Shades of Emotion
The sun was slipping slowly behind the skyscrapers, laying long shadows across the Senatorial Sector and setting the clouds afire in a blaze of golds, reds and oranges. It was beautiful, he realised, grotesquely. The realisation brought with it a wave of guilt and disgust that threatened to drown him.
What sort of a person was he, to find pleasure in anything when his world had cracked apart?
As if to emphasise the betrayal, his wife's shoulders trembled against his hands, another small sob escaping from her throat as she started crying again. "Shh…" he comforted, knowing that the words were worthless. Nothing could console her… The hurt was too great, the loss too raw to comprehend.
Leia was dead… and he had sent her to her death…
Deep down Bail wanted to scream, to rip the room apart, to smash everything that he could lay his hands on, but he didn't have that luxury… And his wife needed him to be strong.
He allowed himself to believe that lie, drawing a perverse solace from it when in truth, without Yreanne, he would have been falling apart himself. Being strong for her was being strong for himself…
"Senator!" a soft voice insisted behind him. "I'm sorry, but… You must leave, now!"
Bail Organa turned, nodding acknowledgement to his aide before turning back to his wife. "Yreanne…" he tried. "We need to go…"
She pulled away from him, wrapping her arms around herself. Shaking her head, she sobbed, "She'll come here! She'll come here and we won't be here!"
"Yreanne…" he tried again.
"I'm not leaving!" she insisted.
He took her arm gently, trying to lead her towards the door. "Yreanne…"
She went wild, turning and screaming at him, fists flailing at his chest. "Get off! Get off of me! She'll come back! She'll come back and we won't be here! I'm not going anywhere! I'm not going! Do you hear me? I'm not going!"
Bail stood fast against the onslaught, trying to catch her hands, more scared that she would hurt herself than that she would hurt him… The physical pain of her blows was a release…
He was aware of movement at his side and then their physician was asking him quietly to hold Yreanne. Bail wrapped his arms round her, holding her close as she struggled against him. The doctor slipped a hypodermic into her arm.
She screamed, fighting harder.
Bail held her still, his strength easily overpowering her slight frame. He murmured soft, comforting words to her as the sedative took effect and her struggles lessened, the screaming turning to heart-wrenching sobs. Slowly, as the seconds dragged past, she collapsed against him until the only thing holding her up was his arms around her.
She keened softly, calling Leia's name, telling him through the tears that they couldn't leave, that Leia would come back…
"Senator!" his aide pleaded again. "Please… Sir, we have to leave now!"
Bail swept Yreanne into his arms. She mumbled Leia's name, weeping pitifully, wrapping her arms round his neck as he cradled her against his chest. He stood for another moment, holding her, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath of her soft perfume.
Then he turned away from the window. "We're ready, Wellen…"
The aide nodded, stepping forward to take Yreanne. Bail shook his head, holding his wife close as she slipped into a sedated sleep against his shoulder, "I'll carry her…"
Wellen nodded, turning and leading him into the outer reception room. The armed men who waited there snapped to attention, saluting Bail before falling in around the Senator and his wife, providing protection for them as they made their way quickly and quietly through the almost deserted back corridors of the Senatorial buildings.
Somewhere, on one of the levels of another consulate, an airspeeder waited. From there it would only be a short flight to the shuttle that would take Yreanne and Bail away from Coruscant and to safety.
Safety… Was there really such a thing?
They had thought Leia safe aboard the Tantive IV. Now Leia was dead, the ship destroyed in a meteor storm, her remains scattered in the cold depths of space.
Not that he believed that it had been a meteor storm… Before they had even had time to take in the news about Leia, the few friends they still had in the Imperial Palace had sent word that something else, something big, had happened. It was, they advised, no longer safe for Bail or his wife to remain on Coruscant, strongly urging them to leave.
Even in the depths of his grief the politician in him knew that Leia's death and this new threat were not unrelated. A sixth sense was telling him that the final pieces of the plans that Palpatine had so carefully and patiently laid decades before were finally falling into place and that the Alderaan delegation was not the only one in danger...
Mon Mothma had already fled to the safety of the Rebel Alliance, believing that no more could be done in the Senate to thwart the Emperor, and that only direct action was the way forward. Determined to find another way, a way that would stop the Empire from being ripped apart as brother turned against brother, mother against daughter, Bail had stayed on Coruscant… but he had sent Leia to Tatooine to find a man that Bail hadn't seen in almost twenty years. Obi-Wan Kenobi…
Now Bail knew he had failed. There was nothing more he could do. It was too late…
Too late for the hundreds of Jedi who had died… Too late for those who had stood against Palpatine and died, or disappeared in a haze of political and personal scandal… Too late for Leia, the only daughter Bail and his wife had ever known…
A small sound that could have been a sob escaped from his throat. He pushed it back down, swallowing hard, concentrating on simply putting one foot in front of the other, forcing himself to talk quietly and reassuringly to Yreanne, even though she was asleep.
Please… Don't let me lose her as well… The universe couldn't be so cruel as to take both of them from him, could it?
Yreanne had never been strong physically. Leia's death had hit her so hard. Despite her physical frailties, though, Yreanne had been his strength throughout the long years he had fought silently against Palpatine.
She had been an ever brightening light in the emotional darkness that had followed Breha's death. Quiet, where Breha had been vivacious, she had, at first, simply been a trusted friend: listening to his quiet ranting, gently and unfailingly guiding him in the right direction when he was torn between decisions. Asking nothing, expecting nothing, she had worked tirelessly for him in the background, in Breha's stead: continuing the work that Padme Amidala had begun.
It had been almost five years before Bail had realised he had fallen in love with her, six before he had dared ask her to marry him. She had loved him, married him, treasured Leia: and he had watched with pride has Leia grew up adoring her…
His memories flew back to the echo of baby laughter in the halls… The rapid, unsteady patter of toddling feet and the childish giggles… Her grace and beauty were growing more like her mother's every day…Padme…
His heart constricted. The Naboo Senator hadn't been much older than Leia when her twins had been born. She had lived long enough to name them Luke and Leia, then her heart, shattered by Anakin Skywalker's descent into madness, had failed her…
And now they had failed the little girl entrusted to them, their baby, Leia.
Bail swallowed down the painful restriction in his throat, pushing away the emotion. He couldn't give in to it, not yet…
Instead, on the long walk to the speeder, Bail Organa busied himself thinking of the letters that he should write to the families of the Tantive IV crew.
The little group stopped finally, two of the guards disappearing through a door. Seconds dragged past then the "all clear" signal was given and Bail was hustled out and into the waiting airspeeder.
Wellen stuck his head through the hatch, waiting until the Senator was settled with his wife before climbing in after them, sitting opposite them as the armed guards closed the door.
Bail sat, gently caressing Yreanne's hair, and gazed sightlessly out of the windows as the speeder was guided up and into the flow of traffic. Neither Wellen nor the pilot spoke and Bail made no attempt at conversation, lost in his memories.
Padme, the day after the attempt on her life, when Palpatine persuaded her to go back to Naboo… Standing on the balcony with Palpatine only weeks later, watching the first cloned Stormtroopers march onto the massed ships…
Bail had known, even then, how much Palpatine lusted for power. He had never been fully taken in by the Chancellor's subservience, the concern, the promises that Palpatine would hand power back when the danger was past. That had all changed after the so-called attempt on Palpatine's life by the Jedi, because somehow the danger had never seemed to pass. There was always one more thing.
Almost twenty years of one more thing…
After the Jedi had been wiped out, many had supported Palpatine despite their concerns, believing him to be the only one who could save them. And for a while there had been an uneasy peace, at least on the surface.
Behind the scenes, however, things had been far from peaceful. The unrest had been carefully concealed from Palpatine's sources, but Bail had helped Mon Mothma nurture and build a resistance from it that had slowly grown in strength until it had become the Rebel Alliance, a force that even Palpatine could not ignore.
And now it was all coming to a head… because the Tantive IV was gone; Leia was gone; the plans she had been taking to Obi Wan Kenobi were lost…
He shouldn't have allowed her to go… but there had been no one else.
The speeder began to descend, circling round to settle on a landing pad beside a small cargo ship on the roof of a warehouse. Wellen jumped out of the speeder, walking quickly over to the ship.
Caressing Yreanne's hair, Bail watched Wellen speak with a small woman who stepped out of the cargo ship's hatch. Turning, his aide ran back towards then, signalling to the speeder's pilot.
The man got out, opening the hatch for Bail, leaning in to offer, "I can carry your wife, Senator…"
Bail nodded, unable to get his voice to work, sliding forward in the seat to make it easier for the pilot to lift her. By the time he had climbed out, the pilot was already moving towards the cargo ship.
Bail turned, looking at Wellen as his aide stopped in front of him. The man held out his hand, telling him, "Take care, Senator. And good luck…"
Looking dumbly at the offered hand, Bail blinked then looked back at Wellen.
"I'm not coming with you, Sir," Wellen supplied. "And I have no idea where you're going. It's safer that way…"
Bail swallowed, finding his voice, unable to think clearly, "But…"
"It's alright," Wellen assured him. "I have separate plans… Please, Sir, you need to leave now…"
Bail grasped the outstretched hand, unable to do anything more but tighten his grip and shake it. Then he pulled Wellen towards him, embracing his aide briefly before letting him go and heading for the cargo ship.
The young woman, assigned to him as his aide but whose name he had trouble remembering, knocked on the door again. This time she tentatively opened it and came. Bail looked at her.
"Sir," the youngster began, "Mon Mothma is here to see you…"
Bail pushed himself to his feet, telling her, "Show her in…"
The aide turned, ushering in the figurehead of the Rebel Alliance. Ever elegant, she walked across the carpet towards Bail, folding him in an embrace. "Bail… old friend… I have wonderful news… Leia's alive."
The breath caught in his throat.
Mothma stepped back, taking his hands. "We received the news a few hours ago… I would have come sooner but I wanted to be completely sure before telling you."
Her face shone with excitement. "Leia is alive," she repeated, "and the Death Star has been destroyed…"
Bail blinked, not quite sure if he was hearing her correctly. A tight band seemed to be constricting his chest… "Alive…"
"Yes!" she assured him. "And safe..."
He staggered slightly and, afraid that he might collapse, Mothma guided him backward, letting him sink into the chair. Mind reeling, Bail found it hard to breath… Leia was alive…
Concerned, Mothma called for Bail's aide, asking the young woman to bring a doctor. Then she knelt beside the chair, resting a hand on his arm. "Bail?"
He lifted his head, eyes bright with tears. "She's alive?"
Mothma nodded, assuring him, "And on her way here…"
Her smile faded as she explained, "Your misgivings about the meteor storm were true. The Tantive IV was intercepted by an Imperial Star Destroyer. Leia was taken prisoner. The Tantive was destroyed, her crew killed…"
She dropped her eyes, "I'm sorry…"
"They…" he began. Caught between elation that Leia was alive and grief that the Tantive crew, and his trusted friend Captain Antilles, were dead, his throat closed over the words. He swallowed. "They had much courage… They knew the danger…"
Leia was alive…
Mothma nodded, saying nothing for a moment. Then she continued, "Bail, General Kenobi is also dead… He died saving Leia…"
Bail sighed, rubbing his hands across his face. "She found him then, after all?"
"The events aren't quite clear," she told him. "But it appears that Leia's Artoo unit jettisoned in an escape pod before the ship was destroyed, along with Captain Antilles' etiquette droid … They… ended up on Tatooine… They were found by Luke Skywalker…"
Bail looked at her, stunned by the course of events.
With Obi Wan Kenobi dead, only three people in the universe knew the significance of that name, and who Leia really was… Himself, Mon Mothma and Master Yoda. Like Kenobi, though, Yoda had not been heard of since Padme's death.
"Luke took the droids to General Kenobi…" Mothma went on. "As I said, events aren't quite clear, but they rescued Leia from the Death Star… General Kenobi was killed, but Luke took Leia to Yavin. The Death Star followed them there. Luke flew as part of a Rebel Force against the Death Star."
She paused again, then continued, "Bail, it was Luke who destroyed it…"
Organa swore softly, mind racing: and Mothma watched as, before her eyes, her old friend transformed from a broken, grief-stricken, shell of a man, to the confident, resilient, determined Bail Organa she had come to know.
"Do you know what Kenobi told them?" he asked finally.
Mothma shook her head, "No… but we will find out when Leia arrives. She'll be here in a few hours. She's aboard a ship called the Millennium Falcon. The Captain and First Mate were also instrumental in destroying the Death Star…"
"And Luke?" Bail asked, wondering what he was like. Did he look as much like Anakin as Leia did Padme? Did he know anything about the Jedi, about the gifts he had, no-doubt, inherited? Or were they as much a myth to him as they were to Leia?
"I thought it prudent to keep him apart from her," she told him, "at least for now…"
"Bail?" a thin voice asked from the other doorway.
Organa looked up, smiling at his wife, immediately on his feet and moving towards her, chiding, "Yreanne, you shouldn't be up…"
"I heard voices…" she told him, voice slurred with the after-effects of the sedatives she had been prescribed.
"It was only me, Yreanne," Mothma supplied, rising to her feet.
"Mon came with wonderful news," Bail told her. "Come," he went on, slipping his arm round her and helping her to walk, "Come, sit with us."
Mothma smiled at Bail as he helped his wife move across the room to sit in the chair by the window.
Things were still uncertain for the Rebel Alliance. They had scored a great victory and Leia Organa was alive… but Alderaan was gone, millions of people were dead… and it was inevitable that the Imperial sources would identify Luke Skywalker and bring him to the attention of Vader and the Emperor…
For the moment, though, Mothma put that to the back of her mind and allowed herself to share the delight of her friends as they rejoiced in the news that their daughter was being returned to them.
Tomorrow… Tomorrow would be soon enough to turn her attention back to the fight against the Imperial machine. Tonight, she would celebrate …