Lady Obscura: Little More Than a Shadow

Chapter 19

Athara completely lost track of time sitting in the cell she had been assigned. The shuttle-ride to one of the Fleet’s larger cruisers, where there were actual brigs, had been painfully quiet. The guards had been so nervous around her that the instant they had led her into the cramped cell, they had left her there without another word. They hadn’t even removed the binders from her wrists. Not that that was of great concern, she imagined. She had already demonstrated that she was more than capable of removing them herself.

Yet she hadn’t. As soon as the door had whooshed shut, she’d slumped down onto the bench that ran the length of the one durasteel wall. In that moment, she felt like she was exactly where she deserved to be. So she sat on the hard bench, binders still clamped around her wrists, ruminating on the last several weeks. She went over everything. Hoth, Dagobah, Yoda, Qui-gon, Bespin, Vader…Luke. Everything. And she came up with nothing beyond that she had made a horrible mess of things.

She never should have rejoined Vader. She should have helped her friends outright rather than biding her time for the apparently nonexistent right moment. She should have…she wasn’t even sure of what all she should have done. All she knew was that she had failed. She had given into the Dark Side again when she should have resisted. She didn’t have to rejoin Vader to help her friends. But she did anyway. She had been blinded to her other options. There was nothing but truth in what she had said to Luke.

She was not a good person.

Her reputation had preceded her, after all. The guards had nervously taken steps back when Leia revealed Athara’s true identity. Even Luke had known the name Obscura. With one fell blow, the Alderaanian Princess had erased everything Athara had done for the Rebellion. Never mind that she had never spilled a Rebel secret, or had faithfully run supplies for them, or that she had almost single-handedly turned several Imperial encounters to the Rebel’s advantage, or helped them find new secure places for hidden bases. Not a bit seemed to matter. Innumerable Rebels had once been Imperials before their defections. Many of the leaders themselves had a decidedly Imperial history.

But she had been Vader’s right hand. She had hunted down and dealt with Rebels. She had defeated them in several skirmishes just as she had won some for them. And Vader was responsible for far worse…

Her musings, however, were interrupted when she felt a visitor approaching. She had been sitting still for so long that she could barely feel her legs, while the coolness of the metal bench had begun seeping into her bones. Her hands were nearly numb from the binders, and she was exhausted, both physically and mentally, almost beyond reason. If not for the way the grazing blaster wound on her thigh burned, the constant throbbing pain allowing her some focus, she might not have noticed the approach at all. She certainly wasn’t expecting visitors.

It was a testament to her exhaustion that she didn’t even realize it was Luke until he stepped into her cell, and even then, it took her a moment to process that she wasn’t hallucinating.

And then she broke down completely.

In an instant he was at her side, releasing the binders and tossing them aside before pulling her into his arms. Immediately, she was struggling to regain control, but it was far harder than it should have been. Distantly, she felt Qui-gon’s comforting presence brush against her consciousness.

It was several long minutes before she was able to calm herself, though once she had, she couldn’t bring herself to pull out of Luke’s embrace. It was longer still before she had gathered enough courage to speak.

“I’m sorry that I never told you, Luke. I was trying so hard to leave that part of my life behind. I didn’t want—” He pulled away a little, meeting her still watery eyes.

“Don’t. You don’t have to do that.” The compassion she had seen in him earlier was still there in his voice, though it was firmer now than it was in the Medical Bay. She could only look at him in bewilderment.

“Yes, I do. You know who I am now. I kept that from you, from everyone,” she couldn’t hold his earnest gaze any longer. “It changes everything.”

“No it doesn’t. Not to me. Whatever you were before, as Obscura, it’s not you anymore. You and Ben always push me to trust my feelings, and they tell me that there is good in you. I can see it.” He sounded so sure. Athara sighed, feeling more tired than ever. She wanted to believe him so badly. He tilted her chin up so he could meet her eyes again.

“You’re fighting the Dark Side. I can feel it. I saw it back there.” He was so calm about everything. Knots of anxiety began forming in Athara’s stomach.

“No, you saw me giving into it,” she said, her voice wavering with misery. He shrugged slightly before slowly shaking his head.

“But you were still fighting it. I could feel the turmoil in you, the struggle you were having, trying to keep your anger under control. Leia should not have goaded you like that.”

“No. Don’t you understand, Luke,” Athara lurched to her feet, but she had been immobile so long that she hadn’t gotten more than a few steps from him when her legs gave out, sending her crashing hard into the opposite wall. Again, he was at her side in an instant, but this time she pushed him away, fixing him with a firm look even as she fought back a grimace of pain. His eyes dropped to the blaster burn on her thigh.

“You’re hurt—”

“I’m fine,” she snapped, intent on not letting him distract her from what she needed to say, “it’s not my first blaster wound.” He didn’t look convinced, but Athara pointedly ignored his look of concern, barely pausing to take a breath before continuing as though he hadn’t said a word about her injury.

“She was right, Luke. I just stood by. When they were captured, when Vader tortured them, when he took your hand,” her gaze dropped to his side, where his new mechanical hand rested. Involuntarily he flinched, drawing his new hand away to hide by his side. “I could have stopped it all. But I didn’t.”

“And what would Vader have done if you had?” His reason cut through the despair that was slowly swamping her, but it did nothing to stem the guilt.

“That’s not the point, Luke. I still should have tried.” A hint of a smile appeared on his lips.

“Do I have to remind you of what Yoda said?” She nearly smiled at the reminder, appreciating his small attempt at levity, but it did not hold the despair at bay long.

“He knew what I was from the start,” she murmured. Luke frowned.

“You didn’t have to seek him out, but you did. You are fighting the Dark Side. That’s something I don’t think Yoda quite understood at first. But eventually he came to see it, just as I do.”

“But what if it’s a fight I can’t win?” There was no mistaking the hopelessness that coloured her tone. This time, though, when Luke moved to sit closer, wrapping an arm around her shoulders, she didn’t push him away, leaning against him instead.

“Then you keep fighting anyway.” She couldn’t deny that he was right, though from her perspective, things still looked very bleak. But she didn’t really have a response, so she instead settled for reaching out, taking his right hand in hers.

At first he hesitated in letting her, still obviously self-conscious about the new limb, but after a moment, he relaxed, letting her explore 2-1B’s handiwork.

The prosthetic hand was impeccably done, and almost seamlessly merged with his arm. If one didn’t know it was artificial, at a glance they never would. Under her touch, though, the illusion faded, and it was possible to tell that it was made of metal and polymers instead of flesh and bone. Though the skeletal structures were in all the right places and tendons and muscle were laboriously mimicked, it was slightly cooler to the touch than live skin and, where the synthskin met his real flesh, the colour was a little off. He flinched ever so slightly when her fingers found the newly healed seam on his wrist.

“It’s still a little tender,” he murmured, patiently watching her exploration.

“They did an incredible job. It’s much better than many of the limb replacements I’ve seen. My Master’s aren’t nearly so sophisticated, or so well integrated into what remains his limbs.” The instant the words left her mouth she froze, having never intended to say them. All the blood left her face as Luke tensed, his new hand twitching under her fingers. “I’m sorry Luke, I didn’t mean to—” He shook his head silently, shrugging it off. After a moment he sighed, leaning his head back against the durasteel wall. His usually open face took on a distinctly troubled and sorrowful cast. Athara could’ve kicked herself for her lack of sensitivity.

“I know. It’s alright.” His thoughts betrayed him, though. Things were very much not all right. But then she doubted she was shielding her thoughts particularly well at that moment either.

“For what its worth, Luke, I am so sorry for what he did to you,” she said, her voice nearly breaking with guilt. He tried to smile reassuringly, but it came out more like a grimace. After a moment he sighed heavily before replying.

“It’s okay, really. I know you had nothing to do with what Vader did.”

“I was there, though. I was on that Processing Vane. I watched him take your hand. I should have helped; I could have helped you.” His brow furrowed slightly at the confession, but just as quickly his features cleared.

“And what would you have done? You said yourself he has your lightsabre. You would have been defenseless. And even after you retrieved mine, he might have killed you if you had actually attacked him.” he sighed again when she refused to acknowledge his point, “none of that matters now. You’re here. You’re with us. That says more than anything else you could have done.” Now it was Athara who frowned.

“What do you mean?”

“You knew Leia would have you arrested, didn’t you. You followed us here knowing what would happen if you did, and you submitted when you could have fought.” He was right. Athara deflated a little at that.

“I had to know that you were alright,” she said quietly. He smiled gently, entwining his mechanical fingers with hers, the movement slow and careful; he was obviously still adjusting to the replacement.

“You said you aren’t a good person. I can’t believe that. I don’t believe it. There is too much good in you, Athara.” She started, jerking back to look him in the eyes. He had said her name, her name; not an alias or a code name, but hers.

“What?” Her voice was little more than a surprised whisper. He looked confused for an instant before his expression cleared. He knew why she had reacted the way she had.

“You are a good person, Athara.”

A soothing warmth spread through her at the way he said it. Her only response was to lean in closer to him, resting her head on his shoulder, unexpectedly calmed by the sound of her real name on his tongue. She was too tired to counter his conviction.

She didn’t realize she had dozed off until Luke nudged her awake. They had company. Instinctively, Athara bristled, but a gentle touch from Luke reminded her that she needed to try and keep herself under control.

As the door whooshed open, the two Force-sensitives stood, though Luke kept a hand on her shoulder. She wasn’t sure if he meant to do it, and the part of her that was protective of him wished he wouldn’t, but it was reassuring nonetheless.

On the other side of the door was Leia, accompanied by Chewbacca and a handful of security guards. The irony was not lost on Athara, who couldn’t help but smile depreciatingly at the reversal. Leia, on the other hand, looked surprised that Luke was there.

“What are you doing here, Luke? You should be recuperating.”

“I think you know why I’m here, Leia,” Luke said softly. Athara was astonished at the calm power in his tone. No matter the pain and heartache he had endured on Bespin, he had already grown because of it. In that moment she was reminded of just how much she had come to love her Farmboy.

The aspiring Jedi took a step toward the Princess. “Why are you doing this, Leia? What does persecuting her gain?” Leia straightened, her features hardening.

“She’s a high-ranking Imperial Agent and right hand of Darth Vader. There are things she’s done for which she is to be held to account.”

“I am right here, you know,” Athara couldn’t help but mumble in annoyance. But neither of them was paying her any attention.

“And what of everything she’s done for the Alliance?” Leia’s jaw clenched in response at his point, “She’s not that person anymore, Leia. She has more to offer the Alliance as an ally than an enemy.”

“It’s out of my hands, Luke. Mon Mothma has requested an interrogation and an investigation. She’s even called for a meeting of High Command to question her; She wants to see her for herself.” Luke hesitated a little at that. There was no arguing with the Alliance’s Commander in Chief.

As the Alliance’s leader was not to be kept waiting, Athara was promptly loaded onto a shuttle, and transported to the Fleet’s command ship, Home One, where the High Command had set up operations following the evacuation of Hoth. Luke never left her side, and had staunchly countered Leia when the Princess tried to insist on having Athara put in binders again. Needless to say the Princess wasn’t pleased. Athara had to fight to hide the smirk that threatened.

And then she was in front of Mon Mothma, Leia and a few select (and available) members of the Alliance’s Advisory Council and High Command, many of whose names she didn’t know and didn’t really care to find out. She stood alone in the centre of the Conference Room, with her judges arrayed around her in an impromptu session to figure out how to deal with her. At first they had tried to dismiss Luke and Chewie, but the wookiee had refused to leave Leia’s presence just as Luke had insisted on being present. As no one wanted to argue with a wookiee and they all respected Luke in general, the two were allowed to say. It actually brought Athara no small measure of relief, though the way Chewie was watching her was beginning to make her nervous.

“Lady Obscura, you have been brought before the council today to face questioning about your place in the Empire as well as the Alliance. Council Member Leia Organa has brought forward concerns and even accusations that you are an Imperial Spy. Obviously that is of great concern to us.” Mon Mothma was everything Athara remembered from the few Imperial functions they had both attended. Her soft, mild voice was calm but authoritative, and her face betrayed nothing of her own thoughts, though her eyes showed her sharp mind and her interest in getting to the bottom of the matter.

“Your reputation precedes you, Milady. Though I don’t think any of us were expecting such a young woman to be under that infamous hood.” The comment came from one of the officers on Athara’s left, two seats down from Mon Mothma. His uniform suggested he was involved with the Alliance’s Support Services, while his rank insignia told her he was a Commander.

“I get that a lot,” Athara couldn’t help but bite back, and with a quick flick, she had pulled her cowl in place, her deep black cloak still round her shoulders, “is this more what you were expecting?”

“Don’t be smart, Obscura. This is a serious matter,” Leia responded, her tone sharp.

“I do believe I asked you not to call me that, Princess,” Athara snapped back. Deep down, she could feel her anger spark, but her talk with Luke had her resolved to resist the Dark Side better than she had been. She tried desperately to let her anger go.

“I have to agree with you, Leia,” Mon Mothma said calmly, “This is a serious matter. I do not believe, though, that the hood is necessary, Milady.” Athara took a deep bracing breath before lowering the wide cowl.

“If you do not wish to be called Lady Obscura, what are we to call you?” The question came from another member of the council, an older General that Athara had never encountered before. He was obviously originally from Coruscant though; his accent made that quite clear.

“I have always been little more than a shadow, so the Emperor thought the name Obscura would be a little more intimidating than my true name, and Vader’s shadow needed an appropriately mysterious designation. I was born Athara Adyé, though only a handful of people have ever known me as such.” Though she had overruled her instinctual hesitation at revealing her true name, she hadn’t quite been able to withhold the uneasy waver from her voice. A flicker of curiosity and puzzlement through the Force told her that her name meant something to the meeting’s members, and a nervous shifting and a few quick glances from one or two of the other members drew her own gaze to the Support Services Commander. As quickly as whatever it was appeared, though, it was gone, and the Commander who drew her attention was watching her with the same concerned but inquisitive interest as everyone else.

“So then, Lady Adyé, you admit that you are Darth Vader’s associate,” the older General asked. Athara nodded.

“I was his apprentice.” The room was silent for a moment as many of the members weren’t initially sure what she meant by that.

“You are Force-sensitive, like he is?” Mon Mothma was the first to speak up. She seemed the least troubled by the admission. But she might have been; Athara wasn’t sure. The Chandrilian was hard to read, and she had obviously had some training in shielding her mind from Force-users.

“I am.”

“I do believe we are getting off topic,” Leia interjected. “We are here because she is an Imperial Agent, not because she is a Force-user.”

“Princess Leia is right,” seconded the female Mon Calamari Council Member on Leia’s left. Athara managed to keep herself from scowling in annoyance before responding, deliberately keeping her voice calm and measured. She was, after all, trying to play nice.

“And the only reason I was an Imperial Agent was because I am a Force-user.”

“Was? Do you deny that you are an active Imperial Agent?” General Madine was the one who spoke, Athara noted. She couldn’t help the bitter half-smile that came to her lips.

“I haven’t been an active Imperial Agent since the Emperor ordered Vader to deliver me to him so he could kill me. My loyalty has only ever been to my Master. Not the Empire, and certainly not to the Emperor.” Several of the Council members exchanged startled looks. Leia wasn’t one of them. Her eyes flashed with irritation.

“Then why were you with Vader on Bespin. Why did you turn Captain Solo, Chewbacca and me over to your Master?” Once again Athara’s anger threatened to surge forward. Leia was baiting her. It took several deep breaths for Athara to firmly stamp down her aggression again.

“As I have tried to explain before, I was on Bespin because I heard you were to be captured and I was hoping to intervene. Boba Fett is the one responsible for Vader’s knowledge of your whereabouts. Not me. For the last year my loyalty has been to the Alliance.”

“So you openly acknowledge that you have defected?” Another member, the Bothan, spoke up, his voice tinted with surprise. Athara shrugged.

“Not exactly openly since I am in hidin—” before Athara could finish, though, Leia had broken in again.

“If you had defected, as you claim, why were you standing with Vader instead of being arrested along with us.” Athara clenched her jaw. The Princess certainly wasn’t making this easy.

“What do you mean, Princess?” The older General to Mon Mothma’s right frowned at Leia’s statement. Leia sat a little straighter, her expression gravely serious, though her eyes still glinted with satisfaction.

“She was present when we were captured on Bespin, and was actively taking orders from Vader. She was also at his side when they froze Captain Solo in carbonite. She was also nowhere to be found when Fett managed to get away with Captain Solo. If, as she claims, she was there as an ally, why then did she simply stand by?” Athara blanched; she hadn’t heard that Fett got away.

“You didn’t save Han?” she whispered, her voice choked with disbelief. Leia frowned. Athara’s disbelief quickly turned to irritation. “Calrissian…” the former sith apprentice rounded on Leia. Behind her, Chewbacca growled a soft warning, but Athara ignored him, pressing on. “You couldn’t just trust him, could you? The man helps you escape and you wasted time deciding if you could trust him?”

“How did you—” For a brief instant, the Princess looked confused, but abruptly, as though remembering herself, Leia’s eyes were sparking with anger again. “He was working with Vader, he had betrayed us.”

“And if he hadn’t cooperated with Vader he’d be dead, along with most of Cloud City. You think it’s easy to refuse the Dark Lord of the Sith? Many have tried to defy him, and a great many of them are dead. I’ve seen it. I’ve carried out the orders myself. Calrissian had a city he was responsible for; he wasn’t about to put his people at risk. It took watching his friend getting encased in carbonite to be able to convince him to help you escape.” Over near the door, Chewie made a soft, mournful sound. Before Leia could respond, though, Mon Mothma broke in, cutting the argument short.

“That is enough. Lady Adyé, Princess Leia, if you please,” when she was sure the two of them had stopped, the older woman continued, her gaze fixed on Athara. It was a long moment before she spoke again.

“Why are you here, Lady Adyé?” It wasn’t accusing, or patronizing. It was an honest question borne out of genuine curiosity. At first Athara didn’t answer. How could she? She was here for Luke, but she had no wish to incriminate him in any way so she felt she couldn’t say that. But she didn’t really want to get into any of her more personal reasons for joining the Rebels. After all, they were too, well, personal.

“I want the Empire to fall.”

“Why?” It was only one word, but it was also a firm but gentle command. Plus, she genuinely seemed interested. She knew there was more to Athara’s story than the former sith was willing to say. Unconsciously, Athara’s hand reached up to touch the stone pendant that hung against her collarbone.

“I have my reasons. And I made a promise.” The Alliance’s Leader sat back in her seat, a considering look on her face. The Coruscanti General leaned forward.

“Who were they?” His face was creased with lines, both from joy and sorrow, and she could see a kindred ache of loss in his dark eyes.

“The closest thing to a family I’ve ever had,” slipped from her lips before she had even realized she’d thought it. Having just related something so personal to both relative strangers and those she knew, Athara was abruptly aware of a warm flush creeping to her face.

She had felt embarrassed and humiliated before; Vader had made sure of that. His methods of instruction called for emotion to fuel action, so many of his earlier lessons had dealt with a wide breadth of them. Plus, her knack for getting in trouble had always resulted in embarrassment when she was caught, rather than shame or guilt, so she was quite familiar with the emotion. Vader had always said that getting caught showed incompetence. After that lesson, getting caught was only ever met with embarrassment on her part.

However, this time it was different. Much different. She didn’t feel embarrassed.

She felt vulnerable.

“What were their names?” Athara started at the question, jolting from her thoughts. The older General had a sympathetic, knowing look on his face but he didn’t repeat himself.

“That is my concern,” she said sharply, her tone brooking no argument. Volunteering information about herself had been all but taboo until now, and as such, wasn’t something she was good at.

“That is all well and good, Milady. But the crux of the matter is not your motivations, but whether or not we can trust you. I must admit, I have grave concerns about your presence and indeed, even your actions on behalf of the Alliance,” the concerns were coming from the Mon Calamari Council member, “I also find it highly troubling that you were in such close contact with Vader recently. How are we to know what transpired between you and him on Bespin.”

“I have to agree with Council Member Nialespi. We can have no assurances that Alliance secrets have not been compromised,” supplied the Bothan member.

“And I suppose my word will not be good enough.” Athara couldn’t help but interject bitterly. “I wiped my fighter before reaching Bespin, and my astrodroid wasn’t compromised as I have programmed several fail-safes to prevent unauthorized access to his memory systems from anyone but myself. There is currently no Base right now to be betrayed, and we are not under attack here, so I obviously haven’t compromised the Rendezvous Site. Plus Vader and I had an understanding; I could keep my Rebel secrets and my freedom in exchange for rejoining him and not interfering with his operation on Bespin. Though, considering that I am now here and not with him, and that I kept Commander Skywalker and Princess Leia out of his hands, I think it’s safe to say that deal is off.”

“I’m sorry Lady Adyé, but we need more concrete assurances before we can be sure of that,” said the older General.

“Additionally, we have no assurances that, in the future, you will not return to Vader,” added the young Support Services officer.

“I have no intention of returning to Vader,” Athara said darkly. A few of the members shifted nervously.

“What about my word?” Athara spun in shock when she heard Luke speak up. The young Jedi had stood, and made his way to the centre of the room to stand next to Athara. The former sith apprentice could only gape in disbelief,

“Luke, no. What are you—” he cut her off with a firm glance, his eyes pleading her to let him do this. Before she could protest further, he continued.

“I have worked closely with Athara for a while now, and I have seen her devotion to our cause. She has done a great deal for the Alliance and she has done a great deal to help me,” he met her gaze for a moment, “even going so far as to shield me from Vader. As some of you may know or may have suspected, I am Force-sensitive, and because of that Vader had been particularly interested in my capture. She has done everything in her power to prevent that from happening.” A ripple of concern and surprise went through the council the instant he mentioned he was a Force-user, showing Athara that many had, in fact, not known or suspected, but Luke took it in stride. He turned his gaze pointedly to Leia, “she even covered our escape from Bespin, getting injured by blaster fire herself, before using my fighter to engage the TIEs attacking us, give the Falcon time to reactivate the Hyperdrive.” Suddenly conscious of the absent way he gestured toward her injured leg, Athara twitched her cloak to hide the wound. She didn’t like how exposed and weak the wound made her feel, no matter how minor it really was.

“And how do you know she wasn’t involved in deactivating it in the first place, Luke. How do you know this wasn’t all part of some elaborate plan of Vader’s?” Leia countered. Athara snorted.

“Vader’s plans aren’t usually that convoluted,” the former sith countered with amusement, “He doesn’t have the patience for it.” Leia fumed silently. Luke ignored it.

“I spoke to Artoo, my Astromech, and he told me that he received a message about the Falcon’s Hyperdrive through Bespin’s Central Computer system left there by R3-N3, Lady Adyé’s astrodroid.”

“Forgive me, Commander Skywalker,” it was the first thing said by the Corellian officer who sat to the right of the Support Services officer, “but that is not enough proof for us to place our trust in this Imperial Agent. As Council Member Organa has pointed out, we cannot be sure of Lady Adyé’s motives.”

“But with her leadership, we have won several valuable engagements for the Alliance. Her intimate knowledge of Imperial Protocol and tactics could be crucial advantage for us. More critically, she also knows how Vader thinks. An edge like that would be invaluable,” interjected General Madine. Several of the Members began nodding in agreement as they considered his observation.

“I won’t do that.” Everyone froze when Athara interrupted. Panic began rising in her chest at the very thought of turning against Vader like that, no matter her current feelings toward him. “Imperial Protocols, fine. Tactics, fine. Strengths and weaknesses of Imperial Commanders, fine. Whatever else I can give, fine. But I will not give you Vader. He may be the Emperor’s right hand and the Alliance’s greatest enemy, but he still raised and protected me. I won’t betray him any farther than I already have. I can’t.”

“Then how can you expect us to trust you if you still harbor such loyalty to him?” Leia replied irritably.

“I’m not asking you or anyone to trust me,” snapped back Athara. Her control was beginning to wear thin, and she could feel her anger beginning to rise. Luke sensed it, laying a hand on her shoulder. He turned back to Leia.

“Can’t you see that she could no more betray Vader than you could your father, your friends?” Leia’s face darkened.

“Vader killed my Father, Luke, the same time he killed everyone else on Alderaan.”

“Tarkin did that, Princess, not Vader. I was there, same as you, and I remember that vividly,” Athara couldn’t restrain herself. The Princess was severely testing her control, “Had Vader wanted Tarkin to give the order, he would have exposed your lie about Dantooine.” Leia blanched. Athara was nearly tempted to smile.

“Yes, it was very easy to sense that you were lying through your teeth to try and save your planet, and guess what, the Force-users let you. No other Imperial would’ve given that order; from a political standpoint alone doing so was reckless and irresponsible. Alderaan’s destruction chased hundreds of thousands, Imperial and civilians alike, away from the Empire. Even the Emperor was angry with Tarkin for doing it; had he survived the Death Star’s destruction, the Emperor might very well have executed him. We didn’t anticipate that Tarkin was going to give the order anyway,” Athara spat, nearly choking on the name of the late Grand Moff, ignoring the shock and bewilderment flooding the room at her pronouncement, “You need to work on shielding your thoughts, Princess.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that I know right now you are picturing Chewie there throttling me the same way he tried to with Calrissian. Like I’d let that happen.”

“That is enough.” Mon Mothma stood, abruptly cutting in, “Council Member Leia, if you can not remain objective here, we will have no choice but to omit you from the rest of the proceedings.” For the first time since the meeting began, Mon Mothma’s cool slipped, her frustration at Leia and Athara’s behaviour showing for an instant. After a moment, Leia backed down. It took Athara a bit longer to fight her anger back under control. Only then did the Leader of the Rebellion resume her seat and continue.

“As it stands, we have no means of confirming the Lady Adyé’s loyalties at the moment. As such, she will remain in custody for the time being,” the older woman’s voice had a distinct note of regret in it. Athara couldn’t say she was surprised, though. Luke, however, was far more disbelieving.

“Your Honour, if I may object—” But Mon Mothma raised a hand, silencing him.

“I am sorry, Commander Skywalker, but Lady Adyé has said herself that she will not denounce her loyalty to Vader, and that presents a risk we cannot afford to take. We have no means of assuring her loyalty to the Alliance.” For a moment he looked defeated, but then a glint of determination came to his eye.

“Then I will take full responsibility for her,” he said quietly. Everyone erupted at once, most of them protesting, Athara included.

“No. You can’t do that, Luke. You can’t.” He only gave her a mild glance, though she could feel him silently entreating her to trust him. After a moment everyone calmed. Again, Mon Mothma’s calm façade had slipped, showing nothing but concern. General Madine was the first to speak, though.

“What makes you so sure you can trust her, Commander.”

“I know her. I’ve spent time with her. And I trust in the Force. Besides, I also need her knowledge. Though she may have been Vader’s apprentice, she knows far more about the Force than I do, and I need that knowledge to continue my own training.”

His reasoning was met with skepticism from many of the Council Members but after a few more minutes of discussion, it was agreed that Athara would be released after a thorough investigation of her contributions to the Alliance and full disclosure of any pertinent information she had about the inner workings of the Empire. It was not something she was particularly excited about, but they had ultimately agreed that they would not press her too much for information about Vader, something that did grant her a measure of relief.

Then, once the Alliance had mined as much usable information as they could out of her, she would be free to go with Luke. She could sense that he was beginning to make plans of some sort, but she couldn’t quite figure out what they were. All she knew was that, in the meantime, he was intending to help Leia, Chewbacca and Calrissian track down and rescue Han.

That in itself was going to take some doing, and Athara could only wish them luck.

She only wished she was free to help.
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Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.