Shadow of the Force
Letting out a steadying breath, Luke finally broke the hug, letting Leia get her breath back. Nearby, he could see Harry embracing Oola, the fear in the Captain's eyes replaced with crushing relief. They'd managed to catch up with the 'Valiant' after it left Orlais, the message that both Oola and Leia had left the planet with the rescued Alderanians cooling the boiling blood of the Mandalorians who were just as ready as the captain to defend the First Lady of Mandalore.
"I'm glad you're alright too." Leia whispered, eyes showing a tiredness that her expression hid, "You know, I honestly thought you were going to the more dangerous mission."
"I had Maris, she's way scarier than Dad." Luke chuckled, Leia's eyes widening a hair at him calling Anakin their father.
"I…take it things went well?" Leia probed cautiously, her hands reaching out to hold his own, her mind touching his through the force.
Squeezing his sister's hands, he opened himself up to her in the Force, letting her see what he had seen. She felt the frigid winds of Ilum. Saw the crystal-clear waters of the ice cavern's lake. And she heard their father's words, how he had run from Luke at first, been willing to share stories of their mother.
Leia saw the eyes of Anakin Skywalker as they showed shock upon learning of her relation to them, his pained resignation when he thought she refused to see him, his pride when he learned where she had gone, and the raw fury that burned within Anakin Skywalker's gaze when he'd heard she was being attacked.
"He's the reason we didn't run into the Empire as we escaped Orlais." Leia realized, "He intercepted any response."
"Yeah, that's what we figured as well." Luke nodded, not needing to mention how every man and woman on the Citadel had still been ready to fight and kill regardless.
"Thank you." Leia's voice was soft as she pulled him into another hug, having seen that truth in his eyes, "We can talk more later. I still need to make sure those we rescued are settling in safely."
"Go on." Luke shook his head with a chuckle, "Just don't start any wars once you're out of sight."
"No promises." Leia laughed before walking over to the nervous-looking rescued refugees. As she left, he glanced back over at the Captain, seeing the man still refused to let Oola out of his arms, the green Twi'lek not complaining as she held her husband just as close. Harry had been terrified the entire journey until they'd received word that Leia and Oola escaped the planet's surface safely, not fully relaxing until he had Oola in his arms.
Luke didn't blame him at all, the entire trip, as their ship raced through the stars, he'd been terrified of never seeing his sister again. Of the things that he wished he'd told her, of things he wished they'd done.
He knew Harry was likely going through the same if not worse. Of imaganing the life with his wife that would have been torn away if she was lost there.
And now that he had reassured himself that Leia was safe, his thoughts turned to Maris. What would he have done if she died on a mission, died without him ever admitting to her how he felt. He'd never be able to forget that 'what if', what could have been.
"You okay Luke?" the woman herself asked, having been giving Luke and Leia space but with his sister wandered off, the Zabrak officer had come back over.
"Just…thinking." He responded hesitantly, trying to think how to proceed. He wanted to tell her how he felt, he just wasn't sure how.
"Dangerous that." Maris smirked as Luke failed to hold back a snort, shoving her shoulder playfully as the beautiful woman chuckled, "There we go, you don't have the face for brooding."
"Rude." He gave an exaggerated huff as they walked out of the hangar. The Refugees had already been led further into Mandalore and he wanted to give Harry and Oola some time alone, "I happen to think I have quite the face."
"You're cute Luke, but the brooding just makes you look like you're trying to hard to be edgy." Maris bumped him with her shoulder as he felt his cheeks flare red at her statement.
"Cute huh?" he questioned, a bit of hope sparking in his chest as they stopped on a walkway, looking out over the bustling capital of Mandalore.
"Don't get cocky Luke." Maris rolled her eyes, but her grin didn't diminish.
Mustering up his courage, he reached out to rest a hand on hers that was laying on the railing, "Would…would you like to go get some drinks together?"
"About time you asked dumbass." Maris grinned widely as she linked her arm with his "Come on, let's go."
"Ah, Cere." Obi-Wan looked up when he felt the now familiar Force presences of Cere, kal, and Merrin along with a new presence he didn't recognize, a teenager who looked a few years younger than Luke, "You're back."
"And you look exhausted." The wheelchair bound woman approached as he continued checking the rescued women who were recovering from their imprisonment, Knight Swan being the only one to work past the anesthetics keeping them under.
"I've been speaking to Knight Swan on the trip back." He nodded to said woman who was resting in a hospital bed, not tied to any IV drips like the others, "She woke up back on Ilum."
"I guess she wasn't pleased about the direction we have taken?" Cere sighed as Kal grimaced in sympathy at how such a conversation would have gone.
"She was shocked." He admitted, "She has done her best to remember the Order at its best, hoped to restore it to the ideal she envisioned."
"That dream was probably what helped her in these dark times." Cere went from bed to bed, checking on the various rescued women "I'll stay with you and help you ease the others into the situation." It didn't need to be said that most if not all of the women would have been fully aware what sort of fate awaited them after their capture by the Inquisitor. Having another woman there to help their recovery would likely put those who weren't familiar with himself at ease.
"We won't be around for long." Kal put one hand around his wife's waist and the other on the young woman's shoulder "We'll be going to start finding those force sensitive children from the Holocron."
"What will you do when you find them?" Obi-Wan probed cautiously, remembering the Jedi's methods and knowing how those were the last things the Alliance should use in this situation.
"If their families are still alive, then I'll offer to have them brought here, family included." Kal clearly picked up on his trepidation, "If not then I'll at the very least give them warning so they can hide from the Empire themselves, but I won't force them. I'm not sure what I'll do with those I find living alone without any family left." He admitted, "There are plenty of children living on the streets thanks to the Empire, I just hope they'll trust me."
Scowling, Tonks continued to organize the 'Auror Vault', where all the various confiscated items and evidence were stored. With the mass breakout of Azkaban, orders had been given so that no Junior Auror was permitted out on patrols except for the more 'secure' areas. Most were given shifts organizing evidence, helping file paperwork, or other tasks within the Ministry itself while the more experienced field aurors handled patrols and response.
"This is bullshit." She grumbled under her breath, "How am I supposed to get experience if they won't put me in the field!" angrily kicking an old shelf, she had to muffle much louder curses as an old part of the shelf higher up broke, dropping several books down around her.
"You alright in there Tonks?" the clerk in charge of the evidence room who had been having her catalogue what was inside for an updated Record called out.
"I'm fine." She called out, waving away the dust as she rubbed the lump forming on her head where one had hit her. Bending down to start picking them back up, a lazy 'Reparo' fixing the shelf that they'd dropped form, she paused.
'Ritual of recovering lost person' were the words that stood out to her. Glancing around to make sure nobody was looking, she picked up the tome, the tag marking it as recovered from a thief and no owner ever being found or stepping forward to reclaim the tome. It listed the various steps and reagents needed to perform a ritual that could pull a person from any location towards the caster.
Following her gut, she cast a spell to duplicate the pages and their information, stuffing it in her pocket before resuming her work. She had something to look into after her shift now.
AN: Alright, this should, should, be the last 'transition' chapter so the ones that come after will definitely be longer.