"Send the signal again." Leia has no intention of showing her worry on her face. She has walked the corridors of the Palace, and she has stood in session of the Senate. These intensive classrooms have schooled her into calm. The battle went badly for the Alliance. As many ships and rebels perished over and on Scarif as returned home, all for the sake of the plans held in a deep pocket of her robe. The dead can be mourned tomorrow. Today, she has a mission of her own which she must complete.
Bring General Kenobi to Alderaan. Bring the plans for Tarkin's battlestation to the Rebellion. Victory is a matter of placing the pieces together in the proper order at the proper time.
"There's no response," says the Communications Officer, unnecessarily. Leia can see very well the incoming transmission light remains darkened.
Her father knows the location of his old friend. Kenobi was seen alive a year ago on this same planet. Leia will not allow herself to fear that time or misfortune have robbed them of the last Master Jedi in their hour of need. She does wonder where he has been in all their previous hours and previous needs, which are the only two supplies the Rebellion has never fallen short of. "General Kenobi has a great task on Tatooine," her father said when she asked, but when she pushed to know more, Father only patted her hair as he'd done all the days of her childhood.
"Again." She makes the word an order with a glance.
The longer they remain here, the more danger they invite. With or without Kenobi, these plans must reach the scientists and engineers capable of deciphering Galen Erso's last gift. Inside her pocket is the key to saving worlds.
The incoming transmission light blinks on.
Anchorhead is as far from Coruscant as it is possible to be. Leia has spent many months in the bustling city-world, sleek and metal and elegant. This town is made of sand and dust and poverty. Her heart warms to the residents, but she cannot imagine living her own life here. She cannot fathom why or how Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Knight and respected General during the Clone Wars, would make his home in such a place. He's been in hiding of course. But here?
Back aboard the Tantive IV, Leia exchanged her pure white gown for the hard-wearing uniform of an Alliance soldier. Grit covers her trousers by the time she reaches the darkened door of the cantina where Kenobi arranged to meet her. Her entrance gathers some attention. Strangers don't come here often, and not with so pretty a face, clearly untouched by the abrasive winds of this harsh climate. Leia ignores the eyes of the young men sitting at a table close by, and the sudden frowns of the young women sitting with them. She's not here to cause an argument. She's here to fight a war.
A man stands, his face shadowed in the cowl of his brown robe. He could be Kenobi. He could be an Imperial spy hunting her.
Leia steps close enough to speak with him without raising her voice. "I'm Bail's daughter." There's a prick there. By rights, she ought to address herself as the daughter of Queen Breha, not the property of her father, but his first name is more common and easily disguised. This stranger could be her enemy.
With a twinkle in a faded blue eye, he pulls back the hood of his cloak. "Indeed you are. I would recognize you anywhere, Leia. Please, sit." His voice is full of humor, amusement at a joke he's not sharing. Leia has the strangest impression that the joke is on himself.
"We haven't time," she says, but she does join him at his table. She is sitting with Obi-Wan Kenobi. This is a piece of history.
"When you reach my age, you understand time is rather more fluid than it appears." She withholds her observation. Kenobi's face is of an old man, aged by the hot winds and the hard climate, but he's younger than her parents.
Kenobi orders them both tiny glasses of hot, spicy caf that burns her eyes and scorches her throat as she sips. This is a test. Leia smiles and thanks him for the drink. From his expression, she doesn't know if she passed or failed. She tries something else. "The Rebellion needs your help, General." She pitches her voice low to avoid other ears. "My ship is in orbit. We cannot stay long."
"Your father never told you why I chose to remain here."
"He said you had good reasons."
"I do. Those reasons have not changed."
Leia feels the time slipping from her, the urgency of the plans in her possession. "I am asking you on his behalf to set aside those reasons. This is the hour of our need. We are ready to strike against the Empire."
He watches her, and he may be younger than her father but his face is older than the dust. "The Emperor set the seeds of his own destruction in the beginning of his work. I have forseen the pattern of his downfall. I know the agent of his defeat. My task is to bring the last piece into play at the right moment, and until that time, I must stand guard and play my part. Your father knows this. He has his own task."
"His task is to aid the Rebellion to victory."
Another test, she thinks, and another failure. His eyes give nothing away as he examines her face, drinking in every expression, every movement, as if they are the most precious water in this desert.
Kenobi removes something from the pocket of his own robe, placing it on the table between them. The tube is cylindrical, metal, and familiar.
"Your lightsaber?" she asks.
"Not mine," but this is a test she has passed. He doubted she would recognize the old weapon.
"You aren't the first Jedi I've met." Leia stands. "Come with me. Help us."
His eyes go to the handle of the lightsaber, the one which isn't his. Leia follows his gaze. There are secrets and there are secrets. She is the keeper of many, and a few are hers alone, not known even to her parents.
Her body stands between the table and the eyes of the curious onlookers. Leia holds out her hand a few centimeters above the lightsaber, and draws it into her grasp with the warm power she's learning to use all on her own. The way of the Jedi is for one master with one student. Until today, there has not been someone available to train her if she did tell her secret, and revealing oneself as even a potential Jedi means an automatic death sentence from the Empire. Leia has bided her time.
She meets Kenobi's eyes.
He nods. For a moment, he turns his gaze to the rest of the room, past her to where the other youths sit and chat and know nothing of old magic and new hopes.
Kenobi stands, pulling his robe over his face again. "We have much to do." Leia offers him the lightsaber, but he waves her away. "Keep it. It's yours now." His words fill with warmth, and a sorrow she cannot name.
Leia clips the handle to her belt, where it hangs against her thigh with a curious weight. "Thank you. Let's go."