Yes it's been a long long time ago since this was updated just finally had time and inspiration to work on it. There will be more... eventually. Thanks for reading and sticking with it.
The two years following the battle of Yavin started as a time of building for the rebellion. The outcry following the destruction of Alderaan, brought many young and old. After the successful destruction of the Death Star the rebellion went through a period of expansion but the relentless search of Darth Vader has scattered them back into several different sects.
Aboard the Negotiator (Amidala's Flagship)
Amidala was surprised to be contacted by the emperor, and she found herself considering the possibilities as she went to the briefing room. She knew the very slavery and piracy that she had been sent to stop was for the most part sanctioned by the Emperor himself and carried out by Prince Xizor's Black Sun syndicate. She looked around at her Noghri guards, even though there had been a large number of transfer requests and a handful of accidents, they had not yet vetted the Negotiator's crew enough to allow her to travel the ship unprotected. The hatch opened as she approached and Rakka stepped out nodding an all clear, as she passed into the room. The instant Amidala knelt on the transmission platform the emperor's head appeared in the massive view field.
"Good evening, my dear," the Emperor started with his grandfatherly tone, "I find myself in a situation for which I think that you would be uniquely suited to help me with."
"It is," Amidala replied from her position on the platform, "my pleasure to serve in whatever capacity you deem necessary."
"Excellent," his pleasure at her help left her feeling unclean, "I knew I could count on you, my dear. I find myself with no one to head the Moff council. I hoped I could count on you to fill the void left by Moff Tarkin."
"I would be proud to fill the void left by Grand Moff Tarkin's untimely demise," she paused momentarily, "does this mean I will be given the title of Grand Moff?" He turned more toward her but the holofeed made it difficult to read the subtle nuances of his facial expressions, "With the authority to deal with the Moff council as I see fit?"
"No," he intoned, "you Lady Vader are as always above such governmental bureaucrats." The pause in his statement was telling of his true opinion of her. "Even with the dissolution of the treacherous senate I still need trustworthy eyes on the governors that will put the good of the galaxy above their own petty squabbles, so yes you would have ultimate authority over the council."
"Of course," She answered, understanding what he meant by 'good of the galaxy', "it would be advantageous if I could continue to conduct this business from my ship."
"I think it would be acceptable to conduct most business via holofeed unless there was something of particular importance." His voice again took on the tone of benevolent leader, "You serve me well, Lady Vader." The feed was cut before she could reply. She was readily aware that this was a thinly veiled attempt to keep her close to the core and thus away from the protective umbrella that was her husband's influence, while the command of this fleet was to keep her off Coruscant where she could influence the powerful people there.
"Rakka," she called out after standing, "where is Wrenga?"
"He is away on a mission," Rakka replied falling in step beside her as they exited the viewing room, "running down a lead of the former senator from the Chrommel sector." Amidala's head snapped to her longtime body guard. "I didn't find out till just before the Emperor made contact."
"Why wasn't I informed?" she asked.
"Dealing with the rebellion is Lord Vader's domain, mi lady," he replied apologetically.
"Of course," she paused, "do you know where he was going."
"Yes maam," Rakka smiled deviously, "He was heading to Ord Mantell."
"He's going to the wrong place," she smiled devilishly at Rakka's questioning look, "because I know where the former senator from the Chrommel Sector is."
Han and Leia sat at an open café eating a late lunch. They were both dressed for the tropical weather Han in a light colored linen shirt and pants with some low cut leather boating shoes. Leia taking the opportunity, as she often did on these excursions, to dress in a much more feminine manner. Her gauzy sundress whose transparency gave tantalizing glimpses of the swim suite underneath in the right light did little to slow Han's imagination. Ever since that first mission together, while the rest of the rebellion was running from Yavin IV, Hawke and Keida Rayley had done quite a bit of traveling together. The two had worked together often in their current guise of husband and wife, and it had recently sent Han's mind turning over the idea in his head. A wife was not something that he had ever given much thought to, at least not since Bria. Leia however had quickly and firmly established herself in his life, without even trying. He would in his moments of stubbornness tell himself it was their forced closeness that caused these feelings, but in the quiet of his cabin late at night he would admit to himself that it was her. He had first thought her to be just like Bria, with destruction of the empire at any cost her only goal. He was wrong and he found himself being slowly drawn in by deep brown eyes and scathing insults, by the Corellian hells he was falling in love.
It was a sort of well known secret that Leia always went on these missions with Han. The unknown force behind these mission assignments was however the quite unlikely duo of Rieken and Chewbacca, both thinking that the other's ward was good for their charge. Somehow anytime the Princess was assigned to another ship and pilot for escort duties, usually by the members of high command other than Rieken, the ship in question would come down with technical difficulties or sudden illness. One young pilot thinking he was going to get a chance to spend some alone time with the lovely princess, had his navcomputer ripped out by a not so understanding Wookie. That was how the Alliance between Rebellion General and Wookie smuggler worked Rieken always placed the two together and if he didn't get the chance Chewie took matters into his considerable hands.
They had arrived a little under an hour ago Chewie, in the guise of family servant, was out at the over water cabana unpacking their things in a rather spacious suite. Their current location was a little known oceanic planet known as Maramere that had been discovered by an adventurous second son to one of the old Royal Houses and subsequently kept to those of that privileged lineage. Recent advances of Palpantines New Order had forced the Royal Houses to give up this last bastion of status to curry favor with the Emperor's Moffs and Governors. The planet largely undeveloped aside from the few exclusive resorts also maintained some less developed extremely secluded areas for those with a larger desire for privacy, like the private island Han and Leia currently visited under the guise of Hawke and Keida Rayley. This particular small island was maintained by a reclusive entrepreneur who was rumored to be everything from a shipping magnant to the personal physician of Lord Darth Vader. The island however maintained an extremely exclusive guest list which never ever included members of the Imperial establishment. So it was that their contact, whom was supposed to be able to recognize Leia on sight even in disguise, had secured a place for the Rayley's at the private locale.
Han had just ordered his second ale when a voice from Leia's past, calling out her cover name, had her wishing to all of the deities she had ever heard of and Luke's ever vaunted Force that she had been sent with anyone other than Han Solo for this mission. She did however find herself standing to be pulled into an embrace of epic proportions by none other than Pooja Naberrie.
"It's me," Pooja cried, "Leonie, Leonie Banab." Leia didn't even get to take a breath to reply before Pooja had slipped her arm around Leia's small waist to place her full attention on Han. "And you are?" she asked holding out a hand for him.
"Hawke," Leia answered for him while simultaneously giving him the all clear signal, "Hawke Rayley, my husband."
"Well," Pooja drew out slowly as Han took her hand in greeting, "it is a pleasure to meet you."
"Likewise mam," Han replied, "and this is?" Han gestured to a woman with striking white hair in a hundred thin braids, just over Pooja's shoulder.
"Oh, where are my manners," Pooja beckoned the other woman to her free side, "this is Zimní," she paused giving Han a coy smile, "my lover." Han promptly choked on the ale he was drinking.
Super Star Destroyer Executor
"Look Uncle Dee," Wrenga almost whined as he followed the dark lord through the corridors of his flagship, "she was supposed to be there but she wasn't, I was thinking that I would check out Ord Mantell next." Vader paused just through the hatch into his personal quarters to watch as Wrenga followed. "I mean she's one of those rich socialite types," he had now noticed that Vader was watching him intently, "devil may care attitude, wild parties and such."
"Do not," Lord Vader interrupted, "confuse her personality for anything other than a carefully constructed ruse, and you," he pointed firmly at Wrenga, "are supposed to be married with two children at home, not gallivanting around casinos with dancing girls."
"Hey," Wrenga placing his fists on his hips, "I happen to be Corellian and for us family comes first." Lord Vader took another step forward only to be interrupted by the comm. unit telling him there was an incoming communiqué from his wife. Wrenga faded back into the shadows after a silent order from Vader as the dark lord stepped onto the holo emitter expecting an onslaught from his wife. It was instead the calm form of Dr. Breanna Jixton greeting him with a slight curtsey.
"My Lord," she greeted him before turning to look over his left shoulder where she approximated Wrenga would be, "Wrenga I suggest that you have a good excuse when you get here you know how I feel about Ord Mantel." She then turned back to the Dark Lord, "thank you my lord, your wife needs to speak to you now." The doctor stepped away only to be replaced by the Lady Amidala.
"Wrenga," she started once she was completely on the emitter array, "you are dismissed. What exactly," she asked focusing her attention fully on her husband, "were your intentions once you caught up to my niece, Lord Vader?"
"She is a traitor to the empire," he bellowed at her, "you know perfectly well that she cannot be allowed to continue her actions against the state."
"Funny," Amidala raised a single eyebrow in question, "all I've seen is her smiling at the camera on the arm of some imperial bureaucrat or another."
"You know perfectly well what she is doing," he punctuated the statement by jabbing a finger in her direction, "and what she is doing with the information she gains."
"Forgive me for having a higher opinion of her than that," she shook her head as she questioned, "She should probably one of the few people in the galaxy we can actually trust."
"We have spoken about this at length," he intoned.
"That doesn't mean that I have to like it," she answered him.
"Now is not the time, where are you?" he questioned. "I will be sending Wrenga to join you."
"Of course," she said curtly, "Rakka will send the coordinates directly."
Once Leia had gotten Han's cough under control Pooja had suggested that they all retire to Han and Leia's Cabana and after introducing Chewie and giving Han proper introductions to Pooja and her "lover" Winter, the group had began catching up. It wasn't long before Chewie slipped away to have a nap and Han not interested in intense political discussion that had permeated the conversations between the three old friends had slipped out onto the back deck to watch the tide. He was debating the easiest way to slip in unnoticed and get himself another bottle of ale when the cold weight of a full bottle pressed against his shoulder. He was surprised to find the smiling face of Pooja Naberrie and after taking the offered libation he gestured to the nearest chair.
"Don't tell me," he started in his sarcastic draw, "even a former senator like yourself can only take so much." He finished pointing to where Leia and Winter were locked into what looked to be a serious whispered conversation.
"No," she replied around a sad smile, "Leia and Winter are childhood friends, they started mentioning people that they've been able to verify." Han merely bobbed his head his attention focused on Leia. "So tell me infamous Han Solo," she asked watching him closely, "what are your intentions with our Leia."
"Keep her out of trouble and get her back to the Alliance," he shook his head slowly, "and out of obligation to our running debate over my lack of commitment and her inability to relax I will have to attempt to force her to let go and enjoy herself."
"Winter was right," she said with a raised brow, "you are good for her."
"Don't let too many people hear that," he said around a snort, "they worry enough about my influence if anyone knew the two of us were with her at the same time the High Council would have a fit."
"You are," she spoke around a wan smile, "I assume, speaking about my own infamy as Naboo's most glorious party girl."
"A distinction," he grinned back, "I understand has been with you since the Senate." Her surprise elicited a laugh out of him, "Don't look so surprised I do my homework too." He turned more sincere, "It must be a difficult charade to uphold."
"What makes you so sure that it's a charade," she asked him, "I could really be that flippant and devil may care?"
"Nah," he shook his head, "I happen to know for a fact that I am Leia's only charity case."
"Don't be so sure of that," she replied earnestly before holding her ale up in a toast, "to charity cases." Han clinked the neck of his bottle against hers and they drank together laughing. Leia looked up from her conversation with Winter to see Han make his toast with Pooja then lean in to say something which caused her to laugh earnestly. She felt her stomach sink; she had thought that he took these missions for more than the money.
"Highness," Winter called Leia back to their conversation, "did you hear me?"
"I'm sorry," Leia whispered tearing her eyes away from the two on the deck, "I didn't hear you."
"What do you know about him?" Winter asked nodding to Solo.
"Very little," she said with a sigh, "he's just staying around while he hides out from that gangster, I don't know why they always send him with me."
"Well," Winter spoke in her intelligence mode while reaching down to pour herself another glass of wine, "if what I was told is any indication, he has a strong intellect, a great gift for tactics, and a strong distrust of not just the Empire but any central government." She looked up to find she now had Leia's full attention.
"You've seen his psych evaluation," Leia had leaned forward and now had one hand on her friend's knee, "what else do you know?"
"No," she shook her head, "he is officially a mystery, and his imperial files were sealed on orders from the Lady Amidala." Winter found Leia frowning as she mulled this over, "my information came from a much more personal source, Bria Tharen." Leia's longtime friend and confidant was one of the few who would have recognized the cold look in Leia's eyes at the name. "It was during the initial meetings to form the alliance on Bespin, he was there in a sabacc tournament." She watched Leia look back out to where Han and Pooja were laughing over something, "he won a ship in the last hand."
"What else happen," Leia turned back to her friend, "I want to know everything."
"That's it," Winter hated the look of disappointment in her friends eyes, "that was the only time I saw him there, however it is very odd that Amidala would seal his files." Leia was again watching the smuggler. "Leia," Winter asked quietly, "do you think you can trust him."
"Implicitly," Leia answered immediately, "he would never let anything happen to me."
"How do you know?" Winter asked being familiar with Leia's snap declarations about people and already expecting the answer to her question.
"I just know," she answered with a sad smile.
Planet Maramer across the cove from Han and Leia's cabana
"How could we possibly need all of this crap," Wrenga grumbled around several armfuls of luggage as he followed his wife down the boarded walkway to the cabana where the couple would be staying, "It's a beach all we should need is a swimsuit and a couple of shirts." His wife Breanna looked back from where she led the way, their now two year old daughter, Catalina, perched on the doctor's hip and sleeping against her shoulder. Crosby their older son at six was much too old to be carried and should as a 'man' carry his own luggage stopped behind his mother and also looked back. "You're absolutely right, dear," Wrenga answered his own question, "We probably didn't pack enough." He felt positively proud of himself when she smiled happily and continued into their rooms. A little while later after getting the children to bed and checking in with Rakka he retired to the deck overlooking the bay and a row of over water cabanas. It was moments before Breanna joined him on the loveseat with a glass of wine.
"Lovely isn't it," she smiled as he slipped his free hand around her shoulders, "it was nice of Dada to set this up for us." He merely hummed out an affirmative his eyes focused on a couple laughing together at another cabana across the small bay. "Wrenga," she called with a warning tone, "your attention is supposed to be on me."
"I'm sorry," he turned back with a wry smile, "I thought I saw someone I knew over there." He looked back to his wife and softly kissed her neck as she scrutinized the couple across the way.
"That's better," she purred, "Let's go to bed." She stood grabbing his hand and dragging him behind her neither catching to two women joining the couple Wrenga had been watching, a petite brunette sitting with the man on the loveseat and another with white braided hair perching herself on the arm of woman's chair, the group engaging in what appeared to be a good natured conversation.
The next day after making the transfer of information the group sans Chewbacca had decided to go to the one of the beaches scattered around the island. Chewbacca after reassurance from Pooja that they would not be bothered here had decided to spend the day exploring the island's small jungle. So it was that Han found himself the envy of many of the male staff and few male guest as he escorted the group of beautiful women around the beaches. It had taken the combined efforts of himself and Pooja to get Leia to even consider spending some time on the beaches. Winter's quiet suggestion that the two would probably just go without them however had been the catalyst that had Leia changing into her swimsuit and suggesting the swimming area near the reef. She didn't know why but the thought of Han spending the day alone with Pooja in the intimate atmosphere of the island retreat sent an intense surge of jealousy coursing through her. She found herself in waist deep water with Han laughing as colorful fish swam around their legs. Winter and Pooja waded nearby looking at shells. Leia found herself jumping to his side as a particularly large ray swam by only to break away as a small boy splashed his way into them coming to a stop in front of Han and Leia. "Hiya kid," Han called leaning down to the kid, "where you headed in such a hurry."
"Did you see where it went," the kid asked wide eyed?
"Are you sure," Leia questioned, "you should be out here without your parents?"
"Um," the child started only to be interrupted.
"Crosby," called a large man with a light shirt covering a broad chest and a pair of dark board shorts, "you were told not to go into the water alone." The man continued out to them and waved in greeting, he had long brown hair in a pony tail. "Wrenga Jixton," he introduced himself offering a hand to first Han and then Leia, "and this is my son Crosby," he finished resting a hand on the boys shoulder.
"Hawke Rayley," Han began then gestured to Leia, "and my wife Keida," he finished wrapping his arm around her shoulders with a squeeze. "These are our friends, Leonie and Zimní," Han gestured to Pooja and Winter respectively. Wrenga returned the greeting as another woman tall and slender with back length cinnamon brown hair and a young girl propped on her hip waded out to them and he gestured to her.
"My wife, Breanna and our daughter Catalina," Wrenga said as the introductions were made around.
"I'm sorry if Crosby intruded," the woman said politely, "come on Crosby I'm sure your father would like to help you find that ray again." The boy promptly splashed in the direction the ray had swam, his father following closely behind him. Han offered to give them a hand getting close to the fish and waded with Wrenga across the tidal pool. "Enjoy yourselves," Breanna said with a smile wading back the blankets the family had on the beach. The three women smiled and waved as she left Leia looking sternly at Pooja.
"There are never," Leia said quietly, "supposed to be imperials here Pooja, that is the Lady Vader's personal physician."
"I know," Pooja replied quietly, "that is the man who saw you back to the ship after you were shot, but the safety of this place was not overstated, I assure you."
It had taken a while for Leia to subtly get Han's attention and then it had taken more time so that their departure from the beach wasn't suspicious, but once they were back in the safety of their rooms that the arguments really erupted. "We have to get out of here," Leia spoke sharply, "immediately, there is too much potential intelligence in this room for the empire."
"Leia," Han managed to stop her diatribe by placing his hands on her shoulders and looking closely into her eyes, "there's not a ferry back to the spaceport for a couple of days, and it takes at least two days to get a lift window out of there." The fear in her eyes was palpable.
"I promise you," Pooja spoke earnestly, "we are safe here, those two will not do anything on this island, in the mean time we just need to act as if nothing is wrong, we have a dinner reservation tonight." Leia was firmly shaking her head though unable to deal with whatever she was feeling.
"No," Leia insisted, "we have to split up and get out of here, now!"
"Go get cleaned up Leia, it'll calm you down," Han spoke as he steered Leia towards the bedroom she looked back over her shoulder with uncertainty, "it'll be okay." She nodded in understanding and left the living area of the suite both her and Han missing the knowing look that passed between Pooja and Winter. "You two," he turned back after he was sure Leia was out of earshot , "go to the dinner and if anyone asks tell them I got too much sun and Keida is taking care of me, I'll order in." Pooja smiled at the plan and started out the door.
"Keida got too much sun," Winter contributed for the first time, "it won't be believable if it's you, Han." They all agreed and the two women started out the door Winter pausing to grasp Han's arm and speaking quietly, "Naboo food, I noticed the menu had a good selection, it always made her feel better, the sushi is her favorite."
Han immediately set about ordering every dish on the Naboo section of the menu along with a couple of steaks for himself and Chewie. The afore mentioned wookie slipping in just after he finished the order, Han took a moment to fill his partner in before slipping into the master bedroom of the suite to check on Leia. The bed was untouched since the maid service earlier and the rest of the room looked just as neat as they had left it. Han gathered his courage as he stepped over to the fresher door knocking and calling out to Leia. The lack of a response had him slipping into the steam filled room and calling out her name tentatively. He saw her through the open shower still in her bikini sitting on the floor her face in her knees and the hot water cascading over her. He had on several occasions now seen her like this and had found several different ways of dealing with it. The problem was that on this particular occasion he was not the only one who had seen the beginning of the spell. With a sigh he stepped over to the large soaking tub and started the warm water running into it pouring liberal amounts of the available bath salts and bubble solutions in. Han left the bath running then dropped the shirt he had on to join Leia in the huge shower thankful that he also hadn't changed out of his swimming attire. Taking a sponge he lathered it with some soap and tentatively started scrubbing her back.
"I can't believe I did that," she said in a sullen tone allowing him to disengage an arm so that he could apply the soapy lather to it.
"You didn't do anything wrong," he spoke gruff as he disengaged the other arm and cleaned it. She refused to look at him as he continued his actions, picking her up to stand he scrubbed down the rest of her body over her swimsuit. Throughout the short process Han did nothing inappropriate his movements and actions clinical. Leia found herself relaxing into his touch and letting it wisp her away to a place she had always dreamed of. This man was a complete enigma to her, so brash, so outspoken and forward with some of the suggestions he had made over the years she would have expected him to take every advantage of having her in a shower. It seemed that he always knew exactly what she needed and this occasion was no exception. She continued to drift on this billowy cloud until she realized that he had just finished washing her hair and was beginning to rinse it out.
"They think I'm weak," she whispered looking at him with haunted eyes,
"Nobody here thinks your weak," Han intoned in his gruff way as he stoped the water and wrung out her hair, "not even the wookie." He walked her out of the shower and helped her step into the large tub that had by now filled with a thick blanket of suds on top. She watched him closely as he held her arm and eased her down into the bath. "Now relax in that for a while," he smiled at her in a way that made her heart thud, "I've got them sending up something to eat, they said it would take an hour so take your time."
"What do you think of me, Han?" her question was barely a whisper as he stood from the tub, so she was surprised to hear an earnest reply.
"I think you're everything," he answered his eyes pleading hopeful as they bored into hers, but what he saw reflected there was surprise and fear. She broke the conection first unable to deal with the emotions coursing through her moving around beneath the suds to get comfortable in the tub. Han gave slight self-deprecating smile and headed for the exit hearing her movements in the water.