Jan. 10th, 2017

beatrice_otter: Vader and Leia (Vader and Leia)
I love a good Star Wars time-travel AU, but I do sigh sometimes about how repetitive they are.  (This is one of the reasons I started Past Lives.)  I mean, with AAAALLLL  the characters there are in Star Wars, why is it only Obi-Wan and Anakin who end up going back in time, with the occasional time-traveling Luke thrown in?  Why not any others?  Why not Dooku, out for revenge against Palpatine for having him killed?  Why not Leia?  Or Lando and Han?  Or Yoda?

I was contemplating this, after Rogue One, and I thought, WHY NOT BAIL?

Bail knows what the Death Star is, and the Death Star didn't shoot immediately after it came out of hyperspace.  It came out and hung there, while Leia was brought from the detention block, while Tarkin tried (and failed) to manipulate her.

Alderaani Space Control called the palace to tell them that something HUGE--the size of a small moon--had just appeared in the skies over the planet.  It wasn't quite visible from the palace yet, but would be coming around the curve of the planet in roughly fifteen minutes.

Bail asked Breha to give the order to evacuate.  (Of course she knew of the Death Star, what it was and what it could do.  She was his Queen and his wife, and he had no secrets from her.  In the Rebellion as in all things, he was her eyes and ears and hands.)  "No," she said.  "There isn't time.  If they mean to shoot, they'll do it immediately, and no one will get out alive.  But they may not mean to destroy us.  They may be testing us.  If they see we evacuate, they'll know that we know what that thing is--and they'll shoot.  But if we do nothing, we may be able to bluff them."

By the time the Death Star crested the horizon, the great dish on the side was beginning to glow.  Queen Breha gave the evacuation order, hoping at least someone would make it out, but it was too late for anyone in the palace, and they both knew it.  They held each other and waited to become one with the Force.

Bail woke up in a familiar office on Coruscant.  This was unexpected.  The Alderaani didn't believe in heaven or hell or any kind of afterlife except the Force, and even if they did, his old Senatorial office would have been neither.  He was sitting at his desk staring out at the Coruscant skyline.  Someone clears their throat and asks for Senator Antilles.  He almost doesn't respond; it's been three decades since his name was Antilles.  And he's too confused, wondering what the hell has happened and where Breha is.

But the person asks again, and he turns.  It's his old aide, who resigned in protest after the Empire was declared, who joined a peaceful protest march and was gunned down in the street.  Zie is trying to tell him that the Trade Federation has just begun a "peaceful" blockade of Naboo in the Chommell Sector.

Bail stares.  Maybe this is Hell, if he's going to have to relive all of this.  Maybe he's crazy.

His aide notices and asks if he's all right.

No.  He is not all right.

She calls for a med droid; there's always several on call in the Senate building.  It comes and examines him and pronounces him perfectly fine except for elevated stress levels.  (He looks in a mirror and is startled to see how young he looks.)

The examination gives him time to think.  If he is hallucinating, or in some kind of hell, nothing he does matters.  If this is some sort of Imperial trick, he has no clue what they might hope to get out of this.  If they could convince him it was later, during the early Imperial days, they might be able to get him to give up some of the details of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, but now?  A decade before the beginning of the Clone Wars?  But if he has somehow gone back in time, can he change things?

He has to try.  The question is, how?  Palpatine-the-Sith is definitely something for the Jedi to deal with, but at this point he has no contacts in the Jedi, and (unless you have a personal friend in the Order) official contact between the Senate and the Jedi is closely monitored both officially and by your fellow senators who want to make sure you don't persuade the Jedi to intervene on your side in any particular matter.  Palpatine would be sure to hear of it.

But Palpatine isn't the Chancellor yet.  And if Bail can block him, even if only temporarily, he'll have some breathing room to work.

Last time around, Bail and three-quarters of the Senate had been caught completely off-guard by the blockade and then invasion of Naboo.  It had seemed to come out of nowhere, unimaginable before it happened. The vote of no-confidence had been predicted, but not that the new election would go to a then-nobody like Palpatine.

This time around, Bail knows it's coming.  This time around, Bail can be prepared.  This time around, Bail knows who his supporters are and who Palpatine's supporters are, and where all the bodies will be buried and the weak points will be found.  This time around, Bail knows what's at stake, and is willing to get his hands dirty in ways he never would have the first time around.

Bail calls his staff in, and they have a council of war.  They start arranging meetings, and a whisper campain among the other aides.

To some people, Bail commiserates about how awful the situation is and don't they feel scared it could happen to them, and gee, Palpatine's negotiations with the Trade Federation went particularly badly--he's not a very good politician, is he?

To some people, Bail points out that if the Trade Federation is willing to trample a thousand generations of history like this, who knows what they'll do?  It's out of character for them, and that's bad for business.  Do you really want to be their ally?

(For some people, Bail arranges for accidents or poisonings for the day of, so that they will not be present to influence their hangers-on.  Nothing fatal--that would raise too many red flags.  But food poisoning and slight colds ... those can easily pass unnoticed.  The first time around, Bail would have been apalled at the very idea, and had no clue how to arrange it.  Now ... now Bail has done worse things at lesser need, and knows exactly how to arrange it, even though it is an extra hassle to have to do it without his staff knowing.)

And it works.  Despite a much stronger showing than everyone except Bail and Palpatine expected, Palpatine falls just short of the number needed to be elected.  Bail wins.  And the day after he is installed, Bail invites the Jedi Council to meet him, sweeps his office for bugs, and tells them the shape of what he lived through.  Most are incredulous.  Mace Windu just stares at him and says, "So that's what's been happening recently.  I have rarely seen a shatterpoint so large--and never one I didn't see until after the fact."

The Jedi deal with Palpatine.  Bail starts to slowly, methodically, reform the loopholes and corruptions that Palpatine had used to such effect.  There is no Clone War.

He has only two regrets.  The Queen of Alderaan could never marry a man who outranked her.  Breha marrries someone else.  And his precious Leia has no need of anyone to adopt her.

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