The Little Techno Girl

Author: SithLordWiccan
Co-Author/Creative Consultant/Snarkboy: Useful_Oxymoron
Rating: PG-13
Feedback: Sure. I'd like some. I'm pretty sure U_O would too. Sith:, U_O:
Disclaimer: I don't own Willow and Tara. Neither does U_O. They belong to Joss Whedon. We don't own any Star Wars related things either. (Well, that's not true. I own a shitload of Star Wars books, and I'm pretty sure U_O owns a few SW knickknacks, too. He had 'Empire at War', which is more than enough to make me jealous.) Anyways, that stuff belongs to Lucas. Though, between the two of us and our respective fics, we've done a whole lot better than he ever could in some departments of storytelling.
Spoilers: Some spoiler stuff for "Wedge's Gamble" (an X-Wing book) and "Force Commander" (a computer game). Nothing terribly earth shattering, though. It's not like you have to have read the book or played the game to understand what's going on. (And I don't recommend playing the game. It really sucks.)
Summary: Willow and Tara go undercover to help Rogue Squadron free Coruscant. While there, Willow reunites with her family, who don't take a liking to her mission...or her wife.
Notes: Title is a play on a John Le Carre novel.
Italics = thoughts.
This fic is absitively, posolutely 100% NOT related to "Star Witches". This is based off U_O's Star Wars stories (which you can read here), not my own.
Thanks to Useful_Oxymoron for the ideas and creative consultation.
Some terms in this fic are linked to their page on the Star Wars Wiki. Feel free to check them out in order to learn more about what is being talked about.

"I'm home."

The thought blazed through Willow's mind as she ran though the street, hand clutching a blaster pistol that she brought around and fired at her pursuers. Turning back as quickly, she continued running, the cry being the only indication that her shot had hit home.

"Of course, I just had to come home in the middle of a firefight. That's Willow, all right. Be at the right place at the wrong time. I can't help but wonder if someone's made a law about that. Seems like a physics-y thing."

It had started off simple enough. Willow and Tara had taken the Doll's-Eye to Coruscant on an undercover mission, helping to transport the supplies needed by Rogue Squadron in their mission to take the capital planet. Of course, things had gone wrong from the start. The Doll's Eye had been impounded by customs, which Tara hadn't taken too kindly, but had been forced to accept lest they cause any problems to their mission. Then there was the fact that they tried to hook up with one of the other Rogues, a trip that took them through the heart of the undercity. Willow had shuddered at the thought of having to travel down in the depths of the world. Ever since she was young, she had a fear of disappearing into the undercity and never coming back.

It had helped that Tara was with her. For all of her feminine qualities, her wife was certainly large with the butch. Anyone they had met during their travels that looked in any way that they might threaten Willow had been met with a dirty look from Tara and a not so very subtle nod to her shapely leg. Of course, the fact that a wicked looking blaster rifle was strapped to said leg helped to deter anyone from approaching.

But Tara was gone. They had been separated when the invading New Republic forces touched down on the planet and begun their attack. Having gone to meet up with the first wave at the polar ice caps, they have run across headlong into a retaliatory strike force against the Rogues. They had tried their best to get past, but the construction droid the Rogues had commandeered made things difficult, not to mention the fact that large chunks of the nearby buildings were raining down around them. One particularly large chunk had fallen mere inches from where Willow had stood, and Tara, ever wary of her wife's safety, had moved to get her away.

It had worked, but had the unintentional side effect of blocking the passageway into which the redhead had been shoved, separating her from Tara. And that had left Willow all alone and armed with only a blaster pistol she had stolen from a dead stormtrooper and the man's comlink, which she couldn't use out of fear of brining down an entire stormtrooper platoon or TIE bomber squadron on her head..

She heard an unmistakable clanking noise then, and turned to see an approaching AT-AT, its armored head turning to look in her direction. Willow froze on the spot, the fear she felt keeping her from running.

"Always thought I was going to die when I got back home," she thought morbidly. "Always thought my parents would be the ones to do it, though."

A sudden whoosh erupted from nearby, and Willow jerked her head around to see a missile heading directly at the unarmored neck of the giant walker. The missile collided, causing a massive explosion that separated the head from the rest of the body. Willow could only stand and watch as the metal object collided with the ground.

Looking for the source of the missile, she was surprised to find a human with platinum blond hair standing near what looked to be an equipment complex, holding onto a portable missile launcher.

The blond turned in her direction. "MOVE IT, RED!"

Finally getting some movement back in her lower body, Willow ran over to the man, who threw the now useless weapon away and picked up the gun lying at his feet.

"Spike? What in the name of the Force are you doing here?"

Spike cocked an eyebrow. "Figure you and blondie might have gotten yourselves lost when the good guys decided to drop in, so I figured I'd try and loot some firepower and find you." He smirked as he looked at Willow. "Guess I didn't have to look very far."

Willow was about to deliver a cunning and very indignant retort when she caught sight of the weapon in Spike's hand. "Hey, is that an Z-6 rotary blaster cannon? I haven't seen one of those since the Clone Wars."

Hefting the weapon, Spike nodded. "Yup. Don't see weapons like this on the battlefield anymore. Nowadays it's all about the 'one shot and you're dead' approach. Color me old fashioned, but I prefer my weapons to deliver more bang for their credit, you know?" He hefted the weapon. "I think this would suit you, Red. I figured you'd be the type to have a gun like this, what with that wife of yours."

"Not much for the large guns here," Willow said, glancing casually at the weapon she held in her hand.

Distant explosions brought the pair back to reality, and Spike turned to look at Willow. "I'm all for fighting the unfightable fight, but even I know better than to get involved in what's going down."

Willow thought about Tara, and wondered what the blonde was going through at this very moment. Was she as scared as the redhead was? It didn't seem possible. Nothing could have scared her Tara. Not even an invasion. Or worse, was she dead, lying in a pool of her own blood as the armies continued to fight.

"No, no, don't think like that. She's... strolling along a field of nice, fragnant, brightly colored flowers, gunning down all the stormtroopers from 2 miles away in complete safety, and all her blood stays with the original owner."

Willow couldn't let thoughts like that distract her. She needed to focus. And she needed a place from which to do it. "I think we should find a place to hide."

"Can't argue with that," Spike said, checking the ammo pack on the rotary blaster. "Know any good holes to crawl under?"

As much as Willow didn't want to admit it, she did indeed know a place to hide. But she was rather reluctant to bring it up. She had hoped that, when they were assigned to help the Rogues, she could take every opportunity available to make sure that it didn't happen. But apparently, it was not to be. The one place Willow did not want to go was now the one place she could be absolutely sure they could be safe until things quieted down.

"Yes. I do."

Hunkered down behind a large chunk of rubble that had until recently been part of a support structure, Tara's thoughts were not on the blazing firefight going on around her, nor the mission she had to help complete, but on the health and safety of her wife.

It had happened too quickly. One minute, they were under attack by stormtroopers, the next, a blast from an E-Web had knocked off a large chunk of the nearby building and sent it flying directly down onto Willow's head.

Tara had moved to her wife's side and tried to get her out of the way of the falling debris. Acting on instinct, however, she shoved Willow into the alley instead of dragging her out of the way. And that meant that the debris that clogged the alleyway had separated them, leaving Willow all alone and at the mercy of the Imperial forces.

Tara could have dwelled on that that for longer than she realized she should. But she couldn't help it. Ever since Hoth, and especially after they got married, she had made a promise that she wouldn't put Willow into any situation that would put her in harm's way.

Unfortunately, her wants and desires were considered secondary to the goals of the New Republic's Inner Council. Nor the famed Wedge Antilles, who had specifically requested that Tara join the mission, knowing that, out of all the ship assigned to bring their equipment and personnel, the Doll's-Eye was the most inconspicuous, thus making it easier to pass through customs.

Tara had no real choice to accept. The mission was too important to the galaxy for her to say no. She had hoped to convince Willow to stay behind, saying that the Doll's-Eye only needed one person to fly it.

But Willow wouldn't take it. She had wanted to come back to Coruscant ever since she had defected to the Rebellion, an act that guaranteed that she couldn't walk down the streets during the height of the Imperial's control of the world without getting killed. No matter what role she played, she wanted to be a part of the mission that would finally kick them off the planet.

Of course, had they known then what they knew now, neither of them would have accepted the mission as readily as they had. But that only made her determination to find Willow once more stronger. Getting to her feet, she delivered a series of shots that took down three stormtroopers, one of which had been at the E-Web that had continued to rain fire down on the area and had brought down the debris that had separated Willow from her. Tara took it with a small smile on her face, knowing that, for now at least, the pain of losing Willow had been lessened.

Unfortunately, she was too focused on what she was doing to notice the approaching reinforcements, nearly all of which were firing in her direction.

She tried to dodge several shots, taking some burns on the legs that would become battle scars later on. Nothing too serious. But one shot impacted against her chest, forcing her to collapse to the ground, wincing as she hit the cold hard ferrocrete. Her last thought was on how she had left Willow all alone with no one to turn to.

"Tara? You OK?"

Tara opened her eyes to find herself looking directly into the face of a man with brown hair and eyes, holding what appeared to be a sawed off Bryar pistol in one hand and a pile of bacta bandages in the other.

"Kyle? Kyle Katarn? Is that you? What happened?"

Tara felt the man's hands play across her chest, and her face instantly took on a dangerous edge. No one was allowed to touch her like this except for Willow. Then she glanced down, and saw the blaster burn on her chest. And realized that she should be thankful for Kyle's welcoming touch.

"You took a blaster shot directly in the chest, is what happened, Tara," Kyle replied not too politely. "I may not know you as well as Han or Lando, but I know you well enough to know you're not at the top of your game."

Sitting down beside the wounded blonde, Kyle turned to look at her. "What's wrong?"

Tara swallowed, an act made even harder by the fact that her movements magnified the pain on her chest. "Willow. She...and I let her..."

"Is she dead?"

" don't know. I have no way of knowing. We got..."

Running his fingers through his beard, Kyle thought about what Tara was saying. "Tara, this is serious. We need you to focus on what's going on right now, not on what may be wrong with..."

The slap came too quickly for Kyle, even with his latent Force talents, to immediately pick up. When he turned around, he saw Tara looking back at him with a stare that could melt Hoth in an instant.

"How dare you say that? Willow is the love of my life. And if I've done anything to hurt her, I couldn't..."

Tara couldn't hold it in anymore. She started to cry, and welcomed the touch of Kyle's arm around her.

"I know how you feel."

Tara's face turned sour. "How? How can you know how it feels to lose someone you love without being there to say goodbye."

"Because it happened to me."

The comment stung Tara, and she turned to look at Kyle. "But how..."

"My father was killed by a Dark Jedi while I was at the academy. The Imperials said it was a Rebel attack, and when I found out, I didn't want to do anything but kill as many Rebels as I could. But when I found out what had really happened, all I wanted to do was find the Dark Jedi who killed him and make him pay. I did last year, and I realized that..."

The pause grew rather uncomfortable, and Tara tried to coax it out of him. "What?"

"I realized that when the time came and I had the opportunity to kill him, that I didn't want to do it. I always wanted to avenge my father, but I realized that...he wouldn't want me to do what I nearly did."

Kyle's story made Tara think of her own father, the old man. As bad as Cousin Beth was, her father was the polar opposite. Her father was a scoundrel, a smuggler and an occasional treasure-hunter, but had a kind heart. When Tara's mother had left the family for greener pastures when she was merely six, he took it upon himself to take care of her the best he could, though, most of the time, Tara ended up keeping him out of trouble. When she was young, Tara spent many times sitting on her father's lap while he flew the ship, looking on with wide eyes and learning the ropes during the many cargo runs to Nar Shaddaa, the Smuggler's Run and countless other planets. Still, though they had each other, life on the space-lanes was hard for anybody, and Tara had to grow up fast. After her father's tragic death when she was sixteen, Tara put what she had learned in practice and used their ship to start her smuggling career... and excelled. It made her sad, though, that her father wasn't alive to see what she had accomplished so far in her young life.

Focusing back on the present, Tara turned to look at Kyle. "Thanks, Kyle. It means a lot to know I'm not alone in this."

"Don't mention it," came the reply as Kyle moved over to look at Tara's wound. "I can't do much about this till we get a medical droid or three down here, and hopefully that will be soon. General Tantor wants to make sure we have enough forces down here so that we can secure a foothold in or around the Senate District so that we can make our way to the Palace. He figures that if we take it out, we can gain the edge we need in order to win."

"So I'm heading back on the front lines, then?" Tara asked, wincing as she got to her feet.

"Nothing short of a lost limb will get you sick leave here, Tara," Kyle replied with a smirk.

"Maybe not even that," Tara grinned. "I hear they're making great advances in bionic limbs."

Kyle chuckled, then let Tara lean against him as they made their way back towards the battle.

"But Willow," Tara tried to say, the pain making her words come out in a croak.

"Sorry, Tara. We don't have the time to go look for her." Noting the look on her face, Kyle raised a finger. "And don't even bother trying to tell me that you can go out there and do the hero thing. You're not in any great shape at the moment to go walking around a battlefield looking for anyone, not even your wife."

"But Willow...?"

"But nothing, Tara. Until we can get you patched up, the only place you're going to go is anywhere I go. And I'm heading back to the battle, so that means you're coming with me."

"But..." Tara began, only to stop short, realizing that it was pointless to continue to argue. Kyle was right in that she wasn't in any condition to go looking for Willow now. But she promised herself that the minute she could, she would head out there and try to find her.

Tara only hoped that Willow had the smarts to find somewhere to hide until she could do that.

It amazed Willow too much to know that, despite all the years she spent away from home, that the apartment complex she had grown up in was still standing. Not that she wanted it to be blown to pieces. The thought of the home she had grown up in being incinerated was a nightmare she had ever since she had left home to serve onboard the Executor, a nightmare compounded every time the ship had been given a Base Delta Zero command which occurred rarely, but enough times to cause her many a sleepless night. Many times she had wondered what shook her more: the fact that, being part of the bridge crew, she was witness to every single one of them or that, unlike herself, both Vader and the majority of the officers felt little emotion about it.

Of course, she had though that it would have been destroyed in a Rebel attack. Then, when she ended up joining the Rebellion, she thought that it would have been destroyed by the construction droids that frequented the area, scrapping the old, worn down buildings in order to build newer and more pristine ones.

Willow really hoped, however, that her parents were not there right now. As two high ranking officials in the Commission for the Preservation of the New Order, they had held the principles of the Empire close to their heart. That love had made them proud of Willow when she became an Imperial officer, first assigned to the Devastator, then the Executor. Though the Empire held prejudice towards females in regard to holding high level positions in the Imperial navy, even Emperor Palpatine could not ignore the high potential that Willow had demonstrated during her training at the Imperial Academy of Carida.

Then...shortly before the Battle of Hoth, she had decided to, as she so eloquently put it, jump the fence and fight for the Rebels. She had sent a message to her parents, telling them why she had done it. Their four word response burned into her very soul.

"They have no daughter," Willow thought. "Well, they may think that, but no matter what they think, I am of their blood. And I hope they can accept me now."

Opening the door, she and Spike made their way to the turbolift, keeping a watchful eye on their surroundings. Once they boarded the turbolift, Willow pushed a button and the car started on its journey upward.


Willow turned to look at Spike. "Not really. After all, I haven't been home in nearly four years. It's not like I expect them to keep a seat for me at the dinner table."

Spike rested a comforting hand on Willow's shoulder. "Not to worry, Red. I'm sure your parents will let us crash till things blow over."

"It's not that," Willow added, the nervousness she felt increasing. "I...I...They didn't like the fact that I joined up with the Rebels. And...I'm not sure that they know about..."

Spike understood. "So you don't think your folks would let us crash just because they didn't like the choices you made in your life?"

Willow nodded.

"I wouldn't worry about it, Red," Spike continued. "Something tells me your folks have a lot more to worry about now than something you've done before." Hefting the Z-6, he flashed a grin. "And besides, if they don't, we can introduce them to my friend here."

Willow couldn't help but smile. There was something about Spike and guns that made her laugh. Then she remembered who it was that he was threatening, and regained her somber expression.

"No, Spike. I'll deal with them. I just hope that they can understand."

The first thing that put Willow off was how dark the room was. Even when they had spent days away from home, her parents had always kept the place running on the emergency backup lights. But it was pitch black, and the redhead couldn't help but be put off by it.

Stepping up beside her, Spike lifted the large blaster he held and gestured it across the room. "Light's aren't on. Guess that means nobody's..."

The blaster bolt came out of nowhere, striking the wall mere inches away from Willow's face. Hitting the ground hard, she began to crawl on her hands and knees to cover, hearing the unmistakable sound of Spike's return fire mixing in with that of the attackers.

"You want some of this?!" Spike roared, spraying the room with blaster fire. "Come get some!"

"You won't take us alive, Rebel scum!" came the retort. Willow recognized the voice.

"Daddy? Spike, stop shooting!"

The blond looked down at her. "Are you daft, Red? They started it!"

"I know! But stop anyway!"

The blaster fire came to an end, as a disheveled middle aged man got up from his crouched position behind the overturned couch. A slightly middle aged woman followed in his suit. Both persons looked at the two who had intruded into their home.

"Willow?" the woman asked. "Is that you?"

Getting to her feet, Willow wiped away the dust from her clothes. "Yeah, mom. It's me."

The man glared at Willow. "I had a feeling you'd come here."

Willow could detect the uncharacteristic edge in his voice. "What's wrong, daddy?"

Pointing to the window, the man said, "Look at what's going on out there, Willow. Your friends have come to Coruscant and decided that it was finally time to overthrow the Empire."


"And where's your Yobana? I assume that since you're here, that kriffing nerfherder's here, too."

Willow fought the urge to cry. She couldn't let her father talk that way about Tara, especially when he may very well be speaking ill of the dead. And it hurt her that, even after all this time, her father still felt the need to live his life through her daughter. "Dad, Tara had nothing to do with what I've done with my life. What I did...I did because I wanted to do it."

"So I assume that you didn't get married to her?" This came from her mother, who looked to be near tears. "Please tell me that you didn't get married to her."

"Mom, you know I got married to Tara. I sent that holo message to you after we got..."

The woman nearly collapsed to her knees, the couch being the only thing that prevented her completely falling down. Willow's father, meanwhile, glared at his daughter with an icy stare. "Willow, do you know how difficult it's been for us? Having to put you through your academy training when it was well known how the Emperor felt about females in the Navy? When you got posted on the Devastator, I threw a celebratory party in this very room. My colleagues all told me that you would never amount to anything, that you would be nothing more than a junior officer. But then you got posted to the Executor, and I laughed in all their faces. Then I got your message saying that you had gone to join the Rebels, and..."

The man delivered a thundering punch to the nearby wall, shocking both his wife and daughter. Withdrawing his hand from the hole he had made, he turned back to look at Willow. "Imperial Intelligence found out about the message, and when they did, they removed me from my position. We had nothing. Everything we had in life, prestige, power, credits, it was all gone. And it's that little tramp's fault."

"Daddy..." Willow's voice was a hushed whisper. She was unsure of how to continue, her grief about being separated from Tara mixing in with the fresh grief of hearing her parent's disapproval of her lifestyle choices. Joining the Rebellion was bad enough in their opinion. But for them to think that Tara had something to do with it...

Thankfully, Spike chose that moment to speak up, saving Willow from completely breaking down emotionally. "Look, I hate to interrupt the not so fun family reunion, but me and Red need somewhere to hunker down while the business outside wraps up. Mind if we hole up here?"

Willow's father turned his gaze from his daughter to bore vibroblades at Spike. "Absolutely not! I will not allow my home to become a haven for Rebels." He raised his blaster once again as Spike raised his weapon. "Now get out of here before I kill the both of you."

Willow stood rooted to the spot, the weapon of one of her friends to her back, the weapon of her flesh and blood to her face. Both were completely willing to fire at each other, which meant that they would kill her, as well. As much as she wanted to find a release to the pain she was feeling, she didn't want to have it happen in this way. If her family could not provide the protection she sought, she would have to find it herself.

Turning, she headed for the door. "Come on, Spike."

Willow stepped through the door, followed moments later by Spike. The two made their way to the turbolift and did not turn back.

The sounds of laser fire and explosions was drawing closer now, and Willow and Spike kept to the side streets, hoping to avoid the more heavily populated areas of fighting. Still, it seemed like each street they traveled down had at least one stormtrooper posted, which meant that there were plenty of opportunities for Spike to do target practice.

Willow was thankful for his presence. It helped to keep her from thinking about the two things that threatened to send her off on an emotional roller coaster: the fact that her wife was still missing and that her family couldn't bring themselves to protect their daughter in their time of need.

"Heads up, Red," Spike said, pointing the barrel of the Z-6 towards the street. Willow glanced down the alleyway to see a T3-B heavy attack tank traversing the area. "I think we've just found our welcome wagon."

Starting down the street, the pair moved to intercept the Rebel attack tank, only to watch as the unmistakable hum of repulsorlifts and blaster fire signaled the arrival of a pair of the newer model 2-M repulsor tanks, each of which were firing concentrated bursts from their top mounted cannon turret. Both watched as the beams struck the tank, which must have been more damaged than its appearance beheld, as it erupted into a cloud of fire and smoke.

Willow couldn't take it anymore. The inner turmoil she was feeling ever since landing on Coruscant had finally caught up to her. The first problem, in getting separated from Tara, had been bad enough. The redhead knew that ever since Hoth, her wife was overly concerned for Willow's saftey, always making sure that either R3 or En-Vee was nearby.

Of course, they couldn't bring them along on this mission, since R3 held secret sensitive data that could be dangerous to let fall into enemy hands. And many assigned to the mission thought that having a thirty year old Confederacy battle droid traipsing on the Imperial capital world would draw too much attention.

Leaning against the wall of the building, feeling the ferrocrete shudder with the distant explosions, she began to cry. She wasn't at all surprised that she had finally collapsed under the pressure of the situation. In fact, she wondered why it hadn't happened before now."

Spike took a glance over at Willow as he heard her weeping, and rushed over to her, reaching out to put his hand on her shoulder. "Come on, Red. Pull it together."

Violently throwing off the welcoming touch, Willow turned to look at Spike, her face streaked with tears. "Why? Why am I bothering?"

"Bothering about what?"

Willow walked out towards the street. Spike followed, keeping a finger on the trigger of the Z-6. As the pair reached the street, they looked out into a nightmare. Speeder bikes were buzzing around the area like Sacorrian grain flies, while AT-AT's, AT-ST's, 'AT-AAs and even some older model AT-TE's, 'AT-APs and TX-130T fighter tanks were firing their powerful blaster cannons at the approaching New Republic hover tanks, mobile torpedo launchers and attack tanks. Stormtroopers filled the empty spaces between the vehicles, blasters firing mercilessly at the incoming Rebel forces. A few had even set up E-Web heavy repeating blasters, which targeted troop platoons and mowed them down mercilessly.

"Look out there, Spike. The New Republic's fighting to take this planet out of the hands of the enemy so that we can have a home. But what about me? I don't have a home to go back to. My parents won't accept me, and Tara..."

Mentioning her wife's name caused the image of her bloodied and battered body to come forth once more, and she began to cry uncontrollably. They had only recently gotten married. They shouldn't have come on this mission. But Tara very much wanted to be a part of the fight to conquer the planet. And naturally, as was always the case, whatever Tara wanted, Willow very much wanted to give her.

But things had gone from bad to worse too quickly for her, and now it was all catching up to her. She wanted so very badly to be comforted by Tara, to feel her fingers through her red tresses, feel the comforting touch of her luscious pouty lips against her own.

It pained her to think that she will never feel Tara again. And that only made her cry harder.

"Bugger this."

Willow, naturally, was too preoccupied with her own affairs to notice anything else, which was why the strike had more impact against her than Spike would have wanted to deliver. The slap was light, but played across her face like thunder.

"Red, you gotta snap out of it. So your parents don't like what you've done with your life. Big deal. My parents never liked me much. That didn't stop me from going out there and busting bucketheads wherever they turned up. We all make choices, Red. And you chose to fight on the winning side. And you got a girl as hot as three Twi'lek dancing girls out of it, too. Pretty much looks to me like you've done better than even your parent's thought."

Willow's face softened somewhat, realizing that Spike was right. It didn't matter if her parent's approved of what she did or not. What mattered was that she was doing what she wanted and how she wanted to do it. And Tara...

Looking into Spike's eyes, Willow smiled. "You're right, Spike. Wallowing in self pity isn't going to get me anywhere. If we're going to win this thing, I need to be at the top of my game. The New Republic needs its top technogal."

Spike nodded and looked over Willow's shoulder. "And I bet I know where the big shindig's gonna go down."

Willow turned around and looked off in the same direction Spike was, seeing the colossal pyramid off in the distance that had been a common sight every morning when she woke up. Looking down below, she saw the New Republic forces, continuing their assault against the Imperial defenders, moving slowly but inexorably, towards it.

"Always wanted to show Tara the Palace," she thought. "Looks like I'm gonna get my opportunity."

Having taken the long way around in order to avoid any wandering Imperial forces, it had taken almost an hour and a half for Willow and Spike to make it anywhere near the Senate District. But it had apparently paid off, as by the time they arrived, the majority of the New Republic forces had already established a foothold near the palace grounds, setting up a command center, airfield and several laser turrets. Repair droids swarmed around the transports and tanks while medical droids attended to the injured.

The cacophony of voices invaded Willow's thoughts, making it impossible to think. But through the haze, she suddenly became aware of an exchange nearby.

"This unit diagnoses patient with severe blaster burns on leg and chest. Recommend bacta immersion treatment followed by 24 hour rest period."

"The only droid I listen to is En-Vee. And since he isn't here to tell me this, I'll be heading back out there to give it my all."

"Patient displaying irrational thinking..."

"You're damned right."

"...and suicidal tendencies. Recommend sedation protocol 1138 be implemented..."

Willow recognized the voice, and made her way over to the sound of the exchange, finding Tara leaning against the side of a hover tank, being examined by a Two-Onebee medical droid. Her eyes were naturally drawn to the blonde's chest, which was exposed to the world. Willow would have been offended by that had she not been distracted by the rather large burn against her creamy flesh.


Tara turned away from the medical droid. "Willow?"

Willow rushed to Tara, enveloping her wife in a fierce hug that the blonde returned after a moment.

"I got so lost!"

Tara ran her fingers through Willow's hair. "But you found me. We'll always find one another."

The perfect moment was ruined by the voice of the Two-Onebee droid. "This unit does not recommend visitor harm patient in this manner. Patient has suffered wounds that will not heal properly if treated in this manner. This unit also detects rising carbon dioxide levels in patient. Recommend visitor cease crushing patient in this manner until wounds have been healed."

"I hate to say this, but he does have a point," Tara said. "Oxygen's...starting to become an issue."

Quickly releasing her wife, Willow looked around at the assembled group, a motley assortment of individuals brought together by a single purpose. "So...what's the hold up? Why aren't we knocking down the Emperor's fence?"

"We took some losses," Tara replied, looking around at the assembled group. "Command wants reinforcements before we go knocking on the door."

Willow nodded in understanding, then brushed a golden curl from Tara's face. "Tara, remember how I said that we might have a home here, and that I would introduce you to my parents?"

Tara turned to look at Willow, and noted the sadness in her eyes. "What's wrong?"

The tears flowed from Willow's face unfettered. "They...they don't like the fact that we're together. And they think...I'm a disappointment. They think I brought down shame upon them. I always thought that...that when we came to free the planet, they would see why I did the things I did, but..."

Taking Willow's face into her hands, Tara kissed her wife passionately. "Willow, your parents may not like me. They may not like you. They may not like what we've done, or why we're doing it, but that doesn't mean we're not going to do it. It's the right thing to do, and that means that, one way or another, they will be proud of you."

Willow shook her head. "I know. Spike helped me figure that out."

Tara let out a chuckle. "Spike? I always thought he was more of the 'crush, kill, destroy' type of guy."

"He is," Willow answered with a smirk. "But he does...have a softer side."

The two embraced once more before they were interrupted once again, this time by a chirping sound. Reaching down, Tara withdrew her comlink. "Go."

"Tara, I want you to get your group together and prepare to go in. We haven't been able to find anyone with sufficient computer skills, so I'm afraid..."

"Not to worry, General," Tara said as she looked at Willow, a smile creeping across her lips. "We've got the best technobrat in the galaxy right here."

Willow, Tara and Kyle hunkered down near the Palace doors, waiting for the signal to advance with their squad of troops. The plan was simple. The bulk of the armored vehicles would keep the retaliatory strike from the Imperials away from the Palace while Tara and Kyle would escort Willow and a squad of Infiltrators into the palace security room, where Willow would upload a specially crafted virus that would scramble the Imperial's communications and technical equipment, effectively bringing an end to any resistance. The trick was that the room was located deep in the Palace. And that, as the most tightly guarded building on the planet, it was not going to be easy for them to get to it.

But then again, that was what most people had said about the assault on the Death Star. And look what happened there.

A double click from Kyle's comlink signaled the start of their mission. Raising his blaster pistol, Kyle shouted, "Charge!"

Willow and Tara moved with the group, running towards the doors of the Palace, not entirely surprised to find a group of guards already there. Kyle and Tara led their troops against them while Willow took the Infiltrators off to the side, waiting for their moment to strike.

Withdrawing a grenade from her belt, Tara released the safety pin and rolled it at the troops, causing them to scatter out of its way. Smiling, Tara and the others began to walk casually up to the doors as the Imperials scrambled over each other to get out of the way.

As the last of the Imperials fled, Willow got to her feet to join Kyle and Tara near the grenade. She also caught sight of the fact that both her wife and the commando were stifling the urge to laugh.

"What's so funny?" Willow asked.

Tara tapped the grenade with the tip of her boot, and Willow watched as it collapsed into a pile of junk.

"The old 'build-a-bomb-out-of-spare-parts' gag," Kyle snorted. "Gets them every time."

Standing in front of one of the computer consoles in the security room, Willow worked at a feverish pace in order to counteract the firewalls and protective programs that prevented any unauthorized access to the secure data within. There were codes that could easily grant access to the computers, but the only ones who carried them just happened to be knocked out and dumped in the room's closet, which meant it was up to her and the Infiltrators to do their work the hard way.

Or, in her mind at least, the fun way.

"Access denied...access denied...access denied..." Willow groaned as her attempts to crack the security yielded the same result. "Access the Force, don't you know how to say anything else?"

"Warning: Security Breach Detected In Vital Systems. Two Minutes Until Complete Wipe Of All Essential Data."

Willow yelped. She had a bad feeling that was going to happen. If she and her team didn't crack the codes in the next two minutes, the computers would wipe the programs that allowed access to the data. And that would mean that no one save the top level computer experts could restore it.

And though Willow was confident in her own abilities, she didn't think that even she could do that.

"We gotta work faster, guys," she said to her team. As her fingers flew across the buttons, she muttered under her breath, "I guess you can say something different."

"I have a bad feeling about this," Kyle said, checking the power pack of his Bryar pistol for what felt like the hundredth time.

"You always say that," Tara replied, glancing down the corridor to see if it was clear, and thanking the Force to find that it was.

"I always mean it," Kyle deadpanned in reply.

Standing outside the door to the security room, Kyle and Tara held on to their blasters as they waited for Willow and her team to finish their job. It was taking too long, however, and they were starting to get a little worried.

"Willow will be alright, Kyle," Tara reassured the mercenary. "She's good at manipulating systems in order to get the desired result."

Despite his nervousness, Kyle smirked. "Something tells me that you know a lot about that, Tara."

Tara blushed fiercely at that, and was about to respond when the lights died, sending the room into complete darkness. The pair stepped back as Willow walked out of the room, her face flushed and her breath coming in ragged gasps.

"Everything OK?" Kyle asked.

"Yeah," Willow breathed between gasps. "I just...never manipulated systems for that long before. It...gets a little tiring and I think it's bad for the wrists."

"But at least you finally got the result you wanted," Tara smirked, thankful that the darkness of the room hid her blush.

It could not, however, hide Kyle laugh. "And I'm sure that the Imperials will rue the day they underestimated Willow's magic fingers."

That sent all three of them into howling fits of laughter, as they and the others headed to the doors of the Palace.

It was hours later, and the battle was still going on in isolated sectors of the planet, but enough of the world was under New Republic control for the leadership to officially declare the battle to be a victory for their side. From the bridge of Home One, Mon Mothma declared that the New Republic had won the battle for Coruscant, and that she and the other members of the Inner Council would now take the first steps to making the New Republic the lawful ruling government of the galaxy. Sitting inside the command center, Willow smiled at that though, but quickly found that her thoughts drifted to the results of that victory. Countless civilians had been killed, a majority of which had happened when a Super Star Destroyer had erupted from the planet's surface near the Palace. Leaving the Palace, she, Tara and Kyle had noted a large seismic disturbance, but hadn't thought much of it. It pained her to realize that so many people had been killed needlessly. A great deal of celebration had taken place, though there were the occasional troublemaker which, in more than one instance, was violently told not so eloquently to keep their mouth shut.

At least Dawn was safe. Oh, Dawnie desperately wanted to come with them, to help free Coruscant. But Dawn was just a little too eager to get the Imperials in her crosshairs on their home turf. And though Dawn was a crack pilot, her skills with the blaster were... not so much. Still, she was with En-Vee and R3, and Tara had arranged with Admiral Ackbar to get her a position as gunner on Home One. Tara had promised Buffy that she would keep her sister safe, and she was determined to keep her word, even if it meant having to limit Dawn's involvement in the battle to picking off eyeballs and squints.

And, as she sat in the command center, Willow took a moment to re-read the message that had been sent to her following Mon Mothma's declaration. A message that was, to her, a more personal victory than any military action she could take.


It pains me to have to send this message, knowing how much you played a vital role in what has happened on this day. I had high hopes that you would use your talents for the good of the Empire. Apparently, I was very much mistaken.

To be honest, you always had a fiery independent streak, and I had hoped to temper it, as the Empire would not condone such activity. I suppose that's what made you decide to join the Rebels.

I am sorry that I treated you bad earlier today. I realize now what I should have known all along. I was attempting to live out my dream of serving in the Imperial forces in a greater capacity. I was never good enough to become part of the enlisted forces or to have my genetic material be used as a clone template. And although my position in COMPNOR meant that I contributed to the good of the Empire, I never thought it was good enough. I always wanted to serve onboard a Star Destroyer, fly a TIE fighter and to lead troops in the glorious mission to bring peace to the galaxy. have done that. Not in the way I wanted, but you have done it.

I have never been as proud of you as I am today. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me and your mother for all that we have done for you. You are welcome to come stay with us. Especially Tara. She must be a special person if you can find it in your heart to let her into your life.

I would like to get to know her. And I would like the chance to get to know the real you.

Please come and visit.



Willow couldn't let the tears she felt at seeing this message come. It was not that she wasn't emotional about it. In fact, it had been the first good message from her parents in the past eight years. But she had cried enough this day that she could not do so again.

Turning, she looked at Tara, who had just returned from the spaceport. After the battle, her wife had made her way to the spaceport where they had touched down, making it absolutely clear to the personnel there that the Doll's Eye was her ship and that she was going to take it back. And between the battle going on around them and the fact that they were staring down the barrels of two blaster rifles, the three men in charge weren't apt to do any complaining.

Tara walked over to the console, looked at the message on the screen, and ran her fingers through Willow's hair. "Things did turn out for the best, Willow. We've won."

"Not really," Willow replied. "The Empire is still out there. We've got Isard to deal with. Not to mention Warlord Zsinj. And who knows what else could come out of the galaxy to threaten us. A rogue Grand Admiral. An unknown alien race. Hell, even the Emperor could come back to life. That would give me nightmares."

Tara leaned over and kissed Willow on the cheek. "Don't worry about it, baby. Those are threats we can deal with when and if they come up." Getting up, she walked towards the door. "But right now, I think we have to deal with a more obvious threat."

Getting to her feet, Willow moved to join her wife. "Yeah. Time to meet the parents."


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