Chapter 3

        The hour turned into a day.  The day turned into a week.  The week turned into a month.  At that point, Tank stopped keeping track of how much time was passing.

        Tank needed to shave.  He needed to change clothes.   Heck, he admitted that he could even use a bath.  Having grown up on a planet where no one bathed overly much, this admittance cost him a great deal of personal humility.

        Most of all, he could do with a change of scenery.  Those four blank walls were starting to get extremely boring.

        His cell wasn’t bound to become a hot spot of excitement any time soon, though.  Except for that one time when he’d mentally spoken to Luke, and the two times per day he was fed, he hadn’t even talked to anyone but himself.

At first, he’d sung every song he could remember to help pass the time, but he couldn’t remember very many.  Besides, his singing voice left a lot to be desired.

        Next, he recited every bawdy limerick and dirty joke he’d ever known, and as he’d been an Imperial foot soldier for several years, he knew quite a few.  He idly wondered if Rebel soldiers were as interested in dirty jokes as Imperial soldiers were, but since there was no one to ask, he just kept wondering.

        Finally, he drifted into silence.  He figured that most prisoners eventually grew silent.  It was an obvious side effect of being imprisoned.  Since he was in prison, did that make him a captive?  Who else that he knew had ever been a captive?  No one that he could think of.

        Were Alliance cells much like these dull Imperial ones?  But come to think of it, the Rebel Alliance moved around too much to bother with captives.  They had never been as fixed as the Empire, and so weren’t set up for captives.

        Not that the Rebellion mattered anymore, anyway.  Tank wasn’t even sure if the Empire mattered anymore.  Since the Death Star II had exploded, that meant that the Emperor had certainly died, which meant that his Empire had also died.  If the Empire no longer mattered, then the Imperial Starfleet most certainly didn’t.  Luke claimed that the Emperor had been killed before the Death Star II had exploded, anyway.  Tank himself had seen that the Emperor’s assistant Darth Vader was dead, too, and the destruction of the second Death Star had happened even though it had been operational at the time.  Tank still wondered how the Rebels had managed to pull that off.  Hadn’t the second Death Star’s shield bunker located on Endor been a trap meant to lure in the Rebel soldiers?  Hadn’t the entire Rebel Fleet been pulled into that trap?  Tank was fairly sure that he’d heard rumors to that effect.  Yet the Rebellion had still decimated the far superior Imperial Fleet.  The Empire had had time, intel, technology, weaponry, numbers, ships, Darth Vader, and the Emperor on their side, yet the Imperials had undoubtedly lost that last battle.  How had the Rebels done it?

        Maybe Luke had been the Rebellion’s secret weapon all along, and Luke was just that good.  But Luke was only twenty-three… or twenty-four… or twenty-five.  How could he already be better at manipulating the Force than Darth Vader and the Emperor combined?

And how could Tank have grown up with Luke and still not know his age?  What did he really know about Luke, anyway?

        Luke’s parents were dead, and he didn’t have any siblings.  He was an orphan.  That’s why Owen and Beru Lars were raising him.  Luke could do some amazing things with anything that could fly.  He knew a fair amount about mechanics.  Other than that, he was just another whiny Tatooine dreamer.

And now his aunt and uncle were dead, he’d joined the Rebel Alliance, and he’d obviously spent some time becoming a Jedi.  That summed up what Tank knew about Luke Skywalker.

Tank wondered if Luke had ever found out anything definite about his parents, particularly his father, since that was who he seemed to be most interested in.  He’d certainly gone on and on about how wonderful the man must have been before his death.  Suns, Luke hadn’t even been born yet when he’d died, so how would Luke know if he was wonderful or not?  He could have been the most evil man in the galaxy for all Luke knew.  And if he were, would that make Luke evil just by association?

But that was a dumb idea!  How could Luke become something he knew nothing about?  That would mean that the evil of the father was part of Luke’s instincts, no matter what he personally thought about himself.  Then again, Luke had inherited his talent for flying from his father; Tank had overheard his own parents talking about that before his dad had died.

If talents were inherited, did that mean that good and evil was inherited, too?

And what did that mean for Tank himself?  His dad had been good enough on the whole, but he had also been an undeniable jerk in his personal dealings, always yelling at people and causing scenes.  Did that mean that Tank couldn’t help being a jerk, too?  Or his sister couldn’t?  He didn’t know about Tania, but he’d always tried not to be a jerk, just to be different from his dad.  Was Tania also trying not to be like their dad by not yelling at people even when she got frustrated?  Or was she trying not to be like their mom?  Their mom had always been overly interested in social climbing, according to Tank, but Tania had always seemed more interested in the exact opposite of that, what Mom called ‘the unseemly side of society.’  Tank knew that Tania not only recorded holos for the Empire, but also spent time recording the details of a plethora of abstract subjects that always seemed to originate from that more unseemly society.  He wondered if their mom even knew about that?

And did any of this matter, really?  He was never going to get out of this cell at this rate.  Luke was never going to come.  He was never going to get any help at all, ever.  He had been a prize jerk at the one time it mattered in his life that he not be a jerk, and had ended up in this stupid little box of a room that....

His cell door suddenly swished open and Luke burst into the room.

“I’m Luke Skywalker.  I’m here to rescue you.”