The usual disclaimers, that Star Wars isn't mine, but belongs to Big G...
When I originally wrote "The Angel of Alderaan", my writing skills weren't as developed as they are now. Now, years later, I looked at it, and decided, that while it was good back then, it has numerous flaws, was often far too superfacial in its storyline and didn't go into the needed detail. Also it didn't mesh well with Episode III (since I wrote it 2004), something needed nowadays.
So I decided to take it apart, drop and put in scenes, write new scenes, change parts of the story, and generally try to create a far better result than the first time. Based on the skeleton of the old story, this will replace the old one, the old one is already erased to avoid spoilers. So have fun with "The Angel of Alderaan- Remixed".
Note: I did edit the older chapters to put in more detail and correct some errors.
Chapter V- Revelations
The cruiser Home One was the central base of the Rebellion, now that the Yavin base destroyed. Because of the Death Star, a mobile base was also better than a planetary one. A planetary base had practically become a sitting duck with a weapon when being faced with a weapon that could smash planets to dust. It was their biggest ship; their only big ship. It was a gift from the Mon Calamari people who had not yet decided if they wanted to join or not, mostly because they feared what could happen once the Empire found out.
The ship was surely beautiful in a strange way. Being a former passenger ship, its asthetics were unusual for a warship. Refitting the former passenger ship to a warship was a task not even finished yet. Meaning that the whole ship was still a huge construction site.
The main hangar of the big cruiser was a hub of activity when the Falcon landed in it. Crews were busy with unloading cargo and equipment salvaged from the evacuated Yavin base. New personell was coming onboard, while others were shipped away. All this while parts of the hangar were clearly still being re-modeled. It seemed that the destruction of Yavin IV had really hit the Rebellion on the wrong foot.
"Princess Leia." A soldier greeted them as soon as they left the Falcon. "I have orders from Mon Mothma herself to escort your group right to the council chambers. The medical team will bring your guest to the sickbay. If you please follow me..."
"Excuse us, but we'll meet up later. The Falcon needs some additional fixing. The wiring of the hyperdrive has burned through," Han excused himself, propably also to escape a boring meeting where he'd be useless anyway.
Our captain surely knows how to escape boredom... Leia thought, knowing from experience that council meetings could become really boring, even for her. Then they left the hangar, following the soldier through the bright white corridors.
Chaos also dominated the corridors on their way. Equipment and personell made it difficult to navigate through to corridors, and the mix of voices completed the picture of disorder. They'd to flatten themselves again the wall a few times to allow a hoversled with crates to pass the corridor. It was obvious that it would take some time for this chaos to settle.
Finally they arrived at the council room. The room itself wasnt that big a rather unremarkable. Its only defining feature the big table at its center. At the big table before them sat six people, flanked by a guard on each side, watching them with interest when they entered. Four of them were human and there were two aliens.
Leia first saw Mon Mothma in the central seat. The former senator from Chandrilla was the elected leader of the high command. She looked older than she was, years of fight had eaten away at her substance. Being one of the persons of the first hour of the Rebellion, she was held in high regard everywhere.
To her right was the Mon Calamari Admiral Ackbar, who watched them with his big eyes. He'd been only freed months ago from being Tarkin's personal slave. Despite looking a little odd to human eyes, he was really brilliant a an admiral and also proved that he had the right personality to lead people.
The seat to her left was empty, and Leia had to hold back a tear. It was Bail's seat, now robbed of its occupant. She'd substituted for him often, thus being familiar with this seat. But she doubted that she'd be able to fill in for him full time.
Jan Dodonna they already knew, and he was not in any way surprised to see them. General Bel Iblis from Corellia and General Riekaan watched them with interest. They were both men of the military and had their code of honor. The huge respect they enjoyed with the tropps being the reason for them being where they were now.
The last one at once made her mood sour. She had no nerves left to hear Borsk Fe'lya's tirades now. The Bothan had irritated her since he had entered the high command. He was a rather shady person with vague motives. The reason why he'd risen so high up being that he'd excellent connections to the Bothan spy network.
No, she didn't want to dwell on this person.
Mon Mothma got up to greet them and then noticed the new lightsaber hanging at the belt on Leia's hip. A gentle smile told her that she approved of that development. "Welcome to Home One. Please excuse the chaos, but we still have to bring order to the confusion brought to us after the evacuation of Yavin base. Please take your seats; I think we will have much to talk about."
So far everything went smoothly. Maybe this time there won't be trouble... she hoped.
However, after a while it went like she had feared it would. While the other high command members were friendly towards them, and Mon Mothma even on first name basis with her mother since they knew each other from the days of the Republic, Fe'lya immediatly tried to make accusations towards them. It was taxing for their nerves to deal with the choleric Bothan and his paranoia (propably coming from his line of work).
An hour went by, then two.
Fe'lya accused them of various things, including that Mara could be an imperial spy (an ironic accusation), that the whole Jedi thing was a sham, and that maybe they wiped the Death Star plans by themselves to serve the Empire. Also he didn't believe Amidala's identity, speculating that she was propably just a decoy to gain their trust. Padmè knew this kind of people, having endured lots of them during her years in the senate. And the whole time. However, finally the point came where her patience found its end.
"...as for the question who should take the seat of Bail Organa, I think Amidala is best suited to take over his duties. After all she has losts of experience in matters of leadership," Mon Mothma suggested to the others when the topic came up.
The others gave their approval, apart from Fe'lya. "I must protest! Her qualification is doubtful. This looks more like a favor for an old friend and nothing more."
Padmè, who had ignored all other accusations, angrily marched directly before the Bothan, glaring daggers at him. Now it was personal and she wouldn't let this go by. "Now listen, Mr. Fe'lya! This is not because I'm an old friend of Mon Mothma, or because I knew some of the council members! I'm a schooled politician, and was a leader of my people for many years. You, on the other hand, are a shady character who only got into high command because of your troops of spies. You don't have any leadership qualities, live with it!"
After some seconds of speechlessness, Fe'lya became really angry. He was deeply offended that this woman dared to doubt HIS qualifications. "That's outrageous! I'm not here to be insulted!" Using the extensive vocabulary of his native language to shout definitely foul words, he left the room. But not before giving Amidala one last, angry look.
Padmè feared that she had overdone it, but Leia reassured her. "Don't worry, he will come back. That has already happened several times. He is simply someone unpleasant, I have witnessed it myself. Although..." She now look thoughtful. "The way he looked at you, I think you just made it on his list of strongest rivals."
"I know his kind, saw enough of those during my senate years. Lots of hot air with little substance. Too bad that we have to tolerate him." Looking to Mon Mothma, she added "Sorry for this scene, but I finally had had enough when he questioned all my hard work."
"Actually I need to apologise. The way he treated you was unacceptable," Mothma answered, then indicated for Amidala to take her seat. "There is lots we have to introduce you to. Also lots of work ahead of us. That includes the princess."
Leia nodded, she knew this would have to be done, then looked to Obi- Wan and her brother. "I think you two can leave. Luke, you would be only bored by the whole political and tactical talk that will now come, it's nothing exciting and -this is no insult- you propably won't even understand most of it. And as far as I know from mother, our master dislikes politics in general. I don't think he wants to be bothered with it. The quartermaster can assign you cabins and we will meet you later to talk about what we can do to help the Alliance."
Luke wasn't sad in the slightest that he could leave. The last two hours had been hard on his nerves. "No problem Leia. Ben and I want to see after Mara anyway. See you later!" he told he a little too eager before he left with Obi-Wan to find the quartermaster.
But it was easier said than done in the confusion ruling the corridors, and they had to ask for directions several times to prevent getting lost on the huge ship. Help the Force! If the whole Rebellion is so chaotic, then I doubt they will win the fight against the Empire! Luke though, while watching his surroundings. Hopefully this would get better with time.
Obi-Wan's thoughts went in the same direction. Since he had experience with working in an army, he knew that this group of freedom fighters really needed to get their act together. The Empire had a huge advantage with its flawless organisation. Everything went as planned, everything was at its place. The advantage of a totalitarian state, and hard to counter with a force of free-minded, partially chaotic people.
Luke meanwhile was so absorbed with his own thoughts when turning around a corner, he did not notice the pilot until he had collided full force with him, both of them falling to the floor.
"Oh sorry, I hadn't seen you...." Then he saw the pilot, and he was surprised that it was a familiar face for him. One that he didn't expect to see again. "Biggs?" He recognized his old friend from Tatooine. He had last seen him days ago in Anchorhead, saying goodbye to him. Biggs had planned to join the Rebellion, a move Luke had found bold back then, since he thought opposing the Empire would be suicide. Look where he was now! Judging by his pilot outfit and the fact that he was there, Biggs had really made it.
"Luke?" Biggs felt, as if he was back on Tatooine. There was his friend, still in his farmer outfit, and that on board of the flagship of the Rebellion! He had the feeling that fate was truely strange if his friend who was so opposed to leaving Tatooine, suddenly was a Rebel. He did not hesitate to help him up. "Luke, my friend!" They both shook hands warmly. "I thought you were still on Tatooine!"
"Well, I'm here now. I thought I would never see you again after Anchorhead! You seem to have made it where you wanted to be," Luke told him, feeling that at least having one of his old friends around was better than nothing. Boy, there was so much to tell him!
Biggs indicated at his outfit "Yes, I finally found my destiny here. Now I can make a difference and fight for what I believe in." Biggs seemed to literally beam with pride. He then noticed Obi-Wan. "Say, Luke, who is your companion there?" He pointed to Obi-Wan, who had held back until now.
"Biggs, do you remember the talk about the wizard of the Juntland desert, the old Ben?" Luke asked his friend.
Bigs shugged. "Who didn't? Camie's parents used it to say he'll take her with him, should she disobey. My parents said that this is rubbish and he's just an old man who's a little strange, nothing more."
"Well, better believe the magical part This is him, Ben Kenobi, also known as Obi-Wan," Luke indtroduced the old master to his friend.
"An actual, living Jedi? Man, I thought they're just legends. Guess you wanted to keep you privacy by spreading this rumor?" Biggs asked Obi-Wan. How strange that he would find Luke in the company of this man.
"Actually it's because of the sandpeople. I scared them so much that their stories must have leaked to the human population. I never wanted to become a horror-story for children," Obi-Wan defended himself. He himself would have never spread such rumors, since it went contrary to his goal to stay under the radar.
Biggs shook his head. "So much happend... Luke, we all have much to talk about! Do you have some place where we can talk? And I thought your uncle would never let you off Tatooine...." Biggs flinched, when he noticed Luke's pained expression at the mention of his uncle. "Something happened to them, am I right....?" he asked carefully, and got a nod for confirmation.
"Come Biggs, Ben and I must go to quartermasters for cabins. We can talk there..." Luke didn't make any further comment on Bigg's blunder.
That was something which Obi-Wan observed with worry. He had to talk about it with Luke soon. Silently following them, his thoughts went to something else. Mara's possible parentage. The two knights he suspected were known for not taking the rules very seriously, and got into hot water with the council more than once.
But right now it was speculation, he had to take a closer look.
The cabin was not very big, but still the three of them had enough space for a talk. They both told Biggs their adventures, what had happened so far, and how Luke finally found the family he had thought lost forever. A full hour later, Biggs was speechless in awe after the full story had unfolded in front of him. And to imagine that days ago he'd been a simple farmer was almost unbelievable.
Luke really got the big stick! My old friend got more excitement in these few days than in his whole life before! "Wow Luke! That was....unbelievable! You have lost so much...and gained so much in these few days! Do you sometimes wonder if that all is real?"
"At the beginning, but now I see that it can't have been any different. It's hard to describe, just trust me." Luke knew it was simply too difficult to explain a feeling he got from the Force. However, now his own curiosity needed to be statisfied. "Biggs, I still don't know how you got here, and how you have fared in these days! Please, tell us your story now."
Biggs collected his thoughts, before he began. "Well okay. Luke, after our talk in Anchorhead, I went to Bestine, to the friend I mentioned to you, and he was really a big help. He had contacts with one of the members of Red squadron, who organized transportation for me to Yavin IV. I got though their tests with such good results, that I'm now member of the squadron. I never saw you on Yavin IV, because after evacuation was declared, it all happened really fast, and the squadron flew over several waypoints to Home One."
Biggs paused then, as if he now remembered something horrible. "But fortune was not with us, because there was one of these big imperial cruisers at one waypoint. You know these things that are four times as big as a Star Destroyer. Out of twelve pilots only three made it into hyperspace.... the squadron leader whose name we don't know and only call 'Red Leader', Wedge Antilles who is the friend of the friend who helped my to enter the Rebellion, and myself. "
"Oh, damn, I didn't know, sorry..." Luke hadn't wanted to open that fresh wound.
"I know that it's bad... but they told me on the first day to expect that during a war... And to be honest, they were mostly blank faces for me, I didn't know them at all and can't feel personal loss. I know it sounds mean, but it simply is like that for me," he told Luke.
Seeing Luke not protesting, he continued, "Luke, since you mentioned this... we are now in serious need of new pilots for the squadron... We could use someone like you. I could get you to the testing chambers for a try. What do you think?"
That came all of a sudden to Luke, and it was tempting. He had always wanted to fly a starfighter. And to suddenly be presented with this opportunity... Luke looked hopeful to Obi-Wan "Ben, would it possible for me to be a pilot and still train in the ways of the Force?"
Obi-Wan had already thought that Luke would ask him that. Just like his father, Luke was fascinated with flying. It would have been heartless to forbid it. And also, he could only teach one twin a time in a lesson, so it could be done without too much of a problem. "That's no problem at all. I'm sure we can work something out."
"Luke is one of the best pilots, I have ever seen. Red Leader surely will have nothing against it, especially when he proves himself in simulation! I will take you to to the simulation chamers, Luke! Please excuse us Mr. Kenobi..." Biggs took Luke by the hand and before Obi-Wan could bring out another word they had already left.
Ah, the impulsiveness of youth... he thought in amusement, before turning serious. Well, I have to do something too. Let's see if my assumption out this Mara Jade is correct. If so, I will have to be careful around her...
It took him only little time to actually find the sickbay after some questions, but a different problem arose right then: He was denied entry into the bacta-tank room.
Because of the location of the burns, Mara floated naked in the tank, unable to wear one of the swimsuit-like garments normally worn by females in the tank. And to secure her privacy, only directly involved medical personnel was allowed inside. This thoughtful measure to ensure her privacy made things more difficult but not impossible.
Thankfully, Obi-Wan didn't need to be in the same room, only close to her, althought it would take more concentration.
Slowly sinking into the Force while standing beside the door , he started to carefully examine her Force signature. It was bright, so she was Force strong. He felt lots of anger from her, mixed with confusion and fear. Obi-Wan saw pieces of subconscious memories, and they made him shudder. Her life hadn't been an easy one. Yet despite that, she'd managed to sustain her inner light.
Going deeper he finally found different pictures, that proved what he had suspected the whole time. She IS the one I thought she is. I don't think that she remembers these things. I will have to be on my guard that she will not betray out trust. I will wait and see how things will proceed.
Obi-Wan then left the sickbay, to retire into his cabin. It had been a long day, and sleep was now one of things he really needed. He also knew that tomorrow would be a busy day. A busy day of many to come.
...in the simulator room...
"This is a fantastic score! I've only seldom seen something that good! Who is the pilot in simulator 3?" Red Leader asked Wedge Antilles, when he saw the results of the tests for pilots, who wanted to join the squadron.
After the last massacre of the squadron at the hands of the Empire, they were on a desperate search for good pilots. So far they'd found some promising recruits, but the score from that one... he had at first thought that the damn display was broken. After chicking it on a different display, he was deeply impressed. And he knew, they had to have this pilot at all costs!
"I don't know, sir! Biggs brought him here and said, it was a friend, but no name. I think, we should ask them ourselves." Wedge, a man only slightly older than Luke, told the old squadron leader before they went to the said simulator.
These two men couldn't be more different. The one young and all too eager to use his new skills to fight the oppression in the galaxy. The other a veteran of almost 35 active years as a pilot, collected and wise with his experience. The one thing that connected these two different men was the wish for better, free times in the galaxy.
Biggs Darklighter was standing beside the simulator, waiting for Luke to come out. Hearing steps he looked up. Seeing Red Leader und Wedge walking up to him, he knew that Luke's performance had already created the attention he knew it would create. Luke was the best pilot he'd met in his life, and that Red Leader came her now, proved it. "Yes, Red Leader?" he asked.
"Darklighter! Who is your friend in there?" Red Leader asked him in excitement. "He has one of the best scores I've ever seen! We have to have him in the squadron!"
Before Biggs was able to answer, the simulator opened up and Luke came out. Seeing that he was not alone with Biggs, Luke became a little nervous. "Uhm, how did I do?"
"Well, young man, you beat all of the other participants. And you're modest about that, to beat... Well, son, we really can use pilots like you. What is your name?" Red Leader said, while already imagining the blonde-haired man in pilot's clothing.
"Luke...Luke Skywalker." He said, a bit unsure after hearing his results. He hadn't really done much, just played along with the simulation. That he'd beaten all the others by far was even a little shocking to him. He had had no idea that he was THAT good.
Red Leader raised an eyebrow, that wasn't a common name. Indeed, after looking at the young man, it raised a question. "Skywalker? Any chance that you are related to the war hero Anakin Skywalker?"
Luke nodded "Yes, he... he is my father. My mother told me that I look a lot like him."
"Well, your mother must be a good judge on appearance then, since you really take after him. Although I never knew that he has children... guess even war heroes want their privacy.... You know, I actually was there in his very first battle. When I saw him fly when he was only nine years, he destroyed a droid control ship above Naboo...." Red Leader remembered.
They had had no chance to get through the shields of such a ship. They were like flies trying to impress a Bantha; meaning totally ineffective. Then the miracle had happened, and a nine year old Anakin was able to destroy the ship from within. At the time, Red Leader had been still a young man of 19 years. Now, with age catching up, he thought about retiring. But meeting Luke awakened old memories.
"I know of the battle. My mother told me about it. She had said without him they would have lost the battle." Luke wondered why Red Leader seemed surprised when he mentioned her.
"Young man, who exactly is your mother? From the sounds of it she comes from Naboo, which is my own home planet. It's been some time since I met someone from home in person..."
Luke knew, this revelation would come as a small shock to Red Leader, but he felt that good would come from it. "Would you believe me when I say that she's the former queen and senator Amidala?" Seeing Red Leader's unconvinced look, he added, "It's true. She faked her own death to ensure that I and my sister are safe from the Empire. If you don't believe me, she's here on this very ship."
Now that got his attention.
"No joke?" He really wanted to believe that. He had no respect for the current rulers of Naboo , although he didn't fault them for being under so much pressure from the Empire. The last important politician from Naboo who he felt deserved full respect was Padmè Amidala. "Sorry, but I have to see her to believe that. If it's true, I have to give her news from the home world."
He knew that if it was true, then the news he'd have to tell her wouldn't be good. However, it would also mean that his friend Panaka could finally shake off his feelings of guilt he carried for 19 years now, that he had been unable to protect the senator. That she'd actually 'died' after the end of the war was extra salt into the wound.
Maybe now this wound could finally heal.
...meanwhile on Coruscant...
The central prison on Coruscant -a simple, huge cube without any features- was a place that everybody feared. Not because of torture, nor because of cruel terms of imprisonment. No, it was the quietness, the sterile atmosphere, the nonexistence of time, that tended to damage to minds of the prisoners. Being brought to 'Central' was generally seen as a punishment in itself for the weaker-minded.
However, the quietness of the prison was disrupted when Vader walked down the corridor to the prison block that contained his prey. His boots banged loudly on the floor and his breathing echoed from the bare walls. The brightly lit corridors were a sharp contrast to his black armor. Then finally he had reached the cell of his first target: Bail Organa.
Said man looked up when he heard the door of his cell openening. Seeing Vader enter, he stood up. "What do I owe the honor of your presence to?" he asked him sarcastically. He didn't any longer care for his safety, since he was a prisoner anyway.
Vader had to admit, even in prison garb, Organa still looked really defaint. "The only reason why I don't strangle you on the spot is that Admidala spoke in your favor." He remembered her mentioning it during their discussion that he should help her to free his daughter. "Questions arose that I want answers to. Now!"
"And why should I do that?"
Vader was tempted to show him a piece of his mind to make him answer, but he controlled himself. After all, Padmè otherwise wouldn't like it. And if he ever wanted to again get into her good graces, he had to start somewhere. "I do this for Amidala's and my daughter's sake. Answer honestly and I will use my influence to ensure that you are spared from the death penalty."
That was news to Bail that Vader knew about Leia's true parentage. Should he really accept this offer? "What exactly do you want to know? No way I will commit treason."
"Simple. What exactly were the connections between you and my daughter? Nothing more."
That was another surprise. Bail had expected Vader to ask him about secrets of the Alliance, but not such a personal request. It made the whole thing a lot less dangerous. Finally he made a decision, since it wouldn't do any harm. "All right, I'll tell you. It was my second wife who had blackmailed me into adopting Leia into house Organa. I never wanted to do it, but refusing her would have brought a major crisis over Alderaan, so I gave in after a long fight... However, I never pretended to Leia that I'm her father, and we both agreed that while I care for her, I could never replace him. I always tried to keep Amidala up to date on her child and promised Leia that when the time would be right, I would reveal her true parentage to her."
Vader had stayed silent, checking if Organa said the truth. He could detect no falsehood. "You told the truth. This will be to your advantage."
"They have both endured a lot, I don't want to see them hurt more than they already have been... I know I could regret this, but I better say this now... My wife knows who you are." He let this hang in the air.
"I see..." Vader turned to leave. "You are a honest man, Viceroy. Sadly, you are on the wrong side, or things would be different now. I still want a talk with your wife. She will pay the price for what she has done to them!" He then left and the door closed shut.
Bail knew he should feel ashamed that he had sentenced Roxana to a cruel fate. But he simply couldn't find any pity for her. And it was this lack of pity for her, that scare him.
Vader meanwhile made his way to the cell of Roxana Organa. Unlike Bail, she wouldn't get the nice treatment. After all everything he had gathered that she was just a cold and power-hungry bitch, so no one would ask any questions. I will show her that hurting the ones I love will have dire consequences! Oh, he would not kill her, but he would think about something fitting for her.
FInally he reached her cell and opened it.
Even in prison garb with her hair cut to normal length, Roxana Organa looked arrogant and cold. "So, Lord Vader, you finally dared, to come to me!" she greeted him. Her tone made clear made it clear that she still was full of herself.
That made Vader only angrier. "You better watch your tone, Organa. I'm not a patient man."
Rxoana snorted as if she didn't care at all. "Oh, I know who you are, and I can also guess why you are here. You're here because of your little idiot daughter and the tramp who arried you."
Now Vader had enough! Nobody dared to insult his family and get away with it! With a strike of his artificial right hand, he hit her full in the face, throwing her to the ground. He was pleased to see that she bleed out of nose and mouth and that he had knocked out several of her teeth.
"I warned you..." Normally he didn't get that physical, but the bitch had simply made him snap.
Despite her bloodied face, she laughed. "If you want to beat me to death, be my guest. Only proves that you are indeed a shallow, dark peon whose only means are violence."
"What idea do you have of darkness...?" Grabbing her by the throat he held herup to eye level, then made the lenses of his mask transparent. "I will show you the true darkness...."
His blue eyes were like pools of blue fire and as much as she tried, Roxana was unable to look away. Her mind was totally unable to cope with the abyss of darkness, suffering, pain and loss that flooded into her from these cold eyes. She screamed to him to stop, but he ignored her, until her screames became gibberish, then he let her go.
Looking down on her, he noted with statisfaction that her mind was now damaged beyond repraid. Now you now the true meaning of darkness. A fitting end for you to exist as a vegetable...
His business done, he left.
There were still things to do, and bureaucratic work to be done before he could return to the Devastator and head to the Fondor ship yards to watch over the building of his new ship. Normally, the time for building such a big ship was six months because of all the bureaucratic garbage that went with it. But with him there to prevent that from happening, it would be only three months. Also, this was enough time to let his plans become reality.
All was going as he wanted it to be.
...in the Imperial Palace at the same time...
The meeting with the heads of the Imperial Navy and Army was going smoother than Palpatine had thought. Finally, after Tarkin had fallen into disgrace, they dared to voice their concerns about his military doctrine. Rule through fear sounded good on paper, but in reality it was nearly useless. Not separating between innocents and true enemies was another problem that had strengthened the Rebels, they told him.
Not that he cared about that in the slightest, he was just interested in cementing his rule. And changing the rules of engagement to create an atmosphere of 'the Empire does the right thing' was just a move in the big game. And more important, they could still use all means of violence, they just had to make sure that they would save face and never allow their enemy to look like a victim.
They wouldn't be able to cumpletely pull the rug from under the Rebels -after all there were always those who would dislike the Empire nonetheless- but with some patience they'd become a much more manageable nuisance.
Not that they are much of a threat to begin with, but I can't tolerate their existence... he thought while listening in patience to another General.
Now, to combine that with the next phase of his plan would be important. It would be useless to enforce these new rules, if thee wasn't a big factor to unite the population of the Empire behind him. Just like he did in the Clone Wars by creating an atmosphere of pure nationalism and hatred for a common enemy. Thankfully he already had such an enemy at his hands, even if they thought they'd gone unnoticed by now.
Somewhat ironic that Vader's disobiedience had helped him to jump-start his political mind, the politician in him re-awakening. Brute force alone was good. But brute force combined with the right propaganda and tactic was devastating. The Rebels wouldn't know what hit them until their support would wane.
But this was in the future. Right now they had to prepare for the revealing of their big new enemy to the masses, and that included presenting some of them to said masses. Thankfully he knew where to find them. One even had the gall to try and hide in his court. It had been stupid, since the man was a literal hole in the Force, making it damn easy to figure out that he was clearly not a baseline human.
To secretly probe his mind had proven to be a challenge, his race obviously hardened against telepaths, but in the end he did succeed and what he found had been very interesting. Yes, he would have to give him an invitation to a state dinner where the trap would snap shut.
You think you are smart, Nom Anor... But no one outsmarts me...
Darkness. Everything was covered in it, and Mara had no clue where she was. The last thing she remembered was how she had fallen asleep in the Falcon. And now she found herself in this darkness with no clue how she had ended up here. Had the crew simply dumped her out into space and she had died? If yes, then the afterlife was pretty much disappointing.
Damn Rebel scum, I bet they... She was unable to finish the thought. "Don't worry, you are quite alive."
"Don't worry, you are quite alive."
"Who was that? Show yourself!" she shouted, her danger sense telling her that whoever it was, he cloaked himself well.
A shape slowly peeled out of the blackness, seeming to glow by itself. It was a man who Mara guessed to be in his late forties. His long brown hair and his beard were beginning to gray. He wore the robe of a Jedi knight and was unarmed. He looked friendly but Mara remembered what her Master taught her about the Jedi, and prepared to defend herself if necessary. After all, the Jedi had almost pulled the galaxy down into chaos. That, and she had personal reasons.
"Don't worry, young Mara, I'm not here to harm you. And even if that would be my intention, I can't. You see, I'm quite dead. No, I'm here to guide you." His voice was soft and assuring. Nonetheless, Mara became defensive.
"I don't know who you are or how you know my name. But I will make it clear that I can't stand Jedi knights! Just leave me alone! I know what they tried to do to me just because children weren't an option in their order!" she shouted in hatred.
She really meant it. Her master had told her that sad story, how he came to be her guardian. How the clone troopers who had stormed into the temple the night before the foundation of the Empire had found these knights ready to sacrifice a newborn -a newborn that had been her- just because marriage and children were forbidden in the order. Because of this, she hated Jedi. And now to meet one in person made this hatred errupt in full force.
In her anger, she tried to attack him, but he was like fog and she simply ran through him. "What the...?"
The Jedi rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Please, like I said, I'm dead... Why do you young ones always are so disbelieving?"
"I don't have to listen to this!" Mara pouted, turning away. It was childisch but she hoped that if she ignored him enough, he would vanish. The Jedi didn't take ofense, as if he had expected this.
"Well, young one, you really believe everything the Emperor told you? Was there anything other than his words that proved what he said?" said the Jedi, not even in the slightest concerned about her hostility.
Seeing that Mara continued to try and ignore him, he sighed."Why does that remind me of my old padawan...?" Walking around Mara, he faced her. "You can't simply walk away. See, this is inside of your head, if you want to say it that way. You are floating inside of a bacta tank, sleeping."
Stopping her attempt to ignore the Jedi, she looked him directlyinto the eyes. "What in all names do you want from me? Why can't you just return to your grave and leave me in peace?"
"I promised two friends to do this. I want to show you the truth about your upbringing, which is so deeply hidden inside of you," the Jedi cryptically told her.
"I have no idea what you're talking about.... apart from the fact that you are obviously try to make my master look bad." Mara was really angry that the Jedi tried to paint her mast in bad colors. What hidden truth? It all smelled of one big lie. But still, there was something strange in the back of her mind, as if something in her head itched.
"He has hidden the truth well and made you forget, but the memories were actually never erased, only deeply hidden inside of you. And I will help you to dig them out....." While he said this, the pain in her head had increased; the darkness around her began to swirl in a chaos of colors and sounds. Then finally it manifested itself into a room.
It was the throne room of the Emperor. It looked a bit different, as if some of the changes to it weren't made yet. Palpatine sat in the throne, looking younger although it was hard to tell with his deformed face.
"What is this?" Mara demanded to know. "Another mind-trick of yours?"
"WHEN would be a better question. This is part of your memories, sixteen years ago," he calmly explained to her, then pointed to the space below where, surrounded by four red guards, were two humans, clad in civilian clothing, a man and a woman. The woman was holding a child, not even two years old, with red hair and green eyes. Mara felt something churning in her stomach as she saw this. It was as if something bad came up.
The Emperor rose then descended to the captives. "Melecor and Eboyla Jade. Finally we meet, and you two thought I had given up finding you. I knew the potential in such a marriage of Jedi who left the order would be great. Good thing I found you before Lord Vader did...hehe."
"What do you want, Palpatine?" the man asked, helf in fear and half in defiance.
"Well, her of course. She is young, and I have great plans for her!" Palpatine pointed to the child in Eboyla's arms.
"You can't take Mara away from us!" She tried to hold her child tight but suddenly one of the guards grabbed the girl and ripped her out of her mothers grasp. "No, you can't!" she cried, before a guard slammed the butt of his lance into her stomach, silencing her.
Young Mara screamed, kicked and tried to get lose, but it was totally useless against the superior strength of the red guard. That one guard walked up to stand beside the Emperor, who again laughed. "I never said that you two have a choice in the matter... As for you two..." He raised his hands. "I have no need for witnesses..."
Lightning shot out of his fingers, hitting the two of them full force. They screamed in pain, while the heat set them on fire. The only thing more disturbing that their slow death was that the Emperor was smiling through all this, as if it was a funny hobby of his. When the lightning finally stopped, there was nothing left but two burn corpses, no indiviual features left on them.
"Guards! Remove this mess from my throne room. And as for you, woung one..." His sick yellow eyes were fixed on Mara's green ones and the frightened girl suddenly fell totally silent, like a droid who was turned off. "Your life until this point has never happened... Forget it all... Forget... forget..."
The picture faded away and the darkness re-appeared. Mara wanted to shout, to scream that it was lies, but she knew that it was the real thing. She knew it was true because her deepest, inner self told her so. What she had witnessed was the crime that had altered her life forever. Not knowing what to believe anymore, all strength left her and she collapsed on the ground, weeping.
The Jedi looked at her with compassion, knowing that this must have been very hard for her. "I know, the truth is hard to accept, and it will take time for you. When you awake, there will be friends who want to help you. Up until a few days ago your future was dark, full of fear and pain. But then, something happened and this future vanished like a bad dream. Now, the future is what you make of it..."
He began to vanish when Mara looked to him with tear-soaked eyes "Wait! Don't leave me alone! Who are you?"
"I can't tell you my name yet but be assured we will meet again." Together with him, everything vanished and Mara entered a state of dreamless sleep.
The news were bad.
Padmè was alone in the bed in her cabin remembering again what the old pilot had told her. He had been a pilot in the battle of Naboo, and had now pledged his loyalty to the Alliance. It was strange how some lives could go, she thought. It was even more a pure coincidence that this man was friends with the now retired Panaka -a friend of the family- and thus had news for her from Naboo. Sadly the news weren't good for her personally.
While the world itself still seemed as it ever was, it became real bad once one would take a look behind the outer appearance.
The tight imperial control of the system had made the planet quite isolated from the galactic events. The current king was in a really bad situation. He had to kiss the Empire's feet so that Naboo would be spared from occupation troops. What disobiedience could result in was still fresh in everyone's minds. In a brutal strike shortly after her departure, all of the Gungans were killed by the Empire in a huge massacre, before they again left the planet alone. The bloodbath had colored the lakes and rivers red for days and instilled an atmosphere of terror in her people that still held the planet in an iron grip.
It was a demonstration of what the Empire could do to the Naboo. And it destoryed an integral part of the world itself. With the Gungans slaughtered, he told her, it was as if a part of Naboo itself had died. It would be never again as it once was. Te only thing that was said officially from the imperial side was, that alien scum wasn't tolerated on the Emperor's home world.
And personal tragedy had happened to her as well.
Her mother had died because of illness, leaving her father a widower. And she hadn't been there for her in her last moments, nor to help her father through this hard time. Now she had to mourn for her alone, while still trying to cope with the feelings of shame that she'd abondoned her family during these hard times. Thank the gods that at least the rest of the family was well, considering the circumstances.
She also learned news of her old friend Panaka, who blamed himself for failing his duty, resulting in her death. She couldn't imagine living with such guilt for 19 years. A guilt that was totally unfounded, since she was very alive.
However, it would take days before they could establish a secure hyperwave line to Naboo so that she could finally speak with the ones she had left so long ago. Security was the most important, so that it couldn't be traced. And things like that took time. She would have to wait. I have waited 19 long years, so what are a few days?
Finally with thoughts about how she would be reunited with Anakin some time in the future, an Anakin that hopefully had truely reformed, sleep came.
Luke was unable to sleep.
Too much had happened that shot through his thoughts, keeping him awake. Meeting his friend Biggs, the tragic news of his grandmother's death and his possible entry into Red Squadron. And then the Force, which he already begun to feel all around him. It was pretty much that had happened in such a short time.
Luke wondered how his life would go on from here.
He thought again about his father Anakin, imprisoned by the Emperor for 19 long years, who had never seen his own children. He had said nothing to Ben yet, but he had vowed that one day, when he was strong enough he would free Anakin from the hands of the tyrant. He had noticed in even the short time they'd been together, that his father's abcense hurt his mother. He had noticed even though she tried to hide it.
But he had to be patient, because his training would take time. And patience was not one of his strongest traits. At least he wasn't alone, it seemed to be a family trait since his sister wasn't very patient as well and his mother had told him that they clearly got that from their father.
Luke looked to R2D2, who was inactive and plugged into a recharger. After the droids were unloaded, the little astromech had decided to stay with him while C3PO stayed with his sister. R2 would be used in his fighter, while 3PO was perfect for his sister's political activities. Hard to believe that both of the droids had been in contact with the family so long already, with C3PO even built by his father. Only too bad that they couldn't remember.
However, they planned to change that tomorrow. No memory wipe was really complete and especially with these two doids, who had been in the possession of his technology-magician of father he bet that there would be a way to restore their memory. Hopefully it would work.
Slowly, the tiredness overruled Luke's thoughts and finally sleep came to him. His last thought before he nodded off was about a certain red-haired girl he had not even talked with yet.
Going through countless paperwork all evening had made Leia very tired. As soon as it was all was done, she changed into a nightgown and prepared herself for bed. She left C3PO deactivated at the desk until he was needed again the next day.
Apart from the bad news her mother had gotten, the political work was the most taxing. The last days hadn't been good for the Rebellion. There had been numerous losses, the Yavin base first place. They had been set back by months and the threat of the Death Star would now make it much more difficult to motivate whole planets into ober rebellion. No wonder, when planetary shields didn't any long give protection.
She also had found doubts in the tactics of some of the cells of the Alliance. Some found it totally lemitimate to provoke the Empire into using the big stick, just to afterwards show how bad the Empire is. To sacrifice civilians like that was horribly wrong in her eyes. Other cells openly did questionable things and some -although those were quickly thrown out- even commited their own crimes they then would try to present as the Empire's.
This all gave her a headache. Leia was too tired to anymore think of politics, so instead thought of Captain Solo.
She had noticed the looks he gave her every time they were near each other. It was a bit uncomfortable for her, having really no experience with men thanks to Roxana Organa. Solo was an enigma to her. Cool on the outside, but even with her still nearly minimal Force sense, she felt the chaos of emotions he radiated. Maybe this was why she was even interested in him, apart from his good looks.
If she could only find out why after the first interest he'd suddenly minimised his contact to her. It had come all of a sudden, as if he remembered something that made him go on distance to her.
She shook her head. The man was sometimes really irritating, so why should she care?
She wondered for nearly half an hour before sleep came, why she actually did care. And for her, who was used think was her head, it was impossible to pinpoint the reason. She just... did care for him.
...Han's room in the Falcon...
The cabin in the Falcon stank of Corellian whiskey. No wonder, since Han was right now on his fifth glas. Chewbacca had scolded him for his drinking but he had simply locked the door, so he was alone now.
"On my past love, thank you for ruining my innocence about woman..." he said to himself, before downing the whole glas in one gulp.
On one hand, he had vowed to never have something with a woman again. The disappointment with Bria had hurt him deeply, so he had decided to hide his true feelings behind a facade, to scare away the females that were candidates for a second heartbreak. It had worked perfectly, until he saw Luke's sister for the first time. Apart from her good looks, she was strong willed and had courage. So actually the kind of woman literally made for a man like him.
But then he had remembered the whole Bria thing that he'd tried to forget. Her betrayal had hurt enough. That then also had the gall to 'compensate' him for his losses by offering entrance into the Rebellion had been the final straw and the reason why he still didn't have a good opinion of them. After all, if they screw in the new of the oh-so-important greater good, you don't want to be associated with them, also it now was too late for regrets.
And as if to mock him, Bria from the grave -he did learn about her death- now was busy with causing him headaches over Lady Skywalker the Younger.
He wanted to be near her, but at the same time he feared he would only be hurt again. When she had looked at her a certain way today it had all come back to him, and he had excused himself. It was as if she had looked though his facade and it had made him fearful. The conflict was overwhelming him. Trying to suppress the conflict with drinking was not a big help. It only swirled in his head even more prominent now, the result of too much Corellian whiskey.
I just wish Lando was here to help me. He is the expert with girls, not me. But he is half a galaxy away, making money with tibanna-gas...
He instantly regretted that thought because he now remembered that Bria's betrayal had also seriously hurt his friendship with Lando and they had parted not on the best terms. No wonder if Lando thought thanks to Bria's stupid babbling that Han had been in the whole set-up from the beginning.
Han knew that he would pay dearly for the drinking in the morning, but now he only wanted to sleep. Not bothering with his boots, he dropped on his bunk, his last thoughts about a brown-haired woman, who was nearly five years younger than he was.
Stupid woman, only causing trouble...he silently ranted.
Then he passed out from his drinking.
to be continued...