Luke's X-Wing slowed to three grav acceleration. He entered multiple passwords and codes into the console, and then spoke his identity and intentions. The R5 unit behind him beeped its impatience.
"We're on heavier guard than ever," Luke told his assistant.
He soon docked in a corner of the frigate, among a crowd of fighters. He hoped everyone was in the dark as to his arrival; Leia was the one with whom he wanted to confer. Weeks in isolation made it difficult to suddenly throw himself back in a crowd.
~ ~ ~
A soft light in Leia's private quarters clicked on. She adjusted her gown, made sure her hair was presentable, and answered the door.
"Luke," She threw herself into his open arms. The strength of her embrace would have put Chewie to shame.
Luke's grin was a call-back to the farm boy from Tatooine. The princess felt a storm of compassion and nostalgia as she pulled him inside and closed the door.
They entertained small talk for a while at the dining table, until the conversation stalled, mystery hanging between them.
"Have you trained this entire time?"
"More or less," Luke went from cheery to dark in an instant. "Yoda formed me into a Jedi Knight. But I have a mission to complete before I can ever think of taking on my own apprentice. Whether that's tomorrow, or years from now."
Leia reached across the table to set her hand on his. "The future of the Jedi is your responsibility."
Luke nodded. "I have to defeat Darth Vader. He's grown too powerful in the dark side. It'd be futile to establish the Jedi Order again with his shadow over me."
Artoo and Threepio appeared from the lounge area.
"Master Luke! What a surprise," Threepio rushed past Artoo to the man's side. "We feared so much for your safety. Oh, you're a capable person for sure, able to look after yourself ---"
Luke raised a hand, half-smiling to his old mechanical friends. "Good to be back."
Threepio's voice dropped conspiratorially. "Though I believe Artoo fears he's been permanently replaced."
Artoo beeped a "shut up".
Leia cleared her throat, and addressed Luke. "What've you learned of the Empire's activities while out there?"
The Jedi shook his head. "I left Dagobah, and kept to myself on deserted worlds so I could meditate. Why?"
Leia explained everything that had passed since their last departure. She received Artoo's help in the way of holographic displays when the subject of Blood Shard came.
"We think the ship's equipped with a mass survellience system," Leia said. "A weapon of near omniscience."
"Mass survellience," Luke echoed, rubbing his chin. "Knowledge is power, as the wise say."
The Alliance had to trust in Luke's wisdom, Leia mused. She remained silent while he reclined and studied the ship schematics.
"When do we attack?" He asked.
"Our numbers are rallied," Leia answered. "We're privy to most the structure's layout, and orbital patrol schedules. Mon Mothma will make the call to arms within a few days."
They both rose and drifted toward the door in silence.
"Leia," He turned at the threshold. "On Bespin, I sensed a bond between you and Han. A bond that goes beyond friendship. Maybe it's none of my business."
She came closer, offering her sincerest smile. "Time does silly things. We became close on the Falcon while the Empire was in hot pursuit. Then time made it complicated again. Han's a different person."
He has something else to say.
"Good night, Leia." He kissed her forehead and left.