Three months into his public relations tour, Wedge Antilles felt he was starting to get the hang of the job. They’d given him a small support team of trained diplomats, who actually knew what they were doing, and Wedge had listened carefully to their advice. Whether he wanted to make a good impression for the sake of the New Republic, or simply to avoid humiliating himself, was a question he didn’t care to think about too much. Wedge had learnt to be more demonstrative to the crowds that, to his surprise, turned out to see him on each planet he visited. He learnt to stride confidently onto a platform, to wave boldly at the crowd, to accept gifts and discreetly hand them to his aide and he learnt to keep smiling for minutes at a time for the holo-ops, without his expression becoming fixed.
Wedge’s increasing confidence in his ability to play diplomat did not, however, make the average diplomatic reception any less dull. The only good points about this particular occasion were the quality of the wine and his present company. Major Beskin had started his military career as a starfighter pilot back during the Clone Wars. Although he’d not flown a single-seater in over twenty years, he’d kept up with developments in starfighter combat. A few minutes after being introduced, Wedge and Major Beskin were engrossed in a comparison of starfighter tactics that effectively excluded everyone else in the room.
“Of course, our ships weren’t as rugged as your X-wings,” Major Beskin commented. “We couldn’t take the same risks in, say, offering one fighter as a target to set up a shot for another.”
Wedge nodded. “That’s one reason why I continue to prefer them to the A-wing. The A-wing is excellent in certain roles, of course, but I think the X-wing is more versatile.” He broke off as the major shifted his weight from foot to foot, wincing slightly. “Are you all right, Sir ?”
The elderly major nodded, forcing a smile. “That question is a sign of your youth, Commander Antilles. If you were my age, you’d know that standing around at diplomatic functions is hard on the legs.”
Wedge glanced around the crowded reception room. Most of the floor space was taken up with chattering groups and a few bored individuals, clutching their drinks. He noted that none of his own party were nearby, and his lack of height made it hard for him to identify anyone further away in the crowd. There were some chairs and tables by the walls, but those that Wedge could glimpse through the crowd were occupied. He turned back to his companion.
“We could see if there are any chairs free ?” he suggested.
Major Beskin smiled, his blue eyes crinkling at the corners. “I think we can manage better, Commander. There are some smaller conversation rooms off this main hall. The chairs there are more comfortable and we can talk easily, without having to make ourselves heard over everyone else. If you are agreeable ?” he added.
Wedge nodded. “I would like that.”
One of the things Wedge disliked about these receptions was the volume of noise. Any conversation had to compete against dozens of others, and quite often against background music too. Wedge found an hour at a busy reception was as draining as an hour of starfighter combat. His admiration for Princess Leia had been growing steadily as he faced the same round of parades and receptions that she faced as a regular duty.
He followed Major Beskin as the older man wove his way through the crowd. The major seemed to know where he was going. Wedge managed a quick swallow of his wine as they rounded an elaborate pyramid of flowers that was taller than he was. The wall in front of them was set with deep alcoves, each draped with hangings that shimmered in green, blue and gold. The major eased his way between a pair of hangings, and Wedge followed. Beyond was an open door into a high-ceilinged ante-chamber with three doors leading into further rooms. Once through the hangings, the noise level diminished noticeably.
The major looked over his shoulder to check that Wedge was still with him, and smiled conspiratorially. He gestured at the other doors.
“I sometimes think that whoever designed this palace, hated formal receptions too. Hence these small conversation rooms. They’re also good for those who wish to indulge in a little quiet gambling.”
Wedge grinned back. “I didn’t bring any cards though.”
“Never mind. I want to hear more about how you brought down the Empire’s AT-AT’s on Hoth. Why did you fight in those converted airspeeders, instead of your X-wings ?”
Wedge grimaced. “That wasn’t my decision, or Luke’s.” He continued talking as they crossed the ante-chamber. “The techs had only just got the airspeeders fully converted to working on Hoth. The cold there played havoc with their systems; the lubricants we normally used just froze up. Relays kept tripping out.” He followed the major through a door into one of the side rooms. “Components got so brittle with the cold they just snapped. One of the pedals on my speeder snapped when I was out on patrol, making a sharp banking move. I was in a snowdrift before I knew what was…”
Occupied with his memories and the conversation, Wedge was off-guard. He glimpsed movement from the corner of his eye, someone behind him. The stun bolt hit him as he started to turn his head. He reeled half a pace and slumped untidily onto the thick carpet.
As the shooter hurried to close the door, Major Beskin crouched down and examined the unconscious man. Wedge lay limply as the major checked his pulse and respiration. Satisfied, the major retrieved the glass that Wedge had dropped, and eased himself stiffly back to his feet. Another door opened, and two anonymously dressed guards entered. Together, they picked Wedge up and swiftly retreated.
“One of the easiest jobs I’ve ever done,” the man who’d stunned Wedge remarked contemptuously. “Some hero.”
Major Beskin gave him a hard look. “You’d find him a different proposition in an X-wing. Even off his guard, he noticed you. You almost lost the element of surprise.”
The shooter shrugged. “Antilles is the one who’s unconscious though, and on his way to Moff Raworth.”
“I’d better get back to the reception,” Major Beskin said brusquely. He turned and left, forcing himself to forget the kinship he’d felt for a fellow pilot; a man now destined for a Imperial Moff’s interrogation cells.
Moff Raworth arrived in the hangar as the whine of the shuttle’s engines died away. He walked briskly across the permacrete floor, a guard following a few paces behind. The Moff was an imposing figure, tall and broad-shouldered, with strong features. Powerful muscles had softened with time, his waist had thickened and the sharp lines of cheekbones and jaw had blurred with a light layer of fat. He moved easily enough though, and a keen intelligence shone in his narrow blue eyes.
Raworth sensed a sudden alertness among the techs and other staff working nearby. No doubt they were wondering why the Moff of Heppert Sector had come here to meet this particular shuttle. The answer was simply that Raworth was impatient to see his prize. On that shuttle was the result of months of careful planning; a tool that would enhance his position with Ysanne Isard.
The shuttle’s ramp hissed open and an immaculately turned-out captain emerged. He descended the ramp and threw a pinpoint-sharp salute.
“At ease,” Raworth said. “Did you have any trouble during the flight ?”
“No, your Excellency. We followed your instructions to the byte.”
Moff Raworth looked away from him as two more soldiers emerged from the shuttle guiding a repulsorbed between them. He allowed himself to smile at the sight of the man on the bed. Restraints were fastened over the prisoner’s wrists, legs and chest, but they were hardly necessary. He lay quietly, his head tilted to one side, eyes closed. At the Moff’s signal, the soldiers stopped alongside him. Raworth studied the prisoner with curiosity.
“He’s smaller than I expected,” he remarked. Seems younger too. According to the records, he’s twenty-five, but he looks barely twenty. Not physically imposing, but he’s every bit as good-looking as his holos suggested. No wonder the Rebels chose you as their poster-boy, Commander Antilles.
Raworth took hold of Antilles’ chin and moved his head, rolling it towards himself. Antilles’ eyes opened slowly; brown eyes, hazed with drugs. He focussed momentarily on Raworth’s face, and the moff glimpsed the depth of character in Wedge Antilles. Then the brown eyes lost focus again and slid closed.
Moff Raworth released his hold and stepped back. He signalled for the soldiers to continue on their way. As he left the hangar, Raworth contemplated what he’d seen for that brief moment in Wedge Antilles’ eyes.
Breaking you, Antilles, may be quite a challenge. And all the sweeter when I succeed.
The interrogation room was white, brightly-lit and clinical. On one wall there was a large insert of dulled, mirrored glass, which Wedge suspected was a one-way window, with some kind of monitoring room on the other side. A large, high-backed chair dominated the centre of the room, with banks of displays and monitoring equipment nearby. Wedge made no attempt to struggle as the guards led him towards the chair, and obeyed the curt order to sit down. These guards were alert and professional, offering him no chance to tackle one, let alone both. In any case, they were armed with Blastech Quieteners, low-powered stunners; if he made any sudden moves, one shot would leave him on the floor, semi-conscious. He’d achieve nothing more than a stunner headache and the indignity of being dragged to wherever they wanted him.
One guard kept him covered, while the other fastened restraints around his legs, chest and arms, securing him to the chair. In this white, clinical room, Wedge felt horribly conspicuous in his yellow prison jumpsuit. He fought to keep his feelings from his face, as the guards retreated and left him alone with his interrogator. Not that it really mattered. After becoming commander of Rogue Squadron, Wedge had been briefed on what would happen to him if he should be captured by Imperial forces. He knew that the chair would have bio-sensors, relaying details of his blood pressure, respiration and pulse rate to monitors around the room. The high back that his head rested against was probably recording brain activity too. Wedge was scared, and his interrogator would read it on his monitors.
He had no idea how long he’d been in this prison facility, just as he had no idea of how long it had taken them to bring him here. For all Wedge knew, he was still on the planet where he’d been captured. His memories of the time between leaving the reception room with the major, and waking in his cell, were few and vague. They’d let him come round enough to drink some kind of nutrient fluid, then another dose of tranquilliser would put him out until it was time for the next drink. That was all Wedge could recall of the his journey. Right now, Wedge was certain that he wasn’t on a spaceship or a space station. This facility had the same kind of artificial climate control, but there wasn’t the subtle vibration of engines or power units that an experienced spacer could feel.
The interrogator came and stood in front of the chair, studying Wedge with a bright, dispassionate curiosity. He was a pale-skinned, bony man, who might almost have been mistaken for one of the long-term prisoners in this facility, if not for the alert intelligence in his face.
“Commander Antilles.” His voice was unexpectedly deep and pleasant. “I’ve been looking forward to this challenge. I’m glad to see you here at last.”
“Where exactly is here ?” Wedge asked.
The interrogator showed his teeth in a smile. “I’m afraid I cannot disclose that information to you. In any case, my job is to extract information from you, not to divulge it. Today, I’m going to give you a dose of Egolithadride.” He watched Wedge closely as he spoke. “Yes, I see you recognize the name. You know that it affects the areas of the brain that monitor self-control. It’s rather like being drunk, but without the pleasantness of the drinking. Just as you lose inhibitions, and blurt out indiscreet remarks when drunk, the Egolithadride reduces your ability to control what you say to me when I ask questions.”
As he talked, the interrogator moved past Wedge and out of his line of sight. Wedge could still hear him speaking, and hear other, softer noises, of a closet or container being opened.
“Now, do hold still, or this could be unnecessarily painful.”
The interrogator was back, standing close beside the chair. A hand under his chin lifted Wedge’s head, pressing it against the back of the chair. and a moment later he felt a slight sting at his throat as the drug was administered.
“There. In a couple of minutes that will be fully absorbed into your system.”
The interrogator moved away, leaving Wedge in peace for a brief space.
Giving me time to think about it. To anticipate what will happen and do part of his work for him, by scaring myself even before he says anything. I have to concentrate, find something to think about. Not this bleak room, or the way he looks at me like I’m a lab specimen, or what will happen to me when this is all over. Wedge swallowed, aware of the fear that sat coldly in his belly. He closed his eyes. Think of…home. I keep thinking of home. Corellia, Gus Treta, my bedroom with the holomap of Coronet City projected on the walls. Concentrate on that. Coronet City.
“What’s your unit designation ?” The question came suddenly.
“Rogue Lea..” Wedge shut his mouth abruptly and stared at the interrogator. He tried to force his mind back to the holomap, but the questions started coming rapidly. Demands for names, places, fleet numbers, trivial information like his date of birth. The rapid changes of topic kept breaking his concentration, sending his mind on new lines of thought. Between the questions came short lectures, the interrogator talking about the New Republic, and slipping in casual questions “That’s right, isn’t it ?”
Time and again Wedge caught himself on the verge of answering those questions, of correcting inaccuracies. Even when he tried to remain silent, he found himself starting to speak, blurting out responses before his mind caught up and stopped the words in mid-sentence. With every near-admission, his frustration and anxiety grew. It was like a bizarre game, pitting his ability to concentrate against the interrogator’s skill, but the drug handicapped him from the outset. The mental effort needed wore him down, making it ever harder for Wedge to keep control over his words and thoughts. He was aware that he was starting to babble, a nonsense of songs, military regulations and jokes. A hodgepodge of thoughts and associations that spilled out as he tried to avoid thinking of the sensitive information locked in his head.
When the guards came to take him back to his cell, the babbling had changed to sobs of exhaustion. Wedge’s mind felt as foggy as a Dagobah swamp, but he was sure he hadn’t revealed anything important. He’d won the first round. It was a small victory, but enough to sustain him until the next session.
Moff Raworth liked to watch the interrogations from the monitoring room. He didn’t usually attend interrogations, of course; his time was taken up with other duties, and his team was highly trained and professional. He learnt all he needed to know about most interrogations through the neatly-presented reports that came to his desk. This case was different, so he stayed in the monitor room, surrounded by screen displays and watching through the one-way viewport.
His interest was partly from the military point of view. Commander Antilles was far more valuable than the average squadron leader. He was known to have associated with prominent rebels, like Princess Leia Organa, and the so-called Jedi, Luke Skywalker. Reports suggested that Antilles took his orders directly from Ackbar, the overall commander of the rebel fleet. Moff Raworth was sure that Ysanne Isard would be pleased when he gave her the information pulled from Antilles’ mind.
On another level, it was the man himself who interested Raworth. He hadn’t been able to forget that moment when he’d looked into Antilles’ eyes in the hangar. The battle of wills between the interrogator and the man strapped to the chair was as fascinating as he’d anticipated. This was Antilles’ second session, and Raworth was impressed as how well he was holding up. The interrogator, Kanner, had stopped the flow of questions for a few minutes. Antilles was slumped in the chair, his head resting against the high back, his eyes closed. Bio-data from the chair’s sensors was displayed on a screen to Raworth’s left, indicating that Antilles was almost asleep. The brief periods of rest were part of the process of breaking a prisoner. Antilles would be groggy and disorientated when woken again, more liable to let information slip. At the moment, Antilles looked fragile; even when resting, his face was pinched and haggard. He looked far older than when he’d arrived on the shuttle.
Kanner returned to Antilles, briskly shaking him awake again. Antilles moaned softly as his eyes opened and he lifted his head. Raworth chose to watch via a screen, zooming in the holocam to concentrate on Antilles’ face. The brown eyes were dull initially, but Raworth saw intelligence and determination shine again in them as the questions continued. The moff sighed quietly, regretting that such a remarkable young man had chosen to join the rebels, instead of fighting for the Empire.
You could have been feted and honoured as Colonel Fel was, before he defected. Instead, the handsome hero that the rebels have been parading around, will make his next and last public appearance at his trial. The Rebels were making a big fuss about how you defied the Empire, and flew against its Death Stars. But the Empire has caught up with you and the galaxy will see what happens to those who defy us. Your piloting skills, your intelligence, your hopes and dreams; they have no future. Your future ends in the ion chair, Antilles, like a common murderer.
Wedge changed position restlessly, burying his face against the thin pillow and covering his eyes with his arm, but it didn’t block the light very well. He tried to relax, to get the sleep he desperately needed, but he was never allowed more than a brief nap. The small, bleak cell was brightly lit at all times and when Wedge did doze off, he was soon woken by a shrill alarm that set his teeth on edge.
Wedge yawned. He’d gotten pretty good at sleeping in places other than a nice, dark bedroom. He could nap easily enough during long hyperspace jumps in the cockpit of his X-wing. He’d slept in chairs in ready rooms, in corridors, at his desk and even on a stack of crates in a hangar. None of that helped now. His own thoughts were doing almost as much to keep him awake as the Imperials’ sleep deprivation techniques.
The bitter truth was that he didn’t know how much longer he could hold out against the drugs. The sleep deprivation made it harder still to resist the questions, especially when they told him that he could sleep just as soon as he told them everything. Wedge knew that under the influence of the drugs, his increasing need for sleep would eventually cause him to answer the questions before he could stop himself.
Answer their questions and sleep. Sleep forever. Once they’ve got all they can from me, it’ll be trial and execution. A heavy ion charge to short out my nervous system, and I’ll be resting forever. After I’ve betrayed all I hold dear.
He curled up more tightly, his body revealing the conflict in his mind. Wedge knew, logically, that the information in his head wasn’t enough to be fatal to the New Republic. Command would assume that the Empire was responsible for his disappearance, and codes would be changed, some bases abandoned, units moved. There was other information that Wedge could betray though. He could give identities and descriptions of agents like Winter and Kapp Dendo. He knew a lot about the size and distribution of the New Republic Fleet. There was plenty the Imps could pull from him about people he’d worked with, like Admiral Ackbar and General Cracken. His knowledge of them as individuals could be exploited by Imperial Intelligence.
Yes, the Empire could make good use of his knowledge, especially with the former head of Imperial Intelligence in charge now. Exhausted and close to breaking, it was impossible for Wedge to remain calmly logical.
Sooner or later, I’ll tell them what they want to know. There are stronger drugs they can use on me, ones that will bring back memories long since forgotten. Drugs to cause pain if I lie, stronger drugs to break down my will power. Eventually, they will force me into doing as they wish. Anger began to displace the fear and despair. They’ll force me to betray everything I’ve worked for, and given my life to. Maybe it’s just stubborn Corellian pride, but I’d rather die than let them beat me. But they’ve taken care to see that I can’t cheat them that way. All I can do is to go down fighting, resisting for as long as possible.
The hiss of the cell door opening jerked him from his thoughts. Wedge moved his arm and rolled over, blinking in the strong light at the two guards who entered his cell. Strangers, but as crisp and professional as their predecessors. The guards who marched him to and from his cell had been different every time. It was part of the prison routine, intended to keep him feeling strange and isolated, with no familiar faces other than the interrogator. Wedge knew this was a tactic designed to create a bond between prisoner and interrogator, but that knowledge couldn’t make him immune to the effect.
He stood up wearily, and held his arms out in front for the nearer guard to fasten the binders on his wrists. As the guard gestured for him to move, Wedge lifted his chin and walked steadily out to the interrogation room.
Moff Raworth saw the moment when Wedge began to break. The spark of rebellion in Antilles’ eyes had been dimmed with weariness even before this session had begun. He’d reached the babbling stage much faster than before, pleas for rest dominating his speech. Kanner was carefully managing the drugs he used, administering just enough stimulant to keep Antilles awake without relieving the fatigue. The prisoner’s bio-readings fluctuated, indicating a body locked in a grinding cycle of exhaustion and nervous stress. Wedge Antilles was finally succumbing to the inevitable.
Although the interrogation room was well insulated, microphones picked up sounds and replayed them through a speaker in the monitoring room. Raworth had heard a change in Antilles’s voice.
“We know you receive your orders from Ackbar,” Kanner was saying. “His flagship is Home One, isn’t it ? What sector is it in now ?”
“No, no, no.” Antilles was shaking his head. His eyes were almost closed, the strain distorting his face. The repeated ‘no’ was becoming desperate.
Raworth studied the monitor with a sense of excitement. Kanner’s voice was soft, persuasive.
“Tell me about Admiral Ackbar. Tell me all you know about his strategies for fighting the Empire, and then you can rest.”
“No !” Antilles was becoming agitated, his arms jerking against the restraints. A glance at the bio monitor told Raworth that his pulse, blood pressure and respiration had all increased sharply.
“Is Ackbar planning to move on Coruscant yet ?” Kanner went on insistently. “Where’s he going to establish his forward bases ?”
“No ! No !” Antilles didn’t even seem to be hearing the questions. He tugged futilely against the restraints, his eyes wild. The cries became less coherent, his movements more frantic.
Kanner stopped the questions and studied his displays intently. Raworth reached for the comm switch and paused, watching in silence. He wasn’t sure if Antilles was hysterical, or having a full-scale panic attack. Kanner was starting to look anxious now, clearing wondering how long the attack would last. The interrogator turned and opened a cabinet, taking out a bottle and a syringe. As he started to draw fluid into the syringe, Antilles abruptly collapsed.
Kanner was at his side in a moment, examining the prisoner. Raworth looked at the bio displays, and was relieved to see that Antilles’ life signs were dropping back to normal. He flicked the comm switch, keeping the volume low.
“How is he ?”
“He should be fine,” Kanner answered. “I don’t think he’ll be unconscious long.”
Antilles was slumped in the chair, only the restraints holding him upright.
“I guess you reached his breaking point,” Raworth commented. “We should get everything we want from him now.”
Kanner started to clear away the syringe and bottle. “It’s highly probable, though I can’t guarantee it. A collapse like that usually leads to a breakdown of resistance. Antilles has been highly resistant to manipulation though. If he realizes, consciously or otherwise, that these attacks are an escape from interrogation, he may do it again.”
Raworth understood. It was possible that he’d have to hand Antilles over to Isard, to see if her people could get information from him. He found himself oddly reluctant to hand Antilles over to her cold grasp. He wanted to keep control of Antilles himself, even if the end result of trial and execution would be the same. He looked through the viewport, studying the young man in the interrogation chair. As he watched, he saw Antilles stir slightly.
“He’s coming round,” he warned.
Kanner returned to the chair, waiting there as Antilles lifted his head, slowly opening his eyes. The prisoner looked dazed.
“Just co-operate with me, and there won’t be any more unpleasantness,” Kanner said calmly. “Tell me about Ackbar; where’s his ship now ?”
Antilles looked puzzled, dark brows drawing together. “I…I don’t understand.” He stared blankly at the interrogator.
“You take your orders directly from Admiral Ackbar. You’ve worked closely with him. I want to know what you know about him.”
Antilles shook his head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I can’t remember any Ackbar.” He glanced about the room, eyes widening with fear. “Where am I ?”
In the monitoring room, Raworth was frowning. A knot of uncertainty had formed in his stomach. Kanner remained outwardly calm. He moved slightly to one side, where he could easily see both the chair’s bio-monitors, and the prisoner’s face.
“You’re quite safe,” he said reassuringly. “Tell me how old you are.”
Antilles was breathing faster, visibly anxious. “I…I don’t know.” He pulled his right wrist against the restraint.
“What planet were you born on ?” Kanner asked.
“Planet ? I don’t know.” Antilles shook his head. “Where am I ?” he repeated, looking around the room again.
Kanner put a hand on the prisoner’s shoulder. “What’s your name ?”
Antilles stared at him, thinking hard. “I don’t know. I can’t remember !” He pulled hard at the arm restraints, then slumped back into the chair. “What’s wrong with me ? Why can’t I remember ?” he begged.
“You had an accident,” Kanner told him, with barely a moment’s hesitation. “We’re trying to help you. Don’t panic. Calm down and wait a couple of minutes while I go check your scans.”
As the interrogator walked from the room, Wedge Antilles watched him every step of the way, reluctant to let him out of his sight.
Raworth looked up from the displays as Kanner entered the monitoring room.
“The datastream gives an 86% probability that he’s telling the truth, that he doesn’t remember his own name,” Raworth said, staring through narrowed eyes at the interrogator.
Kanner nodded. “The stress he’s under will affect the readings. The figure is more likely around 90%.”
“What’s happened ?” Raworth demanded, watching as Kanner began calling up new dataflows on the screens.
“My first thought is dissociative amnesia,” Kanner replied, studying a chart of the prisoner’s brain activity.
Raworth waited impatiently for further explanation. A quick glance through the viewport reassured him that Antilles was sitting quietly, studying the equipment around him with a bewildered expression.
“Look at these two sets of patterns,” Kanner said, indicating a screen. “This one is from before the breakdown, when I was asking Antilles about Ackbar. You can see these areas of the brain are active, as he retrieves memories. He didn’t divulge the memories, of course, but the word ‘Ackbar’ has associations for him. It starts to activate the area of the brain where ‘Ackbar’ memories, some of them at least, as stored.” Kanner pointed a bony finger at the other set of patterns. “This is what happened when I asked him about Ackbar just after he regained consciousness.”
“No activity in that part of his brain,” Raworth said.
“Exactly.” Kanner pressed a button, and both sets of brain patterns began to move.
Raworth could see that there was less activity in the second set.
“This is where I’m asking him personal questions,” Kanner continued. “And as you can see, very little memory activity.”
“Genuine amnesia, then,” Raworth said, scratching the side of his neck. “But how could it come on so suddenly ?”
Kanner turned towards the viewport, looking thoughtfully at the man in the other room.
“Dissociative amnesia is a defence mechanism. When a person is under intolerable stress, they may enter what is known as a fugue state. They escape from the stress by physical flight, leaving home suddenly, and by forgetting everything about who they are. They blank out the stressful situation by effectively blanking themselves and starting over somewhere else.”
Raworth blinked. “I’m sure I’ve seen that plot in a bad holodrama.”
Kanner smiled suddenly. “Most likely. But it’s based on a real medical condition. In this case, Antilles couldn’t flee physically because of the restraints holding him to the chair. He’s escaped from the stress of the interrogation by losing his personality.”
“You said this amnesia is a defence mechanism. We’ve been trying to force him to reveal memories that he wants to protect. Could this amnesia be a way of protecting those memories ?” Raworth asked.
Kanner pursed his lips as he thought. “It’s possible. Most likely it’s a combination of factors. Antilles is clearly desperate to protect the information in his mind, but he knows that he can’t hold out forever under interrogation. The amnesia protects the data in his head, because he can’t access it, and at the same time he escapes the trauma of the interrogation by dissociating himself from the person being interrogated. Wedge Antilles is no longer present.”
“A split personality ? Wedge Antilles, tucked away in his unconscious mind, and this new person, who doesn’t know any of Antilles’ secrets ?”
“Essentially so. It’s a drastic solution to his problem, but the human mind is capable of remarkable things.”
Moff Raworth stared though the viewport. “So how long will this last ? How do we get Wedge Antilles back ?”
Kanner shook his head slowly. “A true fugue state can last for months, even years. Further interrogation will be useless; it will merely reinforce the stress that caused him to forget in the first place. If pushed sufficiently, his personality could fracture even further.” Kanner spoke with the bright interest of a scientist considering a new experiment.
“Would memory-enhancing drugs help him regain his memory ?” Raworth asked.
Kanner shook his head. “They enhance the recall of forgotten memories. Antilles hasn’t truly forgotten details like his name. He’s effectively blocked access to his personal memories. It’s almost certain that he retains life skills like using a datapad, even flying an X-wing.”
Raworth sighed. “What can we do ?”
The confidence ebbed from Kanner’s narrow face. “I need to do more research. I suggest he be removed from everything that reinforces the need to forget who he is. I doubt if he’ll recover in a prison environment, at least not any time soon.”
Raworth was silent for a minute, gazing through the viewport.
I doubt if Isard’s people could achieve anything that we couldn’t. You sacrificed yourself to protect your allies; would any of my soldiers do that for me ? I’m glad I don’t need to hand you over to Isard, Antilles. I don’t want to see you die just yet. You look so vulnerable there, your eyes frightened as you look around. It makes me feel powerful. I can control you utterly; mind and body. You don’t know who you are or who I am. You’ve hidden away your knowledge of the rebel forces, but I can get you to yield to me in other ways; I can shape you into whatever I want. If I tell you to trust me, you’ll trust me. You’re just a shadow of the man you were.
Raworth smiled to himself. “That’s what your name is now: Shad.”
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