Beyond Danni's Quest (Danni, Allana, Gadell OCs) Updated 3/31

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by SiouxFan, Mar 22, 2013.

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  1. SiouxFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2012
    star 3
    @Ceillean, @Jade_eyes, @Asajj_Kenobi, @darth_treyvah, @SHADOW_MASTER_W


    A/N: Another long-ish chapter. Let me know if you prefer them to be shorter...I can try to break them up more. As you can tell, I like longer chapters so as to to get into the flow of a chapter, but this is as much about you as it is me. Thanks to everyone reading and reviewing!

    Chapter 16—Sleeping With the Enemy

    That evening...

    Tenel Ka was sitting at one end of the couch in her living room, her feet propped up on an oro wood caf table, reading over Admiral Raeder’s final draft of the Consortium’s formal request to join the Chiss and the Imperial Remnant in Joint-Fleet exercises, Jacen’s feet in her lap. She had a meeting in the morning with her Defence Chiefs to finalize the agreement, and she needed to be sure of what Raeder expected from the Navy, at least in principle.

    Lying on the couch, using the arm as a pillow, Jacen was reviewing the operation order the Chiss had published for this year’s exercise. Looking up from the report, he exclaimed, “Hey, did you know that the Chiss have a new class of fighter?”

    Tenel Ka only arched a well-manicured eyebrow as she looked over at him. Sheepishly, he sat up and tossed the report on the caf table. “Ri-ight, you’re the Queen Mother, you know all!” This earned him a wry smirk as Tenel Ka turned back to her paperwork. “Still, I’d like to see what these new AirStraeker IIs can do.” Jacen leaned over and gave her a quick kiss. “Okay, I’m off to bed; I. Am. Beat.”

    Tenel Ka nodded and glanced at the small stack of tomorrow’s briefing notes laid out on the table--it looked to be about an hour’s worth of reading. Returning her attention to the report in her hand, she replied absently, “Go ahead, I will be back in about ninety minutes or so.” It wasn’t until Jacen had gotten up and started to walk behind the couch to the hallway that she really heard what Jacen had said. Startled, she looked up at the ornate wood chrono that sat on the mantle: 9:15. She whipped her head around to look at her friend, who stopped, clearly puzzled by her reaction. As she looked Jacen over concernedly, “Are you feeling okay?”

    Cocking his head confusedly, Jacen tried to determine why she was suddenly acting so strange. “Yeah, just tired.” He shook his head; “I’ve been awake for…” he looked at the chrono, scowling as he did the math to convert to Coruscant time, “Twenty…two hours or so.”

    The red-haired woman nodded as she scrutinized Jacen through their link, trying to remember the last time Jacen admitted to being tired. Maybe she was only imagining it, but Jacen had acted like he was almost afraid of sleep the last few times he had come to visit. He would be awake when she had nestled up against him, and was always up before she awoke the next morning. Narrowing her eyes, “Are you sure?”

    Confusion still clouded his face, “I’m fine. Really.”

    Appeased, she finally shrugged in acceptance, “Okay. I will be back in a bit.”

    Jacen only gave her a strange look as he shook his head and headed down the hall.

    After brushing his teeth in the ‘fresher, Jacen reentered the Master suite and stopped, looking at her huge bed and remembered Tenel Ka’s scathing remark from his last visit echoing in his head:Do not expect me to drop everything for you simply because you feel ‘lonely.’ Thinking back a few months to the last time he and Tenel Ka had made love, Jacen had to admit that he had pressured her into it. Never again. He had acted like one of the patrons of the ‘club’ were Alema and Numa used to work, and had done it to someone he had loved for ages. Depressed and disgusted by his previous actions, he walked over to a small cabinet in the Queen Mother’s enormous walk-in closet where he kept his ‘over-night’ things, picked out a pair of seldom-used sleep pants, and walked through the ‘fresher into Prince Isolder’s old suite.

    T
    _________|_________
    O O(___)O O

    The Queen Mother managed to get through Admiral Raeder’s proposal, but found herself reading the same paragraph of tomorrow’s Wildlife Parks Commission notes four times before giving it up as a bad job. She knew that Jacen had already read the brief, so she would have him join her for that meeting. Jacen. Her lips spread into a small smile as she reflected on their day. Today had been…fun. Tenel Ka had not had fun at work in…well, she could not actually remember a time when work had been fun. After their morning workout, she had found herself surreptitiously flirting with Mister Solo every time she had seen him; her Grandmother’s stern voice sounding the entire time, “The Queen Mother does not flirt.” Her smile got a tad larger as she put her briefing flimsies in the basket for her aide to take back to her office; she would be doing more than flirting with Jacen Solo in about ten minutes.

    Sneaking into her room, a smile still on her lips, she started to get ready for bed. As she undressed in her front room, she briefly considered putting on the skimpy negligee that she had not shown him yet, but decided against it. It will just end up on the floor, anyway. Wearing nothing but a pair of barely-there panties, she opened her bedroom door and quietly stalked her way to the oversize bed, her smile slowly disappearing as her eyes adjusted to the dim glow of the Hapan night filtering through her windows; there was nothing on her bed but overstuffed pillows. Grabbing her left bicep with her right hand to cover her chest with her arm, she felt a feeling of despair start to wash over her. As she continued to stare at her empty bed, her despair turned into rage and she started to seethe; today had been nothing but a cruel joke--Jacen had used her. He wanted to prove that she was still a foolish girl, still hoping to gain his affection; that he could play her like a viola.

    Fuming, she stomped over to the light switch so that she could find her comlink and call the Palace Guard: she wanted Jacen Solo gone. Seeing the comlink on her dresser, she walked briskly over toward it. Before she could pick up the comlink however, something caught her eye and made her stop. Hanging from the corner of her jewelry box was a well-worn, slightly frayed, necklace. Slowly, treating it as if it would disintegrate in her hand, she picked up the leather-stringed, eggshell necklace and stood mesmerized by the way the light shimmered off the iridescent blue eggshell pieces. Her mood softened as she held Jacen’s first gift to her, realizing that she was reading this wrong--Jacen was never deliberately cruel, not about matters of the heart. ‘That’s not why I come.’ Suddenly, she understood; he felt guilty about the last time they had made love. In truth, she rather liked his aggressiveness that evening, she would have to make sure to tell him that she did not mind when he acted like that. Another small smile crossed her lips as she hung up her most prized possession and headed for Jacen’s most likely ‘hiding’ spot: the ‘Consort’ suite.

    Jacen was only vaguely aware when Tenel Ka cuddled up against him; however, he became very aware when a very naked Tenel Ka started nibbling on his ear as she whispered, “Has anyone ever told you how sexy you are when you’re sleeping, particularly in the moonlight?”

    “Once.” He deadpanned, trying to roll over as she yanked off his t-shirt, “I had to challenge her to a duel.”

    She started to nibble on his ear again, as she breathed, “Why are you in here? And why are you wearing clothes?”

    “I didn’t want to presume.” He whispered as he moved one hand to her cheek, “I would never play with you, Tenel Ka Djo.”

    Smiling at the fact that he had picked up her thoughts, even when he was asleep, she started to make her way down his chest. “Do you have any idea what you have done to me today with your mind-meld? Your flirty looks at lunch? Playing footsie at dinner?”

    Giving Tenel Ka his best seductive smile, “I’m starting to find out,” he whispered, sitting up slightly to kiss her neck. She growled in response and rolled over on top of him, lustily kissing his neck and lips.

    After a couple of minutes, it became pretty clear that kissing was as far as they were going to get this evening. Sighing, Jacen buried his head in the crook of her neck. “I’m sorry.”

    Trying very hard not to let her frustration show, Tenel Ka kissed his forehead. It had been quite a while since he had not been affectionate like he was today, and she liked the way it made her feel. It made her feel...sexy…and she had this burning desire to show him just how much she appreciated his subtle flirtations; it had been far too long since they had made love. “It’s okay.” She rolled onto her side so that they were now face-to-face. “Is something wrong?”

    “No.” He sighed as he ran his fingers down her left side. “I’m just…tired.” Through the Force, she could feel his fatigue and nodded in response, trying to remember the last time he had admitted such a weakness.

    Sitting up, she grabbed his t-shirt from the foot of the bed and felt Jacen roll over onto his back. Pulling on his t-shirt, she braced herself; if she did not say it now, she may never say it. “I think Allana…” she looked over at Jacen only to find him already fast asleep. Her shoulders slumped, it had taken her all day to find the courage to address this topic, and now she would need to find it again. Nestling against his side, she was rewarded as Jacen let out a contented sigh and unconsciously pulled her closer with his left arm, letting her place her head on his shoulder. Whispering to herself, the Queen finished her sentence “…needs to know.”

    T
    _________|_________
    O O(___)O O

    A shrill, piercing alarm shattered the early morning silence. Almost as one, two people shot up in bed, each calling a weapon to their hand; Jacen his lightsaber, Tenel Ka a blaster. Their reactions with the Force was most telling; hers bloomed outward to assess any threat, his collapsed in on itself as he used his ‘Vongsense’ to get a feel for the danger. For reasons he could never explain, Jacen had found that his ‘Vongsense’ was more acute when trying to determine the location of short-range threats. Maybe it was their warrior nature or maybe it was because their original home world was so inhospitable, but whatever the reason, using his ability to slip into a ‘Vong-like’ mentality allowed him to track threats far more accurately than the Force did. The fact that it also hid him from other Force users was an added bonus.

    Unconsciously, Tenel Ka had shifted slightly to hide herself behind Jacen. Not out of any desire to be protected, but for tactical advantage. Despite his protestations to the contrary, Jacen was the better swordsman, and she needed to give him the least amount of area to defend. Additionally, she could fire her blaster at any assailants while Jacen protected them both from incoming fire. All in all, it was a pretty good defensive stance. Fortunately, it was unneeded. The comlink on the nightstand rang again with the same shill tone. They both relaxed, leaning into one another, her breasts pressing into his back. Releasing a deep breath, Jacen deadpanned, “You have got to get a better ringtone.”

    She kissed his neck and reached for the comlink, answering it. “Yes.”

    “Sorry Mum.” The voice on the other end replied, sounding chagrined for calling at this time of night. “It’s Captain Pärson from the duty desk. I’ve got a call from Chume’Dan approach control. They’ve got an inbound ship without a landing permit asking for an audience with you.”

    Tenel Ka could only shake her head; this hadn’t happened in eleven years, and now it had happened twice in three days. “Let me guess, an Ensign Do’ma is on the other line?”

    “Uhh…yes she is. How did you know?”

    Rolling her grey eyes, she really meant it as a joke, “Lucky guess. Put her through.”

    There was an audible ‘click’ as Captain Pärson transferred the air controller through. Shaking her head again, “Kenara, why does this always happen on your shift?” she joked as she watched Jacen get up and walk through the bathroom and into her room.

    The young ensign answered drily, “Just lucky, I guess. That’s what I get for filling in for someone and working a double shift.” Tenel Ka’s eyes sparkled at the good-natured response. “Anyway Mum, I’ve got the Jade Shadow holding at Sabre intersection--they did not request a ‘landing permit’.” From the ensign’s tone, Tenel Ka surmised that Kenara knew whom the Shadow belonged to, hence the call. She was becoming more impressed with the young Navy ensign.

    “A fault with the NOTAM system, you think?” Tenel Ka wanted to give the Jedi Masters the benefit of the doubt.

    She could almost hear Kenara wince, “Unfortunately, no. Coruscant ATC verified receipt of the NOTAM two days ago, and the Shadow is a fast ship.” Tenel Ka could almost hear the awe in the controller’s voice. “They only left Coruscant yesterday, so they should’ve seen the advisory.”

    The Queen Mother let out a sigh, nodding a ‘thanks’ to Jacen as he returned from her room, handing her a formal-looking nightgown. “Then they just could not be bothered to file.” she said aloud, more to herself than to Kenara. “What are our punitive options?”

    “Ordinarily, I would not allow them to land; not at this time of night. Our previous issue was…” she paused, almost saying the name of their previous ‘intruder’, but stopped. They were talking on an unsecured line, and the line could be bugged. “…someone asking for you personally, that’s why I came to Commander Vessau. This is just inattention. But, because it’s the Jade Shadow…”

    “More like blatant disregard.” Tenel Ka corrected. Quickly, she removed Jacen’s t-shirt and slipped on the nightgown. “No, I understand why you called. Can we fine them?”

    “Uhh…”the queen could hear the lieutenant typing furiously on a keyboard to look up the correct regulation. “Yes, Mum. We can cite them for a willful airspace incursion. One thousand Hapan credits is the maximum fine.”

    “Do so.” She thought for a second. “Have them land at the city spaceport’s VIP ramp. Please pass to the spaceport official that the landing fees are not waived.” It was customary for the Crown to waive all landing fees for dignitaries visiting Hapes on official business but because Masters Skywalker did not coordinate with her office about an official business meeting, and since they were arriving at 02:45 in the morning, Tenel Ka did not feel the need to be charitable. “Stress to them that they are not landing at the Palace.”

    She could hear the mirth in Kenara’s voice. She had just given Kenara Do’ma some extra muscle, if she needed it. “Roger. I’ll coordinate with the Chume’Dan ops desk. Sorry to bother you at this hour.”

    Tenel Ka snorted, “I would rather it be you than Fleet Command.” She heard Kenara’s chuckle. “What time does your shift end, anyway?”

    She could hear the confusion in the young woman’s voice, “0700, mum.”

    She allowed a small smile, “Great. I will save you a seat for breakfast.”

    “Certainly, your majesty. Do’ma out.” The line clicked.

    “Captain Pärson?” she said, knowing that the Army captain was still on the line.

    “Mum?” the captain answered immediately.

    “Can we spare someone to go to the spaceport? I would hate to call protocol at this unholy hour.”

    “That won’t be a problem.”

    “Good.” The queen paused, “Tell them not to leave for another twenty minutes. I want to make our guests think that we had to scrounge someone up for driver detail.”

    Captain Pärson chuckled, “Yes, Mum.”

    T
    _________|_________
    O O(___)O O

    After a few minutes, the approach controller came back. “Jade Shadow, you are cleared the approach for the Chume’dan spaceport. Be advised, we are levying a thousand-credit fine for not complying with Hapan Air Traffic rules. Fly heading 150, maintain 1000 meters until established on the localizer.”

    Mara shot her husband an ‘I told you so’ look as he responded to the call. “Chume’dan? We requested vectors for the Trevi spaceport.” The Hapans had named the port at the Palace after one of the galaxy’s more famous fountains, the monstrous Trevi Fountain on Naboo. Luke again reached out with the Force to try to influence the Approach Controller. As before, he found her mind impossible to penetrate, at least at this distance.

    Kenara Do’ma was starting to get mad. Mr. Skywalker had purposely disregarded Hapan regulations and had the further audacity to request a landing at the Palace? At least Danni Quee had the decency to sound apologetic, and she had failed to request a permit inadvertently. Kenara let her voice rise as she bit out her retort, “Jade Shadow, you are cleared the approach at Chume’dan. Any deviations from that course, and I launch the alert fighters.” She knew that Skywalker could probably outfly everyone in the Hapan fleet, but she would not be buffaloed.

    Before Luke could reply, Mara touched his arm. “Don’t. This is a message from Tenel Ka. She does not appreciate us coming unannounced at 0245 in the morning.”

    Luke nodded, letting out a breath. “Of course.” Keying the microphone, “Jade Shadow is heading 150, and maintaining 1000 until established.” He looked over at his wife, “If we had brought the Stealth X’s, this wouldn’t be an issue.”

    Mara shot him an incredulous look. “So that we could break in to the Fountain Palace?” She shook her head, her red hair swishing behind her. “No way. At best Tenel Ka meets us with lightsaber drawn; worst case, she has us arrested. Either way, we lose. We cannot alienate her.” She paused, thinking. “This is coming dangerously close, as it is. I can already feel her indignation.”

    T
    _________|_________
    O O(___)O O


    As Tenel Ka thumbed off the comlink, Jacen handed her a cup of freshly brewed caf from the caf-maker in her room. Seeing her nod her thanks, he opined, “They are using a standard police tactic. Raiding a suspect’s house in the early morning hours is the most advantageous time. Most people are asleep, they are disoriented when they wake, and are usually wearing very little. People tend to put up less of a fight under those conditions.” Tenel Ka looked at him warily as she took a sip; she didn’t really want to know why he knew that.

    Jacen continued, “They’ll probably play ‘good cop-bad cop’.” He saw her look of disbelief and smiled. “I know, it sounds like a holodrama, but just because everyone knows about it doesn’t mean it’s not effective. The oldest tricks are sometimes the best.” He looked at her earnestly, “You’ve had a pretty good relationship with Luke over the years; I would expect him to be the ‘bad cop’.” Sighing, “At least that’s how I’d play it if I were them. Don’t forget, Mara had a career doing this sort of thing.” Again, Tenel Ka saw that he was speaking from experience, and it unnerved her a bit. Still, it was good professional advice. Knowing how they were going to treat her allowed her to prepare for it. On one level, she was impressed at how well both of them were separating their emotions from this. Through their link, she could feel Jacen seething, but he refused to let it get in the way of what needed to be done. For the second time today, she found herself impressed with Jacen Solo.

    “It could be something else.” She offered, hopefully.

    Jacen shook his head, “If it were an emergency, somebody would’ve called.” Pulling on his t-shirt, “Nope, this is a shake-down, no doubt about it.”

    Tenel Ka nodded; it was just an idle hope. “Take Allana to my father’s apartment. I’ll join you there when we’ve finished.”

    “Sure thing.” He paused on the way to the door, “You know, I have no idea where he even lives!” He winked at her and left before she could reply; Captain Pärson would tell him how to get to Isolder’s flat.

    The queen smirked as he left, sitting on the bed for a few moments before getting up to make herself ready for the Skywalkers. Behind her, she heard the door open again, and Jacen took a step back into the room, a sleeping Allana in his arms. “By the way, they are going to blame me for what the Senate wants to do.”

    Tenel Ka nodded absently as he turned and left again. She had surmised as much; sort of a ‘divide and conquer’ routine. She noticed that Jacen left their mental link open, just in case.

    Before heading down the Throne Room, she made her way into her bedroom closet and grabbed one of her robes. At first, she was confused as to why Jacen chose the formal nightgown that he gave her, but now understood. Her ‘guests’ needed to understand who she was, and the formal nightgown and robe certainly implied status. Putting her lightsaber in one the pockets, she headed out the door; almost running into Captain Pärson as she did so.

    Nodding formally to the Queen Mother, the shift supervisor quickly got Tenel Ka up to speed as to where her troops were. “Corporal Ruud is escorting Colonel Solo to your father’s apartment, and I’m sending Petty Officer Stenmark to go to pick up our guests.”

    Tenel Ka nodded as the marched down the hallway. “Thanks Anja. Please have her escort the Skywalkers to the Throne Room when they arrive.” The Army captain nodded. Coming to the stairway that connected her apartment to the Throne Room, Tenel Ka stopped, looking contemplative. Glancing over at the Captain, “One more thing, Anja. I need two guards armed with heavy blasters to come to the Throne Room.”

    Captain Pärson was taken aback. She knew that the Queen Mother was more than capable of defending herself. The Palace Guard often joked that their job was to carry off the bodies of any assailants after their Queen had diced them up. Cautiously, she asked, “Expecting trouble?” Now that threats to the Queen had become so rare as to be non-existent, the Palace Guard was only a third of what it once was. Captain Pärson needed to know if she should recall additional personnel. She had enough to cover the Queen’s request, but perhaps more were needed.

    Tenel Ka seemed to know what she was thinking and gave her a small sigh. “No, don’t call in anyone from home. My guests are not happy with what I am about to do. I think they need a visual reminder of who I am.” Her tone saddened, “I am not just that Dathomiri warrior-girl anymore.”

    Anja nodded as she gave her boss a concerned look. With another half-bow, she left her Queen alone with her thoughts and called in the two additional guards from elsewhere in the Palace.

    When the two guards she requested had arrived, she positioned one in Anhaje’s office to act as a doorman and the other she told to remain out of sight behind the door connecting the Throne Room to the Grand Ballroom via the hidden set of stairs.

    After everything was situated, Tenel Ka made a note on her datapad to reward tonight’s shift for all the additional work she asked them to do as she sat down behind her desk to review notes for tomorrow morning’s…she frowned…this morning’s Defence Status Briefing.

    |
    O
    _____(___)_____



    As Jacen made his way to Isolder’s apartment, he reflected that he had never seen this section of the Palace. For whatever reason, this wing seemed more…comfortable. Corporal Ruud caught him looking at a painting done in an Alderaanian impressionistic style and nodded. “Prince Isolder had a hand in selecting the décor of this wing. I think that he grew tired of the pretense in the Royal Wing.” Jacen nodded, he could certainly understand that. Ta’a Chume had decorated the Royal Apartment lavishly, and neither Teneniel nor her daughter had bothered to redecorate. When he had asked Tenel Ka about it years ago, she replied that her mother did not wish to fight a battle with her mother-in-law about decorations, and she herself could not justify spending the money when so many Hapans were still rebuilding their lives. Now that the war had been over for a while longer, perhaps he would ask again.

    Shifting a sleeping Allana to his other arm, he was about to ask his ‘guide’ how long she had been working at the Palace when the corporal came to an abrupt stop. He frowned slightly when she inserted a small probe into what looked like an electrical outlet. Suddenly, to their left, a portion of the wall retracted upward and a door was revealed. “Clever.” Jacen said quietly to himself.

    Corporal Ruud gave Jacen a shy smile, “This apartment was used by previous Queen Mothers for daytime trysts with whomever caught their fancy; hence, the hidden door.” Giving Jacen a meaningful look, “The current occupant of the throne has not carried on that tradition.” She nodded at the door, “The Prince is expecting you, go on in.”

    Jacen only shook his head smiling, “Thanks for the tour, you’ve been most informative.”

    Entering Isolder’s apartment, he looked quickly for the Crown Prince but didn’t see him about. Thinking him to be still asleep, Jacen put Allana in the first bedroom he could find. As she cuddled up with her stuffed tauntaun, Jacen gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and turned to leave the room, almost colliding with Isolder. The older man smiled and bent down to give his granddaughter an affectionate kiss as well. Quietly, the two of them left her room, closing the door. As he led Jacen into the kitchen, Isolder asked over his shoulder, “Caf? Tea?”

    Jacen shrugged, “I’ll have what you’re having.”

    “Tea it is, then.”

    Jacen smiled as he looked around. “Nice place.” He commented, meaning it. Isolder’s apartment wasn’t as large as he expected. A kitchen, breakfast nook, living room, study, two bedrooms and a ‘fresher were all Jacen could see. The walls were painted a light grey color and adorned with several other Impressionist paintings. All told, a pretty nice bachelor pad.

    Isolder nodded as the water started to boil. “Thanks. I’ve always thought that the official residence to be a bit…much.” Jacen gave him a knowing smile as the Prince continued, “So, what brings you to my humble abode? At…” he looked at the chrono above the stove, “…0300?” Isolder was rather used to Allana being dropped off at weird hours. The Palace ran emergency ‘Royal’ evacuation drills periodically, and his place was the first stop for Allana. From there, he would take her via a tunnel to a hidden hangar where his personal fighter was waiting. However, Jacen Solo had never taken part in evacuation drills before, and he was curious to know what that implied.

    Jacen offered him a deep sigh as a partial response. “Family trouble.” He answered, finally. Isolder quickly turned to look at his guest, alarm clearly written on his face. Jacen shook his head, “No. Not us. We’re actually doing…better.” Jacen nodded his thanks as his ‘father-in-law’ handed him a cup of tea. Sadly, he admitted, “We are still a ways away from ‘great’, or even ‘fine’, but at least we aren’t on scared to talk to each other anymore.” Isolder smiled at his candor, knowing how difficult the younger man’s admission was. Leaning against the counter, Jacen gave him a thankful half-smile and continued, “My uncle decided to pop in for a visit.”

    Isolder frowned. That seemed a bit unlike the Luke Skywalker he was familiar with. “At this hour? Do tell.”

    Snorting, Jacen told him of his conversation that he had with Chief Omas, his talking with his mother, his telling Leia about Tenel Ka’s partial funding of the Order, and of Leia’s meeting with the Jedi Council.”

    The Crown Prince was rather perplexed. “Skywalker blames you?” Luke was not one to make unsubstantiated claims. Thoughtfully, he asked quietly, “Are you to blame?”

    Jacen grimaced as he looked away for a second. “To answer the second question: Maybe I am to blame. The truth is sometimes a matter of point of view. I did agree with Omas to press forward with the funding cuts. Politically, it is not worth fighting over the Jedi.” He took a sip of tea. “As to the first: I think that the Order needs to change.” Shaking his head again, he added quietly, “It makes me a handy scapegoat. Rather than answering the Senate critics, the Order would rather go elsewhere for funding.”

    Isolder hopped up onto the kitchen counter, sitting across from Jacen. “When did you find out that she was funding the Jedi?”

    Jacen ran his fingers through his hair, “A month ago or so.” He paused before guiltily pressing on. “We were having a fight about…something dumb, and she made a comment about people only calling when they wanted something.” He paused, pain etched on his face. Isolder could only wonder about what Jacen had asked of his daughter. “Anyway, after some prodding, she finally admitted to what she had been doing.”

    “Did she say how much?”

    The younger man shook his head slightly. “No; and I asked point blank. She said it wasn’t any of my business. I was told: ‘they are my accounts, and I will spend them as I wish.’”

    The Prince rolled his eyes at Jacen’s pretty fair impression of Tenel Ka’s voice. “A lot, then.”

    Nodding, Jacen replied, “That would be my guess.”

    Isolder scowled, “I am curious as to why your mother wants her to cease funding the Jedi.”

    At this, Jacen shook his head and allowed a small chuckle. “She hates it when people try to use her friends. You should have seen her.” He looked away, lost in a memory, “The last time I saw my mother that mad was when Tenel Ka, Jaina, and myself snuck out to see a movie.”

    The blonde prince chuckled quietly; in truth, he had all but forgotten about that incident...

    T
    _________|_________
    O O(___)O O

    During one of their first breaks at the Academy, Isolder had allowed Tenel Ka to go to Coruscant, over the objections of Teneniel. His wife thought the Solo kids to be a bad influence, but he countered that she needed some friends. “Life at the Palace is lonely enough,” he had argued, “let her enjoy being a teen for a bit.” Although, if he were honest, he would’ve admitted that he was a little worried about sending his daughter to Coruscant.

    One of the three kids; Jaina, if Isolder had to guess, decided that it would be great fun to go to a midnight movie. In their defense, it was something innocuous: a cartoon about a mermaid, if he recalled properly. And they weren’t even gone that long: three hours, maybe. The problem was that they neglected to tell Han and Leia where they were going. Imagine: the twin children of the Chief-of-State together with the heir to the Hapan Consortium, all sneaking out the house at 11:30 at night, without a care in the world.

    Prince Isolder never did find out what woke Leia up that night, but he did know that she waited in their living room, sick with worry, until the three of them returned. When she saw that they were unharmed, her worry turned into a tornado of anger, grounding Jaina and Jacen on the spot. Tenel Ka had stoically accepted that to be her fate as well, but Leia had other plans. “I don’t have the authority to ground you.” The Chief-of-State had told his daughter, “So, I’m going to make you call your parents.”

    When Isolder got the call, his first reaction after Tenel Ka told him what she had done was to tell her to catch the next available flight to Hapes. But the look on his daughter’s face said it all: Leia’s punishment of making her call home was far worse than anything he could have done. Tenel Ka had embarrassed her father in front of the Chief-of-State of the New Republic, and she knew it. His icy look softened, and he gave a thoughtful nod at Leia, who was visible in the background. “You will share in your friends’ punishment.” Sternly, he added, “We will discuss this further when you come home.” Tenel Ka only nodded, relief showing on her face.

    Oddly, Isolder never worried about his daughter going to stay with the Solos after that.

    T
    _________|_________
    O O(___)O O

    After a few moments of nearly comfortable silence, Isolder asked, “May I continue our conversation from earlier?”

    Jacen shrugged; he knew that the Prince meant the conversation they had over breakfast a few weeks back. “Why not. It’s not as if I can go anywhere.”

    Isolder gave the younger man a wry smile, he knew that Jacen was uncomfortable with this, but being a ‘father-in-law’ gave him certain inquisitional privileges. His look turned serious. “Why do you stay?”

    A quizzical look crossed over the Jedi’s face. That was not the question he was expecting. Snorting, he replied, “I’ve never been asked that. Most ask why a Queen would be friends with a guy like me.”

    Isolder’s tone became thoughtful, “Most don’t know how hard it is. At times, I hated being Prince Consort, and I grew up assuming that I might be one.” He gestured at the door, “All these ‘suitors’; they brag that they could best you in a fair fight. They talk about how pathetic you are, not even trying to impress the Queen with your physical prowess; they speak of you meekly spending time with her daughter in the hopes that you can catch a word with the Queen. They all talk as if the only reason she allows you to come here is because she is too polite to tell her childhood friend to leave her alone.” His voice became one of embarrassment; “They all see that she barely acknowledges you when you are here.”

    Jacen nodded. Many of the Palace staff had told him what the various members of the nobility had been saying about him. Most implored him to challenge some of these cretins to a saber duel and he always replied with something along the lines of, “I know I could kick their butt, you know I could kick their butt, so there is no real need to do so.” His answers had endeared him to the Palace staff; but, truth be told, he desperately wanted to embarrass one of her ‘suitors’.

    Isolder continued, “To a man, they think that they could do a better job than you are, and they don’t even know that you have the job. They are so fixated on bedding the Queen, they don’t think about what else being the Consort entails.” Jacen cringed, this conversation was turning awkward, and he really didn’t have an escape. “What I’m getting at, Jacen, is that you have impressed me. Any of these other idiots would have run years ago. Yet, you take all of this in stride. It must bother you, all this secrecy, yet you continue to be with her. Why?”

    Jacen couldn’t help it; he was actually starting to like his ‘father-in-law’. It must be because it was now 03:15 and he was only running on caffeine. Sighing, “I stay because she needs someone outside the Palace to confide in. I stay because she accepts all of my reservations, she understands why I’m always looking for an alternate view of the Force.” He paused, trying to articulate what was being unsaid. “I stay because I love her immensely; more than I ever thought possible. I stay because…” he trailed off. Jacen knew that Isolder knew who Allana’s father was, but he was still reluctant to admit it out loud. This was still Hapes after all.

    “You stay because of Allana.” Isolder finished, knowing why Jacen was reluctant to admit to being Allana’s father. He wanted to assure the younger man that the infamous ‘palace intrigue’ was a thing of the past, that he would never jeopardize his granddaughter. Jacen nodded, pain showing in his eyes. Isolder asked in a kindly tone, “Does it hurt? Not being able to acknowledge her?”

    Jacen’s gaze dropped to the floor, “It hurts that she doesn’t know. It bothers me that I’m not…‘daddy’.”

    Isolder said nothing for a few moments. He was disappointed in his daughter, although he would never admit it. He was unsure of what Jacen Solo was doing on Coruscant, but it was clear that Tenel Ka blew it by not asking him to be Prince Consort years ago. If Isolder could see that, why couldn’t she? Finally, he broke their uneasy silence. “I wish that you would’ve told me.”

    The GAG Colonel chuckled humorlessly and looked again at the Prince, “Me too. I don’t say this lightly, but I think that your daughter has handled this badly. I think that she has remembered the wrong lesson from your mother in this matter: Tenel Ka remembered the lesson that everyone is out to get her.”

    A look of disbelief crossed Isolder’s handsome face, “You’ve told no one?” He assumed that either Leia or Jaina knew. He knew how close Jacen was, or had been, to his mother and sister. The younger man only shook his head. Isolder knew what that implied. It meant…“She threatened you?”

    Jacen let out a deep breath. He would not sell out Tenel Ka; it had been a decision that they had both made. Sure, there was an understanding of what would happen if he didn’t agree, but they both felt that there was a risk to Allana.

    Isolder held up his hand, forestalling an answer. “I see.” He couldn’t keep his disappointment from his face. Why would Tenel Ka do such a thing? His own daughter, threatening the only man that ever loved her for her; telling Jacen that he had to keep Allana a secret or else she would bar him from seeing his daughter. If it weren’t for the fact that she already getting grilled by Skywalker, he would’ve gone down there and given her a piece of his mind. He and Teneniel did not raise her to be a coward. If she cannot trust her own family, then is there no one left to trust?
    Last edited by SiouxFan, May 7, 2013
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  2. Asajj_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 2004
    star 1
    Maybe I need to reread parts of this story because I am confused as to why Luke and Mara would act like total jerks to their meal ticket. They are going to play good cop/bad cop with the Queen? That's like playing good cop/ bad cop with a loan officer. It is going to get you the opposite of what you want. If somebody is holding your purse strings you schmooze them up and kiss butt and try to convince them to keep sending you money. Luke's a good whiner..."Uncle Owen, I was going to go down to Toshe station for some new power converters...whine, whine, whine." He should use that skill now. "Tenel Ka...please don't cut my funding." [face_praying]

    Why doesn't Luke go on the speaking circuit like American politicians do and charge a million credits for making university graduation speeches or go on talk shows? He can write a best selling autobiography. There has to be something the Jedi can do to make money. But then I guess if they took money for work that would make them mercenaries.

    It is nice to see Tenel Ka and Jacen having time together as a couple. If Jacen is too tired to get a leg over with the Queen then maybe he should invest in some little blue pills. :p I like Jacen's talk with Prince Isolder.

    Nicely done.
  3. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    I like the rnewing of emotional closeness between Tenel Ka and Jacen. Now that Jacen isn't circumnvaigating responsibility or his true feelings about stuff that could be why physical intimacy has stalled, until more of the loose ends are dealt with. [face_thinking] They seem to both be moving toward a different option regarding Allana which will make them closer as a family, like in JL's Sacrifices. That secret wasn't good for anyone. :(
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  4. darth_treyvah Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2005
    star 3
    I like the fact that in addition to Jacen, Tenel Ka is taking some responsibility as well. That said, I think she does deserve that talk from her father because some of that behaviour with regards to Allana was not impressive at all.
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  5. SiouxFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2012
    star 3
    One of the things that is fundamental to LotF is this: after someone has made a decision, they will stick with that train of thought even when presented with contrary information. In Tempest Luke and Mara meet with Jacen and Tenel Ka aboard the Anakin Solo and they leave thinking that Jacen isn't too far gone and can be steered back to non-Sithliness. Later, through events manipulated by Lumiya, the two of them are sent to meet Ben (I think) and, naturally, he's not there. Immediately, they determine that Jacen is in league with Lumiya and a Sith...both of which were not really true at that time. Jacen was keeping Lumiya more or less at arm's length and he didn't become Sith until much later. My point? Once Luke came to that conclusion, it colored everything about Jacen from there on. Jacen is trying to flee the Anakin with Allana later on in the series, and everyone jumps to the conclusion that he is using his daughter as a shield because only a Sith would do something like that. The way I read it Jacen was just trying to get his daughter off of a doomed ship. In my story: Luke and the Council have come to the conclusion that Jacen is trying to destroy the Order by cutting off it's funding and they are ignoring the contrary evidence. I've kept Luke's 'us versus them' mentality from Joiner King because I didn't seem to me that he ever really got out of that in LotF.

    I actually like your idea to raise money. Mercenaries? Nah, it'd just make them entrepreneurs! I think that Isolder was vastly underused by profic and I'm trying to portray him as a father who just wants to see his daughter and granddaughter happy. And thanks! :) Nice avatar, btw!

    No, it wasn't. The Jacen we all loved wore his heart on his sleeve, and I'm trying to get that Jacen back. I'm in full agreement with JL, Tenel Ka's decision created a HUGE mess. When I was reading her story, I kept thinking..'Crap, that is partly the way I've written my story.' I REALLY hope she doesn't think I'd stolen her idea, because I've had all of these scenes written for over a year.

    IMO, they can only fix 'them', if TK realizes that it is not ALL Jacen's fault. As to Isolder's talk...[face_whistling]

    Thanks for reading!
    Last edited by SiouxFan, May 8, 2013
  6. Asajj_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 2004
    star 1
    I agree that when Luke decides to muck things up he often does it beyond repair, but I never thought of him as a man who would play 'bad cop' with a friend and comrade to get his way. Maybe Jacen was being overly dramatic when he described what he thought Luke was planning. I can see Luke showing up unannounced so Jacen doesn't have time to warn Tenel Ka. I can see Luke pleading his case to the Queen and trying to discredit Jacen, but I can't see him treating the Queen harshly after she had been so kind to the Jedi Order. I guess I will soon see what you mean. Hopefully in your effort to redeem Jacen you won't totally denigrate Luke's character. I believe he made many asinine decisions in the EU, but I never saw him as a mean-spirited dillweed.
    Last edited by Asajj_Kenobi, May 9, 2013
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  7. SiouxFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2012
    star 3
    My goal is NOT to portray Luke as mean-spirited as a way of making Jacen look better. This is NOT a zero-sum game, it is possible for ALL sides to be right....and partly wrong. There really is no clear winner in LotF, with the possible exception of Daala, and I'm trying to keep that theme. Jacen is being a bit over-dramatic with the 'bad cop' line. Keep in mind, he knows, as does Mara Jade, how to play this game and he simply wanted to let TK know that where he thought the more 'adversarial' role will come from. As Jacen pointed out, TK was fairly close to Luke, so what better way to keep the Queen Mother off-balance than to have Luke be the 'aggressor'. This won't be a police interrogation, but I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying it will be....adversarial. You're right, Luke is trying to contact the Queen before Jacen does, and Jace wants his best friend to be forewarned.

    I offer this, though, in defense of the coming chapter...IMO, Luke treats Tenel Ka's generation of Jedi as if they are still teenagers. From the 'for us or against us' to banishing Tahiri to not naming Jaina a Master until she was 35 or so to treating Jacen with a certain amount of disdain after Tempest--it seemed to me that the Council was unwilling for their younger Jedi to grow up. A point Leia made to Han after she left the Council chamber.

    Good stuff! Next update tomorrow--I almost posted it now, but I wanted to give everyone a chance to respond to this if you so wished. (Yes, Jade, I saw you roll your eyes! ;))

    Thanks again.
  8. EmeraldJediFire Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2012
    star 4
    Ok I've really gotta start reading this again

    Sent from my LG-C800 using Tapatalk 2
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  9. Asajj_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 2004
    star 1
    True and EXTREMELY ironic considering what was going on in the YJK books. As I read those stories I thought Luke was completely irresponsible in running his Academy. His students are all over the place having adventures with very little adult supervision. In my opinion Luke was treating these children almost like adults, but I have seen nothing to show that having Force abilities makes a child more mature than his/her non-Force sensitive counterparts. I realize that they were children novels and you need exciting plots, but when you make comic books, juvenile novels and video games canon then you should base the non-juvenile novels to fit what came before. The young Jedi Knights had more real world Jedi combat experience than Luke had when he declared himself a Master. All the adult Jedi Knights that survived the Vong War should have immediately been up for Master. They wouldn't necessarily need to be on the council, but they could be called a Master and given an apprentice.
    Last edited by Asajj_Kenobi, May 9, 2013
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  10. SiouxFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2012
    star 3
    @Asajj_Kenobi, @darth_treyvah, @Jade_eyes, @EmeraldJediFire

    Chapter 17: For Every Action…

    A young Army second lieutenant stuck his head in the door. “You Majesty?” Tenel Ka looked up from her report, “Your guests have arrived.”

    She nodded at the young man. “Thank you Lieutenant. Send them in, please.” Subconsciously, she realized just how far the Consortium had come. To have this young man serve as a guard in the palace two generations ago would have been unthinkable. Now, no one gave it a second thought.

    The door opened wider to allow Luke and Mara entry into the Throne Room. Tenel Ka stood up, nodding at the two of them. “Masters Skywalker.”

    “Queen Mother.” Mara answered in a friendly tone. It seemed that Jacen was correct in his assumption. Mara would be the ‘good cop’. The two of them approached the Queen Mother, each giving a slight bow. Mara gave Tenel Ka a warm smile, trying to ease the tension. “Thank you for seeing us on such short notice. How have you been?”

    Tenel Ka shrugged slightly, “Fine, thank you. And you?” She never was one for small talk, and it seemed especially forced under the circumstances.

    Mara sighted and gave her husband a pointed look. “We’ve had better days.” The younger woman nodded sympathetically; finding out that a third or more of your funding was disappearing in a month would put a damper on your day. “And Allana? How is she doing?”

    At this, Tenel Ka did allow a polite smile and rolled her eyes. “Growing like a weed. It is hard to believe that she will be starting school in a few months.”

    Luke finally offered a small smile, the first expression he had since he walked into her office. She could feel him reaching out, trying to sense Allana’s presence. Tenel Ka smiled to herself; she and Jacen had both taught Allana how to shield her thoughts, and Jacen had taught her how to hide. Even more impressively, Allana could hide while sleeping; a skill that her mother could not pull off. Seeing that Luke was not able to find Allana with the Force, the Queen remarked off-handedly, “She is spending this weekend with her father.” Tenel Ka allowed herself a slight smile, if she learned nothing else from her grandmother, she learned how to hide in plain sight.

    Both of her guests tried to hide their shock, but she had become very adept at reading people’s expressions. Ta’a Chume might have been a foul woman, but she taught her granddaughter a thing a two about politics: keep your opponent off-balance, seize the initiative of a conversation and never let it go.

    Before he could stop himself, Luke blurted out, “I was unaware…” he trailed off, knowing how dumb that sounded.

    Tenel Ka raised an eyebrow, finishing his sentence “…that there was a father?” She chuckled humorlessly, “Master Luke, I am not Shmi Skywalker.” Mara laughed and Luke shot his wife a look.

    “I was going to say that I was unaware that you had anything to do with her father.” Before the Queen Mother could respond, “What does Jacen think of this?” He knew that her and Jacen were communicating, and everyone knew that Jacen still had feelings for his friend, much as he tried to hide it. Furthermore, Luke wanted to regain control of the conversation.

    Tenel Ka’s eyes flashed with anger, “Jacen Solo is in no position to argue. You have seen the news, have you not?” Just last week, Jacen had taken her to a black-tie charity fundraiser, an event that had been covered by most of the press. By all accounts, she was practically fawning over the handsome GAG Colonel.

    If there were ever anyone that Tenel Ka Djo would ever admit of being jealous of, it would be her: Gorah Dibbon. Back when they were teens, Jacen had purchased all of Gorah’s albums; he had a poster of her in his room at the academy; he went to see her in concert…three times; he even knew when her birthday was. In Tenel Ka’s mind, the fact that Ms. Dibbon was exactly three months older than Jacen just made it that much worse. Tenel Ka had lost count of how many times she gritted her teeth and forced herself to listen patiently as her friend babbled about how pretty he thought Gorah was, about how cool it was that they were born on the same day of the month, about how neat it would be if he could actually meet her. Then, shortly after he gets a little clout, he has the gall to invite Ms. Gibbon to a fundraiser? In her mind’s eye, she could still see the pictures from that event: Jacen’s arm around a scandalously dressed Ms. Dibbon, smiling the smile that he used to only give to her.

    When Jacen had accepted the job as the head of the Galactic Alliance Guard, he and Tenel Ka had talked at some length about the high-profile functions he would have to attend, and she told him that he would be expected to bring a date. At the time, she had dismissed his concerns; after all, she had been attending those types of events for years, and he had not once complained about her dates. Then he had to go and bring her. Gorah Dibbon.

    Before her rage could reach a boil, there was a small voice in the back of her head that whispered: Now you know how he feels. For years, even when he was on his ‘great explore’, Jacen would either send a message or comm directly and mention how pretty she looked in her dress at her previous gala. Even half a galaxy away, she could sense his feigned enthusiasm and assumed that it was because he did not care for the extravagance. Now she knew-- Jacen was jealous. He was jealous of the men that escorted her those events. Now, the shoe was on the other foot, and she hated it.

    Oblivious to her thoughts, Luke knew that he had regained the upper hand in the conversation, and wished to press his advantage. “When was the last time you talked to Jacen?”

    Tenel Ka wasn’t sure what made her more upset: the fact that she had allowed Luke to gain control of the talks, or the fact that he was asking a question she knew he already knew the answer to. Answering icily, “A couple of days ago.” She fixed Luke with a piercing stare, “So, yes…I know that the Senate is going to cut your funding by a third.”

    Mara interjected before her husband could reply. “The cut to our funding is a concern.” Mara admitted, “But we are more concerned that Jacen has convinced you with his lies about the Senate bill.” She paused, letting her accusation sink in. “We feel that Jacen is behind the bill to cut Jedi funding.”

    Raising an eyebrow, the Queen Mother looked inquisitively at the older woman. “Based on what evidence? My sources in the Senate have not mentioned Colonel Solo’s name being connected in anyway with this bill.” Her source had mentioned a Kuati Senator as being the chief author of this new bill, nowhere in her report did she mention the GAG, and her source was very thorough. Masters Skywalker were going to have to better than this.

    |
    O
    _____(___)_____


    Isolder hopped off the counter and made his way to sit at the table in the breakfast nook. As Jacen followed, the Prince asked, “So, now that you’re no longer employed by Omas, what do you make of the Corellian fiasco?”

    The younger man sighed. “Well, since the operation to disable Centerpoint didn’t go as planned…” He trailed off, disgusted at his own failures. Isolder gave him a knowing look as Jacen shook his head to clear his reverie of the failed mission. Looking earnestly at the aging, but still handsome, Prince, he decided it was time to put the plan he and Danni had discussed all those nights ago into action. “Serious negotiations need to get started.” Wincing, a guilty look crossing his face, he continued, “Third party talks, since it is doubtful Corellia will talk to anyone from Coruscant.”

    Isolder nodded. It would seem that Jacen had been giving this some thought. “Who would you recommend?” The Crown Prince had been around politics a very long time, so he was pretty sure whom Jacen had in mind, but he wanted the young man to articulate his ideas. Once Jacen put his plan on the table, Isolder felt that he could convince his ‘son-in-law’ to take ownership of the plan and orchestrate these talks.

    Although not as experienced as the Prince of the Hapes Consortium, Jacen knew enough to realize Isolder was maneuvering him. Still, somebody needed to do something. Giving the older man a wry look, Jacen answered, “The Remnant has the most to gain by participating in such an effort. It would give Admiral Pellaeon a chance to show the galaxy at large that they are responsible citizens; that they are NOT my father’s Empire.” Isolder smiled at the reference as Jacen continued, “For more diplomatic muscle, it would be best for another neutral party to take part in these talks.” Giving the Prince a pointed look, “I can think of another party who would gain considerable prestige if they could help broker such a peace deal.”

    Isolder snorted, catching the not-so-veiled hint, “Indeed they could.” His look turned serious, “How do we go about getting these talks started?” Again, he was playing teacher, only asking questions he knew the answers to. Would Jacen jump at the bait?

    Jacen replied much quicker than Isolder expected; obviously, Leia’s son had given this issue a great deal of thought. Unconsciously, Jacen stood up and started pacing around the table. “Low level talks, at first. Probably low level throughout.” He paused, trying to articulate his plan. “I know we can’t bargain with Gejjen, so we avoid him all together. We use your Chief of Corellian Affairs at the External Affairs Ministry to talk to their Under-Secretary of…” Jacen paused, trying to remember the name of the Corellian equivalent, “…Hapan Foreign Policy. We sell it to him? ... her?” He shook his head, “Whomever. Anyway, we sell our plan at that level. We use that person to help sell it to their Foreign Secretary.”

    Isolder smiled, both at the level of passion that Jacen was exuding, and at the fact that he had reeled the younger man in. Jacen’s use of ‘we’ was proof enough that he was on board to coordinate these talks. Together, they could sell the Remnant on this--together they could change the shape of the galaxy. “At some point, we are going to have to include Gejjen.”

    Still pacing, Jacen shook his head. “Not necessarily. I don’t believe that most people in the Corellian Parliament are too keen on going to war. We sell this to their Foregin Secretary; he sells it to Parliament. Once Parliament gets word that there is a peace plan out there, they will pressure Gejjen to take our proposal seriously.”

    A frown formed on Isolder’s distinguished face. “That’s a pretty intricate plan. Are sure we have time for it?”

    Jacen smiled a predatory smile, “We do. We spend the time to mine our data and dig up all the skeletons we can find on Gejjen, and I’m sure that there are plenty. We quietly release this information to CorSec, to the press, to the opposition, anyone who is interested. Gejjen will be forced to take a deal with us so that he can offer something to the Parliament that he is interested in working for the good of Corellia.”

    The older man grinned, impressed. “Are you sure you are not part Hapan?”

    Looking out of the corner of his eye, Jacen shook his head as he replied, “You tell me. Mom has never said why she talks to you so often.”

    This garnered a wry chuckle from Isolder before his look turned serious again, “What is our bargaining position?”

    Jacen picked his cup of tea up off of the table and took a long sip, trying to buy some time to best phrase his response. Putting the cup down, he vaguely noticed Isolder’s smirk as he started to pace again. Letting out a deep breath, “We make their negotiators aware of just how deep an abyss true independence can be. Will all of the current trade agreements still apply? What do we do about the millions of Corellians that are in the employ of various GFFA organizations? How does this affect Corellians currently in the Alliance military? How do they plan to replace some of the non-military services that the Alliance provides? Services like interstellar mail. What about Holonet access? That, too, is a tax-payer funded entity.”

    He stopped and looked at the older man, “I seriously doubt that the President has given any thought to these matters, and they could take years to resolve.” Jacen shook his head, “’Independence from Coruscanti meddling’ makes a great campaign slogan. Life isn’t as clear cut.”

    Jacen started to pace again. “Corellians are gamblers, and gamblers like to bet on a sure thing. Our bargaining position will be this: You can leave, but we take away all these benefits and you have to negotiate with us to buy access to them. We show them just how badly the odds are stacked against them.”

    “What about ‘Never tell me the odds’?” Isolder rejoined.

    Colonel Solo only snorted. “Dad and Lando only said that when they were clearly backed into a corner and had no other option. We don’t try to force Coronet’s hand, we just point out the folly of pursuing true independence.”

    Despite himself, the Crown Prince was impressed. He never really knew what attracted his daughter to Jacen Solo, but now he was starting to see it. Jacen had the rare ability to see beyond the façade of what was presented and figure out what was underneath: he saw through the cold exterior of a Hapan Princess, and he can get past the bluster of a Corellian President.

    However, there was still the issue of a rather large, mostly operational, space station to deal with. “What do we do about Centerpoint?”

    Jacen sighed; he was really getting tired of dealing with the damned place. “I don’t know.” He admitted. “Obviously, my previous attempt was a fiasco.” Jacen looked at Isolder and the older man gave him a small smile. He shrugged and turned to look out the window behind him. “I’m more concerned about their other demands.”

    After taking a sip of tea, Isolder replied, “Publically, we can’t be seen to acquiesce to their demands. Privately, however, we can assure them that the Alliance will enact stricter auditing on the distribution of monies.” Jacen nodded thoughtfully as the Prince continued, “After the furor dies down, the Alliance can quietly let the individual systems assume more local control of Fleet activities in their sector. Turn it into more of a ‘Home Guard’; each system gets more of the day-to-day responsibility of manning and operating, Coruscant has final say in funding and retains strategic control in times of crisis.”

    Catching on to the plan, Jacen interjected, “And we do the same thing with the Army... we can treat it almost a militia. By applying it galaxy-wide, we are able to give in to their biggest concerns, without looking like we’ve caved in to their demands.”

    Isolder leaned back in his chair and gestured at the younger man with a wave of his right arm, clearly pleased with Jacen's conclusion. “Exactly.” He smiled. “When can you start selling this to Omas?”

    Jacen frowned, “Me? Oh, no. I’m just a Colonel in the Galactic Alliance Guard. I don’t have nearly enough clout.”

    His ‘father-in-law’ chuckled, “You were a Colonel. Now, you’re a lame duck.” He paused, thinking. Staring straight into Jacen’s eyes, Isolder’s tone turned serious. “You are currently one of the most admired men on Coruscant and the son of one of the most respected women in history. You can make this work. You ended the last war; you have the chance to prevent the next one.” He gave Jacen a knowing smile; “Imagine how you will look to the Ruling Council if you pull this off. They wouldn’t dare oppose such a selfless hero.”

    Jacen tried to glare at the older man, but it didn’t have any real malice behind it. He wanted to say that he didn’t give a damn what the Ruling Council thought of him but realized that Isolder would see it for the lie it was--Jacen knew that he could never be the Prince Consort unless the Council either approved of him or, barring that, at least was not opposed to the idea of a Jedi as Prince Consort. The more that he watched Allana grow up, the more Jacen desperately wanted to be on Hapes. As he sat down, he growled, “That’s pretty low.”

    Isolder only shrugged. “It is. This is the right thing to do, however.” He paused, and was going to say more when Jacen sprang to his feet, and looked in the direction of the main part of the palace, worry clearly etched on his face.

    Isolder noticed that the Jedi’s hand was in his pocket, probably fingering his lightsaber. As he got to his feet, he could see that Jacen’s eyes were closed and knew enough about the Force to know that the young man was communicating with his daughter. He also knew that Tenel Ka was quite capable, so for Jacen to be this worried…“Trouble?”

    Jacen seemed to be looking through the walls of the palace. He answered slowly, “Maybe.”

    That was all Isolder needed; rushing over to open the door, he motioned towards his son-in-law, “Go.” He could tell that the Jedi desperately wanted to help, but do so would undo all their secrecy of the last six years. Isolder stared into the younger man’s eyes, and commanded, “Go. Go help my daughter. We’ll figure out the rest later.” That seemed to be all Jacen needed, he nodded once and sprinted out of the door and down the hall.

    |
    O
    _____(___)_____


    Luke stood and started to pace, his frustration clearly visible. “He is using you, Your Majesty. You must see this.”

    Tenel Ka continued to glare at her former master. “Jacen has not asked me for so much as a credit in six years. The last thing that he asked of me was to borrow my Fourth Fleet.” She paused and let her tone turn cold, “Surely you remember that? You used it during the Killik Crisis.”

    Wincing at the jibe, Mara replied, “Jacen is becoming dangerous. Don’t his actions at Centerpoint and his roundup of ex-pat Corellians have you worried?”

    Struggling to remain calm, Tenel Ka kept her grey eyes fixed on the still pacing Luke Skywalker. “Centerpoint was a mission that you sent him on, was it not?” She allowed her voice to rise, “Is this your leadership style? Send your best out on a no-win mission and then blame him when it goes wrong?” Luke shot her an icy glare, and she replied with her most condescending tone, “I am sure Leia would be thrilled to know that you are blaming her son for your misreading of the Corellian situation.” Tenel Ka gave him the predatory ‘I have you now’ smirk that she usually reserved for a Ruling Council member that had committed herself to a position that was untenable. “Master Skywalker, I suggest that you leave the politics to those who are more suited to it.”

    Luke wheeled around and opened is mouth to retort, only to find the grey-eyed queen standing and staring slightly down at him as she continued her tirade, her voice becoming louder, “As for the ghettos: What is your solution? Your Order,” she emphasized the first word to make it clear that she was no longer considered part of the Jedi Order, “has not offered any ideas to solve the current crisis. You have not offered to protect the Corellians that are being attacked on Coruscant. You have not offered to mediate a solution.” She pointed at his chest as her voice reached a fevered pitch, “Either offer the Senate an alternate means to keep the peace, or…Shut. Up.” As Queen, she hated the politicians who only sat back and tried to sabotage the efforts of others.

    Mara jumped up at this. “Have a care, Queen Mother. Master Skywalker has always been a supporter of your regime, when he is under no obligation to do so.”

    “For which I have more than enumerated him for.” Tenel Ka shot back, still staring at Luke. Sensing Mara’s attempt to defuse the tension, she sat down and directed her gaze to the older woman. “However, I am more than grateful for all that you have done for me.”

    Despite himself, Luke was impressed with the red-haired queen’s ability to shift gears. Smiling, he replied, “You’re welcome.”

    Picking up his cue, Mara continued in a conciliatory tone. “I guess that we are concerned about your change of mind regarding our funding.”

    Answering carefully, “I received a call from Chief Organa-Solo this afternoon.” This was not strictly true, of course, but Leia had told Jacen to tell her so it was true that she had heard from Leia...indirectly. Inwardly, she smiled at the shock both Skywalkers were trying to hide. “Leia expressed her displeasure that neither of you told the Council that I was helping to fund the Order. In fact, she asked me point-blank to cease my funding, effective at the end of next month.” The Queen saw the quick look of concern that Mara shot her husband--clearly, they had not expected this development. “Additionally, we feel the money would be better spent in other areas.” She paused, mentally kicking herself for the ‘we’. “There are still billions of beings without homes. Hapes needs to do better.”

    “We?” Mara asked.

    Tenel Ka cringed; Mara had caught the verbal slip. Sighing, she answered. “Jacen and I had a conversation about refugee housing a few weeks ago.”

    Luke sat next to his wife and leaned forward, staring intently at the Queen Mother with his piercingly blue eyes. Calmly, he stated, “That just proves my point. Jacen is using your good intentions to cover his real goal. The destruction of the Jedi Order.” He continued to stare at the young queen as her eyes widened in shock. “Where do your loyalties lay, Tenel Ka?”

    The queen quickly recovered from her shock at being asked such a question. “My loyalties lie with my people and my daughter.” She leaned back in the chair, clearly dismissing his accusations, “And you are chasing shadows. I grow tired of your baseless attacks on my friend.”

    Luke had enough of her evasiveness. He was not some Hapan government flunky that she could dismiss at her whim. Standing, he shot back, “Your lover, you mean?” He knew that the timeline about Jacen being Allana’s father didn’t work; but he also knew that Tenel Ka wouldn’t sleep with just anyone, not for the purpose of having a daughter. Nothing else could explain the queen’s loyalty to her ‘friend’.

    Outraged, Tenel Ka started to stand, “How dare…”

    Frustrated with politics, himself, and the Queen Mother, Luke ‘Forced’ the red-haired queen back into the chair, forever altering his relationship with the Hapan Crown. “SIT. DOWN, Tenel Ka.”

    Her grey eyes narrowed in rage and was only vaguely aware that Mara had called warningly to her husband, “Luke…”

    Nobody manhandled the Queen Mother. Not even Jacen, at the height of his arrogance, treated her this way. As her former master kept her pinned to the chair, Tenel Ka lashed out with the Force. A crystal picture frame flew off of her desk and came whistling at the back of Luke’s head. Sensing the threat, Master Skywalker turned, igniting his lightsaber and neatly sliced the frame in half. As he did, Tenel Ka used a Force shove, hitting Luke in the back of the knees. His concentration wavered, and his hold on the Queen slackened. Tenel Ka shot to her feet, aware that Mara was doing so as well. Both women reached for their lightsabers, but Tenel Ka proved to be the quicker draw. As another snap-hiss echoed through the Throne Room, Tenel Ka hit Luke with another shove, this time aimed for his shoulders. Already off-balance, Luke collapsed to the floor, his lightsaber skittering across the parquet floor. Behind him the queen held her ‘saber at Mara’s throat. Through their meld, she could feel Jacen’s worry. She tried to tell him that she was unharmed, but she could feel him sprinting to her aid. Slow down. Come; but be careful. She could feel his doubt, but she had convinced him not to ruin their secret. The whole affair was over in just three seconds; three seconds that would alter the future of the Jedi Order.

    Hearing the distinctive sound of two lightsabers being lit, three guards burst into the room, all of them arriving in time to see Luke Skywalker thrown to the floor. Tenel Ka nodded fractionally to Captain Pärson; she should’ve known that the Army captain would not leave the job of protecting the Queen Mother to others. With the Force, she sent Luke’s lightsaber towards Captain Pärson, who deftly caught it.

    For a few moments, only the heavy breathing of all six of the room’s inhabitants and the hum of a turquoise lightsaber could be heard. Acutely aware of the lightsaber wavering at her throat, Mara tried her best to soothe an irate queen. “Tenel Ka…”

    The Queen Mother glared at the green-eyed Jedi Master. Still breathing heavily, she shouted: “GET. OUT.”

    Letting his hands be clearly visible, Luke tried to get to his feet, but stopped when he felt the lieutenant put his assault rifle against Luke’s neck. From his knees, he turned his head to look at Tenel Ka. “Queen Mother forgive…”

    As she continued to glare at Mara, the Queen used her iciest tone. “I said: Get. Out.” She paused, trying to calm her outrage, “You are both hereby banned from Hapan space. If you are not off of this planet in thirty minutes, I will have you arrested.” She caught the of eye of the young lieutenant, “Lieutenant--you and Corporal Ruud,” she nodded her head at the corporal behind her who had her weapon trained on Mara Jade-Skywalker, “will escort Masters Skywalker to their ship. Remain at the spaceport until they depart.” The lieutenant nodded.

    The tension in the room was almost overbearing. “Corporal? Disarm Master Jade, if you please.” Corporal Ruud took the lightsaber from the auburn-haired Jedi. “Hand it to the Captain.” As the corporal moved around the Queen Mother to hand over the weapon, Tenel Ka continued to glare at her one-time mentor, “I will have your lightsabers sent to the Jedi Temple via a courier. You now have thirty minutes to leave Hapes.” Mara gave the queen a small nod as Tenel Ka backed up a step to allow the older woman room to move. “Lieutenant, call me as soon as they are airborne.” Again, he nodded as he removed his weapon from Skywalker’s neck.

    In silence, both Jedi Masters proceeded to the door. Mara stopped and looked at her friend, “It wasn’t supposed to go this way,” she said sadly. Tenel Ka only gave her a nod as she left the room, her two guards trailing the pair out of the room.

    Her eyes fixed on the departing party, the queen called out to the head of the night watch, “Captain Pärson?”

    “Yes, Your Majesty?” The captain emphasized her title for the benefit of the departing Masters.

    “Call Fighter Command and have them launch the Alert fighters. I want the Jade Sabre under escort until it jumps into hyperspace.”

    “Yes, Your Majesty.” As the captain left her office to make the call from Anhaje’s office, Tenel Ka finally deactivated her lightsaber.

    Placing her infamous rancor tooth back into the pocket of her robe, Tenel Ka padded over to the windows behind her desk. Once there, she stood and peered out over the gardens taking several deep breaths as she tried desperately to stop the tears from coming.

    Her call to the Fighter Command operations desk completed, Captain Pärson re-entered the Throne Room and stopped--her boss was standing against the window, clearly distraught. Anja Pärson was torn: on one hand, she should leave the Queen Mother alone with her thoughts; Colonel Solo was probably on his way, and he would offer the proper comfort. On the other hand, Tenel Ka Djo had become a friend to all that protected her and she would never let one of her troops remain alone in such anguish. Her mind made up, she called quietly, “Your Majesty?” Seeing no acknowledgement, Anja slowly walked towards her boss, calling again as she did, “Queen Mother?” Again, there was no reply. Now within arms reach, the captain tentatively reached out and put her hand on the Queen Mother’s shoulder, acutely aware that touching her without her permission was a treasonable offense. Whispering, “Tenel Ka?”

    The queen turned slightly at the contact, her eyes red with restrained tears. “Are you alright?” Anja asked.

    Tenel Ka shook her head. “He was my teacher; she: my mentor. They taught me how to be a Jedi, and I drew my weapon on them.” Her bottom lip was trembling.

    Anja Pärson studied her boss, her friend, as she tried to find the right words. Shaking her head, “They insulted you.” Gesturing around the office, “Not the office of the Queen, but…you.” She paused, gently wiping her friend’s eyes with her thumb. “All of it: their disregard of Hapan Air Traffic regulations, their coming here at 0300, their insults of your…our…friend,” this garnered a hint of a smile from Tenel Ka. Jacen’s efforts to get the Palace staff to like him seemed to be working. “All of it is an insult to you as a person.” She smiled, “I would have had them arrested on the spot.”

    Her red-haired boss was about to reply when Jacen came running into the room. “Tenel…” he stopped, not wanting to intrude; this was not really his affair--he was only supposed to be a good friend. All of that changed the second Tenel Ka saw him. Practically sprinting at him, she threw herself into his arms and Jacen had a flashback to Cloud City as he embraced his love. Once safely ensconced, she finally allowed the tears to come as she buried her face into his neck.

    Anja quietly headed for the door to the apartment. As she reached the stairs, she took a quick look back to check on her boss and saw Jacen mouth a ‘Thank you’ as he placed his head against the Queen Mother’s, content to let her sob into his shoulder. Captain Pärson, realizing her Queen and friend was were she needed to be, nodded and headed up the stairs.

    |
    O
    _____(___)_____


    Neither one of them said a word as Mara performed an accelerated preflight to get them out of Hapan space in the required time. After they had cleared the atmosphere, Luke was the first to break their silence. “Mara…”

    Mara glared at her husband in the reflection off the cockpit windscreen. “Not. Another. Word. Farmboy.” She looked down to check her course. Looking over at him this time, “Your arrogance cost more than a few credits. We will have lost the respect of an entire generation of Jedi with your heavy-handed actions.” He looked at her quizzically; he doubted that Tenel Ka had much contact with many of the Jedi. Mara saw his look and answered, “They are going to find out because I am going to tell them. So, sit down and shut up.”

    Luke nodded; he had handled this badly. Corran, Mara, Kenth; they were all correct. He had turned this into a power play and had been burned. Did he really think that he could ‘maneuver’ the Queen Mother? She had been schooled in politics from the time she could talk, and he expected to just waltz in and get his way? As he lowered his head, he asked quietly, “Where are we headed?” He really had no desire to go back to the Temple just yet.

    Mara replied icily, “Dagobah.” Luke jerked his head up. She continued, “Since that seems to be your locale of choice for those who screw up; you and I are going to spend some time with the snakes on Dagobah.”

    |
    O
    _____(___)_____

    After Captain Pärson left, Jacen contented himself with stroking Tenel Ka’s shoulder-length red hair as she regained control of her emotions. Without looking up, she explained, “They forced me to choose: you or the Order.”

    Jacen grimaced as he nodded. “I know.” He had hoped that Masters Skywalker would not put his best friend in such an awkward predicament. Apparently they were more upset than he had thought them to be.

    The red-haired queen took a step back, “What are you doing on Coruscant?” She demanded. “Why don’t they trust you? Whose side are you on?”

    Jacen’s eyes narrowed as he felt his ire rise. The galaxy was threatening to tear itself apart, and she wanted to know which side he was on? There were no sides in this; it was going to turn into a mêlée; was he the only one that could see the coming disaster? He opened his mouth to retort; he was going to rant about being on the side of peace. Before he could start, he saw the raw emotion in her eyes and closed his mouth. He could see, and feel, her anger--she was livid at what Luke had said and done; she was frustrated that she had allowed Jacen and Leia to use her money as leverage to change the Jedi’s ways, but he also saw something else: underneath it all, he could feel her loneliness. His best friend was tired of needing to be strong all of the time; she wanted reassurance that someone was in her corner. Jacen’s ire disappeared as he took her hand. “Yours.” He offered softly, hoping that she would see his words for what they were: unconditional trust. “I’ve always been on your side.”

    Tenel Ka stood stunned for a second. She had been expecting empty platitudes, or over-the-top promises. Instead, he gave her naked honesty; through their link she could feel the truth in what he had said. To be fair, he had had a lousy way of showing it recently, but he always backed her up. She wanted nothing more than to return to his embrace. But first…her hand moved with lightning speed, catching him across the left cheek: the CRACK resonating through the Throne Room. Harshly, she yelled, “Than act like it. You have become distant from me.”

    Jacen cringed at the slap, but otherwise displayed no reaction. He replied in a calm voice, irritating her further. “True.” He agreed. “And you’ve been keeping me at arm’s reach ever since the attack on Allana.”

    She glared at him for a second, but it did not have much anger behind it. Dropping her gaze, she realized that he was right. She had been maintaining a ‘safe’ distance from him--she only accepted every third offer he made to visit Hapes, and she could not remember the last time she had called him. It occurred to Tenel Ka that she would be appalled if she were to learn that Allana was treating a friend in this manner; yet she herself had been treating the only man she had ever loved horribly. “You are right. I have been.” She looked back up into his face, and poured her love for him into their bond. “I am sorry.”

    Jacen smiled warmly as he kissed her hand. “Me too.” Still holding her hand, he dragged her over to the loveseat and started to explain his actions on Coruscant. “Corellians were not always the aggressors; they were being attacked, threatened, even killed.” He took a deep breath as he watched her sit next to him. “Coruscanti PD seemed unable to stop the violence, and I felt the need to do something.” Shaking his head sadly, “Nobody else seemed to have any other ideas, and we needed to be able to keep the Corellians, and everyone else from harm.”

    As Tenel Ka snuggled against his right side, she shot him a knowing look, “I told Master Skywalker the same thing. I told him, ‘either offer a different solution, or shut up.’”

    Jacen raised an eyebrow at her, honored that she had stuck up for him when it was evident that she did not really agree with his methods. As the both looked at themselves in the reflection in one of the big windows behind her desk, she asked him quietly, “Do you regret doing it?”

    Jacen started absently running his hands through her hair, “No.” He felt her wince. “It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, and it has stopped most of the violence against the Corellians.” He paused slightly. “I do regret that it has lasted this long. I wish that I hadn’t kept talking myself out of lifting the ban.” Raising her head off his shoulder, she looked at him quizzically. She had almost forgotten about the Jacen that wrestled constantly with doing the right thing, and she found that she had missed him desperately. What most saw as indecisiveness, she saw as dedication to getting it right. Grimacing at her quizzical look, he continued, “No, what I regret most is agreeing to head up the GAG.”

    She said nothing in reply and put her head back on his shoulder. After a long while, Tenel Ka finally checked her chrono and winced. Standing, “We should go back to bed, it is after 4:00.” Jacen nodded and started to follow her up the stairs to the apartment.

    Halfway up the flight of stairs, Jacen joked, “Her dress wasn’t that scandalous, you know.” Referring to the blue sequin dress that Gorah Dibbon had worn to the fundraiser the week prior. The fundraiser that apparently caused the Queen Mother quite a bit of anguish.

    Tenel Ka stopped abruptly. She had forgotten that their link had been open for the entire evening. She turned on the stair to look at Jacen, and found that she was now slightly taller, what with him being a step lower. As her eyes searched his, she asked quietly, “Why did you not tell me how you felt about my formal parties?”

    Taking her hand, Jacen smiled warmly as he explained, “You are required to go to these events, and I knew you would come to resent my petty jealousies.” He smiled, “Besides, when I was explaining to a friend the reason that I take a date to those things is so that the press will pay attention to her rather than me, it dawned on me that you were probably doing the same thing.”

    The Queen Mother reflected that she still had much to learn from Jacen Solo. Leaning forward, she gave him a long kiss. “Thank you, Jacen.” He said nothing and smiled, watching as she turned and lead the way up the stairs. “So, tell me about this date with Ms. Gibbon.”

    He chuckled as he followed her. “Oddly, her publicist called me…”

    |
    O
    _____(___)_____

    After the Jade Sabre completed its jump into hyperspace, Luke got up and headed aft. “I’ll be meditating. Wake me if you need anything.” Mara only nodded as she watched him leave.

    When the cockpit door closed, Mara hit the armrest of her seat in frustration. Luke had clearly bitten off more than he could chew, and he had gone against the advise of the remaining Masters. His friends had told him to leave this be--that Tenel Ka was not someone to try to strong arm. Luke had forced Tenel Ka’s hand; forced her to choose between the Jedi Order and her best friend. The strange thing was that Mara was not even disappointed with the Queen Mother’s decision. If someone would have given her the same ultimatum: Luke or the Order, Mara would not have given the Order a second thought and why Luke thought that Tenel Ka would be any different was beyond her comprehension. Sighing, she got up and took the three steps to the comm suite and tried to contact the Temple.

    Unsurprisingly, Corran Horn answered the call. “Afternoon Mara.” He greeted, unconsciously giving her an idea of the time on Coruscant. Seeing her resigned look, he asked warily, “It went badly?”

    Mara looked down at the desk as she ran both hands through her hair and let out a deep breath. Looking back at Corran, she explained. “He Forced her into a chair.” Corran’s jaw dropped as she continued, “He pursued the ‘us or him’ tactic that we warned him not to, and then he got personal. He accused her of sleeping with Jacen.”

    Corran let a confused look cross his face. “Which they probably…”

    Mara held up her hand, stopping his comment as she growled, “Tenel Ka is the Queen Mother; one does NOT accuse the Queen Mother of indiscretions.” Hanging her head, she continued, “And so what if they are: they are both thirty.” She stood up and started to pace, clearly agitated. “He Forced her into a chair, Corran. Our biggest ally, and he treated her like she was still fourteen.” She stopped pacing and again ran her hands through her hair.

    Corran waited for his friend to calm down and sit before he asked, “What’s the plan now?”

    “You have the wheel for now. WE are going to head to Dagobah to dwell on this.” Corran gave her a nod of understanding. “I’d like you to tell everyone at the Temple what Luke did this evening. I want all to know that even Luke Skywalker loses his temper.”

    Again, Corran nodded and smiled sagely, “Sometimes being humiliated is the best way to learn.”

    Mara finally allowed a small smile. Trust Corran to be able to defuse tensions. “Oh, one more thing. Try to get in touch with Leia; we need her back.”

    The former CorSec officer only grinned, “Already done. I’m having lunch with her and Han tomorrow.”

    Mara smiled at that; only a Corellian could be so conniving. Winking at her friend, “Thanks Corran.”

    Corran Horn only smiled as he disconnected the call.

    T
    _________|_________
    O O(___)O O

    A/N: I want to reiterate that I'm not trying to make Luke look like a tyrant. However, even JediMaster's get angry and feel betrayed. His 'Forcing' someone into a chair is not without precedent. ***digs bomb shelter and awaits another WWI-style artillery barrage.***
    Last edited by SiouxFan, May 12, 2013
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  11. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Enjoyed the continued frankness between Jacen and TK. :) Let me say for anyone keeping a record [face_laugh] that I love! your Mara. Very, very much. Woot! If Ms. Awesome were running the Jedi Order, :p we wouldn't be in this fine pickle of a mess. :rolleyes:

    =D=
    Last edited by Jade_eyes, May 10, 2013
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  12. Asajj_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 2004
    star 1
    Holy crap! Is Luke suffering from Irritable Male Syndrome? I just can't see Luke doing something that foolish. If Mara knew he was that pissed off she should have went to Hapes alone. None of this good cop / bad cop bull. Just send in the good cop. Mara as a female (even though she is a skilled assassin) would have been less intimidating and confrontational than a male Grand Master. Luke looked like a misogynistic ass. Wow...I don't know what to say. He came off almost like a batterer. If I was the Queen I would have used that lightsaber to 'bobbetize' a certain farmboy. Of course that would probably put a damper on any L/M love scenes I hoped to read.
    Last edited by Asajj_Kenobi, May 10, 2013
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  13. EmeraldJediFire Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2012
    star 4
    Okay I'm making headway slowly.
    SiouxFan likes this.
  14. SiouxFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2012
    star 3
    Mara was always my favorite of the two--and I agree: Mara and Leia could have done a better job. Ms. Awesome...[face_laugh]

    Because Hapes is a maternal society, Tenel Ka's been dealing with women who are trying to 'maneuver' the Crown all of her life so I think Mara going by herself would've been seen as more threatening not less. I think Luke feels betrayed that two of his best students are trying to 'take down' the Order he spend his life to build. Again, my goal is NOT to portray Luke as a jerk--I'm trying to keep with the theme of 'incomplete information leads to bad decisions' theme from LotF; that once we form an opinion it is awfully hard to get ourselves out of it. I'll admit that I've probably lost a bunch of readers with this last chapter, but I don't think Luke would have gotten out of his 'us versus them' mentality without some sort of push.
  15. Asajj_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 2004
    star 1
    Yeah...you probably lost some readers due to that last scene with Tenel Ka. The only thing missing was Luke wearing a wife-beater T-shirt.

    He is a Jedi Master...he should control himself and be smart. He needs Hapan funding. Therefore no matter how pissed off he gets he needs to put himself and the Jedi order in a good light and hope the Queen changes her mind. And if he thinks Jacen is bumping uglies with the Queen he should use that to his advantage by softening his tone about Jacen. You don't throw it in her face like she is expected to be a virgin until married. Wasn't it this story where he gets on Corran for Valin knocking up women? It is wrong, but I don't think you need to throw it in Corran's face. That was immature.

    I spent years living with a verbally abusive alcoholic that acted just like Luke is now. Maybe it just touched a nerve.

    Good luck with this story. I hope you find a way to repair what the EU did to my favorite characters.
  16. SiouxFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2012
    star 3
    Oh well. Here's the thing with Luke in this scene--he does this same thing to Jacen in LotF so it's not without precedent. Even Luke can get mad.

    It was actually Leia pointing it out to Corran--I wanted a way to show that we all focus on others problems more than our own at times. Corran was commenting that Jacen was 'out of control' when his own son has issues.

    I apologize if I brought up bad memories with this scene--I did not mean for Luke to appear abusive, just angry.

    As an aside, we've gotten past most of the 'rough road' now--everything from here on out is trying to fix the rest of the mess of LotF.
  17. Asajj_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 4, 2004
    star 1
    If he did it to Jacen, Corran or Kam I probably wouldn't bat an eye. But he did it to a woman. I was always taught you shouldn't hit a woman and although Luke didn't physically touch her he restrained her with the Force. In my mind he became a batter right at that moment. I just can't watch Luke abusing women. The story is well written and has a good plot, but I think the characterization of Luke is beyond what I can tolerate.

    I wish you well with the story.
  18. SiouxFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2012
    star 3
    I understand. Thank you for reading and for your comments. Again, my apologies for bringing up horrible memories as that was not my intention.
  19. stormtrooptk421 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 13, 2012
    Great update. That Luke... next he'll be whining about picking up power converters.
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  20. SiouxFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2012
    star 3
    @Jade_eyes, @stormtrooptk421, @Ceillean


    Chapter 18

    Isolder awoke at 0645, he had the weekly Defence Forces Status briefing to attend, and he needed time to wake Allana and fix breakfast for the two of them. Walking into ‘Allana’s’ bedroom, he noticed the empty bed. Frowning, he turned back into the hallway, calling out, “Allana?” Hearing her reply come from direction of the study, he made his way down to the room where he saw his granddaughter staring intently at one of the holos of her mother hanging on the wall. Kindly, he asked, “What are you looking at ‘Lana?”

    Not taking her eyes off of the holo, she shrugged and replied nonchalantly, “Mommy.” Finally, she turned to look at her grandfather, “Papa, how old is this picture?”

    Standing next to the red-haired girl, he took her hand and smiled at the holo; Leia had sent it to him years ago, and it had quickly become his favorite picture of Tenel Ka. It was taken on an apparently warm day, judging from the summer apparel of the two subjects, on a lakeshore whose locale he had long forgotten. Jacen was sitting in profile, his back against a rock while Tenel Ka was leaning against a different rock and sitting perpendicularly to Jacen, her long legs draped across his with both of her feet sitting in the water. One of Jacen’s arms was captured in mid-gesture; whatever they had been discussing was causing the young man to become quite animated. But it was the look on his daughter’s face that was the reason this holo was his favorite. She was smiling at Jacen, and the sparkle in her eyes was unmistakable.

    More than anything else, her smile was proof to Isolder that his daughter had rejected what her grandmother and, to a lesser extent, her mother tried to teach her. They both taught that there was no need for love, that sex was impersonal. He tried to teach his daughter that it was okay to love. He told her that sex was better when you truly liked, and respected the other person. This holo told him that Tenel Ka preferred his views on the matter.

    Shaking his head from his reverie, Isolder answered Allana’s question. “Wow. Your mother is sixteen, maybe seventeen in this picture, so that means it is…” He paused, doing the math. “…fourteen, fifteen years old.”

    Allana’s mouth dropped. “Wow, she’s known Jedi Jacen a long time.” Isolder chuckled as she paused, pursing her lips. “Did she always love Jedi Jacen?”

    Isolder looked at her quizzically, “What makes you think that she does?”

    Allana only scowled at her grandfather, “Because she only smiles like that for Jedi Jacen. Her eyes used to sparkle like that when he visited,” her tone turned somber, “but not lately.”

    The Crown Prince sighed sadly; Allana had noticed the growing gulf as well. “No, not lately.” He paused, trying to find a way to answer her question. “However, I suspect that she has loved Jacen for a long time.”

    “Does he love Mommy?”

    Thinking back to last night’s conversation, Isolder answered warmly, “Yes. He loves her very much.”

    At this, Allana nodded, apparently satisfied with the outcome of their conversation. “Good. That means that Jacen is my daddy.”

    Isolder coughed, trying to hide his shock at her coming to this conclusion. “What?”

    Even at five, Allana noticed that her grandfather didn’t deny it. She smiled knowingly at Isolder, “Because when two people love each other, they have a baby. That’s me.” Her grey-ish eyes bored into his light blue ones. “Ms. Danni told me that Mommy has always liked brown eyes better, and Jacen is the only man Mommy talks to who has brown eyes. That means: he is my daddy.”

    Prince Isolder, the acting Crown Prince of the Hapes Consortium, the civilian head of the third-largest Navy in the galaxy, was knocked speechless; defeated soundly in a debate by an astute five-year-old. Not knowing what else to say, and not wanting to lie to his granddaughter, he asked, “What does the Force tell you?” He knew that his daughter was teaching Allana how to use the Force to get a feel for the truth in an argument and he hoped that she could apply the skill here.

    The red-haired girl closed her eyes, and started to chew her bottom lip in concentration. After about ten seconds, she opened her eyes. “I sense no lies in my statement.”

    Isolder could only laugh at her mannerisms, Teneniel would be proud of her granddaughter’s declaration. Scooping her up and giving her a big hug, he chuckled and tried his best Yoda impersonation, “Your father he is.” Allana only rolled her eyes at the attempt. As he kissed her forehead, he asked, “Let’s keep our secret for now, okay?” Seeing her confused look, “That way, you can surprise Jedi Jacen on his life-day by calling him, ‘Daddy’. You’ll only have to wait a month or so, okay?”

    “Okay!” She gave Isolder another big hug as he carried her out of the apartment. “Thank you Papa.”

    He kissed her head again. “That’s what I’m here for.”

    |
    O
    _____(___)_____


    As the weekly defence meeting was breaking up, Tenel Ka noticed that her father loitering behind in her office, and scowled as she did so; usually, if he had anything to discuss, he would simply meet her on her patio and wait for her to finish talking ‘offline’ with the other service chiefs that wanted to catch her ear. After she had finished her conversation with her head of Fighter Command about where to base the new fighter-bomber that was only now starting to be flight-tested, she walked over to her sitting area, where Isolder was camped out on the loveseat.

    As she leaned on the back of one of the wingback chairs, her father leaned forward, an earnest look on his face. “Your Majesty, there are two things we need to discuss.” he started simpy. Now Tenel Ka was worried; her father never called her that when they were alone. “Firstly, why am I still in this office?”

    Tenel Ka looked at him confusedly, “You are free to go. I assumed…”

    Her father laughed, shaking his head. “Good one.” Tenel Ka was rapidly becoming more confused; she had not told a joke. “No, why am I still part of the military chain of command?”

    His statement didn’t really clarify anything; she still didn’t know what he was getting at. “Father, it is a Constitutional requirement. We can remove the stipulation that it be the Prince…”

    “No.” Pointing his finger at her, Isolder glared at her as only a father can. “Stop being coy. Why am I still holding this position?” He paused slightly, seeing the comprehension finally dawn on her face. He continued as he pointed in the general direction of her residence, “Right now, in your apartment, is a man who loves you very much and deserves to be Prince Consort. Why is he not?”

    Tenel Ka lowered her head and rested it on her forearm for a moment. Finally, she looked up, “It is…complicated.”

    Isolder raised one eyebrow. “I married a Dathomiri witch. I doubt that it gets much more complicated than that.”

    “And look what happened to her,” she retorted angrily. “This place killed her. I will not do that to Jacen.”

    “We both know that it was not the job that killed your mother.” Her father snapped back--they both knew who was behind Teneniel’s death. He paused, trying to calm himself down. “Surely you noticed it. The day my mother died? That was the same day that Hapes started improving.”

    T
    _________|_________
    O O(___)O O

    Five years previous…

    After a cursory search by an apologetic Royal guardsman—centuries of Royal protocol dictated that the Queen Mother be searched for weapons when in the same room as her predecessor--Tenel Ka was finally allowed to join her father in her grandmother’s hospital room, the Crown Prince saying nothing as she stood next to him. In an eerie sense of déjà vu, her father put his arm around his daughter squeezing her to him as she placed her head on his shoulder; it was in this same hospital room that seven years earlier the two of them stood side-by-side looking down at a very ill Teneniel Djo. In that instance, the two of them were almost overcome by grief; this time, the best the two of them could do was grim acceptance.

    Still looking at Ta’a Chume as she lie unresponsive on her bed, Tenel Ka tried to sound remorseful, “The doctor’s said she might not recover.”

    Isolder nodded sadly, “Strokes like the one she had are tough to come back from.” Her father’s tone sounded a little more down than hers, it was his mother, after all; but she remembering him sounding more depressed when they had to flush her ghost-fish away all those years ago. Standing up straight, he removed his arm from around his daughter, “At least she was able to throw one last party for her great-granddaughter.”

    Tenel Ka nodded once; anyone listening would assume that Isolder was referring to the small party held in celebration of Allana’s birth not too long ago—only the two of them would know that he was really referring to the Gorog’s attack on Allana. Smiling sadly in reply, Tenel Ka replied, “Yes, she did.”

    Tenel Ka’s spies might not be as prevalent in the Palace as her grandmother’s, but she was a Jedi and Jacen’s leaving Hapes shortly before Ta’a Chume was discovered in that mud bath was proof enough that he learned something and had done something about it. The young Queen supposed that she should be horrified that her best friend would do this to her grandmother, but could not really summon the necessary rage. Allana was far safer now, and for that, she was grateful.

    Isolder said nothing as he took his daughter’s hand, and the two of them stood by the old woman’s bedside for a while more, both contemplating how it had come to this.

    After several minutes, Tenel Ka gave her father’s hand an affectionate squeeze before releasing it; “I’ll leave you two alone for a while.” Her father nodded once and she could feel his overwhelming loneliness; except for her, everyone else in his immediate family was either dead or comatose. “Would you like me to join you for dinner?” Again, he simply nodded. Kissing his cheek, she quietly continued, “I will return in a few hours.”

    Not until she had made it back to her own bedroom did she slip the small, empty vial he had passed her from her sleeve to take a look at what it used to contain: succinylcholine. Staring at the empty vial for a long second, she peeled off the small label, placed the vial on the tile floor of her bathroom, stomped on it with heel of her boot, swept the glass into her trashcan and burned the label in the flame of one her aroma candles.

    Early the next morning, her father called from the hospital to inform her that Ta’a Chume had died of cardiac arrest, but that the doctors said it was doubtful that she felt any pain.

    T
    _________|_________
    O O(___)O O


    Tenel Ka saw the sadness in her father’s face; he suddenly looked…old. As he focused his eyes back on his daughter, she could see the pain and guilt etched in his eyes. “A child should never say this of his mother, but I am relieved that she is dead.” He stopped for a moment, clearly still haunted by a woman who had been dead for almost five years. Isolder looked at his daughter again, “What are you afraid of?”

    Tenel Ka straightened and gave her father the iciest stare she could muster. I am afraid of nothing. She wanted to say it, she really did. But, she could not. Instead, she looked down and whispered, “I am afraid he will leave me again.”

    Isolder nodded in understanding. Rising from the loveseat, he walked over and took her hand, “Did it ever occur to you that he left because you did not ask him to stay?”

    Her shoulders slumped in defeat. “Yes.” she whispered.

    Her father placed his hand on her chin and forced her to look at him in the eye. “Do you love him?”

    Tenel Ka’s grey eyes scrunched together, “Of course.” She paused slightly, “But the Ruling….”

    Prince Isolder dropped her hand and threw his arms up in disgust. As he paced angrily around her office, he started to rant. “I don’t give a damn what the Council thinks. Jacen left the GAG…” he stopped and gave his daughter a withering look, “…for you. I know it,” he started gesturing wildly, “Gadell knows it, Anhaje knows it…even Leia knows it.” He pointed at her chest, “Why don’t you know it?” He paused, letting that sink in. “You know that the remaining nobles on the Ruling Council would not dare oppose Jacen Solo as your Consort; you are not in the same position as you were ten years ago.” Isolder pointed out the window, “This time you have the public on your side. They know how lonely you’ve been for the last ten years. They all believe that you deserve a little happiness.” With this comment, Tenel Ka at last learned who had been leaking small tidbits about Jacen’s visits to the press.

    Isolder started to yell, and Tenel Ka could not remember the last time he had yelled at her. “What more do you want? Jacen is practically screaming at you: ‘I’ve given everything up…for you. Please make me your Prince.’” Isolder stopped directly in front of her, fire in his eyes and only her iron will kept her from recoiling at the look of disgust on her father’s face. “Stop. Stop treating him this way.” He started punching his palm with his other fist. “Stop. Being. Jaina.”

    The Queen Mother reacted as if she’d been punched in the solar plexus, all of the air rushing out of her lungs. Between the meeting with Luke and Mara last night and her father yelling at her today, her self-esteem had taken a severe beating. Her bottom lip was trembling as she fought desperately to control her emotions. As she continued to look at her father, she admitted quietly, “I do not know why he stays.”

    Isolder pulled her into a warm embrace and felt her put her head on his shoulder, “Jacen stays because he loves you. Don’t make him wait much longer.”

    Nodding, she released him from their embrace and backed up a step. “What is topic two?”

    Isolder gave a snort as he marveled at her ability to shift gears so quickly. “Mister Solo and I discussed a plan to get out of this mess with the Corellians.” Seeing her quizzical look, he proceeded to tell her about the discussion he had with Jacen earlier that morning.

    After he had finished, she backed up and leaned against her desk, analyzing the plan, looking for any obvious flaws. Still lost in thought, she asked, “Do you think Pellaeon will back the idea?”

    Her father nodded as he sat on the arm of the couch. “I do. Pellaeon is an admirable man and I do not think that he will pass up an idea that could save many lives.” He paused, rubbing his chin; “I also think that Solo will be able to get tacit approval from Omas. Cal is too pragmatic to let this opportunity slip away.”

    She nodded absently, still contemplating the plan. “Was this truly his idea, or are you just selling it as such, knowing I’d be more likely to go along with it?”

    There were times, like right now, when his daughter acted an awfully lot like her mother. A fresh wave of loneliness washed over him as he looked over at his daughter. To be fair, Teneniel was not the most affectionate of women, and he did not want to think about how many times she used his current apartment, but he still missed her dearly. She would be proud of the Queen that Tenel Ka had become. Staring out the window, lost in his reverie, he answered truthfully, “I have had thoughts along a similar line.” Isolder looked his daughter earnestly, “But Jacen did most of the talking last night after I asked a rather pointed question.” He shrugged at his admission. “My only contribution was the idea for more local control of the Navy.” He stood and stepped closer, getting her attention. With an amused tone he explained further, “You should have seen him. He was pacing back and forth in my dining room; clearly excited to be talking policy.”

    Tenel Ka smirked at the mental image. She remembered how excited Jacen got when he was truly wrapped up in a topic, at how he always seemed to think better when moving around. The Queen shook her head as her father continued in a serious tone. “He has given this a lot of thought. He seems to know where the Corellian’s are weakest politically, and he is trying to use that to get them to realize that this secession plan of theirs is pure folly.” Isolder smiled slightly and his tone became contemplative, “His mother would be proud of him. I’m proud of him.” There was nobody, Tenel Ka knew, that her father held in higher esteem then Leia Organa Solo. For him to say that Jacen’s plan would impress Leia, and that he himself was impressed, was rare praise indeed.

    Tenel Ka bit her lip as she continued to mull over the plan. She glanced at her father out of the corner of her eyes, “What do you think our chances of success are?”

    Isolder fixed a proud gaze on his daughter, sensing her inner conflict: she desperately wanted to okay this plan, as it would give her the chance to boast to all the idiot nobles how Jacen Solo had once again saved the galaxy. However, she would not send her diplomats out on a fool’s errand. With a half-shrug, he answered, “Sixty, sixty-five percent. It really depends on the amount of pressure their Parliament can put on Gejjen to accept a deal.”

    After a moment, she turned to her father, her mind made up. “We, Pellaeon and I, will look like idiots if these talks fail.”

    He shook his head as he stood up straight. “I disagree. If we stick to reasonable demands, we can state to the rest of the galaxy that Gejjen is NOT interested in peace, he is only interested in rabble-rousing and war-mongering.”

    Her gaze turned cold, “If these plans fail, Jacen is NOT to be blamed.”

    The older man chuckled at his daughter’s protectiveness. “No. If they go south, I will take ownership of the plan.”

    At that, Tenel Ka smiled at her father and nodded her assent. “What time is your conference call with Admiral Pellaeon?” She knew her father well enough to know that he had already put this plan in motion; he was merely using her as a sounding board to make sure that they had most of the bugs worked out.

    Isolder smiled, “One o’clock.”

    The red-haired queen nodded again and walked around the desk to pick up her comlink. “I will have Minister Xana’a here at two to get External Affairs in on the details.”

    Isolder bowed formally and made his way to the door, “As you wish, your highness.”

    Tenel Ka only shook her head as she made picked up her comlink to call the Foreign Minister.

    |
    O
    _____(___)_____


    “You will have to start the discussions. Admiral Pellaeon is not particularly fond of me at the moment.” Jacen mentioned off-handedly as he and Isolder entered the Prince’s office later that afternoon.

    Giving the younger man a knowing look, he commented wryly; “So I’ve heard.” His voice hardened, “For the record, you were starting to act like your grandfather.”

    Jacen sighed sadly as he stood out of the range of the video pick-up for the holoprojector. “I know.”

    Suddenly, the holo-image of Grand Admiral Gilad Pellaeon sitting in a wingback chair flickered into reality. “Prince Isolder, greetings!” The stately head of the Imperial Remnant, dressed in his resplendent white admiral’s uniform, smiled warmly at Isolder.

    Isolder returned the smile, bowing slightly. “And to you Gilad.”

    “Thank you. Before we begin, I’ve heard that the Consortium is interested in joining our fleet exercises with the Chiss.” Isolder merely nodded, and the Admiral continued, “We would be delighted to have you join us. Our ground forces will also be holding joint exercises, with one being held next summer. Would you be interested in joining those as well?”

    Isolder smiled, “Most assuredly. I will have our Army Chief contact yours.” He replied, scribbling a note to himself.

    The older man nodded. “Excellent.” He eyed Isolder appraisingly, “So what sort of negotiations do you have in mind with the Corellians?”

    “For that, I will bring in one of my daughter’s friends. Most of this is his idea.” Jacen noticed that Isoloder did not mention that he had to ask a very loaded question to get the idea out of the young man.

    Pellaeon scowled, “Why would a Jedi need Imperial help?”

    The blonde prince glanced at Jacen and shook his head, chuckling, “I am not entirely sure that he still is a Jedi.” With that, Isolder activated Jacen’s holo-transmitter.

    After the transmitter’s status indicator turned green, Jacen stepped into the range of the camera and bowed respectively towards the Imperial head-of-state. “Admiral Pellaeon.”

    For a moment, Jacen thought that the Admiral was going to terminate their connection. Instead, still glaring at the young man, he icily returned the formalities. “Colonel Solo.” He emphasized Jacen’s title, clearly making it known that he did not think it a rank that had been earned.

    Prince Isolder jumped in to ensure that the conversation remained civil. “Gilad, please hear the young man out. You will find out in the next day or two that our young Mister Solo has had a change of heart.” There was no mistaking Isolder’s emphasis of the civilian title.

    The white-haired gentlemen continued to glare at Jacen. “Really? Do tell.”

    Again, the Hapan answered, “I think not. You would be better served finding out from your sources.”

    The Grand Admiral shot Isolder a hardened look. “As you wish.” He turned his glare back to Jacen. “Okay, Solo, what is this plan of yours?”

    Jacen grimaced at the animosity coming from Bastion. He had always liked and respected the Grand Admiral, and it pained him to know how far he had fallen in Pellaeon’s eyes. Mentally chiding himself, he laid out the plan in full detail.

    The Imperial Navy man’s glare softened as he digested the plan. “A solid plan.” Stroking his mustache thoughtfully, he continued, “The GFFA has more clout, though. Why aren’t you and Coruscant heading this instead of the Hapans and us?”

    Jacen visibly slumped, “After my debacle at Centerpoint, there is no way that anyone on Corellia would talk to an Alliance representative, let alone myself.”

    Giving him an appraising look, Pellaeon asked. “So, what is in this for the Consortium and us? This will take some serious diplomatic skill.”

    Jacen smiled and glanced at the Prince, they had cleared the first hurdle: Gilad Pellaeon’s distrust of Jacen Solo. Now it was a matter of selling the plan itself.

    Isolder answered before Jacen could. “I believe that this is a chance for both of us to assert ourselves.” He gave the older man a disarming smile, “We can prove that we are able to punch out of our weight class and broker a peace.”

    The greying Admiral chuckled at the pugilist analogy. “Well put.” His face turned serious. “If it fails, we will look like fools.”

    Jacen jumped in before Isolder could reply, “No.” Behind him, he heard the door to Isolder’s office open and close. “If this goes badly, I will take the blame.” He grimaced as he heard Tenel Ka’s small gasp from behind him. “It gives both of you political cover: the Queen Mother can say that she went along because of her respect for a close friend.” Through their link, Jacen could feel her disapproval of his argument. “You can maintain that you went along with my plan because of your high regard for my mother.” Sighing, he continued, “Many see me as a border-line thug anyway, so it won’t surprise anyone that I tried to strong-arm my friends.”

    On Bastion, Gilad Pellaeon was impressed despite himself. Maybe Jacen Solo was starting to live up to the high standards that his parents had set. Still, he had other questions. “And get the credit if this succeeds?”

    “No.” The younger man replied, shaking his head. “The Remnant and the Consortium have much more to gain if you share the credit for this.” Jacen’s tone saddened, “I helped end one war, and all it brought me was grief.”

    Standing at the back of the room, Tenel Ka could feel his pain through their link. Danni Quee’s comment from earlier popped into her head: ‘We both had been through so much, Jacen especially.’ She sent as much understanding through their link as she could.

    Pellaeon looked at the younger man with understanding. He knew, more than most, how unappreciated you could feel sometimes when doing what you thought was best. “Will Omas play along?”

    Jacen merely shrugged, unsure how to answer. “I don’t think that Omas is fool enough to turn off a deal that could save his career.” Cocking his head to one side, “I’ve got a meeting scheduled with the Secretary of State and Admiral Niathal in two days to try to get their buy-in.” Scowling, he added, “Niathal will be the harder sell. If I can get her, Omas will give us tacit approval.”

    Tenel Ka caught the amused ‘I told you so’ glance that her father sent her. Jacen was quite good at this. Trying to hide a smirk, she saw that the Admiral, too, was impressed with the young man.

    Smiling slightly, Pellaeon replied, “I agree.” He paused meaningfully, “Keep us advised.”

    Nodding, “I will. I’ll probably call you separately, though. A conference call is just asking for an intercept.”

    “Indeed. Your Majesty, is a week enough time to get your team up to speed?”

    Tenel Ka saw that Pellaeon was not looking at her father; he was looking in her general direction. She shook her head, amused, as she activated the holo-transceiver in front of her. Thinking quickly about what needed to be done to prep her negotiator, she nodded. “That would be sufficient.”

    Gilad smiled at her phraseology. “Very good. I’ll have my person be on Hapes in one week’s time, then.” He gave Jacen a meaningful look, “Please make sure they are aware of the type of ship she’ll be flying.”

    Jacen grinned, catching on to the identity of Pellaeon’s chief negotiator. “I’ll do that.”

    After closing the transmission, Isolder grimaced at the frustrated look that his daughter was aiming at Colonel Solo. Not wanting to get in the middle of whatever spat they were going to have, he quietly took his leave from his office.

    Jacen sighed as he fiddled with the holoprojector, not even bothering to turn around. He did not need the Force to sense her displeasure as he could almost feel her glare boring into the back of his head. “You disapprove of my taking the blame if this doesn’t work?”

    Tenel Ka crossed her arm in front of her and shifted her weight to her right leg, as she waited for him to turn around. Seeing that he was not going to oblige any time soon, she angrily vented her frustration at his back. “I am not fifteen anymore, I do not need you to cover for me.”

    “I know.” He turned and looked at her, guilt evident on his face. “You were right; I’ve been treating you shabbily. I cannot let you take the blame for this. You’ve done so much for Hapes, I do not want this to besmirch your record.”

    Tenel Ka’s mood softened. Even though she did not need his political cover, she appreciated the offer. “Jacen, if I allow you to take the blame, it will look like I am letting Coruscant and the Jedi dictate our foreign policy. I cannot allow that.” Her eyes sparkled when she saw his frown; he and her father had clearly not thought of that angle. It was good to know that she still could out-think her father occasionally when it came to politics.

    As her words sank in, Jacen nodded in agreement. Seeing the sparkle in her eyes, he started to chuckle. “We still try to outdo each other when it comes to shouldering the blame, don’t we?”

    Just as she had done all those years ago, Tenel Ka laughed her melodious laugh. “So it would seem, Friend Jacen.” Nodding at the door, she indicated that they should probably let her father have his office back. Leading Jacen out the door, her face turned serious. “Who is this person Pellaeon is sending, and why do I need to know what kind of ship she’ll be flying?”

    Snorting, Jacen shot the grey-eyed Queen an amused look as the two of them passed through Isolder’s outer office, pleasantly surprised that it was still possible to sneak a few things by Hapan Intelligence. Giving the secretary a nod in greeting, he opened the outer door of Isolder’s office allowing the Queen Mother to go first. Following her out, he answered her question in a gloating tone, “His negotiator got a hold of a Miy’til IIC assault-bomber and had it converted for her own personal use.”

    The shocked look on the Queen’s face was priceless as she stopped dead in the hallway. Finally recovering, “That was a prototype built during my mother’s modernization effort; we only made four.” She started walking again, giving Jacen an amused glance, “We’ve never exported our military hardware. How did she get one of those?”

    Jacen only waggled his eyebrows. “That is not my story to tell. You’ll have to ask her when she arrives in a week’s time.”
    |
    O
    _____(___)_____


    A/N: Ta’a Chume is not mentioned again after book two of The Swarm War, so we have to assume that she died at some point. This seemed as likely an explanation as any, IMO. She was a vile, horrible woman and I've never understood why people have decried Jacen's actions. I'm pretty sure Tenel Ka figured out what happened, and if she didn't bring it up...
  21. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Wonderful =D= Jacen shows his brilliant strategizing and humility to Gilad, whom I have also always liked a lot :D He and Tenel Ka seem to be working closer as a team as well on the formal political front. :) The barriers seem to be shrinking between them.
    SiouxFan likes this.
  22. SHADOW_MASTER_W Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 11, 2005
    star 1
    Well written for sure.

    I still can't help but feel that Jacen has gotten off too easy.

    Perhaps its my knowledge of him as Darth Caedus from canon that is coloring this but he WAS becoming a Sith Lord and DID kill Nelani Dinn.

    Luke HAD reason prior to Jacen's sudden reversal from darkness to distrust him and has been given practically no reason to change his mind.

    He must be held to account for it and needs to make peace with Luke directly NOT subvert him using those around him which is the mentality of a Sith.

    Note: I still enjoy the story immensely, these are just a few issues I feel need answering at some point.
    Last edited by SHADOW_MASTER_W, May 14, 2013
    SiouxFan and Jade_eyes like this.
  23. SiouxFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2012
    star 3
    You sure we're not related? Everyone you seem to like is one of my favs as well. ;) IMO, Jacen was the one Solo kid who I thought would follow in Leia's shoes and go into politics--that he could become what she and her father (Bail, I mean) were....statesmen..er...stateswoman. Naively, I kinda thought that maybe he was going to get there and further show that one could have Sith tendencies and still be a kind, thoughtful leader. Maybe that's why I hate LotF so much, LFL took all of my hopes, stomped on them, ran them over with a steamroller, and swept the shards into the dustbin.

    Not to give any future story ideas away, but just think of what the two of them could do as Queen and Prince Consort of Hapes!

    One thing to keep in mind is that Jacen is NOT Caedus yet in Tempest, he is still Jacen, albeit one with Sith-leaning tendencies. I'm trying to show how ONE person, ONE conversation can change things. Yes, Luke had reasons to distrust his nephew, but he also allowed his distrust to influence his view of actual events and I'm only trying to show that here...perhaps a bit less subtly then Denning did, but I could argue that Denning was too subtle.

    Patience, young padawan--we've still got a LONG way to go. I ask this--What is more important, stopping a war or making sure Jacen gets what's coming to him? NO ONE in universe seemed to give a damn about Nelani Dinn, I don't even know if she gets mentioned ever again. As I said, we have to fix the 'Now' before we can fix the past.

    I do take umbrage to the 'subvert those around him' comment. He only asked Leia to find a job for Marne and to tell her that Omas was thinking of letting the Senate vote on cutting the funding. Jacen didn't 'Force' his mother into asking TK to cut the 'stipend', nor did he influence his mother to leave the Council. Is trying to reform the Order subversive? Depends on your point of view, right? Is getting Jysella into Med School subversive? Not if you're Booster or Mirax.

    Thanks to both of you for leaving comments. Once again, I offer thanks on behalf of Danni, Tenel Ka, Allana, Isolder, and Jacen!
    SHADOW_MASTER_W likes this.
  24. SHADOW_MASTER_W Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 11, 2005
    star 1
    Hmmm, well reasoned and even more so explained. [face_thinking]

    I fully look forward what comes of these events. :cool:
    SiouxFan and Jade_eyes like this.
  25. SiouxFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2012
    star 3
    That actually means quite a bit, so thank you.

    Writing this has been pretty therapeutic for my 'Jacen' psyche!
    SHADOW_MASTER_W and Jade_eyes like this.
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