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Saga Seeds of Resistance (sequel to Under Fire)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by anakinfansince1983 , Oct 9, 2012.

  1. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    Anyone that says that it's old fashion for a guy to ask a girl's father for permission to marry her better talk to my sister's husband of about eight months. He came a long way to ask my dad in person for permission to marry his daughter.

    Jabba's about to go the way of all Baddies! *evil grin*
  2. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Valairy Scot : [face_blush] That is some of the highest praise I could ask for, since I do AUs almost exclusively. So...thank you. :)

    krtmd : It's coming in the next post. Thanks for stopping by. :)

    ccp Thanks!

    Lady_Misty : The history behind the concept, that of the woman as property that the husband and father are exchanging, I disagree with. But approached in a way of "I value your opinion, I want to be part of your family and I'm hoping that you accept me," which is the way I see that Han did it...that I like.

    And Jabba...well, it won't be a surprise.


    Chapter 9

    Leia emerged from the medical center hallway into the lobby where Han was waiting. He took both of her hands and kissed her. “You’re smiling, must be good news,” he said.

    She moved aside the material of her dress, showing him her bare shoulder and part of her torso. “Notice anything missing?”

    He grinned. “No air brace?”

    She returned the grin. “No air brace. All I have to do is keeping working on my arm. I still only have about 75 percent range of motion.”

    “Considering it’s only been a few weeks, 75 percent range of motion is not bad at all,” he said. “Are you ready to go?”

    “More than ready,” she said. He put an arm around her shoulders, leading her out the door and to his waiting speeder.

    “I’ll still be out of real action for awhile,” she said. She was no longer smiling as she climbed into the speeder with Han beside her. “It’s not so much that I mind doing research, it keeps me useful, I’m just used to playing a…bigger role.”

    Han started the speeder and eased it into the skylane. “I’m assuming that someone has to handle the research aspect for every mission?”

    “Yes. A padawan or several padawans are usually assigned to it.”

    “So why not you, especially since you are good at it?”

    She scowled. “I’m also good with my lightsaber.”

    “So I’ve seen. But as your Dad told me once, there is more than one way to win a battle.”

    “Sounds like something you’d learn at the Naval Academy.”

    “Well, I teach that concept now. I haven’t always.” He shifted the speeder into another skylane. “Really, Leia, without the research you did, would Cad Bane be in jail now? Would your mother’s office have all that information on the blackmail and bribery that has been going on? Some scary frak there, especially if it had stayed undiscovered.”

    She sighed. “You’re right. And I’m not sure it’s the being off the front lines that I mind. It’s the reason behind it.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “I let that kriffing Sith wench beat me.”

    Han took her hand and squeezed it. “Sweetheart, she didn’t beat you. She barely slowed you down. Look at you, you’re almost all the way back.”

    “I wish it would happen a little faster.”

    Han smiled and touched her hair, which was free of its braids and flowing down her back. “So impatient,” he said. “Would it cheer you up if I take you to a nice restaurant so you can celebrate having freedom of movement by sitting in a chair and eating unlimited carbs in a basket?”

    She smiled at him. “I would like that,” she said, then turned to look at the skylane ahead of the speeder. “Han, why are we heading towards Jedi headquarters?”

    “I understand that there is a garden in the center that you like,” he said. “I’d like to see it for myself.”

    Leia’s eyes widened. “It’s a meditation garden. It’s probably the only quiet place in Galactic City. How did you know about it and how do you expect to get in? Only Jedi are allowed…”

    “Don’t worry. I’ve arranged all that.”

    She gave him a suspicious look. “Han Solo, you are up to something,” she said.

    He returned her look with a sly grin. “Hey,” he said. “It’s me.”

    “Exactly,” she said dryly.

    Han parked the speeder in front of headquarters and they got out.

    “The garden is in the center, and there are a couple of corridors you have to pass through first,” Leia said. “Assuming we can get past the padawans at the door, that is.”

    “I told you, don’t worry, I’ve got that arranged,” Han said.

    She frowned, looking as if she weren’t sure she believed him, and they approached the entrance. The padawan at the door, a blond boy of about 16, nodded. “Leia,” he said.

    She returned the nod. “Dak,” she said.

    Dak looked at Han. “I am sorry, sir, only Jedi are allowed to enter here.”

    Han put a hand on Leia’s shoulder. “I have authorization from Master Skywalker.”

    Dak looked at Han suspiciously.

    “Look, kid, have you got a comlink?” Han asked.

    Dak nodded.

    “Call him if you don’t believe me.”

    Dak gazed at Han and nodded slowly. “What is your name, sir?”

    Han extended his hand. “I’m Captain Han Solo of the Republic Navy,” he said.

    Dak shook Han’s hand. “Captain Solo,” he said. “Just so you are aware, if you were to use Master Skywalker’s name to gain entrance to Jedi facilities without his permission, he would find you.”

    Han laughed. “I am quite aware of that,” he said.

    Dak still looked suspicious. “You may enter,” he said. “But please don’t get me in trouble with the Jedi Council.”

    Han smiled. “I won’t. I promise.” He and Leia entered the headquarters.

    “It’s this way,” Leia said, and Han followed her down one hallway, a left turn down another, then down a flight of stairs to a door.

    She opened the door, and Han followed her outside.

    It really was the most peaceful place on Coruscant. Sunlight streamed through tall trees. A stone walkway meandered through colorful flowers, species native to several different systems. The perfume of the flowers filled the air, and the greenery was so lush that it was almost impossible to tell that a building surrounded this place on all four sides. It seemed that they were in the middle of a very floral forest.

    Leia walked down the path, lifting her head in the air and taking a deep breath. “Ahhh…I haven’t been able to do that in awhile. And what a wonderful smell.” She took a few more long, deep breaths.

    “Easy, sweetheart,” Han said. “You’re going to make yourself dizzy.”

    She smiled. “I’m fine. And look here, Han…” She gestured to a group of flowering shrubs. “Bhansgreks. And we get to see them in bloom. May be the only chance in our lifetime.”

    “Why do you say that?”

    “They only bloom every hundred years. They are native to Naboo. We have some outside our house in Theed. They bloomed when I was small but they’re green now. A pretty green even when they aren’t blooming but still…it’s a treat to get to see them in bloom.”

    Han watched Leia sniffing the flowers, then moved closer to her, touching her hair.

    She looked at him. “I am curious as to why you are suddenly so interested in a Jedi meditation garden,” she said.

    “Because I was told that you love it,” he said.

    “Is that the only reason?”

    “Basically,” he said, deciding that he was being truthful. He did want to see it because she loved it.

    He gestured towards a bench underneath a flowering tree. “Should we sit?”

    She nodded. “Why not?” she said, moving towards the bench and sitting down. He sat beside her and drew her closer. For a few minutes they sat in silence. Han was working up his nerve, and he knew Leia could sense his anxiety.

    Dammit, Solo, go for it, he thought. At least you’ll know, one way or another…

    “I’m hoping,” he said slowly, “that we will have more to celebrate tonight than just your getting your air brace off.”

    Leia looked at him. “What do you mean?” She asked.

    He got off the bench, dropped to one knee in front of her, took the ring box from his jacket pocket, and opened it.

    She blanched, her mouth gaped opened, her eyes widened. Her mouth formed the word “Han…” but no sound came out.

    He took the ring from its slot and held it out to her. “Marry me, Leia,” he said.

    Her mouth closed and opened again but she did not answer.

    “Make me the happiest man alive. Marry me.”

    She moved to take the ring but her hands were trembling. She held her left hand out, allowing him to slide the ring onto her finger. Then she took his face in her hands, leaned over and kissed him.

    He got off his knee and sat beside her on the bench again, taking her into his arms. “Can I take that as a yes?”

    She nodded and kissed him again. “Han, I’m…” She wanted to tell him that she was speechless, and embarrassed that she could not come up with anything coherent at this most important moment in both of their lives. But all that came out was, “I love you.”

    Han stroked her hair and smiled. “I know.”

    When Leia got home later that evening, she opened the door to find the apartment dark. She found her father outside on the balcony, his back to her, a glass in his hand.

    She walked over to him, put a hand on his shoulder. He turned. “Hey, Princess,” he said, putting an arm around her shoulders and drawing her to him.

    “Why are all the lights off?” She asked.

    “Easier to watch the sunset that way.” He held up his glass. “Want some well-aged Alderaanian wine? Bail sent a bottle home with Luke.”

    “Sure,” she said. 3PO had left a tray with the bottle and three more glasses; Anakin poured a glass and handed it to Leia, who took it and sipped.

    “What did the medical droids say?” Anakin asked.

    “The air brace is off, and I am supposed to keep working on my arm but I am not supposed to…how did they put it…exert myself.” She rolled her eyes. “I do want to pick up my training sessions though. I’m back up to six remotes, I think I can add another one.”

    “Take it slow. I’ll watch you with the six tomorrow and we can decide then. “

    She sighed and nodded.

    He looked directly at her and smiled. “Anything else you want to tell me?”

    She felt her cheeks burn, and returned the smile. “You know already, don’t you?”

    He raised his eyebrows but didn’t answer. She slowly held out her left hand. He set his wine glass down and took the hand, gazing at her ring for a few moments. “So Han did it,” he said.

    “Yes,” she said.

    “Are you happy?” He asked.

    She couldn’t suppress a grin. “Very much so,” she said.

    “Good. That’s what matters,” he said. “Did you have any trouble getting him inside headquarters?”

    Her brow crinkled. “How did you know about that? Did Dak end up calling you after all?” She asked.

    He shook his head. “I didn’t get a call, but who do you think told Han how much you like the garden?”

    She was surprisingly moved, and found herself blinking back tears that pricked her eyes. She gave him a hug, which he returned, then rested his arm around her shoulders again.

    “Are you sure you’re ready for this?” He asked.

    She nodded. “I love him. And he loves me.”

    Anakin didn’t say anything, just waited for her to continue.

    “I know it probably seems like it’s happening fast. Nobody is more surprised by that than I am. I didn’t like him at all when I first met him. But…that changed. And I didn’t even notice the change until it had happened.”

    Anakin held her closer, gazing at the red and purple skyline of a Coruscant dusk. “I initially thought it was too soon. But I’m not sure there’s a good call for timing, it’s different for everyone. I knew I would marry your mother the first time I saw her.”

    Leia gave him a skeptical look. “You were nine,” she said.

    Anakin smiled at her, one eyebrow raised. “I knew,” he said.

    “I guess you did,” Leia replied, looking out at the sunset again and sipping her wine. The diamonds in her ring sparkled in the reflected light of the cityscape. “Daddy…”

    He looked at her. “What is it?”

    “I’d like to have the wedding in Varykino,” she said. “Nothing really big. Han’s squadron will have to be there but…as much as possible, I want something small and quiet.”

    Anakin kissed the top of her head. “I think that can be arranged,” he said. “We can even restrict access to Naboo airspace for a few hours to keep the media out. And it’s a good choice of locations. I should know.”

    “It’s too bad you and Mom had to hide for so long.”

    Anakin sighed. “The Jedi were doing what they thought was best. And the wedding was beautiful. Best day of my life, even if only R2, 3PO and the Holy Man were able to be there.” He paused. “Have you told your mother and Luke yet?”

    “No. Just waiting for them to get home.”

    At that moment they heard the door open and Padme telling her guards goodnight. Then she came in and closed the door behind her, taking off the Chancellor’s robes and hanging them in the closet. “Anyone home? Anakin? Oh, there you are.” She walked out onto the balcony, kissed her daughter’s cheek and her husband’s lips, then poured herself a glass of wine. “So what are you two being so intense about? Did everything go well at the medical center, Leia?”

    “Yes,” she said. “The air brace is off, my ribs and collarbone are healed, the scapula is mostly healed.”

    “Good,” Padme said, then waited, sipping her wine.

    “Mom…” Leia said. “I have something to tell you.”

    “I thought so,” she said. “What is it?”

    Leia held out her left hand, and her mother took it and examined the ring with wide eyes. “Oh my goodness,” she said. “Well…congratulations. But aren’t you a little young for this?”

    She rolled her eyes. “Mom, how old was Daddy when you married him?”

    Anakin turned red.

    “He was 20,” Padme said. “But I was 24.”

    “So I should find a 14-year-old and wait for him to grow up?”

    “That isn’t what I meant,” Padme said. “I’m happy for you, darling, really. I was just surprised, that’s all.” She looked at Anakin. “Did you know about this?”

    He nodded. “Han came to me beforehand.”

    Padme smiled. “How old-fashioned of him. I like that.”

    Luke came in so quietly that they hardly noticed him until he was pouring himself a glass of wine.

    “Well, good evening, son,” Anakin said.

    “Why do I feel like I’m interrupting some galaxy-changing meeting?” Luke asked.

    Leia laughed, and Luke looked at her. “OK, what’s going on?”

    Nobody spoke for a minute, but Leia smirked.

    “I’ve never seen that expression on your face,” Luke said. “What is it?”

    She held out her left hand. Luke’s eyes widened, and he almost dropped his glass. Anakin caught it from the bottom. “Easy,” he said. Anakin took the glass and set it down, and Luke took his sister’s hand.

    “Wow,” he said. “Sorry I don’t have anything more profound than that. Congratulations. Really. When and how did this happen?”

    Leia could not suppress her grin. “He picked me up from the medical center after my appointment, and we went to the gardens at headquarters.”

    “You went where? Which padawan let Han in?”

    Leia laughed. “Dak was on duty. Han pulled Daddy’s name out and Dak conceded. Eventually. It took him a few minutes. He was afraid of getting in trouble.”

    “Oh, OK. So…when?”

    “Can we please decide that later?” Padme said. “We’re going to need several months for planning anyway, especially with security.”

    “I expected that,” Leia said.

    “We’ve already discussed this some,” Anakin added, and met his wife’s eyes. “She wants the wedding in Varykino.”

    Padme’s face softened. “Oh, how wonderful,” she said. “There is no better place for a wedding. Are you sure Han isn’t attached to any place on Corellia though? Coronet does have some beautiful areas…”

    Leia shook her head. “We talked about that. He told me to pick the spot.”

    Padme nodded. “OK. That makes it easier.” She put her glass down. “Let’s go inside. I haven’t eaten yet.”

    “I haven’t either. I was waiting for you,” Anakin said.

    Padme came out of the ‘fresher ready for bed, her black silk nightgown flowing about her, her hair, free of its usual chignon, falling down her back in a simple braid. It was a warm evening, and Anakin was lying on his back on top of the bedcovers, wearing only his sleep pants, his eyes closed.

    Padme lay down beside him and ran her fingers through his hair. “How are you, Ani?’ She asked.

    He opened his eyes briefly, kissed her, then closed them again. “Tired,” he said. “You?”

    “The same,” she said, resting her head on his shoulder as he wrapped his arm around her. “The Council meets tomorrow?”

    “Yes,” he said. “Obi-Wan is going to arrest Free Taa as soon as we get the signed warrant from you.”

    “You’ll have it before the meeting,” she said, then sighed. “He was a colleague. It’s sad that it’s come to this.”

    “No, it isn’t,” Anakin said, opening his eyes again. “Civil dissent is expected in a democracy. Plotting to overthrow government using violence and coercion is not. Bane proved that Free Taa was doing that. Most likely he’s been doing it ever since Bail was in office. He’s done nothing but give you and him and Mon Mothma a hard time.”

    “I know,” she said, and there was tension in her voice. “Let’s talk about something more pleasant. When did Han come to see you?”

    “Two days ago,” Anakin said.

    “That explains why you’ve been so moody.”

    He laughed. “Have I really been moody? Obi-Wan said the same thing.”

    “You’re always moody when you’re keeping secrets, Ani. It gnaws at you. At least it’s in the open now. So did Han ask permission, for your blessing, or…what?”

    Anakin closed his eyes again. “He showed me the ring. So I saw it in the box before I ever saw it on Leia’s finger. He didn’t say a word.”

    “He didn’t have to.” Padme stroked Anakin’s bare chest.

    “No, he didn’t. I told him the same thing you told her. That I thought she was too young.”

    “And what was his reaction?”

    “He offered to wait for her. He asked me when I thought she would be old enough. And Padme, he was serious. He was being literal.”

    “I don’t doubt it. What did you tell him?”

    “What could I tell him? I indicated that he should propose to her in the garden at headquarters. Looks like he took me up on it.”

    Padme stroked the goatee, then his cheek. “She’ll be OK, Anakin, you know that. Better than OK, in fact. I think she’s going to be very happy.”

    He opened his eyes and smiled. “What happened to her being too young for this?”

    She returned the smile. “Oh, she’s old enough. It’s us.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “My saying that to her was just my gut reaction. You’re not the only one who has the twins frozen in time, at age 4, in our yard in Theed with their training sabers.” She sighed. “We’re getting old, Ani.”

    He kissed the top of her head. “Speak for yourself. I have no intention of getting old.”

    She raised her eyebrows. “Oh really? I don’t think biology will give you a choice, darling.”

    He kissed her again, this time on the lips, and fingered the strap of her nightgown. “Well, biology will have to win against…aggressive negotiations.”

    “Only you would try to fight biology with…aggressive negotiations,” she replied.

    When she kissed him, he returned it with fervor, a long, deep, passionate kiss, pulling her on top of him and sliding the straps of her nightgown down. The gown fell to her waist.

    “I thought you were tired,” she said between kisses.

    “I got my second wind,” he replied.

    “Ah. I should tell you that we’re getting old more often,” she said, running her hands slowly down to his waist.

    “Maybe you should,” he said.
  3. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Backpacking One Pack a Day Mod of New Films star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Sep 16, 2005
    Love is everywhere...:) except for poor Obi-Wan :(. But then I don't read Anakinfan's stories for my Obi-Wan, but because they are GOOD and worth reading.
    anakinfansince1983 likes this.
  4. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    My mom once told me that I shouldn't get married until I was twenty-four. That way I'd have a chance to see the world a a bit and mature some more. She married at twenty-one and she was in the military for three years and went to several foreign countries: Italy, Germany and I think one other.

    I just think that Leia is too young to get married. Briannakin and Hazel did a fine job with that in a fic where Leia was secretly seeing Han and get pregnant. She got married at nineteen and even though she loved Han her life as she had known it was over.
  5. krtmd

    krtmd Jedi Knight star 4

    Sep 5, 2012
    I don't think Han is the kind of guy to keep her at home, etc. He seems pretty aware he's marrying a Jedi. Of course, he did seem to like the idea she'd be doing research, so maybe it will be an issue for them...
  6. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Valairy Scot: Thanks. :). I did write a Sabewan story many years ago and I have some interest in Obi/Satine. Siri, I haven't gotten into that much--she seems OK in spite of having been created by Jude Watson.

    Only vague mentions of Obi-Wan love life here (he wasn't celibate, put it that way) but there are some good friendship scenes coming.

    Thanks again for the high praise. :)

    Lady_Misty: You're entitled to your opinion, but I'm not big on blanket rules for an aspect of life that depends more on maturity than chronological age, and the same decision made by two different people might easily have two different outcomes. There is no way I would write a Leia/Han story in which Han were genuinely a misogynistic ass (as opposed to a Han who throws out the occasional un-PC comment) or in which Leia ended up in some 19th century woman's hell. There are other options.

    <--- Got married at 22. That was more than 18 years ago.

    krtmd : Han is definitely aware that he's marrying a Jedi. But his military background gives him an appreciation for research and strategy.

    Thanks for reading. :). New post up jn a few hours.
  7. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    And the next segment:


    Anakin entered the Council chambers at headquarters and held the piece of flimsiplast in the air. “Well, here it is,” he said. In neat type was the arrest warrant for Orn Free Taa on charges of extortion and treason; Padme’s loopy signature stood out at the bottom.

    Obi-Wan waved Anakin to his seat and took the flimsi from him. “I think you are enjoying this far too much, Anakin,” he said.

    “Is there some reason I shouldn’t enjoy seeing the most corrupt long-standing member of the Galactic Senate be put where he belongs?” Anakin asked as he sat down.

    Obi-Wan said nothing, just raised his eyebrows.

    “I will accompany you to Free Taa’s office, Obi-Wan,” Mace said. “We will go at 1300.”

    “Once Free Taa is in prison, assuming he won’t talk…” Shaak Ti began.

    “That’s probably a safe assumption,” Anakin muttered.

    “…can we still assume that we have all the members of the resistance except Ventress? And do we have any clue where Ventress is hiding?” Shaak Ti continued.

    “The construction in the mountains of Ryloth…the beginnings of a foundry, it is,” Yoda said. “Destroy it we must.”

    “The last time we destroyed a foundry, we found Ventress,” Obi-Wan said. “Or Luke and Leia did.”

    “We may find Ventress on Ryloth. It is more likely that we will at least find someone who knows where she is,” Mace said.

    “Medical records from the facility on Kala’uun indicate that Ventress was treated there and fitted with a prosthetic hand,” Shaak Ti said.

    “Question the head of the center, we should,” Yoda said.

    “So are we planning a mission to Ryloth?” Obi-Wan asked.

    “Let’s see if Free Taa talks first,” Mace said.

    Anakin suppressed a snort.

    “Contact the medical center using a secure channel, we can,” Yoda said. “Possible it is, that the director will talk to us that way. If not, visit we can.”

    “The three of us should go,” Mace said, indicating Yoda, Shaak Ti and himself.

    “Can we assume that the Banking Clan is funding that foundry as well?” Obi-Wan said.

    “Most likely, and we can hope that we will find out soon enough. Yesterday, Chancellor Amidala issued a warrant for Pors Tonith’s arrest. All systems in the Republic have been alerted to seek him out and extradite him to Coruscant. He is hiding, but we will find him,” Mace said. He stood. “We will meet again in three days. By that time Free Taa will be in custody and we will have had a chance to question him.”

    They said their goodbyes, and Anakin and Obi-Wan walked outside headquarters to Anakin’s waiting speeder.

    “Is Padme planning to question Free Taa?” Obi-Wan asked.

    “Not if she can avoid it,” Anakin said. “But she may not have a choice.”

    “Someone on the Council will question him,” Obi-Wan said. “It’s possible that she can avoid that unpleasant duty unless she has more for him than we do.” He looked directly at his former apprentice. “You’re quiet today. Anything wrong?”

    “No,” Anakin said, climbing into the speeder and starting it. Obi-Wan got in beside him.

    “OK,” Obi-Wan said skeptically. “You’re projecting a lot of mixed emotions.”

    “Leia’s getting married,” Anakin said.

    “Really?” Obi-Wan said. He barely seemed surprised at all.

    “Yes. Yesterday Han gave her a diamond ring the size of my head.”

    Obi-Wan laughed. “Now I know you’re exaggerating. I don’t think Leia is capable of wearing a small moon on her finger.”

    Anakin gave him a half-hearted smile in return. “Are you calling me big-headed, Master?”

    “No, Padawan, I am calling you egotistical,” he replied. “At any rate, should I be proud of you for not threatening to make him swallow it?”

    Anakin sighed. “Maybe. I don’t know,” he said. “He actually came by three days ago to talk to me before he proposed.”

    Obi-Wan’s eyebrows went up. “He wanted your permission?”

    “I don’t know. But he told me that if I thought she was too young, he would wait several years for her. Same Han, steady as always, promising that he wouldn’t go anywhere and meaning every word of it.” Anakin smiled. “He’s a good man, there’s no doubt about that, or that they love each other.” He sighed. “I asked her if she was ready. And she is. I’m the one who isn’t.”

    Obi-Wan pointed to a skylane that veered to the right. “Head that way, Anakin.”

    “CocoTown? Why?”

    He clapped his former padawan’s shoulder. “I think you and I need to pay Dex’s Diner a visit.”

    “Craving jawa juice and sliders?”

    Obi-Wan’s eyebrows went up again. “Possibly. Or maybe I just want one-on-one time with my former apprentice and a chance to needle Dex about Ryloth at the same time.”

    “Ok,” Anakin said. “Good idea. “ He steered the speeder into the skylane that Obi-Wan indicated. “Just so you know, Padme is planning a party for the twins’ 19th birthday.”

    “And my presence is requested?”

    “Of course.”

    “Are we looking at an evening with half the dignitaries of Coruscant?”

    Anakin laughed. “No. Maybe a few dignitaries, but I think the majority of the crowd will be us, Pooja, Mon Mothma and the Organas. And Padme’s parents.” He looked at Obi-Wan. “I was planning to go to Naboo to get them, maybe with one or both twins.”

    “It’s been awhile since you saw the Naberries, hasn’t it?”

    “They avoid Coruscant for various reasons, namely that they aren’t city people. And neither Padme nor I have been able to go home in awhile." Anakin slowed to a stop, then docked the speeder next to Dex’s Diner. Both men hopped out and went inside.

    “A couple of people to see you, honey,” the waitress, Hermoine, called towards Dex. “Jedi by the looks of them.”

    Dex came out from behind the counter. “I should have known. Obi-Wan! And Anakin!” He wiped his hands on his grease-stained apron and gave each of them a hug.

    “Good to see you too, Dex,” Obi-Wan said, and Anakin nodded his agreement.

    “You two want some sliders?” Hermione asked.

    Obi-Wan nodded. “Why not? I’ve got an important arrest to make in an hour, it will go down more easily that way.”

    “Better add some jawa juice to that,” Anakin said. “You’re going to need it, Obi-Wan.”

    “Two of them?” Hermione asked.

    Anakin nodded.

    “Say, Anakin, your daughter’s Navy captain friend was in here the other night,” Dex said.

    “Oh really?” Anakin said.

    “And he was none too happy either. It was really late, around 0100. Several of his men came in here too drunk to know an X-wing from a Corellian light freighter, and their lieutenant was about the same. Solo yelled at all of them to pay for their sliders, get back to barracks and stop embarrassing the entire Republic Navy, then asked the lieutenant what he thought it meant to be the officer in charge. The lieutenant—can’t remember his name right now—mumbled some half-hearted defense about the men thinking that he was some sort of god, and Solo said, ‘Well why don’t you use your divine influence and get them moving then?’”

    Anakin and Obi-Wan were both laughing heartily when the waitress set plates and full mugs in front of them. Dex pulled up a chair at the end of the booth. “So,” he said, “What can I help you with?”

    Obi-Wan smiled. “You can tell us everything you know about Ryloth.”

    Dex leaned back. “Ahhh,” he said. “Yes. Ryloth. Orn Free Taa has done a great job of keeping the Republic out of the way there. He’s benefited from a few…clandestine operations that best run outside of Republic entanglements.”

    Anakin’s brows knitted together. “What do you mean?”

    “Well, you know about the slave trade I assume. The citizens of Ryloth have barely bothered to hide that.”

    Anakin took a long gulp of jawa juice and nodded, his scowl deepening.

    Dex continued. “They’ve hidden other illegal operations in their mountains. The mountains are hard to access unless you know the terrain really well so they make good hiding spots.” He lowered his voice. “The resistance has set up headquarters there now. It’s been fairly recent but…the Jedi are aware of the construction of a droid foundry, correct?”

    Obi-Wan nodded. “We recently learned of it, yes.”

    “The Techno Union is involved. Wat Tambor has been set up in a nice penthouse in Kalu’um. It’s a safe bet that you can find Pors Tonith there as well.”

    Obi-Wan and Anakin both spent a minute chewing and swallowing their food, saying nothing. Then Anakin said, “What of Ventress?”

    Dex lowered his voice again, almost to a whisper. “My sources tell me that she is definitely on Ryloth, and the mountains near the droid foundry would be the best place to start looking.”

    Another silence, then Obi-Wan asked, “Is Free Taa providing facilities for them? Hiding places?”

    “Free Taa provides the personal connections and knowledge of the land, the Banking Clan provides the dough,” Dex said.

    Obi-Wan finished his food, stood and put a hand on Dex’s shoulder. “Thank you, Dex. As always you are a great help.”

    “No problem, old buddy.” He looked at Anakin. “Give the Chancellor my best.”

    “Will do,” he replied. “And thank you.”

    Obi-Wan put a hand on Anakin’s shoulder as they walked towards the door. “Let’s get back to headquarters. I’ve got to meet Mace, and go lock up a corrupt Ryloth Senator.”

    “Ah, there is my husband,” Padme said as Anakin entered her office that evening. “Darling, I’d like you to meet the new Senator from Ord Mantell, Lorth Sihin.”

    “Master Skywalker.” The man held out his hand, which Anakin took.

    “Senator,” Anakin said. “Welcome.”

    “Thank you sir.” The man was short, only an inch or two taller than Padme, and so pale as to almost be colorless.

    “We brought the deregulation bill to a vote this afternoon, and Senator Sihin cast one of the deciding votes. The financial agencies of the Banking Clan will not be deregulated.” Padme was very close to losing her politician face and slipping into a wide grin.

    “I was happy to do it, Madam,” Sihin said. “I do have my predecessor’s reputation to undo.”

    “I think you may have done that in one day,” Padme replied. “I will see you in the morning?”

    “Of course,” Sihin replied. “Have a good evening, Your Excellency.”

    “You as well,” Padme replied, and Sihin left.

    “So,” Anakin said, stroking Padme’s cheek. “I don’t think I’ve seen you this relaxed in awhile. And I thought it was because Free Taa is in jail.”

    She laughed. “That does help,” she said. “But the deregulation bill failing…this is a major setback for the Banking Clan, and therefore a major victory for us. We may be at the turning point now, Ani. The resistance doesn’t have a chance without the Banking Clan.”

    “Well I have some better news, which probably will not surprise you, but it does help to have confirmation from a trusted source. The resistance appears to be headquartered on Ryloth. An investigation there should produce Ventress and Wat Tambor. At this point they appear to be the only ones left, particularly with Free Taa in prison.”

    “Pestage’s trial starts next week,” Padme said. “Assuming he is convicted, which I believe he will be, he may have added a year to his sentence by refusing to cooperate with Republic questioning. Let us hope that Free Taa does not make that mistake.”

    “Are you planning to question him?” Anakin asked.

    “No. I plan to ask Master Windu to do it. Free Taa could always accuse me of being partial since he ran against me last time.” She frowned. “Who is your source on this?”


    Padme smiled. “I should have guessed. I have no idea where he gets all his information but it’s usually correct.”

    “No one knows where he gets it,” Anakin said.

    “Is the Council sending someone to Ryloth?”

    “It depends on the information we get, but Master Yoda, Master Windu and Master Ti will probably go.”

    “We can hope that they will be able to wrap it up quickly and with no complications,” Padme said, then looked at Anakin. “But you are no more optimistic about that than I am.”

    “No,” Anakin said, then changed the subject quickly. “What’s on the agenda tomorrow?”

    She smiled. “You should come out; the Senate is going to vote on offering Republic citizenship to the people of Tatooine.”

    “You think it will go over that easily? Is there going to be any debate?”

    “Probably not much of one. There may be some dissention from Senators whose constituents are afraid of the Hutts; that is most likely to happen on Outer Rim worlds. Convincing them to trust the Republic to protect them from Hutt tyranny will make the difference, but that will be difficult. The Republic has turned a blind eye to the Hutts for far too many decades.”

    He put his hands on her shoulders. “But you’re changing that. I think they’ll see it.” He kissed her. “I’ll be there tomorrow.”

    “Good,” she said. “And I’ll need to borrow the holoprojector that you brought from Tatooine.”

    Anakin looked at her quizzically. “Why?”

    She smiled. “Humor me.”
  8. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Backpacking One Pack a Day Mod of New Films star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Sep 16, 2005
    Obi-Wan doesn't pull any punches does he? Banter, banter and banter - I LOVE all the banter.
  9. Luna_Nightshade

    Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jan 25, 2006
    Caught up! I am excited about Han's proposal, and I am very happy about Padme's plan for Tatooine. It is strange that she never did buy Shmi's freedom, and I really like how you've dealt with that problem.Also like the developments on Ventress. Great updates--looking forward to more.
  10. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Valairy Scot : No, he doesn't, especially with Anakin. And that's why I love him.

    Luna_Nightshade : I don't think I'm a sap but I really enjoyed writing the proposal. As far as Padme, I don't know how to explain why she didn't free Shmi other than to go with the idea that she was too distracted by events on her own planet, but I thought this would give her the chance to fix it from her current position. (And while all we can do is speculate, I think Padme had a good chance of making Supreme Chancellor in a better universe.)

    Thanks to both of you for reading. :) Finishing this chapter...


    “The Supreme Chancellor recognizes the Senator from the sovereign system of Rodia.”

    Guld Juna’s pod lowered. “Chancellor Amidala, fellow Senators, as you are aware, my homeworld of Rodia is located just off the Corellian Trade Run along the border of the Republic and Hutt-controlled space. Although we are part of the Republic and have representation in this body, my people live in constant fear of the Hutts and all the horror of Hutt rule: property seizures, slavery, lawlessness, no recourse for victims of crimes. Many of my constituents, taking the attitude that they have no choice but to join the Hutts, go work for them as bounty hunters and never return to Rodia. The planet of Tatooine is only two parsecs away, and that planet is controlled by the Hutts with no Republic interference or assistance for its citizens. The majority of Tatooine residents live in poverty, struggling to farm moisture from the arid land while being constantly subjected to intimidation, coercion, theft or even assault by any of the various criminal groups there: Gamorreans, Tuskens, and yes, the Hutts. The only recourse that residents have if they are victimized by these groups is to appeal to the Hutts, appeals which are rarely fruitful. And the only opportunity residents have to accumulate any wealth or prestige of their own is to win at gambling. And of course for those residents of Tatooine who have been enslaved, there is little to no hope for escape at all. However, through this Congress, we can give all citizens of Tatooine the option to join the Republic. We can establish polling stations on Tatooine to allow them to vote themselves Republic citizenship and all the benefits thereof. They can vote to live under Republic law and receive Republic assistance. They can vote to banish Hutt control of their planet for all time and live in freedom.”

    Another pod lowered and Harli Jiktar, Senator from Saleucami, spoke. “Chancellor Amidala, fellow Senators, Senator Juna’s motivations are honorable. However, I have two questions. The first is, can we afford to divert resources to yet another Republic system? As the Chancellor has pointed out before, the Treasury has never recovered from the Clone War. The second question is, can we afford to anger the Hutts, who control a large area of space in the Outer Rim as well as several hyperspace lanes?”

    “Senator Jiktar, I would like to respond to your questions myself,” Padme said. “You are correct, the Treasury is nearly empty, which is why I have voiced my opposition to lowering taxes on the major trade routes. However, if Tatooine is admitted into the Republic, its citizens will pay taxes to the Republic.”

    “Would this additional taxation impoverish them further?” Senator Jiktar asked.

    “Not likely,” Padme said, “As the Hutts commonly extort the meager earnings of Tatooine citizens. As the Hutts will no longer be allowed to do this, Tatooine citizens will actually be wealthier, even after paying taxes to the Republic. Which brings me to your second question: what we cannot afford to do is allow the Hutts to control, manipulate and terrorize any area of Republic space. Senator Juna has told you of the plight of his constituents, many of whom are so afraid of the Hutts that they feel they have no choice but to go work for them rather than risk exploitation.” She paused. “Now if I could take a moment, I would like to tell you about some of Tatooine’s citizens.” She pushed a button and a hologram appeared above her. “This woman was my mother-in-law, Shmi Skywalker. She lived on Tatooine, as a slave. Her owner was a Hutt named Gardulla, until Gardulla made a bad gamble on a pod race and lost two slaves, Shmi and my husband, who was five years old at the time. Shmi and Anakin were then enslaved to a Mos Espa merchant named Watto. I met them when my ship lost its hyperdrive motivator and we were forced to reroute to Tatooine to buy a new one. While bargaining for the motivator with Watto, we were caught in a sandstorm. Shmi took us into her home although she did not have the space or the resources to feed us.” Padme paused. “I was horrified at the utter disregard for the Republic’s anti-slavery laws on Tatooine, but Shmi’s words to me were, ‘The Republic does not exist out here. We must survive on our own.’ Unfortunately she could not have been more correct. As Watto would not accept Republic credits, we were forced to gamble on a pod race to win the parts for my ship. Fortunately we were also able to win Anakin’s freedom; five years later, a moisture farmer named Cliegg Lars fell in love with Shmi and bought her freedom. Even in that barren, desolate, lawless place, many people are able to find happiness, including Shmi and Cliegg, and Cliegg’s son Owen and his wife Beru, who still live there as moisture farmers.” She paused again. “Shmi should still be on Tatooine, farming the land. However, one morning 21 years ago, as she picked mushrooms off moisture vaporators, she was kidnapped by a band of Tusken Raiders and brutally murdered.” Several Senators’ mouths gaped in horror. “Adolescent male Tuskens have what is known as a blood rite. In order to prove their manhood, they must kidnap a living being and slowly torture it until it dies. Many Tuskens choose a krayt dragon, however, a Tusken who chooses a sentient being is considered more of a man, especially if that sentient being resists death. And Shmi resisted death, because she wanted to see her son one more time. She survived a month in the Tusken camp, although she was beaten brutally several times a day.” She swallowed. “This barbaric ritual is perfectly legal on Tatooine, and Shmi has hardly been the only innocent victim. The Tuskens continue this ritual, and on a regular basis, because there is no recourse. Thirty moisture farmers went to rescue Shmi, twenty-six of them were also murdered. No citizen of any planetary system deserves to live in constant fear of such barbaric tribes and their horrifying rituals. If Tatooine were part of the Republic, this could be stopped.” She looked over the completely silent chambers. “I understand that many of you and many of your constituents fear the Hutts. It is possible that the people of Tatooine will not vote to join us. However, they should have the choice. Thank you.” Padme shut down the hologram of Shmi, and indicated to Vice Chair Taren to start the voting process.

    A few minutes later, Vice Chair Taren handed Padme the datapad with the results, and she addressed the crowd again. “The vote passed, 1278 to 722. When we reconvene tomorrow, we will establish a voting date for citizens of Tatooine to elect to join the Republic or remain outside of it.”

    A pod lowered and Yasinda Traln, Senator from Raxus Prime, spoke. “Your Excellency, do we have a contingency plan in place in case of retaliation from the Hutts?”

    “I will deploy the Republic Navy to Tatooine on the day of the vote, to ensure that Tatooine’s citizens are not harassed either at the polls or on the way there. The level of hostility threats from the Hutts will determine how many squadrons I send.” She paused, scanning the room. “The Hutts do not have nearly the level of power that they did a thousand years ago, when they controlled a virtual empire on the Outer Rim. Their space is far more limited than most people think, although they have used every means possible, including threats and blatant extortion, to hold onto the territory that they can still claim. The worst case scenario is that we will go without use of Hutt-controlled hyperspace lanes. For now.”

    Traln nodded, and her pod ascended again.

    “This session is adjourned,” Padme said. “Have a good evening.” She stepped down and exited the room, followed by her guards.

    Anakin waited for her outside. He reached for her hand, which she took, and he intertwined his fingers with hers, squeezing tightly. “Thank you,” he said.

    She returned the squeeze. “You are welcome,” she replied.

    “Captain Solo.” The fleet admiral shook Han’s hand. Madine was in his mid-fifties, a bit pudgy in the middle, his straight dark brown hair streaked with grey. The look in his grey eyes as he appraised Han was one of respect.

    “Admiral Madine.” Han’s handshake was firm. “I’d like you to meet someone.” He put a hand on Leia’s shoulder. “The future Mrs. Solo.”

    Madine’s gaze took in Leia, then her ring; a flicker of recognition crossed his face, and then shock. He looked at Han again. “You’ve done quite well for yourself.” He turned to Leia again. “Padawan. I’m not sure whether to congratulate you on the engagement or worry about you agreeing to spend your life with this guy.” He clapped Han’s shoulder then gave him a teasing smile. “Are you sure she’s going to take your name? Hers still carries a bit more weight.”

    “Admiral,” Leia said, smiling. “I am quite sure Han is familiar with hyphenated last names.”

    Han turned to her. “Hyphenated?”

    She smirked and nodded. He gave her a look that clearly said We’ll discuss this later as Madine waved Han into his office, nodding at Leia. “If you will excuse us, we won’t be long.”

    Leia nodded, sitting in one of the hard chairs in the waiting area. Han disappeared into Madine’s office, and the door closed behind them.

    “So, how are you doing? Any lightsaber burns?” Madine was smiling.

    Han gave him a quizzical look. “No. Why?”

    “How exactly did you get that ring past Anakin Skywalker?”

    Han grinned. “My considerable personal charm.”

    Madine gave him a dubious look. “Really, Solo.”

    Han laughed. “Yes, really,” he said.

    Madine shook his head. “Many times I watched Skywalker lead the 501st into battle. He was only 20 years old at the time and already head and shoulders above the rest of us. Fierce one, he is. On-field and off-field personalities usually differ, but…he is notoriously protective of his kids, especially the girl.” He glanced at the door, the one with Leia on the other side. “Impressive. Most impressive.” He looked directly at Han again. “Of course an outstanding officer would recognize another one, so maybe there is more here than your considerable personal charm…” He smiled and held out a set of rear admiral’s stars. “…which did not earn you these. Only skill and leadership ability did that. You are one of the finest officers I have ever had the pleasure of working with, and I’m predicting that you’ll be fleet admiral one day.”

    Han turned red, a rare occurrence for him, and took the stars, for a moment at a loss for words. Finally, he said, “Thank you,” and shook Madine’s hand.

    “Congratulations, Admiral Solo,” Madine said.

    Han murmured his thanks again.

    “And now I have your first assignment in your new position.” Madine pushed a button, illuminating a hologram map above his desk, and pointed to a dot in the Outer Rim. “Tatooine. Are you familiar with it at all?”

    “Vaguely so, yes,” Han said. “Hutt territory?”

    Madine smiled. “Not much longer I hope. The Senate has just voted to allow them to join the Republic if they so choose. Tatooine’s citizens have to elect to do so, however, and the Hutts are likely to do everything in their power to stop that from happening. That’s where you come in.” He pushed a button, disengaging the map. “I need you to take a hundred squadrons to the planet; polling stations will be placed in all the major cities. Mos Espa, Mos Eisley, Anchorhead. There will be a few stations set up in the rural areas as well, to ensure that people living beyond the Dune Sea and Jundland Wastes have the opportunity to get to the polls. Your job and that of your men will be to ensure that Tatooine’s citizens are able to vote without harassment or…worse. Tatooine is sparsely populated, only about 200,000 residents total, so we can hope it will not be a difficult job. But you will be stationed at quite a distance from each other and you will need to ensure that the troops are well supplied with provisions, especially water.”

    “Understood,” Han said. “When do we leave?”

    “The vote will take place next week. And the Chancellor may increase the number of squadrons that we’ll be deploying if her office receives word of heavier threats from the Hutts.”

    “Are the Jedi going as well?”

    “The Jedi will be on standby to reinforce you if needed.”

    “Alright then.” Han saluted. “Thank you, Admiral. It will be done.”

    “No, thank you…Admiral.” Madine returned the salute, and Han left his office, to find Leia waiting for him.

    “Master Durothil,” Anakin said to the Jedi Master in charge of the training facility on Naboo. “Contact me on Coruscant and let me know what else you need.”

    “What of the reports of the resistance amassing on Ryloth?” Durothil asked.

    “I have it on pretty good authority that the reports are entirely accurate. Masters Windu, Yoda and Ti are on their way to Ryloth now to check things out and hopefully put a stop to this movement for good.”

    Durothil nodded, then waved to Luke and Leia. “Padawans,” he said. “Doing well?”

    “Yes, thank you,” Luke said.

    Durothil turned to Anakin again. “Let me know what happens?”

    “Will do,” Anakin said. “I’ll be in touch.”

    “Thank you again.”

    Anakin and the twins left the Jedi training facility and walked down the stone streets of Theed, R2 rolling along behind them. They arrived at the Naberrie residence within a few minutes. Jobal opened the door and enveloped Anakin into a hug. “You made it safely. Good,” she said.

    “You were worried?” Anakin asked.

    “I always do,” she said, “especially with this resistance movement.”

    “I don’t think they’re going to be a problem much longer,” Anakin said.

    Jobal had turned her attention to her grandchildren. “My goodness, you’ve turned into adults overnight,” she said, hugging both of them and kissing their cheeks. Then she pulled away, looking wistful for a moment. “How I wish you still lived just down the street, I feel like I’ve missed so much, I thought your mother might have let go of this public life by now…”

    Ruwee entered the room, leaning on his cane. “Ah, Anakin,” he said, taking his arm. “Welcome back, son. And Luke and Leia!”

    “Hi, Grandpa,” Luke said, hugging him. Leia did the same.

    “Are we ready?” Anakin asked. “Where are your bags?”

    “In the back room,” Jobal said. Anakin went quickly and returned with two suitcases, handing one of them to Luke.

    “So what is it that my daughter is doing that she can’t leave Coruscant even for a day?” Ruwee asked as they left the house.

    “Getting a bill out of committee to break up the Banking Clan. And preparing to declare martial law on Tatooine,” Anakin replied.

    Jobal’s eyes widened. “Martial law?”

    “It was to be expected,” Anakin said. “The Hutts aren’t taking too well to the idea that they might not be in charge anymore. Several Navy squadrons are being deployed to handle them. But the problem is contained on the Outer Rim, and Padme is in no danger, no more than usual.”

    Jobal nodded, seemingly reassured, then turned to Leia. “So what of these Holonet rumors about you and a Navy captain…” She looked at Luke. “And you and the Princess Organa?”

    The twins smiled, and Luke blushed. “Both true,” he said
    “The Navy Captain is now a Navy Rear Admiral,” Anakin added, and he smiled. “Leia can tell you the rest.”

    “Daddy! I was coming to that!” Leia protested.

    “Coming to what?” Ruwee asked.

    “We’ll be back on Naboo soon, in Varykino,” Leia said. “…planning a wedding.”

    “A wedding?” Jobal said.

    Leia slowly held out her left hand. Her grandmother’s eyes widened. “When did this happen?” She looked at her son-in-law. “Anakin?”

    He was smiling. “You’ll like Han. I promise.”

    Jobal sighed, turning to Leia again. “You are awfully…”

    “…young.” The twins finished at the same time. Anakin and the Naberries laughed.

    “You’ve heard that already I guess,” Ruwee said. He looked at Anakin.

    “Yes, she’s heard it,” Anakin said. “Han is quite a bit older.”

    “And Daddy was not happy about that in the beginning,” Leia muttered.

    Anakin laughed. “I had to adjust,” he said, putting a hand on his daughter’s shoulder. R2 beeped. “Don’t you go telling tales,” Anakin told the droid. He replied with a series of beeps. “Yes, I am sure that 3PO will handle that part.”

    They had reached the docking bay near Theed Palace, and the Ornate, whose ramp descended. “So how did you meet?” Jobal asked as they boarded the ship.

    Leia and Anakin looked at each other and grinned, then Leia turned to her grandparents. “Daddy and I had to rescue him,” Leia said. “He and his squadron rescued Alys off Sate Pestage’s ship. Han allowed himself to be taken hostage so that his squadron would have time to help Alys escape, which they did. Then Daddy and I boarded Pestage’s ship and got Han, who was so annoying at the time that I wanted to leave him on board.”

    Anakin laughed. “Leia pushed him down a garbage chute.”

    Leia scowled. “He was making a racket with that stupid blaster of his and causing every droideka in the ship to come after us. I had to put him somewhere.”

    The Naberries were laughing as they strapped themselves in. “I’m afraid to ask,” Ruwee said. “But how did he get out of the garbage chute?”

    “I got him out,” Anakin replied. “Leia did go looking for him after dismantling the clankers.”

    “I was going to finish the job, even if he was being a twit.”

    “It didn’t take the twit long to convince you to go out with him,” Anakin teased.

    Leia shrugged. “What can I say? He’s persistent.”

    “And it paid off,” Luke said.

    “Well, let’s get going,” Anakin said, indicating to Luke to follow him to the ship’s cockpit, then turning to the Naberries. “I think Han will still be on Coruscant, although I understand that he is leading the naval squadrons who are deploying to Tatooine. You’ll probably get to meet him before he leaves.” He disappeared into the cockpit, followed by Luke.

    Padme could throw a good party. To some degree her career in politics was probably aided by that fact, as being able to entertain could easily sway some undecided voters. But in Anakin’s opinion, the parties without an agenda attached, without the pressure of persuading Senators to support an upcoming bill, were the best. Padme looked ten years younger tonight, in a sleeveless red gown with her hair in one long braid woven with gold cord. She almost looked young enough to be mistaken as a sister of Leia, who wore a similar dress, but in white, and the same hairstyle. Padme’s relaxed mood of the past few days had continued, and she smiled and laughed as she circulated among their guests: her parents and Pooja. Obi-Wan. Bail and Breha Organa, and Alys, who had managed to pull Luke into a corner for a private, seemingly intense conversation. Mon Mothma. A handful of senators, including Senator Sihin of Ord Mantell and his wife. Admiral Madine, Lando and Chewbacca.

    The only person having more fun than Padme was Leia, who stood with Han, getting the attention and chatting with nearly every guest, occasionally displaying her ring. The Holonet had run its headlines that morning announcing the engagement, and reporters seemed to be competing to see who could write the most fairy-tale-like story. “The Admiral and the Padawan” was Anakin’s favorite headline so far, although he had had to laugh, thinking that the Holonet gossips had not had this much fun with a romance since his secret marriage to Padme had been made public. He reminded Leia that they would lose interest and she would not have to duck cameras so often as soon as the gossips found a newer scandal, some Senator caught with his pants down, and that would probably happen within a week. She congratulated him on the amount of progress he had made since the day he had scolded her for kissing Han in public.

    Anakin did not know who had started the round of spoons clinking on glasses, but the sound echoed through the room like chimes, Leia leaned in to kiss Han, and everyone in the room applauded. Han held up his glass and said, “Happy birthday to my beautiful bride and her twin brother. I plan to make your 20th year in this galaxy the best one you’ve had.”

    Someone said “Hear, hear!” and glasses clinked together.

    Anakin managed to find Padme near the entrance to the kitchen. He put his arm around her shoulders. “So where were we 19 years ago right now? Were we holding them yet?”

    She scowled at him. “You were. I was numb from the chest down.” The scowl disappeared and she smiled. “It was a frightening day, remember? But it’s amazing how well the happy ending almost makes us forget what came before.” She looked at Leia, then Luke, and Anakin’s eyes followed hers.

    “Nineteen years seems like such a long time,” he said. “But such a short time all the same.”

    “I know,” Padme replied. She stood on tiptoe to kiss him. “We shouldn’t hide from our guests, darling.”

    He smiled mischievously. “No. That comes later.”

    Padme walked over to her parents, who stood near Han and Leia.

    “You haven’t lost your touch,” Ruwee said.

    Padme smiled. “I come by it naturally,” she said, glancing at her mother.

    Jobal touched Padme’s bare shoulder. “You should retire when your term is up. Come back to Naboo, entertain this way for fun. I wondered if you knew how to have fun anymore.”

    Padme glared at her. “Mom. I’m only 46. I’m not retiring.”

    “I had thought when you married Anakin that you would leave public life and raise a family. Then the twins were born and…”

    “The war had just ended, the Republic had been saved by the skin of its teeth from becoming a dictatorship, and I couldn’t leave.”

    “Anakin did most of the work raising the twins while you were shuttling back and forth to Coruscant.”

    Padme whirled on her as if she had been slapped. Her eyes blazed. “That is not true and that is not fair, not to either of us. They are Jedi, he and Obi-Wan are in charge of their training, of course he has had a greater role in that regard.”

    Ruwee put a hand on his wife’s arm. “Dear…” he began.

    “I’m sorry,” Jobal said. “I had to say it.”

    “And do you wonder why she doesn’t come back to Naboo very often?” Ruwee said.

    “Even if that were possible,” Padme snapped. “Why would I want to come home and listen to you give me a lecture?”

    Jobal sighed. “I mean no harm. I just never wanted you to go into politics. You were insistent.” She looked around the room. “But here you are, running the Republic and running it well. And putting yourself in constant danger…”

    “And that’s the real issue isn’t it?” Padme said. Her voice softened. “Mom, I’m probably safer now than I was as Senator. I’m much more heavily guarded now. Taking me out would be more trouble than it’s worth.”

    “What’s going on?” Anakin asked, approaching Padme and putting his arm around her.

    “Nothing,” she said, and stepped away from him, touching his arm. “I need to talk to Breha, I’ve barely said hello to her.”

    Anakin gave his in-laws a confused look. “What was that about?”

    “Jobal wants Padme to retire,” Ruwee said.

    Anakin managed to suppress a laugh. “Good luck with that,” he said.

    “Don’t you get tired of this life, Anakin?” Jobal said.

    “I’m used to it by now,” he replied. “And Padme would be miserable if she were forced home and out of action.” He stroked his goatee. “I don’t even know what’s next for her after both of her terms are up, assuming she wins next time, which I think is a pretty good bet. She’ll probably stay on as advisor to the next Chancellor the way Bail and Mon Mothma have done.”

    Jobal sighed. “When you’re right, you’re right. She isn’t me. She wouldn’t be happy sitting at home.” She looked at her husband. “Can I blame your mother for this? For getting her into the Legislative Youth and encouraging her to run for Princess of Theed?”

    “Blame whoever you want,” Ruwee muttered, watching his daughter circulate among her guests. He turned to Anakin. “When does Han leave for Tatooine?”

    “Early in the morning,” Anakin replied.

    “Well, best of luck to him,” Ruwee replied.

    “He’ll handle the Hutts,” Anakin said. “Of that I have no doubt.”
  11. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Backpacking One Pack a Day Mod of New Films star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Sep 16, 2005

    He he, it's like another Obi-Wan and Anakin banter session.
  12. ccp

    ccp Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 29, 2005
    Great scene.
  13. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Valairy Scot: :D Han does the banter pretty well. Except with 3PO. I could see him and Madine bantering in canon in the off-screen scenes on Hoth.

    ccp : Thanks!


    Chapter 10

    The blast of hot air hit Han and Lando like a furnace as they walked down the ship’s ramp, followed by their squadron. “Damn,” Han muttered.

    “I feel like I’m back on Socorro,” Lando said.

    “Lucky you,” Han said sarcastically.

    “Yeah, tell me about it,” Lando replied in the same tone.

    Han turned to the men behind him, continuing to walk backwards as he talked. “So once we’re settled here, we’ll have all the polling stations monitored and it will just be a matter of ensuring that people are not harassed en route to the polls,” he said. “That might be a challenge. This place can be a little rough.”

    “Which place?” Lando asked.

    Han turned around and waved a hand ahead of him, indicating the spaceport several yards away. “Mos Eisley. It’s a haven for criminals. Smugglers. Gamblers.” He looked at Lando. “Come to think of it, it’s a haven for guys you’d probably like.”

    Lando rolled his eyes. “Thanks,” he said.

    “Anyway, it’s a pit. Leia has an aunt and uncle not too far from here, between Mos Eisley and Anchorhead. I’ve been asked to personally escort them to the polls if at all possible.”

    “Are you going to be able to do that?”

    “I hope so,” Han said, taking out his canteen and taking a long swallow of water. “Drink your water. Dehydration happens three times as fast in this climate.” He turned to his men again. “You as well.”

    “I’ve already had that lecture,” Lando said. “And heard it at least ten times when you gave it to the other men.”

    “It takes that many lectures to get the information through your thick skull,” Han said. “Are you going to drink some water or not?”

    “Alright, alright,” Lando said, taking out his own canteen.

    “Good. I don’t feel like carrying you back to the ship after your veins dry out from this heat.”

    They began the slow walk towards Mos Eisley, shielding their eyes from the sun and the sudden gust of hot desert wind. When the wind stopped, Han pointed to his right. “There is the polling station, right at the entrance to the city.” It was a makeshift adobe hut, medium in size, with two humans standing at the entrance with blasters. “Locals,” Han said. “Hired to guard the place until we arrive.”

    “Oh,” Lando said as they approached the hut. Han extended his hand to one of the men. “I’m Admiral Solo. This is Captain Calrissian, and this...” He said, indicating the men behind him, “…is the 681st legion. We’ll take it from here.”

    The guards shook Han’s hand and then saluted. “Yes, sir,” they said. Then one of them mumbled, almost too low for Han and Lando to hear, “The Republic pays handsomely. Made more in a week here than I normally make in a month on the farm. This is one way to win votes…” Then they walked away slowly, entering a cantina half a block away.

    “Alright,” Han said, entering the empty hut. “Let’s do this. Voting should start in a few hours, and will continue for the next planetary rotation. We’ll take turns sleeping and standing on post. Commander Cata.” Han indicated the corner of the room, which had enough space to set up a sleep mat. “You sleep first.”

    “Yes, sir.” The commander nodded and went to the spot Han indicated.

    The door opened and Han stared at the weathered, tired face of Owen Lars.

    “So you are Leia’s Navy officer friend,” Owen said cautiously.

    “I hope so,” Han said. “I’m Han Solo. This is Lando Calrissian.” He indicated Lando who stood to his right.

    Owen said nothing, just gazed at the two disdainfully. “My upstart Jedi brother didn’t think Beru and I could get to the polls unless he sent you to help?”

    “With all due respect, Mr. Lars, the Hutts are not happy slugs lately. We’re trying to ensure Navy protection for all Tatooine’s citizens. It has nothing to do with your ability or lack thereof to protect yourselves.”

    Owen stared for another moment, then said, “I’ll be back.” He left and returned a couple of minutes later with his wife, both of them carrying blasters. Owen held up his. “This will protect us from Jabba’s thugs.”

    Han smiled. “I’ll tell you what. If we run into any of them, you shoot first, and Lando and I will cover you.”

    Owen held his gaze and nodded. “I like you, son.”

    “Good,” Han said. He beckoned them towards his waiting speeder. “Follow me. Time to vote the Republic in.”

    “You know,” Owen said as he climbed in the back of the speeder, with Beru behind him. “The chances of major changes happening overnight are about as good as water flowing in that river bed over there. The one that’s been dry for a thousand years.”

    “Never tell me the odds,” Han said, starting the speeder.

    “The Navy has been given a nickname by some of the locals in Mos Eisley,” Beru added as they cruised through the desert. “Amidala’s secret police.”

    “I didn’t know we were a secret,” Lando said.

    “There are a few who are trying to insinuate that the Chancellor’s office and the Senate wants a dictatorship of another kind, that we would be replacing one totalitarian state with another,” Beru said. “And that at least the Hutts are the evil we know, so they are saying. But that’s only a few, and again, Mos Eisley. Anchorhead is a much friendlier place.”

    Han looked at Lando. “Those boys who were holding down the fort for us? They were from Anchorhead. One was from one of the farms near here.”

    “Biggs Darklighter,” Owen said. “I know he was hired at one of the voting booths. Local boy. A good one. He’s interested in enlisting himself, but his family hasn’t been able to spare him.”

    “Maybe if this vote goes through…” Beru began.

    “Trust me, you will be much better off,” Han said. “And by all means contact me if there is any issue with the Navy, including local boys wanting to enlist.”

    Owen and Beru looked at each other uncomfortably. “Owen is reluctant to use any…connections,” Beru said. “Of course if very many people here found out that the Chancellor is his sister-in-law, we might never be left in peace again, so we’ve kept that information private. But that’s not the only issue. We can survive on our own, and prefer to do so, as opposed to constantly accepting Anakin’s help.”

    “What if it’s help he wants to give?”

    “That isn’t the point.”

    “Oh,” Han said. “OK, how is this…if you have need of a contact in the Navy, call Lando. He isn’t family, so no one, including you, could accuse you of taking advantage of family connections.”

    Both Larses were silent for a moment, then Owen reluctantly mumbled, “OK, then.” A couple of minutes later, Han deftly parked the speeder in front of the voting station outside Mos Eisley. Lando escorted the Larses inside, and they returned several minutes later.

    “Well, it’s done,” Owen muttered. “Let’s see what good it does.”

    “Has it been busy today?” Han asked Lando as the three climbed back into the speeder.

    “It’s been steady,” Lando replied. “Cata said it’s been nonstop people.”

    “Good,” Han said, starting the speeder again and steering it back towards the open desert and the homestead.

    “I know the Republic will want some information on moisture farming,” Han said.

    “What sort of information?” Owen asked.

    “How it’s done. What exactly is the process for extracting water from the soil? Where does the difficulty come in and why?”

    “I can provide that, but I don’t know why the Republic needs it,” Owen said.

    “Farming assistance is part of the Senate budget,” Lando replied. “A part which I would assume would increase. There are programs that can provide equipment, transportation, marketing, subsidies.”

    Owen nodded slowly, saying nothing.

    “The subsidies have helped many people on other Republic worlds to survive, especially in hard times,” Han added.

    “This is Tatooine. We have hard times and harder times. No easy times,” Owen said. “We take what the planet gives us.”

    “You’ve lived without democracy for so long that you no longer remember what you’re missing,” Han said. Then suddenly his tone changed. “Uh-oh. I have a bad feeling about this.”

    “What?” Lando asked.

    Han pointed straight ahead of him, where several swoop bikes came towards them at a rapid speed. On the swoop bikes were large humanoids, humanoids wearing masks and carrying an array of weapons. Vibroblades and vibroaxes. Clubs. Blasters.

    “Stang.” Lando muttered, then turned to the Larses. “Get down. Now.”

    Beru obeyed, but Owen looked around Han’s shoulder to see. “Oh kriffing no.” He aimed his blaster, fired a volley of shots, then ducked down next to his wife.

    Han drove the speeder directly into the middle of the bikers, he and Lando both firing several rounds from their blasters as they drove. A few of the humanoids fell, but it seemed that for every one that they killed, three more appeared behind them on bikes.

    Han turned and whispered fiercely to Owen, “If anything happens to us, take this speeder and get out of sight as quickly as you can. My men will contact Coruscant if we don’t return to the polling station, so you two just cover yourselves, do you understand?”

    “Absolutely,” Owen said, firing another round out the side of the speeder. At that moment several of the humanoids attacked them directly.

    Owen covered Beru with his body and continued to fire directly ahead of him, not looking in his peripheral vision at all, for several minutes until he suddenly realized that the air had gone silent and there was no longer anyone in front of him, trying to climb into the speeder.

    He stood up and looked into the front of the speeder. Han and Lando were gone.

    Oh. Stang. Not good. He and Beru looked at each other, not speaking, then he climbed into the front of the speeder and gunned it. Passing the dead bodies of several of the humanoids, Owen drove quickly to the homestead and ran inside, to the back room, to his com station, with Beru on his heels.

    “I need a transmission to the Jedi headquarters on Coruscant, for Jedi Master Anakin Skywalker,” Owen said quickly.

    “That’ll cost you, sir,” the operator said.

    “I don’t care, you idiot, put me through!” Owen snapped.

    “It is done,” Padme said, unable to suppress a grin. “The Banking Clan is no more. It is now several independent banking operations.”

    “…who can safely be deregulated if the Senate so chooses,” Bail finished.

    Anakin grinned as well. “That is great news,” he said. “You could call Tonith back in and offer to put his bill back on the floor.”

    Padme laughed. “I don’t think that’s necessary, darling,” she said. “The next step is to capture Ventress, then we can officially announce that the resistance is no more.”

    Anakin was no longer smiling. He turned to the window, stroking his goatee.

    “What is it?” Padme asked.

    He turned back to her. “I don’t know how safe it will be to bring Ventress in alive,” he said. “We will need a place to put her in isolation, and with at least one ysalamari. You do want her brought in alive?”

    Padme nodded. “Of course, if that’s possible.”

    “Does Master Windu know this?”

    “I told him,” Padme replied.

    “A place to hold her won’t be a problem, I just wanted to make sure you were fully aware.”

    “That she’s no ordinary prisoner? I am more than aware, Anakin.”

    “OK,” he said. His comlink buzzed. “It’s headquarters,” he said, and answered it.

    “Master Skywalker,” the padawan said. “Incoming transmission for you, sir. From your brother on Tatooine.”

    Anakin’s eyes widened. “Send him through,” he said.

    “Right away,” came the reply. Anakin set his comlink into the transmitter near Padme’s desk, and Owen’s frantic image appeared. “Anakin. I wondered how much hell I was going to get before they let me talk to you.”

    “None, I hope,” he replied. “Owen, are you alright? What’s going on?”

    “Beru and I are fine,” he said. “We got to the polls, we voted, that went well. But we ran into some trouble on the way back.”

    “What kind of trouble?”

    “Jabba’s hired gang. The one that rides swoop bikes.”

    Anakin looked down and away from a moment, muttering “E chu ta.” Then he looked at Owen’s hologram again. “And what happened?”

    “Beru and I got away. But the naval officers who escorted us…they were taken.”

    Padme had been standing behind Anakin, but at this she sat down, putting a hand to her forehead. Bail took a couple of steps closer to Anakin and the hologram.

    “Taken where?” Anakin asked.

    “I wouldn’t know for sure, but I’m going to guess Jabba’s palace.”

    “Owen…” Anakin asked cautiously, obviously afraid of the answer. “Which naval officers?”

    Owen met Anakin’s eyes. “Anakin, I’m afraid Leia’s fiance was one of them. The other was his friend the Socorran.”

    Anakin swallowed. Owen continued. “I’m sorry, I called you as soon as I could, it’s just happened within the past half hour or so. I had my blaster and tried to hold them off, I was trying to protect Beru at the same time…”

    Anakin held up his hand. “You did the best you could. I’m glad you and Beru are alright.” He stood. “I’m on my way, I’ll leave within the next few minutes. Stay inside and keep your blaster close.”

    “Is the vote going to get called off, even temporarily?”

    Padme looked up. “No,” she said. “We will not be intimidated. That would be exactly what the Hutts want. In fact, I am going to send more squadrons and order those already on Tatooine to step up efforts to get people to the polls.”

    “I’ll bring Obi-Wan and the twins, and I’ll have other Jedi on standby to join me if needed,” Anakin said.

    Owen nodded. “Alright, I’ll see you here at some point then.”

    “Yes,” Anakin said. “Stay safe. Please.” He shut his comlink off and looked at Padme and Bail. “This is not such a surprise,” he said. “But it’s Han…”

    Padme nodded sadly. “I know.”

    Anakin opened his comlink again. “Obi-Wan, do you copy?”

    “I copy, Anakin. Everything alright?”

    “No. We need to leave for Tatooine.” He quickly explained what happened, and heard Obi-Wan sigh audibly through the com. “I’m in a training room at headquarters, with the twins. They’ve been sparring a bit. Do you want me to tell Leia?”

    Anakin frowned. “She’ll take it as well from you as she will from me, and there’s no point in keeping her in the dark.”

    “Alright, I’ll do it. We’ll meet you at the Ornate in 15.”

    Luke, Leia and Obi-Wan were already on board the Ornate when Anakin arrived. “How bad is this?” Luke asked his father.

    Anakin frowned. “We won’t know until we get there, but if Jabba has them…” He didn’t finish. Leia, who was standing in front of a window, her back towards them, flinched. Anakin went to her, put his hands on her shoulders, turning her around to face him.

    “Princess,” he said quietly. “We will find Han. I promise.”

    She looked at him and didn’t say anything. Her eyes were bright with unshed tears. Anakin hugged her; her breath hitched and a couple of tears escaped, splashing into Anakin’s tunic, but the moment passed quickly.

    She pulled away from him. “Let’s just go,” she said. “We don’t know how much time we have.”

    “You are right,” Anakin said. He kissed her forehead and gave her shoulder a squeeze, then moved towards the cockpit. “Luke,” he said, beckoning his son to follow, then turned to Obi-Wan. “We’ll land between Mos Eisley and Anchorhead this time.”

    Obi-Wan nodded, strapping himself in, as Anakin and Luke went into the cockpit and started the ship.
  14. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Sep 2, 2012
    Great Chapter. Great, we have to see that slug again. Not. Hope Biggs has a big role in the series or becomes a recurring character. What about Wedge, Wes, Tycho, Hobbie or any of the other X-Wing pilots? Can't wait to see Anakin, Obi-Wan, Luke and Leia kick Jabba's butt this time
  15. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Backpacking One Pack a Day Mod of New Films star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Sep 16, 2005
    Hmmm, have we a carbonite freezing coming up?
  16. ccp

    ccp Jedi Master star 4

    Apr 29, 2005
    Han in trouble again.
  17. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Force Smuggler : Yeah, unfortunately the slug makes too many appearances. Biggs doesn't play a major role but he does get mentioned again. As far as the other pilots--I haven't read the X-Wing series so I wouldn't know for sure how to write them. As far as your last sentence--I don't think you'll be disappointed.

    Valairy Scot : Nah, this AU skips a few steps. :p

    ccp : He excels at that, doesn't he?

    Thanks for reading. :)


    “Damn, this place stinks,” Lando muttered. He and Han were being shoved roughly by the humanoids, blaster barrels jammed into their backs.

    “Not sure I can smell,” Han said. “I think I got hit in the head too hard.”

    Lando glanced at Han, worried. Han had held off a vibroaxe but been smacked in the forehead with a club, and his temple was bleeding.

    “You are badly injured if you can’t smell this,” Lando muttered.

    “It’s not that bad,” Han said. “I do smell something that smells like frak.”

    “That’s the Hutt smell,” Lando replied.

    Han and Lando could hear Jabba’s voice as they were brought before his dias. “At last we have the mighty Admiral Solo.”

    “Whatever,” Han snapped. “Sad to be losing control of the planet, you stupid barve?”

    Jabba laughed. “I have not lost control of it yet, Admiral,” he said. “Chancellor Amidala should have never tried to encroach on my power. And you and Captain Calrissian will demonstrate by example. With your execution.”

    “Execution?” Lando said.

    “The mighty Jabba has decreed that you will be terminated tomorrow morning.” The protocol droid standing next to Jabba said.

    “Good,” Han muttered. “I hate long waits.”

    “You will be taken to the Dune Sea and cast into the pit of the mighty sarlacc, where you will learn a new definition of pain by being digested slowly over a thousand years.”

    “On second thought,” Han muttered. “Let’s pass on that.” He looked at Jabba. “You are making a mistake by challenging the Jedi and the Chancellor’s office. Don’t be a fool.”

    Jabba laughed out loud. “Boy, I was fighting Jedi and winning when the Jedi Order was 100 times larger than it is now. And Chancellor Amidala knows better than to betray me.” He looked at the humanoids. “Take them away!”

    The land skiff floated a few feet above the sand and was bustling with an assortment of beings: the humanoids who had captured Han and Lando. Gamorreans. Twi’lek dancing girls. Pets of various species. Droids. An astromech serving drinks. A couple of protocol droids, neither as chatty as the one that Anakin built.

    Leia, will I see you again? Han wished he had the ability to reach out through the Force. Then he stopped the thought in its tracks. No time for that. Whining and wondering gets you nowhere. Look for a solution instead. The humanoid thugs carried blasters. They had taken his and Lando’s when they were captured.

    The skiff stopped, and a narrow board extended from the side. A plank. “I guess we really are pirates now,” Lando muttered sarcastically.

    “Just shut up and watch for my signal. We’re going to find a way out of this.”

    Lando looked at him skeptically. “Since when did you become the optimist?”

    “It’s not optimism, pal. It’s called a will to survive. Look for yours.”

    They were pushed out onto the plank by the humanoids shoving blasters into their spines. At the end of the plank, they looked down into what initially appeared to be an ordinary sandpit. Then the mouth opened, revealing a wet pink tongue and several long, pointed teeth.

    One of the protocol droids spoke, its voice magnified over the desert. “The mighty Jabba hopes that you will do your duty as officers of the Republic Navy and die honorably. He says that if you have any last words or wish to beg for mercy, you may do so at this time.”

    “I have some ‘last words’,” Han muttered, then he looked up at the dias and shouted. “Kiss my ass!”

    The humanoids gave a shove, and Han and Lando were forced off the edge of the plank. The sarlacc gaped its jaws at them, but they clung to the edge, their legs dangling over the pit, refusing to fall in. The humanoids stepped on their fingers; Han felt two of his crack, and he winced, but forced himself to hold on. Lando fell, grabbing onto Han’s leg at the thigh.

    “Hey, Han…” he said.

    “Saying your last words now?” Han muttered, struggling to hang on.

    “No,” he said. “Do you hear that?”

    “Hear what?”

    “I think we’re getting some help.”

    Han cocked his ear, and heard the roar of a speeder coming towards them. He grinned.

    “What?” Lando said.

    “Only one person in the galaxy drives a speeder that way. Anakin is here.” He looked down at Lando. “You think you can jump over to that sand bank?”

    Lando hesitated. “I’m no Jedi.”

    “Give it a shot. If my leg breaks, we both fall into that slug’s mouth.”

    “Yeah.” The speeder pulled up next to the land skiff as Lando took a leap, landing on the edge of the bank, his legs dangling precariously next to the sarlacc’s mouth, his hands failing to grip the edge of the pit, slipping in the sand.

    The sarlacc grabbed his boot. Lando’s eyes widened; he was too frightened even to yell. The four Jedi had jumped from the speeder and come towards him.

    “Han is on that side!” he shouted.

    Luke, Leia and Anakin jumped onto the plank. Obi-Wan extended his arm. “Take my hand, Captain Calrissian.”

    “Yes, sir,” he said, and reaching up as Obi-Wan reached down, he managed to get a firm grip on the older man’s arm. He felt himself being lifted, his pants leg ripped, but he landed safely and firmly on the ground next to Obi-Wan.

    Meanwhile, on the plank, the blue blades of Anakin and Luke’s lightsabers and the green blade of Leia’s lightsaber whirled, and several of the swoop bike gang members fell into the sarlacc pit, their fingers scraping the sand in one last desperate effort to save themselves .

    Then it was over. The humanoid gangsters were dead, the droids and creatures stared down from the skiff in horror, Jabba howled with fury. The Jedi disengaged their sabers, and there on the plank, Leia took Han’s stubbled cheeks in her hands and kissed him passionately.

    “I love you,” Han said.

    “I know,” Leia replied, then touched the wound on his forehead.

    “It’s a scratch, don’t worry.”

    “Come on,” Obi-Wan said, indicating the skiff. “This isn’t over yet.”

    Han held onto Leia’s hand with the hand without broken fingers, and they caught up with Anakin and Luke, who were running towards the skiff. “Can someone get me a blaster?” Han asked.

    Anakin turned. “They may have all fallen into the sarlacc pit with those thugs, but we’ll see what we can do.”

    Leia let go of Han’s hand and jumped onto the skiff. The droids ran towards the corners, and a few Gamorreans appeared from a room at the rear and raised their Thogks at the Jedi, but Leia went directly to Jabba himself, igniting her lightsaber and cutting the slave girls free of their chains. “Run,” she told them, indicating the desert. “Grab water and run. Someone will come for you, but you need to get out of here.” They nodded, dazed, and obeyed.

    Then Leia took one of the long chains and wound it around the Hutt’s neck tightly. Jabba gagged, and Leia pulled harder.

    Luke Force-pushed two Gamorreans away, slamming them into a wall, and ran to his sister. “What are you doing???” He asked.

    Leia breathed heavily as she tugged at the chain. “Hutts are…Impossible.” Tug. “To.” Tug. “Kill.” She tugged hard, Jabba’s eyes popped out of his head and he breathed his last.

    Luke stared in shock. Then a Gamorrean lifted him from behind.

    “Luke!” Leia said, igniting her saber.

    Meanwhile Han and Lando had found extra blasters and opened fire on the Gamorreans.

    Han shot the Gamorrean holding Luke; he dropped Luke and fell to the floor dead.

    More Gamorreans appeared from the rear, near Anakin, who shouted, “Everyone run! Get off this skiff and into the speeder. I’m behind you. Go now!”

    They obeyed. Luke and Leia jumped together, followed by Obi-Wan, then the three of them Force-floated Han and Lando down. The last thing they saw was Anakin with his eyes closed and hands raised, and the roof and walls of the skiff tumbling inward.

    “Daddy!” Luke called.

    The Gamorreans were crushed under the skiff walls. Anakin jumped out of the way, appearing at the edge of the skiff, before getting hit by a large piece of the skiff’s metal roof.

    He tumbled onto the sand, unconscious.

    Obi-Wan jumped out of the speeder, followed by Luke, Leia and Han, and ran to Anakin. Obi-Wan pointed to Luke and said, “Get back in. I need you to drive the speeder.”

    Luke nodded, backing away, not taking his eyes off his father. Obi-Wan knelt in the sand next to Anakin, with Han on the other side. He put his fingers on Anakin’s temples and closed his eyes for a moment. Han took Anakin’s wrist in his good hand. “I’ve got a pulse,” he said.

    Obi-Wan nodded slowly. “Yes. He’s alive. His Force presence is still strong. But he needs medical attention.”

    Han stood, lifting Anakin. “Is there a hospital near here?”

    He wasn’t surprised at Obi-Wan’s answer. “No,” he said. “We’ll take him to his brother’s house for the time being, and I’ll call a medical frigate.”

    Han nodded, carrying Anakin back to the speeder while Obi-Wan opened his comlink. Han climbed in the back of the speeder next to Leia, who cradled her father’s head, staring at his blanched face. “Is he alright?” she asked.

    “I don’t know,” Han said. For a few moments they both gazed at Anakin’s unmoving form, concern written on their faces. Luke had started the speeder and they flew through the desert towards Anchorhead, and the Lars homestead on the other side.

    Finally Leia looked up at Han. “You need that cut stitched, and your fingers taped.”

    “It’s not my blaster hand, it’s no big deal,” Han said. But he winced. Leia mentioning his fingers made them hurt again. He looked at them. They were twice their normal size, and various shades of purple and black.

    She gave him a half-smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “You do other things with your hands other than hold a blaster,” she said.

    “Hey,” Lando said. “Mixed company.”

    Han gave an unenthusiastic laugh. “You’re hardly mixed company, pal,” he said. He met Lando’s eyes. “Are you doing alright?”

    “I seem to be in better shape than anyone,” he said.

    “I don’t know about that,” Han replied. Then the talking ceased, and everyone stared straight ahead, at the open expanse of desert, as Luke drove quickly and silently towards the Lars farm.

    Owen and Beru met them outside as the speeder pulled up. “What happened?” Owen asked.

    Obi-Wan and Luke lifted Anakin from the speeder. “We ran into some trouble. But Jabba will not be a problem any longer,” Obi-Wan said.

    Beru’s eyes widened. “Anakin…” she said, her voice tinged with fear and sadness. She beckoned them inside. “Come on. You can lay him in the front room.”

    Obi-Wan and Luke carried Anakin inside, into the room that Beru indicated. The others followed, going into the kitchen, where Beru poured a small bit of water into a bowl and grabbed a cloth. “What happened?” Owen repeated. “What kind of trouble did you run into?”

    “Jabba tried to have Han and Lando executed. They were out in the Dune Sea, in a land skiff over a sarlacc pit. Daddy knew the place; he had seen executions there before. We fought Jabba’s minions, rescued Han and Lando, then got attacked again. Daddy pulled the roof of the skiff down over a group of Gamorrean guards, and part of it landed on him,” Leia said.

    “He pulled the roof down?” Owen said, shocked.

    Leia nodded, and Owen muttered something that sounded like “damn reckless idiot” before looking at Leia again. “And what did Kenobi mean when he said Jabba would not be a problem any longer?”

    “Jabba is dead,” Lando replied.

    Owen’s eyes widened again. “How? Anakin?”

    “No,” Han said, and grinned. “Leia did it.”

    A smile appeared on Owen’s gruff face. “Somehow I always thought a Skywalker would be the one to eventually take him out.”

    “Well, taken out he is,” she said, then changed the subject. “Aunt Beru, can you tape Han’s fingers? Jabba’s gangsters broke them.”

    “I’ll do it,” Owen said. “I’ve taped many fingers, including my own. I’ll clean off that forehead for you, too.” He turned to his wife. “See to Anakin.”

    She nodded and left the room. Leia stood. “I need to go to my father.”

    “Yes, you do,” Han said. “I’ll be in there as soon as I can.”

    “And Han, if you are contacting Commander Cata…”

    He looked up. “Yeah?”

    “Someone should go look for those poor Twi’lek girls who were chained to Jabba. I don’t know how long they’ll last in the desert. I told them to run, because I was afraid the Gamorreans would try to hurt them…”

    Han stood, and kissed her forehead. “I’ll take care of it. Go.”

    Leia nodded, left the room, and went to Anakin.

    Anakin wasn’t sure where he was—a jungle of some sort? It was hot, stifling hot, and there were tall trees, the tallest trees he had seen since…Teth maybe? He was alone, and he needed to find a base, a com station, or some means of wiring one together. He had to contact Coruscant, to see if he could raise Obi-Wan. For some reason he could not remember the mission he had been sent to complete, and that scared him. And he could not remember the last time that Obi-Wan or at least one of the twins had not come with him. Why was he totally alone here?

    “You aren’t.” The voice, strong and distinctly female, came from directly ahead of him, in a clearing between two of the trees, where the sun’s rays shone.

    “Who is there?” He asked.

    “Skyguy. Has it been so long that you no longer remember me?”

    Ahsoka emerged, but it was a different Ahsoka. Taller, sharper eyed, her tattooed skin a bit more lined, her lekku now long enough to reach her waist.

    Anakin blinked. “Snips,” he said, feeling his throat tighten. “You’ve grown up.”

    She smiled. “What did you expect? If I had lived, I’d be 36. I couldn’t appear to you as a 17-year-old again; I needed to remind you that I was not young enough to be your daughter, as much as you wanted to think…”

    “Think what? That I was wiser than you because I was older? Ahsoka, I never thought that, even if I pretended to do so—felt I had to pretend to do so, I was supposed to be your teacher…”

    “No ‘supposed to be’ about it, Master.”

    Anakin changed the subject. “Where am I and why am I here? Am I dead?”

    She shook her head. “No. Not if you don’t want to be.”

    “What is that supposed to mean? Of course I don’t want to be! The twins…”

    Ahsoka nodded. “Yes. Fatherhood has been surprisingly good for you. It has given you focus. On something outside yourself.”

    Anakin smiled. “Are you calling me selfish?”

    Ahsoka returned the smile. “No. Self-centered.”

    “Ah…” Anakin said. “You know, you were right. About Leia. Before she was born. I have felt like I was training you again.”

    Ahsoka’s smile widened. “That wasn’t me, Anakin, that was you. There was a reason the Council placed us together. We are alike. And she is your daughter through and through.” Ahsoka paused. “You have done well. With both of them. You should be proud.”

    Anakin blinked. “I wish you were here. I’ve never stopped missing you, Snips. Or regretting that I didn’t get to you fast enough.”

    He felt the hot tears on his cheeks, then something else, a cool wetness, wiping them away.

    “Guilt has defined you, Master. And many times it has almost destroyed you. It doesn’t matter who reminds you that you did everything you could, or how often. No one can make you believe it. That is a choice that you must make.”

    “What are you talking about?” More tears fell, and the mysterious coolness that dried them, came again.

    “Forgive yourself. If you won’t…you might as well join me now. Cross over.”

    “She is right.” The voice was deeper, also distinctly female, and one Anakin had heard recently, although only on a hologram.

    “Mom.” His throat tightened again, and more tears spilled.

    “Ani, I love you. And I’m proud of you. But this is not all that you are.”

    “Mom…I’m sorry…”

    “It wasn’t your fault, Anakin.” Somehow her voice seemed magnified, as if it were coming not only from her, but from above, like an echo. He felt the comforting coolness drying his tears again. He didn’t answer.

    She continued. “How could you have known what would happen to me or when? You are not all-powerful, Ani.”

    “That’s what Padme said,” he replied, his voice choked. “…at the time.”

    “And she was right.” Shmi sighed. “Beru gave you my journal so that you would remember. So that you would have a part of me to hold onto. But also so that you could move on.”

    “Move on?”

    “All the guilt in the world will not bring me back, Anakin. It will not bring Ahsoka back either. What are you accomplishing?”

    The tears came faster, as did the coolness against his face. “I don’t know,” he said.

    Then two voices, small but again seeming to come from above him. “Daddy.”

    He looked down and saw the twins, but not at age 19, at age four. Luke held his stuffed Ewok. “Luke,” Anakin said, smiling. “You can’t train to be a Jedi if you can’t put Wicket down.” He looked at Leia, whose soft brown eyes stared up at him, above the hand in her mouth.

    “Leia,” he said gently. “I thought we were going to stop sucking our thumb?”

    Both twins nodded slowly. Luke set the Ewok on the forest’s dirt floor, and Leia slowly removed her thumb from her mouth and dangled her hands by her side.

    “They are moving on,” Shmi said. “Moving where the wind takes them. Letting go of the past as needed. Will you, Ani? Or do you plan to stay here with us?”

    Anakin didn’t answer.

    “What did I tell you before you left Tatooine?” Shmi asked.

    “You told me to be brave,” Anakin replied.

    Shmi smiled. “I also told you not to look back. And you forgot that.”

    He didn’t say anything.

    “So what do you want to do?” she said.

    “What do you mean?”

    “Do you want to stay here…or do you want to live?”

    “Of course I want to live,” Anakin snapped.

    “Then go,” Shmi said. “Live. And know that I love you. But don’t look back, Anakin. Don’t look back.”

    “What is happening?” Luke asked. Anakin was shaking, his eyes closed, tears streaming down his cheeks. Beru continued to dip the cloth in cool water and wipe his face.

    “He is having a nightmare,” Obi-Wan answered. “A horrific one it seems.”

    “Snips,” Anakin murmured.

    Leia looked up. “Snips. Ahsoka. Is he dying?”

    Obi-Wan shook his head, his eyes closed. “No,” he said. “He is alive. But he may be in that ethereal space between worlds.”

    Leia swallowed, and squeezed her father’s hand. Luke did the same, on the other side of the bed.

    A minute later Anakin began shaking violently, tears coming from his eyes again. “Mom. I’m…sorry…Mom…”

    “Shhhh…” Beru said. “It wasn’t your fault, Anakin.” She wiped down his face again. Anakin appeared to relax, albeit only a little.

    Obi-Wan looked at the twins. “Talk to him,” he said. “He can hear you.”

    “Daddy.” They both said, and surprised themselves by saying it in unison. They gave each other weak smiles, each holding one of their father’s hands in both of theirs.

    Anakin began murmuring again, and the two audible words were “Wicket” and “thumb.” Luke and Leia glanced at each other again, not smiling.

    “How long has it been since you played with Wicket, Luke?” Obi-Wan asked.

    “I was four,” he said, looking down at his hands enfolded around that of his father.

    “Same time I finally stopped sucking my thumb,” Leia said quietly, looking down.

    “He is having flashbacks,” Obi-Wan said. “And apparently this time, not bad ones.”

    For a few minutes no one spoke, then slowly, Anakin opened his eyes to slits, looking at his children. “Hey,” he said weakly and hoarsely. “What are you two looking so sad about? You didn’t think you’d get rid of your old father that easily, did you?”

    Both twins hung their heads and wept.

    Han met Obi-Wan at the door to the room. “I don’t know if you heard,” Han said. “But the vote passed. Tatooine is now part of the Republic.”

    Obi-Wan smiled for a minute, then sighed. “All this was worthwhile then,” he said. “We fulfilled the mission.”

    Han nodded. “We did.” He looked past Obi-Wan, to where Anakin lay on the bed, eyes closed, his children’s hands gripping his, their tears splashing against his knuckles. “How is…?”

    “Anakin woke up for a couple of minutes, spoke to Luke and Leia, then lost consciousness again. I think he’ll be alright, but all the same…I’m hoping the medical frigate that I ordered will hurry. He needs more attention than we can give him here.” He looked past Han. “I need to contact Padme.”

    “I did that already,” Han said.

    Obi-Wan looked at him, surprised.

    “I needed to contact her anyway, to let her know that Lando and I were safe, and give her the status of the vote and the squadrons stationed here,” Han said. “And it’s not the first time I’ve had to deliver bad news.”

    Obi-Wan nodded. “What did she say?”

    “She wants him transported to Coruscant as soon as possible, of course. And she wanted to make sure that Leia and Luke were alright.”

    Another nod. “Of course,” he said. “How is your hand?”

    Han held up his left hand with the fingers expertly taped. “Hurts like hell but this will take care of it.”

    “Good. The frigate is fully staffed, someone there should be able to give you something for the pain.” He looked towards the door of the homestead. “Either you or Luke will need to fly the Ornate to meet the frigate.”

    “Lando and I can do it. It’s docked near Anchorhead?”

    Obi-Wan nodded. His comlink buzzed. “Master Kenobi. We are in orbit over Tatooine, sir.”

    “Thank you,” Obi-Wan said.

    Han put a hand on Obi-Wan’s shoulder. “We’ll leave for Anchorhead right now.”
  18. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Backpacking One Pack a Day Mod of New Films star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Sep 16, 2005
    Gee, Obi-Wan is the only one not kidnapped or hurt so far - may it last. Funny the talk about guilt defining Anakin, because while true, one tends to think of Obi-Wan when guilt is mentioned.

  19. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Valairy Scot: I don't normally like to give away parts of my story but I can promise this: I'm not beating up on Obi-Wan. Dave Filoni did that enough for both of us. :p

    And that's true about the guilt, although in this story Obi-Wan can't (undeservedly) kick himself over "failure to train Anakin."

    I love writing Han and Lando

    Thanks for reading. :)


    On the frigate, the medical droids prodded and examined Anakin as Obi-Wan, Luke and Leia looked on anxiously.

    “How is he?” Obi-Wan asked.

    “He took a hard blow to the back of the head, sir.”

    The twins rolled their eyes. “We know that,” Luke said, then muttered under his breath, “If droids could think…”

    Obi-Wan silenced him with a look, then turned to the medical droid again. “How hard a blow and what effect is it having?”

    “We are currently monitoring a small hematoma in the parietal lobe, sir.”

    “Basic, please,” Luke said, sounding exasperated.

    Obi-Wan sat down and covered his eyes.

    “Uncle Obi-Wan…” Leia began.

    Then Luke said quietly, “It’s bad, isn’t it?”

    Obi-Wan looked up and nodded slowly. “A hematoma is a brain bleed,” he said.

    “Brain bleed???” Leia said. She turned to the medical droid. “This parietal lobe—what functions does that control?”

    “Movement and balance,” the droid replied. “The hematoma is a very small one and a patient of Master Skywalker’s age has a good chance of making a full recovery, however, the next 24 hours are going to be critical.”

    “You were being monitored for a hematoma after Ventress injured you,” Obi-Wan said.

    “And I never formed one,” Leia replied. “I was thrown against a wall. Daddy was hit directly on the head.”

    Luke hugged Leia, and for a few minutes they watched silently as the medical team worked on their father.

    Han came into the room, followed by Lando. “The Ornate is docked in the hangar at the far end. What am I missing?”

    Leia looked at him but could not find her voice to give him the latest. He understood; he put a comforting hand on both twins’ shoulders, then took Leia in his arms.

    The lights inside the medical frigate were dim, simulating night.

    “Master Kenobi,” the medical droid said. “We have contained the hematoma, sir.”

    Obi-Wan’s relief was so palpable that everyone in the room could feel it. “Contained? Meaning permanently?”

    “The odds that the containment is permanent are 99 to 1, sir. But Master Skywalker will be out of action for a period of 15 to 150 days.”

    “That’s a broad range,” Han muttered.

    “Patients recover at different rates, Admiral Solo,” the droid said.

    “Of course,” Han said sardonically.

    Luke had fallen asleep in a chair half an hour earlier, his head resting on the edge of his father’s bed. Han whispered, “Hey, kid…” but Obi-Wan held up a hand. “I’ll move him,” he said. And he slowly lifted Luke, who said, “What’s happening?”

    “Hush, young one, you need your rest. It’s been a very long night,” Obi-Wan said quietly. Luke fell asleep again, and Obi-Wan carried him to a nearby sleep couch, laid him down and covered him with a blanket.

    Han looked at Leia, whose head was lowered, her hand resting atop that of her father.

    “It has been a very long night,” he said. “And you should sleep too.”

    She looked up at him, saying nothing, then looked back down. Han had talked her into showering and changing her clothes earlier, and her damp braids hung around her shoulders. He ran his fingers over their coils.

    “Sweetheart, please,” he said.

    She didn’t answer.

    “You’re exhausted,” Han said. She looked at him again. Her eyes were bloodshot and puffy, her eyelids were drooping, and he could tell that she was only a few minutes of falling asleep at the edge of the bed the way her brother had. He opened his arms, and she leaned into them, resting her head on his chest.

    “We’ll be on Coruscant in six hours,” Obi-Wan said, returning to his former padawan’s bedside and putting a hand on his shoulder. Anakin’s eyes moved behind the closed lids, indicating a dream, but it seemed to be a peaceful one. The rise and fall of his chest was even, rhythmic.

    “Are you hungry?” Obi-Wan asked Han.

    He shook his head.

    “Alright,” Obi-Wan said. “I’m going to eat and contact the Council. I’ll be back.”

    Anakin’s eyes opened slowly and he found Han staring at him. “Hey,” Han said cautiously. “You’re awake?”

    Anakin gave a slow smile. “It would seem that way,” he said, then reached up to grip his head. “Stang, that hurt. And I thought I was supposed to be rescuing you.”

    Han returned the smile. “You rescued me twice. I think it’s time I returned the favor.” Han looked at the sleep couch behind him, where he had moved Leia after she had fallen sound asleep. When he turned back to Anakin, he found the older man’s hand raised to stop him.

    “Don’t wake the twins,” he said.

    “They’re going to be pissed,” Han replied.

    “I can handle it. It’s not like they’ve never been angry with me before. And I’m going to guess that they need the sleep.”

    Han nodded. “They went about 36 hours without any. Luke dropped first, his head next to your hand on that side. Leia still had to be convinced.”

    Anakin looked amused. “She’s stubborn.” He put his hand to his head again. “What happened anyway?”

    “The short version? You pulled a roof down on your head.”

    Anakin closed his eyes, and for a split second, Han thought he was losing consciousness again. Then he said, “You’d better give me the long version. Padme is going to kill me.”

    “I think she’ll just be glad to see you alive,” Han said.

    “Once she determines that I’m in no further danger, I’ll be in for a tongue-lashing that will make this headache worse,” he said. He rolled onto his side and tried to sit up, ending up flat on his back again. “Oh, stang…”

    “I don’t think you’d better try to get up,” Han said.

    “Yeah, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think someone had poured an entire vat of Corellian brandy into my veins. This ship just took a nice spin.”

    “You pulled a roof down on top of a bunch of Gamorrean thugs. You don’t remember? A piece of it landed on you. You were so busy telling the rest of us to get out of the way that you forgot to do the same.”

    Anakin closed his eyes again. “I remember now, at least about the Gamorreans. And telling you to run. So what happened to Jabba?”

    “He’s dead.”

    Anakin opened his eyes. “How?”

    “Leia cut loose those Twi’lek girls who were chained to him, then choked him with one of the chains.”

    Anakin smiled weakly. “That’s my girl.”

    “I don’t think she feels that great about it to be honest.”

    “It’s not ideal, especially for a Jedi, but taking him into custody would be impossible and a lightsaber is useless on a Hutt. They regrow body parts and live a thousand years. And Jabba has been terrorizing the residents of Tatooine for almost a century. Leia did the entire galaxy a great service.” He gripped his head again.

    “Are you alright?” Han asked. “Do you want me to get a medical droid?”

    Anakin nodded slowly, and Han was starting to leave the room when Obi-Wan came in. “Anakin!” He said, rushing to Anakin’s bedside. “How do you feel, Padawan?”

    “Hello, Master. I feel like a roof fell on my head. How are you?”

    “You haven’t lost your quick wit. That’s a good sign.” He put his hands on Anakin’s forehead and closed his eyes. “You have a headache and you’re dizzy.”

    “Don’t you do anything foolish, old man,” Anakin said.

    Obi-Wan smiled again. “Just a little healing help from the Force. I can handle it.”

    “I mean it, Obi-Wan. There is no point in your overdoing it and ending up in a bed next to me.”

    “I’ll be careful, Anakin. I promise. Now stop talking.”

    Anakin did, and his face visibly relaxed as Obi-Wan channeled the Force’s healing powers.

    When Obi-Wan was done, he slumped in his chair, rubbing his temples, not speaking for a few minutes. Anakin stared at him. “Obi-Wan, if you’ve hurt yourself on my account…”

    “I’m fine, Anakin,” he said. “The question is, are you any better?”

    “I’m much better. But…”

    Obi-Wan held up a hand. “Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. That’s some headache though.”


    “Really, Anakin, don’t fuss.”

    “Dare I say that you’re getting too old for this sort of thing?”

    Obi-Wan took his hands away from his face and looked at Anakin. “If I’m too old to use the Force for healing, you’re too old to use the Force to tear a roof down.”

    Anakin managed a laugh. “Fair enough.”

    A medical droid wheeled in, followed by Han, who said, “We’ll be out of hyperspace within the hour. “

    “Good,” Anakin said. He looked at the medical droid. “Any chance I get to walk off this ship instead of getting wheeled off?”

    “Absolutely no chance, sir,” the droid said. “We cannot yet determine the level to which the hematoma has affected your balance.”

    Anakin yawned and frowned. “I was afraid of that.”

    Obi-Wan smiled, stood, and laid a hand on Anakin’s shoulder. “Relax,” he said.

    The frigate docked in the emergency hangar of the Galactic Senate Medical Center, and Anakin was carried off on a stretcher, followed closely by Obi-Wan, the twins, and Han and Lando.

    “I still can’t believe you didn’t wake me up when he regained consciousness,” Leia snapped.

    Han sighed and squeezed her hand, her fingers laced with his. “Sweetheart, I told you, I wasn’t allowed.”

    “Daddy doesn’t outrank you.”

    “Um, yeah, he kind of does. Besides, rank has nothing to do with it. You needed your sleep. You still haven’t slept enough.”

    Leia gave him a withering look.

    On the landing platform stood Padme in her robes, her hair in one long braid, her eyes puffy from exhaustion. Bail and Alys stood beside her, but they held back as Padme ran towards the stretcher, making the medical team stop as she leaned over to kiss Anakin. He appeared asleep, but he returned the kiss, then when it ended, opened his eyes and lifted a hand to stroke her cheek. “Are you an angel?” He asked.

    Her reply, “You’re a funny little boy,” came out as a choked sob. She walked with the stretcher into the medical center, her hand firmly gripped in his.

    Alys took Luke's hand in one of hers and Leia’s hand in the other one, walking between them, the way they often had when they were children. Together they followed Anakin’s stretcher.

    Padme had booted everyone from Anakin’s room, demanding fifteen minutes alone with him while the droids hooked him up to monitors. Lando had returned to Navy headquarters; everyone else marked time anxiously in the waiting area, Obi-Wan standing directly outside Anakin’s door.

    Obi-Wan felt a hand on his sleeve and turned to find Leia next to him. “You look tired,” he said. “You and Luke should both go home and get in bed.” He glanced at Luke, who was sitting in the hard plastisteel chairs with his arm around Alys. His eyelids were drooping. Nearby, Han and Bail stood. Han was on his comlink; Bail paced.

    “I’m fine,” Leia said. “Uncle Obi-Wan…” She suddenly seemed nervous, twisting her ring around her finger.

    Obi-Wan rested a hand on her shoulder. “What is it?”

    She looked up, and the question came out in a rush. “Am I in trouble with the Council?”

    “For what?” Then the realization dawned on him. “Oh. Jabba.” He sighed. “Tell me, Leia, do you think you should be in trouble?”

    She looked down and fiddled with her ring again. “I don’t know.”

    “Did you kill him in defense, or out of revenge?”

    Her answer was barely audible. “Both.”


    “He condemned Han and Lando to a slow and painful death and was using all of his resources to ensure that that sentence was carried out. Plus what he has done in the past to Daddy, to all of Tatooine…what he would continue to do if we left him alive…and there seemed to be no way to take him into custody…”

    Obi-Wan nodded. “You are right about that, and he had committed numerous crimes against the Republic. Had we been able to bring him in, your mother might have sentenced him to death anyway, in spite of the fact that she normally prefers to avoid issuing such an order.”

    “I saw those poor girls chained to him, his slaves, forced to ensure his smelly sliminess with no possible escape…I may have snapped.”

    “Can you tell me why you didn’t use your lightsaber? Why you choked him with the chains?”

    She looked up again. “Daddy has said that Hutts are virtually immortal. I could have stabbed him with my saber and he would not have died. It seemed the only way.”

    Obi-Wan nodded slowly and didn’t answer her for a moment. Then he said, “The Council will most likely want to question you. That is normal procedure when a Jedi is responsible for a death. But I can promise you that your father will be firmly on your side.” He gave an amused half-smile, which disappeared quickly. “Jabba the Hutt was a well-known and strong enemy of the Republic and he had ordered the execution of two innocent Navy officers. You were not entirely out of line. Master Windu and Master Ti are not as familiar with Hutt biology and they may need some explanation. I will ask you the same questions I asked you here. I want you to answer them honestly. I do not think there will be any punishment other than a verbal chastising, if that.”

    Leia nodded, continuing to twist her ring. Obi-Wan cupped her chin, forcing her to look up. “Now, will you go home, eat a good meal and get some rest?”

    She didn’t answer, just glanced at Han, who was still on his comlink.

    Padme emerged from Anakin’s room, sniffling and dabbing at her eyes. When Bail approached her, she said, “I had Sovi cancel all my appointments today. The full Senate will convene in the morning; we need to start discussions on farm and medical aid to Tatooine, although there will be no vote until they have a chance to elect their own Senator.”

    Bail nodded slowly, and Padme answered his unspoken question. “Anakin is going to be fine, just…out of commission for awhile. His medical droid said it was close though.”

    “Padme,” Obi-Wan began. “I should have stopped him as soon as I realized what he planned to do.”

    She looked at him. “Obi-Wan, you know better than that. You did the best you could, and so did Anakin.” She turned to Leia, giving her a hug. “Go home, darling. You and Luke. I’ll be here the rest of the day.”
  20. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Backpacking One Pack a Day Mod of New Films star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Sep 16, 2005
    Ah, I was wondering when Leia's "kill" and her motives were going to be brought up. You've found a relatively "neutral" way to have her straddle the line between "revenge" and "justice" as I'm sure you planned.

    Fair enough? Anakin backs down with a simple "fair enough"? Whoa. ;)
  21. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Valairy Scot : I like exploring the question: What does a Jedi, or a political leader who opposes the death penalty, do when an enemy of the state genuinely is too dangerous to be left alive? More on that later here and in the sequel.

    And I think Anakin figured out that pulling a roof down on top of himself was not his most brilliant maneuver. :p

    This post and then an epilogue tomorrow on this one.


    Chapter 10

    Leia joined her brother at their father’s bedside. “Where’s Mom?” She asked.

    Anakin smiled. “Whipping a few Senators into shape,” he said.

    Leia laughed. “Full session this morning?”

    “Yes,” Luke said. “About Tatooine.”

    “I told her to go,” Anakin said. “And we can hope she’ll nap afterwards.”

    “I wouldn’t count on that,” Leia said, taking her father’s hand. “How are you, Daddy?”

    “Not bad. I stood up for two whole minutes this morning before my knees gave out.” He laughed weakly.

    Luke smiled. “It was longer than two minutes. You made it across the room.”

    “Before you and your uncle had to carry me back to bed.” He put his hand to his head.

    “Do you need something for pain?” Leia asked.

    “No, I’m fine,” Anakin said. “Your uncle said you were worried about what happened with Jabba.”

    Leia frowned and sighed. “It probably had to be done. But what I did went against every Jedi teaching I've been given.”

    He touched her arm. “Leia, listen to me. Hutt negotiations don’t lend themselves to any sort of Jedi teaching. Jabba cared about nothing more than maintaining his personal power and control over Tatooine, and he proved it when he captured Han and Lando. My guess is that he planned to use their executions as an example to your mother as to how she did not dare usurp his power. Think about it, what was their ‘sentence’ for? Trying to enact democracy.”

    She looked down and did not answer him.

    “He really would have been impossible to take into custody,” Luke said. “Lightsabers, Force binders, blasters, stunners…any sort of conventional weapons would have been useless.”

    Anakin looked at his son. “You are right,” he said. He turned to Leia again. “I am just sorry that this duty fell on you. But you are a hero. You have done as much to free Tatooine as the Senators who voted to welcome them into the Republic. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Alright?” She nodded slowly. Anakin continued. “The Council will ask you what happened. That is procedure. But the mission on Ryloth takes precedence right now, and among Council members, only your uncle and I are on planet.”

    “Any progress on Ryloth?” Luke asked.

    “We’re still waiting to hear from Master Windu on that,” Anakin said.

    They heard a knock on the door, and it slid open slightly, revealing Han. “Can I come in?”

    Anakin nodded, and Leia waved Han inside. He came to the bedside, touched Anakin’s arm. “How’s it going?”

    “Very slowly,” Anakin said dryly.

    “Now where have I heard that before?” He looked at Leia. “You two even recover alike.”

    They both smiled. Han continued. “I have some good news and some bad news.”

    “Good news first,” Leia said.

    “Remember when you told me to send Commander Cata after those Twi’lek girls?”

    She nodded.

    “He took a squadron out to the Dune Sea. Two of the girls are on a medical frigate with hydration packs. They’ll make a full recovery.”

    She nodded again. “And the bad news?”

    Han sighed. “The third girl…she was too dehydrated and sunburned. The medical droids estimated that she was probably starving as well. She didn’t make it.” He squeezed Leia’s shoulders. “I’m sorry, sweetheart.”

    Leia blinked rapidly and swallowed. “You did the best you could,” she said.

    “Leia,” Anakin said. “Thanks to you, neither Jabba nor anyone else will enslave anyone on Tatooine again. You saved the lives of the two girls and who knows how many others.”

    Han nodded. “All three of them would have died if you hadn’t told me what happened. Or if you hadn’t cut them free and told them to run. Do you think anyone working for Jabba would have kept them alive?”

    They heard a knock on the door again, and it opened to reveal Obi-Wan. “Good morning,” he said. “Why all the long faces?” He crossed the room to Anakin’s bed and smiled at him. “How are you, Padawan? Ready to take another walk?”

    “Sure,” Anakin said, hoisting himself up on his elbows. Obi-Wan held up a hand. “I’ve got some news for you first. I heard from Mace.”

    Anakin lay back down, his eyes wide. “And?”

    “They have positive intelligence on the location of Ventress and expect to be able to bring her in within the next few days.”

    A slow grin spread across Anakin’s face. Luke and Leia smiled as well.

    “This means…” Luke began.

    “It’s over,” Anakin said quietly. “It is finally over.”

    “We should be cautious about saying that, Anakin,” Obi-Wan said. “Complacency and overconfidence got the Jedi Order in trouble in the first place.”

    Anakin did not answer. His eyes were closed, his heart in his throat. Images came to him like a holovid set in slow motion. Ahsoka lying on the floor of the Invisible Hand, the life fading out of her large blue eyes. Bodies of the clones, some with limbs severed, the bodies he had to leave behind, the ones that did not get a proper burial. Agen Kolar, Kit Fisto, and Saesee Tinn, murdered by Palpatine’s lightsaber, lying on the floor of his office. The Temple in flames.

    None of you died in vain. We are defeating the darkness.

    Anakin’s vision swam red, and then he saw no more.

    “Daddy!” Luke said. Leia put her fist in her mouth and made a sound like a squeak. Obi-Wan looked at Han. “Get a medical droid,” he ordered, and Han stood and left the room immediately. Obi-Wan opened his comlink. “I need to speak to Chancellor Amidala right away.”

    In a small cave deep in the Ryloth mountains, Asajj Ventress burrowed herself deep in her furs as she addressed her companions. “The Jedi are on their way,” she said. “They have destroyed the foundry. And I plan to surrender.”

    “Surrender?” Wat Tambor said. “So are we completely done? Is there no hope?”

    She smirked. “Silly man. There is always hope if you know where to look for it.” The smirk disappeared. “This is a setback, and only a setback. But the Jedi will believe that they have won the war, and that is important.” She nodded towards Sly Moore. “Her mind control techniques worked well on Qualkin as well as several other Senators. Free Taa as well, although he was already on our side.” She smirked again. “If I surrender, I will be taken in alive, because that is how our Chancellor operates. I will bide my time until I can escape. Meanwhile, you three are in charge of finding any remaining Hutts and anyone else who might join us.”

    “Hutts?” Shu Mai said.

    “Gardulla is still alive and well on Tatooine. Ziro lives in the Uscru District of Coruscant,” Ventress replied.

    “The Geonosians will continue to support the resistance,” Poggle the Lesser said. “In spite of the fact that the Senate may invite us to join the Republic next. We will vote it down.”

    “Very well,” Wat Tambor said.

    Ventress closed her eyes. “They are here. I sense them.” She opened her eyes and glared at her companions. “Do not disappoint me.” She snarled.

    They all nodded as Mace Windu’s voice was heard outside the cave. “Asajj Ventress. This party is over.”

    She pulled her hood over her bald head and walked towards the entrance of the cave. “Master Windu. Master Yoda. Master Ti.” She threw her lightsaber down, rolling it back into the cave, nudging it with the Force towards Sly Moore. “I am at your service, and that of the Republic.”

    “Chancellor Amidala sends her regards,” Mace said, and the three Jedi ignited their lightsabers as Shaak Ti produced a pair of Force binders.

    Obi-Wan and the twins heard the medical droids’ reports as if in a dream. “His blood pressure dropped rapidly, which caused him to lose consciousness.”

    “What of the hematoma? Is it back?” Han asked anxiously.

    “No, sir. He is in no danger of anything but overexertion. In fact, the drop in blood pressure is a very good sign, as a hematoma is often accompanied by elevated blood pressure.”

    The door to the room slid open quickly and Padme ran in, going directly to her husband’s bed and sitting on the edge. “Ani!” She kissed him, first on the lips, then on both cheeks. “Wake up, darling, please…”

    Bail entered the room and looked at Obi-Wan. “She insisted on flying the speeder herself, would not let any of her guards accompany her…” He patted his side. “I do still carry a blaster everywhere so at least she let me tag along. I did not know she could accelerate and weave in and out of traffic that way though. It was frightening. How is Anakin?”

    Obi-Wan was sighing with relief. “Apparently, better off than the rest of us.” The droids hooked Anakin up to another monitor and added an injection to his IV. Padme stood and opened her arms, pulling her children to her, and they watched as the color slowly came back to Anakin’s cheeks. Obi-Wan walked over to stand next to them.

    “I am sorry that I frightened you, Padme,” he said.

    “No need for an apology. You were frightened too.” She continued to stare at her husband, whose eyelids fluttered, then slowly opened.

    “What happened?” he murmured, then grabbed his head. “Ow…”

    “Injection for the pain coming right away, sir,” the medical droid said.

    As the droid inserted the medicine in Anakin’s IV, he relaxed and reached for Padme’s hand.

    “You are all staring at me like you think I’m going to disappear,” he said, his dry lips curving into a smile. Luke and Leia were both unable to answer.

    “For a moment, Padawan, we weren’t sure,” Obi-Wan said, swallowing hard. “At any rate, I think we’ll skip attempting another stroll around your room, at least for today.”

    “He should not be upright for the next three standard days, sir,” the medical droid said.

    Obi-Wan nodded. “Understood,” he said. His comlink buzzed. “Kenobi.”

    “Obi-Wan,” Mace said. “The foundry on Ryloth is destroyed and we have Ventress in custody. We are returning to Coruscant. Tell Chancellor Amidala to expect my report later.”

    “She is with me right now. I will let her know,” Obi-Wan said.

    Anakin squeezed Padme’s hand, his tired smile widening. “Did you hear that, love? The resistance is defeated.”

    Padme nodded slowly, her eyes stinging with tears. She sat on the edge of Anakin’s bed again, pulling him into a hug, which he returned with a tight embrace of his own.

    “Alright, Anakin, you’ve got two of us here to help you. Ready to try this again?” Obi-Wan asked.

    Anakin glanced at Obi-Wan, then Mace Windu standing behind him, and nodded. “Let’s do it.”

    He slowly raised his head, propping himself onto his elbows, as Obi-Wan and Mace each supported him from behind. He turned, sat on the edge of the bed, then slowly stood.

    “How are you feeling?” Mace asked.

    “I’m alright,” Anakin said.

    “Dizzy at all? Any headache?” Obi-Wan asked.

    “No and no.” Anakin shuffled slowly towards the door. “An improvement from this morning. Han and Luke tried to get me up; it wasn’t happening. I felt like a dewback was sitting on my head.”

    Obi-Wan smiled. “You’ve never been a morning person anyway.”

    Anakin smiled back. “I can be a morning person as long as ‘morning’ does not mean ‘before sunrise’ or ‘before caf.’” He looked at Mace. “So Ventress is in lockup?”

    “In isolation with a ysalamari,” Mace said. “I have some concerns that she might try to escape, especially if there are any resistance-friendly Senators left.”

    “At least two of them are jailed,” Anakin replied.

    Mace nodded. “Yes, but we must be cautious. Neither we nor the Chancellor should assume this is entirely over. I will be very surprised if there were only a handful of Senators friendly to the resistance. Ready to go back to your bed?”

    “Yes,” Anakin replied. They turned around, shuffling back to the other side of the room.

    “We’re hoping you’ll be ready for a Council meeting next week,” Obi-Wan said.

    Anakin sighed. “I certainly hope that I’ll be out of this place by then.”

    “If for some reason you aren’t, we can meet here,” Mace said.

    “What are we discussing?”

    “All possible locations on former Separatists,” Mace said. “Other than prison that is. And we need to question Leia about Jabba the Hutt’s death.”

    Anakin scowled as Mace and Obi-Wan helped him back onto his bed.

    “It’s protocol, Anakin, you know that. We are on Leia’s side,” Obi-Wan said.

    Anakin sighed, leaning back onto the pillows. “Before you question her, someone needs to pull up research on Hutt physiology, including the fact that they regrow body parts, both external and internal.”

    “That can be arranged,” Mace said. “I can have my Padawan do it.”

    Anakin looked relieved, and closed his eyes.

    Obi-Wan touched his shoulder. “I’ll be back later,” he said.

    “Young Leia,” Yoda began. “Explain to us, you should, how Jabba the Hutt died.”

    Leia stood at the center of the circle in the Council chambers. Surrounding her were the five Council members, including her father, who was pale and moved slowly, but well enough to be released from the medical center the day before.

    She gulped. “He had three Twi’lek women chained to him. His slaves. The chains were to keep them from escaping and so that he could yank them to him and drool on them when he wanted.”

    The Jedi Masters said nothing, just continued to gaze at her. Only Anakin and Obi-Wan’s expressions changed at all; they scowled. Anakin looked slightly green.

    Leia continued. “I cut the chains, told the women to run, then wrapped the chains around the Hutt’s neck until he died.”

    “Why such a brutal method did you use?” Yoda asked.

    Leia glanced at her father, who sent her a message, You’re doing fine, tell the truth. She took a deep breath. “It is the only way to kill a Hutt, Master Yoda.”

    “What do you mean?” Shaak Ti asked.

    Leia turned to face her. “Hutts regrow body parts, including internal organs such as hearts and intestines. They can live for a millennia. Cutting off the airway was the only option I had.”

    “How did you know this?”

    Leia nodded towards her father. “Daddy told Luke and me years ago.”

    “Anakin,” Mace said. “Was this part of Luke and Leia’s Jedi training?”

    Anakin leaned forward slightly. “No,” he said. “It was part of their training on why they should avoid Hutts.”

    Everyone in the room smiled.

    “Did you consider taking him into custody?” Mace asked.

    “The original plan was to get Han and Lando out of there,” Leia said. “We weren’t going to bother with the Hutt at all. But he would have captured or attempted to capture the next Navy officers who crossed the path of his minions, or worse, he would have attempted to capture innocent Tatooine citizens who were just trying to exercise their right to vote.”

    “We were not in a position to take a Hutt into custody,” Obi-Wan said. “We did not have the resources to do so.” He looked at Leia. “The more important question is, do you feel that you touched the Dark Side?”

    She looked down. “I was angry. But I did not kill him because he captured Han and Lando, or the slave women. I killed him to stop the suffering on Tatooine.”

    No one answered for a minute which seemed an eternity to Leia, then Mace, Yoda and Shaak Ti nodded slowly, and Obi-Wan and Anakin smiled.

    “I see no reason to assume that Leia did wrong,” Obi-Wan said.

    “I agree,” Mace said, then looked at Leia. “You are dismissed.”

    She bowed slightly then turned to leave the chambers, touching her father’s shoulder as she walked by his chair. He took her hand and gave it a quick squeeze.

    “Now,” Mace said, when Leia had left. “The resistance. With Ventress in custody, do we need to search for the remaining Separatist leaders? Tambor, Shu Mai, Poggle the Lesser?”

    “They are greatly weakened without Ventress and the Banking Clan,” Obi-Wan said.

    “I agree,” Anakin added. “There is very little they can do alone.”

    “Poggle has resources,” Shaak Ti said.

    “He has the power of one family on one planet,” Mace said. “It is possible that he could do some damage, but I don’t know how likely.”

    Yoda closed his eyes and murmured “Hmmm…”

    “Whatever happens,” Obi-Wan said. “Our greatest mistake would be to lead ourselves to believe that all is won—and close our eyes. That is how this resistance gained as much power as they did in the first place.”

    “I agree,” Mace said. “It was a mistake hard learned, in the Clone War and now. One we cannot make again.”
  22. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Backpacking One Pack a Day Mod of New Films star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Sep 16, 2005
    You can't say he isn't wise, or didn't learn his lesson frm the past.

    Happy sigh: I love it when (former) masters call their (former) padawans, "Padawan." It just reinforces that feeling of "family" and for Obi-Wan to be able to say it and Anakin to accept it is just - squee!
  23. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Valairy Scot: Obi-Wan is extremely wise, and the entire Council learned from that lesson. (I only wish they had had that chance in canon, but that's why I write AUs.)

    As far as the "Padawan" nomer, I think I've got a few scenes in the sequel that you'll enjoy.

    Here's the epilogue; I'll start the sequel tomorrow.

    Thanks for reading. :)



    Six months later

    Han parked outside the Chancellor’s private landing platform and was greeted at the door by Leia, who kissed him and handed him a glass of wine. “Good trip?” She asked.

    “Excellent,” he replied. His gaze took in her soft green silk dress, her hair flowing down her back, held in place by a simple gold headband. “You are beautiful,” he said, kissing her again.

    “You’re not so bad yourself,” she said. He was wearing the black pants and vest that he almost always wore when he wasn’t in uniform.

    “So how long before the wedding am I supposed to not see you anyway?”

    She laughed. “Just the day of, so you’ve got about 36 hours.”

    “Good,” he said. “Guess what I brought in? The Falcon. I promised your Dad that I would.”

    Leia scowled. “I hope you aren’t going to spend the entire night on ship talk,” she muttered.

    Han laughed. “We won’t, I promise.”

    Anakin and Luke emerged from the next room, followed by Padme. As Anakin shook Han’s hand, Han said, “She’s on the landing platform.” They walked outside, and the mouths of the Skywalkers gaped.

    Anakin grinned. “A real YT1300 light freighter. I haven’t seen one of these in years.”

    “I know she doesn’t look like much,” Han said, “but she’s got it where it counts.”

    “Are you kidding? It’s great! A classic!” Anakin said. He walked quickly towards the loading ramp and climbed in, followed by Han.

    “What a piece of junk,” Luke muttered, then looked at his sister. “Sorry, Leia.”

    “You don’t have to apologize to me,” she said. “It’s not my bucket of bolts.”

    Padme looked amused. “It will be two days from now,” she said, taking a sip of her wine.

    Leia glared at her. “Mom,” she muttered.

    Padme laughed and put an arm around Leia’s shoulders. “Don’t worry. It’s really not so bad being married to someone who likes ships so much. It gives them something to do. And a place to go to get out of your hair.”

    Leia laughed. “So is that where you send Daddy when you’re annoyed with him?”

    Padme smiled and winked. “No, he usually knows when he needs to go without my having to tell him.” She looked at her son. “And you’re spoiled, Luke. You’ve spent too much time on Alderaanian royal cruisers.”

    “It’s not my fault,” Luke muttered. “Alys’ guards have been nuts ever since Pestage kidnapped her. I rarely get to fly her anywhere.”

    “Can you blame them for being that way?” Leia asked.

    Luke sighed and scowled. “No, of course not. But I’m a Jedi.”

    Han stuck his head out of the ship. “We’ll fly her to Naboo tomorrow, then you can see what she can really do,” he said.

    Leia gave him an indulgent smile, then when Han disappeared back into the ship, she scowled.

    “I’m surprised your father hasn’t asked to fly the Azure Angel to Naboo,” Padme said.

    “The day isn’t over yet,” Leia said.

    “I’m not sure he’d want to take his fighter when only R2 can fit in it with him,” Luke said.

    The droid, standing a few feet from him, beeped a protest. Luke turned. “Yes, I know you’re good company. That isn’t the point.”

    At that moment 3PO came bustling in. “Mistress Padme, we have three visitors. Chancellor Organa, Princess Alys and Mistress Pooja are here. And Master Obi-Wan called, said he will be here soon.”

    Padme smiled. “Good. Show them in. We can eat soon.”

    The three entered the room; Alys kissed Luke then hugged Leia. “Are you ready for this?” She asked.

    “Of course,” Leia said.

    “Daddy has been watching the preparations. I think it’s making him nervous,” Alys said.

    Bail gave her an indulgent smile. “Be careful. Luke is going to think you’re trying to tell him something.”

    Luke turned red. Padme waved the server droid over with a fresh bottle of wine. “Don’t worry, Bail,” she said. “It won’t be quite like this when your time comes. A royal wedding for the House of Organa on Alderaan? It will be much worse. Wine?”

    “After that statement I may need brandy,” he said. He accepted a glass of wine. “Where is the groom? And Anakin?”

    “On Han’s ship,” Padme said. “I hope they’ll be out in a minute but someone might have to sound an alarm.”

    “Has Uncle Anakin had any more headaches?” Pooja asked.

    Padme smiled. “It’s been six weeks since the last one so I think he’s permanently healed. His medical droid thinks so too.”

    Anakin emerged from the Falcon and came inside, his hands and face smudged with engine grease. Padme sighed. “Ani, what have you been doing to get yourself so dirty before dinner?”

    “Just tweaking the hyperdrive a bit,” he said. “We’re done now, Han should be out in a minute. And the Falcon is ready to fly to Naboo in the morning.”

    Luke glanced at Leia. “Hope you’re going to make it to your own wedding,” he said.

    “Son, has my mechanical work ever failed?” Anakin asked, smiling.

    Luke shook his head. “No,” he said.

    Anakin winked. “Then the odds are in our favor,” he said. “I’m going to shower, I’ll be back.”

    Alys went to Luke and put an arm around his waist. “You’re cranky,” she said.

    “No I’m not,” he protested. Then he sighed, returning the embrace, one hand stroking Alys’ bare back. “Alright, maybe I am. Sorry.”

    “What is it? Too much wedding publicity?”

    “No, that’s on Leia.” He glanced at his sister. Han had just come inside, and she had taken his oil-stained hand in hers.

    “Just some rumblings, mostly through the Force. Pors Tonith finally got arrested, and Ventress is in jail, but the others that she allied with—Tambor, Shu Mai, Poggle the Lesser—are still at large on the Outer Rim. Daddy is paying that fact no attention at all, and Uncle Obi-Wan is not paying it much more. I think they both want the resistance to be completely defeated so much that they are trying to will it to happen.”

    Alys frowned. “And your mother?”

    “She only knows what she gets from the spy reports, which these days isn’t much, because no one is looking for the former Separatists anymore.”

    “Why not?”

    “The assumption is that without Ventress or the power of the Banking Clan, they are not a threat.”

    “Oh.” Alys scowled, sipped her wine, and glanced at her father and Pooja across the room.

    Luke smiled, putting an arm around her shoulders. “But never mind all that. This is a happy time.”

    She kissed his cheek. “Yes. You should try to let it go at least for a few days.”

    “No ships will be allowed to land on Naboo for half a planetary rotation starting tomorrow night, and for the past couple of weeks, royal security has been very strict on who is allowed to land. Varykino may be more of a real escape than usual this time. Mom wanted to make sure Han and Leia could get married in peace.”

    “Good,” Alys said. “This will be a happy time, and a well deserved one for all of us.”

    The weather on Varykino could not have been more perfect. The sun shone, the temperature was warm but not too warm, and the breeze was light. Han and Leia would be married on the balcony overlooking the lake, in the same spot where Leia’s parents married nearly 22 years earlier. As Leia had requested, the guest list was small. The Organas, Mon Mothma, members of Padme’s staff, the Jedi Council, Han’s squadron, the Naberries, and the Larses, who agreed to leave Tatooine long enough to witness their niece’s marriage. The Coruscant gossip media were clamoring, and willing to pay good credits, for pictures and reports of the wedding of Leia Skywalker and Rear Admiral Han Solo, but Padme was only allowing an official wedding photographer and no reporters.

    Anakin had dressed early and now stood in his formal Jedi robes at the door to balcony, watching the guests file in, thinking that he was probably more nervous than either Han or Leia. Bail Organa seemed to sense that as well, putting a friendly hand on Anakin’s shoulder just before he walked towards his seat. Obi-Wan followed Bail. “How are you doing, Anakin?” he asked.

    Anakin shifted. “I’m fine,” he said.

    “Good,” he said. “Relax. And I’ll see you in the front.”

    Anakin nodded, shifting again.

    Han appeared a few minutes later, accompanied by Lando, both in their dress whites, Chewbacca just behind them, his fur brushed and shiny.

    Anakin smiled, raising one eyebrow. Han pointed to himself. “Good?” he said.

    “You look good enough to marry my daughter,” Anakin said.

    Han laughed. “I hope so.”

    “Are you nervous at all?” Anakin asked.

    “Nah,” Han said, then after a snort from Lando and a short bark from Chewie, said, “Well, maybe a little.”

    The orchestra began to play a traditional Naboo wedding piece, the one that usually preceded the march. Lando put a hand on Han’s shoulder. “Hey, pal, I think that’s your cue.”

    Han smiled, and this time Anakin could see his nervousness. He and Lando both nodded to Anakin then walked up the aisle with Chewbacca behind them.

    A minute later Padme emerged on Luke’s arm. She wore a sleeveless dark blue silk dress, her hair in an elaborate headdress of silver and flowers. She let go of Luke in order to take Anakin’s hands in hers. “Darling,” she said.

    Anakin smiled and stroked her cheek. “You shouldn’t be so beautiful. You’re going to steal Leia’s thunder.”

    Padme laughed. “I doubt that.” She gave him a light kiss. “I’ll see you in a minute.” She took Luke’s arm again, allowing him to escort her to her seat.

    Anakin watched, now feeling as if he were in a dream, as Leia’s bridesmaids, Ryoo, Pooja and Alys walked by in pale blue gowns, flowers in their hands and woven into their braids.

    Then Leia appeared.

    Her gown was simple, long and sleeveless, free of the lace that her mother had worn. Her sandals added a couple of inches to her height, her dark hair was styled more elaborately than her normal crown of braids, a white and gold headdress held the veil that fell to her waist. She carried a large bouquet of white flowers. She was smiling, radiant, hardly seemed nervous at all.

    Then Anakin couldn’t see.

    He felt Leia’s palm, then her lips, against his cheek. “Daddy,” she said. “No tears until after you walk me down the aisle.”

    He blinked quickly, then turned and hastily dried his eyes. “Your mother brought extras,” he said, holding up the square of white cloth in his hand. “She seems to think I’m going to be a weepy mess before this is over.”
    Leia gave him an indulgent half-smile. “Is she right?”

    Anakin’s eyebrows went up. “She usually is,” he said. He returned the smile with a watery one of his own. “I’ll behave, I promise.”

    Leia laughed, touched her father’s cheek again. “I love you,” she said. “And it’s not like I’m really going anywhere. Han is stationed on Coruscant. We’re going to be two floors below you in 500 Republica.”

    “For now,” Anakin said. The orchestra changed to the traditional Naboo wedding march. “I think they’re ready for us,” he said, then kissed Leia’s forehead just under the headdress. “And I love you. Let’s get you married.”

    The guests stood, and Leia walked down the aisle on her father’s arm.

    “May this rite be sanctified before the gods, for we gather here in love, in the bonding together of two who have chosen each other as mates for life.”

    The priest in purple robes issued the official Naboo marriage greeting as Leia waited, her arm linked with her father’s. The Holy Man then nodded to Anakin. He kissed Leia’s cheek, placed her hand in Han’s, and turned to take his seat between his wife and best friend. He took Padme’s hand in his synthflesh one, lacing his fingers with hers, then covered their entwined hands with his organic hand.

    The priest made the symbol of the Naboo goddess of love. “Love has its seasons, as does the planet of Naboo,” he recited.

    “Spring is the season of discovery, in which two people meet, take pleasure in each other’s company, and develop an easy friendship which then blossoms into something more: they discover that they have become one mind and one soul and no longer function as well apart as they did together.

    Summer is the season of commitment, of growth, of joining together as one body, perhaps creating new life. As plants grow and blossom in the sun, so two people grow and blossom in each other.

    In the autumn of love, passion fades to a flame not as bright but more enduring. The fire of initial love has grown into the ease of companionship, of knowing each other’s thoughts and finishing each other’s sentences. In this season the couple fully understands the meaning of the term ‘soulmate.’

    In the winter there is parting, but true love never dies, it stands, like bare tree trunks in the snow, waiting for spring to come again.

    Han Solo and Leia Skywalker, this is your summer.”

    He signaled Han and Leia to face each other. Leia handed Alys her bouquet, and took both of Han’s hands in hers. The priest then bound their clasped hands in gold silk cloth.

    “Do you, Leia, take this man to be your husband, to live together in marriage? Will you love him, honor him, comfort and keep him, as long as you both shall live?”

    “I will.” Leia’s voice was clear without a trace of nervousness or any emotion other than pure joy.

    “Do you, Han, take this woman to be your wife, to live together in marriage? Will you love her, honor her, comfort and keep her, as long as you both shall live?”

    Han smiled, as widely as any of the guests had seen him smile. “I will.”

    The priest prompted them to say their vows, and they both pledged each other love, joy, comfort, for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, as long as they both shall live. Leia’s voice was clear, even, joyous; Han was positively overflowing with happiness, Lando and Chewie wondered if he would be able to stop grinning long enough to talk.

    The Holy Man then took the rings from Lando and Alys, held them in the air and blessed them.

    “The Circle is perfect, without beginning or end. It is a symbol of life, death, and rebirth, a symbol that light turns to darkness and returns to light again. May your love be perfect and without end. When you reach a time of sorrow, anger or frustration, look to your hands as a reminder that these things shall pass, but your love is enduring.”

    The gold cloth was removed, and Han took Leia’s ring and slid it onto her left ring finger. “Just as this ring has no end, neither shall my love for you,” he said. Leia slid Han’s ring onto his left ring finger and said the same.

    In the front row, Padme squeezed Anakin’s hand tightly. He glanced at her and saw that although she was smiling, her eyes shone with tears.

    “In the exchange of vows and rings and the binding of your hands, so are your lives bound to each other,” the priest said. “I now pronounce you husband and wife. What the gods have joined together today, let no one put asunder.” He looked at Han and smiled. “You may kiss your bride.”

    Han took Leia’s face in his hands and kissed her as the guests clapped and the orchestra began to play the traditional recessional march.

    Obi-Wan stood and walked to the end of the aisle, meeting Luke, who stood on the other side. They both ignited their lightsabers, the tips meeting in the air, forming an arch under which the newly married couple would walk.

    Han and Leia walked arm in arm under the arch, followed by their attendants, as the guests cheered.

    Han held the cake spatula in his hand, looking nervously at Lando and Chewie. “I’m not sure about this,” he said. “There was no instruction in the Naval Academy for this one.”

    “Give it to Leia, she’ll do a better job anyway,” Lando said, a teasing smile on his face.

    “What? She’s practiced sectioning cakes with her lightsaber?” Han replied, then looked at his wife, whose eyebrows had gone up. “Uh-oh. Married half an hour and I’m already in trouble.” He handed her the spatula, handle out. “Maybe you really should do this. Seriously. I’ve never cut a cake in my life.”

    “I could use my lightsaber. We’d have a cauterized cake, and the Holonet would talk of nothing else for weeks,” Leia said as she expertly sliced two pieces of cake, laid them on napkins and handed one to Han.

    “Told you,” Lando said.

    “Shut up,” Han replied.

    Spoons clinked against glasses and everyone cheered. “Tell us how you met,” someone called. Leia recognized the speaker as a new midshipman in Han’s squadron.

    “Oh that’s easy,” Han said. “Let this be a lesson learned. I made a dumb comment about having never seen a hot female Jedi before, and she pushed me down a garbage chute.”

    Everyone laughed heartily. Han continued. “I decided to wash the smell off after she agreed to go out with me and…”

    Leia held a hand up, a teasing smile on her face. “Wait a minute,” she said. “I didn’t agree to go out with you until several days later. You waited that long to wash off the essence of Sate Pestage?”

    Another laugh from the guests, then Anakin’s voice could be heard from the table where he was helping himself to punch, with Luke standing next to him. “I’ll vouch for Han,” Anakin said. “He showered that same day. Leia was napping. Pushing grown men down garbage chutes tends to sap her energy.”

    Leia feigned a glare at her father, but it quickly turned into a smirk, which he returned.

    Spoons clinked against glasses again and someone said, “Cake!”

    Han said, “You don’t need to tell me twice,” and he and Leia fed each other bites as the holocamera clicked and everyone cheered.

    Luke was standing to the side when Alys approached him from the back, put an arm around his waist, and kissed his cheek. “Good party,” she said.

    He returned the kiss with a light one on her lips. “Mom always does well with these, and she had Grandma and Aunt Sola’s help this time.”

    Alys glanced at Leia, who was now circulating among the guests, Han’s hand in hers. “I think they’re going to be very happy.”

    Luke nodded. “So do I,” he said.

    “The weather could not have been nicer if it had been direct-ordered from the gods themselves,” Alys said.

    Luke nodded again. Alys cupped his chin, turning him around to face her. “Are you going to dance with me?”

    Luke smiled. “As long as it doesn’t involve some fancy Alderaanian waltz, I’ll try,” he said.

    Alys laughed. “The orchestra is Nubian. I don’t think they know any Alderaanian waltzes.”

    “We’re set then,” Luke said, putting an arm around her waist and kissing her again. He stroked her cheek. “Hey,” he said, and her eyes met his. “I love you.”

    She returned the kiss. “I love you too,” she said. “What prompted that all of a sudden?”

    “Just felt like saying it,” he said. “We’re at a wedding. I’m in a romantic mood.”

    “Oh,” she said. “Well I can’t complain about that.” She took his hand and led him towards the dance floor. “Come on.”

    Padme caught up with Beru. “Are you enjoying yourself?” She asked.

    Beru smiled. “Definitely,” she said. “Thank you, Padme.”

    “Of course,” she said. “We wanted you to come.”

    “The Darklighters were able to watch the farm for us for a couple of days.” Beru took a cautious sip of punch.

    Padme smiled. “What do you think? It couldn’t possibly be sweeter than a ruby bliel.”

    Beru laughed. “It isn’t.” She looked at Padme. “My gratitude is not only for the wedding invitation. It’s for Tatooine itself. You would not believe the difference you have made there.”

    Padme looked at her. Beru continued. “I’m not even sure we understood what freedom meant, until you showed us. With the Hutts out of power, and real law enforcement…the Tuskens are being contained, the chieftain of one of the largest tribes got arrested after another kidnapping, another attempt at a blood rite. The victim was rescued as well, and will make a full recovery.”

    Padme blinked. “That is wonderful news,” she said.

    “And medical care…” Beru continued. “The medical center that the Republic built in Anchorhead…Biggs had the wirt cough a few weeks ago…he would not have made it without access to that center…”

    Padme swallowed, and hugged Beru. “I have been asked a number of times why I would want to hold any political office, much less that of Chancellor,” she said. “You have just reminded me of why.”

    Beru smiled. “Anakin would be impressed at the new conditions on his horrible dust ball,” she said.

    Padme laughed. “I’m sure he would. I look forward to telling him about all the changes. Or you and Owen should tell him yourselves.”

    Beru took Padme’s hand and squeezed it. “It’s a beautiful day.” She looked at Leia. “She has so much of Shmi in her. So does Luke.”

    Padme nodded. “I know. The Skywalker line runs strong.”

    Both women watched Leia and Han for a moment, then Padme said, “I wonder where Anakin got to.”

    Beru pointed a thumb towards the punch bowl. “He’s with Obi-Wan.”

    Padme looked, and Anakin was with Obi-Wan, as Beru said. They were drinking punch and laughing.

    Padme took Beru’s elbow. “Come on,” she said. “The cake is disappearing.”

    “So, Padawan,” Obi-Wan said, helping himself to a glass. “Is this punch spiked?”

    Anakin smiled, sipping his own punch. “Not heavily. Probably less alcohol in here than in your average Corellian ale.”

    “Ah,” Obi-Wan said. He took a sip of the punch, and watched Han and Leia. “You’ve done well, Anakin.”

    “Thanks, but I didn’t really do anything.”

    “Your little girl is leaving home. And you’ve let her go. Without too much argument. That’s a big accomplishment for you.”

    Anakin looked away, blinking rapidly. “You don’t have to put it that way, Master,” he said, his voice quavering slightly.

    Obi-Wan gave a slight smile and put a hand on Anakin’s arm. “I seem to have hit something pretty close to the mark.”

    Anakin swallowed, sniffed and straightened. “As you are prone to do,” he said.

    “You know, I might have gotten a little sentimental myself.”

    Anakin looked at him in surprise. “You?”

    Obi-Wan smiled again. “Is it so shocking, Anakin? I love your children as if they were my own.”

    Anakin touched his shoulder. “I know that, of course, I was just…”

    “Old age might have softened me a bit,” he said.

    “You’re not so old, Obi-Wan.”

    Obi-Wan laughed. “Am I allowed to remind you of that next time you call me an old man, even in jest?”

    Anakin shared in the laughter. “One reminder that I’m not too far behind you should do the trick, if I’m ever foolish enough to pull that one again.” Anakin put his fingertips to his goatee. “I’m almost as grey as you are, anyway.”

    “Or you would be if you’d ever grow a full beard,” Obi-Wan said with a wink. He took Anakin’s elbow. “Come on, I’m going to guess that you haven’t tasted the cake yet, and I doubt anyone in the galaxy has made a sweet that you didn’t like.”

    A few minutes later they were all eating cake and watching Han and Leia dance, or watching Han twirl Leia around, their steps timed as well as if they had been practicing all their lives.

    “I didn’t know Han could dance,” Luke said.

    “He didn’t learn it in the Naval Academy,” Lando said.

    Chewbacca barked in agreement. Lando looked at him. “Do you know where he learned to do that?”

    Chewbacca barked again. Lando laughed. “He won dance lessons in a sabacc game? You’re kidding, right?” Chewbacca barked a negative.

    “Who was gambling away a set of dance lessons?” Luke asked.

    “Someone who didn’t want them,” Lando said. “And probably knew he was very bad at sabacc. I’m not too surprised Han went through with them though. He’d think it would make him popular with the ladies.”

    “I don’t think I’ve seen Leia dance like that,” Anakin said.

    “She took lessons when she was six, remember, Anakin?” Jobal said.

    He smiled. “Oh, yes. I had almost forgotten. That was her one and only real princess stage. She also liked to play queen and tried to make Luke play her handmaiden. He didn’t like that too much.”

    The dance ended to cheers. Leia smiled at the guests, then went to her father and laid a hand on his arm. “Your turn,” she said.

    Anakin smiled. “I hope I can keep up with you. There were no dance lessons in the Temple.”

    She laughed. “You’ll be fine. Someone should warn Mom though.” She looked at Padme, who was being escorted onto the dance floor by Han. “Corellian waltzing is a little faster than that on Naboo.”

    Obi-Wan caught Leia’s arm. “Save a dance for your old uncle later?”

    She let go of Anakin’s arm and kissed Obi-Wan’s cheek. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said.

    “Good,” he said. “I’m not quite as heavy-footed as your father, although he still thinks he can beat me in sparring.”

    “That’s because I can,” Anakin said. He was grinning.

    “Only in your mind, my very young apprentice,” Obi-Wan replied. “And I’ll prove it to you as soon as we’re back on Coruscant. Now go. The music is starting.”

    Han and Padme were already starting the waltz. Leia took Anakin’s arm and they followed.
  24. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Sep 2, 2012
    Great, great story. I just wonder what the plot of your next story will be?
  25. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Backpacking One Pack a Day Mod of New Films star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Sep 16, 2005

    Sweet, forgive the briefness, but...a personal crisis leaves me unable to properly appreciate this.