Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by JABrown, Nov 4, 2012.
The "yet" is because I'm not sure I can trust you to keep him alive. I want him to stay alive, 'kay?
Always did think that if Anakin got one look at the Falcon that he'd fall for her instantly.
Another great chapter
Han Solo, former Prince of Corellia, stood in the elevator, watching the numbers ticking over as he rose to the 97th floor. He wished they would slow down. Not that he didn’t want to get back to the embassy – in fact it was the only place he felt safe since the whole mess had started.
No, it wasn’t the place. It was the people. Byriam and Kiewan. Waiting for him. With that hopeful expression on their faces. As though their entire universe depended on what he was going to tell them. That wouldn’t have been a bad thing if only he had some good news to give them. Instead, he was heading back with more disappointment.
As the numbers reached the 90s, Han thought back over the past few days. Although agreeing to take Byriam and Kiewan in had seemed like a good idea at the time, he had quickly started to regret it. He wasn’t some hero out of a holodrama, swooping in to save the princess. Or prince, in this case. Hell, he was a prince himself. Where was the hero to save him?
Still, somehow he had found himself cast in the role. So he spent his days trawling the lower levels of Coruscant in disguise, looking for a way off world.
A way out. He snorted as the elevator reached his level. Slipping the key card out of the slot, he waited for the doors to open and then stepped out into the corridor. It was empty, flickering emergency lights the only illumination. He moved quickly, keeping as close as possible to the walls until he reached the door to the embassy offices. Keying in his code, he tapped his finger on his thigh as he waited for it to open. When it did, he slipped inside.
The lights were out and the blinds were closed, leaving him stuck in a strange half-light emanating from the console on Ly’s little desk. He glanced at it, imagined her sitting there, and winced.
There were no ways out.
Ever since Palpatine’s little gambit against the Alliance, Imperial Centre had been closed down. The planetary shields kept everyone in. Han had called in every favour, tracked down every dubious contact, but none of them had paid off. Most of those who had a ship couldn’t get a pass through the shields. Of those few who had a pass, fewer still were willing to take a risk on possible Alliance entanglements. And of those willing to take the risk, none of them were offering anything like the sort of prices Han could afford.
I’m never getting off this planet, he thought. Not with them in tow, anyway.
Not for the first time, Han considered just ditching the two renegades and taking his chances alone. As he reached to the door to his office, he hesitated.
What if I just turn around and walk away? They’ll never know. In a couple of days, they’ll work it out and leave here on their own. I’m sure they’ll find someone to help them. There must be Alliance sympathisers still active on –
He broke off the line of thinking as the door whooshed open and a small, brown-haired tangle of arms and legs threw itself – or himself – at Han’s legs. He felt hands clutch at the back of his calves and looked down to see Kiewan, warm brown eyes so reminiscent of his mother’s. Han felt a shiver run down his spine.
“We were so worried,” the boy whispered.
Han forced a smile, feeling sick to the stomach at what he had been thinking of doing. He reached down and ruffled his hair.
“Nothing to be worried about.”
“How did it go?”
He looked up to see Byriam stood in the doorway, her eyes cold. She knows, he thought. She knows exactly what you were just thinking about doing. He assayed a cocky grin.
“I’m following up some leads.”
She shook her head. “Still nothing, then.”
“Listen, I –“
“You’re trying. I know.” She shook her head again. “I’m sorry. I’m just tired of this hiding, the constant fear.”
“We all are. But hey, it’s me. I’ll find us a way off world.”
She smiled, but he could see in her expression that she doubted very much that he could.
Disentangling himself from Kiewan, he led the boy into the office, then carefully shut the door behind them. He turned around and keyed in the security code, trying to convince himself that he wasn’t just avoiding Byriam’s eyes.
When he turned around, she had her back to him. He saw then that she was preparing some of the vegetables he had bought the day before in a casserole he kept for emergencies. Ly’ had bought it for him. He could hear her scolding tones as she told him he couldn’t live on takeaways and reheated meals all the time. He smiled, tinged with sadness.
His search for a way off world had included searching for her. He had scoured high and low in the hope of finding her, all to no avail. He had even begun to scan the hospital records and Coruscanti Security frequencies for any hint. Nothing.
Then, a few days before, he had heard about the culls.
A tiny Rodian boy had told him about them in a dive on Third Level. Han had been forced to pay him a dozen credits – more than a month’s wages for a docking rat like that – to get the info.
“They started after Wrinkly’s talk to the Senate,” the boy had whispered, his long snout twitching when he used the derogatory term about Palpatine. “Every night, squads of turtlebacks come to one of the lower levels and start rounding up people like me.” Han hadn’t needed to be a Jedi to know that he meant aliens. Non-humans being rounded up by stormtroopers. He had repressed a shudder.
“What happens to them?”
The boy had shrugged. “No one knows. They just… vanish.”
After that, he had intensified his search, trying desperately to find any sign that Ly’ was still out there. As the days had passed, though, he had started to despair. She’s gone. Taken by one of those squads.
The door signal cut through his thoughts, echoing around the office. Han’s sad smile vanished, replaced by a nervous frown. Byriam spun round, her mouth open and her eyes wide, while Kiewan ran to her, nestling up against her leg.
“What is it?”
Han shook his head, motioning for her to stay where she was. He turned and keyed in the code, trying to calm his beating heart. When the door swished open, he stepped out, turning back to lock it. He caught Byriam’s eye and smiled reassuringly. Probably nothing. The last thing he saw before the door closed was the worried look on her face as she shook her head.
Once the door closed, he allowed the smile to fade. Who the hell could it be? He felt a sudden surge of adrenaline – could it be Ly’ana? After all this time?
He hurried over to her small desk and keyed on the holocam set up in the corridor outside. It wasn’t her. Instead, a troop of stormtroopers, led by a tall man in the dark grey uniform of the Imperial Navy, stood outside.
He bit back a curse. Hesitating, he wondered whether he could get Byriam and Kiewan out before they broke in. He took a step back towards his office when the officer looked straight into the camera.
“Prince Solo?” The man’s voice echoed through the speakers. “We know you are in there. The security grid picked up your arrival and alerted us. Please open the door.”
Frack! If they knew he was inside, they would not wait long before they pulled out their blasters. He didn’t want either Byriam or Kiewan stuck in the middle of a firefight.
Walking over to the door, he keyed in the code and allowed it to slide open, revealing the gleaming white armour of the stormtroopers and the drab uniform of the officer. Like every other imperial officer Han had seen on the planet, the man looked like Tarkin – thin, tall and cadaverous. The Tarkin look. This one, though, took it to a new level. He could have been Tarkin’s clone.
The man peered down his nose at Han, sniffing as he studied the outfit Han had begun wearing to ‘blend in’ in the lower levels – a stained greyish shirt, a similarly stained neo-leather jacket and dark blue military-style trousers with a Corellian bloodstripe. He had ordered the outfit custom made just before he left Corellia and it had come in handy during his time on Imperial Centre.
“Lieutenant. Lieutenant Kirtan Loor.”
Han forced a thin smile, trying to convey much more confidence than he felt. “Well, lieutenant, perhaps you would like to explain to me why you are standing outside a sovereign embassy with a squad of stormtroopers at your heels.”
“Corellia is no longer a sovereign state, Prince Solo.”
“So the holonews says. I’m still waiting for confirmation myself.”
“Funny, I didn’t know that you could get messages from Corellia down in the Lower Levels.”
Han tensed. They’ve been following me. They know what I’ve been doing. And if they know about that…
Loor smiled, a fair approximation of Tarkin’s own sinister smile, though not half as frightening. “That is neither here nor there, of course. I am here because we have reason to suspect that you are harbouring enemies of the state within these walls. Dangerous criminals who must be brought to trial.”
Dangerous criminals? Han would have laughed if he hadn’t been so terrified.
“I have a warrant here from Moff Tarkin requesting that you hand them over. I have also been told to inform you that no harm shall come to you nor will any charges be brought against you, as long as you comply. Quickly.” From the tone of his voice, Loor left no doubt as to how he felt about the offer. “If you were to resist, however…” He pointedly glanced behind at the troopers, then back at Han.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Han replied, allowing a little of the fear he felt to leak into his eyes. He placed one hand on the wall beside him, as if to hold himself up. Safely out of sight, his fingers searched for the button he needed.
“Mister Solo, do not make this any more difficult than it has to be.”
I’ll make it just as difficult as I need to, slime-o. Drawing himself up, he reminded himself of every lesson his father ever taught him. This is for you, dad.
“I am still a Prince of Corellia, lieutenant,” he snapped. “And this is my terrain. So you tell Tarkin for me that if he wants something, he can activate the damned comm. unit and contact me himself.” As he pressed down on the hidden button, he stepped back from the door, and spoke the activation code for the defense systems. “Corellia 4.”
Two blast doors dropped into place in a matter of seconds, cutting off the office from the corridor. Han could picture the look on Loor’s face as three automated blasters dropped out of the ceiling above him and targeted the stormtroopers. He smiled as he heard surprised shouts through the comm. unit, followed by Loor’s voice.
“You’ve made a big mistake, Solo. A huge mistake.”
“That’s Prince Solo to you, you nerf herder,” Han muttered to himself.
He turned and ran to the office. Keying in the code again, he waited for the door to slide open then ushered Byriam and Kiewan out.
“What is happening?” Byriam asked, Kiewan’s arms wrapped around her middle.
“Trouble. It looks like the Imperials have revoked the lease on the offices.”
Instead of reacting with fear, Byriam just nodded and drew Kiewan closer. That’s my girl, Han thought. He looked at the boy who stared back with huge wide eyes.
“Ready to go on an adventure, kid?”
Kiewan just stared.
It’ll have to do. “Alright then. Let’s go.”
He waved both of them in front of him as the sound of blaster fire echoed through the office. Han glanced at the screen. Two of the stormtroopers were down, felled by the security blasters. They had sacrificed themselves to allow the others to take out the defences. Standing in a semi-circle, five of them kept up a steady hail of blaster bolts against the thick armoured doors, while two more crouched in front of the wall, working loose the panels to get at the wiring inside.
Go ahead fellers, he thought. That’ll take you all day to get through.
Still, he hurried Byriam and Kiewan over to the wall beside his office. Pressing his hand against a specific section, he waited for a flare of heat to pass through his palm. Seconds later, the identification system confirmed who he was and activated the lock. The wall slid open, revealing a stairway lost in shadows.
“It goes to the roof. Go.”
As both of them vanished into the darkness, Han hesitated, taking a moment to look around. This had been his home for the past few months, or as close to a home as he had had for a long time. He remembered how he had felt when he first stepped through those doors. I’m sorry, dad, he thought. I wanted to make you proud. Instead I’ve ruined everything.
The sound of wiring shorting out caught his attention. He turned back to the holocam to see one of the stormtroopers kneeling next to an open panel on the far side of the corridor. He was rewiring the controls to the blast doors. Frack it! Han had hoped the fake controls would fool them longer. Shaking his head, he followed Byriam and Kie up the stairs.
Both of them were waiting a few steps further up. He joined them, grabbing Kiewan’s other hand, and urged them to carry on running. They took the steps two by two, both adults almost carrying the smaller boy. The sound of their ragged, gasping breaths filled the air.
Five levels up, they reached another door. Han let go of Kiewan’s hand and pressed his palm to another plate. It slid aside, revealing a numbered pad, glowing red in the darkness.
“This leads out onto the roof, alright?” he said to Byriam. “There’s a speeder waiting in a small hangar bay off to the right. You go first, keep low, run along the wall. The moment the door opens, you run, you hear me? Keep Kiewan behind you.”
“What about you?”
He pulled the blaster from his belt. “I have a couple of surprises planned for our visitors. I’ll be right behind you.”
Byriam looked as though she was going to argue, but when Han shook his head she nodded instead.
Han keyed the code into the padd, then let his finger rest on the activation stub. He turned to look at her.
Securing her grip on Kiewan’s hand, she nodded. “Ready.”
Han pressed his thumb to the stub. The pad flashed green. With a hiss of compressed air, the door slid open.
To reveal a stormtrooper, his white armour gleaming in the sun’s dying rays. Everything seemed to slow, every action lasting a lifetime. Han’s heart skipped a beat. Byriam took in a short breath, as if to scream. A flash of light illuminated the darkened stairwell. An electric explosion tore at his ears. The smell of burnt flesh filled the air.
Han screamed, heard Kiewan cry out, and everything snapped back into real time. Without really knowing what he was doing, he aimed his own pistol and fired, taking the trooper in the shoulder as he began to turn his own rifle towards the boy. Han fired again, this time catching the trooper in the helmet. The globular eyes of his helmet flashed red and the soldier collapsed.
Byriam had stumbled back against the wall, her hands clutching at her belly. Blood had already begun to ooze out around the cauterising burns. Flecks of it were on her lips. Han dropped the pistol and moved to catch her as she crumpled to the stairs.
“No. No, don’t speak.” His eyesight was blurry and he dashed at his eyes. He looked down, pressing his palm against the wound. He felt wet blood against his flesh. “Save your strength.”
She coughed. “Kiewan. You have to… Get him out.”
“No way, no sister. Don’t you play the hero, you hear me. We’re all getting out of this.”
Her grip on his shoulder tightened. “No choice. Kiewan… all that matters.”
Han rubbed at his eyes again. “Don’t say that. You matter.”
Byriam smiled. “Must… be brave. Get… Kiewan… Safe.”
“I can’t,” Han whispered. “I can’t do this.”
“You have to. Padme… Padme wanted you to.”
Han stared at her, knowing that the look in her eyes would haunt him. As Padme’s did.
He felt her fingers brush against his arm. He looked down to find her hand wrapping around the pistol. He shook his head.
“Go,” she whispered. “I’ll hold them off.”
He didn’t move. He couldn’t. She reached up, pressing her other hand palm out against his chest and pushed. She had the strength of a wounded huber cat, but he stumbled back anyway. More out of horror at what was happening than anything else. He glanced down to find Kiewan huddled against the wall, his arms wrapped around his knees, staring at Byriam.
“Go,” she repeated. “Get him out.”
Although all he wanted was to deny her, he couldn’t. He nodded, moving like a puppet with his strings cut. Reaching down, he grabbed Kiewan, lifting the boy into his arms and pressing his face against his shoulder. The boy was so distraught that he hardly made a sound.
“It’ll be alright,” he whispered, running one hand over the boy’s hair. “It’ll be alright.”
Byriam smiled at him, a sad broken little thing. “I trust you,” she mouthed.
He didn’t wipe the tears away anymore. Never allowing his eyes to leave hers, he stepped up the last few steps and over the dead stormtrooper. Reaching down, he grabbed the blaster rifle, hefting it in his free hand. Kiewan moaned softly at the movement, but he quieted quickly.
“Don’t,” she said. “Just go.”
Hating himself, Han turned and ran.
Wow! That was intense. Let's hope Han manages to keep Kiewan safe wothoit any more deaths.
Things just keep getting better and better for our heroes. *end of sarcasm*
I think that you are doing great.
Amazing edge of seatness. Your Han is fantabulous! Very poignant stuff there with Byriam at the end Eagerly awaiting more.
@Hazel - Thank you, intense was definitely the purpose of the chapter. Han will need to come up with a plan quickly if he is going to save Kiewan. Let's hope things don't get more complex...
@Lady_Misty - Thanks so much! Although I'm glad you marked the end of the sarcasm before saying that!
@ccp - Thanks, (not sure if there was supposed to be more after the comma...)
@Jade_eyes - Wow, such kind words! I'm so glad you guys are enjoying this, really motivating to keep on writing! I should have a new chapter up on Sunday night!
Deep below the surface of Coruscant, Internment Camp 12 had been reborn out of the remains of an ancient transportation hub. Built in the days when Corusc City covered only a fraction of the planet’s surface, the hub had served as one of five in a network of above ground train systems.
Over the years, that transportation system had been forgotten, first becoming a subway system before being buried as the city rose high above its former levels. It had come to serve its new purpose in the aftermath of the Clone Wars, as a prison for Chancellor Palpatine’s political enemies, and then as an internment centre for undesirables. For the lost. For those people the Empire preferred to forget.
People like me, Ly’ana thought.
Lying in the darkness, she waited for the alarm to sound. Listening to the sound of her heart beating, she thought about how she had come to be there – leaving the safety of the embassy to try and broker a comm. line to Coruscant, getting caught in the crowd as the stormtroopers rounded up all the non-humans, being transferred to this factory deep below the surface, and then the constant bone weary work day in and day out ever since.
Speaking of which… An alarm cut through the silence, signalling the beginning of a new day. Lights snapped on, momentarily blinding her. Breathing a heavy sigh, Ly’ana sat up, throwing off the blanket. She swung her feet down off the bed and slipped them into her shoes.
Standing up and stretching, she ignored the whirring sound as the holocam followed her every move. Let the guards watch her naked body, she didn’t care. She refused to sleep in the filthy overalls they gave the prisoners, bad enough she had to wear them during the day. If that meant they could leer at her when she got up in the morning and when she went to bed at night, so be it.
After using the fresher unit, she picked up the jumpsuit and slipped it on. The feel of the moist, grimy cloth against her skin gave her chills. She ignored it as best she could, keeping her face expressionless. Once she had finished dragging it on, she walked over to the door and stood, waiting.
It slid open. Ly’ana stepped out, keeping her eyes fixed on the wall in front of her. She didn’t need to look around anyway – she knew exactly what she would see. A long line of fellow inmates, all of them non-human, all of them female. The nearest ‘neighbours’ on her right were a Gamorrean and a Bothan; those on the left were a Rodian and a Gungan. All of the cells held two inmates, except for hers. She was one of the lucky ones, she supposed.
The door at the left end of the corridor slid open. Two stormtroopers stepped inside, helmets cradled in their arms. They studied the waiting prisoners before beginning their daily march down the line. As they passed each cell, they studied the prisoners, as if checking to make sure everyone was there. Where else would we be? Ly’ana thought as they passed the Rodian and Gungan. None of us are ever getting out of this place.
One of the stormtroopers slowed as he neared her, his green eyes scanning her up and down. A scar on his cheek tightened as he leered at her.
She didn’t answer. There was no point. He stopped in front of her. Ly’ana kept studying the wall, as if he weren’t even there. He watched her for a moment, and then nonchalantly struck her across the face with his open hand. The blow wasn’t hard, but pain flared nonetheless.
“Twi’lek whore,” he said, spitting on the floor. He smiled again, then turned and followed his fellow trooper down the corridor.
Ly’ana stayed standing, fighting back the tears that stung her eyes. She refused to let them see her cry. She would not give them the satisfaction.
Once the troopers had checked every cell, they opened the door at the other end of the corridor. All of the prisoners turned as one and began to march out into the common eating area. Ly’ana followed the Gamorrean, ignoring the man who had struck her as she passed him. He leered at her, but left her alone.
The common area was a vast circular space, like a hub at the centre of a wheel. Ly’ana’s corridor was one of several spokes that branched out from that hub. Other lines of prisoners, some male and some female, filed out from other doors all the way around. Though every race was represented, there were very few humans, twenty or so amongst hundreds. Ly’ana wondered what those who were there could have done to deserve such a fate.
A large table had been set up in the middle of the room, with vast smoking vats piled on top. A handful of prisoners stood behind the table, serving food into metal bowls.
Ly’ana joined the others in line, careful not to study the people around her too closely. Her eyes never stopped moving though, as she surreptitiously studied the crowd. Various groups and clans had formed, clumps of people gathered against the walls. Ly’ana studied each face in turn, looking for changes.
She had been blessed with a holographic memory; it was one of the reasons Han had hired her. With that gift, she had been able to file away the faces of every person in the common room. She checked those faces against the ones she saw this morning - a handful were gone, while one or two new ones had appeared.
A normal day in Internment Camp 12.
When she reached the table, Ly’ana collected her bowl and walked past the vats. A Gamorrean female slopped some greyish goo into the bowl before an Aqualish male tossed an ancient husk of greying bread on top. Ly’ana never once met their eyes.
Shuffling away, Ly’ana hunkered down against the wall as far away as she could from anyone. Using the husk of bread, she scooped some of the goo into her mouth, fighting back the gag reflex as she felt something wiggle out of the crust and drop down her throat. She purposefully bit down, chewing hard before she swallowed.
As she ate, she kept a constant eye on the people around her. Her eyes fell on a small family unit of Rodians gathered a few metres away. The mother and father were sharing a single bowl of goo between themselves, leaving the extra bowl to their two children.
Ly’ana felt her stomach twist and she looked away. For a moment, memories assailed her, memories of the processing centre on Corellia where her family had spent time all those years before. Three whole weeks, sleeping on the floor and eating leftovers a local charity donated. Every night, her mother had sent her off to sleep with the promise that the next day would be the day, the day they finally left the centre for their new home.
And that day had come, eventually. For this family, though…
She glanced down at her own bowl, the food turning to ash in her mouth. Telling herself she was a fool, she stood up and headed over to the Rodians.
The mother looked up, instinctively gathering her children against her. Ly’ana tried a smile, allowing her lekku to shake softly as a sign of welcome. The gesture only seemed to frighten the woman even more. She hooted urgently at her husband, who looked up as well. His eyes narrowed and he started to get to his feet.
Ly’ana stopped where she was, her smile falling away. She should have known better than to expect them to greet her with open arms. Still, she had come this far.
Dropping to her haunches, she set the bowl and the bread down, and then stood up again. Smiling briefly at the two children, she turned and walked away.
After a few steps, she glanced back. The husband had scurried forward to grab the bowl. Clutching it in both hands, he hurried back to his family. She watched him hand it to his wife, who took a small bite of bread before handing it down to one of her children.
Ly’ana smiled as she walked back to her place. She would probably regret the gesture when hunger set in, but it felt good nonetheless. Good to have done something to help someone.
She spent the rest of the meal time pacing a small section of floor, getting in some exercise before the day began. When the alarm sounded, she joined the others in line and marched back into her corridor. Once they were all inside, the door to the common area shut and the one at the other end cycled open. Again, they filed out, this time into a circular corridor that connected all of the others – the outer circle of the wheel.
A large set of double doors lay a few meters away. Ly’ana’s line was waved to a halt as the doors opened, then motioned forward onto the factory floor beyond.
A labyrinth of walkways and assembly line belts, the factory smelt of oil and the sharp tang of ozone. Everything was as it had been the day before, half-assembled engine parts waiting patiently for them to return. Ly’ana took her place at one of the lower belts between the Gungan and the Gamorrean. Other lines moved past them, climbing rungs or mounting steps to reach other sections. Once everyone was in place, the alarm sounded again and the great doors slid shut. When the metallic echo of the closing doors had faded, the assembly line creaked into motion.
The empty husks of engine mountings slid before Ly’ana, bouncing along the belt. As each one passed in front of her, Ly’ana reached underneath the belt, grabbed a power unit, slapped it into the left hand side of the mounting and pushed it into place. When it reached the Gungan, she welded one side of the power unit – a young Dug welded the other.
Ly’ana fell quickly into a rhythm. Her mind started to wander, back to the first few days she had spent there. The work had seemed insurmountable – on her first day alone, she dropped over two dozen power units, put another dozen in backwards, while the Dug had broken twenty or so more by welding over the power unit’s control padd. Both of them had earned nights in solitary confinement, as well as a beating from a squad of troopers.
Over time, though, she had gotten used to the thoughtless motions, until now she could do it without a single mistake. Her own body had been honed into a well oiled cog in this vast machine.
Which is what they want, she thought. The assembly line could have been manned by droids much more efficiently. And at much less cost. The Empire had them do it to show them what they were – lesser beings, more expendable than mechanical servants. Slave labour.
And there is nothing we can do about it.
The morning passed in a mindless haze. Her mind wandered from the factory floor. She wondered what Han was doing, whether he had found a way off world. When she had left him, he had been lost in another alcohol induced fog. She hoped he was alright.
Most of the time, she thought about her family. Her parents and her two sisters. Had they gotten off Corellia in time? Did the Empire have them? She wished she could find some way to communicate with them, to talk with them one last time. She knew it was a futile hope, though. She would die down here, in this work camp. It was inevitable. The only question was when and how.
The siren rang for lunch, dragging her out of her reverie. She placed the power unit she had just picked up back beneath the assembly line belt and followed the other prisoners out of the factory, through the corridors and back into the common area again.
Lunch was some kind of processed meat, slathered with a spicy sauce to hide the rancid taste. Ly’ana ignored the taste. She was hungry, she needed her strength. She also avoided looking around – she couldn’t afford the weakness pity might induce in her.
She had almost finished the meal when a shadow fell over her. She tried to ignore whoever it was, keeping her face down and hoping he or she would go away. Instead the person stood there, waiting for her to react. After a few minutes, she looked up.
The stranger was human. She caught a glimpse of a handsome – though scarred and bruised – face, and a tall lanky frame before she looked away. Her eyes picked out blood stains on his work clothes. His body language spoke of defeat, but that was belied by something in his eyes. A light she hadn’t seen in anyone else here in the work camp.
He isn’t afraid. He’s angry.
He dropped to his haunches beside her, not looking at her for longer than a few seconds, his eyes constantly scanning the crowd of slaves. Ly’ana picked at the remains of meat in her bowl, wishing he would go away and leave her alone.
Instead, he spoke.
“I saw what you did.”
She felt a flush of heat in her cheeks, cursing herself for helping those Rodians. She had wanted to stay off anyone’s radar, even another slave’s, and now her moment of weakness had gotten her noticed.
“This morning?” the man pushed. “That was a brave thing you did.”
Ly’ana closed her eyes. What did he want? Was he going to ask her for food? Did he think to blackmail her into something? Why didn’t I just leave well enough alone?
“I haven’t seen many people willing to help others. Everyone seems to be more interested in helping themselves.”
More fool me. She kept her eyes closed, praying to whoever or whatever might be listening for him to just go away.
“Some of us are like you. Willing to help one another to survive. A group of us, humans and non, we’ve started to work together. We’re looking for people like you.”
She was so surprised that she forgot to ignore him. She looked up, her eyes widening. He smiled at her, though the smile never touched the anger in his eyes.
“So you can hear me.” He looked away again, the smile vanishing as if it had never been. “None of us can survive down here on our own. Those of us willing to have formed a little group. We meet over there, by the fresher pipes.”
She glanced over in the direction he mentioned, on the other side of the table. A loose knot of beings sat, stood or lay around a series of pipes and tubes that carried water and waste from the cells. She frowned. She had studied that area more than once, but had never noticed any kind of a group. Apart from a handful – none of whom were together – none of the people she saw there now had been there the day before.
As she looked harder, though, she saw one of them pass a bowl to another one, who took a bite of bread before hiding the bowl in his lap. After a few moments, he yawned, and then stood to stretch. A Toydarian flew past just at that moment, grabbing the bowl from the man’s outstretched hand and then flying over to another group.
Looking closer, she realised that while every other part of the common area held knots of one race, this loose grouping had representatives from almost every race, including another Twi’lek. How did I miss that? Ly’ana wondered.
“We try not to make it too obvious,” the human continued, as if reading her mind. “None of us sit there all the time, we try and move around as much as possible, but when we need to we know that is where we can gather, find support, a helping hand or just a kind word. We share food, and we try and keep up our spirits. Give ourselves hope.”
“Sounds like a stupid idea,” Ly’ana said finally. She tried to make it sound harsh, but it came out unsure. “One likely to get you all killed.”
“About as stupid an idea as sharing your food with someone you don’t even know when you need all your strength.”
Bastard. She had no come back to that.
After a moment, he stood, looking over at the doors. “I just wanted to make the offer. If you’re interested, you know where we are. You will be more than welcome.”
Ly’ana was grateful to see him leave, and yet a little part of her didn’t want him to. She realised that he was the first person she had spoken to since the round-up. And in a small indescribable way, he reminded her of Han.
He had taken a few steps when she spoke. The sound of her own voice surprised even herself. “What is your name?”
He stopped, turning his head sideways, so that he wasn’t looking back at her but she could see his face in profile.
“Lance. My name is Lance.”
And then he was gone.
Later, once the day was done, she lay on her bed, thinking about Lance’s offer. His little group seemed like a bad idea, but she couldn’t help but feel tempted. It would be nice to have someone to talk to again. How much could they really do, though? she asked herself. Could the benefits really be worth risking standing out from the crowd?
She was struggling with those thoughts when she heard the door open at the end of the corridor. She froze – the doors never opened outside of hours unless the troopers were coming to bring in a new prisoner… Or to take an old one for questioning.
The sound of the trooper’s feet sent involuntary shudders down her lekku. As they continued to get closer, she closed her eyes, praying they would carry on, that they would stop at some other cell. In her mind’s eye, though, she saw the look on the trooper’s face as he called her a Twi’lek whore and Lance’s words echoed in her ears. I saw what you did.
Her heart threatened to stop when the steps ceased just outside her cell. She clenched her eyes closed, a foolish hope resonating in her mind – if I pretend to be asleep, they will leave me alone.
The door opened.
A gasp rent the air, followed by a thud as something hit the floor. Ly’ana held her breath, waiting for the hands on her shoulders pulling her up and out of the cell…
The door closed.
As the steps faded back down the corridor, she kept her eyes closed. As the door opened at the end of the corridor, she kept her eyes closed. As silence fell on the cell block once again, she kept her eyes closed.
Only when a few minutes had passed did she open them. She stared at the ceiling for a moment, and then she looked down at the floor.
A woman huddled in the dark, what little light filtered through underneath the door picking out the tattered remains of a white dress that barely hid bruises and cuts covering the body beneath. Ly’ana stared at the woman in surprise, the only coherent thought in her mind that they had not come for her.
When the woman began to sob, Ly’ana snapped out of it, jumping off the bed and dropping to her knees. She reached out carefully, laying a hand on the curved back, feeling more than hearing the sharp intake of breath. She left her hand there for a moment, waiting for the newcomer to relax.
“Shhh,” she said after a moment, starting a slow stroking motion over the person’s back. “You’re alright. You’re safe.”
After a few minutes, the sobs began to calm. Once they had dwindled down to sniffles, the woman lifted her head.
She was human. Ly’ana took in the puffed up skin, bloodshot eyes and cuts on her cheeks, and assayed a comforting smile to hide the horror she felt. “You’re safe here,” she repeated, trying to sound convincing. “My name is Ly’ana.”
“Wh-Where am I?”
Ly’ana forced down a wince at the woman’s broken voice, wondering what the troopers had done to her and then realising that she would rather not know.
“You’re in an internment camp. Beneath the surface. Do you remember how you got here?”
“I… I don’t know. I was… I was somewhere else. Then I was here.”
“Do you remember your name?”
The woman’s eyes lost focus for a moment, then she shook slightly. “Leia,” she said finally, looking at Ly’ana. “My name is Leia.”
:shock: Wow! Excellent.
Another great chapter. So now Han is going to come to the rescue?
Lance looks familiar... I'm also wondering about Leia's future.
Sounds hopeless but Ly did show kindness and she might be able to bring hope to others.
So is the young woman Leia or someone else with the same name?
@Jade_eyes - Thank you so much! What was the shock for? The arrival of Leia at the end?
@ccp - Well, they can only hope that Han will be able to pull something out of the hat and pull off a rescue. Of course at the moment he has no idea where any of them are...
@Hazel - Lance was introduced in a previous chapter as Leia's fiancée and the son of Alderaan's Bail Organa. As for Leia's future, I'll steal one of Robert Jordan's favourite sayings, Read and Find Out!
@Lady_Misty - Yes, the young woman is "our" Leia. Thanks for the comment!
“You’re totally insane, you do realise that?” Calrissian asked.
Seated just behind the two pilot positions in the Millenium Falcon’s cramped cockpit, Anakin stared out at the spinning asteroid they were snuggled up against. From time to time, the rock’s spin carried them around far enough to catch a glimpse of the red-black surface of Yag’duhl, a tiny pinprick of light hovering in front of it identified as Imperial Penal Station 9.
Calrissian turned his seat to look at him, as if unsure whether the other man had heard him. Anakin sighed, rubbing a hand over his face, the mechanoid joints in his elbows and wrists whining in the still air.
“Yes, I do, actually.”
“Certifiable,” the Gungan – Lo – muttered from the other seat.
“Fair enough. If any of you have a better idea how we can get onto that station, I’m all ears.”
Calrissian opened his mouth as if to say something, then shut it again after a moment. He shook his head. “I still say it’s insane.”
“The best plans usually are.”
The conversation set memories flickering through his mind, memories of similar conversations he had had at one point or another with Obi-wan during the Wars. How many times had the two of them found themselves faced with insurmountable odds or forces that most members of the Republic Army would have fled, but which he had been certain they could defeat? And each time, his old master had shook his head in his own inimitable way and told Anakin that he would be the death of him.
And I almost was. Not only back on Tatooine but years before, on Naboo. When he had discovered just how close Obi-wan and Padme had grown. If he had still had the Force as his ally, Anakin wondered whether he might not have killed his old friend.
Shaking his head, he banished the thoughts. He had a chance to make all of that right, now. Free Obi-wan, find Luke, and then go home. Maybe even take Obi-wan back to the Alliance first. Introduce Luke to his mother. See his daughter…
His daughter. The thought of Leia brought more pain than any other. His greatest regret had been leaving her behind with Padme. At the time, things had seemed so simple. He could not stay on the same planet as his former wife anymore. Padme would not give up both of her children. Now, though, he wondered whether he couldn’t have tried to make it work.
Regrets. He shook his head again. There would be time enough for those later. For now…
“If we’re going to do this, we need to do it soon,” he said firmly, locking eyes with Calrissian.
The dark skinned Corellian – he had explained to Anakin during the trip that the accent came from his Socorran parents but that he himself had grown up all over the galaxy – met his eyes for a moment, then nodded. Lo gave out a muffled curse, throwing his hands up.
“You’re both insane. There is no way this is going to work.”
“You’d be surprised how often the most insane plans are the ones that work the best.”
“Whatever you say, old man.”
Anakin ignored the Gungan. Calrissian was the one in charge. Now that he had agreed to Anakin’s plan, it was only a matter of fine tuning.
“Alright, Lo. We’re doing this. The question is, how do we pull it off? The Falcon isn’t exactly the least recognizable ship in the galaxy. And out here, I’m not sure how well we can disguise her.”
Anakin thought that the Alliance commander might be letting his love for his ship get away with him. Not that he could fault the man. Besides, even if he was right, that should work to their favor.
Anakin shook his head. “If the Falcon is as recognizable as you say, there would be no point. So we make it part of the story. Lo tells them that he found you and the ship, and decided to take it as down payment on the bounty on your head.” For the first time, he looked at the Gungan. “Make sure that you negotiate the price of the Falcon into your demand for the bounty. It will make you seem that much more realistic.”
“Seem to know a lot about bounty hunters,” Lo muttered, but he didn’t object any further.
Calrissian was nodding. “I think that could work. Of course, a lot of it depends on how well Lo can pull off the whole bounty hunter thing.”
Anakin got the feeling that the Corellian was purposefully goading his partner, putting his skills in doubt to drag him on board with the idea. He decided to play along.
“You may be right. Maybe one of us should play the bounty hunter and bring him in.”
Lo’s ears flopped up and he swiveled one eye to glare at both of them. “I tricked you back at Smuggler’s Run, didn’t I?”
“I suppose so.”
“Don’t worry, Jedi, I can do the job.”
“Good,” Anakin said, trying not to smile. For a moment, he was reminded of Jar-jar Binks. It had been a long time since he had occasion to remember the gangly, clumsy Gungan. He felt a twinge of sadness as he remembered the sacrifice the Nabooan Representative had made, protecting younglings against Palpatine’s attack on the Temple. “That’s settled. Now we just need to create your persona.”
“Yes. You can’t use your own name.”
“And what should I call myself? Boba Fett?”
Anakin grinned. “Actually, I had another name in mind.”
Captain Javan Boor hated his job. He hated the prison station he worked on, with its cramped corridors. He hated the responsibilities he was asked to shoulder and the constant mind numbing boredom of filling in reports and watching the prisoners in their cages. He hated the way other naval officers looked at him and spoke to him when they dropped off new prisoners.
And he hated the bounty hunters who thought they could make a quick deal on the side by bringing prisoners directly to him.
When his XO called him out of his office and onto the tiny command bridge, Javan Boor had no doubt that it could only be to give him more bad news. When he saw the ship approaching on sensors, he realised that his hunch had been right on the money.
“What is it?”
“Claims to be a bounty hunter, Captain,” his XO responded. Of course it is, Boor thought. What else could it be? His ears pricked up, though, as the XO continued, “However, the ship corresponds to an Alliance runner in Imperial databanks. The Millenium Falcon.”
Boor shook his head. He had never heard of the ship. The fact that it was an Alliance vessel, though…
“Could it be a trap?”
“I can’t say for certain, sir.” His XO glanced down at his screens, and then looked back at Boor. “They’re hailing us.”
“Put it through.”
A small holo projector illuminated the space in the direct centre of the command bridge, revealing the disembodied head of a strange alien creature unlike any Boor had seen before. With its long snout and elongated ears, it looked like a cross between an Alderaanian equine and a Coruscanti shadehare.
“Theesa is Gunga Binks on eesa commline. Messa havin preesoners for ussa.”
Boor rubbed his temples, closing his eyes. When he opened them again, he exchanged a tired glance with his XO, before turning back to the hologram.
“Could you repeat that, Mister Binks?”
“Meesa being a bombad bounty hunter. Meesa catching big time fishies for youssen Imperials.”
“Mister Binks, I’m afraid that you misunderstand. This is a prison station, not a naval outpost. If you wish to bring your prisoners to an Imperial prison office, I am afraid you will have to go through the proper channels.”
This seemed to confuse the strange alien, whose fat lips turned downwards at the same time his ears drooped down.
“Youssa no bein prison station?”
“No. I mean, yes, we are a prison station, but we do not handle prisoners directly. We only receive them, transferred by the proper authorities. We…”
“Meesa takin Lando Calrissian to a proper authorities?”
Boor stiffened. Lando Calrissian? Now that was a name he had heard of. The man was on the list of the top ten most wanted criminals in the Empire. Boor had seen his face numerous times in the few broadcasts they received out in this hellhole assignement. The Lando Calrissian? If he could bring such a man in, hand him over to Imperial Command himself… He stiffened.
“I think we may be able to come to some kind of arrangement, Master Binks.” He nodded to his XO, who seemed surprised, but began to send out the proper codes to allow the ship access to their docking bay. “We are sending you landing codes, now. Please follow them. Closely.”
“Meesa understand. Gunga Binks out.”
The hologram flickered and vanished. Boor felt his XO’s eyes on him and turned to look at the man.
“You have a question, commander?”
“Yes. I mean… I thought we did not negotiate directly with bounty hunters, sir.”
Boor allowed a thin smile to crease his features. He hated his assignement with a passion. For the five years he had been posted here, he had dreamed of a way off this cursed station and away from this damned world.
“Who said I was going to negotiate?”
“Are we ready?” Calrissian asked, checking the bonds holding Anakin’s wrists together. Anakin tensed up, trying to pull the restraints apart, but whoever had made them had done a good job. He looked up at Calrissian and nodded.
“I think so.”
“And we’re all clear on the plan?”
Both men looked at Lo, who scowled at them. They had dressed him in an old Republic Clonetrooper’s uniform Calrissian had recovered from an Imperial outpost a few years before. Lo’s gangly body hardly fit inside, but it would do. They had also tattooed a few Huttese symbols on his ears. He looked… Well, like a Gungan pretending to be a bounty hunter. Anakin doubted they were going to be able to achieve anything more.
“Yes, we’re clear,” Lo snapped. “I’m going to hand you over to the Imps, make chummy chummy with them, and then free you from the cells. Then we find Kenobi and blow our way off that station. That about sum it up?”
Hearing it like that, Anakin realised that Calrissian had been right. The plan was insane. Still, it was the best they had. He nodded.
“Yeah, that sums it up nicely.”
Lo bugged his eyes at both humans. “And neither of you see any problem with this plan?”
Anakin and Calrissian shared a glance, and then both of them turned back and shook their heads. “Not a one.”
Lo stared at them in disgust for a moment, before turning back to his controls. “Human poodoo slimos,” he muttered under his breath. Calrissian grinned at Anakin.
“Here we go.”
Here we go indeed.
Lo piloted the Falcon in to the prison’s main docking bay with consummate skill, following the information streaming direct from the station’s comm. system. Anakin and Calrissian sat behind him, lost in their thoughts and trying not to think about all the ways the plan could go wrong.
As the Falcon touched down with a dull thud, Calrissian glanced at Anakin.
“Are you sure about this?”
Anakin grunted. “Ask me again when we get out.”
The dark-skinned Alliance man did not look reassured. Well, Anakin thought, why should he be any different than the rest of us? I was never sure before going into a mission. That’s part of the job.
As soon as he had cut the engines, Lo turned, holding two blasters in either hand. He pointed them at Calrissian and Anakin, and assayed a cocky smile. The expression failed miserably on that equine face.
“Meesa thinking youssa being my prisoners,” he drawled in his heavy Gungan accent. Anakin had to admit that he did quite a good job considering he had been born on Coruscant and had never spent any time on the Gungan homeworld.
“Ok, don’t play it up too much, Lo.”
The Gungan frowned before motioning behind them with both blasters. “Move it.”
Anakin joined Calrissian at the door leading out to the corridor and then allowed the younger man to precede him out of the bridge. They made their way down the corridor, Lo following along with both blasters in hand. When they reached the hatch, their ‘captor’ moved past them, inputting the code that would unhinge the opening. Anakin took one last deep breath of the Falcon’s oily, lived in air. With a hiss of released pressure, the decking gave way, descending until it thudded against the plasmasteel deck.
Calrissian and Anakin shared a glance. Here goes nothing, Anakin thought.
“Move yousa big behinds,” Lo croaked, waving one of the blasters again. Anakin nodded and went down first.
A full contingent of stormtroopers waited for them. Two columns on either side of the ship, their armor a light shade of grey instead of the usual white in order to differentiate them as prison guards. In between the two columns stood two men in Imperial officers’ uniforms. Anakin guessed that one of them was the commander they had spoken to earlier.
Anakin felt a sharp pain in his back. He turned to glare at Lo, who had jabbed him with the bore of his pistol in order to get him moving. He stumbled along, imagining all of the ways he was going to be able to get back at the Gungan once they had Obi-wan.
As Lo walked them over the two officers, Anakin turned his attention to the station itself. Having spent so much time on Tattooine since the Clone Wars ended, he had rarely gotten much of a glimpse at the changes the Empire had made to the Republic’s hardware. He was surprised to realize that there weren’t many. It seemed as though Palpatine had tried to keep as much of the old system as possible, including the construction techniques. He could almost have been walking through the docking bay of one of the old Acclamator I-class assault ships they had used back in the Wars, right down to the dead air smell of the recycling systems.
Still, it would be useful for later on. Once Lo got them free – he refused to entertain the thought that the Gungan might fail – his knowledge of the old Republic ships and space stations might just give them an advantage in finding their way around.
First of all, though, they had to get through the next few minutes.
Lo walked out in front of them as they reached the two officers, saluting with all of the clumsiness of an adolescent Gungan. He then bowed low, indicating the two prisoners behind him.
“Meesa lords and commanding officers, meesa bringing you Alliance spies and revolutionarians meesa being catchen’ in Mos Eisley. Theysa big bomba Alliance generals!”
The imperial officer peered down his nose at Lo. “You are Gunga Binks.”
Lo nodded his head so vigorously, Anakin wondered that he didn’t hurt himself. “Yessir!”
“And you are a bounty hunter?”
“Yessir. Meesa being a bombad bounty hunter and meesa havin…”
Anakin should have guessed there was something wrong when he saw the look the two officers exchanged. He was too focused on Lo’s performance, though. His first real hint of a problem came when the commanding officer pulled a blaster from his own holster.
“Unfortunately,” the imperial officer said with exagerated calm, “the Empire does not negotiate with bounty hunters.”
Anakin felt the blood rush to his ears as the red blaster bolt caught Lo square in the chest. The Gungan spun round, giving Anakin a glimpse of burnt cloth and flesh. The residual energy from the blaster bolt still sizzled, giving off a stench of cooked flesh. Lo coughed up blood before collapsing to the deck.
Calrissian launched himself at the imperial officer. Anakin lifted a hand as if to stop him, but he was too late. The commander slowly moved his arm, took aim and fired again.
The bolt caught the Alliance man in the thigh. Calrissian gave a strangled scream before crashing to the deck. He rolled himself into a ball, clutching his wound. Anakin saw his head lift and he glared at the commander.
The commander studied Calrissian for a moment, one of his eyebrows crooked. “Now why would a captive Alliance man be so upset at the murder of the bounty hunter who caught him?”
He swept his gaze over to Anakin. “Unless neither the captors nor the prisoners were really what they seem.”
Anakin stared back, refusing to answer. The commander studied him for a moment longer and then nodded.
“I see. Well, I’m sure the answer will come to us.” He nodded to the troopers on either side of him. “Take them.”
The troopers rushed in, seizing Anakin by both arms while still more of them forced Calrissian to his feet. The commander waved a hand.
“Take them to the prison level. Hopefully a few hours in solitary will induce them to talk.”
As they were forced to march towards the turbolifts at the end of the docking bay, Anakin heard the commander order his men to get rid of Lo’s body and to move the Falcon to a secure docking area. He felt his heart sink. Whatever he had hoped to achieve, he had failed. Lo had already lost his life. And there was a very good possibility that he and Calrissian were about to join him.
Hell...I have six pages to read through. I've finished the first two chapters and you've got me hooked AND intrigued. And that's two stories now!
Well those two are in more trouble aka typical rescue
@ccp - Well, they can only hope that Han will be able to pull something out of the hat and pull off a rescue. Of course at the moment he has no idea where any of them are...
Luckily that's kinda normal for Han's rescues right.
You're doing a great job at keeping us on the edge of our seats.
@Ceillean - Yay! So glad to see you have joined in over here as well. Hope you'll enjoy the other chapters. Would you like me to include you in the taglist here as well?
@Jade_eyes - Thanks!
@ccp - Yes, rescues needed all over the show!
@Lady_Misty - Thank you! Hope you continue to enjoy it.
@Hazel - Great! That's exactly what I'm going for!
Disclaimer: This is a harsh chapter for one of my characters, even more than the previous one. It was hard to write, but was necessary for the story. You have been warned.
Another alarm, another day. As Ly’ana swung her feet down from the bunk, the light blinding her as it always did, she suppressed a shiver. Not just another day. Not today.
Across the room, Leia Skywalker slid out of bed, avoiding Ly’ana’s eyes. Ly’ana knew that the other woman was afraid of what she might see there, unwilling to think about what was about to happen. Considering that Ly’ana was the one who had to go through it, though, she found it a little infuriating.
The least you could do is meet my eyes, she thought bitterly. I’m doing this for you.
As usual, the steady whir of the holocam followed her from the bed to the fresher and back. Today, the sound seemed to leave a dirty pall on Ly’ana’s skin. Always before she had steeled herself against the knowledge that the troopers were ogling her body, probably making some disgusting comment about her breasts or her legs. She hadn’t cared until today, but now she wondered whether she would ever be able to reclaim that feeling.
After using the fresher, she picked up the dirty jumpsuit and slipped it on. Leia continued to sleep in hers, refusing to give the troopers the satisfaction of seeing both of them. I know what you think about me, Ly’ana thought. Well, I hope you’re happy.
The two of them had been cell mates for three days now. In that time, Ly’ana had found herself dragged – against her will – further and further into the mad schemes of the Alliance prisoners held in the containment centre. The first morning after Leia’s incarceration, as they had entered the common area, the young human girl had let out a cry that had drawn the troopers down on them. Ly’ana had been forced to lie for her, claiming that she had stubbed her toe. It had earned her a slap on her behind from the trooper with the scar and a grateful glance from Leia.
Later, she had learned that the reason for Leia’s reaction had been the sight of the human male who had come to talk to Ly’ana on the day Leia arrived. Lance. Who, it turned out, was Lance Organa – Prince of Alderaan, Alliance leader and Leia’s fiancé.
Things had only become more complicated after that.
As Leia and Ly’ana stepped up to the door now, waiting for it to open, Ly’ana was surprised to feel Leia’s hand brush against hers. She glanced at the human woman, who smiled.
“Thank you. I- I don’t think I could do what…” She trailed off, unable to finish the sentence. Ly’ana felt a lump in her throat, but she forced it down with a few harsh swallows.
“Thank me once we’re out of here.”
The door slid open. As she had every day since her arrival in Internment Camp 12, Ly’ana stepped out, eyes unwavering as they studied the wall opposite. Footsteps echoed – the other prisoners taking their place, ready for inspection.
The crank of motors announcing the arrival of the two troopers responsible for their level sent flocks of anxious butterflies spiralling through Ly’ana’s belly. Unable to help herself, she glanced to her left, both anxious to see the familiar face and terrified that she would. He was there, though, the trooper with the scar on his face, the one who never missed an opportunity to leer at her or touch her or hit her. She was almost certain that he was the one who watched her through the camera.
Nausea threatened to overwhelm her and she swallowed back a rush of metallic saliva. Both troopers walked past the Rodian and Gungan females from the cell next to Leia and Ly’ana’s. Ly’ana could already see the one with the scar slowing his pace, a lazy smile twisting the scar on his cheek.
Scars gaped at her. In the weeks she had been imprisoned, Ly’ana had never once responded to his morning greetings. Today, not only had she answered, but she had done so with obvious intent, putting every ounce of seductive force she could into her voice. Ly’ana had been practicing for two days.
Ever since the secret meeting with Lance, Leia and the other Alliance members in the common area during the evening meal.
Scars’ green eyes lit up at her words and he stepped closer. Ly’ana could smell sweat and an overpowering cologne. Her eyes watered, but she batted her eyes to hide the tears and smiled.
“How are you this morning, officer?”
He grinned. “As well as I ever am after your little morning show,” he whispered, winking at her. Confirming what she had suspected. Pig.
“Oh, were you the one watching?” she simpered. She forced a giggle. “I had. No. Idea.”
Scars allowed his hand to come to rest on her hip. She felt his fingers tighten on her, nails digging in to her flesh. Turning a pained gasp into a moan, Ly’ana forced herself to lean in to him.
“I hear that you might be able to get a girl special privileges if she’s nice to you.”
It was one of Lance’s Alliance women who had told them, a Bothan from another cell block who had heard it from a human prisoner who shared her cell. Scars’ reputation amongst the female inmates was legendary – the last woman he had his eye on, another Twi’lek, had been given her own quarters near the trooper’s barracks, special food and three nights out a week. All she had to do in return was…
“You heard right,” Scars whispered, his hand easing up over her belly, over her jumpsuit. Ly’ana fought the urge to cringe. “Why? Do you think you could be… nice?”
Ly’ana knew that if she had to endure this for a moment longer, she would vomit. She had to complete these “negotiations” now. Burying the last shreds of her dignity, she reached down, grabbed his hand and lifted it to her breast.
“I can be very nice.”
Scars’ shocked expression gave way to one of pure lust. For an instant, Ly’ana was terrified that he was going to push her back into her quarters and have her right there and then. The moment passed, though, and Scars regained some kind of control over himself. Squeezing her breast one last time, he took a step back.
“I’ll send someone for you tonight. Be ready.”
“Oh, I will,” she said, holding his gaze.
Chuckling, Scars turned and joined the other trooper – who looked excited and jealous at the same time. They continued on with their checks, though neither one of them seemed to be particularly concentrated on what they were doing. Ly’ana returned her gaze to the wall, but she could feel the disgusted looks from the other prisoners. It’s not real, she wanted to scream. Couldn’t you tell it was all an act?
What was likely to happen that night, though, would not be an act.
The worse thing was that it had been Ly’ana’s idea.
After Leia recognised Lance, she had convinced Ly’ana to join her over by the ‘fresher pipes. They had been forced to wait until the evening meal, but the moment they reached them, Leia collapsed, sobbing, in Lance’s arms. Very quickly, the whole story had come out.
Leia Skywalker, pilot and Jedi Knight. Lance Organa, prince and diplomat. Padme Naberrie, Leia’s mother, ambassador and victim of the Empire. A scattered remnant of Alliance pilots hiding somewhere in the city above.
Talk had turned to how Leia had come to be in the Internment Camp. Ly’ana had been shocked to learn that the young woman had been kept as a personal prisoner by the Emperor himself. When Lance asked her how she had come to be moved, the young Jedi had broken down. Through her sobs, she had confessed: she had given the Emperor the location of the Jedi Temple.
“Are you sure?” Lance had asked, his expression stricken but his eyes full of compassion. “You said he was drugging you, maybe you imagined it.”
Leia had shaken her head. “I’m sure. I told him about Yavin, Lance. I… I didn’t want to but he… I thought I was…” She had covered her face in her hands.
The Alliance prisoners had seemed to lose what little composure they had, their shoulders slumping and their faces draining of colour. All except for Lance. Ly’ana had watched him straighten his back, determination flooding his features, and for the first time saw him as he must have been before his incarceration. As a prince.
“We’ll have to move up our schedule,” he had said.
While the others broke out in murmurs, Leia and Ly’ana had both frowned.
“For our escape,” he had said matter of factly. “We think we have found a way out of here, but have no idea how we might escape once we reached the surface. We’ve been trying to get a hold of a comm. system so that we can contact someone on the outside, maybe one of the Rogues who escaped Tarkin.”
“You think some of them got away?” Leia had asked.
“I’m sure of it. But so far, we haven’t been able to access a comm. system and-“
“Are you all out of your minds?” Ly’ana had demanded. All eyes had turned on her, but she had been too angry to care. “Escape? Do you know what they do to people who try to escape? When they catch you-“
“They won’t,” Lance had said. “There is a way out. Why else do you think we spend all our time here?”
Ly’ana had looked around and for the first time took in the ‘fresher pipes behind them. Although she had never studied them before, she did so now and realised how wide they were. Still, she had not been able to hold back a sardonic snort.
“You really think you’re going to be able to get in…”
She had trailed off as three of the prisoners twitched back the sides of their cloaks, revealing small knives. Another of them peeled back one of the metal plates on the nearest pipe.
They’ve actually done it, she had thought. They’ve actually managed to find a way out of here.
“Unfortunately, getting up to the surface is only half of the trouble. We then need to find a way off Coruscant. Even with a comm system that would be difficult, but without one it is impossible.”
“There has to be a way,” Leia had said, the excitement obvious in her voice. “There has to be.”
“Only the guards have comm systems,” one of the other Alliance soldiers had said. “They never leave them unattended. The only way to get at one would be to…”
As the Alliance soldiers continued to talk, Ly’ana had felt a sick feeling deep in her gut. The only way to get at one would be to place yourself in a situation where one of the trooper’s would let his guard down. In his quarters. Although she had known that they weren’t, Ly’ana had not been able to shake the sensation that the Alliance soldiers were looking at her.
Don’t do it, Ly’ana. The voice in her head had been Han’s. You don’t owe them anything. Look out for yourself, keep your nose down and you can…
What? She had demanded, anger prickling her eyes. I can do what? Spend the rest of my life in here until one of the guards decides to take what I won’t give up willingly? End up beaten and bleeding out in some cell, or passed from one trooper to the next? This is a way out. I’m the only one who can do it.
The others had still been talking when she had stepped forward, debating the chances of trapping one of the troopers in the corridors between cell blocks. All of them looked up at her in surprise, Leia most of all.
“I’ll do it,” she had said, the words turning to ash in her mouth. “I’ll get you the comm.”
The rest of the day passed too quickly. Before she knew it, the siren rang announcing the end of the work shift. Ly’ana had hoped to have the time to return to her cell, but Scars was waiting for her. Grabbing her arm, he grinned at her.
“You’re coming with me, Tails.”
Ly’ana sensed Leia on the periphery of her vision. She forced a smile.
“I was hoping you would say that.”
Allowing Scars to lead her down the corridor, Ly’ana prayed to any gods who might be listening that he would be gentle.
Hours later, trying not to make a sound, Ly’ana rolled out of the bed, clutching her robe to her naked body. She paused as Scars coughed softly in his sleep. Eyes closed, she waited to see whether he would make any more noise. Moments later, he started breathing normally again. Ly’ana left her eyes closed for a moment more, fighting back tears. Once she had herself under control, she got to her feet and padded over to the desk.
She winced slightly, the bruises left by his pawing hands sending sharp darts of pain through her body. The memories left her feeling sick, but she pushed them away.
I had no choice, she reminded herself. I was the only one.
Reaching the desk, she dropped to her haunches, glancing back to make sure that Scars was still asleep. He had rolled on to his back, his scarred face relaxed, his mouth open and blowing little spit bubbles. She turned away, fighting off a desire to go back to the bed and push one of the pillows down on his face.
He had left his uniform strewn haphazardly on the desk and chair. Ly’ana rummaged through it until she felt the cool metal and plastic of the comm unit. Pulling it out from beneath a set of armour, Ly’ana checked it over, turning it this way and that to make sure that it was functional. Once she was sure, she wrapped her robe around her more tightly and walked over to the door out into the corridor.
Praying to any god who might be listening that the sound of the door opening wouldn’t wake him, Ly’ana pressed her hand against the panel. It swished open, casting a rectangle of artificial light on the floor.
Leia Skywalker stood on the other side. When she saw Ly’ana, her face crumbled slightly.
Don’t you dare! Don’t you dare feel pity for me. I don’t know if I’ll be able to hold it together if you do.
As if she had sensed Ly’ana’s thoughts, Leia steeled her own face to a neutral mask. “Did you get it?”
Ly’ana nodded, handing the comm unit over. “You know who to contact?”
“I think so,” Leia said. “Solo, you said. You’re sure he can help us?”
If anyone can. She had suggested they try to contact Han once the decision had been made that she would seduce the guard. With his contacts, he should be able to arrange their safe passage off the planet. She nodded. “You have the frequency?”
“Then you’d better go. Remember, you have to have it back to me before morning.”
Leia hesitated. “Will… Are you going to be alright?”
Do I have a choice? “I’ll be fine. Get on with it.”
The young human looked at her for a moment longer and then shook herself. Squeezing Ly’ana’s hand, she turned and ran back down the corridor. Ly’ana watched her go and then stepped back into the guard’s room.
“Where do you think you’re going?” The guard’s gruff tones sent shudders down Ly’ana’s spine. She turned slowly to see him sitting up in bed, pressing himself on his elbows, eyes bleary.
She forced a seductive smile and allowed the robe to fall to the floor. “Just trying to get your attention.”
Yikes - that is really carrying "duty" to extremes - but it was at least her choice.
Wow, great job.