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We Will Be Together Till the End of Time
by Fornarina
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to George Lucas and Lucasfilm! If something doesn't belong to him-- I will give it to him with the greatest pleasure! :-) The "main editor" Blitzen has all rights to use it as she will find necessary! And anybody who will want to use it as the base for something much more interesting-- please take it and use it! It's free!

Everything began from an annoying mistake. I should say-- from a tactless deed. Of course, I was in a hurry to make amends, but--

"I"-- It's me. The young, super-sexy, clever lady with long, dark-brown hair, bright blue eyes and snow-white dazzling smile. Sure, your imagination will supplement the rest. I know that some women spend millions of Imperial credits to get this kind of beauty. I got it free. From IMIC--Imperial Military Industrial Corporation-- the absolute property of His Imperial Majesty. It was a very generous but very devious gift. Sometimes I ask myself: Why did they create me this way? To make the death which I hide inside my superattractive shell look a bit less awful? Or did our congenital attraction to physical beauty play its part here? But if I am nothing more than a weapon with a simple and clear function-- why do I have the ability to make my own decisions and to act like a normal human being? Why do I have normal human emotions and human reactions to the emotions of others around me? Probably I will never be able to understand it at all, but maybe it's all for the best.

Suddenly my memory returns me to the moment when I realized myself as "something" for the first time. The space is full of bright light-- a chaos of colorful spots in the mist-- an indistinct noise. Gradually everything comes into focus. I am in an enormous hall which is full of light. I hear the drone of thousands voices. I see a whirlpool of human faces. Here are people in civilian clothes and all different color Imperial uniforms. I am standing in a line with others "male" and "female" in jumpsuits with whole armor, and uniforms with more less variation. Men and women in black, gray, dark green and blue uniform. There is a similar line opposite me. The large crowd of people continues its movement between us. Two men are walking near me-- an evil-looking old man in a strange dark-blue cassock, and a huge, frightening figure in black. The old man leans on a metal walking stick, and talks to his companion in black. I know them-- the Emperor and Lord Vader. Our bodies and souls belong to them.

Again the endless stream of people. Suddenly two men stop near me for moment. One of them is short, but excellently well-built. Dark gray Imperial uniform, the rank--nothing less than an admiral. The smooth pale face, an attentive and quick glance of shining gray eyes. He smiled at me and I felt the warm wave which touched me slightly. His companion is very tall and very aristocratic-looking man, with a fine long pale face, light hair, very deep firm voice, icy light-blue eyes. His rank is Captain--

"Look at this! Improved samples."

"I told you so! The choice is excellent."

"Let's just wait a bit for Veers. He will be working with them and we need his opinion."

"Write down her number and serial code."

The tall man writes something on a small datapad.

"Well, young lady, we will see you again!" They smile at me again and disappear into the human stream...

Here is a jump of memories. I am on "Executor''. There were training sessions, military actions, more training. I could see my life as if from a very long way off-- without any stormy emotions. I was carrying out my duties. That was all. There was no place or time for deep thoughts. The man with the shining gray eyes is now my commander, and my god. The God of War. Our Admiral Piett.

Sometimes I escorted Lord Vader. That was my duty, too, but most of my time was spent with Admiral Piett and his commanders. They were amazingly polite, with a normal human attitude toward us, as if we were absolutely normal real people, rather than some kind of droids with human shells. But only much later, did I get an opportunity to know how really tolerant and good they were. That was the moment when I met Jerjerrod. That moment, when I met him...

* * *

Of course, I had met many men before. I liked to look audaciously, but cold-bloodedly into their eyes to provoke their lust, while thinking about tearing off their uniforms and caressing their hot, magnificent bodies. I so enjoyed it when I saw the fire of the same dark crazy thoughts reflected in their eyes. That was an absorbing and dangerous game. But I always wanted more. Much more. Something to make me crazy, when my body is shaking and burning like it is on fire and wild shouts break free from my unwilling throat.

Probably I was waiting for him. Even I had no idea about his existence in this world, until that one moment. That was the moment of truth. I met him for the first time during an inspection on the second Death Star. I was among a retinue of Imperial officers which was escorting Lord Vader. To escort the Dark Lord never was a very pleasant duty, but fate decreed that this ordinary trip would turn my life up side down. I met him, and that meeting tore my heart and filled my soul with the sweet poison of love. This tender, intoxicating poison has already overflowed into my veins and it will destroy me after some time, but for a while I can live with it. Well, it looks like my creators didn't give me the matching antidote. I know I will never be the same person again.

When I saw him-- tall, thin, arrogant and incredibly elegant-- walking to us between the ranks of Imperial forces, I thought I would go mad. His gait was swift, graceful, light. He was walking to us, barely touching the glassy floor with his feet, and that bouncy, light step was taking away my consciousness and the sense of reality. I wanted him. I was wishing for him since the first second. Since that moment when our eyes met. I was standing behind Lord Vader. He was talking about something to Vader, but I didn't listen. I was looking at him. Only at him. I could almost physically feel the silk of his hair, I saw and felt the rhythm as his chest rose up and down with his breathing. I caressed with my glance the tender, velvet skin of his pale cheeks. He continued to talk to Lord Vader, swift, clipped words, but the meaning didn't penetrate my consciousness. In that moment Vader told him something with a very firm voice and he turned ashen. He cast a quick glance above Vader's shoulder, like he wanted to find some protection from anybody, and I caught his eye. I felt I would drown in the cold depth of these dark emerald-blue eyes. My heart stood still with every movement of his eyelashes. It was my captivity and I didn't even try to avoid it. I wanted it with all my heart and soul. In that moment I almost hated Vader, because those dark-blue eyes were looking at him and not at me. The glance of these shining anxious eyes didn't belong to me. It wasn't mine. Vader could touch him, but I couldn't. He was looking at Vader and talking to him--not to me. It was agonizing even for me. Probably, Vader felt something. For a second he cut short the conversation and that awful black metal mask flashed, turned to me. I kept an inscrutable appearance, but I was shaking on the inside. Well-- if I am going to be a real human being-- I must know about dark side and about human nature too.

* * *

A bit later, in the conference room on the new Death Star... Lord Vader left us for some time and the situation is much more relaxed.

That man is talking to other officers and he doesn't look at me. He is doing it theatrically. I can see it absolutely clearly. But even in this deliberate resistance I can feel his sensual male charm, summoning almost bestial passion with his elastic, shapely body. The officers had gathered into a big group and they were discussing something with animation. He was listening, sometimes he answered somebody, sometimes he laughed, and this blatant teasing laughter was in excellent harmony with the haughty beauty of a man who knows very well his own value. Every part of him was a challenge to me-- the straight line of his shoulders, the sharp glance of his dark blue eyes, the thin straight nose, his small arrogant chin-- everything embodied temptation. He was talking to an officer who stood near him. The elderly officer was explaining something with great enthusiasm to him and the others. He listened, sometimes he answered, but that was only for the sake of appearances. His slender nostrils were shuddering anxiously and his eyes looked sharply around. His glance was roving constantly, as he talked to the others. Only I wasn't in his field of vision. It annoyed me. I took a step toward the wall, where I could watch him freely for myself and not be noticed by the other officers, and I started to seek out his glance. Well, he noticed it, turned slightly toward my observation point, but he did it as if it was absolutely accidental. He didn't avoid my glance, even sometime was answered it, but his eyes didn't stay long on my side. When his glance was falling on me-- it looked full of desire for intimacy, but he met the glances of all present with the same cold shine in his emerald-blue eyes. He didn't cut short the conversation with the officer who was standing near him even for a second, pretending to be very interested. There was something incredibly audacious and self-confident in his behavior. And now I didn't look into his eyes, but absolutely frankly examined him from head to foot, tearing off his clothes with my glance and imagining him naked in my embrace. He followed my glance absolutely quiet and smiled with the corner of his arrogant lips, and I read approval in that slight smile. It was obvious that he is a fitting partner and that he has a perfect command of technique in this risqué performance. He was inciting my lust very skillfully, listening to the conversation at the same time and he was doing it with entire indifference. That was driving me mad. His cold, malicious, calculating man's flirting had too much similarity with my own nature. I slowly approached him and looked directly into his eyes, saying with my glance, I want you, you charming, arrogant MALE! Now I was looking at him with an impertinent, almost offensive invitation. For a second his eyes flared with fury, which he kept inside, but he immediately calmed down. Imperial Moffs certainly know how to keep up appearances. Well, he won this round. But I wasn't finished with him. Not yet.

* * *

The next inspection trip with Lord Vader on the Death Star. This time Admiral Piett himself is here with us. This is an ordinary meeting for supreme officers. And there is nothing unusual-- reports, discussion of the situation, analysis of events. A very ordinary routine. While my body is doing my duties, my brain and vision are acting separately. I can see him again. My glance followed the sharp bend of his light eyebrows, sinks into the icy cold depth of his emerald-blue eyes, makes the haughty pressed lips relax and open for a passionate kiss...

The strong shove of the admiral's elbow immediately returns me to the reality. Lord Vader has already twice asked me about something. I should be more careful. Thanks to all the powers of this universe-- everything comes to an end, and this meeting is no exception. A bit later we had a dinner with other local officers and again I was an eyewitness of the unquestionable authority of Admiral Piett. Stormtroopers and several TIE-pilots-- "aborigines" suddenly started a big quarrel with a few pilots from our crew and the situation started to get out of control quickly, but the admiral instantly brought them to heel with only a few words, which he threw to them offhandedly. These words, very cold and imperious, had an effect on the men like hypnosis, and order was restored immediately.

In the enormous empty corridor near the conference room I was astonished by a very odd sound. I listened to voices--there was no mistake-- Lord Vader and Moff Jerjerrod were quarreling. They almost resorted to shouting. The terrifying heavy voice of the Dark Lord rumbled even through thick steel walls: "Commander, if I maintain something, it means only one thing-- it is a fact! Oh, yes! Yes! The Emperor himself talked about it! Of course! Yes! And now I can tell you-- all these superstations are rubbish! You have spent years to build it-- I can destroy it in a few seconds. What are you talking about? Maybe. Maybe it's a great idea! But here is one problem. Other people exist in our galaxy. And these people have their own great idea, to destroy us along with our idea. Oh yes! The Emperor promised it to you! Commander, you choose not to understand me. You don't even want to listen me. Now I can see you are going to repeat the fate of Tarkin. The Emperor gave his word to him, too. And to Admiral Motti. And to General Tagge. And another couple million with them. Do you know what happened to them? Sure, you know about it. I hope so, Commander, for your own sake. What? Commander, don't play with my patience. You have almost exhausted your limit."

I will not forget this moment. Never till the end of my life. But my life is supposed to be very long. Almost everlasting. "...till death separates us." Or I will do something with myself. I can see Vader near an enormous round table and-- and that angry, thin, nervous, ashen face with shaking white lips and black gloved hands, convulsively gripping the rim of the table. Suddenly, the moff straightens up with improbable exertion, and reels, holding his throat with one hand, while charging toward the door. He almost runs out of the room. A second later, to my surprise, absolutely instinctive, as if my will doesn't rule my own body any more, I am dashing with hurried steps after him. I caught up with him in the distant end of the corridor. Probably, the moff heard my steps. He abruptly turned around. Dark, furious, icy-cold eyes looked at me fixedly, but puzzled, from under haughty, arched, light eyebrows. Obviously, he is stunned to be disturbed by such unheard-of insubordination: some junior officer dares to follow him without his permission! I stopped two steps away from him. He looked at me very spitefully, ready to yell at the top of his voice, but something in the expression on my face made him very anxious. An inexplicable feeling forced me to go after him and now I completely realized all the consequences of my extremely incorrect and tactless behavior. The fact that I am the "proxy" of Lord Vader and Admiral Piett means nothing. Inside the Imperial military, really, other rules have power. They are unwritten, but they have the stringent, iron power of the law, and these unwritten rules are strictly followed by all Imperials. And the great Force help that person who will be so mad as to break these unwritten rules.

In order to diffuse the situation I must say something immediately, it doesn't matter what. "Sir, excuse me, please, Sir! Could I have a word with you?"

"What? Right now?!! "He gave me a dark, barbed glance. There was a long moment of silence. "Well, let's go. Follow me."

We went to his personal office together. That place is an amazing combination of a functional control center with the luxury of a palace study. He is a man with nice, very refined taste and also has the steel grip of a skilled administrator, fanatically devoted to the idea of Empire-- even if this Empire can take his life with his breathing at any moment. Sometimes it's a deadly dangerous combination to find in a human personality. The enormous crystal ceiling light above us shimmers with smooth rainbow light. The light pours over dark-gray walls with a shining haze, touches the spines of books and folders and makes them twinkle with blue gold. The black velvety-soft leather gently caresses my body when I sit down.

He departed for a moment and came back with two wineglasses. Something the color of dark red amber flickered and foamed in them. The frosty spicy aroma flooded the room. As a warm host he offered one to me. He knew that I was here for some purpose. It made him anxious. I saw an implied question in his eyes.

I didn't need to try to think up a topic of conversation-- the words came by themselves. For the first time in my "life" a senior officer was talking to me without the arrogance dictated by subordination. We talked about something-- it scarcely mattered what. I drank a half-glass of something incredibly delicious and fragrant that burst with billions of small bubbles on my tongue. My body suddenly became amazingly light and my head started spinning pleasantly. We were sitting so near that I could feel the warmth of his well-built body. Only by exertion of my will was I holding myself and my hands and suppressing the desire to press that trim, warm body against me with one jerk and to shower him with kisses. It concerned me-- being seated near him, entertaining him with conversation-- to see the way his firmly pressed lips open with a smile, or from time to time, when he is ready to flare up with irritation, to suppress his impatience with one slight touch of my hand and to get back to that very long, tender glance of sparking blue eyes.

I touched his thigh with my knee and he shuddered hard. Already I was looking into his eyes, my meaning clear to see. His face grew pale, then color flooded back into his cheeks. His eyes sparkled feverishly. He understood me completely. He is a bit embarrassed, even frightened, but there is no need to pretend any more. Now he knows that I am here only for him.

I embraced his shoulders and carefully touched his hot, soft cheek with my palm. His shining eyes misted over with passion. He slightly tossed back his head and I touched the pale, tender skin of his neck with my fingertips, admiring its elegant line. I felt his pulse beating under my fingers. I saw the secret bends where his soul was running and hiding. There was something mysterious, something tacit and almost criminal in his evasive, moist glance from under long, lowered eyelashes. I stroked his soft, silky hair and he smiled at me with his frank, shy and passionate smile. I pulled his head to me with force and firmly kissed him on the lips. His lips were hot. He accepted my kiss with almost animal greed. I squeezed him in my embrace. Probably I miscalculated the inhuman strength of my "super-attractive" body. What a harsh irony of fate! I was created by my engineers not to make love--for absolutely the opposite aim. But now I was going to take a stand against this fate.

Suddenly he broke free from my arms, leapt to his feet and stood up, snuggling up to the wall. He had guessed about me and now he was scared to death. And there was nothing I could do, but only-- I stood up and slowly approached him. Bright feverish spots shone on his cheeks. He whispered something inaudible with his parched, swollen lips. His eyes were absolutely crazy and had dark shadows are under them. Silently I grasped and squeezed the elegant wrists of his slender, flexible hands and moved my body against him and firmly, greedily, bit, with my lips, his hot sweet mouth. Everything was fading in front of my eyes. A choked cry escaped from the depth of his throat. A terrified shudder shook his body. In our silent wrestling we brushed against metal shelves and something fell down with an awful racket. We fell down together, too. But we didn't care. Nothing had meaning for us any more. I have no idea how long all this went on--maybe minutes or hours, maybe forever. He writhed convulsively, crying out and melting in my arms. I drank up the sweet moisture from his hot tender lips. I buried my face in his silky soft hair. I pressed him against me strongly that it was as if his heart was beating in my own chest. He groaned with pain and passion. I clung to his neck and caressed its tender, pale, almost translucent skin. Something like an overwhelming current pierced our bodies and the dark stream of bestial passion washed us into the abyss. He gave a desperate, harsh shudder, a convulsive cry and again there was a wild frenzy of movements. His strong, flexible body writhed in my arms. One last thrust-- and then the sweet glooming of our consciousness, as almost deadly agony overwhelmed us.

For few moments only our breathing disturbed the quiet in the room. I stroked his strong back with my palms. He was lying on my chest. His eyes were closed and only his soft wounded lips are shuddering inaudibly. This is the moment I could die for. To die for him. Only if I could die like a human being. But I am not a human.

* * *

Back on "Executor". I stood near the panoramic window of the main brige and looked at the enormous metall ball-- the monstrous creation of unhealthy imagination and technical genius. I was thinking about the pricelesstreasure which this steel shell hid deep inside. He is there, in the heart of the "bowl", at it's bottom. What was he doing now? Maybe he was looking at our elegant destroyer and our glances touched each other, and we didn't even know it?

He would be mine. Nobody else had any right to possess him. Not the Emperor. Not Vader. How dare they to treat him like that?! How dare they?

For the next several days I was extremely busy, but at last all the meetings were finished. I went to the Death Star again. It seemed very strange that nobody greeted me in the main dock. In his office I found only his aide. He smiled at me ambiguously and pointed to the slightly open door of his private quarters. I walked into his bedrrom. For some moments I stopped near the big bed and looked at him. He was sleeping. I never had an opportunity to look at him so intently. Just like all very sensitive and nervous people, he instinctively resists such insistent glances. But now I have a chance.

I sat down, very quietly, near him. The shadows under his eyes, the light-blue veins on his temples, the fine, almost translucent skin on his cheekbones-- everything revealed to me how vulnerable and unprotected he is in this world. Vulnerable without me. Only that shell of fine alabaster-pale skin shell protects him from the unending nightmare which had become our way of life. Perhaps I made a sudden movement. The noise was insignificant, but he woke up immediately.

His glance focused on me and at once became fixed and alert, but that was just a visual contact, which still didn't touch any thoughts or memory. Another second, and he returned to reality and recognized me. His lips pressed firmly. I tried to explain my silence these few days and my sudden appearance today. He didn't turn away from me, but his eyes were gloomy, harsh, glaring. When I went into more details, then the glance became more fixedly and mistrustfully, Why didn't you come to me yesterday?

"Why didn't you even send me a message?!"

The blow was delivered too unexpectedly. I was not able to deflect it at once. He continued, with the tone of an inquisitor, "Probably you had very important reasons, hadn't you? That is why you made me wait in vain for you, am I correct? I was waiting for you-- big deal!!" He cried out the last words, already out of control. His face turned pale and eyes glittered like crystal. He was breathing quickly and with difficulty, swallowing the air. His slender fingers convulsively squeezed the green blanket. Suddenly the tension ran out, his head leaned back against the pillow and the blood slowly started to rush to his marble-white lips, which still shook with agitation. The glance of his sapphire-blue eyes froze. Quiet fell and I understood that he had held his breath. He lay without any motion and only his glance followed me. I bent down above him and touched his temple with my lips, and for a moment felt the tender aroma of his soft hair. His arms flew up and grabbed me with unexpected strength. He clung to me with all his body, with one passionate, rough movement and pressed my mouth against his lips so strongly and greedy that my teeth touched his and I tasted the flavor of blood. Nobody had ever kissed me so frenziedly, so desperately, as this man, who, although worn out by his own power and arrogance, easily reached the point of cruelty with his passion. As if with some kind of weak fury we showered each other with kisses and expressions of tenderness. His hold on me became even stronger, as if he had decided to take revenge on me for all the terrible minutes of his loneliness. I caressed his hot, love-inflamed body with my lips and arms and he whispered with dry, swollen lips-- More, more, give me more.

We were in some sweet blissful hell. Yes, the Emperor recruited him, and he has stood in those endless and nondescript gray-green lines of well-built, strong-willed, efficient and faithful Imperial officers, in their tailored uniforms and snug black belts with shining metal buckles, but his strong, shapely legs, his hot body, the embrace of his slender, yet strong and gentle, arms, his melodious laughter and the shining glance of his deep blue eyes, and that passionate groan of sweet agony-- all that was kept by him only for me.

But could he know at that moment, when he surrendered to me for the first time, that I was his fate, in all the total, awful and inevitable meaning of that word? Probably not. But part of his soul was already joined to mine forever. How could I protect him, if the Emperor or Lord Vader ordered me...

I must find some way to save him. There must be some way. I knew it must exist.

Reality again interfered with our lives. His aide informed us of the visit of Admiral Piett with some his officers. He was waiting for us already.

* * *

It looked like everybody already knew about our 'romance'. Here everyone knows everything about the others, but all men keep a delicate silence-- that is a peculiar "Imperial ethic". Sometimes Admiral Piett looked at me, shook his head and smiles understandingly with the corners of his fine lips. Despite his perpetual irony, even cynicism, sometimes his face got a such prophetic expression that I was afraid for his destiny. Once he unexpectedly addressed me, "Lord Vader entrusted me to tell you that you may use his personal shuttle any time you need it, and nobody will ask any questions." He smiled slightly. "Nobody will dare ask you." He reflected for a moment and after that continued, "I don't know all about your relationship, but I just wanted to warn you personally, that as far as I know, Jerjerrod the Moff is a very clever, shrewd and secretive man with a dark and enigmatic soul. He is capable of the most deep and strong feeling you can imagine. It is the absolute truth. But there is another truth about him-- that if this man should think that he was deceitfully misled or if he is offended-- he will be capable of just about anything to take revenge. And he can do it very well. So, be careful of him. Just remember it. Now go to him. I know he is waiting for you and you shouldn't be late. Probably these are the last good and quiet days of our lives... It would be good to enjoy the life that you have before you have to say goodbye to it forever. Well, go now."

Lord Vader allowed to me to use his own shuttle to meet my lover?! Lord Vader, whose name itself had become a synonym for fear and death?! Here's something to think deeply about.

* * *

One morning I was astonished by a very strange tension and a silent hustle and bustle everywhere. There was the clatter of a great number of feet, disjointed commands and some anxious, half-whispered conversations. "The Emperor is arriving!" the officer on duty informed me in a whisper.

Now I saw an absolutely new and different Jerjerrod. He is very serene, imperious, self-disciplined and strict, even stern with his subordinates. He made no unnecessary words or gestures. Today we were to have a last meeting for all high officers before the visit of His Imperial Majesty. The problems were very serious and the situation is really very somber. Yes, the cruel and terrible time had come to us. The people are visible very well-- it is absolutely clear to see who just takes an order and carries out it, and who acts slyly and tries to dodge. Everyone can see it and they see that their cautious slyness is visible and clear for everybody.

At this meeting I met for the first time General Veers. He was a tall, smart, powerful man with icy-cold gray eyes. In the Imperial army they told legends about him. He was a proper man, cunning, polite, exceptional reserved and self-confident. They said he could be very cruel if the situation made him so. The staff officers didn't like him-- he was too clever, brave and independent. But then again he repaid them with the same hostility.

* * *

The day of the arrival of His Imperial Majesty in the enormous docking bay of the second Death Star.

The hall was occupied by the Imperial troops. A large group of supreme officers with Lord Vader and Moff Jerjerrod stood in front, frozen in anticipation of the appearance of His Majesty. The time advanced. Everybody waited.

At last from the depths of the Imperial shuttle the Emperor appeared, with his guards and crowd of dignitaries, which in reality are his spies, jesters and hangers-on. Their high status didn't make it difficult for them to be in constant quarrels, to conduct intrigues, to tell nasty tales and to invent occasions of absolutely improbable extortions, blackmail, and criminal forgeries about each other. They were very vindictive and sinister gossips. They entertained His Imperial Majesty with their perpetual squabbles and conspiracy, hoping for a generous hand-out. The military really hated them. I was standing a bit behind Lord Vader and Jerjerrod. The silence was absolute. Unexpectedly Admiral Piett's voice pronounced very quietly, through his teeth, but very clear: "So, the dear sponges have arrived!" I can swear that everybody around us heard these words. Somebody snorted. Jerjerrod shrugged his shoulders. Lord Vader just slightly turned his black mask. They seemed to absolutely share Piett's opinion. Meanwhile Lord Vader and Moff Jerjerrod went forward to continue to perform the long time-established and rehearsed ritual, although everybody perfectly understand the complete hypocrisy of that formal act. There is no respect from either side, only total contempt and even mutual hatred. But outwardly all good manners and conventions must be observed in the smallest details.

* * *

Despite his smooth voice and friendly words, the Emperor created a horrible and depressing impression-- this was an old ruin that had outlived his age, but was still alive and still on life with the persistence of a maniac. They were really afraid of him. He was too merciless, too logical and incredibly stubborn in his cruel madness. His face was an old man's face, but his eyes shone with an awful predatory fire. They said he liked to look at orgies very much. Everything was possible.

I was standing now very close to them and looking at my beloved one's face. I was afraid. Suddenly a very odd thought came to me: "What terrifying feelings he must experience, when every day he is poised on the verge of almost inescapable death! But what strongest self-control and power of will he has!" I was sure that if the metal floor were spiked with nails he would continue to go on with the same proud face and cold dignity. Even if the pain were unprofitable and deadly.

Meanwhile, the Emperor with his "retinue" was making for the apartments of His Imperial Majesty, with Lord Vader by his side. Accidentally, I overheard an odd and very mysterious conversation between them. They were talking about some young man-- a Jedi. Probably his name was Skywalker. Later the admiral explained to me that they were talking about Lord Vader's son. Who could think that Vader would have a son like every man? And it seems that he has some problems with him, like every father. Everybody from the close company of the Dark Lord knew that father and son had a horrible dispute in the Cloud City. They say there was a true battle between them, but nobody knew why it happened. We knew very little about Lord Vader's strange and mysterious life. It made us assume the most horrible things you could imagine...

* * *

The situation became worse every day. Many pilots and troopers who were in battle with the rebels talked about it very gloomily and reluctantly. All told things were very cruel and awful, but to our deepest regret, they were truthful. Like a thin trickle of smoke-- the indication of a terrible fire-- the dark thought crawled around that we were doomed. Why?! There is some mistake that was done, somewhere a wrong move made by somebody, and our history turned to the abyss. Now only in the darkness, behind the steel walls of the Death Star, squeezing each other in silent embraces, we could still can hide our thoughts and forget about the horror which approached us. All of us.

I saw my love working extremely hard, becoming even more thin, gloomy and silent. But there was nothing I can do for him. The Emperor was asking the impossible.

* * *

Suddenly Admiral Piett invited us for "dinner in a very small company." Of course, it was a time when Lord Vader would be out for a long time! From time to time the admiral organizes something like that, but this time it is for a special reason. His long time girlfriend has visited him, and as they say she is his secret wife. The fact is that the Dark Lord is very jealous of relations which he is not able to control every minute. That's why the admiral must be exceptionally cautious. So, as one really in love, he decided to entertain his beloved woman and thus to reward himself for his everyday fear and dangers.

It was the first time Jerjerrod was on "Executor". I saw him a bit nervous and I can understand it very well. Executor was a foreign territory for him. In the main docking bay only Admiral Piett himself was there to meet us-- it is like a conspiracy-- and led us himself into the depths of the ship to his apartments. In the big, round, windowless, and thoroughly isolated, room were already gathered the company, who met us with cheerful noise. There was the nearest friend of the admiral, Captain Needa. General Veers, who was already known to me, was the man also very close to the admiral and absolutely devoted to him. They say the incorruptible loyalty of these men kept very dark and terrifying secrets, but no casual, curious glance could reveal the depth of their truth. Also there were three other officers, one in black and other two in dark-green uniforms. Here, for the first time, I met the Lady Piett, the most clever, beautiful, charming and aristocratic woman and faithful friend of the admiral's troubled and dangerous life. Now I am not surprised that the admiral gave his brave heart to her. As she sat between the admiral and General Veers, she looked even more elegant, ethereal and fragile compared to the mighty Imperial general. Long dark-brown hair finely framed the irreproachable oval of her face and her fine snow-white neck. Big blue eyes sparkled from under long dark eyelashes. She was smiling, and in her small, rose-petal ear, a light-blue diamond moved and twinkled like a drop of dew on fine gold yarn. I cast a glance at Piett, and I had never seen him so happy. It was said that nothing would keep him from satisfying even the smallest whim of hers.

The dinner was really magnificent. The admiral, as a true Imperial, received his guests with all his heart and with generosity from his soul. Three young lower-ranking officers in black helmets, thin, elegant, quick and silent, like shadows, served us. I noticed that one of them looks like a female. They move swiftly and noiselessly. Their faces are pale and impassive, but in their eyes is the frost of unquenchable passion, like dark fire. They say Lord Vader has a whole squad of them. They are exceptionally hardy, skillful and passionate in the matters of love and always ready for war. They are Lord Vader's "secret weapon", which he uses when he wants to poison his "opponents" with love, if it does not suit him to kill them at once. They are cruel, clever, efficient and fanatically devoted to their terrible sovereign. Today everything, the best and most noble, that makes the Galaxy the best place in this Universe from one edge to another, played out in that evening its destructive and seducing act. The light from crystal lamps played with flickering dense gold in the convex walls of heavy glasses with blood-red wine and on the white necks of bottles, which lay in the cubes of lump ice in the big crystal vase. Lemon lakes reflected with pearl color in the gold sauce, where pale-blue fishes swam, decorated with light-green leaves. The female trooper, a thin girl with big high breasts, brought a tray of browned gammons on hills of snow-white rice, surrounded with see-through slices of pale-pink meat. A pudding blazed with blue flame in the rum. The girl moved very slowly and very solemnly. In the shadow of her black helmet her big, dark brown eyes sparkled like a predator from under long jet-black eyelashes.

She will not be alone tonight. Captain Needa watched her through the rainbow of liqueurs in front of him. But he was still in deep thoughts about the past day. He drank very slowly and gracefully. I noticed how his arm is amazingly beautiful-- smooth, white, with long, strong fingers.

General Veers drinks vodka from the big, rounded, misty-cold decanter. He drinks one shot after another-- it looked like he was drinking water. He can drink a lot, but he never was drunk-- only his steel eyes were lightening oddly. Little by little the company came to life and the conversation became communal and absolutely relaxed. No; for Admiral Piett continued the conversation that had been cut short before. He addressed General Veers.

"No. Now it is impossible. He has made a lot of very stupid mistakes and he should know that the bloody silly things are irreparable. And now we, the military, must correct the consequences of these nasty things with cautious and clever action. These consequences are very bad for us. Now fear will be our policy for long years in the future. And it will be the real horror. Every day we will feel ourselves as at the beginning of new rebellion, and everything that can reduce that fear will be justified and good and moral in the eyes of our idiot-politicians and the frightened inhabitants of all star systems in our galaxy. And you will see-- they will start to glorify us, just the same way they are now anathematizing us and using us to scare their children!" Piett smiled bitterly. "Whatever you say, we must be patient and polite, if we must work with these idiots in the future."

Captain Needa poured vodka from the decanter into his glass and drank it. "Well, I will be patient and polite. But only until somebody gets polite with me. I don't know about some abstract Imperials, but they use our Maximilian as a fright-- that's a real fact."

"How will you do it any other way?" General Veers picked up a square of dark bread on a gold fork.

"It's very cruel? Yes! But let us establish order in the first place, and after that they can talk all that they want. I don't care about their opinion! When your house is on fire, you must put out the fire, not make a discussion about the right way to do it! As far as I know, some of the Rebel leaders do not so fanatically hate us."

"Dear Jerjerrod, if you are talking about Mon Mothma-- I tried to appease that person with everything I was able to do for her and for her family, but it proved to be an absolutely vain work. It is hopeless, although I found her to be the only normal and noble human person in that gang which they call very proudly, 'The Rebel Alliance'." Lady Piett pursed her tender lips in disgust. "I made all her nephews officers, one of them I saved from the military tribunal. and to express their gratitude they took the Rebel side and now every day they sling mud at us in their media and send me very nasty anonymous letters. I am even worried about the moral health of my young aide who reads them to me."

Admiral Piett sighed and rubbed his forehead with his fingers. "So, Jerjerrod, do not count on their tolerance."

"Don't you believe in a brighter future?"

"I believe in one thing now-- in the impending death of all of us. And it will be so devastating, that the memory itself of it will wound hearts of many generations of Imperials after us. Don't look so pale, Jerjerrod. It's not so terrible, believe me, when we're all together at once."

"You are right, Admiral. If we will do nothing for ourselves right now-- it will be like this. I agree with you."

The conversation and dinner dragged on for a very long time. We left fair after 'midnight'. In the darkness our steps resounded under the high vaulting of the empty enormous docking bay. I looked at Jerjerrod, who walked near me silence. He is like a steel spring, pressed to a peak. Admiral Piett made to him an absolutely clear offer, even though he doesn't say some things directly. Our admiral knows that the Grand Moff Jerjerrod is one of those who can understand unexpressed words... Suddenly his fingers squeezed my wrist. "It is not so terrible, when we are all together..."

What the new day will bring us? We will see it, and very soon.

Continued in next part...

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