Talking about going somewhere in disguise and actually going through with it while praying to every god that nobody recognized you were two very different things. If Leia weren’t already nauseous from the early stages of her pregnancy, she was sure she’d feel that way now anyway.
Leia had always preferred being more straight forward with people. Lies and deceit were not part of her normal repertoire, but in war, exceptions had to be made. The Empire had made them desperate and looking around at her usually familiar friends and barely being able to recognize them reminded her of just how desperate their situation had become.
As they walked through the corridors she noted how she could still recognize the way Han walked underneath that elaborate disguise. Even if she hadn’t known it was him she would be able to pick him out just based on the way his long legs strode so purposely, arms swinging in time with his steps and his strong shoulders and straight back. She wondered if it was maybe his military training. It was odd seeing an unfamiliar being with his walk, even if she knew it was him. It hadn’t been very long and yet she already missed his face.
She could feel her heart beating fast, trying to calm the nerves of anticipation and wondering whether their plan would work. And the dire consequences if it didn’t. She had to remind herself to remain optimistic when terrible thoughts started to enter her head. Thoughts such as this being the last time she saw Luke or Lando or Han. Or if something happened to her and she left Han behind. Silly idealism has gotten you this far and you’re not dead yet. Optimism can do wonders, even if it is a bit naïve.
She felt a chill at being inside the Imperial Center, enemy territory. If any one of these people found out who they were they’d be shot on sight and the plan would fail. For now, they could only home that Operation Commo. had taken care of its part of the plan. Mostly there was just waiting to be done.
They were led inside a large meeting room and seated around a table so large it required voice enhancers to hear those on the far end. The Wookiees looked ridiculous seated next to the humanoid-sized beings. It was certainly a diverse group.
Leia had a hard time concentrating during the meeting. The only sound she was focused on was her own heartbeat thundering in her ears. Han was seated to her left and she wanted to take his hand under the table, but showing affection of any kind was sure to arouse suspicion and only serve to remind her that their hands were as much in disguise as the rest of them and it would not give her as much comfort as it normally would.
The meeting was led by a tall, bone-thin older man who, Leia realized as a chill ran down her spine, reminded her of Grand Moff Tarkin. She’d endured far too much torture in her short life, but none had been so terrible as his ordering of her planet to be destroyed. She had to calm herself with the sudden irrational need to lash out at the injustice she had suffered. Nobody else could suffer. The plan needed to succeed.
After a while of speaking, another one of the Imperials entered the room and whispered something in the man’s ear that caused a look of concern to cross his face. And maybe a bit of fear. Leia knew intuitively that that was the information she had been waiting for them to receive. Kuat was under attack. She felt the air escape her lungs as he ordered a few men out of the room and then continued the meeting as though nothing had happened.
If the diversion was working as intended, most of the best military personnel would be headed off-planet immediately. Kuat was far too important to leave up to your second best men. She discreetly grabbed rubbed her hand soothingly along her belly, realizing how unsettling that felt with her faux-reptilian hand. She had decided she was happy to be having Han’s baby, she just wasn’t thrilled with how the timing had worked out. And she wondered how such a tiny, almost too small to see being could wreak such havoc on her stomach. The last thing she needed was to throw up all over the meeting table.
She took a few deep breaths and tried to will away the nausea. It was one of the first times she wished that she’d known she had the Force earlier so she could use one of those Jedi calming techniques that Han loved to tease Luke so much about. She wondered if Luke would get to teach their children how to do that someday.
“I think we’ve gone through enough to start and I’m sure you’re all hungry,” the Tarkin-esque man said. So I am just going to go and take care of a few things. You all may remain here and your lunch will be here shortly.
Mention of lunch sent a pang to Leia’s stomach that she couldn’t tell if it was revulsion or desperate hunger. It almost made her forget that the food service droids that would no doubt soon enter the room were the key to their entire plan. She felt a whole new level of anxiety. Worse, she knew that soon she and Han would have to go their separate ways and she wouldn’t be able to tell if anything had happened to him. She knew he was competent and could take care of himself, but this was an awfully dangerous mission.
They remained “in character” for the time being, having decided that it was best not to do anything to compromise things before they had the food service droids. She wanted to tell Han to be careful, tell him she loved him one more time.
When she realized her fists were shaking as they were clenched in nervousness, she released them as the door whooshed open and the food service droids came in.
Han turned and looked at her, and it was still unsettling to see him in this elaborate disguise. “Ready?”
Push's condition to me was that I had to get them inside the Imperial Palace, either according to plan... or not.