9-26-07: Okay, since I've gotten several requests for ANH-period sequels to this fic, I'm ammending my notes. Since the whole idea is comedic, I'm just going to say that this reality assumes that Executor was commissioned earlier and Vader was already using it as his flagship.

I wrote this after my friend Sarah (aka Polgarawolf) found a stray and we were discussing how a kitty would do wonders for Vader. Ridiculous? Yes. But it's fun. Enjoy.


Cracking the Armor…or Possibly Just Cracking

Someone had snuck a cat aboard the Executor. Whoever that intrepid officer was, Lord Vader assumed that he had either been killed or transferred, because the animal had now taken to following him around the ship. He did his best to ignore it, since he believed that killing an orange ball of fluff less than half the size of one of his hands would be beneath his dignity.

It didn't particularly annoy him, unless it happened to decide to attack the bottom of his cloak, and even then, he had to admit to a certain grudging admiration for the little beast's audacity. In comparison to the cat, Vader was a towering giant, and yet it seemed to have no fear of him. It also possessed a remarkable ability to avoid being stepped on, squashed, or swatted, and was quite adept at avoiding the occasional Force-propelled object should it happen to be in the room when the Sith Lord's considerable temper required that things be hurled about at high velocities.

That all changed, however, the day that Vader emerged from the glaring white sphere of his hyperbaric chamber to find the cat in his private quarters. It knew quite well that it was supposed to wait in the hallway. Glaring darkly, he stalked up to it and planted his metal fists on his hips.

"CAT!" he boomed. "What are you doing in this room?"

The villainous creature craned its fluffy neck and purred up at him, then began to thread itself in figure eights around his ankles, rubbing its head against his legs as it moved. An exasperated sigh escaped Vader's mouth grille. He shook his head, clomping rather more heavily than he had to toward the door.

"I am not going to pick you up," he informed it coldly.

It didn't seem to mind. As soon as he stepped into the hallway, it slipped behind him and backed off, apparently deciding to cooperate and trail from a distance that would allow him to comfortably ignore its presence. He gave a nod of satisfaction and stomped his way to the turbo lift, where he stood grumbling to himself about insufferable demonic citizens of a green-eyed feline hell.

Then, he felt a sudden tug on the back of his cloak and sighed again. He turned his head, expecting to find the cat wrestling with the hem of the garment. What he found, however, was a determined kitten clawing its way up his back as if he were a black tree-trunk. For once in his life, Vader found himself almost grateful for unnecessary weight and thickness of the cloak, which protected him from the assault of the needle-like little claws.

The cat reached his shoulder, perched precariously for a second or two, gave a worried mew, and then found its balance. Vader reached down to grasp a handful of cloak, lifting it with a long, weary sigh as he noted the small tufts of orange hair now covering the black material. He let it drop again as the turbolift arrived.

"You--" he started to say, breaking off as the cat rubbed its head against the side of his helmet.

The turbolift door opened, and the two black-clad officers inside abruptly halted whatever discussion they'd been having. Both blinked, staring at the sight of Vader, who glared back at them with silent menace until he was certain that any hint of snicker had been quelled. The cat meowed a cheerful greeting, and Vader swept into the car, where he stood listening to the rasp of his breather as they began to move again.

Insufferable, Vader told it silently. And I am not giving you a name.