Stars die, hope dies, she knows that.
“What will you have him do?” Leia barres her teeth, “kill me?” Her hands burn from where they are cuffed closely together, almost cutting off the blood coursing fiery and hot through her veins.
Vader does not reply to her question, simply crossing his arms over his metallic chest as stares out into the vastless sea of stars.
“Not you, my dear,” Tarkin purres from where he stands, he’s always loomed over her.
A feeling of dread spreads from her gut, “I’ll never tell you where he is,” she wants to spit on the perfectly polished black floors. That’ll bother him.
This draws a chuckle from Tarkin as leans in closer, putting them at level where they can almost make direct eye contact, “we are well aware where the boy is, however, we are curious to the location of the rebel base we know you were both headed to.”
Leia swears she feels something roll off her father, a feeling too familiar to be fury, but too coarse to be betrayal. That’s what they were after all, she has to remind herself. Her and Luke are as of now, both considered traitors to the Empire. Things could be worse.
“Truly an honor to have you back on board, especially now that you can by my guest to a ceremony that will make this battle station operational,” the Grand Moff’s gaze flickers from her to the pale blue orb becoming more and more visible, “no star system will dare oppose the Emperor now.”
Leia’s glare reaches her father, “you think I’m not aware of this station’s potential?” Something clicks in her mind and she begins to struggle against the guard holding her, “If you think- I won’t let you kill him!”
“Oh, quit howling,” Tarkin rolls his eyes as he turns his back to her and steps towards the window, “in a way, my dear Leia, you have determined the choice of the planet that’ll be destroyed first.”
“We’ve entered the Alderaan system,” a voice that Leia can only recognize as the slime that is Admiral Motti rings through the bridge.
Leia’s blood runs cold but her expression remains untouched, “what are you talking about, laser brain?”
A bit taken back by such a childish insult, Tarkin blinks before continuing, “well, since you are so reluctant to provide us with the location of your newfound precious Rebel base, I have chosen to test this station’s destructive power on another newfound love of yours.” The man glances to Vader, as if to make sure his next statement is heard, “rebellion leader and Imperial traitor Bail Organa’s home planet of Alderaan.”
No , her mind whirls as bile slowly makes its way up into her throat, not Alderaan, not Bail. Leia looks back from Tarkin to Vader, as if that will save anyone, “ no, Alderaan is peaceful, they have no weapons you can’t possibly-”
“You would prefer another target?” Tarkin turns his body back to her and grabs her chin with his bony fingers, “then name the system!” he spits in her face as he releases her.
She’s silent as she stares at the planet, now recognizable. With a hard swallow, she presses all she can against the thick wall keeping her from communicating to Luke. Luke, listen. Normally it’s so easy, he’s right there. Luke, I'm here. Now, it’s almost as if he’d been wiped off the plane they share together. He’s safe , she reminds herself, he’s safe with the Jedi. He would know what to do.
“I’m growing tired of this,” the Grand Moff mutters to Vader, “daughter or not, she is now a traitor and rebel scum.”
Bail, get out, get out, the voice inside her head chokes.
“This is the last time,” he says, “where is the rebel base?”
Get out, get out, get out, get out. Lie.
“Sir, we’re approaching-”
“Dantooine,” she nearly whispers, “they’re on Dantooine.”
Relief bubbles up in Leia’s chest before it is choked by the guilt gnawing within her. If this works, Dantooine’s blood will always be on her hands. But Bail and his family’s won’t.
For the man who saved her life, it was the least she could do.
Tarkin stares her down as she looks away, “there, you see Lord Vader, it seems your daughter can be reasonable.” Vader gives no response, simply frozen where he stands. “Continue with the operation, you may fire when ready,” the Grand Moff turns back to Motti as he steps away.
“No!” Leia lurches forward, a cold metallic hand coming down on her shoulder as the guards pull her back by her elbows. She turns her focus over her shoulder to see her father’s blank and masked gaze upon her, his hand burning into her shoulder.
To all the days she strived for his approval, to be better than her twin, to be worthy of becoming the superior Skywalker heir, she curses. To be here now, she’s tearing at the seams. Bail had found her, had worked so hard to teach her to think for herself. He had provided the fatherly warmth she had never knew she wanted or needed. And this is how he will be repaid? Leia's heart skips a beat, not in the joyous wonder it had all those months ago when she had first decided her new path, no. Now it skips in what she can only assume is fear.
To Tarkin’s pleasure, and Leia’s horror, the entire bridge watches as a single terrible beam of light shoots off like a rocket from the station and directly into the heart of the planet. Debris instantly flies out from the radius of the explosion, and instantly causes Leia’s sense to jolt awake. Something loud rings in her head for a split second before everything goes silent.
In a split second decision of rage, she wishes she could take it back. She wishes she had never spoken to him after that unusually boring senate hearing, wishes she hadn’t allowed him to give her the one thing she had always hated about Luke.
Hope. Bail had hope, Luke had hope.
The familiar feeling of Vader’s presence skirts on the edges of her mind and Leia pushes his hand off her shoulder, “get out of my head,” she spits.
Then there’s the guilt, the guilt of wishing it away. With that thought comes the thought that Bail didn’t sacrifice his life for nothing, and now Leia knows exactly what she has to do.
“Away with her,” Tarkin orders the men who have a death grip on either side of the younger woman with a wave of his hand, “she’s fulfilled her uses for now.”
“I hate you,” Leia pulls away so she can look her at her father directly as she’s dragged out, “and you’ll never get Luke, I can promise you that.”
Luke, she reaches out, Luke please hear me. You’re our only hope, Luke, you’re our only hope now.