Star Voyager - Part 15

By Iejasu and Miklinar


Janeway paused for a moment at the replicator, then brought large mugs of
coffee over to the table and put them down. Vader took the proffered coffee
and sipped it, both eager for the warmth and wary of burns.

Chakotay toyed with his mug, watching his captain and their guest. Skywalker
was in a moderately formal tunic... Ah. Tom had replicated him something that
his own father would find acceptable. Almost. The color was a bit bolder than
Owen Paris would have ordinarily worn, but it suited the man before them.

Janeway sipped. The pot roast was safely out of memory, chased away by a
delightful chocolate fluff, her guest was relaxed... she shot a glance over
to Chakotay, whose eyes widened a bit, nothing as obvious as a wink. Ready.

"So. I think it's time you told us about yourself, Lord Vader."

Nothing. Then Skywalker closed his eyes. Chakotay tensed a bit -- could this
man be gathering his strength for an attack on his captain?

The eyes opened again. Skywalker's body language changed -- his shoulders
straightened, his face hardened ever so slightly, and Janeway saw his hand
curl -- was he reaching for the weapon he had described to Tom?

"Most impressive. I commend you on your data retrieval techniques. Or on your
powers of concealment."

Janeway studied Vader. "We have personnel with extraordinary abilities in that
area, yes. But _they_ are not under discussion now. You are. Start talking."

Chakotay rose and moved to the side, a tactic that would have distracted another
man, dividing his attention, letting Janeway probe into reduced defenses. But
Skywalker -- Vader, apparently, but Chakotay liked the other name, even if not
the man -- paid no attention to _Voyager_'s second-in-command at all.

Vader spread his hands on his knees. "Yes, I am Darth Vader." His voice was
deeper than Skywalker's, more resonant. "The station I was on was destroyed.
I escaped in one of our shuttles, was thrown into what you have termed a
wormhole, and arrived here."

Janeway frowned. "That's trivial. Tell us about your Master, the Emperor. And
the Death Star. I assume that that was the station you just mentioned."

Vader _was_ impressed. "The Emperor is dead. I don't have any information about
the current state of the Empire. Chaos, no doubt -- there was no obvious successor.
The fleet admirals would choose which regional governors to back..."

Chakotay, a little impatient, "So who were _you_?"

Vader shifted slightly, to get Chakotay just barely into his line of sight.
"I was his hand, and his voice." Vader's lips curled slightly -- was that a
smile or a sneer? "An idealistic fool, at first. A rebel of sorts -- the
existing government wasn't taking care of the people. My Master saw it, and
had a remedy to hand... I saw it as sacrificing a few for the good of the many,
at least at first."

"Some idealist," Chakotay muttered.

Vader sighed. "Commander, you were a member of what is called 'The Maquis.'
Surely you don't think their hands are clean of the blood of innocents, no
matter how noble their intentions?"

Chakotay protested, "That's different! We..."

Janeway made a sharp gesture that cut her second-in-command off. "I think your
misdeeds exceed 'sacrificing a few,' Lord Vader. Or were the residents of
Alderaan all rebels?"

Janeway watched. If anything, Vader became less tense, not more. "The Death Star
was Governor Tarkin's project. I opposed it. You've met his kind, I'm sure --
a passion for tonnage of hardware over more reasonable military expenditures.
The admiral who would rather have one superdreadnaught than a dozen smaller
ships equipped properly."

"Yes, they exist in our fleet as well -- but we don't build planet killers!"

Vader took a sip of coffee. Even with the sugar and cream it was bitter and harsh
to his tongue now, alien. He bit back, "Give yourselves some time -- you will."
He sat the cup down, a bit more abruptly than he intended. He snapped, "You
have more questions for me, Captain?"

Janeway rose, standing above her guest. "Too many." She looked over at the
commander. "Chakotay?" Vader turned to watch his new interrogator.

Chakotay's jaw was set. "I want to know how hunting down and killing all the
Jedi was supposed to help anybody but your Master's political ambitions."

Vader's jaw dropped. There was no way that _that_ information would have been
on any data crystal on his ship. Few people knew it at all... was it possible
that Luke had travelled the same wormhole, was trapped in this distant galaxy
with him? But Luke would know that the Dark Side no longer ruled him, that...

Vader sat forward, desperate for news. "You picked someone else up? From the
same wormhole? Was he injured?" Bright Star, no, not Luke injured and possibly
dead now, with only death-bed babbling about Vader killing Jedi. Truth, Vader
could face. A partial truth, in a dying man's voice...

"More than injured, I'd say. He says you killed him. He told me his name was
Obi-Wan Kenobi."

Chakotay was braced for an attack. He had the computer listening for a sub-
vocalized "Stun!" -- the ship would fire stunners into the room, and Security
would come in and sort out the carnage.

But Vader slumped, rather than springing to attack. "That explains the foreboding
that I've been having. I thought it was something healing setting off a nerve
impulse and giving me a false sensation. A form of what the doctor calls the
'phantom limb' phenomenon."

Vader continued, "Obi Wan Kenobi and I have been at odds with each other, to
greater or lesser degree, since I was nine years old. It shouldn't surprise me
that he continued the enmity after his death."

"_Did_ you kill him?"

"Yes." Vader closed his eyes, and his head moved slightly from side to side. No
sense of Kenobi -- of any Force user -- close. He was alone -- all too alone.
But at least his son had not followed him here. Eyes open again. "What do you
intend to do, now?"

Janeway studied Vader from her standing position. She had faced many other similar
situations, and every time it was harder. Every time, there was the risk to
_Voyager_. But the possible gains... "I'm afraid we'll have to ask you to stay
in your quarters unless you're under escort, at least for now. We won't subject
you to the indignities of the brig."

Vader considered. He felt Chakotay tensing, but there was no weapon in his reach.
Ah. Guards outside, waiting for a signal. Very clever. Vader could probably freeze
Chakotay, but controlling him and Janeway at the same time would be difficult.

And, once he left this room, where would he flee to? Until he had the answer to
that, one place was as good as another. If he found himself in captivity again,
his next jailors might not be so reluctant to use death as a punishment. For all
its technology, this Federation was soft. He would bide his time.

"That is acceptable -- for now."

Janeway wasn't sure she liked that tone. She nodded sharply to Chakotay, who
spoke into his comm link. The cabin doors opened and Tuvok walked in, with two
security men behind him, phasers already ready.

"Escort Mister Skywalker to his quarters. Two guards on the door at all time,
access to be confirmed with me or Chakotay or you, at that point in time, no
exceptions except the doctor."

Tuvok nodded, motioning with his phaser that Vader should rise and follow. "Come
with me, please, Mister Skywalker."

Vader stood. His eyes narrowed. It wouldn't be easy, but...

Chakotay said softly, "No tricks, now. It would be a shame for you to have to
spend the next dozen years in the brig."

Vader snorted, but inclined his head, signalling agreement. "Very well. My
quarters, Mister Tuvok?"

"No." Vader's eyebrow rose. "We have arranged something a little more secure.
You will accompany me, please."

The new quarters were not near the sickbay -- although Vader decided that with
transporters, it hardly mattered. "The cargo bay? Are you making it easy to
jettison my quarters if I misbehave?"

Tuvok didn't answer. The doors slid open. Vader walked into the room.

The new room was, if barely, more luxurious than his old one. There was roughly
half again as much room, with the same variety of furniture. One wall was
window -- "That's a viewscreen, not a window, isn't it."

"Yes. You are in an interior section of the ship."

Vader nodded, turned slowly. He saw the familiar shape of the replicator station.
"Am I to be escorted to meals? That should liven up your crew's dinners."

Tuvok's voice had the least hint of exasperation. "Your replicator has been set
to deliver a fixed amount of food at intervals. You are permitted some selection,
I believe. Mister Neelix thought that would contribute to your rehabilitation."

"Your access to the ship's computer has been reduced, but you should still find
enough to do. The captain would like a complete report from you on your Empire."

Vader's eyebrows rose. "Military secrets? I think not!"

"I do not believe that the captain expects those. She's interested in an overview
of the government and the rebellion against it. Let me remind you that she has a
source by which she can cross-check your information. An objective account would
serve your purposes best, as it would ours."

Vader opened a drawer. His clothes had been moved here, and several sets more.
"I see." Inwardly he sighed. At least he could have meals in peace again. Then
something occurred to him. "The doctor had me on an exercise regimen."

Tuvok's head dropped just a little. "I wlll mention it to the captain. Good night,
Mister Skywalker."

Tuvok walked out. the door slid shut behind him.

Vader sighed, then walked over to the replicator. "Cocoa, hot."

The platform sparkled. Vader collected the cup and took it over to the station
chair, switching on the commconsole. He sipped. This almost made up for that pot
roast. _He_ was a better cook than _that_ -- he'd had to make his own meals often
enough as a child, when his mother was kept at work by Watto.

"Computer. Image -- Hagia Sophia." The small screen lit with a familiar building.
"Can you project the image on the wall, in lieu of the starscape?"

The computer's cool, even voice, "Yes."

"Do so."

Vader sat in the dark, looking at the Earth temple that looked so much like the
palace on Naboo.

=================

Tuvok reported back to Janeway that Skywalker had been delivered to his new
quarters, without incident. "Thank you, Mister Tuvok." The comm cut off.

Chakotay noted the computer activity. "I wonder what he's up to?" A moment's work
to call up the image. "Where is that?"

"Istambul, Turkey, Earth. It was a church that was turned into a mosque when Islam
swept through the area. A much-visited place -- there are even Viking runes, left
as graffiti by Rus traders."

Chakotay studied the courtyard with the pillared walls, the great dome. "It's
beautiful. But what's _his_ interest in it?"

"One of the great jokes of the universe. He remembers an identical building being a
royal palace surrounded by waterfalls. His wife was queen there, if I remember what
Tom told me correctly."

No other activity on the computer, and the vital signs were steady, even declining;
the man was calming down, or going into one of the meditative trances he practiced.

==================