Truth Interlude : A Certain Point of View
Disclaimer : Lucas owns everything Star Wars, but The Truth universe is courtesy of MJ Mink.
"Da-aad," Luke called as he entered his father's quarters. "Oh, Da-aad."
There was no response from within the room. He looked at his chrono. Wow, for once he had managed to get himself out of bed so that he was actually early to one of their father-son lessons. Must be because it was going to be a flying lesson.
He tried one more time. "Dad?"
"Luke," he heard his father say, but the sound was muffled. He walked towards the back of the room, following his father's voice. Once he got in the vicinity of the 'fresher he could hear the sound of the sonic shower.
"Are you in there, Dad?" he asked.
"I'll be out shortly," his father said."Work on your navigation exercises. And don't touch anything."
He wrinkled his nose, and mumbled under his breath. "And don't touch anything."
"Sure thing," he said for his father's benefit.
He returned to the living area and plopped himself down on the couch, which was black with silver trim, just like all the other furnishings in the room. He sighed. This must be one of those lessons in patience that his father was always trying to teach him. Hmmm, if the real lesson was patience, then maybe he didn't have to work on his hyperspace calculations, he just had to keep himself out of trouble for a little while. That shouldn't be too hard.
He'd never had a chance to be in his father's room before without dear old dad looming over him. He got up and wandered over to the desk in the corner. Besides the datapad and a report titled "Insurgent Activity in the Outer Rim", there wasn't much there. Pretty boring. He pulled open a drawer and his breath caught when it made a scraping noise. He froze, and was relieved when he still heard the sound of the shower coming from the 'fresher.
The interior of the drawer was mostly empty, except for a snowglobe like the ones sold at every tourist spot in the Galaxy. He picked it up carefully. Inside were ornate buildings unlike any he had ever seen before. At the bottom it said only "Theed". He shook it to see the fake snow swirl all around the buildings of Theed, wherever that was. Maybe he would look it up on a starchart someday. He returned it to the drawer, which he shut very slooowly to make sure it didn't make a sound.
He looked around the room. Nothing much else to see, not even any pictures, unless he counted the production images from Kuat Drive Yards. Maybe he was going to have to just sit down and work on his calculations after all. He was headed back to the couch when a thought struck him. Wait a minute. If his father was in the 'fresher, then the armored suit must not be on his father.
He tiptoed back towards the 'fresher and peered into its anteroom. Sure enough, the pieces that made up the suit were laid neatly on the counter. The lenses of the helmet glared up at him as he reached forward, but he couldn't resist touching the suit. The leather felt soft and flexible under his fingertips, making him wonder what it would be like to wear it.
He chewed his lip for a minute. What would it hurt if he tried it on for a few minutes? Hadn't he always wanted to know what it was like to be his dad?
He pulled the padded pants silently off the counter and slipped them on. Even over his own clothing they were loose, and his feet didn't even show at the ends of the legs. Hmmm, he wouldn't be able to walk with the pants like this. He pulled up each pant leg in turn and removed his own shoes, then put on the tall boots, stuffing the excess fabric inside of them.
There, that was better. Except that the waist was so loose it was going to fall down if he moved much at all. Well, that was what the belt was for, wasn't it ? He picked it off the counter and clipped it on. This was feeling not too bad, not bad at all. He looked cautiously at the door that led into the 'fresher, but the frequency of the sonic vibrations was unchanged.
He pulled the top half of the suit over his head, mouthing a silent "Oww!" as the electronic box on the front clunked him on the forehead and something else whacked him on the back as it went down. He looked at the remaining pieces on the counter and tried to think of how everything looked when it was on his father. He put on the tabards, and refastened the belt around them. As he clipped the shinguards over the boots and swung the breastplate onto his shoulders, he kept thinking he'd have to get up a whole lot earlier in the morning if he had to put all of this on every day.
He brought the collar piece over his head and felt the lining snug up against his neck. Next he slipped on the gloves. That left only the helmet. He stared at it for a moment, and it stared back. This was it. One last piece of armor to put on and then he'd look just like his dad. Too bad there weren't any mirrors around so that he could see himself.
He guided the helmet carefully over his head, but it wouldn't go down all the way. He tried to press it on further, but it hit against the neck piece. He grabbed the helmet on either side and twisted it back and forth and then all of sudden it clicked into place. His breath echoed inside the mask and he realized he couldn't see anything. At all.
He tried to take the helmet off, but whatever he had done, it was now securely locked in place. His face felt flushed and a sense of panic crept in. No matter how hard he pulled, the helmet wouldn't budge. He spun around in the darkness and crashed into the counter. The belt began to hum at his waist, followed by the electronic box on his chest, and then whatever was on his back started to warm up, too. A blast of air hit him in the face, making him yell in surprise.
"Luke!" his father said. "What's going on out there?"
"Nothing," he said, except that it didn't sound like him at all, but almost like his dad.
"Are you wearing my helmet?" Vader asked.
"No," he said, his new voice giving him away immediately. "Yes."
"Well, take it off," his father demanded.
"I can't," he said. "It's stuck. Can you come help me?"
"I thought I told you not to touch anything!" his father said.
"I'm sorry," he said. "Please help me take it off."
"I can't," his father said. "You will have to figure it out yourself. Remember to twist as you pull up."
"I already tried that," he said. "Why can't you help me?"
"I need pressurized air to breathe," his father said. "And if you are wearing the helmet, then I have to stay in here."
Oh. He hadn't thought of that. "So what am I supposed to do?"
"You will have to go find Captain Piett," his father said. "He has helped me on occasion when the helmet has been stubborn."
He sighed. At least he didn't feel so hot anymore, not with the suit blowing air in his face all the time. And he could see something now. It was not exactly like seeing with his own eyes, but more like looking at a vid screen. He started to walk out of the room but crashed into the wall.
"Oops," he said, correcting his path.
"Are you going?" Vader said.
"Yes, Dad," he replied.
"And hurry up," his father said. "I have work to do. I can't stay in here all day."
"On my way," he said, starting to get the hang of walking while looking at the helmet lenses. It was almost like playing one of those vid games that his dad hated so much.
With only a few changes in direction he was able to make it to the front door of his father's quarters. As he walked down the corridor he noticed that he was able to change the display in the helmet by blinking rapidly. He could make it zoom in, or change the contrast, or have it show all kinds of data, like the temperature. Pretty cool.
He also noticed that the crew members in the hallway kept far away from him. All he had to do was turn his head towards any one of them and their eyes dropped to the floor. Was this what it was like every day for his dad? To know everyone was completely afraid of him? That seemed so lonely. Surely his father couldn't enjoy that.
Just ahead of him a technician in a flight suit was walking towards him, body glued to the wall to keep maximum distance between them.
"Hi," he said, giving the technician a friendly wave.
The technician's eyes became very large and his mouth fell open, right before he broke into a sprint down the hallway. Not exactly the effect he was going for.
As he continued down the corridor, he heard several voices engaged in strong discussion, something about tactical maneuvers against the Rebellion. He paused outside the door to listen, then hit the control button. Every crew member inside froze as he entered the room, even the grey haired officer that stood at the front, his pointer stuck against the display screen.
"Good job, men," he said. "Keep it up."
There was a clatter as the officer's pointer fell to the floor, but that was the only sound for several moments.
"Thank you, Lord Vader," the officer said, finally recovering enough to speak.
Now that was more like it. He spun on his heel and headed for the elevator that would take him to the bridge, and hopefully to Captain Piett. When the elevator doors opened, a crush of crew members started to spill out, but they all stopped when they saw him.
"Good day to you," he said in his almost Vader voice.
The crew members looked at each other, and then someone in the back answered, "Good day to you, m'lord."
Some of them even smiled when they exited the elevator. Much better than the reaction he had been getting earlier. Just think of all the improvements he could make if he had enough time.
The elevator stopped at the top level, opening onto the bridge. He strode out in his best imitation of his father, though walking fast made the armored breastplate teeter back and forth over his shoulders. To his relief, Captain Piett stood at the front of the bridge.
The captain turned his eyes to him and a deep furrow appeared in his forehead. Piett clasped his hands behind his back and walked towards him slowly.
"Aren't you a little short for a Dark Lord?" Piett said.
"No, it's me. Luke," he said.
The captain threw his hand over the mouthpiece of the mask and looked quickly around the bridge. "Ssshhh."
"I need your help," he said through Piett's fingers.
Piett removed his hand. "Keep it down. And where is Lord Vader?"
"He's, uh, in the 'fresher until I can get the helmet off. But it's stuck," he explained.
Piett coughed and then suppressed a smile that threatened to break loose. "Well, then we had better hurry, hadn't we?"
Through the projection on the lenses he could see Piett's hands reaching forward and then he felt the helmet twist sharply. It was dark for a moment but then the helmet slipped over his head and he found himself blinking in the light.
"Thanks," he said, surprised to hear his own voice again. "It feels good to take that off."
"You have successfully removed the helmet, Piett?" Vader said from within the shower.
"Yes, m'lord," Piett said. "The boy had it on there pretty tight."
"Then you may return to the bridge," Vader said. "Luke, apologize to Captain Piett for disrupting his duties."
He looked into Piett's face. "Sorry, Captain."
Piett nodded in acceptance before turning around and heading out of the cabin.
"Now put everything back exactly how you found it," Vader said. "And don't touch anything else."
"Are we still going flying?" he asked hopefully.
"And why should I reward you after this?" Vader said.
"Because I helped you out," he said, pulling the neck piece and the breastplate over his head.
"What do you mean?" his father said.
"You'll see," he said as unclipped the belt and slid off the tabards.
"First we will see if you are able to follow instructions," Vader said. "Go sit down and wait for me."
He finished sliding off the boots and the pants and arranged all the other pieces of the suit carefully on the counter.
"All yours," he called through the 'fresher door.
He walked back to the couch and laid down, remembering to keep his shoes off the cushions. He heard the 'fresher door slide open, followed by rustling noises and then the sound of the door shutting. When the ventilator started up and he heard the door open again, he sat up quickly and put his feet on the floor. At the sound of his father's footsteps, he squared his shoulders back and clasped his hands in his lap.
His father appeared in front of him. "What possessed you to put on my armor?"
He stood up and looked his father right in the lenses. "I wanted to know what it felt like to be you."
Vader didn't answer.
He looked away from his father."It was a lot harder than I thought it would be."
After a moment he felt his father's hand on top of his shoulder.
"We'd better hurry if we're still going to have flight time," Vader said.
As they walked out of the cabin into the corridor, a passing lieutenant waved at them.
"Good day to you, Lord Vader," the officer said.
The black helmet silently tracked the lieutenant's progress down the hall. His father then turned to him."What exactly did you do on your way to find Piett?"
He grinned. "Nothing much. Just a little P.R."