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The Empire Job

Chapter Text

Nate sighed and stared down into his empty glass. “Hurley, I thought we told you to never contact us again after the incident with Sister Lupe.”

“I know, Nate,” Hurley said. “But I’m not here as your friend, I’m here to hire you!”

Nate raised his eyebrows. “Really.”

Hurley nodded. “Yep. See, it turns out that Sister Lupe wasn’t just smuggling medicine; she was actually working with-” He paused and glanced around the empty bar to check if anyone was listening, completely missing the cameras and bugs that Hardison and Parker had installed when they moved in above the bar, before continuing in a whisper. “The Rebel Alliance, and now I am too.”

“Nope,” Nate said, pushing himself to his feet. “Hurley, my team takes down corrupt businesses and officials, not empires.”

“Please, Nate,” Hurley begged, moving to block his path. “We really need help, and your team is the best of the best.”

“No, Hurley.”

“You don’t have to take down the entire Empire,” Hurley bargained. “Just the Emperor. The Alliance will take over from there. Besides, you could say that the Emperor is the most corrupt person in the entire galaxy. If anyone can do, it would be you.”

Nate pushed past him, refusing to even consider doing as Hurley asked. “Goodbye, Hurley.”

He didn’t look back as he climbed the stairs to his apartment. Nate knew he had better alcohol up there, stuff that would stop the plans already beginning to come together in his brain on how to take down the Emperor. Hopefully the team hadn’t been listening in on them.

0o0o0

“So, how are we taking down the Empire?” Parker asked as she jumped from the ceiling then flopped onto the couch next to Hardison. “Are we going to run a con on him? Or should we just send Eliot in and see what happens?”

“Absolutely not,” Eliot growled from the kitchen, pointing his spatula at Nate to emphasize his point.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Sophie said, idling swirling her wine before she took a sip. “It could be fun.”

“Fun? Fun?” Hardison spluttered, staring at Sophie incredulously. “Are you crazy? Fun is not taking down the most powerful man in the galaxy, okay? Fun is slicing into the Banking Clan’s network and emptying out their vaults!”

“Or stealing kyber crystals,” Parker added.

“Yeah, see, we can do that instead of trying to kill ourselves bringing down the Empire,” Hardison said.

“Don’t worry,” Nate said , pouring himself a glass of Corellian brandy. “We aren’t going after the Emperor.”

“Why not?” Parker asked. “Isn’t that what we do? Bring down the bad guys? The Emperor is the worst bad guy of them all, and we aren’t even going to try?”

“It’s not like that, Parker-” Nate began.

“If we were going to target the Emperor, how would we do it?” Sophie interrupted, her eyes narrowed as she stared at Parker.

“Darth Vader,” Nate said immediately. “He’s the Emperor’s top enforcer, head of the Inquisitorius, but to most Imperials he’s the boogeyman. All we’d need to do is get him to turn on the Emperor, and then everything would fall apart.”

The hint of a smirk crept onto Sophie’s face. “So you have been thinking about it.”

“Yes, well, we aren’t going to do it. The only way to get rid of the Emperor is to kill him, do you realize that?” Nate asked.

Parker had gone pale as soon as Nate had said they would have to go after Vader, but she stood up and said “I can’t think of anyone who would deserve it more. He murdered all the Jedi and enslaves or kills anyone who speak out against him. I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.”

Silence fell over the apartment after Parker’s declaration, and Nate was careful not to let inferences about her past escape. There something about the set of her jaw and the look in her eye that told him she would go after the Emperor with or without them, and he had given her the beginning of the way to do it. Of course, if she went alone, then she was as good as dead.

“Alright,” Nate said. “But if we decide to do this, it has to be a unanimous decision. Either all of us take him down, or none of us do.”

“I’m in,” Parker said immediately.

“I am too,” Sophie said only moments later.

Hardison reached out and took Parker’s hand, pulling her back down on to the couch. “Are you sure about this, Parker? This won’t be like any job we’ve ever done, and it might set a dangerous precedent.”

“I’m absolutely sure,” Parker said.

“Alright, I’ll do it,” Hardison decided.

Both Hardison and Parker turned to stare expectantly at Eliot. He narrowed his eyes at them, then turned back to finish assembling his sandwich. It was only once he had cleaned everything up that he turned back and said “We have to make sure no innocents die, alright? No collateral damage.”

Only three of Nate’s tentative plans would have killed someone besides the Emperor, so he was easily able to agree. “Yeah, no, there won’t be any of that, Eliot. We’ll limit the damage to the Emperor and maybe Darth Vader.”

Parker grinned like a nexu, all of her teeth visible. “It’s unanimous, then.”

Nate drained his brandy and slammed the glass back onto the table with a satisfying thunk. “Hardison, I’m going to need everything you can find on Darth Vader.”

0o0o0

Three hours later, the team was gathered around the miniature holographic display of Darth Vader and waiting to hear what Hardison had found.

“Alright, so Nate was absolutely right when he said this guy was the boogeyman,” Hardison began. “I’m going to have nightmares just from reading this stuff. However, I couldn’t find anything about him before the Empire. He just shows up a few months after the Republic fell.”

“Is it possible that he’s a droid of some kind?” Nate asked.

“Can a droid move things with the power of their mind?” Hardison asked rhetorically. “No, they can’t. Vader is some kind of Force user.”

“He’s a Jedi,” Eliot said. “Their lightsaber forms are very distinctive.”

“No Jedi would do what he’s done. No, he’s a Sith. Always two, there are,” Parker said in a croaky voice. “Master and apprentice.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Eliot asked.

Parker shrugged. “It’s something Master Yoda always used to say when he taught us about the Sith. It has something to do with them being too power hungry to let more than two exist at a time.”

“I think you’re both right,” Nate said. “Once upon a time, Darth Vader was a Jedi, but he found a Sith Master right around the time the Republic fell. The only question is, how does the Emperor play into this? Why does Vader obey the Emperor rather than taking control of the galaxy for himself?”

Sophie’s eyes widened in horror. “Because the Emperor is the Sith Master!”

An uneasy silence fell over the apartment after Sophie’s revelation. Parker, Eliot, and Hardison were exchanging worried glances while Nate was wondering how he hadn’t realized what the Emperor was sooner. He didn’t know much about the Jedi and the Sith, but he did know that they were evil on a whole different scale than the scum his team normally took down.

Nate poured himself another glass of brandy. He was way too sober for this.

“So,” Nate said once he finished his drink. “We need to figure out what it is that Vader wants and convince him that the Emperor won’t let him have it. After that, he’ll do the actual work of getting rid of the Emperor.”

“I’ve got some footage of different Jedi from the deepnet. Most of it is Skywalker and Kenobi, who I seriously doubt became Sith Lords if the stories my Nana told be about them are true, but there are a few other Jedi generals too,” Hardison said. “Eliot, do you think you’ll be able to figure out who it is from that?”

Eliot nodded. “Each Jedi had their own modified lightsaber forms based off the main seven. Even compensating for the armor and the life support suit, I should be able to narrow it down at least.”

“How do you know that?” Sophie asked.

“It wasn’t all that long ago that Mandalore was at war with the Jedi. Every Mando was taught how to fight them,” Eliot explained, the tightness of his jaw and the look in his eyes warning them not to ask any more.

“Alright, first up is Jedi General Plo Koon. He’s a Kel Dor, so he’s already got an air mask, and the rest of the armor would make him look like a human,” Hardison said as he typed in a few commands into the computer, bringing up the holoprojection of Plo Koon.

Eliot tilted his head, examining the holoprojection of Plo Koon as he redirected blaster bolts back at droids with his lightsaber. “The form is the right one, but he’s not the Sith.”

“Why not?” Sophie asked.

“His hands. They’ve got four fingers and heavy claws, not five with fingernails,” Eliot said.

“Vader is probably human, anyways, Hardison, so you should stick to those at first,” Nate said. “The Empire hates non humans, and that didn’t come from nowhere.”

“Okay, then how about General Mace Windu?” Hardison asked as Plo Koon’s holoprojection was replaced by that of a dark skinned human. Rather than fighting droids as the previous Jedi had done, Windu seemed to be doing battle with another Jedi.

“Nope, not him,” Eliot said almost immediately. “The form is all wrong.”

“Are you sure?” Hardison asked. “It looks the same to me.”

“There are distinct differences between the different lightsaber forms, Hardison, and Windu’s form isn’t even close to Vader’s,” Eliot said.

Hardison sighed, but switched to another Jedi nonetheless. They went through four more human Jedi, both men and women, but Eliot vetoed them all. Then, Hardison pulled up a holoprojection of General Skywalker.

Eliot squinted and tilted his head to the side.

“Let me guess, something’s wrong with his form too,” Hardison sighed.

“Pull up another holo of him,” Eliot ordered.

Hardison obliged, switching to a recording of Skywalker fighting droidekas.

“That’s him,” Eliot said, leaning back in his chair with a sigh. “That’s Vader.”

The metal table creaked and bent beneath Parker’s hands.

“Parker!” Sophie exclaimed. “What’s wrong?”

“He was a hero,” Parker growled, her eyes suspiciously shiny. “Everyone looked up to him, and he betrayed us.” She pushed up from the table and stormed off deeper into the apartment.

Hardison and Eliot silently got up and followed her.

“Poor girl,” Sophie said, a worried expression crossing her face. “Are you sure we can do this Nate? I mean, I don’t remember the Clone War very well, beyond that it was a great time to be an art thief, but I do remember that Skywalker was famous for being able to do the impossible.”

“Well,” Nate began, pouring a little more brandy into his glass. “He’s still human, no matter what extra powers the Force might give him, and all humans want something. There’s always a hook. We just need to find his.”

“Hmm, yes, but we can’t risk getting close to him to find out. We’ll have to rely on whatever we can dig up on him,” Sophie pointed out.

“I know, I know, it’s risky, but I have faith in our team. We’ll be able to figure it out,” Nate said.

Sophie grinned. “Maybe the Force will be with us.”

Nate laughed. “I wouldn’t go quite that far.”

He reached over and switched the projector so that a different display of Skywalker was showing. In this recording, the Jedi was standing next to a short brunette woman in an elaborate dress, having a conversation. The woman was very familiar for some reason, but Nate couldn’t place her.

Sophie gasped. “He was in love with Senator Amidala.” At Nate’s raised eyebrows, she explained. “Look at the way they’re standing, how their shoulders keep them always facing each other, and the eye contact, the way they smile at each other - all indicators of love”

“I believe you,” Nate said. “I was just remembering that Senator Amidala died right after the Republic fell, and that she was pregnant.”

“No,” Sophie said, her eyes widening. “You don’t think-”

“We’d need to look at her medical file to be sure, but yes, I do think she was murdered. It makes too much sense. After all, she was an advocate for sentient rights and democracy, she worked closely with the Jedi, and one of her closest colleagues was Senator Organa, one of the ISB’s top suspects for Rebel sympathies,” Nate explained.

“So, are we thinking of a Lost Heir con?” Sophie asked, an excited gleam in her eye.

Nate stared down at the holoprojector as the recording of Senator Amidala and Anakin Skywalker began to repeat. “We’ll need to talk to the rest of the team first, but yes, I was thinking of something like that.”

“We’re here,” Parker said as she came back into the room, her eyes clear, while Eliot and Hardison following her. “What’re we going to talk about?”

“The con we’re going to run on Vader,” Sophie began. “You see, we figured out that he was in love with Senator Amidala, who was pregnant when she died, so we’re going to run a Lost Heir con on him.”

Hardison frowned. “Isn’t the Lost Heir con for stealing from a rich family? How’s that going to get him to turn on the Emperor.”

“Once Vader meets the lost heir for the first time, we’re going to stage an attack on the heir that makes it look like the Emperor is trying to kill them,” Nate said.

“Oh, so we’re doing the Mandalorian variation, got it,” Hardison said.

“Vader’s a Force user,” Eliot pointed out. “The Mandalorian Lost Heir isn’t going to work on him.”

“Yeah, he’s going to be able to tell we’re lying as soon as we give him the heir,” Parker agreed.

Nate smiled, the beginnings of a solid plan coalescing. “That’s why we’re going to make it seem like it was his idea that Senator Amidala’s baby is still alive. He’s going to find the heir. We’ll just point him right to them.”

Chapter Text

After Nate had gone over the details of the plan, everyone left to prepare for their roles except for Eliot.

“Is something wrong, Eliot?” Nate asked.

“You said we were gonna make sure there was no collateral damage, but I can’t help but wonder how you were going to keep Vader from hurting our heir,” Eliot said.

Nate sighed. “You’ve never been a father, Eliot, so you wouldn’t know.”

Eliot snorted. “You don’t get to take the moral high ground on this one, Nate. We’re setting up the death of the Emperor so that the Rebel Alliance can take advantage of the chaos to try and fix the galaxy. Our work may be to help the innocents now, but this job reminds me a lot of the stuff I did back when I was with Death Watch and the Black Sun. It didn’t go very well for the innocents who got roped into those jobs, and I want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to make sure our heir doesn’t get hurt. The thing is, I’m not sure this plan of yours will keep Vader from going after them.”

Nate stared Eliot square in the face in order to make sure there would be no way for him to misunderstand. “If, after fifteen years of knowing that my son was dead, it turned out he was alive after all this time, then there would be no force in the galaxy that would be able to harm him.”

“Yeah, Nate, but you’re not a Sith Lord,” Eliot said.

“What do you propose we do, then?” Nate asked, leaning back against the edge of the table that housed Hardison’s HoloNet terminal and wishing he had something to drink.

“Let me take your role. That way I’ll be there longer in case something goes wrong,” Eliot suggested.

“How much do you really think you would be able to do if we pushed Vader too far?”

“My people have been fighting Force users for thousands of years, Nate. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.” Eliot grinned suddenly, no doubt thinking of whatever weapon he was planning on bringing along just in case. “Good luck playing the Mandalorian.”

Nate waved him off to go join the others, already reconfiguring his plan.

0o0o0

Lady Charlotte Prentiss, a Duchess of the Sundera Province of Alderaan and one of Sophie’s favorite aliases, casually wound her way through the Imperial ballroom, making sure to keep track of her target out of the corner of her eye while she sipped at a glass of Naboo wine and made small talk with the so-called social elite, the furthest from upstanding members of society a person could get without being a Hutt. It was one of Sophie’s favorite hunting grounds, and if she hadn’t been working a job, she would have had half the room wrapped around her little finger within an hour.

Her target tonight was much grander though, and so she ignored all of the low hanging fruit and became Lady Charlotte, who had never dreamed of manipulating someone in her life, who donated to charities that supported the arts, who had certainly never been taught self defense by one of the fiercest warriors of Mandalore and couldn’t hurt a fly, who adored myths and legends from far off worlds. It was for that reason that Sophie had chosen Lady Charlotte over one of her other socialite aliases, for there were quite a few legends that had sprung up around Senator Amidala after her death.

The ball was being thrown in honor of the Emperor’s home planet of Naboo by its current Queen, and many high ranking members of the Imperial military were in attendance. There were paintings of each of the past Queens on the walls of the ballroom; really, it was the perfect location to begin the con, to plant the idea.

Sophie hovered around a painting of Queen Amidala on the day she had liberated Naboo from the Trade Federation and began the peace between the Naboo and the Gungans. It was a forgery, of course; the actual painting managed to give Amidala a hint of a challenge to her expression, a dare to test her might, while the one hanging in the ballroom just looked regal. The real one had been painted by a young painter named Palo, supposedly an old friend of Amidala’s, soon after the momentous occasion. Sophie had just begun her career as an art thief after a stint as a muse, and it had been one of the first paintings she had ever stolen. It still held a place of honor in her collection.

After nearly two hours of dancing and carefully charming the socialites around her, Sophie noticed her mark moving in to admire the portrait of Queen Amidala, and she knew that it was the perfect opportunity to strike.

“Isn’t she just marvelous?” Sophie asked Darth Vader as she approached him from behind. Wanting to keep him off balance, she didn’t wait for him to answer. “Truly an inspiration for women everywhere. I can’t help but admire Senator Amidala after all the good she did for both Naboo and the galaxy, even if I do think some of the stories that have sprung up about her are more likely to be tall tales. Why, did you hear that she was supposed to have once fought off a nexu with her bare hands?”

“It was a length of chain,” Lord Vader replied.

Sophie had him, now to set up the bait.

“You mean it actually happened?” she gasped. “Well, I may need to reevaluate some of the other legends I’ve collected about her. I mean, obviously the one about her being so perfect that Death stole her away to be his bride is false, and the one about her being sent by one of the Naboo goddesses in her planets time of need only to be recalled to the sea is a little farfetched, but the one about her child…”

“The child is dead.” Darth Vader turned, as if to stalk away, but Sophie wasn’t about to let him go so easily.

“Yes, that’s what the official report said, but she was friends with the Jedi before they betrayed the Republic, wasn’t she? Is it too far fetched to think that one of them was with her when she died and managed to steal the baby away, raise them into an enemy of the Empire? It wouldn’t be all that hard to conceal the fact that she had already given birth as long as the doctor who examined her body didn’t look too hard. Of course, the child would be almost fifteen by now,” Sophie said, staring up at the painting, deliberately not looking at Darth Vader.

He froze, then ever so slowly looked at her. “Where did you hear that?”

Sophie let a small smile creep onto her face. “I collect legends, my Lord, and Padmé Amidala was a legendary figure; her mysterious death only made her all the more alluring.”

As abruptly as he had demanded answers from her, Lord Vader left, his cape swirling dramatically behind him. It hadn’t been her best work, but it had done the trick.

She subtly made her way towards the exit, brushing back her hair and turning on her earbud in the same motion as she walked. “He’s hooked.”

“Good job Sophie. I’m going to be jumping to hyperspace as soon as Hardison gives the word,” Nate said.

“Please, it was sloppy work. If I’d had even one more person or a day longer to plan out my approach it would have gone much smoother,” she huffed.

0o0o0

Nate leaned back in his chair and smiled as he watched Sophie leave the ballroom. Hardison had sliced into the cameras in the palace and in Theed’s medical examiner's office, letting Nate track Vader’s progress. Right now, Vader was leaving the palace, while Hardison was slicing into the records in the medical examiner’s office in order to plant evidence indicating that Amidala had given birth before she died.

Hardison had stolen a lab coat and a badge in order to complete the facade.

“How’s it going, Hardison?” Nate asked.

“Good, good,” Hardison answered absently, his fingers flying over the keyboard. “Did you know that, along with an autopsy, medical examiners are required to submit the results of a tissue scan to their records before they can be considered done with the body?”

Nate frowned. “Is something wrong with Amidala’s scan?”

“Well, there’s a lot more security around that then the rest of the report, which pretty much only said that she died of unknown causes,” Hardison said.

“Can you get in?”

Hardison paused in his slicing to shoot the camera an offended look. “Can I get in? Can I get in? Man, I had it ready to pull up before you even asked.”

Without looking away from the camera, Hardison pressed one key, and a projection of the results of Amidala’s scan sprang up, the words too small for Nate to read.

With the ease of long practice, Nate ignored Hardison’s complaints. “What does it say?”

“Slight bruising around her throat, some damage to the lungs from smoke inhalation, a bump on the back of her head,” Hardison listed before he paused, his eyes widening. “And severe tearing of the uterine wall, distortion of the pelvic bone, and a whole bunch of other nasty symptoms that people get after they give birth. Nate, Senator Amidala had her baby before she died.”

Nate pushed himself to his feet and began to pace in the small confines of Hardison’s ship, the Lucille. This could change everything, or nothing. “Do the records say who informed the authorities of her death?”

“Hang on a sec,” Hardison said, clicking over to another part of the records. “Bail Organa. Wait, isn’t he a Senator?”

“And known to have been a good friend of Amidala’s,” Nate said. “Okay, Hardison, you’re going to have to be very convincing, but we’re still going ahead with the plan. By the way, how do you know so much about the after effects of pregnancy?”

“Hey, man, my Nana wanted to make sure I knew exactly what would happen if I wasn’t careful,” Hardison said.

Sophie chuckled over the earbud.

Sudden movement on another screen caught Nate’s eye. A tall figure in black was making his way into the building.

“Alright, head’s up, Hardison; Vader is on his way,” Nate warned.

Hardison cursed under his breath and closed out of all of the files. “You should head out soon, Nate. I don’t know how long this’ll take, but it won’t be very long.”

“Good luck,” Nate said before he climbed into the pilot’s seat and plugged in the coordinates of his destination.

“Be careful, Nate,” Sophie said softly.

The stars blurred into streaks, and he was gone.

0o0o0

Parker popped the lid off of the air vent and crawled out into the empty room, pulling her bag after her. It was heavy, full of both numerous small explosives and her costume, but she was able to heft it into position.

She laid out the explosives underneath windowsills, behind tapestries and paintings, underneath chairs and side tables, and anywhere else around the circumference of the princess’ office that she could stash one. They were the weakest explosives that Hardison could make, producing more smoke than fire, but they would get the job done. Parker was a little sad that she wouldn’t be able to see them go off in person.

Just as she had planted the last one behind a potted plant, the old-fashioned door handle turned, and Parker heard someone outside say “What kind of emergency could’ve called Father away like that on such short notice?”

The princess had left her meeting early.

Faster than a lothrat, Parker snatched her bag and dove into the air duct. She was just able to get the lid back in place when the princess opened the door and stalked into the room.

Parker was tempted to stay and listen, but she had a job to do. Hardison would show her the recordings later.

She crawled far enough down the vents that no one would hear her, then activated the device Hardison had built and waited. Seconds later, her comm started beeping, signalling that Eliot had successfully managed to get the receptionist’s call diverted to her.

“Hello, is this the IT department?” a frazzled looking woman asked.

“That’s us,” Parker responded in her most obnoxious accent, her comm programmed to show the caller a short woman with makeup caked onto her face. “What seems to be the problem?”

“I’m not sure. My computer’s screen turned black and then started showing a bunch of ads for podracing on Malastare. I’ve never even been to Malastare,” the woman said.

“Oh, yeah, we’ve seen this problem before. Too much porn downloading from the HoloNet,” Parker said. “Don’t worry, we’ll send someone up to fix up your computer soon.”

“But I don’t even watch porn!” the woman protested before Parker terminated the call.

She slid out of the vents in an empty room and quickly changed into her business person costume, sliding on the glasses that would record everything she saw and send it back to Lucille for the others to look at last.

Parker took a bit of a winding route to get to the office of Senator Organa’s secretary, just enough so that the woman was on edge and a little cranky at the wait but not enough for her to call IT again.

“Hi there,” Parker said, smiling painfully wide as soon as she was in sight of the secretary. “I heard you were having some computer problems.”

The secretary sighed. “Yes, but it’s not because I’ve been-”

“Don’t worry about it; you’re not the only one who watches porn at work,” Parker said, still smiling. “Now why don’t you go take a break and I’ll get at your computer and fix it up real nice for you, okay?”

“Wait, take a break? Surely there’s no need for that.” The secretary frowned, tapping her fingers nervously against her desk.

Parker leaned in close, still smiling, and said “Look, I’m sure you have lots of very important things to do today, but this will probably take a lot of time, at least two hours, and there’s no need for you to sit here at your desk and wait while I work with your computer.”

The secretary glanced at her computer and back to Parker. “If you’re sure…”

“Absolutely,” Parker said firmly. “Go. Enjoy your break. I’ll comm you once your computer is fixed, don’t worry.”

She snatched the woman’s ID chip as the secretary slipped past on impulse, barely able to keep herself from stealing her commlink as well.

“Alright, I’m in place Eliot,” she said into her earbud. “Can you see Darth Vader?”

“Yeah, he’s on his way. I’d give it about five minutes before he reaches you.”

Parker situated herself at the secretary’s desk and busied herself with disabling Hardison’s device and rebooting the computer in an attempt to distract herself. With the all of the fun she had setting up explosives and pretending to be an IT person, Parker had allowed herself to forget that she was going to be face to face with Darth Vader soon.

It had been years since she had used the Force for anything more than the most rudimentary things: enhancing her reflexes, getting a read on people’s intentions, and stuff like that. She had to hope that Vader wouldn’t be able to sense that, wouldn’t know that she had escaped him in the past.

She just had to remember that she wasn’t Parker, she was a secretary, Parker-the-secretary, and secretaries didn’t stab people who made them uncomfortable, especially not Sith Lords.

A nearly tangible chill seeped into the Force when Darth Vader walked into the room, but Parker-the-secretary wasn’t Force sensitive and so didn’t react.

“Where is Senator Organa?” he demanded before she could even offer a greeting. Rude.

“He’s not here right now - family emergency - but I can set you up with an appointment later,” Parker-the-secretary said as cheerfully as she possibly could.

Darth Vader pointed a finger at her. “I am not leaving here until I get some answers from Organa.”

“Okay,” she said warily, her eyes darting between his finger and his mask as she reminded herself not to stab anything. “You can wait until he gets back, but that may not be for another couple of days.”

Darth Vader was glaring at her, she could tell.

“Or I could get you a meeting with Princess Organa. The Princess may be only fifteen, but she’s already so much like her father that you would never guess they’re not actually related. It’s that passion for justice,” Parker-the-secretary said in an undertone.

Darth Vader didn’t do anything. Parker-the-secretary was beginning to get a little worried. Had Darth Vader’s life support started to malfunction?

“Do you need a doctor?” she asked. “I don’t know if we have one who specializes in life support suits, but I’m sure I’d be able to -”

“No,” Darth Vader interrupted. “I do not - wait. Send a doctor with a blood kit to the Princess’ office. I will meet them there.”

Darth Vader then stalked from the office, and Parker breathed for the first time in about ten minutes.

She slumped back in her chair and said “Darth Vader’s on his way to see the heir, and he wants a blood testing kit.”

“We heard. Good job, Parker,” Nate said.

“Nate, when did you get here?” Parker asked.

“I just beat Vader. Eliot’s on his way with the kit, so you can get out of there.”

Parker put the secretary’s ID chip on the table then quickly returned to one of her favorite places in the galaxy: the air vents.

0o0o0

Eliot was too good at what he did to have such an obvious tell as clenching his fist around the briefcase that contained both a blood analyzer and his flamethrower, among other things, no matter how much he wanted to when he opened the door to Princess Organa’s office.

“That is a ridiculous accusation,” the Princess snapped at Vader. “My father is not a kidnapper!”

Eliot cleared his throat and smiled disarmingly. “I heard someone called for a doctor?”

She turned her furious gaze on him. “I certainly didn’t call for you.”

“I did,” Vader said. “Doctor, I need you to do a midichlorian count on Princess Organa.”

“And what is that supposed to prove?” the Princess asked. “Are you going to try and prove my father is harboring a Jedi now, despite the fact that I had only just been born when you destroyed them?”

Vader ignored her, staring expectantly at Eliot. “The blood test, Doctor.”

“I can’t exactly do it without the consent of either the Princess or her parents, Lord Vader,” Eliot stalled. “Midichlorian tests are only mandatory for people entering the military service.”

“Eliot, there’s no need to try and keep Vader from doing a test,” Nate said in his ear. “Hardison found evidence that the Princess is actually Amidala’s daughter.”

“I am aware,” Vader said at the same time. “I am also aware that if the Princess wishes to prove her father’s innocence she will submit to the test.”

Princess Organa’s glare was so furious that Eliot was a little surprised Vader didn’t burst into flames as she said “I should have expected such foul tactics from you, Lord Vader. After all, lies and false accusations are what the Empire was founded upon.” She turned to Eliot. “Very well, Doctor, I give my consent for you to test my midichlorian count.”

She didn’t even flinch as Eliot pricked her finger with the blood analyzer and began the test.

Eliot didn’t even have to fake the widening of his eyes when he saw the results. “This is higher than the machine will go - over twenty thousand. I’ve never seen a midichlorian count this high.”

For the first time, an emotion other than anger crossed Princess Organa’s face: uncertainty.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

“It mean that I was right,” Vader answered. “It means that you are not an orphan, that you are not the only one that has been lied to by the Empire, that your father is a liar and a thief, and that-”

Vader stopped his rant when he noticed the princesss wide eyes and pale face.

She took a step back.

"When your mother told me that she was pregnant it was the happiest day of my life," he said in a much softer tone.

Eliot felt a bit like an intruder, but he had to stay, to ensure that the princess was safe.

"No," she whispered. "That's impossible. I'm not-"

"You are my daughter. Search your feelings, you know it to be the truth," Vader said.

"Well now, isn't this interesting," Nate interrupted in his most obnoxious voice as he stepped into the princesss office, impeccably dressed in his old ISB uniform.

Showtime.

Chapter Text

There was only one thing that could penetrate the haze of apathy and self-loathing that Vader existed in and actually make him feel disgust: social events. He didn’t quite hate them with the burning fury of a thousand suns, but it was close. Therefore, his Master, who gloried in Vader’s suffering, made sure he was available to attend at least one each year. This year, surely to make his suffering even worse, the event was a ball thrown in honor of Naboo, held in the palace in Theed. The ballroom had paintings of past rulers on the walls, including one of her.

Vader avoided that part of the room of the ballroom like it carried the blue shadow virus. Or, at least, he tried to. There was something about it, a faint tremor in the Force, that made him unable to stay away from it for very long.

Mere moments after he stopped in front of her painting, one of the socialites pounced. He would have blocked out her false flattery almost immediately if she hadn’t surprised him by talking about her.

“It was a length of chain,” Vader said, unable to keep himself from correcting the woman when she made a mistake in telling the tale of the Geonosian arena.

“You mean it actually happened?” the not-quite-useless socialite gasped. “Well, I may need to reevaluate some of the other legends I’ve collected about her. I mean, obviously the one about her being so perfect that Death stole her away to be his bride is false, and the one about her being sent by one of the Naboo goddesses in her planets time of need only to be recalled to the sea is a little farfetched, but the one about her child…”

Vader stiffened, the sudden reminder of what could have been hitting him like a blaster bolt to the chest. “The child is dead.”

He turned, wanting nothing more than to escape this conversation, but the woman kept talking.

“Yes, that’s what the official report said, but she was friends with the Jedi before they betrayed the Republic, wasn’t she? Is it too far fetched to think that one of them was with her when she died and managed to steal the baby away, raise them into an enemy of the Empire? It wouldn’t be all that hard to conceal the fact that she had already given birth as long as the doctor who examined her body didn’t look too hard. Of course, the child would be almost fifteen by now,” she said.

The tremor in the Force had grown into an all out quake. It was almost as if there was something he was missing, something he needed to know. That was impossible, though. His Master had told him that she had died, that he had killed both her and their child.

He froze, then ever so slowly looked at her. “Where did you hear that?”

The woman smiled, no doubt an attempt to be alluring. “I collect legends, my Lord, and Padmé Amidala was a legendary figure; her mysterious death only made her all the more alluring.”

Vader could ignore the Force no longer, but that didn’t mean he had to continue to converse with the socialite. He walked away, trying not to contemplate the possibility that what his Master had told him was false.

Except, the Emperor was a consummate liar, had built his career on lies. Was it possible that he in fact had lied?

No, but it was possible that his Master had been misinformed. She might have perished, but their child could still be alive - a teenager by now.

A tiny flicker of hope kindled in his heart, even as Vader reminded himself of all the reasons it was nigh impossible the child had survived. He could ask his Master, but the Emperor would likely interpret that as a question of his authority and punish him suitably. No, he had to find some way to figure out the truth on his own.

There was really only one place he could go if he wanted to figure out whether or not their child had died when she did: the medical examiner’s office that had taken care of her body. Vader had never read the report, already having known how she died, but maybe he would be able to figure out what had happened to the baby.

As he made his way to the medical examiner’s office, Vader refused to even contemplate what he would do if the child had survived. He couldn’t afford to feed that small, flickering hope. If it grew any bigger and then was crushed he didn’t know how he would survive.

The secretary gaped up at him when he stormed into the building.

“Where do you keep your records?” he asked.

The man wordlessly pointed down a nearby hall, his finger shaking.

Vader was too impatient to ask for clarification, but he found it was not needed as the door to the records room was labeled.

There was only one occupant in the room: a dark-skinned man in a lab coat. His badge indicated that he was one of the doctors that worked here - he would be of great help in finding out what had happened when she died.

“Can I help you?” the man asked, looking up from his computer terminal.

“I need access to all of your records concerning Padmé Amidala,” Vader said.

The doctor raised an eyebrow. “Do you mean Queen Padmé Amidala?

Vader said nothing. If the doctor was too incompetent to follow simple instructions then he would find a replacement and relieve the man of his position.

The doctor raised his hands in the air. “No need to look at me like that, I’ll do it, I’ll do it.”

Vader watched the doctor intently, making sure the records he pulled up were the correct ones. “What does it say?”

“Nothing much,” he replied. “Just that the cause of death was unknown.”

“What of the child?”

The doctor peered closely at the report. “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing about the baby.”

“Look deeper,” Vader commanded.

“Alright, alright, hold on,” the doctor said. “I’ll pull up the tissue scan. Maybe I can find something that the original doctor missed, okay?”

The doctor pulled up another document, and his eyes widened comically.

“What is it?”

“Oh, you know -”

“Do not say nothing,” Vader said.

The doctor squeaked. “Okay! It’s not nothing! Definitely not nothing!” He cleared his throat. “There’s nothing that clears up how or why the Queen died, but there is some good news. She definitely gave birth before she died, if you look at these here -” The doctor paused, glanced at Vader, then reconsidered. “Or maybe not. Trust me when I say that Queen Amidala was absolutely not pregnant when she died.”

The tiny flicker of hope burst into an inferno. The child, their child, was alive. Vader wasn’t sure whether he wanted to cry for the missed years or celebrate the fact that they lived at all.

It was no matter. He would stop at nothing to find his child and make sure that they were safe, that they were returned to where they belonged - with him.

The doctor had continued speaking whilst Vader was lost in his thoughts, rambling on about something.

“...and he was probably working with Organa, that’s why the original doctor disappeared, to cover this up. I mean, it’s pretty hard to miss that she literally gave birth.”

“Organa?” Vader asked.

“Uh, yeah. He’s the one who reported her death to the authorities of Naboo,” the doctor said.

“Is there anything else of importance in the file?” Vader asked.

“Nothing that immediately jumps to my attention, but I’ll let you know if anything jumps out at me,” the doctor promised.

Vader was feeling extremely merciful because of what he had just learned, so he left the doctor with only a warning not to tell anyone of what he had learned today and left to seek out the only clue he had as to the location of his child: Bail Organa.

0o0o0

Alderaan was a beautiful planet, green and peaceful, everything Anakin Skywalker had imagined paradise to be before he had visited Naboo. Vader found himself rather whimsically hoping that his child had been raised here, where they wouldn’t have had to experience any of the pain and misery he had grown up with. It wouldn’t be as good of an upbringing as he could have given them, but it would have been adequate.

That was why it was imperative he locate his child immediately, with or without Organa’s cooperation. He just had to make it past the other man’s secretary first.

“Where is Senator Organa?” he asked impatiently.

“He’s not here right now - family emergency - but I can set you up with an appointment later,” the secretary responded in a tone that grated against his hearing aids.

How dare Organa be absent now of all days?

“I am not leaving here until I get some answers from Organa,” Vader snarled, pointing his finger at the secretary for emphasis.

“Okay,” she said warily, her eyes darting between his finger and his eyes. “You can wait until he gets back, but that may not be for another couple of days.”

Vader glared at her, wanting to reach for the Force and wring his answers from her even if it would get him nowhere.

“Or I could get you a meeting with Princess Organa. The Princess may be only fifteen, but she’s already so much like her father that you would never guess they’re not actually related. It’s that passion for justice,” the secretary said.

No. Surely not. Organa wouldn’t be so bold.

And yet, it had been fifteen years since his child was born, and the Princess was fifteen as well. She had been one of the most passionate advocates of justice Vader had ever known - was it possible her daughter had inherited the same trait?

“Do you need a doctor?” the secretary asked, interrupting his train of thought. “I don’t know if we have one who specializes in life support suits, but I’m sure I’d be able to -”

“No, I do not - wait,” Vader reconsidered. If he had a doctor on hand, it would be a simple matter to determine whether or not the Princess was his daughter. “Send a doctor with a blood kit to the Princess’ office. I will meet them there.”

He left before the secretary could suggest something ridiculous like escorting him to the Princess’ office. Vader had a feeling he would want to speak with her alone before the doctor arrived, and it wasn’t all that difficult to find where her office was.

The Princess glanced up in surprise from her desk when her door opened, although it was quickly cleared away by a forced smile. “Lord Vader, to what do I owe the distinct pleasure of your presence?”

“I have urgent business with your father that cannot wait,” Vader said.

“Well, I’m sorry to inform you that he is out -”

“On family business, yes, I was already aware,” Vader interrupted.

A spark of anger flashed in the Princess’ eyes. “Then why are you here?”

“I require the use of your personal comm in order to contact him immediately,” he said.

“I’m going to need to know just what is so urgent that you feel the need to appropriate my property first,” the Princess said.

Vader stepped closer so that he could loom over her. “You do not need to know. Give me your comm.”

“As it appears to me that you are going to accuse my father of some heinous crime he couldn’t possibly have committed, I believe that I do need to know,” she said as she pushed herself to her feet, glaring up at him.

What little patience Vader might have had evaporated. “Your father was involved in the kidnapping of the child of someone very important!”

“That is a ridiculous accusation,” the Princess snapped at Vader. “My father is not a kidnapper!”

Someone cleared their throat behind him. Both of them turned to see a doctor, who smiled at them.

“I heard someone called for a doctor?” he asked.

The Princess glared at the doctor. “I certainly didn’t call for you.”

“I did,” Vader said. “Doctor, I need you to do a midichlorian count on Princess Organa.” A midichlorian test wouldn’t be as conclusive as a DNA comparison, but the Princess would be a lot more suspicious if he ordered the doctor to do that. She might just refuse for the sake of refusing.

“And what is that supposed to prove?” the Princess asked. “Are you going to try and prove my father is harboring a Jedi now, despite the fact that I had only just been born when you destroyed them?”

Vader ignored her. The sooner he could clear up this mess and figure out whether or not she was his child, the better. “The blood test, Doctor.”

“I can’t exactly do it without the consent of either the Princess or her parents, Lord Vader,” the doctor said apologetically. “Midichlorian tests are only mandatory for people entering the military service.”

“I am aware. I am also aware that if the Princess wishes to prove her father’s innocence she will submit to the test,” Vader said. He had a feeling that he might come to regret his threat later, but he dismissed his feeling out of hand.

Fury radiated from every line in the Princess’ body as she said “I should have expected such foul tactics from you, Lord Vader. After all, lies and false accusations are what the Empire was founded upon.” She turned to the doctor. “Very well, Doctor, I give my consent for you to test my midichlorian count.”

If his respirator hadn’t been regulating his breathing, Vader would have held his breath as the doctor ran the test.

The doctor’s eyes widened noticeably when he read the results of the test. “This is higher than the machine will go - over twenty thousand. I’ve never seen a midichlorian count this high.”

He was the only other person in the recorded history of the Jedi Order to have a midichlorian count that high. There could be no doubt about it: Leia Organa was his daughter.

The anger faded from his daughter’s face, replaced with uncertainty.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

“It mean that I was right,” Vader answered his daughter, wanting nothing more than to reassure her but feeling to angry to be able to offer any comfort but the truth. “It means that you are not an orphan, that you are not the only one that has been lied to by the Empire, that your father is a liar and a thief, and that-”

Vader stopped when he noticed his daughter’s wide eyes, pale face, and the fear that she was leaking out into the Force as she stepped back.

He softened his voice as much as his vocoder would allow. "When your mother told me that she was pregnant it was the happiest day of my life."

"No," his daughter whispered. "That's impossible. I'm not-"

"You are my daughter. Search your feelings, you know it to be the truth," Vader said, relishing each and every word. She was strong in the Force, even if she was untrained, so he didn’t doubt she would be able to feel the truth. Once he trained her, she would be unstoppable; no one would ever be able to take her from him again.

"Well now, isn't this interesting," an ISB agent interrupted. The agent was dark haired and unassuming, and the only trait that stood out about him was his nasal tone of voice.

Vader didn’t know how an ISB agent had tracked him here, but if the agent in any way threatened his daughter, well. His hand drifted towards his lightsaber.

“Yes, I’m sure the Emperor will be happy to know about this most recent development,” the ISB agent continued. “Give his congratulations and all that good stuff.”

If the Emperor got his hands on Leia, then he would break her, force her to use the Dark side much like he himself trained the Inquisitors. Vader would never let that happen.

“What business brings you to Alderaan, agent?” Vader asked.

“Agent Ford, Nate Ford,” the agent said, introducing himself.

“Agent Ford, I was not aware that the ISB had any open investigations here,” Vader said.

“Officially, we don’t. Unofficially, though, well.” Agent Ford spread his hands out and shrugged. “Did you really think the Emperor wasn’t keeping tabs on you, Lord Vader?”

“My loyalty to the Empire has never been in question,” Vader snapped, stung by the implication.

“Not until now. It’s well known that Princess Organa’s allegiance doesn’t belong to the Empire. Now that you know she’s your daughter, can you promise that your loyalties won’t be split?” Agent Ford asked.

Vader paused, unable to form a coherent answer. He wanted to keep his daughter close, to teach her of the Force and also machines, to share his love of flying, to celebrate in her triumphs and destroy those who would engineer her defeats. He had promised her mother the galaxy; if Leia asked for it, would he be able to deny her the same?

Agent Ford sighed. “Just as I thought. The Empire thanks you for your service, Lord Vader. Princess, I’m sure you’ll have a beautiful funeral.”

The Force gave no warning before the room exploded, smoke and fire blooming out of nothing. Vader threw himself over Leia, allowing his armorweave cape to protect them both. In the chaos, both the ISB agent and the doctor disappeared.

The betrayal of the Emperor was more painful than the loss of a limb, and if he hadn’t threatened his daughter, Vader might have let him get away with it, believing he deserved it. As it was, Vader wouldn’t allow any harm to come to Leia. If that meant destroying his former master, then so be it.

He pulled both of them out into the hallway and away from the smoke and fire as soon as he could.

“Are you alright?” Vader asked his daughter.

“I’m fine,” she coughed, stepping away from him to fix the lay of her dress and check her blaster.

The action reminded him so much of Padmé that Vader wanted to clutch Leia to his chest and never let go. It was an irrational impulse, and one that couldn’t be acted upon at the present time. Her safety was more important.

“Get somewhere safe,” he ordered. “Somewhere Imperial agents won’t be able to find you.”

“What about you?” she asked. “You were the target of that assassination attempt, not me.”

“I have urgent business with the Emperor. I will retrieve you once he has been taken care of,” Vader promised.

Chapter Text

Leia’s father had been called away from the office by a comm telling him her grandmother had been injured, so her grandmother’s house was the most likely place to find him. As she drove her speeder there, the chill wind numbed Leia’s cheeks and made her eyes water.

At least, that was what she told herself when she felt tears collecting in her eyes. After all, for what other reason would she be crying? Sure, her father had lied to her about being a war orphan, her biological father was a monster who embodied everything Leia fought, and the Empire had just tried to kill her, but she was still alive. She still had her family and her home. There were so many others who had it much worse than she did, so she had absolutely no reason for her tears other than the wind.

She couldn’t help but wonder why her father had hidden the truth from her, though. Did he not trust her? Did he think she would turn against him and fight for the Empire once she learned the truth? How had he and her mother ever been able to love her, knowing the truth?

Leia tried to push such dark thoughts from her mind, locking them behind a fragile barrier, when she arrived at her grandmother’s house and wiped away her tears, but despite that they still clung to her thoughts like tar, dragging her mood down even further.

“Papa?” she called out after she pulled open the front door. “Mama? Are you here?”

“Leia? Is that you?” her father asked from deeper in the house. “What are you doing here?”

Leia followed the sound of his voice to her grandmother’s library, which was home to the largest collection of physical books that she had ever seen. Her father was just pushing himself out of an armchair next to a side table covered in flimsi when she entered and flung herself into his arms.

“Oh, Papa,” she cried, her tenuous hold on her tears breaking. “Papa, why didn’t you tell me?”

Her father wrapped his arms around her like he had so many times when she was smaller, enveloping her in a tight hug. “Tell you what, Ley-ley?”

“About Vader.”

She felt her father freeze, then slowly release her. Leia clung to him all the tighter, afraid that he was going to push her away.

“Come sit on the couch, Leia, and I’ll explain,” he said.

Leia released him enough to let him guide her to the couch, but she latched back on as soon as they were seated.

“Shh, Ley-ley, shh, I’m not going anywhere,” he soothed. “What is about Vader that I didn’t tell you?”

She wrapped her free hand up in her sleeve and stuffed in her mouth in an attempt to stifle her sobs and get a measure of control over her emotions so that she could answer him. It took a while, and many times she removed her hand from her mouth so that she could force out an explanation only for choked sobs to pour out. Her father waited patiently for her to finish, rubbing his hand up and down her back like he used to when she was little and scared of thunderstorms.

Once her tears had calmed down a bit, Leia explained the events of earlier in a slow, halting manner. Her father didn’t interrupt, simply listened, although his grip on her tightened when she told him about the midichlorian test and everything that came afterwards.

“Why didn’t you tell me he was my birth father?” Leia asked once she had finished her explanation. “Did you not trust me, is that it? Did you think I would want to leave you? Why, Papa, why?”

“Leia, you’re my daughter. More than anything, I want you to be safe and happy. I knew that knowing the truth would hurt you, and if it got out that Vader was your birth father, then I thought the Emperor might kill you or worse,” her father explained. “I’m so sorry it came out like this. Your mother and I intended to tell you in time, although we were never exactly sure when that time might have been.”

“What else is there?” Leia asked, pulling away from her father so she could see his face. “What other secrets have you kept from me?”

He sighed. “Your mother’s name was Padmé Amidala. I didn’t know she was married - no one did - until she told me she was pregnant near the very end of the Clone War. She was a very good friend of mine, but the Jedi had very strict rules regarding marriage which meant that she couldn’t tell anyone. I didn’t know Anakin Skywalker very well, but he was famous for his great feats during the war. He was a good man, though, I know that. I don’t know what made him into Vader, and I doubt I ever will.” Her father rubbed at his eyes. “I was there when you were born, you and your brother, Luke.”

“I have a brother?”

He nodded. “Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, two of the only Jedi to survive the fall of the Republic, told me that you two needed to be separated for your own safety. I don’t know where Obi-Wan took Luke, but I do know that he’s safe.”

Leia covered her face with her hands and took slow, calming breaths. Her mind was whirling with all that she had learned today, and she didn’t think she was ready to hear any more secrets until she had had a chance to process everything. “How is grandmother?”

Her father didn’t say anything about the abrupt change of topic. “She’s doing just fine. As it turns out, the emergency call was fake. Your mother already went home, and I was just getting ready to go back when you got here.”

0o0o0

Two days after leaving Alderaan and Naboo and making multiple hyperspace jumps to confuse their trail, the Leverage team landed on Takodana. Alec guided them to the landing zone just to the side of a large stone castle that had a giant statue of his Nana in front of it.

No matter how many different worlds he visited, none of them quite measured up to home. Naboo had been lovely, in a pristine way, but it couldn’t match the untamed beauty of the wilds of Takodana, the garish charm of his Nana’s castle that was quite obviously a pirate’s den and didn’t care who knew it.

Alec and Parker had just begun the post flight checks on the Lucille when he heard a commotion coming from the back of the ship.

“Where is my grandson?” a familiar voice demanded.

“Ma’am, the only other people on this ship are humans,” Eliot said. “I don’t think your grandson’s here.”

“Uh oh.” Alec winced when he checked his personal comm and realized that there were more than thirty unanswered calls from his Nana.

“What is it?” Parker asked.

“I forgot to check and see if my Nana got my message,” he explained as he pushed himself out of the pilot’s seat. “Can you finish the rest of checks? I gotta go before Nana starts shooting.”

Parker nodded, so Alec hurried to the landing bay, where he was assuming the confrontation was taking place. He just hoped that Nana didn’t come to the conclusion that Eliot, Nate, and Sophie were pirates who’d stolen his ship in the time it took him to get there.

Nana was holding Eliot and Nate at blaster point when he arrived, the dials on her glasses turned up in order to make her eyes giant and unnerving.

“Nana, it’s okay,” he said as soon as he got there. “These are some of my teammates. Eliot, Nate, and Sophie, meet my Nana, Maz Kanata.”

Nana’s blasters vanished into hidden pockets as soon as he introduced the team, and she smiled.

“Oh, I just love it when Alec brings his friends home. I’m guessing you’re here because of the incident with the Emperor?” Nana asked.

“If you could tell us what news has come out of the Empire in the last couple of days that would be very helpful,” Nate said.

Nana crossed her arms over her chest. “Well, just after Alec called me to tell me that he’d be going into hiding because he’d done a job involved with the Empire, the Emperor died. Your team had something to do with that, correct?”

Parker chose that moment to appear, having just finished taking care of the Lucille. “Hey Maz. I didn’t know you were Hardison’s Nana.”

“Parker, dear, so good to see you,” Nana said, opening her arms for a hug.

Parker hesitated for a moment before she obliged.

“Now, why don’t you come inside and explain this whole mess to me in great detail. I can already tell it’s going to be entertaining,” Nana said before she turned and left.

Eliot, Sophie, and Parker followed, but Nate lingered.

“Why did you never mention that your Nana was an infamous pirate queen?” Nate asked.

Alec shrugged. “I wanted to make a name for myself on my own. Besides, what I do doesn’t mix well with piracy.”

Nate nodded as if it made perfect sense.

“I’ve got a question, though. How did you know Princess Organa was Amidala’s daughter?” Alec asked. It had been bothering him ever since he’d found out that Amidala’s baby was alive. Somehow, Nate had chosen the one girl in all the galaxy that fit their criteria that was the actual heir.

Nate smiled. “Did you know that, before she became an art curator on Alderaan, Maggie was a handmaiden?”