Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Dinner with the officers. My shameful token.
The core is behind us. The fleet makes for the rim.
I do not eat with my men, but sometimes I am obliged to join their table. I preside over them tonight as we jump from the jewel of Coruscant to the thin dust of the outer arms. My presence reassures them that this mission is not yet another in an endless series of fruitless quests but rather the certain charge to the rebels' doom.
"This time we'll have them," crooned Admiral Ozzel, signalling the boy for more wine. "I have assurances from Geonosis these new probe droids can ferret out even shielded energy signs."
"That in and of itself is not new," pointed out Captain Piett gently. "The key is their operation as a swarm. It's the network efficiency that is ruthless."
Like most lower men they cling to their technological marvels, when the real quest will be won by cultivating a sensitivity of the spirit. With the droids as my long fingers I will channel my search along them, feeling out for that hated, burning ripple in the fabric of the Force: the Rebel Alliance!
"It's inevitable," Ozzel scoffed. "Efficient droids only hasten the process. How can the rebels even imagine they can stand against us?" He chuckled and drained his cup. "Wouldn't you agree, my Lord?"
"Their doom has been foreseen," I said.
The fool Ozzel grinned, while the others nodded respectfully and then tipped their cups. "To the Empire," added Piett, and the company agreed.
Later, in my chamber I kicked back and had the droids remove my masque. I listened to Chasto's Third Symphony and for reasons I do not fully understand it moved me to weep. I destroyed the audiophonic system with a nod, and it fizzled with a groan and a whisp of smoke.
"Take care of that when you have finished with my leg," I told the repair droid kneeing before me, his instrument penetrating my calf and exploring the faulty circuitry there.
When the droid left I opened the small compartment on my chest where I keep my token of her. Every time I take it out to hold it I vow it will be the last time, and that I will crush it in my fist when I have found my peace. But that peace comes only nine tenths of the way and I find myself closing the compartment, the token once again esconsed inside.
It is so stupid.
It is just a japor snippet that was carved a long time ago. Part of a necklace that was dashed from her neck, before the choke.
It all happened to someone else! I close my fist to crush it, but I have already put it safely away.
My weakness makes me sick. Does my master suspect my failure?