|"Yes, Dark Lord", a drabble for bwinter
||[Aug. 3rd, 2006|02:55 am]
I'm posting this here in a spirit of completism - it's the Star Wars drabble requested by the fantabulous bwinter , who gave me my Vox invite. She requested "Vadet and bureaucracy", and I tried to oblige...
Yes, Dark Lord
There were four officers clustered at the door of Darth Vader's command suite on the Executor. None of whom, even from the other end of the corridor, seemed very eager to go in. Captain Piett watched them unobtrusively for about a minute, and finally interrupted.
"Must I provide you with straws, gentlemen?" And, cutting short the hasty "No, sirs":
"What is it this time?"
"Sir, we've received official notification for the two extra TIE squadrons Lord Vader demanded."
"We know he's been waiting for them," another lieutenant said. "But Imperial Center wants Lord Vader to sign personally for every spacecraft, every pilot and every mechanic, after reviewing their specifications."
"It seems he complained about the previous crews' battle-readiness," the first sub-lieutenant said. "So now..."
He left the sentence unfinished, glancing at a datapad in his hand.
"Twice twenty four starfighters, twice forty-eight crew," a third officer said. Each personnel file is at least six screenlengths. As for schematics, we all know Lord Vader likes tampering with engines better than he likes looking at diagrams." This one somehow managed never to let his obvious brightness cross the line into impertinence. "What's your name?" Piett asked.
The young man froze. "Lieutenant Woolley," he said woodenly.
"Come with me, lieutenant, we'll both bring the news to Lord Vader."
The other three vanished with a speed which would have done them credit in Special Ops training. Woolley was left staring at Piett in the empty corridor. Nodding for him to follow, the captain pushed the door's comm-panel, and strode in.
"My lord, I am the bearer of bad news."
Vader rose ominously. Piett could feel, without turning his head, the younger officer's surprise. And fear. Never mind, he had a feeling this one would learn.
"What is it?"
"I suspect Imperial Center does not want to send us the two TIE squadrons you requested."
Another twitch; young Woolley would have to learn to keep a better Sabacc face.
"They dared refuse?" Vader roared.
"No, my Lord, but they have made impossible demands."
"Unacceptable bureaucratic requirements. A brazen time-delaying manoeuvre."
It was nothing of the kind, he was fairly sure of it. Some desk-jockey in Coruscant had merely wanted to make sure Vader's wasteful demands would not be laid at his door. As for Vader's reactions, that would never have bothered the bureaucrats, taking place as they would safely thousands of light-years away.
"What demands exactly?" Vader thundered.
And just on cue, young Wolley proffered his datapad, his voice a perfect blend of competence and respect. "We have received forms for you, my Lord, on each of the 48 fightercraft and their crews. We would have filled them, but they require your personal code and encrypt."
Bait, hook. "They will use this as an excuse to delay sending the squadrons, my Lord," Piett said expressionlessly.
And it worked, of course. "You mean they will have to send us the TIEs if we refuse to fall into this trap and fill their forms?"
"I'm fairly sure of it, my Lord."
The datapad was still in Woolley's half-outstretched hand. Vader's gauntlet snatched it. "I'll transmit them myself. I need those ships, Captain!"
Piett nodded, saluted, signalled for the young lieutenant to follow him out. When the sliding-door hissed back shut behind them, he let out the breath he'd been holding. "Nicely done in there, lieutenant."
"Sir, I didn't-"
"Indeed you didn't. The whole point. You said only what was needed, when it was needed."
"Me? I was nowhere near that room. I have always thought, lieutenant Woolley, that Lord Vader needed an ADC. I believe you have exactly the qualifications for the job."