Author's Note: Welcome to the final part of my grand nonalogy. My thanks to those ardent
suckers who have stuck with me since the tenuous posting of The Last Days, Part 1. I hope you
have all enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing it. MTFBWY.

VICTORY DAWN, Part 3
By Kathryn Olsen

"Wake up. Come on, there's a new era to live."

Leia Organa awoke on the first day of the New Republic, feeling rested for the first
time in five years.

She opened her eyes to see Mon Mothma, the leader of the Rebel Alliance--New Republic,
she amended--shaking her gently.

"What time is it?"

"Just after noon," the older woman said gently. "I arrived planetside early this morning,
but General Solo gave me a direct order not to disturb you."

Leia laughed and pushed up on her elbow. "I'm surprised he was up to meet you."

"As ranking commander of the Endor ground forces, he was compelled to be present." She
smiled. "Be assured that he did so under a considerable amount of protest."

"Naturally," Leia agreed. "Has he been debriefed yet?"

"First thing this morning." Mon Mothma passed her a light robe and moved to sit on
the end of the makeshift bed. "I must say I'm quite impressed with his tactics, despite the
near-disaster in evading the Imperial patrol."

Leia shook her head in mild disgust. "He's a Corellian; naturally, he would have nothing
to do with subtlety."

"How's your arm?"

Leia winced. "It could be worse. It's a very minor injury, thankfully."

"You'd never guess it, the way General Solo fusses over you."

Leia swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood carefully, not wanting to strain
her already aching muscles. "I assume you disturbed my sleep for my debriefing?"

"Not exactly." Mon Mothma sighed. "It's about Commander Skywalker's role in the battle."

Leia's heart sunk. "Has he been debriefed yet?"

She shook her head. "He's scheduled for this evening, since he has patrol duty today.
However, when General Madine asked General Solo about Luke's role in the ground assault, he
reported that he left the night before without telling the commanding officer. I made a discreet
inquiry to the general and he said that you might be able to explain it somewhat better than
he could."

Leia winced. "I'm not sure how much help I can be. I know little more than Han."

"Leia, Luke deserted his company in a war zone. By the statutes of the Alliance,
that is a crime for which he could be executed. Neither you nor I wish for that to happen, but
I will need something to satiate the rest of the High Command."

Leia's shoulders hunched defensively. If she had to explain Luke's disappearance, she
would have to explain their ties to the highest echelons of the Empire.

"I can answer that shortly," she said softly. "But I must consult with Luke. Some of
this information is not mine to dispense."

"You have two hours. I'll be waiting in the village proper."

Leia drew her hair into a tight bun and changed into a pair of khaki slacks and a loose
rust-red tunic. She pulled on her boots and made her way down to the hut where Luke was housed.

She found him suiting up for transport to the Headquarters Frigate. He glanced up and
smiled genuinely. "You look rested."

She smiled and leaned against the doorjamb. "Peace will do that to you," she countered
lightly.

"Indeed."

"It's strange. I woke up this morning and for the first time, I wasn't afraid. I actually
felt hope."

Luke nodded. "It's amazing what can happen in forty-eight hours."

Leia shrugged. "Sometimes, it seems as though the entire war has been won in forty-eight
hour segments."

He frowned. "What is it?"

She sighed and crossed to sit on his bed. "Mon Mothma was just here to talk to me.
Han was debriefed this morning and some of the High Command are concerned with your role in
the battle."

He winced. "I imagine they are." He sank down next to her. "I expect they want you
to help explain it?"

She nodded. "I asked Mon for time to consult with you before answering their questions."

"I'm not sure either of us is quite ready to explain all of this."

"That's why I came to you," she said softly. "I need to know how we're supposed to
handle our situation."

Luke reached over to take her hand and Leia heaved a deep, shuddering sigh. "It's been
less than two days since all of this happened and I still can't reconcile it."

"I've known about...my father," he said carefully, "for six months and I'm still having
trouble."

She looked up sharply. "So that's what Vader did to you at Bespin."

He nodded solemnly. "He dealt that particular blow just after severing my hand."

Leia shuddered. "I'm so sorry," she whispered. "Did he know about me?"

"Not until the end," Luke assured her.

She frowned. "I keep reliving those days on the Death Star. He was the only contact
I had other than Governor Tarkin and a medic. It was the most harrowing experience I'll ever
have to face. The physical and mental pain he forced on me..." She inhaled shakily and turned
to gaze at Luke. "I don't know how any father could do that."

"I think he found me by my name and my Force powers. Since you are an Organa by upbringing,
if not birth, and your powers have been dampened, you were above suspicion."

She buried her chin in her chest and her brow furrowed. "When did you know?"

"About you? Obi-wan told me."

Leia felt a vague flash of anger and her head snapped up to fix him with a glare. "You've
known for four years and you've kept this from me?"

Luke pulled her into a gentle embrace, cradling her head against his chest. "I've known
barely more than a week, since my visit to Master Yoda. But like you, I've always known that
we've had an unusual connection."

Leia's arms encircled him and she squeezed her eyes shut against the sudden tears. "I've
known it even before you barged into my holding cell. When I was facing execution, I had visions
of the future that I should have had. You were a major figure in all of those visions."

"I'm not surprised. You've been in my dreams since my youth."

She sagged against him, relaxing into his embrace. "We're quite a pair, aren't we,"
she said softly.

"Always have been."

She pulled away and smiled slightly. "So how to face this?"

"Give me fifteen minutes; I'll change my patrol shift and arrange for a later shuttle."

Leia frowned. "What do you intend to do?"

He sighed. "Go find Mon Mothma. We'll face it as we always have: together."
* * *
"This session of the High Command of the Alliance Armed Forces will now come to order."

Leia settled into the chair next to Luke and folded her hands before her. Luke rested
his hand on top of hers and squeezed gently, then retracted his hand. Leia glanced over at him
and smiled reassuringly.

General Rieekan glanced at Leia, then turned his attention to her brother. "Commander
Skywalker, are you prepared to make your report on your role in the Endor ground mission?"

"I am," Luke stated. "If it please the Command, I have enlisted Princess Leia Organa's
aid. She can testify to my competence and state of mind, as well as my motivations."

"Very well. You may begin when ready."

Leia stood and fixed her steady gaze on Mon Mothma. "Since his return six months ago,
I have noted that Commander Skywalker has been in considerable emotional distress. Based on
his recounting of the events at Bespin, where he was forced to encounter Darth Vader in combat,
I assumed that Vader had done or said something to him. When I inquired further, he could not
fully explain it, but his awareness of the dangerous nature of his Force powers was heightened.
He devoted his entire energies to preventing himself from abusing his power. When he resigned
his commission shortly before my leave of absence, he did so out of respect and concern for
the Alliance.

"In the four years I have known Commander Skywalker, he has given little thought to
selfish concerns. He is an extraordinary individual whose only concern is for the well-being
of others, sometimes despite considerable danger to himself. On the eve of the battle of Endor,
he informed me that he would have to abandon the ground mission because to stay would mean endangering
the entire team and our mission. He is not at fault in any spectrum of the imagination."

Rieekan smiled faintly at her as she took her seat. "Thank you for your evaluation,
Your Highness. It will aid us in evaluating the Commander's case. You are dismissed."

Leia tilted her chin. "If it is all right, I would rather stay by Commander Skywalker's
side for the duration of the debriefing."

She felt a wave of relief and gratitude roll off of Luke and she squeezed his forearm
gently.

"Quite all right," Mon Mothma said. "Commander, please elaborate on the facts."

"The story begins far before the Rebellion came into existence, with the life of a young
Jedi Knight named Anakin Skywalker. He was trained by the Jedi Master and General of the Old
Republic Obi-wan Kenobi. He completed his training, fell in love, and married. Sometime before
the end of the Jedi Purges, he was reported killed. His pregnant wife went into hiding because
she was being hunted by the Emperor's servants.

"Anakin, however, was not dead. He had been turned to the Dark Side of the Force by
the Emperor himself. In his final confrontation with his old master, he had been knocked into
a lava pit. He emerged barely alive and was only sustained by the Dark Side and prosthetics.
He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became the man known as Darth Vader."

Leia caught her breath and lowered her eyes to the table. There was a rustle of conversation,
inaudible but distinctly bewildered.

"His wife gave birth to twins--a boy and a girl. I was taken to Tatooine to be raised
by General Kenobi's brother and sister-in-law. My twin sister was taken to Alderaan, where
she was adopted by the House Organa and raised as the Princess Leia.

"Both of us were unaware of our heritage or our connection to each other. When I was
in Jedi training after the Battle of Hoth, my father used her pain to lure me into a trap. I
duelled him and he revealed the truth of my heritage to me. Because Leia's Force powers were
somehow dampened, he did not know that she was his daughter.

"I volunteered for the Endor mission because that was where my destiny lay. When we
were on approach to the planet, I sensed Vader's presence aboard the command ship. By the time
we enlisted the help of the Ewoks, I knew that he recognized my presence as well, despite my
efforts to cloak my presence. I had to disassociate myself from the mission before our intentions
were betrayed.

"I therefore surrendered myself to an Imperial patrol and was brought before Lord Vader.
I attempted to reason with him, but he intended to present me to the Emperor and could not be
dissuaded.

"Despite my prescience and natural instincts as well as my training and experience, the
Emperor nearly succeeded in turning me to the Dark Side as he did my father. It was only when
I realized how like Vader I was on the most basic level that I was able to turn my back on the
dark instincts of vengeance and fury that were driving me. I threw away my weapon and refused
to fight either of them. At that, the Emperor attempted to kill me using Force lightning.
As I lay dying, I called to Vader, not as a feared being, but as the father he never had the
chance to be. Somehow, that impacted him so greatly that he killed the Emperor and died as a
result. Darth Vader died long before my father drew his last breath; he died as the good man
who Anakin Skywalker had been."

Luke finished his report and sat back to wait for the criticism to start. He expected
outrage or, at the very least, horror.

There was simply a stunned silence. Leia was at his side, weeping softly, though he
wasn't sure if it were out of horror, sorrow, pity for herself and him, or simply her innate
sense of compassion. Luke reached over to squeeze her hand and she sent him a sad smile.

"Let me get this straight," Mon Mothma said quietly. "You surrendered to Imperial authorities
in order to save the Endor ground mission?"

"Yes, Madam."

"Why did you not recuse yourself from the mission in the first place?"

Luke frowned deeply. "I'm not sure why I did not realize the danger of my involvement
in the mission earlier. I think, primarily, I felt that that's where my destiny lay."

"Indeed." She sighed and turned to General Madine. "General, the contents of this
debriefing are to be classified until further notice. There is no need for the rest of our
comrades to know what has transpired here as of yet."

"Yes, Madam."

Leia sagged in palpable relief. Luke simply bowed his head in acknowledgment. "We are
grateful for your discretion."

Their leader sat back and frowned deeply. "There are many in this Alliance who have
pasts that they would rather forget. We accept their aid without questions and without qualms.
I do not hold your heritage, albeit previously unknown, against you."

"Yes, Madam."

"Now on to more important matters," Leia interjected.

She turned to smile at Luke. "Now that your Jedi training has been completed, we cannot
afford to lose you again. Please, accept your recommission."

Luke frowned. "Wedge is the one to command Rogue Squadron, not I. I cannot accept that
position again."

"We agree," Mon Mothma conceded. "That is why we are prepared to offer you an alternative
assignment."

Luke glanced at Leia warily, found her smile unwavering and genuine. "The New Republic
needs leaders, Luke. We would be honored if you would be the coordinating chief of the Star
Fighter Commander, accepting the rank of General."

Luke's bewildered expression melted into a broad grin. "It would be my honor."

"Very well," Rieekan said. "You are both dismissed."
* * *
Leia sank heavily onto a bench outside the hut and shuddered deeply. "It could have
been worse," she admitted.

Luke smiled faintly and moved to sit next to her. "Indeed. Most people don't come out
of that with a General's commission."

She snorted. "I didn't expect to come out of that with my head still on."

He reached up and turned her chin to look at him. "You've done nothing to be ashamed
of. You are who your actions determine you to be, not what your blood defines."

"I'm not sure I can yet believe that."

He smiled wryly. "I know exactly how you feel."

She glanced at her wrist chrono. "I hate to say it, but you'd better get back to the
Fleet. You've got duty patrol in an hour."

He winced. "We'll talk later, yes?"

"Of course."

He brushed her cheek with a light kiss, then stood and headed for the village outskirts.

"Leia."

Leia turned to see General Rieekan on the approach. She instinctively braced herself
for the worst.

Instead, he clasped her to him in a nearly suffocating embrace. "I'm so sorry," he said
quietly. "I can't even begin to imagine how hard this must be for you."

She rested her head against his sternum and sighed. "Like everything else in my life,
it seems like something out of a badly-written holodrama. One waits with great anticipation
for what's next."

He laughed easily. "It's always darkest before the dawn," he countered.

"I'd have thought you above trite cliches, Carlist."

"I don't encounter this sort of situation often." He released her and smiled. "Will
you be returning to the Headquarters Frigate on the next shuttle?"

She shook her head. "Han's ordered me to take three days of shore leave. We'll be
staying here to help with the mop-up and recuperating. I figure I've earned a modicum of reprieve."

"That's a bit of an understatement," he agreed. "I'll be going vac-side in fifteen
minutes."

She nodded. "I'll walk you to your transport."
* * *
Three days later, in orbit around Yavin IV, the Inner Council of the New Republic met
to usher in the new era.

Mon Mothma drummed her fingers nervously on the tabletop and glanced around the room.
"Are we almost ready?"

Leia nodded. "The recorder will transmit the proceedings of this meeting over every
open channel of the Imperial network. In just a few minutes, our technicians will have it set
up."

"Take your places in four minutes," she ordered.

"Yes, Madam."

Leia crossed to the observation gallery, where Chewie, Han and Luke were sitting. "Amazing,
isn't it?"

Han grinned broadly. "When I chased you down the Death Star's garbage chute four years
ago, I never thought I'd be around to see this."

Leia shoved him gently. "We're all glad you stayed around, despite your attempts to
bankrupt the Alliance."

"Someone had to keep you in line." He gripped her hands and pulled her in for a quick
kiss. "You look perfect."

Leia blushed. "It's the best I could do on the first day of our independence."

Mon Mothma had insisted on her being in full regalia for the occasion, so Leia had gone
to great lengths to find a suitable gown. Finally, she'd found a dress of Alderaanian design.
The close-fitting bodice with a square neckline was woven through with irridescent thread, giving
it the appearance of finely-spun shimmersilk. The sleeves were fitted to just below her elbows
and the full skirt reached the floor. The skirt's inner layer was light blue and unadorned,
but the light overlay was of the same hue as the bodice.

Her hair was, for once, free of its restraints. She had brushed it out to its full length,
letting it fall in soft waves down her back.

"I hope you're not intending to wear that all the way to Bakura."

She laughed. "I just have time to change before we ship out."

"Something's missing," Han said suddenly.

Leia glanced over her dress and brushed self-consciously at the waistline. "What?"

He extended his hand and his fingers uncurled to reveal a flat box. Leia shot him a
puzzled look and took the box warily. "What is it?"

"A Restoration Day present."

She laughed. "Is that what they're calling it?"

"Naturally." He gestured eagerly towards the box. "Open it."

Leia lifted the lid from the box and inhaled sharply. Two silver combs, adorned with
Alderaanian opal in an intricate pattern, lay there. Tears welled unbidden in her eyes and she
pressed her hand to her mouth. Finally, she set the box down and crushed Han in a tight embrace.

"Thank you," she whispered hoarsely.

"My pleasure," he countered.

He released her and retrieved the box. Lifting the combs, he fastened her hair back
from her temples, then smiled.

"Perfect," he repeated.

"Thirty seconds," a tech called.

Leia leaned in to kiss Han quickly. "I'll see you on the other side."

She joined Mon Mothma and the rest of the Council at the oblong table and straightened
her back just enough to look regal rather than rigid.

"Broadcasting in five..."

On the signal, Mon Mothma straightened and called the meeting to order. "Greetings,
subjects of the free Galaxy. I am Mon Mothma, elected leader of the Alliance of Free Peoples,
speaking to you from Yavin IV.

"Four years ago, we fought and won our first major battle against the tyrannical Empire
in this very star system. Five days ago, we once more faced the threat of the Death Star and
emerged victorious.

"In light of this monumental victory, we have determined that it is no longer necessary
for us to live outside the laws of the Empire. As the Inner Council, formed of eight signatory
populations, we have resolved to declare ourselves an independent legal entity.

"The late Emperor Palpatine created the Empire out of the wreckage of the Republic.
We have seen the dangers that lay within both systems and have fought and died to counteract
those errors. Through our toil, we have gained a wisdom of sorts and we know what it takes to
enact justice.

"With that in mind, we are gathered here to restore the democracy of the Republic, in
name but committed to never allow such atrocities as what the Empire condoned and encouraged
to take place.

"We do not expect to be supported in this endeavor, but it is well worth it. Bail Organa,
the last viceroy of Alderaan, once told me, 'do not expect to be applauded when you succeeded
or forgiven when you fail, but even your enemies will respect commitment and a conscience at
peace is worth more than a thousand tainted victories.'

"We have endured failure as well as success and today, those untainted victories motivate
our resolve."

Leia led the applause, despite the tears in her eyes. *I wish my father were here.*

Mon Mothma turned a small smile on her and bowed her head slightly. "Councillor Organa,
if you will read the Declaration?"

Leia caught her breath. *Me?* She rose smoothly to her feet and returned the smile,
then fashioned her expression into an emotionless mask.

Hands shaking, she took her place at the head of the table. She took a deep, calming
breath and began reading.

"In the course of justice, it is often necessary to depart from convention and legality
to preserve such pursuits. We, the Alliance of Free Peoples, have recognized the continued
necessity of what our adversaries would term treasonous measures.

"Whereas the Empire has abolished all forms of justice and mercy in favor of self-interest
and unrighteous dominion--

"Whereas the Imperial Starfleet and military forces has defied all conventions of warfare
and exercised callous indifference to massacre--

"Whereas the Imperial government no longer functions, we hereby declare ourselves the
New Republic and render ourselves free from its corrupt principles. We are now free to act
under the dictates of mercy and justice. Executed this day in the presence of witnesses and
by the requisite signatories."

She set the document down and turned to extend the stylus to Mon Mothma. "Madam President,"
she said softly.

Mon Mothma bowed formally to her. "Your father would be proud of what you've done here."

"I'd like to hope so," she countered.

The elder stateswoman signed the Declaration, then handed her the stylus. Leia bent
over the document and signed "Princess Leia of House Organa" in the Taiald script of her erstwhile
homeworld.

As the last Councillor, Admiral Ackbar, affixed his signature, the sun broke the horizon
of the moon below. At last, the dawn would come with peace.