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again, that the war would never end, and that he'd die an old man on some pity-forsaken rock in the middle of nowhere, patching up the endless lines of wounded.

If only there was something he could do to change it.

COMMAND CENTER, OVERBRIDGE, DEATH STAR

Tarkin was pleased. As much as he distrusted Vader and his motives, the coming of the man in black had visibly improved functions wherever one looked. Nobody wanted to face the Sith Lord's wrath, and the best way to avoid that was to do one's job with the utmost efficiency. Vader was a catalyst; he caused reactions that went well beyond his personal sphere of influence, great as that was. The fear he inspired in others was far more than merely the sum of his various and sinister parts. Even Tarkin, a Grand Moff, had sensed it occasionally, like a whiff of ozone presaging an ion storm. It was odd, Tarkin reflected. His rational mind knew that Vader was only a maimed remnant of a man, sealed for the rest of his life in biosupport armor. A figure more to be pitied than anything else. But in person, the last thing he inspired was pity. Vader had power, and he knew how to use it, no matter if he was overseeing the scouring of a continent from the bridge of his Star Destroyer or striking a man dead from across the room.

Tarkin shook his head slightly. That which stays hidden and mysterious is always more intriguing than that which

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