SUMMARY: A physician's duty
is to first do no harm.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: A Halloween fic in
the sense that it's creepy, disturbing. It is not
part of the main SotF storyline and you do not need to read any of the
Angel/Vader vignettes to follow that story.
before Sins of the Father]
Hala Vessip trails several steps behind her
superior officer, Lieutenant Kyah Hess. It’s not out of deference to
her superior officer. It’s due mostly to the fact that while Lieutenant
Hess is tall, graceful, young and athletic with the stride to match,
Hala is decidedly shorter, older, rounder and her idea of a good
workout is watching one of those racy programs they show late at night
care much for Lieutenant Hess and she
knows the feeling is mutual. In fact, Lieutenant Hess’s normally
waspish temper is even worse this morning because she was forced to
bring Hala along on her unexpected summons to the Imperial Palace.
personal physician to the Imperial family, Lieutenant Hess has a
position for which other members of the Imperial Medical Corps would
quite possibly literally kill. Hala appreciates the irony. Do no harm
Over the last
forty years of service, Hala has seen how
both literally and figuratively cutthroat doctors can be. They think
nothing of keeping secrets and sabotaging one another to get
promotions. The Imperials are worse than their predecessors. Mostly
Hala stays out of the way and enjoys the entertainment value of
watching her coworkers trying to one up each other. Hala is good at her
job. Very good. It’s why Lieutenant Hess brought her along this
morning. While PA Maertin or PA Nareem would have been far more
aesthetically pleasing and complementary to Lieutenant Hess’s
appearance, neither of them are anywhere near as technically proficient
as Hala. And while Lieutenant Hess is definitely concerned with keeping
up appearances, she is also an exceptionally gifted physician and she
wouldn’t dream of bringing along the prettier but dumber PAs when she
has no idea what situation she will be stepping into.
Imperial goon meets them as soon as they reach the Palace entrance. He
seems as tightly wound as Lieutenant Hess and Hala wonders again what
exactly they’re doing here. As far as she knows, the Emperor and his
two children enjoy unusually good health and aside from the occasional
laceration or check-up, they rarely require medical attention.
wonders if it’s the Imperial princess. She’s still young, probably only
thirteen or fourteen, but Hala has heard rumors she’s a wild child.
Perhaps a drug overdose or some type of accident. Hala thinks it would
be tragic for someone so young to go through such an event, but it’s
clear to anyone with at least one working eye that the Emperor puts
few, if any, limits on his children’s behavior.
Lieutenant Hess are taken by skycar through the twisting maze of
corridors inside the Imperial Palace. It is quite a while before they
reach their destination, an ornately carved set of wooden doors
somewhere in the Palace’s west wing. The Imperial goon and Lieutenant
Hess quickly exit the skycar and head for the door. Hala takes a much
more leisurely pace and is rewarded with a positively evil glare from
the good doctor. Too bad. After forty years of service, Hala refuses to
jump for anyone, even the Emperor.
finally raps on the doors and it is several moments before they are
opened – by the Emperor himself. Hala is shocked and a bit worried.
It’s all well and good to be impudent toward the idea of a man
and quite another to come face to face with his irritated countenance.
Keeping her eyes firmly on the floor, she follows Lieutenant Hess
inside while the young officer retreats.
realizes they’re in a private suite of beautifully appointed rooms. The
floors are highly polished Wayland marble tile. The walls are paneled
in hand carved exotic woods in a rich red hue. The furniture in the
sitting room is stylish, but looks comfortable. A fire burns in the
cavernous fireplace. Floor to ceiling installations of kinetic art
decorate two of the walls, giving the impression of open, airy space.
But it’s just an illusion. A very cursory glance confirms Hala’s
suspicions that there are no windows in this suite.
“Thank you for
coming so quickly, Doctor,” the Emperor says.
Hala knows he’s
lying. His tone indicates his irritation at how long it took them to
“Of course, your
majesty,” Lieutenant Hess replies with a deep bow.
stifles the urge to roll her eyes at Lieutenant Hess’s overly formal
words and posture. Hala's initial shock at being in the Emperor’s
presence is quickly waning, replaced by her general irritation with any
authority figure. She gives a half-hearted curtsy, her attention
fixated on the kinetic art. No one ever notices her anyway. It hardly
matters if she puts her heart into the mandatory sycophantic fawning or
not. Lieutenant Hess is surely kissing enough ass for the both of them.
glances back at the Emperor and her heart skips a beat as she realizes
he is looking directly at her. His expression is a mixture of
irritation and grudging respect. Of course, Lieutenant Hess is so busy
trying to lick his boots she misses it all.
“How may we
service you today, My Lord?” Lieutenant Hess asks.
nearly swallows her tongue trying to bite back a snort of amusement.
She knows very well how Lieutenant Hess would like to service the
Emperor today. Mercenary social-climbing bitch that she is, Lieutenant
Hess would probably play slave girl to a Hutt if she thought it would
further her career. Not that Hala is in the habit of comparing the
Emperor to a Hutt. Though she suspects he may have a similar moral
compass to those repulsive creatures, he is certainly much more
often fault her for her
devotion to Holonet. She is constantly abreast of the latest fashion
trends – even if they have no impact on her purely functional wardrobe
- and celebrity scandals. Hala likes Holonet. She enjoys losing herself
in the trials and tribulations of other people’s lives, she always has.
Because of that, she well remembers The Hero With No Fear. She
remembers when the Emperor was a dashing young Jedi knight at the
height of the Clone Wars. He’s older now, more distinguished. He is
still a fine looking man, but time has worn him down in places. He
looks tired and unhappy. Hala suspects he may be far more familiar with
the late night Holonet programs than anyone would dare think. There is
something unmistakably lonely about him. Something isolated.
Emperor paces the room, hands clasped tightly behind his back. “My
companion requires medical attention,” he says brusquely.
if on command, a young woman enters the room and takes a seat on the
repulsor couch. She holds her head high, her hands folded neatly in her
lap. She certainly doesn’t look ill. Hala studies the young woman for a
moment. Contrary to her earlier suspicions, the young woman is not the
Imperial Princess. She’s older, though not by much, certainly no older
than her early twenties. She has the same beautiful dark brown hair and
dark eyes as the Emperor’s daughter. Suddenly it hits Hala why she
knows this woman and her breath catches in her throat.
Lieutenant Hess says. But there’s a bite to her tone. Jealousy. She
didn’t expect to be called here to play nursemaid to one of the
“Address me, not
her,” the Emperor orders.
Hess gives a curt, respectful nod. “As you wish, My Lord. May I please
ask what type of medical attention your companion requires?”
want her sterilized,” he says flatly, meeting the doctor’s gaze so
intently she is forced to look away and consult the useless folder of
medical records she holds.
“Of course, My
Lord,” Lieutenant Hess replies.
“We can’t do
that,” Hala says bluntly.
the Emperor and Lieutenant Hess turn to look at her. Hala knows
Lieutenant Hess would strangle her with her bare hands right now if she
though the Emperor would look away long enough for her to finish the
job. Hala also knows her career is over. Lieutenant Hess will certainly
see to that. But she doesn’t care. She isn’t going to sit here and let
these two vultures discuss this poor creature like she’s a piece of
“I’m afraid I
didn’t catch your name,” the Emperor says darkly.
Assistant Hala Vessip, My Lord,” Hala says, irritated with the way her
voice cracks. She already knows she’s as good as dead, there’s no point
in hiding anything now.
“Forgive me, My
Lord,” Lieutenant Hess
whispers, eyes downcast with shame. “I never dreamed a member of my
staff would be so disrespectful – “
ignores Lieutenant Hess, his attention fixated on Hala. “Why can’t
you?” he challenges.
swallows thickly. “Forgive me, My Lord,” she says, more as a formality
than an actual request, “but if the young woman has medical concerns,
we need to speak with her in private. In absence of a court order, you
cannot advocate for her. Even if you were somehow her legal guardian,
she still has rights and barring a medical emergency – which this
clearly is not – you cannot make such a request on her behalf.”
“Vessip!” Lieutenant Hess
Holding up a
hand to silence Lieutenant Hess, the Emperor says, “Let her speak.”
It is quite
clear that the last thing Lieutenant Hess wishes is to allow Hala to
speak, but she won’t openly defy the Emperor.
Emperor smiles, but Hala isn’t certain if he’s actually amused or
simply baring his teeth. “You object to my request,” he says.
“Though I would qualify it as an order, not a request. Yes. I find it
watches her for several interminable moments. “Your legal reasoning is
inherently flawed,” he finally says. “But I suspect you already knew
purse into a thin line, but she nods. “Yes, My Lord. I know. But it
doesn’t make the order any more palatable.”
looks from Hala to the Emperor and back, clearly confused.
the Emperor crosses the room to stand in front of the young woman. He
gently grasps her face, turning her away from him. As both Hala and
Lieutenant Hess watch, he pulls her hair back, exposing the flesh
behind her ear where a serial number is clearly branded. “She’s a
clone, Kaminoan of the highest quality,” he says defiantly. “And Senate
Resolution 43.765 allows for the non-consensual sterilization of all
fertile clones in order to maintain genetic diversity among the
galaxy’s human populations. It has been in place for decades.”
was intended for the millions of clone soldiers, not this young woman,”
didn’t make the law, PA Vessip,” the Emperor says with cruel humor.
“Our wise and dignified Senate did. I merely enforce their benevolent
Hala is nearly
overwhelmed with nausea as she fills the syringe with the sedative.
Hess looks at her over the patient’s supine form. “How did you know she
was a clone?” she asks. After the Emperor made it clear he intended
both for them to proceed with his request and for Hala’s services to be
retained, Lieutenant Hess became much more friendly.
injects the sedative and watches as the young woman’s eyes flutter shut
and her breathing becomes deep and even. “How much do you know about
the Emperor’s wife?” she asks.
shrugs. “Not much. I’ve heard she’s dead.”
“I don’t know
about that,” Hala replies with a shrug. “I’m talking about who she was
before the Republic fell.”
Lieutenant Hess says thoughtfully. “I heard she was a senator. Then I
heard she was a Jedi. Once I even heard she was a dancing girl.”
Hala levels her
gaze at Lieutenant Hess. “She wasn’t a dancing girl. She was a senator.
Senator Padmé Amidala.”
“And this is her
clone,” Hala says flatly.
glances down at the unconscious young woman and cocks an eyebrow.
looks the woman over thoughtfully and then glances up at Hala. “That’s
isn’t certain exactly which part of this scenario her superior officer
finds creepy. Maybe it’s the fact that the Emperor has a clone of his
wife that’s much closer in age to his children than himself. Or maybe
it’s that the clone doesn’t seem to have much of a personality at all.
Or maybe it’s because he wants the clone sterilized regardless of her
wishes presumably so he doesn’t get her pregnant when he beds her.
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