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Beyond - Legends Danni's Quest (Jacen/Tenel Ka, Danni Quee) Completed 11/19

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

  1. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Bravo on showing Danni's forthrightness and perceptiveness. @};- Love how you demonstrated/displayed the myriad kaleidoscopic nature of Jacen's temperament and layers of persona. [face_thinking] "Slippery" wow! :eek: Very sithly type description there. She does seem able though to make him more like himself. :) I will refrain from commenting on the whole Killik thingamajig. :p :rolleyes: From start to finish, it struck me as a very "huh?" kinda plot strategem.
    Gemma likes this.
  2. Allana_Rey

    Allana_Rey Jedi Master star 4

    Sep 2, 2012
    I'll defiantly try to read the whole thing. And with Allana in this I'm in!
    Gemma likes this.
  3. Tarsier

    Tarsier Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 31, 2005
    Okay, I'm finally done with chapter 4. :p Sorry, I am a very slow reader. To answer your question, I really didn't recognize anyone in the first chapter, but you don't need to fill me in. The more I know about NJO/DN/LOTF the less I like it. And I really don't like it now. I can look it up on Wookieepedia if I'm curious to know about anything in particular.

    I really like all your character interactions, I'm learning a lot about everyone in just a few lines of dialogue. I'm glad Isolder is on Jacen's side. And I love the idea of Jacen taking Allana to the zoo (although I was sorta hoping we would actually see them at the zoo). I also like Mr. Smooth Valin!

    Anyway, I wanted to let you know that for now I may not be keeping up with this story very well, but it isn't because I don't like it. I'm in the midst of writing my own story with some of the same characters and themes and I don't want to accidentally take any of your ideas. Once I get a better handle on my story I will be sure to come back to this, I am really enjoying it!
  4. stormtrooptk421

    stormtrooptk421 Jedi Youngling

    Sep 13, 2012
    I really like this. Keep up the good work!
  5. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 6, 2012
    The more I write Danni, the more I'm really starting to crush like her. She has been totally misused (read, not at all) in the EU. Because of the way it turned out, we've forgotten how Jacen got there. In the first few books of LotF, Jacen was really complex and was wrestling with what he thought he needed to do.

    Thanks! Allana is one of the few reasons I even bother with the EU anymore. I hope that you like her scenes.

    Nah, it's all good. If you're like me and still like Jacen: skip DN, LotF, and FotJ. It will cause nothing but heartache, trust me. I always thought Jacen would have made a great Dad, and it killed me when we didn't get a chance to see it. In truth, I had a great scene with Jacen, Allana, and Trista at the zoo formulated in my head, but it didn't really work when I started to write it down; zoos are such a visual medium and it is REALLY hard to write it in an interesting manner.

    I know what you mean about not wanting to seem to be 'plagiarizing'--Jedi_Lover's Sacrifices has some of the same background thoughts that this one does, but I was too far along to change them. Apparently, we all come up with the same ideas at about the same time! I'm still looking forward to reading yours, though!

    Thanks! I'll try to live up to everyone's high standards.
  6. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 6, 2012
    A/N: Thanks again to all who continue to read my silly little story. Special kudos to all who have reviewed. :)

    Jade_eyes, Tarsier, Ceillean, stormtrooptk421, Team Padme

    Chapter 7—Teaching and Learning

    Danni glanced at Jacen and smirked around a bite of cheeseburger as they left the walk-up burger place and started strolling in the general direction of her hotel. Leave it to a cop to know where all of the good 24-hour joints are. “Okay, tell me about what you learned while on your walk-about.”

    Jacen almost choked on his chilidog; over the intervening years he had forgotten about Danni’s single-mindedness. Regaining his composure, “I learned how to flow-walk from the Ang-tii, and Uncle Luke is... apprehensive about the technique.” Jacen emphasized the word, trying to intone the seriousness of the arguments that he and his uncle had had on the topic. Looked out of the corner of his eye, he could see her confusion and explained further, “It’s a time travel technique, but it only pertains to a specific location.” Danni looked at him sideways, still not quite understanding. Stopping at the bench that they happened to be passing, he put their drink down and tried to explain further. “We attach ourselves to this bench,” he said, placing his free hand on the back of the bench, “and, using the Force, we can move along a time-line at this location.”

    Danni nodded, finally understanding the basics of the technique. “Ah. It’s a bit like slide-along apparition, then.” Seeing Jacen’s perplexed look, she shook her head. “Never mind. So you can see backwards or forwards in time? Our physical self stays anchored in the here and now?”

    Jacen nodded as he picked up their drink, enjoying her analytical approach, and the two of them started walking again. “Correct.”

    Danni contemplated this while she took another bite of her burger. She gave him a curious look as she swallowed, “I’ve never been sold on the idea of ‘time travel’, but I fail to see why Master Skywalker is so adamantly opposed.”

    Colonel Solo shrugged as he took a drink. “I guess that it comes down to being able to fix someone’s future. If we travel forward to tomorrow and see my mother, for example, passing by this spot, we have essentially fixed her future.” He shrugged again, “At least that is Uncle Luke’s position.” He tried to sound nonchalant, but Danni could hear the uncertainty in his voice; it was as if part of him was afraid of this ability.

    The scientist frowned as she pondered this for a moment, taking another bite. “I disagree; it only fixes her future if we could physically pass something to her. Otherwise, it’s harmless.”

    Jacen gave her a peculiar look. He wanted to believe her argument, but was still troubled; part of him still thought that perhaps Luke was right: perhaps he did fix his mother’s future that day.

    Shaking her head as she took another bite, the blonde woman tried to explain further, “Look, everything is relative. From Leia’s point of view, she would be looking into the past at something that has already happened: us being here.” Jacen nodded, seeing where she was going with her explanation. “Her walking by this spot was only happenstance.” She grabbed the cup from his hand to take a drink. Handing it back, she continued, “It’s not that different from a Force vision, really. If you have a vision of your mother at this spot tomorrow, that doesn’t fix her future. I don’t see how this ‘flow-walk’ technique is any different.”

    Jacen stopped as he looked at his friend, a sense of relief obvious on his face. For years he had wrestled with his ability to flow-walk; at the time, it seemed like just another tool, but many of the older Jedi had made him feel dirty for knowing such an arcane skill. Danni was the first person to back his position, the first to seem interested in such a skill. Without even trying, she told him that there was nothing inherently wrong with what he could do.

    Seeing her confused look as she stopped a couple of paces ahead, Jacen chuckled absently and started walking again. “I’d never thought of it from that angle. I wish that you had been present at my last run-in with the Council.”

    Danni’s green eyes narrowed slightly as she gave him a curious look. “Can you teach this technique?”

    He offered her a sly smile. “I can try. Would you like to learn it?”

    Danni smirked in response, “I can try.” She took a bite and snorted as a pickle squirted out and dropped to the ground. Shaking her head, she continued talking as she chewed. “So what else is Skywalker opposed to?”

    After trying, and failing, to scare the green-eyed woman away that morning, he decided that she could handle the truth that he was operating in a rather grey area. Taking a deep breath, he answered. “I used something I learned to cover part of Ben’s memory.”

    Danni stopped abruptly, clearly horrified. “You did what?”

    Jacen’s shoulders slumped; “We were on…” he stopped, not wanting to admit that he was on Hapes. “…It doesn’t matter where. Anyway, we saw some things that I didn’t think a kid should see. So, I took him somewhere else and placed those memories over the top of the ones that he had.” He saw the scowl on her face and continued, “Then, I replaced those memories with memories of a third location.”

    Anger clouded her lovely face. “Why did you do that?” She held up her hand, stopping his explanation. “Don’t tell me that it was to protect Ben, I am not that dumb. You saw all kinds of nasty stuff as a kid, so it’s not that.” She continued to glare at him and snapped her fingers as the answer came to her. “You are hiding something from the Skywalkers.”

    His mouth full of the last chilidog bite, Jacen could only nod sadly as she continued, “Look, I understand wanting to keep secrets…”Danni shook her head, “But Jacen, that’s dangerous. Didn’t Durron wipe out some engineer’s memory?” His grimace was the only answer she needed. “If you didn’t want him to know, you shouldn’t have let him see.”

    “He wasn’t supposed to see us, I left him with…” Far too late, he realized that he had let his emotion get the best of him. Danni had goaded him; perhaps not on purpose, but she had nonetheless. Her earnestness had goaded him into almost revealing something that even torture could not have gotten him to disclose. He looked away, disgusted with himself--he really should know better; polite interrogation is always the hardest to counteract.

    She ran the back of her right hand down his arm affectionately. “Look, you don’t have to tell me; I just want you to know that your secret would be safe with me.”

    Jacen nodded, knowing she meant every word. “It’s too important. I have to keep it to myself.” He saw that she accepted him at his word. “As for Ben; it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

    Danni squinted her eyes and poked him in the chest angrily. “You know that I’m not going to buy that. You knew it was wrong.” She paused, an inquisitive look on her face. “Why are you telling me this? Do you plan on rubbing my memory too?”

    The brown-haired man stopped short, horrified at her accusation. Unfortunately, he realized that her fear was not unfounded; he had already done awful things. His voice melancholy, he anwered her question, “No, I won’t rub your memory. As to why: I feel that you should know. You are the only person I know who has perspective.” He turned to look at her, his tone almost pleading, “Maybe it’s because…” he paused, not knowing how to continue. “…maybe it’s because I need someone to know just how….broken…I am.”

    Danni took his hand, her green eyes searching his face and smiled warmly. “Everybody is fixable, Jacen.” Squeezing his hand, she added softly, “Even you.”

    Jacen squeezed her hand in return and they continued to hold hands as she steered them toward her hotel.

    Turning a corner, Jacen finally saw where she had been taking them, and whistled appreciatively. “The Intergalactic?” Danni’s hotel, the L’Hotel Intergalactic, was billed as Coruscant’s only six-star hotel. Completed only the year prior, it boasted it’s own orbital shuttle so that it’s clients could leave their ships in orbit and not have to be bothered with the drudgeries of dealing with the Coruscanti spaceports and could clear customs at the same time they checked into their suite. Running his eyes skyward, Jacen took in the hotels design, his mind finally understanding that it really was a fantastic piece of architecture—built in the shape of sailboat. Shaking his head at the elegant design, he found himself doubting that any of the guests had ever seen a sailboat, let alone actually been on one. Oddly, Coruscant never had any appreciable bodies of water to sail on, but for whatever reason, the sea always had an allure on people. He looked at her mischievously, “I was unaware research scientists were paid so well.”

    “It pays to study hard.” The scientist in question answered drily, bonking into him with her left shoulder.

    The GAG Colonel was unable to stop his laugh, and Danni saw that even his eyes sparkled a bit. Shaking his head, he replied, “That it does.”

    Pleased with herself for being able to ditch the ‘GAG Jacen’, even if it was only for a moment, she explained why she was staying at the most expensive hotel on Coruscant. “There was nothing to buy on Zonoma, so I’ve got the bulk of ten years worth of salary sitting in my accounts.” Winking, she continued, “I figured I might as well splurge for a bit.”

    Jacen cocked his head to one side, mirth still evident in his eyes, “You’ve certainly deserved it.” His face became serious, and he pulled her closer. “Thank you, Danni. Thank you for…making me laugh.” Later, he would reflect that he did not mean to kiss Danni: he had meant to only give her a kiss on the cheek. Apparently, she meant to give him one on his cheek at the same, and their lips suddenly met. Surprised, they pulled apart briefly, and then the weight of ten years caught up with them. They both leaned into each other and their lips met again; after several long moments, Danni broke off, her eyes searching his questioningly.

    Jacen noticed that she was breathing faster and he wrinkled his eyebrows slightly, his expression saying: Do you want to? Danni’s only offered a slight smirk as she pulled him closer, resuming their kiss. After several more moments, Danni again broke off and tugged on his hand, leading him through the door into the L’Hotel Intergalactic.

    In the interest of decorum, they were both in their thirties, after all, and he was a rather public figure, the two of them managed to only hold hands as they made their way through the lobby and for the duration of their ride in the glass turbolift to the eighty-first floor. Once out of the elevator, things got a bit more interesting. Jacen walked behind her, his arms around her, nibbling on her neck and ear as they awkwardly made it down the hallway to her suite. Fumbling the keycard out of her small purse, Danni managed to get the door open and the two of them stumbled into the room.

    Danni quickly turned and growled as she launched herself at him, the door slamming closed as the two of them crashed into it. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she realized that she was acting like a horny teenager, but she did not really care. It had been so long, that she practically was a horny teenager. A decade of want was coursing through Danni, and she was reveling in the feel and taste of Jacen Solo. Breaking her assault, she backed a step and made a show of unzipping her grey skirt, letting it fall to the floor. Grabbing his hands, she pulled them to her blouse and he began unbuttoning the white silk blouse as he leaned forward and continued to kiss her neck, his fingers slowly and methodically undoing the buttons. Once finished, her blouse ended up on the floor, pooled next to her skirt.

    Mewing softly, she pulled him into the bedroom, pulling his shirt out of his pants as she did. Quickly, she started to unbutton his shirt, trailing her kisses down his chest. With a gasp, she stopped when she reached his first scar. Backing a step, she continued to look at his muscled chest and started to trace his many scars with her fingers, horrified at what she saw: she had forgotten what the Vong had done to him.

    In the pale glow of Coruscant’s lights flooding through the window, Jacen swallowed hard as he watched Danni trace her fingers over his body, he wanted her in the worst way; it had been ages since...

    Unbidden, memories of his capture came flooding back. Memories of the Embrace of Pain, memories of his unimaginable suffering, memories of Vergere, memories of amphistaffs, memories of fellow prisoners, but, most of all, memories of Tenel Ka. Memories of the red-haired princess had kept him sane during his torture. He could not do this to her, not without knowing where they stood. He knew that their relationship was on the rocks, but he loved her too much to cheat on her. It would not be fair to her, and it would not be fair to Danni. If he and Tenel Ka were truly over, he might be interested in starting again with Danni, but he would not use her as a one-night stand; he respected and liked her too much to do that.

    Danni leaned forward again to kiss him again and he gently put his hand out to stop her. Understanding and disappointment showed in her green eyes as she chuckled mirthlessly. “I’ve ruined the mood, haven’t I?”

    Jacen shrugged slightly and pulled one of her hands to his lips, giving it a kiss. He wanted her to know that he still thought very highly of her and that none of this was her fault. Softly, he tried to explain, “I should be…”

    Desperately, she interrupted, “Please stay.” Her eyes were pleading, “I won’t ask you to do anything, but…it’s been so long. I just…” she looked down, embarrassed. She was thirty-five years old for crying out loud, she should not be acting like a lovesick adolescent. Whispering, “…I just would like to sleep next to someone for a night.” She let out a deep breath, trying to fight tears. “I’m broken, too.”

    Jacen knew how she felt. Ever since returning from his self-imposed exile, he had been alone. The woman he loved was as inaccessible now as she was when he was being held captive, his daughter did not know his true identity, his uncle and former mentor only trusted him about as far as he could Force-shove a Star Destroyer, and his sister refused to have anything to do with him. In fairness, part of it, maybe even most of it, was his fault, and that only made it worse. He was still convinced that he was doing the right thing, but the emptiness surrounding him was tough to bear. Yes, he understood Danni’s loneliness all to well. Smiling warmly at the blonde woman in front of him, he removed his shirt and wrapped it around her thin frame, buttonning the middle couple of buttons. He repeated her words from earlier, “Everyone is fixable, Danni.”

    A smile crossed her face, both at his words and at his gesture of giving her his shirt. Her smile turned evil, however, as she backed up a couple of steps and did the one thing guaranteed to drive him wild: she unhooked her sexy white bra under the shirt, pulled it out through one of the arms, and made a show of dropping it to the floor.

    Jacen rolled his eyes and chuckled at her playful flirtation. “You know that drives guys nuts, right?”

    Waggling her eyebrows, she used her best sultry voice. “I know.” She took a step closer and gave him a hug, resting her head on his chest. “I’ve missed you, Jacen.”
    O O(___)O O
    A/N: Before Denning ruined it by turning Tahiri into an addict, I thought flow-walking was a pretty cool, pretty esoteric tool. I never really bought into the whole 'fixed the future' argument that Luke and Mara put forth in Joiner King. Like I had Danni point out, time is relative.

    This chapter was actually the second one I had written for this story, and I had intended it to go in an entirely different direction between Jacen and Danni, but, in the end, I just couldn’t go through with it. IMO, Jacen and Tenel Ka have an established relationship in LotF, even if it is…strained. My Jacen wouldn’t cheat on her, nor do I think Danni would have stayed with Jacen once she found out. As an aside, I DO have a great Danni/Jacen plot bunny that is eagerly awaiting to be released from its cage just as soon as this story is finished!
    Gemma likes this.
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Bravo on the conversation about flow walking; I agree with Danni's assessment. And as for the Danni/Jacen relationship path, =D= very IC choice and sensible to the plot. And I'm looking eagerly forward to the AU where she is able to ... drive him wild [face_laugh] [face_batting] For this tale, anything he and Danni pursue would have to wait for different time and circumstances.
  8. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 6, 2012
    @Ceillean, Jade_eyes: Like all things 'Jacen', flow-walking gets hammered over in the 'Lit' section, so I was worried about how it was going to get received here. But, it seemed the easier for the two of them to discuss it rather than, say, the shatterpoint technique. Thanks for your review!

    Chapter 8—‘New’ Jedi Order

    A small, contented sigh woke Jacen early the next morning. Becoming aware of his surroundings again, he grimaced at his predicament: his right arm was around Danni, her back to him. By itself, that was not much of a problem; the problem lied more with the fact that his arm was resting mostly under her shirt, (okay, his shirt) his hand cupping her left breast. Chagrined, he really did not want to think about what his hand had been doing before we awoke; Danni’s sigh was more evidence than he really needed. As he gingerly removed his hand and arm, he realized the odds of Tenel Ka understanding any of this was dropping precipitously; he doubted that telling her that he slept with his pants on would win many brownie points. Moving carefully, he rolled out of bed, slowly moved to his feet, and quietly left the room, shaking his head at the ridiculousness of the entire situation: the odds of finding another man on Coruscant that would feel bad for him about his current problem were pretty low indeed. Valin Horn, for one, would never believe him. You woke up next to a beautiful, and clearly willing, blonde, and you left?

    Since he was a little preoccupied last night to get much of a look, he wandered around her small suite. It contained two bedrooms, a small kitchen area, breakfast nook, a rather large living room, complete with a balcony overlooking the Senate Building. Shaking his head, Jacen reflected that he probably did not want to know how much Danni was being charged per night for the room. Shrugging, he moved into the kitchen with the intent of making something for breakfast. However, he discovered the cabinets were full of nothing but air. Room service, it is.

    O O(___)O O
    Danni awoke when she heard a quiet ‘thump’ and let out a small sigh. It had been such a pleasant dream, too; what with Jacen’s hands roving all over… Shaking her head, she rolled over and saw that he had already left. As she allowed a snort of disappointment that he had not even bothered to say ‘goodbye,’ she had a rather depressing thought--My only one-night stand, and I didn’t even get naked. Chuckling humorlessly, she got up and made her way into living quarters only to see Jacen placing two plates of yummy-looking pancakes and eggs on the table.

    Jacen, still wearing only his dress pants from the night prior, saw her out of the corner of his eye and shot her a quick smile as he continued to set the table. “Good morning!” He chirped, “I meant to cook, but you didn’t have any supplies.” His smile got a tad larger when he saw her apologetic shrug. Continuing to set the table, he looked down again, “So-o-o, I ordered some breakfast from room service. I’ll give you some credits for the bill.”

    He was perplexed about her lack of response, and looked up to find her staring at him, confusion showing on her pretty face. Jacen nodded once in understanding. “You thought I’d left.” Danni simply shrugged in response. Jacen smiled again, and she saw that his eyes showed some of their previous sparkle. “I figured that since I’m already late for work, I might as well have breakfast with a half-dressed knockout.” Danni couldn’t help but laugh at his flirtatiousness. “Besides, you’re wearing my shirt.” She raised an eyebrow suggestively and made a show of undoing one of the buttons. Jacen laughed and walked over to her, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek. “No, no. I’ll wait.” Gallantly, he pulled out one of the chairs and slid it forward as she sat.

    As he made his way around the table, Danni voiced what had been on her mind since last night: “There is someone else.” Part of her did not want to know; it allowed her to hold out hope that the two of them could start again.

    Jacen let out a deep sigh as he sat down, noticing that it was not a question. Yesterday he decided that he would tell nothing but the truth to Danni Quee, so he might as well continue. Looking at her, he answered softly. “It’s complicated.” He paused, taking a deep breath. As he did, she remembered that Sekot had used the same phrase when talking about him on that night she had her last vision. His voice broke her from her reverie as he was continuing, “I hardly ever see her, and we’ve become…estranged lately.” The pain and frustration in his voice was tangible. “We rarely talk anymore, and I cannot remember the last time we…” He stopped, shaking his head. He really should not burden Danni with his relationship problems; he and her had only been reacquainted for a day, after all. His brandy eyes searched her emerald one’s imploringly, “I like you, Danni; I’ve thought about you often, but I do not wish to lead you on.” Jacen looked down at the table, “Her and I need to figure out where we stand.”

    Looking again into her eyes intently, he tried to apologize, “I’m sorry about what happened last night.” Seeing the hurt look on her face he instantly regretted his phraseology. Grimacing, he tried again, “Not about staying the night, but about…” Again, he stopped.

    Danni offered him a sad smile; she understood what he was getting at. Reaching across the table, she gave his hand an affectionate squeeze. “It’s okay. You’re a better man than most. Most would not have been able to stop themselves with someone throwing herself at him.” She was embarrassed at last night’s display; her mother would have been ashamed of her wanton behavior.

    Jacen shook his head slightly as he gazed at the blonde woman, her thoughts clearly visible on her face, and chided gently, “Don’t think like that.” It was his turn to squeeze her hand; “You’ve been alone for a very long time. Trust me, I understand what that is like.” He stopped, and gave her a mischievous smile; “I think that I about wore you out our first night together.”

    For the second time that morning, Danni could not help but laugh; Jacen always did have a knack for making people feel better. Unbidden, a memory of her vision popped into her mind, and she realized that she still needed to save Jacen Solo, perhaps from himself--maybe it was time to start. “Do you still love her?”

    Jacen let out a deep breath as he nodded. “I do.”

    Danni smiled, “Good. Now all you have to do is make sure that she knows that.”

    The GAG Colonel tilted his head and looked at her strangely, “She knows.” Wincing at the glare that Danni shot his way, he reconsidered his words. “Okay, I’ll do better.”

    The astrophysicist nodded as she took a bite of her pancakes, “See that you do.”
    O O(___)O O

    Leaving Danni’s hotel, Jacen’s first thought was to head to his flat to change. Heading towards the taxi stand, he abrubtly changed his mind and turned around, garnering a strange look from the hotel’s doorman. Giving the young man an embarrassed shrug, Jacen started to walk the seven-blocks or so to the Senate Administration building.

    As he walked, he could not get Lumiya’s words out of his head. She’d make a fine apprentice. He agreed yesterday more to get Lumiya to shut up than anything. But now, as he walked, he found himself agreeing with the sentiment. True, Danni was fairly untrained, having been taught only what her and Tahiri could find time to cover, but she was strong in the Force. There was no question that Ben had more natural talent, but Danni knew what her limitations were and, therefore, would not try to do too much, or risk anyone unnecessarily. Additonally, she would not defer to him constantly the way that Ben did, and she was unafraid of challenging his views. Furthermore, Jacen did not really want an apprentice per se, but more of a compatriot and confidante, and Danni fit the bill perfectly. What she may lack in outright Force skills, she more than made up with intelligence and creativity. Additionally, she had lived with constructive criticism all of her life, so he would not have to boost her ego all the time.

    Jacen realized, however, that he would have to change his teaching approach when he became her Master; he had been cleverly misleading Ben as to what his goal was for the boy. Danni was not nearly as naïve and way too intelligent for such a tactic. From their conversation last night, it was clear that she was open to different ideas, but he would need to be forthright about his expectations. He nodded to himself; his mind made up. Unfortunately, before he could recruit Danni Quee to be his apprentice, he first needed to extricate himself from the one that he currently had.

    Frowning, Jacen stopped dead on the sidewalk, earning a dirty look from the Ithorian who almost ran into him. He owed it to Ben to tell him now; but he reflected that it would probably be best to tell Mara first and then tell Ben. Jacen knew from experience that it was best not to surprise Mara Jade, and this would give her a chance to process the information before Ben came to her. Thus decided, Jacen changed direction for a second time that morning, earning another look from a couple of fellow pedestrians. As he headed for the Temple, he pulled out his comlink to let Marné know that he was going to be even later than he originally thought.

    Pressing his ID badge against the card scanner at the south entrance to the Temple, he wondered absently if Mace Windu or Barris Offee ever had to carry a holographic Jedi ID badge. Yoda’s voice popped into his head: ID Badge? Heh, a Jedi carries not these things. Chuckling to himself as the status-indicator blinked green, he heard the door unlock with an audible ‘click’ and pulled it open. As he continued to chuckle at his bad Yoda impersonation, he paused to take a better look at the Temple’s security system, thinking that he was glad that they had installed the system when the new Temple was constructed; otherwise, the Council would have found a way to blame him as to why they were needed.

    Due to the relatively early hour, the Temple was still fairly quiet, for which he was thankful. He was already bracing himself for the upcoming ‘conversation’ with his aunt, and was not really in the mood for…

    “Hi Jacen!” Came a cheery voice from behind him.

    Damn. He turned to locate the source of the obnoxiously cheery voice and saw a grinning Jysella Horn rushing his way from across the atrium, her brown ponytail waving hypnotically behind her. Chagrined, he forced a smile onto his face and did his best to equal her chipper-ness. “Hi ‘Sella!” It was not that he did not like Jysella Horn; he did--she was smart, funny, immensely talented, and amazingly (some would say annoyingly) upbeat. On any other day, he would have asked her to join him for a cup of caf, and they would have talked for an hour or two. When she got within a few paces, she opened her arms and proceeded to envelop Jacen in an enthusiastic hug as he tried, and failed, to match her enthusiasm.

    The youngest Horn noticed his decided lack of affection. Scowling, she pulled back from their embrace. “What’s wrong?”

    Jacen was tempted to give her a flippant answer about it being ‘Jedi business’, but stopped; she was too caring to simply brush off. Exhaling loudly, he answered. “Ben.” Jysella gasped, her eyes wide in shock, and covered her mouth with both hands. Jacen quickly shook his head; he had forgotten that Jysella was prone to overreaction, and explained further, his tone apologetic, “No, no. Nothing bad.” He rolled his eyes at his brusqueness, “I didn’t mean to give you a scare.”

    She narrowed her brown eyes and whacked him across the shoulder playfully, “Then…what?”

    He sighed again, “I’m going to ask my Aunt that he be assigned to a different Master.”

    Jysella’s voice became concerned, “Why?”

    Jacen’s eyes followed a couple of students as they left the turbolift behind him and made their way across the atrium. “My aunt and uncle don’t trust me.” He sighed quietly, “They haven’t trusted me in years.”

    Jysella could only nod sadly. As much as the Council tried to act like nothing was amiss, it was clear that almost all of the Masters, except for maybe Leia, had lost faith in Jacen Solo. Recognizing his hurt tone, she understood more than most that he wanted the respect of the Council more than anything else. Taking his hand, she said softly, “I’m sorry.” Jacen gave her a small shrug as he turned his gaze back to her.

    “A lot of us still do, though.” Most of her generation of Jedi still admired their former teacher, both for what he had accomplished and for the fact that he was not afraid of being their friend as well as their teacher. Jacen thought the model of being the ‘stern taskmaster’ was detrimental to teaching Jedi, and most who took his classes appreciated it. Even Valin respected Jacen Solo, and the two of them did not get along.

    “Thanks ’Sella. That means quite a bit.” He smiled as he gave her hand a final squeeze before releasing it. He knew that she was probably speaking only for herself, but it was good to know that someone at the Temple still trusted him. He tilted his head fractionally as a memory came to him, “The MCAT results came out last week didn’t they? How’d you do?”

    As she grinned in response, it occurred to him that Jysella Horn had one of the galaxy’s best smiles. “I scored a 39S.”

    Jacen’s eyes widened in surprise and he gave her another quick hug, this time with genuine affection. “That’s fantastic!” He could not have been any more impressed; the average score for the Medical College Admission Test is 25P, and she handily beat that score. Her score, combined with her 3.91 GPA in Chemistry from the Imperial College of Coruscant would pretty much guarantee her admission to Hapes’ Royal College of Medicine, probably the toughest medical school in the galaxy to get into; the Royal College will not even consider anyone as an applicant with less than a 35R, no matter how well connected one might be.

    Jacen could not help but notice the feeling of frustration that Jysella was trying to hide. His smile faded as he asked, “The Council is still sitting on your sabbatical request?”

    Despair filled her brown eyes as she gave a small nod. “Dad only thinks that he has a one vote majority, and he trying to garner more support before bringing it up for a vote.” Her voice dropped to a whisper, “He wants an overwhelming majority behind us because he thinks that some of the other Masters will bow to the Grand Master’s wishes.”

    Jacen winced, feeling the young woman’s hopelessness. “I’m sure Mirax is irate.” He quipped, trying to lighten the mood.

    She smirked, appreciating Jacen’s effort to find humor in the situation. Raising an eyebrow, “And my grandfather. Grand Master Skywalker is lucky that the Venture is at Bilbringi having some repairs done.”

    Jacen snorted as he shook his head. “Booster and my father really need to bite the bullet and get new ships.” Both he and Jysella knew that there was no chance in that; the two men were likely to die in their respective ships. Taking Jysella’s hand, Jacen’s continued, “Since I’m already going to see my aunt and uncle, I’ll bring it up, again.”

    The pretty brunette shook her head, “Thanks, Jacen; but this isn’t you fight.”

    He smiled sadly, “Yeah…it is.” His thoughts returned to that day in his Emergency Medical Training Class five years previous….

    O O(___)O O

    After the Killik Crisis, Jacen had been offered a teaching position at the Jedi Academy by Master Skywalker. Not wanting to offend his uncle, and not having any other immediate prospects, Jacen accepted. In doing so, he was under no illusions why he was offered the position: ostensibly it was because the Council thought he could be a great influence to the new students, but Jacen was smart enough to know that it was mostly because his uncle wanted to keep in eye on the prodigal Jedi. Even so, he had been looking forward to passing on some of the knowledge he had gained on his travels, especially in the area of combat first aid.

    Among other things, the war with the Yuuzhan Vong had pointed out the inadequacies of the simple ‘Jedi healing trance’--it just did not do enough when confronted with severe trauma. His own brother’s injuries above Myrkr where proof enough of that: the traditional approaches to healing took more time than the strike team could afford, and Anakin had died as a result. To be sure, even a totally healthy Anakin Solo probably still would have died in that mêlée, but Jacen owed it to his brother to ensure that future Jedi had the best training available.

    It is against that backdrop that Jacen Solo started teaching both Basic and Combat First Aid. Only after several long discussions with Kyp Durron did Jacen agree to also teach Advanced Lightsabre Skills.

    When Jysella Horn found out that Jacen Solo was back from his wanderings and was going to start teaching at the Academy, she made sure that she was one of the first to sign up for his Combat First Aid Class. When asked by her friends, she said it was because Jacen’s empathetic skills were legendary, and she wanted to see it first hand; the fact he was incredibly cute had nothing to do with her signing up and she maintained that she was thinking about become a healer. Which was not much of a lie; she had considered it…once.

    One course became two, and two became three. It turned out that Jysella rather liked the EMT classes, and she would have taken the additional classes even if Jacen had not been the intsrtuctor--at least that is what she told her friends.

    “Ms. Horn, can you stay after for a moment?” Jacen had asked her at the end of class one day.

    “Busted!” her friend, Tipania, whispered playfully as she got up to file out of the room with the rest of the class.

    “You shush.” Jysella hissed back at her green-skinned Twi’lek friend, earning an evil-looking grin as a reply. After packing up her things, she made her way to the front of the room where Jacen was busy erasing the white dry-erase board. “Yes, Instructor Solo?” He turned his head and gave her a mock glare before returning his attention back to the board. With a wry smile, Jysella shook her head at Jacen’s peculiar teaching style: he always referred to his students ‘Ms. Horn’ or ‘Mr. Spaatz’, but he insisted that they call him ‘Jacen’. “In my class,” he had told them on the first day, “you are far more important than I.”

    Chagrined, she tried again, “Yes, Jacen?”

    He turned his head again and gave her a sly grin. Finishing his erasing of the board, he turned and smiled warmly at his best student, leaning back against the board. “Ms. Horn, you have quite a talent for this sort of thing.” The young woman did her best not to beam too much at the praise. “Have you given any consideration to being a physician?”

    The brunette frowned at his wording; he had said ‘physician’, not ‘healer’. Scowling slightly, she answered carefully, “Not really.” She smirked, “Although, to be fair, I haven’t given much thought at being anything.”

    Jacen shook his head, smiling. Ah, to be eighteen. “Think about it; do some research about the medical field. I think that you would be well-suited to become a doctor.” Jysella felt herself blush, knowing that Jacen never praised for the sake of it. “A warning though, it won’t be easy.” He smiled when he saw the gleam of excitement in the young woman’s eye; the Horn’s, much like the Solo’s, liked nothing better than to take on a challenge.

    After a couple of weeks, Jacen assumed that Jysella had decided against the idea and was just too polite to tell him and could not really blame the young woman; it was going to be a lot of work on her part and there was no guarantee the Council would even approve for her to attend medical school once she completed her required courses at Imperial College. It was a surprise, then, when the brunette approached him one day after class. “Instructor Solo?” He shot her a look as he continued to put the training mannequin away. Rolling her brown eyes, “Jacen? Have you got a minute?”

    Smiling wryly, he closed the mannequin case, “Shoot.”

    Jysella shifted nervously from foot to foot. “I know that you know that I am NOT the best student in my year.” Jacen nodded. “In fact, I am not even the best student in this class.” Jacen smirked slightly; this was also true, grade-wise, but not by much. Jysella Horn ranked number two in his class. She wrinkled her freckled nose, trying to decide what to say. “I guess what I am trying to get at is: Why me?” Jacen smiled warmly in response and Jysella’s heart skipped a beat as she found herself wondering why Tenel Ka or Danni Quee would ever let someone with that smile out of her sight.

    Instead of answering her question, he asked a different one instead. “Do you have time for lunch?” Jysella nodded, clearly confused by his question. “Good. I’ll explain over lunch. My treat.”

    She assumed him to mean lunch in the Temple cafeteria, instead she found herself in a small pizzeria closer to the Senate Rotunda. After they had ordered, he offered a small smirk, “Now where were we? Ah yes…why you?” She narrowed her brown eyes as he paused theatrically. “Three reasons:” He started ticking off the fingers on his left hand, “One: Despite your actual standing in your year, you ARE the brightest kid in your class.” Jysella grimaced at the comment; she could hear her father in her head. ’Sella, you are so much smarter than everyone else; why don’t your grades reflect it? Jacen continued, “Two: your biggest strength is that you know what you don’t know. A very handy trait to have in medicine.” He stared at her earnestly, “And three: you are not afraid of Luke Skywalker.”

    Sensing her confusion, he leaned forward and explained further. “Getting into Imperial College will be easy: your grades are good enough, and as an instructor at the Academy I have the authority to grant permission for you to take college classes.” She nodded, but still did not see what this had to do with Master Skywalker. Jacen continued, oblivious to her not understanding where he was going with this train of thought. “I’ve already talked to the Dean of the Chemistry Department, and he is willing to work with us on deciding what classes you’ll need and what they can give you college credit for from your both work at the Academy and experience in the field.”

    Jacen finally noticed her skeptical look and grimaced. “I’ve lost you, haven’t I?” The young woman only shrugged. “Here is where Master Skywalker comes into play: I cannot grant permission for you to go to medical school. Med school will require you to take a sabbatical from the Jedi Order, and only the Council can grant one.”

    Her eyes widened in surprise when he took her hand in both of his, “You are the only one of my students that won’t take ‘no’ for an answer from Luke Skywalker. He is not going to let us just march in and ask the Council for an up or down vote. We…” he rolled his eyes, “…I am going to have to lobby and lobby pretty hard.”

    Jysella yanked her hand from his, angry with herself. Jacen was only using her as a way to get the Council to listen to his ideas--she should have known that this ‘new-and-improved’ Jacen Solo always had an ulterior motive. Letting her voice rise, “So...I’m just a test case for you? A trial balloon to see what you can get away with?”

    To her surprise, he nodded. “Partially.” Her look softened as she remembered that, as an instructor, he was never one to try to shield his students from the realities of life. Jacen shook his head, “I was not lying when I told you my reasons. Of all the students at the Academy, you stand the best chance of succeeding at this.” He took her hand again, “I think that Jedi should be able to follow the Force wherever it may lead them, even if it is not inside the Temple.” They both leaned back as the waiter brought their pizza and placed it in the middle of the table.

    As he nodded ‘thanks’ to the waiter, Ms. Horn caught the flash of pain in his eyes realized why Jacen was her favorite teacher: he was just as much an outsider as the students were. The Jedi Council looked at him with the same disinterest, maybe even outright disdain, as the students--it was no wonder why most of the students liked Jacen so much; he was a kindred spirit.

    As he served her a piece of the thick crust pizza, he looked at her earnestly, “Think about it some more; talk to your parents about it.” He winced at his wording; he had heard the rumors that she and her father had not been getting along recently. He pressed on, “Meditate on it. I only want you to do this if you really believe that it is the path for you.” Giving her a small smile, “But don’t think too long, the deadline to apply for admission for the next term at IC is in four weeks.”

    His best student gave a small chuckle and they spent the remainder of lunch talking about the recent goings on of the Academy.

    Jysella did think about it, she spend time meditating about it, she even talked to Mirax about it. The more she did these things, the more she became convinced that her future lie in the medicine. Jacen met with her and Mirax over dinner one day and he explained the plan to her mother: Yes, he told Mirax, Jysella was a test of sorts, but he believed that it to be the path for her. Mirax and Jysella talked to Corran, and after meditating about the issue even he became convinced that his daughter was meant to be a doctor.

    So, with little fanfare, Jysella Horn became the first of the storied Halcyon-Horn or Terrik lines to ever attend college. Booster Terrik, for one, could not have been more proud. His ‘college girl’, as he affectionately called his granddaughter, was fulfilling his lifelong dream of bringing respectability to the family name.

    In all honesty, attending school full-time, while also being an active Jedi, was much tougher than she ever imagined, and she had absolutely no social life, but she was determined to make her grandfather proud. At her graduation, she could have sworn that she saw a tear in the old man’s eyes as she walked across the stage to accept her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry diploma.

    And how did the Jedi Council reward all of her hard work? “I’m sorry, Knight Horn, but we cannot spare you at this time. Your skills as one of the Order’s only fully-trained EMTs is too valuable to grant you a sabbatical at this time.” Master Skywalker had told her, smiling benevolently as her heart broke into a billion pieces. “Perhaps next year.”

    Jysella managed to keep the tears at bay long enough to make it home, where she promptly broke down as soon as she opened the door. Mirax said nothing as they stood in the doorway, letting her daughter cry herself out while she stroked Jysella’s hair.

    About thirty minutes later, Jacen and Valin arrived, pizza and beer in hand, the pizza being from the same place where this whole journey had started. Mirax smiled and led them out to the patio where the four of them could watch the sunset, nodding a ‘thank you’ to Jacen as he went to get some plates. When he returned, he caught Mirax’s eye, “Corran will be home in a bit; he needed to calm down first.”

    Valin gave Jacen an icy glare over Mirax’s head as she dished out the pizza. His little sister was distraught, and it was all because of Jacen Solo. “So, now what Solo?” He asked, his voice full of disdain for the older Jedi.

    Jacen grimaced; he had hoped that all of the ‘discussing’ about a ‘new Jedi ideal’ that he had been doing with Masters Durron, Katarn, Sabatyne, and Jade-Skywalker was enough to sway their opinions—obviously, it was not. Turning to look at Jysella he saw the look he was hoping to see: defiance. Smirking, knowing what her answer was going to be, “Are you up for taking more chemistry classes?”

    Determinedly, she dried both eyes before taking a swig of her Stout ale, “Yes.”

    Jacen smiled and glanced up as Corran walked onto the patio. Nodding to the older man, he looked back at Jysella and outlined his plan. “Okay, here is what we do…you’ll enroll in a few graduate-level classes here at IC to show the admission board that you haven’t been ‘loafing’ for a year.” He sat down next to Jysella and wiped a tear smudge from her left eye. “Hapes’ Royal College of Medicine has a minimum MCAT requirement of 35R. Do you think that you can do two points better?”

    Jysella smiled, seeing where he was going with this and looked warmly over at her family, “With all of your help? Yes.”

    A moment later, Mirax caught on to the plan. Smiling at her daughter’s former teacher, “So she’ll take the MCAT again and give the Council one more chance. If they drag their feet again, we do an end-run and get a letter of recommendation from Tenel Ka?”

    Jacen pointed at the smuggler with both hands. “Exactly.”

    Valin interjected, concerned, “Will the Queen Mother give her one?”

    Jacen looked at the younger man with an amused grin, “Oh, I think I can persuade her.” Valin was so busy scowling at Jacen’s smug tone that he missed the knowing look that both Mirax and Jysella gave to the wayward Jedi.

    “She’ll be kicked out of the Order for this.” Corran said quietly, more to himself than to anyone else.

    His daughter rose out of her seat and knelt in front of her father, taking his hands in hers, “It will work out. We have to trust the Force.”

    Valin stood staring, it seemed, through his father, “The Force tells me that you’ll be the best damn orthopedist on Coruscant.”

    Six sets of eyes looked at Valin in shock. Mirax found her voice first, “The Force showed you that?”

    Valin only nodded as he got up and gave his younger sister a warm hug. “Give ‘em hell, College Girl.” He whispered into her hair. He released his sister and glanced meaningfully at his father and Jacen, his voice stern, “You two have a year to fix this.”

    O O(___)O O

    Shaking his head from his memories, he looked at Jysella’s lovely face, “This has been my fight since day one.” Smiling, he continued, “Are you sure that you are okay with Plan B?”

    Jysella’s brown eyes turned serious. “Yes.” She smiled a half-smile, “When you first asked me about this, I just kinda looked into it as a lark; something to try before getting serious about being a Jedi.” Jacen smiled at her candor. “But one morning during my second semester at IC, something clicked. I CAN do this. I’ll never be a Jedi like your sister or my father, but…I am good at chemistry, I am good at physiology. I can be a good doctor.” She looked down at the floor, embarrassed about her bravado.

    Before Jacen could reply, she looked up and asked, “Do you remember Iago Nguyen?”

    Jacen scrunched his face, trying to remember the name. “Sorry, I recognize the name, but…”

    His former student interrupted, shaking her head. “It doesn’t matter. He was a couple of years behind me.” She said, thinking the additional information might jog Jacen’s memory. “Anyway, I had lunch with him the other afternoon and he started telling me about how he read in the news that lower-class residents on Coruscant are three times as likely to be found guilty of the same type of crime as wealthier citizens.” Jacen nodded; it was pretty much true of everywhere in the galaxy. Money is good for a lot of things: better housing, better food, better legal council, and, perhaps most importantly, more respect. “Long-story-short: he is taking Criminal Justice classes at IC. Iago wants to become a lawyer and try to give better legal representation to those people.”

    Jacen smiled again, and opened his mouth to reply, but Jysella pressed on as she poked him in the chest. “He is the reason you wanted me to think about going to Med School.” Jacen rolled his eyes to himself, once Jysella Horn got going; it was tough to get her to stop. “Iago and others like him. You wanted me to crack open the door to allow others to follow me. You think that the Jedi should branch out; integrate ourselves into society more.” The young woman had narrowed her eyes menacingly, but her tone was quiet and thoughtful.

    “Yes.” Jacen admitted.

    Jysella smiled warmly. “Well then, you’d better convince Master Skywalker, or the Queen Mother is going to have a flood of former Jedi flocking to her schools.”

    Jacen chuckled as the brunette woman pulled him into a friendly embrace. “I’d better be on my best behavior, then.” He released Jysella from their hug and gave her a wink before heading towards the bank of turbolifts.

    The younger woman smiled sadly to herself as she watched the GAG Colonel get onto the turbolift. As she did, it occurred to her that the reason the Solo kids were so revered at the Academy was that they never gave up. Both of them viewed seemingly insurmountable odds as a mere challenge. Without trying, they had inspired an entire generation of Jedi. Jysella shook her head sadly; she hoped that the Jaina and Jacen could mend whatever it was that had come between them, because together the two of them were unstoppable.
    O O(___)O O

    My intention was not to deride Ben Skywalker at the beginning of the chapter but only to point out that he still IS a teenager in this and most teenagers are head-strong and full of bravado. Jacen needs an apprentice who is willing to work with him, not for him. Furthermore, I think that Jacen is catching on that Lumiya is using Ben to get to his uncle.

    I used Jysella as a starting point for Jacen’s crusade to get Jedi more involved in the galaxy. There are a couple Jacen/Jysella stories both here and over on FF.N and while I found the pairing to be a bit…off, most stories had them as healers so I just ran with that plot device as a way of keeping continuity with the ‘pairing’. Personally, I don’t think it too hard to imagine that there were quite a few young Jedi teenagers with a crush on Mr. Solo.

    Oh, and if anyone here is considering going into medicine, it REALLY helps if you’ve majored in Chemistry—it is what makes the body run.
    Draconarius and Jade_eyes like this.
  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    I really like how Jacen is open and not defensive, with Jysella and with Danni. He seems to be able to acknowledge the hard facts about his relationship with TK as well as still feel motivated to work on it. @};- I must admit, =D= I haven't liked LOL a Jacen this much in a loooooong time. You make the reader "root for him." ;)
    Gemma likes this.
  10. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 6, 2012
    Thanks! IMO, the EU have lost sight of what it was that made so many of us become fans of Jacen Solo. Even in YJK, he wanted to get it right. He understood, in a way most of his peers did not, that doing the right thing is more important that just doing something; that sometimes thinking things through is the best course of action, even though everyone is screaming for action. Even in the Swarm War for large periods of LotF, Jacen was wrestling with doing the right thing.

    I introduced Danni into this because in profic, no one else was talking to Jacen. They were talking about him and they were talking at him, but no one was willing to say, "You've got the right idea, but you're going about this a bit wrong." SW killed off two of their most interesting, nuanced characters, Qui-Gon Jinn and Jacen Solo, much to the detriment of better overall storytelling. Jacen's debates with Luke and the rest of the Council about the 'correct' view of what it means to be a Jedi would have been infinitely better than the crap we got.
  11. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 6, 2012
    Ceillean, Jade_eyes

    Chapter 9—Game Time

    Riding in the glass lift, Jacen tried to get back into ‘battle mode’ for the arguments that he was about to have with his Aunt, to no avail. His mind was too busy remembering the look that Jysella had given him before he had gotten on the lift. Her look that said she believed him to be capable of anything, that he would be able to get Mara and Luke Skywalker to change their position. Kriff, I can’t even be a decent Sith, how can I change anyone’s mind?

    The GAG Colonel was so lost in thought that it took him a second to realize that the lift had stopped and the doors were open. Rolling his eyes at his own inattention, he stepped out and made his way down the hall towards his aunt and uncle’s flat. As he walked, he checked himself to ensure that his Force presence was contained; he did not want to give Masters Skywalker any chance to prepare for this visit. Pausing outside of their door, Jacen took a deep breath and rang the door chime. Show time.

    After a few moments, the door slid open revealing the impossibly blue eyes of his uncle. Eyes that widened in shock at seeing his nephew and narrowed quickly in suspicion. “Jacen! This is a surprise.”

    The younger man suppressed a grimace; he had been planning on talking to Mara. Bowing politely, he answered in a tone that would have made his mother very proud. “Uncle Luke; please forgive my intrusion into your morning. Might I have a minute?”

    “Well, as you can see,” his uncle explained, gesturing down at his grey cargo pants and ribbed tank top, “I was about to get in some ‘sabre practice.” Luke smiled at his nephew, “Care to join me?”

    Jacen could hear the challenge underneath Luke’s nonchalant tone; it was clear that his uncle had been wishing to have a go at him for a while. Jacen smiled, trying to answer with the same nonchalant tone, “Sure. It’s been a while though, so try to take it easy on me.” Jacen was really not in the mood to spar with his uncle, but he was a Solo, and Solos never backed down.

    Luke chuckled, “I’ll try to remember that,” he responed, clearly not meaning it. “Let me grab my shoes.” The Grand Master went back into his flat, leaving Jacen standing in the doorway.

    On his way back to the front door, Luke pulled on his traditional Jedi robe as he grabbed a water bottle off of the kitchen counter and made his way back to the open door. “Ready?”

    Jacen nodded and the two of them started to make their way to the turolifts. Looking over at his nephew, Luke commented on his appearance, “Not that it is any of my business,” he said in a tone that indicated that he did think it his business, “but it looks like you slept in that shirt.”

    Jacen shot him an amused look, “I didn’t.” He paused briefly, “But I know who did.” One thing Jacen learned from his dealings with Ta’a Chume was how to let other people run with their assumptions; the longer people hold their beliefs, the more they mold reality to fit those beliefs. If his uncle wanted to think him a playboy, it would be just that much harder to deduce the truth about Allana.

    The Jedi Master only shook his head. “Are you still seeing that singer?”

    “Don’t you have an Order to run?” Jacen answered drily. “I would think the social life of a lowly public servant would be way down the list of things to worry about.”

    Luke pushed the ‘call’ button for the turbolift and shrugged. “Consider it an uncle’s perogative.”

    As they stepped onto the ‘lift, Luke looked over at his nephew, “So, what brings you to the Temple?”

    Jacen sighed as he pressed the button for the correct floor. Casting a curious eye on his former master, he answered quietly, “Ben.” Luke visibly tensed as Jacen continued; “I feel that it would be better for all involved if you found a different Master for him to study under.”

    The head of the Jedi Order tried to keep the relief from his voice. “May I ask why?”

    Shaking his head, Jacen smiled a humorless smile. There were times, like right now, that he preferred Mara’s blunt approach to his uncle’s attempts at subtlety. “We both know why: neither Mara nor you trust me. You,” he emphasized, turning to look directly at his uncle, “haven’t trusted me in years.” He sighed again, visibly trying to reign in his anger. “Anyway, I do not wish to come between Ben and his parents.”

    Luke only nodded and they rode in silence the rest of the trip to their floor. As they exited the lift, the older man opined, “Perhaps later, after you’ve earned…”

    “DO. NOT. Finish that thought.” Jacen interrupted, straightening up to his full height and glaring down at his uncle. Shaking his head, “I am no longer sixteen. I no longer feel the need for you to approve of my every move; earning your trust is way, way down my list of things to do.”

    The Jedi Master stared at his one-time pupil as they made their way down the hallway. “I’m sorry you feel that way, Jacen.” He smiled slightly, “Thank you, by the way. Thank you for all that you’ve done for Ben.”

    Colonel Solo froze momentarily, clearly taken aback. The comment was offered as a peace offering, of course, but he still felt the sincerity in his uncle’s comment. Nodding once, he resumed walking down the hallway. “He has a lot of talent and will do well. If I may, I’d like to offer a suggestion as to who ought to be Ben’s next Master.”

    Luke looked quizzically at the younger man as he opened the door to their training room. “Who’d you have in mind?” Luke asked as he shrugged off his Jedi robes and started to perform some light stretching.

    Jacen watched his uncle for a few seconds before answering, “Corran Horn.” Sensing Luke’s surprise, he smiled slightly, “Ben has developed some impressive investigative skills, and I think that working with Master Horn would further hone these skills.”

    Narrowing his blue eyes in consternation, Luke’s tone became harsh, “Is that how you view us now, Jacen? As police?”

    Here we go. Suppressing a grimace, the younger man shook his head. “Of course not. But, I don’t think that we should be holed-up in the Temple, either.”

    A flash of anger crossed the Jedi master’s face. “You know better than that. The Jedi follow the will of the Force.”

    Jacen allowed a predatory grin; he might not be in the mood for ‘sabre practice, but he was always in the mood for a philosophical debate. “But only if the ‘Will’ keeps them in line with what you define.” Luke opened his mouth to reply, but Jacen kept going, letting his pent-up frustration with the Order boil out, “The ‘Will of the Force’ called my Mother to be Chief-of-State, and she used the Force almost daily in trying to keep the peace, but you refused to call her a Jedi Knight until she could waive a lightsaber. The Force calls my sister to fly; yet you don’t allow her to act as an instructor to future pilots. Jaina is the best pilot in the Alliance; why is she not allowed to pass her knowledge on to the next generation?” Jacen scowled at his former master, “How do you know that the Force is not ‘calling’ Ben to be an Intelligence Agent? How do you know it is not ‘calling’ Jysella to be a doctor?”

    Luke pointed a finger at Jacen’s face, clearly seething; “I told you to stay away from her.”

    Unseen by either man, Jysella Horn stood on the balcony overlooking the practice floor and recoiled in horror. She had never once seen the GrandMaster angry, and it was scary, she was unsure if it were possible for the two men standing in the small room below her would ever be able to mend whatever it was that had come between them, but she knew that she did not wish to be the reason for their falling out. Cautiously, she reached out to Jacen and tried to let him know that she was not worth the trouble; that she would try to content herself with being an EMT for the Order.

    To her surprise, Jacen smirked at his uncle, a smirk that Jysella knew that was really aimed at her. “No. That ‘order’ is even less enforceable now than it was three years ago.” Shaking his head, “Jysella has the grades, the MCAT score, and the determination. We don’t need your approval, the Queen Mother has already agreed to give us a letter of recommendation; Jysella is going to Med School, with or without your sabbatical.”

    Luke continued to glare at the younger man, “I see. Why are you bothering with me, then?”

    Letting out a deep breath, Jacen answered, “Because it will kill her to leave the Order.” Jacen looked away from his uncle, “Jysella shouldn’t have to choose; she can be both a doctor and a Jedi.” He paused and looked once again at his one-time mentor, “Corran and Mirax are some of your oldest friends; why are you letting your anger with me damage your relationship with them?” Jacen shook his head and turned to leave, he was not going to persuade his uncle to change. Reaching out to Jysella, he tried to convey that he would understand if she did not wish to defy the GrandMaster.

    Skywalker stared at the floor for a second, responding just as Jacen reached the door. “Why her? You can have any woman on Coruscant, why are you pursuing Jysella?”

    Upstairs, Jysella dug her nails into her palms to keep her anger at Luke’s comment in check. None of her friends really believed that she wanted to be a doctor; they all thought she was doing this because her one-time crush paid her a compliment and took her out for pizza--a belief, apparently, that Master Skywalker held.

    Jacen spun and glared at the Jedi Master; incredulous that his uncle thought that he was doing this simply because he thought Jysella was pretty. “I’m not trying to have anybody.” He let out a deep sigh as he looked up at the ceiling, deciding to voice the real reason he wanted Jysella Horn to go to Medical School, “I look at her and I see me from fifteen years ago. I see me before the Vong, before Myrkr, before the Embrace of Pain.” He lowered his gaze and shook his head, “I don’t want her to end up like me: jaded, bitter…lonely.” Jacen’s voice turned accusatory, “Jysella Horn is the smartest, most compassionate person in this building, she wants to go into medicine for all of the right reasons, and all anyone here talks about is that she is not as talented as her brother.” He stabbed his uncle in the chest with his index finger, “Shame on you.”

    Luke looked at his nephew with understanding; Jacen, and the Order, had lost a lot during his captivity. Still, the man standing in front of him always seemed to have ulterior motives. “If I grant Jysella this sabbatical, what will your next ‘crusade’ be?”

    The younger man heard the derision in his uncle’s voice and bristled at the thought. Most of the Council viewed his arguments for allowing the Jedi to branch out as no more than a passing fad; that they thought him to be nothing more than a bored playboy and he became indignant, his voice sharp. “My next crusade is to get Jaina back into a cockpit again to pass on some of her skills; my next crusade is to get my mother to start teaching political science classes to the next generation of leaders and stop traipsing around the galaxy; my next crusade is get Mr. Nguyen into the College of Law; my next crusade is for Ben to be an Inspector for Coruscanti PD, if that is what he wishes to be.” The Jedi had become stagnant, the Alliance was on the brink of war, and Jacen felt it his duty to do what he could to change both of these facts. Sighing dejectedly, he continued, “The Order needs to change, Uncle Luke. You need to change. The galaxy is not what it was.” He allowed a small smile at his uncle as he again turned to leave.

    “Is that why you continue to antagonize the Council? Because you think you are smarter than the rest of us?”

    Jacen turned his head and frowned slightly as he walked to the door. “I will do what I must.”

    Luke’s head snapped up, recognizing the quote. “You are no Qui-Gon Jinn.”

    “And you are a far cry from Master Yoda.” Jacen replied caustically, looking over his shoulder.

    Luke shook his head at his nephew’s comments: the Jedi would not change to suit the whims of galaxy. “What about you? You talk of change, yet you’re the one who has become arrogant and unapproachable.”

    Whipping around, Jacen stared unbelievingly at the older man. “I’m arrogant?” He paused, his face scrunched in distaste. “You voluntarily joined the Emperor and the dark side to see what you could learn.” He took a couple of steps closer, “You named yourself a Jedi Master.” Jacen again pointed a finger at Luke’s chest, “You insist upon being called ‘Grand Master’, even though Master Yoda never referred to himself as such. You did all that, and you the nerve to call me arrogant?” The GAG Colonel scowled and bit out derisively, “What’s your next title going to be? Kingmaker?”

    Luke lashed out with the Force, his nephew flying backwards five meters before crashing into the wall with a satisfying ‘thump’.

    Jysella bit her hand to keep from yelling as she watched Jacen pick himself off the floor, a terrifying smile plastered on his face. Putting his left hand up to his lip, he mentally winked at Jysella when he saw the blood from his split lip on his fingers. This is going to be fun.

    “Careful, Master Jedi…” Jacen said casually, using the same haughty tone that he had heard once from one of the Nightsisters, “…you wouldn’t want to become angry.”

    Luke said nothing as he removed his lightsaber from his belt, his piercing blue eyes glaring at Jacen.

    Nodding reluctantly, Jacen removed his own lightsaber from his belt, smirking his inherited Solo smirk. Just one more nudge, Jacen thought and said the one thing guaranteed to get another spike of anger from his uncle, “Choose and act, Uncle…”

    As expected, his words worked: with a blur of movement, Luke ignited his weapon and sprung at his nephew’s left shoulder before the younger man could even finish his sentence, striking with a speed that was inhuman; a speed that was going to make this a very short ‘practice’ session.

    Luke’s eyes widened in shock when Jacen’s green blade intercepted his own about half a meter short of his intended target. The Jedi Master’s felt his ire rise further when Jacen’s smirk turned into a full-blown grin. Apparently Luke had forgotten that Jacen used to teach at the academy, and had gone against some of the fastest hands ever to carry a lightsaber. Sensing his uncle’s distaste, “Yep, the ‘bleeding heart’ can still fight.” Jacen said off-handedly, his eyes sparkling in satisfaction.

    With a twist of his wrist, Jacen separated their two blades and the ‘practice’ session began in earnest as he launced into a three-pronged with the same ruthless speed that his uncle had shown, backing the Jedi Master up a few paces.

    O O(___)O O

    Up on the balcony, Iago Nguyen sidled up to his friend. “Ten credits Master Skywalker beats your boyfriend in five minutes.”

    Jysella shot her short friend an evil look; she had gotten over her crush on Mr. Solo ages ago, why did everyone still think she held a candle for the guy? Shaking her head, she was about to reply when she heard a condescending laugh from the floor below, “Nope, that was a one-time deal only.” With that, Jacen’s Force presence disappeared and Jysella knew that he had gone into his ‘Vong’ phase. Giving Iao a wry smirk, “Make it twenty, and you’re on.”


    O O(___)O O

    Luke found himself being backed into the far wall by his nephew’s attack and found that he enjoyed the challenge. However, it was now time to wipe Jacen’s self-satisfied smirk off his face. With a quick flick of his right wrist, he lashed out with the Force, intending to once again shove his nephew back against the far wall.

    Jacen noticed the quick flick and held out his own hand, absorbing the massive jolt of Force energy as he felt himself slide backwards half-a-meter. Game on. “Nope…” he replied, grinning wildly, “…that was a one-time deal only.” Using the energy he had just absorbed, Jacen resumed his relentless assault, his pace even faster than before, and switched into his ‘Vong sense’.

    For years, Jacen, like everyone else, had misunderstood the Yuuzhan Vong’s warrior mentality; almost everyone had assumed that the warrior caste simply liked to kill things. Only when he had happened upon Master Windu’s holocron and started to practice Vapaad did he fully understand what the Vong mentality really was: they relished the fight, the thrill of matching wits with a fellow warrior in a no-holds-barred, fight-to-the-finish brawl. To them, it was the process that mattered, not the outcome. Oddly, Mace’s Vapaad was much the same; one had to enjoy the fight in order to properly use the technique, and only when Jacen channeled his inner ‘Vong’ could he channel Vapaad.

    After several rapid blows to his uncle’s midsection, Jacen backed up a step and whipped his blade in a couple of quick figure ‘8’ motions, his mental ‘trigger’ for engaging Vapaad.

    For a long second, the two men stared at each other, clearly sizing each other up after this initial round. With a sudden flurry, Jacen launched a complex three-stroke attack aimed at Luke’s right hip, which Luke easily deflected. These blocks would have frustrated a younger Jacen Solo. Indeed, when he was younger Jacen always thought that if he could just get faster, he could finally best his uncle, never fully understanding that it is almost impossible to best a Soresu Master with speed alone. Before, Luke had been content to let his nephews tire themselves out with their bravado, their desire to prove themselves. Now, however, Jacen recognized that the tables were turned, that he had nothing to lose. If his uncle beat him—well, that was to be expected. Luke, however, had wanted to take his nephew down a notch for who-knows-how-long, so this was more than just a random training session for him; this was personal.

    Smirking to himself, Jacen continued his assault, keeping his blows confined to Luke’s midsection, waiting for his uncle’s counter-attack. When it came, it came with a ferocity that surprised him a little; Luke feinted to his left and quickly re-attacked to his right, his own green saber a blur. There was no question that Luke was very good, and Jacen did not have to pretend to get his block up in the nick of time.

    And so it went for an undetermined amount of time, each man pressing an advantage only to be stonewalled a few moments later, unable to find a way fully get past the others defenses.

    Jacen launched a four-stroke attack at Luke’s head and then followed it up with a sweep of his legs, hoping to catch Luke unawares. His uncle leaped over Jacen’s leg sweep…and was suddenly slammed into the far wall, the breath whooshing out of his lungs with a loud grunt. As he crashed to the floor, he heard his lightsaber clatter to the ground somewhere off to his right as it powered down with a hiss-snap, and watched as his nephew gave him an almost apologetic smile as Jacen called the now deactivated lightsaber to his hand and walked over to where he was slumped against the wall.

    “Where’d you learn that?” Luke asked, his tone clearly mystified, as he took Jacen’s proferred hand.

    Pulling his uncle to his feet, Jacen answered, “I met a Jensaarai woman named Eriana Fostenton about eighteen months into my trip.” Handing Luke’s lightsaber back, he continued wistfully, lost in his memories, “She is the best swordsman I’ve ever seen.” Looking again at his uncle, “After some cajoling, I got her to practice the intricacies of Vapaad with me; we spent the better part of twelve months practicing the form.”

    Luke’s face scrunched in concentration, “Vapaad? I’ve never heard of it.”

    “I hadn’t either.” Jacen admitted, shaking his head as he let out a long sigh. “Not until I stopped by Jorj Car’das’ library.” He paused, clearly searching for a way to explain Vapaad. “Oddly, from what I’ve been able to determine, Vapaad is more of a state of mind rather than an actual form.”

    “This Eriana? What happened to her?” There was no mistaking the knowing tone in Luke’s voice.

    Mentally smiling at his uncle buying into his ‘playboy’ act, Jacen allowed a dejected sigh, “Once she found out I was part of the ‘Skywalker legacy’”, unconsciously, Jacen made the quote marks as he said this, “Eriana no longer wished to be my practice partner.”

    Luke answered with a sad nod as neither man said anything for a long moment. Finally, with an air of condesenstion in his voice, “Pity you didn’t teach this technique to any of your students.”

    “He did.” Jysella answered, her smug voice coming from the observation deck. “Or do you think it coincidence that Jacen’s students were always winning your ‘sabre tournaments?”

    Scowling at his nephew, Luke turned his head slightly to let his voice carry up to the balcony, “Don’t you have somewhere else to be Knight Horn?”

    Jysella let her voice grow as cold as she felt she could get away with, “No, I don’t. I would be attending neural chemistry lectures, but…”

    “…That’s enough, Ms. Horn.” Jacen interrupted smoothly, sending her a mental wink; it would not do to embarrass the GrandMaster, not when Jacen got the feeling they were finally going to make headway with their sabbatical.

    Luke was still scowling at his nephew, “You always let you students argue on your behalf?”

    Jacen allowed a small shrug, “They’re usually more persuasive than I.”

    Not taking his eyes off of Jacen, Luke again addressed Jysella; “It’s easy to win tournaments when you can pick your own students.”

    Jysella’s eyes widened in shock: Is that what the Council thought of Jacen? That he had stacked the deck? Feeling her anger simmer, she retorted, “Is that what you think?” Channeling some of her grandfather’s legendary temper, she used it to defend her favorite teacher, “I managed to finish second in both tourneys my last year, and I am not on anyone’s list of top ten swordsmen.” Her voice turned frosty again, “Perhaps you should take a look at your records, Master Skywalker.” With this, Luke snapped his head up to look at her, and Jysella realized that she had probably pushed things too far. Still, she was a Horn, and she refused to be intimidated, not even by the GrandMaster. As she returned Luke’s glare, she heard Jacen’s wry voice in her head, Well Done! You should probably go now before he really gets mad. Giving Jacen a quick look, Jysella turned and left the balcony.

    After she had left, Luke again turned his glare to Jacen who gave him a small ‘what-can-you-do’ shrug. Luke held the look for several seconds before finally going over to the corner, picked up his robes, and left the arena.

    Letting out a deep breath, Jacen gave his uncle a thirty count before he, too, left the practice court. Unsurprisingly, Jysella was waiting for him in the corridor. “Nice job.” He told her, “I wouldn’t have thought to bring up the tournament results.”

    “Do you think it’ll do any good?” Jysella asked as she half-turned to accompany him towards the turbolift.

    Jacen shrugged, “It’ll make them look at least.” He glanced at his former student, “Maybe they’ll realize I’m not as superficial as they think.”

    Jysella nodded as they got on the lift. “Speaking of superficial…” she turned and scrutinized her friend, “Did you mean what you said?”

    With a warm laugh, Jacen turned to look into her brown eyes. “That you remind me of myself when I was younger?” Jacen’s gaze fell to the floor, “Yeah.” A long pause ensued, “I lost most of my empathy in the war; I don’t want you to lose yours.”

    Jysella took his hand and gave it an affectionate squeeze; Jacen telling her that she reminded him of what he used to be was probably the best compliment she could receive. After waiting for Jacen to look up, she gave him a wry smile. “Thanks--but I meant when you thought that I was attractive.”

    There was a long pause as the two of them stared at each other, Jacen had forgotten about their link at the time he thought that; finally, they both started to laugh, the tension of their confrontation with Skywalker dissepating. Jacen returned the squeeze of her hand, “I do.” He paused for a second, “Just don’t tell your father…or your brother.”

    Letting go of his hand, Jysella ruffled Jacen’s wavy brown hair as she winked at him. “Your secret is save with me.”

    O O(___)O O

    “Luke?” He heard his wife call from the entryway, followed by the tell-tale ‘thunk’ of the front door closing.

    “Down here.” Luke replied loudly over his shoulder from his desk in the study at the end of the hall. Hearing her footfalls, he turned his attention back to vidscreen and jotted down a few more notes from the student progress report he was currently looking at.

    “How was your day?” Mara asked, leaning against the doorway.

    “Educational.” The leader of the Jedi Order deadpanned, glancing at her reflection in the monitor. “I had a small ‘chat’ with our nephew.”

    His wife could not contain her disgust, “What about this time?”

    Luke shrugged as he chuckled lightly, “You know: about how the Order needs to change; how Jysella should be allowed a sabbatical...the usual.” He paused sensing her frustration and added, almost as an afterthought, “And Ben.”

    Mara’s frustration sharpened, “What about our son?” There was no mistaking the malice in her voice, “Did you tell him that there is no way we’re going to allow Ben to accompany him on any more of those GAG raids?”

    “I didn’t have to; Jacen stopped by to say that he was stepping aside as Ben’s Master.”

    Mara sighed a deflated sigh; clearly she had been gearing up for a fight. “Oh.”

    Nodding, Luke continued as he continued to watch his wife’s reflection, “He mentioned that it was quite obvious that we don’t trust him and he had no desire to ‘come between Ben and his parents’.”

    Shaking her head, her auburn hair waving behind her, “Jacen’s...” wrong. Mara wanted to say it; wanted to vocalize that of course they trusted their only nephew, he was family. Hanging her head, she realized that they did not trust him; they had not really trusted him since his return from...wherever the hell he had gone. She had had to lobby her husband pretty hard to get him to agree to allow Ben to apprentice to Jacen; an arrangement that she was still rather leary of. Jacen was a smart guy—he had probably known for a long time just how short a leash his aunt and uncle had kept him on, seemingly waiting for him to screw up.

    It was several minutes before either of them said anything, both clearly lost in thought. Why had they lost faith in their nephew? Finally, Luke cleared his throat and commented, “I challenged him to a duel.”

    Raising an eyebrow at her husband’s out-of-character phrasing, “Did you kick his liberal little butt?”

    Luke turned to face his wife so she could finally see the deep bruise that covered his left eye, “Nope.”

    Mara stood dumbfounded at his admission; Luke Skywalker was one of the best swordsman the Order had ever seen, how was it that his liberal, searching–for-meaning-everywhere nephew could best him in a straight-up fight? Thinking on this, the former Emperor’s Hand quickly went to the kitchen, grabbing a dishtowel and a few ice cubes. What else did Jacen learn out there? Wrapping the ice in the towel, she returned to their study and handed her husband the impromptu ice pack, getting a nod of thanks in return. As Luke held the ice up to his face, he explained further, “Jacen mentioned that he learned a lightsaber technique called Vapaad from a Jensaarai woman he had met out in the unknown regions.” He looked up at her, “You ever hear of it?”

    “Vapaad?” Mara’s green eyes narrowed in concentration as she thought, “Only rumors.” Shaking her head at not being able to recall anything specific, “Something about a Master Windu inventing it.”

    Luke nodded in agreement; his wife comfirming what Jacen had said. “That’s what Jacen mentioned.” Luke held up his hand, forestalling Mara’s impeding question, “And no, Jacen does not know where she is; they lost touch some time ago.” A small shrug, “At least that’s what he said.”

    His wife continued to scowl; they never knew when Jacen was being entirely truthful, not anymore and at the fact that their nephew taught at the Academy for three years and not once mentioned this technique. Commenting caustically,“A pity he never deemed us important enough to know about this skill.”

    She heard a small snort of laughter as Luke looked at her wryly, “Funny, I said the same thing.” A small grin formed on his face, “That’s when Jysella Horn decided to make her presence known.”

    Mara rolled her green eyes; if nothing else, Jysella was known for never backing down from an argument. “Of course she would, she’s been crushing on Jacen for years.”

    Luke nodded in agreement, “True. But she did point out that one of his students won the semi-annual fencing tournaments every year he taught here.”

    “It’s easy to win you hand-pick the best students for your class.”

    Unable to keep from laughing, Luke marveled at the way he and his wife thought alike. Shaking his head at her confused look, he explained, “Sorry, I shouldn’t laugh; I said the same thing, almost verbatim.” Seeing the amused sparkle in her eye at the thought, he continued, “Anyway, that’s when Ms. Horn pointed out that she finished second in both tournaments her last year at school.” Mara frowned at this information, Jysella Horn was a great many things: smart, funny, easy-going, and had great potential. But a tournament finalist? Mara could not see Mirax’s daughter in that light; Jysella was just not that talented. Seeing her reaction, Luke gestured to the vidscreen, “I took a page from your handbook and checked.” This garnered a small smirk from his wife, she was always telling people to ‘trust, but verify.’ “It seems that Ms. Horn is correct. Not only did Jacen’s students win each of the six tournaments during his tenure here, but they also finished 1-2 in four of them.”

    While letting Mara digest this new information, Luke turned and grabbed the flimsi pad he had been scribbling notes on. “I’ve been doing some digging. This is what her previous instructors had to say about Jysella.” He flipped back a couple of pages, “Year 2: ‘Still confused between Form I and Form III.’ Year 3: ‘Lacks concentration. Unable to motivate.’ Year 4: ‘Seems uninterested. Middling talent at best.’” Luke looked back up at his wife. “Jacen’s comments?” He asked rhetorically, and handed her the flimsi, having already committed his nephew’s comments to memory. “Year 5: ‘Constantly in shadow of older brother and father. Worked on confidence and overcoming unrealistic expectations. A Shien natural.’ Year 6: ‘Confidence growing. Responds well to challenges and goals. Second place finisher-- Twice!’”

    Mara smiled at the way her husband’s inflection caught the pride in Jacen’s double-underlined wording. “Yeah, but we both know she always had a thing for him, so she was probably just responding to his extra attention.”

    “I had similar thoughts, so I looked up some of this other students.” Mara nodded as he flipped the page for her to read his notes:

    Darra Beks—Year4: Uninspired. No sense of urgency.
    Year5: Lacksidasical approach. Doesn’t listen to instruction.
    Year6: (Jacen) Tactile learner. Can ‘feel’ Form III patterns— huge advances made. Made him promise to come to my class when not on a mission.

    Mara turned the page.

    Nelani Dinn—Year4: More interested in flirting. Lacks focus.
    Year5: (Jacen) Mother worked in pleasure house--deep fear of becoming ‘ugly’. First student I’ve had to be able to use Form VI.
    Year6: (Jacen) More comfortable in ‘casual’ clothes, able to spend time alone without fear of being alone. Fastest hands I’ve seen this side of Hapes and has the anticipatory ability of Durron; finished third in fall tourney due to lame footwork penalty in semis—Won spring tournament! Stupid proud of her!

    Mara was going to turn another page, but Luke placed his hand on the flimsi pad. As she looked up, he said seriously, “There are another four pages of students, but they are all along the same line.” Luke took a deep breath, shaking his head, “Jacen didn’t take the best students, he took the ones that were struggling and turned them into the best.” Pausing, he hung his head in embarrassment, “Jacen took the time to find out why these kids were struggling in their lessons, and made them all better.”

    Mara’s tone turned thoughtful, “We should probably apologize.”

    Surprisingly, Luke shook his head. “I think that it’s too late for that.”

    After a long moment, Mara finally caught on; “You’re going to give Jysella her sabattical?”

    The Grandmaster let out a deep breath, “Yeah.” He looked guiltily at his wife, “I keep thinking back to what Mon Mothma told me once,” he surprised his wife by imitating the esteemed former Chief-of-State, “’The Jedi need to be doctors, lawyers, taxi drivers…’” Luke let out a loud sigh as he sat back in his chair, “Jacen’s right, we’ve been so focused on being Jedi that we’ve forgotten how to be…citizens.”

    Squeezing his hand Mara replied in a soft tone. “I knew you’d see the light sooner or later.” Catching his hurt look, she merely shrugged. “We’d better call Ben to see if he wants to go dinner after getting ‘dumped’ by his Master.”
    O O(___)O O

    A/N: ***Grabs Kevlar helmet and dives into ‘bombproof’ to await World War I-style artillery barrage.*** (1000 guns for 8 hours, for those curious)

    Eriana Fostenton is a character from Jedi Carpet’s fantastic From the Ashes quadrilogy, (is that a word?) and is used with permission. If I can find a way to work her into the story later, I will, but I don’t want to force her. Also from his story, I borrowed Jacen’s method of getting into his ‘Vapaad’ mode, the ‘figure 8’ sword slash. Mostly, ‘cause I think it would look really cool if done fast enough.

    I changed the timeline of Nelani’s training for a better fit into Jacen’s time as an instructor.

    One last note, I’ve never liked that many fans thought Jacen a crappy Jedi because he was ‘liberal’, so I threw in the ‘bleeding heart’ line and others.

    Thanks again for reading.
    Gemma likes this.
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    =D= on the L/M discussion. You got their talking over stuff tone just right. :) Great work on the duel scene as well. The comment about Jedi just being citizens makes me wonder what would have been the outcome if they'd been doing that during the NJO timeframe as well. [face_thinking]
    Gemma likes this.
  13. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 6, 2012
    Thanks for that! I'm not going to lie, I have a hard time writing Luke in this timeframe. From my view, and I would say this even if I weren't such a huge Jacen fan, Luke seems...remote...from the start of Joiner King onwards. IMO, he acts a lot like the Jedi Council acted towards Anakin Skywalker: cold, distant, judgmental. In an entire series where everyone is largely OOC, Luke is especially so.

    I don't understand what happened to the view of the Jedi that Mon Mothma proposed. Like JL, I think the Order would be much better served if we had a large group of Jedi who acted in a 'Reserve' role. To be sure, they need 'full-time' Jedi, just as the military needs full-time troops, but there is also a need for a 'reserve' force. The EU has isolated the Jedi too much, in my view.

    Next update will be tomorrow. Thanks again for reading, Jade!
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  14. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 6, 2012
    Chapter 10—Walk This Way…

    A/N: This chapter is going to be a bit longer, even my standards. I couldn’t find a convenient place to break it half, and my ‘natural’ break came to early to be of much use. As always, thank you for the feedback…I promise I won’t bite if you leave a review! On behalf of Danni, Allana, Tenel Ka and Jacen, thank you for reading!

    O O(___)O O

    Knowing he was four hours late, Jacen cringed at the furious look Marné sent him when he walked into his office; a look that gradually softened as she ran her eyes over his disheveled appearance. Concern filled her voice as she asked cautiously, “You jump off of a speeder again?”

    Jacen shot her a wry look as he stopped at her desk, “Not this time; although it feels like it.” Sitting on the edge of her desk, he grabbed a chocolate out of the dish sitting on the corner. Unwrapping the foil, he admitted sheepishly, “I ‘practiced’ with Master Skywalker today.”

    Holding out her hand for the wrapper, his violet-eyed assistant stared at him unbelievingly. Finally, she found her voice, “What, you didn’t get enough torture from the Vong?” Shaking her head, Marné sighed resignedly, “How bad was it?”

    Jacen winked as he grabbed another chocolate before heading for his office. “I won.” Chuckling warmly at her gob-smacked expression, he headed into is office to find a change of clothes.

    He was still chuckling a few moments later as he rummaged through the small closet in his office when he felt the slight shift in air pressure indicating that a door had been opened. Swallowing a sigh, he turned to face his Sith ‘master’. “You could knock, you know.”

    Lumiya merely shrugged as her green eyes sparkled. Stepping closer, her look became puzzled. “Is that perfume I smell?”

    Jacen knew that she was fishing for information; it was pretty obvious from his attire that he had not gone home. Smiling humorlessly, “It might be.” Danni had not worn any perfume last night, and he had definitely been close enough to notice.

    Again, the hint of a smile showed in Lumiya’s eyes as she said wryly, “You probably shouldn’t get into the habit of sleeping with your potential apprentice.”

    Yep, she was fishing. “Nah, I had to make…alternative arrangements.” Lying to a Sith Lord is something that most people only get the chance to do once, but Jacen had seen the ‘out’: because ‘sleeping’ had not been what Lumiya had really meant, it was true that he and Danni had made ‘alternative arrangements’. Therefore, he was telling the truth.

    “Ah. So Jacen Solo is human.” The Sith replied knowingly, “How much did this ‘arrangement’ cost you?”

    Jacen allowed a small smirk, his attempt at misdirection worked much better than he had hoped. “I gentleman never kisses and tells.”

    “If you spend the night only kissing, you got overcharged.”

    Jacen hung his head, laughing at the joke. A Sith with a sense of humor? Who knew?

    Lumiya continued, “I’m assuming from the ‘saber burns on your shirt that you’ve been practicing.” As Jacen reflexively looked down at his shirt, her tone frosted over a bit, “I thought you were going to dump Ben Skywalker.”

    “I did. His father wished to take me down a notch.” He paused theatrically, “I’m not the pushover he thought me to be.”

    His master said nothing as she simply stared at him for a long moment. Apparently, it is possible to surprise a Sith. “Interesting,” she purred, “Could you do it again?”

    “Probably.” Jacen admitted. “It took me a while to get into right frame of mind this morning.”

    Lumiya said nothing as stared at him, pondering this information. Jacen understood enough about interrogations--she was giving him the ‘silent’ treatment in the hopes that he would volunteer more information. Fifteen years ago, it would have worked; but that was before the Embrace. Now? Now Jacen knew better.

    Realizing that her pupil was not going to offer up anything further, the Sith Lord nodded to his desk, “I brought you a gift.”

    Craning his neck to see around his master, Jacen saw a small metal box about the size of a caf maker sitting on his desk. Turning his attention back to Lumiya, “You shouldn’t have, ” he offered drolly, eliciting a soft chuckle from his master, “…and it’s a…?”

    “Sith flame-fusion machine.” She answered proudly.

    Jacen shook his head as he let out a snort of laughter. Raising an eyebrow, “It’s inanimate, I don’t think it’s a…Sith anything.”

    Fixing her green eyes on her student, she retorted, “Fine, it’s a flame-fusion machine that the Sith have used.” Even hidden under her mask, Jacen was pretty sure he could see her scowl. “Better?”

    Jacen nodded as he walked over to examine the metal box, “Much. What does a flame-fusion machine do?”

    “It makes lightsaber crystals.” Again, there was no mistaking the pride in her voice. According to Sith lore, a synthetic crystal was superior to the natural crystals that the Jedi favored; the rationale being that more of the impurities were removed in a synthetic crystal, allowing the user to channel the Force more thoroughly into the blade, making it stronger.

    Turning his head to look at her, “I already have a lightsaber.” Because of his part in Tenel Ka’s accident, Jacen was all too aware of the inherent problems with natural crystals, but remained unconvinced about the claimed superiority of the man-made stones.

    “Yes, but not a Sith lightsaber.” Jacen raised his eyebrow again and her tone became authoritative, “Don’t.”

    Colonel Solo smiled and turned his attention back to the fusion machine, “And what possessing such a lightsaber do for me?”

    Lumiya answered, her voice almost reverent, “It will tell the galaxy that you are someone to be reckoned with.” To be feared—he understood her to mean.

    Jacen nodded absently as he pretended to be interested in the device. In all honesty, he possessed only a passing interest in electronics, but he needed time to think. Is that what he wanted? All he really wanted was to maintain the peace—wasn’t it? Standing, he looked over at Lumiya again, “Wouldn’t it be cheaper to simply put an announcement on the holonet?” He mimed a headline with his hands, “Jacen Solo to be next Sith Lord.”

    “Well, if you don’t want it…” she huffed and made a move for the device.

    Jacen smiled as he knocked her hand away from the machine, enjoying the fact that even Sith women can get pouty. “No, no. I’ll take it.” He offered his master an appreciative smile, “Thank you.”

    Lumiya’s posture eased, and he could see a small glint of a smile in her eyes, “You’re welcome, Jacen.”

    O O(___)O O

    Much later that evening…

    Jacen had to squint to see past the flashing yellow warning lights that were illuminating the bridge with an eerie amber glow—casting a quick look at the status displays at his console—how did he know where to look? —he saw that his ship was in dire straights. His ship? The shields were down completely, the main drives were at 55%, four banks of turbolasers had been knocked out on the starboard side, and the hull had been breached in three different locations. What in the hell is going on?
    Absently, it occurred to him that someone had thought to silence the audible alarm, because the only sound to be heard on the bridge was the faint ‘clicking’ of the alarm lights.

    Another vision, he thought to himself, noticing that this one was different than his previous ones; this one he was seeing in the first person. Glancing around the bridge, and blatantly ignoring the expectant looks he was getting from all of the bridge personnel, he somehow recognized the bridge as belonging to that of a Super Star Destroyer. How he knew that, he wasn’t quite sure, but it felt right. Finally, the Communications Officer cleared his throat, “My Lord? The Comm?” Jacen looked at him confusedly, My Lord? What did that mean? The young man looked chagrined at having to repeat himself, “We are being hailed by the Dragon Queen, my Lord.”

    Jacen mentally shook his head, still trying to figure out what was going on. Maybe Tenel Ka would be able to explain what was happening and why his SSD was in such dire shape. Nodding at the Comm Officer, “Very well. On screen, if you please,” he answered, hoping his voice sounded properly…Naval. What was the commander of an SSD supposed to sound like? He talked to Admiral Niathal, of course, but she was hardly a representative sample.

    When his friend’s visage appeared on the bridge’s main screen, he was taken aback by the cold outrage in her normally warm grey eyes. Hiding his shock, he addressed the Hapan Monarch, “Queen Mother…” he started, keeping his voice professional.

    Colonel Solo…” she interrupted, pain evident in her voice, “Your rule is at an end. Surrender now, or I will be forced to open fire.”

    My rule? Surrender? Open fire? What in the hell was going on? Unable to keep the confusion out of his voice, “I beg your pardon?” he asked, giving himself time to think. As he looked around the bridge, he stretched out with the Force to get a sense of what the crew was feeling. To a person, they all were determined to not go down without a fight; they all believed in their cause…his cause…to bring an end to the chaos. Many of their comrades had died today, and they were all determined to ensure those deaths meant something; that these traitors would not carry the day.

    “You heard me.” Tenel Ka’s cold voice interrupted his thoughts, “You have two minutes to stand down or we will blow you from the skies.” He could hear her icy resolve and could sense her Dathomiri warrior battle-lust bleeding through their tenuous link.

    Jacen could not keep the growing since of panic from rising in his gut; something had gone desperately wrong. He would never fight her, would he? He opened his mouth to agree to her terms, to apologize--anything to be able to hold her in his arms again, “Tenel Ka, I….” he trailed off. Once again, he felt his crew’s resolve and the rightness of their cause. He would not surrender now; he could not surrender now--not to her, not to anyone.

    “I see.” She replied sadly, a single tear visible trailing down her cheek. Jacen closed his eyes and let out a long sigh as she reached with her hand and terminated the connection.

    Quickly he snapped himself out of his reverie, and looked back up at his crew, an immense feeling of pride bursting in his chest. Odds are they were all going to die here, but they would die fighting; if he learned nothing else from the Vong, it was how to die with honor. Addressing his crew, his voice cracking with the immense affection he felt for all of them, “Get a firing solution on the closest Battle Dragons. Return fire on my command.”

    The weapons bay became a flurry of activity and he caught the nod of approval from his Executive Officer. Returning the nod, he turned his gaze out the forward viewport for the first time and saw massive fires burning on the planet below them. Who in the hell did that? he wondered briefly before seeing the first flashes of green from the nearest Battle Dragon. “Fire!” he commanded quietly and almost immediately heard the soft ‘whump’ as dozens of proton torpedoes were fired from their starboard launchers. Seconds later, he felt the impact of tens of turbolasers as they burned into his SSD, a ship he did not even know the name of.

    Jerking awake, Jacen took a deep breath as he tried to calm his rapidly beating heart. Running his hand through his sweat-slicked hair, he looked over at his bedroom chrono—0157. With a resigned sigh, he got up from his overlarge bed; trying to get back to sleep was only an invitation for more visions, each making even less sense than the one previous one. How could he get them to stop? He had tried sleeping pills, he had tried getting extra drunk--nothing seemed to help. He had seriously considered calling a ‘highly-regarded’ (meaning: very expensive) ‘escort’ service—after all his mother had complained all the time about his father conking out after a round of…activity. Shaking his head at the memory of his mother’s complaints, he took another look at the chrono and shrugged to himself as he pulled on the pair of ‘uniform’ pants lying at the foot of the bed; he had managed to get three hours of sleep this evening, a marked improvement over last night.

    Marné had mentioned a couple of days ago that he looked really tired, concern evident in her violet eyes. At the time, he wanted to tell her, ‘Well, when you only get two hours…’

    His thoughts died off halfway through buckling his belt, as a memory jumped out at him. Last night he slept until 0800. What was different about last night? His brow wrinkled in confusion as the answer bubbled out of his memory: Danni. What was different about his night with Danni? It obviously was not sex, and he still had these visions when he had stayed at the Fountain Palace, so it could not have been just because he slept next to someone, so what was it? Puzzled, he finished buckling the belt and made his way into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. What had he and Danni done last night? They had only talked most of the…

    Jacen froze, his hand over the kitchen faucet. Talked. When was the last time he had really talked to someone? He and Tenel Ka made idle chitchat, but they had not really talked, not like they used to; and it had been ages since he had talked to his mother. Could it really be something so mundane? His cup of tea forgotten, he picked his comlink off of the counter--only one way to find out.

    O O(___)O O
    With a startled gasp, Danni awoke and for the second time in a week found her bed in complete disarray. What was that? I’ve never been in the Navy—why was I on the bridge of a Star Destroyer? With a weird sense of déjà vu, the blonde woman got up to get a drink of water, throwing the duvet back onto the bed. Before reaching the bathroom, she heard the telltale marimba sound of her comlink. Scowling, she changed course to answer. Who could be calling at…? Suddenly, she remembered Sekot’s comment about sharing a Force connection with Jacen--apparently she was sharing his some of his visions in real-time. Picking up the comlink, “Articulate.”

    There was a slight pause, “Ar…what? Danni? I don’t even know what that means.” Danni chuckled at his exasperated tone and listened as Jacen sighed deeply, “Are you busy?”

    “Not any more,” she deadpanned. Putting her hand over the mic, she turned her attention to her empty bed and said in a louder voice, “Antonio? Honey, this is going to take a while; you might as well go home.” Uncovering the mic, she smiled as she heard Jacen’s laughter over the speaker.

    “My fault for asking.” There was another pregnant pause, “May I come over?”

    Danni’s first thought was to needle him some more, to tease him that he could only come over if his performance was better than it was the night prior, but decided against it. There was something about his tone that sounded…lonely…desperate almost. “Sure.”

    Through the speaker, she heard him let out a deep breath; apparently he had assumed she would turn him down. “Thanks, Danni.”

    “No problem.”
    O O(___)O O
    A little over thirty-minutes later, wearing a bathrobe thrown over her sleep shirt and pants, Danni opened the door and was greeted by a smug-looking Jacen Solo who immediately handed her a thick cardboard cup. Remaining in the doorway, Danni took a small sip of the hot chocolate and nodded appreciatively; he had added just the right amount of cinnamon to the chocolate. With a sly grin, she opened the door wider and moved to let him in, “I find your penance to be…acceptable.” Jacen’s smug smirk got a little bigger as she followed him into the living area.

    As they sat on opposite ends of the dark green couch, Danni looked over to scrutinize her friend. If anything, he looked even more haggard than he had yesterday, but maybe that was just because of the two-day-old stubble and wrinkled grey pants he had not bothered to change out of. Trying to ease his obvious funk, she said lightly, “Well, I know why I’m up at…” she checked her wrist chrono, “...0230. The question is: Why are you awake?”

    With a resigned sigh, he studied his hot chocolate as if he could find the answer to her question hiding under the remnants of the whipped cream. Finally, he answered in a small voice, “I can’t sleep.”

    Before she could stop herself, Danni chuckled twice; in her mind’s eye, she could see a five-year-old Jacen quietly stalking down the stairs in his footed pajamas and telling Leia the same thing in the same voice. Seeing his embarrassed look, Danni quickly apologized, “Sorry, I shouldn’t laugh.” Willing her face into a concerned look, “Have you tried…”

    “I’ve tried everything.” Jacen interrupted disgustedly. Seeing Danni’s raise eyebrow, he corrected himself, and allowed a wry smile, “Well, almost everything.” There was a long pause before he finally continued, “I keep having these visions…”

    Staring at the carpet, Jacen started describing his last vision, only leaving out the immense sadness he felt when his best friend opened fire at his ship. His brain on autopilot, he told Danni about his vision of seeing the galaxy descend into chaos; recounted his vision of dueling his uncle to the death. After talking for the better part of thirty minutes, he looked over at the blonde scientist and finally noticed her expression; she was totally unfazed by his revelations--it was as if she had already known about his visions and was merely waiting for him to admit to them. Until yesterday, they had not talked for over a decade; how could she know about his visions?

    Danni took a sip of her now lukewarm chocolate to settle her thoughts, hoping she could get Jacen to see what was pretty clear to her. Glancing over at him, she asked pointedly, “What do you think these visions mean?”

    Jacen let out a long breath, “I don’t…”

    Danni interrupted, disgusted at his denial, “Well, you’d better figure it out.” She let that hang in the air for a moment, “Or the Hapan Navy will figure it out for you.”

    Jacen nodded slowly as he took another sip of his drink. As he did, Danni continued carefully, “Don’t you feel it when you walk around?” Seeing his quizzical look, she pressed on, “People are afraid…” she trailed off, as if not telling him the truth would make it go away. “…afraid of the GAG…” She saw his eyes widen in surprise and she continued sadly, “…afraid of you.” Danni got to her feet and stared at him accusingly, “The Jacen I knew would be appalled to know that people are afraid of him.”

    The one-time Jedi winced, recalling his earlier conversation with Lumiya. Not wanting to face his own fears, “Can’t you feel it?” he retorted, using her words against her, springing to his feet as he did so. “There is a war coming--I have to stop it.”
    Danni arched an eyebrow, “You have to stop it?”

    “That’s not what I meant.”

    Danni stared at him for a long moment, something was telling her that it was time to commit fully to her crusade, and her glare softened a little, “Yes it is. You can’t save the galaxy, Jacen.” She paused, taking a deep breath, fully aware that she still did not know what was happening to her friend, “Not by yourself.”

    For the second time in as many days, Jacen felt the urge to rush to his former girlfriend and envelope her in a huge embrace, in not so many words, Danni had told him that she was on his side, that she believed in him. Willing himself to remain where he was, he nodded slowly. “How long do you plan on staying on Coruscant? What are your plans for the future?”

    I plan on saving you from yourself. Instead, she blinked at his change of topic. Apparently, the Solo kids were really good at changing the direction of a conversation. “I need to go to Commenor for a few days.” It was not really a lie, she did plan on traveling to her home planet, she just left out the fact that she was going to make a couple of other stops afterwards.

    Jacen gave her a respectful nod, “You’re going find your father?”

    Smiling a sad smile, Danni replied softly, “Well, what happened to him at least.” She was relieved that she did not have to explain why she wanted to go. Her father had remained on Commenor when the planet fell and because he was a government official, even if it was just a mid-level agent in the revenue service, the Vong had placed him in a ‘special’ detention camp, never to be heard from again.

    “And after?” Jacen asked, breaking her reverie.

    “I don’t know…travel the galaxy, learn new things…” she answered smugly while looking at Jacen very pointedly.

    The GAG Colonel laughed good-naturedly as he sat back down on the couch and Danni noticed the same sparkle of mischief she had seen once or twice last night. Shaking his head, “I deserved that.” He paused and his look turned serious, “I know the Dean of Chemistry at IC, and he mentioned in passing once that the mathematics department is always looking for adjunct professors. I can inquire about the physics department, if you wish.”

    He was trying to keep his voice neutral, but Danni could hear his hopeful tone. A job would be handy; it would allow her to stay on Coruscant to keep an eye on Jacen without burning through all of her credits. Suddenly, his off-hand comment registered fully, and she paused before sitting down, narrowing her green eyes, “Why do you know the Dean of Chemistry?”

    After waiting for Danni to sit down, he started to explain, “Well, I’ve been trying to get one of my former students into Med School….” he continued to explain about Jysella, about meeting with the professors at Imperial College to get a couple of exemptions, about meeting with Mirax about Jysella being a doctor, about lobbying various Jedi Masters to get Jysella a sabbatical, about his plan to better integrate the Jedi into society.

    “Am I part of this plan?”

    Just as he had with Jysella Horn, he answered Danni’s question with one of his own, “Do you remember how we met?”

    Frowning slightly at his changing the subject again, she nodded once, “Of course.” Like she could forget that day; Jacen had been so very brave, so selfless, so…dashing that day. In the dark part of her memory she tried her best to pretend did not exist, she knew that she was going to die that day; that the Vong had run out of games to play and that her and Miko were at the end. Then Jacen entered her life, his sword glowing with the rightness of his cause, his face beaming with the belief that the good guys always win, that there were still pretty damsels to rescue, that life was…fair. Whatever Jacen had done, or might yet do, he had saved…her, a nobody astronomer working for an unknown research firm at the edge of nowhere. If not for the heroics of Jacen and Jaina Solo, Danni would have never lived to see her twenty-second birthday--of course she remembered how they met.

    For a long moment, Jacen stared at the blonde woman, content to leave her to her memories. Quietly clearing his throat, he gave her a small smile as her attention snapped back to him. “Jaina and I felt someone calling for help. At the time, we thought it was Miko,” he continued, still looking at her intently, “...but we were wrong. It was…” taking her hand, “…you.” He paused as her green eyes widened in shock with the truth behind her rescue. “After Jaina picked us up, I remember thinking how strong you were, about how great a Jedi you could become.” He paused again, allowing his words to sink in. “After you ‘joined’ us, I assumed that others would notice your talent and take you on as an apprentice, but no one did; not really.” Jacen looked down at the floor, ashamed of what had happened all those years ago, embarrassed that all of those Jedi Masters had not bothered to teach Danni Quee, the smartest woman they were ever likely to meet, anything about the Force. If not for Tahiri, Danni would still have the Force ability of the table in front of him. Turning his attention back to Danni, “We failed you, Danni. I failed you. I should have said something to them, but no one was listening to Jacen Solo at the time.” He smiled sadly and continued softly, “No one listens now.”

    “I do.” Danni replied softly, “But I won’t be a replacement for…her.”

    “Of course not.”

    Danni stared into his eyes for a long moment, as if hoping to discern the future in his brandy-browns. Before she could stop herself, “Can you teach me how to flow-walk?”

    For the second time in two nights, Danni managed to get the full ‘Jacen’ smile, and she was so pleased with herself that she completely missed his reply. Only when she noticed he was standing in front of her expectantly did she finally catch up with the ‘lesson’.

    Taking his hand, she stood next to him as he started to explain the technique; “We start by immersing ourselves into the Force…”

    Jacen was surprised at how quickly his new apprentice could pick things up; Danni was able to see the patterns of ‘time’ much faster than he ever had been able to. It had taken him three or four attempts to be able to discern the pattern, and she had done it right away. In hindsight, Jacen realized that he should not have been so surprised; her job had been to look for obscure patterns all of her life. Deciding to keep it simple on the first lesson, he had Danni flow them back to the evening prior; knowing what to look for would make the lesson easier. Showing a surprising amount of control, Danni managed to stop their ‘travel’ right about the time the two of them entered her suite. The two of them watched transfixed as the ‘old’ Danni once again launched herself at him, the door slamming much louder than they remembered. With a wry grin, he watched as she unzipped her skirt the second time, this time making sure to fully appreciate her…

    Abruptly the scene disappeared and he saw that Danni had removed her hand from the couch. “That’s enough of that, Mr. Peeping Jacen.”

    Unable to hide his smirk, “You know, I never actually noticed that you have a cute little birthmark right…”

    Danni whacked across the shoulder before he could continue. “Stop. Right. There.” She said menacingly, but was unable to keep her scowl. As she sat down, her tone turned thoughtful, “How far backwards in time can you go with this?”

    As he sat, the GAG officer gave her a shrug, “I don’t know really.” He thought for a second, “I would assume that you could go for as long as the object you were using was at that location.” He looked at her quizzically, “Why?”

    “My father.” She whispered, hoping that her very real pain at not knowing what had happened to her father would hide her other reason for wanting to know.

    Jacen answered with an understanding nod. Anakin’s death would forever haunt him, but at least he knew how Anakin died. Giving Danni’s small hand a squeeze, “We should probably practice one more time then, so that you can get more comfortable with it.” Danni answered with a nod of her own.

    The two of them practiced flow-walking for another twenty minutes or so before a huge yawn broke Danni’s concentration. Seeing that it was after 4am, Jacen looked warmly at his new apprentice; impressed with how well she had done. “Okay, that’s enough for tonight,” he commented, trying to suppress a yawn of his own. “You did well.”

    Danni smiled as she reached up and ruffled his already unruly hair, “I had a good teacher.”

    By unspoken agreement, Jacen headed for the second of the two bedrooms in Danni’s suite. Looking back at his friend, and gave her a warm smile of his own “Thank you, Danni.”

    The blonde woman nodded in reply as she made her way to her own room.

    And so it went for the next few nights; Jacen would come to Danni’s suite after work and the two of them would cover whatever Force skill he felt would be of use, break for dinner, and then pick up again for a couple more hours before heading to bed. They covered Force levitation (a problem area for her), the shatterpoint technique, and even the basics of how to absorb blaster fire with her hand. They quickly developed an easy instructor-student rapport; he would not let her get frustrated with her levitation troubles, and she continued to challenge him with pointed ‘why’ questions about the nature of the Force. It was not until months later that it dawned on him that his fatalistic visions had stopped the day he took Danni Quee as an apprentice.
    O O(___)O O

    A/N: We only know of two visions in LotF, but I don’t think it unreasonable to think that Jacen had others. Perhaps he thought they them to be results of what he didn’t do instead of what he did, perhaps he thought he could change what he saw, or perhaps he knew (as some think) what was going to happen by following this path and realized that his ‘sacrifice’ was really going to be himself.

    Jacen’s comments about Danni being a ‘great Jedi’ are paraphrased from Vector Prime. If memory serves, there was a two-book set centered on Danni that got dropped from NJO. Additionally, Tahiri and Danni lived together for five years on Zonoma, so I don’t think it unreasonable to think that the younger Jedi found time to teach her friend a thing or two.

    Oh, and there really is such a device as a flame-fusion machine, and it really is used to make synthetic rubies and sapphires.
  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    =D= =D= Very nice ... I like how Danni is Jacen's continued sounding board and the one who keeps him grounded the best. [face_thinking] This flow walking technique looks like it's going to play heavily in the coming events.
  16. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 6, 2012
    Thanks! She IS his sounding board, and she has grounded Jacen in way no one else has. In profic, because of the way his relationship with TK had evolved, Jacen couldn't go to her for moral support and I think that is one of the reasons he went all...stupid. Like I said before, no one was talking to Jacen Solo--we all need someone in our corner.

    Sadly, you'll have to wait a bit to see Danni's new-found abilities. This story is getting awfully long (almost 300 pages of Word, and I've still got another 75-100 to write) so I moved her trip to Commenor to a short-story of her own that I'll finish after I get this done. We know nothing about what happened to her father (or mother, really), and I'm looking forward to writing that story.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  17. darth_treyvah

    darth_treyvah Jedi Master star 3

    Dec 26, 2005
    This is a really interesting story. If Jacen is going to change, he is really going to need to confront the fact that he killed Nelani Dinn for what might essentially be Force phantoms or manipulations created by Lumiya. Or maybe it is more insidious than that. Maybe after all that Vong torture and Vergere's manipulations, along with a period of self-isolationism and viewing abstract thinking processes Jacen's empathy was already very much impaired.

    I do have some gut reactions to this. For starters, I agree with you in that all the characters in the EU were acting really out-of-character with Jacen. I mean, Luke and Leia in themselves should have immediately been trying to help him: Luke because he believes in redemption and has raised Jacen as practically one of his children--and first students--and Leia because she is his mother and she doesn't want to see her fear of making another Darth Vader come true. I find it kind of criminally negligent that they didn't try to do more for him: them and the Jedi Order. Jacen had some very serious issues and he really should have had help in dealing with them: if only in the professional capacity.

    Then there is Tenel Ka. I don't even know where to begin there. She went from someone who didn't want anything to do with the throne of Hapes to being its Queen out of necessity and for the good of its people. She meets Jacen again and from what I understand tells him something along the lines that he "stays the night" he will get the Hapan Fleet during the Dark Nest Crisis, gets pregnant, tells him Allana is his, but she can't acknowledge him as the parent or as her lover due to Hapan politics, and not even Allana is told about who her father is. Granted, Jacen could have confided in his family--who were not talking with him--but it was more than just his mistakes that led to the ridiculousness that is Darth Caedus. Already most likely having PTSD, then factoring the power and the nuances of the Force into it, combined with not even being able to spend time with the woman you love because of politics and not even being able to spend a lot of time or being able to acknowledge your child that you find out about much later and is embroiled in ridiculous Hapan politics and the very real threat of assassination will would most likely compromise any person's judgment in some way: especially when their family won't talk to them and they already have a hero and a guilt complex.

    Also when you really look at your story, you can see how Jacen and Tenel Ka essentially grew apart because, let's face it, aside from their time together in Jedi training, and the fact that he accidentally cut her arm off, they never really had that much in common to begin with: unlike with Danni Quee. Personally, I can see Jacen and Tenel Ka have a confrontation: with the latter confronting him about his arrests and actions and him essentially ending the relationship and only keeping ties because of Allana and not much else. The scene where Tenel Ka castigates Jacen already for "wanting one thing from her" while she needs to go to the Summit really got my hackles up because, frankly, as much as duty is important to both of them (and Jacen forgets that too), it is more than just him screwing up. She has her own personal responsibility in all of this.

    I will also add one more thing and it is also my opinion: that for all Danni wants to help Jacen, she needs to remember that Jacen doesn't owe her anything. From what I recall, she ended the relationship between them in order to be on Sekot. So the fact that Jacen didn't keep touch with her is just, well, life happening. He had a whole life once she met her decision and he made his own--albeit questionable--ones.

    Jacen has screwed up a lot. If left unchecked, he will be going into his worst phase and Danni is complementing him: but she herself I imagine is not always right and has her own issues to deal with: such as the ones with her own estranged father and seeing if he is even alive. I also think at this stage that the age difference between her and Jacen really doesn't matter given that Jacen has seen enough horror to age someone at least a hundred years over, and she knows what horror is too given what happened to her at the beginning and towards the end of the Vong War.

    I guess what really gets to me is how much the writers made an effort to parallel Jacen's fate and decisions with Anakin Skywalker's. The Prequel Trilogy's thematic structure really influenced the zeitgeist or the spirit of a lot of the EU that came during and after it--especially Revenge of the Sith--and I personally don't think that was a good thing. I saw Jacen has being... so much more. He could have been so much more and he was. Matthew Stover's Traitor itself showed a really promising and radical view of the Force due to Jacen's own struggles and it could have been quite revolutionary. It was actually one of my favourite EU books. And then of course everything got retconned into Jacen's unique vision being part of the Potentium Heresy. I liked the idea that ones actions and thoughts determined how you used the Force: and someone was Light or Dark by their own actions. Obi-Wan once said that, "Only a Sith deals in absolutes," yet aside from that being an absolute in itself the Jedi also do the same exact thing by looking at the Force the Manichean and binary Light or Dark spectrum. There is never grey: though we all know that life is full of grey nuances and different colours ... including the Aing-Tii that Jacen studied with. On the other hand, maybe the argument of Star Wars is that the minds of humans can only see morality in terms of black or white and it disadvantages them when they use the Force: whatever aspect of it they focus on.

    I'm saying a lot of things in this response post, I know. But I can sum it up as everyone--especially Jacen--had a role in his fall and that a lot of it was due to influence from LucasFilm's Prequels and the whole idea of the Force black and white morality. I am curious to see where you are going to take this from here, SiouxFan.
    SiouxFan likes this.
  18. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 6, 2012
    Holy reply DT! I quoted the first two lines, just to get a start to my reply. I'll try to touch on everything you brought up and I am honored that you took the time to write such a lengthy reply. I actually LOVE talking about the philosophies of the Force. I knew nothing about fanfiction until about a year-and-a-half ago, and immediately started reading 'Jacen' stories, hoping to find someone who had taken the time to 'save' Jacen within the confines of LotF. I was surprised, and saddened, when I found none. So, I started writing my own...

    I agree with your view that Traitor is the finest book of the EU; the possibilities it brought forth for a 'New' Jedi Order were profound and limitless. Sadly, we were let down by ourselves. Let's be honest, most fans didn't like the more 'grey' view of the Force thatVergere put forth, nor did they like Jacen. We wanted black and white, and LFL was more than happy to oblige--the fact that it was largely OOC didn't really matter much.

    I'll start with Danni: As I've mentioned before in my notes, I dislike the way NJO killed off their relationship. I feel that there was a logical, realistic buildup to something between them and then it just....pffft. No breakup, no 'Let's just be friends', nothing except a 'I'll know where she'll be.' Huh? Maybe it's just my selective memory, but I don't recall the conversation that wookiepedia cites as Danni 'dumping' Jacen. From your version of what happened, I will agree that Jacen owes nothing to Danni. However, she still owes Jacen. He and Jaina saved her from certain death and it is against this backdrop that I have her moving to help her friend. He saved her life, she is trying to save his. I am trying to keep Danni from being 'all knowing' in this, and I hope that I haven't made her too...'goody-goody' in this.

    Tenel Ka: Independently, I've run with the same basic subplot that Jedi Lover did in Sacrifices (give it a read, it's quite good--frustrating at times, but good): Tenal Ka is as much to blame as anyone for what happened to Jacen--in fact this comes up later on in this work. Jacen didn't tell his parents not because they weren't talking to him (they still were civil towards him in Joiner King), but because Tenel Ka forbade him to do so--she put him in a bind emotionally and wasn't able to help him when he needed it most. I LIKE Tenel Ka; she is probably the strongest person in the EU from an emotional standpoint and her duty to her people is admirable which is why I'm adding depth to Hapes, but she treated her best friend horribly in profic: 'You have to sneak in to the Palace to see me.'--'You cannot tell anyone about your daughter'--IMO, it is no wonder Jacen had issues; his stress level had to be through the roof.

    I've changed his 'sneaking' into the Palace bit for storytelling purposes. I would imagine that the Fountain Palace would have some pretty formidable defences, and even Jedi make mistakes. So, I have him come in the front door as a 'guest' of the Queen. As to their initial scene in the Palace--she is the Queen Mother of 63 planets, Jacen just can't drop in on his best friend/lover and say, 'Take four days off while I'm here.' As I mentioned in one of the 'notes', I totally planned on just what you described: the two of them breaking up and remaining friendly because of Allana. In the end, I'm just too much of a romantic. For reasons that I won't get into here, I've always been able to relate to the two of them in a way I can't relate to any other SW couples, and I couldn't break them up--she needs him just as much as he needs her, IMO.

    As to your other points--most of these actually get addressed later on. Remember, at this point in profic, no one knows that Nelani is dead yet. In fact, I don't know that she is EVER mentioned again in profic. Danni certainly suspects what happened, and is probably pretty sure that Nelani is dead, but has no proof. If she were to barge in to Jacen's office and demand a confession, he would deny the whole thing and she would lose her one chance at trying to keep him from destroying himself. In order for him to confront his past demons, Danni first has to prevent future ones. This is not a short trip, and I plan on taking on almost everything you've brought up. In fact, we are pretty much diverting into a AU territory from here on out, while still trying to keep this within the confines of Tempest. Thanks for the review! I'll always debate more, either here or via PM, if you have the time or inclination!

    My biggest hope is to live up to the expectations of everyone who has been reading my silly little story.
  19. darth_treyvah

    darth_treyvah Jedi Master star 3

    Dec 26, 2005
    The sad thing is, I made a Jacen redemption story here a few years ago but due to the Board move, it got cut off and they have still not restored it: or any of the other stories. I also unfortunately didn't record it down anywhere else: not even for myself. I wish I could show it to you. As for Traitor and its possibilities, I posit that it wasn't ourselves that ultimately let us down at all. I mean, some people wanted to stay with the old tried, tested and true Light vs. Dark philosophy, and they didn't trust Vergere, but I know I--and a few others--liked the possibility of where this was going. I can't get exact quotes, but essentially and apparently Lucas himself or LucasFilm reiterated that the Force has a Light and a Dark Side. Now, this wouldn't even be a problem, but I do think that one's personal actions and intentions do determine how the Force influences them. They influence the Force and the Force influences them. They add to each other. It didn't have to be so orthodox. And while I will concede that the fans had an influence, it was ultimately Lucas and his company that made that call: for good or ill.

    I am curious to see what will happen with Jacen and Danni Quee, and Tenel Ka. Because it is interesting that you even stated that the way you wrote this makes it look like the Queen Mother and Jacen will pretty much separate. It is more than okay to be a romantic, but sometimes it isn't enough: especially not in a Galaxy with so much strife and two entirely different people with different goals in mind. But I suspect that you have plans. I do think that Jacen would a lot more defensive about his actions: even if deep down he knows he is not entirely right. But there is still so much to see with this.

    I also don't remember if Danni broke up with Jacen or not, or if it was mutual. And you even said you changed some things around. So fair enough. Keep writing, SiouxFan. :)
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  20. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 6, 2012
    Jade_eyes, darth_treyvah

    Perhaps Jacen would be a bit more defensive, but I tried to 'spring' Danni on him, so I'd like to think that he would be more open if caught of guard. Additionally, Jacen was still wrestling with the whole 'Sith' thing...remember, he had written a letter to Jaina that he ended up erasing. Perhaps he was hoping someone would inquire about how he was doing; perhaps because of his past history with Danni he felt comfortable being honest. All of this requires some suspension of disbelief, I just did it early on to avoid unnecessary angst later. (Angst just isn't my thing) Thanks again for reading and reviewing! A big hug to Jade--there has been a few times when I'm not too sure anyone likes my silly re-write. (Yes, I'm a little insecure about this)

    Chapter 11—Take this job and…
    Jacen accompanied Danni out of his apartment complex as she left to go check out of her hotel. Opening the door to the cab that he had called, he gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Be careful.” He said earnestly, earning a smirk at his protectiveness. “Call me from Commenor. Please.”

    Danni started, hearing the loneliness in his voice. Smiling, she replied, “I will. Think about what I said.” Jacen nodded once as he closed the door and gave her a wave as the cab pulled into traffic.

    As he watched her cab disappear, Jacen realized that his mind was a jumbled mess: He liked spending time with Danni, and he was aware of her feelings towards him, but until he could resolve what his relationship was with Tenel Ka he did not want the blonde scientist to believe that there was more to ‘them’ than there was. Lumiya was going to have a fit when she learned about all of his doubts. Kriff, what am I going to do about her? He sighed as he left the apartment complex and started to walk (Danni’s habit was rubbing off on him) the three kilometers to his office; he would deal with the Sith Lord when the time came.

    As he walked, Danni’s admonishment came back into his thoughts, Be better. How? Suddenly, in a moment of clarity, a shocking realization came to him. Why do I need to be a Sith? He had learned from the Clans on Dathomir, but was not a Nightsister; he had learned from the Ang-Tii, but was not a monk; learning from the Jensaarai had not made him one of them. Why did learning from a Sith make him one? Their methods were just another facet of Force knowledge that he could add to his bag of tricks. The characteristic Solo half-grin formed on his face, as an idea came to him, “Yes, that’s a start.”

    Who are you? Vergere’s voice asked, mirth evident in her voice.

    “I am Jacen Solo!” He exclaimed loudly to everybody and nobody, earning several quizzical looks from passers-by. The Vergere in his head only smiled in response.

    O O(___)O O

    One week later...

    On his way to the Senate Admin Building, Jacen stopped at the florists, as was his Wednesday habit. When his mother was Chief-of-State, she had flowers delivered to her personal secretary once a week, so when Jacen started as head of the GAG, he continued the tradition. “Colonel Solo!” The elderly owner of the small shop smiled as he greeted Jacen, “Wednesday already?” Jacen only shrugged. The owner continued, “The usual?” Marné loved tulips, so Jacen usually obliged.

    The young Colonel scowled thoughtfully, “Not this time Mr. Doolaard. Why don’t you surprise us today.” The owner beamed at him as he went to find something out of the ordinary.

    Mr. Doolaard came back with a small assortment of flowers that Jacen did not remember seeing before, but that was not too big a surprise. Like many men, flowers came in three types to Jacen: tulips, roses, …and everything else. “These are called ‘tiger lilies’.” The shop owner explained. “I guarantee that Marné will like them.”

    Jacen smiled, “I’ll take your word for it!” He paid the gentleman and continued on his way to work.

    Marné Pelletier was just sitting down at her desk, when her boss walked into their office, smiling. “Tiger lilies!” Jacen announced and placed the assortment on her desk. “Mr. Doolaard said that you would like these.” Jacen chirped, giving her a wink.

    Ms. Pelletier looked at Jacen dubiously, “Who are you?” Her boss chuckled at her question. Marné had always thought Jacen a good person to work for: he was polite, fair, and he always treated her respectfully; but he was always so…serious. She did not know what to make of this smiling, slightly flirtatious man in her office.

    Jacen only grinned. “Can you do me a favor? Check to see if the Chief has any free time this morning. I only need ten minutes.”

    Marné picked up her comlink and started to dial, “Sure thing boss.”

    Jacen’s grin stayed on his face as he made his way into his office, “Thanks.” Jacen took his uniform jacket off and sat behind his desk, pulling up the letter that he had been working on until late the night before on his data terminal. Thoughtfully, he said to himself; “Yes, it’s time.”

    A minute later, Marné strode into Jacen’s office; “Chief Omas has a free fifteen minutes at 0925.” Jacen checked the chrono on his wrist: 0855. Enough time to get there, but only just, it was about a fifteen-minute walk to the Chief of State’s office, after all.

    “Bloody hell.” He mumbled, as he put his jacket on again and printed the document from his terminal.

    As Jacen placed the document into his briefcase and made for the office exit, Pelletier imposed herself into his path. “Do you mind telling me what this is all about?” Concern filled her voice, and he could see pleading in her violet eyes.

    His eyes studied her pretty face as he took a deep breath. Aside from Tenel Ka and Danni Quee, there was no one he trusted more than Marné Pelletier. He grinned at her again, “Not yet. Soon; but not right now.”

    That seemed to satisfy her for the time being, and she stepped aside allowing him to leave. Jacen nodded his thanks and left the office.

    Walking across the trapezoidal plaza that separated the Admin Building from the rebuilt Senate, Jacen pulled a comlink out of his jacket pocket and dialed. Hearing the other person answer, “Hi Mom, it’s Jacen…”

    O O(___)O O

    Leia Organa-Solo disconnected the comlink clearly lost in thought as she stood leaning on the kitchen counter. Han came out of their upstairs bedroom, buttoning his blue short sleeve shirt as he made his way down the stairs. “Who was that?”

    “Jacen.” she replied absently, her left thumb playing with her bottom lip. “He wants to meet this afternoon.”

    “Jacen?” Han repeated quietly. They had not spoken to their son in some time, and that fact was weighing heavily on their relationship. Han knew that Jacen had always been Leia’s favorite, and he could see a flash of pain in her eyes whenever they got together with Jaina. He continued into the kitchen and stood in front of is wife. “Did he say what he wanted?”

    Leia took a deep breath and turned to her husband, “No. He just asked me to meet him at a café in Monument Plaza.”

    Concern was evident on her husband’s weathered face as he tried to sound casual, “Do you want some backup?” They no longer knew what their son was capable of, not anymore. “I can cancel my meeting with Mirax.”

    The former Princess shook her head, “No. You go ahead. I’m not so old that I can’t handle our son.”

    “Okay.” Han looked at his wife seriously and said cautiously, “Take your lightsaber, though. Just in case.” With that, he gave her a kiss on the forehead and left to go to his meeting with Talon Karrde and Mirax Horn.

    Leia only nodded, staring sightlessly out the window, clearly lost in her thoughts.

    O O(___)O O

    Jacen left Cal Omas’ office not in as good a mood as he expected. Chief Omas had reacted to Jacen’s letter well enough, only offering token suggestions for the final draft. In fact, it seemed as if Omas knew that it was coming. No, that part of the meeting went well enough; it was the conversation afterwards that left a bitter taste in Jacen’s mouth. They are not going to like this.

    As he made his way down the curved marble hallway towards the lift, he checked his chrono: 0955. Doing the quick math, he determined that she might still be in her office. Sighing to himself, Colonel Solo stopped in front of a large window overlooking the dramatic Coruscanti cityscape and pulled the comlink out of his pocket. For the second time that morning, he dialed a number that he hadn’t called in a while: Tenel Ka’s office. “Good evening Anhaje, this is Colonel Solo. Does the Queen Mother have a minute?”

    O O(___)O O
    From his seat at the outside café, Jacen discretely watched his mother approach from across the plaza. Because he had grown up in her household, he never really paid attention to just how regal she always appeared. A small smile crossed his face. She truly is a lovely woman. When he was younger, he wanted to be just like her: Leia never got flustered, and never, ever, allowed anyone to intimidate her, not even her husband. Jacen chuckled at the memories flowing into his subconscious. As she got closer, Jacen could see the wariness in her eyes and he felt a sudden pang of guilt, a mother should never be wary of her own son. The young Colonel sighed sadly, this was just another relationship that he sacrificed for the greater good. Where would it end? Here. It ends here. Today. Danni was right: he could save the galaxy, one person--one relationship at a time. Be better. Her quote was starting to become a mantra.

    Leia watched her son watch her as she made her way across Monument Plaza and felt a twang of loneliness. She would never admit it to anyone, but Jacen was always her favorite child. Alone among the Solo kids, Jacen understood that compassion did not equal weakness, that being empathetic was not the same as being traitorous. Jaina and Anakin were always more like Han: quick to action, damn the repercussions. A trait that had gotten Anakin killed. She quickly pushed that sad thought away. Jacen was always trying to think things through; trying to find an alternative solution. Her son used to represent everything she wanted the Jedi Order to be: thoughtful, measured, fair. What happened? Leia hated what the war had done to her son, to the Order.

    As she got closer to the table, Jacen stood and did the last thing that she expected him to do: he gave her a hug. Jacen chuckled at her confusion, as she slowly hugged him in return. “Thanks for coming, Mom.” He released his hug and they both sat at the metal table. “How’s Dad?” he asked seriously.

    Leia allowed a frown, “Your father is…” she didn’t know how to explain Han’s feelings. On one hand, he was proud that so many Coruscantis admired his son for ‘keeping the peace’, but he was ashamed by Jacen’s roundup of his fellow Corellians. Instead, she offered a small shrug.

    She expected Jacen to get angry, instead he just gave her a small nod of acceptance. Before he could say anything, a waiter approached, asking if they wanted anything. Jacen ordered a chai tea, and nodded to Leia, who asked for a caf. They both watched as the waiter made his way inside to get their drinks. Jacen turned back to his mother, “I wanted to meet with you to talk about a couple of things.” He paused slightly, “And to ask for a favor.”

    Leia sighed; she was hoping he was going to try to reconcile their already strained relationship. “So, what’s the favor?”

    Jacen caught her resigned mood and smiled. “It is actually related to topic one.” He lowered his voice; “I have resigned as head of the GAG effective at the end of next month.”

    Leia’s mouth opened in shock. With all that had happened in her life, she was beginning to wonder if it was even possible to be surprised anymore. Jacen just proved that it was. Trying to find her voice, all she could think to say was, “Why?”

    A genuine look of sadness crossed his face, as he nodded a ‘thank you’ to the young waiter who had returned with their drinks. “A friend pointed out that many people are concerned about the direction that the GAG is headed.” He looked pointedly at his mother, who harbored those same thoughts. “Since I am the one leading the GAG in that direction, it dawned on me that new leadership is needed.” Leia could only nod once in agreement. “I told Chief Omas the same thing this morning.” Cal Omas did not want to accept Jacen’s resignation, he was all too aware of Colonel Solo’s popularity on Coruscant. Omas had pressured him to stay an additional month to ease the transition and Jacen relented only out of a sense of duty to his troops.

    Leia took a sip of her caf, more to give her time to think than anything else. “What will become of the GAG now?”

    Jacen ran his left hand over his chin and looked down at his tea, thinking on how to phrase his response. “My recommendation to Chief Omas was to roll the GAG into Alliance Intelligence as a domestic investigations branch. Captain Shevu is a top-notch investigator, and would be an asset to the Intelligence branch.” He chuckled humorously and looked Leia in the eye, “Essentially, I told Omas to disband the organization.”

    The former Chief-of-State looked at her son thoughtfully as he took a sip of his tea. “So-o-o, what’s next for you? Did your dream job open up?” She asked, her eyes twinkling. She knew that Jacen still had strong feelings for a certain Queen. At one time, he would have dropped everything to be her Prince Consort. Somehow, Leia doubted that had changed. All Tenel Ka had to do was ask.

    Jacen gave his mother a knowing look and shook his head, chuckling. “Nope. That job still goes unfilled and unadvertised.” He paused, taking another sip of tea, and watched as a group of school kids walked by, apparently on a field trip. “Anyway, I’ve been offered a job to act as a fundraising coordinator for Musical Scores.”

    Leia’s eyebrows shot up in disbelief; Musical Scores was a well-known charity that raised money to get Coruscant’s under-privileged kids involved in music as there existed mountains of data that suggested that kids who were involved in music did better in school. How did he get that job? She thought before remembering Jacen’s ‘date’ a few evenings previous where he had attended one of those fund-raisers with Gorah Dibbon, the director of Musical Scores. Her son was full of surprises today. “Is this where that ‘favor’ comes in? You need me to pull a couple of stings?” She tried to sound flippant, but deep down, she was proud of her only son. Leia was proud that he realized his limitations. Proud that he could step back and reassess the situation. Jacen could be good at the political game, and fundraising was definitely political.

    Leia loved Jaina, of course, but she never understood her. Jaina was so much like Han that they used to joke that somehow the twins’ personality got swapped in the womb. Han taught all of his kids how to fly, and fix, the Falcon, but he had always spent more time doing so with Jaina and Anakin. Now, it was Leia’s turn to teach her son. With her help, Jacen could do a great many things. With her help, he could use this role as a stepping-stone to bigger, better things.

    Jacen could almost hear the wheels turning in his mother’s head. He smiled at her obvious plotting. “Yes, I’d like you to pull a couple of strings, but not for me. Not just yet.” He could see the confusion on Leia’s face. “My personal assistant…” He paused, thinking, “Secretary? I am not sure what to call her…” He shook his head, “Anyway, Marné knows quite a bit about me, and that might make her a target to some. I’d like to get her out of the GAG.” He sighed, regretting the danger that his assistant might be in. “I was hoping that you might know of someone who could use a smart, hard-working…very pretty, secretary.”

    Leia smiled, thinking back to her little boy that seemingly always put other’s needs ahead of his own. The Vong hadn’t changed him completely. “What is it with you and pretty girls?” She paused, watching him squirm a bit. Jacen only offered her a small shrug. Leia supposed that growing up with a twin sister had made him predisposed to having female friends. Suddenly, it dawned on her that Jaina was exactly the opposite--most of her friends were men. Interesting. Her tone became one of mock hurt; “You don’t want my help, then?”

    Jacen knew his mother was keeping her tone light, but that she was hurt by his apparent unwillingness to accept her help. With an earnestness that stirred Leia’s heart he said, “I do. When I get started in the job, I plan on calling you for advice almost daily.” He could see the corners of Leia’s mouth raise, just a little. He smiled back, “However, you are still a big gun here on Coruscant. I’d hate to draw it out on something as mundane as finding a few credits.” Leia snorted at Jacen’s use of one of Han’s sayings. He continued drily, “I am a Colonel in the Galactic Alliance Guard, I would hope that opens a few doors.”

    Jacen gave Leia a wry smile as she took another sip of caf. “By the way, Anakin was the real smoothie out of the three of us. Girls would’ve been beating down your door.”

    Leia chuckled as she put her cup down. “Nah. Tahiri would’ve stopped them.”

    Jacen’s eyes sparkled. “Some of them, maybe. Quantity has a quality all of its own.”

    For a couple of minutes, they sat in silence watching people mill around Monument Plaza; both of them lost in recollections of Anakin. Finally, Leia broke the easy silence. “You said a couple of things. What else do you want to discuss?”

    Jacen let out a long breath. Now the bad news. “I had a talk with Chief Omas after I tended my resignation.” He paused as the waiter stopped by wondering if they needed anything at the time. Shaking his head at the waiter, Jacen continued, “He informed me about the increased opposition to the Jedi in the Senate. Omas feels that he will need to reduce funding to the Order to appease this minority.” Leia suppressed a grimace; she had been expecting something like this for a while now. Jacen pressed on, “He was curious about my opinion in the matter.”

    “Why you?” It was no secret that Jacen and the Order were at odds; why would Omas ask Jacen’s opinion?

    Jacen only offered a slight shrug. “Two reasons: One, I was already in his office.” Leia rolled her eyes. Line-of-sight tasking. “Two, I am the only Jedi that answers directly to him.” He saw Leia nod as she took another sip of her beverage, waiting for him to elaborate. “Anyway, I told him that I agree with the cuts.”

    The look that he got from his mother was one that he hadn’t seen since he was fourteen and he and Jaina tried to sneak in after curfew. Disappointment filled her voice, “Just because you don’t agree with the Council, it is no reason to….”

    Jacen interrupted, “It is not because I simply disagree.” He scowled. Surely things have not disintegrated to the point where the Jedi Council would think him that shallow. “You’ve been around the galaxy, Mom. You know that there are billions of beings still residing in refugee camps.” Leia nodded. He continued; frustrated with the Jedi Order, with the GFFA, with life in general, “There are Force-only-knows how many kids that don’t have a school to go to. What kind of future are we going to have?”

    He paused slightly, “I talked to Danni yesterday, and she estimates that a full third of Commenor still needs to be rebuilt. And it is a core world. What is like out on the rim?”

    Leia could only contemplate the fate of hundreds of worlds, billions of beings. Wait, did he say Danni? When did she return? Jacen was continuing, ire filling his voice, “And the Jedi spends how much to rebuild the temple? I find that embarrassing.”

    His mother finally found her voice, “Embarrassing? Why? People need symbols.”

    Jacen reached into an inside jacket pocket of his uniform and pulled out his lightsaber, placing it on the table. “This is the symbol of the Jedi, Mom. Not that.” He said angrily, pointing to the Jedi Temple, its spires just visible through a gap in the buildings surrounding Monument Plaza. His voice took on of sadness, “I find it reprehensible that more people know what I do for them in this uniform,” gesturing to himself, “than that one.” He pointed at Leia, who was uncharacteristically wearing her brown Jedi robes. Jacen sighed, “The public doesn’t understand what the Jedi are about.”

    “Luke and I once had a conversation like this with Borsk Fela’ya.” Leia retorted angrily. “We do not need to explain ourselves to everyone.”

    Jacen leaned back in his chair, clearly exasperated. “You do need to explain yourselves if you’re asking them,” he gestured to the throngs of people on the square, “to pay for it. I don’t think that the public is getting their money’s worth out of the Jedi. For that, I am embarrassed.”

    Leia stretched out with the Force to gauge his intent. She was mildly surprised, and secretly glad, that she did not sense any deceit behind his words. He truly believed that the credits being spent currently on the Jedi could be better spent elsewhere. Neither of them said anything for a few moments. “Why are you telling me this, Jacen?”

    He looked at his mother, “So that the Council has some forewarning. This WILL happen, Mom; the Council needs to accept this.” He saw acceptance in her eyes. Jacen smiled sweetly again, knowing that his next comment would really make her mad. “Also, tell them that I just talked to the Queen Mother, and she does not feel inclined to increase her funding above its present level.” Leia mouth fell in shock; she had no idea that Tenel Ka was helping to fund the Order. Her son continued, his tone carefully neutral, “Funding that is coming from her personal accounts, by the way, and has been for four years.”

    Leia did not know what to say and the more she thought about what Jacen just told her, the more enraged she became. She was furious that the Council would dare impose upon a fellow Jedi like that, especially one that they had kicked out of the Order. No one used her friends like that. In an icy tone that Jacen knew was not directed towards himself, Leia calmly said, “Next time you talk to Tenel Ka, tell her to cease funding the Order effective at the end of next month.” Jacen looked at her quizzically. “Tell her.” Leia reiterated, in a tone that made it sound like an order. Jacen knew better than to question THAT tone. Leia’s tone softened, “The Council won’t like this.”

    “No.” Jacen agreed, “And they will likely blame me.”

    Leia only nodded, lost in thought. The former Chief of State had just found her next crusade. Looking at her son again, “Would you like to share a dessert? I want to hear about Danni.”

    Jacen laughed, shaking his head. “Deal. But you have to fill me in on Jaina!”

    O O(___)O O
    A/N: I know that the SW universe has different names for the days, but I don't feel that using them adds anything to the story other than pointing out how clever I was in using SW time, so I use regular 'earth' days and dates in this.
    I cut a conversation between Danni and Jacen out of this chapter because it didn't really flow with the rest of this chapter and it made her seem...preachy. But, I like the conversation as a whole and what it says about the war, so I'll post it in a few days as a 'director's cut' add.
    SHADOW_MASTER_W likes this.
  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wonderful =D= mom/son talk. I know Leia is as encouraged by it as I am. :)
    SiouxFan likes this.
  22. EmeraldJediFire

    EmeraldJediFire Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 23, 2012
    I've always seen this..but have yet to read it so far I'm only on the second part (and that will take me awhile lol) but I am fairly impressed by all of this. Bravo.
    SiouxFan and Jade_eyes like this.
  23. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 6, 2012
    Perhaps most disappointing to me was the speed of which Leia gave up on her son. She always saw the political angle and would have been able to understand why Jacen fired on the Falcon: her and Han were fleeing the scene of the crime and were known to be siding with Corellia.

    With her help, Jacen could have been the same type of statesman that her and her father were (Bail, I mean; not her biological father); instead, he gets to the office of Chief of State and all Leia says is: 'It's lonely at the top.' Her last words to her son, and they were full of spite--and another opportunity to save her son was gone.

    Thanks! I know that you're not much of a Jacen/Tenel Ka fan, but I'm hoping that this will let you see why some of us still are. No worries about taking your time; I seem not be able to write short chapters!

    This is a short conversation that I had written between Danni and Jacen that didn't really work with the rest of the previous segment, which is a bit odd because I had written the entire 'taxi' scene around it. But, I still like the way it came out and it is a bit of 'Siouxfan' commentary on who we view as heroes.

    Thanks again for reading! Oh, Ceillean: I forgot to tag you last chapter, sorry--please let me know if you still want me to keep tagging you.

    @Ceillean, Jade_eyes, EmeraldJediFire

    ***Jacen is walking Danni to her cab***

    O O(___)O O​

    The evening prior, Danni had invited him to watch a three-man percussion group. As they walked to the small theatre, (Danni walked everywhere; he supposed it was because of her time on Zonoma.) Jacen confided to her that he was going to lobby for the Alliances’ newest Star Destroyer to be named the Anakin Solo

    “Are you out of your bloody mind?” Danni yelled, her eyes wide with shock.

    “My brother was a hero.” Jacen shot back, stopping abruptly on the sidewalk, both of them ignoring the shocked stares of several passersby. “People need to remember that.”

    “By naming a Star Destroyer after him?” Danni retorted. She pressed on before he could interrupt, “How many other Jedi have a ship of the line named for them?” Jacen glared at her but remained silent; they both knew that there were none. Danni started to walk again, and Jacen had to take a quick couple of strides to catch up. She glared at him and continued ranting, “You are insulting hundreds of years of Navy tradition by even asking.” She shook her head, disgusted; “Admirals tend to have long memories…it will take you years to regain their trust after this stunt.”

    His voice turned cold, “They can be replaced.” Damn her and her logic.

    “Not by you. Not yet” She snapped back. Danni’s eyes softened, “I know how much you miss your brother, but the fact is: Anakin didn’t do anything that was any more special than hundreds of other troopers.”

    Anger again crossed his face as he stopped again and started to yell at her, “My brother…”

    She calmly interrupted before he could finish, “Died saving you. I know.” Danni took his hand and started walking. “Have you ever heard of a Lance Corporal Lancelot Sunrider?” Jacen only looked at her quizzically and shook his head. “He was awarded, posthumously, the Croix Pour le Mérite for counter-attacking into a Vong ambush, allowing his squad to retreat from their position.” Danni paused a moment, letting her words sink in. “How about Second Lieutenant Aimee L’Enfant?” Danni paused again, looking for any reaction; Jacen remained stone-faced. “She was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, also posthumously, for single-handedly taking on an entire flight of coralskippers, delaying them long enough for the troop transport that she was escorting to escape.” The blonde woman looked again at her companion, only to see a mask of non-emotion. She kept up her assault, “How about Master Chief Alejandro…”

    “Stop…” Jacen said quietly, his anger forgotten as he ashamedly hung his head. “Stop. I get it.”

    Danni stopped and took both of his hands in her own. “Jacen, no one outside of their families remembers them, either.” Danni said quietly. “Do not disrespect what they did by naming a capital ship after Anakin.” He slowly raised his head and looked down into her vibrant green eyes and nodded. Danni let his hands drop as they turned and continued walking.

    After a couple of blocks with neither of them saying anything, Jacen said in a small voice, “I need to do something so people will remember him.”

    Danni stopped, took both of his hands again and with her voice full of concern, whispered, “Be better.” Danni was shocked to see Jacen’s eyes start to water. Smiling slightly, she continued, “There is an old proverb on Commenor: He who saves one, saves the world entire.” She raised her right hand to wipe his right eye, “Do that. I was wrong before: you can save the galaxy. You just have to do it one person at a time.” Stabbing him in the chest with her right index finger, she said quietly, “Start here.”

    O O(___)O O
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  24. EmeraldJediFire

    EmeraldJediFire Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 23, 2012
    Actually I don't mind reading Jacen/Tenel Ka..I just prefer Luke/Mara. Who the future. I might write a one-shot. you never know
    SiouxFan likes this.
  25. darth_treyvah

    darth_treyvah Jedi Master star 3

    Dec 26, 2005
    Actually, the sad thing is there was a Star Destroyer named after a Jedi.

    And it was the Obi-Wan.

    Though apparently this was in an encyclopedia much later: though I thought for sure they used it in a novel at some point.

    This was also apparently during the New Republic Era as well: before the Anakin Solo. I'm just wondering why none of the other ships were named after the other warriors that fell as well. But that isn't the point, is it? The fact is naming a Star Destroyer doesn't honour them, or Anakin, but at best is an attempt to assuage Jacen's guilt over Anakin, and at worst is a political maneuver: with no honour at all.

    I will say though: I do find his interaction with Danni very intriguing. He does relate to her differently in your fic than he does to most other people in his life: and that includes Tenel Ka. He has a different relationship with Danni and I am wondering where this is going to go in addition to his other previous relationships too.