Do No Harm
Sins of the Father vignette
companion piece to Everything He Never Wanted
by indie


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.

***
[Two years before Sins of the Father]

Physicians’ Assistant 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 on HoloNet.

Hala doesn’t 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.

As 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 indeed.

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.

An 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.

Hala 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.

Hala and 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.

The twitchy young officer 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.

Once inside, Hala 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 respond.

“Of course, your majesty,” Lieutenant Hess replies with a deep bow.

Hala 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.

Hala 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.

Hala 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 aesthetically pleasing.

Hala’s peers 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.

The Emperor paces the room, hands clasped tightly behind his back. “My companion requires medical attention,” he says brusquely.

As 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.

“Ma’am,” 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 Emperor’s consorts.

“Address me, not her,” the Emperor orders.

Lieutenant Hess gives a curt, respectful nod. “As you wish, My Lord. May I please ask what type of medical attention your companion requires?”

“I 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.

Both 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 furniture.

“I’m afraid I didn’t catch your name,” the Emperor says darkly.

“Physician’s 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 – “

The Emperor ignores Lieutenant Hess, his attention fixated on Hala. “Why can’t you?” he challenges.

Hala 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 hisses.

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.

The Emperor smiles, but Hala isn’t certain if he’s actually amused or simply baring his teeth. “You object to my request,” he says.

Hala nods. “Though I would qualify it as an order, not a request. Yes. I find it quite objectionable.”

He watches her for several interminable moments. “Your legal reasoning is inherently flawed,” he finally says. “But I suspect you already knew that.”

Hala’s lips purse into a thin line, but she nods. “Yes, My Lord. I know. But it doesn’t make the order any more palatable.”

Lieutenant Hess looks from Hala to the Emperor and back, clearly confused.

Slowly, 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.”

“That resolution was intended for the millions of clone soldiers, not this young woman,” Hala replies.

“I didn’t make the law, PA Vessip,” the Emperor says with cruel humor. “Our wise and dignified Senate did. I merely enforce their benevolent will.”

***

Hala is nearly overwhelmed with nausea as she fills the syringe with the sedative.

Lieutenant 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.

Hala 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.

Lieutenant Hess 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.”

“Oh,” 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?

“And this is her clone,” Hala says flatly.

Lieutenant glances down at the unconscious young woman and cocks an eyebrow. “Really?”

“Really.”

Lieutenant Hess looks the woman over thoughtfully and then glances up at Hala. “That’s pretty creepy.”

Hala 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.

“Yeah, it’s creepy.”

***
End vignette
***
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