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We don't have time for our sorrows, Commander - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
We don't have time for our sorrows, Commander
Leia challenge from leeflower

Begun 12:40am

"We don't have time for our sorrows, Commander," Leia said.

All business.

Business was all she could afford, and she knew damned well where her father would think her mind should be.

Oh, he'd sympathize, and he wouldn't tell her to hold off her grief forever. He would probably make sure there was a safe spot for her when it was all over, and join her, and hold her and tell her it would be all right.

But business first.

Alderaan first.

There was nothing she could do about what had already happened, but she could make sure that Alderaan was the last use of that station, not the first.

So keep moving. Keep moving and don't look back.

General Willard looked at her skeptically, but he knew the stakes.

"The plans to the station are in the R-2 droid," she said. "Analyze them. There has to be a weakness."

"Yes, ma'am. I have technicians on it already."

"Good." Leia took a deep breath. Alderaan first. Duties first. "General... were there surviors? Obviously no one on the planet, but did anyone escape? Did anyone pick up a signal and leave?"

Willard nodded. "We had some sketchy transmissions when the Death Star entered the system. The Empire shot down two transports, but there's a possibility that others got through. It's not anything we've been able to follow up."

"No contact with the Rebellion?"

"No, ma'am." He sighed. "Though there were some reports of Alderaanian officers... trying to leave the Imperial navy."

"Don't finish," Leia said. "I have a good idea of how the Empire would handle attempted desertion."

"Yes, Your Highness."

"I should..." Leia felt her chest tighten, fought it back. "I should monitor communications while you analyze Artoo's data. They're my people. My father is dead. I'm--" She slowed, stopped herself, and forced her voice to be even. "I'm the one who's left. They're my responsibility."

Willard frowned at her. "Your Highness, the Rebellion--"

"Can call me when the plans have been analyzed. I have no training in weapons design, and am of no possible use to that project. I assure you that when the briefing is called, I will be there." She successfully fought an urge to say, "Dismissed." The regular military did not appreciate taking orders from Rebel Intelligence.

Diplomacy, her father had said, isn't merely about knowing the rules of protocol and the proper etiquette. It's about understanding people, about knowing how to behave to get the reaction you need from them, rather than giving them the reaction they want from you.

Leia sat down at a communications console and put an earpiece in her ear, tucking it behind the heavy side-bun she'd put up days ago in her apartment on Coruscant, thinking only of the humid weather that had been programmed for that day. The call to start for Alderaan on a diplomatic mission home--with the coded instruction to receive the transmission of the plans--hadn't come in yet. She'd been planning to go down to the street level market, and her hair had been too hot to leave on her neck, and her father had called and started out teasing her about the odd hairstyle, setting the comm-spies at ease and--

We don't have time for our sorrows.

"You all right, sister?"

She looked over her shoulder. Han Solo was standing a few feet away, looking supremely unconcerned about her answer.

"Fine, thank you," she said as icily as she could.

"You sure? You look a little--"

"I'm fine, Captain Solo. Your efforts on board the Death Star were appreciated and will be reimbursed as promised. If you don't mind, I have work to do."

"Yeah. Fine. Whatever you say." Solo flipped his hands in the air and headed off toward his ship. As she watched, she saw Luke Skywalker being shown around one of the X-wings.

People will die, Leia. On your information, and sometimes on your orders. Before I allow you to make this committment, I need to know that you understand that. There's no turning away from it. It's never good and you should never enjoy it, but it will happen. Can you live with that?

"Yes, Father," Leia whispered, and looked away from the pilots.

A part of her felt that she should be going up there. She hadn't done any space flight, but neither had Luke. Her ground piloting was more than adequate to master an X-Wing, and if she was going to send soldiers to die, she should be with them...

I know. It feels that way. But you are a leader, Leia. Your job is to keep things running and to be a representative of the order they are dying for. It's not cowardice to stay out of a battle when your skills and training are of more use in other arenas. You can fly and you can shoot, but so can thousands of other people. You're needed after the battle.

She dug her fingernails into the heel of her hand. She hated that teaching. She was more important than a pilot because she had political training and a position?

You didn't choose the role of the warrior, Leia. And that is also a choice you must live with.

"Do... do you need help with that, Your Highness?"

She turned vaguely. An ensign with shoulder-length blonde hair was standing beside her. She looked about twelve standard years old, though of course she was older; the Rebellion accepted no one--well, almost no one--under the age of sixteen.

"Did you need help with the communications console?" the ensign asked deferentially. "You've been sitting here for awhile, and it's not on yet..."

"No. I have it. Just thinking."

"Yes, ma'am." She backed away.

Leia turned on the communications console, not really expecting anything. Her expectations were met--all the bands she searched within the Alderaanian underground were silent. No ships were callling for help on the open channels. Somewhere, across the galaxy, a woman had opened a commlink and was broadcasting to coordinates that had once been the shores of Lake Melina, in the hill country. She was weeping into open space. Leia tuned away from her.

"Anything, Your, um..."

"Leia," she said, finding a smile. Luke Skywalker had sat down beside her, now clad in an orange flight suit. "And no. Nothing yet."

"Do you need anything?" He raised his eyebrows until they disappeared under his sun-bleached bangs. "I don't know much about comm equipment, but maybe I could jack the settings up..."

"The settings are fine."

Had the person beside her been anyone but Luke Skywalker, she probably would have snapped and sent him away. But Luke--for some reason, she couldn't pinpoint in the course of their brief and distinctly uncomfortable experience together--made her comfortable. She let him stay. He said nothing else.

Choose your allies well. Your allies will be your strength... but they will also be your weakness. Do you understand what I mean?

At the time Bail Organa had said that, Leia was sure he'd been giving her a veiled reprimand for her chumminess with certain Imperial officials--a certain Imperial official, actually--and had simply rolled her eyes at him. She knew where to actually place her trust; she didn't need her father lecturing her on such a simple matter.

But now, she wondered. Had he really just been telling her not to pass Rebel secrets to Vader? Would that have been necessary? Was there ever a time he'd doubted her loyalty? Or, for that matter, her ability to keep secrets? She'd kept the secret of her adoption since the age of six, held her real mother's name in a locked compartment of her heart since she was fifteen, and worked in Rebel intelligence from the age of sixteen. Surely, he knew she'd do no such thing.

Your allies will be your strength... but they will also be your weakness.

Perhaps he believed that her allies would be kidnapped for ransom. Or that every ally was a weak link in the security chain around her. Or--

She clamped her jaw shut roughly. She wanted to ask him. Just once. If she could just have him back, to say, "Father, what did you mean when you said that about allies?"... if only.

But of course, that wouldn't be the end. She'd ask other questions, all the questions that either she had never asked or that he'd promised to answer when she was older, when she was ready. Serving in the Imperial Senate and spying for the Rebellion had never changed his mind about her level of readiness to hear certain answers. After much prodding, he'd told her the name of her real mother, but no amount of prodding would reveal the name of her biological father. That was something she would be told when she was "ready."

Anger rose up in her unexpectedly. He'd known something could happen to him! Known it! He was a leader in a brutal war. Surely, it must have occurred to him that he might not be there at whatever mystical age would make her "ready"... how could he not tell her? How could he leave and take the secret with him? Mother--her adopted mother--had died two years ago, and as far as Leia knew, no one else in the galaxy even knew the answer to give to her.

Guilt swept anger aside. He had died in fire and a suffocating vacuum, and she was chastising him for keeping a secret. What kind of daughter...

Beside her, Luke looked up, apparently hearing the click of the comm-system going on.

"All personnel," it said, "report to the briefing room immediately. Report, all personnel..."

Leia turned off the communications console and pulled the earpiece from her hair.

There was no time for her sorrows.

End 1:40 am
4 comments or Leave a comment
maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: June 9th, 2004 10:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fern, this was absolutely incredible. And now I have to go watch the movie for the millionth time!

It's not cowardice to stay out of a battle when your skills and training are of more use in other arenas.

Best line in the story. It makes sense and fits the situation perfectly.
From: leeflower Date: June 10th, 2004 12:11 am (UTC) (Link)

more in-depth commentary when I'm awake, I promise. Are you going to put it up on the boards?
From: leeflower Date: June 10th, 2004 09:03 am (UTC) (Link)
in depth commentary, as promised:

I liked how you managed to work in the different components of grief, so it wasn't all sadness or all shock or all anger, but a combination. Leia's characterization was as always spot on.

the bit about her hair was awesome. An answer to the question fans have been asking for years... why the cinnimon buns? And I liked how it tied back into the plot with Bail teasing her about them.

Woman weeping into open space-- good significant detail.

I liked the interaction with Luke. It builds their relationship a little, and there seems to be a sort of subtext there, as Luke, after all, lost his forster parents only hours before she lost hers.
matril From: matril Date: June 10th, 2004 07:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Excellent. Very true to Leia's character. And now I'm hoping Bail gets some decent characterization in Episode III, although that will just make me all the sadder whenever I see Alderaan get blown up afterwards.
4 comments or Leave a comment