You Are His Father

“My Lord.” The trooper saluted, his voice trembling on just the nervous side of terror.

Darth Vader turned and regarded him with an expressionless stare.

“Speak.”

“There is an emissary from the Empire wishing to speak to you, my Lord.”

Darth Vader drew a noisy breath. “Send him in, and ensure we are not disturbed.”

“My Lord.” The trooper scurried thankfully from the room.

Darth Vader turned to the console and closed down the game of Freecell. A new directive from the Emperor. Not before time. Since the last rebel base had been destroyed he had been bored to tears. A death star the size of a moon, and the biggest thing he had blown up in the last three months was an asteroid, and that was just to calibrate the planet-killer.

He rose and stood by the large window onto the vastness of space. He clasped his hands behind him and struck a dramatic pose. The effect was a little marred by his cloak, which tangled itself around one gauntlet. Really, he would have to re-think the whole cloak thing. It was only for show, and by now his reputation preceded him anyway.

The door beeped.

“Enter.”

Darth Vader remained staring out at the stars as the door hissed open then shut.

“What news from the Emperor?” he said.

“Um, the Emperor?”

Darth Vader whirled. The cloak flew around him like a cloud of night.

“The Emperor!” Though his face was impassive, anger coloured his voice.

“I’m afraid I’m not from the Emperor. Well, not as such, though of course ultimately every civil servant could be said to work for him.”

Darth Vader stared at the emissary. The emissary stared back, no fear or nervousness in his face. Vader let his hand drop casually to the hilt of his light sabre. You could never be sure. The rebel scum were wily and resourceful. Could they have bypassed all the security that surrounded him?

“Then who are you?”

“My name is Jandor. Am I addressing -” he checked a sheaf of papers in his hand “- Darth Vader, currently of the Empirical Fleet, Sector Seven, Galdor system?”

“You do not know who I am?”

“I have to ask, my Lord. Protocol. Can you confirm you are he?”

“I am Lord Vader,” conceded Lord Vader, because he was.

“I am from the Child Support Agency. I’m afraid we have a little matter of child maintenance to discuss.”

“What?”

Jandor looked down at the papers. “It appears you have two children, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Is that correct?”

“Well, yes, but they are rebel scum. What are they to me?”

“You are their father; Luke. And Leia, of course. Regardless of your parental duties, you have financial obligations. To wit, eighteen years of back payments for their education and upkeep.”

Darth Vader slammed a gloved fist into a table.

“No! They are enemies of the Empire. I will not pay a cent.”

Jador raised an eyebrow. “Yes, well, absent fathers often have that reaction, Lord Vader, but I’m afraid the law is very clear. As the father you have an obligation to provide for them. You can’t expect the government to subsidise your failed marriage.”

“Failed marriage? Are you joking? Have you any idea the efforts I made? The peoples I slaughtered for that witch? Then she just upped and left me when I needed her the most. Okay, I had anger management issues, I admit, but still, she left me. No forwarding address, no phone call. She just dropped out of sight. And now, after all this time, I have to pay for it all?”

“It’s unfortunate, my Lord, but nevertheless, you still owe the Empire the money.”

Darth Vader dropped heavily into a chair. Jandor took the opposite chair and arranged the papers on the table.

“You know why she left me?” said Darth Vader, his voice suddenly devoid of menace.

“You turned to the dark side? You tried to choke her?”

“Oh, that’s the excuse she made. She made sure all her Jedi friends heard that side of things, oh yes. No, it wasn’t that. It was this.” He passed a hand over his body. “In sickness and in health, that’s what she vowed, but the moment I have a little industrial accident, then suddenly I’m not good enough for her. How shallow can you get? Yet suddenly I’m the villain. Is that fair? Is it?”

“Well, to be fair, you did also turn to the dark side as well.”

“Yes, but your wife is supposed to support you, encourage your hobbies, not join the rebels.”

“Nevertheless, my Lord, the courts are not interested in fairness, just the law, and the law states you owe the Empire maintenance.”

“You know the state I was in afterwards? I lost limbs. I could have just sat back on my ass and raked in the invalidity benefit. I could have sat on a street corner with a cup and a cardboard sign saying ‘injured veteran’. Did I? No. I continued to work. I didn’t want to be a burden. I wanted to contribute to society, not sponge off it. Do you have any clue how bad an asthma attack I get when I’m leading an attack on a rebel fleet? But do I go cap in hand to the Empire for handouts? Well, okay, the Empire pays me pretty well, but I’m the commander of the whole fricking fleet. I should work for minimum wages? The point is, the point is – ” Darth Vader paused, momentarily confused as to what the point was. “Yeah, the point is, I don’t go whining for money, or try and sue the Jedi for compensation. I stand on my own two feet. Well, I would if that Obi Wan hadn’t – anyway, the point is, I don’t go whining about it. That’s the trouble with this Empire. No-one takes responsibility for their own actions; it’s always someone else’s fault.”

“I sympathise, my Lord, but the Empire has a case.”

“Oh, that little -” Darth Vader grabbed the air in front of him with one gauntleted hand. “If I had her here, oh, if I could just lay my hands on the little vixen, oh, I’d show her maintenance all right. Here’s payment for your little runts, and while we’re at it, here’s payback for joining the rebel scum, and you know what? Here’s a little extra for the time I had to endure your mother.”

Darth Vader released his grip on the air in front of him and cleared his throat.

“Sorry, sorry. It’s just, she brings out the worst in me, you know? Where were we?”

He looked across the table at Jandor. The civil servant slumped in his chair, his face an ugly purple.

“Oops.” Darth Vader hit a stud on his console. The door hissed open.

“My Lord?” said the trooper, his eyes darting between the corpse and his master.

“Um, Jandor has had an accident. A stroke, I think. Maybe a heart attack. Nothing to do with me, of course. I mean, what could I do? I’m disabled, you know. I guess the force wasn’t strong in this one. Um, take care of it, would you? Oh, and if anyone from the Empire calls, not the Emperor of course, but anyone else, um, just tell them, um, tell them I’m out, okay?”

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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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