Darth Vader sat in deep silence – the soothing flow of oxygenated air buffeted his face or what was left of his face. He sighed deeply closing his eyes as images and feelings from long ago threatened to engulf him once again. Instead of the usual anger and hatred that would normally arise, instead he felt such deep sadness and regret. For what could have been, what might have been.
It had taken several hours and the deaths of a few intel officers to slowly abate his anger, now with not even that to hold onto, he no longer had anything to insulate him from the full impact of what he had learnt. He had finally retreated to his place of solitude the one place he felt remotely human. Here he could remove the machine that fed him continuous painkillers and kept his lungs and organs working. He let his mind start to process slowly the impact of what he had learnt. He had a daughter, Padme’s daughter. All this time he had mourned not just Padme’s death but the death of their child too. When he had learnt of Luke, his anger at Obi wan and his master Palpatine had been immense. Obi wan at least had tried to protect his child, albeit to train him to kill the man his father had become. Palpatine had deliberately lied to him. He had thought he had killed Padme, as such he had shut that part of him off and had never thought to investigate any further. If he had … oh so many ifs. The day he had discovered his son, was forever etched in his brain. Anger, pain, fear all of these feelings had surfaced, but above that the unexpected feelings of fatherhood love, pride and expectation. And now a daughter and not just any daughter but Princess Leia of the Royal House of Alderan, a rebel, his enemy and the girl child he had ruthless tortured on the death star. He sobbed, his hands clenching, a lone tear coursing down his face. Padme’s child, his daughter. She would never forgive him, he could never forgive himself.
Unlike Luke he had caught glimpses of Leia growing up by her false fathers side - Bail, at a young age she was already keenly involved in politics and as the Royal Court of Alderan was perceived as a hot bed of rebel sympathisers – intelligence had kept files on her from her teenage years. He had used them he remembered - when he interrogated her. Not that it had given him much leverage and at the time he had been somewhat surprised and then angered by her will power. To the extent that he had been more ruthless until the realization that she would not betray, she may break but she would not betray her beliefs and a grudging respect had been born. He had not expected such resilience or strength from a spoilt and pampered princess. Why had the force not revealed his kinship with her. Had Bail known, he tried to remember all his dealings with the man, but it was vague, nothing substantial, and it was obvious that Leia did not know of her real father or indeed he would bet she was still unaware of Luke. How she had found out about Padme was a question he would have to wait to ask her.
Ahh Obiwan, what a tangled web you left. Strangely he felt no anger this time to his former master. It would resurface later no doubt. Instead he remembered a girl in pigtails hiding behind her fathers legs as she stuck her tongue out at Moff when his back was turned. He gave a grunt of laughter as the memory surfaced. She was so like her mother.
The Executor was still stationed around the planet, all shipping lanes were being monitored. His Lieutenant that had treated Leia in the shuttle on Naboo had reported that she was in shock and appeared disorientated possibly concussed but otherwise her wounds were slight. Possibly why she was emotionally sending in the force. Now he knew of his kinship, he realised that it had not been Luke that he had felt on the planet but his daughter. He would know if she left, and more importantly he knew she would leave soon. She would not stay and hide and put her family or the planet in jeopardy. So again he must play the villain and to protect his daughter he must first capture her.
A crackle from his intercom, focused his attention.
“My Lord, we are in pursuit of an unidentified ship”.
His heart jumped ‘Leia’ he whispered. “DO not engage, the rebel must be apprehended alive and unharmed, await me at the bridge Admiral”.
NABOO SPACE - LEIA
“R2 – put all the power into our rear shields, if we can just get clear I can jump”, Leia swore as she yanked controls, she ship screeching as it veered left erratically causing C3PO to tumble down the ships passage way. She paid him no heed, her whole attention focused on flying her mothers ship. Fast and sleek it may be, but it was no match for the Tie fighters that had suddenly descended on her without warning. If only Han was here he would crack a joke do some crazy manoeuvre and they would fly clear.
The Tie fighters screamed overhead surrounding the ship, laser cannons blasting at her coming perilously close but with the precision of the top marksmanship of a superior Tie squadron never quite hitting. They were herding her she realised at the exact moment a tractor field took hold, the looming white mass of the Executor appearing above her. The ship shuddered to a halt almost groaning under the intense pressure as it was unnaturally held in mid space
“ Unidentified Ship on heading delta2985 standby to be boarded. Do not resist”.
Leia swore, her eyes shutting, oh Han I was so close. A tear trailed down her face, her hand shaking as she started to flip buttons. She had over heard Han telling a sombre Luke about this manoeuvre. He would kill her if he knew what she was going to do. She laughed hollowly, her eyes wide, mouth stretched in a parody of a smile. She felt something brushing against her and waved it off. ‘I Love you Han’ she thought achingly.
She would die, that much was certain but her family and what a sweet word that was to her would be safe. How she wished she had been able to meet the others her aunt her nieces and nephews. The rebellion would be safe and most importantly Han. Her Han would be safe.
Vader stood, his attention riveted to the small silver craft. Slowly he let his senses drift and stretch looking for a connection with his daughter. Surprising he found a strong thready link. Stronger than his sons, perhaps due to her lack of any force training. She would perhaps be able to feel it, an awareness but she would probably not identify it or even understand it .
He felt her, felt her emotions, shock, despair, sadness…. she would need time to recover quietly when he finally had her safely contained. Maybe sedated for her trip. She would stay in his quarters, if his droids were with her he would reprogram C3PO to act as both an informer and escort. He was after all C3PO’s original maker, his access codes would ensure 100% compliance to his wishes. R2D2 was too dangerous and as much as it gave him no satisfaction he would have to be wiped and destroyed.
She was so like her mother. He would keep her safe. She was as much in danger from rebellion as the emperor. No he would take her to the Nogri, as he had been a mind to for his son. They would keep her safe from both the emperor and the rebellion. He would visit when he could and eventually when his son joined him they would be family again. Salvation for him a second chance. He would somehow make up for that he had put his daughter through. She would forgive … eventually until then he would keep her safe. It was after all his duty, a father’s responsibility.
It was Luke’s duty as his son to help him fight Palpatine and they would defeat the emperor and as a family with Leia and Luke by his side they would bring order to the galaxy.
He sensed her distress, her shock… and something else, something dark and bitter clouded her thoughts. Soon my daughter, soon. He didn’t try to send to her as he did Luke. It would be too much, at this stage. But still he reached out trying to send a calming touch.
It wasn’t working, if anything she seemed more distraught, more helpless, her fears suddenly coalescence and he felt the steel of her determination and something… NO NO. He almost collapsed as her feelings became clear to him. He acted without thought, and horror and an instinctive need to protect her dictating his actions
He swung around, “RELEASE THE TRACTOR BEAMS, REACLL ALL TIE FIGHTERS”.
Pietts eyes widened but made no comment as orders were relayed
Vader visibly pulled himself together “Send a message tell the captain a mistake of identity , that he is free to go and then move the ship away….fly casually”.
Piett eyebrow rose but he made no comment as the Executor and tie fighters dis engaged and slowly moved away from the small silver skiff.
Vader looked as the small silver craft became smaller and then with a flash entered hyperspace. He sighed, his gaze hungrily looking out into space. He felt rather than heard Piett’s unspoken question.
“She would have died this time rather than be recaptured”.
“Shall we pursue on this trajectory, my lord?”
“No need Captain Piett, I know this craft, it has a homing beacon attached and I have the access codes”.
Then turning he strode away his black visor hungrily looking out amongst the stars, where his daughter had now left. “Soon my daughter I will have you, I will keep you safe even from yourself. I will not ….cannot loose you like I did Padme, like I did my mother. Preparations will be made. Leia, my daughter”.
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