Does It Hurt When I Go Like This?
At the top of my game. Capturing Cloud City. Breaking Solo's will.
The signal from Boba Fett came in the early morning, and we took the fleet to Bespin. Shadowed by the girth of the gas giant the armada's sensitive sensor network marked the approach of the rebel freighter. Admiral Piett contacted me down in Cloud City: "M'lord, the Millennium Falcon has entered the system."
"Very good." I turned to face the metrosexual city administrator as he strained to appear at ease, sweat running down his brow in a constant, beading film. "Calrissian: escort Captain Solo and his party to the dining hall first thing in the morning."
"Yes, Lord Vader," he said quietly, eyes on the floor.
"I warn you, Calrissian -- do not fail me," I told him, "or your people will suffer while you watch. And listen."
Calrissian did not fail. He delivered unto me Han Solo, Leia Organa, old C-3P0 and a wookiee. Then he threw up. I had Veers put each of the captives into separate cells, except for the droid whom a stormtrooper had already incapacitated.
For the primitive our programme was simplest: he was bombarded aurally with frequencies that cause his race great physical pain, and encoded into the screeches and sirens were profane descriptions of his mother's licentiousness in the vulgar speech of Kashyyyk. He howled and hollered, beating his hairy fists against the walls and his own head. Though crude, the signals he sent were strong. His tortured heart involuntarily called out to all who loved him, and I knew my son was among them.
Leia Organa of Alderaan presented a unique challenge. In our encounters before she has always impressed me with the strength of her will, and her tolerance of corporeal pain. She has a quality of sharp pride and easy beauty about her that affects me, and I confess it is because she reminds of me her. As with her, I can never penetrate the obfuscating light that clouds her mind from me. Her spirit burns so fiercely that it is blinding, even though she does not have truck with the Force.
I entered her cell and stood over her, breathing.
"What do you want with us?" she demanded.
I made no reply, but advanced a step toward the chair where she was bound.
"I won't tell you anything," she swore.
My respirator clicking, I advanced again and patiently held my place, my lenses fixed on her eyes. She started to speak again but it caught in her throat, and she drew back against her bonds.
I put in her mind the image of Coruscant burning, the sky black with debris and the oil of broiled flesh. Hammered by my hatred, I blasted her mind with this picture of abject chaos and loss.
Startled, horrified, bewildered, her mind sang out in reflexive misery.
I nodded to myself with satisfaction and then made my way to the cell containing the estimable rogue Captain Han Solo, whom my men had secured to an angled platform facing an intimidating array of glowing and buzzing interview tools. I signalled to the commanding trooper and he toggled the control that tilted Solo toward the bristling bank of tongue-loosening hardware.
Solo stole furitive looks at me again and again. He expected questions. I chuckled and signalled for the trooper to stop. "What do you want?" asked Solo through gritted teeth.
"Only your pain," I said.
"I've been waiting for this for a long time," he went on. "Gettin' a chance to talk, just you and me. You wanna know why?"
"Pray tell, Captain."
"I know who you are!" he shouted.
Though my mask betrayed nothing I was startled. Did Luke know about me? I knew the liar Obi-wan would never have told him the truth...but could this smuggler know to tell him? How could that be possible?
"You can't hide it from me any more!" Solo continued. "Your cruelty reveals everything, Lord Vader."
"So, you know the truth..." I said, suddenly afflicted with a pain in the control circuitry of my left leg.
"Yeah, I know alright," spat Solo. "You're my father!"
It took me a moment to absorb that. Then I shook my head and smiled behind my mask. "No Solo," I pronounced darkly. "I killed your father."
Solo winced as if I had struck him. "That's not true," he muttered. "That's impossible."
I waved my hand dismissively and nodded to the trooper to commence the physical torture. The probes began to spark. Solo groaned and screamed behind me as I left the cell to confer with Calrissian and Fett outside. Both of them were whiney, but they could not burst my bubble.
The trap is set, and the ripples of his friends' pain are travelling outward, backwards and forwards through time, touching my son even before the event has taken place. I feel that Skywalker is already on his way. Soon he will arrive, and I will tell him everything.
I am walking on sunshine.
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