Leia slowly unpinned her hair, her movements were slow and jerky as she pulled off her outer garments and shrugged into an old ratty robe of Hans. Sitting down she exhaled deeply on a sigh, her whole body trembling, she felt a thousand years old. So much had happened and so quickly she felt totally and completely overwhelmed. She was safe – she kept repeating it to herself, she had escaped yet again from ‘his’
clutches but still she felt so alone so terrified, all she wanted was to feel Han’s arms around her.
She knew rebel protocol, after all she had instigated it; after any imperial interactions – she should remain at a safe drop location for at least five imperial days. Then and only then would a rebel scout ship be allowed to approach and she would be able to transfer and then be debriefed before she was allowed to continue to the rebel base. All too many had died in traps that had been carefully targeted and planned by the imperials. The rebellion especially at this point in the struggle were notorious for being cautious almost to the point of paranoia. Han would be at her side within a spliff second, but his position was tenuous at best within the rebellion and she did not wish to cause it any further strain. So she would wait for five long intolerable days. Just five more days and she could see him again, feel his touch, hear his voice – telling her she would be safe, that she was loved, that she was not alone.
She picked up the holostick and pressed the button, a blue shimmery figure appeared, her grandmother. “Leia, my darling my brave granddaughter , it seems our family reunion must be delayed and our time together must be cut short. I have only a few moments, soon we will rescue you from that evil monsters hands and I will not even consider that we will not succeed. But in case I do not survive and know this I would gladly sacrifice my life for the rebellion ….and for you Leia I would risk all. I am so glad that you came to Naboo. I love you and I am so proud of you and your parents would have been too. Captain Rika has left you his journal of his search Padme’s child and maybe in there you can find the answers you need. You are your mothers’ daughter and I will pray for you every night. May the force be with you always”.
The message ended in static hum before dissolving away. Leia glanced down at the data journal in her hands, clutching it to her belly she curled into a foetal position as she sobbed as though her heart would break. She sobbed for a mother she would never know, for a life she could have had, she cried for the danger she had put another planet in and a family at risk due to her foolishness. It seemed years of grief were at this moment being finally released. C3PO paused outside her small cabin, his head cocked as he listened to the dreadful tearing sobs that reverberated through the flimsy door. He looked at R2D2 who gave a very soft low mournful tone, before rolling back to the cockpit, C3PO hesitated then for once acted with tact and withdrew to R2D2’s side. They would keep the ship safe and on course it was all they could do.
Darth Vader gazed out into deep space. He could feel his daughter’s pain – full of loneliness, grief, misery and fear. This was what had led him to the dark side, and his heart grew heavy at the thought of his daughter immersed in darkness as he had been. He ached to reach out to her, to bring her close, to comfort her as a father should do. A simple act – but probably it would be forever denied to him. Sighing deeply he strode to his console tapping in a string of code and commands.
These feelings were foolish and served no purpose he told himself. He needed to be strong if he was to save Leia, if he allowed himself to be swayed by his emotions he would fail Leia as he had failed his mother, and as he had ultimately failed Padme.
The console lit up as star charts and systems blinked on the screen. He nodded in satisfaction. When Padme had been given the star spliff by Naboo, he had been so full of fear for her safety, that in secret he had sneaked onboard and planted not just one but a multitude of tracking devices. He had told himself at the time it was for Padme’s protection and had ignored the small voice that had prodded him to tell Padme. Now the rash act of a romantic fool would enable him to capture ….no… no …. to save his daughter.
He examined the data, tapping his fingers in annoyance, it seemed only two trackers were working, the others had been found or were now malfunctioning. Most probably the former knowing Padme’s former captain of the guard. Still it would be enough. He wouldn’t be able to pinpoint her position accurately until she came out of hyperspace, but he could hypothesise based on previous intelligence reports and have Noghri stealth ships positioned at all likely avenues. He would take no chances with his daughter, only the Noghri were loyal enough unto death to be allowed anywhere near his daughter and this loyalty was not to the empire but was to him personally. And most importantly they were unsurpassed in tracking and covert stealth. Even if she somehow managed to make it back to the rebellion, his Noghri could infiltrate and snatch her all without any alarm or indeed even the princess herself being aware of it. He smiled grimly – she would be safe, whatever her inclinations might be to the contrary. He quickly typed in an encrypted message and within minutes the deed was done. His finest Noghri scouts had been given the scent of their newest quarry.
Leia frowned impatiently as she flicked through the data pages looking for the page about the hospital ship where she had been born and her mother had died. They had dropped out of hyperspace briefly just enough time to check in with Mon Motha and a short all too brief conversation with Han, while she soothed his growing impatience and ire. It had been risky so close to Naboo, but she had needed to hear his voice again. Then there had been nothing else but to wait while they jumped to the safe contact point. She had little else to do but read the journal from start to finish, strange to think that this detailed the search for her as a babe. It was a remarkable and thorough investigation in what must have been a difficult and unpredictable time. But it offered only hints and tantalising glimpses of her mothers life. But failed entirely to answer the other question that burned deep in her soul – who was her father?
She tapped her fingers, to be so close, to have come so far, she had risked so much to reach this point. Breathing deeply – her fingers flew as she brought up the star charts, tracking the flight path, she looked at the tantalisingly close location of the hospital star base – Mehta.
“R2” she snapped without looking up, “change co-ordinates – we will be making a short stop”.