Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by frodogenic, Mar 27, 2017.
You don't take quite that long. Thank the Force!
He's a quick learner, what can I say? LOL
First of all, apologies for keeping my post so brief... I'm famous for my brevity. I know... So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on what I've read.
Chapter 1: The not-quite-homecoming. The mysterious visitor. The jaw that dropped without permission.
Results? I'm hooked.
Chapter 2: We learn that Skywalkers are crazy. Then we see the unexpectedly cordial family reunion.... And we share in Piet's dizzying shock and surprise.
Results? I'm laughing, and I like Piet.
O.K. Foreshadowing a fiery father / daughter reunion. Doesn't seem things will be smooth.
We also get some history and philosophy from Luke and Piet...
Oh, yeah. This father / daughter reunion will not go as smoothly as the father / son reunion did... LOL
Result? I'm really, really liking this story.
Chapter 4: Opening scene, a game of Rebel-style Sabacc. The stakes are high, as a lightsaber and Emperor's Hand security codes are added to the pot. Comedy and tension, together. I really liked that scene. Under Han's nonchalant façade, was a bundle of raw nerves that only became apparent when a big thud on the sealed chamber made him jump to his feet. Meanwhile, Luke is like, settle down. It was only Leia throwing something at dad. (paraphrased).
Then, after the tense father / daughter meeting in the sealed chamber...
LOLOLOL Yep! Father / daughter reunion did not go so well, and now we throw in a mouthy son in law... LOLOL
Chapter 5: Deep philosophical conversation - unexpected from Leia... However, I start to see a pattern that makes me start to believe that....
Heavy duty speculation that possibly leads to very major spoilers. DO NOT READ IF YOU REALLY HATE MAJOR SPOILERS.
Darth Vader has been gone for some time, and that Anakin Skywalker had returned.
Starting in chapter 1, when Piet notes that in the absence of the Emperor, Vader seemed to mellow out, but he was still scary. The fact that Piet survived as long as he did, serving under Vader's command. And Luke and Vader's reunion. A Jedi and a Sith, in the same room, together. That Vader didn't whip out is lightsaber to deal with the Jedi was quite telling. And that Leia and Han survived their meeting with the Sith lord... All of that points to the diminishing presence of Vader and the growing presence of Anakin Skywalker...
Result? Deeply intrigued, and looking forward for more.
Chapter 6: I loved the Senate outcry, the media's kerfluffle, and Vader's solution:
More evidence of my theory which I stated in the spoiler tag above. Read the spoiler tag above at your own risk.
You see?! You see?!
I really liked this chapter.
Chapter 7: I'm caught up!
Piet doesn't give himself enough credit. So far, he's done well as a diplomat. And he powerfully demonstrates the need to calculate a multi hyperspace jump-a-thon... without the aid of a navigation computer. I was rather impressed with that scene.
EDIT: I wanted to make a comparison to real life high school kids complaining that they'll never use this stuff in real life! It would be interesting to see many real life examples of situations like Piet's demonstration that this stuff would really come in handy in real life. I hope that made sense...
Results? I was powzered, totally Death Starred....
I exaggerate for effect of course Comes of writing too many snarky conversations.
I can see that
True though I would describe it differently myself. In this fic, he has experienced the same dramatic salvation moment that he did in canon aboard the second Death Star; however, instead of dying, he has to live out what that experience means. He's still the man who murdered untold numbers of people, maimed and tortured his kids, etc.; he's still got to lead this crew which has very clear expectations about what kind of person he is; he's got a lifetime of regrets and bad habits and sins to cope with; he loves his family but feels compelled to ostracize himself from them. I imagine him as projecting the outward appearance of the man people expect him to be, but beneath it struggling with a tremendous weight of remorse and guilt. If you like to look at it from Obi-Wan's POV--Vader and Anakin are different people--then I'd say that he is now neither of those, but a third person entirely.
As a matter of fact that scene was almost entirely inspired by my actual experience studying AP Physics in high school WHICH BY THE WAY I HAVE NEVER USED IN REAL LIFE, MR. DEVORE
Soon, I will complete his training! Unless you continue to give us awesome chapters of this story, our combined strength will allow us to rule over this fanfic!
It kills me to have to resort to the prequels for this, but I will #dowhatmustbedone
A/N: Disclaimer #1: Let it be understood that my decision to post the next chapter has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the threats of certain readers who shall remain nameless.
Disclaimer #2: I have never watched the animated Clone Wars series, and I probably never will.
Dislaimer #3: I absolutely do not apologize for the ending. The aforementioned readers who shall remain nameless had it coming.
... CHAPTER 8 ... Piett peeled off his cap and ran a hand through his surviving hair, savoring the blessed silence of the library. The so-called Eriadu Summit was on its tenth interminable day, almost exclusively due to the fact that Borsk Fey'lya considered it his duty to spend a quarter of an hour bickering over each word Piett said at the table, up to and including um. Not even the Princess, with all her diplomatic acumen, could prevent him from having his say. In fact she frequently invited his opinion, which Piett understood was appropriate and democratic and conducive to the long-term goal of winning over the New Republic at large—but which was nonetheless vastly irritating, especially when the Bothan insisted on revising, for the fifth time in a given day, how large a charge would be permissible in the blaster cartridges of Lord Vader's six (five—make that four—no, six again)-man stormtrooper entourage when (no, if—very well, when) the Dark Lord descended on Coruscant for the final ratification. In what Piett considered his finest diplomatic move so far, he had refrained from reminding the committee that Vader could spot them the entire entourage, his lightsaber, and a durasteel strait-jacket and still kill them all in five seconds flat.
The Princess often sent an encouraging smile his way, or lauded the progress being made, or (privately) complimented him on the way he wasn't tearing out fistfuls of Fey'lya's fur; that was about all that had kept him from throwing in the towel. Well, that and the fact that Vader had received each communication of fresh Republic demands with comparative serenity. Only two holes had been punched into the Executor's bulkheads so far.
He ought to be conferring with Vader right now. The negotiations were on a two-hour recess while each side weighed the most recent proposals—the Senate committee in its cloakroom, and Piett in an elaborate antique library reserved for the use of top-ranking foreign diplomats on such occasions. But the Executor's on-duty ComScan officer had informed him that Lord Vader was in his meditation chamber and had given orders not to be disturbed, which historically would have left Piett twiddling his thumbs. Nowadays he had only to hand the message off to the ship's resident Sith Whisperer, and wait an hour or so while that intrepid individual flushed Vader out of hiding and performed the mysterious alchemical process he'd discovered for transforming the Dark Lord's homicidal wrath into mild irritability.
Piett shook his head thoughtfully as he meandered around the room. Mere telepathy couldn't explain all the things Skywalker somehow understood about his impenetrable parent. For instance, a few weeks ago he'd casually mentioned that if Piett wanted to look Vader in the eye, he should focus on the lower half of the mask's eyeplates—as if, to him, the mask were nothing but a pane of transparisteel with Anakin Skywalker's face plainly visi…ble…behind…
His feet stopped mid-stride. His gaze traveled sideways to a computer terminal and hung there, as if he were six years old and it were a forbidden cookie jar.
He shouldn't have let such an impertinent idea cross his mind, let alone dare to act on it…but Vader was six hundred lightyears away. Even for a mind reader, that had to be out of reach. And the library was empty. And it wasn't as if he had anything better to do at the moment…
Gingerly he sat down at the terminal and brought up the Holonet research program. He scanned the room again. Still nobody. He blew out a breath and keyed in: Anakin Skywalker.
After over five minutes of churning thought, the program blinked a zero-result screen. "Are you sure you meant: Anakin Skywalker?" Piett leapt half out of his skin, swore a blistering string under his breath at the computer, and muted it, shooting another furtive glance over the top of the terminal. Then he tapped out: Annakin Skywalker.
Still nothing. He frowned. Anikin Skywalker?
The zero-result graphic appeared to be mocking him. He tried Aneken, Anoken, and finally, out of sheer desperation, Annican.
The computer bleeped awake at that one. "Did you mean: Annie Can Sky Walk?"
With an especially foul oath bequeathed to him by his old drill inspector at Academy, Piett stabbed the mute key again. Not quickly enough, however; a snicker drifted from behind the shelves at his back. Swiveling round, he spotted a pair of bright brandy-brown eyes and a tell-tale lopsided grin glinting through the gaps. "Evening, Admiral. Doing a little research project?"
He relaxed a little. "Good evening, Miss Solo. Idle curiosity, I suppose." If he had to be caught by a Solo twin, then thank the Force it was Jaina, and not—
"Annie Can Sky Walk?" queried a second voice. Piett groaned inwardly and turned back. Jacen the Blackmailer was leaning over his console, head craned the better to read the display upside down. "Does Granddad know you think his name is Annie?"
Piett suddenly had bigger things to worry about than whether he was about to become Jacen's next source of pocket money. "Granddad?"
Jacen shrugged his father's elaborately nonchalant shrug. "Why not?"
Piett's subsequent silence, while he tried to decide which of the approximately fifty thousand reasons why not should be the first out of his mouth, unfortunately left the floor wide open for a change of subject.
"I can tell you now," said Jaina, coming up behind him, "you won't find anything under Anakin Skywalker."
"Yep," said Jacen. "We all tried that ages ago. No holos—"
"No news reports—"
"No census files—"
"No birth certificates—"
"No piloting licenses—"
"Not even any criminal records, if you can believe that—"
"It's almost like some big-time Imperial honcho had that name wiped from the records or something—"
"Who could it have been?" they chorused.
Piett had gotten slightly dizzy from twisting the seat back and forth trying to keep up with which twin was speaking. He kneaded his brow. "Well. I daresay in that case I'm wasting my time."
Jacen (for no reason that Piett could see) rapped out a short drum solo on the top of the console, before he swung around and deposited himself in the neighboring chair. "Nah, you just gotta know where to look."
"Search Kenobi." Jaina leaned over his shoulder.
Piett squinted at the screen. "Kenobi?"
"K-a-n-o-b-y," said Jacen.
There was a sound of someone's skull being thumped. "Ignore Bantha Brains here, Admiral. K-e-n-o-b-i."
Piett keyed the name in. "Is he this Obi-Wan character I keep hearing about?"
The computer hummed, sifting through the accumulated records of fifteen thousand years of galactic history, or at least through such records as had managed to survive the cataclysmic downfalls of first the Republic and then the Empire. "Who was he, exactly?"
"Granddad's smashball coach," said Jacen. There was a sound of someone's shin being kicked. "Ow!"
"If you're practicing for Granddad, you might as well quit now."
"Hey!" Jacen donned an injured look, also plagiarized from his father. "I'll have you know I'm considered a comic genius in many circles."
"Only the ones under the age of two," Jaina retorted. "Anyway, have you seen the history holos? He makes your girlfriend look like a Shurnian hyena, and she only smiles once every three years."
"I don't know what you're talking about," said Jacen indignantly, now channeling a spot-on impression of his mother. "I don't have a girlfriend."
"No, just the biggest crush since the Malastare Marvels beat the Corellian Comets four hundred and forty-six to two—"
Piett cleared his throat. "Fascinating, but who is Obi-Wan Kenobi?"
"A Jedi Knight," said Jaina. "He taught Granddad way back when. Uncle Luke too."
Piett frowned. "I was given to understand your uncle did not begin his Jedi training until after the Battle of Hoth. Kenobi was killed aboard the first Death Star years before that." One could not listen to two months' worth of altercations between Vader and Skywalker without learning a considerable amount about a) Obi-Wan Kenobi's innumerable sins and b) what Vader would have done to him on the first Death Star had he known about more of them.
"Um," said Jaina. "Well…"
"Thing is…" muttered Jacen.
They shared a look. It was a look he had seen worn by a great many ensigns and greenhorn lieutenants over the course of his career. What that look meant was: I now realize just how stupid my explanation sounds.
"What," Piett said severely, "is 'the thing'?"
The twins eyed each other like a pair of akk pups that had been caught peeing on the carpet. Then, in perfect unison, they sighed: "He's a ghost."
Piett spun the console around and pinned the twins with his best do-you-think-I-got-this-rank-by-being-an-idiot expression. "A ghost. You expect me to believe your uncle was educated by a ghost."
"Well," said Jacen. "Not just by a ghost. There was Master Yoda too. He wasn't a ghost." He eyed his sister. "Erm. At the time."
"Am I understand," said Piett, "that this Yoda is now also a ghost?"
Jacen's expression performed several interesting little contortions of embarrassment. "Well…apparently that's what happens to Jedi when they, um. Die."
"If that were the case, we'd be up to our necks in them here on Coruscant, wouldn't we?" He flicked his chin in the general direction of the Temple District. "When was the last time either of you saw Kenobi or this Yoda character?"
Jacen cleared his throat stubbornly. "Just because I haven't seen it doesn't mean it isn't true. Besides, Uncle Luke can't lie to save his life, everybody knows that."
"You might be surprised," Piett muttered. He can certainly cheat at sabacc just fine.
Jaina snorted. "Jasa, Uncle Luke also said Dagobah was one giant swamp, so for all we know he was high on fungus fumes the whole time."
"Oh, so now you don't believe in ghosts? You made us spend four months building a ghost trap cause you wanted to meet one."
"One, we were nine at the time, and two, we're adults now." She paused. "Well, I am. You on the other hand still think fart jokes are the last word in humor."
"They're funny and you know it. What do you call it when the Queen Mother of Hapes farts?"
Piett cast a long-suffering gaze at the ceiling. Thank you, Solo, for your contributions to civilization.
"A noble gas. Get it?"
"…Tell me you didn't try that one on Tenel Ka."
"And the genius part is, I can tailor it to any audience. Fr'instance"—he indicated Piett—"what do you call it when the Emperor—"
"Wrong audience," Piett said firmly.
"Okay then, what do you call it when Granddad—"
"Young man, please believe me when I say he will not appreciate such…hilarity."
"What, he never laughs?"
Piett glanced at him, scandalized. "Certainly not."
"Shouldn't have told him that," Jaina sighed. "Watch, he'll make it his life mission."
"Then his life is likely to be very brief," Piett said, in a suitably portentous tone.
"I call bantha shavit." Jacen kicked his feet up on the console next to Piett's and folded his arms behind his head, the picture of unconcern. "He has to have some sense of humor. I mean, he had two kids, right? So Grandma must have liked him, and nobody likes people with no sense of humor."
Faster, Piett willed the computer.
Jaina laughed. "This from the guy head-over-heels for a woman who can watch Hutt soap operas with a straight face."
"That is her sense of humor," said Jacen. Jaina eyed him dubiously. "I bet Granddad goes in for gallows humor."
"You have no idea," Piett cut in, and shot down that subject by stringently adding, "Might I inquire as to why, exactly, I have the pleasure of your company? In this restricted-access library at twenty-two-hundred hours?"
"Research project," said Jacen.
Piett did not like that innocent tone. "Is that so. And what, pray tell, are you researching?"
"It's more of a sociological case study," said Jaina.
"And you selected this library because…?"
"It contains a valuable information source."
"One of a kind."
"Not available on the Holonet."
Innocent that he was, Piett's first thought was for the priceless collection of antique printed books occupying a display case on one wall. Then he realized the twins were eyeing him like a pair of circling krakana. "No," he said at once.
"I am not entertaining questions concerning Lord Vader."
"Come on," grinned Jacen, "it's not like we want to know what color underwear he wears on Tuesday or something."
Piett struggled against the mental image that was now trying to be born. "Is your mother aware that you're here?"
"Of course," said Jaina virtuously. "She's always encouraging us to hone our diplomatic skills."
"And interrogating me for information about Lord Vader meets her definition of diplomacy?"
Jaina crossed her arms. "We aren't children, Admiral."
"So she would be displeased."
"Look, if she is, we'll worry about that." Jaina bit her lip and turned a wide, wistful gaze on him. "Please, Admiral? We've…never had a grandfather before…"
Piett stared, unblinking, into her enormous limpid eyes. Thirty seconds ticked by.
She sighed in defeat. "Overdid the schmaltz factor, didn't I?"
"By approximately three hundred percent," said Piett.
"Told you," Jacen huffed.
"Fine, take two." Jaina pursed her lips for a second, choosing words. "From what Mom and Dad and Aunt Mara are saying, it sounds like Granddad is probably going to come to Coruscant before too long. We'd just like to know what he's like, that's all. From somebody who knows him."
Piett remained unmoved. "Then ask your parents. They have met him several times."
"Yeah," Jacen said slowly, "but they were always enemies then. They never lived with him, you know? But we'll have to. And…well, we grew up hearing stories, you know. Most of 'em aren't good."
"None of them are," muttered Jaina. "Except Uncle Luke's, and even that one…" She cleared her throat, crossing her arms defensively. "It just…sounds like his good side is about as big as a Death Star's thermal exhaust port, comparatively speaking."
"Which explains why Uncle Luke's the only one who's ever hit it," Jacen quipped, but Piett wasn't fooled. Though it had been a long time since he'd seen nervous young bravado like that, he remembered it well. Back when he'd still been the Executor's captain under Admiral Ozzel, newly-minted ensigns had used to arrive like clockwork, ten or twelve of them rotating in every month, the best and brightest Academy graduates sent to the furnace of Lord Vader's flagship for refining, desperate to prove that they weren't the sort of fools Vader so despised, haunted by stories of what happened to such people, and trying to hide under a thick layer of swagger. He'd used to take those young ensigns aside before they began serving on the bridge—sit them down in his office for a cup of caf and a little coaching on How Not To Get Killed By Vader. And those poor kids had merely been expected to call him Sir, not Grandfather.
He cleared his throat, but right then the computer chirped. "Search complete. Fifty-seven million results for Obi-Wan Kenobi."
"Tell you what," said Jaina. "We'll show you a holo of Anakin Skywalker, and you tell us three things we ought to know before we meet Granddad. That's fair, isn't it?"
Piett considered. "Very well. With the understanding that this conversation remains between the three of us."
"Deal," chorused the twins. Jaina snagged a chair and a moment later Piett found himself the filling in a Solo sandwich, Jacen swiping through the results on his right and Jaina scanning the list with an eagle eye from the left.
"Full disclaimer, we don't actually know this is a holo of Granddad," she said. "But we showed it to Uncle Luke and he's pretty sure it is."
"What holo would that be?"
"It's just a minute or two clip from some Outer Rim news agency that folded ages ago. We think it's footage they took in the field during the Clone Wars and never used. Senate passed a freedom-of-information act awhile back to release a lot of old archives that got seized and classified at the beginning of the Empire, and this was in there…"
"I can never remember whether it's the Naboo Daily Herald or the Theed Tribune," Jacen grumbled.
"Theed," said Jaina. "There, that one."
There ensued a brief spat over whether the clip in question was filed under Malastare, Mygeeto, or Mantooine. Piett finally reclaimed control of the console and searched through each, until the twins both lunged to point at a particular line of code on the screen with simultaneous cries of that's the one. With a tight feeling of anticipation locking up his trachea—and hoping that it was just anticipation, and not Vader trying to throttle him preemptively from Eriadu—he selected it.
The projector threw up a shuddering holo that appeared to have been recorded inside a GAR troop assault craft. Rows of unhelmeted clones were panned through, laughs and sweat tracks and fierce grins on their identical faces; returning from some successful mission, apparently. The holocam wandered, without commentary from whoever'd been operating it, through the ship into the cockpit.
"—please watch where you are flying," a ginger-haired man on the right was saying in exasperation. "And try to remember this is an assault shuttle, not an Eta-2."
"You know, Master," said a tenor voice from out of the recording zone, "since attachment is forbidden, I think you should let go of your totally irrational fear that this ship is somehow going to crash while I'm flying it."
The ginger-haired man raised an eyebrow. "Just because I wasn't on Sernpidal doesn't mean I don't know what happened there."
"Obviously you don't, if you think it was my fault."
"I know exactly whose fault it was. Senator Amidala was quite clear."
There was a pause. "What did she say?"
"That you and Commander Rex apparently wagered a week of dessert rations on who could shave Drisdin Heights the closest."
"I suppose she didn't mention I beat him by half a meter."
"No, I'm afraid she was more impressed by the fact that you inadvertently flew through the CIS sensor envelope, got attacked by a division of thirty starfighters, and had to call a rescue force down from orbit to pick you up when you crash-landed in the northern hemisphere as a consequence."
"Nobody else would have made it to the northern hemisphere at all," the voice grumbled. "I picked off all those fighters single-handed."
The holocam widened its pickup to reveal the pilot—a tall man with shaggy sweat-curling hair, an intense expression trained on his companion, paying no attention whatsoever to the tree-riddled landscape hurtling by on either side of the viewport.
"Nobody else would have put themselves in that position to tree, tree—"
The pilot's hand twitched, the ship nipped sideways, and a massive trunk scorched by centimeters to port.
"Blast it, watch where you're flying!"
"I always know where I'm flying, Master," the other retorted. Then, still evading trees at point-blank range with one hand, he spun his bucket seat further around to face the holocam full on, irritation simmering under his controlled expression. "Consid—"
Jaina froze the image. "There," she said, and turned an arch look at Jacen. "And you wonder why Grandma would have liked him if he didn't have a sense of humor."
Piett stared. There was no denying it. The eyes were a dead giveaway—bold blue, like his son and grandson—but even if they hadn't been, that absolute, commanding self-assurance spoke for itself. And the man carried himself—not just like Vader, perhaps, but certainly the way he imagined Vader would were he less encumbered in leather and durasteel. It was like watching a hand that had taken off a thick glove for the first time.
As for Jaina's commentary…well, having personally failed to impress dozens of females in his Academy days, Piett had a fair idea of what women thought was attractive, and the man in the holo ticked rather a lot of those boxes: tall, muscular, rakishly disheveled, the kind of manly good looks that inspired otherwise intelligent young ladies to start using words like sultry. Even the scar over his eye looked dashing—in brutal contrast to the great furrows Piett had glimpsed years ago, marring a head of bald, hideous skin as white and fragile as tissue paper. Somehow it had never occurred to him that that mutilated head could have had hair on it once, could even have inspired a lover's admiring caress.
He stared at the handsome face for a solid minute or two, wondering: what in the nine hells happened to that man?
Or maybe the real question was what in the nine hells hadn't happened to him.
Jaina unpaused the holo. "—sider this your last warning, Jex. Get that thing out of my face." The pilot stabbed his index finger at the holocam.
"Yes," murmured Piett, half-smiling, "that's certainly him."
The projector went blank immediately; Piett could practically see the yessirrightawaysirpleasedon'tkillmesir look on Jex's invisible face. He sat back in his seat with a soft exhale, echoed by the twins. Pensive silence reigned.
"Well," Jacen said, "that's everything we know about him." He thumped both elbows forward onto the console, grinning at point blank range. Jaina mirrored him on the left. "Your turn."
Piett pinned Jacen with a scowl.
"Three things," Jaina reminded him, drawing the scowl on herself for a moment while Piett collected his thoughts. At length he cleared his throat.
"I suppose the first thing is to be honest. He'll know you're lying before the words ever leave your mouth."
Massively unimpressed looks repaid him for this jewel of wisdom. "Well duh," said Jaina. "Even the Skycrawler can do that, and he's not even two."
"It's kind of a Force-sensitive thing," said Jacen, more kindly.
"Perhaps," said Piett, "but he defines dishonesty very broadly. If you say pleased to meet you but are frightened of him, he will consider that a lie, and a cowardly one at that." Which explained the man's total intolerance for politicians. The twins' expressions became much more sober and thoughtful. "Second, be brief. He considers compliments and pleasantries a waste of time at best, and he is not famous for his patience. The longer you take getting to the point, the less likely he is to receive it well."
"Huh." Jacen considered that with steadily increasing approval. "Short on patience, blunt, and we already know he likes to fly…you think he's maybe Corellian, Jaya?"
"Could be." Jaina caught Piett's eye. "Have you ever heard him say don't tell me the odds?"
"That would require the odds to be against him," Piett replied dryly. You would have had to stack two sector fleets against Vader before any bookkeeper would accept wagers on him.
"Not Corellian," the twins agreed, with a concerted nod.
"So," pressed Jaina, "what's number—"
A loud chime coming from the other end of the room cut her off. Three chairs spun toward the holocom station, where an incoming transmission signal had begun blinking.
"I'm afraid it will have to wait." Piett stood, straightening his uniform jacket on reflex. Next moment he realized that had been a telling mistake. The twins shot up on the edges of their seats like kath hounds who'd scented a roasting nuna.
"That's him calling, isn't it?" Jaina's eyes glinted.
Piett ignored the question. "It is a matter of urgent business. I must ask you both to leave at once."
"It is him," Jacen breathed, eyes fixed on the holocom station with desperate fascination.
Piett pinched his lips together. Every ounce of common sense he possessed was ringing danger alerts; but as they had just warned him a moment ago, they were Force-sensitive and not easily deceived. "Most likely," he ground out. "But it is not my place to introduce you. That decision rests with your parents."
"We'll stay right here," Jacen insisted.
"We won't say a word."
"We won't breathe!"
"No," Piett said firmly. "The topic to be discussed is classified."
"We already know about it! Mom is the Chief of—"
"And if I have to call security to escort you out," Piett warned, "I will."
Jaina crossed her arms, eyes narrowed. "Fine. Sure you want to keep him waiting that long?"
"Cause it's going to take awhile." Jacen grinned. "Our mom is—"
"I'm aware of who she is!" Piett covered his brow with one hand, cursing under his breath as only a man with forty years in uniform could. But they were right, blast them; it was unwise to keep Vader waiting. "Suit yourselves," he said finally "Not a sound, either of you."
They beamed and nodded, leaning forward in their seats for the best possible view. Piett gave his jacket another frustrated twitch and marched over to the station. As Vader's towering form sprang forth in the life-size projection, he felt the twins stiffen with excitement—but true to their word, not a sound escaped.
"Good evening, my—"
The index finger pounced. "Do not think you can deceive me, Admiral. Who is it that you have invited to eavesdrop?"
Six hundred lightyears away and he still—it just wasn't fair! How could he possibly—
Belatedly he realized that a man who could take a head count from six hundred lightyears away probably wouldn't have any difficulty reading what was in those heads. "I beg your pardon, my lord. Just before you called I received some unexpected visitors. However"—he scowled at the twins—"they are leaving as we speak."
With synchronization so perfect a drill sergeant would have swooned with delight, the junior Solos crossed their arms, thumped back in their seats, and raised their right eyebrows, projecting such a resounding attitude of like-hell-we-are that the only wonder would have been if Vader hadn't sensed it.
"It would seem your powers of persuasion leave much to be desired," said Vader. "Perhaps your visitors would prefer to deal with me."
Piett's esophagus tried to turn itself inside out. "That won't be necessary, sir." He forced himself to sound jaunty. "I'm sure they—"
Vader pointed his basilisk gaze straight beyond the pickup of the transmission sensors to where the twins were sitting, now pale-faced. Dread had belatedly gotten the better of their curiosity. "I insist," he purred.
Damn. Piett froze, thoughts churning—Vader would be furious if he picked now of all times to be obstreperous—but what the Princess would do to him didn't bear thinking on—
Jaina suddenly stood. Jacen started out of his seat after her. "Jaya, you don't have to, I'll—"
"I'm oldest," she murmured, as solemn and final as a captain preparing to go down with her ship. She took a deep breath, then marched across the room and stepped into the pickup with a small but determined smile. "Hello, Granddad. I'm Jaina. How are you?"
Oh, terrific! Wonderful Jaina and Jacen characterizations ... Great snark and I think this is my second favorite chapter
You only delay the inevitable with your offerings on this fan fic,
Your fan fic is safe for now. Just remember, my apprentice and I will be watching.
(Excellent update. enjoying this story immensely)
It's late night where I am, so I want to keep this review short. And usually, to do that, I just pick my favourite bit of the chapter and comment on it. But HOW am I supposed to do that when my favourite bit of the chapter is THE WHOLE CHAPTER?????
Okay. I'll go with Piett identifying Anakin as Vader by the way he jabs a finger at the cameraman. That was pure genius.
I don't have "Darth" in my name, but I can be a very evil Wookiee onion when I want to so you'd better post the chat between Vader and the twins pronto. Then Piett can return to the pits of despair of negotiating with Borsk.
I am days behind on providing a review or feedback on where I got up to, tried during the week, and started reading your latest update backwards from Chyntuck's post.
Favourite part, before I was able to tear myself away and go to the start, was the synchronised twins sitting, crossing arms, raising eyebrows, in response to Piett saying they were just leaving.
Reading the update properly, I loved the whole thing, the sheer amount of creativity that you put into the Piett, Jaina and Jacen information exchange.
And dammit, I had an emotional surge when Jaina revealed they had never had a grandfather before; I had never thought of it that way.
Her asking if she put in too much schmaltz, jolted me far more than the Admiral.
Splendid work, 10/10, A-Star
Another great installment, but where is the Skycrawler?
Please tell me there's an update coming for this. It's too good to end there
Hey! Yes, there will be more coming soon. I’ve been out of the loop for awhile. 2018 started with a bang...
This chapter was freaking awesome! I laughed at so many parts, but the best was Piet getting an epiphany, as he looks at the holonet terminal. Then he does a search and the terminal says out loud "Your search for Anakin Skywalker has returned zero results." Piet's reaction as he looks over his shoulder and muting the machine was hilarious. What was also funny was his search attempts returning zero, which made me think "Google is NOT his friend." LOL
I can't wait for the next chapter!
This is just wonderful!
A/N: Hey, so, here's a thing: I am actually still drawing breath, not that you could tell from my update pace on this thing. I'm sorry to have been so slow, guys. It's been a rocky start to the year. You may address your hate mail to Darth Real Life, c/o Frodogenic, 110A Scylla & Charybdis Way.
"Hi, Granddad. I'm Jaina."
She'd said it. She had actually gone and said it to his face.
Piett had thought that frightened look of a moment ago had meant she'd had some sense knocked into her. Well, he wouldn't be assuming that about anybody named Solo ever again.
But Vader only said: "Child. What are you doing there?"
"Nothing much. We're just keeping your admiral entertained."
Vader gripped his belt with one hand—hanging on for dear life, Piett would have said, if it had been anybody else in the known universe. "We?"
"What the hells," Jacen muttered, and joined her at the station, forcing Piett off to the side. "Us. Me and her. I'm Jacen. Uh…hi."
The black stare ticked from twin to twin, like the needle on a Geiger counter. "Is your mother aware of this?"
Piett blinked. The question almost—no, it did imply a tremendous concession—an unheard-of concession—that, at least where teenage children surnamed Solo were concerned, Darth Vader's wishes must defer to those of the Princess. This from the same Darth Vader who had never taken orders from anyone but the Emperor or the Emperor's puppet du jour, such as Tarkin had been.
Jaina tipped her head slightly to the side. "Now she is."
Safely out of the pickup range, Piett mopped his suddenly clammy forehead. Back in Eriadu, Vader seemed to be having a difficult time finding words. It had probably been decades since the man had last had to introduce himself to somebody on civil terms.
"Are you coming to Coruscant soon?" Jacen ventured, in a surge of nerve.
"That," Vader thundered, "will depend."
Jacen's eyebrows shot up in alarm as the rest of him sprang reflexively to attention. "Yes—I mean yessir," he agreed, without bothering to ask what he was agreeing with.
Jaina was not so easily intimidated. "On what?"
"On whether my admiral has an opportunity of discussing the negotiations with me," Vader boomed, "or continues to be interrupted by insolent children."
"Yessir," Jacen stammered. "Sorry we interrupted." Piett did not like the look in his twin's eye, however. She was only too clearly taking the measure of her opponent—and unlike Jacen, appeared to be finding the odds to her liking.
"I'm not," she said, crossing her arms. "He's had you all to himself for twenty-five years. I think it's our turn. And we aren't children either," she added testily. "We're eighteen. I'm starting at Academy in a couple months."
There was a taut silence. Piett caught himself holding his breath.
"Perhaps not a child," Vader conceded at length. "Certainly insolent." Jacen remained stiffer than the cold-case wing of the Galactic City Morgue, but Jaina grinned. She seemed to have figured out in five minutes what Piett had taken years to comprehend: Vader's aggression was quite often no more than his way of testing your mettle.
Of course, it was also quite often his way of editing unsatisfactory life-forms from the galactic script, but dwelling on the negative never got you anywhere.
"Comes of being Corellian," Jaina answered, just on the safe side of flippant.
With what must have been superhuman effort, Vader passed up this sterling opportunity to insult his son-in-law. "What specialization have you chosen?"
"Good." His tone made it abundantly clear he considered this the only military career acceptable for persons descended from him. The helmet swiveled. "And does your brother also plan to attend Academy?"
"Uh, well, not just yet," Jacen replied.
"Not just yet?" Jaina demanded sotto voce. "Last summer you said never in a million years!"
"Last summer I didn't know he'd be asking," Jacen hissed back.
Piett cleared his throat loudly. Call him paranoid, but it seemed better to cut this first conversation short on a high note. Or at least a note not too far below middle C. "Master Solo, Miss Solo, I'm afraid I really must speak with Lord Vader privately now. The committee is due to reconvene in forty minutes."
Jacen nudged his sister with his elbow and flicked his chin towards the door, and this time she relented. "Alright. I guess…we'll see you later, then, Granddad."
"It would seem the Force has willed it so, child."
Jaina's eyebrows went up indignantly, signaling the onset of a Royal Snit a la Leia Organa. "I am not a—"
"Yep, looks that way," Jacen said loudly over her, grabbing her arm and towing her backwards. "Nice talking to you, Granddad!"
Jaina tugged her arm as he marched her out of the room, protesting half-heartedly. A moment later Jacen's wicked grin popped back around the frame. He waggled three fingers at Piett. "You still owe us the third one, remember!" The door whooshed shut. Piett turned with unaccustomed relief back to Vader and found himself the object of profound suspicion.
"What is it that you owe them?"
He cleared his throat. "Nothing of consequence, my lord."
Vader's forefinger lasered in on him. "If this has anything to do with that repulsive card game my son insists on propagating—"
Piett prayed to gods he hadn't found out about the lightsaber. Or the Emperor's portrait. "Nothing whatsoever, sir, I assure you. Have you had an opportunity of reviewing the report?"
"In spite of Jedi interference, yes."
"Jedi interference" was his new phrase for anything Skywalker did to irritate him, ranging from destruction of Imperial property (his holocom) to corruption of Imperial officers (Rebel sabacc, fast becoming a shipwide craze) to taking outrageous personal liberties ("good night, Father, sleep well"). Piett had already heard the complaint too many times to spare it a second thought.
Particularly not given how many other things there were to weigh on his mind. "And what is your opinion of the committee's revised proposals?"
He asked purely for form's sake. There was one new demand guaranteed to send him back to the table with a withering refusal that he'd somehow have to translate into less offensive phrasing—
Vader waved a hand. "They are acceptable."
Piett, stylus poised over his datapad ready to start taking notes, froze in total shock for more than five seconds before looking back up at Vader. "A-acceptable, sir?"
"That is correct, Admiral."
"Are you sure?" he blurted. Vader's mask snapped around to him, whether in anger or surprise he couldn't tell. Likely both; he'd never questioned Vader's decisions to his face, let alone been such an idiot as to do it without a single my lord or sir.
But it turned out thirty years of faithful service was enough for Vader to allow one infraction to slide. "You have an objection?"
How could the objection not be leaping off the flimsy at the man? "I—well, yes, my lord, I—I have some very deep concerns about section 3A and following. I—forgive me, my lord, but I did send the documents with today's time stamp? There hasn't been—some confusion on my part with an earlier draft?"
"There had better not be, Admiral, for your sake." Vader nevertheless deigned to consult his copy of the report. "Section 3A refers to the arrangements concerning the ship."
Piett swallowed. "And…I beg your pardon, but it does state that the Executor is to be—to be formally—"
"Surrendered," Vader finished. "That is correct. You have some objection to this?"
That mechanical voice had never sounded so merciless or dispassionate. He could hardly believe his own ears. "I—we cannot simply surrender her after—"
"What do you suggest be done with her instead?"
Piett swallowed. "Sir, I—I realize she's in bad shape. The expense of refurbishing her would be—"
"Prohibitive." The word slashed down like a guillotine blade. "Nor are we in a position to prolong these negotiations. Political leadership under democratic auspices is fickle at best. The Princess may continue in office for another decade or be impeached tomorrow, and if she is, you will find that her successor places a steeper price on peace than one obsolete dreadnought barely fit for scrap. I intend to secure our tactical advantage while it may be secured." He paused his tirade, studying Piett with, perhaps, a shade less indifference than before. "The necessity is perhaps to be regretted, but the ship is no longer of any use. Therefore neither is her crew. And as both they and you are offered employment by the New Republic military reserve forces, you can have no reason for remaining aboard her."
"Sir," he began hoarsely. "I swore an oath to—"
"That is irrelevant, Admiral. There is no longer an Empire to require your services. Inform the committee that their terms are accepted."
The connection went dead. Piett stared at the blank projector for he knew not how long. Several times his hand hovered recklessly over the transmit key, though what he'd say, he had no idea. There was nothing to be said. The man had given his orders and all that was left was to obey them. Make an end of it. Perhaps, after all, it would have been best to die at Endor. A warrior's death. No disgrace in that.
He was still staring when the door opened and the Princess appeared.
"Admiral. I've come to let you know that—is everything all right?"
Purely out of habit he was able to force a polite smile. "Forgive me. I—I suddenly feel very tired."
The smile gave out on him. He peeled off his cap and kneaded his forehead.
"Then you'll be glad to hear I've postponed our reconvention until tomorrow evening," she said.
The thought of lying awake all night thinking of nothing but what he'd have to say at the table sickened him. "I'd prefer to have done with it, actually."
The Princess raised an eyebrow. "That would be inhospitable of us. Particularly when you've had to put up with my children's antics for an hour."
Piett's earlier horror came faintly back to him, and must have showed on his face, for the Princess immediately shook her head. "From what they told me, I don't think any harm was done." Her gaze wandered thoughtfully for a moment. "In fact, I…I think it might be quite the opposite."
"They told you that they spoke with him?"
"Every word." She laughed softly at his skeptical expression. "They're reckless to a fault, I grant you, but they take their knocks on the chin. Just like their father."
"I see." He cleared his throat. "Your Highness, can we not reconvene in the morning at least? I shall merely be wasting my day otherwise." One night would be hell enough without the following day thrown into the bargain.
The Princess studied him closely. He had a nasty feeling she suspected his real reasons had little to do with impatience. Deliberately, she shook her head. "I understand how you feel, Admiral. I've felt that way myself many times before, when a negotiation is on the cusp. I've found the wisest course of action is to take a good long pause and give everyone a chance to clear their minds of possible regrets or resentment. Peace too fast is usually worse than no peace at all."
There was, as always, nothing for him to do but comply.
Sleep proved as impossible as he'd feared. The walls of his plush suite seemed to bend inward on him, Vader's cold orders echoing off them endlessly in the silence. Finally, around oh-three-hundred hours, he threw on his uniform jacket and stormed out into Imperial Palace. He needed to have space, a sense of going somewhere, of being involved in a bigger whole with other busy people…
His boots rang dully on the marble tiles, loud in the dim and quiet that had settled over the diplomatic suites. Too dim. Too quiet. What in the hells were they all doing in bed? Wasn't Coruscant supposed to be the planet that never slept? Kest, how he missed the Lady, right down to the gods-damned mouse droids that were always getting underfoot and trying to break his neck. A warship never slept; her shifts came and went, but her crew was always about its business.
Finally he picked up on a distant, crowdlike hum and followed it, until a much brighter beam of light bowed him through an archway onto a sprawling balcony of sorts. A cavernous hall opened to view, below and above and for what must be three kilometers in either direction. Imposing geometric columns vaulted from twenty levels below past his balcony and into a ribbed ceiling thirty levels over his head. He stopped in his tracks; the sheer vastness of it demanded his full attention.
"The Grand Corridor," said a heavy CoCo Town accent. Piett glanced to his left and saw a security checkpoint under the complacent eye of a Palace guard. "First time 'ere, guv'nor?"
"Yes…" His hands closed over the rail. Here was the looted glory of the Empire, still echoing before his eyes. What a figure Vader must have cut down that concourse in those days! This was a setting built to the scale of such a force of nature as he was. How many holos and broadcasts Piett had seen of the formal Empire Day processions, winding down this hall to the ceremonial Plaza Gates, out onto the Grand Promenade from which the Emperor had once made his public addresses to masses of flag-waving millions as flights of TIEs swept overhead and entire battalions of the Imperial Armed Forces paraded in unison on the sprawling expanse of the Pliada…but that was all gone now, just the shell left.
"It's a sight, innit?" The guard sauntered up, thumbs stuck in his belt, with the possessive air of a museum curator.
"Yes. I suppose you must be familiar with it."
"Oh, aye. Bin working 'ere since the Reconstruction." He did a double-take at Piett's uniform jacket. "'Ere now, you're that admiral what come back from the Unknown Regions, aren't ye?" He prodded Piett's insignia. "You're Vader's admiral, aren't ye?"
Piett scowled and batted the finger away. "For now, at least." He wasn't sure what the guard would do with that information. Shoot him, for all he knew—but once they took away the Lady, everything between here and his grave would just be filler anyway.
"Cor," said the guard, looking impressed. "You actually know 'im then."
"Better than most, I suppose." Before Eriadu he'd have said better than anyone, but that was before Skywalker started pulling things out of the man nobody could have suspected him of containing, like a Falleen magician putting on a show with a bottomless puzzle box.
"Blimey," the guard said. There was something gratifying about how impressed he looked. "Y'know, my dad used to work security 'ere too back in Empire days. Said 'e saw Vader once. Said 'e could read your mind from a sector away."
It was more question than comment. "Ten sectors," said Piett. Actually, it might be eleven from here to Eriadu.
"I seen a holovid what said 'e took out a whole regiment o'Rebels at Vrogos Vas single-handed," mused the guard. "You ever seen 'im scrag anybody?"
Piett pursed his lips. "I don't care to discuss it."
"But you did see 'im do it?"
"Yes," he said, to put a stop to the question.
"It true 'e can scrag you without layin' a hand on you?"
"I said I don't care to—oh, very well, yes, it's true."
Ten days of Borsk Fey'lya's oozing, velveted contempt made the guard's admiration difficult to refuse, however morbid. The guard beamed at this revelation, then nodded as if he'd known it all along. "Thought it were. Young 'uns nowadays say it's all spacer's tales 'bout 'im. I say, they weren't around then."
Amazing, the things people could get nostalgic about. "You remember the Empire, then?"
"Cor, do I! Weren't but a sprout then, but I remember sure enough. See them big Republic crests on the walls?" He pointed out at the Grand Corridor. "When I used to visit my dad on the job them were Imperial crests. Still there unnerneath, you know, cut inter the wall and such."
Piett swallowed a brief but intense flash of resentment. It was the flags all over again, only worse.
"Wunnerful place, this. Seen the Forest of Kashyyyk yet?"
Piett blinked. "The what?"
"The colonnade in the North Wing, what the Wookiees gave the Republic five hunnert years back. Seen it?"
"I—no, I didn't know it existed."
"'Ere now," said the guard, ballooning with indignation. "Can't miss that. I'll take you if you like."
"You needn't trouble yourself," Piett said quickly. "I'm—"
"No trouble, Adm'ral, none t'all. 'Alf a minute, I'll get one of the boys on patrol to take that there checkpoint."
Piett's irritation over being press-ganged soon evaporated. The guard proved a first-rate tour guide, and the Forest of Kashyyyk—comprised of two hundred hand-sculpted wroshyr trees, each over five hundred meters in height and over three thousand years in age—did not fall short of his praise. Warmed to his work, the guard proceeded to exhibit the Serenno Ballroom—"six million tiles in that there floor, twelve layers o'enamel on each one of em, three days' work by hand"—the hall where the Emperor had presided over state dinners at a ten-meter-long dining table carved from a single block of Alderaanian sea crystal—"woulda bankrupted a Mid-Rim system to buy it, and that's a'fore the Death Star come into it"—and wound up at the Mausoleum, a vast honorary cemetery where the heroes of the galaxy were memorialized.
Or rather, where the heroes of whoever happened to be running the galaxy were memorialized; it had undergone some rather pointed renovations since changing hands. The corridor of placards honoring Imperial military heroes had been replaced by a long sandstone wall, engraved with the names of every being known to have been on Alderaan at its last instant. On the opposite wall, a row of kinetic sculptures slowly flowed through the faces of the protestors who'd been killed in the Ghorman Massacre, when the future Butcher of Alderaan had tenderly landed his Imperial-class destroyer on their heads. And at the far end of the hall enshrining all of Tarkin's personal contributions to the galaxy's woes danced a tall column of light, mesmerizing the eye in a constant, interwoven upward rush—a memorial to the Jedi of old. The epitaph at the base read: There is no death, there is the Force.
What mockery. They'd died alright, down to the month-old infants in the Temple crèche. Three guesses who'd done that little chore for the Emperor.
"Lovely, innit?" said the guard, reverently. Piett muttered something noncommittal, looking away from the epitaph. Nausea was beginning to roil his gut, and he wished he could put it down to mere exhaustion.
"But this," the guard went on, "this 'ere I think you'll 'specially like."
He'd seen more than enough to sate him; the beauties of the Empire pilfered away or swept beneath the rug of history, and its ugliest deeds put on public display like a moral freak show. "I appreciate it. But it's been a long night. I think I should like to return to my suite."
"Only 'alf a minute more, guv'nor," his amateur guide urged. "You won't 'ave cause to regret it. Just a step this way."
Piett turned, intending firmly to shut the offer down, and stopped in surprise at the sight of a tall pair of copper-sheathed doors embossed with an Imperial crest—the only one he'd seen in the entire Palace. A blinking red light on the control panel indicated it was locked, but the guard made a show of unlocking it with his code cylinder. "Yavin Memorial Hall," he announced.
Piett stood still for a long moment more, then crossed quickly over the threshold. A short, curved corridor led him into total blackness, and then rounded a corner into a galaxy of lights, extending in every direction around him, forming a perfect sphere with a glittering orb of white crystal suspended in the center above him.
"It's meant to be the Death Star," the guard informed him. "That there crystal's a kyber, same as was used on the station to focus the laser."
Piett nodded, swallowing hard as he looked about him. He did not need the guard to tell him that there were exactly one million, five hundred and fifty-six thousand, two hundred and ninety-six lights surrounding them. "I can't believe this is still here."
"Well, they don't gen'rally open it except for family," said the guard. "It were the Emperor that had it made, and there's some would like it smashed to bits, see. But they was most of 'em reg'lar men on that station too, says I." He cleared his throat. "You take your time, Adm'ral. I'll be just outside whenever you're ready."
Piett found a bench along one wall and sat, thinking, remembering, mourning. A few of those lights had been friends; not his nearest or his dearest, but men he'd liked and respected all the same; and there was probably not a survivor of the old Navy but remembered where he'd been when word of that terrible defeat broke. He wondered if Vader had ever set foot here…and if he had, whether it had meant anything to him at all. Or had he shrugged all those lives off too, the same way he'd just shrugged off the Executor and all the people who looked to him…
When he emerged, the guard was deep in conversation with somebody at the other end of a comlink; he held up a finger to indicate he'd be along in a minute and stepped out a side door. Morosely Piett wandered the other direction. Passing the pillar of light, he discovered a stained glass window at the end of the corridor, facing true east. A faint predawn glow had just begun to illuminate the image of a woman dressed in white, the guardian angel of all these remembered dead, perhaps. Kindness mingled with sorrow in her expression, tempting his grief and betrayed feeling right out of their hiding places, straight to the tip of his tongue, and before he realized what a stupid thing he was doing: "Did they take everything you believed in, too?"
You, his rational side seethed, are talking to a damned window.
But the rest of him had already decided his rational side could go to hell for once. He needed someone to talk to, and she seemed like she'd listen.
"My commander's told me to surrender. I've spent thirty years following him. Not because of him really. He's a first-rate son of a bitch, begging your pardon. But he was the Empire to us in many ways, and the Empire meant a great deal to me. I assumed it meant something to him too." He swallowed. "It appears I was wrong."
He could've sworn she had somehow nodded at him. Certainly she looked as if she understood every word.
"Do you know what it's like? To give everything to someone, only to have them drop you like so much trash in the end?"
Silent compassion seemed to flow toward him with the feeble light.
"We believed in it, you know," he said hoarsely. "What the Empire meant, what it was, what it was going to be. As much as any Rebel believed in the Republic. We let him wring our necks like nuna chicks because we believed—I let him—"
His throat was suddenly too swollen with anger and guilt to get words out. His gaze fell, blurring, to the granite slab floor, thinking of his own personal mausoleum—the Avenger, Admiral Ozzel, poor Lorth Needa—if ever a man had deserved a monument it had to be Needa. Men who'd fallen brutally at Vader's hand—rightly so, he'd told himself all these years. Ridiculous as it had sounded, the word from above had been clear: the security of the Empire depends on capturing Luke Skywalker. Those who failed in this task put at risk the Empire they'd sworn to serve, which was practically treason, if you stretched the definition in the right direction...
…only he couldn't tell himself anymore that that was why Vader had killed them. Not since that moment in the observation office.
Piett wrung his fingers furiously together. "Well, it's obvious now, anyway," he told the woman in the window. "He doesn't give a damn about the Empire and he never has. I daresay he never cared about anyone but that insane son of his." He snorted bitterly. "Whom he doesn't begin to deserve, by the way. That boy waltzes in, forgives every gods-damned thing the man ever did to him, and what does he do? Tries to chase him off every chance he gets! He doesn't know how to carry on a relationship with another human being, he's more machine than—"
He stopped dead. Her presence acted like a mirror, reflecting back to him what he was actually saying. A man who'd lived without family for—how long?—about fifty years? A man who'd lived encased in a walking sarcophagus for half a century, cut off from all normal aspects of human life and society, surely as if he'd been buried alive in a dungeon—and because he was strong he'd survived, consuming every living thing around him in unspeakable ways, all the scurrying frightened rats like Piett and Ozzel and Needa.
And maybe, after that long in the dungeon, the only way he knew how to care for something was to shove it the hell away from him.
Was that what was going on here? Maybe he hadn't ever given a damn for the Empire…but did it follow that he'd never given a damn about Firmus W. Piett?
He sat down on the closest bench, feeling lightheaded. But hadn't Jade called him Vader's friend? And…Vader hadn't contradicted her.
But even so, what was he supposed to do about it? He was no Luke Skywalker. He was just the dunce who hadn't had the sense to resign or die at any point in the past twenty-eight years—
In a burst of glory the rising sun blazed through the window, setting fire to the reddish tints in the marbled-honey glass of the woman's hair and flashing her eyes full of life. Something else dawned on him too. It hadn't been Skywalker who'd gotten Vader to stop trying to drive his son away. It had been Jade.
And she hadn't done it by trying not to step on his toes; she'd marched right into his face and started stomping. She hadn't had any immunity from his wrath. She'd just cared about something more than her life.
The way he'd just found out he cared about his command.
Piett stared bleakly at the serene countenance of the woman in the window. "Why me?"
"Adm'ral?" a voice echoed behind him. Piett sucked in a sharp breath, wrestling his face for composure, and got the neutral expression pinned down just as the guard trundled into view.
"Beg your pardon," he said, climbing back to his feet. "I…just stopped to admire this window."
"Ah," nodded the guard, munificently. "They all do that as see her. A right angel, in't she?"
He worked his throat. "Yes. Who…" He trailed off as his eyes landed on a little plaque below the window.
Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
Given by the Sovereign System of Naboo
In Loving Memory Of
Padmé Amidala Naberrie
Queen – Senator – Servant
LOL on the twins' exchange -- totally in character for each of them. Piett's reactions to everything was wonderful and poignant. The window - wow, just wow. More revelations about what Vader truly cares about and how he shows it.
Oh gosh, so many feels! How do I even?
Nicely written, liking the way I get feeling towards this.
With each passing monument, he sees the defeat of his empire. It's gut-wrenchingly painful. Then he has his heart to heart discussion with the lady of the stained glass window, and it turns out to be the image of the one person in the galaxy who would really understand...
I was glad to see that "TBC" at the bottom of the plaque commemorating Padme.
Another fantastic chapter frodogenic! This isn't the first time you transition from comedy to drama in your writing, and I'm amazed at how seamlessly you manage to do it. First we have Piett facing Vader together with two cheeky teenagers (one of them admittedly cheekier than the other), then the unexpected news that Vader understands the concept of common sense (who would have thunk?) and from that point onwards Piett's musings until the very emotional moment in the Death Star room, followed by the even more emotional moment in front of the stained glass depiction of Padmé. And all this, of course, interspersed with the running commentary from the exasperating but oh-so-likable security guard. Like cowgirl said, lots of awesome feels here!
Congrats on your nominations for the fanfic awards! Every one of them was well-deserved.
Excellent chapter. I'm glad you got the chance to write and post it! Darth Real Life has a tendency to reign supreme over most things