Number 14 in the Vader's Cat series. (Formerly called Vader and Cat but we decided we liked Vader's Cat better.)

In order they are:

Cracking the Armor
Another Disturbing Crack
Completely Cracked...and the Cat Came Back
Cracking the Death Star
Cracking Imperial Center, or: Cat Goes to Coruscant
Pruneface Cracks, or: Cat vs. Palpatine
Cracking the Dark Lord
Crack to Nature
Cracking His Confidence
A Fleet Full of Crack(pots)
Carbonite Cracks, or: Cat vs. Fett
Farmboy Cracks, or: Cat vs. Skywalker
Cloud City Cracks, or: Cat vs...Cat?
Conspiracy Cracks


Conspiracy Cracks

"How did it do all this?" Luke cried in dismay when he and Vader reached the reactor control room and saw the devastation that the cats had caused.

"You do not yet realize that animal's importance," Vader replied gravely.

"What?" Luke squinted at the Dark Lord.

"You have only begun to discover the cat's power," Vader told him. "It is the key to destroying the Empire. Join with us with our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy."

"Have you lost what's left of your mind?" Luke stared at him. He'd felt sorry enough for the poor cat to agree to help Vader find it when all the noise started. He stipulated that Han and Leia would be free to go once the cat was safe, but now he was beginning to wonder if the little guy would really be safe at all. He hadn't realized just how delusional Obi-Wan's old apprentice had become.

Vader gestured meaningfully at the war zone that had once been the reactor control room. Luke raised his eyes to the ceiling and began to look around. Hopefully, the cat had just been scared when the window broke and was now hiding under something. He didn't even want to think about what would happen if it turned out that the cat had fallen out there.

"How do you even think you're going to use a cat against the Emperor?" he asked, not really expecting a reply.

"That cat is responsible for the destruction of the Death Star," Vader said.

"That was me!" Luke ran a hand over his face. How did he get into these situations?

"So you have been allowed to believe," rumbled Vader ominously. He turned from side to side, scanning the room. Then he raised his head, seeming to fall into a deep state of concentration. After a few moments, he glided toward the broken window.

Luke sighed. His hand moved to his belt and came to rest on his father's lightsaber. Any minute now, the nutcase was going to realize that his cat was dead, and then he'd turn on Luke again.

So much for alternatives to fighting, he thought. Sorry, Ben.

"The cat is outside," Vader declared, half-turning to look at Luke.

"I hate to break this to you, but if it's outside, it's probably…"

"It is alive," Vader cut him off.

"That's impossible!" Luke argued.

"Stretch out with your feelings," instructed Vader. "The cat is out there."

Luke rubbed his eyes, still not quite sure how he had gotten himself into this mess. He reached out slowly and was only half surprised when he found Vader's Cat alive and…well…alive, though the little animal was far too frightened at the moment for him to say it was "alive and well."

He sighed and headed for the door. Vader drifted after him, breathing over his shoulder. Strangely, he felt more uncomfortable at the thought of where they were going than at the notion of having the Dark Lord behind him.

"I have a bad feeling about this," he announced.

"Welcome to life in the company of a cat," remarked Vader.

"Why do you have him if you don't like him?" Luke asked.

"One does not possess a cat, young Skywalker. One is appropriated by it whether one likes it or not," said the Dark Lord.

Luke absorbed this information for several seconds before he turned to Vader, venturing, "Look. I happen to know that Princess Leia would love a cat. Why don't you just let me take him with me?"

Vader stared at him, exuding menace.

"…What?" Luke asked warily.

"It is my cat," said Vader.

"You will return the cat to me, Skywalker, or our agreement will go out of effect."

"Okay, okay," Luke sighed, walking a little faster. As he stepped onto the gantry outside, he muttered under his breath, "Cat people…!"