She stared at him. It surprised him, how defiant her face was. She was nothing but an impudent child, innocence still staring out at him from her dark eyes. Had he ever looked that young, even when he believed in justice and good and love?
There was something about her that made him remember things. It was in the shape of her face, the way she raised her chin as she glared up at him. Somehow, she reminded him of the women he'd known and loved, in those years when he'd been someone else. He could almost imagine a connection between the two of them, something that bound their fates together, if only because she was the rebel, and he was the one sent to destroy her spirit.
"I know your father sent you, Princess. What kind of a father uses his own child to do his dirty work?"
The smooth lines of her young face tightened. He knew how much she loved her father. He had seen that much in the Senate meetings from the time she was small. She didn't know how closely he'd watched her these past ten years, ever since Bail Organa brought her out of Alderaan to Coruscant. "What would the sum of all evil know about being a father?" she shot back with an ease that startled him.
His mechanical arm reached out of its own volition to touch her cheek. He stopped the reflex before the black metal touched her face. He imagined that her skin was soft. He knew another woman who had looked this young once, this beautiful. She had shone with the same rage and passion about the ills of the universe. She had fought with the same strength of belief. This girl-child in front of him could almost be her?
"We will find those droids, Princess. You know that. And then we will crush your rebellion at its petty heart." He saw the struggle she went through not to flinch. But her dark eyes burned into him, almost as if she knew he was going through the same struggle.
"You don't frighten me." And he knew it was true. He didn't frighten her. This daughter of Alderaan saved the energy behind her fear for a far greater passion. He almost remembered believing as hard as she did. He almost remembered being young, and loving?
He turned to the Imperial soldier beside him. "Prepare her," he barked, and strode out, black cape swirling behind him. Someone might call this child an angel, as he had once called one of his women an angel. Strange that the daughter of another world would remind him so much of those women he lost, one after the other? Meditation would clear his mind. And then he would break hers, destroying her planet and her father if he had to.
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