There Goes The Neighbourhood
One of these days, one of these days, Ozzel: bang, pow! Straight to the moon.
A pall of incompetence muddies a qualified success.
The Super-StarDestroyer Executor emerged from hyperspace amid a volley of escaping ships: pirate junks and blockade runners swarming out of Bespin like rats from a sinking ship. "We've been detected!" exclaimed Admiral Ozzel thoughtfully.
I looked at him for a long, dark moment. But his attention remained fixed on the viewports.
"Pick them off," I told the commander at the targeting console. "Fire at will."
Bolts blazed across the face of the great pink gas giant, the fleeing jalopies shattering in a series of little flashes. Captain Piett arrived at my side and saluted. "M'lord, we have established communications with the settlement. They claim to be a mining colony. Our close range scans show technology consistent with that claim." He added, "They beg us not to attack."
I nodded slowly, lost in a trance. I closed my eyes and sought out the node in the net of the Force I had so faintly detected two days ago, and it was still there...down below, in the clouds of Bespin. There was significance there, there was meaning there, trembling just beneath the surface. I would seize it!
"Prepare my shuttle and an armed escort. I will see this mining colony for myself."
"But Lord Vader, what if it's a rebel trap?" bleated Admiral Ozzel, his moustache twitching.
"Leave that to me."
It was not a rebel trap. It was a mining colony. A non-unionized, untaxed mining colony catering to the underworld: Hutts and primitives, scoundrels and libertarians. The administrator of the facility was a quaking fool in expensive fabrics, introduced as Lando Calrissian.
I took one look at his satin shirt and disco hair and I knew he was a weak specimen, and would prove easy to bend to my will. He tried to smile while he bartered for his life, and I picked through his jellied mind at my leisure. His smile faltered. "Lord Vader, with all respect, what is it you want from us?"
"I don't know," I told him, rising from my chair. "But you will soon find out."
I have a feeling this man Calrissian has a role to play yet.
Back aboard Executor I retired to the bridge to meditate on the stars. And that is when the new signal came in from the probe droid network: a power generation system spotted on a world of ice, just one sector away.
The Force sang to me with such strength I feared I would lose my balance. Thankfully my left leg has continued to work smoothly despite recent difficulties and so I was able to maintain my composure.
For the moment Calrissian is forgotten: the fleet moves on Hoth!