Two storm troopers are shocked by screams they hear. They’ve never heard screams like these. Darth Vader is torturing someone he refers to as a Rebel. He gives a name questioningly. Then starts a story about a cantina. In the cantina there is talk of a rebel deserter named Tyler Lucian hiding. The man doing the talking nearly breaks another mans hand. Then he blasts him. The cantina owner starts talking and the mysterious figure leaves the cantina. However, he runs into storm troopers as he exits. They want to question him. He tells them his name is Valance, a bounty hunter. There was confusion with some customers who thought he was hunting them and in the process of straightening things out they became dead. His credentials check out and they let him go with a warning. However, one of the storm troopers pulls off his cowl and they see he is half cyborg. They decide he has to pay for taking out organics. He defends himself and becomes convinced he’s racing Darth Vader to find Tyler Lucian. In Old Republic days, Centares had Rubyflame Lake resort. However, the Empire drained the deeply buried lava beds and within a decade the resort was desolate and abandoned. Only people that are desperate still go there, to hide and take refuge. But the danger is great as the “waters” are now so polluted and horrible that they can dissolve metal in hours and flesh in minutes. However, Tyler fled Yavin base because he thought there was no hope of survival. Had he known what would have happened, that Luke would save them all, he would not have stolen a ship and run for it. Valance arrives and overhears his babbling. He makes fun of him. He tells him that Merl won’t be delivering anymore rations and he won’t need them anyway. Valance gives him a small speech and tells him he’s not know for pity. Suddenly, a TIE fighter appears in the sky. It’s Darth Vader. Tyler runs for the tower and makes it inside. Valance now fears for his life from Vader.
On Yavin, R2 is being repaired. C3PO is nervous, as always, about his friend. R2 is fixed and listens to all that C3PO has said. C3PO gets upset. Luke is furious at General Dodonna for letting Leia go on a mission by herself. He tries to explain. She’s gone to a place where she truly is a symbol of hope. Where this symbol is desperately needed. He decides to give Luke another mission.
Back on Centares, Darth Vader confronts Valance. He tells him that if doesn’t let him pass he won’t get any profit. But Valance tells him he’s not after profit. Valance tells him he’s prepared to fight to protect the name of the person who destroyed the death star. Vader thought they were rivals at first. He then uses the force on him to get him to drop the gun. But Valance uses his power to knock Vader back. Vader is impressed. He thinks a bounty hunter with his abilities could be useful. But he still takes out his lightsaber. Tyler watches and listens from up in the tower. Valance tells him the boy and his droid are hope, hope of something better. A better time when he might not be a freak. Vadar counters that it’s a foolish dream, as foolish as destroying the death star. The two battle. Vader thinks he’s won, but Valance isn’t done. He catches his foot as Vader heads towards Tyler. Vadar tells him to give up, his medics could possibly still save him. Vadar points out that even if he leaves this man alone, someone else will come for him, or he’ll get the information another way. It won’t change anything and his sacrifice will be pointless. Valance tells him the boy is good and growing. That someday he’ll be the equal of Vadar or better. So Darth Vadar decides to end him. However, Valance still has the death grip on his ankle. He rolls into the corrosive water below, dragging Vadar with him. He realizes just how heavy this cyborg is. He uses his lightsaber to cut him off. Tyler, instead of letting Darth Vadar have the information he chooses to jump from the tower into the water, ending his life. Darth Vadar goes back to his ship angry and frustrated to continue the search.
Categories: Star Wars Comic Books