Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by SiouxFan, Mar 22, 2013.
Wonderful insightful conversation True, no matter what galaxy you live in
So..... you mean to tell us that all we needed to save ourselves from Darth Asshat was Danni Quee???
I must say though you truly have resurrected the Jacen Solo I actually liked pre-Dark Swarm and yet have matured him appropriately.
Well done indeed.
I suppose I should feel bad about not knowing about the Obi-Wan Kenobi, but seeing as it wasn't mentioned in any of the books I've read, (which is most of them up until the end of LotF publish-date-wise) I don't feel too bad. I confess that I don't check Wookiepedia all that often, and I'm going largely off of my own (faulty) memory. Thanks for the heads-up, though!
You brought up the main reason that I took this section out of the story proper: I was turning Danni into a Hermione-type character, and I didn't want to turn her into an "insufferable know-it-all" (according to Professor Snape), so I took it out. However, in a bit of shameless self-promotion, I do like the way their conversation turned out. Wars are largely won by people we will never hear about who have done amazingly brave things that largely go unnoticed. From a SW fan aspect, we as a community have made a huge hero out of Anakin Solo, but what did he really do? He saved his sister from getting stabbed and delayed a squad of Vong long enough for others to escape and for Jacen to complete the mission. Is it heroic? Sure. Is it any different than what thousands of other troopers, pilots or Marines from hundreds of worlds must have done in that war? No.
I won't get into why I think Anakin's mission to Myrkr was an epically bad idea (I've done it elsewhere on the boards), but I as a member of the military and a student of history I wanted to emphasize to present and future readers of the sacrifices MANY beings made to win this war. (I speak both of the EU and of our world).
I didn't have Jacen make a more strenuous argument, because I don't think he HAS a good defense. IMO, Danni is right; Anakin deserves a Purple Heart, a Silver Star and, if you feel so inclined, a Medal of Honor. (All real, BTW). An SSD? Not a chance. Not when other SSDs are named Mon Mothma and Elegos A'Kla. Jacen's naming of the Anakin Solo was a crap way to show the galaxy that his brother's death meant something, and I think he knew that--even when he was Caedus.
Without giving anything away, I am writing Jacen's relationship with Danni differently than his relationship with Tenel Ka, but I don't think that is a bad thing. We all need different people in our lives to fill different needs. I love my wife immensely, but she has only a passing interest in SW or Game of Thrones, so I come here or FF.N to converse with other people who DO share my enthusiasm for them; I despise baseball, and she knows this, so she talks about her Brewers with her brother or a friend from college.
Thanks! As you've seen with my reviews, I am always trying to get others to re-examine how we look at the EU and life.
When NJO was drawing down, I got myself kinda excited about watching Jacen and Danni go and become 'Professors' for all things Force related. Again, I am a HUGE TK fan, but it didn't look like her and Jacen were in the cards and I liked the way Danni and Jacen progressed with their relationship. And then.....the wheels fell off.
This is what Jacen SHOULD have been, IMO. Never afraid of trying a new path, and never afraid of changing paths if they don't seem right. Their Jacen decided that being stubborn meant being principled. OUR Jacen knew that being principled means you are willing to change if circumstances dictate and that is the Jacen I'm writing.
Thank you all for reading and I appreciate all of the fantastic feedback! Sadly, I seem unable to write a short reply.
Chapter 13—The More things change…
A/N: This chapter will introduce another character I borrowed from Hexterah’s The Feigned series: Tenel Ka’s secretary Anhaje--both her and Gadell Vessau are used with permission. If you’ve got the time, check out her stories--they take us back to a time when the EU was still…optimistic.
T_________|_________O O(___)O O
“No, I don’t have a landing permit. I am trying to get an appointment to see the Queen Mother.” Danni rolled her eyes, explaining all of this for the second time. “According to your Diplomatic Clearance Guide on file with Commenor Air Traffic Control, a landing permit is not needed for this location.”
The woman on the other end of the radio, the shift supervisor Danni surmised, answered in a clipped, authoritative voice. “Prior permission has always been required here. We mistakenly omitted this requirement in the last publication and posted a Notice to Airman to rectify the oversight yesterday. You are required to check these prior to filing a flight plan, are you not?” The shift supervisor could not keep the condescension from her voice.
Danni was starting to get really annoyed. “I did check the NOTAMs before I left. You are aware that this a forty-year-old ship and that it is a two-day flight from Commenor to Hapes in this thing, right?” The airwaves were filled with about five seconds of silence.
More politely, the controller replied, “Please hold at SABRE intersection, standard turns. I will get back to you in fifteen minutes. What is your name, I will need it for verification with Commenor.”
“Quee, Danni Quee.” Danni paused, trying to calm her voice, “Belkadan Survivor will hold at SABRE, standard turns. Thank you.” Her mother always told her that being polite never cost anything.
“You’re welcome Survivor. I will get back to you momentarily.” Danni could hear the smile in the controller’s voice.
T_________|_________O O(___)O O
Tenel Ka, dressed in what she considered her ‘everyday Monarch attire’ --an ivory v-neck button-down blouse and a navy skirt--was sitting at the head of a large oval table with three other important-looking people in an alcove off of what was still referred to as the ‘Throne Room’, even though there had not been an actual ‘throne’ in close to a century. This large room, with a rich parquet floor, was Her Majesty’s official office. Located on the second floor of the palace, overlooking the majestic fountains, it sat directly above the formal ballroom. In fact, hidden on the left wall was a doorway that opened to a private stairway that led both up to the residence and down to the ballroom. Her large mahogany desk was at the center of the room directly in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows that made up the entire rear wall. Off to the right was a sitting area with two leather wingback chairs and a comfortable-looking love seat surrounding a modest coffee table. At the front-left corner of the office was the twenty-person table where she sat. This table was used to conduct official meetings with her various ministers, as well as semi-official lunches. Currently, it was being used in the former capacity. Through-put of Hapan Cargo Ports was the topic of the current meeting. Present were the Deputy Minister of Transportation for Space Ports, the Deputy Minister of Transportation for Logistics, and the head of the Hapan Space Port Alliance, a commercial trade-group made up of the managers of Hapan cargo ports. Ugh, this meeting is even more boring than the report I read last night to prep for this. If anyone needs the cure for insomnia, I’ve found it.
The severe-looking older woman, to Tenel Ka’s left, dressed in an even more severe-looking grey business skirt, continued: “If you look at page 515, appendix B, Your Majesty, you will find that the cargo-handling ability of Lorell is twice that of the port here in the capital. It is unsatisfactory to have such a provincial city boasting a larger port than our own.”
Tenel Ka pulled up the page on her datapad, more to humor the woman than anything. She had read the report, after all. “So it would seem.” She looked back at the woman. “However, Lorell is our main manufacturing center, and has twice the population. Furthermore,” she looked back to the datapad to pull up one of her bookmarked pages, “if you care to take a look at page 226, you would find that the port here at the capital still operates at 30% below max capacity. Even factoring in projected population growth of 3-5% a year, the cargo port here still has a number of years before we need to spend hard-earned tax dollars on expansion of the port facilities.” She paused for effect. “You would have been better served asking for money for upgrades to the existing port infrastructure.” Tenel Ka then allowed her voice to get an edge. “Of course, on page 324, you would’ve found that this government just spent 55 million credits to upgrade the capital’s port not five years ago.” Her voice now icy, “Did your office not expect me to read this report?” Tenel Ka was interrupted by a knock on the office door. Sighing, she said crisply, “Enter.”
Commander Vessau poked his head through the door. “Your Majesty, do you have a moment?”
“As long as it is more important than this.” Tenel Ka bit out angrily, as she waved her hand at the three women at the table. She got up to meet with her security chief in her outer office, leaving the three women at the table with shell-shocked looks.
Gadell closed the door to her office, stopping in front the desk of her secretary, Anhaje. “Meeting going well?”
Tenel Ka sighed bitterly, “Honestly, they think that they can overload me with facts to get me to consent to spend millions of credits on a project that we do not need, and that, in all likelihood, line the pockets of their friends and family.” She forced herself to relax, because she found herself getting even more angry thinking about what had transpired in her office. “Apparently, they do not think that a single mom has time to read.” Taking a deep breath, she mentally shifting gears. “Pray tell, what crisis has come up to drag me away from this ‘important’ meeting?”
Gadell smiled. One of the many things that he admired about the Queen Mother was her ability to compartmentalize mentally. She was good at it when she was younger; she was exceptional at it now. Motioning to the young woman hanging back by the door, “This is Ensign Kenara Do’ma, she is the shift supervisor for Approach Control. She is tracking an incoming shuttle that doesn’t have a landing permit. For now, it is in a holding track over SABRE Intersection. SABRE is....”
Tenel Ka’s head drooped as she gave Gadell an exasperated look. “Yes, I know where it is. Please tell me you did not drag me out here for a minor ATC infraction?”
Gadell had the decency to look chagrined, “That is what I first thought when Ensign Do’ma came to me. I’ll let her explain.”
Tenel Ka nodded and looked over at the ensign. She’s a shift supervisor? She can’t be more than, what, 23? “Very well. Ensign?”
Clearly flustered by being in the Queen Mother’s office, Ensign Do’ma, stepped forward. “Your Majesty, due to a clerical error in our last published Diplomatic Clearance Guide, we left out our requirement for the pilot to pre-coordinate permission to land at the capitol's spaceport, a ‘landing permit’ in pilot jargon. This has since been rectified, using the Notice to Airman, or NOTAM, system.”
Tenel Ka, being a decent pilot herself, understood the terminology thus far. She was still confused why this would concern her office. “I still fail to understand why you are bringing this to me. What did you come the five kilometers from the spaceport for?”
“Uhh…yes Mum; when we pulled up the flight plan, we saw that it was a Lambda-class shuttle arriving from Commenor.” This caught Tenel Ka’s attention. Coming from Commenor? In a Lambda-Class? Ensign Do’ma was continuing, “Lambda’s are pretty rare these days, we only see one every couple of months or so. And the ones that we do see always has the proper permits and codes.”
Tenel Ka nodded, lost in thought. They’d better have the right codes--I make sure that he gets them. “Does this shuttle have a call-sign? Given any indication as to why they are coming to Hapes?” She asked, more to give herself time to think through possible scenarios than anything.
The ensign nodded, and looked at the palm of her left hand to read a scribbled note, catching the slight smirk of her red-haired monarch. “It is registered as the Belkadan Survivor.” She tilted her head slightly, “This is where it gets really odd: she is requesting an audience with you.“ Tenel Ka’s forehead wrinkled with this information, clearly puzzled. “That is why I came to Commander Vessau. Why would anyone ask to meet with you over an ATC frequency? It seems either really brazen or very naïve.” Tenel Ka nodded, still trying to formulate a plan to deal with this bizarre incident. “Oh, one more thing,” Ensign Do’ma added, glancing at her left hand again, “The pilot’s name is Danni Quee.”
At that, Tenel Ka exhaled a long breath that she did not realize that she was holding and Gadell gave her a strange look. “You know this person?”
“Only by reputation. Have neither of you heard of Danni Quee?” She asked, looking from Gadell to the ensign.
“Should we have?” blurted Ensign Do’ma, forgetting that she was in the Queen’s office. In an instant, her face became one of chagrined shock; she had spoken out of turn, again. This time in front of the ruler of the whole damn cluster. “Forgive my outburst, our majesty.” There goes my career. I wonder if Mom still has that opening in her accounting firm.
Tenel Ka gave her a wry half-smile. “Do not apologize. I find your frankness refreshing. If you have not heard of Ms Quee, than that is a shame.” She found herself remembering the stories that Saba had told about the Wild Knightz. “She did more to beat the Vong than almost anyone else.”
“Do you think that we can trust her?” Gadell asked.
Reaching out lightly with the Force, “I do not sense any duplicity from her.” She recalled that Jacen always spoke very highly of Danni during the rare times that they talked about the war. Tenel Ka had surmised that there might have been something between them, but never wanted to push the issue. Still, Jacen never praised for the sake of it, and he had called Danni ‘the wisest, most unselfish person that I have ever known.’ “Still, I amcurious as to why she is here.” Why would she be coming here? And from Commenor? She looked over at Ensign Do’ma, “Allow the Survivor to land. Put her on the VIP ramp at the city’s spaceport. There is room there, correct?”
“Yes, your majesty, there is room. I will go clear her to land.” With that, Ensign Do’ma walked over to the outer office doors to leave.
“One more thing, Kenara.” Tenel Ka waited for the ensign to stop. “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. It would have been far to easy to just assume that the Survivor was the same shuttle that has the correct codes. Are you able to join me for dinner this evening? Say about 1900?”
Kenara Do’ma turned and flashed her a wide smile. “I would love to!” She frowned slightly, “Sorry Mum…but what should I wear?”
Why do they always ask that? “Business casual is fine, Kenara. I will leave a message with the security desk.”
“Thank you, your majesty.” Ensign Do’ma turned again to let herself out.
Gadell gave Tenel Ka a warm smile. “You sure do have a way with people.”
“Everyone likes to be appreciated for doing the right thing. Coming to you with only a vague feeling that something was wrong could not have been easy.” She turned to Anhaje. “When do I have some free time to meet with Ms. Quee?”
“You have a free half-hour at 1:30.”
Well, so much for saber practice today. Tenel Ka looked at the chrono above the secretary’s desk. 11:43. Probably not enough time for Danni to land, finish a post-flight, get to the palace, get changed, and get to the Throne Room.
“What is my last appointment for the day?”
“You have the Deputy Minister of Transportation for Waterway Navigation at 5:30.”
Tenel Ka dropped her head, pinched the bridge of her nose with her right hand, and murmured, “I hate my job.”
“You should’ve thought of that before you ran for public office.” Gadell noted wryly.
“Fact.” She looked at him out of the corner of her eye. “Do me a favor and see what you can find out about Ms. Quee. I know that she has spent most of the last decade doing research on Zonoma Sekot, but I would like to know what else she has been up to.”
“Trust, but verify?” Gadell asked innocently.
“Something like that.” Tenel Ka said drily, looking back at Anhaje and addressing her in what Allana called her ‘queeny voice’, “Okay, move the Navigation woman to 1:30, and put Danni at 5:30. Call protocol and have them pick up Ms. Quee and tell them that they need to arrange a room for her in one of the guest suites. Can you both join me for dinner tonight?” She waited for their nods of acquiescence. “Good. Tell my chef to prepare dinner for...” she paused, counting, “...six. Something family style. You know I hate pretense.” Gadell and Anhaje smiled covertly at each other. Loathed was a more appropriate word for what Tenel Ka felt about formality.
“Done. Anything else?”
“Yes, get me a mop. I’m going to need it to clean up the mess,” nodding to her office door, “after I knock their heads around.” Tenel Ka walked over to her office door, straightened her back and took a deep breath. Opening the door, her voice rose to where she was almost yelling at the close-to-criminal ministers, “Okay, one of you had better be able to tell me why I shouldn’t jail all THREE of you for trying to defraud MY government out of…” As the door slammed closed, Commander Vessau and Anhaje exchanged a small smirk and Gadell made his way back to his office.
T_________|_________O O(___)O O Danni showed up to her appointment with Tenel Ka at 5:17. Her mother always taught her to be punctual, plus she knew that one did not keep the Regent of sixty-odd worlds waiting. Her Majesty’s secretary, a striking woman of indeterminate age with dark hair and dark blue eyes smiled as Danni opened the outer office glass door. She had heard the stories about Hapan women’s almost mythical beauty, but she had dismissed it as just an adolescent schoolboy myth. She was starting to reconsider. Is everybody here a swimsuit model? Danni felt positively mousy in her short-sleeved silk burgundy button-down blouse, black pinstriped dress pants, and black pumps. Mentally, she shook her head. “Good afternoon, I’m Danni Quee. I believe I have an appointment to see Her Majesty at 5:30.”
Getting up from behind her desk, Anhaje nodded. “Good afternoon Ms. Quee. Her Majesty’s previous appointment finished early, so we can go right in.” She paused, sizing Danni up. ‘”Here is how this will work: I will precede you and announce you. After I do, you will walk over to Her Majesty, getting no closer than one meter, and give her a slight curtsey. We know that you are not accustomed to curtseying, just give it you best attempt.” She said this with a small smile. “If Her Majesty offers you her hand, you may take it. Do not speak until spoken to.” Danni smirked with the last part: her mother had told her the same thing about a million times as a kid. She also understood that these instructions were offered as proper etiquette manner and not as a slight. “Any questions?” Anhaje asked and nodded as the blonde woman shook her head. “Good. If you will follow me.”
She walked over to the door to Tenel Ka’s office and entered, Danni following about two steps behind. “Your majesty, may I present Ms. Danni Quee, Emissary for the world of Zonoma Sekot.”
Danni’s eyes narrowed slightly. Emissary? I don’t recall being offered that office.
Tenel Ka looked up from the report that Commander Vessau had managed to compile on Danni. The report revealed nothing out of the ordinary--several trips to Bastion; a couple of dozen or so trips into Csilla, both presumably for some time off; nothing to indicate that she had any motives for being here. What brings you to Hapes? Turning off her display, she rose from her seat, stepped to the front of her desk and gave Danni a warm look. “Ms. Quee, it is my honor to welcome you to Hapes.” Interesting--Jacen never told me how pretty Danni is.
As Danni walked the five or so paces across the room, she was struck by the elegance and grace of the Queen Mother and her mind flashed to a memory of herself and Jacen while they were on Mon Calamari years before:
T_________|_________O O(___)O O
Her and Jacen were lounging side-by-side on beach towels on their private balcony overlooking the ocean, enjoying the sun, the waves, and each other. Out of the corner of her eye, she had caught him staring. “Just because I’m the prettiest person that you know, that doesn’t mean that you can stare at me all day.” She said, coyly.
“In that bikini?” Jacen smirked as he shook his head. “You’d think me dead if I didn’t stare. I’m certain that you’d be arrested on seventeen planets in that thing!” He paused, an evil smirk sliding into place, “Besides, you’re only the second prettiest girl that I know.”
She gasped in mock indignation. “Why you…” She made a move to punch is left shoulder. Jacen grabbed her wrist, pulling her over on top of him as he chuckled. She struggled to get up, and he started tickling her back. That led to….well, it was a good thing that they were on a private balcony--on the top floor of the hotel.
T_________|_________O O(___)O O
Danni had thought that Jacen was only being…well Jacen. Now, it was clear that he was not. Danni was only the second prettiest girl that Jacen knew. Tenel Ka was stunning. From all of the stories that Jacen had told about his best friend, Danni assumed that she was a more of the tomboy type. Rationally, she knew that Tenel Ka was probably pretty; she was half-Hapan after all, but she didn’t really expect stunning. Though in all fairness, Danni realized that Jacen never described Tenel Ka’s looks at all, except to say that it was his fault that she had lost half of her left arm. He always mentioned her eyes, her fearlessness, and her ability to cut straight to the heart of a problem. It was as if Jacen didn’t really care if Tenel Ka was beautiful or not.
“Your majesty, I am honored that you would meet with me on such short notice.” Danni stopped the required meter from Tenel Ka and offered her best attempt at a curtsey. She does have pretty eyes. Rising, she added, “I must confess, I don’t recall being added to the Diplomatic Corps payrolls.”
Tenel Ka’s grey eyes showed some sparkle as she offered Danni her hand. “The pleasure is mine, I assure you. As you are the head researcher on Sekot, that does make you the emissary, official or not. Come, let us sit.” Danni shook the Queen’s hand and Tenel Ka guided her guest over to the sitting area of the large office. Tenel Ka took one of the wingback chairs, gesturing to Danni that she should take the loveseat. “Would you like something to drink?”
Not knowing quite how to answer, but thinking it rude to decline, Danni came up with a safe option. “Water would be fine, Your Majesty.” Danni sat down as Tenel Ka nodded to Anhaje, who left through the office door. Not knowing how to start this conversation, Danni started with trying to establish a common link. “I don’t know if you remember,” she paused to nod a thank you to the secretary, who had returned with a crystal pitcher of water, “but we have met in passing once or twice. I think the last time was during the Killik crisis.”
Tenel Ka nodded while filling two glasses from the pitcher. “Ah yes: the ‘if you are not for us, you are against us’ meeting.” She gave Danni a knowing look, “I thought that comment to be a bit bush-league. It is my belief that Master Skywalker overstepped his authority on that issue.”
Danni was taken aback. She thought that she was the only one who begrudged Luke Skywalker for that. “I wish that others thought as you.” Danni said quietly.
Tenel Ka offered a slight half-smile, “We still have time to change his mind. I remember all of your service to the New Republic even if the Jedi don’t. I still think it unjust that Master Skywalker forced us out.” She paused, taking a drink of water. “So tell me, what brings you to Hapes?”
Danni grimaced. Here we go. “Jacen Solo.”
Tenel Ka’s eyes widened before she could stop herself. Well, Jacen always said that she was direct. Quickly, she narrowed her eyes, “Why would Jedi Solo,” she deliberately used his title to infer distance between her and Jacen, “send you here?”
Shaking her head, Danni tried a different approach. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that he had sent me.” She paused, trying to decide how much to reveal to a woman that she only knew via a mutual friend. I flew all the way out here; I might as well put all the cards on the table. “I’ve been having Force visions concerning Jacen for a while. Since you were his best friend at the Academy, you were the next logical person to ask about Jacen’s travails”
Tenel Ka frowned slightly. “Next person? I’m afraid that you have me at a bit of a disadvantage. You seem to know more about me than I do about you.” This was a lie, but she did not want Danni to be able to piece together that she Jacen had been seeing each other regularly for the last five years. “Jacen and I are not as close as we once were.” This, sadly, was true. Tenel Ka had grown up with palace intrigue, and so the ability to hide the truth inside of lies had almost become second nature. A part of her psyche recoiled at this side of being the queen. “What was the nature of this vision?” The younger woman asked, allowing concern to creep into her voice. From what she knew, Danni was not the type to fly all the way out to Hapes unless is was something big.
After taking a drink of water, Danni recounted the lightsaber dual. Danni left out the name ‘Nelani’ and her getting killed. She also left off the vision of the galaxy burning; she still wasn’t sure how much she could reveal to the Queen Mother of Hapes. Tenel Ka caught on that there was more to the story than Danni was willing to share. Unfortunately, the ‘Throne Room’ was not the place to delve into such stories. Leaning forward in her chair to replace her glass on the coffee table, she caught Danni’s eye and glanced furtively around the room as she said quickly with her lips barely moving, “We cannot discuss this further here.” Leaning back, seeing that Danni had caught on to the message, she continued as if the previous remark had never happened, “Interesting. Force visions about the future are inherently inaccurate.” Tenel Ka seemed to downplay the significance of what Danni had seen. Reaching through the force, she tried to convey to Danni that she was worried, but could not be seen as such. “It seems, though, that my day is at an end. Seeing that you did fly all the way out here, I would hate to make it an empty trip. It would be my pleasure to invite you to my quarters for dinner. Is 6:30 satisfactory?” Danni nodded. “ Excellent. I will see you then.” Tenel Ka rose out of her chair and extended her hand as Danni, too, rose. As the two women shook hands, Tenel Ka whispered quickly, “Thank you for bringing this my attention.” Switching to her normal voice, “It has been a pleasure to finally meet the famous Danni Quee.”
With the secretary reentering the office, Danni replied, “Thank you, your Majesty. I look forward to seeing you again.” She turned to follow the secretary out of the room. That was strange. Danni definitely got the impression that the Queen Mother was worried, but why didn’t the Queen Mother feel safe to discuss this in her own office?
Once she was back in the outer office, Anhaje closed the door and walked over to her desk. “This is the pass card that you will need to give to the security detail at the private residence.” Danni gave her a quizzical look, and Anhaje answered with a knowing smile. “Her Majesty had already made arrangements with us to invite you to dinner, this appointment was a mere formality. In a lower voice, she continued, “There are recording devices in there that we allow the opposition to think that we haven’t found yet.”
Danni nodded. She was almost starting to think that the Queen Mother was just paranoid. Of course, knowing what she did about Hapan history, just because one is paranoid, doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get you. “Ah.” She said knowingly, “Saves you the trouble of having to look for new ones.” Danni shook her head, “And here I thought that research politics were bad.”
“You have no idea.”
T_________|_________O O(___)O O A/N: Once again, for the sake of story telling, I’m playing pretty loose with travel times in this. I needed a mildly plausible way for the Queen Mother to hear about Danni’s arrival and I didn’t think just having Danni just show up at the Fountain Palace and announce: “I’m here to see Tenel Ka,” would work; the whole ‘break into the palace’ thing had already been done by Jacen in Joiner King, so I went with an airspace infraction. For those interested; yes, NOTAMs do exist, as does holding over an ‘intersection’. For those REALLY curious, I am more than willing to talk pilot stuff with you!
Loved the Mon Cal flashback Enjoyed reading Danni's reactions to Tenel Ka. And their discussion. Looking forward to it continuing.
I will definitely keep an eye/ear out for the Feigned Series. I won't read it now with the truncation, but at full size, definitely. I love optimism in the EU. And bleh, sounds like the Killiks started a downhill slide for characterization Luke doesn't sound like the Luke that our ff specialists still do to perfection, even past the OT timeframe, so that's no excuse.
You do seem to capture the Hapes political environment quite accurately.
I'm curious to see if Tenel Ka picks up on Danni's feeling toward Jacen during their private dinner.
Nice update. Two of Jacen's lovers in the same room... I was expecting a fight
Thanks! When I wrote this scene, I asked my wife if women check each other out and she answers, 'In a case like this? Absolutely.' So, I left it in. I did get some flak for this scene over on FF.N from JL's favorite reviewer about it being 'too porny', but I just ignored it. Nobody else seemed to mind. The Mon Cal scene is one that I wished would have happened--it's always bothered me that all of the Solo kids had a nice mushy scene in NJO except for Jacen....we'll just torture him. Oh, and The Feigned actually has its own website...just do a Google search for it. Hexterah's story is a bit angsty at times, but she writes Tenel Ka better than almost anyone.
What's odd, is that a cat fight didn't even cross my mind when I wrote this scene and I feel like I should have my 'guy' card revoked for not thinking of it! To be fair, Danni only knows that TK is/was Jacen's best friend and TK only has suspicions of what happened between Danni and Jacen.
Even if is LOADS better than it was under Ta'a Chume, it's still Hapes, after all, so I thought a little subterfuge to be expected. We'll get a little more detail on this later. As to Tenel Ka and Danni....
Be warned, this is pretty long. I just couldn't find a good place to break it up without ruining the flow of the chapter.
Tenel Ka stood, unobserved, in a shaded corner of her balcony watching Allana play catch with her grandfather on the lawn below. Prince Isolder, although now 60, was still in excellent shape and loved to play with his granddaughter, something he had never been allowed to do when his own daughter was younger. Ta’a Chume had forbidden it, calling it “un-princess like”, and he was never in the mood to fight his mother on this issue. However, Tenel Ka thought that Allana could deal with such frivolities, she had plenty of time to learn to be a princess; but she only got one crack at being a kid. The young queen allowed a smile as she heard Allana shriek with laughter as she tried to tackle her grandfather. Abruptly, the door behind her opened and she quickly turned her head to deal with the intrusion into her personal time. Danni looked chagrined when she saw the piercing look that the red-haired woman gave her, “I’m sorry Your Majesty, the security guy said that I could come on out.” She started to back out through the doors.
Tenel Ka’s look softened, “No, please stay. I did not realize the time; and please, call me Tenel Ka.” She walked over to the center of the balcony and leaned up against the rail. Immediately, Allana saw her and gave her a big wave. “Hi Mommy! I’m playing catch! Who’s that?” She said, pointing at Danni as the blonde woman made her way to the railing.
“Now, what did we say about pointing, young lady?” asked Prince Isolder, with a bit of a smirk. Looking up at Danni, “You must be Danni Quee. Catch.” And he tossed the oblong ball towards the two women up on the balcony.
“Father…” Tenel Ka cried, exasperated, as she ducked to the left out of the way. With the grace of a cat, Danni took a quick step to the left, stuck out her left hand while spinning a quarter turn, and caught the ball single-handedly, cradling the ball to her chest. Seeing Tenel Ka’s look of surprise, she merely shrugged. Looking down into the gardens again, she chirpred, “Good evening, Your Highnesses.”
Prince Isolder flashed his hands in front of him, indicating that Danni throw the ball back. She grinned, and flipped off her shoes. “Oh, you’ll get it back, but you’re going to have to work for it!” Isolder looked dubious. Danni laughed, “Okay Mister Doubting Isolder, give me a 10-meter out.”
Still looking unconvinced, Isolder took a few steps closer to the balcony. He turned away from the balcony, looked over his shoulder, and assumed a relaxed sprinter’s stance. “Okay, honey, I’m ready when you are.”
Danni held the ball in front of her with both hands and yelled, “Go!” She took a couple of quick steps backwards and bounced on the balls of her feet, watching intently as Isolder sprinted up the grass. Quickly, she estimated where Isolder would get to the ten-meter mark and make his cut to the right. After she counted nine steps, she fired the ball four paces to his right, the ball whistling through the air. Isolder hit the ten-meter mark, and cut to the right. As soon as he made his move, his head turned around to look back at Danni and saw that the ball was about two meters away and coming fast… at his head. He got his hands up just in time, catching the ball and stumbling in the process. Isolder went about another two steps before diving down to the grass and rolling over onto his back.
Allana looked up at Danni from in awe. “Can you teach me how to throw like that?”
Danni gave her a big smile and a wink, “Sure thing, sweetie.” Seeing Tenel Ka’s stunned look, she shrugged and said drily, “I was the only girl in my neighborhood. If I wanted to play outside, I had to play with the six neighborhood boys.”
Isolder had gotten up. “Hey, we’ve got an intramural team representing the Palace, if you’re interested.” He gave her a quick smile, “Do you want to come down here and play with the two of us?”
Tenel Ka answered before Danni could, “Sorry father, Danni and I have some issues to discuss. Next time, perhaps.”
“I’ll hold you to that.” He lobbed the ball to Allana, who caught it with two hands. Okay sweetie, I’ll bet that you can’t make it to those trees before I tackle you!” He started toward Allana, and she ran toward the tree line, screaming in delight the entire way.
Watching them go, Tenel Ka looked pensive. “She is much more fun-loving than I was at that age--she reminds me so much of her father.” Danni stepped up to the rail, unsure of what to say. She could feel the loneliness coming off of Tenel Ka, but did not know her well enough to help. Instead, Danni nodded and took a page from the ‘Solo Book of Etiquette’: Try for levity. She looked over at the Queen Mother, now dressed in a sleeveless navy-blue empire-waist blouse, khaki Capri pants, and sandals. Her hair was done in a single braid, hanging to her shoulder blades. “I feel a tad overdressed,” Danni said sheepishly. She was wearing the same outfit from before, and had even worn more stylish heels that matched her burgundy blouse.
Tenel Ka gave her a shrug. “I invite members of the staff over for dinner once every couple of weeks or so for an informal dinner. I always tell them to dress causal, yet they never do. So, I gave up.” She gave Danni an appraising gaze, “At least you’re not wearing a gown; one of the women from Protocol wore one last time.” Danni smirked. Tenel Ka walked over to the table at the back of the balcony and poured two glasses of wine from the bottle that had been chilling there for the last twenty minutes. Scooping up the goblets between her fingers of her right hand, she returned over to the railing. Danni met her halfway to relieve her of one of the crystal glasses. Hapes’ Regent nodded her thanks, and the two women walked back to the railing. Tenel Ka took a sip of the red wine and said casually, “I apologize for being curt earlier. I try not to let information of a personal nature be discussed in the Throne Room.”
Danni gave her a quick nod as she sipped her drink. “Ahanje mentioned the recording devices.”
“Ah. We try to make sure that we ‘discover’ them about once every three or four days. Any longer than that, and they would not think that we were trying.” She paused, taking another sip. “There has not even been an assassination attempt in fifteen months.”
Danni coughed, almost spitting out her wine. “Wow, that’s got to be some sort of record!”
Tenel Ka arched her right eyebrow, her grey eyes twinkling. “Almost.” She became more serious. “So, now that we are no longer in danger of being recorded, what was the full nature of your vision about Jedi Solo?” Tenel Ka emphasized the last portion of the comment to ensure that she knew that Danni left quite a bit out at their earlier meeting.
Danni grimaced; she had hoped that the Queen Mother wasn’t quite so smart. “How ‘bout I show you instead.” She gave Tenel Ka a knowing look. “However, I’m out of practice projecting through the Force. I’ll just push my memory of it to the front of my mind where you can access it.”
“Are you sure?” Tenel Ka was uncertain that this would work. She didn’t feel like she could trust Danni enough to forge such a link; after all, they had only met an hour ago.
“No.” Danni shook her head, answering honestly. “But, words fail to properly describe the story. Perhaps you’d get a better feel for it if you actually see it.”
“Okay; we will give it a try.” As they looked each other in the eye, Tenel Ka cautiously reached out through the Force. She could feel Danni’s apprehension and her mental barriers shot up as Tenel Ka entered her mind. Tenel Ka sent thoughts of reassurance through their forming bond. As Danni got used to the sensation of someone else being in her thoughts, her mental barriers started to ease down. Tenel Ka gently moved through her mind and gasped as she found Danni’s vision. It had only been ten years, but she had forgotten how desperate hand-to-hand battles were when you were fighting for you life.
T_________|_________O O(___)O O
“I’m sorry, Nelani.” The man said as he ran the young woman through. As Danni’s memory faded, another one quickly bloomed…
They were on the bridge of a Star Destroyer--firing at what looked like the Millennium Falcon. The scene changed again; this time they were watching a forested planet burn. A new scene; they were in another lightsaber duel, this time with Mara Jade. They were in an X-wing with a little girl. Another lightsaber duel…
T_________|_________O O(___)O O
Danni gave Tenel Ka a huge mental shove out of her thoughts. Both women had slumped against the railing, gasping for breath. Danni found that her hands were shaking as she tried to take a sip of wine. Trying to regain her composure, Tenel Ka risked a glance at her, “You neglected to mention how it ended.”
Still shaking slightly, Danni continued to look out over the gardens as she took a deep breath and held it for a time. Exhaling, “This is different. It changed after Nelani died.” She turned to face Tenel Ka and risked taking a sip of wine. “Before, I saw the galaxy starting to catch fire. This ending is new.” Tenel Ka nodded, finishing her glass of wine. Realizing that she needed to fill her glass again as well, Danni took Tenel Ka’s glass and walked back to the table.
Tenel Ka watched her, and as Danni stared to refill both glasses, “Who is this Nelani?” Concern filled her voice.
As she finished pouring, Danni turned, a wine glass in each hand. “According to the records at the Jedi Temple, she is assigned to the Lorrd system.” Making her way back to the balcony, she held out Tenel Ka’s glass to her. “That is my next destination. I wanted to stop here to see if you knew anything about why Jacen would be out there.”
Tenel Ka took the offered glass and shook her head. “As I said, Jacen and I aren’t as close as we once were. I still hope that we can repair what we once had.” There was more than a hint of sadness in her voice. “Will you let me know what you find?”
Danni nodded as she took another sip, hiding her grimace at the tone in Tenel Ka’s voice and what it implied. Suddenly, she knew whom Jacen and Sekot meant with the ‘complicated’ statement. Danni wondered what the younger woman knew about her own relationship with Jacen. “For you, yes.”
“Why are you doing this?”
Danni almost gave her the same flippant answer that she gave to Jaina, but quickly decided against it. The blonde woman got the feeling that the Queen Mother knew that things were amiss, but could not find the best way to address it. Jaina just could not be bothered. Sighing, she opted for telling the truth. “Jacen saved my life once.”
Tenel Ka gave Danni an understanding nod--Jacen had told her all about rescuing Danni from the Vong, and she tried not to think about the two of them together in that stylus ship. As the Queen forced that image out of her mind, her friend continued, “I’ve done a lousy job of thanking him over the last 10 years; with me hiding from life out in the Unknown Regions.” Danni sighed again, until now it really hadn’t occurred to her that that was exactly what she was doing: hiding. She had insisted that it was research, but she was lying to herself; she never felt comfortable being around people, it was easier to be on some far-away planet. A new feeling of ‘what-might-have-been’ washed over her. “After I had this vision the first time, I knew that he needed saving. I…” she gave Tenel Ka a look, “WE… have the chance to prevent whatever this future is.”
Tenel Ka started to feel real affection toward the astrophysicist. “I am sorry for not being able to accompany you to the Lorrd system.” Danni merely shrugged. Tenel Ka reached out and gave Danni’s left hand a squeeze. Trying to put as much affection in her voice as she could, “I thank you, Danni Quee, from the bottom of my heart for stopping here. It is good to know that someone else cares.”
Danni allowed a small, sad smile as she nodded once. Great, I just had to go and find the one person who loves him more than I do.
Her comlink beeped on the table behind them. Tenel Ka walked over and thumbed on the switch, “Yes.”
“Your Majesty, an Ensign Kenara Do’ma has arrived. Shall I allow her in?”
“Yes, Sergeant, show her in.” She deactivated the comlink. “Our dinner guest is here.” She smiled warmly at Danni, “ I have an interesting Ensign whom I would like you to meet.”
Following the Queen back into the Palace, she could still hear the unmistakable shrieks of delight from the little girl on the lawn.
T_________|_________O O(___)O OAs they entered the Royal Apartment, Danni noticed a young brunette with bright blue eyes looking extrememly out-of-sorts at standing in the entryway to the Royal residence. As soon as she saw the Queen Mother, the young Ensign immediately snapped to a positon of ‘attention’. Tenel Ka smiled warmly, noticing that unlike earlier guests, Kenara Do’ma actually followed her advice, wearing a pair of dark dress pants and a bright blue pinstriped blouse. “As you were, Kenara. Thank you for coming.”
The young woman’s smile lit up the room, “Thank you, Mum.” She cocked her head and her smile turned mischeivious, “My folks think that I’m on a date with somebody…” she made quote marks in the air, “…’unsavory’ and just didn’t want to tell them.”
Tenel Ka shot her a knowing look, and replied drily, “I can call them if you wish.”
Laughing, Kenara replied, “Nah, I’ll just steal some utinsels instead.”
Danni could not help but laugh at the slightly irreverent Hapan Naval Officer, earning a dry look from the Queen Mother, “Kenara, allow me introduce Danni Quee.”
As she made the introduction, her father entered the apartment from the kitchen entrance, Gadell and Anhaje in tow.
Seeing his daughter’s inquisitive look, Isoloder replied with a small chuckle, “Etienne made corndogs and the princess wished to eat downstairs.”
Shaking her head slightly, Tenel Ka addressed the small group, “Well, I think that is everyone. Because the weather is so nice, we will eat outside.” With that, the Queen Mother turned and led the group onto the patio, making sure to properly introduce Danni and Kenara to everyone as they sat down at the large wrought-iron table.
Ducking around the kitchen staff as they laid out a couple of pots of jambalya and étouffée, Gadell nodded across the table at Danni, “I heard that you did some fighting in the war.”
“Yeah.” Letting out a resigned sigh, Danni continued, “I flew with the Wild Knightz for a...”
“…You flew with the Wild Knightz?” Kenara interrupted excitedly, her blue eyes wide with surprise.
The older woman scowled in confusion, “You’ve heard of the Knightz?” Kenara was the first non-Jedi Danni had met that had ever heard of her squadron.
“Of course. The Knightz are famous; you guys helped change the course of the war.” Seeing Danni’s continued confusion, Ensign Do’ma smiled earnestly, “I was a military history minor in college, and my emphasis was the period of the Clone Wars forward.”
Danni nodded politely, acutely aware of just how old she felt knowing that some of her exploits were mentioned in a history class at some unnamed Hapan University.
To her immediate left, Isolder somehow sensed her dismay and chuckled drily, “Welcome to my world.” Hearing her humorless chuckle, the Hapan Prince poured some red wine into her goblet, talking as he did. “What was it like, flying with such a famous squadron?” Kenara winced at his emphasis, and Isolder shot her a friendly wink.
At almost a decade later, Danni could now look back with a certain amount of pride at what they had accomplished, how she helped beat back the Vong advances. At the time, however… “Scary.” Across from her, Gadell gave her a knowing look while next to him Kenara only looked at her in confusion. Exhaling, she continued for the benefit of the younger woman, dishing up some jambalaya as she did, “The Vong aren’t stupid, they realized pretty early on that we were trying to capture one of their yammosks.” As she passed the dish to Anhaje, sitting on her right, her eyes focused on places long gone. “It started to feel like Saba and I became their target number one every time we flew into battle.” Danni paused, finding herself once again in the backseat of her blastboat, “I was under no illusions what would happen to me if I got captured again.” Even now, the thought of enduring another round of Vong torture made her shiver reflexively. Looking at the young Hapan air traffic controller she continued quietly, “I was so scared that I used to get the shakes before a mission. After the mission, the adreneline withdrawls would cause me to get the shakes again.” For years, she used to hide her tremors from people; now she was old enough to not care what people thought--fighting the Vong scared the hell out of her then, and it scared the hell out of her now.
“Do you still get them?” Gadell asked, not unkindly.
Danni tried to affect non-chalance, “Occasionally.”
Commander Vessau nodded, “Me, too. I still have trouble watching a fireworks show.” He shrugged a ‘what-can-you-do’ shrug and flashed a small, vulnerable smile--one that she recognized was meant for her alone.
For a long moment, the only sound was that of metal scraping against porcelain as everyone reminisced about the cost of the last war. Finally, Anhaje looked over at Kenara, “So, how does a military history student become an air traffic controller?”
The brunette woman smiled as she put down her wine goblet, “Well, that was actually a concession to my father. Mom encouraged me to follow my dreams and was excited about my decision to be a Music major and history minor. Dad…” Kenara shrugged nonchalantly, “…Dad was a bit more pragmatic and wanted me to have a backup in case the other two didn’t work out. So-o-o, I found a school out on Terephon that had both an Air Traffic Control program and a Music program.”
Isolder offered a solemn nod, commenting drily, “Your father sounds like a smart man.”
Shooting her father a ‘leave her alone’ look, Tenel Ka asked, “Do you still play?”
Kenara nodded as she took a bite of her étouffée, “I do.” Swallowing, she continued, “I’m a drummer in a local Transitory Mists cover band.”
Both Isolder and Tenel Ka perked up at the mention of their favorite band; the Mists were of Isolder’s generation and he used to (badly) sing their Crazy on You to Tenel Ka when she was an infant to get her to calm her down during those late night/early morning screaming sessions that infants are so fond of. Because of that early exposure, or perhaps in spite of it, his daughter had picked up his love of their music. Narrowing his eyes, “Aren’t you a little young for the Mists?”
Ensign Do’ma snorted as she took another bite, trying not to spit it out. Shaking her head as she swallowed, “Mom says the same thing, but good music never goes out of style.”
“No, it certainly doesn’t.” The older man replied, giving his daughter a wink and smirking at the affectionate sparkle in her grey eyes as she tried to hide her embarrassed smile.
“Unfortunately…” Kenara was continuing, missing the by-play between the Queen and her father, “…our lead singer just left to be a Project Manager on Phelope so we are sort of out of luck at the moment.”
“Really?” The Queen Mother asked, shooting Anhaje an inscurtible look as she did. Turning her attention back to Kenara, “I know of a couple of people here at the Palace who might be interested in auditioning.”
As Kenara was telling the Queen that her band practiced every Monday, Danni and Gadell shared a confused look; they had both caught Tenel Ka’s look with her secretary and were trying to puzzle out what it meant.
T_________|_________O O(___)O O
About an hour later, after the dinner plates had all been removed, Anhaje got up to excuse herself, nodding at the Queen Mother as she did, “Thank you for letting us join you for dinner, Mum.” Getting a nod in reply, the brunette headed for the double doors leading to Tenel Ka’s office.
Catching the hint, the others at the table also stood to excuse themselves, and the Queen made it a point of warmly thanking Ensign Do’ma for joining them for dinner as the remaining dinner guests made their way back into the Royal residence--making it obvious that she wished to speak to Danni last.
After making a couple more moments of friendly chitchat with the Air Traffic Control Officer, they finally said their ‘good nights’ and Gadell escorted the young woman out. Just as Tenel Ka was turning to talk to Danni, Anhaje re-entered the apartment through the ‘hidden’ door coming from the ‘Throne Room’. Pointing at the comlink in her hand, the secretary explained, “You’ve got a call on your private office line.”
After indicating to Danni that she would still like to have a word, Tenel Ka followed her secretary into the narrow passageway linking the apartment to her office. Once the door was closed, Anhaje handed her boss the comlink, commenting as she did, “It’s Colonel Solo.”
Giving the brunette a confused scowl, “Why is he calling my office line?” She had given Jacen her private ‘work’ number years ago as a way for him to contact her without having to explain himself to the main exchange operator. Thinking hard, she could only remember two, maybe three, times when he had actually used it.
Anhaje shook her head in response, “He didn’t say, but he referred to himself as ‘Colonel Solo’.” She nodded at Tenel Ka’s deepening scowl, “My thoughts exactly; he never refers to himself as such; at least not to me.”
The Queen Mother pondered this for a long moment, replying vacantly, “Not to anyone…” she shook her head again, “…at least not to anyone in the Palace.” Shrugging, she moved the comlink closer to her ear, stopping half way. “Oh, before I forget, can you…”
Anhaje smiled knowingly and interrupted, “…already done.”
Giving her friend a wry smirk, “Thanks.” Flicking off the ‘mute’ button, she finished raising the comlink to her ear as she watched Anhaje leave the narrow passageway, “Colonel Solo, this is a pleasant surprise…”
T_________|_________O O(___)O O
“Mommy! Mommy! Can you…?” Danni heard a plaintive cry and the five-year old girl with red hair came running around the corner, now wearing a frilly white and blue dress instead of her tank top and denim shorts of before, and was visibly trying very hard not to cry, her lip trembling. Tenel Ka’s daughter stopped short when she saw that Danni was the only one in the room.
“I’m sorry, honey, your Mommy had to answer a call. She’ll be back in a couple of minutes.” Danni said in her best attempt at a “mommy” voice, kneeling in front of the little girl. “I can probably help, though. What seems to be the problem?” She could see the indecision in girl’s eyes, her fostered reluctance to talk to strangers losing to the fact that her head really hurt.
Tentatively walking toward Danni, Allana’s lip still trembling, she pointed to the back of her neck and mumbled, “Hurts.” She stopped, just about an arms reach away.
Danni smiled, “Well let’s take a look, shall we?” Slowly, Allana turned around, backing up slightly so that she was closer to Danni. “You know, I don’t think that we’ve been properly introduced. What’s your name?”
Danni looked over the offending area. “That’s a pretty name.” she said smiling, “How’d you get all that hair stuck in your zipper?” Allana answered with a small shrug. “That must really hurt.” An even smaller nod. “You are such a brave little girl to not cry.” Danni said as she tried to figure out the best way to attack the tangle of hair in the offending zipper. “Okay, hold very still.” She could see Allana visibly tense, drawing in a deep breath. Danni carefully grasped the caught locks in her right hand and gave a slow couple of jerks down on the zipper with her left. “There we go. How’d you manage to get your hair caught?” She asked, as she wrapped her arms around Allana in a small embrace.
Without turning around, “I was trying on this dress to wear for tomorrow and I wanted to be like Mommy and do everything one-handed. “ Danni allowed a small smile at this admission. “But when I was trying to reach the zipper, my hair got caught, and I tried to use my other hand and even more got stuck, and I got mad and I gave it a big yank.” It all came out in a rush. “And I ripped the zipper and now Mommy is going to be really mad for ruining this dress.” At this, Allana did finally start to cry.
Danni put her chin on the top of the little girl’s head. “That’s not true. Mommy is going to be really proud of you for trying to be just like her. “ Taking a second look at the zipper, she noticed a tear in the seam. “Besides, it is just a little rip,” the blonde admitted, grimacing at the lie; it was actually pretty big, but Allana didn’t need to know that. “I’ll tell you what, you and I can take it to a seamstress tomorrow. Mommy won’t even have to know. Deal?” Another small nod, followed by a deep breath to stop the sobs. “Deal. Okay, let’s dry those tears.” Danni said softly, turning Allana around to face her. “There we are.” Danni gave her a big smile and used her thumbs to carefully dry the tears from Allana’s pretty grey eyes. Except that Allana’s eyes weren’t grey like her mother’s eyes, they were more of a grayish…brown and her eyes widened in shock as the realization of what those eyes meant.
Instatly, Tenel Ka’s comment from earlier that evening came back: She reminds me of her father. Danni felt her anger rise, she had been nothing but honest, why had not Tenel Ka and Jacen been the same? Everything Jacen Solo tells you is a lie. She put that thought aside for the time being, as Jaina’s words jumped out in her memory: Jacen doesn’t have ‘crushes’. Danni pondered the memory for a second. Jaina did not seem to say that in a knowing tone of voice; she just seemed to be commenting on the fact that Jacen only fell hard for a girl. Hard indeed. Instinctively, Danni realized that Jaina did not know about Allana; and that if Jaina didn’t know, odds were pretty good that no one knew.
Picking up on Danni’s very visible anxiety, Allana scowled. “What’s wrong?”
Shaking her head, “I’m sorry, honey. I just assumed that your eyes would be green.” Danni replied, trying to cover her previous shock.
Allana looked down at the floor, “I wish that my eyes were green. I’d be prettier with green eyes, like yours. Mommy always seems sad when she looks at my eyes.” Her lip started to quiver again.
With this, it dawned on Danni that Allana didn’t know who her father was, either and she, too, started to tear up. “No, Allana. Your Mommy and I both think that brown eyes are the prettiest. Well…brown-ish, in your case.” Danni sighed and raised her left hand to wipe her eyes. “Mommy is just reminiscing about when she was a girl and didn’t have to be so serious all of the time. She sees herself in you.”
Allana looked into Danni’s face again, giving her a tentative smile. “Really? You both think that brown-ish eyes are prettier?”
Danni gave her another big smile. “Yep. We’ve both thought that for a very long time. We’d better get your pajamas on, though, before your mommy sees you out of bed. That will make her mad.” Danni stood up.
“That is a fact.” Allana said with a smirk, echoing her mother’s phrase, as she took Danni’s hand and started to lead her back to her room.
Well, they weren’t kidding when they said it was complicated.
T_________|_________O O(___)O O
Danni had just finished tucking the Hapan princess into bed when Allana’s attention turned to the door at the scientist’s back. “Hi Mommy! Ms. Danni was telling me about how Jedi Jacen rescued her from the…” she scrunched her pretty nose, “You-zan Vong.” Danni smiled at the girl’s pronounciation and gave her hand a small squeeze before getting up off of the bed. As she did, Allana voice filled with awe, “Did you know Jedi Jacen was so brave?”
Tenel Ka gave her daughter a sad smile, never taking her eyes off of the scientist--Danni knew. As she made her way to Allana’s side to kiss her daughter good night, she said softly, “I did, sweetie. Jacen is one of the bravest men I know.” Her daughter’s beaming smile stirred new feelings of regret that the Queen quickly buried as she ruffled Allana’s hair, “Good night, Princess.”
T_________|_________O O(___)O O
Tenel Ka waited until the two of them had made it into the living room before she grabbed Danni’s arm. Using he iciest voice, “You will not mention her father to anyone else.”
Sighing sadly, as if she expected this to be the other woman’s reaction, Danni replied earnestly, “Tenel Ka, do not do this. She needs to know who her father is.”
“That is ‘Your Majesty’ to you, and I will not be lectured on what she needs by the likes of you.”
“I will lecture whom I need, your Majesty”, Danni sneered, “especially since the rancor that you mother used to ride exhibited more forethought.
“GET OUT!” Tenel Ka screamed, her right hand flashing to slap Danni across the face. Tenel Ka had not fought in anger in years; only sparring against remotes and, on occasion, Jacen, but she was still impossibly fast.
With a hair-trigger reflex, Danni’s left arm flew up fast, fist clenched, and intercepted Tenel Ka’s blow about a foot from her face. The strike hit Danni’s arm below the wrist and slid down to her elbow; Tenel Ka’s grey eyes widening in surprise. No one was faster than Tenel Ka.
Danni winced. Crap, she hits HARD! “I am not a dishwasher on the royal yacht that you can cower into obedience, nor am I the ditzy star-gazer that you assume me to be and that you hate, deep down. But, I am not leaving until you hear what I have to say.” Danni growled back.
The door to the royal residence flew open. Gadell Vessau’s eyes moved between Danni and Tenel Ka. “Your Majesty, is everything alright? “
The Queen Mother lowered her hand to her side. “Yes, Commander. We just were discussing our difference of opinion.” Tenel Ka said in her coldest voice, never taking her steely gaze off of Danni. “Please, come in. Ms. Quee here would like to offer her advice as to how best raise a princess. Seeing as she has one herself.” Tenel Ka added, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
Sure. Stay--It will save her the trouble of having to call you back to arrest me. Danni really did not want to have this conversation if front of the Queen’s security chief, but didn’t see anyway around it. “My parents divorced when I was little. I didn’t have any siblings, so it was just my mother and I. My father worked as an auditor for the Commenor Revenue Service and was mostly away, but he always called at least once a week. It was comforting to know there was someone else out there who cared.“ Danni gave a slight smile as she thought about her childhood. “Tenel Ka, you are taking that away from her. Right now, she doesn’t have anybody who loves her for her. Everyone here likes her for what she is: the daughter of the Queen Mother. She thinks that Jacen stops by because he is a friend of her Mommy. Let her know that she has a Daddy who comes to see her; that she matters to someone outside the palace. Please…don’t make her be as lonely as you are.” Danni looked at Tenel Ka sympathetically.
Vessau piped in, “Tenna, have I not been saying these same things for years? Well, except for the lonely comment, I mean.” He looked at Danni out of the corner of his eye and gave her a wry smile.
Danni caught on: Gadell wasn’t here to forcibly remove her from the palace; he was here to help her case. Tenel Ka wanted to be talked into this, but needed further convincing that this was the right course of action. Danni recalled her early days as a young scientist. She was always asked to go to the big fundraising events when she worked for Ex-Gal. To be fair it was partly, well mostly, because she was young, pretty, and smart. But it was also because Danni had a knack for knowing when donors wanted to give, but just needed the right argument to convince them. It was time to stay on the offensive.
Sitting sat down on the couch, to convey a less confrontational air, Danni continued sadly, “No one on Coruscant trusts him any more. Jacen has become withdrawn, aloof, and…calculating. Even Jaina isn’t close to him and I never thought that that would happen. His family needs to know WHY he has been acting so strangely. They’ll come around as soon as they knew he was only protecting Allana. This burden is too big for four of us to bear.”
Tenel Ka walked over to the double doors leading to the balcony and looked out over the gardens below, giving her time to think about what Danni said. With anxiety etched into her voice, “If we tell them, then soon everyone will know. The danger to our daughter will increase a hundred-fold.”
“No.” Danni said authoritiatively. “Han and Leia would never betray your confidence. They know the stakes all to well.” She paused, “Jaina grew up with the threat of kidnapping and death hanging over her, Jacen, and Anakin from the time they could walk. They would never let anything happen to Allana. Nor will I.” Danni said with a quiet calm. “You said yourself that Hapes is not the cesspool of intrigue that it once was and people still remember Jacen as a hero from the war. I don’t think that they would begrudge you for falling for him, even if he is a Jedi.” Tenel Ka had half-turned at the window and gave her a small smirk. Danni returned it with a larger smile of her own, though her heart was breaking. She could feel Tenel Ka’s love for Jacen, even as the other woman was trying very hard to keep her emotions sealed up. Danni realized that she was sabotaging her own chances with him, but she could not let her own feelings interfere with doing the right thing. Allana needed Jacen in her life. Until he and Tenel Ka determined where they stood, relationship-wise, Danni would content herself with simply being their friend.
“I believe Ms. Quee” Vessau piped in winking in Danni’s direction, “is correct. Hapes has come a long way. The plotting now is only at a simmer, something undertaken almost as a hobby. We will keep Allana’s father a secret from the palace at large a while more, of course, but I think that it will be safe to reveal that fact soon enough.” Gadell walked over to Tenel Ka, taking her hand in both of his. “I’ve only met the Solos once in passing, but I do not believe that they would leak this information to anyone.” He caught Danni’s eye and smirked; they were going to wear down Tenel Ka on this.
Tenel Ka’s grey eyes looked from one to the other. “Don’t think that I haven’t caught on to what you two are doing. Teaming up on a poor, worried mother.” Her voice filled with exasperation.
Danni opened her mouth to reply, but Vessau jumped in. Looking around the room, “I would hardly consider you ‘poor’. And I think that you knew what you were getting into when you invited the me to stay.”
Tenel Ka raised one eyebrow, “I wonder. However, if we let this cat out of the bag, as it were, who else do we tell?”
Danni smiled inwardly, she, with Vessau’s help, had convinced the Queen Mother. Just as in fundraising, the next step was always assuring the client that her time and money would be well spent. In this case, she had been thinking on the ‘who’ since she had started this conversation with her initial outburst. “Jag, obviously, as we cannot expect Jaina to keep it secret from him. I trust Tahiri implicitly, except she seems to have be persona non grata for the time being.”
Tenel Ka gave Danni a measured look. I wish my advisors could think that quickly. “Anyone else?” She wanted to know if Danni had really thought this out; if she knew the slippery slope that this could be. Once you let the information out, you start to think ‘well, person X already knows; so I might as well tell person Y or Z’. Tenel Ka was afraid letting too many know too soon. Even in the current climate, if some of the Hapans found out, it could get pretty ugly, pretty quickly.
Looking at Tenel Ka, Danni took a deep breath; she knew whom the red-haired queen was referring to. “I am unsure what to say about Luke and Mara. I doubt that they would betray your desire to keep this as confidential as possible. But...” Danni exhaled loudly, “...I don’t trust them.” She looked away and stared into the fireplace. “I haven’t trusted them since...”
“Myrkr.” Tenel Ka finished softly.
Danni nodded slowly. “Myrkr. I hate that Master,” she said the title derisively, “Skywalker let a seventeen-year-old kid talk him into giving the okay for what everyone knew would be a suicide mission. I hate that Anakin felt this insane need to prove himself to his father and his uncle: prove that he was not his grandfather. I hate that all of you were unwilling to let any of the others down; once Skywalker” again, she sneered at his name, “gave his go-ahead to Anakin, you were all going on that damn mission.” Danni’s voice increased, “I hate that I could not talk Skywalker out of it. I tried so hard; I used every argument that I could think of to get him to stop. I argued that the team was too big; I yelled at him that the Vong would torture all of you; I pointed out that no reconnaissance had been done of Myrkr. I launched into a tirade every time that I saw him--I tried so hard, that he started going out of his way to avoid talking to me. That is why he would not allow me to even fly on the shuttle with Calrissian; I would have continued these arguments for the entire flight.”
Danni only vaguely noticed that Gadell had moved to sit down by her on the sofa. “I even badgered him to launch a rescue mission a few days after Lando had returned and I almost had Saba talked into defying Master Skywalker and going anyway to get you.” Tears started to form in the corner of her right eye. Angrily, she wiped them away with her left thumb. “We could’ve found another way to defeat the voxyn. I could have found a way. I beat their war coordinators, I could have found a way to neutralize the voxyn.”
“I hate that that mission cost us so much, and returned so little. That mission,” Danni said coldly, “cost us Alema and Raynar, even though we didn’t know it yet. It cost us Tesar, and almost cost us Jaina.” Danni’s was seething with years of pent-up anger. Her voice was at a low yell now, “I hate that Skywalker cost us our best tactical thinker in Anakin. I hate that it cost us Jacen, who had become a kind of moral center, a center that I fear that is never going to come back.” Tenel Ka nodded sadly. Danni continued softly, “Jacen’s not as fun-loving, and the scars….” She trailed off, her memory from seeing Jacen’s scarred chest again playing in her mind.
Danni looked Tenel Ka in the eye, ”I hate what that mission did to you. What it did to me.” Her lips started to tremble, and tears started again, harder this time. Danni’s voice was filled with as much pain as Tenel Ka had ever heard from a person, “I hate that I failed all of you. I tried with every fiber of my being, and I could….Not. Get. You. To. Stop.” Her whole body trembled with barely controlled sobs. Vessau reached over and gently took her right hand, pressing it softly to his lips. Danni offered him a slight smile, and wiped her tear-soaked green eyes with her left hand. Taking a deep breath, “I’m sorry, I’ve let my personal feelings get in the way of good counsel.” The objective scientist in her was embarrassed by this display.
As a tear rolled down her face, Tenel Ka remembered that the last time she had cried was when she still thought Jacen to be dead. As she walked over to the table that sat in front of the patio doors, she spoke quietly, “You did not fail us. We had all cheated death so much that we thought ourselves invincible.” Tenel Ka wiped her tear away. She caught Danni’s eye and spoke in her most sincere voice. “You used your emotions to generate a logical argument. I could use someone like you on my staff.” Danni smiled politely.
Tenel Ka leaned back against the table, “I agree, we shall only reveal Allana to four; five, if we can find Tahiri.” She gave Danni a rare smile. “What Jacen told me once is correct; you are the smartest person that he knows. “ Danni smiled; she knew that Tenel Ka was apologizing about not telling her that she had been seeing Jacen regularly over the last five years and the wall of mutual apprehension between the two dissolved.
For a long moment, nobody said anything. Finally, wanting to leave the Queen Mother with her thoughts, Gadell and Danni both got off the couch to excuse themselves. Tenel Ka gave them both an absent-minded nod as they passed by on the way to the door, clearly still wrestling with the decision she had just made. As they reached the door, Tenel Ka called out, “Danni, can you stay a while longer?” The two turned and saw an almost pleading look on the Queen Mother’s face.
Danni nodded, “Certainly.” She looked over at Gadell and whispered, “Thank you.”
He smiled and gave her hand a squeeze, whispering back, “No, thank you. You did all of the heavy lifting. I would’ve never been able to convince her myself.” He bowed graciously toward Tenel Ka, saying as he did, “Good evening, your Majesty.” With that, he turned and left through the ornate door of the Queen’s residence.
Tenel Ka turned and started to fill two glasses with healthy amounts of desert wine from the decanter on the table. “Will you join me for another round?”
Danni smirked as she pointed out, “I think that decision has already been made.” The red-haired woman only shrugged as she once again held two wine goblets in her right hand. Taking one of the proffered goblets from the Queen Mother’s hand, Danni quipped, “You’re pretty good at that. You should ask the pub down the street if they need a serving wench.” Tenel Ka only shrugged again and smirked as she made her way to sit at the far end of the couch, the end that Danni herself had just vacated. Taking a sip, Danni nodded appreciatively as she followed the Queen and sat on the opposite end of the couch, tucking her feet underneath her, watching as the young queen swirl her red wine around in her crystal goblet, clearly lost in thought.
Not taking her eyes off of her wine, “I don’t hate you.” Tenel Ka said softly, before finally looking over at Danni. “If anything, I was jealous of you.”
Danni snorted derisively, “Jealous?” She shook her head. “Trust me, no one gets jealous of me. Most think that I some sort of clueless brainiac.”
The younger woman’s grey eyes sparkled as she shook her head. “From the stories I have heard, anyone who thinks you clueless does so at their peril.” She paused, taking a sip of her wine. “I always knew that if you had managed to steal Jacen’s heart, you were someone to reckoned with.”
Letting a smile grow across her face, Danni opined, “Coming from you, that is rare praise indeed!” Her smile slowly disappeared, and her tone became softer, “I didn’t steal his heart, though; I just sort of…borrowed it for a time.” She looked earnestly at her new friend, “I think his heart always belonged to you.” She caught the queen’s small smile.
Danni wrinkled her brow, looking a tad perplexed. “So, tell me about this jealousy. Is it my naturally curly hair?” Danni was pushing the back of her hair up over the top in her best ‘coy beach-model’ look.
Tenel Ka snorted, almost spitting out her wine, as she looked over at Danni, smirking as the blonde-haired woman wiggled her eyebrows at her. After Tenel Ka had regained her composure, her tone became thoughtful. “You could offer Jacen something that I could not; freedom to travel, freedom to explore. At the time, I could not dare leave or the throne would have been forfeit.” She looked embarrassed. “I hated Hapes, I hated being Queen Mother. I would have given anything to go.”
The astrophysicist did not know what to say. “I’m sorry. You certainly deserved to go.” The queen only gave her a shrug. “It was an interesting trip. Especially going to Csilla.” Danni was staring into the fireplace, clearly lost in her memories.
The younger woman did not interrupt her reverie, knowing that Danni would eventually continue. “After we landed there, Baron Fel insisted that his daughter, Wynssa, be our escort for the duration of our stay.” Danni smiled at the recollection. “At first, I was not terribly impressed.” Tenel Ka gave her a knowing smile. Shaking her head, the blonde continued. “She must have been fourteen, fifteen years old, at the time.”
Danni took a sip of wine before explaining further, “I’m sure that you can see where this is headed.” Tenel Ka’s smile only got larger; she did have an idea of where this was going. “Wyn became quite smitten with our young Mr. Solo and started to hang out with us all of the time.” Danni paused and rolled her eyes at the memory. “What made it interesting is that Jacen never seemed to mind. I mean; I know that he knew; even Jacen isn’t that dense.” Tenel Ka let a chuckle escape, even as she tried to hide it.
“I think that is when I knew that I had fallen for him.” Danni admitted, looking earnestly at Tenel Ka, “He never was condescending toward Wyn. She was trying so-o-o hard not to be an awkward teenager, and Jacen was so sweet. He always treated her respectfully: smiling at her flirtatiousness, listening to any ideas that she had during our search in the library.” Danni smiled as she remembered. “He seemed to be telling her that it was okay to show your feelings--that she shouldn’t be embarrassed by her emotions. He wasn’t encouraging her, but he didn’t discourage her either. He was just letting her express herself. He didn’t even have to ‘turn her down’; Wyn just sort of accepted that they would never be more than friends. Oddly, her and I got closer after that.” She took another sip of wine. Her tone became contemplative, “That’s when I realized that Jacen was a keeper.”
The Queen Mother only nodded in agreement; she could feel Danni’s love for Jacen, it was almost as deep as her own. Now what?
Danni continued, “Wyn has turned out to be a remarkable young woman. And, like me, she still has a bit of a thing for Jacen Solo.” Tenel Ka almost let another chuckle escape. In mock seriousness, Danni gestured around the room and whispered drily, “You might want to install more security.”
For several more moments, the two women sat in silence. “Did you and Jacen ever...?” Tenel Ka blurted before she could stop herself. She stopped, deeply embarrassed. It was a question that had been at the back of her mind for years, but had not really intended to ask. Not Danni, anyway. It is none of your business.
To say that Danni was taken aback would be an understatement. Shocked, or even flabbergasted might be a better word. It’s none of your business! But, considering Allana was in the picture, maybe it was Tenel Ka’s business. She should really be having this conversation with Jacen. Is she afraid of how many others he has been with? Has he been with anyone else? But, now that is was out there, she could not just ignore the question; nor did she feel she should lie about it. What’s done is done. And I’m not the least bit ashamed of it. Danni nodded once, “There was a span of several months towards the end of the war and afterwards…” she left it there, only admitting to so much. Tenel Ka would have to draw her own conclusions. “Both of us had been through so much; Jacen especially.” She could see Tenel Ka’s neutral expression. “After Myrkr, I was so dead emotionally that I poured myself into my work. I was either in the lab or volunteering to fly another damn-fool mission: the crazier, the better. In hindsight, I think that I was daring the Vong to kill me.” Her voice had become pained with the memories. “Neither of us really expected to live long enough to see the end of the war, and we both needed connect again with someone emotionally, physically. We needed to feel.” The woman at opposite end of the couch only nodded.
Finally, Tenel Ka said softly, “I’m glad that it was you.” She caught Danni’s skeptical look. “Well, not glad exactly, but I’m happy that it meant something to both of you.” The older woman gave her a small smile; Danni did understand what Tenel Ka was getting at. “You were there for each other when it mattered most.” Her voice got softer, “I was stuck in this damn palace.” Only then did Danni realize how much the Queen Mother had given up for Hapes. She reached for her friend’s hand and gave it a squeeze. Tenel Ka squeezed back appreciatively, as she continued to stare into the fire.
Not moving her gaze from the fire, Tenel Ka said apologetically, “That was Jacen on the comm earlier; he is on his way here to discuss something."
Danni nodded, understanding that she was no longer able to stay at the Palace for the night. “I should be heading out to Lorrd, anyway. Thanks for dinner.”
“You are most welcome.” Tenel Ka’s tone became serious, “Will you help me? With telling the Solos?”
The blonde’s eyes softened, “Of course.” She paused, frowning, “Although, you two are on your own with telling Allana.”
The one-armed woman nodded, “Of course.”
As Tenel Ka escorted the blonde woman to the door, her tone became apologetic; “I will have one of the guards take you to your ship.” Danni nodded her thanks as they made their way to the door. “I cannot thank you enough, Danni Quee.”
The older woman smiled. “Don’t thank me yet. We still have LOTS of work to do.”
The Queen Mother only gave her a sad half-smile as she turned to the guard at the duty desk outside her door, “Sergeant, do we have someone that can take Ms. Quee back to the city spaceport?”
All three women knew that Tenel Ka’s ‘request’ wasn’t really a request. Nevertheless, Danni was impressed by the ‘people skills’ of the Queen Mother. She was always polite when talking to her staff, and always treated them respectfully. Smiling to herself, Danni thought about something her mother had told her once, “Someone who is nice to you, but rude to the staff, is not a nice person.” Her mother had meant it as dating advice, to be used at restaurants; but Danni still used it when sizing people up.
The young Army sergeant replied as she picked up her comlink, “Certainly, Mum. I’ll have someone here right away.”
Tenel Ka shook her head, “That is not necessary. I will escort Ms. Quee to the front door of the Palace. Have her meet us there.”
The young woman nodded, “Yes, Mum.”
T_________|_________O O(___)O OA/N: As you’ve probably noticed, I dislike the menu of the ‘official’ SW. It seems everybody orders nerf steak, drinks Whyren’s Reserve or Corellian ale, and has rhyscate for dessert. If we, on one planet, have millions of different recipes, I think it reasonable to think an entire galaxy might more selection. I tried coming up with different names for the dishes and then describing what they were, but it took away from the story. If it looks like jambalya and tastes like jambalya…
Okay, I allowed Danni to have one ‘Mary Sue’ attribute. In my biased opinion, there is nothing quite so sexy as a woman who can chuck a football. (Or drive a car with a manual transmission, but that’s outside the purview of this story)
Great intense, heartfelt.
Quite good indeed.
Not sure how I feel about her intense distrust of Luke and Mara however understandable though.
It would make perfect sense she would resent Luke having had no chance to reconcile after all those years.
I do hope her perceptions of them are just that and not the way they actually are in this AU.
It will be interesting to see Jacen's reaction upon learning the two women in his life just had a long heartfelt talk.
I imagine Tenel Ka right now is really worried about Jacen: though she seems to have trained herself to not show that much emotion. It is something Jacen's grandmother was good at too, and it is definitely a political mask. I mean, both Padme and Tenel Ka had to get used to scrutiny and assassination attempts on themselves and theirs throughout their entire lives: or at least when they came to power. It explains a lot. I can also see why Danni is so furious with Luke: even though we know that deep down and around his friends Luke worried about the decisions that he had been making with regards to Mykyr.
I really liked this conversation between the two of them and I never really thought, until now, how much Tenel Ka must have ached to be with Jacen outside of all of this. How she must have had to sit there and wonder how he was when she could not accompany him and she must have known what pressure that was on him too. I hope Danni doesn't castigate Jacen for not telling her about Allana because, frankly, it was none of her business. But the rest of it, especially with regards to Jacen and his support-base, is. At the same time, I am really glad she told Tenel Ka off for some of her behaviour and that this hasn't been an entire Jacen You Are Wrong story. I also hope that Tenel Ka actually shows some concern for Jacen to Jacen and that they talk and it is less about blame and more about actually having a conversation.
That said, Jacen is a really lucky man to have these two women in his life. It makes sense. Danni has the intellect and can travel with him, but Tenel Ka has all those years of mutual training and friendship. Danni can be with Jacen when Tenel Ka can't and Tenel Ka seems--at least in the past tense--to be glad that it was Danni who had been with him when she couldn't be. But Tenel Ka is also the mother of Jacen's child and they have had a long history with each other and a somewhat shared political idealism. He relates to them both differently, but as you have been illustrating, they are both necessary in helping him heal. And I hope they will remember that.
Interesting update. This story really points out all the things that were just wrong in profic, especially the way the J/TK dynamic was handled. Keep writing!
Thanks! IMO, Tenel Ka's decision to keep Allana a secret was disastrously bad and I wanted a way to call her out on it without being preachy. I wrestled with the last part of their conversation because her question--'...did you and Jacen ever..?' is slightly OOC. But, as his current 'girlfriend', I would think that she would be curious about what sort of relationship Danni had with Jacen, and it was also a way for me to have them bond a little. It probably wouldn't have worked if Danni and Jacen were more recent...but since it's been almost 10 years, Tenel Ka can be gracious with his ex.
Again, muchos gracias! Without turning this into a rant--Anakin's mission to Myrkr was a disaster and Luke deserves his share of the blame since he was the final authority for it to go. The Order would never be the same after Myrkr and I think Danni speaks for a lot of us with her rant. Basically she's saying 'What the hell was the point of that?' I do not say this lightly, but I think Luke's declaration of '...either your a Jedi or not...' in Joiner King was a BS decision and a huge abuse of his authority. Look at this from Danni's point-of-view: she had worked with the Jedi from the first days of the war, worked with Tahiri and Tekli on Zonoma to try to get a better understanding of the sentient planet, and then Luke kicks her out. Why? The reason she wasn't a full-up Jedi was because NO ONE had bothered to train her.
I'm not sure how to answer the last part. All of LotF was watching people run with incomplete data and false assumptions, and I am trying to keep that theme going. Read into that what you will, I guess.
Who says he's going to find out about this little conversation!
The way I read it, Tenel Ka was worried about Jacen throughout LotF, but just didn't know what to do about it. Worried or not, he still allowed a 16-year-old kid talk him into a REALLY bad decision.
There are plenty of '...Jacen's wrong and here's why' stories out there and I find them to be a bit simplistic. IMO, there was a long chain of failures that lead to Caedus, and I am trying to show what could have been if one of those links in the chain had been broken...namely, Jacen being left to himself. As to the rest....we'll get there!
Sorry Troop! I was typing my reply when you commented! IMO, fanfic is a way to fix the ills of profic.
I know that it's a bit cliche, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to post on May the Fourth!
Chapter 15—The Root of all Evil
Leia was right; the Jedi Council did not like the news she brought. Standing in front of the assembled Masters, she recounted what Jacen had told her the day before and felt their frustration. Confusion clouded her face as she addressed her brother, “Surely you have seen this day coming? Omas simply cannot continue funding the Jedi at the current level, not if he wants to keep his job.” She let her eyes wander around the room, looking at the other Masters present in the chamber. “There are too many anti-Jedi voices in the Senate and Omas needs to keep them as quiet as possible.” Leia sighed as she returned to her seat in the semi-circle of chairs in the Council chamber, “This is a way for him to keep the anti-Jedi faction quiet.”
Luke, his eyes blazing as he sat center-most in the semi-circle, was the first to speak. “We expected something like this to happen, but we didn’t expect one of our own to betray us like this.” He was angry, and Luke Skywalker rarely got angry.
Leia’s brow wrinkled in confusion, “One of our own?” Suddenly, she understood; her son was correct in his appraisal of the Council. “You think that this was Jacen’s idea?” Her tone was one of disbelief, “Jacen is only the head of the GAG; he doesn’t have that kind of clout.”
Kyle Katarn responded, sounding bitter, “Yes, but Jacen told Luke that the Jedi Order needed to change. Obviously, he has persuaded Omas to back his plan.”
His plan? Leia tried a more soothing tone, “You all are misinterpreting what I reported.” She looked around the room again at the collected Masters, “Chief Omas told this news to Jacen knowing that he would most likely pass the news on to me.” The former Chief-of-State looked at each of them again, “This is not my son’s doing, he is merely a messenger. Again, as head of the GAG, this is not something that would concern his office.”
Corran gave her an apologetic look, “Surely you must see that Jacen’s ambition for higher office. Why else would he attend all of those black-tie events?” Quietly, he continued, “Jacen is using you Leia. Don’t let the fact that he is your son cloud you judgment.”
Leia’s eyes narrowed appreciatively. He goes to those functions because that is how politics work. She understood what the Council did not; in order to ensure that the Senate kept the GAG in mind at Appropriations time, Jacen had to be seen by the Senate. As much as she disagreed with her son’s latest crowd-control methods, there was no doubt that his troops were incredibly loyal to their boss, a loyalty that was earned. Jacen never asked them to do something that he would not do, and he always ensured that his troops had the resources to do their jobs. If showing his face at a silly party ensured that his troops would receive the proper training and equipment, than he would wear a damned tuxedo.
She glared at Corran, “When you start controlling Valin’s zipper, than you can talk to me about being blind to my son’s behavior.” Corran’s face became a furious shade of red as he opened his mouth…
Luke jumped in before matters got out of hand. “Leia!” He shouted. “That. Is. Enough. We are here to talk about how to stop Jacen, not to discuss Valin’s…indiscretions.”
Leia turned and glared at her brother. Standing off in one of the oval room’s window alcoves, Han grimaced. Leia did not use that glare very often, and what came next was never pretty; his wife was incensed.
Indiscretions? Valin has gotten two girls pregnant this year. “Stop Jacen from what, exactly? He is only doing his job as mandated by the Chief of State’s office.” Leia swept her glare around the other Council members. “I do not condone his actions against the Corellians, but neither the Chief of State nor the Senate has censured his actions. Therefore, we are not in a position to do so. Our mandate is to uphold the LAW, is it not?” She gave Han a quick look, one he returned with an almost imperceptible nod. He was terribly distressed by his son’s actions against the ex-pat Corellians living on the Galactic Capitol, but he would support his wife on this. She had convinced him last night that Jacen was now on a different path, and that they should help their son as much as possible. Han was wrong about Jacen after Myrkr, he would not doubt her this time.
Leia continued in her icy tone, “I will say this one more time; this is NOT Jacen’s doing. He may disagree with us, but he does NOT wish to disband the Order.” She heard several snorts of derision. Leia tried a more conciliatory tone; “We need to garner support in the Senate if we wish to keep our current funding level.”
Sitting on her husband’s right, Mara gave Leia a cold look and jumped into the argument. “The Jedi will not lobby. We are above the political realm.” Her voice became harsh, “Corran’s right, you are blind to Jacen’s ambition.”
At this, Han stepped angrily out of his alcove and pointed at Mara. “And you were blind to Ben being a Joiner. Good luck running the Order when the credits are gone.” He glanced at his wife, who had stood up to leave with him. Smirking at his brother-in-law, he added caustically, “Oh, and don’t try to hit up Tenel Ka for any more money.” Echoing what Jacen had told his mother the day before. “She agrees with Jacen.” Together, he and Leia marched out of the oval-shaped chambers, leaving a shocked Jedi Council in turmoil.
T_________|_________O O(___)O O The two of them walked in silence to the turbolift. After the door had closed, Han turned to look at his wife. “You know that by following me out of there, you have effectively left the Order, right?”
Leia could only nod; she was still seething at the actions of her brother, both today and over the last few years.
Han did not remove his gaze from his wife, “Are you okay with this? I am not too proud to go back.”
At this, Leia turned and faced her husband. Her voice was one of barely controlled rage, “Dagobah, Han.” She stabbed him in the chest with her finger, “Luke sent her to Dagobah!” Han was shocked, Leia rarely held a grudge, but this seemed to the exception; perhaps it was because it involved Tahiri. Oddly, Leia always seemed to be more protective of her kids’ friends than of her kids. Last night, Leia had vented to Han for almost an hour about Luke using Tenel Ka’s generous nature to fund ‘Council Activities’. Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin had all grown up knowing the risks of being a Solo; their friends had only been ‘drafted’ into it and Leia knew that if she didn’t stand up for her kids’ friends, no one else would. Zekk and Tahiri were orphaned, Tenel Ka was a single mom whose own grandmother had murdered her mother, and Jag’s family were an entire galaxy away. Leia would not let them be treated as her kids were.
Han looked at her thoughtfully, “At least he didn’t exile Jaina and Zekk.”
She raged on, pacing around the small turbolift, “And I’m still not sure which one makes me more upset. Blatant favoritism or arbitrary punishment.” She stopped again, gesturing around the small space. “They all thought they were doing the right thing, and he sent them to Dagobah.” Her voice increased to almost a yell, “He treated them like they were twelve.” She pointed up at the far corner of the lift, “‘Go to your room until you can learn to behave.’ That is the underlying message Luke sent with his ‘punishment’.” Leia took a deep breath to calm down. “He has taken the initiative away of an entire generation of Jedi. All these kids now; they are afraid of doing the wrong thing, afraid of being censured by Skywalker. They don’t take risks.” Leia took a step closer wanting a hug, and Han obliged. “Jedi need to do the right thing, not the safe thing.”
The lift finally stopped, and they exited, holding hands. When they had left the Temple doors, perhaps for the last time, Leia looked over at Han, “So, what do we do now?”
Han snorted, “Well, we still have three kids,” Leia smiled as her husband had unconsciously included Tahiri, “five, if you include Tenel Ka and Jag. I say we find out what they are up to and find a way to help them.”
Leia smiled warmly at the man she had loved for over forty years. Trust Han to find a way to find a way to pierce her gloomy mood. “Six. Don’t forget about Zekk.” Han only rolled his eyes, ever since his kids left for the Academy, the size of his family never seemed to stop growing. Leia shook her head as she continued, “I have heard that the Queen Mother is still sponsoring her relief efforts. Perhaps she could use a full-time freighter crew.”
Han gave her one of his trademark grins. “We’ll start there, then. Who knows what other trouble we can stir up hauling relief supplies.”
T_________|_________O O(___)O O As soon as the door closed behind Han and Leia, Kyp Durron looked over at GrandMaster Skywalker, fury evident in his green eyes. “Is it true?”
Master Durron’s question was met with a resounding silence as the remaining Masters all looked in the direction of Luke Skywalker. Finally, Kyp answered his own question with a nod. “I see.” Throwing up his hands in exasperation, he continued to glare at Luke, “Do you ever think ahead, or do you just make crap up as we go along?”
Kyle Katarn jumped in, his voice menacing, “Kyp...”
“Don’t ‘Kyp’ me!” Durron retorted angrily, fixing his glare on Katarn as he stood. “Do you have any idea what the Senate is going to say when they find out about this little ‘Hapan supplement’?” He asked, glancing around the circular room. Shaking his head, he turned his attention back to Luke and Mara; “They are going to question where our loyalties lie; they are going to assume that the Queen Mother is subverting the authority of the Senate.” His voice got louder, “You do realize the Senate can demand an audit, don’t you?” Again, his question was met with a stunned silence. “Of course not, because you didn’t think to include us in your decision-making.” Kyp answered caustically as he marched to stand directly in front of the two Skywalkers, yelling at them, “You’d better hope that the Senate doesn’t ask for an audit, because I will turn state’s witness and rat you out. I will not let the Order burn for your stupidity.” Kyp turned and stomped out of the Council’s chambers, calling over his shoulder as he did, “This meeting is adjourned.”
For a long moment, the room was eerily silent. Finally, Corran spoke, “As much as it pains me to say this...Kyp is right, you should have...”
Luke interrupted, speaking for the first time, “No. I didn’t have time to discuss this in committee; we needed the funds. Just as we do now.” With that, he stood, clearly intending to leave.
“Where are you going?” Kyle asked guardedly, as if afraid of the answer.
“Hapes. We need to know where Tenel Ka’s loyalties lie.”
Corran jumped to his feet, “Are you out of your mind?” He shook his head, “Luke, now is not the time. Don’t force Tenel Ka’s hand.”
For the first time, Saba Sebatyne spoke up, “I agree with Masster Horn, we all know that her and Jacen are friendly and she’s obvioussly talked with Jacen recently; let this ssettle down.”
Luke looked at his wife pointedly. With an audible sigh, she answered carefully, “Luke, I agree with them. This is a bad idea; give Tenel Ka and Leia some time to formulate some political cover for this.”
As soon as she said it, Mara realized it was the wrong thing to say. Luke’s face clouded over in betrayal, he had no interest in political maneuvering, not when he thought Jacen to be behind Omas’ plan to reduce funding for his Order. “Politics!” He bit out, his voice full of disdain. “No, I’m going to use the blunt approach.” Turning, he started to head for the door.
Grabbing his friend by the arm, Corran said sternly, “Luke, don’t do this. Tenel Ka is an honorable woman, do not turn this into an ‘us versus them’ proposition.”
Luke glared at his friend and yanked his arm from Corran’s grasp and left through the door. After a long second, Mara sighed and chased after her husband, giving Corran a meaningful look, “I’ll try to talk him out of doing something stupid.”
T_________|_________O O(___)O O
Jacen landed in the pre-dawn twilight on the Fountain Palace’s small ramp, still unsure about this visit. As of late, using the Force made him feel apprehensive, making him feel like he did when the war started, back when he was still very much a kid. For the second time in his life, he was afraid that he would do something wrong by using the Force. Back then, wrong was just a vague idea. Now? Now, he knew exactly what wrong was.
Sighing, he finished his post-flight checks and went to grab his small duffle out of the even smaller cabin aboard his GAG Lambda-class shuttle. It was, he reflected, probably the last time he would get to fly a Lambda. The mechanics that worked for the GAG grumbled a bit when he told them that he intended to buy four of the shuttles to form the GAG ‘fleet’. Lambda’s, after all, were all getting to be close to forty years old, and parts were becoming harder to come by. Shaking his head at his emotional attachment to a class of ships, he descended the entry ramp and closed it behind him.
A light rain was falling as he made his way across the Palace ramp, and he gave a formal nod to the guard as she gave him a cursory glance through the window and waved him through. Jacen had the utmost respect for the Queen Mother’s security team, even going so far as to practice hand-to-hand combat with some of them, but he was starting to get a little worried that most of recognized him on sight; it meant that he was coming to the Palace a little too often and was one of the reasons that he was unsure about this visit. It hadn’t even been four weeks since his last visit, and he didn’t want to put Tenel Ka into an awkward position of having to explain his visits and he definitely did not want Lumiya to be able to deduce where he went on his ‘trips’.
As he made his way down the opulent hallway towards the Royal residence, Captain Aamodt at the guard station gave him a slight smile. “You just missed her, Colonel. Her Majesty wasn’t expecting you for another couple of hours, so she went out to the gardens to get in some ‘sabre practice.”
Jacen scowled, “In this weather?”
Kjetiele Aamodt offered a non-committal shrug; she had thought the same thing, but did not dare voice her opinion to the Queen Mother. To do so would lead her to be challenged to a duel, and she had no desire to get her butt kicked by the Queen Mother today. Jacen only shook his head as he looked out the window at the steady rain, and mumbled something about ‘…take the girl off Dathomir…’ The captain cleared her throat, trying to get Jacen’s attention. When he looked back at her, “You know, with the rain, it is unlikely that the Queen Mother would hear your approach.” Captain Aamodt managed to keep the smile off of her face, but there was no mistaking the twinkle in her eyes--the Queen Mother needed less predictability in her life.
Jacen gave her a predatory smile, and winked, “I like the way you think!” He nodded at his duffel bag, “May I leave my stuff behind your desk?”
Kjetiele nodded and he stepped behind her desk to place his bag on the floor, taking his black tunic off as he did so. Turning back to look out the windows, he unbuttoned his grey GAG shirt, leaving only his white undershirt. As he bent down to place his tunic and shirt on top of his bag, the Hapan Army captain ran an appraising eye over his form, his muscular torso and the outlines of some of his scars on his back visible through his t-shirt. So that’s what the Queen Mother sees in him. His uniform hides way too much. Jacen caught her staring and gave her another wink.
Unperturbed, she only chuckled as she picked up her comlink to let the security detail out in the gardens know that Colonel Solo was on his way out to practice with the Queen. Jacen nodded his thanks while she was talking on the comm, and left through the glass door to the right of the guard station, making his way through the gardens towards the Tenel Ka’s practice pad.
As he made his way, he stretched out ever so cautiously with the Force to ascertain where the Queen’s security team was located. Even though they knew he was coming, he still had no desire to surprise anyone, especially anyone armed. Sensing one of the guards off at his two o’clock position, he carefully made his way in that direction and gave the Sergeant a small wave when they finally made eye contact. Seeing her nod of greeting, Jacen was now clear to quietly make his way down to the converted tennis courts where Tenel Ka practiced.
When he finally got close enough to see her, she was performing some light stretching. Dressed as she was, in a navy-blue sports bra and black stretch pants, Jacen had to remind himself that there were two well-armed Hapan Forces Sergeants nearby and that any ravishing of the Queen Mother would have to wait. Shaking his head, he paused slightly to simply admire the woman he had known for so long. She is beautiful. Danni Quee’s admonishment came back to him: Be better. With that insight, he realized his original plan of practicing against Tenel Ka was the wrong approach. He needed to practice with her.
After a few moments, he slowly expanded his Force presence, letting her know that he was nearby. She quickly looked up when she sensed his presence, nodding at him as he approached.
Up for a little practice? she sent, her eyes alight.
“I’ve got something else in mind,” he replied cryptically, expanding their link a little to show her what he had in mind.
“Sounds fun,” she said quietly as he walked up to her. Smiling, he continued to expand their link, merging them into a loose battle-meld.
After a few moments of getting used to each other again, she whispered, “Ready to put on a show?” They had both sensed that her guards had surreptitiously crept closer to watch--the Solo-Djo practices had become almost legendary amongst the Palace Guard, and her current detail had never seen the two of them in action. Tenel Ka didn’t mind too much, so long as they still at least pretended to patrol the grounds.
Jacen smirked as he nodded, “Ready.”
With that, they both spun around and stood back-to-back as they ignited their lightsabers. Tenel Ka released the safety switch on the control unit for the various-sized blasters surrounding the court and for a long moment, nothing happened as the light rain made a sizzling sound against their lightsabers. Suddenly, their battle-meld flared and shots started coming at them from the assorted remote blasters. At first, the control unit kept the pace slow to allow the two of them to get into a rhythm before it started to fire at them in earnest.
Neither of them had experienced a battle-meld in quite a while, and it took the two of them a couple minutes to get fully in tune with one another, but once they did the effects were immediate. No longer were they two people loosely connected; they became two people acting almost as one. They began mirroring each other’s movements, remaining perfectly back-to-back as the incoming shots kept coming at an increasing rate.
About five minutes in, Jacen made a mistake: he swung his ‘sabre too far to his right to deflect a shot coming at his head and didn’t have time to recover as a shot came from his left, aimed at his left hip. Grimacing, he braced for the jolt. This is going to sting, he thought, forgetting that his thoughts were now shared. With a flash of turquoise, Tenel Ka’s blade intercepted the bolt at the last second, deflecting it into the trees. She had reacted purely out of instinct, but now she was horribly out of position to defend herself. With a burst of speed that he didn’t know he possessed, Jacen managed to spin a quarter-turn to his right and deflect five bolts, all aimed at Tenel Ka’s back. Now, he was out of position and they both knew it--the two of them working frantically to get back to a defendable position, all while deflecting the myriad of blaster bolts coming at them. Finally, after a few tense moments, they managed to get back into a groove.
Don’t do that again. Jacen sent. You are far more important than I. He knew that Tenel Ka hated to be thought of as more valuable than any other person. Still, it was fun to goad.
The Queen Mother refused to rise to the bait. If I don’t try to save you, who will? She sent back, deadpan.
He knew that she had meant it in jest, but the truth was evident: no one would-- everyone else had written him off. Feeling a new wave of despair and loneliness threatening to overwhelm him, he quickly started to close down their meld so as to protect Tenel Ka from his depression.
Sensing this, she quickly added, How did you manage to stop all five of those shots, anyway? Feeling him stop trying to close the meld down, she let out a breath as he slowly brought it back up. It had been a long time since they had connected like this and she had forgotten how well they could interact on this level, and she had no desire for it to end just yet.
Jacen, determined not to let her down again, replied, Luck. Lots of Solo luck, sweetheart.
Tenel Ka almost smiled at his use of his father’s sayings. In a serious tone, she sent Why do you hide from me?
She could almost hear him sigh through their link. It’s not you. I would never hide from you. It’s…everyone else. Before Tenel Ka could formulate a reply, the control unit decided that it would be a good time to increase the pace of its barrage.
Hiding back amongst the trees, Sergeant Kjus was in awe. She didn’t think it possible for two people to move that fast in concert with one another. It was as if they were performing a dance that only they knew the steps to.
When she had observed the Queen Mother practice against remotes on previous occasions, Tenel Ka always looked detached from herself, as if it didn’t matter to her whether she got hit by one of those bolts or not. Today though, was different; the one-armed queen had a look of icy fury on her face. It was if she were saying: ‘How dare you shoot at us.’
After they had stumbled and managed to escape the onslaught unharmed, Sergeant Kjus got a look at Jacen’s face. His expression seemed to say it all: there was no way that anything was going to get past him to hurt his queen.
Teegan Kjus frowned slightly at her thought. As she continued to watch them practice though, it became clear: Tenel Ka was his queen, just as Jacen Solo was her Jedi Knight. Smiling at her sudden insight, she let out a small yelp as one of the deflected bolts hit the tree that she was hiding behind. Seeing Colonel Solo’s satisfied smirk, she chastised herself for not guarding her thoughts better. Show off. Teegan could have sworn that Solo’s smirk got bigger.
Jacen and Tenel Ka both lost themselves in their meld, each appreciating how much they had missed by not practicing it more frequently. After an undetermined amount of time, Tenel Ka was starting to get really tired. Even with Jacen sending her strength through the meld, she could feel the fatigue in her arm and legs; she could not remember ever keeping this fast a pace for this long a time. Just about when she was going to reach out and hit the ‘Emergency Off’ switch on the control unit, it let out a loud ‘beep’ and the blasters quit firing. Breathing heavily, she shut down her lightsaber and wiped the sweat out of her eyes. With the distinctive hiss-snap, she heard Jacen do likewise as he slowly withdrew the battle-meld. Alone again with her thoughts, it suddenly became apparent just how much strength Jacen had been sending her way: she was exhausted. On her thirtieth birthday, she had run a marathon and even that had not left her feeling this fatigued. Where does he find the strength? Impressed, she turned to him, only to find him bent at the waist, hands on his knees and breathing heavily. She felt better knowing that he was at least a little tired. “How long did you set the timer for, anyway?”
Standing up, he turned to face her, looking chagrined. “Twenty-five minutes.” Tenel Ka raised an eyebrow in surprise. Shrugging apologetically, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
The Queen Mother only shook her head and rolled her eyes, “Indeed.”
Stepping closer, Jacen gently tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and whispered, “Has anyone ever told you how sexy you look when you’re all sweaty? Especially standing out here in the rain.”
“Once.” She deadpanned and leaned her head slightly into his hand. “I was forced to challenge him to a duel.” Jacen smiled at her flirty remark. Her tone became serious, “You know we are not alone, right?”
Jacen kept his smile as he dropped his hand, running it down her left arm. He sighed wistfully, “I know.” Switching hands with his deactivated lightsaber, he continued, “Should we head in? I’ll tell you why I wanted to come see you.”
Grabbing his hand, she noticed his grimace as she steered them in the opposite direction of the door, “Are you alright?”
Jacen shrugged nonchalantly, hoping that she would not notice his discomort. “Yeah.” He gave her a chagrined look. “I deflected a shot into my foot.” A stifled laugh sounded from behind him, and he turned to see Sergeant Kjus who was starting to pack up the remote blasters. Shaking his head, “Teegan?” He waited for her to look up and he shot her a smile. “Please, there is no need for you to pack up. It’ll give Allana and I something to do later.”
Teegan Kjus nodded, “Are you sure, Colonel Solo?”
Jacen shot her a mock scowl. Stupid Hapan protocol. Drily, he answered, “Yes. It’ll be a character building exercise for her.”
“Very good.” The Hapan Army Sergeant replied, smiling; she knew that Jacen hated being called by his title. He continued to tell each and every one of the Queen’s Guard to call him by his first name and while he managed to convince some of her staff to do so privately, they still wouldn’t do so in front of the Queen Mother; the very fact that he did not like it was enough to endear him to most of the staff. They appreciated that he felt them to be equals, and respected his attempt to teach the same to trait to Allana.
Jacen shook his head as he turned back to the Queen Mother, content to let her lead him around the Gardens. Quietly, he started to explain the purpose of his visit; “Mom is going to tell the Council about Omas’ spending cuts sometime this morning.” He paused slightly. “She wanted me to ask that you stop funding the Jedi Order at the end of next month.”
She stopped abruptly. Surprising Tenel Ka Djo was not an easy thing to do--apparently, his mother just did. Her eyes narrowed quizzically, “Did she say why?”
He took a deep breath as they resumed walking aimlessly around the Gardens. “No; but she was livid.” Giving her a wry smile, he continued, “Luke Skywalker will learn today that the quickest way to infuriate my parents is to take advantage of one of their friends. The fact that he was taking your monetary support without advising anyone on the Council only added to her ire.”
Not bothering to hide her smile, Tenel Ka felt a rush of fondness for the Solos. In truth, she had viewed them as her in-laws ever since Allana was born, but wasn’t sure if they felt the same affection. For Leia to take on the Jedi Council on her behalf showed that Han and Leia viewed the Queen Mother as more than just someone who had gone to school with their son. It made her feel…loved. Snapping out of her reverie, she looked over at Jacen. “What is the rest of the story?”
Sighing again, Jacen was silent for a bit as he reached up and moved a tree branch out of her path. Finally, he continued, “We…Mom and I… don’t believe that the Council will take this news well.”
She knew whom Jacen meant by ‘the Council’. Being Hapan, she also knew political trouble when she heard it, and quickly deduced where this was going. “You think they will call and confront me?”
Jacen shook his head. “Nope. I fully expect them to come here in person.” Seeing her look of confusion, he explained further. “To be able to get a meeting with you on short-notice infers a certain status.”
“I could deny an audience.” She said without any real conviction.
He looked at her out of the corner of his eye, “You could. We both know that you won’t, though.”
The red-haired queen nodded as they continued to wander around her gardens. “A couple of days from now, you think?”
Nodding, he answered, “That would be my guess. Protocol dictates setting up an appointment, after all.”
The two of them continued to stroll hand-in-hand for a time, Jacen content to let Tenel Ka mull over her options. After a couple of minutes, she stopped and turned to look him in the eye. “So, tell me Jacen, what is the real reason for your visit? You could have told me all of this over the comm.”
He smiled at her perceptiveness, he knew that it was only a matter of time before she figured out there was more to his visit than warning her about a couple of Jedi Masters seeking an audience. “I’ve gone and done something rather rash, and I wanted to tell you about in person.”
Tenel Ka visibly stiffened, her brow knitting together in worry and Jacen frowned at her reaction. Surely he hadn’t disappointed her that much, had he? Mentally castigating himself for disappointing his best friend, he continued. “I’ve resigned as head of the GAG, effective at the end of next month.”
Her grey eyes widened in shock as she only stared at him. It was, he reflected, a pretty impressive achievement. He had just stunned two of the galaxy’s most unflappable women, one a former Chief-of-State, the other the current Queen Mother, into silence. All in a two-day span, no less. Taking her hand again, he started to lead her back into the palace. “I’ll tell you why over breakfast.”
Awesome J/TK scene. They seem to be more comfortable and less guarded with each other. Bravo on the Leia scenes, and the H/L mutual support. This is the Leia we all know and love.
It is nice seeing Jacen and TK getting along. So, if this takes place after Tempest then Nelani is already dead. That is a hard fact to overcome. I guess I should prepare myself for a bittersweet ending. Perhaps Jacen lives, but is punished for his crime of murder. For some reason the slaughter of Nelani appears more unforgivable than Kyp blowing up a solar system with the Sun Crusher (only because their wasn't a face on the deaths. We don't cry over Alderaan blowing up, but 'Oh no Biggs and Porkins died!')
I was wondering if Luke developed an early onslaught of dementia in this fic? Because he appears more daft now than when he sent Anakin and a bunch of kids on a suicide mission. Maybe his near death experience with the Yuzzon Vong messed up the part of his brain that affects reasoning. Or maybe Callissa gave him a computer virus that is messing up his brain over the decades.
I look forward to seeing how you will fix the things wrong with the profics. I always like when that is done. This should be interesting.
The sad thing is, your Luke Skywalker seems to have taken Yoda's words the wrong way and, "Unlearned everything he has learned." He completely forgets the history of the Old Jedi Order and what led to its issues. He completely forgets what happened to his own father and what power did to him too. Anakin Skywalker thought he was right most of the time: probably up until he realized he destroyed everything he ever loved.
I can understand why Luke had, originally, wanted the Jedi to unify. Think about it: the Jedi once served this corrupt and inefficient New Republic that hemmed and hawed as the Vong were decimating entire worlds and sentient beings. The Jedi all had different ideas as to what balance and unity were and served different sides during this insanity. The Killik Crisis really hit this fact home: from what I understand when the Joiners and Jacen were doing all kinds of messed up things. Let's not even forget about Kyp Durron and his randomness. At the same time, Luke was ironically pulling a Jacen and not doing much of anything. I mean, he was still too traumatized by what happened on Byss to fully embrace his own fighting abilities: or so my theory goes. The problem is that when you take the Light Side of the Force too far you become passive and reactionary. You simply let things happen no matter what they are and you do not do ... anything really. But when Luke did decide to fight ... holy frak he was ridiculously powerful.
So when he was finally becoming proactive and taking control, I thought originally he was going to remove the Jedi from the Republic and make them into their own power: or dispense with being the Galaxy's personal police force and actually become a nation and ethnicity all on its own with proper representation, benefits, and responsibilities within the Republic. Being on the ruling Council was, for me at the time, something that was about bloody time after all the Borsk Fey'las and idiots and corrupted Senators. I always agreed with the idea that the Jedi Order was less of an organization and more of a culture: with the commonality of all its practitioners being able to use the Force. Finally, here was a Luke that stopped being nambi pambi and was actually acting like the leader of the Jedi Order.
But afterwards? It just went downhill from there. And in your fic, it sounds like there is a lot of hypocrisy going on in Luke's mind with regards to banishing Tenel Ka and such, but still reaping benefits from them. It's sad because he was once so much more than this. He could have made an Order that was an independent power outside the Republic and gone about with life on their own terms. Some could have served in different places but not represented the Order and all would have been all right so long as one of them didn't fall. But it looks like your Luke is going to get a reality check: hard and fast.
I am also curious as to what will happen with Jacen when Nelani's final fate is revealed: assuming he doesn't just admit to it, and also considering how he might deal with Lumiya.
@darth_treyvah -- what a thoughtful, insightful review on the Jedi and on Luke. I also believe a lot of the Jedi's problems /hangups relate to never becoming independent and nonpolitical in the sense of being accountable to helping people but not to catering and cowtowing to elected officials etc. It doesn't feel like this Luke is anything like the OT or EU one we could understand or respect. If the two versions met in a strange time warp, what sort of explaining would the latter Luke be able to give?
There's too much in your responses to cover in one reply, so I'll attack them in twos. This is why I wanted to post this...all of the fantastic give-and-take. Good stuff!
This is how I envisioned J/TK to be ever since I first started reading YJK all of those years ago. The romance is there, it's just a little below the surface. Leia is my favorite of the 'big three'. IMO, she's been the backbone of the entire Order--without Leia becoming Chief-of-State after Mon Mothma, I think the whole New Republic would have collapsed, and Luke's Order with it.
Yes, Nelani is dead. Yes, it will come up. Worse than Kyp? I have trouble with that. Earlier in Betrayal, Jacen whiffs on attempt to kill Sal-Solo and no one is too upset about that. If he hadn't have whiffed, would we be having this conversation? I doubt it. Therefore, we are not upset that Jacen killed someone for the greater good, we are only upset that he killed the wrong someone. I don't agree with his actions, but if LotF had been written differently...if Nelani's death really would've saved the galaxy, we would all be saying that Jacen needed to sacrifice one for the good of all.
I am trying to keep Luke in character with what I saw in Swarm War and in LotF. IMO, he seemed arbitrary, detached and distant in both of those series. To me, he seemed to be ducking responsibility when he refused to get involved early in LotF. The Jedi aren't Swiss, and they should be trying to head off ALL crises, not just ones that line up with his political views. More on this in the next post! Again, good stuff.
Here is why I don't think profic went the route you suggest: the Jedi AREN'T a system, they AREN'T their own power and AREN'T a nation-state. The Senate is made up of representatives from entire sectors. Is it fair to them for the Jedi (who number a couple of hundred in this) to get the same representation as Commenor? I would argue that it is not.
In profic, the Jedi get their money from the Senate and because they do they must answer to the Senate. Until and unless profic finds a fix for this, we will always have problems between the Jedi and the Senate. Look at it from a Commenorians point-of-view--the Jedi are given vast sums of money, have vast, incomprehensible powers, and tell the galaxy that they 'serve the Force'. If someone were to have that opinion here on earth, we would regard them VERY warily. Because of this, I DO think that the Jedi should have some check on them; the check being the purse in this case. The Jedi of old were 'the guardians of peace and justice', and they will only continue to be that if they are subservient to the Senate. Otherwise, it'll be, 'well, we might get to it.'
I introduced this subplot for this specific reason...to get us to think about the relation between the Senate and the Jedi. About what it means to be a Jedi. Who DO the Jedi serve? The public? Luke? Themselves? In profic, the Senate HAS been corrupt, but it doesn't mean that it always is or will be. The Jedi HAVE been arrogant...telling the Senate to 'remain out of Jedi business'. The two of them are symbiotic (to steal a phrase from Qui-Gon) and work best when they work together. Contrary to what you might think, I do not hate Luke Skywalker. I do think, however, that the Jedi needs to be less about 'the Order' and more about serving the common good, whether that's part of the Council, as a doctor (like Jysella is going to be in this), or as a teacher of political science (my hope for Leia, but that's a bit outside my scope for this).
Yes, Luke's going to get a reality check, but I don't think that's a bad thing. I think Mara's 'lecture' at him in The Hand of Thrawn made him better, despite what many think here.
Like I said, I think an independent Jedi is not necessarily good. Furthermore, Luke's 'nonpolitical' stance at the beginning of LotF created more problems than just siding with Coruscant and trying to negotiate a peace. Again, I'm trying to keep Luke in character with how he is in Swarm War and LotF. Is that Luke OOC with the OT? Of course.
See, I guess it all goes back to how things went down in profic. I always saw the Jedi, and bear in mind I came into Star Wars from the Old Trilogy and the Old Expanded Universe, as an ethnic group: as a group of people who could use the Force. This is what unified them, to me, as a separate people. I really sympathized with the idea of them becoming non-political and independent through honest means because of, basically, the genocide they had to undergo. And before the Prequel Trilogy's additions, I always saw the Jedi as a separate people but also part of the Republic with a variety of tasks. And some people loved them, others tolerated them, and still more hated and feared them because of their powers. But then in Prequel Trilogy we find out that they are supposedly monastic and they serve the Republic. But nevertheless, they are still a people--still a group--that has been discriminated against and hunted down like animals.
So now imagine the Vong War: where, after Palpatine's Purges and their painstaking restoration, they are hunted down again by the Vong and the Peace Brigade and other New Republic traitors. The Vong promise to spare worlds if Jedi are handed over: men, women, and children. Now, imagine being Luke at that point. Imagine seeing this government you helped make after you toppled over a genocidal tyranny--the government that promised to protect and honour your nearly extinct religion that you have been providing services for--and then imagine seeing many of these worlds betray you: betray the families that are a part of your Order, and those who supported them. It is a Jedi Purge all over again. In that case, I would have supported him pulling away from the Republic or demanding representation on the Council and the Senate. There were a lot more than a hundred Jedi during his era because, remember, they weren't taken to the creche like they were in the Old Republic. Some children are still sent to Luke's Order, but many grow into it too. It can be hereditary, just as it can be adopted.
What I'm trying to say is that I guess I've looked at the Jedi not as an organization, but as an actual people.
Because even if there are only a few hundred Jedi now: how does that disqualify them from representation? I mean, by that argument you could argue that the Caamsi or the Alderaanians shouldn't have any representation because there are so few of them left too from the destruction of their own worlds and civilizations (to be fair, I don't know if either group is in fact represented on the current Senate and if not, that is another issue entirely).
I do think that they should have had some representation: that they had grown out of simply being part of a judicial branch of the Republic. That was the old government and it had issues. They could have come to a deal or simply decentralized or, really, just gone into isolation and let the politicians hammer things out. But I also remember what I said before too: the dangers of the Light Side and becoming passive and reactionary.
You bring up some good questions, as you said. Not only to the Jedi have to ask themselves in your fic what they are now, but they have to ask themselves who they are? And I think that they should serve the people as a part of a government that they are also the citizens of with their own privileges and responsibilities. I also still stand by the issue that in this story, Luke has forgotten everything from his own ordeals. I guess that is what happens when some people fight for too long or get older: they become orthodox or worse more reactionary and hard-line. Luke is so afraid of making a mistake that he tries old tested and true philosophies and strategies that just ... no longer work in the current galaxy. I think that Luke should worry about the Order AND the people of the Galaxy because, really as Jacen has been trying to say and what Luke himself has forgotten, is that both are in the end one and the same. And I am fascinated to see how Jacen is going to use his charity work to this aim: and if the soon-to-be-dissolved loyal soldiers of the Galactic Alliance Guard might not follow their leader elsewhere by example.
I don't mean that in a logical way. Of course killing a billion people is worse than killing one person. What I am saying is for readers and movie goers they are more apt to forgive the hero of the story if a crime is not so personal. If you are told the hero murdered some unknown person it doesn't impact the reader the same way it would if you got to read about the victim before hand.
The way a person is killed also influences the reader. A person taking out a man with a sniper rifle is murder, but so is smashing a man over the head with a sledge hammer until his brains burst out of his ears. A reader would be more horrified by the second murder and less likely to forgive the person doing the killing. The victim is also important. Killing children is usually unforgivable by most readers. Killing an unarmed person is frowned on. Readers are more likely to forgive a hero if he kills an unarmed bad guy. So killing Sal-Solo probably would not get a reaction out of the reader. Good guys kill bad guys. Kyp blew up an imperial targets...so he got a slap on the wrist. Also Exar Kun was affecting him. So being under the influence of a Sith can get you out of some trouble (Kyp, Luke). I noticed with Dark Empire the audio plays added a part where Luke becomes influenced by the recorded readings of Darth Sidious during the Battle of Coruscant. Personally I think it was added to make the listener a little less mad at Luke for being an big idiot in following the Emperor Reborn.
My point is the reader got to know Nelani. We know she is a nice person, she is honorable and was willing to face off with a superior opponent to do what she thought was right. She is a very likable character and didn't deserve to die. The reader has no way of knowing if her death would have prevented Luke from dying. And what if it did. Luke is a Jedi Master that can take care of himself. And why is one good person's life more important than another good persons? For Luke to live Nelani must die. That is judging that Nelani is a lesser person than Luke, but maybe Jacen made that decision on a purely emotional level.
As for the Jedi and their standing in the galaxy. I think they should be like Interpol. They can be an organization that works with Law Enforcement of all planets in the Galaxy. With a Galaxy that mobile there should be an organization to facilitate cooperation between law enforcement between planets. I can't understand why the Jedi can go to different worlds and work without consequences. If they popped up on Earth I am certain the local police wouldn't recognize their jurisdiction. Honestly, I don't think the Jedi Knights like Luke has them would work.
Funny, I was thinking about this on the way home this afternoon. There's a quote attributed to Stalin: 'Kill one person and it's a tragedy; kill a million and it's a statistic." We as SW fans have fallen into that, I think. Look at what Vader did--yet there are still LOTS of Anakin fans who ignore what he did. I didn't mean to sound like I was defending Jacen in his decision. I can't. IMO, there are three things Jacen does in LotF that are indefensible, and killing Nelani is one of them.
As to the last part....I'm in TOTAL agreement (Well, I actually think that they should be part of the Diplomatic Corps, but the principle holds...they should be part of the gov't in some concrete way) and it's the direction I would love to see them head...Luke's model doesn't work for me either.
I could go along with that thought if we were talking about the Old Order: kids were taken from their parents as infants and didn't know any other life. That argument breaks down a bit with the 'new' order, in my view. Everyone makes a conscious decision to be a Jedi and retains more of their national identity than the younglings of Qui-Gon's era. To me, this makes the Jedi similar to the military or the police--they are a distinct subculture, but not a separate entity. To me, allowing the Jedi to be represented in the Senate is a conflict of interest--you can serve the government or you can help set policy but you can't do both. The Caamasi, Alderaanians and others (Sernpidal?) are different because these worlds were represented in the Senate until they were destroyed.
I do think that Luke in profic has gotten away from the ideals that he and Mon Mothma discussed wa-ay back in...whatever book that was; and as I mentioned above, I don't think his Order really works in LotF or afterwards. One could argue that if you are having arguments with every government since your sister left power, maybe it's not the government...maybe it's you.
Again, my goal is not to make Luke look reactionary, but to point out what I think is the 900-kg gorilla in the EU...who DO the Jedi answer to?
As with you, I grew up on the OT (I first saw SW in '79), so I know where you're coming from!
Thanks for the comments! Next update is tomorrow!