SHAD: Part 2 Rating: NC-17 / Slash
(This section — Rating: NC-17 / Slash)

Gillian F. Taylor

Shad sat up in his bed, looking around the small room. It was plainly furnished, lacking in anything personal. There was a closet, a desk with a workstation, a portable holovid unit, and a small table and a chair tucked into the corner opposite his bed. No holos, no other pictures, mementos or ornaments. One door led into his private bathroom, which was hardly bigger than the closet. The other door led down a short corridor to the Moff's private quarters. Shad knew where the doors led, because Moff Raworth had shown him around and explained everything last night. He should have known anyway, because this was his home, but his memory had gone.

Shad nervously worked the bedcover into pleats between his fingers as he tried to think back. He remembered waking up in the chair of the examination room. The doctor had been taking scans of his head to find out why he'd lost so much of his memory. He'd had an accident; he'd tripped and hit his head, the doctor told him. Shad let go of the bedcover and rubbed his hand through his hair. He couldn't feel any sore spots, which he supposed was good. From the examination room, he'd been taken to a small room with a bed, and given an injection of something to help him sleep. He'd slept for almost a whole day before being given a meal and brought back here to the Moff's residence. Moff Raworth had been kind to him, telling him what his duties were as the moff's own body servant. He should have known his duties of course, had known them before his accident, but the moff had told him that he'd soon get into the way of things again.

A glance at the bedside chrono told him he was late getting up. It didn't matter today, as Moff Raworth had told him he had the morning off, to settle in again after his return from the hospital. From tomorrow onwards, he'd have to be up in good time to serve the moff, getting his clothes ready for him, serving breakfast when the droids delivered it, tidying his quarters when the moff had gone to his office. Shad was relieved to find that he could remember everything he'd been told the evening before. There was no problem with that part of his memory. Throwing back the light bedcover, he padded barefoot into the bathroom. There, Shad took a long look at himself in the mirror. Thick, dark hair, slightly unruly on top, with soft wisps that almost fell to his eyes. An attractive, rather boyish face, given character by the strong, dark brows. Brown eyes, that looked back at him anxiously. A face that was at once familiar, and unknown.

Who am I? Why is there nothing personal in my room? Do I have no family or friends? Maybe when I get back into my routine, things will start to come back to me. I've nowhere else to go, and nothing else to do anyway.

After showering and shaving, Shad chose a plain outfit from the clothes in the closet. All of the clothes seemed new, which puzzled him, but they fitted well. The com unit on his desk was pre-set with two numbers. One was to call for housekeeping droids, and the other, which he pressed, connected him to the kitchen.

"Hello?" he said, rather uncertainly. "This is Shad."

"What?" The male voice on the other end sounded puzzled. "Oh, yes. I got you now. You want some breakfast?"

"Please."

"Okay. Be about ten minutes."

Shad thanked the voice, and cut the connection.

His meal was delivered by a droid to a door in the passage between Shad's room and the moff's quarters. The door hissed shut as the droid left and Shad heard the muffled clunk of a lock fastening. He was too hungry to worry much about it, and took the tray through to the table in his room. There was plenty to eat, and it was well cooked. When he'd finished, and the droid had reappeared to collect the dirty dishes, Shad went to explore the moff's quarters.

He entered through a door in an unobtrusive corner of the moff's living room. The first thing that caught his eye were the large windows, overlooking a rolling garden. Graceful trees swayed in the breeze, shedding leaves in autumn shades of gold, scarlet and brown. There were bushes, smothered in berries of blue and yellow, with birds fluttering from branch to branch as they feasted. Shad got up close to the window, peering from side to side. No other part of the residence was visible from his position. To his left, he could see a patio area, enclosed by a frame of climbing plants. There were no other buildings in sight, and it was almost impossible to tell where the garden ended and the surrounding countryside began.

Shad gazed at the garden for a while, then turned his attention indoors. The moff's quarters consisted of the large living room, a bedroom and bathroom, and a small gym. Everything was well-appointed, even luxurious, but not too much so. Shad could tell that the furniture was good quality, all the soft furnishings felt good to touch, but there was nothing ostentatious. He looked with curiosity at the few holos displayed about the place, mostly showing Moff Raworth at official functions. A holovid unit that was a piece of art in itself hung on one wall, but Shad left it alone. He'd been told that the holovid and the inconspicuous workstation in here were out of bounds to him, and in any case, both needed passcodes to operate.

He was allowed to use the gym though, when the moff wasn't about. Shad looked over the equipment carefully. He could recall what the different items were used for, but frustratingly, couldn't remember what his personal settings were for anything. He didn't know if he should be doing thirty leg curls or sixty. With no duties to attend to for the time being, Shad set about testing his fitness.

* * * * *

Moff Raworth returned in the early evening. He sank into the oversized sofa with a sigh of relief.

"Fetch me a glass of Coruscant brandy," he asked, stretching out his long, powerful legs.

Shad obeyed, remembering to serve the glass on a small tray. He'd found a file of protocol instructions on the database of his workstation, and had spent the afternoon studying it thoroughly. It seemed odd that he'd known the correct glass to serve brandy in, but hadn't recalled the detail of serving from a tray. The gaps in his memory were strange like that. He was sure that the flowing form of the lightstand, which rather resembled a slender waterspout, was Chandrilan, but he couldn't remember if he'd ever been there. He said nothing though; he merely served the brandy, and waited to see if there would be more orders.

Moff Raworth swirled the glass gently, and inhaled the bouquet before tasting the brandy. He savoured his drink, then leaned back into the nerf-suede cushions.

"Have you settled in again?" he asked.

Shad nodded. "Yes, your Excellency."

"What did you do today?" Raworth took another sip of the brandy.

"I studied protocol and I trained in your gym." He added the second part rather nervously.

The moff smiled. "That's good. It's important for you to keep in trim, Shad, just as you always have. We'll be back in our regular routine before you know it. Now would you just let the kitchens know I'll be dining in here tonight."

Shad nodded to show acceptance of the order, and returned to his own room to talk to the kitchen. The moff seemed pleased with him, and that felt good. Moff Raworth was the only person he'd actually seen all day, and the contact reassured him.

The only thing I know about myself is that I'm the moff's personal body servant. I have to be good, and please him, or my life's pointless. It would be very lonely here if I displeased him. He seems to like me though; that's good.

* * * * *

While the moff bathed, Shad laid out fresh clothes for him, then carefully set a single place at a dining table comfortably big enough to seat four. He was initially rather nervous when it actually came to serving the food, but his careful study of the protocol file paid off. Two minor mistakes were patiently corrected by the moff, and when the meal was finished, Shad's confidence had increased.

"Just fetch me another glass of brandy, then you can take your own meal," Raworth said, pushing back his chair and standing. "I'll call you when I want you."

"Yes, your Excellency."

Shad had time to enjoy his own dinner. It was a more basic meal than Moff Raworth's, but tasty. He was a little surprised to find a glass of good ruby wine included, but he savoured it. It seemed as though being the moff's personal servant had its privileges as compensation for a restricted life. Shad wondered if he would accompany the moff on any visits he made. His thoughts were interrupted by the buzzer that told him he was wanted by the moff.

On his return to the moff's living quarters, Shad found Moff Raworth sitting on the long sofa again. The moff smiled at him, his solid face warming with the expression.

"Move that a little closer and sit down," he ordered, indicating a large, soft cube covered with a brown, velvety fabric.

Shad put the cube where the moff indicated, almost against the moff's legs, and sat on it. He held himself straight, wondering what the moff wanted.

"How have you been today, Shad?" Raworth asked. "Have you been well?"

"Yes. Your Excellency." Shad hastily added the title.

Raworth smiled again, looking at Shad intently. "I think, when we're alone and being informal like this, it will be simpler for you to address me as ‘sir'."

Shad nodded. "Yes, sir." He was a little puzzled by the way the moff was looking at him, studying him as though he were a sculpture almost.

Moff Raworth leaned forward, closing the distance between them to a couple of feet.

"I'm glad to have you back here, Shad. You help me to relax."

To Shad's surprise, the moff reached out and caressed his cheek. He sat very still as Raworth's large hand trailed gently down his neck and across the sensitive skin of his throat. His pulse rate jumped, a mixture of fear and sexual response to the caress. The moff's hand slid to the back of his neck and pulled him forward, bringing his face close for a kiss. Part of Shad wanted to pull away in panic. He hadn't remotely considered that he might have a sexual relationship with the moff, didn't even remember if he had had a preference for men.

The moff's firm kiss showed that he had no doubts over Shad's sexuality. Bewildered by the turn of events, all Shad could think of was that it was his job to please the moff. He opened his mouth in response to the kiss, yielding to the other man's demands. The moff kissed harder, his free hand sliding over Shad's torso. When he broke the kiss, Shad found himself breathless, his body tingling. He was still a little apprehensive but the sensations were good.

"You remember how much you like this?" the moff said gently, his mouth close to Shad's ear.

"I ..." Shad closed his eyes as the moff kissed his neck.

"Trust me like you used to, Shad. Give yourself to me."

Shad obeyed. He let the moff touch and caress him and closed his mind to any worry. Instead, he allowed himself to be roused, following the moff into the bedroom when asked, and stripping off his clothes. For all his bulk, Moff Raworth was gentle with him. Shad almost cried out when the moff entered him, caught between pleasure and pain. The moff paused, kissing his neck and fondling his penis until his body began to succumb to the sensations. Then the moff began thrusting deep into him, taking his own pleasure from Shad's body. Shad responded, oblivious to all feelings other than his need to reach orgasm. He climaxed first, muscles tightening around the moff's penis in a way that brought a grunt of pleasure. The moff's grip tightened, a rancor-hug that held Shad's slender body against his own bulk, as he thrust harder and faster. Shad lay limply in the moff's hold, his body rocking to the fierce movements until the moff came.

Afterwards, Moff Raworth was gentle again. They lay on the wide bed together, the moff's powerful arms still around Shad's body. Shad felt secure, as though he were being cradled. The skin to skin contact was reassuring after the loneliness of his day. He had pleased the moff, and he felt special, someone who saw the moff as no other did. Someone the moff could relax with.

At length, the moff stirred, kissing Shad's shoulder.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," Shad answered. "Did I please you?"

The moff chuckled, a deep rumble in his chest. "Yes, Shad. I'm very pleased." He relaxed his hold. "You'd better clear up and return to your own room. I'll see you again first thing in the morning."

"Yes, sir."

Shad obeyed.

* * * * *

Days became weeks, and Moff Raworth could see no sign that Wedge Antilles was recovering his memory. The pilot was quiet, obedient and anxious to please. Raworth enjoyed the luxury of having a servant to tend to him and the secret of Shad's identity added a touch of excitement. He got a thrill from wondering if one day he would see the intelligence and determination return to Shad's soft eyes. Raworth revelled in the sense of power he got from seeing the notorious Rogue Leader obeying his every command.

What he enjoyed most of all was his sexual control over Shad. The moff set about moulding a man who had once been a stubborn pilot into his personal sex slave. He encouraged Shad to work out in the gym, building muscle definition and making his body even more of a pleasure for Raworth to enjoy. He was certain that Wedge Antilles had never slept with a man and got immense satisfaction from twisting his nature. Raworth taught Shad how best to use his hands and mouth on another man, until Shad became expert at giving oral pleasure. He satisfied himself in Shad's body, relishing the feeling of resistance overcome as Shad yielded to him, day after day.

It was a pleasure that Moff Raworth could replay and enjoy at other times. Part of the hurried preparations for Shad's arrival had included miniature holo-cameras hidden around the moff's quarters. He controlled when they were active, and everything they recorded was sent via a secure link to his office elsewhere in the official residence. Through the cameras, and through links to Shad's workstation, Moff Raworth had a good idea of how Shad usually spent his days.

The moff had seen to it that Shad's contact with the galaxy beyond his rooms was very limited. His holovid only received a few channels; some children's networks, local soap operas, sports, non-political documentaries and comedies. His workstation access was similarly filtered: Shad would see or hear nothing likely to reawaken his memory. Raworth wondered if Shad might try to get around the limitations set, but he seemed to lack curiosity, simply accepting what was given. Shad played the simple games supplied on his workstation, displaying the lightning reflexes and ability to focus that had helped make him such an outstanding combat pilot. There were no combat games for him though; he played fun games set on imaginary worlds.

The cameras also recorded less innocent pastimes. Moff Raworth sometimes filmed his sexual activities with Shad and watched them to savour his domination over his servant. There was always a slight hesitancy in Shad's face and eyes, before he obeyed his master's desires. Sometimes the moff simply used him to satisfy himself. Other times, he took care to see that Shad was satisfied too. Raworth particularly enjoyed watching those times again; he loved to see Shad's reserve give way to eager need, to hear Shad beg his master for release. Raworth loved to watch Wedge Antilles plead for sexual satisfaction from an Imperial moff.

* * * * *

Moff Raworth was careful to keep his holos of Shad secure, but the desire to show off his trophy grew. The records of Wedge Antilles' capture and interrogation had been sealed away. If Isard found out that the pilot was still alive, she would most likely demand for him to be handed over to her, and Raworth didn't want to lose him just yet. He would give Antilles to Isard only if he regained his memory, claiming that he'd kept Antilles securely hidden during prolonged treatment for his breakdown. If Antilles didn't recover, and Raworth grew tired of Shad, the former pilot would be quickly and quietly put to death. He couldn't risk Shad coming under someone else's control.

For the time being though, Raworth wanted to show off the man he'd moulded to suit his own desires. He selected two trusted friends, and invited them to a meal in his own private quarters. Walmein was the Chief of Internal Security planetside, a lean man alive with nervous energy. Dreja was the Public Prosecutor, a comfortable-looking man with a mild, doughy face. Neither man had an active role in the fight against the rebellion and if they knew of Wedge Antilles at all, it was unlikely that they knew of his disappearance. Raworth's Intelligence units reported that the rebels had hushed up the loss of their X-wing hero.

If you'd died in combat, you'd have been celebrated as a martyr, Raworth thought, watching Shad as he served the main course. Having you kidnapped from under their noses is too embarrassing to publicize. Maybe they hope to get you back one day. How much would it hurt your friends to see what you've become, my playtoy?

Raworth caught the way his friends looked at Shad as the young man moved around the table, leaning close to pour wine or place dishes in front of them. The moff himself had picked the clothes he wanted his servant to wear. Tight-fitting black trousers that showed off Shad's firm, sweet butt, and a sleeveless top of dark brown with a purple bloom to it, that revealed toned arms. Dreja studied Shad quite openly, his eyes roving the young man's body. Walmein was more subtle, taking quick glances, a nervous lick of his lips perhaps betraying his thoughts. Raworth enjoyed their admiration of his living trophy. Shad seemed oblivious to the attention he was drawing, his being concentrated on the careful serving of the meal.

When dinner was finished, Raworth and his guests moved to the lounge part of the room. Shad served drinks, then lowered the lighting over the dining table and quietly tidied up. Raworth sipped his brandy and talked with his friends. He kept the conversation light, discussing a recent concert and a documentary about one of Coruscant's greatest bio-artists. As he talked, he observed Dreja's glances to where Shad was busy. When Shad was done, Raworth beckoned him over, and asked him to replenish the drinks. Shad nodded and went to fetch the decanter of brandy.

Dreja leaned closer to the moff and quietly asked. "Where did you find him?"

Raworth smiled, his narrow eyes bright with amusement. "I can't divulge that, I'm afraid."

"A pity," Dreja replied.

Shad had returned with the brandy, offering it first to Walmein, who lounged in a large chair facing the sofa.

"Dreja, are you coveting my body servant?" Raworth asked.

Dreja smiled, his eyes almost disappearing into the folds of his doughy face. "He isn't dressed like that for his own comfort," he remarked. "You've been showing him off to us all evening."

Shad was facing them now. He glanced uncertainly at the moff, still holding the brandy decanter.

"You think he looks good?" Raworth asked, glancing at both his guests.

Both men nodded, Walmein in a fast, jerky action.

"He performs as well as he looks," Raworth said, pride tingeing his words. "Would you like a demonstration?"

Dreja made a sound of delight. He gazed up at Shad with eager anticipation.

"Shad," Raworth said calmly. "Show Dreja how good you are with your mouth."

Shad stared at him, mute appeal in his eyes. Raworth stared back until Shad dropped his gaze. Shad stepped closer to Dreja, then suddenly remembered he was still clutching the decanter. He set it down on a low table, and returned to stand in front of Dreja. Dreja was lying back on the sofa beside Raworth. He opened his legs, making room for Shad to get closer. Slowly, Shad knelt, and ran his hands up the inside of Dreja's thighs to his groin. Dreja's breathing grew heavier as Shad deftly unfastened his trousers and reached inside. He quickly became erect under Shad's handling. Shad lowered his head, his mouth opening, and Dreja gasped aloud with pleasure.

Walmein was perched on the edge of his chair, every line of his lean body tense with anticipation. Raworth let Shad pleasure Dreja a little longer, then ordered him to stop. Raworth looked as his trembling, breathless guest, then at his servant, still kneeling between Dreja's legs.

"Good work, Shad."

Pleasure touched Shad's face at the praise.

"Now, you are to please my guests in whatever way they wish," Raworth continued. "Start by removing your clothes."

Again, there was that brief hesitation before Shad obeyed. He took off his clothes, revealing his slender, toned body to Raworth's friends. While Dreja got undressed, Shad obediently roused Walmein to hardness with his mouth. Then as Walmein held Shad belly down over the brown velvet cube, his cock in Shad's mouth, Dreja thrust himself into Shad's arse.

Raworth watched them take turns to fuck Shad, his own pleasure fuelled by a sense of triumph. Your will is my will, Antilles, as I promised it would be. You've given your mind and body to me, and tonight you're letting two strangers fuck you, because I want it. You don't make a sound of protest, you don't struggle, but this close, I can see the misery in your eyes. There, does my touch really make it better? I touch your face gently as Walmein thrusts into your arse, and your eyes light up. You know I'm pleased with you, and that's enough. Poor Shad will never truly understand why his obedience pleases me so much. He doesn't know how badly broken he is.

* * * * *

Shad lay curled up in his bed, unable to sleep. His body ached from being used by Moff Raworth's guests, and even though he'd showered before climbing into bed, he still felt dirty. He didn't know whether to feel betrayed or honoured by his master's actions that evening. The moff had spoken of him with pride, had offered him to his guests as a precious object on loan for a short time only. Shad knew he'd pleased the two men, and that in turn had pleased the moff.

What mostly troubled Shad was the thought that having pleased Raworth once in this way, he'd be asked to do it again. He pressed his face against the pillow, trying to blot out the memory of strangers' hands on his body, a penis pushed into his mouth, the smell of semen that still seemed to linger on his body. There had been a brief pleasure in knowing that he was desirable, attractive. The pleasure had wilted under the reality of letting strangers do as they wished with his body. Shad was angry that his master had handed him over for others to use. He was frightened that Moff Raworth didn't really care much about him. Tears dampened his eyelashes as he clung to the memory of that gentle caress, the touch to his cheek.

He does care ! He does ! What more could I have done to please you, master? Please don't ask me to do that again. I like to please you, to have you hold me safely afterwards, to feel your breath against my skin. How could you give me to your friends like you'd offer them the use of a prized airspeeder? The airspeeder doesn't care who flies it ! It doesn't have feelings but I do. I'm a person, not an object. I need you to know that, to acknowledge me as a person. All I really know about myself is that I'm your body servant. If I can't be that, I'm no one. So I'll do whatever you ask me to, even letting your guests line up to fuck me if that pleases you. I have no choice.

Shad eventually slept, only to dream of fire. Flames chased though his dream as he ran, searching for someone he'd lost. He screamed frantically for them, unable to help as the fire surged all around him, blocking his path. It was necessary to detach his rooms from the moff's quarters, but he couldn't find the lancing charge. Gravity failed and Shad was floating among the flames and smoke as the room spiralled towards the sun.

He woke, sobbing, and didn't sleep again that night.

* * * * *

Moff Raworth had given him the morning off. Shad stayed huddled in his bed until his chrono told him the moff would have left for his office. When he got up, he took a long shower, scrubbing himself repeatedly. He didn't have much appetite for his breakfast, and returned a largely uneaten meal to the service droid. As the droid left, the door slid shut and the lock clicked into place.

Shad had heard the muffled sound so often he'd almost stopped noticing it. Today though, he stared anxiously at the door.

What if there's a fire? How do I get out?

He'd never considered his safety before. Shad pressed the door control, but as he'd expected, the door stayed shut. He hurried into the moff's quarters and went to the door there. On this side, the door had a simple lock/unlock pad. Shad tried the unlock key, but the door didn't move. He tried the key again, then both keys in frantic, random stabs. Nothing worked. Shad fought down a surge of panic. After all, he wasn't in any immediate danger. He was just jumpy after the bad dream.

Leaving the door, he moved to the large windows and looked out. As usual, the gardens were deserted aside from a solitary droid, currently pruning a leafless shrub. Only rarely had Shad seen anyone using the splendid gardens. Neither birds, droids or guests had ever noticed him watching, so Shad had concluded that the windows were made of one-way glassteel. He pressed one hand against the clear material, wondering how strong it was. Would he be able to break it if necessary? If it really was glassteel, and not just glass, he didn't have a chance. Shad sighed and turned away. It was going to be a long day until Moff Raworth returned.

* * * * *

When the moff did get back, Shad barely gave him time to remove his coat before asking how he was supposed to get out in case of fire. Raworth stared at him for a moment, then his face softened.

"Has this been worrying you long, Shad? Why are you suddenly asking?"

"Well, I ..." Shad trailed off and shook his head. He didn't know why, but he didn't want to tell the moff about his dream.

Moff Raworth gently grasped Shad's chin with his strong fingers and forced the young man to look straight at him. "Tell me, Shad. I'm sure you have a reason for asking now."

"I dreamed about fire last night," Shad confessed softly. "I was trapped, or someone was. It's not very clear now." The dream was clearer to him than he wanted to admit and he trembled, wondering if his master would know he was lying.

The moff's eyes searched his face keenly, then he was released.

"You've no need to worry, Shad. There are smoke and heat detectors throughout the building, including these rooms. If there's any danger in this block, all doors unlock automatically. Your safety is important; you're very valuable to me." Raworth smiled suddenly. "Now, I've been thinking that I need to reassess my clothes; what to keep for the winter and what to discard. I want you to help me sort them, Shad."

With that, he patted Shad on the shoulder, and pushed him gently in the direction of the bedroom. Shad's face lit up in a rare smile, born of knowing that his master did need him. He was content.

* * * * *

The attack was sudden and well-planned, launched against several targets simultaneously. X-wings and Y-wings pounded the military bases, assault shuttles dropped troops on the government buildings and at the moff's official residence. There, the armoured troops spread out rapidly, rounding up the handful of security men and the staff, as specialists raided the moff's databanks.

The alarmed staff were huddled together in the grand hall, guarded by half a dozen troops. A tall, red-skinned Devaronian efficiently commanded the whole operation.

"Gamma squad report the north block clear."

"Copy." Kapp Dendo relaxed slightly. Intelligence on Moff Raworth's residence had been sketchy; the prediction of low resistance had been accurate, so Dendo was hoping that the moff's personal files would be as informative as suggested. Raworth was known to be one of Isard's strongest supporters, and the New Republic Military Command wanted to see how she'd react to this attack on Heppert Sector.

With the residence secured, there wasn't much for Dendo to do except wait while the techs got what they could from the moff's computers. Dendo glanced at the dozen or so members of staff, idly wondering if any of them were more than the kitchen staff and admin staff they seemed to be. He was about to dismiss the staff from his mind, when something made him look at them again. Something, someone, had caught his eye in passing.

He moved closer, looking at each of the humans in turn. One or two stared boldly back, but most of them reacted uneasily. Dendo believed himself to be a rather handsome specimen of a Devaronion male, but he knew that some humans, especially those from Imperial worlds, found his pointed teeth and horns rather alarming. He almost missed the dark-haired man, half-hidden at the back of the group behind a taller male. It was a face he knew, but this place was so out of context, it took him a few moments to realize who it was. The human flinched as Dendo showed his teeth in a wide smile.

"Wedge!"

There was no look of recognition on the human's face, only panic. Dendo frowned, then realized this would hardly be reassuring either. He beckoned to the dark-haired man.

"You. Come out here where I can see you."

Slowly, the human moved out from behind the others. Dendo stared at him, puzzled. He'd got pretty good at identifying individual humans over the years, and he'd worked closely with Wedge Antilles on several occasions. This human had longer hair than Dendo remembered, but he was certain that this was the missing X-wing pilot. The height and build were right, the age, so far as Dendo could tell, and the shape of the face. So why was this human looking at him like he was something from a nightmare? Dendo cocked his head to one side.

"What's your name?"

"Sh ... Shad." The answer was barely louder than a whisper.

"What are you doing here at the moff's residence?"

"I'm his body servant."

Dendo scratched his head. "How long have you been here?"

"I ... I don't know."

One of the other staff members, an older human male, moved restlessly, glancing across at them. Dendo caught his eye.

"Do you know how long Shad's been here?" Dendo asked him.

"About three months now," the man declared.

Shad shook his head. "I've been with the moff longer than that. I had an accident; I can't remember anything that happened before it. When I was better, Moff Raworth brought me back here to look after him again."

This time it was the older man who disagreed, speaking directly to Dendo. "The moff had him brought here three months back, and kept him locked up in his private quarters. The moff didn't have a personal ... servant ... before."

Some of the other humans were nodding. Most of them were now staring at Shad, curious about him.

Shad's face was full of distress. "My master told me I was here before my accident!"

Dendo was thinking about what to do. It was a little over three months since Wedge Antilles had gone missing, which fitted with the timing given by the older man. The accident ‘Shad' spoke of could have been an injury sustained during capture or through interrogation. Maybe this moff had some kind of memory wiping facility. If Shad was Wedge, as Dendo felt increasingly certain he was, then it was a mystery why Moff Raworth had kept him as a servant in his own quarters. Perhaps there would be an answer in the moff's private files. Dendo beckoned to one of his troops, a human female.

"Nastelle, I want you to accompany this man to the shuttle and wait there with him. We're taking him back to the fleet with us."

Nastelle reached out a hand to Shad, inviting him to go with her. He didn't move, instead looking back and forth between the trooper and Dendo.

"Why are you taking me away? I live here. My master needs me."

Shad's plea made Dendo want to cry out and ask what the moff had done to him. Instead, he made the effort to answer quietly, aware of how upset Shad was.

"Moff Raworth isn't in charge around here any more," he said. "He won't be coming back here."

Shad seemed to crumple, as though his world had shattered around him. Nastelle moved up and put an arm round his shoulders.

"Come with me, Shad," she said gently. "We'll look after you."

Shad didn't seem to have the strength to protest any longer. He let Nastelle lead him away. Dendo watched them go, saddened and angry.

To Part I | To Part III



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