- Discussion - Torture
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
- Science Fiction
His earliest memories are of glistening mountains. Ones that gleam in the sunshine as they tower above him, their caps as pristine and white as the precious silk tunic and pants he wears.
He easily recalls what it was like to stand at their bases and gaze up, awed by such majesty. He remembers what it was like to breathe deeply and fill his lungs with fresh, pure air. To stand at the top of those grand mountains is a sensation he will never forget; the view stretched on for miles until it was all he could see. Before him, he remembers, were the proud cities and rolling countrysides that too seemed to stretch on forever. Some days if it were especially clear, it was easy to imagine that far away, in the distance, he could see the ocean.
He will never see those sights again.
He remembers camping trips in the mountains with childhood friends and how he would relax with Winter, Aiden, and Briar after long hikes and explorations; he remembers gazing with them up at the stars as they made up their own stories about the constellations.
He will never speak with his friends, tell tales, or laugh with them again.
But, above all else, as he lies in the secured Rebel base enveloped in a hazy film of grief, he remembers being held in his father’s arms and standing on the highest peak.
“Look, my son,” his father had softly whispered, “and see all that we are.”
As he lies in the quarters he has been given on Yavin IV, he tries to accept all of this. He tries to accept that he will never see his father, his friends or his home – his planet – again. An asteroid field is all that is left of his home, almost as if it had never even existed.
He cannot accept this.
The idea that those proud cities, endless countrysides, shining oceans, and formidable mountains are gone is incomprehensible. His bedroom, possessions, all his secret hiding places – his mother’s grave – everyone he has known and loved is gone. Dead. Vanished.
The new legacy the eighteen-year-old Prince now bears weighs heavily on him. But this time there is no one else who can understand the burden that he carries, no one else who can offer comfort and advice.
For the rest of Luke Organa’s life, he will carry on alone.
Father held absolute trust in him, as he always had. Before he left to speak to the High Council, Bail sent everyone else away and sat for hours left to them, as both his ship and his son’s ship were prepared, with his only child. They spoke of politics, the latest whispering in the Senate, the current plans of the Rebels, the upcoming midsummer festival – anything under the stars. At last, as final preparations were made, Bail pulled his son into a hug and handed him a box.
“Here, this is something I have been meaning to give you.”
Luke glanced at his father curiously but dutifully opened it without any questions. Inside was a simple necklace: a flat circle with the symbol of the Royal Family attached to a gold chain. Luke carefully traced the symbol before looking up at his father; he knew the necklace as the one Bail always wore.
“This necklace has been passed down through the males of the Royal Family for the past three hundred years. Your wife, if you ever so chose to finally give me a daughter-in-law,” and here Luke smiled at his father’s exasperated tone, “will be given the ring which has been passed down through the women of the Royal Family.”
Luke nodded and had slowly put the necklace on. It seemed as if three hundred years of tradition and honor clung to the heirloom of the Royal Family. And as though he could tell where his son’s thoughts had turned (had he also not once been a young prince worried about his future?), Bail squeezed Luke’s shoulder.
“If she could see you now, Luke, your mother would be as proud of you as I am. No man could ask for a finer son.”
“Thank you, Father,” Luke smiled and leaned in to embrace him, “I will not fail you.”
“I know you will not,” Bail had said simply, and Luke could still feel his father’s pride enveloping him as he boarded the transport ship the next morning. He remembers still the last look he had of his planet and the smile that filled his father’s eyes as he waved goodbye.
The march to the cell onboard the Death Star feels longer than it was.
The Prince held his head high, the perfect picture of nobility, as he was taken to his cell. His poise, too dignified for a prisoner, catches the eyes of the officers on duty. His handsome looks – golden hair, bright blue eyes, and only slightly tanned skin – causes their eyes to linger for just a moment longer.
Once the Prince is alone, however, the serene expression falters just a little bit as he is left to contemplate what will happen next.
He sits on his shaking hands, trying desperately to control his breathing with his eyes fixed squarely on the shut cell door. He cannot deny he is scared; he has seen and spoken to the broken and scarred survivors of Imperial interrogations.
Along with the insufferable Governor Tarkin (Luke has never been able to tolerate that two-faced man), the dreaded Dark Lord of the Sith is rumored to be aboard this terrible space-station as well. Things do not bode well for the Prince. He takes a deep breath to steady himself, slowly letting it out, and allows himself to lean his head back and tear his eyes away to fall shut.
The Dark Lord of the Sith and the Crown Prince of Alderaan have met before.
He recalls Father always being deeply unsettled by these meetings; when he was much younger it made the young boy look for answers about the dark man but there were never any answers to be found. A hint of a name, one that is legendary for both deeds of valor and bravery in the Clone Wars and for the mystery surrounding his end, is the only thing he ever learned, and that was only learned through accidentally overhearing the hushed whispers of his parents.
Somehow, the Prince ponders, Darth Vader is connected to the death and disappearance of his father’s old friend, the famed ‘Hero With No Fear’.
Luke wonders about such a name. He has been in fights before and the idea that someone – even a Jedi! – could fight in a war as bloody as the Clone Wars and not even be the slightest bit afraid is something he knows must be a lie.
Anakin Skywalker, Luke Organa thinks lazily to distract himself, had to have been afraid of something.
His mind, though, inevitably turns back to Vader. Vader’s treatment of the young Prince alternated in a way that intrigued Luke and worried his father. Some days Vader was barely civil towards him, acting as though the Prince was an unbearable affront to the Sith Lord. Other days, however, it seems like the Sith sought him out on purpose. Those days they would speak; their conversations would either be full of delicate, careful words (such as the new plans for more troops in a certain sector) or they would speak of more trivial, carefree things (such as podraces).
But the Prince has no doubt that Vader will be his interrogator and that it shall be a very painful and horrible experience, one that he is also hesitant to believe he will survive. There has often been an air of restrained violence around the Sith when he was in Luke’s presence, after all. Also, there is too the possibility that Darth Vader may view the confirmation of Luke Organa as a Rebel as a personal betrayal.
For that, Prince Organa does not blame Darth Vader.
What worries Luke most, though, is not his upcoming torture, but instead, it is his father’s reaction. The Crown Prince has been arrested for treason. The troubling outcome of such a situation concerns the Prince; it is highly likely that the Empire might attempt to seize Alderaan. In fact, the domination of Alderaan by the Empire is the most probable outcome. Luke privately curses the fact that he has been captured as his mind works furiously to think of a way to prevent this.
Luke bites back a sigh, suddenly exhausted by the predicament he has found himself in. He is the prince of Alderaan and he cannot think of a way to save his people. The necklace, the symbol of his family’s strength and honor, rests heavily on his breast. He fancies that he can see all the generations of his House frowning in stern disapproval at him.
But then Prince Organa pushes such thoughts away, pushes fear and worry aside for serenity and logic, wrapping himself in these two cool embraces. When the Prince opens his eyes, he is a serene and logical figure adorned in white; a ghost which embodies freedom and honor, things that can never be defeated or destroyed, only denied for a time.
When Darth Vader and several of his stormtroopers arrive to bring Prince Organa to see Governor Tarkin, the Prince’s dignified air is back as though it had never left, as though the Prince never felt such mortal things like doubt or fear at all.
“Ah, Prince Organa, what a pleasure it is to see you again,” Tarkin smiles crookedly at Luke and then he reaches out, tracing Luke’s cheek with a calloused finger. Luke does not flinch back, but he internally stiffens at the hungry look in Tarkin’s eyes. The Governor is enjoying his victory far more than the Prince currently is.
Out of the corner of his eye, Luke can see Vader and the young prince gets the impression that the Sith Lord is frowning underneath his mask. Wryly, Luke reflects that apparently, Vader has a few morals left after all.
“Governor Tarkin,” Prince Organa greets civilly, “I thought I sensed your odious presence onboard.”
Tarkin laughs and pats Luke’s cheek with a condescending air. “And you are still as charming as ever, my dear Prince.”
Luke bites back the urge to snap ‘I’m not your anything!’ but refrains, instead choosing a cold voice to address Tarkin. “Neither my father nor the Intergalactic Senate shall tolerate this insult, Governor. How dare you accuse me of being a Rebel? My family has always been loyal and dedicated citizens of the Empire.”
“You do not have to concern yourself with what the Intergalactic Senate thinks, Your Highness,” Tarkin chuckles darkly, full of malice and amusement, “The Emperor dissolved it this morning.”
The Prince hides his reaction, not allowing his heartbeat to quicken or panic to grip him.
“So,” Tarkin smiles and grips Luke’s chin in a mocking, parental way, “Let us now discuss the whereabouts of the Rebel base.”
Luke stares back, not even blinking. “I have no idea where the Rebels or their so-called base is located, Governor. And why should I? As I have said, I and my House are loyal followers of the Empire.”
Tarkin’s grip tightens on Luke’s chin, hard enough to leave bruises and deep imprints, forcing Luke to fall silent.
“Do not play games with me, little Prince. You are a Rebel and a traitor to the Empire. Now, tell me where the Rebel base is.”
“I do not know.”
The Governor’s backhand is strong enough that not only does it split the Prince’s lip as the heavy ring he is wearing catches roughly, it also causes the Prince to stumble slightly. When Vader rights Luke, the Sith’s grip is tight and painful on Luke’s right shoulder.
“Bring the Prince forward, Lord Vader,” Tarkin’s voice is dark, “I shall give him one last chance before I leave him in your capable hands.”
Chills crawl up Luke’s spine as he is pushed forward until he can look out the viewing window. What he does see freezes the breath in Luke’s lungs.
Alderaan lies before them.
For one horrible moment, all Luke can think of, all he can see, are the plans for the Death Star; the incredible weapon capabilities of the Emperor’s dreaded space station.
Enough firepower to destroy an entire planet…
Oh Force, no.
Upon seeing the realization on Luke’s face, Tarkin smiles menacingly. “Tell me the location of the Rebel base, Prince Organa, or we shall test this station’s weapon system on your world.”
“You would not dare,” the Prince protests, visibly fighting for control, “Alderaan is one of the most peaceful and richest planets in the galaxy! Destroying it will only hurt the Empire!”
“It is apparent that Alderaan is a traitor to the Empire!” Tarkin thunders, “Destroying such a traitor will send a message that no one will dare test! The only way to save your planet, Your Highness,” Tarkin sneers diversely at Luke’s title, “is to give me the location of the Rebel base!”
Heart pounding in his chest, Luke looks at his planet. Everyone he knows is down there, everything that he loves, cherishes and strives to protect is on that planet. That planet safe and free is his heart’s greatest desire.The desperation he feels building inside of him blocks his throat, choking him and dulling his tongue. All his words and knowledge are meaningless in this moment.
Governor Tarkin watches Prince Organa with a cold and impassive face. “Prepare the weapon system.”
“No!” It is almost a shout and it steals away all the energy out of Luke. He sags and would have fallen if Vader was not gripping his shoulder so tightly.
“The location, Prince Organa,” Tarkin says almost gently.
“Dantooine,” Luke says in a rough, broken voice, “The base is on Dantooine.”
There is silence in the room before Tarkin slowly smiles. The Governor pats Luke’s cheek, causing Luke to internally wince at the pressure on his bruised cheek, before turning away. “You see, Your Highness, that was not so difficult, now was it?”
Luke does not answer but closes his eyes as relief wells up sharply inside of him. He has bought both his people and the Rebels time.
“Fire the weapon,” Tarkin orders.
“What? No!” Prince Organa struggles now in Darth Vader’s grip, “I gave you the base! Dantooine! The base is on Dantooine!”
Tarkin only smiles. “Dantooine is too remote a location to test the Empire’s greatest weapon, Prince Organa. And now all shall know the price of defiance; Alderaan will be a lesson that the galaxy will never forget. But do not worry, my dear, the destruction of the Rebel Alliance shall soon follow.”
Vader must physically hold Luke to keep him in place as the countdown begins. Luke fights, not knowing what he could possibly do but if he was free, if he was not bound, then at least he could do something. Anything.
Oh Force, please. Please let it not work. Please let something go wrong. Please, no, don’t let this happen.
Don’t make me watch.
The winy mechanical voice reaches five when Prince Organa stops his desperate struggles. Instead, he hangs limply in Darth Vader’s grip and he stares pale-faced at Alderaan.
As the voice reaches three, he begins to pray fervently to every vaguely recalled religious figure he has ever heard of to let something go wrong, to save his world.
His prayers go unanswered.
When the voice ends the countdown, the Death Star fires. The beam strikes Alderaan and in less than a heartbeat, the blink of an eye, in a second that feels as long as eternity to the Prince watching onboard the space station, Alderaan explodes.
It is a violent explosion of light and rubbles and it leaves nothing but rock and ash behind.
Luke Organa, with the sight of his home being destroyed forever burned into his mind, like a brand or a scar, falls to his knees when Darth Vader releases his grip. Tarkin laughs as the stormtroopers literally have to pick the Prince up to take him back to his cell.
The Prince notices none of this. All he can see is Alderaan being wiped from space right in front of him; all he can hear are the screams of his people as they are murdered; all he can feel is a terrible all-consuming emptiness, then black.
Later, his thoughts are sliding away from him, like water through his fingers, as he attempts to concentrate. It’s too hard to focus.
Luke shakes, wraps his arms around his stomach, and shivers in his cell. He has failed them. Failed his people. Failed his friends. Failed his family.
The necklace, the last gift his father ever gave him, is an unbearable burden around his neck now. He cannot bear to even look or touch it.
He wishes he could cry; he wishes he could do anything but sit here and shiver in this grey, silent and tiny cell.
Luke sits for hours, how many hours exactly he will never know for certain, silent and grave. He stops shivering and instead sits unmoving in his cell.
It hurts to breathe.
It hurts to remember that he lives when no one else does.
The cell door opens abruptly, and the familiar breathing of Darth Vader is heard. Luke turns slowly to look at Vader with dull eyes. What he does see, however, behind the Sith Lord, causes him to feel something for the first time in hours.
An Imperial torture droid hovers behind the Sith Lord.
Darth Vader stands impassively in the small cell.
“Let us discuss the true whereabouts of the Rebel base, Your Highness,” Darth Vader says calmly into the oppressive quiet of the cell.
The soft yet chilling hum of the droid is the only noise as it moves closer.
And after that, Luke’s entire existence narrows down to pain and the knowledge that he must not speak.
The electric current running through his pain-wracked body threatens to make Luke’s vision go black. He screams, trying to toss to dislodge the fourteen needled spikes in his back but he cannot. The spikes, lodged into his spinal cord, churn the electricity wracking his body, stealing his breath and thoughts from him.
The pain is sharp and unbearable. It courses through his body, unstoppable and unchecked, ravaging him whole. Blood wells in his mouth and it chokes him so that he is shouting and choking at the same time.
He has never wanted something so badly in his life as he wants this to stop. He wants it to end.
And he could end it. A simple word would end it.
But the Empire has already taken something from Prince Organa today, something that no matter how hard he strives, how bravely he fights, he will never be able to reclaim. Luke has no intention of betraying the only people he has left to call his own; his weakness has betrayed enough.
But, by all the stars in the galaxy, what he wouldn’t give for this to end.
In the end, Luke can only scream and futilely attempt to escape the pain.
“Where is the base?”
He screams his pain and defiance as the current increases. He pants for breath at the next break, swallowing his pleas and cries.
“I…,” he pants, chest heaving, shaking and trying to deny his own tears, “I do not,” he breaks, screaming again as Vader turns the current on again. The Sith Lord, apparently, is not interested in pointless lies.
Luke does nothing but scream and he sees only Alderaan.
“Your defiance shames you, Your Highness,” Vader says, halting the demands at last.
Luke pants heavily, unable to stop the quivering of his body. “Really?” he rasps out hoarsely, black dots encompassing his vision. “And here I was thinking that the opposite is true.”
Vader does not reply. Instead, the Sith Lord waves his hand and the fourteen spikes embedded in Luke’s back are abruptly torn out as the Imperial Interrogation droid moves away. The Prince cries aloud, pain racking an already overwrought body.
“We shall continue our conversation soon, Prince Organa. No matter how stubborn you are or how desperately you attempt to cling to your ideals, Your Highness, I will crush you. Soon, you will willingly tell me all I desire to know.”
And with that, the Dark Lord of the Sith departs, leaving the Prince in darkness.
He shakes in his cell, pale with sweat running down his face. He is both cold and burning at the same time; he feels chilled, as though he will never be warm again, but in the next breath he is burning from the inside out.
His back aches, scarred as it is now, and his limbs feel heavier than lead. He bites back a moan and tries to blink away the white spots dancing through his vision.
The taste of blood is in his mouth and he tries to swallow it but he chokes on it. He feels ill.
Luke closes his eyes and attempts to breathe past his pain. He feels as though everything that is him has been crushed, broken into as many fragments as Alderaan, and that there are far too many pieces to put back together.
Besides, there is no one left who would care to attempt such an undertaking anyway.
Luke rests his head against the wall of his cell. Tears sting the back of his eyelids, but he blinks them away.
He sits in the quiet, thinking of Alderaan and of how, when the next session begins, he cannot tell where the base is. However, he does not know for how long he can hold the location within. ‘Not too much longer,’ he thinks and regrets it bitterly.
Then, just as Luke is about to lose himself in familiar dark thoughts, the door to his cell opens and a single stormtrooper enters.
The Prince gazes at the stormtrooper in a removed manner, curious at the strange sight but apathy dulling the curiosity.
“Well, come on,” the stormtrooper huffs in an obviously female voice and Luke startles at it because there are no female stormtroopers. “We don’t have all day.”
He shakily gets to his feet, regally bearing returning to him as his strength briefly flares, and crosses the cell. “Who are you?” he murmurs for he feels a strange connection to his rescuer. His apathy is slowly disintegrating as he takes interest in something for the first time since his capture.
The stormtrooper cocks her head, as though only realizing now that Luke can only see the white mask she wears. “Hold on a second,” and then cheerfully, as though she has no care at all because, obviously, the galaxy is marching to the beat she chooses, she pulls off her helmet. The face gazing back at Luke now is one about his age and it is a tanned face with pale brown eyes and short dark brown hair. There is something hauntingly familiar about her face. She reminds him of someone, but he does not know who.
The knowledge hovers out of his reach, as elusive and tempting as a butterfly.
But Luke cannot deny the restless feeling within him that says that he knows her.
“I’m Leia Skywalker,” she smirks at him, teasing and daring him as few have before, “And I’m here to rescue you.”
Prince Organa finds himself momentarily stunned but there will be time enough for explanations later. Now he must go. “Luke Organa,” he introduces himself, following her gingerly out of the cell.
Another smirk, as wild and free as the one before it, “I already knew that Your Highness, but it’s nice to meet you too. I have your droids by the way.”
“Ah,” the Prince says and understands instantly how this young, sun-soaked woman got involved, “My apologies for dragging you into this.”
Some of her cheer and brashness fades away, tempered by grief, and it stirs feelings of recognition within him again, but Luke pushes it away for the realization that he has cost her something dear. Guilt twists him. It seems like Death is haunting his footsteps these days.
“It’s alright,” Leia says softly, “I always wanted to leave Tatooine anyway.”
Prince Organa nods, though he wonders at the desire to flee home. Right now, he would give anything to have a home to run back to. “Is R2 safe?”
At the question, Leia suddenly looks a little embarrassed. “Sort of. He and Threepio are secured. Ben went to go turn off the tractor beam. All we need to do is meet up with the Captain and the Walking Carpet before we rejoin the droids.”
“The Walking Carpet?” the Prince questions, amused despite himself, “And who are Ben and the Captain?”
Leia scowls, sudden and fierce. “Captain Solo and his Wookie partner, Chewbacca. We hired them to bring us to,” and she cuts herself off suddenly. Luke knows what she was about to say and his heart twists some more in his chest.
‘Is this how it will always be?’ he wonders ‘Will it always hurt so much?’
He turns away from such thoughts, unable to let himself consider his pain and hurt. Both pick up speed, as though going faster will help them outrun the demons which haunt them. Still, Luke has one more question to ask:
“Who is Ben?”
“What? Oh yes, that. Ben’s your General Kenobi.”
“You’re here with General Kenobi?” he asks, honestly startled. He had hoped that his message had reached the General but today has hardly been a day of hope.
“Yep,” she grins and then tugs his hand impatiently, “Now come on!”
They race into the tunnel which heads back to the Control Room where Captain Solo and Chewbacca wait and are nearly shot for their troubles. Both instantly throw themselves to one side, ending up directly across from Solo and the Wookie.
“What the hell did you two do, Captain?!” Leia fairly shrieks. Luke caches his first glimpse of two of his other rescuers. He doesn’t study the growling Wookie for long and gives the Captain the same quick glance, though he takes in far more detail. The Captain is a tanned, handsome man with light brown hair and a certain set of smugness about him. Yet, Luke thinks with narrowed eyes, there is something more to this man. He is not someone as idealistic as Leia but there is something more to this man, some inner core which sends him to the aid of a stranger.
“It’s not our fault kid,” Captain Solo shoots back, both literally and figuratively.
An angry blush stains Leia’s cheek. “Don’t call me that!” she snaps and fires her own shot.
Luke’s lips twitch and he is unable to stop the amusement he feels. Solo swears violently as more shots are fired and the Wookie’s growls grow louder. Luke grimaces and offers the only suggestion he can.
“Where are the droids?” he asks Leia urgently, “Are they somewhere where R2 can access the computers?”
Leia gives him a confused look and Solo glances at him incredulously. “I’d be more worried about yourself, Your Highness, than those tin buckets.”
“There is a garbage chute underneath this hallway. If R2 is near a computer, he can make sure we can get out,” Luke gives the Captain a cold look, his title stinging the Prince more than he cares to admit, “And in case you haven’t noticed, Captain, the titles of Alderaan are things of the past now.”
Those words burn Luke’s tongue, but they cause Solo to fall silent. Prince Organa thinks he should apologize but he wants someone to hurt with him; the weight of his grief is too much. He just wants to wake from this nightmare.
The look Solo gives him, though, makes the Prince think that the Captain understands all too well what Luke is trying to do.
Leia ends the awkward pause by forcefully taking charge (and there is something about her manner as she does so that tells Luke that he had best get used to it) and shooting a hole into the wall. The smell from the garbage chute wharfs up and Leia smiles grimly.
“R2’s near a computer so into the garbage chute, boys.”
A rather relieved Prince Organa smiles, his heart still racing in his chest
Skywalker slumps against Solo in the metal pile, grinning broadly in relief. “You okay?”
Luke tries to swallow down his relief, reminding himself that they are, truly, in no less peril than before. But still, it is a relief that threatens to undo him, to see Leia alive and unharmed.
“I’m fine,” he assures Leia. “I should be asking you that.”
“Mistress Leia? Is everything all right now?” Threepio’s voice is heard over the comm.
“We’re good, Threepio,” Leia sings back cheerfully, a jubilant grin on her face. “Now, can you get R2 to open the door?”
Luke smiles. Her smile is infectious. They make their way slowly out and do not quite barricade themselves into a small storeroom, but they certainly close the door and Chewbacca stations himself so that he will be the first to greet anyone who opens the door.
He takes a moment to breathe and try to wrap his head around what is currently happening. Considering everything that has happened so far and the injuries that are now making themselves rather persistently known, he’s had better days.
But he is free. And that makes all this worth it. Granted, though, Skywalker and Solo more than make up for all his pains; they are truly an amusing duet.
“Why? It’s not like you’re going to be naked.”
“Because I don’t like you.”
“That’s hardly a reason, kid.”
“Stop calling me that!”
Luke shakes his head and hides his smile. The glint of something in the corner of his eye catches his attention and he turns his head to look at it. What he sees in Leia’s hand momentarily takes his breath away.
He quickly looks away, taking the moment to school his features, hiding all his thoughts on the matter, but inwardly thinking furiously. Skywalker. She introduced herself as Leia Skywalker and that, coupled with the lightsaber and her knowing General Kenobi, well enough to call him by a nickname (a strange one though. Perhaps it is an alias?), can only mean one thing.
He has been rescued by the daughter of Anakin Skywalker.
The thought of it is staggering. The Jedi Order is dead and dust and with it all its glory, but Anakin Skywalker’s name is still known. Older pilots in the Alliance sometimes murmur about him, speaking his name almost reverently, and this girl is his daughter.
He wonders how far along in her training she is. The Jedis are gone but right now, in this moment, in a space station that can destroy entire planets, Luke thinks that they could use one of those miracles the Jedis were so famous for.
Still, they should be getting a move on, as enjoyable as the bickering behind him has been.
“Are the two of you done yet?” he asks mildly.
Leia gives him a dark look while Solo grins unrepentantly. Huffing, Leia tightens her belt and shakes out her hair. “I’m done.” And the look she gives Solo would freeze a lesser man.
Solo just shrugs. “I’m ready.”
Luke can’t explain the feeling that is growing inside him as the four make their way but he knows he’s felt it before.
Perhaps he’ll remember its name someday.
Reunited, the four of them are huddled in a small storage area, gazing out at the Falcon and, more importantly, the eight stormtroopers guarding her.
“There are only eight of them,” mutters Leia and Luke determinedly does not look at her. He can still feel the memory of her lips on his cheek and the smile in her eyes when she grinned and said, “for luck”.
The memory of touching her, holding onto her as they swung is also haunting him. He has no idea what is it about her, but something about Leia Skywalker makes him want to latch onto and never let go and possibly babble something stupid like, “I found you, I found you” and he has no idea why.
It, quite possibly, is going to drive him insane.
“That means nothing,” Solo says dismissively, “A firefight will attract them like drones.”
Leia sighs. “Then what do you suggest, Captain?”
“Wait for the fossil?” Solo finally offers.
“Ben is not a fossil,” Leia replies darkly.
“Waiting for General Kenobi seems to be our best option, unless someone can think of a way to distract them,” Luke smoothly interrupts the budding argument. It had not taken him long to realize that Solo and Leia are simply unable to communicate without fighting.
Chewie growls something (and Luke has become very fond of Chewie, if only because he feels an empathetic connection with his fellow voice of reason-even if said fellow voice is only really understood by one of them) and Luke thinks, in a distracted manner, that he will need to learn Chewie’s language.
Shrugging such distracting thoughts away, Luke returns his attention to the current situation.
Solo nods and lets out a breath. “Well then let’s hope that Kenobi can pull two miracles out of his sleeve.”
Luke privately agrees with Solo as the pain he is feeling worsens. He ignores it, however. The last thing that any of them need to deal with is his injuries.
“Wait,” Leia sucks in a breath, “Look!”
All eight stormtroopers are suddenly moving away from the Falcon, focusing on something the four of them cannot see.
Luke then sighs in relief when he spots the droids.
“Well alright,” Solo grins, “Let’s go.”
Silently, the four of them creep towards the Falcon. And then they see what distracted the stormtroopers.
Luke doesn’t recognize the man Vader is dueling but the sight of the Sith Lord is almost enough to make Luke flinch. One look at Solo and Leia, however, tells him that it is General Kenobi who Darth Vader is dueling.
Leia stands frozen and Luke doubles back to reach her, ignoring Solo’s glare.
“We need to go,” he tells her quietly and Leia gives him a wild look in response.
“We have to help him!” She hisses, making a move towards the duel.
The glint of the lightsaber Leia carries catches Luke’s eyes and he wonders if she knows-truly knows-what legacy she proclaims to the galaxy.
“We can’t help him,” he tells her.
Leia shakes her head in denial. “You don’t know that,” she protests.
The Prince gives her a hard look. “Tell me that you would not be a distraction; tell me you can use the weapon around your waist.”
She falters, unable to deny what he has guessed. “I won’t leave here without him,” she nearly whispers, fierce and low.
“Of course not,” Luke says, though he himself cannot believe it. He trusts that General Kenobi will make his way to them. Or, at least, he prays it so.
He cannot shake the feeling that he will soon be proven a liar.
Leia refuses to move, and Luke stays with her, Captain Solo on the gangplank, and it seems like the three of them are frozen in time, unable to move, to go on without each other.
And then General Kenobi glances at them, so quickly and so gently that Luke thinks he must have imagined it. Then the old man stops, holding his saber vertically and with a great and quiet dignity, stands still.
And General Kenobi vanishes, leaving behind nothing but a cloak and his lightsaber.
“No!” Leia screams, loud and horrible, and shatters the silence, splintering it into glass shards.
The stormtroopers whirl around, firing and Darth Vader stops prodding the cloak to turn and walk towards them. Luke darts to the gangplank, dragging Leia with him but then she shakes him off and starts firing at the stormtroopers.
Solo fires as well. “Come on!”
Leia frowns intensely, shooting the panel and shutting the blast door which prevents Vader and the back-up from entering. Then, finally, she lets Luke drag her up the gangplank, her and Solo still shooting.
They race into the Falcon and Luke gets his first look at the interior of the ship that will see him to safety. He is less than impressed by both the outside and the inside but restrains himself from commenting. Instead, he and Leia follow Solo into the cabin.
“Let’s hope the old man deactivated the tractor beam or else this is going to be a short trip,” Solo warns.
Luke takes a seat beside the still shell-shocked Leia as the droids wait in the middle part, bickering amongst themselves. The Prince coolly hopes that the General achieved his last mission; as much as the Prince does not want to go back to his cell, he’d hate it more if Solo and Leia join him.
“Looks like we’re not out of this yet. Come on, kid, TIE Fighters,” Solo vacates his chair, hurrying out of the cabin, and Skywalker rouses herself from her stupor at the promise of action. She shakes off her grief in a way that the clinical part of the Prince cannot help but admire (his grief is not so easily shaken off) and she then races out of the cabin as well. Luke climbs into the Captain’s seat, worried eyes frantically searching for the Fighters. He takes a deep breath and swallows down his fears.
This is not the time.
Chewbacca growls a soft inquiry, but Luke shakes his head.
“I’m all right,” he says softly, listening to Solo and Leia bicker, their bickering blending with Threepio’s and Artoo’s.
And then the TIE Fighters streak above them, cutting off all conversation.
Luke lets out a breath of relief, internally echoing Solo’s and Skywalker’s cheers, and tries not to let his smile show.
He’s not entirely sure that’s he’s successful at that.
“They did it!” he exclaims, and Chewie echoes it enthusiastically, yanking Luke into a hug. Luke hugs him back, hiding his grin in Chewbacca’s fur, but he cannot quite hide his wince. The hug has caused his back to start hurting again. His companion lets out a rumbling inquiry.
“It’s nothing,” Luke denies, not ready to talk about this. He doubts he ever will be.
Chewie snorts in disbelief, one paw lightly touching the bruise on Luke’s face. Luke can almost feel it when Chewie comprehends it.
The Wookie says something, his concern clear but the meaning of his words not. Threepio bustles in, and if a droid can huff then Threepio is doing that.
“I’m so glad all that excitement is over. Master Luke! I’m so glad to see you safe, sir!”
His last name sends a twist to Luke, but he ignores it. “Just Luke will be fine, Threepio. And I’m greatly relieved to see both of you are safe as well.” Well, actually, Luke is more relieved to see R2 safe, but he is pleased to see that R2’s partner is safe too.
“Oh yes, we’re both quite all right, Master Luke. Though there was a time when I feared that the sand would never come out of my systems,” the droid titters and Luke smiles at the beeps R2 makes. Luke doesn’t need to understand the droid to know that Artoo just insulted Threepio.
Chewie interrupts the byplay by growling again and Luke glances at the Wookie curiously. The Wookie gently helps Luke up, still looking at the Prince with concern and some sympathy.
“Chewbacca would like to show you to the med bay,” Threepio explains and then looks at Luke with concern too (can droids even feel concern? This one can apparently), “Are you all right, Master Luke?”
“I’ll be just fine, Threepio,” Luke assures him as he follows Chewie out, relieved to see Captain Solo coming towards them, “Captain? Would you mind setting a course for Yavin IV?”
Solo pauses and then shrugs. “Yeah, sure. What are we going there for, Your Highness?”
Luke smiles grimly in reply. “Yavin IV is the location of the Rebel base, Captain. And I have urgent matters to discuss with the Council.”
The anesthetic feels cool on Luke’s aching back and he shivers under it. He feels oddly vulnerable; admitting he needs help is not something he enjoys doing.
Chewie rumbles something which sounds reassuring. Luke relaxes under it and concentrates on the future.
He doesn’t have time for the past.
Prince Organa leaves Chewie to fuss around the small kitchen on the Falcon and heads into the main sitting area. He finds Leia there, as he expected to.
She sits at a small table, tracing dull patterns onto it. Grief and anger are clear on her face; the slightest flush on her face tells the Prince that there is also a closer annoyance bugging her.
He feels lighter at the sight. Solo and Skywalker make it easier for him to distance himself from what has happened.
But her grief, which he can practically taste in the air, so sharp and bitter is it, tugs at Luke’s heart. For all that he has known her for less than six hours, Luke Organa knows that these emotions, this stillness, are foreign to Leia. She is someone who feels too passionately, he thinks and remembers his father’s lectures on controlling one’s emotions and judgment. Pain courses through him as he remembers his father’s words. But he pushes the pain away, ruthlessly suppressing it.
His father is dead, but Leia is not.
Silently, he walks up behind Leia and squeezes her shoulder comfortingly. She startles at the touch, lightsaber slamming against the table.
“Luke,” she says and relaxes. The Prince is amused by the fact that he never even had to tell her to call him by his first name; she just assumed the liberty the same way she assumes everything else in life.
“It will get better,” he tells her softly, a cold comfort to both.
“I’ll make them pay,” she says darkly, and the room suddenly grows smaller as Leia’s power swells. The Prince grits his teeth, suddenly tense and he can feel, undeniably, darkness creeping in around him, trying to get him to open his heart to it. And it’s too soon, too similar to be back in his cell with Vader standing over him and for a moment, he cannot breathe.
“It’s not over until they all pay,” Leia stares at the table, rage burning in her voice.
“But what happens to you?” Prince Organa asks softly, something inside of him welling up in response to Leia’s display of power.
Leia falters a little bit but then rallies back to her cause. “At least then they’ll be avenged.”
“But how far will you go? How much of your humanity are you willing to sacrifice for your vengeance?” Internally, he shakes at his cold words because there is nothing Luke Organa would like more than to see everyone who supports the Empire dead at his feet. And he wants to bury himself in that feeling, longs to do so, but cannot.
The thought of Leia drowning in darkness pulls him back from the ledge.
He won’t let her fall.
“It would be worth it,” Leia says into the silence. She looks hollow and drained, a pale reflection of someone he knows is a strong person.
“Would they think so?”
At this question, she just looks sad and pensive. “Not Ben or my aunt. Maybe my uncle.”
Luke smiles, one that is a weak imitation of a real smile. “Somehow I doubt that even your uncle would desire for you to sink to the depths of the Imperials.”
“Yeah,” Leia says after a pause, letting out a slow breath, “You’re probably right. But I’m still going to fight. I’m going to have justice.” She grits her teeth, a stubborn look falling upon her face and in that moment, Luke thinks there is no power in the universe that can stop her.
Luke leaves Leia in the main sitting room and heads to the cockpit, pondering the conversation he has left behind him.
Leia counts her dead, he thinks, like they are scars; things that have wounded her and things that must be counted. She wraps herself in them, remembering their faces and lives so that she can fight for them, with them, because of them.
The dead walk alongside Leia, not as apparitions of guilt and grief, but as names to be remembered and avenged.
The Prince, on the other hand, may understand the sentiment but has no time for such personal beliefs.
Besides, his dead are too numerous to dwell upon.
Captain Solo is relaxing in the cockpit, sprawled in his seat and looking like he has no care in the world when Luke enters. He turns slightly at Luke’s entrance and nods an acknowledgment.
Luke nods back, sliding into the empty seat beside the Captain.
“How’s the kid?” Solo asks in a bored tone, but he can’t quite hide the real worry in his voice.
Luke thinks of Leia’s angry and tear-streaked face and concludes that the Captain has a legitimate reason to worry.
“She’s doing better,” he answers in a noncommittal tone and Solo snorts at that.
“You’re real good at the diplomacy thing, aren’t you, Your Highness?” Solo says, derision and amusement audible.
Prince Organa’s lips twitch slightly. “Of course.”
He remembers his first year as a Senator, so long ago it feels like a lifetime ago when in fact it was only nearly three years ago, and how certain figures, such as the Emperor and the Rebel Council, particularly Mon Mothma (who was a second mother to him) and General Dadoona, all said the same thing. Well, the Emperor had said it with laughter on his face and the memory of that meeting still unsettles the Prince.
But Mon Mothma had unsettled him more, commenting on his skills with troubled eyes and a sad smile.
“You remind me of someone,” she had murmured, “Someone I knew a long time ago…” and then she turned away, acting like Vader did, as though his face hurt to look at. As though he was some shadow or demon come to haunt them.
Luke is still unsure about that comment and knows, deep in his bones, that the reason behind those comments are why his parents never answered his questions about who the crying brown-haired woman in his dreams was.
He still thanked Mon Mothma for the compliment, he remembers, even if he hadn’t understood the meaning behind it.
He watches the stars and thinks of constellations and stars he will never see again.
“Hey,” Solo directs his attention back to the Captain, “You know I’m only in this for the money, right? I expect to get paid for all my troubles.”
“I thought as much,” Luke replies with a faint smile.
Solo looks a bit relieved and Luke understands that he and Leia likely argued about this earlier. “Oh, well,” Solo settles back, looking a little lost now that the fight he was preparing for has been sidestepped completely, “good. As long as we’re clear.”
“Perfectly clear, Captain,” Prince Organa assures him.
Solo pauses for a minute before speaking again, almost reluctantly. “You could just call me Han, Your Worship.”
Luke is startled for a minute before nodding. “I could,” he hesitates before extending his own offer, “You could call me by my first name as well.”
“Nah,” Han says after a moment thought, face wrinkling in distaste, “That’s not nearly as much fun.”
This time, Luke doesn’t bother to hide his eye roll.
They sit in silence, the peace after the chaos of the Death Star and their escape a welcomed change before Chewie ambles in.
“Yeah?” Han leans back, gazing upward at his partner, “What’d ya need?”
Chewie growls something back, causing Luke to look at Han curiously. Han shrugs and stands up, beckoning for Luke to do the same.
“Come on, Your Highness, Chewie says he’s made food.”
Luke smiles and stands up, nodding to Chewie. “Thank you, Chewbacca.”
Chewie nods back, gently patting Luke’s shoulder, rumbling as he does so.
Han thankfully translates. “He wants to know if you’re feeling better,” and the Captain briefly looks concerned.
“Physically, yes,” Luke smiles and then sweeps out of the room, “Thank you for asking.”
Leia joins them but is lifeless in her eating. Prince Organa feels for her, burns to feel like her, but he has already broken down once aboard the Death Star and he will not do so again.
He has no time to do so.
And neither of his parents would approve of such a waste of time.
But nonetheless, Luke longs to sink into his grief, to give up and let himself ache for what he has lost.
“What is Yavin IV like?” Leia finally asks, breaking the silence, which has settled about them.
Luke pauses before answering her, calling up his fading memories of the current Rebel base. “It’s a jungle moon and it rains there fairly often”
“Really?” Leia interrupts, real interest on her face.
“That’s right,” Han laughs, “You’ve never seen rain before, have you kid?”
Leia flushes. “So, what if I haven’t? I’m going to now, aren’t I?” she says defensively.
“Well,” Han snorts, “You’ll like it. It’s wet.”
Leia glares at him and Luke smiles a bit. “There is also many old temples on Yavin IV. In fact, the Rebels are based out in one of them.”
“Are they interesting?”
Luke shrugs. “I wasn’t there when they explored the temples and set up the base. I have only been to this base several times, truthfully. Often, I was too busy on Coruscant or,” Luke cuts himself off this time, denying the name of his home. It hurts too much to say.
Han glances up with a frown. “What were you doing on Coruscant, Your Highness?”
“I am an Intergalactic Senator, though Palpatine has since dissolved the Intergalactic Senate so I suppose ‘was’ is more accurate. I imagine our numbers will increase with such a move,” Luke says in a thoughtful voice.
“Oh, your numbers might increase,” Han says dryly and darkly, “But not over that.”
Luke turns away from those implications because he cannot, does not want to, dwell on that. But he must reply, to say something in the face of that comment. He needs to swallow down his pain, choke on it and force it to leave him be.
At least, for a while.
“Tarkin used the weapon to send a message,” he softly explains, feeling again the horror, which had enveloped him.
“I’ve got a message for him,” Leia growls, low and dark, clenching her utensils tightly, “but he’s not going to like it. Him and Vader.”
“You and most of the galaxy, kid. You and most of the galaxy,” Han shakes his head and whatever he thinks of Leia’s promise is hidden.
“Here we go,” Han says quietly as the Falcon drops out of hyperspace in the Yavin system. “Let’s hope this works.”
“My codes should still work, though the Council will have mixed feelings about your arrival,” muses Luke.
Leia raises her eyebrow. “And why is that?”
“Because we are leading the Empire straight here,” Prince Organa explains.
“Yeah,” Captain Solo grins, “Remind me to find that tracking device and destroy it, later.”
Skywalker blinks, glancing between her two companions, before sighing and rolling her eyes. “Well, next time, would someone at least mention these things to me?”
“Ah, yes, of course,” Prince Organa says and none of the three even think of the obvious fact that, most likely, there will not be a next time.
The Millennium Falcon begins a slow descent into the atmosphere of Yavin IV. As the Rebels inside the temple scramble, waking up senior officers and frantically wave and shout to and at others, Luke Organa and Han Solo explain to Leia Skywalker why the lush vegetation around them is so green.
The Falcon docks in the base and the group inside, even Threepio and Artoo, is silent. Finally, Chewie moves, growling to the others, and slowly gets up.
Han nods and gets up as well. “Right. Let’s get going. I want to get my money and get out of here before the Empire arrives.”
The Prince Organa also nods and rises, offering a hand to Leia. With a wry smile, Leia accepts it, allowing the Price to pull her up.
“Thank you,” the Prince says simply and walks out of the cabin, the others close behind him.
“Your Highness!” Dadoona calls, embracing Luke as the Prince steps off the shuttle, “We heard about Alderaan and feared the worse.”
“There is no time for that, General. We must prepare for the arrival of the Death Star. Please see to it that Artoo Detoo is seen to. He’s carrying the plans for the Death Star inside of him.”
The Prince stands firm in the face of his loss. It feels as though time is moving away from him too quickly, however, and that he is running to keep up.
Luke moves quickly once they arrive. He secures Leia a place in the simulators, argues and sways the rest of the Council into seeing this opportunity for what is, and orders for Solo to be given his reward. As he does all of this, he is all too aware of the fact that the Death Star is moving slowly towards them, a creature of destruction on his heels.
“They’ve agreed to let me fly,” Leia tells him, flushed with her victory and pride and Luke smiles back. He had never doubted that she would be allowed to fly; through what he knows of Anakin Skywalker and his hours with Leia Skywalker, he knows that Leia is very much her father’s daughter.
“Congratulations,” he tells her with a smile, “You will be taking R2 with you, correct?”
“Yeah. They said I had one of the best scores ever,” she grins, full of smug pride.
Luke must smile at that. “I doubted you would achieve anything less.”
Leia beams but then falters, scowling. “Is Solo still leaving?”
“Yes,” he nods, “There is still time to leave with him,” he says but does not believe she will. It is not in her blood.
“No,” Leia shakes her head, short brown hair shinning in the light, “this is my place. I have to go, Luke. I need to meet up with my Flight Commander.”
Luke nods and moves so she can leave. As she does, a sudden urge causes Luke to call out. “Leia,” she turns to look at him, “What’s your call number?”
Leia reads his intention and smirks. “Red Five.”
“Good luck, then, Red Five,” the Prince smiles.
“I don’t need luck,” Leia says in a haughty and laughing voice, “I’ve got something better.”
He goes to see Solo off, unable to let the smuggler go without one last thank you. Because of that, he observes Skywalker’s and Solo’s goodbye.
Han shakes his head. “This ain’t my fight, kid. I’m not dying for this hyped up cause.”
“It’s not a hyped-up cause-it’s a good once. And we could use a pilot like you,” Leia scowls at him. She looks fierce and young in that moment, full of ideals and vengeance.
“No. This is what you believe in, kid, not me. Save that kind of talk for someone who still has a few morals left,” he pauses before going on, “You and the Prince can still come along, you know. We can all get out of here before that thing arrives. ‘Cause, let’s face it, none of you stand a chance in hell of beating that thing.”
“No,” she shakes her head, “This is my fight. And there’s still a chance.”
Han sighs. “All right.”
Leia turns and begins to walk off. “Leia!” she turns back, surprised by the use of her first name, “May the Force be with you.”
Her face lights up, softening her sharp features and Luke smiles to see it, feeling touched to witness a moment made for the two of them.
Once Leia is gone, Han turns to look at him, a slight scowl on his face.
“I hope you’re not here to try and convince me too.”
Luke shakes his head at the grumpy Captain. “No. I’m not here to change your mind.”
“Good,” and judging by the look on the smuggler’s face, his own conscience is plaguing him enough already, “You staying too?”
“I have to,” the Prince smiles ruefully, “But thank you for your offer.”
“Yeah, I guess you have to,” Han loads another case and crosses his arms.
Chewie comes over and draws Luke into a hug which Luke accepts and hugs back.
“Thank you, Chewbacca,” he tells Chewie softly, “For everything.”
Chewie growls back and pats Luke’s head as he moves away, saying something to Han.
A brief flicker of an expression crosses Han’s face before vanishing.
“Let’s go,” Han says instead and smiles at Luke, “See ya, Your Highness.”
Prince Organa nods, a small smile on his face. “Thank you for your assistance, Captain.”
“Don’t mention it. Take care of yourselves.”
There was a time, Luke thinks, eyes focused intently on Leia’s dot when watching a battle being played out did not make him feel restless and discontent.
He grips the table hard, fingers digging into stone for purchase and Threepio hovers over his shoulder in concern.
It is strange, he thinks as another Rebel dot dies, that Threepio’s presence should be so comforting.
But it is.
He listens to the byplay between Leia and Briggs with a tiny smile, taking comfort in the moments of levity.
And then Briggs dies, and Luke can feel Leia’s rage and grief as if they are his own. He can feel her power and tears and he can feel the moment she focuses herself back on her task.
(And later he will wonder at the history between those two. He imagines them together during their childhood, Briggs watching and laughing as Leia races over sand, twirling in the sunlight and outdistancing everyone else, and he will wonder why he feels so envious of a dead man)
“Red Five,” one of the technicians says, exchanging a worried look with his fellows, “You’ve switched off your targeting computer. Is something wrong?”
The rest of the Council on Yavin IV exchange stunned and confused looks because Leia is, literally, their last hope.
And their last hope has just switched off the one thing she needs to make the shot.
Luke, on the other hand, says nothing. He instead just watches Leia’s dot and trusts that she knows what she is doing.
“No,” Leia answers, her voice clipped, “I know what I’m doing.”
The Council exchange helpless looks but Prince Organa merely smiles.
He watches Leia dodge and weaves, but the three TIE Fighters remain behind her, intent on their goal to kill her.
His breath catches, and Luke hopes that he will not watch her die when suddenly one of the Fighters explode.
His eyes dart away from Leia’s dot to watch a new dot appear.
“Come on, kid,” and Luke laughs out loud, a sincere grin on his face and he remains blissfully unaware of the double takes and pale faces as everyone stares at him, “Let’s blow this thing and go home.”
And Leia takes her shot.
The Rebels let out cheers as Prince Organa laughs again and Captain Solo shouts, “That was one in a million! Great shot, kid!” and Leia Skywalker relaxes back into her seat with a proud, fierce grin, the Death Star exploding, as Alderaan had done before, behind her.
Luke makes his way quickly to the hanger as the pilots return. A part of him notices that few have returned but he pushes it away. Instead, he goes to greet Leia and Han.
Leia climbs down from her cockpit, dropping into a cluster of pilots shouting out their praise. She laughs, loud and bright, her face alight with pleasure and excitement, and her eyes shining. She twirls away from the rest of the pilots to reach Luke and she grins widely at him.
“Very nicely done,” the Prince grins and Leia grins and hugs him, a fond look of exasperation on her face.
Prince Organa gets the feeling that, despite barely twenty-four hours of knowing each other, Leia Skywalker thinks of him as an especially dumb younger brother.
“Hey! Does no one else get any thanks around here!” Both Leia and Luke spin around, Leia still leaning into Luke, so they can greet Han.
Leia hugs Han and Luke clasps his shoulder, all three laughing and Chewie, who followed Han, laughs as well, patting all three of them on the head.
“I knew you’d come back,” Leia says out loud, certainty and pride in her voice.
“Yeah,” Han says gruffly, hugging both of them to him, “All that talk of morals must have infected me.”
“In that case,” Luke smiles, “those conversations were well worth it.”
Threepio hovers around R2 in a worried flutter, despite assurances that the Rebel technicians can easily fix R2. Luke finds himself touched by the display; Threepio and R2 may have been created by mortal hands but it is clear they are truly capable of feeling.
Luke speaks to the rest of the Council and then goes about setting up a ceremony to honor Leia and Han; to celebrate the destruction of the Death Star; and a memorial service for those who did not survive.
Leia, Han, and Chewie, on the other hand, celebrate by getting very drunk with the rest of the remaining pilots.
Even as he goes about setting up the ceremony, Luke begins to feel like the walls are closing in on him. Everything that he has been pushing away, trying not to think about, is closing in on him relentlessly.
He closes his eyes and strives for control but Alderaan is not something he can escape from.
As he organizes and directs the placements for the ceremony, he thinks of his mother, dressed in royal white and blue with the Imperial State crown (a priceless treasure that is now ashes) on her head, organizing the parties the Empire insisted upon.
As he visits Leia, Han and Chewie, making sure that they’re well, he thinks of Briar, Winter, and Aiden, laughing and joking and so alive in their every movements.
As he speaks to the Council, sending and receiving messages from the members of the Council not present, he thinks of his father, tall and grave, and how, when he would speak, all would listen.
As he organizes the memorial service, he thinks of his lost people, everyone from his father’s advisor to the court officials to the courtiers who plagued him day and night with his tutors and childhood acquaintances to the people he would see on the street and his servants and the nameless faceless people who he never met but who trusted him with their loyalty and lives.
And as he helps to plan the evacuation of Yavin IV and debates the list of planets which will host the new base, he thinks of Alderaan itself, the once great shining star of the galaxy and how it is now forever lost.
Even though he stayed awake for thirty-eight hours organizing everything and talking to people, after giving Skywalker and Solo their medals (Chewie refused due to the beliefs of his people), Luke finds himself wide awake and drifting away from the reception.
In two hours the memorial service will begin and Luke, if he was stronger, would stay.
But he is not. And he cannot sit there and listen to platitudes about his home.
Luke ducks out to watch the stars and get a break from the noise and the crowds. He sits in an alcove, hidden from sight, and it is there that he drifts off.
He dreams of: green golden fields waving in the breeze; a deep blue ocean; a beautiful setting sun; of tall, strong mountains; and of proud cities, full of life and joy.
And he dreams of their destruction.
“There you are,” a voice huffs and Prince Organa opens his eyes to see Leia glaring up at him, Han and Chewie behind her and the droids behind them.
“I wasn’t aware you were looking for me,” he answers, hiding his surprise with a raised eyebrow.
No one comments on the fact that the Prince’s face is streaked with tears.
Han scoffs. “Well, it wasn’t like we were going to stay in there.”
And with that, Leia and Han clamber into the alcove, Chewie sitting nearby and Threepio and Artoo below.
Han gives Luke a mischievous grin and pulls out four bottles and passes them around. Luke accepts the bottle with a smile.
“Master Luke?” Threepio looks up at him, “Are you all right, now, sir?”
Luke glances around, taking in Chewie, the gentle Wookie; Han, the dashing smuggler; and Leia, the young and reckless pilot and truly smiles.
“Yes, Threepio, I’m all right now.”