Dinner with Darth Vader
Thrawn followed Vader as they picked their way through the fancy restaurant, followed by the official storm trooper bodyguards and the unofficial but more useful Noghri version. As they approached, conversations stopped and people either turned to watch them or become extremely interested in their meals. They probably think that we are coming to arrest somebody, Thrawn thought. As if both of us don't have better things to do with our time...
They sat down at a table on the glass floor looking down out over the city. The restaurant as Vader's choice. It was certainly a beautiful spot, but it was a very good thing Thrawn wasn't afraid of heights. Many would have found it disconcerting watching the lights of speeders passing beneath their feet into an invisible distance.
Thrawn picked up the menu and leafed through it, looking first and foremost for things that would not interfere with the peculiarities of the chiss digestive tract. Fortunately the menu was extensive and there would be no trouble avoiding raw root and leaf vegetables. He had picked by the time the waiter returned.
The man was visibly nervous, but it would not have been noticeable to most. The minute over-attentiveness, and the slightly strained smile were the only signs. "Are you ready to order yet, my lords?"
"I'll have my usual," said Darth Vader. "With the Moonglow dessert." Vader turned to Thrawn. "Have you tried Moonglow?"
"Not yet," said Thrawn.
"You should try it," said Darth Vader. "It is excellent here."
"I'm sure I shall enjoy the experience," said Thrawn. Since Moonglow was a fruit, and cooked at that, it should not present a problem. Darth Vader always insisted on living on the wild side, and he turned everything into a challenge whether was necessary or not. Those serving under him had to live with it. Or die with it, if they got unlucky.
As they waited, they discussed military matters. Nothing too sensitive, although since the nearest tables had mysteriously been vacated since they arrived and the security of the place was excellent it would have been easy to be unheard if they had wished it. Thrawn wasn't precisely sure why Darth Vader had invited him here, but he doubted he was simply dining out in celebration of their latest victory.
Dinner arrived. Thrawn was interested to see that the restaurant had found a way of making liquefied food eaten with a straw look appetizing. Probably why the Sith lord was fond of this restaurant. The food was excellent, and they both ceased speaking a while to concentrate on it. It certainly made a change from shipside rations.
After the main course, the Moonglow arrived. It tasted just as good as advertised, as well as being beautifully presented on a bed of leaves and flowers. Somewhat like mango, but slightly tarter and less sweet. After he'd eaten a few bites, Thrawn realized he had a problem. His lips were tingling, and his throat was starting to feel somewhat tight. Surely it could not have been badly prepared to the point of poisoning ... Darth Vader didn't seem to be showing any ill effects, although telling through that suit was challenging.
Now what? Firstly, definitely stop eating. Now how to explain this to lord Vader without looking weak and useless? Weak and useless things near Darth Vader have a tendency to die. Thrawn took a sip of water from the glass in front of him, hoping that that might ease the tightness in his throat. He choked.
Vader looked at him. "Should I call medical?" Thrawn managed to swallow most of the water but it was a few seconds before he could get his voice to answer.
Meanwhile, a child three tables away piped up "Do we get to see lord Vader choke the alien admiral? I want to watch!"
Vader turned to look at the child. "I do not force-choke people for the amusement of unpleasant children." Vader looked back at Thrawn, then touched his com button and summoned an ambulance.
Thrawn concentrated on breathing, not trusting his voice to work properly. How extremely embarrassing this all was. A stormtrooper hauled him to his feet and supported him as he followed Vader to the door, everyone in the restaurant staring after them.