Author: Findswoman Title: To Have Survived Era: Saga—OT, 0 BBY (during ANH) Characters: Leia and other ECs Genre: Vignette: angst, introspection Summary: Leia’s thoughts and experiences directly after she witnesses the destruction of her homeworld. Notes: A contribution to the Representing the Underrepresented mod!challenge, inspired by points brought up in these posts by Sith-I-5 and Raissa Baiard. They made the observation that one of the most underrepresented aspects of Leia’s character is the grief she undoubtedly feels after the destruction of her homeworld—yet is almost nowhere portrayed in the established lore. I absolutely agree, and a drabble I wrote for UDC VIII (“Helpless” in this post) touches on this, so I thought I’d expand on it here. Thanks to @Raissa Baiard and @Ewok Poet for beta-reading and feedback. * * * 0 BBY, Death Star detention block Had it really happened? She finally dared to look up. Yes, it had: out the command center viewport, where the majestic blue-swirled world had once serenely floated, there was now nothing but darkness and chunks of cold rock. The Sith Lord loosened his grip on her shoulder and gestured to the troopers. They came and led her, like a shaak calf to the slaughter, back to her detention block cell. She may have screamed, she may have shed tears, she may simply have been frozen in silence—or all those things. She didn’t know for sure, because she was in too much shock. Back in the cell, it was dark. Cold and dark. Cold, empty, and dark. Yes, there was a single tubelight mounted on the wall, but it too was dark. Everything was gone: father, mother, home, friends. How could even light remain? Then she saw them. Four of them, each in a corner (for some reason the cell suddenly seemed much larger), each looking at her. The first was a hulking, muscular, purple-furred alien with catlike pointed ears and an ancient-styled double-barreled rifle slung on his back. Opposite him stood a gaunt, dark brown, long-snouted insectoid alien cradling something spherical in his arms. Third was a young Human man, unshaven and with timid, darting dark eyes, wearing the flightsuit of an Imperial cargo pilot. And in the remaining corner stood a young, dark-haired Human woman in a technician’s jumpsuit. Leia looked from one to the other. The purple hulk, if she recalled aright, was the Lasat from General Syndulla’s crew. The insectoid was no doubt a Geonosian; she had heard from her father about what the Empire had done on that world. The timid-eyed pilot: hadn’t he been part of that Rogue Something expedition that had first recovered the blueprints of this accursed engine of death? The jumpsuited woman was no one she knew. And yet— As she looked around at those four pairs of eyes—orblike brown, fiery green, nervous dark, determined dark—she did know something, somehow: all four of them had lost all that she had lost. Kindred, friends, home, perhaps more—certainly more. Then they spoke. The Lasat began, in a husky, accented bass-baritone. “Don’t forget. The friends who fight with you? They’re your family, too.” Next was the Geonosian, in the clattering, chitinous chatter of his native tongue. But Leia understood all the same: [We’ve all got a treasure to guard. Guard yours carefully, because it’s yours and no one else’s.] The pilot’s voice was shaky but gentle. “It’s all right to be afraid,” he said. “Just know it when you feel it, and make the jump anyway. That’s what courage is.” Finally the technician stepped forward, raising her hand in a resolute fist. “We can do it,” she said—and then extended that hand to Leia. “You can do it.” Without knowing why, Leia found herself reaching out to the other woman’s hand, taking it, shaking it. As she did, light—golden and warm, not from the tubelight—filled the cell, and she saw beings standing all around. There were two gray-skinned, brow-ridged Khommites; a beaked, gentle-faced Caamasi leading several others of his species; proud, brindled Wookiee warriors; Humans of all descriptions, some she knew (there was Winter! And was that Tycho?). And so many countless others… And every eye was bright: many with tears, but also with empathy, with encouragement, with hope. Yes, these were all those who had lost all: kindred, friends, and home. So, now—Leia wondered, as she stood there, a princess clasping a worker’s hand—were these now her kindred and friends? Was here, in the midst of their luminous, circling throng, now home? It was then that sobs rose in her throat, and she began to weep: like a newborn infant, a lost child, an abandoned bride. And then IT-O’s needle pierced her arm. ¶ Spoiler: Notes The title comes from the opening words of Anthony Hecht’s lengthy poem “Words for the Day of Atonement” (1967), whose first stanza reads as follows: The four characters in Leia’s vision are, respectively, Zeb Orrelios, Klik-Klak, Bodhi Rook, and Rose Tico, all of whom have had their homes destroyed by the Empire in some form (or by the First Order, in Rose’s case). The crowd of beings at the end includes references to other characters from destroyed or ravaged worlds as well: Dorsk 81 and Dorsk 82 (the Khommites), Elegos A’kla and other Caamasi, and the many Wookiees enslaved by the Empire; here I’m thankful to the suggestions of @Kahara and @Mistress_Renata. Yes, I’ve mixed Legends and Canon continuities here, and timeframes, too; please don’t judge. “We can do it”: This and Rose’s gesture are of course references to this famous World War II-era poster, now that the GFFA has a “Rosie the Riveter” of its own.