Saga Final Stand (sequel to Seeds of Resistance)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by anakinfansince1983, Nov 1, 2012.

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  1. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    @Valairy Scot : The election. (Are you as glad to see November 6 over with, as I am?)

    @Jade_eyes: Yes, they are almost done...

    @Luna_Nightshade : You're not the first person who has mentioned it, and I'm glad the ambiguity was there. That was intentional.

    Thanks for reading. :)

    **********

    Chapter 8

    The holocameras, at least five of them, focused directly on Padme, who sat behind her desk, several sheets of flimsiplast in front of her.

    “Fellow citizens of the Galactic Republic,” she began. “It is with great pleasure and pride that I come before you tonight. For 21 years many worlds have been threatened or terrorized—in some cases, both—by a resistance movement born from the Separatists of the Clone War era and led by Asajj Ventress. Ventress and her minions have been responsible for several small and large scale attacks on Outer Rim and Mid Rim worlds. She has also been responsible for coercing several Senators to her side and with the assistance of those Senators, plotting to overthrow the Republic.” She paused. “Ventress was arrested almost three years ago by the Jedi, and tried and convicted of treason, espionage and murder. However, six months ago, she escaped from prison. The Jedi and the Republic Navy were forced to resume a pursuit that they thought long resolved, and the pursuit turned up many dead ends. Ventress took great pleasure in leading Republic officers on a wild bantha chase around the Outer Rim, diverting resources from an economy that is already sluggish on many worlds.” She paused again. “Two weeks ago, I was given a lead from miners on Subterrel. Citizens had come to that planet looking for work, citizens from another mining world, Mustafar. I dispatched four Jedi to that planet to confront Ventress, and I gave them authorization to use lethal force.” She swallowed. “On that planet, the Jedi met Ventress and her assistant, Sly Moore, an aide of the late Chancellor Palpatine, in a fierce and heavy battle. When it ended, three were dead: Sly Moore, by lightsaber wound. Ventress, who burned alive after falling into one of the planet’s lakes of lava.” She swallowed again. “It is with a heavy heart that I tell you that the third death was one of the Jedi Order’s greatest members, a leading member of the Order’s High Council, and the man who killed Palpatine and ended his totalitarian regime. Master Mace Windu.” She gazed at the cameras one by one. “I will also add, however, that if Master Windu were here, he would insist that we celebrate this hard-earned victory for the Republic. He would insist that we honor his sacrifice by not dwelling on it, but rather, dwelling on the victory won. That is what I ask you to do tonight, and I hope that this ending of the resistance signifies a beginning…of a long and prosperous era of peace. After a quarter of a century of war and conflict, the Republic deserves this. Thank you.”

    Padme gave the signal that she always used to indicate that the cameras should stop recording, then stood and walked in front of her desk, giving the camera operator a nod. “Thank you,” she said.

    He returned the nod. “Milady,” he said.

    Padme opened the door to her office and stepped into the corridor, where Anakin, Luke, Bail and Mon Mothma stood. All of them had knowing smiles on their faces.

    “What is it?” Padme asked.

    Anakin stepped forward and took her hand, leading her to one of the windows. “Come, my love,” he said. “See all the good you have done.”

    We have done,” Padme corrected. She looked out the window; several stories below, a crowd stood, cheering and shouting, growing larger by the minute. They waved banners and signs, reading “Long live the Republic!” “Justice has been done,” “Thank you Chancellor Amidala and the Jedi.” They threw confetti and blasted noisemakers. There were several shouts of “Re-elect Amidala!” Holonet reporters and their cameras could be seen circulating among the crowd; a few people actually jumped in front of the cameras holding their banners.

    For several minutes Padme watched them silently, a small smile playing on her face. She held Anakin’s hand tightly.

    “This should be an easy crowd,” Bail said.

    “They’re happy. They’re celebrating,” Padme said. “And they’ve certainly earned it. We all have.”

    “Hear, hear,” Bail said.

    “I’ve dispatched extra security but I am not expecting them to have to do anything other than share an ale with some of that cheerful throng.” She turned. “I should go out there and greet them.”

    Almost simultaneously, Luke said, “Mom,” and Anakin and Bail both said, “Not a good idea, Padme.” Torne Xemo took a step forward. “Your Excellency…” he began.

    Her face fell, and she sighed. “Never mind. You are right. It would be a pipe dream to think that danger can magically disappear overnight.”

    “I would be more comfortable with your addressing a crowd that my team has had the opportunity to thoroughly assess ahead of time,” Torne said. “This one…”

    Padme nodded. “I know,” she said. “A spontaneous gathering of people wanting to celebrate. Ideally that is the best type of crowd. But of course, the ideal is rarely the reality.”

    Anakin put an arm around her shoulders. “There will be another chance,” he said.

    She leaned into his embrace. “I know,” she replied. She sighed again. “At least next week’s State of the Republic address will be much easier than it has been the past three years.”

    “Maybe easier than any that I gave,” Bail said.


    Anakin put his comlink into the transmitter to find a warbled hologram of his stepbrother. “Owen,” he said. “How are you?”

    “We’re doing well here,” he said. “Thought you might like an update.”

    Anakin nodded. “Of course.”

    “The Hutts made a mistake in supporting the resistance,” Owen said. “They are greatly weakened, their armies depleted to almost nothing. Apparently Tarkin and Ventress enlisted their help several times, and their men were no match for Jedi.”

    Anakin grinned. “Of course not.”

    Owen raised his eyebrows. “Well, it was a bit of a surprise to most of the people here who have never seen a Jedi in action. Didn’t surprise me that much but…the weakening of the Hutts means that Mos Eisley and Anchorhead are much safer and more pleasant now.”

    Anakin nodded again. “Good to know,” he said.

    “I thought you’d be interested in this.” Owen disappeared for a moment and another hologram appeared, a slow motion holovid of a parade, with various native species of Tatooine cheering, shouting, waving banners. A small-scale version of the crowd outside the Senate building.

    The holovid ended and Owen reappeared again. “Padme’s speech played in all the cantinas,” he said. “You’ve just seen the reaction in Anchorhead.”

    Anakin blinked, and smiled. “Glad to see that good news travels so quickly,” he said.

    “Well, we’ve been waiting for it. It was only a few years ago when Tatooine was in danger of falling to the Resistance. We’re within a few parsecs of Geonosis, Hypori, and Ryloth, all of which were Resistance-run, as you know. And we’ve only been part of the Republic for less than three years.”

    Anakin blinked again, then pressed a button on the transmitter. “I’ll save that recording for Padme. She’ll want to see it.”

    “Please do,” Owen said. “Has Leia had her baby yet?”

    Anakin shook his head and frowned. “She’s not due for a couple of months. We can hope the baby stays put that long; she’s had one episode of pre-term labor already.”

    Owen frowned. “That’s not good,” he said.

    “She’s on bed rest,” Anakin said. “Which seems to be stabilizing both of them for now anyway.”

    Owen nodded. “Well, let us know,” he said.

    “Will do,” Anakin replied.



    In the center of the meditation gardens sat a rectangular stone monument. The top was flattened, and on either side were etched the names of Jedi who had been lost in battle in the 20 years since the headquarters had been built. Thankfully the list of names was short, but that didn’t diminish the pain that the Jedi felt when reading the most recently carved name on the right. Or upon seeing, with candles surrounding them, the empty Jedi robe and disengaged purple lightsaber resting on top.

    The Jedi filed in slowly, silently, filling the center of the garden. Several Jedi had flown in from offworld training centers; several had their spouses and children with them. Padme stood next to Anakin in the front row. Leia sat in a hoverchair next to where her mother stood; Han stood behind her, Luke was on her other side. Behind them stood the Organas and Mon Mothma, the other living Chancellors under whom Mace Windu had served.

    Obi-Wan stood. “This is a sad day for all of us. The Republic has seen its greatest victory in 21 years, and Mace Windu was her final and greatest sacrifice. Mace was one of the last of the old Jedi, brought to the Temple as an infant, with images in the Force as his only memory of his birth family. His entire life was dedicated to service of the Republic, and in the end, it was in service to the Republic that he gave his life. And I knew Mace well enough to know that he would not have it any other way. He would tell us to celebrate today, to rejoice in a life well-lived.” Obi-Wan turned, and lit one of the candles surrounding Mace’s possessions. “May the Force be with you always, Mace Windu. You will be greatly missed.”

    Obi-Wan sat, and Yoda stood, leaning on his cane. “Mace Windu—powerful Jedi was he. Powerful Jedi. And correct, Obi-Wan is. Tell us to celebrate and rejoice, Mace would. Demand as much, the Force does. Mourn, we should not. Even miss him, we should not. Passed into the Force, he has, and in a better place, he is.” But Yoda’s expression did not match his admonitions to the others not to mourn or miss Mace. It was with sadness that the ancient Jedi Master turned and lit his candle. “Bid you a fond goodbye, I do, my old friend. May the Force be with you always.”

    Shaak Ti stood. “My fondest memory of Mace was during the search for Darth Sidious and the ensuing Battle of Coruscant,” she said shakily. “We were taken soundly off guard, as we had not believed that Grievous could penetrate the Core, much less attack Coruscant itself. We listened to Republic and Separatist starfighters firing shots at each other right above our heads, and we were all too panicked to act—except Mace. He took full charge of the mission, and it was his calm, even-handed demeanor that brought us victory in that crisis, as it did in many, many others.” She turned and lit her candle. “He was a good friend, and an outstanding Jedi. May the Force be with you always, Mace.” She took her seat again.

    Anakin stood. “I would go so far as to say that Master Windu’s ability to keep a cool head in a crisis, is the reason that the Republic itself still exists today.” He paused as several eyes in the crowd widened. “When Chancellor Palpatine revealed to me that he himself was, in fact, the long-sought-for Darth Sidious, I went to Master Windu. His first act, after asking me if I was alright…” Anakin wiped away a tear. “…was to tell me that we had to move quickly. That the future of the Order itself was at stake. He could not have been more correct.” He wiped away another tear. “Five of us Jedi Masters went to Palpatine’s office. Only two of us, Master Windu and myself, left that office alive. Meanwhile, Palpatine had ordered the clone army to kill their Jedi Generals; nine thousand Jedi were killed by the clones they had come to trust. Master Windu killed Palpatine, and the two of us stood trial for murder. I was afraid; I had a wife and newborn twins, whom I was not sure that I would see again, and the Jedi Order was viewed so badly by the general public that I was not sure the courts would believe our case. Master Windu’s confidence never wavered. He knew the Force was with us, he knew that truth would prevail in the end, and when that end came, it was his knowledge and confidence that led us in rebuilding the Order.” Anakin wiped his eyes again before lighting his candle. “May the Force be with you always, Master Windu. And…thank you.”

    Kyra Durron, Mace’s last padawan, stood. “Not only do I owe Master Windu for helping me become the Jedi that I am today, but my mother and I owe him our livelihoods. We had settled on Alderaan, in Chianar, as part of the Refugee Relief Movement, when Master Windu discovered me and offered me training in the facility there. My father had died on the journey from Agamar, and my mother was struggling to feed and shelter us. Master Windu offered her resources—he found her a job, gave us food vouchers, and told her to call on him at the training facility any time she needed assistance.” She swallowed, wiped her eyes. “In spite of his gruff demeanor, Master Windu was a very calm, patient, and gentle teacher. When I felt exhausted and discouraged, he encouraged me to keep going; he instilled confidence where I had none. He treated me like his own daughter. After I was Knighted and returned to Alderaan, we kept in almost daily contact. Whenever I had a problem or something to celebrate, he was the one I wanted to call first.” She took a deep breath, struggling to speak between sobs, and turned to light her candle. “I regret that I was not there to say a proper goodbye. May the Force be with you, Master Windu.”

    Obi-Wan stood, put his arm around the young woman, and led her to her seat. Then he read the Jedi mantra: “There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is the Force.”

    The guests exited silently. Later, the abandoned robe and lightsaber would be taken into headquarters and stored. For now, they rested, surrounded by the flames of the candles.



    Later, Anakin, Padme, Bail, Mon Mothma and Obi-Wan sat in the living area of the Chancellor’s apartments, sipping wine.

    “The Council did an excellent job,” Padme said. “The service was beautiful.”

    “It truly was,” Bail added.

    “It was simple to plan,” Obi-Wan said. “We knew Mace would not want anything elaborate.”

    “Well, it was just as a memorial service should be, with everyone sharing memories,” Padme said.

    “Padme,” Bail said. “Shaak Ti…and the Battle of Coruscant. I had not thought of that in years.”

    Padme frowned. “I’ve tried my best not to,” she said. “It was not a good day.”

    “You fainted as we were escaping,” Mon Mothma said.

    “I was pregnant,” Padme replied.

    “An explanation which cleared up quite a few questions, once we knew,” Bail said. He smiled slightly. “I assumed you had simply developed an overzealous craving for the extremely fattening jerked dewback meat.”

    “Bail Organa…” Padme began, her smirk belying her reproving tone.

    “Smoked nerf,” Anakin said. He was looking away, not smiling. He swilled his wine in his glass and took a sip.

    Padme turned. “What, darling?”

    “Smoked nerf,” he repeated, looking at her. “You always wanted smoked nerf when you were pregnant.” He turned to Obi-Wan. “We were on Tythe when that battle started, remember, Master?”

    “How could I forget?” Obi-Wan replied. “I thought you were going to leave me to retake the planet alone.”

    “I sensed something. I didn’t know what it was, just that I needed to be home.” He sighed. “I went to Palpatine about that but…he got a ridiculous amount of enjoyment from playing with his toys, of which I was his favorite. He told me to stay on the Outer Rim just so he could watch me squirm, then bring me back to the capital on his terms.” He sounded bitter, and took another long sip of wine.

    “Ani,” Padme said. “We are supposed to be celebrating.”

    He sighed, giving her a weak attempt at a smile. “I know.”

    “The last of Palpatine’s allies are dead,” Obi-Wan said. “His fire has—finally—gone out of the universe.”

    Bail was frowning. “How secure is Tarkin?”

    Padme sipped her wine and frowned as well. “He won’t be going anywhere,” she said. “The only reason Ventress was able to escape is that she had Sly Moore to trick the guards. Unless Tarkin has something up his sleeves that we’ve missed…but I doubt it.”

    “Has his trial been scheduled yet?” Mon Mothma asked.

    Padme’s scowl deepened. “No. His attorney has filed for an extension twice already. He is petitioning to move the trial away from the Galactic Courts of Justice.”

    “Why?” Obi-Wan asked.

    Padme’s eyebrows were practically forming a straight line by now. Anakin’s expression had also darkened.

    “According to Terius, Tarkin can’t get a fair trial on Coruscant,” Padme said. “As all but two of the Palpatine appointees have retired. Of the other justices, I appointed two, Mon Mothma appointed three and Bail appointed three. And of course Rosario is still Chief Justice.”

    “And in the circles that Tarkin and the resistance run in, Rosario is famous for ‘letting the Jedi get away with murder’,” Mon Mothma added.

    Anakin stood, walked across the room, and poured himself more wine.

    “We do have server droids, darling,” Padme said.

    He turned, walking back to his chair and sinking into it, scowling. “I needed to stand for a minute.” He sipped his wine.

    “Where does Terius want the trial moved?” Obi-Wan asked.

    “The Outer Rim,” Padme replied. “Hiram Araluu, the prosecuting attorney, has already said that he will not agree to moving the trial anywhere outside the Core.”

    “Good for him,” Anakin said.

    “Doesn’t stop Terius from trying though,” she replied. “I can order the attorneys to stop the extensions and proceed with the trial, and if Rosario asks me to do so, I will.”

    “Why don’t you just go ahead and do that? Seems like the extensions are giving Tarkin time to plot something else,” Anakin said.

    Padme looked at him. “I can’t interfere until asked, Ani,” she replied. “It’s not my place.”

    He nodded, sighed, and slumped a bit in his chair.

    “I doubt Tarkin is plotting anything from prison,” Obi-Wan said.

    “Tarkin himself would not have to do the plotting,” Bail said. “He has allies. There is a reason that Terius wants the trial moved to the Outer Rim, and it’s not about getting a fair trial. It’s about getting a Tarkin-friendly trial.”

    “I’m concerned for the security of the planets that belonged to the resistance,” Padme said. “I’ve dispatched squadrons to several worlds in the Arkanis Sector and the Moddell Subsector. I am trying to convince the Senate to vote to establish permanent naval bases on those worlds.”

    Bail stroked his goatee. “That won’t be seen as a military takeover?” he asked.

    Padme sighed. “Some Senators see it that way of course,” she said. “The good news is that Senator Kolzaar from Ryloth is on board. She wants a base on that planet due to the number of jobs it would create.”

    “If there are fewer restrictions on the press or speech on the planet, I don’t know how they could be concerned that the military is taking over,” Mon Mothma said.

    Padme nodded. “On Ryloth, the resistance, with the assistance of Orn Free Taa, had several news outlets shut down. News outlets considered friendly to the Republic. The Senate allocated resources to help those outlets re-open.” She sighed again. “We will have to be careful to avoid the appearance of martial law. We have to maintain security and protect freedoms at the same time. It’s not an easy balance.”

    “The fact that the Senate voted to end slavery on Ryloth should be a good sign for its people,” Mon Mothma said.

    Padme frowned again. “A few of the large business owners there still aren’t happy about that,” she replied. She noticed Anakin’s scowl deepening and continued. “At any rate, the bill to establish more naval bases will be brought to the floor next week. And as for Tarkin—we can hope that the courts move on establishing a trial date soon.”



    Shayla Paige-Tarkin looked around at the members of her family seated in the luxurious conference room of Eriadu Governor’s Palace in Eriadu City. They returned her gaze, wondering why she was scowling, knowing that they would get the answer only on her time.

    A few minutes later she finally spoke. “I suppose you have heard the news by now,” she said. “The Holonet is buzzing. Ventress is dead. Killed by the Jedi. On Amidala’s orders.”

    “Amidala did not order them to arrest her?” Abric, one of the elder members, asked.

    Shayla sneered. “Apparently she is not as spineless as Wilhuff thought.”

    Abric nodded. “I see. And what of Sly Moore?”

    “Also dead. Beheaded by Skywalker if my sources are correct.”

    “Is there anyone in the resistance who is still alive and not in prison?” Atlan, one of the younger members, asked.

    “Us,” Shayla said. Then she scowled again. “Of course it will take us years to recover our reputations and our dignity. It was obviously a mistake to send Wilhuff to Coruscant. I tried to warn everyone at the time that he is an imbecile and his ineptitude would quickly display itself. But even I never expected him to attempt to assassinate the Chancellor, blame Ventress for it, and then get caught.” She slammed her fist on the polished table in frustration.

    “Wilhuff worked for himself,” Argon, another elder, said. “He had little loyalty to the Tarkin family or the people of Eriadu, and even less loyalty to you.”

    Shayla’s scowl deepened. “Ah, yes, I am fully aware of that. He thought he should take my place as head of the clan as it was no place for a woman. Of course what he didn’t realize is that this chair is no place for a complete and total idiot.”

    “What of Terius? And the trial?” Laertes asked.

    “The Mottis hired Terius. I did not. Apparently, they are blissfully unaware that he is an impediment to their success, not an asset to it. Because Wilhuff married Thalassa, they see him as a way to join forces with us, and elevate themselves as the most powerful family in the Quintad.” She stood, and began pacing. “Lothor,” she said, looking at a man of about 40 years old. “You must defeat Zev Motti and become Eriadu’s new Senator.”

    He nodded. “I will,” he said, his jaw set. “And I will continue the fight against Amidala and the other Jedi stooges in the Senate. The long reign of the Jedi must end.”

    “Be careful,” Argon said. “Those who are vocal in their opposition to the Jedi usually end up dead.”

    Shayla sighed. “Rest in peace, Palpatine. You were the greatest leader the Republic ever had. You should have had many more years.”

    Abric sighed. “Yes. Palpatine continues to be greatly missed.” He frowned, his lips forming a thin line. “And to think that the lousy Delegation of 2000 complained that he had too much power, that he was a dictator. Seems that the real dictator would be the Chancellor in bed with the Jedi Council—literally.”

    Atlan snickered, but was silenced by a glare from Shayla.

    “Yes,” she spat. “The entire Republic knows that the Jedi control Amidala’s every move. That fact hasn’t changed much as they controlled Organa and Mothma as well, it’s just more blatantly obvious now. Sadly the majority of the Republic is too stupid to see it. Either that, or they don’t care.”

    “They don’t care,” Argon said. “How else could a Jedi Master’s wife have gotten elected?”

    “Ever heard of a Jedi mind trick?” Abric asked.

    “I don’t think that’s what happened,” Shayla said. “They are far too noble for that. Or at least they like to think they are. No, the only blame lies with the fact that the majority of the Senators are kriffing morons. And there is more.”

    “What would that be?” Argon asked.

    “The Navy,” she said. “It is coming further under Amidala’s thumb.”

    Abric looked confused. “The Republic Navy has always operated under the direct authority of the Chancellor.”

    “Yes,” Shayla said. “But not quite this…closely. I suspect that Madine will retire soon. And in direct line to become the next Fleet Admiral, the youngest Fleet Admiral in the history of the Navy? None other than Amidala’s son-in-law.”

    “Solo,” Argon said. “Does this have any consequence for us?”

    “Maybe not,” Shayla said. “But it certainly is a sign of the times. The Skywalkers consolidating their position as the most powerful family in the Republic—with the might of the military behind them.”

    “Can we fight back?” Atlan asked.

    “We can,” Shayla replied. “But not right away. Thanks to Wilhuff’s utter cretinism, undue negative attention has been focused on the Tarkin family. We must wait until this crisis blows over. And as for Wilhuff…” She looked at Argon again. “See to it that he no longer interferes with our plans.”

    Argon’s eyes widened. “Meaning?”

    She put her hands on the table and her face close to his. “The Tarkins deserve control of the Outer Rim, as we were promised. And if that promise is to be fulfilled, we must rid ourselves of those among us who do not meet our standards, who are indeed not eligible to hold the esteemed name of Tarkin. Am I understood?”

    Argon nodded slowly. “Very well understood.”

    Shayla stood again and sneered. “That is good to know.”
  2. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Oooh, Luna appears to have nailed it. More conspiring and scheming. [face_nail_biting] No rest for the exhausted. :p
  3. ccp Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2005
    star 4
  4. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    @Jade_eyes : Yes...

    @ccp : Thanks. :)

    **********

    The buzzing of her comlink woke Padme. She sat up, rubbed her eyes, and checked the chrono on the nightstand. 0600.

    The comlink buzzed again, with the identifier of the Republic Judiciary Detention Center. Her heart pounded. With shaking hands, she picked up the comlink and switched it on. “This is Chancellor Amidala.”

    “Your Excellency,” Hojal Novar said. “I have an urgent update on one of our prisoners.”

    She frowned. “Which prisoner?”

    “Senator Tarkin.”

    Padme’s frowned deepened. If he has escaped, pack your bags immediately, Novar, she thought.

    She felt Anakin’s hands on her shoulders. She knew that his soldier’s instinct would have caused him to wake even before the first buzz of the comlink, and she took comfort in his strong touch.

    She cleared her throat, speaking into the comlink again. “Proceed.”

    “The Senator’s body was found in his cell about half an hour ago.”

    Padme’s eyes widened. “His body?”

    “Yes, ma’am. I called for the prison medical droid to examine him right away. It appears that he was poisoned.”

    Padme nearly dropped her comlink. Anakin gently ran his hands down her arms, then back to her shoulders.

    “Poisoned how?” She asked.

    “We are not quite sure. We only know that he ingested it.”

    “Ingested,” Padme repeated.

    “He received a package from the government of Eriadu yesterday,” Novar said. “We inspected the contents of the package. It appeared to be foodstuffs. We did not examine it further.”

    Padme closed her eyes, rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Any sort of toxin could have been mixed into the food,” she said.

    “Droids are currently examining Tarkin’s cell for further evidence, ma’am,” he said.

    She looked up. “Good work. And order a full autopsy as well.”

    “Yes, ma’am.”

    “Set up an appointment to meet with me in my office as soon as you have all the information,” she said.

    “I will do so. Novar out.”

    Padme switched off her comlink and lay back against the pillows, closing her eyes. Anakin propped himself up on one elbow, massaging her hairline with the fingertips of his flesh hand. “Headache?” he asked.

    “Impending one, definitely,” she said. “And that feels good.”

    “Tarkin is dead,” he said.

    She nodded, opening her eyes and meeting his. “The question is, by whom? If the food package from Eriadu contained poison, it could be someone from their government who is behind it.”

    “Someone who wanted revenge, for something. Or just wanted him out of the way,” Anakin said.

    “Why would anyone want him out of the way? He was no threat in prison.”

    “Supposedly,” Anakin said, frowning.

    “Poisons can be traced once their content is known, can they not?”

    “Usually,” Anakin said, lying down beside her.

    “We should know once the prison droids finish their inspection.” She sighed. “I guess Tarkin will not be the one on trial for murder now. Someone, or several someones, will go on trial for murdering Tarkin. Assuming we can catch those who did it.”

    “A food package from Eriadu,” Anakin said. “At least the location is narrowed down quite a bit.” He put an arm around Padme and kissed her. “You’re not going into the office right away, are you?”

    “No,” she said. “Nothing to do on this until Novar makes his report.”



    It was not until the next morning that an exhausted-looking Novar appeared in Padme’s office for his scheduled report.

    “The medical droids did a thorough autopsy,” he said.

    “And?” Padme asked.

    “Manax root poison,” he said, handing her a data crystal. “The full report is here.”

    The color drained from Padme’s face. “Manax root poison?” she said. “That comes from…”
    “…the Neimoidians,” Anakin said, grimacing.

    Novar turned to Anakin. “You know this for certain?”

    “Yes,” Anakin said.

    “Senator Lott Dodd used it on me once,” Padme explained. “During the Clone War. Fortunately we were able to get the antidote quickly. The question is, who would want to poison Tarkin?”

    “The Neimoidians will sell to anyone who will pay their price,” Anakin said. “They have no loyalties, other than to their wallets.”

    “They signed Bail’s peace agreement at the end of the war,” Padme said. “And have never broken the terms of the treaty.”

    “They had neither the need nor the desire to do so,” Anakin said. “They signed the agreement because they realized that joining the CIS was more harmful to their business interests than remaining in the Republic.” He sighed. “Not that it matters. I very seriously doubt this transaction had anything to do with the resistance or the Republic. Or that the Neimoidians even knew the target of the poison.” He looked at Novar. “What other evidence do you have?”

    “Only the foodstuff package, which came from Eriadu. We know no more than that.”

    “It could have been sent from Eriadu in order to cover the tracks of the person—or group of people—sending it. People who might not have been from Eriadu at all,” Padme said.

    Anakin stroked his goatee. “Tarkin’s family is pretty upset with him, according to Obi-Wan. But it is possible they are being framed.”

    Padme met her husband’s eyes. “Is it possible to assign a Jedi to investigate this?”

    “Of course it is,” Anakin said. “We’ll…”

    He was interrupted by the buzzing of Padme’s comlink and Sovi’s voice. “Milady? Admiral Solo needs to speak with you, says it’s urgent.”

    “Thank you,” Padme said, and powered her com station, revealing a hologram of a very nervous-looking Han.

    “What’s wrong?” Padme asked.

    “Leia’s in labor,” he said. “And they can’t stop it this time.”



    Padme turned off the com and stood, turning to Novar. “Thank you for your hard work. I will contact you later. But I do need to cut this meeting short.”

    He nodded. “Of course. And ma’am, I hope your daughter and her baby will be alright.”

    “Thank you. So do I.”

    Novar left. Anakin was on his comlink, frantically contacting Luke and Obi-Wan. When he was done, he took Padme’s hand and together they ran to the speeder.

    In the medical center waiting room they found Han pacing, twisting his wedding band around on his finger. His hair stood up on clumps; he had obviously been dragging his fingers through it. Lando sat in one of the nearby chairs, Chewbacca stood against one of the walls, and no one spoke.

    Upon seeing Anakin and Padme, Han stopped pacing and looked up. “She’s in there,” he said, indicating the glass window behind him. “Her emdees shoved me out so they could poke at her.”

    Anakin walked to the window and looked in. “Is she sleeping?”

    “Between contractions,” Han replied. He checked his chrono. “She’ll be awake in, oh, five minutes or so.” He ran his fingers through his hair again and resumed walking the room.

    Padme stepped in front of him and laid her hands on his forearms. “Stop,” she said. “Listen to me.”

    He obeyed, meeting her brown eyes with his grey ones.

    “Relax,” Padme continued. “She’s going to be fine. Women have babies every day.”

    “Not my babies,” he said. Anakin gave him a look that showed that he understood.

    “The contractions had been getting worse since 0300 but we were both trying to pretend they weren’t happening…I was just getting ready to leave for work when her water broke in the ‘fresher…” Han continued. “She’s eight weeks early…”

    “Luke and Leia were six weeks early, and they were twins so they had less room to grow anyway,” Padme said. “Luke barely weighed five pounds, Leia was just over four and a half pounds.”

    “No problems other than having to be on high-calorie formula for about three months,” Anakin added. “Luke came off of it first, but he also wanted to eat every hour.”

    “She’s going to be fine,” Padme repeated. “They both are.”

    Obi-Wan entered the room, followed by Luke and Alys. “Any word?” Obi-Wan asked.

    Before anyone could answer, the sound of screaming, then loud Naboo curses, came from the other side of the window. Anakin walked to it quickly, pressing his flesh hand against the glass. “What are they doing to her in there?”

    “She’s having another contraction,” Han said. “And they will only medicate her at a certain point in the process.”

    Anakin continued to stare at the medical droids, getting a quick glimpse of his daughter with a large sheet draped over her midsection, and her hands gripping the bed rails until the knuckles were white.

    Obi-Wan touched his shoulder. “Anakin,” he said. “As this is Leia we are discussing, I would be much more concerned if wedidn’t hear screaming and cursing. That’s pretty normal for her in a crisis.”

    A door slid open and a medical droid appeared. “Admiral Solo.”

    Han didn’t wait for permission to go back, just pushed passed the droid into the room.

    The droid looked at the others. “You may visit right now, but only for a few minutes. She is progressing very quickly; the birth should happen within the hour.”

    Anakin nodded. “Understood,” he said. He and Padme entered, followed by Luke. Obi-Wan said that he would wait, as he was sure Leia would protest a Galaxies Opera House-sized audience.

    Leia’s forehead was beaded with sweat, her braids mussed. She clenched Han’s hand and breathed heavily.

    Luke went quickly to the head of the bed. “Please tell me you aren’t feeling this,” Leia said.

    Luke smiled. “Not at all.”

    “Good. That’s something.” She closed her eyes. “They’re coming faster, only three minutes apart now.”

    Padme laid a hand on her daughter’s forearm. “Can we get you anything?”

    Leia was shaking her head when the next contraction hit, causing her to cry out and squeeze Han’s hand so tightly that he winced. He laid his other hand on top of their clasped ones.

    Anakin glared at the medical droid. “Can you not give her something?”

    “The labor has progressed too quickly, sir. There was no time.”

    “No time?” Anakin snapped. “How much time does it take exactly?”

    Han held up a hand. “Don’t bother. I already tried.”

    Anakin rolled his eyes and clenched his mechanical fist. Then he opened it slowly as a realization dawned on him. “There is another solution,” he said.

    “What?” Han and Leia asked at the same time.

    Anakin turned to Luke. “Luke, get your uncle.”

    “Wha…oh,” Leia said. She closed her eyes and smiled.

    “What’s happening?” Han asked.

    Padme smiled at him. “I’m going to guess that this has to do with some very effective Jedi healing techniques.”

    “It was never my specialty,” Anakin said. “I can do them well enough to get by. Obi-Wan, on the other hand…”

    The elder Jedi Master entered the pod at that moment. “You called, Anakin?”

    Anakin nodded. “We need to ease her pain,” he said.

    Obi-Wan approached the side of the bed and closed his eyes for a moment. “This is only the second time I’ve done this for childbirth pains,” he said. He opened his eyes and looked at Padme. “And of course it isn’t coincidental that the first time was for you.” He bid Leia to roll over on her side, then lay his hands on her back and closed his eyes again.

    The room was so quiet that the whirl of the medical droid’s rotors was audible. Everyone watched Leia’s face, which greatly relaxed.

    Obi-Wan opened his eyes and moved his hands, but not before Leia reached over and clasped one of them in her own.

    “Thank you,” she said quietly, rolling onto her other side in order to meet his eyes.

    “I’m glad I could help,” Obi-Wan replied. He put a hand on Anakin’s shoulder. “I’m going to keep Alys and Lando and Chewbacca company.”

    Anakin nodded. “We’ll join you. I’m sure we’ll be booted from this pod soon.”



    Half an hour later, Anakin had taken Han’s place in pacing back and forth in front of the pod window in the waiting area while the others sat restlessly in the cold durasteel chairs. They could no longer hear screaming, but they did occasionally hear moaning or swearing from Leia as the contractions increased in intensity.

    Chewbacca barked a question, and Lando said, “I have no idea, pal. We just came along to keep Han company.” The Wookie barked a reply, and Lando said, “And that too. To keep him from wearing a hole in the floor. Or tearing apart any medical droids.”

    “I hope the baby is alright,” Alys said, almost too inaudible for anyone to hear.

    Luke put an arm around her shoulders. “So do I. Leia will be fine, but the baby…I researched this, and the survival of a preemie depends on the formation of the heart and lungs.”

    Anakin stopped and stared at the two of them for a minute, then resumed pacing.

    “Ani,” Padme said. “You’re acting more like a nervous father than a new grandfather.”

    “I’m both,” he said.

    “Good point,” Lando muttered.

    Chewbacca barked another question. “I don’t know,” Lando replied. “Remember? They told her medical droid not to spoil the surprise.”

    Chewbacca barked again. “I know, I know. It’s a surprise no matter when you find out, but they wanted to wait until the birth,” Lando said.

    Anakin smiled slightly. “We didn’t find out either,” he said. He suddenly stopped pacing. “Do you hear that?”

    “Hear what?” Obi-Wan asked.

    He smiled, and jerked his head towards the door of the pod. Everyone sat still and listened. At first there was silence, and then, the hearty, robust cry of a newborn.

    Anakin’s smile widened. “He’s here,” he said. “Here, and healthy.”

    Padme smiled back, and stood. “He?” she said, one eyebrow raised.

    “Yes, he,” Anakin replied, also raising an eyebrow. “I know.”



    Twenty minutes later, the door to the pod slid open and Han emerged, carrying a tiny bundle wrapped in an off-white blanket, grinning ear to ear. For a moment he just stood, staring at his in-laws and friends, not speaking.

    “Well?” Alys said impatiently.

    “It’s a boy,” he replied. “Five pounds, two ounces, a hundred percent clean bill of health. All systems go.”

    Lando laughed. “Did you have a baby or a ship?”

    “You know what I mean, pal,” Han replied.

    Anakin stood next to Han, gently removing a fold of blanket from the baby’s head. He had soft, wispy light brown hair, and the eyes that opened slowly were a dark grey. They would be brown like his mother’s.

    Anakin ran the back of his forefinger down the baby’s soft cheek. “Happy birthday,” he said quietly.

    “Here,” Han said, laying the baby in Anakin’s arms. Anakin held him in the crook of his left arm as Padme ran her fingertips over his hair and down the sides of his face.

    “He’s beautiful,” she said.

    Luke and Alys, who stood on Anakin’s other side, nodded in agreement.

    Obi-Wan stood next to Padme and extended his hand, placing the tip of his little finger into the baby’s palm. “He’s got a good grip,” he said. Then he looked at Anakin. “And unlike his uncle Luke, he won’t only have my beard to pull.”

    Anakin absentmindedly touched his goatee with the tips of his artificial fingers.

    “What?” Luke said.

    Obi-Wan gave him a teasing smile. “I have not been clean-shaven since age 25, but I considered it during your infancy, young one.”

    Alys laughed. “So that’s what you did before you moved to pulling my braid,” she said.

    Luke smirked, reached behind Alys and gave the braid a sharp tug. “Ow,” she muttered. “You’re in trouble later, Jedi.”

    Han put one hand on Anakin’s forearm, the other on Obi-Wan’s. “Leia wants to name him after both of you,” he said. “And no offense, but I’m trying to figure out how that’s going to work. I haven’t been able to come up with a good combination of Anakin Obi-Wan Solo.”

    They both laughed, and Obi-Wan put a hand on Han’s shoulder. “I think I can help you out. My birth parents on Stewjon called me Ben. I didn’t become Obi-Wan until I was taken to the Temple.”

    Anakin stared at him. “You never told me that.”

    Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows. “You never asked.”

    Han smiled, gazing at his son. “Benjamin Anakin Solo,” he said quietly.

    Padme ran her fingers over the baby’s hair again. “That works,” she said, smiling. “Works very well in fact.”

    “It does,” Han said. He took the baby from Anakin. “I’m going to tell Leia. I think you can all come in and see her in a minute.”



    “And he’s still wide awake,” Han muttered, yawning. “How are you doing this, kid? You were up half the night.”

    Anakin stroked his grandson’s cheek with the back of a finger. “He just wants to see the election results. Don’t you, Ben?”

    Anakin walked slowly around the living area of Han and Leia’s apartment, holding the baby. Han leaned back against the sofa cushions; Leia had fallen asleep on the other end of the sofa several minutes earlier. The Holonet blared in the background; the election for Chancellor was taking place at the moment, as well as elections for Senator on one third of all Republic systems.

    “If you get tired of walking him, I’ll take over,” Han said, yawning again.

    Anakin looked at the baby again. “Does Grandpa ever get tired of taking care of you? No, not at all.” Ben met Anakin’s blue eyes with his own rapidly darkening ones, and smiled. “Now that’s a good smile. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s just gas. They have no idea what they’re talking about.”

    Han thought of Lando’s joke from a week earlier. That kid has to be the most powerful being in the galaxy. He’s turned a Navy Admiral, the Chancellor, the Royal House of Alderaan and half the Jedi into a big puddle of mush.

    Anakin looked at Han. “I’ll handle this. I got eight straight hours of sleep last night. You didn’t.”

    Han nodded his thanks and yawned again. Ben snuggled against Anakin’s chest; Anakin ran a finger over his soft hair.

    “This is the way your Mommy liked to be held,” he said. “Your Uncle Luke was different. He got mad if he couldn’t see out the window.”

    “How did you manage newborn twins?” Han asked.

    Anakin laughed. “I don’t remember,” he said. “There was so much else going on at that time. It’s all a big blur, and not just due to sleep deprivation.”

    “I suppose so,” Han said, glancing at the holovid player, with a reporter standing amongst a crowd of people outside the Senate Building.

    “Han,” Anakin said. “You’re about to fall asleep sitting up. Go to bed.”

    Han opened his mouth to answer when the Holonet reporter interrupted. “This just in,” she said. “Chancellor Padme Amidala has won re-election by an overwhelming majority. 1846 votes in her favor, 154 against. I repeat, Chancellor Amidala has been re-elected.” Cheers erupted from the crowd, drowning out the reporter’s next words.

    Han and Anakin both smiled.

    “As I expected,” Han said. “But good to know anyway.”

    “Now will you get some sleep?” Anakin said. “I think we’ll go to the Senate Building.” He looked down at Ben. “What do you say? Should we go watch Grandma give her acceptance speech?”

    Han frowned. “How crowded is it going to be in the Senate Building today? For some reason I’m picturing the streets of Coronet on the day of the annual festival.”

    “That’s probably an understatement,” Anakin replied. Then he smiled. “But I’ll keep hands off of him and Holonet cameras out of his face, I promise.”

    “And you’re not going to fly with an open cockpit?”

    Anakin laughed. “You have my word.”

    Han yawned again. “Alright. He’s going to need another bottle in about an hour.” He nudged Leia. “Hey, sweetheart…” She stirred, murmured “I know,” then fell back into a sound sleep.

    “The bottles and diaper bag are in the usual place?” Anakin asked.

    Han looked up and nodded. Anakin shifted Ben to the crook of his other arm, went into the kitchenette and got a bottle out of the conservator, bringing it back into the living area.

    “Parents are spoiled these days,” he said, examining the bottle. “When Luke and Leia were babies, bottles didn’t have built-in warmers. We had to carry around separate warming units.”

    Han laughed. “Be careful, Anakin. With talk like that, someone might call you an old man.”

    Anakin laughed as well, and waved a hand in dismissal. “Go to bed, you pirate.”

    Han yawned again, stood, and carefully lifted Leia, who didn’t wake.

    “My comlink is on,” Anakin said. “Although I’m sure Leia will just yell at me over our bond if she wakes up in a panic wondering where Ben is.”

    Han laughed. “And that’s faster,” he said. “Alright. Congratulate Padme for us.”

    “Will do,” Anakin said, as Han carried his sleeping wife to their chambers.

    Anakin kissed the top of the baby’s head and said softly, “Your Grandma is the most amazing woman in the galaxy.” Ben stirred, his head inclining towards his grandfather’s voice. “But don’t tell anyone. She likes to pretend she doesn’t know.”



    “She won,” Shayla muttered, scowling at the Holonet feed entering the Eriadu Governor’s Palace.

    “Was that a surprise?” Abric asked her.

    “No,” Shayla replied. “But a disappointment nonetheless.”

    “The result would have been the same if Wilhuff had lived,” Abric said. “I do hope we have not made a mistake.”

    “Mistake?” Shayla said. “No, not a mistake. Investigation into his death will tie up at least some of the Jedi for awhile.” Then she sighed. “However, that may be the best that comes of it. We have lost any attempt to oust Amidala and her friends, or even to discredit her. We are stuck with her for four more years. Then we might be able to elect a Chancellor friendlier to our cause. Even that possibility looks dim right now.”

    Abric scowled. “Do you believe the Jedi are influencing elections?”

    “I don’t know,” she said. “And it doesn’t matter anyway. We could never prove it. Palpatine tried to expose Jedi treachery for what it is, and look what happened to him.”

    “Should we at least attempt to elect a Chancellor who is not married to a Jedi?” Abric said, his scowl deepening. “Who does not have children in the Order?”

    Shayla’s face relaxed slightly. “That shouldn’t be too difficult,” she said. “We at least elect someone who is not so cozy with the Order.”

    “Then maybe…just maybe…the Jedi will get caught in their own sinister act. And the Committee for Oversight of Jedi Activities will no longer be such a joke.”

    Shayla’s scowl returned. “Jedi hearings should have been steered towards the court for the duration of Amidala’s Chancellorship. The few hearings that even made it to the committee were ridiculous. Skywalker and Kenobi did whatever they wanted. No Senator on the committee would dare cross the Chancellor’s husband and his best friend.”

    “I know,” Abric said. “What of Motti?”

    Shayla glared at him. “What of him?”

    “Is he with us or against us?”

    “I don’t know,” Shayla said. “But I believe he can be…persuaded to be with us.”

    Abric smirked. “If he believes that he can retain the Motti position in the Quintad.”

    “We must eliminate the Mottis,” Shayla said. “In order to secure the Tarkin position in the Seswenna sector.”

    “I agree, but meanwhile…”

    Shayla sneered. “We convince him that we are on his side. And we work together on the election in four years.” Her sneer turned into a sigh. “That’s as much as we can do. At the moment.”



    Anakin made his way through the throng outside the Senate Building, a cheering crowd that was even larger and louder than he had anticipated. He shielded Ben in the folds of his robe, protecting him from both the wind and Holonet cameras.

    “Master Skywalker! Are you excited that the Chancellor has won re-election?”

    “Master Skywalker! What do you say of the rumors that the Jedi have been influencing elections?”

    I have plenty to say on that. Unfortunately for you, none of it would be fit to print, Anakin thought, scowling.

    “Master Skywalker! What are the Chancellor’s plans for her next term?”

    Anakin decided to answer the last question, taking the reporter’s comlink and saying, “You will have to ask her that, and I’m sure you will get an answer in a few minutes. Now if you’ll excuse me…” He handed the comlink back to the reporter and pushed his way through the rest of the crowd, ignoring other reporters who shouted his name.

    Luke met him inside. “You didn’t have to use your lightsaber to get through that group, I hope.”

    Anakin frowned. “No.” He let the folds of his robe fall open, exposing Ben. “I would not want to deal with Han or Leia if Ben’s face ended up on the front pages tomorrow, though.”

    Luke smiled, patting his nephew’s head. “I can’t blame you,” he said. He and Anakin began walking down the hall towards one of the Senate chamber entrances. “I think Mom is getting ready to deliver her speech. And then…” Luke’s smile widened. “Alys won. I told her I’d help set up her office.”

    “That’s good news,” Anakin said. “I did not get a chance to see many of the results of individual Senate races.”

    “Motti won from Eriadu,” Luke said.

    Anakin frowned.

    “What?” Luke asked.

    “Maybe nothing. We’ll see.” He sighed. “Tarkin’s wife was a Motti. It’s hard to tell whose side they are on.” They had reached one of the entrances to the Senate chambers. Padme stood in the Chancellor’s pod in the center, one hand held up to silence the cheering throng.

    “I’m going to the Alderaan delegation’s pod,” Luke said.

    Anakin smiled and put a hand on his son’s shoulder. “I thought you would.” He looked at Ben. “I think we’ll watch from here.”

    Luke nodded and left. Anakin looked down at the Chancellor’s box.

    “Thank you,” Padme said. “I am thankful for the opportunity to continue to serve as your Chancellor.”

    Another round of cheers came from the crowd. She smiled and held up her hand again.

    “Thank you,” she repeated. “As I am sure you are aware, this election season, like much of the last two years, has been…exciting.”

    Anakin suppressed a snort. Is that the word you would use, love?

    “I look forward to working towards a less troubled Republic during my second term.”

    Another round of cheers and applause, which Padme waited out before speaking again. “The resistance is finished. Our job will be to work together to ensure that peace and stability returns to worlds most affected by their treachery.”

    The cheer that came next was loudest among the delegation of Outer Rim worlds.

    “We also need to work at creating a responsive government that is receptive to the needs of its people—all of its people. The resistance movement sprang from the former Separatists, and the Separatist Alliance formed because its members felt that the Republic government was no longer receptive to their input and wishes. In fact, our government had become so closed to the input of its constituents that the Separatists felt they had no choice but to form their own.” She looked around the chambers. “We must not allow that to happen again. We are a democracy and we will have disagreement, but all citizens must have a voice. All systems must work together to this end.”

    More cheers, and Padme continued. “Four years from now I will return home to Naboo. One of my goals between now and then will be to set an easy, harmonious path for the next Chancellor. I hope that his or her job will be to preside over a government as peaceful as that which existed for a thousand years prior to the Clone War.”

    Another round of applause, and Padme glanced up at Anakin, giving him a subtle tip of her chin and wave of her hand. Come down, darling. Join me. Anakin did, and the eyes of all Senators followed the Jedi Master carrying the infant.

    Anakin boarded the lift to the Chancellor’s box, stepped out and laid the baby in Padme’s arms as the Senators cheered again.

    “This is my grandson, Ben,” she said. “I hope that he, and all of the children born this year, will only learn of war by reading about it in history books.”

    At this, the Senators gave their loudest applause yet, and gave Padme a standing ovation.
  5. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Yay on the election results [face_dancing]

    D'awww! on the family moments :) I also muchly enjoyed the bantering. :D
    Last edited by Jade_eyes, Nov 25, 2012
  6. ccp Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2005
    star 4
  7. Valairy Scot Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2005
    star 5
    So sweet...baby Ben - and the most powerful being in the galaxy! Ha. [face_laugh]
  8. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    @Jade_eyes : Thanks; among my "what might have been" list is the idea that Han and Anakin would have gotten along fantastically.

    @ccp: Thanks. :)

    @Valairy Scot : Has everyone wrapped around his little toes. :p

    Thanks for reading, and for those of you who have stuck with me this entire time (adding @Luna_Nightshade here), especially if you're on a re-read from the old boards...thank you so much. [:D] I have considered a lot of missing moments/addition scenes to this series, and I did write scenes for both Ahsoka's and Obi-Wan's deaths, but as far as full novel-length works, it ends here. Hope you've enjoyed the ride as much as I've enjoyed the drive.

    **********

    Epilogue

    Naboo, 30 years later



    Outside the Varykino lake retreat, several men stood watch.

    Inside, in one of the larger sitting areas, the Queen of Alderaan and the Fleet Admiral of the Republic Navy stood silently, morosely, waiting for their spouses. Every few minutes one of their children would enter the room and whisper, “Any word?” So far the only response had been a sad shake of the head.

    In an adjoining bedroom, Anakin Skywalker lay dying, his children on either side of him. His breathing grew slower, more labored by the minute.

    “It won’t be long now,” Leia said quietly, stroking her father’s hair.

    “No,” Luke said, taking Anakin’s organic hand in both of his own. “And he’s ready.”

    “He’s been ready for awhile. Ever since Mom…” Leia broke off. Anakin’s health had begun to go downhill after Obi-Wan’s death five years earlier, but when Padme died, Anakin’s decline accelerated rapidly. The man who existed in the nine months since her passing was a sad shell of his former self, a recluse, often plagued by illness.

    The official diagnosis by his medical droid was a “failing heart.” To the chagrin of his wife and two daughters, Luke had snapped back, “His heart isn’t failing. It’s broken.”

    “Luke,” Alys had said, but he cut her off.

    “You know it’s true,” he said. When Padme died, Luke and Leia feared for Anakin’s sanity, and in the midst of grief for their mother, the wound from losing their Uncle Obi-Wan was re-opened. Only Obi-Wan had been able to set Anakin back on track when he was at his worst.

    It had taken the twins, and Han and Alys, several hours to convince Anakin to let the coroners take Padme, to allow the body to be entombed and the Naboo to celebrate the life of its most beloved citizen, and the galaxy to celebrate the life of one of its greatest Chancellors. The Chancellor who, at long last, brought the Clone War to its true end, brought the Republic into an era of lasting peace. Her funeral was viewed over the Holonet by trillions of people, and on Eriadu, the people held their own memorial service. They lit candles for the leader who had helped them free themselves from the oppression of the Quintad, helped them restore their planet to its former beauty and greatness.

    Padme’s last term as Chancellor had ended on a high note, and she and Anakin retired quietly to Naboo, living in bliss for more than two decades before the cancer took her.

    Now, Anakin welcomed his own death. In the oneness of the Force, he would be reunited with the Jedi who had gone before him. Obi-Wan. Ahsoka. Qui-Gon. Mace Windu. Shaak Ti. Yoda.

    And he could hope, although she was not a Jedi, that Padme would also await him on the other side.

    All things die, he learned years ago. Even the stars burn out. But even in darkness and death, love finds its way through. Love, the greatest light of all, the light that can even ignite the stars.

    It was love that Anakin had clung to whenever his fears got the best of him and his demons tempted him. Love for Padme, for his children, for Obi-Wan. And it was love that Anakin clung to as he struggled through his final breaths, and love that his children clung to as they held his hands tightly while allowing themselves to let him go.

    Leia leaned forward and spoke softly into his ear.

    “Go ahead,” she said. “They’re waiting for you. She’s waiting for you. We’ll be alright.”

    “We love you,” Luke whispered. “It’s time, Daddy.”

    Anakin’s eyes opened slowly, meeting Leia’s, then Luke’s, and for the first time in several days, he seemed to recognize them. He gave their hands a weak squeeze before turning and gazing at a point in the distance, a point they couldn’t see.

    Then his eyes lit up, and he smiled.

    And with a great gasp of air, breathed his last.

    Luke and Leia laid their hands on the empty bed, still warm from their father’s body, before embracing and crying quietly for several minutes.

    Then they slowly opened the door.

    Five sets of eyes met them, as Leia’s son and Luke’s daughters had rejoined their parents.

    Luke met Alys’ eyes and nodded slowly. Alys let out a choked sob, covering her face with her hands.

    Ben Solo stepped forward. “Mom?” He said.

    Leia didn’t say anything. She didn’t have to. Her eyes went from her son’s face down to his belt, where Anakin’s old lightsaber hung.

    And her tears began anew.

    Han stepped forward and put an arm around her shoulders. “The balcony,” he said. “We should go to the balcony.”

    “A view of the water would do us all good,” Ben added.

    “Grandma and Grandpa loved it,” Luke’s oldest daughter, 25-year-old Princess Ellia, said.

    “That they did,” Luke replied.

    All seven of them walked outside. The day was clear with a crystal-blue sky, offering a view of the islands that Padme had visited as a school girl many decades earlier.

    For several minutes they stood hand in hand and gazed silently at the sun sparkling off the lake, listening to the birds singing.

    Then suddenly, Ben said, “What…”

    Luke’s second daughter, Princess Melina, finished her cousin’s sentence. “…is happening?”

    The others gazed at the point on the water, and Luke and Leia looked at each other and smiled.

    They stepped forward, away from the others, and clasped hands.

    “Daddy,” Leia whispered.

    Anakin appeared before them on the water, younger, relaxed, and smiling.

    Your mother is here too. You can’t see her, but…we’re working on that.

    They both nodded, their eyes swimming with tears again.

    We are always with you.

    At that moment the other ghosts appeared next to Anakin. Obi-Wan came first, giving Luke and Leia the half-smile that they remembered so well. Then Master Windu, Master Yoda, Master Ti, Master Qui-Gon Jinn, whom they only knew from Obi-Wan’s holos, and a small Togruta whom they knew, without asking, to be Ahsoka Tano.

    Han and Alys joined their spouses, taking their hands.

    “What do you see?” Alys asked.

    Luke smiled. “They’re home,” he said.
  9. Sly_Solo Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Nov 26, 2012
    @anakinfansince1983, I have read the first few chapters of this story! And I like it so far, but I feel like I need to read the previous ones! However I like what I have seen so far :D could you read and comment on my fan fiction A Galaxy Divided?
  10. Valairy Scot Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2005
    star 5
    Ahhh...Anakin has finally learned to let go - and in so doing, rediscovered those who have gone on have merely gone ahead - and waited. Lovely.
  11. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    A beautiful, poignant close. =D= @};- I will be eagerly awaiting your next ff project to devour avidly LOL [face_love]
  12. Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2006
    star 5
    =D==D==D=

    Quite an accomplishment to finish this story, and it was a wonderfully enjoyable conclusion. Love a happy, bittersweet ending! Congratulations on finishing, and I look forward to seeing what you'll come up with next.
  13. ccp Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2005
    star 4
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