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Saga Rendezvous and Farewells (admiral Piett, original female character, AU in the end)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Patska, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. Patska

    Patska Jedi Youngling

    Sep 5, 2014

    During decades of life with Star Wars we automatically get used to think that one and all in the Empire were consummate villains and all members of Alliance – irreproachable heroes dressed in white clothes and riding the white banthas :D . I suppose that such situation is not really possible, especially during war, and we must not stain all Imperial people with black colour. Therefore, I do not like Lord of the Rings and love The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski; down with black-and-white plots, long live stories tinged with all colours of the rainbow! :)

    I started reading Russian-speaking fandom and soon found that 49 percent of fanfics are written about Anakin leaving Tatooine with Qui-Gon and Ben Kenobi; little Skywalker continuously cries till the end of the story and Qui-Gon with Kenobi console him telling that he will surely become a Jedi and his mother will be released from slavery. In another 49 percent, I’ve read about padawan Kenobi infusing tea for his master Qui-Gon. Remaining 2 percents tell stories about characters from the Expanded Universe – Mara Jade, Callista etc. At least I generally found exactly these proportions of the plots.

    Lucas so carefully developed characters of all main heroes that we do not have enough space for our imagination (and I don’t like OOC). Expanded Universe is SO expanded that I will spend years and years to study it thoroughly. The prequel trilogy and Clone Wars are not particularly interesting for me; Luke, Han, Leia, R2-D2 and C3PO were my friends during childhood and the Old Trilogy movies are canon for me. Therefore, I decided to pay attention to other old heroes – but neither Luke, Solo, Vader nor Leia, Boba Fett and even Jabba. But to whom?

    Among a few fanfics written in Russian, I read quite a wonderful story named “The puppeteers” (unfortunately, it is not translated into other languages or even finished). One of the heroes is admiral Piett. At that time, to my shame, I didn’t remember who he was in the movies, so took my DVDs and re-watched Star Wars Original Trilogy one more time. And then it was an eureka!

    Lucas in the Original Trilogy showed us only the rebel side in detail while on board of the Executor were three hundred thousand crew members and everyone had an unique story. There are many-many stories about Rebels in our fandom; we can find them in each fanfics’ archive or site dedicated to Star Wars. Several fanfics are written about the Empire and Imperial troops, but nobody told us anything about one of their commanders.

    What can we learn about Admiral Firmus Piett from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi? Next to nothing, except the fact that he managed not to enrage Lord Vader and successfully survived between The Battle of Hoth and The Battle of Endor. I looked at this character from the other side: why Grand Moff Tarkin, General Tagge and other onscreen Imperial officers weren’t so terribly afraid of Vader, when admiral Piett expressed such an evident insuperable fear? Admiral definitely was not coward; an obvious scaremonger could not get such a high rank on the army’s or navy’s job ladder. Then why he is SO afraid of Vader? I caught tip of this idea and very carefully pulled it, the result of this operation is my fanfic, Rendezvous and Farewells.

    My native language is Russian and original fanfic is written in Russian as well (also I speak Georgian). That’s why I’m absolutely sure that you will find some syntactical, punctuation and grammatical mistakes in this translation. I hadn’t speaking practice for a very long time and continue to improve my English only by reading different articles and reviews in Internet and watching movies without translation and with subs, but it’s not enough, I know :) .

    I decided to upload the not Beta-d first chapter, and you, my dear readers, tell me – do I need to find a Beta who will fluently speak both English and Russian or you quite well understand my translation?

    I want to apologize beforehand for all possible mistakes that can be found in the first chapter and hope you will enjoy the plot!

    Feel free to ask questions about my characters and to write your reviews! I will surely answer everyone!

    Title: Rendezvous and Farewells
    Author: Patska
    Rating: PG-13
    Genre: Angst / Romance
    Pairing: Firmus S. Piett / original female character
    Length: 12 chapters
    Status: completed
    Warning: Chapters 11 and 12 will be AU
    Disclaimer: George Lucas owns everything.
    Summary: Life of the Imperial Admiral Firmus Piett.


    Chapter 1
    One day you’ll meet a stranger
    And all the noise is silenced in the room
    You’ll feel that you're close to some mystery.
    In the moonlight when everything shatters
    You feel as if you’ve known her all your life
    The world’s oldest lesson in history.

    Sting, Until

    “Long live Emperor Palpatine! Long live the Empire!”

    Wilhuff Tarkin, one of the most famous Imperial Grand Moffs, stretched out his hand, holding glass with the best Naboo champagne, to the wall, where big silk flag of sombre black and dark red colourswas hanging.

    “Long live Emperor Palpatine!”

    People gathered in a huge conference hall on Coruscant unanimously repeated the Grand Moff’s appeal. Men were dressed in army and navy uniforms, women – in evening dresses. Everybody simultaneously raised glasses and clinked with their neighbours with ardor and joy. They celebrated another – already twentieth - anniversary of the First Galactic Empire.

    Captain Piett took a sip of champagne with all other guests, carefully keeping on his face cheerful expression proper to the solemn situation. Everybody knows that during such grandiose celebrations, attended by supreme command of the army and navy and majority of Moffs and Grand Moffs, many agents of Imperial Security Service are concealed in the crowd. They vigilantly listen to the conversations, looking for those who do not show enough enthusiasm in expressing allegiance and loyalty to their Empire. It was rumoured – of course, these information was not fully reliable – that if somebody contrived to blurt out anything suspicious or was insufficiently happy to be a little gear of the Great Empire, the ISS agents immediately started to keep watch over him. Then some discrediting evidences were found. After that, he or she invariably vanished, leaving others to think up different version on the sly. Only the ISS knew what happened then to the disappeared person, but everybody was definitely sure that nothing good. And discrediting evidences were always found – it was only a question of time.

    “If we dig a little deeper, we will find that we all have finger in the pie”, thought Piett and raised his glass, greeting vaguely familiar commander from the General Staff. Commander was so swelling with pride as if Emperor Palpatine himself decorated him with an order.

    Piett never liked triumphant crowds. What pleasure can be found in such a noisy, gregarious joy?

    When he entered the Academy, he was too young to understand that he will work for the Empire; and how exactly he will work.

    He simply wanted to fly.

    He was carefully keeping devoted and solemn expression on his face and thinking that if he knew that in the end he was fated to become an officer in the General Staff at Coruscant, he would by all means botched up two or three most important graduation exams just to spoil his personal file and he would still have been patrolling his home Axxila sector in Outer Rim Territories as commander of antipirate fleet.

    Piett’s considerable successes during antipirate activities automatically draw attention to his humble person of the personnel department officers of the General Staff. They were so impressed with his service record that recommended such a promising young man to the Imperial top brass. Naval bosses quickly made a decision to promote Piett to the rank of lieutenant – at age of only twenty-six! – and transferred him to the Imperial fleet.

    After a couple of years some final and irrevocable changes happened in the destiny of Firmus Sorel Piett – no flights any more. Now he has a private office in the General Staff at Coruscant instead of the shining nebulas and changeable glitter of stars behind transparisteel viewport in the command deck. His office is tapping and scanning by the ISS during all twenty-four standard hours. Instead of the comparative freedom within Axxila system’s limits he must permanently obey bosses with different level of petty tyranny and live in the clutches of field manual.

    If someone compares his life on home Axxila and working on Coruscant, the latter theoretically is a wonderful beginning of a brilliant and breathtaking career. But study and analyze reports until remote dismissal? And see the same boring faces for more years and even decades? Now Piett sometimes regretted falling of the Old Republic – at that time students decided themselves where to go after the Academy, in merchant fleet or passenger traffic. The Empire never ever interested in someone’s opinions or wishes.

    After each month that Piett spent on Coruscant he became more and more oppressed by his current status and wanted… What? For a long time he tried to analyze the situation and find an answer but in the end relinquished this idea and bowed down.

    He has quite a good salary in the General Staff and almost cannot spend it because of the permanent lack of free time. At the moment of dismissal he will have a considerable sum on his banking account, so he will not be dissatisfied by the financial state. He categorically don’t accept gambling, drugs and other excesses; the only hobby he has – old paper second-hand books about the Galaxy’s ancient history that he buys from time to time. He was interested in those times since the Academy.

    Nobody will ever let him go back to command deck, to attractively glittering stars behind transparisteel viewport – he’d already understood it very clearly. Naval bosses are fully satisfied with his work and drop some hints about Piett’s quick promotion. He must be totally pleased with his fate, but why then he cannot stop thinking that he wants something else from his life? That he wants something very important and necessary that looms on the edge of his mind but vanishes when he is trying to concentrate on it and catch the meaning.

    Piett sighed. He wanted to be home most of all, away from this loud, crowded and uninteresting mob. But the anniversary had just begun and he should endure it at least several hours, until supreme command decides that it’s enough. Or until supreme command gets drunk enough to get back to their apartments.

    Piett still had no close friends in the General Staff. He preferred relationships necessary only for his work that can be prolonged in the canteen with some twaddle and drinking a couple of glasses of Corellian whiskey. And now – to say honestly not only now – he had nobody to have a heart-to-heart conversation. He did not want to start talking about immense achievements they made, about strength of the Empire and greatness they provided her by their loyal and devoted service! Such propagandistic and demagogic jabber stuck in his gizzard after the very first year that he spent in the General Staff.

    “Perhaps I should get drunk”, melancholically thought Piett, vainly trying to find in the crowd at least one man that will not be uttering boring maxims and therefore will not provoke grinding his teeth. When bosses began such speeches, he was obliged to listen patiently, but torture his mind with others’ humdrum now? He is fed up with it!

    Piett’s eye caught only lieutenants or officer having a higher rank. He really did not know what to do; and idea to get drunk was only an idea. He elementary did not like drinking too much and if wanted to, preferred one glass of good wine during long evening alone, only with books and manuals. On the other hand, if he finishes this champagne that cost many credits to Coruscantian suppliers, maybe he will become a little more cheerful?

    He drunk champagne at one gulp, trying not to screw up – it is interesting why everybody like this exported from Naboo sparkling sour-tasting stuff so much? – put the empty glass on a tray of a serving droid and decided to find his friend captain Lorth Needa. Piett saw him in the crowd when they all where entering conference hall. Piett met Needa a few years ago – he, as always, delivered information to the staff analysts after returning from the regular military expedition. Piett always comparatively easily sustained Needa’s energetic chat. And then suddenly heard following words among scraps of different conversations:

    “…on the ground of pre-design and experiments we’ve got such results: if we reduce energy consumption at ten-fifteen percent then the efficiency of the shields of both types will increase almost at twenty percent. This gives reactor additional power reserve. Well, it’s not very much and I repeat – this is preliminary study and you shouldn’t think about these rates with too much enthusiasm. We still continue our work.”

    Piett was a little surprised – the voice belonged to a woman.

    Officers were accompanied with their wives and mistresses during meetings and celebrations that civilians were allowed to visit. During his service, Piett heard hundreds and thousands conversations of officers’ wives and daughters and was absolutely sure that only very few of them could know phrases like “additional power reserve of the reactor”.

    Then, this voice doesn’t belong to somebody’s empty-headed girlfriend, but to whom? After the crush of the Republic and foundation of the Empire, the softer sex began serving in medical troops, logistics, ground communications units and bureaucratic jobs in the rank not higher that lieutenant. A common servicewoman couldn’t obtain admittance to such a significant festivities like the twentieth anniversary of the Empire that is celebrated in the main conference hall of the General Staff and is attended by all Moffs, Grand Moffs and army’s and navy’s superior command staff.

    He turned around and in couple of steps away from him saw a woman in a long blood red tight-fitting evening dress that was standing out against gloomy grey Imperial uniforms. Her light-brown hair was plaited in high sophisticated hairdo; in her ears Piett saw long earrings shining with diamonds. He could not see her face; she was talking to a group of officers not familiar to Piett.

    He decided to go closer but Needa suddenly appeared from somewhere and grasped his elbow.

    “Hey, are you bored as always? I just have met a commander from technical service. He somehow found out where my ship will be send after modernization of our hyperdrives that is scheduled on Fondor. Promised to tell me everything he knows. I don’t want to pursue ordinary smugglers in Hutt Space!”

    “I think you have a sudden attach of heroism”, stiffly answered Piett, displeased that Needa distracted him from something more or less interesting in the conference hall. In addition, deep down, he envied a little – Needa’s fleet was permanently travellingacross the Galaxy, what meant at least a little variety. And he will be always sitting in his office studying documents and reports.

    “Want to continue hunting the rabble and sometime become an admiral?”

    “It would be great!” Needa grinned, put his empty glass on a tray of a serving droid, took a full one and dreamily started, “I will have a star destroyer at my personal command…”

    “… and you’ll immediately run into a nearest moon”, Piett just could not stop himself from saying that. He once found out that Needa’s marks in the Academy, especially in astronavigation, were mostly poor.

    “Well, and you, such an exemplary officer, some day will surely become an admiral”, Needa quite sensibly jabbed his fist into Piett’s ribs, “Maybe even a Grand Admiral! And all women from Coruscant, Corellia, Kuat, Fondor and generally Galaxy will be at your feet, trembling from delight and happiness!”

    Piett frowned a little and did not answer. He knew perfectly well that if he will become a Grand Admiral even twice and will be decorated with orders from head to foot, nobody will be at his feet. He had no illusions about his unremarkable appearance from the Academy time, where all scanty girls quickly felt in love with his tall, eloquent and handsome classmates. After several unsuccessful love affairs on Axxila and then here, on Coruscant, he became convinced that any attempt to establish long-lasting relationship with somebody – with all his intellectual and analytical capabilities – is idea not silly, but obviously hopeless.

    Every day from early morning and till night he was studying documents received from the whole Galaxy, was developing plans of manoeuvres, writing reports and doing other bureaucratic things. All ladyloves where always demanding much attention, hysterically cried “you should spend more time with me!” and spoiled his life in other various and numerous ways. One day – Piett still was not sure lucky or not – after another quarrel he packed his things, left too excitable and capricious Correllian girl and gave himself a word that in the future he will not be get involved in more or less serious and long relationship. After that he had only brief and transient love affairs, luckily there where many undemanding and compliant women on Coruscant.

    A stumpy fair-haired man with stripes of a commander from technical service – apparently, exactly he knew about next destination of Needa’s ship – approached Piett and his friend and started tedious story that his brother-in-law is an adjutant of a colonel, and this brother-in-law heard that somebody told someone that… Piett stopped listening to him after a couple of minutes. He was interested in a woman in red dress and did not care in which god-forsaken hole in Hutt Space will be sent Needa’s Eighteenth fleet.

    When something was not clear for him, Piett immediately started studying a question or a problem thoroughly until he understood every smallest detail. Well, he did not dreamt of being a military analyst in the very heart of the Empire, but he had such mental structure when usage of logic and processing bulk of information content was very exciting and interesting during getting every problem’s solution.

    And now he was filled with curiosity – who is this stranger in red evening dress and what is she doing here?

    He turned his head a bit and started looking for bright colour among grey uniforms – he and Needa nearly did not move since he saw her the first time. There was not too much free space in the almost completely full conference hall and she could not move away too far from them.

    She stood at the same place, now without a company, and was examining a huge military crowd of every stripe with an incomprehensible expression. Now she was not standing with his back to Piett and he saw her face.

    He instantly and absolutely forgot about anniversary, Needa and his boring commander who still did not get to the main point, about unfinished report concerning latest Chandrila disorders that he must finish towards morning. He was standing and looking at her, and a line was repeated in his mind – a line from a silly and sentimental novel that he read many years ago in the Academy just for a giggle; a line that seemed so funny and ridiculous for him and all his classmates.

    “…She was so dazzlingly beautiful that he stopped hearing, feeling and understanding anything in the world except one and only thing – now only she will exist for him in the whole universe, henceforth and forever.”

    To be continued
  2. mavjade

    mavjade Former Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 10, 2005
    First off, Welcome to the JCF and welcome to fanfic!! [:D]

    This is a great start! You are right, we often write from the hero's point of view and don't often get the lives of the 'bad guys' who have their own interesting lives and it can be fun to see things through their eyes.

    As someone who can only understands one language, I'm always impressed when people can write so well in something other than their native language, and your writing is fantastic! I would never know if you hadn't told us!

    I am looking forward to more!

    Thank you for sharing and welcome again!
  3. Patska

    Patska Jedi Youngling

    Sep 5, 2014
    Thanks! :) So good that there's such a huge place for us, SW fans! [:D]
    Hope I will satisfy your expectations; I worked very hard on the plot and there should not be any logical mistakes or derogations from canon (until mentioned AU, of course).
    Oh, you've made my day! [face_dancing]To hear such words from a native speaker - it worth its weight in gold, really! [face_blush]
    I've already finished translation of chapters 2 and 3 and in chapter 4 is about 30 percent left. But now I have a new job where I don't have much free time to do my translation, and in the evening I'm often too tired to see computer again :). So please-please be patient, OK? :* I'm doing my best!
  4. Patska

    Patska Jedi Youngling

    Sep 5, 2014
    Chapter 2

    "…and going to Nal Hutta. Hey, Firmus, have you heard anything I've just told you?"

    Needa's question and another jab in ribs returned Piett from deep prostration. He saw the young woman – by eye she was about twenty-six or twenty-seven – she was painfully wincing and rubbing her temple. She was holding an empty glass that was noticeably trembling.

    "Did you heard or not?" repeated Needa more insistently.

    "What? Yes, I did. Very well," answered Piett with unconstrained voice, because he already collected himself and stopped looking at the woman in red dress. "Hutts finally got out of hand? You will peacefully persuade them not to go too far by means of a little accurate bombing and twenty AT-AT Walkers with following landing operation?"

    "No, our command doesn't plan any bombing. At least at this stage," Needa lowered his voice. "These caudate monsters recently had repartition of power. People on the margins say that new leaders of clans don't want to fulfil old agreements with our Treasury that were concluded by their predecessors. We fly there as an unquestionable argument of Imperial rightness."

    "Very interesting," muttered Piett. He didn't care a damn receives the state treasury a regular bribe for not sticking its nose in Hutts' business or not.

    "Is that so?" noticed Needa sneeringly. "I think you're more interested in observing this girl in red."

    "Accidentally heard what she said and became curious," answered Piett with feigned indifference. He already restored his usual composure and steadiness. "It was something about shield generators. By the way, don't you know who is she?" asked he carelessly.

    "Maybe she is the daughter of one of our bigwigs, admiral's, general's or Grand Moff's; otherwise she won't be allowed to come here. Look, I think only her earrings cost as much as production of a TIE-fighter. I'd like to make a closer acquaintance of her; she surely has so many powerful relatives..." dreamily said Needa. "Marry her – and you will instantly have a brilliant career!"

    Piett shrugged his shoulders – he never liked friend's dream to do a career development by means of patronage and protection and without any personal effort. Piett had a suspicion that Needa appeared on board of his Star Destroyer exactly because of the protection.

    "Come on!" chuckled Needa. "I know you don't mind to flirt with her. As if I didn't see how you was looking at her right now! But we have no chances; by birth and position we are too far from her. She will like a vice-admiral at the minimum. Maybe even a moff!"

    Piett stealthily looked at the woman in red and saw a tall gloomy officer with army brigadier-general's insignia. He leaned over the woman and quietly said something. She shook her head. The officer frowned, grasped woman's elbow and appreciably raised his voice. Piett heard:

    "What about your promise? When you will keep it?"

    She immediately released herself – quite politely and gently and it didn't seem bad-mannered – and stepped back, as if she do not wanted to stand close to him and to bear his touch. Piett and Needa were not far from them and both heard her cold answer.

    "I am sorry, but I cannot tell you the date accurately to within a millisecond. Please, be patient, I have my own life and plans, which I cannot change at once."

    "And how much time do you need," asked the brigadier-general angrily, "to take such an elementary decision, if we take into account your profession?"

    "As long as it needs," said she icily. "Could you, please, have the patience to wait; you won't get my answer more quickly. Don't pester me with your importunity, I start thinking that you got beyond bounds a little."

    "I got beyond bounds?" officer's displeased face become even more wry and angry. "You hadn't so long tongue when we talked to your uncle! Well, we will see what is going to happen!"

    He turned round, roughly shoved people around him and went away.

    The woman for a moment followed him with her eyes, then flinched and loudly said with despair:

    "Why? Why he and why now?"

    Needa bent to Piett and wanted to whisper him something, when the woman suddenly turned to them. Both stood still, Needa because of unexpectedness, Piett – because his heartbeat became very rapid and he had a cobweb in his throat.

    She very attentively looked at Needa and then shifted her glance to Piett. He stood there, looking at her, and understood that the young woman is not a picture of beauty in a classical meaning of this word. He met such magnificent ladies that all men irrespective of the age were turning their heads towards them.

    This woman wasn't like those ladies. She had oval face, greenish-brown eyes, not very plump lips, now covered with a red lipstick, a bit curved nose, a little wrinkle near her right eyebrow as if she often frowns – all these features separately were quite ordinary. But in total, she made a stunning impression on Piett, so stunning that he instantly forgot all skills of a polite conversation. He was desperately trying to think up a natural matter for chat until their mutual silence will become impolite. But he even doesn't know her name! He couldn't directly start asking her about shield generators. Maybe, tell something neutral about Imperial anniversary?

    But it was she who broke the silence, neither Piett nor surprisingly silent Needa, who usually very simply was making a chat to women. Something elusive flickered in her eyes; she smiled a little and said to Needa:

    "Captain, excuse me, I don't know your name. Would you be so kind and bring me a drink, any beverage at your discretion except Corellian whiskey and champagne? I don't feel like going through this huge crowd," and she smiled again, "please, do me a good turn."

    "Y-yes, ma'am, of course. Right now!" Needa perfectly well felt intonation of a rich woman who is used to give orders, felt it in spite of impeccably polite tone of her voice. He made a bow and obediently went away. When he appeared behind her back, he gave Piett a wink – go ahead! And Piett in turn supposed that she sent Needa away under the pretence that she wanted to have a drink. But he couldn't guessed, though he tried his best, why she needed it.

    "I want to apologize. You and your friend witnessed my talk with brigadier-general Tagge," said the woman in red. "I was introduced to him not long ago, and I already want to take somebody's blaster and shoot him. But it will be too quickly and easy," added she with sudden bloodiness. "By the way, captain, my name is Ignis Tarkin."

    "Nice to meet you, ma'am Tarkin, I am Firmus Piett," he presented himself, bowed and started thinking – should he, to observe etiquette, kiss her hand or not? As if she guessed his thoughts, she smiled:

    "Don't be so nervous, I'm not grand-moff Tarkin and don't demand to stand at attention and without a flub report a twenty-paged statement about perfectly done work. What do you think about famous Naboo champagne everybody goes overboard about?"

    "Honestly? Not very impressive."

    "Agree," she nodded. "I prefer Alderaan red wines, in good company and in amount not exceeding one glass."

    They stood silent for a moment, watching the crowd that was more and more cheering up.

    "May I ask you, ma'am, how are you related to grand-moff Tarkin?" at last inquired Piett.

    "Thanks to all gods of the Galaxy, I'm not his daughter," she pulled a face. "He and my father are cousins. I'm standing here only because of such high-rank relative like uncle Wilhuff," there was not even a shred of warmth or respect in her voice. She paused a little and added some strange words that Piett didn't understand. "On the one hand this was very bad, and on the other – unexpectedly good…"

    "What could be bad in the invitation to Imperial anniversary?" wondered Piett and only afterwards realized how ambiguously in sounded. Ignis Tarkin definitely had a bad influence on him, but she either didn't notice his words or preferred not to pay attention to the unwilled implication.

    "What? Ah, was just thinking aloud. My exclusive, I can say family problems," signed she. "Where do you serve, captain Piett? In which fleet?"

    "I'm not in a fleet anymore for quite a long time. I was transferred to the General Staff and now work here, on Coruscant," said he naturally, trying not to show his gladness too obviously. The possibility to exchange a few words with her, to be near her a little longer was a great gift for him. "I'm an ordinary armchair general and deal with analytics. Ma'am, may I inquire where do you work? Tagge talked about your profession with too much… expressivity."

    "You want an honest answer?" she chuckled. "Uncle Wilhuff thinks that my place is on Eriadu, in Tarkin family's mansion. I should wear traditional clothes of our planet, walk stately through rooms, watch foolish broadcasts on Holonet and visit our silly neighbours. And I spent five years in Imperial Institute of Higher Studies on Ferrhast where studied subjects that a girl from a respectable family must not even hear about."

    Piett couldn't suppress a grin – he knew that on many planets girls from rich and powerful families spent their time exactly like that. She smiled in response:

    "Captain, don't you know? Men think that women should be occupied just only with their families and shouldn't thrust their noses farther than instruction of a kitchen droid."

    "I dare say that not all men suppose so. What did you study at Ferrhast?"

    "I won't enumerate all the subjects, but will tell you theme of my diploma," slyly smiled she. "Interaction of star corona or protuberances with deflector shields". Oh, I beg you not to faint!" humorously exclaimed she, while Piett was trying not to be too much amazed. In the first place, he girl from rich and noble family studied in Imperial Institute of Higher Studies, and in the second place, studied such things?

    "Well, this is very interesting and necessary theme, ma'am," said he. "Apparently, you mean those unfortunate pilots who, because of the navigation system failure, leave hyperspace too close from the star?"

    "No. To be more precise, not only because of the failure. Sometimes because of inability to input correct data and coordinates in the on-board computer. These mistakes happen more often than everybody thinks. I work at Kuat shipyards for a few years from now, in one little construction department where we try to improve operational factors of shield generators and, at the same time, to reduce power consumption."

    "And why you became interested in such… unusual subject?"

    "Let's be candid – unladylike subject," she laughed. "When I was a little girl, my father often took me and my mother in his business trips. I frequently visited cockpit and watched how pilots worked, and always asked questions. Captain of one of the shuttles once informed me how many dangers can waylay a ship in the open space, from the possibility to leave hyperspace too close from a star corona and finishing with a stray asteroid or volley of pirates. He didn't want to scare me, of course, just saw a sincere interest of a young passenger. I became so engrossed with the information that began to study all materials available for me at that age. In the end, I found myself on Ferrhast. You should see how most representatives of the Tarkin clan were boiling over when I entered the Imperial Institute of Higher Studies."

    Piett guessed that she still is frankly pleased with her relatives' discontent.

    "They definitely would prefer to see you in the living room with your friends, sitting and discussing how tasteless and vulgar is the dress of your mutual acquaintance," defined Piett.

    "You hit the right nail on the head, captain!" cheerfully answered she.

    "What about your parents? What did they say about the profession you have chosen? They lost their cool too?"

    Ignis Tarkin felt sad and answered only after some time:

    "Father and mother are missing not long before I finally decided to fly at Ferrhast. They disappeared on their way back from Tepasi to Eriadu. We still don't know what happened to them. Our clan thoroughly rummaged our and adjacent sectors, checked all pirates and smugglers whose routs could run across possible rout of father and mother, but in vain. We have only suppositions. Official versions are the sudden breakdown of the ion engine with the following explosion or the malfunction of on-board computer that ended with leaving hyperspace in the wrong place. What the irony of fate, isn't it?"

    Piett mentally kicked himself for needless interest:

    "I beg you pardon, ma'am. I shouldn't have asked such questions. I was far gone in my curiosity," quickly apologized he.

    "Don't mention it," now her smile was very faint. "It happened long time ago and I don't feel very sad when somebody asks me about my parents... Oh, here is your friend coming," she notices Needa in the crowd and added with irritation, "speak of Angels and they flap their wings."

    Piett clearly detected discontent in her voice. He summoned up his courage and said:

    "Ma'am Tarkin, if you don't like somebody's presence, then, maybe…"

    "Not somebody's", she answered immediately. "Only your friend's, I'm sorry to say so. He is too overconfident and fussy."

    Piett couldn't but agree with these words and wondered, how she guessed Needa's individuality while it was the first time she'd seen him.

    "I knew that he wouldn't get anything but champagne, and hoped that he will continue further search," quietly explained Ignis. Then she turned to Piett, looked straight in his eyes, hesitated a little and continued. "To be honest, I want to talk with you only – from all this company. Confess, captain, you feel the same, right? Or you will deny it only because of prejudices and upbringing dogmas that were knocked in your mind ages ago?"

    Piett was caught utterly unawares. He tried to consider a proper answer, but Needa already approached them, reported that champagne is running out, cocktails run out an hour ago and droids offered him only whiskey. And he is apologizing for not getting another drink and not fulfilling ma'am Tarkin's request. While Ignis was politely answering Needa that nothing terrible happened and she is not thirsty, now Piett was trying to invent a reason to get rid of Needa.

    On the one hand, he categorically couldn't concede that young, well-educated, beautiful woman from the noble family would become enamoured of him, the ordinary staff captain with utterly ordinary appearance. He couldn't even with his enough rich and ingenious imagination. On the other hand, her attention was another chance to stay with her a little longer, to listen to her voice, to remember how she frowns when she is displeased with something, how she smiles and has dimples on her cheeks...

    The situation was rescued by Needa's another friend, a commander of the fifteenth fleet. He pushed himself through the crowd, respectfully apologized to Piett and Ignis that he must take away their interlocutor because of one important and urgent matter, and they both left. Piett saw that Needa was bursting with curiosity; then he plucked up his courage and began:

    "Ma'am, honestly I don't quite understand what did you meant when..."

    Ignis gestured impatiently.

    "Captain Piett, this conference hall has a balcony? Please, accompany me there otherwise we won't be able to talk at ease. There're so many people here and we constantly will be interrupted."

    "Yes, ma'am, it has," answered he and said to himself that this is the queerest evening in his life. "We should go back to the entrance, on the left of it there is a door that leads to an open terrace."

    "Very well," she nodded and took his arm. "Let's go until my uncle caught us. He will surely lecture what should I do and what I should not."

    They adroitly made their way through excited guests, and Piett was intensively thinking how he should act when they will reach the terrace. Ask her openly what she wants from him? Maybe she is simply collecting admirers, flashed though his mind. He doesn't know how noble ladies beguile with, especially ladies who are experts in shield generators. Who knows what kind of a person is Ignis Tarkin? Maybe, he is only another trophy that must be charmed passingly.

    No, said he to himself confidently.

    That's impossible.

    He exactly knew that there were not a bit of pretence or coquetry in her words and voice. Everything that she told him sounded sincerely and naturally. Their conversation was simple, plain, and relaxed and he felt himself just the same – except, of course, excitement from her presence, thoroughly concealed. It was ages ago when he felt like this while talking with somebody. As if he met someone he knows for a very, very long time, and there is no necessity to find out carefully – like flying through the asteroid field – during a conversation what kind of a person he is talking to. Then, in the name of all galactic gods, what will happen next?

    To be continued

    A/N. Admiral Piett had no name in Old Trilogy. He got name only in 2012, in Daniel Wallace's The New Essential Guide to Characters. Wallace derived the name from the Latin word meaning "strong" or "reliable" (see Wookieepedia). That's why I decided to think up my female character's name similarly. "Ignis" in Latin means "light", "fire" or "passion".