Assayer Neerada sat in her suite in the Reaver. The lights were dimmed and there was no noise. Her cloak lay over the back of her chair, and her helm upon the table. There were no windows inside the suite, for her quarters were in the depths of the ship, and on a warship such as the Reaver, any outward space was covered in cannon emplacements and tractor beam units. Every inch was given over to function rather than comfort.
But that didn't matter to her.
She enjoyed the darkness. She enjoyed the silence. It allowed her to reach out with her thoughts, through the walls of the star ship and out into the wider cosmos.
Where she felt turmoil.
"I do not feel you, my Lord," she murmured. "Are you truly gone? Why do you hide yourself from me?"
She felt it then, amongst the stars and the atoms and across the great voids of space.
Him. A new power in the galaxy, not like Vader, yet similar somehow. A force user who surpassed all others. And as she dared to reach out to him, to join and experience such power, she felt that he was aware of her for a fleeting moment.
Fear was the currency of the dark side. She feared his power and his attention. Quickly, she withdrew inside of herself and now the darkness was no friend to her, no comfort. For things could hide in the dark.
Assayer Neerada shivered. The pain of her injuries grew too much.
She could use that though. Through gritted teeth, she reached for her helm, finding comfort in its familiarity, between the world and herself.
Then she accessed the HoloNet from her console, and made contact with the Imperial Security Bureau.
"Commander Falaise," she greeted the image of the bald man who appeared before her. His face was scarred and across his brow he wore the tell-tale implants of a cyborg, processing information from hundreds of systems in seconds and making decisions far beyond what a normal human mind could achieve.
The man bowed and gave the tiniest smile.
"Do you never sleep, Falaise?"
"I blink five times a day. It is one of the many benefits of being augmented," he replied drily. "What can I do for you?"
"What happened at Endor? Is Lord Vader truly dead?"
The cyborg's eyes looked to one side. He said nothing. The lights on his implants alternated from yellow to green.
Finally, he looked back at her.
"Most recent reports say that is likely. The Executor was certainly lost. And the Death Star. Admiral Sloane has taken command of the fleet and many of our updates are coming from her. However, there are those here on Coruscant who believe that she might be attempting a coup after the rebel victory. The word is that Vizier Amedda is quite terrified. The rebel leadership has made a broadcast too. Mon Mothma released a statement confirming their victory, and asking for all Imperial forces to stand down and for system Moffs to help keep law and order in the transition from Empire to Republic. It hasn't been heeded."
The pain in Neerada's thigh burned painfully. She growled through her helm and reached for the wound.
"You are injured, Eminence?"
"Yes. I will attend to it shortly. But first I need to be sure I am safe. Send me a list of all ISB agents aboard the Reaver. I need to be sure that I alone have full control of the ship."
"That should be coming through now. There are over three-hundred on board the Reaver, ready to seize control of the ship should the officers disobey orders. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
"Not today. But I will undoubtedly call on you again. Thank you."
Neerada made to close the comm but hesitated under Falaise's stare.
"What is it?" she asked.
"I am the point of contact for all Assayers, or I believe I am. All the others issue the command at the end of our meetings. You do not. Why?"
"I saved your life before you became a cyborg. I want you to remember that. If I issued Order 107 to you, then you would lose all recollection of me. I prefer you remembering what I did for you, and that a life debt is for life, even with the ISB."
"I understand. You trust me. I am . . . thankful for that, I think. Not many people tend to trust the ISB."
The image vanished as the cyborg ended the transmission. It was curious, Neerada thought. All her life she had erred on the cautious side. Not to delete Falaise's memory of their conversations potentially put her in serious trouble. She had no problem slaying enemies in the field, but to delete a being's mind seemed a far more hideous domination, something even she found unpalatable. Besides, wasn't he more loyal to her, as he remembered their shared battle some years before and how she had saved his life?
Doubt assailed her. She didn't know.
She had one more task to do before she would report to the medical droids, one that she needed HoloNet access to complete.
Assayer Neerada knelt.
When the transmission started, she spoke.
"My Lord. What are your commands?"
Only the deep breathing answered her for several seconds.
Before Darth Vader spoke.
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Neerada is desperate for news and certainty. Reaching out into the Force for her master, before asking the ISB and then finally trying to contact Vader directly, she is a product of the dark side and all its insecure paranoia. It also shows the insistent need for control that the Empire uses, such as the cyborg Falaise and Order 107 that can delete segments of his recent memory. Again, the reader's knowledge should surpass the character's too, giving them that extra insight into the state of the galaxy.
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