It was shocking enough for Darth Vader to learn that Anakin Skywalker had any offspring—Luke the Tatooine pilot was one thing, but that annoying Rebel Leia was another. Then there was the hacked security footage from an abandoned base of the pair kissing. Though he had long ago abandoned any parental feelings he might have once had, this information sent a wave of cold through what remained of the Sith Lord's natural stomach. He had to do something to break up his children, if it wasn't already too late.
The princess didn't worry him very much. He knew that the smuggler and Imperial deserter Solo would replace Luke, eventually, in Leia's affections. But the boy was something else. Still, Darth Vader knew, the boy was from Tatooine, and Leia was probably the first attractive female he'd ever laid eyes on—assuming he had ever even left the moisture farms. The fallen Jedi had an idea. He called in a young officer and gave him his assignment.
"What are you doing!" The Commander shouted at the young officer, who jumped and cowered.
"I'm sorry, sir," he replied. "But it's orders."
"And who would order you to view these disgusting spectacles on Imperial time?"
The young officer could feel everyone in the room staring at him. He spoke very quietly, but his voice carried nevertheless. "Lord Vader, sir."
Five minutes later, his toes maybe only having touched the floor of the star destroyer twice, and fear rolling off him in waves (something Vader actually, even after all these years, found rather distasteful), stood before the Sith.
"And he had the nerve to claim that he was viewing this trash under your orders!" The commander finished, chin out.
For a moment only the cyborg's breathing could be heard. Finally Darth spoke, "He was quite correct, Commander. It was… a test of his willingness to follow unusual orders… and of his creativity. Clearly his resourcefulness is in need of greater refining."
The commander's face went grayer than his uniform and his chin deflated. "My apologies, my Lord Vader. I didn't think—"
"You are dismissed."
He practically ran, leaving the young officer rooted to the ground. Again, the artificial breathing was the only sound. The young officer wasn't sure if even his lungs were working.
"Did you obtain the information?" Vader asked.
"Yes, sir," he squeaked then coughed, relieved when his next words were normal. "I have it right here."
"Give it to me."
He handed the data over, wishing he had become a doctor, like his mother had wanted.
"Speak to no one of this assignment. No one." Vader pointed at the young officer's lips to make his point.
He shook his head vehemently. "Just as you say, sir."
But though the young officer never said a word about the incident, his continued existence was enough for the witnesses to his initial exchange with the commander to affirm the truth in his words. What Lord Vader wanted with a house of dancing girls was enough to puzzle the entire officers' mess several times over. Fortunately, the gossip never leaked to the Stormtroopers, who, in addition to their rather simple minds, were known for their lack of discretion.
Of course, the Imperial officers' confusion was nothing to that of the handful of dancing girls who found themselves employed by the Emperor's enforcer.
"And then we kill him?" Jilsii, a Twi'lek asked.
"No." Vader strode in front of the row of women like he was inspecting a line of Stormtroopers. "Skywalker is not to be harmed in anyway. You will simply treat him like you would any other client."
"Of course, my lord," a Togruta named Ele said, and the others hastened to agree.
The Sith Lord knew they were not lying. "Very well. Report to me when you have completed the mission. Complete confidentiality is expected. I do not need the details—only the news of your success."
He then assured them that the Empire would compensate them handsomely for their trouble and strode out. The dancers sat in stunned silence for several minutes, before Opal, the group's human spoke up.
"Why would Lord Vader want us to seduce the leader of the Rebels?"
"Propaganda," said Jilsii. "They need to ruin his heroic image and discredit the rebellion."
"That really stinks," said Ele. "Wait. Are they bugging us?"
"You talk too much," snapped Luna, a Mirialan.
But Ele wanted to right her mistake. "I love the Empire! I'd love nothing more than to settle down with a nice Imperial officer and…"
Jilsii's head-tails twitched in irritation. "Let's just get in the box and get this over with."
Opal patted Ele's horns. "Think about it this way, babe. Once the scandal breaks, we'll be famous in the Empire. Then you can have your officer. You can have your pick!"
"I could live with that," Luna smiled.
Luke Skywalker was surprised, to say the least, at the large box in his quarters on the Rebel base. Also suspicious. R2-D2, who rarely left his side, quickly scanned it, and proclaimed, through a series of beeps, that it contained no machinery.
"And it's too small to be a rancor," he observed. "Well, I guess there's no harm in opening it."
Han Solo was having a wonderful dream. At least, that's what he was sure of when he was rudely awakened from his nap by the frantic buzzing of his communicator. He sat up and answered with very bad grace.
"Han?" It was Luke, and he sounded panicky. "Help!"
"Kid!" Now the former smuggler was awake. "Kid, what's wrong?"
"There's all these dancing girls in my room! They won't leave and eek! Don't do that!"
It took Han a minute or two to work out what his younger friend had just said. "Kid, did I hear you right?"
"Ouch! Yeah… they were in a box." A lot of noise suggested that the girls were trying to end Luke's call.
Han finally said. "So what are you calling me for?"
The line went dead. Han wondered if he ought to be worried. Then he decided that he didn't really want to think too hard about the kid's situation anyway and went back to sleep.
After a few hours however, with no further communication, Han did begin to feel the beginnings of worry for the farm-boy. Fortunately, before he could bring himself to go check on the situation, Luke staggered into the hanger.
"Kid!" Han jogged over to his friend. "Kid… what happened?"
Luke at least had the presence of mind to look a little embarrassed. He also looked a mess—he had lipstick smeared on his face and neck, as well as the beginnings of a few bruises. His hair was standing up, and his tunic was also spotted with smears of the same lipsticks coloring his skin. "I finally asked what they wanted. And they said the person who sent them would kill them if they were unsuccessful in their mission."
Chewie growled inquisitively. Han ran his fingers through his hair, wondering if the kid was remarkably lucky or about to die. But Leia chose that moment to march in, ending his musings.
"Where have you two been?" She demanded. "We have to do a briefing on the Imperial
Fleet's latest… what the hell happened to you?"
Luke's face turned redder than the lipstick smearing it. "They said the person who sent
them would kill them if they weren't successful in their mission!"
Leia's eyes doubled in size, indignantly, her hands quickly rising to rest on her hips. Luke shuffled back a few feet.
Han couldn't resist seeing someone else face the princess' wrath. "So how'd you handle it?"
Luke shrugged, something that threatened to send him falling to the floor. "I saved their
Chewie broke into barking laughter. Leia pursed her lips… though she seemed a little
embarrassed, too. Han looked back to Luke and realized he was looking a little gray now, under
"You'd better sit down," he said, gesturing at the many crates in hanger.
"I'm not sure I can," Luke admitted, and Leia threw her hands up in disgust as she stalked off to find a different Rebel pilot for the mission.
Jilsii, Ele, Opal, and Luna waited in vain for the scandal to break. The Empire's silence on the juiciest scandal in Imperial history puzzled them for years, although Darth Vader's generosity left them little to complain about. But Ele did get her Imperial officer, in a way. The poor young man that Vader made track down their house deserted his post soon after the whole affair, and stayed there as a guest for a few days, thinking no one would look for him in a place like that. Ele left with him; neither was sorry to see the Rebellion's subsequent success.
Through unspoken agreement, Han, Luke and Leia never spoke of the incident with the dancing girls again (though Luke did later tell Mara Jade about it). If Chewie broke his promise, only Han knew, and he wouldn't rat out his friend, anyway.
Darth Vader was pleased to see Han and Leia's relationship move forward, and counted his plan as a success. It was not until after the Rebels moved their headquarters again, that he realized he had missed an opportunity in his haste to look after his children. With deep chagrin, he was forced to admit that there must have been some merit in the Jedi-scums' insistence that emotions only clouded judgement.