“As you can see Lord Vader, the lights were deliberately cut as soon as the rebel reached this point. At this stage abduction was almost inevitable, if the rebel had tried to retreat, she would have been cut off at the intersection. We are somewhat fortunate that the rebel proceeded as we are able to get a thermal reading projection from the AV sensors and can see their modus operandi. However we were unable to get identification of either vehicles or the perpetrators at this point My Lord”.
Vader watched impassively as the images played were rewound and then played again, each nano second spliced and analysed. It was amazing how much the Princess carried off the Nubian dress. Very much a regal noble women of a Nubian household, all the women looked so similar when dressed Nubian style she would have made a good decoy he thought idly. On the playback screen the Princess hesitated as she disembarked obviously spooked. But with the determination of the young and foolish, she steeled herself as she walked forward out of range of the camera the two droids trolling behind her. At least now he had confirmation that Luke was with her. In truth when he had realised on Bespin that his faithful R2D2 unit was now serving Luke, he had felt a stirring of pride that had only increased as the knowledge that Luke was also using his old light sabre. It seemed fitting somehow that a father should provide some legacy for his son. And it seemed his son was even more like him than he realised as just like him he had given C3PO to the women he loved. Some things never change he thought with bitter amusement.
Now he just had to figure out who had kidnapped the Princess, rescue her and save his son from his own folly. He mentally shook his head at the mere idea of being the Princesses saviour but she was the key. With her in his possession, therein lied the way to his son’s soul. He had been too careless in his previous encounters, still seething in anger from the deception that had been played. This time he would be patient, once he had caught the boy, he would leave him with the Nohgri. They would keep both the knowledge and his son safe from the emperor and they would make excellent jailers for an untried Jedi. This time he would be patient, however long it took, his son would eventually turn to him. But first he had to find her – she was the key.
“Trace her movements in the past two cycles, synchronise all exit activities with the cities security monitoring stations, I want identification and probability analysis of every person or droid that she was in the vicinity with. Therein will lie the identity of the kidnapper. I want the Splicers double shifting all communication transponders from the city in the last 24 hours”.
The Lieutenant visibly paled under the realisation of the mammoth task that had been set, but to his credit, he didn’t shirk merely saluted. Perhaps this young officer would work out after all.
“Continue your work Lieutenant, I want her and any other rebels found alive and quickly”.
Vader strode out the control centre satisfied that his will would be done. He paused at the entrance, there was something that was tugging on his awareness, something that just wasn’t ringing true. The force was with him, but it was nebulous and indistinct almost… almost like a whisper of thought that he couldn’t quite hear. He paused at the entrance his personal honour guard from the elite five-oh-one legion smartly came to attention. Vader motioned to them and they obediently fell into step behind him. There was a small matter he must attend before he left this accursed planet that was awakening feelings best left buried.
“Your Grandfather Jobal, Aunt Sola and her family will be with us this evening, I have not yet told them of your arrival my child. In these troubled times it is best to be cautious. Instead I have made up a sorry tale of great illness and they are hastening their return”. Ruwee paused before adding wryly, “enjoy the quiet while you can my granddaughter, you have a great many cousins all of whom will be eager to meet Padme’s long lost daughter”.
“Thank you, this is more so much more than I ever could have hoped for, I just wish I could stay for longer”, smiled Leia as they continued walking down the narrow cobbled path, fringed with Sulap trees, their great fringed branches, swaying softly in the wind. It truly was a beautiful place.
Ruwee her Grandmother smiled sadly, “I would try and persuade you to stay, but you are far too much like your mother to even try. Your Grandfather will have a few words for you I am sure once he has hugged and cried over you. Padme’s death hit him particularly hard. He had been unhappy that she was pregnant. He wanted only the best for his child – not money or possessions, but a loving husband and life away from all the intrigue and corruption of the senate. But it was not to be and he greatly regrets and blames himself that he did not dissuade Padme decision to stay in Coruscant”.
“From what I hear, I don’t think my mother would have listened”.
“Yes, but it is hard for a parent to loose a child, its not the natural order”.
“Yes my dear”.
“How did my parents die?” Leia asked the question that had plagued her entire life.
Ruwee briefly closed her eyes, a tear trickling out, “Come sit before we visit Padme and I will tell you what precious little I know”. She tugged Leia down onto a honey stoned bench. Looking deeply into her eyes before she began, steeling herself for the one memory that caused such pain and anguish.
“Captain Rika your mothers personal guard and a loyal friend to the family, in fact he is that charming man you met that …..errmmm shall we say gently kidnapped you”.
Leia smiled as she remembered the older man. She would need to make amends before she departed and she would like to spend some time with the man who must have been very close to her mother.
“He, he …. he brought your mothers body home from Coruscant. The official version was that the Jedi had killed her. But the Jedi had always been close friends and allies with Padme and I cannot believe this of them. The fact that on the night she died, Palpatine”, Ruwee spat the word with hatred, “had ordered the Jedi destroyed makes me believe that perhaps she tried to stop the atrocity and was killed for it”.
“It was a dangerous time and your mother was involved in key events, when Rika brought Padme’s body home, it was clear she had just given birth. But a missive had been sent with Rika to your father and the Queen Apailana, and thus the great conspiracy was borne”, Ruwee angrily brushed tears from her cheeks as she remembered the dark days following her daughters death.
“Padme was buried at state funeral with all the pomp and ceremony you would expect. But her body was disguised to show she was still with child when she died, we hoped this would protect you and the father. But I expected you to be brought to us within weeks. Instead the days turned into months and then years. Despite Rika's discreet investigation we could find no trace of you. And it was dangerous to make our enquiries too public. We were scared not for ourselves but for Sola and her children and we were terrified that we would put you into danger too. But it has tormented us for years that fateful decision and now I know we made a dreadful mistake and you suffered greatly”.
“Leia you must believe, and forgive us, if we had any inkling of your misery we would have killed even Vader himself to get you back”.
Leia winced inwardly at the thought of her frail grandmother standing up to Vader. She reached down and clasped her Grandmothers hands, “I know, and it makes all the difference to me, thank you…. Truly you made the right decision… for all of us. My childhood was perhaps not the bed of roses you would have like, but I was fed and educated. And it made me strong and I think perhaps it was my path, my destiny to follow”.
Leia sighed sadly, finally she had some closure, Mon Motha knew her mother, she would make some gentle enquiries with her and some of the other rebel leaders. She had far more resources than Panaka she would find out everything she could about her mother and perhaps she could ease her Grandmother’s turmoil. But still the final question remained.
“ and my father?” she queried softly.
“Ah Leia, that I do not know, Padme was very reticent about who the father was. I believe she was trying to protect him. I have always thought he was some sort of spy or leader of the senate working against Palpatine. Rika was under the impression that your father had been gravely injured which was the reason for the elaborate ruse. But then he also was convinced that Padme had given birth to a son”.
“A son?” Leia questioned with a frown.
“Yes, all this time we have thought you were a boy, in fact you have a whole room of Birthing day gifts all very much with a boy in mind”, said Ruwee exasperatedly. “really I should have know of better, its easy to confuse the sexes of a new born baby, and for Rika a confirmed bachelor… well… there you see it. But in you my dear, I see Padme and I am so very glad and so very proud that you are my grand daughter”.
Leia closed her eyes as she absorbed all this information, it felt like emotion overload.
“So you can see my child, that you know as much as we do about your father. All I do know is that your mother loved him greatly… which brings me to this”.
Ruwee slowly opened a red Velvet box, inside lay a jade engraved snippot.
“This much I do know, your father gave this to your mother, and she wore it every day, this is how I know the depth of her love, and she could never love another whose passion did not match hers”.
Leia looked in wonder at this link, this proof of her parents love. Stroking her finger over its smooth worn surfaces, surfaces worn smooth by years of someone stroking and wearing it - her mothers love was in this, she could feel it.
Ruwee solemnly took it out and fastened it with trembling fingers around Leia’s neck.
“They would have wanted you to have this, it belongs to you now. I was going to bury it with Padme, but it felt wrong so I took it back to keep it safe for Padme’s child, for you my dear.”.
Ruwee looked at her through teary eyes, “Look at us both crying and weeping so, come let us go see your mother”. Linking arms the two women entered the stone chapel that held Padme’s crypt.
It was several hours later that Leia and Ruwee finally remerged into brilliant sunshine, butterflies and chattering daws, flittering in between the trees and storm troopers standing on the dappled cobbled lane in front of them, with the dark ominous figure of Darth Vader directly in their path.
If Vader was surprised he gave no indication of it, instead he radiated a grim satisfaction as the well trained stormtroopers surrounded them, laser rifle guns pointed steadily at them both. Leia looked around wildly cursing herself for putting her blood kin in danger. Worse still they had left the droids and more importantly her blaster behind at her grandmother’s residence. It had seemed wrong at the time to bring a death instrument with her when she visited her mother’s grave. She should have known better.
“Princess Leia”, Lord Vader drew out her name savouring every syllable, almost mocking her as he bowed slightly, “It is a….. pleasure to see you again. After our grave concerns over your kidnapping”.
“Lord Vader”, there was no point in subterfuge, thought Leia bitterly; she had not even bothered with her disguise this morning. Leia squeezed her grandmothers arm gently before slowly stepping away from her. Very aware of the highly proficient stormtroopers encircling them. Her they needed alive but not so her grandmother and the force help her new found family if Vader discovered the truth. He would use them as leverage to make Leia talk.
“This need not be unpleasant your highness”, suggested Vader unexpectedly. “I presume this is some unaware local peasant that you have duped they are no interest to me, if you come peacefully into custody”.
Leia was stunned, though she gave no outward sign of it. He was offering her an out and she would be a fool to reject.
“Your word My Lord?”
“My word”, agreed Vader calmly.
“Very well”, Leia slowly held her wrists out to the nearest storm troopers. Who in a quick movement holstered their rifles over their shoulder, before snapping a restraint around Leia’s wrists. Holding her firmly by the arm they stood beside her waiting for Vader’s orders.
“NOOooooo”, an anguished moan from Ruwee brought all eyes and guns to her.
“Be quiet, be thank full I didn’t shoot you in the back as was my first thought”, snarled Leia contemptuously pushing Ruwee to the ground and away from her.
“Peace old women, she will not be harmed, she is now a ward of the empire…….go about your business”, Vader suggested, gesturing with his hand as Ruwee continued to weep. To Leia’s shock Ruwee rubbed her head and after muttering about business, went back inside the crypt. She should not be so surprised she thought she had seen Luke do something similar when they rescued Han. But somehow she had thought her grandmother to be stronger than that.
“Before we depart your highness, where is Luke Skywalker?” questioned Vader. I will tear this planet apart if I have to”, added Vader seeing Leia’s hesitation.
Leia looked at him in astonishment she couldn’t quite hide. “He’s not here! -I have no idea where is and I am so happy about that I will not be able to betray him”, spat Leia
“His droid is here is it not? and where one can be found the other is usually close behind”.
“Believe what you will”, replied Leia tiredly, “But you will get nothing more from me”.
“One way or the other Princess you will give me everything.”
Vader and Leia surveyed each in silence in silent animosity. Then without a sound he turned, the trembling princess marching behind him escorted by the finest stormtroopers in the galaxy.
Oh come on give me some scooby snacks for updating much quicker than before.... feed me with reviews good or bad it keeps me healthy and sane