It wasn’t very often that Leia succumbed to the deep, dark temptation of self-pity and despair and as it crashed over her while Rieekan gently lowered her into a nearby chair, she tried to fight it with all she had. The problem was, she didn’t have much. There was very little fight left in the Rebel Princess. And her pillars of strength, Han and Luke and Chewie, were stripped from her like her very life as she knew it had been over three years ago.
The distinct possibility that she would spend her entire life and perhaps give her life in the fight against the Empire was not a new thought for Leia. It had been, in fact, what drove her - this will to fight another day against the dark forces that had not only destroyed her world but held the entire galaxy in its evil clutches. But to what end? She now wondered. If it was at the loss of all she cared about, again, she wasn’t sure she could go on.
“Leia, maybe you should get some rest,” General Rieekan offered as the Princess sat silently slumped in the chair they had brought for her.
“No. I want to find Han. And Luke and Chewie,” she said as she tried to lift herself up to her feet.
With a gentle hand on her shoulder, Rieekan prevented her from standing as he said, “We’ve got our best men on that, Leia. You can’t go traipsing around the galaxy, especially in the state you’re in. You’ll do more good for us here-”
“Doing what, exactly? Ordering supplies?” Leia replied, the fire in her belly coming out in the tone of her voice and in the flicker of her eyes as she glared at her old friend.
Rieekan’s eyes were soft and sad. “Leia, our leadership ranks have been disseminated by dissertation and…death, we need all hands on deck…here.”
Leia’s searched behind Rieekan and found Wedge, their eyes locking for one brief moment and as she took a deep long breath, she looked at Rieekan and replied, “Alright. You’re right. Maybe I should get some rest.”
Rieekan walked her down the halls of an empty corridor and palmed open an executive suite. After some soft words of encouragement, he left Leia alone in her cabin. The Princess looked around the room and sighed. She walked towards the bunk and picked up the standard-issued chrono from the side table. Setting the alarm, she pulled the sheets back and crawled into her bed. She was asleep before she could even think of her next move.
When the chrono’s alarm sounded, Leia sat up straight in her bunk and silenced it. She looked around the room and then ran her hand over her face. At least she had slept well. Rifling through the closet, Leia found some Alliance fatigues that she thought might actually fit her. Palming herself into the ‘fresher, Leia froze mid-step. She stood in the doorway, her mouth hanging open in shock as she dropped her clothes on the floor at her feet.
Leia had almost forgotten about her unsolicited haircut and the sight of her choppy new hairdo was startling. And as her wide eyes continued to study the rest of her body, she didn’t like what she saw. Her cheeks were sunken in and drawn, her lips were cracked and dry and her eyes carried black, puffy sacks beneath them. No wonder Rieekan didn’t want to let me out of his sight. I look like the walking dead.
She turned to the shower and started the cycle. After she had showered and dressed, Leia grabbed a backpack from the supply trunk and headed to the suite’s kitchenette. She stuffed all the water and ration bars she could fit into the bag and then headed back to the living area and drew a cap over her head. Glancing in the mirror that hung on the wall near the door, Leia now saw the advantages to her emaciated form and short hair. She looked nothing like her former self.
Palming open the cabin door, Leia let out a quick yelp as Wedge Antilles fell backwards into her room nearly knocking her over. Apparently he had been camped out in front of her cabin and had fallen asleep waiting for her.
Laying flat on his back and quite awake now, Wedge looked up at the Princess and smiled as he asked, “Where’re we going?”
Leia wasted no energy in arguing with the Rogue Squadron Pilot, it wasn’t actually that bad of an idea for her to refrain from gallivanting around the galaxy on this crusade alone. It also paid off to have Wedge with her when they reached the hangar, the nightshift security detail took the Squadron Leader at his word when he told them that he had clearance to take a Y-Wing. Leia grabbed Artoo Detoo as Wedge distracted them with questions and then snuck around and joined Wedge undetected.
Once they were in the safety of space, Wedge spoke to Leia through their headsets, “Any ideas on a destination, Leia?”
Leia looked out into space for a moment. And before she knew what she was going to say, she heard her voice saying, “I was thinking of starting at the beginning.”
“That’s always a good place to start,” she heard Wedge answer over her earpiece.
She watched Wedge as he punched the coordinates into the navicomputer and then she felt the familiar sensation of her body being pressed back into its seat as the Y-Wing slid smoothly into hyperspace. She closed her eyes and thought of Han, of his arms surrounding her and of his lips on hers, his eyes were the last thing her mind’s eye saw before she succumbed yet again to the sweet pull of sleep.
(We don't think that Zyra gave me any conditions for this chapter. Hope you guys are still enjoying this...)