— The Will of the Empire —
Author's Notes: First, I hope everyone stays safe and virus-free and please stop panicking and buying up all the goddamn toilet paper. Second, I apologize for the wait (again). Between the increase in workload and a recent death in my family that resulted in me doing a lot of traveling and using up a lot of the time I'd normally spend writing, it took much longer than I'd hoped and I ended up rewriting multiple scenes because they never seemed to really flow well.
Having just finished watching the entirety The Clone Wars, I really wish I'd managed to incorporate Rex into the story as so many of you had suggested earlier. While I would have liked to include Ahsoka as well, I didn't want to take away from Luke as the main character and her path has already been set before her (Mandalorian Season 2 apparently? Cool!). I will say that I don't think Star Wars Rebels holds a candle to The Clone Wars, largely because I can't stand Ezra.
Beware, this is gonna be another talk-heavy chapter and I'm a bigger fan of exposition than I have any right to be.
(Nom Anor): The odds are against you.
(Corran Horn): You must not know much about Corellians.
Fifty-six days after BoE
The Forest Moon of Endor
Endor system, Moddell sector
Mara whirled around, looking for the source of the voice and swore when her hand instinctively reached for her holster only to find it empty. She saw no one, no matter how intently she peered into the surrounding forest.
"Relax yourself; I mean you no harm."
Though the voice sounded as if it were coming from beside her, she still saw nothing.
"Show yourself!" she commanded.
"I am showing myself, young one, you simply don't know how to see. Look not with your eyes, but with the Force."
Gritting her teeth, she reached for the Force and looked. This time, there was something occupying the space she had believed to voice to have come from. She squinted, brows furrowed as they tried to make sense of the blue-ish blob.
"Release your anger and your irritation, young one. Center yourself and you will see me."
It took far longer than she'd like, but after closing her eyes and performing an old breathing exercise one of her instructors had taught her, she finally felt something prickle her senses. When she opened her eyes, a man stood before her, haloed in an ethereal blue light. Despite the blueish color that seemed to emanate from him, she was able to discern that he wore the dark brown robe and white tunic that were emblematic of the old Jedi Order. He had a well-groomed full beard and gazed at her with kind eyes.
Stepping back quickly and letting out a sound that was definitely not a squeal, she exclaimed, "What in all the Sith Hells!"
The figure raised an eyebrow and chuckled. "Quite the opposite, actually. Hello Mara Jade, my name is Obi-Wan Kenobi."
"You look far younger than the report about your death suggested. What exactly are you?"
Kenobi looked thoughtful and finally answered, "When I was struck down by Darth Vader, I was able to preserve my essence in the Living Force, allowing myself to manifest to those sensitive to the Force to varying degrees. Luke Skywalker has called me, and those like me, 'Force Ghosts.' It is as apt a term as any. I've found it to be ironic that those who fall prey to the dark side so often sacrifice everything in pursuit of immortality when it can only be found by embracing the light, but I digress. As for my appearance... if Anakin wants to galavant around looking his best, I think it's only fair that I do the same."
Mara stared at the Jedi blankly, before rubbing the bridge of her nose. "I don't understand and there's a bit too much to unpack from that statement if we're going to finish our conversation this week. So to summarize: Jedi Force stuff, got it. What am I doing here? What are you doing here? What do you want?"
A whisper of a smile appeared on the Jedi's face. "You are here because Luke has faith in your ability to see things differently...to be able to examine events from an alternative point of view. I am simply here to provide my own perspective on some of the events that led to this moment."
She nodded at the dropped helmet. "About him?"
"Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, once Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight," Kenobi confirmed. "The man I raised from boyhood, my Padawan, my comrade-in-arms and my brother. Our relationship may have been tumultuous at the beginning, but it was my privilege to call him my apprentice. However, the one thing that I was never able to teach him was how to let go of his feelings, of his attachments, and therein lay both his doom and his salvation."
When Kenobi paused, Mara said nothing and waited for him to continue.
"I can not excuse Anakin's actions; he chose to act in ways that he knew to be wrong and the consequences that followed were catastrophic both to him and the entire galaxy and will be felt for decades. Those decisions were made because he saw no other way because neither I nor the rest of the Order made him believe that we would be willing or capable of helping him. The choice to follow Palpatine over the Jedi Order, even after learning of his true nature as a Sith, wasn't inconceivable like it would be to any other Jedi. With our blessing, Palpatine had taken Anakin under his wing at a young age. Unfortunately, as Anakin grew up, he found in Palpatine a powerful friend willing to excuse many of the attributes his teachers criticized."
Mara snorted. "Let me guess, he would do something violent or something in anger, and the Jedi would lecture about the dark side."
"And Palpatine would tell him that to feel anger is to be human."
"He's not wrong."
Kenobi shrugged. "No, he wasn't, but it resulted in Anakin confiding in Palpatine in order to receive affirmation rather than the Jedi to receive guidance. Quite frankly, it's almost astonishing that he didn't turn to the dark side sooner given the chaos and misery that the Clone Wars engendered. Looking back, I believe it was his attachments that prevented that fall, his attachment to his wife, to his apprentice, to his remaining faith in the Jedi and the Republic and to me. The Clone Wars eroded his faith in the Jedi and the Republic, it resulted in his apprentice walking away from the Order and even his trust in me had been fractured by a mishandled mission."
"When he was given reason to fear for her death, he sought any power that might save her. Between his desperation and Palpatine's false promise of salvation, Anakin chose to sacrifice his soul rather than adhere to the values he and his wife held dear. He helped burn the Jedi Order down and supported the rise of the Empire in the vain hope that his wife would escape the death he foresaw."
Kenobi sighed, looking unhappy as he glanced at Vader's helmet."She lived long enough to see everything she believed in collapse, partly as a result of her husband's actions. But her last words were that good still resided in Anakin's soul. Neither I nor Master Yoda believed it until Luke brought Anakin back to the light with the appeal of a son's love for his father."
Mara was silent as she walked back to the shuttle, Mushkil once again trailing behind her. It's not that she doubted the veracity of the Jedi's story, on the contrary, the tale Kenobi weaved seemed all too plausible. However, regardless of all that she'd been told, she was still uncertain what she was supposed to gain here. Nothing had been said that convinced Mara that Luke deserved to sit on the throne. She might consider Vader to be somewhat sympathetic now, but he was still a butcher whose claim to the throne was anything but durasteel.
"Alright Noghri, contact Imperial Center so we can get moving to that lousy kriffing dustball of a planet, Tatooine."
Fifty-seven days after BoE
The Imperial Throne Room, The Imperial Palace
Pooja Naberrie walked advanced toward the throne in slow measured steps, keeping her head down and doing everything she could to look submissive. It's what Emperor Palpatine would have expected and she'd wager that whoever had replaced him wished to exert that same dominance over everyone in his presence. It wasn't difficult to appear weak, she felt weak surrounded by stormtroopers when the only armor she wore was the finery befitting a senator of a senate that no longer existed.
It was hard not to feel annoyed, at the Emperor and his thugs for dragging her to the palace, at herself for coming to Imperial Center and even at Moff Panaka, Queen Kylantha and her mother, all of whom had warned her against coming here. While the Queen had been kind enough to assign several members of the Royal Security Forces to her protection detail, neither they nor her personal bodyguard, Kima, were allowed to accompany her.
She came to a halt when she'd reached the foot of the dais and knelt on one knee. "Your Highness."
Pooja rose to her feet and for the first time, looked up at the ornate throne whose previous occupant so resembled a corpse and whose current occupant resembled anything but. She knew the face of the man sitting in that chair; anyone who lived in the Core or on a world with a significant Imperial presence would know that face. However, it was his last name and the memories of her Aunt Padmé's Jedi friend that had maintained her interest in his role in the Rebellion.
"Your...Highness?" she repeated cautiously.
Skywalker didn't wear the robes of a Jedi, the regalia of a monarch, or even the simple robe that Palpatine had favored. While his clothes were predominantly black, the simple pants and tunic were lined with gold stitching that gave the otherwise bland attire a modicum of flare. His eyes were warm, his smile kind and exuded a calmness that seemed out of place for an individual who'd managed to secure that particular seat.
He got to his feet and began walking down the steps, flanked by two fierce-looking gray-skinned bodyguards that were of a species unknown to her but exuded an aura of lethality that was at odds with their diminutive stature.
When he finally stood before her, she startled when he extended his hand in greeting. When she took his hand, he gave her a soft smile.
"It's so very nice to meet you, Pooja Naberrie, there is so much we have to talk about."
Pooja watched with a sort of detached bemusement as Luke Skywalker shooed his reluctant, gray-skinned, heavily armed bodyguards from the small parlor Skywalker had ushered her into. When it was done, that bemusement gave way to anxiety as she found herself alone with a man whose reputation and reported loyalty were at severe odds with his current circumstances. While he walked around to sit at the opposite end of the wooden table, she took the time to examine the rest of the room and was pleasantly surprised to see beautiful art decorating the walls that depicted scenery from Naboo.
"I'd heard that Palpatine destroyed much of the art collection he'd accumulated as Supreme Chancellor," she murmured quietly.
"He might as well have," Skywalker replied. "One of the staff informed me of the collection's existence is one of the storage facilities below the palace. I have a feeling that Palpatine was unwilling to dispose of anything that he could control and might be of further use later, even art."
His voice, loud in the hush of the small room, made her flinch and refocus her attention. "What exactly are you doing here...?"
"Please, call me Luke."
Ringlets of hair brushed across her shoulders as she shook her head. "I–"
"You knew my father," he interrupted her, making her mouth snap shut. "And my mother."
"I...beg your pardon?" Feeling far out of her depth, the question was all she could manage. She didn't really know Anakin Skywalker, but some of her fondest memories of her early childhood were when Aunt Padmé would visit with the Jedi that both she and Ryoo had thought to be so handsome. But she certainly didn't know him well enough to know of any female company he kept. Hadn't such things been forbidden to the Jedi?
Skywalker grimaced. "Your Aunt, Pooja. Padmé Naberrie is my mother."
She reared back for a second before leaning forward and angrily waved a finger in his face. "My Aunt died and the baby with her. Whoever the father might have been, she was most certainly not your mother."
Leaning back in his chair, Skywalker sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Apparently, Bail Organa returned my mother's body to Naboo and ensured that her child was reported dead. My existence was a threat the Emperor would not tolerate."
"How can you possibly know that?"
Flashing a smile at her, Luke Skywalker answered, "There's an extremely well put-together little droid who has records of the whole thing, even of their wedding that took place at...Varykino."
Pooja got to her feet and began pacing. "Alright...so you, Luke Skywalker, are my first cousin. I'll admit, this isn't how I saw my visit to the palace today going, which speaking of and back to my original question, what are you doing here?"
This time it was Skywalker who looked anxious. "Well...it's complicated."
Pooja huffed and pointed a finger at him. "Believe it or not, my extensive education and ability to survive in the Senate while Palpatine presided are strong indicators that I am not a moron."
Skywalker winced and raised his hands in a placating gesture. "I apologize, I didn't mean to sound condescending. Well, this is what happened..."
Luke waited patiently while Pooja gathered her thoughts, taking the time to study her face and look for the similarities shared between her, Leia and his mother. He found it morbidly amusing that just over four years ago, he'd lost what he believed to be his entire family when stormtroopers executed his aunt and uncle, yet now he found himself continuing to discover new family in the unlikeliest of places.
It is the will of the Force.
He wasn't sure if the thought was his or not, but it was true nonetheless. While Han might talk a big game about odds, there wasn't much arguing against the Force's role in events when two twins, separated at birth, reunite and have the kind of trials, tribulations and triumphs that he and Leia had shared.
Though she'd been too young to form any substantial memories of his parents, he had to wonder what was running through her mind as she digested his story. One thing he had not told Pooja was their respective familial relationship with Leia. Though Pooja might be family and he would like to tell her, the fact that it remained a secret made it Leia's choice on whether to reveal it to her former Senate colleague.
Luke made a mental note to have the information Artoo had revealed to be passed along to Karrde to pass along to Leia; these revelations were not something he'd trust Imperial or Alliance encryption to keep secret.
Letting out a small exasperated noise, Lule's attention snapped back to his cousin. Waving her hands with almost maniacal energy, she huffed out, "Okay, so that's a lot of information that I'm going to need to let settle, but let me simply start off by saying 'It's very nice to meet you, Luke, welcome to the family.'"
Something in Luke's chest unclenched and he took a deep breath. "Thank you, Pooja. Though I did want to meet you here and reveal our connection, there are other matters I wanted to speak with you about."
Pooja raised an eyebrow. "Ah, Empire business. You should know that after word spread of Palpatine's death, there was an uprising in which insurrectionists and members of the indigenous population successfully stormed the capital. While it was eventually put down, it should be noted that Naboo is not generally supportive of the Empire."
"I'm aware," Luke acknowledged, "however, if the galaxy is to avoid years of bloody civil war, the only solution is to establish a truce between the Alliance and the Empire. If I attempted to remove or reduce the power of the Throne and reinstall the Senate, I would be forcibly removed from power and the war would continue indefinitely as system after system would be turned into battlefields.
"Because of Naboo's historically significant relationship to the Empire, its close proximity to multiple trading lanes, and its location on the galactic map, the Chommell sector would be an ideal location to draw the edge of the Empire's borders between the Mid Rim and the Outer Rim territory already held by the Alliance."
Pooja bit her lip as she considered his proposal. "All I can promise is to speak to my Queen and to Moff Panaka about it, and I'm not entirely certain how I feel about the idea even if you are the one on the Throne."
"Panaka? What's he like?"
Though she immediately grimaced, Pooja's answer arrived in a measured tone. "Fiercely loyal to Palpatine, rigid and unyielding. However, he was not so much of a fanatic that he was blind to the Empire's faults and, to my knowledge, never gained the appalling immoral proclivities that were so often an affliction to the Imperial upper echelon. His popularity in the sector is generally positive, less so in Naboo, though that's a result of the measures he's taken to maintain order in the aftermath of the Battle of Endor. Having taken Imperial Center, I have little doubt that he'll recognize you as the Emperor."
"In that case, if your obligations here are finished, would you be willing to return to Naboo speak to Queen Kylantha and Moff Panaka."
With a nod and a smile, Pooja agreed. "Of course, however, I would like to remain on the planet for the next few days so I can get to know my new cousin a little better and so I can tell you about the rest of the family still on Naboo."
Fifty-seven days after BoE
Aboard the Imperial Class I-Star Destroyer Admonitor
Imperial Center orbit, Coruscant system
Feyet Kiez stepped off the shuttle into the Admonitor's main hanger, satisfied at the sight that awaited him. The galaxy may be going to hell, but at least the Navy's love of pageantry remains intact, he thought humorously.
Despite the signs of recent action visible on the Admonitor's exterior, the hanger bay appeared in perfect working order. Two full platoons of stormtroopers, neatly lined up beside one another, and what looked to be a half-company of Imperial Navy troopers standing perpendicular to the stormtroopers in a long column, all standing at attention and awaiting his arrival and inspection.
Standing at the forefront of the assembled stormtroopers were two senior officers of the Imperial Navy. The fair-skinned captain of the Star Destroyer, Dagon Niriz, was a man he knew only because of the briefing that one of his intelligence analysts had cobbled together while they were en route. The Admiral standing slightly in front of Niriz was also known to him, albeit only by reputation as one of the few Naval officers to have shared the privilege of commanding an Executor-class Star Dreadnought.
Advancing toward the two officers, he gave the assembled troops and their commanding lieutenants approving nods before coming to a stop, coming to attention and offering a minute bow of his head to his fellow Admiral which was quickly returned.
"Admiral Piett, I was under the belief that you had perished with your ship over Endor. I'm relieved that my assumption was incorrect; it is a relief to see someone of your position and reputation here."
"Thank you, Admiral, it is good to meet you in person," Piett replied, then nodded toward the man at his flank. "Admiral Kiez, this is the commanding officer of the Star Destroyer, Captain Niriz. Now, if you'll come with us, the Grand Admiral is waiting in his stateroom."
As he exited the bay, Kiez could have sworn that he saw a group of covered parked X-Wings out of the corner of his eyes, but pushed the thought out of his mind and instead focused on containing the stream of questions that he wanted to pepper his fellow Admiral with.
Despite having already spoken with Grand Admiral Thrawn over the Holocomm, his striking appearance and compelling voice made it difficult for Feyet to avoid staring at the Grand Admiral. Still, it wasn't so overwhelming that he failed to notice 'Thrawn's' acknowledgment of a legitimate Emperor currently residing on the planet surface.
Following the Battle of Endor and the death of the Emperor, the Imperial Ruling Council should have been able to hold the Empire together long enough for new centralized leadership to be implemented. However, the wave of assassinations, the eruption of violence on Imperial Center and the ensuing disruption in communications put a swift end to that hope. It was a scenario in which any lone Grand Admiral who had control of the system, even a nonhuman one, would have the means to claim dominion over the Empire.
Instead, that Grand Admiral sat in a captain's stateroom while the Emperor...
"Grand Admiral, while I recognize your authority and will see to it that your orders are executed faithfully, I must point out that your vagueness and evasiveness regarding the Emperor's whose will I will be enacting is troubling. It would be greatly reassuring if I, and those I brought with me, were to be given something more concrete."
"Naturally," the Chiss agreed readily, "and the Emperor has made it clear that he intends to meet with you and your subordinates personally."
Feyet sat up and allowed himself a slight smile. "Excellent, then–"
Admiral Piett held up a forestalling hand. "–A moment, Admiral, there is a good reason why our answers about the Emperor have been less than forthcoming. Until Endor, there were no records that would justify his ascension to the throne. In fact, it was only when the Imperial fleet was fully engaged with the Rebels that Lord Vader provided us the information needed."
And so began the conversation that contained a revelation that turned Feyet's world upside down.
Fifty-eight days after BoE
Imperial Palace, Imperial Center
Admiral Kiez tapped a finger anxiously against the obsidian surface of the elongated table, staring at its head where a seemingly calm and collected Luke Skywalker sat. Grand Admiral Thrawn and Admiral Piett sat on either side of the rebel, betraying no emotion as they observed the senior members of Azure Hammer Command that he'd brought with him.
Of those senior members, two of his subordinates sat to his right while the other three sat across the table, all of whom were staring at Skywalker with expressions varying between confusion and anger. Directly across the table from him, Commodore Kovacs wore a bland expression that would have fooled most, but Feyet had worked with the man long enough to notice the subtle tick in the corner of his mouth that betrayed his rage. Had Kiez received any warning about what he'd be walking into, he'd have avoided bringing Kovacs. The middle-aged man had lost two cousins who'd served on the first Death Star and the man responsible for their deaths was sitting not even two meters away. Kiez thanked the gods that they'd been stripped of their weapons when they entered the palace but he still wasn't entirely convinced that Kovacs wouldn't try something. He hoped not; the commodore had served him well in the Azure Hammer Command.
After an awkward moment of silence, Skywalker leaned forward in his seat and spoke for the first time. "I'll be succinct and to the point. I am aware that all of you have questions, all of you have objections to my presence here, some of you would kill me here and now if you had the chance. I will address those questions and objections as best I can, but first you'll listen to what I have to say and acknowledge that you understand what I'm asking of you."
Kiez idly noted that the rebel had a decidedly Outer Rim accent that diminished the aura of elegance that his simple but finely tailored clothing attempted to impose. When his subordinates looked to him, he gave them a small nod before turning back to Skywalker. "We're listening."
"Admiral Kiez," Luke began, "I would like for you to return to Anaxes and resume your command. Whatever your personal feelings may be about my being here, you have the experience and respect of your subordinates and I'm unwilling to cause any unnecessary disruptions in the command structure. We will come to an understanding during your stay here on Imperial Center and I expect that your future actions will be taken with the Empire's best interests at heart, with my best interests at heart.
"When you return to Anaxes, you will be accompanied by an anonymous group of trusted individuals who will see to your safety and ensure that the Imperial Sector Army remains a force that will fight for the Empire, the ideals that you yourself uphold so dearly and my own goals. To put it simply, I expect your force to accept my rule in order to avert an internal conflict that would only invite the Alliance to take bolder actions to establish itself as a new Republic."
Luke observed, satisfied, as Feyet Kiez leaned back in his chair and mulled over his words. Gesturing to his left, he prompted the Chiss with a simple, "Grand Admiral, if you would?"
"Certainly, Your Highness," Thrawn responded with a respectful bow of his head. "Rear Admiral Oicunn, you will be temporarily assigned to the defense of this system under the command of Admiral Piett. I have provided a list of ships that will transfer from Anaxes to Imperial Center for that purpose and your first responsibility will be to help ease their transition into the new Imperial command structure."
Kovacs's quiet scoff did not go unnoticed, but Thrawn didn't bother to acknowledge it and kept speaking. "The Emperor specifically requested you for this task, Admiral. As someone–"
Luke held up a hand to forestall further explanation from the Chiss and instead spoke directly to the Humbariner. "In addition to your ability to contribute to the defense of this system, you're a man with intimate knowledge of the Republic's significant failings during the Clone Wars. Combined with your experience defending your homeworld, I can offer my own unique perspective on the effectiveness of Imperial Navy doctrine in order to implement the most effective tactics in the event that we fall under attack."
Turning back to Thrawn, he gestured for the Grand Admiral to continue.
With a nod, the Grand Admiral focused his red-eyed gaze back on the senior officers of the Imperial Sector Army. "Commodore Kovacs, you will be commanding a task force to secure both Scipio and Muunilinst and take proactive measures that will thwart any possible rebel or insurrectionist activity designed to disrupt their operations."
Luke thanked Thrawn before spreading his hands in what he hoped appeared to be a friendly inviting gesture. It was somewhat difficult to tell given the waves of hostility coming from Kovacs. Sighing inwardly, Luke said, "These are the measures that must be taken, that I expect you to take in your service to the Empire. However, recent events make your hesitation, uncertainty and aggression understandable and expected. What would you ask of me?"
Kovacs sat up straight in his chair, ignoring Kiez's subtle attempts to diffuse his anger. Jabbing a finger in his direction, Kovacs bit out, "You can call yourself whatever you want now, but you're a rebel and we all know it. Asking us to have faith in your ability to lead an Empire you've been attempting to topple for the last four years, starting with your mass murder of the Empire's best and brightest, is madness!"
Sighing out loud this time, Luke had the sinking feeling that this was a conversation that was going to be repeated over and over again until he became one with the Force. "Prior to that 'mass murder', Commodore Kovacs, are you aware of what my occupation was?"
Without waiting for the man to answer, Luke pressed on. "I was a 19-year-old moisture farmer on Tatooine eeking out a living with my aunt and uncle. Did you know that just a few days before that 'mass murder', I was trying to convince my aunt and uncle to let me submit my application to the Imperial Academy? It wasn't because I was trying to topple the Empire from the inside, it was because all I'd ever wanted was to be a pilot. I didn't care about the Rebellion, I had no desire to subvert Imperial doctrine, I just wanted to fly.
The same day I was asking my aunt and uncle to let me apply for the academy, we purchased two droids from Jawas that regularly visited the homestead to help ease the burden brought on by the harvest. One of those droids happened to contain the internal schematics of the Death Star, something that a stormtrooper detachment must have discovered because I returned to my home to find the burning corpses of my aunt and uncle and my home razed to the ground. It was only then, Commodore Kovacs, that I held any true anger for the Empire. My aunt and uncle were killed without reason or provocation, without even knowing why. That is the part of the Empire that I intend to repair. But about my 'mass murder', let me be blunt: I do not regret wiping the Death Star from existence, not even for a second, however, I do regret that so many had to die to accomplish this task. Does that answer your question, Commodore?"
When Kovacs ignored his question in favor of renewing his onslaught of questions. Luke sat back and readied himself for what was likely to be a long afternoon.
It's all for the greater good, he reminded himself and hoped that Kiez's trust in the man wasn't misplaced and that his devotion to duty would take precedence over his grudge against Luke. If it wasn't, they'd have to scrounge up another high ranking naval officer and repeat this process to have someone take command of the ships securing Scipio and Muunilinst. When Pellaeon returned with the remaining units under Zsinj's previous command he'd have more options, but–
He shook himself from his internal musings and refocused his attention on the here and now. One of the Kiez's Senior Captains raised his voice to echo Kovac's objections and it was up to him to settle their ideological differences. Lucky me.
Sixty days after BoE
Aboard the MC80 Star Cruiser Independence
Kothlis system, Bothan Sector
"Hand me that hydrospanner would you?"
Leia glanced at the mess of tools littering the deck near the Millennium Falcon's open hatch and then at Han, elbow-deep in the Falcon's life support system. "Is that really what you should be trying to upgrade? Because, of all the things that need fixing..."
"Save it, sweetheart," Han snapped at her before turning back to the mess of circuits and cables, shaking his open hand at her to demand the hydrospanner.
Rolling her eyes, she found the tool and reached out a hand, slowly lifting it in the air. Gritting her teeth, she tracked its tremulous progress before gently settling it in Han's hand.
Leia rolled her eyes and wiped the surface of a nearby supply crate clean before taking a seat upon it. "So...something interesting came u–"
There was a loud banging sound before Han's head appeared. "Did you say something, sweetheart?"
Sighing inwardly, she tossed a datapad at Han which was caught by a grimy fist.
"What's this?" Han asked as he began scrolling through its contents, "A communication log?"
"An hour ago, a ship arrived in the system claiming to have a Jedi on board and that the pilot wished to speak with someone 'in charge'. The ship was allowed to land in the Independence's hanger and the pilot is now being interviewed by Alliance Intelligence."
"Considering the Jedi Order's records were blinked out from existence, confirming her identity will be all but impossible," Han observed then paused, narrowing his eyes as he continued reading the text on the datapad. "Okay...well a lightsaber gives her some credibility, but using the Force to slip off the stun cuffs makes a pretty solid case for her. Did you get any murdery vibes from her?"
"I couldn't say for sure what Tallisibeth's intentions are," Leia admitted, "but I've sensed nothing malevolent from her."
"She's here to help someone train in the Force," Han read, finally setting the datapad down on the deck and giving her a look. "If you get a steady teacher, will Vader stop interrupting us when we try to have sex?"
Author's Notes: It's been noted by pretty much everyone that Luke's reaction to Obi-Wan being killed seems unreasonably greater than the death of his Aunt and Uncle. Some of the fanfiction I've read try to address this by suggesting there was an element of abuse occurring during his childhood, but I don't buy it. After watching A New Hope for the millionth time, I think I've found an answer. Maybe I'm just a Star Wars apologist, but my theory is that while Luke may be upset at Obi-Wan's death, he's more distraught that his new mentor, the only person left to provide any kind of direction, was killed. I mean, here he is, alone in the universe without a place he can call home with the promise of a greater destiny now seemingly in ashes. So, it's not Obi-Wan he's mourning so much as what he represented and offered.
Also, if you haven't seen it before, check out FxItInPost's reimagined Darth Vader & Obi-Wan's fight in a New Hope.
Regarding recent Star Wars news:
* Spoiler alert for Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
There seems to be some backlash or surprise regarding Obi-Wan 'knowing' about Anakin and Padmé, but I think it's a development that helps support Revenge of the Sith rather than subverts or raises questions about canon. I didn't interpret that scene as Obi-Wan knowing they were married or in a physical romantic relationship; rather, I considered it an acknowledgment on Obi-Wan's part that he was aware that Anakin and Padmé's relationship was more involved than Jedi would typically permit. Given past seasons, it's not a significant leap of logic and supplements Obi-Wan's decision to seek out Padmé when Anakin turns to the dark side.
* Spoiler alert for The Rise of Skywalker (kind of?):
Keep in mind that I have not yet read the film's novel adaptation and my commentary is based on what I've heard and read online. Apparently, it's been revealed that the Palpatine we see in the film was actually Palpatine's spirit stashed in a cloned body. The reactions to this seem to have varied between ecstatic and horrified, but I'm feeling fairly satisfied. For one, the fact that it's a clone and that Palpatine transferred his essence to it brings back some of that Legends universe lore that we know and love. Second, this fills a plot hole that really needed to be addressed in the film. It makes considerably more sense than him somehow surviving that fall in the second Death Star. Third, because of the clone's apparent inability to contain him, it makes Palpatine's desire to transfer his spirit into Rey less sudden and more plausible/understandable.
There is another revelation that I'm less sanguine about and that's Ray's father being a 'failed' Palpatine clone. Firstly, given the time frame of events and Rey's age, it would be perfectly conceivable (hah) for Palpatine to have sired a child prior to the birth of the Empire and his transition to prune-face. Second, this clone neither had Force potential nor was it identical to Palpatine, who described it as useless and powerless. So why would Palpatine even allow this clone to live? Why would a clone not be identical? How would it escape Palpatine's control? I can't think of any reason why Rey's father being a failed Palpatine clone would make any more narrative sense than a random child Palpatine managed to sire as Emperor, Supreme Chancellor, Senator or before.