A/N:This is an AU story in which I envisioned the life of the Emperor's Hand taking a very different turn than it did in the canon SW Universe. All the major players are here, but the main characters are Luke and Mara, with quite a bit of Leia and Han thrown into the mix. This is my first story, so no flames, please! Thanks to Kazzy for beta-ing for me.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. George Lucas does. I am not making any money from these characters. George Lucas is.
Small feet silently padded across a cold stone floor, a tattered and obviously well-loved blankie trailing in their wake. She knew she wasn't supposed to be out of bed this late, but she had not been able to fall back asleep after waking a little while ago. Something was not right. Her child's mind had no idea what that something was, but it gave her an uneasy feeling. And whenever she felt bad, she knew she needed to be with Momma.
She poked her head around the corner of her momma's bedroom door and was reassured to see the blanket-covered form in the bed. She moved forward quickly and stood by the side of the bed her momma was facing. She smiled, feeling even better as she looked at Momma's sleeping face. She was the most beautiful woman in the galaxy in her small daughter's eyes.
"Momma?" She remembered to whisper so as not to startle her mother, like she had the last time she couldn't sleep.
"Hmmm. Sweetie? What's wrong? Couldn't sleep?"
Her momma smiled softly as a little head solemnly shook back and forth. She gave a small sigh and lifted the covers, inviting her darling to snuggle next to her. An impish grin lit the tiny face before she quickly scrambled up to lay curled tightly against Momma. She wriggled in contentment for a few moments before settling down and closing her eyes.
She had just begun to drift into that peaceful state right before deeper sleep when the door to Momma's room slammed open and harsh light flooded her consciousness.
"My Lady! Troopers, at the front gate!"
Momma jerked up, instantly awake and her daughter could feel the dread and fear that emanated from her.
"What?! But how-"
"There is no time to wonder how, my Lady. We must move quickly."
"Yes, of course, you're right, Devin."
Once the shock had worn off, Momma moved quickly, taking charge of the situation.
"Devin, take her to the tunnels. I'll meet you there once I've sent the message."
"But, my Lady--"
"As you pointed out, we have little time. Don't waste it arguing with me."
Devin moved forward and took the little girl in his arms, making sure that she had blankie with her. He turned to leave and his eyes met those of his mistress. He took comfort in the strength he saw there. They would be all right…they had to be all right. They nodded to each other and then he turned and was flying down the hallway towards the tunnels and escape. He comforted his bundle as she began to cry for her mother.
"Hush, little one, your mother will be along soon." He briefly wondered if he was trying to convince her or himself.
She caught one last glimpse of her daughter's eyes over Devin's shoulder and silently sent the little girl all her love. She turned quickly towards her own task. The Jedi needed to know what had happened. Dimly, she could hear the crashing sound of glass breaking as she ran to the comm room. She knew that she was running out of time and for the first time the thought entered her mind that she might not make it through this. Her heart broke at the thought of never seeing her precious daughter again, but she gathered courage from the fact that her baby was safely away with Devin.
She had just activated the comm unit when she heard them behind her. No, she thought desperately, how had they found her so quickly? She whirled to face the demons. There were three of them standing there, pointing an impossibly huge and nasty-looking weapon at her. Such a big thing for such a small woman, she thought derisively to herself. Trust that bastard to overkill the situation.
"It's over. Come quietly and you won't be harmed."
"Neither of us believe that, Lieutenant." Her voice was cold and it didn't waver, a fact that made her proud. At least Devin had made it to safety, she thought, as they moved forward to take her. When the blow came that ended her life, she was thinking of her daughter.
Devin ran as swiftly as he could safely manage through the dimly lit stone tunnel that led to the ship they kept readied for just this occasion. They had hoped to never have to use it, but it seemed fate, or the evil that was Palpatine, had caught up with them. He was breathing a little heavily as he rounded the last corner and the ship came into view. He risked one glance behind him and hoped she was coming soon.
He set his burden, still crying softly, down beside him as he began to enter the codes to open the hatch. Almost absent-mindedly, he tried to soothe the whimpering child.
"She's right behind us. She'll be here any moment."
He turned his head to smile at her. "I promise."
"I am afraid you will be unable to keep that promise, traitor."
Fear and anger surged through Devin as he turned to face the sneering voice. "Jonah. I think the term traitor could more appropriately be applied to you, couldn't it? How could you do this? She trusted you--"
"All the more evidence of how stupid she really was."
Devin's heart seemed to stop beating at that moment. "Was?" he whispered hoarsely.
Jonah smiled meanly at Devin's expression. "Oh, yes, she's already been taken care of."
Devin felt a rage like none he had ever known building up inside him. There was no need to wonder anymore how the troopers had found them. Palpatine's spy had been with them all along…or maybe they'd gotten to him later. It didn't matter anymore. Nothing mattered now that she was gone. With a low growl of fury, he threw himself towards the one who had betrayed them all.
The sneer on Jonah's face never changed and he didn't even bother to try and move away from Devin's charge. The fool had been so intent on him that he hadn't noticed the two troopers, fully armed, standing off to the side. Devin never got within arm's reach before laser blasts nearly ripped his body apart. There was a moment of stunned silence from the little girl as she watched her protector taken down, before she let loose with a scream of pure terror. Both of the troopers immediately turned their weapons toward her.
"No!" They paused as Jonah yelled. "Set to stun. He wants her alive."
When she awoke, she had no idea where she was. She whimpered as she looked around the cold room. It was stark black and felt cold in emotion as well as in temperature. She looked around for her blankie and whimpered again when she couldn't find it. "Momma!" she cried out desperately. "Devin!"
A low, cackling laugh came from behind her and she turned, her little face frozen with fear. The man had been standing in the shadows at the other end of the room, but now he moved slowly forward. He was completely covered in a long black cloak, his face hidden beneath the cowl as he moved towards her. She wanted to run, but something seemed to be holding her in place. When he was within a meter of her, he stopped and she knew without being able to see his face, that he was watching her, studying her.
"Stand up." She could tell it was a command. Something of her mother's spirit came to her then and she set her jaw stubbornly, shaking her head in refusal. He raised his head and she could feel his anger as he glared at her. What small bit of courage that resistance had fostered, withered when she saw his eyes. They were a frightening yellowish color and they almost seemed alive with hatred. She scrambled to her feet.
"Ah, little one. You learn quickly." Another chuckle that seemed to echo down her spine and made her shiver in fear.
He reached a hand out and put a finger under her chin, raising her head so that she looked him in the eyes. She flinched at the feel of that cold, gnarled hand on her skin.
"And so pretty. It is unfortunate that you are a girl. My original plan will have to be altered a bit." She didn't think he wanted any reply, so she watched him warily, remaining quiet.
"Quite strong in the Force, as well. That will suit my plans nicely. You will be…." He paused, seeming to consider his options. "An assassin. You will be like my own Hand, delivering my judgments and carrying out my sentences."
He laughed outright this time and she couldn't help the shudder that passed through her small body. She knew what the Force was. Momma had explained it to her, even while telling her that she must never use it. She hadn't understood that at the time. But now she thought she did. This man had taken her, had killed Momma and Devin because of the Force. She didn't understand how she knew this, but she felt it to be the truth.
"What is your name, little one?"
That stubbornness raised its head again and she gave him her own little glare, refusing to answer as she dropped her gaze back to the floor. His hand took hold of her chin roughly and forced her to meet his stare once again.
"Don't want to tell me? No matter. There are other ways. First, a shield. We don't want your father interfering in our fun, now do we?"
She gasped as she felt what seemed to be a wet blanket smothering her senses, even though there was nothing actually touching her. Then she cried out in fear as she felt him inside her head. It was the worst thing she'd ever felt in her young life. It was as though she could feel his fingers clawing through her mind, searching out her every secret. Instinctively, she tried to block him, but he waved her attempts aside as though swatting away an annoying insect.
After a moment that had seemed to last an eternity, he released her chin and she crumpled to the floor, strangely feeling like she needed to take a bath. That cackling laughter washed over her again and she felt tears rolling down her face.
"Ours will be a long and fruitful relationship, my little Leia."