Star Wars: Unexpected Consequences title image

Chapter Twelve

There was music in her ears, forcing her to wake up. Lucinda opened her eyes. "Mommy?" Her mouth was dry.

The music chord went silent before Artoo beeped Binary at her. She recognized {not} but not the rest of what he said.

The cockpit controls surrounded her, blinking lights in the dark that she was strapped to a seat in. She was in Jedi Skywalker's X-Wing, flying to Coruscant. The blue clouds of hyperspace were still outside the viewport hatch, but she shouldn't touch anything. She promised Mommy. "Artoo, is something wrong?"

The droid beeped at her through the comm speakers in the helmet she wore. But a small screen to the right of the primary display monitor changed, flashing words across it. "Nothing wrong. You wanted to see the approach. Leaving hyperspace in 5, 4, 3…."

Lucinda tore her eyes up from the countdown to the viewport in front of her. The blue clouds of hyperspace shifted to starlines and then stilled to star points. A planet glowing orange with brighter orange designs wrapped around it hung in front of the snub-fighter.

Artoo whistled at her. "Welcome to Coruscant."

"Coruscant," Lucinda repeated. Tears stung her eyes. "Mommy grew up here. She was going to bring me when it was safe and we could afford it."

"You will be safe here. Luke will bring your mother here after the mission."

"Thanks, Artoo." It wasn't the droid's fault the Empire ruined everything. She stared at the planet as it grew bigger. The lines made circles that flared and flashed in a pattern she didn't understand. And the glow didn't look right either. "That's not planet-shine, is it?"

Artoo gave a happy chirp. "Very good, young one. That's the city."

Lucinda craned against the straps to get a better view. "Astral," she said breathlessly. "It covers the whole hemisphere?"

"The entire planet," Artoo corrected.

That… that didn't seem possible. But most planets didn't make their own glow either. She said nothing as they joined the other ships appearing out of hyperspace and soaring to the planet. Just as many were leaving, and Lucinda grabbed the straps over her chest so she didn't accidentally hit the stick.

There was even more traffic in the darkened atmosphere while Artoo took them out of the spaceship lines to the spaceport and threaded the X-Wing through lines of all kinds of airspeeders. The airspeeders created a grid around and above the buildings.

She didn't see anything that looked like ground. Granted, they were on the night-side of the planet, but the darker canyons they flew over had lights on all the way down she could see. So the canyons were spaces between enormous buildings. Artoo veered away from the canyons and the traffic thinned slightly as they headed to a massive trapezoidal block. Spotlights illuminated the long white banners stretched in multiple places down the walls. The blue Starbird of the New Republic in a black circle was in the center of each banner. Five smooth spires rose from the base to touch the sky. A landing pad jutted out over a duracrete canyon, but they flew past it.

"Artoo? Where are we going?"

"Imperial Palace." The screen didn't translate the linguolabial electronic noise Artoo made next. But the following beeps got words. "They need to rename it. It was the Jedi Temple before the Emperor."

"Jedi Skywalker lives there?" It was getting bigger as they flew closer. Lucinda had never seen a building this big. Capital ships could land on its roof and still have space!

"We all do. Everyone connected with the New Republic hierarchy."

She didn't know what the last word meant, but Artoo was banking the X-Wing around to the right side of the building. The ship lined up with a long window near the top of the building that she realized was a landing bay as they got closer. Ships docking inside buildings and it wasn't a spaceport! Mommy had told her about the opera, but not about ships docking in buildings.

She winced as they flew into the bright lights. They coasted down on repulsorlifts now; she recognized the whine. They settled on the landing struts and Artoo popped the hatched before powering down the ship. She unlatched the restraints. How was she going to climb down?

Something metal banged against the hull, making Lucinda jump. "Up and at 'em, Skywalker!" A female voice called out. "You are getting lazy, letting Artoo bring you all the way in." She laughed as her head popped over the ship's side. The Rodian tilted her head as her antenna focused on Lucinda. Her skin shifted to a darker green. She wore a technician's gray jumpsuit with the New Republic Starbird stitched above her name tag.

"Hello." Lucinda said, because Mommy had wanted her to be good and being polite was being good.

"Hello. How did you get in this X-Wing?" Her snout wrinkled.

"Jedi Skywalker put me in it. I'm supposed to see Doncella Winter Retrac. Artoo has a message for her."

Artoo whistled {yes} to the strange Rodian. A yellow crane was attaching to his dome and lifting him out of the droid socket.

"Oooookaaaay." She stretched it out with full of not joyful surprise. "Let's get you out of there. You can wait in the break room."

"Okay," Lucinda chirped back. Grown-ups liked it when you agreed with them. The Rodian helped her out of the helmet and over the X-Wing's side. The yellow ladder had a platform to stand on at the top, which gave them both room to get down. Lucinda took her bag back once they reached the floor, letting the technician carry Mommy's heavier one. This hangar wasn't as busy as one of Captain Karrde's, but she knew how to stay out of the way of the techs working on the ships.

The Rodian led them on a twisty path around the ships—mostly A-Wings and X-Wings—docked in this hangar that ended in a small room with a couple of flimsy tables and chairs to match. Two vending machines holding food and drinks were against the wall. She nodded her green head at the room. "You'll be safe here. Out on the floor is dangerous."

"I know. I'll stay here for Doncella Retrac." Lucinda set her bag down in a chair.

"Do you want something to eat or drink?"

She wasn't hungry, but something to drink would be nice. She headed to the tall display on the machine and pointed to a juice Mommy let her have. "That one."

Artoo rolled up beside the machine and extended his scope arm into a port. The tech laughed. "Artoo has the credit accounts. He'll get you what you need. I'll go comm Doncella Retrac and catalog what repairs Skywalker's ship needs this time." She waved as she left the room.

Lucinda retrieved the juice bulb from the vending machine. "You two break the X-Wing a lot?"

Artoo whistled {yes} and then added something more that her lessons hadn't covered yet.

She opened her drink with a sigh. "I guess this is when the adventure gets boring."

{Yes,} Artoo answered. He followed Luci back to the table and added a translation program to her datapad for Binary when she pulled it out to work on her lessons. Mommy had made it so very clear that she had to work on lessons every day no matter what, she wasn't willing to lapse again. And there wasn't anything else to do in this break room.

Artoo got excited about her Naboo history lesson. "I flew in the Battle of Naboo!" ran on the second screen set up on her datapad. "First time I flew with Anakin." The words appeared on the screen along with Artoo's happy beeps and whistles.

"Anakin." Lucinda did a quick search. One Anakin Skywalker blew up the droid control ship, and that stopped the droid army on the planet. "Anakin Skywalker, is he related to Jedi Skywalker?"

"Anakin was Luke's father."

"Wow, really?"

The door opened before Artoo responded. The woman stepping inside was not a technician of any sort. Her white hair was gathered into braids that fell to her shoulders before looping back up to her head. But her face was smooth and not wrinkled like other humans Lucinda had seen with hair that white. Her blue robe looked made of a very expensive material and she walked like Mommy did when Mommy wanted every eye in the room staring at her.

"Hello." Her voice was melodic, almost like she could sing her words. "I am Winter Retrac, Doncella to Princess Leia Organa Solo of Alderaan."

Lucinda turned off her datapad and slid out of her chair. "Hello, I'm Lucinda Padmé Jade. Um, Artoo has a message for you."

Artoo beeped and aimed his projector at the table. The blue-tinted image of Jedi Skywalker appeared, looking like he was hanging onto the X-Wing's retractable ladder. "Hi, Winter. I have to go help Lucinda's mother rescue someone for Imperial custody. There's no one else who can watch Lucinda. Artoo will help. And I'll make it up to you. Use my influence on that restaurant you want to go to. Thank you." The blue hologram vanished.

Doncella Retrac said something in a language Lucinda didn't know, but liked the sound of how it rolled the reshes. She also said it with a smile on her face and a slow shake of her head. "Are those your belongings, Miss Jade?"

"Yes, ma'am." She stuffed her datapad into her duffel bag and pulled it off the chair along with Mommy's bag. "I'm ready."

Doncella Retrac took Mommy's heavier one and escorted her along the back wall of the hangar bay to a turbolift lobby. There were ten turbolifts to wait for. Artoo rolled into the turbolift with them, and Doncella Retrac had to press a lot of buttons to set their destination.

Lucinda tried not to stare at the lady they had sent her to. She was beautiful. Jedi Skywalker was lucky to have a beautiful girlfriend to take to restaurants. Luci guessed she was wrong about how he might feel about Mommy. And after Mommy said he deserved free rescues too. Did Mommy know?

Doncella Retrac looked down at her and smiled. "Do not worry, child. Jedi Skywalker will take care of your mother."

"I know. He took care of us on Myrkr." And it was a fairer fight with Imperials instead of vornskrs. "Did he tell you about that?"

"He and Han told the Princess and I what happened, but not many details." Her sigh was light. "We haven't had time for details."

That didn't sound good. Mommy always said to pay attention to the details. "Shouldn't he tell you the details? You're important to him?"

She shook her head. "He can trust me, and is the brother of my princess, but we are only friends." She smiled. "He would have sent you to Princess Leia if she was currently on Coruscant."

Lucinda's face scrunched up as she thought. "But he's going to take you to a restaurant?"

She laughed softly. "No, child, he offered to use his fame so I can take my boyfriend when Tycho is on leave."

"Oh!" So Luci didn't have to worry about Jedi Skywalker tricking Mommy or Mommy hurting him. She better talk about something else or she'd worry about them against the Imperials. "What are you? What does 'Doncella' mean?"

She nodded. "Your name is Naboo, correct?"

"Yes, ma'am. I was born on Naboo. Mommy and I didn't stay long."

"Are you familiar with the hand-beings of the monarch of Naboo?"

Lucinda nodded. "I'm learning about how the handmaidens protected Queen Amidala in the Battle of Naboo."

"They protected her and she confided in them, her only advisors her own age. When Princess Leia was very young, Queen Breha and Viceroy Bail decided she needed a handmaiden to confide in and to protect her. My parents had just died, so they named me Doncella of Princess Leia and raised me with her."

"Astral!" Lucinda grinned. "Did you ever change places?"

"When we were your age, yes. As we got older and Princess Leia became a galactic luminary, it become harder to fool people."

That made sense. Even Lucinda knew Princess Leia has brown hair.

The turbolift stopped smoothly, and the doors slid open. "This way." The lobby they stepped into only had the one turbolift and a large door covered in wood. Lucinda studied it while Doncella Retrac put in the keycode. Two different colors of wood made a mosaic of a mountain. Captain Karrde would like a door like this. Then she remembered he was captured by the Imperials, and Mommy and Jedi Skywalker were headed into danger to save him.

The wood covered door slid open, and they headed into a small hallway that led to a living room as big as the tree room back on Myrkr but with fewer sofas and chairs. The wall across the room was transparent, probably floor to ceiling transparisteel, that showed the continuously moving traffic and colorful lights of the local night.

"Guest rooms are this way." Doncella Retrac turned to the right, leading them past a kitchen on the right and the seating areas on the left. They turned between two columns and now a long dining table was on the left before the pathway became a hallway. It dead-ended with another hallway. Doncella Retrac pointed to the left. "My room is there. You will stay in the guest room next to it." She turned to the right and opened the first door they reached along the room side of the hall.

It was the largest bedroom Lucinda had ever had all by herself, and she felt tiny and alone. Mommy and she had shared bedrooms this big before, but Mommy wasn't here now. Doncella Retrac stood aside so Lucinda could explore the room, but there didn't seem to be any surprises with the bed big enough for two people, a 'fresher, a closet, and a desk. She set her bag down in the chair for the desk.

"Chewbacca's rooms are at the other end of the hallway." Doncella Retrac said as she set Mommy's bag down inside the closet and moved back to the doorway. "He is away, along with Princess Leia and Captain Solo, so you do not have to worry about disturbing anyone else."

"They live here too?" Lucinda looked at the viewscreen that covered the wall across from the door. It was showing the city outside the Palace, like the transparisteel wall did in the living room.

"Yes, but they are on missions right now."

That made this whole place seem a little less lonely, but it seemed rude to say that.

Doncella Retrac frowned slightly. "You slept in hyperspace."

It was local night. "Oh, it's your bedtime! I'll go to bed." She didn't feel sleepy yet, but it wasn't right to demand Doncella Retrac to stay awake when it wasn't her shift.

"Are you hungry?"


The woman had a concerned expression on her face. Artoo beeped something reassuringly and rolled into the room until he was next to Lucinda. Doncella Retrac's expression cleared. "Are you going to stay with her, Artoo?"

Artoo beeped {Yes.}

"That's fine. The viewscreen is set on window mode, but Artoo can find you something off the HoloNet to watch if you like. If you need anything, just signal on my door's keypad."

"Yes, ma'am. Good night." Lucinda waited until the bedroom door slid shut behind the woman, then checked the closet, the 'fresher, under the bed, and under the desk. Nothing looked suspicious or dangerous, even though Mommy hadn't taught her what all the suspicious things looked like, so she unpacked her sleep gown and changed in the 'fresher.

Artoo had her datapad in his grasper arm when she came back out. "You got something to tell me?" She took it back.

"Do you want a holodrama?" was displayed on the screen.

"Do you know if Mommy is a character on any of the ones with Jedi Skywalker?"

Artoo beeped sadly. "Mara Jade is not listed on any character list."

"I guess it's still classified." She climbed onto the soft mattress, bounced as well as she could, and settled against the pillows. "How do you change window mode? You can make it show other directions from this building?"

"I can or I can pull images from the database of planets. Sometimes Luke likes to see something different."

"Does he have a favorite?"

The viewscreen changed to a forest, only the trees were massive compared to the ones of Myrkr. Her nose wrinkled. "Too soon for trees, Artoo."

The droid beeped rapidly. Jedi Skywalker had said that was Artoo's laugh. The viewscreen changed to a bright image. Two orange suns sank lower in a purpling sky over flat sands that stretched from edge to edge of the viewscreen. She stared at it, puzzled, until Artoo whistled and the text changed on the datapad. "It's Tatooine, a view from where Luke grew up."

It looked boring, but she guessed Jedi Skywalker missed it. She had never stayed long enough anywhere to miss a planet. "You can go back to Coruscant." The viewscreen changed back to the first image that had been on when they had entered the bedroom. "Mommy said she grew up on Coruscant, but she had to leave when she was seventeen. And that her favorite thing to do was go to the opera." Her throat tightened, making it harder to talk. "She told me that when we watched one on the HoloNet, so I'd know what it was." Her face grew hot as her eyes burned. "I don't even know what building was Mommy's."

The tears squeezed out of her eyes. "She was supposed to bring me here when it was safe." She flung herself face first into the pillow so it would catch her sobs.

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