Note: Star Wars belongs to George Lucas. The Enderverse belongs to Orson Scott Card. The idea for this crossover fic belongs to jedinite/Q/whoever-he-wants-to-be-today. Merry Christmas, Markus. This is a one-shot, I'm not writing any more.
by Lady Eldaelen
Ender could hear his father's instructions in his mind as clearly as he remembered them the first time. And since the subject came up every few days, and a photographic memory ran in the family, it was a pretty vivid recollection.
He'd been preparing them for this day for as long as they could remember, and he had been very specific with what they were to do. Pull the ship out of relativistic speed. Turn on the distress beacon. Send notices to this list of dead drops and net addresses. Wait for as long as felt comfortable to see if anyone responds.
He didn't care what they did after that, just as long as they decided together.
Yes, the man named Julian Delphiki made sure that his children would know what to do when he died.
Ender remained by the bed, still clutching the faded picture his father had wanted to see one last time. A snapshot of a young woman with Bella and Nik's hair holding a sleeping infant with his own hair. But by the time Ender had fished it out of a drawer and turned back to his father's side, he was already gone.
And now they were alone.
The others followed their father's dying requests mechanically, instinctively. His brother, Nikolai, had already left for the bridge; even now Ender felt a faint ripple of nausea as the ship began its deceleration. His sister, Bella, hadn't even bothered to leave, punching codes and messages into the room's computer all while wiping away stray tears that still fell.
But Ender remained frozen in time, overwhelmed, paralyzed. He'd grown up knowing his father, his papa, was going to die. And if there were any doubts, the past few months had been one downward health spiral after another. A part of Ender's brain was relieved; their father wasn't in any more pain, he didn't have to fight for every shallow breath, every minute of consciousness. Another part of his brain immediately felt guilty of such thoughts. And a third part felt such hot rage that a fourth part was afraid to even attempt to try making sense of all these conflicting emotions.
"Andrew, you're squishing Mom's face."
Bella's voice sounded strangely distant as she launched off the south wall, half tackling him in the null-gravity environment and sending them both crashing into the doorframe. The maneuver had its desired effect, though, as it knocked Ender out of whatever trance that caused him to inadvertently clench his fists.
The two gazed unblinking at the photo that had slipped out of Ender's hand, now just a free-floating crumpled ball. Bella reached out and snatched it, hooking a foot under the door rail to steady herself as she gently smoothed the picture flat.
"There, that's better," she whispered. With a slight push off, she glided over to their father's body. Bella solemnly tucked the snapshot into the left chest pocket of his jumpsuit. "Come on, I'll help you move him."
Ender stared at his sister in amazement. "You will do no such thing! I'm the oldest. It's my responsibility. I'll do it myself."
"Nonsense," Bella scoffed. "You're only the oldest by a couple of months. It will be easier if I help." A few renegade tears leaked from the corner of her eyes. "He's my papa, too."
Ender opened his mouth to protest, but the faint hiss of the intercom system interrupted his retort.
"Ender, Bella, get up here now!"
With speeds that had them both bumping into walls and corners and bolted down furniture despite living over ten years in nullo, Bella and Ender slid into the ship's bridge, barely catching themselves before they slammed into the controls. The poor ship had never seen so much action in all its days as the Delphiki family vehicle. Every alarm bell and warning light that Ender knew about -and some he couldn't recognize- was blaring, blinking, buzzing. Nikolai was out of his seat, trying to tend to the most urgent indicators and failing miserably.
"I don't know what happened!" he called over his shoulder, not bothering to risk glancing at his siblings as he reset another gauge. "I pulled the ship out of relativistic speed just fine, but then the computer said that it was automatically stopping the ship completely."
"Can it do that?"
"I guess so. I mean, it already did. It's not that great for the ship, but it's not going to kill us. Most of these stupid alarms went off because it's not ordinary operating procedure."
Bella moved to help him, but he waved her back. "I can take care of these. But what are we going to do about this? I haven't responded to them yet."
Nikolai flicked a switch on the control panel rerouting the audio feed from his headset into the room's speakers. A handful of distant alarms buzzed in the background of static, several young voices, and an occasional throaty growl. Over all of that, was a slightly frazzled female voice.
"Jacen! Stop bothering your father while he's flying! Jaina, watch your brother! Will you all be quiet for one moment?"
Then the clarity and volume of the feed doubled, as if someone had removed a hand they were holding over the microphone, and the female voice suddenly became less frazzled and much more distinguished.
"To the unregistered vehicle in sector nine, I repeat, this is the Leia Organa Solo aboard the Millennium Falcon responding to the unidentifiable hailing signal, please acknowledge… Han, what if they're all dead or something?"
Ender, Bella, and Nikolai exchanged surprised glances. The glances turned into stares, then nods. Not a word was spoken, but none were needed. The three children were so close that they considered each other just an extension of themselves anyways. So it was that the last living direct descendants of Julian and Petra Delphiki, ancient Earth's most cherished couple, decided their future together. Just as their father had wished.
Ender found the switch for their own ship's microphone. And with a shakier hand than he expected, he turned it on.
"This is Andrew Arkanian Delphiki, of Earth. We, uh, we acknowledge."