Disclaimer: All hail the one who owns them all (not me)
Dedication: For the guest reviewer of my story The Reunion who wanted more. You made me start to think about a sequel when writing one had never been my intention. This story is for you, whoever you are. Thanks for the virtual shove.
Sequel to ‘The Reunion’
By Linda Bindner
A/N: Thanks to yeahsureyoubetcha and saram for some very excellent betas. You both rock!
“You did what?!”
Tank, known to the Empire only as trooper number TK326, couldn’t help but jump in his seat. He’d never considered that returning to the Imperial Fleet would lead to anger such as this.
When the captain of the Star Destroyer Perpetrator had requested an audience with him upon his arrival to his new assignment, Tank had been excited that he would so quickly be able to tell his story. This was what he and Luke had discussed, after all. But Tank soon realized this meeting had more to do with Skywalker than with himself or their shared experience. Now Captain Wilton sounded absolutely livid as his face turned a frightening shade of puce, and Tank had no idea what he’d done. This burst of anger was coming dangerously close to rivaling Lord Vader’s famous temper.
But Tank was adamant about telling his story. “Luke didn’t even try to kill me, and it was plain that he sure could have. So I thought it would be a--”
“You thought?” The man’s face twisted in outrage. “Skywalker is an enemy of the Empire, and you just let let him go? Now, he’s free to come after every last one of us!”
Tank gulped at the captain’s enmity, but protested, “Luke isn’t like that. Sure, he destroyed the first Death Star, but--”
Captain Wilton slammed his hand on the desk between them, making Tank give another involuntary jump. “It took years of work to make that space station. It was the Empire’s most precious weapon, and he destroyed it in a matter of minutes!”
Not wanting to be intimidated into holding his tongue, Tank chose to repeat what his childhood friend had said only hours before. “He pointed out that the Rebel Base was being targeted, and--”
“I simply can’t believe that you let a Rebel say anything at all! They have just decimated our entire fleet, to say nothing of blowing up yet another space station!” The voice became hard as durasteel. “Skywalker destroyed everything: the Emperor, Lord Vader, his friends killed every last person on the second Death Star, and yet you defend him?” Wilton leaned in close. “Have you lost your mind?”
Not completely surprised that an Imperial Officer would choose to defend the mandates of the Empire, Tank still irrationally felt that the captain’s last statement was a little over the top. “The Empire murdered his aunt and uncle!” he protested, angry himself now. “How can we--?”
“Of course he would say that!” Wilton scorned. “No trooper under my command will--”
“I knew his uncle,” Tank interrupted, determined to be heard. “He would never do anything to--”
“That is beside the point!” Captain Wilton’s voice lowered to a frightening hiss. “You had Skywalker in your grasp, and you let your history with him influence your decisions. Since your training as a stormtrooper is too valuable to completely waste, I will forego the death penalty, but for this dereliction of duty, you will be incarcerated on board this Star Destroyer for an indeterminate amount of time.”
His pronouncement echoed in the room with sickening finality. Tank felt his arms yanked roughly behind his back by the two faceless stormtroopers who had witnessed this humiliating scene. He was beginning to appreciate how Luke saw Imperial troopers as ‘the faceless enemy; the uniform’s white frowning helmet had never seemed so menacing.
Without the benefit of a hearing, or even a full debriefing, Tank found himself hauled out of Wilton’s office and tossed into a sterile holding cell on what he thought was level fifteen.
Half in shock at how fast his life had gone haywire, Tank gazed around him. Perfectly smooth walls met his eyes. He already knew those walls were as seamless as they appeared, having helped to construct dozens of cells while part of the Imperial Fleet. Sheets of smooth durasteel made up the walls, the ceiling, the floors… it was a hopeless sea of polished metal. A complex locking mechanism on the door turned the tiny room into a very effective jail cell. The anonymity of the cell was a deterrent in and of itself. Meant to depress and demoralize prisoners, the cell was utterly cold and boring and dark, just one among thousands that made up Detention Block 2A49.
Tank felt a relentless horror build inside him. Captain Wilton had said his incarceration was for an indefinite amount of time. But he was an Imperial trooper, he argued with himself. Like Wilton had said, his training made him valuable to the Empire, didn’t it? His unit would never just forget about him.
A stomach-turning lurch reminded him that his unit was dead, along with his true commander. The destruction of the second Death Star had sealed his fate. He had been jailed, was forgotten, abandoned, completely alone. Trooper TK326 had disappeared. His extended family would be given condolences, his sister would cry, his mother would mourn. For all intents and purposes, he was dead.
Tank took a shivery breath as his new reality crystallized in his mind. He was imprisoned in an escape proof cell on the Star Destroyer Perpetrator somewhere in the Latolian Sector, his unit was dead, and no one knew where he was.
He was in deep Bantha poop this time.