“Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral,” Vader said interrupting Piett’s nervous explanation. “I want that ship, not excuses.”
“Yes, my Lord,” the stiffly obedient soldier responded and bowed his head as the mechanized canopy of Vader’s meditation chamber lowered and hissed shut. He turned to make his way back to the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer when he heard a muffled call through the chamber wall. Vader was saying something else.
Putting his ear to the canopy, Piett asked, “What’s that, my Lord?” Again, there was the low hum of Vader’s mechanical voice, but the command was unintelligible. “Sir, I apologize, but I can’t…” Just then he heard the gears turn as the canopy lifted, but only slightly.
“And some chips, Admiral,” came the frighteningly familiar voice from the chamber’s gap. “I want that ship, and I want some chips, too.”
“Um, any particular kind, my Lord?”
“I want those tortilla chips that have the hint of lime dusted on them. I think Tostitos makes them. Those are great.”
“Yes, my Lord,” Piett reaffirmed, his heels snapping to attention. He turned once again and motioned for the mechanized door in order to leave.
“Don’t forget the salsa!” Vader called again while lifting the canopy even further, enough to give Piett full view of its interior.
Standing in the doorway, “Again, my Lord, there are different kinds,” he said. “Is there one in particular that I might fetch for you?”
“Whatever you get, make sure it’s mild,” the Sith Lord said sounding a little less stern. “I used to be able to handle the hotter stuff, but,” he raised his hands to make quotation marks with his fingers, “after my little ‘accident’ with Obi-wan on Mustafar, I don’t do well with the spicier stuff.”
Vader’s calmer demeanor gave Piett a moment of ease. “Yes, Lord, I’m the same way. The spicier salsas really do a number on my insides. I had some a while back, and let me tell you, I was in the toilet for at least…”
“Your time in the loo due to your inabilities with salsa does not concern me, Admiral,” Vader said, recapturing the respect due him. “And just so you know,” he growled, “it’s not that I can’t handle the spice, but rather that I wear black leather all day long. Everyone sweats after eating the spicier stuff. How would you like walking around in black leather all day long drenched in sweat?”
There was a pause.
“Well, how would you like it, Admiral?!”
“I wouldn’t sir.”
“That’s right. You wouldn’t. It’s pretty gross. So don’t go off laughing with your buddies up at the Admiral’s Club about how Lord Vader can take on a whole regiment of rebel soldiers firing blasters at him and not take a scratch but can’t seem to handle spicy salsa. I can handle it. I just don’t want to be stuck smelling my own stench in this outfit.”
“Yes, my Lord. Mild salsa, it is. I’ll return shortly.”
“And find that ship.”
“And a bottle of whisky.”
“Yeah, whisky. What do you have in your quarters, Admiral?”
“I don’t have any more whisky, my Lord. You confiscated all of my Lagavulin editions last week.”
“Find me some whisky.”
“I believe Admiral Ozzel has some Knappogue Castle Irish Whiskey in his chambers. It’s a twelve-year-old single malt, my Lord. He shared some with General Veers last night. Veers told me as much this morning at breakfast.”
“It’s a good thing Ozzel’s dead, now, isn’t it? He won’t be needing that bottle. Bring it to me. With the chips and salsa. And put the chips into a Stormtrooper helmet. That’s always a fun way to eat chips.”
“Yes, my Lord. Anything else?”
“Nope. I mean… No, that will do, Admiral,” Vader growled once again and pressed the button to lower the canopy. Just before it was sealed, Piett heard, “And find that ship!”
A few moments later in Ozzel’s quarters on level fourteen, Admiral Piett rummaged through his dead colleague’s belongings until finally discovering the Knappogue Castle bottle. It was lying on its side on the floor between the Dejarik holochess table and Ozzel’s La-Z-Boy recliner, which was surrounded by an inordinate amount of Sy Snootles memorabilia. Snootles, of course, being the lead singer for Max Rebo’s band in Jabba the Hutt’s palace.
Dropping into the recliner, Piett took off his cap and then reached down for the bottle to retrieve it. Once in hand, he let out a sigh and cranked the recliner’s lever to lift his feet. He examined the bottle.
“Bourbon cask matured. Triple distilled. Single Malt Irish Whiskey. Sounds nice.”
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Piett scanned the room for a glass, only to be thankful that there was what appeared to be a clean one sitting on a display table of framed Snootles’ photos within arm’s reach of the recliner. He was tired, and he was intent upon sitting and taking a share of the whiskey before delivering it to Vader. He took the glass, popped the bottle’s cork, and poured two fingers worth of the golden elixir.
Setting the bottle on the holochess board, he swirled and nosed the whiskey.
“Nice.” He sniffed again. “Clean.” He held the glass up to the light and turned it before sniffing one last time. “The vanilla is strong with this one. And fruit—peaches, I think—warmed by the sun, maybe.”
He took a sip.
“Yes, the vanilla is strong, but I was wrong about the fruit.” He took another sip. “Sugared tangerines are soaking here. And the finish—short and clean, with the citrus coating the edges. Nice. Very nice.”
“Admiral Piett!” called the voice of Captain Needa from the Admiral’s communicator. Piett took the rest of the dram’s contents in a single swallow.
“Our fighters have lost the Millennium Falcon near one of the larger asteroids,” Needa urged with a tremble. “What shall we do?”
“Continue pursuit,” Piett said calmly. “Send a bomber squadron to the surface of the asteroid. We’ll do our best to encourage the rebels to emerge from hiding.”
“And Captain,” Piett imposed.
“Find me a bag of Tostitos ‘Hint of Lime’ tortilla chips and a jar of salsa.”
“Chips and salsa, sir?”
“But sir, remember what happened when you ate salsa at the Officers’ Christmas party last year? You were in the bathroom for…”
“Make it mild salsa. And anyway, it’s not for me.”
“Right. Gotcha. It’s not for you. May I…?”
“Right. Send the bombers and get you chips and salsa. Right away, sir.”