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The Truth: Interlude: Fabulous!

By MJ Mink

"A 'social evening'?" Luke repeated. "Great! We had those in Anchorhead a couple times a year. Games, dancing—but how do you do it here? I mean, with all these guys and no girls?"

The black helmet turned slowly toward him. Vader was silent for several seconds, causing Luke to squirm, then he sighed. "Go study," he repeated wearily, like he’d had a long hard day.

Luke rolled his eyes. "Fine! Don't answer my questions, who cares? I don't know how I'm supposed to learn anything when you won't answer my questions!"

Naturally, his father didn't reply. With a final glare, Luke stomped out of Vader's quarters. Captain Piett was hovering in the corridor.

"Luke!" he exclaimed, startled for no good reason that Luke could see. "Are you all ri-- I mean, what're you-- Hello."

"Hi," he replied glumly, then tilted his head to look at the Imperial officer. "Are you going to the dance tonight?"

"Dance?" Piett repeated.

"The social evening, remember?" he reminded. "Who do guys dance with when there are no girls around? Each other?"

"Well…." Piett was staring, his mouth hanging open in an unbecoming manner. He must have realized that, because he snapped it closed. "I don't believe we've ever—"

"And what do you wear?" Luke continued. "Do, like, half the guys wear dresses and pretend to be girls?" He looked expectantly at the captain. "Hah! You didn't figure that part out, did you? Good thing somebody is thinking ahead! I'll bet the replicator can make dresses. I have to get to work if there's gonna be enough dresses by tonight!"

He hurried off, not caring that the captain didn't bother to answer him. He was so used to that from grownups.

- - -

It was lucky that he was handy with machinery, otherwise reprogramming the replicator might have been a chore. It wasn't too hard to get it to make skirts instead of pants. There was just that one tiny problem that worried him... when he'd answered 'yes' to 'set global', was it just for this job… or did that mean he'd reset all the replicators on the ship? Oh, surely not, who would invent a computer that stupid?

"Okay, let's give it a try. For me... let's match my eyes." He programmed in 'silk' and 'blue' and, for good measure, added ‘handsome’ so he wouldn’t get ruffles. Then he began entering selections for more dresses, varying the lengths and widths so they'd fit everyone. Not that he had time to make them for everyone-- not even a gazillionth of the guys on the ship would have them, but maybe he could make enough for the officers.

And, for the heck of it, he set the replicator to make a really, really big black gown for his dad.

Then he settled back on his bed, fingers interlaced behind his head, waiting to see what the replicator would send up.

- - -

All that work had worn him out, so it wasn't surprising that he fell asleep. An annoyingly persistent buzz woke him. He stood, staggered over to his desk and slapped the intercom switch. "This better be good!"

"You are late for your trigonometry review,” a voice scolded.

Luke grimaced. "Uh... I've been busy, Dad, I didn't get a chance to study trig-- but I've been working on language and-- and programming!" he added quickly, lest his dad think he was lazy. "I wasn't being dilatory or indolent!"

"I have instructed you many times about my expectations with regard to--"

"I know! But I worked hard on programming." Time for a subject change. "Hey, what're you wearing to the dance tonight? I made something for you."

There was that annoying silence again. But after a few seconds, Vader said, "I do not attend social evenings. It would not be appropriate. It is a time for the men to participate in games of chance, view approved Holonet broadcasts, and otherwise squander valuable time in absurdities and hedonistic over-indulgences."

"Huh. Sounds like a blast." That was disappointing, but maybe his dad could wear the dress for another party some day. "But I can go, right?"

"Certainly not!" his father huffed. "You are not a member of the ship's complement! There would be too many questions about your identity and purpose."

"Okay," he murmured meekly. "I guess I'll just stay in and study trig tonight. May I take the test tomorrow, please, sir?"

"I will allow that—this time," Vader said, sounding like he was doing Luke a big favor. "Good evening to you."

"Bye!" Luke said brightly, snapping off the intercom and hurrying toward the delivery chute. Time to see how the replicator had performed!

- - -

Luke stripped off his shirt and pulled the gown over his head, struggling to get his arms in the sleeves without having to unhook the top. He turned in a circle, holding the skirt out, and stopped in front of the mirror. He looked great! It wasn't real silk, just some synthetic, but the dress looked a lot like the ones the senators wore in vids. Even in the very old vids, when Palpy wasn't so ugly and he was Chancellor. Maybe the fabric wasn't as fancy as rich people wore, but it was good enough for the ship's dance.

The other dresses were heaped on his bed, bright colors spilling onto the floor like hair dye. If he had blue dye he could color his hair to match the dress. The thought made him homesick for Mos Eisley, but only for a second. Luke thumbed the com. "Captain Piett, please. Luke calling."

- - -

He must look even better than he'd thought because Cap couldn't stop staring at him.

"You're not serious," Piett said. Then he added uncertainly: "Are you?"

"Duh, yes!" Luke exclaimed. "It took longer than I thought. I only had time to make a few dozen, so you decide who should wear them. This one," he pawed through the pile of dresses until he found the gold and green satin, "I made specially for you!"

"Thank you," the captain said weakly, not accepting the dress until Luke pushed it against his chest. He barely looked at it. "Your hard work is appreciated. However, I really don't believe that Lord Vader would approve of--"

"Are you kidding?" Luke countered, deciding he needed to fib a little—just to be encouraging. "Look at this! This is his!" He waved the huge black gown like a flag.

Piett took a step backward, his eyes widening with what appeared to be dismay. "Lord Vader is going to wear a-- a dress?"

"It's not a dress, it’s a Senatorial robe," he said with offended dignity. "Take yours, for example. Those are the governmental colors of-- of Kashyyk."

"They are?" Piett asked doubtfully.

Luke nodded. Since he'd already fibbed once, a few more wouldn't matter. "Yeah. You'd better go get ready. And find some guys to wear the other dr-- robes. Can you carry them all yourself?" He piled them over the captain's arms, hastily throwing the black one back on his bed.

"I'll... manage, thank you, Luke." Piett left, his arms loaded, trailing dresses behind him. He had that bantha-in-the-laser-sight look, but that was probably because he'd never seen such wonderful clothes before.

"Guess they don't have socials all that often," Luke mused, and vowed to encourage his father to allow more of them. But that was for later. Right now, he had to finish getting ready. He didn't want to be late for all the excitement!

- - -

Well, 5-West wasn't the best place for a party—it was all gray durasteel—but no one had consulted Luke about how to throw a great party. After tonight, though, they'd be sure to ask him, and he was certain he could think up amazing party stuff.

"Is this fabulous or what?" an older lieutenant exclaimed as he spun, flame-red chiffon swirling. "I love the way it feels against my bare legs."

The officers clustered around him nodded. "Fabulous! Why didn't I get a costume?" someone complained.

“I can’t wait to see what Lord Vader is wearing!” another lieutenant whispered loudly.

"I hear it's black."

"Of course!"

"Can you imagine if INN got hold of a holo of that?"

"We could sell it for a fortune."

"Somebody get a holocam!"

The group of men dissolved into laughter that they struggled to stifle when Piett appeared.

“Gentlemen.”

"Hi, Cap!" Luke said happily. "You look great, except… well, I dunno about the cap, Cap."

"I felt I should remain at least partly in uniform," Piett said seriously, touching the brim of his Imperial-issue military cap.

"The blaster strapped around your waist doesn't really go either." Luke forced the frown off his face. "It's getting the fabric all wrinkly."

Piett looked down, tugging the material loose from his belt. "Better?"

Luke nodded, then looked across the crowded lounge. "Oh-oh."

The captain's eyes widened with alarm, which seemed an extreme response to such a small sound. "What?" he demanded. "It's not Lord-- Oh."

Three officers were paused in the doorway, all clad in their everyday Imperial gray, except…. "Kinda gives new meaning to 'dress uniform', doesn't it?" Luke grinned widely.

"Oh, my stars, those are our new uniforms?" The older lieutenant gestured for the newcomers to join them. "Where did you get those? They're fabulous!"

“Fabulous!” Luke echoed.

A blond officer shrugged. "This is what arrived when I ordered a new uniform. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I'll say this—it's comfortable, and I can really move in it." He demonstrated a few fighting stances, even strutting in military cadence to the admiration of his compatriots.

His dad was right—he really could make a difference in the galaxy, and not just because he was a Junior Jedi. "The guys seem to like the new uniforms," he commented proudly.

"Some more than others," Piett agreed, clasping his hands behind his back in parade rest.

Luke laughed, then abruptly sobered. "Oh, look, there's my… uh, teacher."

Everyone turned. "Lord Vader!" someone exclaimed, and they scattered like sand blown in the wind.

Except Captain Piett, who remained by Luke's side as the thundercloud bore down on them.

"Hi, sir," Luke said.

Vader folded his arms. "Captain Piett. I am disappointed. I thought you would have had the good sense not to become involved in such a hair-brained scheme as this young one has thought up."

"Hey," Luke protested, but very softly.

Piett cleared his throat. "Milord," he acknowledged in an apologetic tone. He paused.

Vader was pausing, too. Everyone seemed to be pausing. Maybe it was contagious. Luke realized that someone had to fill the silence.

"I think everyone looks great—fabulous, even! And," he raised his hand to prevent his dad's pending interruption, "I know what you're thinking. You're thinking these are dresses—they're not! They're replicas of Senatorial robes."

"They are dresses."

"They're robes!"

"If I may, milord," Piett interjected, "I believe the lad is correct. My robes, for example, represent the official colors of Kashyyk."

Vader was silent for a very long moment, then: "Kashyyk does not have official colors."

Piett looked at Luke. Luke smiled guiltily. "It seemed like a good idea at the time," he offered as explanation.

"You!" Vader roared, pointing at an officer unfortunate enough to pass through his line of sight. "What is the meaning of that?"

"It's—it's our new uniform, my lord," the man managed to squeak. "I just—I sent in a request for a clean uniform and—and this is what I got!"

The Dark Lord looked down at Luke.

Luke pretended not to notice, until a big hand clamped around his forearm. "Okay, okay! Well… there was this 'global' setting and I didn't know what it meant, so I figured I should say 'yes' because 'no' might really screw things up, so…. I said 'yes', but I guess that wasn't…uh, one of my better ideas." He smiled weakly. "Sorry."

"Come with me," Vader hissed, keeping a firm grip on his arm. "Captain Piett! Get the men out of those ridiculous dresses—"

Someone giggled.

Vader whirled, searching for the culprit. Luke peered with him, but only a sea of serious (and terrified) faces was visible.

The Sith uttered something that sounded like a growl. "—and repair the replicator—immediately!"

- - -

They were moving so fast, and his father was keeping such a tight hold on his arm, that Luke was sliding along the polished floor—which, under other circumstances, would have been fun, and he made a mental note to try it later. Maybe in socks. Or maybe he could build a sort of sled to—

"I do not understand what chaos is in that head of yours! To wear a dress!" Vader raved, drawing interested, hastily averted glances from passing soldiers. "Disgraceful!"

"It's not a dress!" Luke protested, trying to shake free. "Okay, so it's not a Senatorial robe! It's a-- a nightshirt! I'm going to bed!"

"You certainly are," his father stated grimly, tightening his grip. "And you will remain in your room until I decide that you can be behave in an adult manner." Vader stopped in front of Luke's quarters, pounded the door release, and shoved Luke inside. "Which should be in about twenty years."

“Fabulous!” he called as the door slid closed, and there he was, locked in his room forever… but his frown turned into a grin when he realized what that meant.

No trig test tomorrow!

…End…


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