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Saga - OT A Matter of Time (AU, ESB) H/L, Luke, Vader, Lando

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Ridley Solo, Apr 5, 2018.

  1. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Lt. Sal is clearly intimidated by Vader and understandably does not trust him either, but he does recognize that Vader is a living being, and treats him as such, even if it's only because it's the decent thing to do. Good on him.
     
  2. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    Leia has a right to her concerns. Great update. =D=
     
  3. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    Well, Leia's only human.


    Thank you!


    Exactly. At heart Sal is a medic, and his job is to ease suffering and save lives.


    Thank you!

    And, here comes the proverbial bomb, waiting to be dropped...
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Part Twenty-Three

    Over the next three days, father and son recovered under very different conditions. While Luke was surrounded by love and care, Anakin was isolated from everyone, save Sal the medic who came in twice a day to change his bandages, empty the waste receptacle built into his suit, refill the nutrient pouch, check IV levels (without a hyperbaric chamber Anakin couldn't take off his helmet to drink), and administer antibiotics. Painkillers weren’t cleared until the second day, but they didn’t seem to be helping much. According to his vitals, the imposing monolith of a man was still experiencing a fairly high level of pain. Sal put through a petition on increasing the dosage and had yet to hear back.

    On the morning of the fourth day, Anakin woke to find his restraints gone and a small monitor left in his cell. At the moment it was dominated by a revolving Alliance symbol. What’s this for? He wondered.

    As if on cue the door slid open. Sal entered, his usual cautious self, with the same two guards.

    “So are you still Anakin today, or Vader?” asked Sal as he set down a tray of bandages on the small table.

    “Anakin,” he replied quietly. “I’ve told you before, Darth Vader will no longer show himself. He’s gone. Forever.”

    “You can’t blame us for being skeptical,” shrugged Sal. He nodded to Vader’s left side. “Are you going to let me change your bandages?”

    Wordlessly Anakin nodded and shifted around to sit on his cot. He was well used to the routine by now and didn’t have anything negative to say about his medic. Sal was young and perpetually nervous, but he knew what he was doing and had far more bedside manner than one would expect. Anakin sensed that Sal’s nerves were nearly as high as on the first day, but that wasn’t a surprise. Patients were easier to manage when asleep or restrained.

    Anakin bit down on his wince as the bandages and splint were carefully removed. His arm was still very sore. Any contact made it throb with every beat of his heart.

    “Okay...looks pretty good,” remarked Sal, carefully looking over the stump. “The infection’s just about gone...bones are knitting nicely...how’s your pain level today?”

    “Tolerable,” grunted Anakin. He turned to look at his arm and was startled to see how pale it was. New scars had practically disappeared into the mass of scar tissue that covered him from crown to knees. His skin had a grayish cast to it, with a ropy, uneven texture. He grimaced and turned away. On the off chance he could ever get out of his suit, no one would ever want to see him. I look like a monster.

    “All right. Will you hold still for your meds?”

    Anakin nodded, though he hated having injections. He bit down on a wince as first antibiotics, then pain medication was administered.

    Sal shook his head as he put on fresh dressings and replaced the splint. “You should have had immersive bacta treatments. As that’s in rather short supply, you’re stuck with just bandages. It’s going to be a couple of weeks before that arm is back to normal.”

    Anakin tilted his head to one side. “Am I going to be restrained again?”

    Sal cringed. The tension could still be seen on his face. Any minute he half expected Vader’s black glove to close about his throat, or some unseen Force toss him across the room. He swallowed. “Well...it’s not good for anyone to be lying still all day. I’ve already asked the higher-ups to let you get some exercise...if you behave.”

    The masked man nodded again. “Understood. I need to prove myself trustworthy first.”

    “Um...right.” Sal blew out a sharp breath as the bandaging was done. Peeling off the sterile second skin that he’d used in lieu of gloves, he sprayed a new layer on his hands and waited for them to dry. “All right. If you’ll let me change out the waste pouch, we’ll be all finished here.”

    “If it’s all the same to you,” said Anakin, blushing behind his mask, “I’d rather do it myself.”

    “Go ahead.” Sal handed Anakin a fresh pouch and let him walk toward the refresher, shuddering a little. He couldn’t blame the man for wanting privacy. Having someone else take care of your waste had to be incredibly embarrassing.

    Anakin did the job quickly and sat back down on the cot. He was stiff after lying down for three days. “What is the purpose of that monitor display?” he asked as Sal packed up the medical kit.

    “The Alliance has decided to question you today,” explained Sal.

    “As expected,” nodded Anakin. “I have much to tell them.”

    “I don’t doubt it,” said Sal with a frown. He rose and backed toward the door, keeping his eyes on his patient. “I’ll be back later to check on your nutrient pouch.” And he left the cell, letting out a sigh of relief as the Force field and then the door shut on Darth Vader.

    General Madine was waiting outside, arms knotted. “Any problems leaving off his restraints?”

    Sal shook his head, confused. “No...he’s been surprisingly cooperative. Almost makes me feel bad for him….almost.”

    The General cringed. “I know what you mean, Lieutenant, but we can’t let our guard down. Don’t forget who this is.”

    The Lieutenant made a face. “How can I? That breathing in my ears every time I go in...” He shuddered and stepped aside. “If that’s all, General, I still have my rounds to do.”

    “Go ahead.” Madine saluted the young medic and watched him go before settling down in front of an identical camera and monitor setup. Well, here goes nothing...He switched the assembly on. Within the cell sat Darth Vader, who seemed to be working some kind of kink out of his spine. The masked man paused and slowly turned to regard the monitor. Madine shivered as he heard the mechanical breathing. “Darth Vader. My name is General Madine. I’m a member of the leading council of the Alliance to restore the Republic.”

    And so it begins, thought Anakin. He nodded. “My name is Anakin. I’d say it was a pleasure to meet you, but under the circumstances...”

    Madine frowned. “I don’t want to beat around any bushes, here. You’ve been telling the medic, Lieutenant Sal, that you have a lot to say to us. True?”

    “Yes.”

    “Good, but we’ll get to that later. First we have a few questions for you...”

    * * * * *

    “Leia. Come in,” invited Luke, stepping aside with a smile. “It’s good to see you.”

    Leia’s return smile was guarded. “Same here. How are you feeling today?”

    Luke seemed relieved. “Much better. Thank you. It’s kind of unnerving being confined to quarters,” he admitted, “but I can understand why.”

    Leia nodded. “I’m hoping that ends today.”

    Luke lifted his brows with interest. He sensed hesitation in her manner, as if she was heading into difficult territory. He could guess why. “Sit down,” He invited, pulling out a chair for her. “This isn’t a social call, is it?”

    Sadly Leia shook her head. “No. Luke, I need to ask you some questions. Some of them might be difficult, but I want you to be completely honest with me.”

    Luke sighed. “I thought as much. Don’t worry; I’ll always be honest with you.” He sat across from her.

    Leia couldn’t smile as she stared at her hands and nodded. “All right. I’ll try and keep this short. You’ve already told me what happened on Bespin after your duel with Vader and how he captured you. I need you to tell me everything you can about what happened while you were his prisoner, starting when you were brought aboard his flagship and ending when you returned to the rendezvous point. Can you do that?”

    Luke took a deep breath and let it out slowly. This wasn’t going to be easy. It’s only Leia...you can trust her. "I’ll do my best. Well...once I realized who had me, I tried everything I could to get away. So the crew stunned me. When I woke up hours later, I was in a kind of medical prison cell aboard the Executor. At first I thought it was some kind of bad dream...” He shook his head at the memory.

    Leia winced for him. “So they gave you medical treatment for your hand?”

    The young man made a face. “In the loosest sense of the word. The medic assigned to prisoners, Lt. Hallen...well, let’s just say he didn’t like me. I tried to escape. When Hallen caught me, he-” Luke closed his eyes. The fight with the blaster...the abuse...thinking too long about it made his wrist ache. “He wasn’t very happy about that...”

    Anger rose in Leia’s heart on Luke’s behalf. He didn’t need to be specific. She could read his face. “He hurt you.”

    Slowly Luke nodded. “His bedside manner was pretty much non-existent. I think he held a grudge about the Death Star. Even when Vader gave him orders to the contrary, he was as rough as possible with my treatment and didn’t allow any painkillers...until Vader killed him.” He shuddered.

    Leia hadn’t been expecting that. Then again, Vader seemed apt to kill anyone if he was in a bad enough mood. “Hmm. Were you interrogated at all?”

    “No. Vader wasn’t interested in what I knew, and even said questioning me would be pointless.”

    “Why?”

    “Because of the Force.”

    * * * * *

    Madine’s brows knit in confusion at Vader’s words and tone. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he was sorry… “So, you capture Skywalker, but don’t even question him...because of the Force? You must not be as powerful as people say you are, then. I thought you had this Force, too.”

    Anakin cringed. “Yes. But I knew that Luke was too strong to hold up against any questioning. The reason for his capture was never knowledge about the Rebellion, but to convince him to join the Empire...or more specifically, the Dark Side.”

    Madine nodded in response. “Aha. So you saw Skwalker’s power, and wanted him on your side. What happened to him after you took him out of the Infirmary?”

    Shame made Anakin hunch his shoulders. “I thought that, perhaps if he was well-treated, he would come to see the Empire as something other than evil. I gave him his own quarters, near my own, and provided food, clothing, and improved medical care.”

    Madine lifted a brow. It’s a different tactic for the Empire...but you usually catch more flies with honey instead of vinegar. “Really. No torture? No interrogation at all?”

    * * * * *

    “None,” confirmed Luke, shaking his head. “Even when I kept refusing to join him. I could tell it made him angry, but...after Bespin, he never hurt me.”

    “Too-One-be said otherwise,” frowned Leia. She reached for him with knit brows. “He found several small wounds in random places...your condition suggested torture. Are you telling me that Vader didn’t do that?”

    “No...but part of his pitch to join the Dark Side was a kind of harsh training. He set training remotes against me in complete darkness...he was trying to make me angry, but...I knew I couldn’t let him win.” Luke shook his head.

    “Luke, whether they were from training remotes or his lightsaber, that was still Vader that hurt you.” She took in another deep breath and asked the question she was dreading. “Luke, is it true? Did you join the Empire?”

    Hurt filled Luke’s eyes. “Leia...you know I couldn’t.”

    Leia groaned. “Of course I do, but you’re not doing yourself any favors. First you take Vader back with you, begging that no one hurts him, and then you start defending him?” She took a deep breath. “There has to be a reason for all this. The last I saw you, you hated Vader. Now...Luke, what are you not telling me?”

    I have to tell her the truth. She’ll never trust me if I don’t. Luke stared as the table for a moment, gathering his courage before sadly meeting Leia’s eyes. “He’s my father.”

    * * * * *

    “So...you keep up a ruse to convince your officers...keep Skywalker away from anyone so they won’t suspect...treat wounds that were caused by machines that you programmed...and then save his life, even after he refused you join you?” Madine listed each item on his fingers, confusion written across his face. “Why would Darth Vader do this for a man as infamous as Skywalker?”

    Painfully Anakin closed his eyes. He didn’t want to do this to Luke, but he was backed into a corner. No more lies...no more deception. Just the truth. “I am not Darth Vader anymore. My name is Anakin Skywalker. Luke Skywalker is my son.”
     
    AzureAngel2 and Darth_Drachonus like this.
  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh superb! From Anakin's and Luke's POV the "big reveal" -- terrifically detailed as to how it came about. I can just bet Madine and Leia are absolutely shocked! =D=

    Definitely there is a lot to think about in light of that relationship as to next steps.
     
    AzureAngel2 and Ridley Solo like this.
  5. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    Oh I half wasn't expecting for Anakin to say the truth yet. I'm glad Luke opened up to Leia about his relationship to Anakin/Vader. Fantastic update. [face_dancing]=D=
     
  6. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Well, the truth is out. Now the fun begins![face_laugh] I wasn't quite expecting either of them to just blurt it out like that, but Anakin is right...no more lies. Just the truth.

    Great job. =D=
     
  7. Darth_Drachonus

    Darth_Drachonus Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 2005
    And now, here comes all the poodoo hitting the fan questions, and such, as Anakin Skywalker once said: This is where the fun begins! :redsaber::bluesaber::falcon::xwing:
     
  8. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Now it gets interesting.......

    Not that it wasn't before.
     
  9. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    And here we are again with a suspense curve that is still going up...

    The last two updates made me hold my breath and my husband @DarthUncle had to check if I was still alive in the living-room. And he was worried because it causes me extreme hassle & labour to help him to fight German authorities for his severe disablement status.

    This is also why I have read this story with different eyes. Due to his kidney disease my husband has to be careful with pain killers. When he had severe knee problems around last September, they had none for him. (Luckily, the son of Luke Skywalker´s German voice actor volunteered the address of his able physiotherapist. :D)

    So imagining how much Vader must have suffered with his injuries. But the penitent sinner he turned into must see the pain as a payment for his failures and crimes. He also must be used to a certain amount of pain since Mustafar. Pain, he learned to embrace as a Sith.

    Anyway, I hope that they will give him a fair chance to deflect.
     
  10. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    Hey, guys! Sorry it's been a while, but I had a visitor come out for a week and haven't been reading, writing, or posting a thing since.

    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha You'll see their reactions soon enough. ;)
    @Sara_Kenobi Surprise, surprise!
    @JediMaster_Jen Thank you!
    @Darth_Drachonus Yup, you've got it! :)
    @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Haha, glad to hear. I was thinking if it wasn't interseting before, nobody would be reading it! [face_laugh]
    @AzureAngel2 Oh, wow. Don't worry your husband! Breathe! But I'm glad to have a different perspective on this. And you have an excellent point about Anakin's pain. He has been in a constant state of discomfort or pain for the last 20+ years, but now that Vader is essentially gone, one can only imagine the guilt Anakin feels. :(


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Part Twenty-Four

    Leia’s mouth fell open at the news. Her first instinct was to deny it, to accuse Luke of lying...but there was no lie in his eyes. There was only pain and that same, simple, farmboy honesty she knew and loved. He believed what he was saying, and it explained why he kept asking about Vader, even why he had brought him back. Luke had never known parents other than his aunt and uncle and the knowledge haunted him. If he thought for even a minute he could know his father, he’d do anything to hold on to that. “Did Vader tell you?”

    Luke nodded. “After the duel on Bespin. It was the reason he wanted me to join him. I didn’t believe him at first.”

    Leia frowned. “Then why believe him now? Luke, a lie like that is the perfect way to manipulate someone.”

    Luke insistently shook his head. “He’s not lying. As terrible as the news might be, it’s true. I know it is. I can feel it...” His voice caught, and he turned away.

    Leia sighed. While she’d never understand Luke’s connection with the Force, she knew it was real. Her father had spoken with reverence about the Jedi. They could tell when someone was lying. Well, he never knew his father...his uncle had already lied to him about it...and Obi-Wan did say that Vader was once a Jedi. Now the familial deception made sense. Owen Lars and Obi-Wan Kenobi had only been trying to protect Luke from a terrible truth. She took his shoulder. “I’m so sorry. But even so, you can’t let it blind you to who Vader is and what he’s done.”

    Luke moistened his lips, staring at his hand. “Leia...I don’t expect you to understand, but...the man in the brig isn’t Darth Vader anymore. It’s Anakin Skywalker.”

    What is he saying? Now honestly concerned for Luke’s sanity, Leia looked him in the eye. “I know you want to believe that. But someone who’s spent twenty years of his life steeped in evil doesn’t change overnight, or even in a few days. It’s just not possible. And even if it was, he still has to answer for his crimes.”

    Luke pursed his lips. “I know....but think about it for a minute. In his own strange way, he was trying to protect me the whole time I was aboard the Executor. He insisted on treating the burns himself. Would Darth Vader do that?”

    Leia shook her head. “I don’t know. But it doesn’t change who he is.”

    “He saved me.”

    “Luke-”

    “He was running out of time to try and bring me to the Dark Side. I could sense the conflict in him, even then. Every day the battle between Darth Vader and Anakin grew stronger. He sabotaged his own hyperdrive to try and buy some time before we met the Emperor. While we were in port on Sheol, he took me down to the surface in a last-ditch effort to turn me. It didn’t work. Vader would have killed me if Anakin hadn’t stopped him. Then there was a groundquake...” Luke hesitated, turning away. “The bridge I was on collapsed. When my father reached for me, a boulder fell on him. That’s how his arm was crushed. But then...somehow...he found the strength to reach out with the Force and pull me to safety. I felt the cold and the darkness leave. Darth Vader is gone now.”

    Leia blinked, trying to process what she’d heard. Again, there was no lie in Luke’s eyes. There was only a plea for understanding. She didn’t think he was crazy, either...crazy as this story was. Finally she shook her head, rubbing her temples.

    Luke took her reaction as one of disbelief and let his shoulders fall. “You don’t believe me?”

    “Luke, it’s not that. I know you’re being honest with me, and I don’t really think you’re crazy,” said Leia, apologetic. A list of all the evil that Vader had done danced before her eyes. “You know I’m willing to give people second chances. Look at Han, for goodness’ sake.” She smiled briefly, and Luke smiled in return. It faded quickly. “But this...” She studied her hands, fighting to keep calm. It’s just Luke...don’t get angry with him for being naive. “Nothing Vader could do, even if he had a thousand years, could undo all the evil he’s done. Nothing can bring back the lives he’s taken. We can’t let that go.”

    “I know,” nodded Luke sadly. “He knows it, too. He doesn’t expect any kind of pardon or forgiveness. But he does want to help.”

    “Well, General Madine is talking to him now, and I sincerely hope we can use any information he gives us. But...no matter what, we can never trust him.” Leia closed her eyes and took a deep, shuddering breath. If she had her way, the masked monster would be locked away for good in the deepest, darkest hole they could find. She met Luke’s eyes in apology. “Can you understand?”

    “Yes.” Luke hung his head for a moment. “I don’t suppose the Alliance is going to trust me, either, once they know he’s my father.”

    “That’s nonsense. Many Alliance members have family in the Empire. As soon as General Madine and I compare notes, I’m sure they’ll lift your restriction.”

    “I hope so. Do you think...it might be too much to ask, but do you think I might be able to see my father?”

    Leia’s eyes hardened. I’m not letting him anywhere near that monster. It’s for his own good. “I don’t think so...besides, you still haven’t recovered from your concussion. And from what I’ve heard, Vader isn’t doing much better.”

    Luke cringed. “Anakin, you mean. I know he’s in pain. Aren’t they giving him anything for it?”

    Leia flinched. “How cold do you think we are? We’re not in the habit of torturing prisoners...even someone like Vader.”

    Anakin,” Luke insisted. “Vader’s gone. And you didn’t answer my question.”

    I’m not calling him by that name, though Leia. She avoided Luke’s eyes and studied her datapad. ”Of course. Did anything happen on the trip from Sheol to the rendezvous point?”

    “No. Both of us were pretty tired. He’d lost a lot of blood, and my head was killing me,” admitted Luke. “I did ask him about the Jedi. He didn’t say much...except their faces have been haunting him for years.” Luke turned away, disturbed. “He feels a deep remorse for everything he’s done...”

    Leia bit back a scathing reply to that and instead shook her head. I hope so. I hope he lives with whatever guilt he can muster to the end of his days. “Well...that’s about it. Thank you, Luke, for being honest. I know this wasn’t an easy conversation for you. And don’t worry about what others will think about your father. No one else is going to know except the leaders of the Alliance.” She gave his shoulder a squeeze and rose to her feet. “I need to go. Will you be all right?”

    Luke took a deep breath and nodded. “Yes, now that the truth is out. Are you going to tell Han?”

    Leia pressed her lips together. Han hated Vader more than anyone alive, but loved Luke like family. “You know how much Han cares about you. You’re like a brother to him. Genetics isn’t going to change that, but...I’ll leave it up to you.”

    Luke nodded in relief. He sensed a lingering distrust and even hatred of Vader, but that was to be expected. At least she had not rejected Luke or his claims. He knew Leia cared about him. There was a kind of connection between them...though he still couldn’t figure out what it was. “Thank you.”

    The princess managed a smile and pecked Luke on the cheek. “Rest up, now. We need our best pilot back.”

    Luke’s cheeks colored. He knew Leia had picked Han. The crush that had begun with that hologram years before seemed so silly now. He couldn’t help feeling self-conscious, and just a little guilty. “You...better go.”

    Leia nodded and headed for the door. At the last minute she paused, one final question dancing at the corner of her mind. “Luke...did Vader...ah, did your...father...tell you anything else that might be important?”

    “Not to the Alliance, but to me; he told me about my mother. Not much...I think it’s too painful for him, but at least I know her name.” There was closure in his eyes that had been missing before.

    “What was it?” Leia asked softly.

    “Padme. Her name was Padme Amidala,” said Luke with a wistful smile. “She was a queen, then a senator from-”

    “From Naboo?” Leia broke in, reeling as if someone had punched her in the sternum. Padme Amidala was my mother...my real mother...Bail and Breha told me when I was small. She felt the blood drain from her face as the facts began stacking against her. She and Luke were the same age. They even shared a birthday. Before they had thought it a funny coincidence.

    Luke’s brows rose as he got to his feet. “Did you know her?” His voice rose hopefully.

    Leia shook her head. Mother died when I was born...when we were born- “My father...Bail, he knew her. They were friends in the Senate.”

    Luke’s smile quickly faded. “What’s wrong?”

    Tell him! Tell him you’re his sister! Imagine how happy he’ll be. Leia shook her head against it and tears stung her eyes. “I...nothing, I...I just don’t feel well.” That was true enough. Her stomach was twisting in knots. Slowly she backed toward the door.

    Luke’s face fell. “Oh. I’m sorry. Is it Anakin-”

    “No!” Leia’s voice was sharper than intended, and she backed against the wall. “No, Luke...I told you, it doesn’t matter who your father is.” Who our father is… “It doesn’t change who you are. I just...I have to go. If I caught some sort of bug, I don’t want you catching it.” That was a feeble excuse and she knew it, but the need to leave was pressing. “Take care of yourself...” and with that, she ducked out the door. Once it closed, she was running, trying to outpace the terrible news.

    * * * * *

    “Anakin Skywalker?” Admiral Ackbar said with wide eyes. “Are you certain?”

    Both Madine and Leia gave slow nods. The entire Alliance Council had convened to listen to Luke and Vader’s stories. To Leia’s dismay, they lined up perfectly, albeit from different points of view. While Madine was fascinated with the possibility that Vader was telling the truth, Leia was concerned about Luke and what this news meant for him.

    “My word. The rumor was that he died during the attack on the Jedi Temple...but only weeks later, the Emperor introduced his new right hand. Darth Vader. I doubt few ever put the pieces together. Skywalker- the elder -was a very unorthodox but revered Jedi. No one could have believed that he, of all the Jedi, would be the one to betray the rest...” Slowly Mon Mothma shook her head.

    “Isn’t there any chance he could be lying?” frowned Leia.

    “It’s always possible, but somehow I doubt it,” shrugged Madine. “I’ve already run a full analysis on the recording. There’s nothing in his voice, body language, speech patterns, or even vital signs that indicates deception. We can’t see his face, of course, but...it would explain their stories. The only way to be sure is to run a DNA test.”

    “That might be a good idea,” remarked General Rieekan. “If nothing else, to provide a benchmark in establishing his reliability.”

    “Telling the truth once doesn’t mean we can trust him with anything else,” Leia pointed out. “What about the other information he’s given us? Is there any way to verify that?”

    “Without a thorough investigation of each one, I’m afraid not,” said Mon Mothma regretfully. “None of which we have the resources for at the moment.”

    “So we’re back to where we started,” sighed Leia, slouching in her seat.

    Rieekan tilted his head to one side. “Not necessarily, Princess. If even one of these claims turned out to be true, it could be the turning point for the Rebellion. I feel we should investigate as soon as we can.”

    Ackbar nodded. “Agreed. Shall we begin with the simplest and carry out the DNA test?”

    Mon Mothma shrugged. “I’ve no objections. However, I do believe that whatever the outcome- apart from telling Commander Skywalker- those results are not to leave this room. Commander Skywalker has a right to his privacy.”

    The others nodded. No need to get everyone into a tizzy because of DNA.

    “Well, then. As there are no objections, I suggest we proceed with the test. And,” Madine added, throwing a cautious glance to Leia, “perhaps improving our treatment of the prisoner?”

    Leia avoided his gaze and nodded. “Very well. Send word to the medic to increase the dose of painkillers.”

    “Good. Council adjourned, then.”

    As the Alliance members rose and began to scatter, Mon Mothma approached Leia, who sat dejectedly in her seat. She didn’t want to lay anything else on the young woman’s mind, but something had been pressing at hers for hours. “Leia? Are you all right?”

    I’m not that obvious, am I? Leia lifted her head. “Yes. I’m fine, just...” she shook her head. “Information overload.”

    Mon Mothma cringed. “Hmm. In that case, I’ll not bother you with anything else tonight.”

    Leia frowned. It wasn’t like Mon Mothma to put things off until tomorrow. “What do you mean?”

    The older woman forced a smile and shrugged. “Well, it may be nothing...seeing you tonight, you remind me very much of your mother.”

    Leia closed her eyes. Please. Nothing more about family tonight. “No...I don’t think I’m anything like Breha. She was so quiet and retiring; she hated having attention on her and was more than happy to leave the politics to Bail. Always so cautious. Me, on the other hand...I jump right in, sometimes into opee-infested waters.” She gave a wry smile.

    Mon Mothma smiled distantly. “I was speaking of your biological mother. Padme. She was just as passionate and dedicated as you are to justice and equality.”

    The glowing description did nothing to ease Leia’s worries. What about my father? Who was he? Perhaps it was better not to know. All Leia wanted at the moment was run straight down to the hangar and lose herself in Han’s arms. That would ease the terrible weight upon her heart, if only for a little while.
     
  11. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    So Leia knows the truth now. Hopefully, in time, she'll admit it to Luke.
     
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb talk between Leia and Luke and wow! She caught on to the sibling connection! Lots and lots to process. @};- If it was just THAT, it'd be sweet, but :p this is a lot to take in. [face_thinking]
     
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  13. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Wow. That is a lot. No wonder Leia wants to go to bed early.
     
  14. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @Sara_Kenobi Patience....:p
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Hey, finding out all those family connections has to be stressful! And @Cowgirl Jedi 1701, wouldn't you want to go to bed after hearing something like that? Yikes...
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Part Twenty-Five

    The results of the DNA test didn’t take long. The morning after two separate medics had collected a cheek swab from Luke and a blood sample from Anakin, Too-One-Be announced that the test had been completed, and was asked to report his findings to the Alliance. As a droid, he could not show favoritism or bias, so his word was trusted.

    "In comparing the DNA of Darth Vader and Commander Luke Skywalker, the results are conclusive; a 99.999 chance of close familial relationship."

    General Madine blew out a heavy breath, as if all the air had been driven from his lungs. “Wow.”

    Mon Mothma paled and Admiral Ackbar appeared to be deep in thought. Neither one said a word. General Reeikan was the only one who did not look particularly surprised, but nor was he happy about the news.

    As for Leia, she closed her eyes and let her head sink into her hands. The truth brought no comfort. It only reminded her of that other possibility that would be at once wonderful and terrible. Wonderful that she would have Luke for a brother...terrible because of who her father would be. Her only hope was that Vader had lied to Luke about his mother.

    Madine cleared his throat. "Well. Looks as if Vader- or should I say, Anakin -was telling the truth. Where does that leave us?”

    Rieekan lifted his brows. “We could start by investigating one of his other claims.”

    Mon Mothma frowned. “May I remind you, General, of our limited resources? We have not yet been able to gather the remainder of our allies. As such our forces are stretched dangerously thin.”

    Madine was thoughtful. “What about General Syndulla’s team? They were supposed to be rejoining us in a couple of days.”

    Rieekan nodded. “You’re right. I believe we should contact her as soon as possible.”

    Leia felt her shoulders sag. Hera Syndulla, like many in the Alliance, had a young son. The worst part of being at war was the knowledge that it was always possible for children to lose their parents in the conflict. Hera was just getting back from a visit with her little boy, who was no more than a toddler. Please don’t let this little one lose his mother. ”Did you have a specific lead in mind, General Madine?”

    “Yes. One I feel is the most pressing; finding out if the story about a second Death Star is true.”

    Silence engulfed the room as everyone nodded. The last thing they needed was another planet-killer on the loose.

    “Well, so long as General Syndulla agrees,” sighed Mon Mothma.

    “She will. You know she never turns down a mission, and her team is one of the best we’ve got,” nodded Rieekan with confidence.

    Leia nodded in return, brown eyes distant. “All right. I’ll contact her myself and we can brief her when she gets back.”

    Mon Mothma kept her eyes on Leia as the Council was adjourned and the members began to scatter. Perhaps it was time to have that discussion they’d been putting off. She waited until the room had emptied before striding up to her friend. “Leia? Your attention is drifting again. Is something bothering you?”

    Leia grimaced, rubbing her temples. “Want a list?” she remarked with a dry smile.

    Mon Mothma slid into the chair beside the younger woman. “No, thank you. I know how troubling these last weeks have been. I’m loathe to bring it up now, but cannot seem to shake the need for discussion...”

    Might as well get it over with. Leia shrugged. “Well, there’s no use in putting it off further. What’s on your mind?”

    The older senator looked troubled. “This news over Commander Skywalker. It’s had me thinking back to the days of the Clone Wars. Though I didn’t know him well, I did meet Anakin Skywalker on several occasions. It’s still difficult to believe what he became...” She shook her head. “But that’s not what I wanted to discuss. Anakin knew your mother very well. They were close friends...more than friends, if the rumors about their relationship were to be believed.”

    Oh, no. Not her, too...Leia swallowed her nerves. “What...what rumors?”

    Mon Mothma sighed heavily. “Leia, I’m sorry to even bring this up, but...did Bail and Breha ever mention who your biological father was?”

    Leia pressed her lips together. She knew what was coming, and wanted to deny it. “No. All they said was that he died shortly before I was born. I never pressed the issue...I saw Bail as the only father I could ever need...” No...please, no…

    Gently Mon Mothma took Leia’s shoulder. “The short of it is, there was a bit of a scandal going on at the time. No one, outside of a very few, knew that your mother had given birth before her death. No one knew who the father was.”

    Leia shut her eyes against the ache and let her head fall into her palms. The truth of it assaulted her heart, and she shook her head.

    Mon Mothma sighed, rubbing her friends’ back. “The fact that you and Commander Skywalker share a birthday made me wonder. That’s all. I’m so sorry to lay yet another burden upon you.”

    “No,” murmured Leia, pulling her hands away from her miserable face. “It’s all right. Luke brought it up first.”

    “Oh?” Mon Mothma’s brows lifted.

    “He said that Vader told him his mothers’ name; Padme Amidala. I was hoping Vader was lying...” Leia stared at her hands. “You know, this wouldn’t be so bad if it just meant Luke was my brother.”

    “Does Luke know?” Mon Mothma inquired.

    “No. I haven’t told him we have the same mother...maybe I was hoping it would just go away.” She let out a humorless laugh and shook her head. “I guess I’ll have to tell him.”

    Kindly the older woman patted Leia’s shoulder. “Go ahead, then. Leia...” She found her friend’s eyes. “You have my word that I’ll not tell a single soul of this. But, if you ever feel the need to talk, I’m here.”

    Leia managed a smile and rose to her feet. “Thank you.” She squeezed Mon Mothma’s hand.

    Mothma raised her brows in concern. “Will you be all right?”

    Reluctantly Leia nodded. Inwardly she wanted to cry and scream and deny everything...but she knew it was true. Maybe it was the same Force that Luke had. “My father was Bail Organa. He’s the one who raised me. In this case biology doesn’t matter.”

    * * * * *

    Luke wasn’t surprised when Leia came back to see him later that same day. He could sense her apprehension across the room. “It’s about the paternity test, isn’t it?”

    Leia grimaced. “Partly. I just wanted you to know the results came back. They’re...well, Too-One-be called them conclusive. You’re right. I’m so sorry.”

    It wasn’t a surprise. Luke shrugged easily. “Don’t be. If anything, I’m glad you know he’s telling the truth.”

    Leia had no answer for that but studying the table. Tears stung her eyes, and took a deep breath.

    Luke watched her with knit brows. “But there’s something else...isn’t there?” He took her arm.

    Leia plopped into one of Luke’s chairs and fought to get her emotions under control. “I have something to tell you. You said that Va...that your father told you your mother’s name? Padme Amidala?”

    Luke nodded. “Yes.”

    “And remember when I told you I wasn’t born into the royal house of Alderaan...I was adopted, and lost my mother shortly after birth?” she continued. “Well...they told me that my mother’s name was Padme Amidala...former queen of Naboo.”

    “But how-” Luke’s mouth and eyes widened in sudden astonishment and confirmation. “You’re my sister?”

    Leia nodded and forced a smile. “Apparently, we’re twins. Mon Mothma told me that my mother and...Anakin Skywalker were….close.”

    A slight smile rose on Luke’s face. Now everything makes sense...our connection...sharing a birthday...it all fits. His joy was finally broken by the realization that his newfound sister was caught between relief and misery at what this meant. “I guess you’re not very happy about it.”

    Leia’s shoulders fell. “Luke, don’t take this the wrong way. Having you for a brother is...well, wonderful. I always wanted a sibling, always felt that someone was missing.” She managed a smile for him that faded quickly. “But as far as Vader is concerned, this doesn’t change how I feel. This doesn’t make him my father. Don’t expect me to try and form any kind of relationship with him, let alone forgive him. I can’t.”

    Luke grimaced. He could sense the underlying hate in her voice and see it in her eyes. There might never be reconciliation between father and daughter. Despite his instinct to help, to fix things, this was one thing he had no control over. He nodded sadly. “I understand. And I can’t say I blame you. But Leia...even if you never speak to him, you have to let go of your hate. It only leads to the Dark Side.”

    Leia pulled away, her eyes suddenly cold. “What makes you think I even have the Force? I haven’t been moving things around with my mind lately.”

    Helplessly Luke shrugged. “I have it. Our father has it. Yoda told me it runs strong in my family. Just because you haven’t felt it yet doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”

    I hope not. The last thing Leia needed was something else to worry about. “Well, I just wanted to come and tell you, and let you know that you and I- and Mon Mothma -are the only ones who know. And it’s going to stay that way.”

    Luke squirmed at the idea, but had to nod. Nobody else needed to know, except… “What about Han?”

    Leia tossed her hands into the air. “I don’t know. Telling him about your father is up to you. As far as us being brother and sister...let me handle that.”
     
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  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Of course Luke is delighted they are siblings but Leia's feelings will always be mixed. =D= Happy that Hera and her team will be involved in later events. :)
     
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  16. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    I'm glad Leia was able to open up to Luke. Hopefully she'll be able to deal with her feelings about Anakin/Vader being her father.
     
  17. Darth_Drachonus

    Darth_Drachonus Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Now we get to see if they can actually keep Luke from Anakin, he DOES have a 'laser sword' after all, wait, no, he doesn't, not yet, but he will construct a new one! Then he'll take on the First Order all by himsel...wait a second. D'oh! :bluesaber::greensaber::kylosaber::luke::anakin:
     
  18. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha , @Sara_Kenobi, and @Darth_Drachonus Thanks, guys! [:D] We're coming down to the wire on this one; only five more to go before this story is over...and the next begins. ;) Haha @Darth_Drachonus , I see what you did there...
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    Part Twenty-Six


    Seldom had the conference room aboard the Liberty ever been so full...or so still. Those within had once again been given startling news, news that was difficult to absorb.

    Each of them reacted differently. Mon Mothma, who had given the announcement, stood at the head of the table. Her small blue eyes were worried, but resolute. General Reeikan looked very unsettled as he sat deeply in his chair. His expression was mirrored by General Madine, whose elbows were on the table, fingers steepled before him. Owing to his squidlike features, Admiral Ackbar was, as always, almost impossible to read. If one hazarded a guess at what he was thinking, they might say the Mon Calamarian was concerned.

    As for Leia, who sat at the far end of the table, she looked and felt sick to her stomach. No...please...not again...

    Two full weeks had passed since Luke’s return to the Rebel fleet with Darth Vader. Between his claims to defect, his assumption of the name Anakin Skywalker, his relationship to Luke, and then the fact that he was also Leia’s biological father, much had been said by the ominous Sith that was beyond belief. In those two weeks he had remained true to his word and not made a single ounce of trouble for anyone. On the contrary he had been the most cooperative Imperial prisoner yet.

    Now his information about a second moon-sized battlestation had been proven correct. It brought no happiness to Leia that Vader had been telling the truth. This news was terrible. Presently she moistened her lips and looked directly at Mon Mothma. "You're certain?" she asked with a slight waver to her voice.

    The senator from Chandrilla nodded gravely. "There is no doubt. General Syndulla’s team is highly confident in their evaluations. This new armored battle station not only exists, but it is even larger and more powerful than the Death Star. It’s currently under construction in orbit of the forest moon of Endor."

    Leia could say no more and closed her eyes, sighing heavily and falling backward into her chair. Images of her homeworld being blown to kingdom come -her parents...her friends...millions upon millions of innocents, snuffed out in an instant- returned to haunt her.

    Madine grimaced and slowly shook his head. "As if one wasn't bad enough…"

    Ackbar tilted his head to one side. "Do we yet know how near completion this station is?"

    Mon Mothma nodded. "Yes. It is somewhere past the halfway point in its construction and, as yet, has no operational weapons."

    The two Generals and the Admiral exchanged hopeful glances. That was something, anyway.

    Madine's eyebrows shot up. "So...that’s twice now that Anakin Skywalker has told the truth," he remarked thoughtfully.

    Reeikan gave a reluctant nod. “The second most powerful man in the galaxy has turned out to be our most cooperative Imperial prisoner. Ironic, isn’t it?"

    Leia turned to him and firmly shook her head. "Don't give Vader too much credit, General." As yet, despite everyone else on the Alliance Council doing so, she couldn’t bring herself to call the masked monolith by his given name. "What about defenses? If the Empire learned anything from the first Death Star, destroying this one is going to be much more difficult."

    Mon Mothma slowly shook her head. "Perhaps not. It is still more than eight months from completion at the current rate of construction. As such, dealing the station a crippling blow would simply be a matter of finding the most direct path to the main reactor."

    Reeikan raised an eyebrow. "That easy, huh?"

    The aging yet graceful woman cringed. "Unfortunately, there is a strong defense for this station; an energy shield originating from the forest moon. As yet, our operatives have been unable to pinpoint its location."

    Ackbar nodded. "I see your point. Until we can locate the shield generator, any attack would be fruitless."

    "Even so, the information alone gives us a clear advantage," pointed out General Madine. "This could be our chance to deal a crippling blow to the Empire."

    "Agreed. Mon Mothma," said Ackbar, turning to her with his flippers behind his back, "when we do receive word back from your operatives, an attack plan can be formulated. Until then, I'll inform our best strategists of this matter and see what we can come up with."

    The two Generals, Mon Mothma, and Leia all nodded in agreement. Presently Mon Mothma turned back to Leia. "It appears as though your foresight in keeping this prisoner has paid off."

    Leia cringed at the compliment. She wanted no credit for her part in keeping Vader alive.

    "Speaking of our prisoner..." Madine straightened in his chair and turned to Leia. "Don't you think it's time we started following through on that promise of yours?"

    All eyes turned to Leia, much to her dismay. Luke would not stop speaking of his father. The man was still in constant pain. Luke continually petitioned the leaders for better treatment...specifically, that they could find some way of removing that breath mask and helmet. It had been torturing the former Jedi for twenty years, and Anakin knew it was the reason everyone continued to shudder in his presence. The rest of the Alliance leaders had already been consulted and the vote in favor was unanimous.

    Leia grimaced. The lead medical droid stood slouched against the wall, waiting for the word to switch on and speak. "Too-One-Be?"

    The long-limbed droid immediately rose turned to Leia. "Yes, Princess Leia? How might I be of assistance?"

    "What were your findings regarding the removal of Vade-" Leia frowned as she imagined the disapproval of her comrades. "Of prisoner 1138’s breathing device? Can he survive without it?"

    "Damage to the patient's lungs is extensive and irreparable, but there are alternatives to allow him semi-independent respiration. However, in order to facilitate ingestion of nutrients, speaking, and free locomotion, it would be necessary to administer a concentrated oxygen mix directly into the patient's trachea," explained the medical droid.

    "How exactly would that work?" asked Madine, curious. He and all the others had wondered to no end what was under that mask. He had no sympathy for Anakin personally, but felt that cooperation deserved a reward. It was standard operating procedure for Imperial prisoners.

    "A tracheostomy would be performed and a permanent oxygen port installed in the throat. A tube or hose could then be connected to the port to administer the needed gasses," said Too-One-Be.

    Half the room grimaced despite themselves. The normally unflappable Admiral Ackbar looked a little paler. Even Leia had to suppress a shudder before continuing. "What would the danger level be for such an operation?"

    Too-One-Be continued. "The danger level is great. Given the patient's constant need for a high level of oxygen, the procedure would have to be done quickly. The highest risk is asphyxiation." The droid paused, as if allowing the sobering thought to sink in. "However, I have personally performed many such operations with a 99.9 percent success rate. I see little chance of failure."

    Mon Mothma lifted her eyebrows. "Is your patient aware of the risks?"

    Too-One-Be shook his head. "Not at this time, however the patient has not yet been consulted about the procedure."

    Mon Mothma took a deep breath. "Well...if there are no disagreements, and if Anakin is willing, I suggest we follow through on our promise."

    Madine, Rieekan, Ackbar, and Mon Mothma all voiced their agreement, while Leia’s heart sank. The brief wish that Vader would not agree or that the operation would go badly came and went quickly, but not without a sharp mental reprimand. You spent two hours arguing with Han about this. You don't have to like it, but it's the right thing to do. His death won't bring back your loved ones or anyone else. She took a deep, shaky breath and nodded. "A promise is a promise. As long as it doesn't prove a drain of our resources."

    "On the contrary," said Too-One-Be, "the breathing apparatus and other devices have proven to be a far greater hindrance to care than their removal would be."

    "Then it's settled," rasped Admiral Ackbar. "Too-One-Be, provided your patient agrees, you may begin the needed preparation." He regarded the others. "Should we succeed in destroying the new Death Star, we shall owe Anakin Skywalker our lives. Without his intelligence, it is quite possible we never would have discovered what the Emperor is planning."

    "Thank you, Admiral. I will do so. If you all will excuse me, I shall return to the Redemption." With that, the long-limbed droid rolled out of the room, the door shutting behind him.

    Leia’s head was spinning. As the room emptied, she found herself sitting with her chin in her hand. She couldn’t imagine Darth Vader without his mask. Would his voice change? Would he seem less threatening, even friendly? She knew he’d received horrible injuries, but with such advanced medical care, she didn’t expect them to be disfiguring. Would he look sort of like Luke?

    Leia bit her lip. Luke...how will he feel about this? While now fully recovered from his injuries and back on the duty roster for Rogue Squadron, Luke was growing more agitated by the day. He had been asking ever since his release to see his father...and asking if she wanted to come with him.

    No….never. Leia had requested that the news of she and Luke being twins be kept a secret. Only Han knew of their family ties. As for telling Vader...well, that was out of the question. Luke had protested that the man had the right to know he had a daughter. Besides, he wanted to see her and apologize for everything he had done. Leia found that hard to believe. He had been the one to torture her aboard the Death Star. Apologies couldn’t begin to cover that, let alone all his other atrocities.

    So lost in thought was Leia that she didn’t see Mon Mothma come up next to her. The Princess jumped when a hand was placed on her shoulder. “Oh!”

    “I’m sorry, Leia. I didn’t mean to startle you,” said the older woman, taking a seat next to her friend. “I meant to ask how you’re faring.”

    “I’m all right,” sighed Leia. “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this. Luke, on the other hand...” She shook her head, amazed at her brother’s resilience. “I can’t figure out how he’s adapted so well, and not just to the loss of his hand.”

    “The Force, perhaps?”

    “Probably,” agreed Leia, though she frowned. Luke was fairly sure she had inherited that same Force. He wanted her to learn what she could about it, even come with him when he returned to Dagobah. Leia wanted nothing to do with the Force. The risk of falling to the Dark Side was one she refused to take, and so let whatever power there was continue to sleep. A glance at her chronometer made her cringe. She had agreed to meet Han for dinner. It wasn't for another half hour...but Leia would take whatever excuse she could get to avoid the subject of Darth Vader. “Listen, Mon, I don’t meant to run out like this…” Liar. “But I agreed to meet Captain Solo and discuss a few things.”

    “Over dinner?” Mon Mothma gave a knowing smile when Leia blushed. “Not to worry, Leia. I know how you feel about Captain Solo, and you’ve nothing to feel guilty for. We don’t forbid romance between the ranks of the Rebellion. You know that.”

    “I...” Leia’s blush deepened. “Of course. It’s just that...”

    “As I said, Leia, you’ve nothing to feel guilty for,” smiled Mon Mothma, rising and taking Leia’s hands. “No matter your rank, there’s nothing wrong in taking a little time out for yourself. Go on.”

    Leia gave a sheepish smile and rose to leave. “Thank you.” And she hurried out the door.
     
  19. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    I think it's nice Mon Mothma knows about Han and Leia. Hopefully everything will fair well for Anakin if he decides on the surgery.
     
  20. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Great strategizing and looking forward to the H/L dinner. @};-
     
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  21. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Fact is I always read this during lunch break on my mobile, but then at home I have no time to reply. I am sorry for that.

    Your defection of Vader is carefully done, like the reactions of all the people involved in this.

    I hope Han can find a way to relax Leia and make her smile.
     
  22. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @Sara_Kenobi She came across as a touch cold in the New Canon books, and I wanted to remedy that. As for Anakin...he's been stuck in that suit for over twenty years and hates it. What do you think he's going to do? :cool:
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Well....I didn't actually write about the dinner itself....writing about people eating is kind of awkward. :p
    @AzureAngel2 Hey, that's okay! [:D] Get caught up when you can, no pressure. Thank you, and as for Han making Leia smile...;)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Party Twenty-Seven

    Anakin shifted uncomfortably in his cot as the lights in his cell shut off for the mandatory ‘evening rest’ period. Sleep had never come easily to him in adulthood. In the last two decades he had relied exclusively on meditation for rest. Since his rescue by Luke- for Anakin saw it as a two-way rescue, one physical and the other spiritual -he had begun making his way back toward a normal sleep pattern. Thus far he hadn’t been able to manage more than two or three hours at a time. At least he wasn’t having any nightmares.

    In his two weeks aboard the Liberty, the former Jedi had learned and adapted to the schedule of the Rebellion. In the mornings Lieutenant Sal would come in, check his vitals, administer whatever medication was on the list, and do whatever else was needed to maintain Anakin’s health. Sal also checked the level in the hydrating IV bag and changed it out when needed.

    Physically, Anakin was doing well. His arm had healed enough that he could move it without too much discomfort and his needs were being taken care of. He was even off the sedatives. Every few days an Alliance official would come by and double-check his information, letting him know what they were looking into and thanking him for his cooperation. Even Lt. Sal was a little more talkative. But with no weather and no common interests, there was little to discuss besides Anakin's condition...and Luke.

    Out of necessity and convenience, Sal had been told about the family ties between Anakin and Luke. Anakin inquired about his son daily. Only recently had Sal been allowed to give him any news. That brief human contact wasn’t enough. Anakin’s loneliness was at times overwhelming. His constant requests to see Luke had been denied, though there were third-party messages sent back and forth. To cut out the middleman they had begun conversing by way of the Force. Luke’s mind was still untrained and he could only manage a few words at a time.

    Both Luke and his father had been told about the upcoming procedure to remove Anakin’s breath mask. Luke was thrilled while Anakin’s reaction had been more reserved. To him the procedure would only be worth it if he could see his son’s face with his own eyes.

    Father? The touch on his mind came again. Anakin’s mouth twitched into another of his rusty smiles as he responded.

    Good evening, son. How are you tonight?

    Good. Flying again. You? Luke wanted to know.

    I am well. It’s good to hear Rogue Squadron has their leader back, sent Anakin. How did it feel to be back in the cockpit?

    Great. Missed it, admitted Luke.

    Did you manage all right with one hand? Anakin questioned. He respected his son’s continued hesitance on accepting a prosthetic, and yet knew Luke had been nervous about how his friends would accept him. Thus far they had been very supportive, though the commanders did harbor some doubts about Luke’s piloting skills.

    Luke’s presence radiated relief. Fine. I surprised them...and myself.

    Good. But I'm so sorry. I never meant to maim you. Any chance he had, Anakin was always apologizing. He felt terrible for hurting his son.

    I know. It's all right, thought Luke. While the loss of his hand still haunted him, he was willing to let it go and move on. Can’t sleep?

    It always takes time, answered Anakin, unconcerned. And you? Shouldn’t you be getting some sleep?

    Can’t. Not yet...there was concern at the corners of Luke’s mind.

    Don’t worry for me, son. You are safe, I am well, and most importantly I can help the Rebellion, reminded Anakin.

    Not that, sent Luke. I...miss you.

    And I you, son, but you must be patient, reminded Anakin. Ironic, considering his main weakness was impatience. Perhaps after the operation...if you can stand to see my face.

    Luke seemed to frown at the idea. Father...of course. I want to.

    I’m not much to look at, warned Anakin.

    Don’t care. You’re my father.

    Anakin’s heart warmed at both Luke’s naivete and the growing acceptance behind his words. It still amazed him how anyone could develop any kind of pleasant feelings for someone like him. But then, Luke’s capacity for forgiveness was incredible. He truly saw Anakin as a different person from Darth Vader. Luke wanted to connect with his father. Thank you, son. Sensing deep concern, he added don’t worry about tomorrow. Whatever happens, happens. Now get some rest.

    You, too. A beat. Good night, Father.

    * * * * *

    Neither the surprisingly tasty dinner shared in the main hold of the Falcon nor the warm and comforting presence of Han could ally Leia’s unease. She was so distracted that he had to snap his fingers in front of her nose to get her attention.

    “Leia? Hey...you okay?” Han asked, his hand still resting on hers.

    “I’m fine,” said Leia. She smiled faintly in return, but her heart wasn’t in it.

    “No...no, you’re not,” frowned Han, turning around in the seat and trying to find her eyes. “C’mon. Whassa matter?”

    “That obvious?” Leia’s smile faded into a sigh. “To be honest, I don’t even know. Luke’s fine and back with Rogue Squadron, the fleet is starting to put itself back together, and we have a chance at dealing what may be the death blow to the Empire.”

    Han knit his brows and scooted closer, arms wrapping about her shoulders. “You worried ‘bout that, then? The mission to blow the second Death Star to smithereens?”

    Absently Leia shook her head. “We take risks every day. Our missions are inherently dangerous. I am concerned, but no more than about any other mission we’ve had.”

    Han gave her a brief squeeze. “So...what’s wrong?” He lowered his voice. “Is it, uh...y’know...you-know-who, then?”

    Leia shook her head. Han, like her, couldn’t bring himself to call ‘Anakin’ anything but Vader. Knowing who he was and how he related to Luke and Leia didn’t change a thing about how the roguish captain felt. It made Leia love him all the more. He was a little rough around the edges, but honest. He didn’t try to hide his feelings behind some facade of friendliness like so many politicians did. As a matter of fact, Han was a terrible liar. But did he honestly think she was concerned about Vader? “No,” she said firmly. “If anything I’m more concerned about Luke. We...we’re going to let them see each other after the procedure.”

    Han’s brows shot up. “Does Luke know?”

    “I’ll tell him in the morning,” answered Leia, resting her head on Han’s shoulder.

    “Kid ought to be happy about that,” remarked Han. He tilted his head to rest his chin on Leia’s head. “How ‘bout you? You gonna see him?”

    “No.” Leia’s words were firm, but her voice wavered a little. “My father died with Alderaan. The only connection between Vader and I is DNA.”

    “Okay.” Han decided to change the subject before Leia got upset. That was the last thing he wanted, especially now. “So, how was dinner?”

    “Delicious. I had no idea you were such a good cook,” smiled Leia.

    “When I got time, yeah. I’m just full of surprises.”

    “Yes, you are. Thank you.”

    “Any time.” Han’s mouth quirked back into a smile when Leia looped her arms around his neck and leaned on him. He kissed the top of her head, breathing in the clean, pleasant scent of her hair, then craned his neck down to kiss her cheek.

    Leia smirked and turned to face him. “If you’re going to kiss me, nerf-herder, then do it right.” And she leaned in until Han kissed her full on the lips.

    Han sighed through his nose, surprised but making no protest when Leia pulled him close. He pulled back after a while with a smirk of his own. “How’s that?”

    Leia shrugged. “Hmm...not bad.”

    Han snorted in false offense. “’Not bad’, huh? We’ll see about that.” And he took her in his arms completely and kissed her until they were both out of breath...and all but lying on the acceleration couch. I better back off, he reflected as he rose and cleared his throat. “All right. C’mon. I better get you back to your room.”

    Leia knit her brows. “I can get back to my room on my own, thank you very much...when I want to.” She traced a line across his jaw. “Unless you want me to leave.”

    Han pursed his lips. “Hell no. I just don’t want to get cut in half by your brother.”

    Leia chuckled. “You know Luke would never hurt you.”

    “Well, yeah, but...” Han blew out a frustrated sigh through his nose. “Just makes me kinda cautious, y’know? I don’t wanna do anything that makes either of you mad.”

    Here Leia smiled, finding Han’s eyes. “In the first place, it’s none of Luke’s business. He’d only go after you if you hurt me. Second, with as much as we’ve been sharing a cot lately, are you really surprised?”

    Han’s grin was what some might call squirrely. “Well...maybe not surprised. But, see...all we been doin’ up ‘till now is...sleepin’.” He eased back down next to her as he spoke, lowering his voice. “Is that what you’re goin’ for tonight?”

    Leia laughed softly and lifted an eyebrow. “You’re never going to find out if you don’t let me get off this couch.”

    Han rose to let Leia slide out and wrapped his arm around her. “Wanna find somewhere more, ah...comfortable?”

    Leia nodded, returning her head to Han’s shoulders. They headed aft and set up their usual makeshift cot. They had learned over the past few weeks that the regular cots were far too narrow to be comfortable for two; one of them would inevitably end up bumping their head or rolling off on the floor.

    There was a touch of guilt for Leia as she kicked off her boots and arranged the covers. She loved Han so much that it hurt. While arguments were still frequent and Han could sometimes be a little clueless, any doubts about how she felt had left weeks ago. But there was a small part of her that welcomed his affection for another reason. Every kiss or embrace helped her forget her confusion with Vader, and Luke, and this whole Force thing. Being with Han was a way for her to unwind. It felt horribly selfish. There was still so much to do for the Alliance...for the galaxy.

    But as she and Han flopped down on the blankets and proceeded to kiss each other senseless, Leia decided that the problems of the galaxy would hold for another night. Han certainly wasn’t complaining.
     
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha likes this.
  23. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    Awe, I love the Han and Leia mush! I'm glad Luke and Anakin were able to talk using the Force.
     
  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Gentle connecting in the first scene and as for the second: warm candor and teasing followed by SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! :D Thanks. [face_laugh] [:D]
     
    Ridley Solo likes this.
  25. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    *de-lurks* :D=D=
     
    AzureAngel2 and Ridley Solo like this.