Title: The Keeper Author: Darthishtar Timeframe: 75 ABY Characters: Jaina Solo Fel, Leia Organa-Solo, others to be determined Disclaimer: These characters were invented by much more brilliant minds than my own and I don't own any of them. The idea came from a Lois Lowry. I also have taken some presumed liberties with the upcoming timelines. PROLOGUE There was no such thing as an 'old folks home' in the Jedi Order for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it was absurd to consider a human too elderly to serve when the Grand Master of the new Jedi Order had been mentored by a 900-year-old sage. For another, the Jedi respected their elders more often than not, politics and teenage rebellion notwithstanding. Leia Organa-Solo was not sufficiently Jedi for many people. She had made her life and her living as a diplomat and a politician and her roles as warrior and Jedi Knight had taken a back seat to the needs of the New Republic. She carried a lightsaber of her own, but was not at the beck and call of the Council. She had been persecuted and prosecuted with the rest of her kind, but she had chosen another path and for many people, that disqualified her from claiming any sort of affiliation with the Order. For the wise, the thought of Leia Organa-Solo not being a Jedi was as logical as thinking that Han Solo was a female Dug. They respected her choice and her contribution and would say so whenever the subject came up. They were also the ones who made sure that Leia Organa Solo was looked after as one of their own. There was no set schedule for visits; Leia mostly looked after herself with all of her old stubbornness and with the help of her droid, but Threepio wasn't human and he wasn't terribly perceptive, so she received regular visitors. Allana usually stopped by at the end of the week and could usually be relied upon to bring her apprentice. Ben favored Atundas and never stayed long. It went without saying that the last surviving Solo kid could bump any of them off the unofficial schedule whenever she came to that corner of the Galaxy. The opening salvos of conversation were always the same--"How's the husband" and "How's the baby," even though the baby was too old to be called that. Jaina would obligingly show holos and bring anecdotes. Once in a while, she would bring the people in question so Grandma Leia could interrogate them herself instead of by messenger. Today was not one of those days, though. Jaina had dealt with her Council business in the morning and arrived just after lunch to find her mother in tears. Her first thought was to check the comm for bad news or personal messages, but it was easier to let Mom explain herself. Jaina gave her a quick hug on her way to the cooktop and put the kettle on before coming back to find out what exactly was wrong. Mom was sniffling quietly over a datapad and Jaina took the seat next to her so she could read over her shoulder, half-expecting to find that Mom was finishing the latest Siukha novel or reading an old comm message from Dad. Instead, she glimpsed a holo of a little girl before Mom closed the file. "Jaina," Mom said, inhaling quickly and exhaling slowly to calm herself and putting on a slightly-more-wrinkled-than-last-month diplomatic face. "I didn't hear you come in." "Or see," Jaina said. "I'm making tea." "Thank you," Mom said. It had to be a bad day--usually, she would have protested that she could do it herself or would have insisted that Jaina didn't need to do that. "How's the husband?" Mom asked predictably. "How's the baby?" "He's busy and she's excited for her ninth birthday next week," Jaina answered. "How are you?" "I'm not very busy and I'm excited for her ninth birthday next week," she answered. "You'll bring her gift back with you?" "If you can wait a while, we were going to bring her for a visit after school lets out," Jaina bargained. "It's only three weeks more." "I can wait," Mom said with a hint of mischief glinting in her eyes and a smirk firmly planted on her lips, "but do you really think she can?" "I think she won't mind." Jaina reached across the table and retrieved the datapad. "Was that a picture of Allana?" "No," Mom said, the smirk fading. "That was me." It took another moment to find the last file that Mom had been viewing, but on second viewing, the first impression didn't fade. "Are you sure?" Jaina asked, hoping that she didn't sound patronizing. "This looks like it was taken the summer after she turned six, when you brought her to the exhibition." "Check the timestamp if you must," she answered. The timestamp was for 6 AI, forty-nine years before Allana had been born and fifty-six years before the date in question. "You should show this to her," Jaina suggested. "Where did you find it?" "It was brought to me," her mother corrected. "The Parnelli Museum of Art is preparing an exhibition and the curator thought I might find these interesting." The kettle whistled at that moment and Jaina jumped up to take care of the tea. She came back with two mugs to find that Mom had moved herself to the dining room, taking the datapad with her. "What kind of exhibition?" she asked. Mom waved a hand in Jaina's direction. "There's a letter on the front table if you want to read about it." Jaina found a flimsiplast note where her mother had indicated, written in a narrow, slanting handwriting. Madame Organa-Solo, Greetings. I hope this letter finds you well. We appreciated your donation last year and look forward to your next visit. As a former Chief of State, you are undoubtedly familiar with the work of renowned holographer Siuri Khres. Lady Khres was an official state holographer during Mon Mothma's tenure, but she rose to prominence when documenting the Rebellion and the fall of the Empire. After her recent passing, Lady Khres' son was given charge of the estate. He donated her collected works to the Parnelli, including several collections that had never been published before. We have enclosed some examples of her work, entitled collectively, "Prelude to Rebellion..." "It was quite a surprise," Mom called from the other room. "No one told me that this Khres had more family pictures of the Organas than the palace archives." That was probably true of a lot of sludgenews outlets during the early years of the Empire. Jaina knew from experience that prominent families tended to take few holos of themselves, but had a data trail kilometers long thanks to the bored reporters who were trying to catch them in the act of something disgraceful. "Siuri Khres," Jaina said as she rejoined her mother at the table. "Isn't she the one who put on the exhibit of Alliance identification photos?" Mom cracked a smile at that. "The same." When Jaina had been too young to go to the Jedi Academy but old enough to be embarrassed by her parents' fame, she had been dragged to a museum on Coruscant for a grand opening of an art exhibit. She hated dressing up like a doll and looking at art she didn't understand, but as soon as she'd slipped past Security and made her way inside, Jaina had decided she liked the museum. The entire hall had been filled with holos of people caught off-guard. Uncle Luke sneezing for the camera. Mom looking very young and slightly cross-eyed. Wedge Antilles swatting at a fly in front of his face. All of these were unused holos from the archives of the people who had to issue military IDs to the Rebel Alliance and some had called it disrespectful. Jaina had thought it was brilliant. "And she has holos of you at six?" "She spent several years at a news agency on Alderaan," Mom explained. "She thought my father was an oddity--a long-time politician who still came home to read his daughter bedtime stories--and she spent a lot of time documenting the ordinary life of the Royal Family." Her hand trailed over the braids of the little girl as if she could still remember having to sit still for them to be pinned into place. The child looked a little disgruntled and Jaina could almost see herself in the firm set of her chin. "They want me to help," Mom said. "They want my stories of Alderaan and an explanation of what all of this was like." "I think you should," Jaina said decisively. "There aren't enough people left who even remember being there." Just the other day, there had been an article about the suicide of a man who had been born in Aldera six days before the Death Star showed up. His Corellian parents had left on the last morning of Alderaan and he had been granted automatic citizenship by virtue of having been born on Alderaan. In light of the tragedy, they had never gotten around to filing his citizenship papers with their native world. Mom shut off the datapad with a jab of her finger. "I'm not sure," she said almost inaudibly. "Who would want to hear an old woman ramble on about the gardens at Antibes?" Jaina suspected that her mother spent enough time remembering the gardens that her objection was not to boring a reporter, but to inviting someone unfamiliar into her private world. There were few people left who had ever set foot in Antibes and no holographs could teach the Galaxy to miss Alderaan the way Princess Leia did. But that didn't mean that it wasn't worth a try. As difficult as it would be to draw out these memories, it was unthinkable to entertain the idea of letting the legacy of Alderaan die out with whichever of its native children lasted the longest. "I would," she said at last.