the oddly explicit language, now in pieces in front of the private quarters of the self-appointed Emperor.
The chamber was dark. Infrequently, a speeder illuminated the room as its lights passed the large window on the busy Coruscant night.
Derra had never been here, but she somehow recognized it. The strange statues and plaques that decorated the place seemed familiar, and made her feel both comforted and deeply disturbed.
She turned her attention to the statue right in front of her, in the center of the oval room. It represented some sort of hooded humanoid creature, an unfamiliar expression on its face. Around its chiseled shoulders hung a black robe, soft yet sturdy to her touch. At its feet lay a durasteel helmet and armor, similar to the red Senate Guard’s attire, but black as night.
“Try them on,” the voice said, and Derra realized that this time, it was spoken out loud. She turned around and gazed upon an imposing figure, seated on one of the large and comfortable chairs. His face was sickly white and deformed; his body and black robe blending with the darkness.
The dark side emanated from him for a moment, and she recoiled in horror. In an instant, though, the feeling disappeared and she could not detect even the smallest bit of the Force around him.
“In order to extract your revenge on the renegade Jedi murderer, you must be strong,” the Emperor said, never averting his eyes from hers. “Strong, and silent. This murderer is but one of many who will try to destroy you. To destroy us. Skywalker, and his mentor Kenobi, have escaped our grasp for now, but they will return. You must be ready,” he repeated.
Silently, he gestured at the armor at her feet. She donned it.
The armor was not uncomfortable, and unobtrusive to her movements while the robe hid her movements. The dark color meant that she could pass nearly undetected in shadowy places, while the red visor enhanced her vision.
She looked like a Red Guard, if not for the black color.
“I offer you a chance,” the Emperor said close to her ear. Derra startled; she had not noticed him getting up.
“A chance to move undetected in the Imperial ranks, to seek out those hidden in the shadows with murderous intents. To smoke out the betraying rebels. To extract our revenge.”
He smiled, and offered her a seemingly simple black cane. As she took it, she noticed the switch and turned it on. A brilliant red flash appeared at the top of the cane.
A lightsaber staff.
“I offer you a chance to be my secret weapon. My only hope against attempts on my life, like they have taken the lives of the Jedi in the Temple.”
Derra looked into his yellowish eyes, seeing her reflection in them. An imposing dark figure she was. She felt important; something she had never felt before.
He whispered, “Derra, be my Shadow Guard.”
She accepted with a smile.