Lady Obscura: Little More Than a Shadow

Chapter 16

Part of her had begun to believe that The Dark Lady Obscura was firmly a part of her past. Once again, though, Athara was wrapped in the midnight-hued cloak that had added mystery to the persona she had cultivated in the years before the events above Yavin’s fourth moon. About her hips was her thick utility belt, though the custom hook was empty, Vader having taken her ruby-bladed lightsabre. It was still familiar, though, and she had instinctively relaxed the instant her face was shrouded by the wide cowl. She was not pleased about that.

She had hoped, despite her cynicism, that after her time on Dagobah she had truly moved past this chapter of her life. But her reality hurt. She had not changed so much as she hoped. Sure, things in her life had changed; Vader’s wariness and distrust being chief among them. Unfortunately, it seemed few other things had really changed.

Almost the instant she had begun walking the crisp corridors as Obscura, she was accorded the deference and obedience she had attempted to foster before her break with the Empire. It seemed that, despite the Emperor’s obvious desire to have her dealt with, her disappearance had been kept quiet, and her defection a complete secret. Upon reflection that made sense; even the all-powerful Emperor couldn’t afford to have a prominent Agent defect. It would have been far too embarrassing for the Empire. So it was that she was once again a shadow at Vader’s side, his right hand in appearance, if no longer completely in truth.

Vader seemed to have convinced himself that things could be as they once were, though he made no mention of what they were going to do once the Emperor found out about her reappearance. Her time with the Rebellion was treated as though it had never happened. After that first conversation, it was not mentioned again, though she could all but feel him restraining the questions he undoubtedly had. That didn’t stop him from attempting to glean what information he could from her, though. Her fighter had been stripped and its memory systems harvested (though there really was nothing left to be found) before being destroyed. All she had managed to save were the possessions she had brought with her and her trusty little green droid.

She didn’t argue. She couldn’t.

That she had been able to protect N3 was a surprise, but she also suspected that Vader was trying to appease her when she had insisted. She got the feeling that, despite his tough approach to her journey to regain his trust, he was doing his best to encourage her to trust him back. His attempt on her life still pained him. She didn’t know how she knew that, but she trusted the instinct.

It was all she had left of Dagobah, really; a heightened trust in the Force and in her instincts that she had never quite achieved when she had relied fully on the Dark Side. For the first time in her life she had allowed herself to truly trust the Force. Sure she had used the Dark Side, and had opened herself up to it almost completely, but she had never really trusted it. Not like she had come to trust the Light. It became a balm to her battered hope, something to sooth the ache that had come to reside deep within her chest every time she was confronted with her own inability to break from the Dark Side completely. Qui-gon’s teachings on the Living Force and shedding her negative emotions had not been in vain, though her newfound techniques were being severely tested purely because of the proximity of Vader’s darkness. That she could still touch the Light amid the darkness that surrounded her and still rely on it gave her hope.

As did the memory of a certain Farmboy, and a fleeting kiss.

What kept her going was the knowledge that she was protecting Luke from the darkness she was subjecting herself to. She could handle it and even withstand it on occasion, now that she had been exposed to the Light. She also knew that he couldn’t, not yet, anyway.

That didn’t make it any easier, though. Not by a long shot.

She knew that, somewhere in the city, her friends were walking straight into a trap, and she could do nothing to stop it without risking everything, and what little of Vader’s trust she had left. He was impossibly bent on capturing Luke, though for what reason she couldn’t yet figure out. In the past, whenever word of Force-sensitives had reached the Emperor or Vader’s ear, they were dealt with—permanently. This obsession Vader had with finding Luke made no sense.

Athara had learned from Luke that he was indeed related to Kenobi’s apprentice Anakin Skywalker; Luke was the Clone War Jedi’s son. She had also learned from her Farmboy that Vader had also once been Kenobi’s apprentice, and she knew from her research on Luke’s former mentor, and from Luke himself, that Kenobi and Luke’s father had been close friends. Her Farmboy had even shared that Luke’s father, Anakin, had left his lightsabre with the older Master to pass on to Luke. By extension, then, Vader and Luke’s father had to have known each other. Further, that Vader was responsible for Anakin’s Skywalker’s death had been hinted at but never explicitly confirmed by Luke, though Athara had easily been able to read it in her Farmboy’s face when he spoke of his father and Vader. Any possible explanations had to stem from that. But what was at the heart of Vader’s fixation was what she couldn’t even begin to guess. She didn’t know enough. There were too many pieces of the puzzle missing.

It was one of the many things she was ruminating on when Vader summoned her to his side. She listened to the Officer’s message in silence, acknowledging him with only a nod before following him to one of the smaller dining halls on the city’s upper concourse.

She knew what was coming, though she didn’t quite expect the company. There was a familiar helmeted form standing off to the side of the room, down a narrow serving passageway opposite the one she currently occupied.

“Fett. I must admit, I am a little surprised to see you here.” The Mandalorian bounty hunter turned at the sound of her voice, inclining his head ever so slightly in greeting, though Athara knew the gesture was tinged with disdain. It was well known that Fett disliked Force-users. Well, she could never quite warm up to him either. “Working for my Master again?”

“You wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me, Obscura. Your Commanders lost the Millennium Falcon. I found it.”

“And evidently told Vader while you were at it.”

“He wants the Rebel Skywalker. I want Captain Solo. It is a beneficial arrangement for both of us.” Athara had to fight to keep her dismay in check. It was also well known that Jabba the Hutt wanted Han, dead or alive. So long as he was able to use Han first, her Master would have no qualms about handing the smuggler over to Fett. Instead, she forced a calming breath into her lungs, looking out to where Vader sat at the head of the central banquet table, facing the door. Before she could respond, though, those very doors opened, revealing Han, Chewie and the Princess. The looks of shock and betrayal on Han and Leia’s faces were enough that, despite her effort, Athara flinched, guilt flooding through her. Chewie roared in fury, a sound that caused a shiver to run up Athara’s spine.

In an instant Han had his blaster out, letting several blaster bolts fly at Vader. With little effort, Vader deflected the bolts by simply holding up a gloved palm. The astonishment on Han’s face as the blaster was wrenched out of his hand with the Force was painful to watch. Vader calmly palmed the crude weapon before placing it almost gently on the table.

“I would be honoured if you would join us,” the Dark Lord gestured to the seats surrounding the table, a parody of the gracious host. There was nothing gracious about it. He was almost smug, and it made Athara sick to feel his satisfaction at her friends’ pain. But she couldn’t let her Master see how it hurt her. She needed to stand firm.

She couldn’t help them if she was locked away too.

Beside her, Boba Fett slipped from the discrete passageway to stand behind Vader, while out in the mezzanine troopers flooded out from their own hiding places to flank the three rebels.

Mentally steadying herself, Athara too stepped out from her hiding place, falling in behind Vader as well. Athara could faintly hear Calrissian mechanically explaining what had just happened. At the bitter response from Han, she nearly lost what was left of her resolve to keep herself emotionally detached. Behind Han, Chewie moaned sadly, and Leia peeked out from where she stood at the smuggler’s side. The bewildered look on the Princess’ face turned murderous as she caught sight of the sith apprentice, something that went unnoticed by Han. Several troopers came up behind the rebels, blocking any chance of escape. Chewbacca tensed and growled a bit, but a reassuring look from Han calmed him somewhat, though Athara could feel the rage simmering in the wookiee.

However, not one of the troopers stepped forward to take the Rebels into custody. A nod from Vader indicated for the doors to be closed, and without saying a word, the Dark Lord took a seat, gesturing for the Rebels and the Baron Administrator to take their seats as well. After a long tense moment, they reluctantly complied. Vader surveyed the Rebels in front of him, still not uttering a word. Finally, the tension got the better of them all, especially Han. He all but leapt to his feet, staring down Vader even as Fett’s blaster was suddenly at the ready, pointing right at the smuggler. Athara’s angry glare snapped to the bounty hunter and, after a tense moment, he lowered his weapon.

“What is the point of this?! Shouldn’t you have thrown us into cells already?” Athara tentatively looked to Vader, unsure herself what this charade was intended to accomplish. The best she could figure was that her master was getting a feel for the three of them, observing them for a few moments to decide how best to exploit their presence. Vader leaned forward, his hands clasped before him.

“Am I to understand that you would prefer a cell, Captain Solo?”

“Instead of this? Maybe.” Han’s tone was indignant and blatantly challenging. Athara could swear that, if he could, Vader would have chuckled. He didn’t respond, though. Rising from her seat with a little more restraint, Leia took Vader’s silence as an opportunity to speak. For what felt like the first time since they entered the room, her gaze left Athara. It felt like a weight had been lifted, the princess’s anger held such strength.

“Hasn’t this mockery gone on long enough, Lord Vader? Or is there a purpose to just sitting here beyond trying to get under our skins?” Her anger was just as strong when aimed at Vader, but her voice revealed that despite that she still kept her head. The Dark Lord turned to the princess, considering her for a moment. He then turned slightly toward Athara, nodding curtly. Knowing exactly what he expected, Athara moved from her position beside Vader. A piece fell into place, then, as her master met her gaze; he was testing her. This mockery, as the Princess had put it, was aimed at her too, to test her loyalty. And she knew exactly what the next obstacle was going to be. She could only hope she would pass.

So Athara did what Vader’s test required her to do, and she began making her way around the table in order to fetch some troopers to lead their new prisoners away. She was stopped in her tracks, though, when she went to pass Leia, who nimbly stepped out in front of the sith apprentice.

“Lady Obscura,” the Princess’ voice was dripping with disdain.

“Good to see you too, Princess.” Athara couldn’t help the sarcasm that tinted her tone. A mocking smile came to Leia’s lips.

“I see you have found your way back to your Master.” Athara tried to bite back her response, but she couldn’t quite manage it.

“And I see you have found your way back into Imperial custody.”

“I take it you are the reason we are in custody in the first place.” As she spoke, Leia took a bold step forward and then another, until they were standing toe-to-toe. She peered into the depths of Athara’s hood, trying to make out her features. Athara fought the anger she could feel rising within her. Behind Leia, Han was watching the pair of them intently, once again looking bewildered.

“No, you have Fett to thank for that. I cannot take credit, your Highness,” Athara countered, her patience waning quickly. Leia laughed quietly, a cynical, bitter sound.

“I can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner.” Before Athara could react, Leia’s hand whipped out, tearing the hood from her head, revealing the sith apprentice’s face for all to see. Han’s eyes nearly popped out of his skull, his mouth dropping open. Chewie made a low, sad moaning sound, nearly tearing down Athara’s stony composure. “An Imperial Agent. I knew it. I knew I knew you from somewhere.”

“Tamara?” At Han’s disbelieving tone, Athara’s jaw clenched, but it was the only reaction she allowed. Somehow, she was able to keep her face blank. She could feel how betrayed her friends felt, and it all but broke her heart. It was hard, but she ignored Han, not even sparing him a glance. She kept her eyes instead on Leia. The Princess’ brown eyes blazed in triumph and anger.

“You found me out. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have preparations to attend to.” It took only a nudge with the Force to push Leia back into her seat, startling the smug expression from the Princess’ face. Raising her hood, Athara deftly stepped past the princess, exiting the dining hall in search of the Squadron Commander. She had allowed herself a measured, but brisk pace, but what she really wanted to do was run. The looks on Han and Chewie’s faces were tearing her up inside. She had come to think of them as two of her closest friends. And she had kept her past from them; she had betrayed them.

She had a job to do, though. Almost the instant the doors had closed behind her, the Squadron Commander was at her side, awaiting her orders. After relaying her own standing orders, to have the Rebel prisoners escorted to the City’s holding cells, Athara immediately retreated from the Mezzanine, desperate to get away. She couldn’t bear to watch the Princess’ satisfaction at being right, or the pained looks on Han and Chewie’s faces as they were led away. She knew what was coming. She had overheard Vader giving orders for a series of interrogations to be prepared. She also knew that the purpose of the interrogations was to cause pain, not retrieve information. The very thought caused her blood to run cold.

She had to get a hold of herself, though. She would be of no use to anyone if she lost control. If she lost control, there was no way she’d be able to find a way to get her friends out of Vader’s custody.

It was not long, though, before she was summoned back to Vader’s side. The Officer in charge of fetching her found her on one of the bridges that wove through the city’s upper concourse.

It really was beautiful, to look out over the shimmering towers to the billowing pink and orange-hued clouds of a Bespin evening; surreal even. She felt like, for a moment at least, she could pretend she was at ease, that none of the nightmarish situation that was happening around her was real. But though she wanted to, she didn’t allow herself to think on Luke. She couldn’t, not without risking Vader discovering how deeply attached she had become to the young Jedi.

“Milady?” With a single word, the officer had managed to shatter the fragile feeling of peace Athara had managed to construct around herself. Thankfully, it had been enough for the time being. Trying to keep her head and keep the temptation of the Dark Side at bay was proving much harder than she hoped. The few quiet moments she had stolen had allowed her to employ Qui-gon’s techniques for shedding her anger and fear; at least so much as she was able under the circumstances.

The officer hesitated, waiting to see if she would acknowledge him. She tilted her head only, to show she had heard him.

“Lord Vader requests your presence.” All she could do was nod. So that was what Vader wished to do. He intended to keep testing her. He had felt her conflict at Han and Chewie’s reactions. She evidently hadn’t guarded herself as well as she had intended, but her friends’ betrayed expressions had ripped through her, shredding her control.

The ‘interrogations’ had already begun. Distantly, she could feel her friend’s pain through the Force. Vader was looking for her response to that pain, something to further gauge her loyalty and her purpose. He wanted to see just how attached she was to these Rebels. She couldn’t allow him to see just how torn she really was. She feared what he would do if he did, either to her—or to them. Athara exhaled slowly, strengthening her mental shields and her resolve as she did so.

“Lead the way, Lieutenant.”

It did not take as long as she hoped to reach the interrogation room Vader was in. As she approached, she could sense Vader’s grim determination, and the searing pain that he and his troopers were subjecting Han to. Even through the thick doors, she could hear Han’s piercing screams. Down the hall she could feel Chewie raging in pain at the aural torture they had chosen to use, while Leia suffered through a similar method in yet another converted torture chamber. She nearly choked on the bile than rose in her throat.

Waiting outside Vader’s newly appropriated torture chamber was Boba Fett, looking as cool and menacing as ever, and Calrissian, looking immensely distraught. Not that that particularly surprised Athara. He had been manipulated and coerced into betraying Han, a friend. In some respects, Athara could empathize with that… though she had willfully kept her identity from her colleagues, and had chosen to act once more as Vader’s right hand. The Baron Administrator started when he noticed her approach, painfully on edge thanks to the tortured cries of his friend on the other side of the door. Fett merely inclined his head in silent greeting. Athara didn’t return it. She was too close to loosing her recently renewed control over her anger.

Eventually the screams began to cease and, after reaching out through the Force, Athara had to withhold a sigh of relief when she realized that Han had mercifully passed out. She could feel her Master moving around inside, and before long the door hissed open. As Vader exited the chamber, Athara forced herself to look inside, choking back an involuntary gasp at Han’s limp form being removed from the Scan Grid device he was strapped to. Vader glanced at her for a moment, the contours of his mask harsher than usual in the Prison Tower’s dim artificial light. Calrissian jumped to attention the instant Vader stepped foot into the corridor.

“Lord Vader,” the administrator started, but Vader ignored him, striding past him toward the turbolift, forcing all three of them to fall into step behind the Dark Lord, the Mandalorian bounty hunter ensuring he was next to the Dark Lord when he spoke. The sith apprentice followed behind the Baron Administrator, taking up the rear of Vader’s little entourage.

“You may take Captain Solo to Jabba the Hutt after I have Skywalker.” Athara already knew that Luke’s capture was Vader’s endgame here, but hearing him say it still felt like a punch to the gut. He was hunting Luke, and when Vader was hunting, he rarely failed. It terrified her. She could only hold onto the hope, however small it was, that Luke would remain on Dagobah, and resist the impulse to rush into the fray to try and save them all.

“He’s no good to me dead.” Boba Fett’s response was clipped and annoyed.

“He will not be permanently damaged.” It was so matter-of-fact and so cold that Athara had to fight back tears. Han didn’t deserve this. None of them deserved this. Calrissian spoke up, interrupting the two masked men.

“Lord Vader, What about Leia and the Wookiee?” Vader paused, turning to the administrator, his mask as harsh as his mood. Athara could feel his irritation, and his impatience, growing. He wanted Skywalker to appear already, and had little interest in anything else. Calrissian faltered for a moment, caught as he was in the Dark Lord’s stare, but he quickly recovered, standing firm.

“They must never again leave this city.” Vader’s voice was calm and strangely devoid of the irritation she could feel in him. Athara frowned as her master continued on, stepping into the waiting turbolift. Calrissian was visibly taken aback, though again he recovered quickly, making no effort to hide his outrage. Either he was tired of playing politic, or he was simply too angry to care. Athara was sure it was the latter.

“That was never a condition of our arrangement, nor was giving Han to this bounty hunter!” Vader turned again, and Athara could feel his irritation turning to anger as the city administrator’s voice rose.

“Perhaps you think you are being treated unfairly?” the Dark Lord countered calmly. Calrissian blanched at the quiet menace in Vader’s voice. At once, his anger turned to fear. He met Vader’s gaze for only a moment, before he was forced to look away. Athara was the opposite; she could feel her guilt and grief turning swiftly to anger.

“No,” Calrissian eventually sighed, defeat written not only in his face, but his whole body.

“Good. It would be unfortunate if I had to leave a garrison here.” Athara had to restrain herself, nearly snapping out her own comments on the matter, but a warning look from Vader quickly silenced her. For the first time since she left Dagobah, she felt Qui-gon’s presence through the Force, urging her to calm herself and encouraging her to clear her thoughts. She had her own purpose here, and her fight against her own urges to give in to the call of the Dark Side were causing her to loose sight of that. She needed to get a grip on herself. Taking a deep breath, she began wrestling her emotions under control. It was too hard to shed them at the moment, so she settled for shoving them away as she used to.

As the doors of the turbolift closed, Athara did nothing but watch. Fett was already striding down the hall, paying no attention to the rest of them. Beside her, Calrissian waited until the lift started moving before turning smartly on his heel, his anger once again bubbling to the surface, his hands clenching unconsciously into angry fists.

“This deal’s getting worse all the time,” he muttered bitterly under his breath. Athara couldn’t help but agree. He paused as soon as the words left his mouth, though, his gaze shifting to meet hers, a trace of his earlier fear returning. Athara didn’t say a word, merely nodding instead before turning on her own heel and leaving him to his musings. She didn’t miss the sigh of relief when she turned away, and neither did she miss the considering look that appeared on his face.

As she waited for the turbolift to reappear, she heard Lando disappear down the hallway she realized lead to where Han, Chewie and the Princess were being held. Impulsively, she abandoned her wait, and chose to follow him instead. Tailing him at a discrete distance, minimizing her presence and the chance of being noticed with the Force, she watched him collect a couple of his security guards before entering the cell the three rebels were being held in. Unfortunately for her, two of the Guards remained outside the cell, preventing exactly the type of eavesdropping she was interested in doing. That Calrissian would willingly confront the friends he had just betrayed like this was curious. She needed to know what they discussed. If they were hatching escape plans… well, Athara wouldn’t mind knowing so she could stay out of the way.

Or better yet, so she could help.

After thinking for a brief moment and scanning her surroundings, she ducked into a security hallway just before the main batch of cells, where she quickly found a terminal. As she hoped, there was an access to the primary security recording in the prisoner cells. It took her a moment to bypass the security measures to find the right one, and she was rather miffed that it was an audio-only feed, but it was enough to let her listen in. Lando was speaking as the audio initialized.

“—listen! Vader has agreed to turn Leia and Chewie over to me.”

“Over to you?” Han was quiet, his voice betraying the residual pain he was invariably suffering as well as his confusion.

“They'll have to stay here, but at least they'll be safe,” Calrissian’s anxiety, though relatively well hidden, was beginning to leak into his voice. His confidence in Vader’s newest caveat was also tenuous, the skepticism in his tone making that quite clear. He was learning, Athara couldn’t help but note.

“What about Han?” Leia’s normally calm voice was faintly tremulous. Athara cocked her head in thought at the subtle fear in her tone. It was too personal a fear; things must have changed between them.

“Vader's giving him to the bounty hunter.” Calrissian’s response obviously hit a cord within the Princess, as her response was instantly far more heated and clipped than a mere moment earlier. It confirmed things in Athara’s mind; things had changed.

Vader wants us all dead!”

He doesn't want you at all. He's after somebody called—uh—Skywalker!” It was sounding more and more like Calrissian’s desperation and anxiety were beginning to overwhelm him. Athara barely noticed though, Luke’s name startling her. It obviously startled Han and Leia too.

Luke?” Han’s response was so quiet that Athara almost didn’t hear it.

Lord Vader has set a trap for him.” As Calrissian spoke, the sith apprentice could almost hear the gears in the Princess’ mind whirring. Almost instantly she had pieced things together.

“And we're the bait.”

Well, he's on his way.” She heard a faint scuffling as Calrissian paused. One of them, likely Han, given how laboured it seemed, had risen to their feet. When the smuggler spoke, Athara was taken aback by the quiet menace in his voice. She had never seen—or rather, heard—him this angry before.

“Perfect. You fixed us all pretty good, didn't you? My friend!” The unmistakable sound of a fist hitting a jaw punctuated Han’s vehemence, leaving Athara to assume that he had taken a successful swing at the administrator. Immediately she could hear the sound of Calrissian’s guard stepping forward, laying his own blows on Han’s already battered body. Her hand flying to cover her mouth, Athara couldn’t withhold her gasp at the pained sound of her friend crashing to the floor, the guards’ blasters connecting with his flesh. Amid the sounds of the fight, Chewie was growling, his voice building up to a roar. Not a moment too soon Calrissian brought his guards back into line.

“Stop!” He was weary and anxious, the desperation Athara had heard hints of earlier blatantly revealed now. “I've done all I can. I'm sorry I couldn't do better, but I have my own problems.” She could imagine the sneer of contempt spreading across Han’s face, but she couldn’t listen anymore. Her hands shaking, she terminated the feed, silencing the conversation that was likely coming to a close anyway before swiftly turning away from the console and making her way toward the turbolift once again. She had listened in with the hopes that an escape plan might be brewing, but instead it had only served to shake her tenuous control loose again. They were all so angry. If she were to even offer help, would they accept it?

Probably not.

She was barely able to draw a steadying breath before she felt a presence approaching her from just ahead. Looking up, she was confronted by one of Vader’s more minor officers. Giving a smart nod, the Lieutenant didn’t wait for her acknowledgement before passing along his message.

“Lord Vader asks that you locate Administrator Calrissian at once and proceed to the Carbon Freeze Facilities.” Absently, Athara nodded and sent the officer on his way with a silent gesture. She was too busy trying to wrap her head around what this new bit of information meant. That Vader would want to meet in the city’s Carbon Freeze Facilities was immensely troubling. Sighing, she once again turned, walking back the way she came in order to collect Calrissian.

Thankfully, as she approached the administrator outside Han, Chewie and Leia’s holding cell, he did not argue when she informed him of Vader’s command. In fact, he barely reacted at all, nodding mutely before falling into step beside her along with his silent administrative aide Lobot. Neither did he say a word during the multiple turbolift rides to the city’s Carbon Freeze Facilities. Really, Athara didn’t mind in the least. It allowed her the opportunity to subtly observe the administrator, as well as the chance to think on ways to turn the situation around.

Once the lift arrived on the appropriate floor, Calrissian immediately stepped ahead of Athara, leading the way into the noisy and shadowy facility. It was warm and close in the series of chambers, and the air held the stinging and distinct scent that often accompanied carbon-freezing equipment. It was not a pleasant place, and Athara could feel her skin crawling at the thought of spending any length of time among the shadowed mass of tubes, wiring and control paneling. They quickly reached the main platform, where Vader was already making his rounds, looking for all the universe like a black void amid the dimly lit machinery as he went about inspecting the equipment with his technologically keen eye. All around them, the porcine Ugnaughts were rushing around, finishing modifications and calibrations to the Freezing Platform. Athara wanted nothing more than to wrap her cloak tighter around her body and disappear into the deep shadows herself, the urge so strong that her hands twitched at her sides. She had a really bad feeling about this. After a few final silent inspecting looks at the primary freezing mechanisms, Vader nodded faintly, obviously satisfied.

“This facility is crude, but it should be adequate to freeze Skywalker for his journey to the Emperor.” Athara was shocked, and beside her she could feel Calrissian almost physically reeling from what Vader had just suggested. Off to the side, an Officer approached Vader, his pace brisk and almost excited.

“Lord Vader, ship approaching. X-wing class.” Athara couldn’t breath, though a small, pained whimper escaped her lips when she heard the officer’s message. At her sides, her fist clenched as she struggled not to react further. But the faint movement her response made caught Calrissian’s attention, and he watched her critically for a moment, visibly perplexed by the sound she had made. She knew it had been a fool’s hope that Luke would heed her and Yoda’s pleas to stay away, but she had still allowed herself to hope anyway. As much as she had been longing to reunite with her Farmboy, his imminent arrival terrified her. Vader’s pleasure at the news flooded through the chamber.

Athara felt sick.

Good. Monitor Skywalker and allow him to land.” By this point, Calrissian had turned his attention back the to Dark Lord, finally managing to collect himself.

“Lord Vader, we only use this facility for carbon freezing. If you put him in there, it might kill him.” It took Qui-gon’s presence reappearing to keep Athara’s panic at bay, and even then, she was dangerously close to pulling from the Dark Side.

Hell, she was dangerously close to attacking Vader.

The administrator was right. Carbon freezing a living organism, logically, could only result in the death of the subject. It was too traumatic a procedure. Athara had never even heard of it being attempted before, much less successfully so. And Vader wanted to subject Luke to the process? He was mad. Completely mad.

Vader was unperturbed by the Administrator’s insistence, I do not want the Emperor's prize damaged. We will test it... on Captain Solo.”
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