Log:A Beautiful Day
It's a beautiful day.
That stands out to her now, sitting on her patio looking liking out over the clearing where fighters are lined up symetrically. The sun comes in through pulled curtains, casting warm light across the comfortable, welcoming patio. Leia Organa sits in a chair with eyes that radiate the warmth of the sun, a sad smile on her face like she knows that it has to set soon, and a warm cup of tea resting on a table nearby.
Winter was fussing at her to stay warm when she said she had a chill and threw a blanket over her legs and now busies herself just to keep her hands from going idle and her mind from wandering to the eclipse that is palpable in the air. It isn't a dark tiding, it almost feels invited in and offered a place to sit.
"She's with him now, Winter. I can feel it."
The words are quiet, hoarse even, from the once strong General, Princess, and Jedi Knight.
With Rey off wherever, Zandra has taken to stopping to check in on Leia regularly. The young Jedi Initiate isn't the healer that Aryn is or anything, but she can at least be present and offer any assistance. quietly, she comes to the door, peeking in to see if it's a good time for a short visit. "Your highness?" she says softly. "I am not intruding, am I?" The question comes naturally, the violet haired young lady smiling as she keeps positive. Soon Rey will be back and all will be well, that's the current mantra that Zan is going with. "I came to see if there's anything I can help with today."
The company is lovely, and the setting tranquil, which means when Kasia arrives she does so quietly, hovering just to the side of the entryway as though worried that her presence will be an intrusion in this private space. A slow breath is drawn to sooth nerves that are on edge for reasons that she can't quite place, puts on a relaxed smile that is mostly genuine, and moves further into the room. She doesn't echo the greeting that Zandra offers, but instead angles her smile at the General, and then Winter.
Word had been sent to fetch the Doctor. The Doctor on duty today was Aryn Cole. She arrives in short order, wearing a uniform of red and black with a fancy vest and long doctor's coat. She carried with her the satchel that contained much of the medical equipment she'd need. Her arrival was unannounced and behind the others. She waits to observe to see if she can determine why she is here.
The unending action, long cycles of patrol, repair, debrief, eating for fuel and not for taste has worn all the squadrons bare. Lintra makes no special claims to tiredness or overwork but when she feels the grit behind her eyes like boulders and the stiffness in her neck becomes the norm she gravitates to the peace that the General seems to emanate. A pilot like herself knows nothing of the Force.
Her knock is soft, the question at the entry pitched to match. Nodding first to the General then with an up nod to both Kasia, Zandra and the doctor she lets herself into room.
Leia looks up from her quiet observations at the arrival of some of those people closest to her and smiles with a distant kind of warmth that is heightened by the ambiant lighting of the sun breaking through the canopy of trees outside her patio window. "Zandria." She greets the young initiate first, holding out a hand to her invitingly, "Come sit with me?" There are chairs laid out near her, only a handful. Six, including her own and Winter's, as if it was arranged that way on purpose.
Next meeting Kasia's easy smile, "I'm so glad you've come." Beckoning all in, Tallie among them, "Sit and rest. Let Winter get you some tea?" The Snow haired Leia Duplicate glances up at the volunteering, but makes her way from the assorted refreshments towards Aryn.
Leaning towards the Doctor, "It's time." She says quietly. She's always silent. A shadow following Leia whose words are spoken for a singular purpose to push her oldest friends wishes. "You don't need that." Just as quietly, motioning to the medical supplies. "She just wants you to be here. That's why I sent for you."
Zan promptly moves forward to take Leia's offered hand, squeezing it gently and then releasing it to take one of the seats. "Of course," she replies. She's got all the time she needs for the general. That's always the case, as she settles peaceably and only then glances over to smile at those also arriving. Aryn and Tallie get slightly warmer smiles than Kasia, but that's honestly because Zan knows them better. She only recently met Kasia. "It's always lovely to sit here, and enjoy the view." Black squadron out there, and the pilot in Zan definitely picks out the couple of fighters that are not X wings in the bunch, but she doesn't comment on that, more just enjoying their sleek lines and comforting presence. Though the comfort part might be Leia.
No boys allowed in this treehouse! ...Or are they? One seems to have snuck in. It's Hex Ashkuri, Mr. Kasia's husband, who is late to the show but seems to have got some kind of message --- maybe from his wife, maybe from someone else, it's hard to say. Either way, his lekku curl with an attitude of worry as he enters as discreetly of possible, smelling like the stress-cigarette he had on the way here. It's to Kasia he goes, reaching to touch her arm and whisper, "What's wrong? What's going on?"
"I couldn't possibly deny the invitation," Kasia replies to Leia as she moves toward one of the open chairs, pausing at the sound of her husband's arrival. She reaches out to take Hex's hand for a moment, giving it a gentle squeeze as she whispers in return. "I'm not certain, exactly, but she asked that we come, so..." The hand is released, and she motions toward the assembled chairs. "Some tea would be lovely," she adds on the heels of the offer of a drink, shooting an appreciative look in Winter's direction before settling into one of the open seats.
Aryn is of the mind to seek out her Master, but is halted when Winter steps in front of her to speak in hushed words. The short Jedi looks up, taking the moment to guide her bright blonde hair back to meet Winter's gaze. /It is time/, Winter said, and Aryn's heart broke into two pieces. She chances a look toward the Princess and her eyes water.
"You must be mistaken, Lady Winter. She is not ill, or of broken spirit. Look to her." Aryn denied it, refused to accept it, but did not make a scene of it. Her words remained loud enough that only Winter could hear.
Intuition whispers to Tallie, perhaps it's pilot sense. She makes her way to a chair giving the room closest to the General to Zandra and the doctor. Her gaze makes the round of the room. There is a symmetry underlying the way they are ranged around their focal point. Young initiate next to the oldest Jedi living among them, the doctor in her full bloom but more than that Tallie can't comment on.
Hex's question certainly mirrors what Tallie would not say aloud for something unusual is in the air. Glancing around her, she returns Leia's gracious welcome with a deeper dip of her head and a smile filled with quiet appreciation that she extends with warmth to Zandra. Leia's words puzzle her and her smile fades to puzzlement and a dawning comprehension at Aryn's reaction. Stricken, Tallie sits very still eyes fixed on Leia.
"It is, isn't it?" Leia says of Zan's observations of the view. "It reminds me of Dantooine, before we left there.." Reaching for her tea more to warm her hands than to drink, breathing in the fumes of the fragrent leaves with an appreciative sigh. "I was so young then, though." That, at least, has her laughing. A melodic sound really, harkoning back to only a few short years ago before the galaxy had gone completely insane.
Brown eyes travel across each X-Wing, each pilot working with the engineers readying them for alert status. "The more things change, the more they stay the same, I suppose." The humor only fades minutely as she turns back to those she'd called to be with her. Meeting eyes effortlessly, she's no fears left and no worries remaining to hold back the warmth that has always brightened her like a solar flare.
Even in the darkest of times.
When hope was gone.
Winter dips her head to Aryn and reaches out to lay a comforting hand upon the doctor's shoulder, urging her over towards the General. Saying, only, "...It is time..." As if she knows without any doubt. Then she moves to get tea for those who want it, even smiling where usually there is only a stoicism. A counterpoint in how alike she and Leia appear but for the emotions they convey.
A dish is set down beside Kasia.
"I'm sorry to bring you all away from what you were doing." Leia offers, "I really didn't want to be alone... and I have a few things I want to get done that I... well I just don't have time to do it anymore.. So I'm going to have you all do it. I'm selfish in that way." Teasing, almost playful, even to the end.
Zan takes a breath, the feeling niggling at her. She's here for a reason, and she knows it. Of course. Though she's not clear on why that might be, what task will be hers. Leia's words fall on worried ears, Zan's gaze meeting Aryn's perhaps, to share a somewhat glittering look of her own. "I - of course, Master." There is a calm to Zandra, that is only a little brittle. She's clinging to it now, and managing not to lose it. But it's close; her voice doesn't break. "You have only to ask." There is implicit trust there, Zan entirely trusting Leia, without question. "Whatever I can do." She'd cheerfully give her own life if it would save Leia's. What she was doing isn't mentioned - it's not important. She doesn't doubt the others will too, though she doesn't speak on their behalf. A glance to Winter, and she sucks in her breath, squares her shoulders and adds, "tea sounds wonderful, thank you."
"Time for what?!" Hex whispers frantically at his wife, in the tone of someone who didn't know there was going to be a test and did NOT study. His lekku curl around his shoulders like the tentacles of a frightened anemone, and he looks back and forth between trusted parties -- Kasia, Aryn, Leia -- with distress, and without understanding.
Kasia's gaze shifts up to Hex at his frantic whisper, head shaking subtly to indicate that she's not wholly certain either, but it's clearly important. When Leia speaks, her gaze returns to the older woman, listening intently to her words, and at the end there's a faint crease forming between her brows. Some understanding settling into place. "Oh." Another look is shot to Hex, this one graver than before. "We will try to accomplish whatever task you set before us," she assures Leia, reaching a hand out to indicate Hex as well. "You only need name it." Because she suddenly feels more restless than she did before, she reaches out to take the tea that was set down beside her, just holding the cup so that her hands have something to do.
Aryn is forced to swallow her doubt when the inevitability of this situation began to find her shoulders and weigh down. She felt desperate to hang on, to pull upon a rope that was quickly slipping from her grip; and suddenly it all felt surreal. What had been a common afternoon initially segued to something of galactic importance, and Aryn had trouble breathing.
Winter left Aryn to deal with this, and so she tried, quietly, under the comfort of a familiar, affectionate hand, but then, even Winter was gone and Aryn felt empty again.
She steps forward as the Princess addresses them all, and remains silent. She tried to commit to memory what Leia's voice sounded like now, how she looked beneath this light, and the peace she embodied. For Aryn, this was a time for listening. So she sat near Leia, lowering to her knees and drawing in a shaking breath.
Breath. Just... breath.
Back military straight, hands in her lap, Tallie sits on the edge of her chair. She catches herself twisting her fingers together, anxious and hyper aware of the sun slanting into the room and the movement around her. What can she do or offer to Leia that the others can't do ten times over. She waits.
Leia is quiet, as if she'd forgotten what she was going to say before it ever crossed her lips. Even looking away from the gathering to once more gaze out upon the clearing full of fighters that are Black Squadron and various Jedi crafts or assorted auxillary vehicles purposed to maintaining this small force on an isolated planet beneath a canopy of trees.
It's fitting she thinks. "Years ago... far more years now than there were before... I set myself upon a singular purpose to do right by the galaxy when all seemed lost. I took on a mantle, whether I realized I was doing so or not, to be the Hope that the galaxy needed. That wasn't my intention, I never wanted to be a symbol." She says quietly, not looking away from the men and women, of all shapes and size, color and creed, working in unison towards her vision givne life.
"I've spoken to many of you to that extent, about the the nature of who we are and what we become for the good of the people around us... if our heart is in the right place, the things we do are right.. it's a mantra I've lived by for fifty years.." Now she does look to them, "Do what's in your heart, decide the person you want to be... and /be that person/." Her smile now is for Kasia, but her attention flickers down to Aryn beside her.
"Sometimes fate plays a hand for you. You either buck against it or you accept it, but the choice is ultimately always yours... and it's to that end I intend to play fate before I face it." Looking up, first, to Zandra.
"Zandra, you cannot really know the light you represent for me. I don't often tell people what their presence in my life merits and to that, I'm genuinely sorry. You're a shining example of what the Jedi Order /can/ be... and I want you to be the moral compass towards that goal. I failed in that regard... I've made decisions that seemed purposeless for the sake of war, but I don't want that for you. War shouldn't justify itself, violence is not be the first answer in conflict resolution and I want you to make /sure/ that it never becomes that... can you do that for me?"
Zan blinks, looking for a moment like she's been pole-axed.
There is a definite pause, as the young initiate stares. She just stares, and then her gaze goes to the others in the room, before she inclines her head. "I will do that," she says. "With everything that I am, and that I can be, I will." Zan takes that mantle on, making that fierce promise, as her gaze goes to Leia and remains there, with the words she says. A pledge. She knows that sometimes - conflict is unavoidable, but it doesn't have to be the first option."
A breath and then she says, in a very small voice, "I have a lot to learn." There is sincerity and feeling there, as Zan continues with, "To live up to your efforts there."
Aryn remains quiet and reverent of Leia, chancing a look up just when Leia herself glanced to her. When their eyes met, Aryn managed a small smile. Like before, Aryn focused on listening rather than giving into the inclination of speaking to shatter thought. Another slow, deep breath is taken to still her nerves, and a slow tear trickles from her scarred eye to slowly descend her cheek.
Aryn considers Zandra's words, and offers her a slow nod if she glanced her way.
A deep breath swells Tallie's chest as she watches Zandra with all the pride of a captain, mentor and sister. Her blue eyes are bright with unshed tears as she listens to Leia words then to Zandra's heartfelt pledge.
Leia smiles to Zandra, reaching out as if she might lay her hand upon the young Jedi, but her reach isn't there and she clearly lacks the strength to move much more than she has. For all the purposeful camoflage of her sitting beneath the blanket, the light doesn't lie. Leia looks frail. As if she's aged rapidly over the last few days by some unseen force... perhaps the same Force that seemed to have made her appear so young a few years ago.
Maybe it's the glancing light of the sun dancing across eyes now capped with wrinkles, or a mouth with far more smile lines than she'd had before. Maybe it's the coming of twilight. Presence has always been a huge part of who Leia is. Small in stature, huge in presence, her ambiance is as much a part of her being as her physical body.
Turning to Kasia and Hex, she smiles to each and both, "I'm so glad you've returned to us. I always regret whatever I'd done or not done that pushed you away from the Resistance.. Thought that if, perhaps, I'd tried a little harder that we'd have always had you both with us, but I can no more turn back the hands of time than I can stop the coming floods... if I could, there would be a lot I'd change." Still joking, if distantly.
Her smile widens, "You two are a beacon whether you realize it or not. You've come back to fight for the Resistance when she needed you and in the next few days, and the weeks that follow, the Galaxy is going to need to see that no matter who you are, it's individuals that make a difference.." Watching the husband and wife, "For so long the Galaxy has stood by watching as the Resistance fights, but that wont be enough anymore. I need you two to bring the galaxy to the fight before fight comes to them.. I need you to help me raise an army. Convince those who have shyed from the conflict see that it is no longer avoidable."
Brown eyes tick back and forth. "I cannot think of any two people better suited than you two, who can motivate the very best out of people who others might, in error, sell short."
As Leia reaches out to her, Zan reaches the remaining distance to that hand, impulsively. Offering her own strength and support. Quiet now, taking this in, she returns Aryn's nod and Tallie's look. As Leia turns to Kasia and Hex, Zan will let her hand free, when she needs it to be. She is blinking every so often, as she listens now, quietly.
This is difficult. Leia addressing him, them, here and now. Hex has remained near Kasia, lekku still in that fight-or-flight mode. He's a big man, any way you look at it, but he looks like a little kid just now, trying to process something he doesn't have the language or the experience before.
"You didn't --- it wasn't you," Hex finally says something he hasn't, for years. "Your Resistance gave me a life when I was lost. It broke chains I still had. It always will. I'm not a beacon, but you /are/, I ..... don't go. Don't do this. Whatever it is you're doing. Don't go." Accepting things gracefully is not his strong suit. "None of us want to do this without you. None of us know how. Don't -- I can't --- koa, koa, no."
The talk of choosing your path, of choosing to be the person you want to be, that inspires a smile from Kasia, even if there's a tinge of sadness at the edges. There's a small but growing ache for what all these kind, inspiring words are leading up to, but for all that it hurts, her expression remains largely calm. At least until Leia calls she and Hex a beacon. The smile falters and she looks away from Leia for a moment, up to Hex, his reaction. The tea is set aside and immediately forgotten as she rises and reaches out to slide an arm around her husband.
"As he said, our departure was not your doing. I wish that /we/ had come back sooner, spoken to you sooner. " There's some weight to that last part, a subtle ache to those words that she tries to push aside. "Doing any of this without you will be--" A slight shake of her head follows. "I don't know that I can imagine it, I know that I don't want to." Speaking is becoming more difficult for her, regardless of how hard she's trying forge ahead. "You see me in a way that I don't know I ever have, I will try not to let you down."
It seems she is witnessing Leia's last will and testament. Tallie suddenly feels out of place hearing such intimate testimonies and makes a false movement to stand. Leaving would be as out of place as staying perhaps. She settles. Hands still folded tightly in her lap, she listens with her head bowed.
Leia doesn't balk at Hex's pleas, but smiles into them, "If only that were an option." She murmurs quietly, "It isn't. This road has been a very long one, Heksash'kuri.. I was never more important than the people around me, I was just the loudest one in the room." She says with a widening grin and a glance around, a hint of the mischievous Princess creeping out of the haggard old General.
"Small, but fierce." She muses amusedly.
"But what I know is that I've inspired others... I've inspired you." Nodding to Hex, not outright taking credit for the man he's become in those words, "And you.." Same for Kasia. "You've become the people I would gladly welcome to my side on any day... even my very worst. I trust you both explicitly... I always have. I have faith that you couldn't let me down even if you'd made every effort to try and do so..." Shaking her head, smile slowly growing, "And neither of you will try to do so."
Her gaze falls upon Tallie, "I imagine you feel a little out of place, hm?" She can't help the amusement from tickling her eyes. "I wanted Poe to be here, which in no way indicates that I wouldn't have you specifically, Tallie.. but what I have to ask of you, may well be the most important of all, though I doubt you'll realize that until much later." She tries to move, to stand, but falls back into the seat with a quiet sigh. Winter is there, as if materializing from thin air, to stablize her and then quickly be waved away, "I'm fine.." She's not.
She is watching the pilot. "There's been a disconnect since Oran... between Pilots and I. I need that bridge mend and I don't have the strength to do it. So I'm going to have /you/ do it..." Leaning heavily upon her palm laid against the arm of the chair, "I need you to deliver a message to Poe for me. When I'm gone, it falls on him to lead the Resistance. I want you to tell him that he always had my trust and my love, that his willingness to stand against my decisions when he felt they were unjust is the reason he is the one who has to do this."
She smiles to the pilot, "Tell him these words for me: When the entire galaxy comes at you like a river, when everything and everyone is screaming at the top of their lungs for you to move... it is now his job to plant his feet, look that adversity in the eyes and tell it: No... you move."
Zan shifts in her seat too, willing to help Leia, but she subsides. Her gaze goes to Tallie and there's a smile there now for the captain. Her mentor, her friend, and fellow pilot. There's a shiver, a frisson at Leia's words, and they bring a fierce smile from the young Jedi. initiate. A nod, as she looks to Tallie, and also to Hex and Kasia. For now, she's quiet, heart broken, but there is a quiet determination there too. Zandra na'Muriel has come a very long way - it's likely her family - her mother, her grandmother - wouldn't recognize her any more. The last bit of Leia's request of Tallie gets a flicker of an impish grin from Zan, and then she gets serious again, this whole thing sad, even while it's absolutely awe inspiring.
"Of course you're more important than the people around you! Like me! Have you /met/ me??" Hex protests to Leia, but his voice breaks just a little bit at the end, and he looks away. The lekku uncurl to thrash, as though in hurt, and he looks away. "You can't do this, you.... /Why/ are you doing this?" Hurt. Sad. Confused. "Why are you doing this? Why is this the only option now, whatever 'this' even is?" A long pause. "Leia." Hex shakes his head. "Please, don't."
Though she's being confronted with certainty, Kasia seems far less secure in the idea that she couldn't disappoint Leia, and for a beat that shows. Her lips part to speak these doubts, but this isn't the time to lay out her own shortcomings, this is a time to listen. To just be there with this astounding, fierce woman that will be gone far too soon. Hex's outward struggles mirror many of her own thoughts that she doesn't voice, and as /he/ does, she tries to slide an arm around him to lend some comfort.
More than a few tears now trail Aryn's cheeks, and it's to a point that she must draw in a sniffle as color finds her face. She looks down, her chin tucked a bit, praying to the mother to spare Leia Organa, to keep her from this end and to allow her to stay with them.
Clearing her throat twice before she can speak the young captain nods. Tallie is able to hide the tremble in her hands by twisting them until her knuckles are white. With a lift of her chin smiling through the tears that she refuses to let fall, "It will be my great honor, ma'am. It's perfect. Words that we will all take to heart. Thank you for everything you have given us." Much quieter, "We love you."
Leia smiles to the response to her requests from each of the gathered around her, turning to regard the sun as it slowly dipped down beyond the forest canopy and cast the last ray of its warm light across her face. A light breeze blowing in from the trickling river where she'd spent so much of the last few weeks meditating on this moment tossled her long brown hair around her weathered face as eyes close and face wrinkles into a beaming smile.
"Aryn." Her voice sounds far away, etherial, as if it's the forest speaking rather than the woman herself. The wind through leaves, the echo of animals calling from beyond the clearing, "You're as much a daughter to me as a student." Turning to her, fixing the young blonde doctor in her unfocused gaze. "So it's befitting, I think, that what I ask of you is often considered hereditary."
Once again Winter appears beside the General, summoned without a word ever being spoken, to help her oldest friend stand from the chair with a hand in her back while the other grips Leia's. There's a brief grunt, a sound of effort, as she moves towards her bed under Winter's guidance. "I haven't felt like a Princess in three decades and I've had no Alderaan to be Princess of in longer still. If not for your family and the work of nobles on New Alderaan, none would know of my homeworld except as legend and memory, but they've brought the culture to life in a way that I only memorialized."
Sounding exhausted as she settles down, removing her lightsaber from her belt to set it down on the table nearby. Leia turns and slides into the bed, turning on her side to face all five she'd requested be here, but focusing entirely upon Aryn. "So you, my daughter, are as I am in spirit and will. To that end, I want you to stand as such.. lead our people, be the shining example that everyone has said I was. Be the candle in the dark.. the Hope when all is lost." Her eyes turn as she does, focusing on the ceiling, pulling her blankets up around her as a single tear rolls down the corner of her left eye. "I name you, Aryn Cole, my successor. Princess of Alderaan..."
There's a heaviness on her shoulders as she stares straight forward. The patio, the people, the clearing.. the forest... the galaxy.. it all vanishes for her to be replaced by a single vision of a young man standing infront of a young woman with their lightsabers drawn. A sadness settles upon the woman.. Drawing every bit of strength that remains in her, she lets the breath loose from her lungs in a single word.
It has weight. Spoken through the Force and strengthened by the last of her resolve. The Princess of Alderaan, who had defied an Empire. The General who defied a First Order. The Jedi who defied destruction.
Her final battle isn't with oppression or destruction, but forgiveness.
Forgiving herself for the man her son had become.
She wants to comfort Hex, Kasia, Tallie, and Zandra. She wants to wrap her arms around Aryn and Winter to assure them both that she'll always be with them, but she's given everything she's left to give to that one moment. Lit by a single beam of light defying the horizon, Leia Organa fades from view beneath her blankets and robes. Her presence at once felt as it is no longer seen as the woman becomes one with the Force.
Smiling in the face of her Husband and her Brother. Reaching out to them just beyond the reach of physical vision, her robes go slack as her physical form disappears from this existance completely and leave only the memory of those who know her behind in her passing.
It was a beautiful day. She hopes that stands out to them now.