Turning to look at Leia, Han smiled and said, “What does he mean was?”
Leia lowered her eyebrows at him and gave him a smirk. “Funny,” she replied as he sat on the side of the bed next to her and she placed her hand on his thigh. “Han?”
He looked down at her dreamily. He seemed to have had his head in the clouds ever since she had woken up to find him a father-to-be and although his excitement warmed her very soul, there were things she wanted to say.
“I want to get a couple of things straight,” she said. “I don’t want you getting all over-protective of me and expecting me to sit around knitting booties while we’re fighting this war. There’s nothing physically wrong with me where I can’t do exactly what I was doing before. And if you even whisper anything about leaving me behind anywhere, I’ll shoot you.”
He had sat and let her speak, not interrupting even once and he didn’t look the least bit surprised, which she guessed he shouldn’t be. “Sweetheart, I wouldn’t expect anything different, but you’ve got to promise me something.”
He took her hand in his. “You have to remember that you’re taking a risk with someone else’s life now. That if you take a shot or even a stun blast, you have more than just your safety to consider.”
“Don’t you think I’m always careful?”
“I’m just asking you to promise me that you won’t forget.”
She nodded her head. “I promise.”
When Leia walked into the conference room on her husband, General Solo’s arm, she felt invincible. The news of her pregnancy had come as a shock but the longer she lived with it the more she felt empowered and motivated by it. If there was ever any reason to fight for peace in the galaxy, this was it.
After speaking so strongly for Mon Mothma’s plan, Leia was unsure of how her return would be received. But when she and Han walked in, they were swamped with well wishes and congratulations.
Everyone began to settle around the table. Luke, Chewie, Lando, Leia and Han with Admiral Ackbar, Generals Madine and Rieekan and others.
“Here we are again,” General Rieekan observed wryly and there was a nervous wave of laughter that traveled around the room.
“Before we begin our discussions, I’d like to say something, General Rieekan,” Admiral Ackbar interjected, his voice gravelly and solemn.
“By all means, Admiral Ackbar.”
The Mon Calamari Admiral stood. “Attempting to forge a truce with the Empire was by no means a mistake. The mistake was made by them, when they chose to waste a rare opportunity for peace. In the history books there will be much praise dedicated to our victories. The destruction of two super weapons by a fledgling bunch of idealists. I can almost see the words written out already. But if we would have failed, how different those words would be. We would no longer be idealists, but fools instead. We cannot be ashamed for failing and we must not ever quit trying.”
The room was silent for a moment and Han squeezed Leia’s hand with his own. She felt a sudden burst of moisture in her eyes and she blinked until her vision cleared. Please don’t tell me I’m getting hormonal already!
Admiral Ackbar took his seat and Lando said, “Here, here. Now how do we kick some Imperial ass?”
The room burst with laughter and the tightening in Leia’s chest loosened a bit. And that’s when the real planning began.
“…We set our sights back on Coruscant. That’s where we failed and that’s where we must redeem ourselves,” Madine was saying.
Han agreed. “Whoever controls Coruscant, controls the galaxy.”
Leia felt uneasy. Capturing the galaxy’s capital city was no easy task. In fact, that is exactly what they were trying to do when this whole mess started. She asked, “What have we learned from our last attempt to capture Coruscant?”
Admiral Ackbar took the floor. “Even with our decisive blow over Endor, we are still far outgunned by the Imperial Remnant. Especially when taking into account the considerable shielding and defenses the planet of Coruscant itself has at its disposal.”
“So what makes us think that we can take it now?” Luke questioned.
“Same goal, new strategy,” Rieekan countered.
“A direct attack is out of the question, as Admiral Ackbar has just alluded to,” Madine said, “but a stealth attack. An infiltration. A coup with the least amount of bloodshed possible. That’s our strategy. And I’m sorry for disagreeing with you, General, but it’s not a new one.”
“No offense taken, Madine,” General Rieekan answered. “You’ve described the reason for our previous failure precisely. Covert operations and surreptitiousness is what got us as far as our victory at Endor. It was a mistake to switch to all out battle in our final run for Coruscant.”
“That’s all well and good as long as we have a plan,” Han said.
Chewie grumbled and shook his fist at Han.
“I do too like to plan. I just don’t always follow the plan. It’s called improvising.”
“When you say a coup,” Leia said, ignoring Han and Chewie’s argument. “Who exactly are we trying to overthrow? Has the Imperial Remnant named a predecessor for the Emperor?”
“Technically the Executor would be next in line behind the Emperor followed by the Grand Vizier. Rumor is Executor Nalc and Grand Vizier Pestage are fighting for dominance over Coruscant while the Imperial Council is lobbying to absorb their positions and rule the galaxy themselves. The rest of the universe remains a free-for-all between all of the Grand Admirals, Grand Generals and Grand Moffs,” Rieekan answered.
“What a grand mess,” Han returned.
Leia shook her head. “Even if we take Coruscant, you can’t think that any of these Imperial grand anythings are going to take direction from us, can we?”
“If we take Coruscant,” General Madine said, pounding his finger down on the table for emphasis. “Swiftly and decisively, we’ll pull the remaining core worlds in with us. The Corellia’s and Duro’s, the Commenor’s and Kiribi’s. Once we establish ourselves on Coruscant, those systems – along with their firepower – will come in line. And then we can spread throughout the rest of the galaxy, pushing the remaining Imperial fleets back into their sectors.”
“Will we let them sit back and lick their wounds? The censured rancor just waiting to come back and bite us?” Lando asked.
“At first,” Madine answered.
“We can’t afford to overextend ourselves again. Let’s keep our immediate goals in sight and worry about the rest when we get there,” Rieekan added.
“How do we get there? Nobody’s answered that yet,” Han asked.
“That’s what we’re here for today, General. Any ideas?” Madine answered.
“I’m sure they’ll be expecting us to retaliate,” Luke said.
“Probably expecting us to do just what we’re talking about here,” Lando added.
“So they’ll be beefing up their security all over Coruscant,” Han mused.
“What we need is a diversion,” Leia said.
“Maybe something nearby so we can bring our troops into Coruscant hastily,” Rieekan noted.
“What? Like attacking Corellia? They’ll see through something like that,” Lando said.
“Maybe not Corellia but you’re on the right track,” Han said absently, rubbing at his chin.
“You’ve got something?” Leia asked.
“Part of something,” he answered. “Why have a diversion just for a diversion’s sake?”
“What do you mean, General?” Ackbar questioned.
“We put all of our firepower on capturing a core world. Not one of the big ones, but one that would matter. Like…Kuat. There’s no way they wouldn’t take a bid for Kuat seriously and it’s close enough to draw firepower from Coruscant. And if we can actually takeover the planet…”
“We control their top-producing shipyard,” Madine finished.
“And a core world,” Leia added.
“Okay, so that’s our diversion, now what do we do about Coruscant?” Luke asked.
“Do I have to come up with everything?” Han replied.
Chewie, who had been quiet during the discussion, grumbled something to Han.
“When’s that?” Han asked, interested.
Another grumble and a bark and Han replied, “That might just work.”
“Once we get the security credentials, they’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference between who was summoned and who was sent,” Leia added.
“What are we talking about here?” Rieekan inquired patiently.
“Yes, care to clue us in?” Madine asked, a little less patiently.
“A delegation of Wookiees is to appear on Coruscant to have their grievances aired before the Imperial Council,” Leia explained.
“Yeah, the Empire is trying to shake their xenophobia, nutso persona and appear sympathetic to the Wookiee’s plight,” Han scoffed.
Chewie let out a long slow growl.
“Chewie’s right. The delegation has to appear, even though they know it’s nothing more than a charade. If they don’t appear then the Empire can say that they tried and the Wookiees were uncooperative,” Leia explained.
“And the Empire has to realize that, so they'll be expecting the delegation. Do we know how many Wookiees have been invited?” Madine replied, his interest piqued.
“Does it matter? Any more than two and we’re golden,” Han answered smugly.
“Fifteen? Why don’t we take Byss while we’re at it?” Han exclaimed triumphantly.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but I like it. It’s not only simple and smart. But it has a certain amount of justice in it,” Rieekan said soberly.
“Yes. A group of sentient beings that the Empire has treated as…disposable,” Leia glanced at Chewie, a tinge of sadness and understanding shared between them. The only beings treated more unfairly than the Alderaanians by the Empire were the Wookiees. “How appropriate would it be for them to take back the seat of the Galactic Government in the name of all of the oppressed?”
“I for one would love to see the look on the Imperial Council’s faces!” Lando laughed.
“Well, consider your wish granted,” Han said smartly, “because I’m not sending Chewie in there alone.”
(My condition from Zyra was: “Hmmm... um, Leia has to get out of the med center (either discharged or she insists on it) and maybe they have to come up with what they are going to do next concerning the Empire? I don't even know what they would do. I guess they have to find out who is in charge and take 'em down.”)