The hard light hologram was being projected from a sphere the size of a softball and took the appearance of a Terran Descent Human male all in silver and red, dressed in a business suit. It was standing next to a pair of Lanaktallan, one an adult male, the other an adolescent female. The three stood in front of an Imperial aerospace fighter. It had long wings, the back of them angles, the front two triangles that stuck out, the cockpit two balls welded together. It was sleek and lethal looking, all in black warsteel and chromed battlesteel. The cockpit had two different windows. The seat on the left was obviously built for a Terran and had the instruments and controls. The other one was a bench seat with a swivel mounted back rest, a modification to allow for a Lanaktallan passenger.
"This will be slightly scary at times," the red Terran, known as Red Prince, said to the adult Lanaktallan. 'Just remember that Markus-3328A5 is an experienced pilot, all right, La'amo'o?"
The adult Lanaktallan nodded jerkily, his tendrils around his mouth curled protectively. He was dressed in a white suit that covered his abdomen and torso and legs and had a helmet in his hands. The suit had "CIVILIAN" marked on the sides of his abdomen, on the front and back of the torso, and written on the white helmet above the amber face shield.
"Are you really going to do this, daddy?" the adolescent asked.
"Yes, Alma'ana," the adult, La'amo'o said. He trembled slightly and Red Prince could tell it was a mixture of apprehension and excitement.
Another Terran came forward, dressed in all black body armor, a helmet concealing his face. He had on Imperial rankings and on his helmet was 3328A5. The Terran held out his hand and La'amo'o shook it, remembering the lessons on the Tri-Vee.
"I'm Flight Lieutenant Markus-3328A5, sir," the Terran said.
"I am La'amo'o," the Lanaktallan said.
"Moff Red Prince," the red Terran said.
The black armored Terran saluted, then turned back to the Lanaktallan. "We'll take it easy at first, no high-G maneuvering, just some basic flight," he said. "I'll want to check your pressure suit before we take off."
"That would relieve my anxiety slightly," La'amo'o said, still staring at the aerospace fighter. It looked almost eager to start flying to him and he had to keep reciting calming mantras to keep from shuffling in place and clacking his hooves with excitement.
The pilot checked La'amo'o's suit, making sure that it was correctly worn. He found a single cuff that wasn't tightened securely and merely re-tightened it himself. Once that was done he turned to the ship and motioned.
"Let's get in the air, shall we?" he asked.
La'amo'o nodded, watching as the pilot walked up to the back of the ship, opened a panel, and typed in a quick six digit code. He moved over to a heavy hose and motioned at La'amo'o.
"Do you want to help me disconnect it so we can get going?" Markus asked.
"Yes, please," La'amo'o said.
La'amo'o said out loud what each cable and hose did, getting nods of approval from the pilot. When the wires and cables that held the ship in place were removed the pilot opened the back of the passenger side and La'amo'o rubbed all four hands together in excitement as the ramp lowered.
"Go ahead and get in, I'll strap you in, make sure your suit is hooked up, then I'll close you up before getting in," the pilot said.
La'amo'o was excited as he straddled the bench and sat down. The heavily padded back rest swiveled into place and the arm rests lifted up. The pilot hooked him into the ship's systems, including the pressure suit he wore. Once that was done, the pilot helped him put on the helmet.
All kinds of information showed up when he put on the helmet. Speed, direction, fuel status, battle-screen status, armor status, structural integrity. He noticed the ammunition read zero and the weapons read --OFFLINE-- on his displays.
The text "Welcome LA'AMO'O" floated up and he gripped the arm rests so he didn't rub his hands together.
After a moment the ship vibrated for a moment then steadied.
"All right, La'amo'o. Moff Prince said that you like these craft," Markus said.
"Yes. I have built several scale models of them for therapy," La'amo'o said honestly.
"Do you know the pre-flight checklist?" Markus asked.
"Yes," La'amo'o was trembling with excitement.
"How about we go through it together?" Markus asked.
"I would like that very much, Flight Lieutenant Markus," La'amo'o said.
Markus had La'amo'o call out the various things that had to be checked, from reactor level to pilot connection to the communications check and transponder beacon check.
Finally the little ship lifted off and La'amo'o almost swooned with delight. Markus angled it up at a forty-five degree angle, matching the green pips that made up the launch corridor markers.
La'amo'o was pushed back into the backrest by the take-off and gave a whinnying sound of happiness. Once they leveled off Markus took the ship through various manuevers. Spinning as it turned, tight loops, all kinds of exciting maneuvers that had La'amo'o squealing with joy.
"Are you OK, La'amo'o?" Markus asked as the ship idled along over thirty thousand meters up.
"Yes. This has been very exciting and very pleasing," La'amo'o said.
"I've got authorization for a slow speed flyby on the Super-Star Destroyer Dominitus
if you'd like. We can't get too close, about a kilometer out. We'll be in high orbit though, are you all right with that?" Markus asked.
"I would like that very much. It is an amazing offer," La'amo'o said.
He was quiet, letting Markus concentrate, as the ship spiraled up until the blue of the sky was replaced by the black of space, with the stars needle bright and the moon crisp and clear. They flew for a while, slowly drawing closer to the huge wedge shaped ship.
It was massive. Breathtaking. Not at all ominous.
To La'amo'o, it represented justice, it stood for security, it was a physical totem that granted his daughter a life worth living.
It was the Empire itself.
He marveled at the multitude of guns, the huge fighter bays, the solid architecture. He could see maintenance workers on the hull, tiny speck-like figures doing upkeep on the massive war machine.
Markus even got permission to stand off twenty kilometers and use the magnification systems to let La'amo'o see an entire flight wing of fighters take off from the bay, leaving five at a time and quickly getting into formation before heading toward the outer system to do a pirate sweep.
Afterwards, Markus flew back, taking a leisurely path, letting La'amo'o see all the sights from high up in the sky.
When it landed La'amo'o felt slightly tired, the excitement of the flight leaving him yawning.
He clopped out and took his daughter's hands, squeezing them.
"Was it fun, daddy?" she asked.
"Very much," La'amo'o said. "I got to see the Dominitus
Prince watched the interaction between La'amo'o and his daughter. Prince had taken her to the movie theater where she had watched Nine Days Till Summer Ends
, a recent big budget kids movie that Prince's friends had deepfaked Lanaktallan to replace the main actors. She had laughed at a lot of the parts, including where all five of the kids had jumped into the lake onto to find out it was about a foot of water and then mud.
It saddened Prince that anything higher up than a children's comedy movie was too difficult for the average Lanaktallan to process emotionally.
He used his hard-light projector to escort them back to their apartment.
Alma'ana ran her fingers along the pale peach colored wall and sighed in happiness as the trio walked down the hall to La'amo'o and Alma'ana's apartment. When the Empire had invaded it had been cracked plascrete.
Now all the lights worked, there was variable hardness tile on the floor, and the ceiling was painted cream and the walls pale peach, all of it pleasing to Lanaktallan eyes.
To Prince it felt less like a prison complex on a Hellworld and more like a standard universal habitation complex, the kind that everyone in the Confederacy was allowed free of charge (unless local laws prevented it due to system or local culture and beliefs) on almost every planet.
"Did the two of you enjoy your outing?" Prince asked, pausing at the doorway.
"Yes. Thank you for arranging it. It was even more exciting than I had ever dreamed," La'amo'o said. He trembled slightly in remembered excitement.
"The movie was funny. I enjoyed it and even forgot, for a little while, it was just people pretending to be other people," Alma'ana said.
"I'm glad that the two of you had a good day. I'll leave you here. Enjoy dinner, and please, take care of one another," Red Prince said.
"You have a good day also," La'amo'o said.
Alma'ana surprised Prince by suddenly leaning forward and hugging him. It was the first time she had initiated contact with anyone but her father in the entire time Red Prince had been treating her.
"It was wonderful," the young Lanaktallan said.
Red Prince felt his coding blur slightly, the equivalent of a tear, and smiled down at her, patting her back. "I am glad you and your father had a good day."
Alma'ana let him go, stepping back and wiping her eyes. "It is a good crying," she said. She reached out with both of her left hands and took La'amo'o's hands. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," Red Prince said. He nodded and shrunk before vanishing into the orb, which hovered down the hallway.
La'amo'o unlocked the door, leading his daughter inside their modest apartment.
It was different than it had been. The walls were no longer dingy grayish white, but were now painted calming pastel colors. The walls were no longer bare. Alma'ana and La'amo'o's therapy artwork adorned the walls, several shelves had the models of starships that La'amo'o had carefully built.
They ate together, chatting about their day, then watched a public service announcement reminding them that forming queues was the polite way to wait for service or entry to a location. Afterwards they watched Uncle Mikey together, sitting on the couch and holding hands.
Afterwards, Alma'ana worked on what her therapist had called 'macaroni art' while La'amo'o worked on a scale model of a Terran Viper IV aerospace fighter.
When they went to their separate rooms and went to bed, they both privately thought about what a wonderful day it had been.
And looked forward to tomorrow.
FROM: MOFF RED PRINCE
TO: GRAND MOFF HECTOR
CC: DARTH HARMONIUS
Current therapy protocols are having a better effect than I had predicted. The Lanaktallan citizenry are showing more and more interest in their own world and place in it. The maintenance of the habitation blocks, as well as painting the buildings, has shown a marked uptick in morale.
Sadly, the current adult generation will take 20-50 years of therapeutic treatment to be considered functional adults. Many of them are only educated enough to do menial work that the Confederacy has long ago relegated to automatic systems or nanoforge fabrication. At this time I recommend that the current industry remain intact to give those who find purpose in labor a place to feel as if they are still fitting in.
The younger generation should be reaching baseline in the next 5-10 years, with therapeutic treatment according to plans I have filed with you. Sadly, there are protocols in Terran history to give me a good baseline of what I should do and how I should proceed.
In some ways I'm performing labor camp rehabilitation, in other ways I'm performing therapy for children suffering from attachment disorders and emotional delay.
I concur with Moff KwarKra that leaving Imperial Law Enforcement in place is the best bet. Lanaktallan law enforcement will carry memories of the Socio-Police for a long time.
As ever, I remain, your friend.