"Your brother is crazy, Rilly."

Carilla glared over her cup of spiced touri at her husband. "I beg your pardon?"

"You heard me." Mr. Veritan had not taken a hint for the past thirty-two years and saw no reason to start now. "He's crazy! Absolutely batshit."

"One hundred percent out of orbit," chimed in Wesla, drizzling honey with artistic precision over her flakebread.

China clanged martially. "Your uncle is not crazy, and I don't know why either of you says—"

She had to stop, being drowned out for the third time in as many minutes by hysterical cackling from the next-door study.

Mr. Veritan pointed his spoon over his shoulder at the study wall and enunciated with relish. "Bat—shit."

Carilla, who had gone a fetching salmon color in both cheeks, cleared her throat and readdressed herself to her tea.

"Not that I blame him, mind," Mr. Veritan went on, waving the spoon at his wife, "it's a wonder he's got any brains left. Never mind twenty-five years in the Unknown Regions, that Vader—"


"—is enough to drive a man batshit in twenty-five minutes if you ask me, and don't pretend you don't know I'm right, Rilly. He gave you a right turn, didn't he?"

"He didn't give me a turn—"

"Didn't give you a turn! You screeched like a jackfinch with its tail on fire, I heard it two floors up—"

"—and I don't think you'd better talk about him, anyway, you heard what Firmus said about him reading…reading minds and things."

"Don't expect he thinks there's much in yours, Mum," said Wesla. "I mean, who answers an out-of-system holocall in her bathrobe and hair towel?"

"I thought it was Justus! Who else ever calls us from out-of-system?"

"Well, Uncle Firmus for one—"

The study wall cackled again, this time hard enough to vibrate dust motes off the paint.

"Batshit," said Mr. Veritan happily.

Wesla frowned. "Maybe you should go check on him, Mum."

Carilla smoothed her skirt and tried not to blush again. "I really don't think I ought to interrupt him. That transmission came from the Chief of State's office, it might be—"

"Important?" Wesla raised an eyebrow at the study wall. The cackling had devolved into wheezing. Mr. Veritan adjusted his hoverchair to a slightly more reclined position and re-addressed himself to his morning copy of the Axxilan Tribune with evident satisfaction in this fresh proof of his brother-in-law's vespertilian excrementality.

"Ahem," said Carilla. "Yes, I suppose you make a good point."

She left them snickering over the scones and went and knocked gingerly on the study door where her brother had been shut up for the last quarter of an hour, supposedly watching his mail. "Firmus? Is everything…er, may I come in?"

The door whooshed open.

Firmus was doubled over at the desk, wheezing and crying so hard his sleeve was soaked from mopping up his face.

"Firmus! Are you all right? What—"

Still wheezing too hard to eke out a single syllable, he just clutched his stomach and pointed at the hologram unit and hit the key to repeat the message.

"Hey Admiral!" A dark-haired teenage girl, vaguely familiar-looking, waved at the pickup; two boys leaned in over her shoulders. "We know you're on leave, but—"

"Nicky here says he owes you one—"

"—something about acing his astronavigation project—"

"—which we all know he didn't do on his own—"

"—figure if you're that nice we can trust you not to sell it to a Holonet channel—"

"—and honestly, if anyone's earned the right, it's you—"

"—so for your viewing pleasure..."

Two meters of death incarnate, destroyer of worlds, commander of armies and navies, master of empires, last true Lord of the Sith—Darth Vader looms before his latest foe, one hand planted on his belt, the other leveling a mighty forefinger.

"You are trapped. It is useless to resist."

The enemy—sheer impudence!—also plants a hand on his waist and points. "Az tap! Az ussaziss!"

His hand clenches in a fist. "You dare mock me, young Skywalker?"

A fist replies. "Az maccaz Kawakko!"

"Enough. Put down that weapon, and I may be merciful."

"Na-no. Az dada knot!"

"You are most certainly not a Jedi Knight yet. Give me that."

"Na-no! Az dada knot!"

"So be it."

He lunges—but a blur of motion darts beneath his hand, between his feet—and then a sudden force yanks him backward by the neck—and then, inexplicably, he is staring at the ceiling, limbs askew, cape bunched under one shoulder, listening to the (small and pattering) thunder of his triumphant nemesis carrying off his prize. Truly, he has much yet to learn in the ways of the Force if he is to gain mastery over this new opponent.

In the meantime, perhaps he can order Piett to track down somewhere that sells child-proof clips for lightsabers.




A/N: About freaking time, right? :D Back when I posted the first chapter I was all lined up for a much earlier ending somewhere around chapter 3, but then I went and got inspired, and off ran my ending five years and an extra 14 chapters down the road. Whereas most of my other stories have been relatively quick writes, MTS became very hard work. Nearly every finished chapter was the product of multiple drafts, restarts, reimaginings, and revisions (I am sitting on literally hundreds of thousands of cut words spread across dozens of drafts and excerpt files, to the point that I routinely got lost just trying to remember which document was the most current). While often extremely frustrating, this marathon taught me a crap ton. Thanks so much to all of you who have kept reading and enjoying and encouraging and generally putting up with my vespertilian excrementality ;) It gives me so much joy to hear from you all.

I do plan to revisit the Limpet AU, hopefully in many future stories; but unfortunately probably not in the very near future, as I just recently started a grad program and am currently being oppressed by Darth Economics and Darth Statistics. So: until next time, may the Force be with you and God bless!