Author's Note: Greetings! I wrote this several months ago for Kateydidnt, who gave me the challenge, and left it at Chapter 1 for a bit. In honor of Father's Day and the fact that I really need to get working on this again, I'm posting it here. I won't post what the actual challenge was, since that would give away the ending, but I hope you enjoy my first posted fanfic in some time. ***** Chapter 1 There were words that could shake stars, forge fates and determine destinies. Her Royal Highness Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan had not yet been born when a man named Palpatine announced the first Galactic Empire. She had slept through the most important meeting of her life, when a senator had honored her mother's memory by saying “She will be loved with us.” She arrived on Alderaan on the same day that a still-Republican holoshill on Chandrila was quietly and privately executed for loudly and openly hoping that the Empire would be as short-lived as the Clone Wars. She was three when the Empire disarmed Alderaan and twelve when her father began sending her on errands for the Alliance. At seventeen, a year before she came of age, a doctor had pronounced her mother's time of death and shredded her calm. She had not regained that calm in the following year, but she had regained her composure. She had gone on with her studies, devoted herself to her duty and submitted her name for candidacy within thirty minutes of her father announcing that he would be stepping down as Senator. Six days and four hours after her eighteenth birthday, however, she heard another set of words that reminded her of how easily her heart had broken at her mother's passing: “We've lost theTantive IV.” ***** She listened as calmly as she could to the briefing by her father's security advisors and asked them tacitly to gather the Queen's Council. She then excused herself and was noisily sick in her quarters. She did not give in to the urge to burst into tears—she would not face the crisis with red-rimmed eyes and a trembling chin—but she did not return to the court until her guards announced that the Queen's Council awaited her command. She technically had no right to sit on this council, since her father was regent until her coronation, but in the absence of the viceroy, the High Princess of Alderaan represented the House of Organa. As it was, she was half the age of the youngest thane there and was dwarfed by her father's chair. “Some time this morning, the Tantive IV came under attack,” she said without preamble. “The last known coordinates were in the Corellian system as my lord father was en route to a diplomatic conference.” It had been a diplomatic conference that included such rabble-rousers as Garm Bel Iblis and Mon Mothma, but that went without saying. “Our sources in the Imperial Starfleet report that the ship was seized rather than destroyed,” she assured them. “We have no word on the condition of those on board; nor do we know the reasons for the capture of the royal flagship.” “Is it not obvious?” Thane Selrieen interjected. “The Emperor has long had a quarrel with Alderaan.” It was true that some of the first Rebel martyrs had been slain on Alderaan. The Alderaanians had harbored fugitives ranging from the displaced Caamasi to Force-sensitive children who had never made it to the Jedi Temple. “I find it curious that Lord Vader waited so long to close in for the...” He broke off before he could utter the word kill and looked momentarily abashed. “To attempt an arrest.” “Attempt?” Thane Antilles challenged. “I think we have surpassed the attempt and are seeking out the nature of the charges.” “He is guilty of upholding justice and advocating on behalf of the oppressed,” Leia countered. “Those are crimes enough in the Imperial court.” There was a murmur of assent from the gathered thanes, but neither Antilles nor Selrieen spoke up again. “Lord Vader has despised his Republican loyalties since the days when the Republic still existed,” the High Princess reminded them. “If he has made an arrest, it is because there was a catalyst. Do we know what that was?” “Not certainly,” Thane Mekthama, the security advisor responded. “The viceroy's actions of late have been above reproach.” They had been above reproach, since he had accepted the influx of thousands of refugees from the Ghorman camps and signed several laws into effect which lowered taxes and redistributed educational funding. Before the Senate session had closed a month previously, he had worked long nights to support a bill that would provide emergency assistance to impoverished worlds within the Empire. He himself had done nothing more than trade political philosophy with those who waxed nostalgic at any mention of the Jedi Order. In the same timeframe, however, the Empire had lost four Star Destroyers and several light cruisers to rebel attacks. One of Palpatine's most staunch allies had been assassinated just after Empire Day. If the Empire had enough circumstantial evidence to link Bail Organa to any of those perpetrators, it would mean trouble. “I expect that we will know fairly soon how strongly the Empire disagrees with that, Thane Mekthama,” Leia said. “For now, it is my intention that the people not know.” “The people will feel betrayed if we withhold this information,” Selrieen protested. “Would you rather that there be riots?” Leia suggested. “A breakdown of the economy while the usual workers keep vigil at their holoviewers? Acts of protest, peaceful or otherwise, against the Imperials who have found enough excuses in the past to prosecute our people?” A part of her wondered who they would hate most if Viceroy Organa returned to his homeworld as a casualty—the Princess who had concealed the threat or the Empire who had carried out the murder. Another part wondered if they would hate her as much as she would hate herself. For the sake of her world, she couldn't think of that as even a remote possibility. It was her duty to stand in her father's stead until the Imperial courts released him. “This stays within this council,” she resolved. “You may not trust me as you do my father, but in the name of the peace that he wants for our world, I ask you not to invite any more trouble than that which lies at our doorstep.” ***** Lord Vader had never been one to hesitate. Anakin Skywalker, in his past life, had always stopped to wonder if an action was the right thing to do or, more often, if Obi-Wan would disapprove if he were caught. Within minutes of his swearing allegiance to the Sith, his new Master had exhorted him to do what must be done. He had left his weak tendency to shy away from the gray areas of right and wrong in the former Senator Palpatine's ransacked office. He had been patient with Organa, though. He had suspected the man of siding against the Chancellor in the last days of the Republic and had seen the man's handiwork in dozens of rebel actions since then. It had taken eighteen years, but in the investigation of the destruction of the Exsanguinator, the Agency of Imperial Intelligence had successfully pinned down the people giving the orders to the murderers who had sabotaged the ship. From there, they had identified the suppliers of those perpetrators. Eventually, the credits trail had led back to an intermediary code-named Aach, who claimed to be a free-lancer, but had a long-standing friendship with a certain ruler of Alderaan. They had not needed proof that Organa had funded the mission out of the Alderaanian royal coffers. They could arrest him as an accessory to murder at least and obtain the details of his treason at a later time. There was enough justification to put the man to death without a trial, but that was not the best use of a treasonous viceroy. Instead, they would ensure that the man paid for his crimes in as public a way as possible.