Title: "Empire Day"
Timeframe: Three months before ANH
Characters: Bail Organa, Leia Organa
Summary: On an Imperial holiday, Leia Organa gets a visit from her adoptive father for the final time.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, Lucas owns everything; I'm just playing with his creations. I promise I'll put them back where they belong when I'm finished.
It was not even 0500 when Princess Leia Organa awoke. She was normally an early riser but lately sleep had become even more difficult for her. There was far too much on her mind. It had been a little over two years since the Princess had been appointed to the Imperial Senate representing her home planet of Alderaan and in that short time she had already developed a reputation for outspokeness among her colleagues.
What no one, but for a select few, knew was that Leia Organa was more than the representative of her home planet of Alderaan in the Imperial Senate. She was also a member of the Rebel Alliance that was working to defeat the government that she was a nominal part of. She, like the other clandestine rebel senators, had to publicly express support the Emperor to keep their covers secure. While they were inside, these senators were able to gather information and help direct funds to support certain charitable causes that helped funnel military armaments to the Alliance.
Leia tried to go back to sleep, but it was impossible. At 0515 she decided to stop trying and get up. She did have much to do. This day was different than usual. It was Empire Day. Early in his reign, the Emperor declared that the anniversary of the founding of his regime would be celebrated across the galaxy. It was the first and only official Imperial holiday, and every member of the Imperial Senate was expected to attend the celebrations on Coruscant. It was doubly important for senators that also had sworn allegiance to the Alliance to attend to make certain that their loyalty to the Empire would not be questioned by the authorities.
The princess quickly dressed and went into the informal dining area of her large residence. After making herself a cup of tea she sat down to review her appointments for the day. Empire Day was always full of activity, but this year was different than the last. The night before Leia received a surprise, but very welcome, visitor. Her father, Bail Organa, had arrived.
Leia was thrilled to see him. She had missed him so much since she had left Alderaan. Ever since her mother had tragically passed away years before, she had grown closer to him. He was more than her father. He was also her mentor in all things political. During her teenage years, Bail had taught her how to navigate the complicated Imperial system in a way that was an advantage to the Alliance.
After only a few minutes, the princess heard the door to the room her father was staying in open. Leia looked up and smiled. "Good morning Father, how did you sleep?"
Bail poured himself a cup of tea and sat down at the table. "I tossed and turned all night." He admitted.
The princess frowned, "I'm sorry, was the bed uncomfortable?"
"No, you forget I used to sleep in it almost every night." Bail reminded her with a smile. The large, luxurious apartment in 500 Republica was owned by the Alderaanian government for whoever was appointed to the Senate seat. For years, Bail Organa had lived here while he held the seat.
"Are you feeling all right?" When he had arrived the day before, Leia was shocked to see just how old that her father appeared. It had been two years since she had been home and she was saddened to see the change in such a short time period. She wondered if the responsibility of being one of the leaders of the Alliance had prematurely aged him.
Seeing his daughter's expression, Bail immediately spoke up, "Now don't you start treating me like an invalid. I'm not that old."
Leia shook her head, "I didn't say that." She would never say something like that out loud, but it was on her mind. In truth, seeing her father aging so fast was terrifying to the princess. It was one more reminder that he would not be around forever. She could not imagine her life, and the Alliance, without the steady influence of Bail Organa. She, along with most of the rebels, believed that the group would never have had as much success as it did without his guidance.
Bail stood and walked toward the door to one of the many terraces that graced the large residence and opened the door. Leia followed her father outside. "Tell me what's wrong." She demanded.
He shook his head, "I'm fine; it's just hard to sleep on while this close to the Emperor."
Even from a large distance the Imperial Palace was visible. The black monstrosity had hung ominously in the Coruscant skyline since shortly after the Empire was formed. It was a constant reminder of the dictatorship that they were fighting. "I understand. I hate having to look at the Imperial Palace every day. That's why I don't use this terrace." Leia admitted.
"When I was assigned these quarters I always made a point to look at it every day." Bail turned away from the palace to look at his daughter. "Despite how unpleasant it is, we must always face the truth." He gently reminded her.
The princess sighed in frustration. "I just wish I could do more."
Bail smiled, this was not the first time that they had this conversation. Ever since Leia had become part of the Alliance it had become her all-consuming focus; but she was never convinced that she was doing enough for the cause. "You are doing much; don't ever think your role is not important."
Leia threw her hands up in frustration. "I just hate the pretense, the games. Everyone knows the Senate will be disbanded soon. We are the last remaining vestige of the Republic, one that I'm sure the Emperor cannot wait to get rid of."
Over the long years of the Emperor's rule, any remaining power the Senate possessed had been systematically stripped. The Senate only functioned to make the Emperor's rule legitimate. It served to make those unable or unwilling to see the truth of their government feel like there was some semblance of democracy left. It was all a lie. In actuality, the unelected Moff council handled the day to day governance of the Empire; true democracy was no more.
"Then things will change." He assured his daughter. "When the Senate is disbanded, I believe it will awaken those in the galaxy who have lulled to sleep by the Emperor's false promises. They will finally see that we are living under a dictatorship." Despite Bail Organa's long career in politics and his role as one of the top leaders of the rebellion, he was still optimistic when many others in his position would have left that behind years ago. It was one of the many things Leia loved about her father.
He then turned back to her and smiled. "Until then, you must do all that is required of the senator from Alderaan."
Leia sighed. "Like go to Empire Day events." Of all the duties required of an Imperial senator, publicly observing Empire Day was one of the worst. She hated having to stand there and pretend that she was a loyal subject of the Emperor. It sickened her that she had to play this charade just to keep up appearances; but she would continue to do so as long as it was required. Leia Organa would always do her duty.
Bail nodded, "Exactly, I did them every year."
"Why did you come this year, you're no longer senator? You don't have to participate in the farce." While her father's arrival the day before was very much welcome; it was also unexpected.
"Would you believe me if I said I merely wanted an excuse to come visit my daughter?" Bail asked with a smile. "I also might need to catch up with a few of my old colleagues in the Senate."
Leia sighed, "Be careful." She knew her father knew how to keep any Alliance business he may have a secret; but it still worried her. The rebellion could not afford lose him-she could not lose him.
"I always am." He tried to assure her; but nothing he could say would make the princess' fear relent.
Leia turned to go back inside. She had much to do today. Even though she wanted nothing more than to spend the day visiting with her father, she knew it was not possible. She had responsibilities.
Bail followed her inside, "What's on the agenda for today?"
The princess picked up her datapad and began reading off her schedule. "There's a reception in three hours for the diplomatic committee." A look of disgust then crossed her face as she continued to read. "Moff Tarkin is giving a speech to the military appropriations committee two hours after that."
Of all the Imperials, Leia hated Moff Tarkin the most, even more than she hated Darth Vader or even the Emperor. She had few dealings with Vader, but she knew enough to be afraid of him; but she had dealt with Tarkin on many occasions. He was always returning to Coruscant asking for more funding-funding that he always received no matter the reason. She had also been privy to Alliance intelligence that detailed Tarkin's butchering and enslavement of non-human populations in the outer rim. She could not wait until this man received the justice he was long due.
Fighting off a wave of anger and revulsion, Leia continued, "After that, a ceremony honoring the intelligence services, and, of course, the Emperor's speech tonight." The princess then sighed and looked up from the datapad. "Father, I don't know if I have it in me to do it this year." She confessed.
"Yes you do." Said Bail.
Leia was not convinced. "How did you do this for so many years?" She had only been an Imperial senator for a little over two years and she was already weary of the job. She could not imagine how her father did this for so long.
"It wasn't easy. There were days when I wanted to give up-when I felt like nothing I was doing mattered." Bail admitted.
Leia then spoke up, "You know, when I was a child there was nothing I wanted more than to be a senator, like you." During her first visit to Coruscant as a child she was allowed to sit in on the Imperial senate and see it in action; the princess immediately wanted to be a part of it. She spent the rest of her childhood and teenage years in training to achieve that goal.
"I remember." At first, Bail was not thrilled by Leia's decision to go into politics; but over time his opinion changed and was the key catalyst in Leia's appointment to the Senate at such an early age.
"You tried to prepare me for this, but…" Leia trailed off, not certain how to express her true feelings.
"Nothing can truly prepare you for it." Bail had tried to warn her about what she would face while in the Imperial Senate; but there was nothing he could say to prepare his daughter for living a double life as a member of the rebellion while having to publicly support the Empire.
"I suppose it's easy to be a senator when you're an Imperialist." Leia began "You go to the Senate every day, listen to the speeches, vote for the things the Emperor wants, and never ask questions. I suppose when you accept tyranny, you also accept the fact that you're nothing but a puppet." One of the things that frustrated her the most was her colleagues in the Senate's willingness to go along with the systematic dismantling of the few remaining vestiges of democracy just to stay within the good graces of the Emperor. She wondered if the Imperialist senators would even vote for their own execution if they thought the Emperor would be pleased.
"Do you wish you were never appointed?"
Leia sighed, "To be honest, some days I do. There are days in which I can barely stand living on Coruscant." She then took a deep breath as her raging emotions washed over her. "But I know what I'm doing is important, that's what keeps me here."
Bail smiled knowingly, "It's what kept me here for so long."
"What was it that you told me when I first took office? 'Mind your manners, keep your head down and keep doing those things that cannot be spoken of.'" Every day when she arrived at the Senate Leia was reminded of those instructions. The words echoed in her mind every time she was forced to vote in direct opposition to everything she had ever been taught and believed in for the sake of keeping up appearances so the true work of the Alliance could continue.
"You've done very well. The work you've done has been very beneficial. Don't ever think your contribution is small? You may not be on the front lines, but you're in no less danger." Bail paused for a moment to gain control over his emotions. "That's what frightens me, daughter."
"I'll be all right."
Bail shook his head, "I wish I could believe that."
"I knew the risk going into this...we all did."
"I wish things were different. I wish you didn't have to grow up under the shadow of the Emperor."
"The Empire is not forever." There was much that the princess was not certain about; but on this she was confident. She knew that the Empire would eventually be defeated during her lifetime. She had nothing substantial to back up that belief, but her faith that tyranny would eventually lose was strong.
"I've been involved in the fight against Palpatine even before he declared himself Emperor. It sometimes feels like forever." Bail admitted.
"He's a senile old man." Leia, like many in the rebellion, believed that the Emperor was not the main problem. "It's those like Tarkin and Vader that we really need to be concerned with."
A look of horror crossed Bail's face. "No Leia, don't do that." He nearly shouted. "Don't underestimate the Emperor. Beings wiser than us have underestimated him and lost, don't make the same mistake. He is well in control. He created and promoted men like Vader and Tarkin; they are his servants."
Leia was surprised by her father's sudden intensity. Normally, Bail Organa was the epitome of calm and collected. "You know Father, every time you speak of the Emperor-you speak like you know something…something you've never told me."
Bail sighed and shook his head. "I don't want you to carry the burdens of such knowledge."
"Isn't that for me to decide?" Leia had always known that there were many things her father would not tell her. It was very frustrating.
"Someday I may say more, but not today." Bail promised.
"I'm not a child."
"No, you're not, but I've made promises, Leia; and I intend to keep those promises."
Leia knew enough about her father to know that the matter was closed. She knew that nothing she could say would make him tell her his secrets before he was ready. She wondered if that day would actually come. "All right."
Both father and daughter did not speak for a few moments-each were lost in their own thoughts. Finally, Bail broke the silence. "There are things I need to discuss with you. It's another reason I'm here."
"What things?" Asked Leia.
Bail sat down on one of the large couches and Leia joined him. "Have you heard of the Death Star?"
Surprised, the princess answered. "That's a rumor that has been whispered since the founding of the Empire, there's not any substantial intelligence to prove it really exists."
"None that you've seen."
Leia was suddenly nervous. She had heard rumors of the existence of what was supposed to be the Empire's ultimate weapon, the instrument of war that would cause all rebellious systems to immediately fall in line, even before she had been a member of the Alliance. As far as the princess knew, it was only a rumor-something thought up by nervous members of the rebellion who believed the Empire to be all-powerful; but the look in Bail's eyes told a different story. Her father had access to intelligence that she was not privy to. "What do you know?"
"Recently more information has been revealed-it does exist. It is why Tarkin has always been given unlimited resources." Bail then took a deep breath. "It is said that it can destroy an entire planet."
"How is that possible?" The icy hand of fear gripped Leia's heart. The idea that such a weapon could exist was mind-boggling.
"I'm not certain, but I trust the source." He answered gravely.
Leia suddenly felt weighed down by the gravity of this new information. "So that's how they plan on keeping the Empire together after the Senate is disbanded-fear." She then looked up at her father, "What's the plan? I'm sure we're working up one."
"We're almost finished compiling the technical specifications; then we will find a weakness."
"What can I do?" Leia mentally cursed her position that kept her away from the front lines of the fight. She hated that it required her to stay on Coruscant, far removed from the systems where the Alliance was beginning to challenge the Emperor. Even though she was raised on Alderaan; Leia Organa was never a very good pacifist.
From instinct developed after years on Coruscant, Bail cast his eyes around the room hoping no one could hear their conversation. Although Leia's residence had been search thoroughly for listening devices when he arrived, experience had made him very cautious. "I need you to find an old friend of mine and convince him to join our cause."
"Who is this old friend?"
Bail shook his head. "I do not want to utter his name while on Coruscant, but he's a very important man. He has great power and wisdom, but he's been in hiding performing a very special mission."
This was the first time Leia had ever heard of such a man. "What makes you think I'll be able to convince him to join us?"
Bail then gave Leia a wistful smile. "My daughter, I think you're the only one in the galaxy who could."
"When do I go?" Leia was happy to finally be able to do something useful for the Alliance-other than pretend to be a dutiful Imperial senator every day; but something about the look in her father's eyes gave the princess a feeling of trepidation. The expression on his face told her much. Her father was afraid. For reasons that she did not understand, Leia knew that Bail's fear was not entirely because of the Death Star or fear that she would get caught. There was something else…something hidden.
"Soon, but I want you to be prepared."
"I always am." Leia answered.
"Things will change very much once he's with us." Bail then hesitated as he struggled to find the right words. "…For you and for me; but I want you to remember that no matter what, I will always love you. You will always be my daughter."
The icy hand of fear tightened its grip on Leia. "You're starting to scare me." She admitted.
"Just be ready when I contact you; you will then be given the pertinent details."
Leia nodded, "I will." She hoped with all that was in her it would be the case when the time came-that she would be ready for this mission that frightened her father so much.
Bail then looked at his wrist chrono. "With that being said, we have places we must go today. The senator of Alderaan is expected to be among the adoring crowd of Imperialists."
"I don't know if I can." Leia admitted.
"Yes you can…one foot in front of the other is all it takes. It's not forever, Leia. Things are going to change very soon."