Previous entries can be found here-
...previously on Tatooine
Leia tried not to look at the carbonite slab hanging nearby. Tried not to feel Jabba’s groping of her overly tender breast, or the slime-ridden tongue which he ran all over her face, neck and cleavage. The whole time she did not look at him, could not look at him, or he would have seen the burning hate in her eyes; and that would only precipitate her death.
She felt a thick ribbon of slime from the Hutt’s tongue run along her collarbone and glanced down in time to see it trickle down between her breasts. An intense wave of nausea washed over her, made infinitely worse by the smell that emanated from the Hutt with every exhalation, and she retched. A moment later she was vomiting over the edge of the dais.
The Hutt seemed unfazed. Was in fact amused by the battle that was waged moments later by the scavengers in the room, laughing uproariously as they tore each other apart in their battle to consume the little bit of bile she had left.
Before she’d even had time to recover, Jabba pulled her back against him and offered her a drink that smelt like something from a fuel waste dump. Leia had to admit she was thirsty, but did she dare drink from the Hutt’s cup? On the other hand, would he even let her refuse?
Testing him, she shook her head and pushed his hand away. But Jabba insisted, holding her immobile while he lifted the slime-slick cup to her lips. The smell of the liquid made her stomach heave again, and Leia turned her head away.
Jabba shifted the strong grip he had on the chain right where it attached to her collar to the collar itself, and tightened it ever so slightly. It was a threat that Leia understood immediately; drink or be strangled.
Praying that whatever was in the concoction would not harm her unborn child, Leia relented and attempted to sip from the cup. But that was not good enough for Jabba. He yanked her head backwards suddenly and flooded her mouth with the contents of the cup. Then he and the rest of the court laughed uproariously as she choked and spluttered on the vile liquid.
Gagging violently, Leia again vomited onto the sand in front of the dais. Her mouth was on fire and, despite her efforts not to swallow any of it, she could feel the burning trail the drink had made all the way to her stomach.
It was pure Spice. In a carrier of rocket fuel.
Seriously worried, Leia tried to vomit again, sought to purge as much of the drug from her system as she could. But she could already feel it racing through her blood.
Maliciously, Jabba grabbed her again and repeated the procedure, and again she fought and failed. This time the laughter seemed to echo around in her head like her head was an empty room.
Leia could feel herself trembling, lying helpless against the Hutt’s belly, while the room seemed to fade in and out of existence around her, and realised with horror that Jabba could do anything to her now and she probably wouldn’t be able to fight him. He was running one hand across her chest, above the uncomfortable metal bra she’d been forced to wear, and his touch was both bliss and agony on her suddenly hypersensitive skin.
Worried, Leia sought out her daughter’s presence and found her surprisingly easily. Felt an incredibly strong response from her, and was amazed at how much she seemed to have grown. The last time she had felt the child this clearly had been in the waterfall on Dagobah. Was that even a week ago? And yet her daughter seemed to have changed dramatically. Bigger, stronger, and she literally glowed in the Force.
Suddenly, calculating her exact gestation became an obsession for Leia, and she spent what seemed like hours working out exactly how old the embryo was. When she was conceived, when she would be born, and realised that her daughter had crossed the threshold from embryo to foetus. She was fully formed; from now on all she would do was grow in size.
The Spice was affecting her daughter too; Leia could feel it. Could feel the spike of sharp awareness from her and sought to soothe her. Felt a flare of anger towards the Hutt who had inflicted this on both of them.
The Hutt was talking and months seemed to pass between each of his words. Then Leia felt something touch her leg. Assuming it was the small Kowakian monkey lizard she had seen climbing all over Jabba earlier, and unwilling to find the energy to look, not to mention break her pleasant communion with her daughter, Leia attempted to kick it away. Hands clamped down on her knees then; forcing them apart, and Leia suddenly found the wherewithal to pay attention.
The male running his hands up between her legs wasn’t even human! Leia looked over her shoulder at the Hutt, wondering why he wasn’t stopping this creature’s attempt to rape her. She got the distinct impression that the Hutt was either happy to watch whatever performance this male was offering or seeing how far he dared go before having to swat him.
Leia growled and pushed the creature away, instinctively using the Force at the same time, and he fell from the dais with an undignified clatter. The Spice seemed to have taken the edge off her fear and she really only felt irritated by the pathetic male’s interruption to her reverie.
Jabba and the rest of the court seemed to find it funny.
That bothered her because it suggested he would let it happen again. Leia forced herself to sit up, and struggled to bring her brain up to speed. The Spice had let her lower her defences.
A guard approached, one of the few humans in the room, and Leia couldn’t help wondering if he was planning to try where the other male had failed. He produced two small metal discs from a pouch that hung from his belt and held them up to the Hutt.
"Your Eminence," he said in Basic. "Would you like me to mark her untouchable?"
With a shock, Leia realised it was Lando Calrissian, but could only catch a glimpse of his face through the helmet and mask he was wearing. Jabba seemed to consider his request for a long time, then she felt him nod.
Calrissian pulled out a small macrofuser and hurriedly fused the discs to the metal plate over her groin. Leia said nothing, just watched and, as he finished, Calrissian finally met her gaze. She could see profound regret in his eyes and realised he was here for the same reason she was – to rescue Han – and was trying to apologise.
Leia’s gaze hardened. She could not forgive Lando; didn’t know if she would ever be able to.
He indicated the discs and whispered, "They tell everyone in the room you’re Jabba’s. No one will touch you sexually without Jabba’s express permission."
Leia nodded, but could not look at him. So Lando had lessened her chances of being raped. That was something. But it didn’t mean she wouldn’t be.
Calrissian moved away and Leia looked across at the carbonite slab hanging nearby. The agonised expression frozen on Solo’s face almost broke her heart but, at the same time, it was impossible to look away. It was made worse by the fact that she had some idea of the sort of suffering he was going through in his so-called ‘perfect’ hibernation. Leia wished Lando could feel what Han was feeling.
With her Spice expanded Force sense, Leia sought out her lover’s consciousness, dreading what she would find there, yet wanting to reassure him somehow. To tell him they were coming; that soon they would rescue him.
Pure panic and desperation flooded through her, and Leia knew it had come from Han. She tried to comfort him, tried to delve below the layer of panic and pain that seemed to be all he knew, but couldn’t find him at all. Sentient Han had fled.
The panic swiftly became her own. Could he really be gone? She felt a reassuring touch from Luke in her mind and clung to it. She hadn’t felt her brother since he’d been taken away, but hadn’t had time to really worry about him because of all that had been happening to her. Leia could feel his concern for her and tried to reassure him, but wanted to weep. Everything was going so wrong.
She was dimly aware that Jabba was harassing her again, but couldn’t focus through her Spice induced haze. She was still linked to Han as well as Luke, and could no longer be sure what was real and what wasn’t.
The Hutt shoved her off the dais, barking orders at her, and she couldn’t figure out what he wanted her to do. Did he want her to dance again? There was no music but Leia started dancing anyway, awkward on her feet thanks to the Spice. Some of the court seemed amused, but Jabba definitely wasn’t. He dragged her back towards him, bellowing at her.
Leia glanced at the carbonite slab and it seemed to infuriate him. He was barking orders at others, and Leia wondered what sort of mayhem she had inadvertently caused now. Then she realised that the Twi’Lek was lowering the carbonite slab from where it was hanging on the wall.
Panic gripped her. What was Jabba planning to do with it?
The answer to that became obvious as the Twi’Lek started fiddling with the controls on the side of the slab.
Leia’s worst nightmare was coming true: Jabba was unfreezing Han without any sort of medical assistance at all.
"No!" she sobbed and started towards the alcove. "You’ll kill him!" she added, but knew no one would care. Jabba jerked on her chain, pulling her up short and nearly crushing her windpipe in the process. Gasping for air, Leia watched as the slab of carbonite began to emit a high-pitched wail and screamed her terror through the Force at Luke.
It started at the extremities, his fingers and the toes of his boots slowly appearing as the melting carbonite slid away. Slowly the hard shell covering the Corellian’s face liquefied and his face relaxed into something resembling death. Hands, so long frozen in protest, fell slackly to his sides. Liquid carbonite was pooling on the floor and the death-like figure, unable to hold its own weight, buckled at the knees and collapsed, falling forward and landing in the puddling carbonite with a dull thwak.
Leia was at the full length of her chain, beside herself with worry and desperate to get to Han as the Twi’Lek dragged Solo’s body to one side, and watched him intently for any sign of life. Carbonite continued to slop from its housing and The Twi’Lek wiped what he could from Solo’s face.
He looked back at Leia and grinned maliciously, ostensibly reporting to the Hutt. But he must have ordered the protocol droid to translate because it said, "Bib Fortuna reports that Captain Solo appears to be dead."
Leia felt as frozen as Solo had been. As though her soul was refusing to take a breath, refusing to commit itself to a life without Han. Fortuna was applying a metal disruptor to the arm binders that were on the Corellian’s upper arms and removing them. Binders which had been forced on the smuggler on Bespin.
The horror of Bespin flooded through Leia again, and she couldn’t stop the tears from running down her cheeks. She suddenly had a vivid recollection of the way Han had looked at her just before he was put into carbonite, and found herself weeping quietly, uncaring of who could see her or what they would think.
Han needed the medication she had brought. And he needed it now.
She felt the tension on her chain go slack and rushed forward. Leia didn’t question why Jabba had decided to let her go, but suspected it was because he saw the opportunity for more amusement. She didn’t care, as long as she could get to Solo.
Luke! She screamed mentally as she bent over Solo. Luke, help me!
She rolled Solo onto his side while hurriedly running triage in her head. She repeated the list of possible side effects and what she would need to do about them and over and over to herself. The medic on Cloud City had been helpful in that respect, and Leia had drilled herself with his suggested procedure all the way to Tatooine. She knew exactly what to do, but now found herself without any of the drugs required, let alone the hypos and infusers to administer them with.
She shook Solo in an attempt to kick-start his breathing, but he remained cold and lifeless. With panic fluttering around the edges of her consciousness, Leia screamed mentally for Luke again.
We’re coming, Leia, he replied, then added calmly, Remember Hoth.
Leia paused in her examination of Solo. Luke hadn’t told her to use the Force in so many words, but she knew that was exactly what he meant. Not so long ago, she and Solo had been caught in a major cave-in while they’d been setting up the base on Hoth; in fact Solo had nearly died. But she had done something and healed him. Luke believed she had used the Force, but Leia had been more sceptical. Now, with the new knowledge of her heritage and her time on Dagobah, Leia was forced to accept the possibility. She had no idea what she’d done or how she might have triggered it but, looking at Solo’s dead face, Leia knew she had nothing to lose.
Embracing him as much as she could, cradling his head and shoulders in her lap, Leia closed her eyes to the filth and despair of Jabba’s throne room and consciously opened herself to the Force. It flooded through her, enhanced by the Spice, and instinctively she channelled it into Solo.
He responded immediately: gasping as his eyes snapped open. Then he started coughing and vomiting all at once.
Leia could feel his raw fear and sought to reassure him, murmuring softly against his ear while she held him firmly, helping him feel secure. The medic had suggested that Solo might well come out of the hibernation hypersensitive to everything, so she was careful to keep her voice low and calm. The medic had also been concerned that the trauma of being frozen then unfrozen would cause his retinas to detach, thereby rendering him permanently blind. But, he had then assured her that, assuming Solo received the correct medications within thirty minutes of being defrosted, the blindness would be temporary; his eyes simply taking longer to recover than the rest of him.
Leia sent out another urgent call to Luke, then tried to concentrate healing Force energy on Solo’s eyes.
The Corellian had started to tremble, and it was steadily becoming more violent. He clutched at her and made a horrible sound. Suspecting he was trying to speak, Leia held him even tighter and said, "It’s me, Han. It’s me."
She wanted to tell him he was safe, but he wasn’t. He was probably in the worst place possible. But he didn’t need to know that yet, did he? Looking at his sightless eyes, Leia couldn’t help herself; she held his face with both hands and kissed him firmly. And felt a spike in his awareness through the Force, felt his lips start to respond.
"Leia," he croaked when they parted, but only she could understand that the garbled sound he’d made was her name.
Abruptly she was yanked backwards by the collar around her neck. Pulled so hard that she was almost hanged as she was dragged across the sand-covered floor. Leia grabbed at the taught chain that was attached to her collar, frantically trying to get to her feet, desperate to get back to Han who was floundering pathetically on the sand nearby.
"Leia!" she heard him croak again and, finding her feet finally, tried to rush back to him. But the Hutt was keeping a short rein on her this time; allowing her to get halfway to Solo before pulling her up short.
Full of outraged frustration, and holding her chain to prevent him from attempting to break her neck again, Leia faced the Hutt and demanded, "Let me go!"
The Hutt simply chuckled, and then the carrion eaters moved in. Sycophants all, pathetic grovellers. They surrounded Solo and started tormenting him. Picking, prodding, shoving and laughing while the blind and disoriented man writhed helplessly on the sand.
Leia felt an overwhelming and familiar dark rage fill her, swiftly followed by an alarmed response from Luke. She could feel the power inherit in the darkness, and knew the Spice had amplified it. The arrogance that came with it she didn’t even notice, just felt certain the power was something she could use. Something she could control. Something she could save Han with.
Ignoring Luke, Leia welcomed the darkness and, with a thought, created a shock wave that flung every creature close to Solo away. The Hutt responded by pulling savagely on her chain, and Leia turned eyes filled with hate and dark Force on him. Jabba’s mouth was moving, but the sound of his voice was a slow boom. It was as though everything in the room had slowed to half speed. Everything except her.
A feeling of impending danger made her turn in time to see a female figure approaching through the crowd. A fellow slave-girl by the clothes she was wearing, but Leia could feel that the woman was not what she seemed. Then Calrissian surged forward in front of the woman and Leia’s feeling of hate and loathing deepened.
He rushed towards her, unsuspecting, and Leia wanted to slam him into the opposite wall. Wanted to slam him hard enough to break every bone in his body. Wanted to repay the agony he had inflicted on Solo a thousand fold. Only the consideration that he might still be useful to her stopped her. That and the fact that Luke and Chewbacca were right behind him.
But she didn’t bother to disguise her look of disdain as Calrissian literally ran into her, knocking her to the floor. Her assumption that he had done it to perpetuate his disguise of being a guard, and that it was part of their new escape plan was proven correct when she heard him whisper urgently, "Go with the flow, Princess." Then she felt him press something hard and round into her hand.
Leia closed her fingers around it and did not have to look at the thermal detonator to know what it was.
"Throw me at Jabba," she hissed at him, then pretended to struggle with him.
Calrissian hauled her to her feet and dragged her back to the smugly smiling Hutt. Leia made a show of fighting the guard, of trying to get to Solo but, with a final shove, was thrown into the waiting arms of the Hutt.
Using her momentum, Leia pretended to fall against him, and thrust the hand holding the thermal detonator as far down his throat as she could reach. Without pausing, and ignoring the wild thrashing of the Hutt, she activated it then withdrew her arm.
She smiled hellishly at the Hutt and used the Force to keep the thermal detonator in place as he immediately tried to purge himself. She didn’t see him activate the EMP security system, but guessed he must have when the protocol droid behind them suddenly died. Smiling, Leia simply used the Force to turn it off again.
The Hutt roared, throwing himself off the dais, and Leia leapt out of his way. She used the Force to unlock her collar and rushed to Chewbacca, who was picking Solo up to carry him out.
"Hurry!" she said, yelling to be heard over the noise in the room, then turned to look for her brother as she asked, "Where’s Luke?"
The "shhhrrrrrrmmmmnn" of a lightsabre igniting riveted everyone in the room for a fraction of a second, then full-blown chaos erupted. Denizens were flooding from the throne room like oxygen from a starship with ruptured hull.
Her eyes drawn by the bright, lavender blade of the lightsabre, and expecting to see Luke holding it, Leia was shocked to see that the woman she’d noticed a minute ago was wielding it instead. The one her Force instinct had insisted was dangerous. She was holding Luke at bay with Han’s mother’s lightsabre and Leia was so affronted by her using it that she unthinkingly used the Force to snatch it out of the woman’s hand. And felt almost as surprised as the woman looked when it was suddenly in her own hand.
Swiftly deciding that she didn’t have time to contemplate any of it, Leia turned the lightsabre off just as Calrissian grabbed her round the waist and dragged her into the alcove the carbonite had been hanging in. He pressed her against the wall, shielding her with his own body, and she saw Chewbacca follow them in with Solo in his arms. She had a fraction of a second to wonder where Luke was, then the Hutt exploded.
It sounded wet, Leia thought ludicrously. Explosions were supposed to sound loud and sharp. This one had been loud, but it sounded wet.
Calrissian stepped aside and removed his helmet. Leia could see that he’d been liberally splattered with blood and glanced at Chewie to check that Solo was safe, then carefully looked out into the throne room.
Through the cloud of dust she could see that there was a huge hole where Jabba had been. Much of the floor had vanished and the ceiling was raining down in fine particles. Many of the room’s occupants had been killed in the blast, and those that hadn’t been were starting to moan. Blood and matter had painted every surface, and her own feeling of delight at knowing that those bits of matter had once been Jabba the Hutt disgusted Leia.
She tried to worry about Luke instead, but found she was more worried about the drugs he was carrying. Without looking at Calrissian, she ordered him to search for Luke while she helped Chewbacca with Solo. Luke had the drugs she needed to properly revive Han, but she would do what she could without them.
[We have to get out of here,] Chewbacca told her quietly, and Leia couldn’t have agreed more. Nevertheless, she forced herself to concentrate on Han for a moment; laid her hands on his violently trembling chest and forehead and attempted to flood his body with healing Force.
Nothing happened and she frowned; searched inside herself for the power she knew she’d been wielding only a moment ago, and could feel it like a living thing. A darkness deep inside her. A very powerful darkness.
Irritated, Leia once again attempted to flood her lover with healing energy, and once again she failed. Anger gripped her. Was she to be tormented with enough power to defeat her enemy, yet not enough to save Han?
"Leia?" she heard Solo croak, and attempted to control her rage. She gripped his hand tightly and lay her cheek against his.
"I’m right here, Han," she told him softly, then kissed his cheek. It was so cold beneath her lips that it felt dead.
"Leia…" he stammered again, and Leia attempted to envelop him with love through the Force, but all she could feel was anger and hate. Han was dying in her arms and the only emotion she could feel was hate.
Calrissian staggered in supporting Luke, and Leia didn’t even stop to consider that he might be wounded; simply demanded that he give her the bag of medications for Solo. Calrissian handed the bag over and she hastily rummaged through it. As soon as she found what she was looking for, Leia inserted the correct medication into the hypodermic spray gun and discharged it against Solo’s neck.
Solo flinched involuntarily, and Leia suspected that his hypersensitivity had made the administration painful, but Leia couldn’t help feeling aggravated by his reaction. She stopped herself from growling irritably at him by concentrating on recharging the hypo. The medic had assured her that the highest risk of death in these first few minutes would be from stroke or an embolism. The first medication would thin his blood as well as dilate his vascular system, thereby hopefully avoiding unwanted clotting. This one was for saving his sight.
She discharged it against his neck and this time Solo actually whimpered. The sound shocked her so much that Leia felt tears spring in her eyes. Her instinctive reaction was to hold him and she cradled his head tightly against her chest, murmuring soft assurances against his hair.
"Leia," he croaked.
"I’m here, Han," she told him, and pressed her lips against his temple. "I’m here."
"Jabba’s," she said, anticipating his question and relieving him from struggling to find the wherewithal to ask it. Then she hastily added, "You’re safe. We’re getting you out of here."
Solo’s hand flailed in the direction of his face, found his eyes and wiped futilely at them. "I c-can’t s-s-s-."
"The blindness isn’t permanent," she assured him, then Chewbacca touched her shoulder and Leia read his intent at a glance. "Time to go," she told Solo, and relinquished him to the Wookiee. She felt something in her heart squeeze as she watched the Wookiee lift her lover like a helpless child; heard him rumble soft assurances in Shri-Wook as he turned to carry Solo from the alcove.
"Follow me," Lando told them and Leia grabbed the bag as well as the lightsabre she’d left lying on the sandy floor, and followed him out.
Calrissian was still supporting Luke, and Leia suddenly thought to ask after her brother’s well being, but her query was met with a flat, "I’ll be fine, Leia."
The tone in his voice brooked no argument, although Leia could hear he was in pain. She also got the distinct impression that he wasn’t happy with her. Unwilling to dwell on it, Leia dismissed the problem and focussed her attention on their escape from Jabba’s lair.
Calrissian led them through a maze of stairwells and tunnels to the cavernous room that housed Jabba’s sail barge and a fleet of skiffs. A large number of denizens were fighting over the sand skiffs already and there were several firefights in action. Calrissian pointed to one of the skiffs that seemed to have been overlooked. Its position behind the sail barge had kept it largely out of sight and, crouching low to avoid being shot, they followed the erstwhile guard towards it.
A woman stepped out from behind the skiff just as they reached it and levelled a blaster at them. She was of a medium height with an athletic build, and Leia recognised her as the one who had been threatening Luke in the throne room. She felt a dramatic rise in her irritation levels, disappointed that the woman hadn’t perished with Jabba.
"Who are you?" Leia heard Luke ask and turned an incredulous expression on her brother.
"She’s an assassin," Leia answered him churlishly. "Can’t you tell?" She readjusted her grip on the lightsabre and added darkly, "Sent by the Emperor."
The woman saw the movement and her eyes appraised Leia coolly.
Calrissian had his blaster trained on the woman and deferred to others by asking, "Do we take her with us or kill her?"
"Kill her," Leia replied immediately, then bridled at the look her pronouncement prompted from Luke. Her instinctive reaction was to wonder if he’d suffered brain damage in the blast. Surely he realised what this woman was here for? What she wanted to take them back to. What she would help the Emperor do to her daughter?
Then it abruptly occurred to Leia that this might be exactly what Luke was hoping for, and she moved a step away from him. The way he had got them off Vader’s ship, the way he had somehow manipulated her every step. After two weeks on Vader’s Super Star Destroyer, chances were he already knew this woman!
Leia glared at Luke as though he had just betrayed everything she believed in, then switched her ire to the woman as she was told scornfully, "You’re so like your father."
Gripped by a white-hot fury, Leia rammed her lightsabre up under the woman’s chin without thinking, her thumb resting on the activation switch. The woman froze, then very carefully allowed her blaster to fall from her hand, but her green eyes regarded Leia carefully. There was no fear in them.
"Are you sure this is the path you want to take?" Leia heard Luke ask quietly.
"Shut up, Luke," she snapped. She longed to activate the lightsabre and remove this deadly hindrance once and for all. Part of her wondered why she hadn’t already.
"Is it a path you’re prepared to take Han down?" he insisted.
"Han will follow you, you know that. Even down that path. He’ll follow you anywhere."
Then she heard Solo stammer, "Leia?" and felt like her mind was tearing in two. She jerked the lightsabre out from under the woman’s chin and threw it at Luke.
"You deal with it then!" she told him scathingly and, without looking at any of them, climbed onto the skiff and started looking for the controls.
Chewbacca eyed the female assassin carefully then moved past her and followed Leia onto the skiff. Calrissian looked at Luke and asked, "What do you want to do?"
Luke bent awkwardly, favouring his wounded side, and picked up the lightsabre, then said, "Let’s go."
Uncertain, Calrissian stopped him from moving towards the skip and told him in a low voice, "There’s the old adage about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer…"
Luke regarded the woman for a moment then shook his head and moved past her. "Leave her."
Calrissian bent and picked up the woman’s blaster while giving her a hard glare, then helped Luke board the skiff. Unhappy about leaving an enemy free, he had to ask, "Are you sure about this?"
Luke nodded and Calrissian threw the assassin a look that told her he thought she’d got off ridiculously lightly. Then he moved Leia out of the way so he could start the skiff.
A moment later they flew out of the hangar and into the bright Tatooine daylight.