The Dark Lord of the Sith gazed out of the bridge viewport of his flagship, the Exactor. It was among the first of the new Imperial-class Star Destroyers to be produced, and was assigned to him to carry out the mission of exterminating the Jedi. Its power would soon become feared.
As Vader stared into the mesmerizing streaks of hyperspace that rushed past the ship, he thought about how he would face his target. Most Jedi were quick, agile. The burnt and maimed body of Anakin Skywalker, supported by a bulky, awkward life-support suit, could not possibly perform the stunts his foes could. The only way he could defeat Jedi, he saw, would be to go on the defensive; parrying their attacks and catching them in a vital, split-second mistake that would cost them their lives.
An officer in a new adaptation of the olive-green tunics of the Republic Navy nervously approached Darth Vader. Suppressing his instinct to flee from the intimidating armor, he stood at attention behind the Sith and delivered his message with a thin veil of false confidence: "Lord Vader, we are approaching Gormen. Shall we ready the troops?"
Vader spent no time thinking over the answer, and turned to face the officer, attempting to note his rank, yet still unfamiliar with the new badge system. "Yes... Captain." The officer shifted slightly; evidently Vader had some studying to do. "Have a landing craft prepared immediately. I will meet it in the hangar– I expect it to be ready to deploy when I get there."
The officer gave an honest but anxious salute. "Yes, my lord." He turned on his heel and marched out of the bridge.
Vader turned back to the viewport in time to see Gormen below: a green planet often covered by fog. A hindrance for an average person, perhaps – even a Jedi – but Vader and his Stormtroopers would be able to see no worse than if the skies were clear and and the sun bright. At least, his Stormtroopers would see that way for now: a new armor model was in the works, that reportedly did not include the same visual assistance.
He went to the hangar bay and boarded the shuttle. It flew out of the Star Destroyer for Gormen's surface.
Vader looked over his troops: the 501st Legion, the elite. They had served under him during the Clone Wars... no, they had served under a charismatic young man who led from the front. Now they work for a weak, broken man playing an intimidation game, using shows of physical force to hide the deep emotional weakness within. They'd never recognize this Dark Lord as the same man, never know he survived that fateful duel with Kenobi. All he could do was look at the men in silence and try not to remember all he had lost. Ironically, the silent staring probably made him seem more intimidating than his appearance alone.
The shuttle landed at the edge of a long-dead forest, leaves long-since decayed. The ramp lowered, and Vader briskly but awkwardly marched down, followed by fifty-four Stormtroopers. He faced the men. "Fan out!" he shouted, his voice carrying barely to the edge of the group due to the fog. "You three," he pointed to a trio with a PLX rocket among them, "come with me."
They snapped to salutes. "Yes, Lord Vader!" He went through the fog straight into the forest.
He could sense the apprehension of the squad behind him. They were looking to each side, weapons ready for the slightest movement or sound. "Be calm," Vader suggested. "Nothing is here to hurt you."
It probably did not help much, coming from the booming voice of his artificially-assisted voice box and iron lungs, but it made Vader feel better than if he had said nothing.
There was nothing in this dead woodland, clearly. Vader considered turning back and searching elsewhere, when a soothing voice called to him. "Skywalker..." He stopped dead in his tracks, bringing the soldiers to an abrupt halt. "Did you hear that?" he demanded.
"Hear what, sir?" a Stormtrooper asked, looking about.
"A voice. It called for me."
"No, sir. Maybe it's the wind?"
"Don't be foolish, trooper! There is no such thing as the wind making you hear things. All is intentional; the will of the Force or another." The Stormtroopers looked at each other. One shrugged.
The voice called out to him again. The Dark Lord followed it, until it led him to a clearing, albeit fog just as dense. On a newly-cut stump sat a robed figure, face obscured by the hood. Vader activated his lightsaber in anticipation, and in response the Stormtroopers aimed their weapons.