I could have delegated this. When she ordered me to pass the sentence, Mother did not specifiy that I actually had to do it myself. Most of the time she leaves it to firing squads and hangmen. The comparison is probably kinda unfair because if she handled every single execution herself, she would never get anything else done. I am not Mother though. I don't have a business to run.
Killing used to...trouble me a lot. I had to do it by necessity from when I was young to survive. The sin pits of Coruscant and Nar Shaddaa go not reward gentleness. When I became a soldier, battlefields were hell. I am an empath. I feel others' emotions. Their fear, their anger, their pain.
Sometimes being in crowds or surrounded by people dying around me caused me to freeze and double over with headaches. I hardened myself. I learned to shield myself. It became easier. Then came Tephrike. When I broke free from my chains, I only felt anger. Those camp guards and minions who made the prisoners and me suffer deserved what they got.
A room has been set aside on the Arx. A small crowd has gathered. Officers and comrades of the soon to be executed prisoner. Siobhan is there, though they give her a wide berth. She says nothing. There is nothing to say.
Regina was once a Jedi. She came to us recently after all the hurly-bully over in the Core. She seemed a good girl. Then we found out that she was consorting with a Sith. Her lover. She collaborated. She betrayed state secrets to her friends and put lives in danger. She betrayed her comrades. We do not forgive that. I do not forgive that. But I don't enjoy this.
She understood the consequences of her actions. Two soldiers lead her out. She has, I've been told, stripped of her uniform and forced into a gray jumpsuit used for common criminals. Her hands have been cuffed and her feet shackled. A nullifying collar keeps her from using the Force. Her comrades watch on. I can feel a mixture of disdain, anger, shock and regret.
The signal comes once she has reached the designated spot and I step forward. I can feel her anger...but also fear. A guard forces her down so that she kneels. My eyes lock with hers. "Regina, you've been accused and sentenced to death for treason, subversion and conspiracy," I recite the words. It's all part of the script.
"Acolyte Regina, the military tribunal of the Firemane armed forces has passed your sentence, death. May it go down as a warning to anyone who would think to betray Firemane or the people under its protection, regardless of their rank or position." I pause before adding, "may you choose better in your next life." If the Lifeweb is real, she should experience the lowest form of rebirth. It's what traitors deserve. "Do you have anything to say?"
She spits. "Go to hell."
I wipe the spittle away with my hand. I retrieve Inferno from my belt. The lightsabre's yellow blade springs to life with a snap-hiss. One of my hands is still missing some fingers. Holding it is awkward. I call upon the Force to compensate. Mental fingers strengthen my grip on the weapon and make sure it is firm in my grasp.
I lift Inferno above my head. For a moment it is shaky. I drink from the well of the Force to tighten my grip. I won't flinch - and I won't botch the job and make her suffer for it. Then Inferno comes crashing down. I take off her head with one stroke.
The smell of ozone and cauterised flesh fills my nostrils. There is no blood where lightsabres are involved. It gives the illusion of cleanness. But stand close enough, and you smell cooked flesh. There is nothing clean about killing. The head hits the floor. I halt it before it can roll. I heard once that the brain can live on for a bit after beheading. I hope that ain't true. There is silence in the crowd.
I feel numb. But I don't feel bad about it. I switch off Inferno and put it back on my belt.
"An execution is never pleasant. Killing someone in hot blood on the battlefield is one thing, a cold-blooded execution another. But these are the choices a leader needs to make." Mother is at my side. "Your method was a bit theatrical," she comments because she can never stop lecturing, even when a corpse is being wrapped up in front of us. She pats me on the shoulder. "But you did well."
I don't want praise. "It's my way. If I kill someone, I owe it to them to look them in the eye." Then I walk away.
"Dispose of the body," I hear her say behind me. "Cast it into space."