It's an unprecedented time of peace for the citizens of the Empire. Emperor Darth Vader has taken the seat of power away from the evil Emperor Palpatine in a move that stunned the entire Empire. There are those that still oppose him, small cells of Rebels attack Imperial military targets and disappear.
Fearing that these scattered Rebel cells may combine, Lord Vader and his apprentice; Starkiller hunt them relentlessly. In their most recent endeavor, an unknown Rebel Operative has purchased vital information from a high ranking Imperial dissenter that can damage the Empire, and possibly plunge them into a civil war.
Furious, Darth Vader sends his son; Luke Skywalker to find the Rebel Operative who was sold this information. After weeks of searching, Luke has found the Imperial Dissenter has been captured on Alderaan by the Imperial Security Bureau. In hopes of discovering who is in possession of the information, Luke travels to the Alderaan...
The beautiful, blue orb that was Alderaan illuminated the blackness of space. A peaceful planet, devoid of any military, it was very odd to see an Imperial Star Destroyer blocking out the light from Alderaan's sun. Citizens of the planet were afraid, and he sensed it.
But it wasn't them who should be afraid.
Father is going to be angry...
A man squirmed on the floor, his back arched like a contortionist attempting to bend himself in half, eyes gazing past the black ceiling above, blood vessels erupting just moments before leaving a small trail of red tears.
Imperial dissenters never had a pleasant return home, maybe it was something about the small interior of the black-walled interrogation room that seemed rather... uncomfortable. But this man, Roahin Heth seemed to be having the worst day of his life, no thanks to Armand Issard's oh-so-brilliant interrogators.
Selling secrets to Rebels was his crime, and The Emperor cared little for whom he sold them to, rather what exactly was sold. It was a shame that he was tasked with discovering both who and what. And now his job just got even harder. The Imperial dissenter, Roahin Heth lacked the ability to speak.
Or even scream.
The Interrogator, an ISB Officer, moved forward, trusty interrogation droid following his command. But there was little more to be accomplished here. This man's mind had been stretched to near impossible lengths, his body even more so. The amount of adrenaline synthetically pumped through his veins was incredible, his heart was on the verge of bursting wide open, and then, he would truly be useless. But his mind, it was torn to shreds. Endorphins were released forcefully thanks to the drugs these interrogation droids possessed, this mans neurotransmitters spewing out chemicals, shooting random information around like automatic rifles. Even if this man could speak, he wouldn't have the sense to put together any coherent information.
And it was destroying his brain in a most literal sense.
Roahin Heth was now a vegetable. This ISB agent was wasting his time.
The interrogator gazed sharply at the voice's source.
"You won't get anywhere. His mind's snapped." The voice continued, smooth and calculating.
The interrogator scowled. "I was told you were merely observing. The Security Bureau has full authority here!" He snapped carelessly, wiping the sweat from his brow.
Luke Skywalker glared at the officer, an eyebrow craned, his icy glare boring holes through this Intelligence Agent. "You forget who you're talking to, Agent?" The barely concealed threat rolled off the youth's tongue smoothly, and coldly. For a moment, the Interrogator found himself staring into the same icy eyes as this boy's father.
Fear crossed his face. "No... Sir." The man cleared his voice. "I merely disagree with your assessment."
"Disagree all you want, Officer." The youth had seen enough. This interrogation was going nowhere fast. He spun on his heels. "You'll be explaining this failure to my father either way." The interrogation bay's doors hissed open.
Such a useless man. Quickly, he pulled out his comlimk. "Have my shuttle prepared, Admiral." He ordered calmly through. "I'll be returning to the surface to try and find a more... suitable interrogation candidate."
"I assume it was a booming success in there." The Admiral replied dryly, his core-world accent delivering the sarcasm quite perfectly in the youth's mind.
"Naturally." The young man replied. "Issard's men have such a knack for subtlety."
The Admiral chuckled in response. "Alderaan's High Council is questioning our presence, I've told them we are here on a small operation and requested their cooperation."
The boy scowled. "These people need to stay out of this." He warned.
"This isn't my first tango, Your Highness. I've seen to it that out ship is transmitting Imperial Intelligence orbital codes. They know well enough to stay out of Issard's hair lest they invite the Emperor's wrath." The Admiral explained. "But you will be forced to operate under their watchful eyes."
"Wonderful." The young man sarcastically responded. "The Ironic thing is the purchaser is likely one of them. I suppose I can keep them close."
"Your presence applies pressure in a very unwanted place. The Rebellion will be forced to extract their operative - if he's still on the planet - from under your nose." The Admiral continued. "And with Intelligence is fighting for full control of the situation, you won't have to worry over them blundering around."
"Issard had his chance." The boy scowled. "And he commissioned a Star Destroyer to orbit the known location of a Rebel Operative. I won't have them screw this up any more than they already have."
"My thoughts exactly." The Admiral nodded. "Your shuttle is awaiting, My Lord. Rhokus and his security detachment are waiting to take you planet side."
The young man frowned. "As usual." He scowled. Of course, he wouldn't be able to belay such an order. Admiral Thrawn still outranked him, and those orders came directly from the top. He cut the com line, half expecting his father to have prepared his lunch, packing it nice and neatly in a bag for him to take with him, making sure to cut the crusts from his bread.
A detachment, the nerve! He was fourteen already! There was nothing in this planet that could possibly kill him! It was Alderaan for Force's sake, not Hutta! And it wasn't like his detachment was filled with normal Stormtroopers, that he would've been okay with! But showing up with four Noghri Death Commandos just screamed his inability to protect himself! What sort of Sith needed a detachment of the most deadly assassins in the known Galaxy for protection of all things?
He shook his head of the frustration. He supposed his father was just being cautious. That was fine... So long as the caution ended in the forthcoming years. He was not a Sith Apprentice for nothing. Trials of power and danger should be seen as training exercises, not cause to worry about his safety.
His mood only soured more once he reached the docking bay and saw the four Noghri Death Commandos flanking the on ramp of his shuttle. Each of them bowed low upon his arrival. It didn't help his distaste for their presence."Make yourselves sparse." He ordered coldly as he strode up the ramp.
"Of course, Lord Skywalker." The leader; Rohkus acknowledged.
He hoped that would be the last he heard of them on this trip.
The shuttle was in space but a moment later, racing down toward the planet. The beautiful planet of Alderaan no less. It never surprised him that Rebel Sympathizers and even traitors resided here. It's leader; Bail Organa had been a advocate for peace and even democracy since before the conception of the Empire, even going as far as to recruit the Luke's own mother and brainwash her against authoritarian rule.
For that, Luke Skywalker severely despised Bail Organa, planting the seeds of her destruction - along with others. 2,000 others, in fact.
But, he digressed.
He quickly ran through what he knew about this situation so far...
Two weeks ago, an Imperial Intelligence Case Officer reported that an Imperial double agent working for the Rebellion in the form of financial backing had reported that valuable information had been received from an Imperial Dissenter - who was now useless - information unknown, as was the purchaser of such information. The Case Officer's double agent; the former Senator of Ralltir whom the Rebellion trusted had only heard rumors, giving Intelligence full control of the situation - at first. Only after it was confirmed that a transaction had taken place on Alderaan did the Emperor get involved. The Senator's information hadn't been wrong in the two years he had been active, and left little to assume that this information was wrong, prompting Darth Vader to okay Intelligence's continued control so long as his son was present to oversee the investigation to conclusion. Luke had been given full authority to take control of the investigation should he see fit.
And saw fit, he did.
Luke had a few guesses as to who the purchaser may be, first being Bail himself, if not him then someone who had access to one of his outsourced accounts to purchase the information for him. A transaction of this size - millions, if not hundreds of millions of Credits Luke would assume - didn't go unnoticed unless the buyer had so much money that millions wouldn't red flag an account.
In fact, Luke would go as far to say that Bail Organa was not only a Rebel Sympathizer, but an actual Rebel himself, and he was surely rich enough to throw millions away.
His task was to clean up Intelligence's belligerent screw up, namely in forgoing advice from the COMPNOR, and making their presence known on Alderaan to pick Roahin Heth up, in a kriffing Star Destroyer - probably forcing the purchaser of the information to flee. Now, with Roahin Heth useless, Intelligence's asset had gone dark as things began to get too close to the double agent for his comfort. Luke was now forced to search for a Rebel Operative on a planet full of Rebel Sympathizers thanks to the stupid call of one Case Officer.
Seriously, what spy sends a Star Destroyer as a base of operations!? Were they that confident in their abilities to interrogate? Did they think Roahin Heth was the answer? That they'd get all of the answers from him!?
ISB was such a useless bureaucracy! Armand Issard had lost control.
But that was all opinion. It's not like he could influence Imperial Policies yet...
"My Lord, The Noble House of Organa is hailing us." The pilot called back from the cockpit.
Luke nodded. "Send them through."
The hologram appeared on the table in front of where Luke was seated. "Young Lord Skywalker." The man on the other end greeted. Noble by the looks of him. "My name is General Tesh of the Noble of the house of Organa. Viceroy Organa did not anticipate your arrival, and is unfortunately unavailable to greet you this afternoon. He sends his regards and extends his home to you for the duration of your stay. Should you accept this invitation, a feast will be held in your honor tomorrow when the Viceroy returns."
Pathetic. Sucking up was one thing Luke despised. "Where is the Viceroy?" He demanded.
"Viceroy Organa is en route back to Alderaan from His extended retreat on Ralltir." The Noble answered.
Luke's eyes narrowed. Intelligence's double agent- the former Senator from that planet - had just gone dark, his reason being things got too hot in his end. How convenient Organa just happened to be on the planet at the same time, just more evidence that the Viceroy of Alderaan wasn't as loyal as he claimed to be. "I accept the Viceroy's invitation." Luke resisted the urge to smile. "I'll conduct my business from his study."
"Of course, Lord Skywalker. I will transmit landing codes immediately. The Queen herself will greet you accompanied by the Princess and show you to your chambers."
Luke severed the transmission without another word. This is why his father sent him here. Perhaps he knew the big fish was falling into a trap.
He quickly began a transmission, and not moments later his father appeared on the holo terminal looking as serious as ever, like he was about to go into battle in the next few minutes when actually, he was probably waiting for the next meeting to start. "You've found something?" Darth Vader asked without prompt.
Demanding as always. "Not yet." Luke replied. "Only that Bail Organa spent the last few weeks on Ralltir."
"I'm aware." Vader returned in a less than pleased tone.
"Which isn't to say he still wasn't responsible for purchasing the information." Luke said. "He has yet to return."
Vader's eyes lit up. "I see... You may have salvaged the situation." He spoke in a contemplative voice. "If Organa is the purchaser, it's doubtful he's seen the information yet, much less passed it on to his Rebel friends. Find whoever made the exchange and kill them."
"And if Organa is behind this?" Luke asked.
"Unless he confesses, we cannot act. He went to Ralltir for a reason, and I suspect that our Senator's usefulness is wearing thin." Vader spoke slowly. "This is a game of cat and mouse, Luke. Right now, Organa holds the upper hand. We must assume He'll suspect we know about the leaked information only because he suspects that the Senator on Ralltir is a mole. Recover the information before Organa can collect it and kill the purchaser."
"Yes, father." Luke bowed respectfully.
"You've done well, Luke. I await your report on the matter."
Vader's blue tinted head faded at that, prompting Luke to smirk. He had a feeling this educational trip to Alderaan was going to be fun.
"Spread yourselves through the palace once we arrive." Luke addressed the Death Commandos. "Report directly to me if you hear anything pertaining to our missing information."
"Of course, Lord Skywalker."
"Don't let anybody see you."
Uncomfortable would be an understatement for sure. It wasn't the dress, that much she was sure of, it very well could've been the hair - her aunts always felt the need to do it up in some ridiculous fashion, she was only grateful that it didn't resemble a pretzel this time. Even if it could be the hair, she knew it wasn't. Not the shoes or the makeup. No, the feeling at the pit of her stomach that made her feel as if she was falling came from something completely different.
He was here.
Why? She didn't know, but he was. She just wished her father wouldn't have gone and done something to warrant Emperor Vader's attention again. But, she supposed that this meeting may have been delayed until both Luke and Leia were set in their ways.
But this... this was perfect!
Well, not perfect, but as close as she'd get to it.
"Mistress Leia, the Imperial shuttle is nearly here. It wouldn't do well to keep the Prince waiting."
She sighed. "I know, Threepio." It was times like this that she wished Luke had never been taken, at least she'd have someone to vent her frustrations and fears to.
She giggled at the thought of her telling him how nervous she was to meet him.
How absolutely terrified she was that he would be everything Obi Wan said that Vader was.
Twisted, dark, evil, corrupted...
She shook her head. No, there was no way. She refused to believe it.
"Come on, Threepio." She stood. "Time to meet my brother."
Anticipation coursed through the greeting party at Alderaan's Royal Palace Hangar. Laced with fear only because the Imperial Prince's reputation was rather unknown. A few public appearances here and there - if only to appease the Emperor, Leia presumed. But those few appearances were hardly enough to form an opinion on. Many assumed he would be like his father. The Emperor was cold, demanding and physically hated... literally physically hated both Rebels and failures.
It wasn't a stretch to imagine that his son inherited the same cold personality. Hell, even Leia herself had noticed a few shared personality traits with her biological father.
But, regardless of what she was anticipating, the Imperial Prince was here on business. Sith business she assumed. He was not to be trifled with, and she'd made that aspect clear as day to those soldiers and Nobles here to greet the Prince. Any hints of suspicion on anyone, guilty or not, gave Prince Skywalker the grounds to detain and interrogate, basically meaning that if he didn't like you, he'd kill you and burn the Palace to the ground should he so desire.
It was what Lord Vader did, after all.
She stood straight, hands clasped behind her back standing in the center of a small entourage of acclaimed Noble Household Heads. To her left stood Tesh Organa, a General of Alderaan's rather substantial military force, which they called the Noble Guard. He was the Military Liaison to the High Council. To his left stood his father; Gioni Organa who was the Vizier of Alderaan. To Leia's far right was Deara Antilles, her aunt and primary adviser to the woman to Leia's direct right.
Breha Organa. Queen of Alderaan and subsequently, the acting leader of Alderaan in Bail's absence.
All of these individuals lived in the palace, but were rarely seen together outside of important meetings. The Imperial Prince surely brought together the most important people on Alderaan.
Leia watched as the shuttle slowly docked in the Hangar bay, thoughts beginning to wander. She'd never seen Luke outside of the HoloNet, still images and a few videos of Emperor Vader speaking with Luke standing to his right. Leia had never heard Luke even speak before. He was a mystery entirely...
Well, not entirely...
She could still feel him as clear as day through the Force. He was hard to miss, and felt like a camp fire on Illum. She could sense his pent up aggression, the anger lay in wait like a sleeping monster hidden deep within just waiting to be released so it may devour everything it touched.
It reminded Leia of her biological father. Darth Vader and the Prince felt a lot alike, though, Vader was cold, nearly freezing, yet somehow carried the same hot flame deep within as Luke, as if Vader's anger and rage were hidden deep within, his flame was kept behind a wall of ice.
But she knew that when Vader allowed that flame to be released, it was an all encompassing, untamed wildfire. Majestic in its power, terrifying in its indiscriminate destruction, hotter than a star.
Luke's anger was not as... Developed or tamed as his fathers, nor was it as powerful or majestic. Luke still felt - in comparison to Vader - like an angry boy through the Force.
But there was another layer to Luke. Something she couldn't really describe... it was like a depraved hatred lurked in his subconscious...
But she would be foolish to assume that Luke was weak. In fact, she knew he wasn't. If he were to be compared with any other Jedi, or even members of Vader's Inquisitorius, Luke stood out as a nexus within the Force, which put Darth Vader's power into a perspective she could hardly imagine, and she'd never even been close enough to Vader to see his power up close, only sensing it from a great distance.
Obi Wan was right to fear the Sith.
As Luke's ship landed, she felt his presence reach out and scan those in the hangar. His heat almost physically burned her.
She could only frown. His anger was powerful enough to make her hope dwindle. This would be her only chance to prove Obi Wan wrong.
Luke was able to be saved, she just knew it.
Her thoughts were cut off by the hissing of the ship releasing its pressurized oxygen and the ramp lowering ever so slowly.
And her apt senses caught the quick movements of three stealthy beings gliding quickly out of the ship, disappearing into the shadows of the Hangar, nobody the wiser.
She pretended to ignore for now, but those three beings were Vader's famed Noghri Death Commandos. They meant trouble.
But, instead of panic, she merely trusted herself to remain calm and vigilant. She did not train to become a Jedi Apprentice only to be discovered and captured this early into her career.
A fourth Death Commando - presumably the squad's leader judging by his black armor and various weapons, stepped onto the ramp.
Leia's heart clenched as she saw the first glimpse of her estranged brother in thirteen years. His blonde hair was slicked back, appearing a bit darker than she would've pictured, shaved on the sides. Like his father, he was dressed in black attire, leather gloves and boots, an unmarked officer's jacket over black pants covered with plates some sort of lightweight metal. Armor. The more she observed him, the more of it she saw covering his chest and shoulders. She'd seen holo's of Vader before and the same armor he wore Luke now donned. In fact, the major difference in their appearance was simply that Vader's attire brandished the armor, he looked like a grand warrior. Even when Vader was in his "political" attire, the armor was present. It was part of his image, the warrior that spearheaded the Empire, the Mighty Emperor. Like some sort of dark knight. Luke's was a nod to his father's armor, of course, the Prince lacked the distinguished cape his father had, but the attire was generally the same. Metals were different, that much Leia could see. Luke opted for a more practical approach. Lightweight material that allowed freedom of movement. If she was forced to guess, she'd say he preferred Ataru in lightsaber combat.
And then there was the metallic cylinder hanging from his belt. The Prince's lightsaber. And in typical Royal fashion, it's design was spared no expense. She could recognize electrum from a mile away. She actually wished to see it up close. It looked like a wonderful piece of art.
If only it wasn't used to carry out such destruction.
She had to admit, Luke Skywalker was a handsome boy. She couldn't have been more proud of that aspect. In her daydreams, she pictured herself chasing off all of the sleazy girls who threatened to corrupt him. Her lips curled upward for a mere moment.
The smile was immediately wiped off of her face when she felt the Prince's gaze fall on her. She nearly blushed. He sensed her amusement instantly...
That shouldn't have been possible. She must've let her barriers slip.
"Prince Skywalker." Her adopted mother came to the rescue. Breha walked slowly toward the Prince, bowing at the waist. "It's a pleasure to have you on the planet."
Luke's gaze peeled away from Leia. "A pleasure to be here." He smiled cordially. Walking the rest of the way down the ramp. He, too bowed at the waist for Alderaan's Queen. "You shouldn't have made my arrival a party."
The Queen merely chuckled. "I told them it would be too much," she playfully glanced back at Leia "but the Princess insisted you be greeted with all the respect you deserve."
Luke's gaze found Leia's once more.
Her blush was well hidden, and then quickly abolished. She was Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan. She would not appear weak in front of the Imperial Prince.
She strolled forward, head raised high and smiled at the Prince. "Your Highness." She greeted with a tilt of her head.
Luke's eyebrow rose just a bit at Leia's reluctance to bow to him. His head tilted in suite. "Your Highness." He smirked as if there was an inside joke, and she matched the smirk. So he had a sense of humor at least.
"The Princess will act as a liaison between your interests and the Alderaan High Council." Breha explained. "General Tesh will provide you with any military support you should require." The Queen motioned for Luke to follow her out of the Hangar bay, and the two walked side by side with her entourage following closely. "Though I was not told exactly what you need during your stay." She glanced at Luke.
"I am grateful for your cooperation, Your Highness." Luke began. "But unfortunately I'm bound by Imperial Law. I guess you can say I'm here on Sith Business."
The Queen merely nodded. "That's unfortunate." She spoke. "I'm unable to provide the necessary resources for whatever this operation of yours entails without information on what exactly it has to do with Alderaan."
Luke figured as much. No matter how much his father tried to gain absolute control over the individual systems, they maintained their rights, and Luke had no way of pulling strings as high up as Sectoral Governors. The Moffs, the only power in existence that could suspend planetary rights. It meant little to him anyways. "I appreciate the thought. This operation has to be handled delicately as it is, I only ask that the local law enforcement works with me in this matter."
Breha turned to face forward as they continued to walk, now entering the main hallway of the Palace. As lavish as it was, Luke had to admire the craftsmanship. This planet was one of artists, it showed in their architecture. Elegance and beauty was the only way to describe the Royal Palace. "As long as their involvement will not infringe on our Constitution, you'll have their support, My Lord." Breha answered before coming to a stop. "For right now, I suggest you acquaint yourself with your new environment." She smiled. "Tomorrow, the General will retrieve you so you may brief him on what you are allowed to."
Luke nodded. He didn't feel like getting started quite yet anyways. "Princess will show you to your quarters and introduce you to the security staff, as well as the Viceroy's office. Bail has agreed to allow you to conduct your work from there."
He bowed at the waist once more. "You've been very helpful and understanding of my intrusion. I am grateful." He turned for a moment, staring up the stairwell as a strange feeling washed over him.
"I'll see to it Alderaan is given the proper credit for its role in this operation." He turned back to her and smile.
"Of course, My Lord. I leave you in the Princess's capable hands." She smiled, tilting her head as she spun around and began to leave, her entourage following save for the Princess and one guard who may had well been invisible.
Luke's attention turned back toward the stairs, the residual warmth through the Force barely wearing thin. What was that?
It was worrisome. The strangest disturbance in the Force he'd ever experienced. "Your Highness?" The Princesses voice snapped him out of his reverie.
He turned to her. "Apologies." He smiled. "After you, Your Highness."
A light smile appeared on her lips as she turned and began walking up the large staircase. Her nerves became frayed, she could sense Luke's eyes on her, his presence scanning her over. It was as if he wasn't trying to figure her out. She felt his presence lightly touch the barriers in her mind, and sudden curiosity shot through him.
The reached the top of the stairs in what seemed like the longest walk Leia had ever been on before mustering up the courage to speak. She cleared her throat. "Your quarters will be down the hallway from mine." She glanced at him before continuing. "My protocol droid, C-3P0 will see to it that your belongings are received, as well as morning and mid-day meals should you be present in the Palace. If there's anything you may require, just fetch Threepio and he'll take care of it for you."
"A protocol droid?" Luke asked.
She heard him release a sigh. Curious.
The came upon his room and Leia stopped. "This is you quarters. My bedroom is the one at the end of the hallway," she pointed, "and the second floor security mainframe is directly across from me. They'll be monitoring-"
"That won't be necessary." Luke cut in. "Rhokus is my head of security," he motioned to the rather ominously looming Noghri who kept a comfortable distance. "I don't need another security detail breathing down my neck."
She glanced at the intimidating creature. "I see." She spoke. "Well, my security team has been tasked with watching over the both of us during your stay."
Luke's eyebrow rose, and she continued walking, presumably to the security room. "How old are you?" He asked, seemingly out of the blue.
She glanced at him, uncomfortable with the question for some reason. "Fourteen, My Lord."
"And already given such a responsibility." He muttered. "Liaison."
She only smiled awkwardly.
"So I assume we'll be together for the majority of my stay." His voiced froze over at that, and she stiffened.
"My Lord?" She asked, regretting it the moment it came out. Her feigned confusion didn't even feel real to her.
"Liaison is a polite way of saying you'll be keeping an eye on me." He said, voice still cold and unhappy with the development. "You're afraid of what I may do, or... who I may upset."
She turned to him. "I assure you, My Lord-"
He held his hand up. "Please, don't try and patronize me. I'm not as easily fooled as those officers this Palace has dealt with." He motioned with that same hand for her to continue walking. "Don't worry, I'm not angry. I just don't like being lied to."
She inaudible sighed. "That was never our intention." She spoke matter of factly. "My I be frank, My Lord?" He nodded. "The Alderaan High Council is as interested in solving whatever mess this is as you are."
Luke's head tilted and his eyes narrowed.
"My mother was only following protocol when she denied you full support. Why else would she basically place General Tesh under your command?" She asked him pointedly. "I'm only present to convey Imperial interests to the Council where my father will eventually make the final decision on the matter."
"I see." It made sense to Luke now, why the Queen expected him to refrain from work for tonight and resume when the Viceroy returned. Only he could give Luke full legal clearance to commandeer the Alderaanian military for this operation. "I appreciate it, Your Highness." He smiled lightly at her.
"Please, don't call me that." She smiled at him.
He chuckled. "Only if you stop calling me "My Lord." He returned.
"Deal. Just call me Leia."
She resumed her pace and he followed. "So, Luke, what can you tell me about this operation of yours?"
"Not much, I'm afraid. Everything is need-to-know." He returned.
She smirked. "And I don't need to know."
He nodded. "Exactly."
She shrugged her shoulders. "I figured as much. Something that warrants the attention of the Imperial Prince must be terribly important."
"Indeed." He simply responded.
She glanced at him from the corner of her eyes.
"Important enough to scare Alderaan's Noble Guard and High Council into openly working with me, rather than against me."
She threw him a cautious look. "We are more than happy to oblige the Empire on serious security breaches." She quickly replied. "We only resist when we feel our rights are being infringed."
"Security breaches?" He quizzed.
She inwardly stiffened.
"What makes you assume this operation involves a security breach?"
She mentally berated herself at the slip up. She had to be more on guard with Luke. "Why else would there be a Star Destroyer transmitting Imperial Intelligence codes orbiting the planet?" She only hoped that was enough to throw him off.
He stared at her for a moment, his presence scanning her mind once more, searching for even a slight crack in her shields he could wiggle through. While that was a plausible excuse on her part, something didn't feel right... "I suppose you're right." He finally said. "Shrewd observation." He praised.
"It's one of my best qualities." She could feel him still searching the Force for a better reason she may know about his security breach. She needed to change the subject. And quickly. "I also noticed your Noghri companion over there." She motioned with her head toward Rohkus who still followed silently.
"What about him?"
"He's a Death Commando, right?" Luke nodded. "They only travel in groups of four when placed on security detail." She stated. "I think I read somewhere that the Emperor is responsible. He feels their presence is frightening so he limits their numbers on diplomatic missions"
Luke glanced back at Rohkus momentarily.
"Where are the other three?" She asked him pointedly.
He smirked at her. "They're... around."
"Not breathing down your neck." She mumbled. "Must be nice."
Luke nodded. "They're much more manageable than a Royal Guard detachment. You've impressed me, Leia." He stated. "Nobody ever realizes my security team is missing."
She shrugged again. "Like I said, it's my best quality." Her walk came to a halt in front of the second floor's security room, she leaned over and hit the panel to open the door.
With a hiss, the door gave way to the room, and Leia's gaze moved upward.
She froze at the man inside. An all too familiar face and mop of auburn and gray hair with a beard to match. "Um-" she stumbled on her words. This move was brazen! How could he not tell her!?
"I assume you're trying to introduce me to our guest?" The man asked her with a smile on his face. He turned to Luke, standing up to extend a hand. "The Princess seems to be so angry that she's gone into shock." He chuckled. Luke shook the man's hand. "My name is Ben, I'm the head of security for the whole Palace." Ben glanced over to Leia, who was now shooting the man death glares.
"What are you doing here?" She demanded through clenched teeth. "I told you I was fine!"
Ben arched an eyebrow. "Your father felt the safety of the Imperial Prince warranted my direct attention." He elaborated. "It was a last minute post change, Princess, and I'm bound by orders."
Leia's jaw clenched.
"Leia, it's fine." Luke spoke. "I appreciate the concern."
She snapped out of her anger, gazing at Luke as if remembering he was there.
She sighed. "Sorry, Luke. I - I just hate being watched over like a treasure." She turned toward Ben. "Especially when my input is blatantly ignored."
"My presence will be invisible, My Lady and Lord, I assure you." Ben spoke, his smile ever present.
"See to it that it is." She glared.
She envisioned this mess blowing up very quickly...
Ben - or Jedi Master Obi Wan Kenobi, rather - had better not be recognized or this entire ordeal would hit the fan very quickly. The last thing they needed was the Emperor to come here personally and force Leia and Obi Wan to flee the planet. She wasn't ready to fully join the Rebellion yet.
Her training was still incomplete.
And his being this close to Luke was dangerous. He could sense them if Obi Wan lost concentration for a second!
This was not good...
The snowy mountains of Alderaan was not the easiest place to hike, and hardly the comforting vacation spot advertised on the HoloNet. But, there she was, hiking again. She was supposed to get an extraction at specific coordinates not far from where Master Kenobi had dropped her off. So far, she wasn't liking this new gig.
But she couldn't go back to the Palace. Not with Darth Vader's offspring camping out.
She was safe for now. Luke Skywalker didn't have the resources at his disposal to find her, and Starkiller...
He was about to be as shocked as she was. Her own base, torn to shreds. And it wasn't the Empire's doing. It wasn't their style. All of her men were killed brutally, she'd seen enough of Starkiller and his men's handiwork to know how they operate. Starkiller was efficient, he was swift. But this attack was brutal. Not sloppy, just... unnecessarily brutal. That wasn't Starkiller's style unless maybe against Jedi, but even then, it was as quickly and efficiently as possible. And Starkiller had no idea who she really was.
Fulcrum had hidden her true identity quite well. Better than she expected it to.
But she had a feeling that her luck was about to wear out. There was something looming just at the edge of her senses that she just couldn't fully grasp. A looming feeling, perhaps.
She just hoped it wasn't anything to do with her information.