TO CAST AWAY STONES

PROLOGUE

For the good of all, those who ruled Alderaan lived a lie.

Despite the tendency of politicians of all races, creeds and species to cover their tracks, the High Court of Alderaan had often been commended for their policies against that. It was well-known that Alderaanian information could aways be relied on and this was only enhanced by the fact that they had no motivation to serve anything but peace.

There were, however, two great lies perpetrated by the Viceroy and his Queen, but few knew of such an infraction. The few who were privy to such information were those who could be trusted to never divulge that information except under the most dire of circumstances.

The first great lie began with a single datafile. It recorded the live birth of a daughter to Queen Breha and Viceroy Bail Organa in the summer that saw the beginning of the Empire. No detail was omitted, since the Viceroy had been present at the birth and certainly had enough information to fabricate an heir for Alderaan. No one dared to question that the girl who had her 'mother's' dark hair and her 'father's' diplomatic patience was anyone but an Organa.

They might have noticed something different in the lines of her face or the almost Jedi-like intuition that she possessed from an early age, but there were no questions asked. When it came to the leadership of an entire world, no one could afford to ask any questions.

The second great lie was one that was hardly unique to Alderaan and stemmed from the dark presence of a being that they could neither call a machine nor a man. He was half-alive if that and condemned by his choices and his body to spend the remainder of his days in an armor that allowed him to feel nothing beyond the chafing of the leather against his scarred flesh. It was rumored that, because he had relinquished his right to emotions when turning to the Dark Side, any other sensations were irrelevant.

Alderaan lied because many asked who he had been. They spoke of the Jedi he murdered and the Separatists that he had slaughtered. They shuddered at the hatred he had for the Force and the contempt he held for justice, but they could not speak his name.

They could not speak it because there was a power anchored in the reminder of who he was and who he had become.

They could not invoke the name of Anakin Skywalker because the children that he had fathered might still draw on the same power that he had turned against the Galaxy.

PART 1
A Time For Every Purpose

It was said that Leia Organa, the last High Princess of the murdered Royal Court of the erstwhile Alderaan, looked like her mother.

It was true enough. Most who voiced that opinion were those who saw Breha Organa's dark beauty and nobility in her narrow features. They recognized the formidable stare that she had cultivated in the service of the Senate.

Those who had known her as Leia before the surname of Organa was granted to her knew that she looked instead like the woman who gave birth to her. They also knew exactly how dangerous the resemblance was.

When she had been held by the Empire and challenged Lord Vader's ability to break any mind, they had feared that he would see enough of Padme Amidala in there that he would recognize her as his own. Instead, he was too distracted by the power to resist him that she had inherited from her Jedi father to care about what ghost she brought to mind.

That distraction had cost the Galaxy one of its Core worlds and cost Leia Organa, née Leia Skywalker, any compassion she had ever harbored for the man who called himself Vader.

So, instead, it was the report of a farmboy pilot by the name of Luke Skywalker that turned Vader's thoughts to a hunt for his child. No person could discern the mind of the Dark Lord, but they knew that his initial reaction killed four men and his search for young Skywalker had been claiming lives in the five months since that moment.

His intention was made clear when he had the opportunity to eliminate the enemy with his name and spared his life. Vader needed no corpse, but an apprentice and Skywalker was too valuable an asset to turn against the Alliance.

It was that fact, then, that compelled the last Alderaanian who would dare to speak of their lies to action. "The High Command will see you now."

It was unusual for Leia to return to the convocation. She had chosen the path of a warrior with a few reservations, but fewer doubts, only months after the destruction of Alderaan. While Mon Mothma had attempted to draw her over to what Bail had jokingly called the "Diplomatic Dark Side," Leia had stubbornly resisted the woman's urge to keep her out of the ranks of the Alliance.

As a result, she only was summoned here when they required special services of her. What those services might be today was unclear, especially given the secrecy of the summons.

Standing, she smoothed the travel wrinkles from her slacks and followed the Lieutenant into the conference room. Immediately, her eyes sought out Rieekan. His facial expression tended to be the gauge of how severe the situation was.

The fact that he would not meet her gaze sent her confidence in the matter straight to all five Alderaanian hells.

Nevertheless, she bowed formally, then stood at attention in anticipation of further instructions.

"Leia, thank you for coming," Mon Mothma greeted. "Would you be seated?"

She settled into the chair with her back straight and her eyes on Mon Mothma. The older woman regarded her carefully, then glanced at Rieekan as if asking for clarification.

"You seem apprehensive," she observed.

"I am willing to serve," Leia said flatly. "My feelings about the mission are irrelevant."

Rieekan nodded in seeming confirmation and Mon Mothma returned her gaze to Leia. "That is good to hear," she conceded.

"What do you require of me?" Leia asked with the same formal tones. "You didn't call me here to comment on my loyalties."

"Perhaps we did," Rieekan retorted. "We have a mission that will require a great amount of loyalty to justice. Naturally, you came to mind."

It wasn't like him to flatter her into accepting a mission. It was usually a matter of her prying the details out of him before making the necessary arrangements.

Whatever it was that they had called her here to perform, she was starting to suspect that she wouldn't want to know exactly what he defined as loyalty to justice.

"What do you require of me?" she repeated.

After a moment's hesitation, Rieekan passed a datacard to an aide who brought it to her. She didn't even bother to look at it, only slipped it into the pocket of her jacket.

"We require an elimination," he said, voice finally taking on the tone of a man who was speaking unpleasant truths that were, nevertheless, truths.

With any other tone, she might have joked about whether or not they were eliminating Vader or the mess hall staff, but the entire tone of the meeting suggested immediately what they intended.

"You can't expect anyone to be able to simply 'eliminate' Vader."

They looked neither shocked nor disappointed that she had guessed their intentions with such ease, but there was a smug kind of acknowledgment on Mon Mothma's face. "Thank you for proving that you have the mental astuteness to carry out the mission," she said flatly.

"I have no intention of carrying out the mission," Leia retorted fiercely. "I am an Alderaanian and I have no intention of ever eliminating someone in the manner that you are suggesting."

"You are an Alderaanian," Rieekan agreed, "but you are the one Alderaanian or even Alliance member, for that matter, who would never be tempted to let that mission fail."

Of course, he was right about one aspect. If she were given the task of eradicating Vader's influence, she would not rest simply because he was the antithesis of everything that she stood for. He was, moreover, the one who could be held responsible for almost every atrocity that she had been forced to witness in her years as a Rebel.

But there was a vast difference between bringing about justice or the end of an enemy and what the datacard would instruct her to do.

"I am an Alderaanian," she hissed. "'In cold blood' has never been translated into my native language."

"I think you misunderstand," he protested quietly.

"I'm hoping you're right about that," she retorted, "because you are asking me to do something that is impossible morally and practically."

"Practically?" Mon Mothma echoed. "What do you mean by that?"

"After the Emperor and perhaps Wynssa Starflare," she sneered, "Vader is the most well-protected and isolated monster in the Galaxy. Assassination has been attempted four times in the last five years and you know just as well as I that with the…"

"Leia," Rieekan interrupted, "we're not intending anything in the last five years."

Before she could ask precisely what he meant, there was another knock on the door.

"Show him in," Mon Mothma commanded the Lieutenant. "He'll need to give input on this particular situation."

"I'm not sure it's wise to try and let Captain Solo persuade her," Rieekan said dryly. "She doesn't have the habit of listening to much of anything he says."

His suggestion came too late as the one person who could make this situation worse came swaggering in.

"So," he said happily, "are we ready to go or are we still looking for an exorcist?"

"No," Leia said flatly.

"Ah," he grunted, "still in negotiation. I'll be outside."

"As long as outside involves being on the other side of the base," she agreed. "Since I have no business with this operation, I will accompany you."

"You won't do that."

If Rieekan presumed to know her mind one more time, she would have to mutiny.

"Why not?" she snapped.

"Because you are an Alderaanian," he echoed her adamant phrase of earlier. "You have always said that you would do anything to see the Empire fall and that includes taking it apart at the highest levels."

"Which is not possible," she reminded, "as I just explained."

He nodded towards the datacard that she had extracted from her pocket at some point during her rant. "If you look at that, it will acquaint you with the principle of time-travel…"

"First you ask me to do the impossible," she snorted, "and now you ask me to believe the impossible."

Rieekan regarded her with a bland expression that she recognized too well as being his victory look. "If it's impossible," he suggested, "then there's no harm in trying." "We'll need you strapped in," Han explained as he pulled back the covers on the crew bunk. "The navcomputer will be doing the hard part of the navigation and I'll be in my quarters, but they want us both unable to resist."

"Asleep, you mean," Leia surmised.

"Ideally," he agreed. "We're going to have a bit of a jolt if all goes well and we don't want any permanent damage."

She shook her head. "I don't think you understand that the jolt will be the gravity tearing this piece of junk apart."

"Probably," he agreed with a grin as she sank onto the mattress, "but it's worth the experiment."

He grinned. "Come on, Your Highnessness, is this going to be all that bad?"

"Yes!"

Nevertheless, she allowed him to fasten the crash restraints across her legs and chest, then settled in, slowing her breathing and trying not to think about the fact that they were more likely to spontaneously combust than move one second back in time.

It was an almost welcome thought to consider that this would all end just as quickly as it had started. The mission was beyond insanity and a sign of nothing more than the desperation that followed such things as Derra IV.

A distant beeping from the proximity alarm was the last thing she heard before the darkness took her. "YT-1300," a voice was calling on the intercom, "this is Coruscant Sector Flight Control. Identify yourself. Repeating, this is Coruscant Sector Flight Control. You are in an inbound vector without a declared destination. Identify yourself and you will be assigned a landing slot. If you do not identify yourself, we will consider you to be a Separatist and open fire."

The crash restraints had been apparently ineffectual, since she was somehow half out of the bunk and bleeding from a gash across her right cheek.

"Han," she blurted, "where the stars…"

"Taking care of it," he called back, his voice distant through the ringing in her ears. "This is the YT-1300 Millenium Falcon out of Corellia. Kinda jumpy, aren't you?"

"You missed the battle," the controller retorted. "If you'd had half the warships in the Galaxy crashing into your planet, you'd be 'kinda jumpy' too."

"Battle?" Han responded. "Did we win?"

"In a manner of speaking," the controller responded. "The Separatists are on the run and Chancellor Palpatine…"

That name immediately sent her scrambling to her feet, hand clamped to her torn cheek as she stumbled towards the cockpit. Pain stabbed various parts of her anatomy with each step, but she couldn't afford to notice that at a time like this.

"We can get you a slot at the Senate public bays," the controller offered. "Set vector…"

Han tapped in the vectors, then turned to frown at her. "You're hurt," he observed.

"That's one way of putting it," she agreed, lifting her hand to show off the gouged cheek. "That was more than a jolt."

"It was more than an experiment," he said triumphantly. "If you look to the East, we'll do a very scenic flyby of the Jedi Temple…"

Her hand dropped to her side in shock. "This is impossible," she breathed.

He nodded. "Apparently, you believed in the impossible strongly enough."

Her mind was reeling, but not just with the blood loss and the concussion that she had undoubtedly suffered.

Chancellor.

Coruscant.

Battle.

Jedi Temple.

"I believed in it a little too much," she countered. "We went to the last days of the Republic rather than the first years of the Empire."