Arriving at the correct building of the palace, Anastazya groaned at the thought of another day of that man and his incessant repetition of questions. As the guard led her to the same office, he had a small grin on his face, though Ana could see no reason for it. The guard stops in front of the same office and enters the pass code. As Ana enters, she sees that the questioner is already seated at the desk. He is once again reading from her folder. Anastazya straightens her uniform, rolls her eyes and sits down, again. With the same low monotone voice as his questions yesterday he says, "You're late. When I said the same time, I meant for you to be in this office at 0800, not just arriving at the building. If you are accepted for this position, you will be expected to be where you are needed when you are needed. Not when ever you feel like it." He sighs, "But that's all in the future." Anastazya blinked in surprise... if only for a moment, forcing herself to not look at her watch. "Why did you join the Imperial Service?" he asks with an inflection in his voice, like he's truly interested in her answer. Not in a mood to be subservient, she takes her time, and slowly responds. "Because my mother was an Imperial pilot, and I wanted to be just like her," she replied making no gestures and no show of emotion. "So, there is something about yourself you don't like, that you wish to be someone else?" he asks with none of the expected sarcasm, just concern. Intentionally taking her time, her look doesn't change as she slowly moves slightly closer to her questioner, and softly speaks, "If your mother died giving birth to you, and the only thing you knew about her was what others told you, and you wanted desperately to really know what she was like, you may also have chosen to follow the path that she took, in order to see and experience what she might have seen and experienced. That might look like there is something about myself that I don't like, and maybe that is true. If it is true, then what I don't like about myself is that I did not get a chance to know my mother. But by following her footsteps, through my experiences with the Imperial forces, I am getting a glimpse at part of my mother's life. And that gives me great comfort and pleasure especially because I have found that I truly love being a pilot, and I love my job, and I love knowing that my mother shared this in her life time with me, even though she will never know that. But I will know." She then leaned slowly back in her seat, not blinking an eye lid, as she waited to see how he was going to twist that piece of information. The man stares at a spot on the wall. Quietly, he speaks, "Tell me, which do you think worse. Losing your mother in childbirth and never knowing who she was or feeling her love...." he stops for a moment as if gathering courage. "Or knowing her love, sharing the center of her world with your father, never knowing fear because she was there and having her taken from you through needless violence just because someone wanted the creds in her pocket. Tell me which is worse." Again, taking her time, she replies, "Having never known my mom, allows me the opportunity to imagine the good things about her. And knowing she didn't die by some thief's hand, but instead by trading her life for another's." She looks down, pauses, then looks up again and continues, "If I had known her, and come to love and want her company, then to see her cut down by a petty thief like that, would have been worse." She spoke with no emotion, yet, there was a calm to her face, like for the first time in her life, she came to a resolution about her mother. "So you are basing your career and life on an imaginary person? Like a character from a holo-vid? I thought you were a pilot, not an actor." the man says with a note of disdain in his voice. "If you are so narrow-minded and lacking creativity to see only that, then that is your opinion," she replied. "You are the one telling me that you are basing your career, .. no, your *entire life*, on your imagined perception of someone you never knew, and I'm to blame for listening? Interesting..." Anastazya rolls her eyes, but otherwise says nothing. The man pauses to make a note. "So your mother flew fighter craft?" "Yes, she did. And had many commendations, too," she noted with some pride. Then she sits forward in her seat, and looks at her questioner's eyes, and with a serious voice, she asks, "Could you tell me who I am supposed to be working for? Where will I be working out of? What craft will I be expected to fly? Will I be engaging in combat missions, or cargo transport? Do YOU," she added with emphasis, "realize how I have answered all your petty questions about my personal life, yet I have very incredibly been patient with waiting to hear WHY I am even here in the first place?" She raises an eyebrow for effect, and watches the response. For only the second time in two days, the man looks Anastazya dead in the eyes, with absolutely no emotion evident, and asks, "And are YOU," using the exactly the same inflection, "in the habit of questioning your orders? I didn't realize that the Imperial Service was required to explain anything to it's resources." Standing, the man says in a voice that could freeze air, "Follow me." Picking up his notes, he walks from the room, leading Anastazya down the hall to a second room. Entering, the man seats himself on a stool next to a chair similar to a barber's chair. The faux-leather padding of the chair looks used but comfortable. Next to the man's stool is a tall desk obviously designed like a work-bench. Setting his notes on the bench, he says, "Have a seat." Anastazya hesitates a moment, looking over the desk and room area to see what she is getting herself into, then sits obediently. As soon as Anastazya sits in the chair, a band of metal surrounds each of her limbs and her neck, pulling them tight to the chair itself. The man opens a drawer and lifts out a tray containing various medical instruments. "Comfortable? Good. You seem to be laboring under the delusion that the Empire cares about you personally. Let me assure you, it doesn't. There are too many people in this galaxy for the Empire to even know you are alive." He begins drawing a syringe of a slightly yellow liquid. "I am charged with getting certain facts from you. I am fully authorized to do what ever I must to get those facts. Your comfort is of no consequence. I am not, however, gifted with all the time you seem to want to take. I have tried to do this the easy way. You however wish to question me about things of no pertinence, argue every little point and continually act like this is a waste of time. Now, I will finish my work." With that, he plunges the syringe into her arm, pumping in a heavy dose of the latest truth serum. Anastazya's face looks surprised, yet not entirely. She closes her eyes and concentrates. The man waits as the serum burns itself into every vein and takes hold of her mind. "Now, you will answer my questions truthfully and completely. Why do you want to put yourself into danger?" "What danger?" she asks. "Once again you avoid answering by asking another question. Why is it you can not answer a simple question? Do you not think being a fighter pilot is dangerous? And I caution you, ask another question and you will force me to discipline you." Anastazya squints her eyes harder and concentrates. "The dangers of flying are exciting. To triumph over those dangers is exciting," she says, with a slow twisted smile almost forming through her lips. But again, she tenses up a bit, and concentrates. She knows the other questions won't be this easy. "You've spoken at length about your mother, yet you've not mentioned your father. Why? Are you ashamed of him?" "I don't know my father," she said with stiff words. "Someone told me 9 or 10 years ago that he was in jail," she completed with difficulty. Tears began to form in her eyes. She suddenly looked up at her questioner, as tears slowly dripped down her cheek, "I used to hate him, but now? .... I don't know what to feel for him...... assuming he is even alive anymore," she said through her tears. The man looks her straight in the eyes, "Did you help Derrick plan the attack on Ebony Base 974, or did he just pump you for information?" She looks horrified. "WHAT? What attack? I don't know anything about that!" she screeched through her tears. "No. If I was at that base, I would have fought for the base. That is my job," she adds. At that, a change seems to come over the man. "Then it is time to end this," he says, his voice taking on a menace not there before. He begins to prepare another shot from a different vial. His face seems fully animate for the first time in two days. He smiles cruelly as he plunges the needle into Anastazya's vein. One final time, he meets her eyes head on as the liquid burns and spreads through her body. Her face contorts in horror as she fears that she has failed this inquisition and lies dying here instead of in battle, like she always expected. She squinces from the poison in her body, as the man watches her pain become evident. She grew weaker, and no longer able to hold on to reality around her, a blackness slowly absorbs her consciousness.... The End?????
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