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

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

  1. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2012
    AU--Set during Legacy of the Force, roughly during Tempest. In less than one year, Jacen Solo goes from Jedi to warlord, and everyone waits until it is far too late to do anything about it. This is the story of what might have happened if the one person the Jedi had forgotten about stepped in to save Jacen, the Jedi, and the galaxy.

    A/N: I will confess that I have been scared to death of posting this story here on the boards. Jacen is, and was, such a hugely polarizing figure that it makes it tough to write a story about him. This is my first attempt at posting a story here on the boards, so let me know if I need to change anything for legibility purposes.

    Chapter 1: Dreaming while you sleep

    “I’m sorry, Nelani.”

    The first scream, a blood-curdling scream caused by great physical pain, scared her and caused her heart to race. But it was the second one, a mental scream, full of emotional anguish that caused her to jerk up in bed and awaken, her green eyes bright with tears.

    Trying to still her breathing and calm herself down, Danni glanced around her room; the clock read 02:32, and her bed was all disheveled, with the bedspread somehow against the wall locker about a meter from the bed. Realizing that she was still breathing heavily, and that she was covered in a cold sweat, she got up to get a drink of water from the ‘fresher. As she filled her glass, she noticed the haunted look in her green eyes and the way her blonde hair had frizzed out and both only increased her anxiety. She failed to notice that her hands were shaking pretty badly and she ended up spilling half of her glass down her front. “Kriff.” She took a deep breath to steady herself, “Get a grip, it was only a dream.” But, you’ve had this dream four times in the last two weeks. And, this time the man talked. Who is Nelani? As her pulse-rate calmed down and she made her way back across the room to the mess of a bed, it dawned on her that it was much more than a dream.

    I haven’t had a Force vision since…She refused to think further about that day. What is the Force trying to tell me? Realizing that she wasn’t going to get any more sleep this evening, she threw on her robe and made her out of the room and down the hall to the kitchen to make something that Master Skywalker had introduced her to a lifetime ago: hot chocolate.

    Later, standing on the shared balcony that overlooked the forest, she took a breath and thought about the vision that she had seen. Two people: a man that seemed strangely familiar, and a younger woman were dueling with lightsabers. Sensing their tenacity and desperation, it became clear that this wasn’t a training duel. Someone was either going to surrender or die. “That can’t be right...” she murmured to herself, “...there hasn’t been an actual lightsaber battle in, what, 10 years? Who ARE these people?” Banishing that thought for the moment, she concentrated again on the battle. It soon became clear that the man simply had more talent, and they both knew it. The woman battling him became even more frantic in her moves to try to force a draw. Maybe that was the cause of her undoing; she was fighting for an impasse, he was not. As the duel progressed to its forgone conclusion, with the woman’s strikes and parries becoming increasingly desperate, the man got the opening he needed and struck the young woman down. Even knowing that it was coming, hearing the woman’s scream again brought her to the verge of tears. But again, it was the second silent scream, the one full of anguish and despair that caused her to break down, not just because of the death of the young woman, but because she knew now who that strangely familiar man had to be. Only one Jedi she had ever met, and she had met plenty in the last war, felt that sort of despair when killing a fellow being. Only one felt such extreme guilt at being a warrior: Jacen. “Why? Who were you fighting? Why were you fighting?” she thought, as tears streamed down her face. “The war is over, Jacen.” Suddenly, the scene shifted. This is new. She was looking at the galaxy from afar. In the center of the galaxy, she saw a spark; one that looked like a match had just been struck. Slowly at first, the galaxy started to burn. As the flames burned higher, consuming the galaxy, she heard another scream, “NOOOOOooo!” With a start, she realized that it was her own voice.

    Still shaken, and finding the need to talk to someone about what she had seen, she turned to go into the complex, only to find herself face to face with a perky, elderly woman with graying hair and kind blue eyes: her mother. Except that her mother had been dead for six years. This form belonged to Sekot.

    “There you are my child. I sense much disquiet coming from you.”

    “You really have a knack for sneaking up on people, Sekot.” Danni said drily, not wishing to discuss her vision with a self-aware planet.

    Sekot walked up to the balcony railing, “Consider it a gift. Come, what brings you out to this balcony at 2:55 in the morning?”

    Turning back around to once again look over the forest, and seeing the folly of trying to hide the truth from a sentient being that has her own gravity, she sighed. Maybe a partial truth. “I had a nightmare….”

    “Let us not pretend you are out here drinking hot chocolate because of some dream. You were on your way to find Mikal. What was the nature of this vision?” Sekot asked pointedly.

    Sighing deeper this time, “Alright, call it a vision. I saw two Jedi, a man and a woman, dueling. Not sparring, dueling.” She proceeded to recite the entire vision to Sekot.

    “Interesting. What preceded this clash?”

    Danni shrugged, “I do not know; I only got the fight itself.”

    “This Nelani, did you recognize her?”


    “The young man, you know who it is.” It was not a question.


    “Curious that the Force would show this to you.” Danni’s mother cast her an appraising glance, “You still think of him.” Again, it was not a question.

    The blonde woman sighed, not really wanting to admit the truth. It had been years since she had seen him, after all. “Yes.” Danni admitted, not even bothering to hide her chagrined frown. Am I really that easy to read?

    “No, your thoughts are probably the hardest here to read. I’ve just had lots of experience.” Sekot said, with a slight smile. “However, you’ve been here a long time and you must be lonely, especially after Tahiri left.”

    “I’ve been lonely since my mother died.” Danni said sadly, looking over at her mother’s form, “But back to this vision. Is it something that has happened, or something that is yet to come?”

    Sekot frowned slightly, “Both, I suspect. The first part, I think, is from a Force connection. From what I have heard, Jacen Solo is removing himself from everyone that is close to him in the Force.” Danni knew better than to ask about how Sekot knew what Jacen Solo was up to. “He seems to have forgotten about your connection.” This came as a blow. Even though she had known for years that Jacen had moved on, she still held out hope that she had meant something to him. Sekot’s telling her that this wasn’t the likely the case caused her heart to sink. She tried to keep the hurt from showing on her face. The self-aware planet continued, “Apparently, he remains troubled by what happened. The second part, I think, is the Force telling you of one possible outcome of the duel.” She glanced over at Danni, and her eyes softened. “I am sorry dear, I did not mean to be so blunt. Maybe we should continue this conversation at a more respectable hour.”

    Frowning slightly, “No, no, the fault is mine. I should have caught on when he returned from his journeys and failed to stop here that he has moved on with his life.”

    “I fear it is more complicated than that.” Sekot said sadly, looking over at Danni. “But you will find out soon enough.”

    “Soon enough? Do you see Jacen coming here?” Danni asked in a rushed voice. She had so many things that she wanted to tell him about her discoveries here on Zonoma Sekot, about herself. Mostly she wanted to be close to him again and lose herself once more in those lovely brown eyes of his.

    “My dear, you know that he is not.” Sekot said, noting the look of disappointment on the young woman’s face. “You are going to find Jacen.”

    Knowing that would still be pointless to protest, Danni just nodded slowly. “I had best go and get packed.” She turned and walked to the patio door.

    “One more thing, Danni.” Sekot said in a hushed tone, waiting for her to stop.

    Danni turned, only to see Vergere standing before her. With a haunted look, Vergere whispered, “Be careful, Danni. Everything Jacen Solo tells you is a lie.”

    With a tear forming in the corner of her right eye, Danni nodded once, staring at Jacen’s one-time captor, friend and mentor. She slowly turned back to the door, “You taught him well, then.”
  2. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    That sounds like my son. I guess I shouldn't have named him after Jacen Solo. :p

    You can't blame people for not liking Jacen, he was written to be the villain...unfortunately. It still irritates me that the hero of the Vong War was reduced to a cliche Sith bad guy. He could have been so much more.
    Force Smuggler and Nyota's Heart like this.
  3. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2012
    I would argue that it goes deeper than that. After all, Anakin Skywalker was written as the Sith baddie, yet he has legions fans. People hated on Jacen even before he turned all...crappy.
  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Hi, this grabbed me first because of the central protagonist being Danni =D= I kept hoping she and Jacen would make a go of things romance wise :p After reading your thoughtful reviews, @};- I know I'll enjoy this greatly. :cool:
    SiouxFan likes this.
  5. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2012
    For the longest time I thought I was alone in liking Danni Quee! I've crushed on her for years, and this from an unabashed J/TK fan. Thanks for the vote of confidence; although I'm not sure JL will agree on the 'thought provoking' part! ;)
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  6. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    You can't compare the two Sith. We were introduced to Darth Vader as a Sith and not as Anakin Skywalker. I would imagine if the movies were released in order from EP1-EP6, the way Vader was perceived might be different. We didn't get to know Anakin prior to his fall. We didn't have that horrible sense of betrayal when Vader killed Obi-Wan. I dare say if we got to know and love young Obi-Wan then this death by the hand of his former padawan would have been more shocking. When the prequels came out we already knew what the end result was going to be.

    We got to know Jacen in the YJK books and then in the regular profic novels. Some people liked him and some didn't. The same way some people like Mara Jade and some didn't. I really liked Jacen, but there was nothing likable about him in the LOTJ books. He was written as evil and the only halfway redeeming thing he did at the end was save his wife and daughter.

    Also, killing the wife of the Grand Master didn't help the way Jacen is perceived. I do think if he was turned back before he committed too many atrocities he could have been redeemed like Kyp was...especially if he spent the rest of his life doing good Kyp did.

    What I will admit is the readers have a very hard time reading fanfics with Jacen in it even if they are set in a time frame prior to the Vong War. It is like we see him in a fanfic and it triggers all those bad memories that were the LOTJ novels.

    It would be like reading a novel about the hero of Fort Ticonderoga and the Battle of Saratoga knowing the brave soldier depicted in the novel would one day become America's greatest traitor--Benedict Arnold. You just can't get into it.

    :p Hey, SiouxFan , I was looking forward to a thought provoking review to my epilogue. I was disappointed that I didn't get a beating for the sappy happy ending...or to the uniform Mark was wearing in the fanart. ;)
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  7. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2012
    ^^^So it's easier to accept really heinous acts as long as we don't see them? I find that...disturbing. I do agree with your fanfic statement, and that was what I was trying to point out in your story. If you had written that story where the roles were reversed, where Mark would have been the one to have the brush with Lumiya with Jacen doing the mind-rub, you would have gotten a TON of backlash.

    To tie this to Benedict Arnold: nothing happens in a vacuum, Arnold had some (not totally invalid) reasons for doing what he did. Furthermore, from a different point of view, the entire Congress were acting as traitors. If the British had won (a very real possibility), we would have a holiday for what Arnold had done to end the insurrection. History is written by the winners, and that is just as true in our little EU as it is in life.

    As to the review: I actually loved the vague-ish ending where you leave us wondering how much Jacen remembered of the events leading up to Myrkr. Truth be told, I was expecting a 'watered-down' (my words) version of Jacen and was really excited that you didn't go that route. I had actually written two different reviews for the last chapter, but I could never really portray my gratitude of what you did with Jacen and Tenel Ka correctly. My words just I know that everyone else, with the possible exception of Jade, cringed when they saw my interlocking ND, so I figured it would be better to sit out the conclusion. From my POV, your story was fantastically complex and I hope that you will be as intriguingly frustrated with my story as I was with yours!

    I will say, however, that Mark's uniform was a bit...much! ;)
  8. Ceillean

    Ceillean Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Nov 13, 2001
    Ooooh, intriguing start here.
    I suppose I'm one of few fans who actually like Jacen. Granted, he annoyed the hell out of me during NJO but then Vegere showed up and made him so much more interesting. He became quite twisted, I think. Personally, I enjoyed how he turned, although the authors could have chosen not to make it too clichéd, I'll give you that much. Jacen, or rather Caedus, could have been so amazingly awesome.
    And I've always enjoyed Danni's character more than Tenel Ka. I admit it.
    Looking forward where you're going with this. Would you tag me when you update?
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  9. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2012
    ^^^Well, I guess that makes...three of us. For reasons that will sound much too nerdy for me to get into, I have always been a fan of Jacen Solo. I was okay with LotF up until he Inferno. His burning of Kashyyk was one of the two things in the entire series that I cannot stand him doing. IMO, Jacen became a baddie to sell books because they didn't have any better ideas. I don't know that I like Danni better, but I do like her as much as Tenel Ka. For someone who has been around as long as she has, TK has been tragically underwritten and misunderstood. And Danni? She was just written off altogether--I'm not sure which is worse.

    Here is chapter two. Ceillean, Jade_eyes, Jedi_Lover

    Chapter 2: Behind Grey Eyes

    A/N: Gadell Vessau, and the backstory of how he and Tenel Ka became friends, belongs to Hexterah and is used with permission. This chapter will deviate a bit from the ‘official’ SW histories, but I did it for the sake of adding depth to the Hapan Consortium; we still don’t know much at all about Hapan politics, other than the Nobles wanting to kill each other, and I find that unacceptable. As an aside, I’ve only read LotF once, so any inconsistencies, unless noted, are purely accidental.

    O O(___)O O
    Early morning was Commander Gadell Vessau’s favorite time of day. Not because he was morning person because, truth be told--he wasn’t, and it wasn’t because the early morning hours were quiet, although that helped. Since taking over the job as head of Palace Security, most of his workdays were spent dealing with administrative ‘emergencies’. Compounding this problem was the fact that his title had little due to with his actual duties. He was also the Chief of Consortium Intelligence--a job that did not exist, at least not officially.

    After she assumed the throne as Queen Mother, Tenel Ka’s goal was to make Hapes less removed from the galaxy as a whole. She had no desire to become part again of the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances; she saw the Alliance as too unwieldy, too shortsighted, and too uncertain--plus the new name for the Alliance was just too...awkward. No, Tenel Ka thought it best for the Consortium to remain independent. However, the Queen Mother wanted to expand Hapes’ influence--hence, Gadell’s ‘off-the-record’ real job. Tenel Ka Chume Ta’ Djo would continue her mother’s legacy…
    O O(___)O O

    Teneniel learned an awful truth when she assumed the throne: Ta’a Chume had been lying to the Hapan public. Not a horrible lie, as lies go, but a lie nonetheless. Ta’a Chume maintained that it was the Hapan Navy that had kept the Empire at bay; that Palpatine was afraid of their Battle Dragons. To be sure, the Home Fleet was, and is, a formidable force; but the fact remained that the Imperial Navy, at the height of its power, would have had little trouble wiping out the Hapan fleet. No, the reason that Palpatine did not subjugate the Consortium as he had almost everyone else was that Hapes had nothing to offer him. After his deformities set upon him by Mace Windu, he had no use for beautiful women and he already had access to vast sums of money: the two things for which Hapes was renown. In his mind, the Hapes Consortium remained a bunch of vain, old bitties complaining over tea. In order to keep up appearances, he offered Ta’a Chume terms in which the Empire would remain clear of Hapan Space in exchange for ‘hush money’. In turn, Ta’a Chume was allowed to maintain that the Empire was actually leery of the Hapan Fleet. Because of this lie, the Hapan Consortium had become a self-important bunch of nobodies. No one gave Hapes much thought; and if they did, it was only to mock them. To the new Queen Mother, this was unfathomable; Hapans sat on mountains of money and they did nothing with it.

    For the entirety of her rein, Teneniel spent most of her time starting programs to ensure the Hapes Consortium actually did matter to the rest of the galaxy. When Teneniel assumed the throne, she convinced Isolder that just because the Consortium was incredibly rich, it did not mean the system was wealthy. Teneniel understood that money was only worth something if you spent it. Even though she had never taken an Economics class, Teneniel grasped one of the fundamental truths of business: it takes money to make money. With this in mind, she started to reform the Consortium’s universities. For over a millennium, Hapan women had been envied for their beauty; Teneniel wanted them to be envied for their intellect as well. The new Queen Mother launched a program to make Hapan universities the premier schools in the galaxy in two fields: engineering, especially the fields of electrical, aeronautical, and propulsion engineering; and medicine, a field that much of the galaxy had left to droids. Ta’a Chume scoffed at the idea of only targeting two areas, “One dreams big, or one doesn’t dream at all,” she had caustically said to her son. Teneniel, not being as shortsighted as her predecessor, was undeterred. The new Queen Mother knew that in order to have an outstanding engineering program, a university also has to have excellent mathematics and computer science programs; to have an exceptional medical school, a university also needed great chemistry and biology programs. Her ‘two’ programs suddenly became six. She told Isolder to hire the brightest professors he could find, and to give them carte blanche to spend whatever necessary to ensure that their students would be the best anywhere.

    Before long, Hapes’ engineering schools were producing more graduates than the established shipbuilders could absorb, even with Teneniel’s rebuilding of the Hapan Navy. Some of these young women started working for the esteemed Kuat Drive Yards, Incom, and the shipyards of Mon Calamari. Not satisfied with some of the more ‘pedestrian’ offerings in the personal spacecraft market, some of the more entrepreneurial graduates even started their own firms. These young women designed and built ‘yachts’ that would outperform just about everything else out there, and look stunning doing it. Indeed, in the intervening two decades, Hapan-built yachts have become the most sought after in the galaxy.

    Hapes, of course, is still Hapes and it holds that vanity still reigns supreme. Because of this, plastic surgery remains the hardest rotation to get accepted into as a medical intern, a fact that so horrified Teneniel that she considered putting out a moratorium and not allow any new interns into plastic surgery for five years. Doctors using their much-needed skills for beauty? It made her stomach roil and she could hear her mother-in-law’s laughter from across the palace. Before she could enact her hiring freeze, however, the galaxy found itself embroiled in the war against the Yuuzhan Vong. Suddenly, the same specialty that enraged the Queen Mother became the one that she came to admire the most. Tens of thousands of military troops, many with horribly deforming burns, terrible scars, or even missing limbs were made as whole as possible because of the talent and dedication of Hapan plastic surgeons. As a point of pride, none of the surgeons accepted payment from the Alliance for these operations, and the Crown covered the cost of the hospital stay. One noted surgeon was quoted in the press: “I’ve made a fortune giving women new boobs. But to see a young soldier regain the use of her hand, be able to walk again, or simply be able to look at herself with pride in the mirror again…this I do for free.”

    With these starting points, Teneniel helped to make the Consortium wealthy. Tenel Ka would continue these programs, of course, and she saw an excellent opportunity to increase the amount of men in Happen universities, something almost unheard of in her Grandmother’s day. However, Tenel Ka also wanted to expand the Consortium’s political influence. Knowing that ‘knowledge is power’, Tenel Ka’s first order of business was to re-start the Consortium’s Intelligence Service. Hapes’ civilian intelligence agency had been disbanded generations ago and they were forced to cobble one together during the Vong war, but she needed something more manageable. When she had first approached Gadell with the idea of starting an organized intelligence service, he was skeptical that the Hapans themselves would stop conniving against each other long enough to actually gather any useful, actionable, intelligence. Tenel Ka had persisted, “Hapan’s love intrigue more than life itself. All we have to do is convince them to focus those talents away from the Consortium.”

    Using pretty much all of her political capital that she had at the time, and knowing that her monarchy would most likely collapse if her idea failed, Tenel Ka finagled the Ruling Council to give her a Five-Year Charter to start a program called ‘Her Majesty’s Commerce Attaches’. Forty young women selected from an applicant pool of around two hundred made up the first class of ‘Attaches’; most of whom were not technically ‘volunteers’, they were simply strong-armed into applying by their mothers, who saw the program as a way to gain favor with the Crown on the off-chance that the program actually succeeded.

    Having ‘borrowed’ the idea from Talon Karrde, she modeled her new program off of his organization. In much the same way that Karrde used his vast organization of businesses to further his intelligence brokering; her ‘Attaches’ would be accountants, engineers, doctors, computer analysts; all of whom would go work for legitimate business abroad and, on the side, gather information to pass back to Hapes. Just as Karrde considered himself a mere information broker, Tenel Ka also planned to share this acquired data with all pertinent parties. However, she saw several shortcomings to Karrde’s organization. Firstly, whereas his organization was a business first and an intelligence service only as a side benefit, the ‘Attaches’ business was intelligence. The biggest advantage, however, was one of resources. As vast as Karrde’s organization is, it still pales in comparison to the amount of time and money that the Hapes Consortium can bring to bear. Furthermore, Karrde can only pass on information and hope that other act upon it; Hapes has the advantage of having a large, modern navy and can add extra pressure to worlds with more than just words: there is something to be said for ‘gun-boat diplomacy’, after all.

    The initial portion of training consisted of six weeks of intense physical training, including hand-to-hand combat lessons, some of it given by the Queen Mother herself. Also, they received training with sophisticated communication equipment and the procedures to follow to destroy the encryption codes in case they were in danger of being compromised. Not wanting to re-invent the wheel, and not having time to properly set up a training course, all the ‘Attaches’ were then sent to Karrde’s organization where they would learn the fine art of ‘hiding in plain sight’ from Shada D’ukal. Tenel Ka did not worry about teaching her ‘students’ what to look for; she understood that the women of Hapes took to intrigue like a fish to water. The trick was to not look like you were looking for something.

    When their training was completed, Tenel Ka addressed this first class of forty young women at a private ceremony in the Palace Ballroom:

    O O(___)O O

    “Ladies, after today your life will not be the same. When you leave here today, you will not have the normal life that your friends and family enjoy. After today, most people, most governments, will view you as spies. I say this not to frighten you, but to impress upon you the seriousness of the mission that I will send you on.”

    “It will not matter to them that for the majority of your assignments you will be performing legitimate work on behalf of legitimate businesses. If anyone were to find out that you report to me, you will be viewed as a spy. Rest assured, I will do everything in my power to protect each and every one of you.”

    “In many regards, your life will become like mine. You will not be able to confide fully in anyone, even those closest to you. You will see dangers, both real and imagined at every turn. You will be forced to keep secrets from your own family. They will not understand the pressures that your new posting will entail. But believe this: I understand. I live the same life.”

    “Your families have been keeping a dangerous secret from you: They expect you to fail. They expect you to fail because they expect me to fail. Look at me; here I stand, younger than all of you, trying to be Queen. Here I stand with my half-arm, trying to be whole. Here I stand as a Jedi, trying to be Hapan. I am such a pathetic excuse for a Queen, that my own Grandmother expects my reign to be short.”

    “The Ruling Council has an even more destructive secret: They want you to fail. They need you to fail because they want me to fail. They tolerated my mother; they will not tolerate this half-breed, disfigured Jedi. They want Hapes to remain as it is: a rich consortium that the galaxy largely scoffs at. However, I know what they do not: We can be better!”

    “With you acting as my eyes, we can make Hapes great. Through your eyes, we can see what needs to be changed. We can make this Consortium the envy of the galaxy, not merely because we are rich, but because we know. We will wield influence because we have seen.”

    “Sisters, I have placed my future in your hands. However, I am not afraid. Let them see what the smart, tough, independent women of Hapes can do.”

    O O(___)O O

    Somewhere in the public reception that followed, one of the new Attaches started telling her family that she, and all of the others, had become “The Queen’s Eyes.” Somebody then jested, “Well, your uniforms are the wrong color, then. (They were all wearing dark blue uniforms) The Queen’s eyes are grey.” And so, ‘Her Majesty’s Commerce Attaches’ unofficially became known as the ‘Grey Eyes’ (Complete with grey uniforms, of course).

    Like any other new venture, the early results from the program were a tad disappointing. However, as the ‘Eyes’ became more experienced, the quality of their reporting increased. With time, information gained from these young women had been passed to local planetary authorities and used to break up a large organized-crime cartels, sentient-being trafficking cases, even an assassination plot against a Kuati parliamentarian. Perhaps most surprising was evidence that the Mon Calamari Shipyards had been over-charging the Alliance for dry-dock maintenance. When the Mon Cal government tried to brush the information under the rug, Tenel Ka herself got involved, threatening to leak to the press the information and ruining the reputation of their most important industry. As it stands, the Bothans still get the bulk of notoriety for espionage, but it is ‘Her Majesty’s Commerce Attaches’ who do the heavy lifting.

    Perhaps most remarkable was attitude of the ‘Eyes’ themselves. Almost to an individual, they told their friends and family that being an ‘Eye’ was the best job anywhere. They got to do interesting work, for interesting companies, in interesting places, they were encouraged to spy and to plot, and Her Majesty paid them to do it! In turn, Tenel Ka has become very attached to her ‘Eyes’. She makes it a point to attend all of their weddings, sends gifts when they have children, and, on sad occasions, attended funerals. In the ten years since it has started, getting a job with ‘Her Majesty’s Commerce Attaches’ has become the most desired job in the system. What was once forced upon youngest daughters who had no other future, now accepts only the brightest women, and men, from Hapan universities.
    O O(___)O O

    Smiling at his recollection of his first days in office, Gadell perused the intelligence reports that had been generated overnight, his smile fading when he read one of the reports from Coruscant. Interesting. Placing that report to the side, he went through the rest of briefs, separating out a couple others that he deemed pertinent to Her Majesty, and left his office. As he approached the main door to the Royal Apartment, he smiled at the Sergeant who has sitting at her desk. Rising, she gave Gadell a curt nod, “Go on in Commander; Her Majesty just returned from her morning run.”

    The Chief of Security nodded his thanks and entered through the heavy mahogany door. Once inside the royal apartment, he noticed several luggage cases on his left, against the wall and frowned, trying to remember Her Majesty’s schedule. Right, she leaves today for the annual meeting of Governors. The Queen Mother hosted an annual retreat for all of the governors of the sixty-three worlds of the Consortium, it was a way for all of them to get together without the trappings of office and informally discuss matters affecting the cluster.

    Tenel Ka was sitting out on the veranda reading one of her morning reports and drinking a caf, her back to him, still in her running apparel. As he made his way to the outside door, a smile crossed his face. This is why mornings were his favorite time of day. He got to see his queen as she was: no formality, no pretense, just he and her.

    Gadell had known her since he was eight and she six. His mother was an up-and-coming Lieutenant Commander in the Hapan Navy (she would eventually become a Rear Admiral) and had been assigned to the Palace as the Military Liaison when Teneniel was Queen Mother. Teneniel had taken a liking to him, and let him come to the Palace after school. Tenel Ka helped him do his homework, and he gave her someone to run around with in the gardens. After four years, his mother’s assignment was up and she had to transfer back to fleet duty, so Gadell moved in with his Grandmother. (In true Hapan fashion, his mother had no idea where his father was) Teneniel wanted her daughter to have at least one friend and he was allowed to continue coming to the Palace after class. When it became time for both of them to leave the Palace, her to attend the Jedi Academy and he to follow in his mother’s footsteps at the Naval Academy, he had assumed that his crush on his red-haired friend would disappear. It wasn’t until she assumed the throne and asked him to work for her as Chief of Palace Security that he realized that his ‘crush’ had turned into something else entirely. He could never admit it to anyone, of course, but he loved his friend. He knew that she did not, and would not, love him in return, but that did not matter to Gadell--Tenel Ka liked him, he was one of the few people that she trusted implicitly, and he would content himself with that. As Chief of Palace Security, he got to see her every day; and see her as she was, not as she was expected to be. He had done his Navy career no favors by remaining in his current post for so long, and he would never advance past his rank of Commander, but he was past caring.

    “Good morning, Tenna.” He called as he made his way through the door to the veranda, using the nickname that he had given her on a lark not too long after she had assumed the Crown.

    Tenel Ka glanced up from her report and gave him a slight smile. Gadell was one of only three people that she allowed to call her by anything other than her name or title. She gestured at the assortment of pastries on the table, indicating that he should join her. “Good morning. What is the news from the ‘overnights’?”

    Gadell sighed inwardly as he grabbed a chocolate croissant and poured a cup of caf, Tenel Ka was never one for idle chitchat. Sitting to her left at the corner of the table, “The Chiss and the Imperial Remnant have started preparations for their bi-annual joint-fleet exercises. This year, it will be near Csilla.”

    She nodded and looked over at him, picking up on his slightly expectant tone. “You think that we should ask to take part?” This was part of their plan, after all; their plan to become an integral part of the post-Vong galaxy.

    The Naval Commander gave her a small smile as he finished his bite of croissant. “I do. It’s probably too late for this year, but I think that we should make overtures to Csilla and Bastion to be included in two years.” He paused to take a sip of caf, “We have only had exercises amongst our own services, and it would be good to see how we stack up against someone like the Remnant.”

    Again, she nodded and made a note on her data pad with a satisfied look on her face. “I agree. I will take this up with Lieutenant Commander Roeder later this morning.” Referring to her daily briefing with the current Hapan Military Liaison. She paused, making another note, “I’ll also schedule a meeting with Minister Xana’a and Ambassador….” She grimaced and looked to Gadell for help.

    He chuckled. “Thule. Artemis Thule.” Mr. Thule was the Imperial Remnant’s Ambassador to the Hapes Consortium, Erinae Xana’a was one of the last members to remain from Teneniel’s Cabinet; she had been the Foreign Minister for as long as Gadell could remember.

    Taking a bite of her breakfast sandwich, the red-haired queen shrugged, as if to say, ‘I cannot remember everyone.’ Somehow, Gadell doubted that he would have to remind her of the Remnant Ambassador’s name next time. As she wiped the corner of her mouth, she looked pointedly at her Security Chief, “All right, what is the bad news?”

    Vessau grimaced, handing her another briefing sheet. She won’t like this. “Apparently, the GAG is rounding up all of the Corellians that are currently living on Coruscant; ostensibly for their safety.” He saw her lovely face cloud over as she read the report. Softly, he asked, “What’s he playing at, Tenna?”

    She snapped her head around and gave Gadell an icy glare. “He is trying to ensure the safety all Alliance citizens.” He could see the turmoil in her steel-grey eyes. Raising an eyebrow, he kept his eyes on hers. After a few moments, she turned her head and looked down at her lap, murmuring, more to herself than to him, “I…I do not know. We rarely talk anymore. Not like we used to.”

    She fell quiet again and continued to stare into her lap. “I am losing him to someone and I do not know what to do about it.” The red-haired queen looked up and stared off into the distance. “I can feel him sliding away and I keep telling myself that I will confront him when I see him.” Tenel Ka paused a long moment before continuing. “But, when he visits my brain shuts down; I see the pain written on his soul and all I want to do is soothe his anguish.”

    Tenel Ka glanced at her friend, “He has been my anchor for ages.” Gesturing to her left arm, “When he came here to the Palace after our ‘incident’, I realized that Jacen would always be there for me.” Her voice dropped to a whisper, “Part of me died at Myrkr, and I was adrift for a long time.” Gadell only nodded, he remembered all to well the shell of a person that Tenel Ka had become after her return from that mission. Her eyes again returned to the gardens, as she was once again lost in her memories.

    Quietly, she continued, “He never gave up on me. Jacen Solo knew about the caring girl underneath my ‘ice-princess’ exterior, even when most did not.” Taking a deep breath to regain control, “I used to hide all of my emotions, and everyone ridiculed me for it.” She again looked over at her friend, “He used to wear his emotions on his sleeve, and everyone ridiculed him for it--it was no wonder we became friends.” Tenel Ka smiled slightly, “Jacen taught me how to be more open, and I love him for it.” Her smile disappeared, “Unfortunately, I taught him how to hide, and I hate myself for doing that.”

    The queen didn’t know why she was telling her Security Chief any of this; he must have much more important things to do other than listen to his boss babble on like a lovesick teenager. She glanced at Gadell, who was continuing to look at her, concern on his face. Encouraged, she continued softly, “I am so afraid of starting a fight, that I do not say much of anything when he is here. I used to tell him everything; now I tell him nothing.” Her voice was now devoid of any emotion, “I cannot do this anymore. I am adrift again, just like after Myrkr—except this is worse. I thought him dead then, now he is just…gone.” Her voice fell to a whisper, “I preferred dead.” She paused, searching for words. “Allana needs him. I need him. I cannot give up on him.”

    Gadell’s face fell, his heart breaking. His best friend had never confessed the depth of her feelings for Jacen Solo, and it was killing him. He could see the sorrow in his friend’s posture. He reached for her hand, “Tenel Ka…”

    “Do not.” She snapped, louder than she had intended, and jerked her hand away from his. “Do not.” She repeated, softer this time. “Just…” go. She wanted to say the word, but could not, not to him. It would sound too much like a Royal dismissal, and she would not dismiss her friend; it would open a chasm between them, a chasm that neither of them would be able to bridge.

    Commander Vessau nodded sadly, fully understanding what she was about to say. Leaving her to her thoughts, he picked up the tray with the remaining croissants and cheeses and made his leave back to his office, dropping off the breakfast tray at the guard station outside the Royal Apartment for the on-duty security detail to have, as he had every morning for the last ten years.

    The Queen Mother remained in her chair and watched the sun rise above the trees of the gardens for a few minutes. What is he playing at? Sighing, she made her way to her suite to take a shower and change before starting her day in earnest. On the way, her new attendant joined her. A petite girl of fifteen, with sandy-blonde hair, dark brown eyes and a face full of freckles, Corda had just started being the Queen Mother’s personal attendant last month. Every year, Tenel Ka selected a teenager from one of the Noble Houses to serve as her attendant as a way of maintaining friendly relations with the remaining nobility. Unfortunately, it also meant that she had to constantly train someone new as to her tastes. At least Corda was punctual. Her last attendant was always fifteen to twenty minutes late. Using her ‘all-business’ voice, “Corda, please select a pant-suit for today. We are leaving this afternoon for the Star Home, and I want to be comfortable for the flight there.”

    Dutifully making notes on her datapad as they made their way down the corridor and entered the Master Suite, Corda nodded. “Yes, your Majesty. Anything else?”

    Tenel Ka stopped outside her refresher door, “Yes. Clear my lunch schedule; I would like to have something done with my hair. Call….” What is it with me and names today?

    “Henri?” Corda supplied.

    The queen snapped her fingers. “Yes. Have him here at 11:30.” She turned to go into the refresher, but stopped and turned back around, she did not mean to be so gruff with her attendant. “Thank you.”

    Corda looked confused for a second, and then gave her a smile. “Certainly, Your Majesty.”

    As she was drying herself off after her quick shower, her comlink chirped. Grumbling something about getting five minutes of ‘alone’ time, she answered.

    “Sorry for the interrupting, Queen Mother.” It was Gadell, “The Solo Journey is on approach to the city. Should I allow him to land here at the Palace?”

    She sighed; too many questions would arise if he were to be seen entering the palace gate by speeder. “Allow him to land here. Send him to my apartment when he arrives.”

    “As you wish. Vessau out.” Even over the comm, Tenel Ka could hear the concern in his voice.
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  10. Tarsier

    Tarsier Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jul 31, 2005
    Although I'm not familiar with any of the characters from the first chapter, I did find it very interesting. So far I like Danni. :)

    Love the background on Hapes, and especially the idea of learning from Karrde's company.

    I'm interested to see where you take this!
  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Brilliant expansion on Hapan society. Fantab characterization of Tenel Ka =D= I like the introduction of Gadell and his complicated feelings for TK. [face_thinking] Excellent disclosures from Tenel as well, in content and tone. @};-
  12. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2012
    I'm not sure if you meant everybody in chapter 1, or just a few names. If it's the former, let us know: we can give you all the background information you'll ever want to know! ;) If it's the latter, don't worry too much about it--we know nothing about Danni's mom, other than she was a scientist, so she is pretty much an OC in this chapter.

    Not to give anything away, but this story will be just as much about Danni Quee as it is about Jacen Solo.

    My second biggest gripe about the EU (2 guesses as to my first!) is that the political aspect of society has been largely ignored. I get that SW does not lend itself to political thrillers, but Leia was Chief-of-State for quite a few years and you'd think we'd have a decent idea of what the Cabinet is or how the Chief's office works. Hapes is even less developed--all everyone writes about is their back-stabbing nature, but Hapes is a fully functioning society. It cannot be that all Hapans think like this, or their society would break down. To be such a wealthy society, there has to be a functioning civil service, an unbiased court system, a well-paid police, and so on. Don't worry, I'm not turning this into a civics lesson, but I want Tenel Ka's Consortium to be better than just a bunch of insufferable nobles trying to kill each other.

    I hope to do Tenel Ka justice in this--she is such an amazingly complex character and most people don't bother to write her as such.
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  13. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2012
    @Tarsier, Jade_eyes, Ceillean
    Chapter 3—Destination Unknown

    Tenel Ka supposed that she should be excited to see Jacen; it had been almost a month since his last visit, after all. Frowning, she became lost in her thoughts. Gadell mentioned the Solo Journey? She could not remember the last time Jacen had come to Hapes in his own ship. Usually, he just borrowed one of the Jedi Order’s freighters or, more recently, one of the Lambda-class shuttles that the GAG owned. Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, she made her way out of the ‘fresher to get ready for her day.

    Returning to her bedroom, she nodded appreciatively at the outfit that Corda had laid out; a grey, pinstriped jacket and pants, with a coordinating light blue blouse. Corda picked up on her clothing moods better than her previous attendant, and she never tried to guess at Tenel Ka’s taste in shoes, always allowing the Queen Mother to select her own. Corda re-entered the suite, having returned from making the call to the hairdresser. “You are all set for 11:30.” Corda announced, kneeling behind Tenel Ka at the vanity. As her attendant proceeded to dry and braid her hair, the Queen Mother applied some light make-up.

    After finishing with the cosmetics, she released Corda for the time being, telling her to grab some breakfast from kitchen and asked her to bring up something for Allana. She then proceeded to get dressed, leaving the jacket off for the time being. As she made her way to the living room, she reached out and tried to get a sense for where Jacen was and found…nothing. Jacen’s recent habit of hiding in the force concerned her and she made a mental note to talk to him about it. Reaching the end of the hall, she found that Jacen was already in her apartment, looking out the windows to the terrace and gardens beyond, hands clasped behind his back. He turned as he heard her approach, and she looked over his visage with a careful eye: Jacen looked tired...chronically tired. He tried to give her his famous smile as he made his way over to her, but only managed a wane smirk. She felt him reach out to her, but even his Force presence seemed fatigued. Why do you hide?

    Habit. Jacen replied, followed by a sigh, I’ll tell you later.

    Somehow, she doubted that he would, but she offered him a slight smile as he approached and gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

    “Force, I’ve missed you.” He breathed into her ear, keeping the embrace short for decorum. The Palace was coming alive, and Jacen knew from experience that her staff barged in unannounced in the mornings. Separating, but still holding her hand, Jacen started their ritual conversation, “Thank you for seeing me, Your Majesty. How have you been?”

    Tenel Ka merely shrugged. “I have been…well. It has been too long, friend Jacen. Who do I have to talk to so that you can visit more often?”

    The GAG Colonel chuckled. “I’ll tell Chief Omas to expect your call.” He tried for a better smile and nodded over to the luggage stacked against the far wall, “Who’s moving in?”

    The Queen Mother sighed slightly; she had hoped that her luggage would have been taken to her shuttle by now. And now the fight begins. “I am leaving this afternoon for the Home One to attend the annual Conference of Governors. I will be out of the Palace for five days.”

    Jacen frowned. “Five days? Where does that leave time for us? I did fly all this way to see you.” Giving her a small smirk, he continued, “Why don’t you postpone this conference for a couple of days.”

    His smirk was trying to indicate that he said this in jest, but his tone told her that he exptected her to do just that--postpone her trip for him. Appalled by the arrogance of his request, she let her tone frosted over a touch; “This conference has been a tradition for over two hundred years and is organized six months in advance. I cannot postpone.” Her voice got dangerously quiet, “Perhaps if you would have commed first, I would have informed you that this week was not a good one for a visit.”

    Jacen allowed his own voice to become icy; he was not about to be pushed around be the Queen Mother. “I do have other duties, you know. I was merely trying to be spontaneous.” His tone became arrogant, “However, if you’d rather spend your time with your knitting circle, be my guest.”

    Tenel Ka became incensed. From her point of view, Jacen’s ‘spontaneous’-ness seemed to be more like checking in on her. Furthermore, she did not expect him to be so condescending towards what she was trying to accomplish; until recently, he understood all the effort she put in to make Hapes better and his tone almost felt like betrayal. Retorting, almost at a yell, “I have spent a decade pushing for democratic reforms from the planetary ruling councils, and I am finally making real progress. Do not expect me to drop everything for you simply because you feel ‘lonely’.”

    Jacen dropped his gaze. He deserved the rebuke; he was trying to pick a fight, after all. What was wrong with them? He could hear the quotations around her last word. Did she really feel that he only came to see her just for that? Being with her was his only refuge in his stormy life. Chagrined, he whispered, “That’s not why I come.” He peered into her still blazing grey eyes.

    Her eyes softened as she quietly admitted, “I know.” Tenel Ka opened her mouth to say more, when a red-haired blur came flying around the corner.

    Allana was running at top speed, her nightgown billowing behind her, “Jedi Jacen!” she yelled, launching herself into his waiting arms. Jacen picked her up and spun her around a couple of times, eliciting an excited screech and Tenel Ka noticed that his smile was genuine this time.

    “Allana! How’s my favorite Princess?” Jacen asked, kissing her forehead before he put her back down.

    Allana shrugged, mimicking her mother’s mannerism, “Fine.” Her face grew serious, “Have you come to be my nanny while Mother is at her meeting?”

    “I…” Jacen intended to say that he couldn’t; that he was going to return to Coruscant just as soon as Tenel Ka left, but the pleading look in Allana’s eyes made him change his mind. He could feel her desire to spend time with him, just the two of them. What good would it do to save the galaxy for his daughter, if he could not spend time with her? As he smiled at his daughter, he answered lightly, “…I have. But, I can only stay for three days. Is that okay?”

    Allana seemed to give it a thought for a second before giving him a big smile. Nodding, she answered, “That is acceptable.” Jacen’s smile increased at her reply. Allana looked at her mother, “I shall go get dressed!” With that she disappeared down the hall, rushing to her room.

    After Allana raced back to her bedroom, Tenel Ka grabbed Jacen’s hand and gave it an affectionate squeeze. “Care to escort me to my ‘office’ before Allana monopolizes the rest of your day?” She asked, with a small sparkle in her eye. Maybe some father-daughter time would be good for him.

    “Of course.” He replied, picking up on her thoughts.
    O O(___)O O

    It had not taken Danni very long to pack up all of her belongings, the time spent in Ex-Gal and the military had taught her to travel light, and besides, there was little shopping to be had on a self-sufficient planet. If she were to be honest with herself, she would admit to being a little afraid of leaving her home for the last ten years but, there was little more that she could accomplish on Zonoma. Still unsure about her next course of action, she boarded her ship, a Lambda-class shuttle that Jacen Solo had given her before she left for Zonoma Sekot after the war….

    O O(___)O O

    Jacen had taken her down to the spaceport on their last day together before she left. They stood at the entrance to his ship; one he had only had a couple of months. “I want you to have it. The Lambda was always my favorite type of ship as a kid: the way the wings fold and the sound its engines make when hyperspace is engaged always remind me of the hawk-bats on Coruscant.” He smiled at her, looking rueful. “I know that it’s a relic, and I didn’t get a chance to finish all of the modifications that it needs, but I’d like you to have it.”

    Danni did not know what to say, people don’t just give ships as goodbye gifts. “I can’t take your ship, not knowing what it means to you.”

    Jacen smiled, and Danni felt her heart skip at the twinkle in his brown eyes. “You will need it far more than me. You will need a ship that is yours to be able to escape from Zonoma from time to time.” Danni smiled, she suspected that to be true.

    He continued, “Anyway, you’ll take care of it far better than me. I don’t know what kind of repair facilities I’ll find on my sojourn, so I will need a ship that isn’t quite so old.” His smile said that he didn’t really think the ship old, and was trying to make it sound like he wasn’t really attached to a ship. The fact that they both knew him to be lying made it mean that much more.

    “I’ll accept; but only if you accompany me on a ‘shake-down’ cruise.” She winked, seeing if he could get the hint.

    Jacen was sometimes slow when it came to girls, but he wasn’t that slow. “Deal.” His grin becoming bigger as he took her arm and accompanied her up the ramp. The two of them had come up with the name for her new ship sometime during that flight: Belkadan Survivor.

    O O(___)O O

    Danni sat in the cockpit of her ship, trying to decide where to start. She wanted to find out more about Nelani, as she did not want to confront Jacen about the crime of murder without more solid evidence than just a series of dreams. The Jedi Council had deemed her worthy enough to allow her remote access to the Jedi Archives, even though they did not think her acceptable as a Jedi. Unfortunately, that access did not include their personnel records. Sighing, she knew what her next destination was and keyed it into the navicomputer: Coruscant.

    A/N: As you can probably tell, I am changing a bit of EU 'History' for the sake of story-telling. I never really liked the way that Jacen and Danni's relationship seemed to slowly develop and then...'I know where she'll be'. Ugh. For the sake of my story, he and Danni had the 'fling' that was hinted at on their journey to find Zonoma Sekot.
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  14. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    Jacen the player. ;)
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    [face_laugh] JL. SiouxFan, brilliant J/TK dynamics and undercurrents reflected in the dialogue. Very well done. You can actually feel them pulling in two different directions. [face_thinking] @};-
  16. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2012
    When NJO was coming out I kept looking forward to a little J/TK romance, and that gets interrupted by Vergere; needless to say, I was a bit discouraged. I was heartened later by the expectation of a little J/D romance, and that gets interrupted by Denning. Anakin and Tahiri get a nice scene, Jaina gets a nice scene in Ylesia (and a creepier one in the Swarm War). Jacen gets..."I'll know where she'll be..." followed by the worst quid quo pro arrangement in the EU. Yes, I'm ranting, and yes I'm still miffed by the whole damn thing.

    Thanks. Theirs is a hugely complicated relationship, (even without the Sith factor) and I'm hoping that I can portray them half as well as JL did. As an aside, I've been working on this fic since Aug, 2011, so any similarities to 'Sacrifice' is purely accidental. It's also one of the reasons I was reluctant to start posting here on the boards...I didn't want her to think I was ripping off her work because there are a couple of themes that are eerily similar.

    Thanks for reading!
  17. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    Wow! You even give ranting reviews in your own fanfic threads. ;) That's intense my friend. [face_laugh]
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  18. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2012
    A/N: Happy Easter! Ceillean, Jade_eyes, Jedi_Lover, Tarsier.
    Chapter 4: Feeding Time at the Zoo

    Jacen woke up the next morning and he found himself looking into a pair of mostly grey eyes peering at him expectantly. Allana was standing next to his bed in Isolder’s old room, waiting for him to get up; with the Queen Mother gone, Jacen did not think it proper to sleep in her chambers. Still trying to shake the sleep out of his eyes, he groused, “How long have you been standing there, anyway?”

    Allana giggled as she jumped up on the bed, landing mostly on top of him. “Only a little bit. I was trying to wake you up with the Force.” She giggled some more as he tickled her and rolled her over beside him on the bed.

    “Well, it worked.” Jacen added drily. “What should we do today?” He asked as he stroked her hair. When did she get so big?

    “Can we go to the zoo?” Allana asked meekly. “I’ve never been to the zoo.”

    Jacen’s eyes narrowed. Something about the way that she asked made him suspect that she had been told to ask. Wryly, he asked, “Did Mommy tell you to ask about the zoo?” Allana’s eyes widened in surprise; she had been shielding her thoughts, just like Mommy taught. Chuckling, Jacen continued to play with her hair, “No, I didn’t read your thoughts, I just sorta guessed.” His daughter seemed mollified by this. “I would love to take you to the zoo; I haven’t been to one in quite a while.” Allana’s smile lit up the room. “But first, I need to take a shower, you need to get dressed, and we need to eat breakfast. Deal?”

    “Deal. I’ll race you to the kitchen.” She jumped off the bed and raced to her room to get changed. Jacen laughed as he made his way to the ‘fresher.

    Tenel Ka had always insisted that Allana eat breakfast and lunch downstairs in the kitchen at the staff’s table. She did not want her daughter to be overly pampered, and she encouraged Allana to get to know the people who worked so hard to ensure that the Palace ran efficiently. So, as Jacen was coming down the steps leading to the kitchen, he heard Allana busily telling one of the staff members that she was going to the zoo. Jacen smiled and nodded ‘hello’ to the young man who was politely listening to Allana as he was preparing some sort of poultry for dinner.

    “What can I get you for breakfast Colonel Solo?” The chef asked.

    “Please, call me Jacen, and I’ll have some of what she’s having, if you have any left,” pointing to Allana’s bowl. He stood behind Allana and started to put her hair into a loose braid.

    “Certainly. Just a second.” The young man walked over to a crock-pot on the counter and ladled a generous helping of oatmeal into a bowl. “Brown sugar? Cinnamon?” He asked.

    “Both please.” Jacen said, as he finished with Allana’s hair.

    Allana looked at her father quizzically, “When did you learn how to braid hair?”

    Jacen chuckled as Isolder entered the kitchen. “Mom wouldn’t allow my sister to cut her hair short, so I always needed help her braid it when we were getting into things.” He said conspiratorially, winking at Isolder as the Crown Prince sat down.

    “Hey Papa, guess what?” Allana said as she noticed her grandfather for the first time. “Mr. Jacen said that he would take me to the zoo!” The chef chuckled at her obvious enthusiasm.

    “Oh, he did, did he?” Isolder allowed, raising an eyebrow at Jacen, who rolled his eyes in return.

    “Now that the cat is out of the bag,” Jacen admitted wryly, “do you have somebody who wouldn’t mind escorting us. In civvies.” Jacen pointed at his attire, a long-sleeve black t-shirt and blue pants.

    Isolder smirked, “What, a Jedi can’t handle escorting a five-year-old to the zoo?” Jacen only chuckled at the accusation; they both knew that Gadell would have a fit if he found out that Allana left the Palace without at least one Palace guard accompanying them. Isolder looked thoughtful, “I think that I know of someone who wouldn’t mind going. I’ll tell her to meet you at the front entrance in twenty minutes.” Jacen nodded his approval.

    The Prince Consort looked over at Allana, “Sweetie, please go brush go brush your teeth before you go.” Seeing his granddaughter’s best pouty look, he added sternly, “Well, if you don’t want to go….”

    “I do, I do.” Allana yelped as she leapt out of her chair and ran upstairs. Jacen chuckled as she left. Getting the distinct feeling that the Prince wished to talk to him, he turned his attention back to the older man.

    Prince Isolder sighed as his demeanor turned serious, “Look, I probably shouldn’t be telling you this: I like you. You’re a damn sight better than the other yahoos that are still going after my daughter.” He paused, waiting for Jacen’s reaction. The younger man only gave him a cautious smile. Isolder pressed on, “I have gotten the feeling that things between the two of you have become…strained.”

    Jacen could only nod. This conversation was becoming uncomfortable. He really did not want to talk about he and Tenel Ka’s relationship problems with his de facto father-in-law. He tried, and failed, to imagine Jag having this conversation with Han. Sighing in defeat, “It has. Maybe it is just the stress of my new posting, in addition to the stress that Tenel Ka has to deal with daily.”

    “That’s probably it.” Isolder agreed, not really wanting to press the issue. “If ever want any advice…” the Hapan man trailed off before refinding his courage to continue, “…well, I know a thing or two about being in a relationship with the Queen Mother.” He gave Jacen a knowing smile, “I just want to see the three of you be happy.”

    From his tone Jacen gathered that Isolder had deduced, or been told, who Allana’s father was. Oddly, the fact that the Prince knew did not bother Jacen as much as he thought it would. “I’ll keep that in mind.” His tone became sincere, “Thank you, your highness.” Jacen nodded his thanks to the chef as he went upstairs to check on Allana.
    O O(___)O O
    As Danni walked up the stairs to the front entrance of the Jedi Temple, she found herself to be of two minds about the architecture. There was no question that, with its minarets and squared dome, the Temple was an elegant building, she was just confused as to why the Jedi decided to build an exact copy of the previous Temple. On one hand, she supposed that it was a way of telling the galaxy that nothing had changed: that the Jedi were still ‘the guardians of peace and justice’. In her mind, however, the rebuilt Temple was a tad insulting; everything had changed. Trillions of sentient beings had died, billions were still homeless, millions, herself included, had no idea what had ever become of their loved ones and family members. To pretend otherwise was disingenuous and myopic.

    She sighed as she reached the top of the stairs, looking around for a ‘Guest Entrance’. Perversely, she had an identification card to allow access to a building that the issuers of the card never expected her to use.

    The problem with Jedi, she realized, was that they instantly knew if someone was trying to surreptitiously get into the Temple. “Can I help you, miss?” Came a pleasant baritone voice from her left.

    Cringing at being so obviously out of place, she turned in the direction of the voice and found the source of the voice. A young man, possibly in his mid-to-late twenties was looking at her earnestly with his hazel eyes. Fishing her ID card out of her pocket, she answered. “Yes, you can. I’m here to do a bit of research at the library, but I’ve never actually been here before. Can you show me the way to the entrance?”

    “Certainly. You doing some research for school?” He asked, running his eyes quickly over her form, not bothering to ask to see her ID.

    He was smooth, no doubt about it. She knew that he knew she was not a University student, but what woman does not like to be flattered about her appearance? Smiling wryly as she put her ID back in her pocket, “It’s more of a family history project.”

    The young man arched an eyebrow as he led the way to the South entrance. “Really? Do you think you have Jedi ancestors?”

    Danni shrugged, she supposed that there probably was; she had gotten her Force sensitivities from somewhere. “We don’t really know, but I’d like to try to find out.”

    He grimaced as he produced his own ID card and inserted it into a scanner. The machine ‘beeped’ and with an audible ‘click’, the heavy-looking brass door unlocked. Her mystery guide opened the door, letting her enter the Temple first. “I’m afraid our records are…incomplete. With the Emperor’s destruction of much of the old database, and the Vong….” His voice trailed off, clearly pained at what had happened. He shook his head as he led her across the large atrium to a bank of turbolifts. “Anyway, the library is on the eleventh floor. Take a right turn off of the elevator, and the front desk will be right there.”

    Smiling warmly at the young man, “Thank you. You are very kind.”

    It was his turn to smile. If Danni had her guess, his smile had managed to break quite a few hearts, both here on Coruscant and around the galaxy. “You are certainly welcome, Miss…” he held out his hand, expectantly.

    She gave him sly look as he kissed her hand when she went to shake his. Yep, Mr. Smooth. “Danni.”

    Releasing her hand, he again shot her his winning smile, “Pleasure to meet you, Danni. I’m Valin.” He cocked his head to one side, “Perhaps after your research, we could grab some dinner.”

    Danni smiled politely at his approach; Valin’s over-the-top flirtations had probably worked on countless women across the galaxy. Shaking her head, she replied, “I’m much to old for you. Thank you for the offer, though.”

    Valin did not even seem to be bothered by his rejection. Smirking, he replied, “Older simply means that you are more in tune with what you want.” Seeing the ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ look that Danni was giving him, he shrugged. “Good luck on your research, Danni.” He turned and made his way back to the front door. Danni only shook her head in response as she turned and pressed the ‘call button’ for the turbolift.

    Getting off of the ‘lift, she looked to her right, and saw the front desk to the library. Walking up to the teenage girl at the desk, Danni tried her most polite smile. “Good morning. Can you point me in the direction of the personnel records computers?”

    The teen looked confused. Even after a decade of tying to replenish their ranks, there were still not all that many Jedi around, and she had never seen the older woman before. Trying to be courteous, she held out her hand expectantly, “I’ll need to see some ID first, before I can give you access.”

    “Of course.” For the second time that morning, she dug her card out of her pocket. Handing it to the girl, she noticed the young woman’s scowl as she took the card from Danni. “Is something the matter?”

    Eyeing Danni suspiciously, the girl answered, “Where did you get this card?”

    Danni shrugged, “Master Skywalker sent it to me.” She paused, thinking, “It must have been six, seven years ago. Why?”

    Crinkling her face, the teen replied, “I’ve never seen a card like this. I’m going to have to check it out.”

    The blonde woman only grimaced. She had been hoping to get in and out without too much fuss, but it was not looking like that was going to happen. Still, what choice did she have? Sighing resindedly, “Okay.”

    The girl started typing away on the data terminal, trying to ascertain Danni’s credentials. After reading some of the information on the screen, she gave a suspicious look. “It says here that you have remote access to the library. You didn’t need to come here all the way from Zonoma Sekot.”

    Danni offered the teen an ingratiating smile, “My ‘remote access’ does not allow access to the personnel records. They are only accessible from the Temple.” She paused and smiled more genuinely. “Besides, I needed a vacation.”

    At this, the girl chuckled. “I can imagine.” She handed Danni her card back. “Well, it’s an older card, but it checks out. You can access the records you require from any terminal.” She leaned forward, conspirationally, “I recommend stopping by the Security Desk when you are done here, however, and get a new card.”

    Nodding, Danni replied, “I will, thank you.”

    “Certainly, Ms. Quee.” Danni could not help but hear the knowing tone in the teen’s voice. Apparently, she was still being talked about in the Temple. With that thought, Danni could not help but let out a small sigh; even after all this time, the Jedi still considered her departure to be almost traitorous. Pursing her lips, she walked around the desk and started looking for a free terminal, unsure about what to make of her notoriety.

    Finding a terminal in an out-of-the-way corner of the library, Danni only stared at the computer screen for a while, unsure if she really wanted to start looking for Nelani Dinn. What had seemed like a good idea in the abstract when she left Zonoma, now scared the hell out of her. Jacen Solo still meant a great deal to her, and she was not sure if she really wanted to know the truth--sometimes, it really is better to live a lie. Taking a deep breath, she typed in ‘Dinn, Nelani’ into the personnel database.

    Name: Dinn, Nelani.
    Born: 22 September, 17 ABY; Lorrd
    Arrived Jedi Academy, Ossus: 30 ABY
    Completed Jedi Academy: 38 ABY
    Currently Assigned: Lorrd System
    Address: 8261 Kincross Drive, Apt 3C; Arphoe, Lorrd.
    Date of Last Report: March, 40 ABY

    Exhaling in relief, Danni allowed herself to feel hope. As she jotted down the address, she was relieved to note that there was no entry regarding Nelani’s death, Maybe Sekot was mistaken; maybe none of what she had seen had happened. If so, there was a chance that she could stop Jacen from even starting down his dark path.

    She frowned, however, when she read the ‘Last Report’ line again. Three Months? It had been three months since Nelani had contacted the Temple. Surely someone would have taken note and tried to contact her. The galaxy still was a dangerous place; it cannot be that the Order would let a twenty-two-year-old young woman go three months without someone looking in on her. Looking at the screen, Danni’s relief faded like the morning mist. Something has gone wrong.

    Angrily she typed in ‘Solo, Jacen’, mostly because she needed to get Nelani’s accusatory name off of the screen.

    Name: Solo, Jacen.
    Born: 6 June, 9 ABY; Coruscant
    Died: 12 May, 41 ABY
    Arrived Jedi Academy, Yavin: 21 ABY
    Completed Jedi Academy: 25 ABY
    Currently Assigned: Galactic Alliance Guard
    Address: Hancock Residences, Apt 195J; Senate District, Coruscant.
    Date of Last Report: April, 40 ABY

    Glancing down at her flimsi pad, she took down Jacen’s address. Suddenly, her mind fully processed what she had seen. Startled, she looked back at the screen:

    Name: Solo, Jacen.
    Born: 6 June, 9 ABY; Coruscant
    Arrived Jedi Academy, Yavin: 21 ABY
    Completed Jedi Academy: 25 ABY
    Currently Assigned: Galactic Alliance Guard
    Address: Hancock Residences, Apt 9539; Senate District, Coruscant.
    Last Report: April, 40 ABY

    She scowled as she thought back to what she had seen. No, the screen definitely displayed a date for his death: a date almost one year in the future. She leaned back in her chair, her heart racing. Desperately, she tried to make sense of what was happening.

    After staring at the screen for a few minutes, she became aware as a set of rapid, clipped footsteps headed in her direction. Danni allowed a sigh as she realized that her going unnoticed on her first visit to the Temple was now impossible; there were only two people she knew of that could make the very act of walking sound so...angry and she had no real desire to speak to either of them. Resigned, she leaned forward and entered another name into the database.

    The footfalls abruptly stopped behind her as the requested information came up on the screen:

    Name: Veila, Tahiri.
    Born: 24 August, 13 ABY; Tatooine
    Arrived Jedi Academy, Yavin: 24 ABY
    Completed Jedi Academy: 25 ABY
    Currently Assigned: UNK
    Address: UNK
    Last Report: October, 36 ABY

    “Hello, Danni.” The woman behind her said in an over-polite voice.

    Of the two women who somehow seemed to beat the ground into submission with their steps, Danni supposed that the one now behind her was the one she would rather talk to. Refusing to turn and face the woman, she stared instead at the information on the screen. Pushing a stray hair out of her eyes, Danni tried to decide what the information on the screen meant, finding it hard to believe that no one knew where Tahiri was. The young woman had almost become a sister to Danni, she was practically family to Han and Leia, and no one knew where she was? She shook her head in disbelief. Finally, not wanting to be too rude, Danni finally replied blandly. “Hello, Jaina.”

    Clearly trying to be civil, the eldest Solo asked, “So, what brings you to the Temple?”

    The blonde woman continued to stare at the screen as she answered curtly, “You’re the Jedi, you tell me.” Danni’s shoulders slumped; she did not mean to take her frustration out on the Solo woman. Concerned about her ‘sister’, she tried again, “Where’s Tahiri?”

    She could see Jaina’s grimace in the reflection on the monitor screen. The younger woman’s voice lowered to a whisper, “I know that you and Tahiri were close, so I’ll tell you straight. We don’t know.” At this, Danni turned to face the brunette and could see the chagrin written on her face. “She disappeared not too long after Uncle…Master Skywalker sent her to Dagobah.”

    Danni could not hide her shock. “He did WHAT?” Both women grimaced as about ten beings turned to glare at them. Regaining her composure, she lowered her voice. “Why?”

    Jaina shook her head, “I’d rather not get into that now.” Her voice hardened, “I’ll ask again: Why are you here?”

    Danni decided to play Jaina’s game of being vague. “Research. I don’t have access to the personnel records from Zonoma, so I needed to come to the Temple.”

    Jaina shook her head, “You’re going to have to do better than that, Danni. You could have commed us with a request.”

    Danni frowned as she finally stood to face the younger woman. “I could have, but I only would’ve gotten a runaround.” Seeing the brunette’s confused look, she continued angrily, “I’ve made requests in the past for information about Force techniques, and they have been declined because of my status. So, I came to get some information in person.”

    Jaina looked troubled by Danni’s admission. “Status? Danni, you left the Order. Master Skywalker was kind enough…”

    Danni interrupted, her green eyes flaring as she to burn through the younger woman. “Left? Is that what you think? That I’d left?” Grabbing Jaina by the arm, she steered her into the stacks of records behind her terminal where they could have a little more privacy.

    Angrily, Jaina ripped her arm away from the blonde’s grasp, no one man-handled Jaina Solo. “Have a care…”

    “I was forced out.” Danni interrupted before Jaina could finish, her outrage at being exiled on Zonoma Sekot for the last decade erupting out in a low growl. “Apparently, there is no room in the Order for someone like me. Suddenly, the Order became an all-or-nothing institution.” Pointing at the brunette, “It didn’t seem that way to the likes of you, because you are all Jedi, all the time. Some of us aren’t wired that way.” She allowed her voice to rise, “I had a life before the Vong took all of it away.” Danni allowed her voice to become dangerously quiet as she leaned against one of the stacks, “The Jedi became my home. I thought that I could carve a new niche here, but the Order couldn’t find a place for me.” She smiled sadly, “Apparently, I do not fit the ‘Jedi’ mold.” A decade of hurt showed in her face as she whispered, “I did not leave.”

    Jaina stood stunned. She had been present when Master Skywalker had made his ultimatum, but to her it was a way of trying to assert control of some of the Jedi who had decided to do his or her own thing, herself included and had not given any thought to what it meant to people like Danni Quee.

    With a flash of insight, she felt a wave of guilt about the way she had been treating Tenel Ka. The Queen Mother had been one of her best friends, and Jaina had been ignoring her for years, thinking that she did not want to be bothered by the Jedi. Her gaze fell to the floor, clearly ashamed of her actions. “Danni, I don’t…”

    Again, the blonde woman interrupted, “What bothers me most is that if I were in a different career, I might have been allowed to stay.” Her voice dropped, “No one really needs an astrophysicist.”

    Jaina could only nod in response, her heart going out to the scientist. It did seem at times that her uncle was arbitrary in some of his actions; her being allowed to remain a Jedi as others were exiled to Dagobah was proof enough of that.

    Jaina smiled sadly at the older woman, “You should be having this conversation with Jacen. He has been on a crusade to allow ‘non-traditional’ Jedi for a couple of years now.” Suddenly, it occurred to her that maybe he was on this crusade partly because of his past relationships with Danni and Tenel Ka. Seeing Danni perk up slightly at the mention of her brother’s name, she gave the blonde a knowing look. “He’s why you’re here, isn’t it?”

    Angry with herself for betraying her continued attachment to Jacen Solo, Danni sighed, “I’ve been having a recurring vision about your brother and I need to get to the bottom of it.”

    The Jedi slowly nodded, “About what?”

    Danni took a moment before answering, clearly considering whether to tell Jacen’s sister the truth. Taking a deep breath, “I’d rather not say. It was pretty frightening, though.” She looked into the brown eyes of the younger woman, finally noticing just how much they looked like her brother’s. “Have you talked to him lately?”

    Jaina only shrugged, “It’s been a while. He’s…changed. And not for the better.”

    Danni threw up her hands in disbelief, “And you haven’t called him out on it?” She stood upright again, “When I was a kid, I always wanted a little brother so that I would have someone to run things by, someone who would look or for me.” Disgust showed in her green eyes as she shook her head and continued coldly, “You have a twin, and you refuse to talk to him.” Angrily, she turned to leave, clearly not wanting to believe that Jacen’s own sister had already given up on him.

    “He had me court-martialed!” Jaina yelled before Danni could reach the end of the row.

    The scientist stopped and turned her head, “All the more reason to find out why he is acting this way.” Danni turned all the way around and glared at the brunette, “Anakin would be pretty pissed if he found out that he saved your life just so you could watch your twin brother flounder.”

    Jaina reacted as if slapped. Jacen had told her once that Danni could be ruthless when pressed, but she had not really believed him; she assumed that Jacen was trying to justify his crush on the pretty scientist. She should have known better; Jacen never offered false praise. Not having a better response, she hung her head in defeat. Hearing Danni turn again to leave, she called after her, “You broke his heart, you know.”

    Danni slumped her shoulders and turned a quarter turn to lean her head against the stack. “I know. I liked him so much, but I was confused. Because of the way we met, I wasn’t sure that my feelings for him weren’t just the result of Jacen being my ‘knight in shining armor’.” She turned her head to look at Jaina, “I didn’t want that to be the basis of our relationship and the older woman part of me was screaming that he was just having a teenage crush.” Smiling as she lifted her head from the stack, “He never had a ‘hot teacher’ at the academy, I suspect.”

    Jaina chuckled at that. “I don’t know Tionne could look pretty sultry in her brown robes. “ She caught Danni’s raised eyebrow and shook her head, “No, the Masters tend to be a rather serious lot, at least in front of the kids. I think that is why we snuck out so much. “ She smiled at the recollection of all of her forays into the jungles of Yavin, the jungles where it seemed that her and Jacen really learned what it meant to be a Jedi. Maybe that was why the Masters never seemed to try very hard to find them. “As his sister, I should tell you: Jacen doesn’t have ‘crushes’. He goes all in.”

    Danni gave her a sad smile. “I know that now. Where was that sisterly advice a decade ago? “ She heard Jaina’s snort of laughter. “After he got back from his capture, we spent more time together and came to know each other on a deeper level.” Danni found herself reliving the vacation at Mon Calamari, the trip aboard the Jade Sabre, all of the stolen moments. “I did truly love him. But, the scientist in me saw his need to go learn all that he could about the Force. It was something that he was destined to do. I knew that there was no way I could talk him out of it, and I would regret even trying to get him to stay. I had these grandiose plans about telling him how I felt about him when he returned; I had planned to take him back to Mon Cal for a ‘Welcome back…again’ trip.” Danni’s smile faded, and her voice dropped to just above a whisper. “Except, he never returned.” Her voice got even lower, “At least, not to me.” The pain in her voice was palpable.

    Even without using the Force, Jaina could tell that Jacen’s wasn’t the only heart that had been broken. “Why are you doing this?” she asked softly.

    Danni gave her a curious look. “Because you’re not.” She turned a final time and left a dazed Jaina Solo standing amongst the stacks in the library.
  19. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Awesome and intense talk between Danni and Jaina. =D= =D= You've revealed a lot of sources/origins of resentment and confusion and feelings of betrayal. [face_thinking] And as for the Isolder and Jacen talk, ;) :p definitely must be some obvious Tk/J strain if even Isolder's picking it up. :( Jacen needs a long talk with the GFFA version of Dr. Laura [face_laugh]
    SiouxFan likes this.
  20. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    Jacen Solo...the General Petraeus of the EU. o_O I don't know why that line got a chuckled out of me.
  21. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2012
    For the entirety of LotF, I kept waiting for Jaina to make some effort to try and save her brother--her twin. If my sister were acting as Jacen did, I don't think I would sit idly by and let her destroy herself. I used to be a big fan of Jaina Solo--I have a hard time liking her now. IMO, LotF was chock full of resentments and misunderstandings and half-truths and I am trying my best to capture that.

    Like most minor characters, Isolder could have been an interesting add to the texture of the EUs storytelling. We'll see a bit more of Isolder later. Don't worry, Jacen'll get his 'Dr Laura' therapy later.

    Sadly, with the same result. Could've been a great hero. Instead, a life-lesson of what not to do. (Note to self--take out Jacen's 'writing memoirs' section) ;)
    Force Smuggler likes this.
  22. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    What irritated me was both are West Point Grads ('74 & '95). A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do. I guess that was a lesson not learned.

    If Jacen does have somebody write his memoirs make sure it is not a pretty human or Twi'lek. Maybe a Dug or a Hutt can do the job.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  23. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2012
    @Jade_eyes, Jedi_Lover, @Ceillean--Thanks for reading and reviewing. I'm kinda following the JL school of tagging--if you ask or if you review, I'm assuming you want a tag. I'll stop if you wish.

    I've been trying to update Sundays and Wednesdays, but I have to push next weekend's update to Sat, so I figured I'd move the Wed update up as well. Marné Pelletier is my OC and will have a recurring role as Colonel Solo's secretary.

    Chapter 5--Scheduling time with the Devil

    Finding Jacen’s office was easier than she thought it would be. Apparently, being head of the Galactic Alliance Guard was a more prestigious posting than she had assumed. His office was a corner suite midway up the hexagon-shaped Senate Administration Building. Danni passed through the already open wooden door into his outer office. The thick carpeting was a deep blue, with the Great Seal of the GFFA inlaid in it. Jacen’s secretary, a tall girl in her early-twenties, with mocha-colored skin, curly shoulder-length black hair, and bright violet eyes, sat behind a rather large cherry wood desk and nodded as Danni entered. “Can I help you, Miss….?” She asked in a cheery voice.

    Danni gave her a professional smile, noticing that the young woman was dressed in regular business attire, and not in the severe grey and black uniform of the GAG. “Good moring, Miss…” Danni glanced at the nameplate on the secretary’s desk, “…Pelletier.” The astrophysicist pointedly ignored the secretary’s attempt at getting her name. “Is Major Solo in?”

    Marné Pelletier quickly appraised the slightly older woman in front of her. She was pretty, but not gorgeous like most of the other women who came in to see her boss typically were; and she looked intelligent, which was a definite change over the other women who came in periodically. GAG Groupies, Jacen called them, derisively. Plus, she looked Marné in the eye and addressed her personally, something that the groupies never did; Marné decided to try to like this woman. “I’m sorry, Colonel Solo is out. Is there something I can help you with?”

    Danni scowled slightly to herself. “When do expect him back?”

    The younger woman hesitated slightly, deciding whether or not to trust the woman in front of her. Well, she is polite. Making up her mind, she checked Solo’s schedule on her computer screen. “He is blocked out for the next two of days. In my experience, he is always punctual.” She offered, in a helpful tone.

    Danni smirked slightly and stared up at the wall behind the secretary, Someone in their twenties saying ‘In my experience’! She was drumming her fingers on Pelletier’s desk clearly lost in thought. Having made her decision, she again addressed Marné; “I’d like to make an appointment to see Colonel Solo in three days, if I could.”

    “Certainly, Ms….” Pelletier tried again to get Danni’s name.

    Danni chuckled at her persistence. “I’d rather not say.” She gave Marné a sad smile, “It would just give him more time to come up with excuses. Just put that I am a representative from ExGal.”

    Marné almost declined to make an appointment without a name, but the mystery woman in front of her seemed sincere. Must be an old girlfriend. Checking Jacen’s schedule again, “How does 0930 on Thursday sound?”

    Danni nodded, “That’ll be fine.” Smiling, she added, “Thank you, Ms. Pelletier.”

    “Certainly.” Marné said as Danni left the office. As she made the appointment in Jacen’s calendar, she said quietly to herself, “Jacen should rekindle something with her. She’s far nicer than any of the groupies.
    O O(___)O O

    As Jag took the seat across from her in the Temple’s cafeteria, Jaina asked nonchalantly, “What do you know about Danni Quee?”

    Blinking in surprise, it occurred to the former CEDF pilot that he would never get used to Jaina’s random questions. Trying not to roll his eyes, he answered vaguely, “Not much; I don’t know that I have ever met the woman. She could be sitting right behind me and I wouldn’t know it.”

    Unfortunately for him, Jaina recognized the dodge. Squinting her eyes, “And…”

    Jag gave her a half-shrug as he replied, “My mother gave Danni a standing invitation for her to visit Csila anytime she got tired of being on Zonoma, so Danni has been visiting my parents every six months or so.” He smiled slightly, “Both Mother and Wyn view Danni as practically a family member now.” Nodding a ‘hello’ to a passing Jedi student, he continued, “Even my father thinks highly of her, and he doesn’t warm up to anyone.” Shrugging again, “I guess if my family trusts her, I have no reason not to.” He tilted his head fractionally and looked at Jaina out of the corner of his eye. “Why?”

    Jaina was staring through his chest as she answered, “I ran into her today here at the library. The girl working at the front desk called me and informed me that Danni was here and looking into our personnel records.”

    Jag frowned as he took a bite of his salad, “Doesn’t she have remote access to the library?”

    He noticed that Jaina still had her thousand-meter stare as she replied absently, “Apparently it doesn’t allow access to the personnel records. She was looking up Tahiri when I caught up with her.” She focused her attention on Jag abrubtly, “She accused me of giving up on Jacen.”

    Colonel Fel only nodded as he took another bite.

    Jaina’s eyes turned hard. “You agree with her assessment?”

    Jag let out a long breath as he tried to determine how many nights on the couch this was going to cost him. “I do. It’s not my place to say; but if it were Wynnsa that was acting this way, I would not just stand by and watch her destroy herself like this.”

    She looked sharply at her boyfriend, her voice rising, “He started a war!”

    Taking her hand, he replied matter-of-factly, “We both know that the war with the Killiks was going to come sooner or later. It was a tenderbox waiting for a spark.” He paused, lost in his own memories. This time, he was the one with the vacant stare. He did not touch on the fact that he felt Jaina and Zekk both were partly responsible for the Killik Crisis. He saw from her look that she remembered her role in the affair. “The Ascendancy was only looking for a small provocation. There would have been one in a matter of weeks, even without Jacen Solo.”

    Shaking his head to clear his memories, Jag looked into her brown eyes again and lowered his voice; “Jacen used to be the moral ‘heading indicator’ for the Order.” Jaina nodded sadly as he continued, “The thing is: heading indicators need to be reset from time to time. He’s adrift, Jaina, and heading in the wrong direction.” Squeezing her hand, he nodded to in the direction of the door, “You need to find out why Danni is here—you need to help her reset your brother’s heading.”

    O O(___)O O

    After dinner, Tenel Ka was relaxing in her overly extravagant suite aboard the Star Home, reading over the briefing notes for tomorrow morning’s discussion: corporate taxation. She sighed to herself, Always a knock-down-drag-out. The Consortium has experienced six consecutive years of growth; their corporate tax rate was among the lowest of all industrialized worlds, and some corporate interests still lobbied for lower tax rates. The Queen Mother would not abandon Teneniel’s goal of making Hapan universities the best around, and only a first-rate primary school system could feed top-notch colleges. Also, the Fleet needed a new fighter-bomber. The Miy’til IIB models, although an upgrade from the original design, were still woefully underarmed. If the CEOs lost a bit of their margin to make all of this happen, well, that was the price of doing business in the Consortium. She knew, as did the CEOs, that the Consortium offered safety, a well-paid bureaucracy to counter graft, consistent regulations, and prestige to the corporate sector and she did not think many corporations would leave to set up shop elsewhere.

    As she started to outline her arguments as to why the corporate rate should remain the same, her secure communications console rang. Confusion clouded her face; Only the Palace has the codes for... Alarmed, she reached out in the Force for Allana and Jacen, only to find nothing untoward emanating from them. Frowning, she made her way over to the communications desk and hit the ‘Receive’ button; only to jerk back as the screen was filled with a red-haired, grey-eyed, five-year-old.

    “Hi Mommy!” Allana screeched. “Guess what: Jedi Jacen took me to the zoo today! Just like you said he would!” Tenel Ka could see Jacen smirking behind his daughter.

    Tenel Ka’s eyes sparkled as she took in their little girl’s excitement. “He did? Which animals did you see?” She could tell by Allana’s big smile that she had asked the right question.

    “Well, we saw the big felines, pachyderms, crystal snakes…” Tenel Ka couldn’t help but smile at her admission of seeing one of her father’s previous pets. “…rancors, wild canines….” Allana went on to list the number of animals that her and Jacen had seen, but Tenel Ka had lost herself in the sense of joy radiating from the girl’s father, nodding at all the appropriate times in Allana’s recitation. It had been a long time since she had seen Jacen truly happy.

    When Allana had finished her list, Tenel Ka turned her attention back to her daughter and asked, “So…which one was your favorite?”

    “Hmm…” Allana scrunched her face, clearly thinking hard. “I think that I like all of the big felines.”

    Tenel Ka’s amusement showed in her eyes; Jacen had always been drawn to them as well. She gave her daughter a knowing look, “Did you know that Jedi Jacen likes the felines as well?”

    Allana’s eyes became large, and she looked over the shoulder at her father. “Really?” Jacen only nodded.

    Confused, Tenel Ka asked, “Did you not tell her?”

    Jacen smiled, “I didn’t want to influence her trip.”

    Off camera, Tenel Ka could hear the nanny droid telling Allana that it was time for bed. Only when given a stern look by her mother, did Allana acquiesce, “Okay,” she said mournfully, “Can we talk tomorrow?” Tenel Ka nodded and smiled at her little girl as she left for bed.

    After Jacen sat down in front of the terminal, he shot Tenel Ka a lop-sided grin, “Thanks for giving her the idea.” His demeanor became more serious, “Today was the only the second time I’d been to a zoo when I wasn’t with someone who’s only goal was to get out of there.” He paused, both of them remembering the time that she had taken him to the zoo during one of their trips to Hapes when on a break from the Academy. In hindsight, it was one of the only ‘dates’ he and her had ever been on. He continued, his voice nostalgic, “When I was a kid, Jaina and Anakin were always trying to hot–wire some exhibit, or reprogram the shuttle, or some other act of vagrancy, so Mom and Dad were always rushing us through.” He gave her a sad smile at the recollections.

    He shook his head as if to clear it. “Anyway, Allana was great today. We spent forever looking at all of the felines, and it wasn’t even my idea. We wandered from enclosure to enclosure talking about what needed to be done to make them even better for the animals.” He could not keep the note of pride out of his voice. “We must’ve made four circuits around the black pantera exhibit alone. I started to feel bad for Trista.”

    She gave him a knowing look, “Ah. I was wondering who escorted you today.”

    Jacen snorted, “It was your father’s idea. I had no idea that she was the head of his security detail.” Tenel Ka only gave him a ‘what are you going to do’ shrug. “It actually worked out well; she and Allana look alike, so I think everyone assumed that we were a family. She seems like a fun person to be around.” He paused as a thought occurred to him. “Probably why your father had her escort us.” Jacen saw the Queen Mother give him a slight smile and another small shrug. He continued, “So, how’d your day go?”

    Tenel Ka rolled her eyes. “Today’s topics were: increased direct elections for the planetary parliaments, followed by an afternoon discussion about farm subsidies.”

    Jacen grimaced, “Well the first one doesn’t sound so bad; but the second…”

    “Yes,” she agreed, “a tad dry.” There was a distinct twinkle in her eye as she said this. “Tomorrow morning’s topic is not any better: Corporate taxation.”

    It was Jacen’s turn to roll his eyes. “Don’t the lobbyists know that Hapes’ corporate rate is already amongst the lowest around?” The Queen Mother gave him a nod. “And they know that Hapes’ schools are the best in this sector, right?” Another nod. “Everyone wants a free lunch.” Jacen said sadly, as he shook his head. Using his best command voice, “Give ‘em hell.”

    Tenel Ka smiled; she intended to do just that. She opened her mouth to reply, but Jacen beat her to it, his voice sincere “Thanks again for having her ask.”

    She could not help but smile. “You’re welcome, Jacen.” Inwardly, she grimaced; she needed to talk to him about his actions on Coruscant and now would be as good a time as any. “Jacen?” She started, wanting to get his complete attention--she needed to voice her concern about his actions of rounding up a large number of ex-pat Corellians and forcing them into ghettos; it seemed to be the anathema of everything that the Alliance stood for. As Queen Mother, she needed to know why he was pursuing this course of action. Looking at his expectant face, however, she once again found that her courage had deserted her. Having a fight, and it was surely going to be one, over the comm would only increase tensions between them, and they were actually getting along today. I will bring it up tomorrow. She shook her head, “Never mind. Call me tomorrow?”

    Jacen smiled, “Of course, Your Majesty.” He used her title just to needle her a bit. “Good night.” With that, he terminated the connection.

    “Good night,” she whispered. Damn it! Why am I so afraid of confronting him? Muttering to herself, “Am I the Queen Mother or not?” No one else seemed to be willing, or able, to reign Jacen in, so it was incumbent upon her to do so. What was she afraid of? You are afraid of losing him. Tenel Ka sighed sadly as she made her way back to her notes, trying to ignore the nagging little voice.

    A/N: Nothing is known about Danni's eight years on Zonoma, but I find it reasonable to believe that she would want to get away to...somewhere, so I ran with the idea that the Fel's had given her a standing invitation to visit as she did seem to get along decently well with Syal Antilles from what I remember. I figure if I'm doing an AU...

    On a historical note, the term ghetto was actually NOT a derogatory term until the Nazis came into power. Until then, a Ghetto was just the Jewish part of town, much like 'Chinatown' or 'Little Italy'. It wasn't until the Nazis started walling off the ghettos in Warsaw, Gdansk, and other cities that it took on such a negative connotation.
    Gemma and Draconarius like this.
  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Lots of nice stuff to comment on =D= First the J/J conversation :) Nice tone here, and Jag knows how to be forthright and tactful, not too easy with such a touchy subject :p and Jaina more than 99% likely to be defensive :rolleyes: The J/TK conversation - I am very happy they seem to be getting along, although ;) [face_thinking] if you have to avoid a topic like the plague to do it, :eek: that's not so good. :( Looking forward both to her and Danni's efforts to get him back on track. LOL with both of them "ganging up on him" he's gonna feel downright persecuted. But, it's loooong overdue. [face_worried]
  25. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 6, 2012
    Jade_eyes, Ceillean, Jedi_Lover

    A/N: I've always been a fan of Jagged Fel but, for the life of me, I can't really figure out why he went back to Jaina after the her 'bug' episode with Zekk and the fact that Leia left him marooned on...whatever planet that was. He's a better man than me, I would have not thought her worth the trouble. Obviously, I'm tinkering with the events of LotF, but I think that Jag would have been able to take a 'larger' view. Don't worry, Jacen's beat down is coming--

    Chapter 6—Weapon of Mass Destruction

    Danni showed up at Jacen’s office at 09:25; she assumed him to be busy, and she didn’t want him to be able to dismiss her because she was not on time. As she walked into his outer office, Ms. Pelletier looked up from her data screen to acknowledge the new arrival. Giving Danni a critical look, as if deciding whether or not Danni was suitable enough to interrupt her boss, Marné finally gave her a warm smile, Danni having passed whatever criteria the secreatary had used.

    “Ah, Miss ExGal, you are right on time.” Danni smiled politely at the barb, knowing there was no real malice behind it. Marné raised an eyebrow as she stood up and continued drily, “Are we still playing cloak-and-blade, or will I finally learn your name?”

    Danni chuckled and quickly decided that she rather liked Marné Pelletier. Extending her hand, she replied in a friendly tone, “I’m Danni Quee.”

    The violet-eyed secretary stood and warmly shook her hand. “Pleased to meet you Ms. Quee. Just one second.” She turned and opened the door to Jacen’s office, “Colonel Solo, the representative for Ex-Gal is here.” She closed the door again and turned back around. Seeing the confused look on Danni’s face, “You did say that you didn’t want to give him any advanced notice.” She replied drily, winking at Danni as she made her way back to her desk, indicating that Danni was free to enter Jacen’s office.
    O O(___)O O

    Jacen was looking over the reports from yesterday’s surveillance activities when Marné knocked on his door. “Colonel Solo, the representative from ExGal is here.”

    ExGal? He looked up at her with his brows furrowed. ExGal? The name sounded familiar for some reason, but couldn’t place it. Giving it up as a lost cause, he shrugged. “Very well, send him in.” Marné only gave him a knowing smile as she closed the door. Frowning, he looked back at the report, writing a note to one side of the page. Hearing the door open, he held up a finger without looking up. “I’ll be with you in just a second, I just need to finish jotting this down. Have a seat if you wish.” He did not hear any movement, so he surmised that his guest preferred to stand. Finishing his note, he looked up at the person standing patiently in his office and felt his heart skip a beat.

    Danni? Jacen could not help but run his eyes over her attractive form: her blonde hair was pulled up in a loose bun and she was dressed in a white button-down blouse and grey skirt that contrasted nicely with her tan legs. He had only seen her in a similar outfit once, and had jokingly called it her ‘hot librarian’ look and was rewarded for his comment with a punch to the arm. It was, he reflected, still a ‘hot librarian’ look; probably because she was smart enough to actually be a librarian. As the GAG Colonel rose and stepped around his black desk, he fought to resist the urge to rush over and embrace her in a giant hug, holding out his hand instead. “Danni.” He said quietly, gently kissing her hand when she offered it, his eyes searching hers, “It has been a long time.”

    To her credit, she did not chastise him, although she could have; after everything they had been through, he had never bothered to stop by Zonoma Sekot, or even call. If anyone had a right to be upset with him, it was Danni Quee. Instead, she merely nodded. “It has.”

    For a couple of moments, he simply held her hand as they continued to look at each other as if the intervening years did not exist. Smiling, he let go of her hand, “So, what brings you to Coruscant?”

    You. Danni wanted to say; she wanted to leap into the embrace that she could tell he wished to give. Breaking away from his intense gaze, she looked around at his sparsely appointed office, a stark contrast with Ms. Pelletier’s office; hers was warm, inviting. His office was sterile, impersonal…cold. “I got tired of being ‘out-of-mind’ out on Zonoma. I wish to live again.” As she talked, she carefully reached out with the Force. She could sense Jacen, barely, and was confused as to why he seemed so dim, but also sensed something else. Something…slippery. Danni mentally shook her head at the revelation. Returning her eyes to him, she looked over his face. Jacen looked…tired: chronically tired. His face was thin and pale, his hair looked limp, but it was his eyes that mostly gave it away. Gone was the usual sparkle of mischief, the warmth, and the depth that she always wanted to lose herself in. Instead, they were…not cold exactly, but…measured. Calculating. Realizing that he would probably see her answer for the dodge that it was, she tried the dircect approach. “Jacen, I’ve been hearing things....” her voice trailed off as she lost the courage to confront her friend. Desperately, she hoped that he would want her help.

    Jacen quickly tamped down his flicker of surprise. Were she anyone else, she probably would not have noticed. Recovering, he offered a wan smile and shrugged, “What sorts of things?”

    Danni raised an eyebrow, “You always were a lousy liar, Jacen.” Inwardly, she breathed a sigh of relief as she noticed he did not dismiss her accusation out of hand.

    Only to you--No one else seems to notice. He sat on the edge of his desk as he let out a deep sigh. The old Hutt adage, ‘If you tell lies long enough and well enough, they become the truth,’ sprang to mind. Lately, Jacen had found it easier to hide the truth from those around him and he wasn’t sure if it was because he was getting better at it, or if they just stopped caring. Either way, a pretty depressing thought. Laughing humorlessly to himself; “Truthfully? It has been a tough couple of weeks.” He stood up and walked over to the door and closed it, not wanting Marné to hear what he had done. She would find out soon enough that her boss was a major disappointment; he had no desire for her to learn that today.

    Leaning back against the door, he waited for Danni to turn to face him. Later, he would reflect that he never understand why he answered the way he did: maybe it was because Danni was the only person left that he had not lied to, maybe it was because he wanted someone to know the truth, maybe it was simply because he was tired of hiding, or maybe he it was because he realized that Danni Quee was the one person who might understand. Whatever the reason, he confessed softly; “I killed a woman last week.”

    He was not sure what he had expected her reaction to be, but her obvious concern was not on the list. Anger, shock, betrayal; these were all the reactions he expected, because they were the reactions of everyone else. Jacen would not have been surprised if she just marched straight past him and never spoke to him again; in fact, he expected her to do just that. As he stared into those fantastic green eyes of hers, it occurred to him that Danni seemed to know what he had done. Instead of leaving, she only looked at him, her green eyes full of worry, “What happened?”

    Jacen let out a long breath, and continued to look at her. “We...” Shaking his head, he tried again, “…I …was interrogating a suspect in a terrorist bombing case and I let my emotion get the best of me.” Clearly shaken, he turned his gaze out the window. His voice dropped so that she had to strain to hear him. “I got frustrated with her evasive answers, and I…lost control.” Danni could hear the pain and frustration in his voice.

    You’ve killed two people now? The blonde woman thought before quickly burying her shock, hoping that Jacen wouldn’t pick up on it. Fighting the urge to give her friend a comforting hug, she continued to stare at him as the analytical part of her mind kicked in. “How solid was your evidence?”

    The GAG Colonel’s head snapped over to look at the blonde woman. She had managed to surprise him three times now in about five minutes. Maybe it was because of their past history, or maybe it was because she had been out on Zonoma and had missed most of his ‘discussions’ with the Order, but it dawned on him that Danni could be a useful ally and he allowed an inward smile. Answering, “Oh, she was guilty. She admitted to planting the bomb.” He paused, trying to decide how much to reveal, needing to see what Danni could deduce. Softly, he continued, “She even confessed as to who the target was. We were just trying to get her to admit who her sponsor was.”

    Danni was just as fast to make connections as he remembered. “You. You were the target.” He nodded as she stepped forward and took his hand, her tone concerned. “Internal Affairs will understand why you lost your composure.” Her eyes narrowed. As head of the GAG, he could stall an investigation. “You are allowing IA to investigate, aren’t you?”

    Jacen offered her a sad smile, “Of course. They interviewed me a few days ago, and I’ve already filed my report.” As he talked, he quickly assessed the blonde woman. She was smart, she refused to be intimidated, and, perhaps most importantly, she had yet to be indoctrinated by Skywalker. Fate, or perhaps the Force, had brought Danni Quee back into his life. “I’ve been put on an ‘administrative hold’ status while they finish their investigation.” Seeing her look of confusion, “It means that I am tied to the office until they deem me fit for line duty.”

    The blonde woman knew Jacen well enough to know that it killed him to be a ‘desk jockey’. He always thought that leaders were best seen at the front, enduring the same crappy conditions as his troops, never wanting others to do what he should be doing for himself.

    She let go of his hand and started pacing around his office, lost in thought. “Why would anyone want to kill you?”

    Jacen only gave her a shrug, “Occupational hazard?” he opined, still testing her.

    She stopped pacing and scowled at him, “No. There’s more to it than that.” The blonde woman started pacing again, biting her thumbnail as she did. Mumbling to herself, “Why would anyone want to bump of the head of the Galactic Alliance Guard?” Jacen smirked as he watched her pace, he had forgotten how focused on a problem she could get. Absently, she looked out the window behind his desk, still thinking out loud. “The GAG hasn’t even been around that…”She snapped her fingers and looked at him, “The Corellians. Corellians are behind the bombing.”

    Clearly impressed, Jacen nodded; Danni was doing well. “That is our guess as well.”

    She started pacing again. “Why, though? The Corellians weren’t protesting much at all until…” Danni stopped again, pointing accusingly, “Centerpoint. You were behind the attack on Centerpoint.” Jacen carefully kept his expression blank. She glared at him before she turned away; there was more to this story. Suddenly, it clicked. Danni whipped around again, this time the fury really evident in her eyes. “Skywalker sent you. That was a Jedi mission.”

    The GAG Colonel only narrowed his eyes, grinning inwardly; she was good. “How did you come to that conclusion?” Danni noticed that he did not deny the accusation.

    Danni held up a hand and started ticking her reasons off on her fingers, “One: the Galactic Guard didn’t exist at the time, so it couldn’t have done it under the auspices of this office. Two: You would’ve never done something like that on your own; the Jacen Solo I know is not that reckless.” She continued to stare coldly at him as he chuckled humorlessly at her comment. “So…that implies that you were ordered to try to take it out. Since Chief Omas does not have any authority over the Jedi Order, it stands that Grand Master Skywalker had you do it.” Danni practically spit out Skywalker’s formal title.

    Jacen did not know why he was so surprised; he had often told people that Danni was the smartest person he knew. Still, the speed at which she came to the correct conclusion was rather frightening. In a monotone, “Uncle Luke felt that the Corellians would use it to threaten other worlds.”

    She snorted, “Of course they would: that is the reason the damn thing exists. It wasn’t even operational.” Danni shook her head. “Your mother, his sister, was Chief of State. Didn’t either one of you learn anything from her?” Jacen only looked at her confusedly. “Perception is everything. The Corellians had a perceived bargaining chip.” Frustrated by the whole fiasco, she threw up her hands. “Ugh. You’re all a bunch of rookies. Now what?”

    Jacen only shrugged. “Dinner?”

    She snapped her head around to look at him. “What?”

    He offered up a slight smile. “I’d like to continue this conversation over dinner. Will you join me?”

    It wasn’t the smile that she longed to see, but she supposed that it would do for now. Smiling back, “Sure.”

    Jacen picked up his comlink. “Marné, please book us a table at Gustav’s for tonight. 8:00pm.” He paused slightly. “Thanks, Marné.”

    Danni kept the smile on her face as she said neutrally, “That sounds nice.”

    Perplexed, Jacen glanced at his friend. Suddenly, it dawned on him; “I’m sorry, I forget that you are not Coruscanti.” She shrugged slightly. “Gustav’s is one of the best steakhouses on the planet. The owners managed to escape during the invasion and rebuilt the restaurant shortly after the war ended.”

    Danni nodded as a playful grin crossed her lips. “Are you sure that you can get us a table, Mr. Number Eight on Coruscant’s ‘Most Eligible Bachelor’ listing?”

    Jacen grimaced and rolled his eyes. “Ugh. I didn’t know that you read that drivel.”

    Her green eyes continued to sparkle as the grin stayed on her face. She shook her head. “Oh, I don’t. Tahiri was thoughtful enough to send me a copy.”

    “Remind me to thank her.” Jacen said drily as he escorted Danni past Marné’s desk to the outer door of their office. He kissed her cheek as he opened the door. “I’ll see you tonight. Thank you for stopping by.”

    Danni took his hand as her eyes searched his face. “You’re welcome, Jacen.”

    As he walked back to his office, he saw the wry smile on his assistant’s face. “It’s nothing like that.” He said gruffly as he passed her desk, hearing her chuckle as he did so.

    O O(___)O O

    Trying to refocus his attention on the report he was working on, Jacen nearly jumped when a sultry voice sounded in his ear. “Who was that?”

    Grimacing at being surprised, Jacen replied drily, “Hello, Lumiya.” He turned his chair to look at the Sith Lord, and answered her question. “Just an old friend.”

    Lumiya’s eyes sparkled with mirth. “Really? She’s very pretty. Does she have a name?”

    “She does.” Jacen answered succinctly. The first thing he learned from his Sith Master was to only answer the question being asked.

    Jacen could almost see Lumiya’s smile “And strong. Untrained obviously, but strong.” She looked at him meaningfully, “She would make a fine apprentice.”

    No. She would make something better. “It did cross my mind.”

    “Good, we need to find you a replacement.” Her voice turned serious, “Have you given any thought to…”

    Jacen interrupted angrily, “No. And if you don’t stop bringing it up, you will be my sacrifice.”

    Lumiya merely shrugged, “If that is what is required.” With that, she turned and left his office through the same secret door that she entered.

    Try as he might, Jacen could not focus on his work for the entirety of the day. Giving up on reading the report on his desk, he stood and gazed out his window, his thoughts wandering to the blonde woman who had just re-entered his life. Something was lingering in the back of his mind; there was something about the way their conversation ended that was bugging him. Suddenly, it clicked: Dinner. In all the months they had dated, they not once gone to a restaurant like Gustav’s. Danni hated pretense almost as much as he did, so why did he feel the need to take her there? Danni was not just another one of his ‘dates’; Jacen took the ‘groupies’ to Gustav’s because he knew that they needed to be ‘seen’. Danni did not. He was insulting her by treating her like those other women he took out. Even after all this time, Danni Quee still meant something to him and he needed to treat her accordingly.

    Thus decided, he picked up his comlink and called down to the GAG duty desk. After the desk sergeant answered, “Good afternoon.” He did not explain to the sergeant who he was, the caller ID function had already done that. “Could you tell me who is patrolling sector…” Jacen paused, pulling up the GAG sector map on his vidscreen; like any police force, the Galactic Alliance Guard had routine patrols. “…sixteen this evening?” Jacen looked at his wrist chrono: 16:30. The night shift should be coming in for ‘guard mount’ and shift briefing in about an hour and a half. “Sergeant Shimizu.” Jacen repeated, jotting the name down. Frowning to himself, he tried to picture the man’s face and nodded as Shimizu’s face came to mind. “Can you have him stop by my office after the brief?” The desk sergeant answered in the affirmative with a concerned voice. Jacen smiled, “No, no, he’s not in any trouble. I just have an errand for him this evening.” He could hear the relief in the man’s voice. After disconnecting the call, he quickly wrote two notes on different flimsi, putting one of them in an envelope.

    Jacen forced himself into writing a report that the Foreign Office had requested about the numbers of Corellians injured in the last two months. Getting lost in the minutia of the report, he lost track of time. The alarm on his chrono beeped, breaking him out of his writing bubble. 18:00? Jacen got up from behind his desk to wait for Sergeant Shimizu at Marné’s desk, assuming that the kid would be apprehensive enough about going to see the boss, and Jacen wanted to put him at ease by meeting him out in the outer office.

    Opening the door to his office, he noticed that his assistant was still at her desk, busy with tracking overtime expenses from last week. While the GAG’s budget was decidedly large, it was still finite and they needed to track all their expenditures. Furrowing his brow, he asked kindly, “Why are you still here?”

    Marnè Pelletier turned to look at her boss, “Our civilian expenses are due in three days, and I wanted to get a jump on them.” Jacen only shook his head at her work ethic. He didn’t know how she got assigned to work for him, but she was definitely a keeper. “Three days?” Marnè nodded her head. Jacen chuckled, “Go home. Don’t come in until 09:00 tomorrow.” They both knew that she wouldn’t. She would come in at her usual 07:30. Her usual hours supposed to be 08:00 to 16:00, but she only called them ‘guidelines’ when he complained about her working so much. Sometimes, he needed to almost physically remove her from her desk.

    About five minutes after Marnè left, Sergeant Akai Shimizu walked into the office, clearly nervous about being summoned by the boss. “Colonel Solo? I was told you wanted to see me?”

    Jacen smiled as he walked over to shake Shimizu’s hand. “Yes Akai, thanks for coming up. I have a favor to ask of you.” He paused slightly, seeing the man’s unease. “It’s nothing major and it’ll be fully within your duties for tonight…” he allowed a wry smile, “…Mostly.”

    The sergeant’s look became confused. Colonel Solo had the reputation of being completely ‘by the book’, and here he was hinting at a favor that was ‘mostly within his duties.’

    Still smiling, Jacen explained, “I am supposed to meet a woman at Gustav’s this evening at 20:00, and I need to change the venue. Can you deliver this to her for me?” Jacen asked, as he held out an envelope.

    Relief flooded across the younger man’s face, he was expecting something entirely more nefarious. He nodded, “Certainly sir.” Wrinkling his brow, “Wouldn’t it just be faster to call her?

    “Probably.” Jacen agreed, shaking his head slightly, “It would also give her more time to rethink our date and bail out of it.”

    Shimizu gave him an understanding nod. On one level, it was good to know that Colonel Solo had the same problems with women that every other man did. “Uh…How do I recognize this woman?”

    Colonel Solo chuckled, “Right, that would be good to know, wouldn’t it!” Akai only shrugged and Jacen gave him a brief description of Danni Quee.

    Before Akai Shimizu could turn to leave, Jacen added, “Oh, one more thing, Akai. Are you still seeing that broker from the Commerce Guild Investment Bank?”

    Sergeant Shimizu could not hide his surprise. He had mentioned his girlfriend once while on a patrol with Colonel Solo a few months back, and he was shocked that his boss could remember such a trivial detail. “Uhhh…yes sir.”

    Again, Colonel Solo smiled at his subordinate and his voice turned melancholy, “This job is not easy on relationships.” The young man noticed that his boss’s focus was far away and it seemed that the Colonel wasn’t really talking to him. Jacen turned his gaze back to the younger man as he shook his head. “Anyway, give this note to the matre’d.” Jacen pulled the flimsi out of his jacket pocket. “This note will tell him that you and your girlfriend are to have my reservation for this evening.”

    Shock crossed the Sergeant’s face. “Sir, I can’t afford…”

    Jacen interrupted, “Yes, you can.” As he handed the man two one-hundred credit chits, “This should be enough, depending on what kind of wine you get.” Smiling warmly, he continued. “Keep in mind, you are still on duty, so don’t have too much.”

    Akai chuckled, “Yes sir.” His tone turned serious. “Are you sure that this is proper?”

    Jacen rolled his eyes at the question. On one hand, he was impressed that the young sergeant didn’t want to do anything untoward; on the other hand, it was just dinner. “Let me put it this way: I called and asked the desk sergeant who was patrolling sector sixteen this evening. Therefore, it is only blind luck for you to be here; I was going to give the reservations and money to whomever was assigned to that sector tonight: meaning that my gift was available to everyone and was not given specifically to you.” Jacen smiled at the GAG sergeant. “Good enough?”

    Shimizu nodded, and answered, clearly chagrined. “Yes sir.”

    “Good. Enjoy dinner!” He shook the younger man’s hand. “Thank you, Akai.”

    “Yes sir.”


    O O(___)O O

    After paying the cabbie, Danni entered the small bistro and saw Jacen sitting over on the right side of the establishment next to a large window overlooking the street. Jacen had changed out of the GAG’s severe grey and black uniform into a simple pink button-down shirt and black dress pants.

    Jacen stood as she walked in, smiling warmly. Danni saw that the smile still didn’t reach his eyes, but at least it was an improvement over earlier. Danni chose not to change clothes from earlier, but Jacen didn’t mind; it was a ‘hot librarian’ look. “I wasn’t sure if you would come.” Jacen admitted as he helped push her seat in.

    “I almost didn’t.” Danni confessed as she watched him make his way around the table and sit opposite her. “It was the look on the face of Sergeant Shimizu’s girlfriend that did it. She was awed by the place. That was a very generous thing to do.”

    Jacen waved a hand to shoo away the compliment. The thought that his gesture to a fellow GAG investigator would impress Danni Quee had not entered his mind. “Mom often showed us that spontaneous gifts are often better than ones given for a purpose.”

    Danni noticed the almost wistful smile on her friend’s face. Apparently, Jacen had become estranged from a lot of people lately. Attempting to change the mood, she asked, “So, why here?” Apprehensively, she looked around the bistro, adding quietly, “Gustav’s looked more reputable.”

    Colonel Solo chuckled at Danni’s observation. “Don’t tell anyone, but the food here is better, and a heck of a lot cheaper.” The waitress that had just arrived smiled at his comment and asked for their drink orders. She looked a bit perplexed when Danni ordered a Commenorian ale, as most found them do be too stout, but she did not seem surprised when Jacen wanted only water. Shrugging her shoulders, she went to fill their drink request. Jacen continued, “Besides, Gustav’s is not…us.” Danni quickly focused her attention on him again; she was unsure if he even reflected about them. As she looked into his brown eyes he continued softly, “I wanted you to know that I still remember us, even if I’ve done a horrible job of keeping in touch.” He reached across the table to take her hand, “I didn’t want you to think that I saw you as one of my dates.”

    Danni smiled when she heard the derision in his voice. She had been telling the truth when she said that she didn’t keep up with all the celebrity gossip emanating from Coruscant; but she still took notice the five or six times that Jacen Solo was shown on the celebrity holonews, always with some lovely woman draped on his arm. “Why do you go with them, then?”

    Rolling his eyes, he explained, “As a political appointee, I am expected to attend a certain number of functions. By taking a ‘date’, I can remain mostly incognito because most of the attention is on them.” He shrugged, “It’s kind of a win-win. I get to avoid being noticed because my ‘date’ is much more attractive than me, and they get a PR boost because it makes them seem like they are on a date with an average guy.”

    Danni cocked her head to one side; it did make sense, in a bizarre sort of way. Chuckling, “I would hardly think you average.” She paused, considering, “And in exchange for this PR boost?” she asked, pointedly.

    Jacen looked chagrined; he did not really care if Coruscant as a whole assumed that he was sleeping with these other women, but, for some reason, it did bother him that Danni thought that he was. He needed someone to know that he was not that superficial. Looking at her seriously, he answered, “I have not slept with any of them, Danni. I don’t believe in casual sex. I still think that sex needs to mean something.”

    Danni smiled slightly. It was good to know that her Jacen was still in there somewhere, that he had not allowed the war to change him completely. Their waitress returned with their drinks and took their orders--Jacen asking for a nerf steak, Danni a spicy noodle dish.

    Danni watched the waitress as she left, and noticed a deep scar that ran across the back of both of her legs, just below the knees. Jacen caught her staring at the petite brunette; “Cristiana was on Obroa-skai when it fell to the Vong.” His tone became sorrowful, “Her squad was nearly overrun trying to defend the airfield. When the medics got to her, they told her that she would likely lose both legs. Only the skill of a plastic surgeon on Hapes saved her legs.” Noticing Danni’s curious look, he shrugged as he explained, “I come her about once every week-and-a-half or so.” Giving her a half-smile, he continued, “We started talking during my third visit.” His smile increased at his recollection, and Danni noticed that it was almost the ‘Jacen’ smile she remembered. Shaking his head, he continued, “Anyway, it still took her almost a year relearn how to walk, and another five to do so without a perceptible limp.” Sighing, he looked back at Cristiana and said quietly, “I’ve offered to take her to Hapes to see if we can find her surgeon to say ‘Thank you’, but I don’t think that she trusts my motives.”

    Danni could not help but chuckle. She had been in Cristiana’s shoes before; handsome strangers offering to do things for her and it had always made her feel awkward. Looking back, most of the men were probably just being gentlemanly, but it was still off-putting. Shaking her head at Jacen’s naïveté, “You’re going about it the wrong way. Tell her that you have a friend on Hapes that would love to have Cristiana stay at her place. Together, they could try to find her surgeon.”

    Jacen furrowed his brow. How does she know about Tenel Ka? he thought angrily, and then, just as quickly, relaxed; he had told Danni quite a bit about his friends when they were dating, it should not be a surprise that Danni would remember that his best friend growing up was the current Hapan Regent. The blonde woman, however, had caught the look. “What?” she asked, alarm etched on her face.

    Jacen shrugged apologetically, trying to cover his anger. “Sorry, I had not thought of that angle.” Danni only rolled her eyes as Cristiana made their way back to the table with their dinner order.

    After the waitress had left, Jacen looked at Danni earnestly, “What do you make of this mess with Corelia?” He asked, taking a drink of water.

    Looking at him questioningly, Danni replied with another question. “Why are you asking me? I’ve got to be the LEAST qualified person on this planet to offer an opinion.”

    “Nonsense, you are a quick study. Besides,” Jacen smiled, “you are new to the problem and can look at with no bias. Plus, you are the best at getting to what the heart of the problem.”

    Danni allowed a small smile. Jacen had forgotten how stunning her smile was, and how quick she was to share it. “Don’t think that I don’t know flattery when I hear it.” She retorted, shaking her head remembering all the times at school when professors and older students would tell her how smart she was as a way to ask her out on dates. Her face turned more serious. “Here is the thing: it seems both sides are just saber-rattling and posturing. No one seems to be talking.”

    Jacen finished taking a bite. “We’ve tried talking to Gejjen. Those talks have gone nowhere.”

    Wincing, Danni put her glass down. “Don’t talk to Gejjen; the man is a thug. Find out who on his Cabinet thinks that this whole idea about seceding is a bad idea and talk to them, quietly.” She stopped, considering. “I really have trouble believing that the general population of Corelia is too excited about secession. Once you’ve got someone on Corelia that you can work with, let them know that you will assist them in removing Gejjen from office.” She glanced around the room conspiratorially and lowered her voice. “Any coup has to be an inside job. If word gets out that it was orchestrated this from here, it will only incite the Corellians.” Danni paused, and narrowed her green eyes, “Your failure at Centerpoint station should be proof enough of that.”

    Jacen allowed his voice to cool, “From my end, Centerpoint was a resounding success.” It had been quite a long time since anyone had pointed out any errors of judgment to Jacen, and he wasn’t going to allow some two-bit astronomer tell him how to run his policies.

    Danni was not fazed in the least by his demeanor; she was used to being at odds with people in authority. ‘Authority’ had said that she was too female to be good at math; too young to get accepted into the Astrophysics Department; too inexperienced to lead a survey team to the edge of the galaxy; too human to survive the Vong’s torture. No, Jacen would have to do better than just glare at her. Letting her own voice frost over a bit, she continued, “All you did was give Corelia a reason to rally around a thug. People there are scared, and scared people need some semblance of security. Centerpoint gave them that.” She seemed to look through him as she took another bite. “The political opposition on Corelia would have been more apt to bargain while Centerpoint was still functional. Now, you’ll have to wait until all of the dust settles.“

    Guess she told you. Jacen sighed as he conceded her point. Eliminating the immediate military threat had only increased anti-Alliance sentiment there, and the protests on Coruscant had only started after Centerpoint was damaged. As he considered the implications of Danni’s argument, he noticed that she was staring intently at him. Warily, he narrowed his eyes. “What?”

    “What are you?” Danni asked abruptly. Jacen narrowed his eyes further. “Here you are,” she said pointing at him with her fork, “head of the GAG, a political position with a military rank, and you tried to run a special operations attack at Centerpoint.” She cocked her head slightly, looking quizzical. “So, I ask again, what are you? Police? Foreign Office? Military?” Danni’s voice acquired more of an edge, “You need to make up your mind, because you are making a hash of trying to do all three.”

    Jacen was really tired of getting dressed down like this. Danni could see the flash of anger in his eyes that quickly disappeared. You need to hear this. You are making a mess of things right now. For the first time in years, Jacen realized that he missed debating with people; he had gotten so used to keeping his own council and forgot how nice it was to have someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of. He talked to Ben, of course, but he was Ben’s Master and one did not go to an apprentice for advice. Lumiya acted like a friend, but Jacen was not so dumb as to not see her ulterior motives; she was using him as surely as he was using her. He hung his head, exhaling a long breath. Smirking, he looked back into her green eyes, “I see your point. I hate politics; therefore I must be one of the other two options.”

    Danni saw some of the legendary Solo mischief in Jacen’s eyes. Chuckling to herself; “No. Your dad, your uncle, the Council, they all hate politics.” She pointed at him with her fork again, “But, you are your mother’s son; you see the necessity of good politics.” Danni’s tone turned serious. “Your strength lies in thinking things through. Jacen, there are good bureaucrats; be one.”

    Jacen gave her a quick nod. He had always been called the ‘thinker’ of the three Solo kids. During the war, Jacen had frustrated everyone by trying to think things through while on the battlefield--it was a wonder he managed to survive. In politics, however, one had to think things through otherwise it was a disaster. The Jedi Council always spoke derisively of the Senate, but politics and bureaucracy were not inherently evil; government needed competent, thoughtful people to ensure the safety of all. Danni had given him a lot to think about. She looked at him thoughtfully, “Choose and act, Jacen.”

    Jacen tilted his head to the left and looked at her out of the corner of his eyes, “Interesting choice of words.” Danni merely shrugged in reply. After staring at her for a long moment, Jacen finally took her shrug to mean that he was not the only one to have learned things from Vergere. As much as he would like to hear that particular story, it was not important right now. “So, how would you go about removing our favorite thug from office?”

    “Well, a simple criminal trial would be simplest. A person like Gejjen must have all kinds of skeletons hiding in his proverbial closet that are treasonable offences, try digging one of those up.” She sighed, “The other obvious option, killing him, entails more risk. It will be hard for the assassin to escape after assassinating the leader of a planet, and it really isn’t going to be easy to find a Corellian willing to stick his neck out that far. Plus, violence always begets more violence. Once that box is open, it really hard to close.”

    Jacen was resting his chin on his left hand while looking at her intensely. “I doubt that Master Skywalker would approve of your methods.”

    Danni rolled her eyes as she replied, “Skywalker has lost sight of the forest for the trees. He has concerned himself with what the Order should not do rather than what it should be doing.”

    “You’ll have to explain that.” Jacen stated, wanting to hear what she was getting at. “He has sacrificed a great deal for the galaxy.”

    Danni shook her head. “That’s not what I meant. Look, no one has done more for this government than Luke Skywalker. But, what is the first thing that Skywalker taught you after you built your lightsaber?” She caught Jacen’s guilty look. She rolled her eyes and gave him a big smile, “Besides not cutting off your best friends arm, I mean.” Jacen chuckled as he hung his head for a second, realizing that he would always feel guilty about what had happened to Tenel Ka. When he brought his gaze back up to her, she continued. “His first lesson was ‘if you have to use this, than you’ve already lost’, right?” Jacen grimaced and nodded once. “By not jumping in early, by not really trying to negotiate with the Corellians, he’s removed that from the equation. By delaying, the Order and the GFFA are now in a situation where you had to use force. I find that unacceptable.”

    Danni always had a way of making Jacen look at things in a new light. He was going to have to think about this for a while. “You mentioned that Master Skywalker was too worried about what the Jedi should not be.”

    Danni took the slight change in topic in stride. She knew that she had made Jacen uncomfortable and that he needed time to think about what she had said. “He is still obsessed with keeping all of the Jedi on the straight-and-narrow.” She took another bite of pasta, but grimaced. They had spent so much time talking that dinner had gotten cold. “He treats the Dark-side as a precipice, but even Vader didn’t just fall off the cliff. There were signs leading to his fall, if only the Council would have paid attention.” That is why I am here: to stop your slide. Danni took a sip of water to wash the cold pasta taste out of her mouth, and to cover her thoughts.

    Jacen chuckled humorlessly, “Oh, I know all about that. I’ve gotten that speech a few times already.” Danni looked at him with alarm as he continued. “I learned a few things on my sojourn that the Council does not approve of.”

    “Such as….”

    “Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it.” He reached across and gave her left hand a squeeze, “But first, let’s get out of here. My steak has gone cold…” as he gestured around the room Danni noticed that they were the last customers in the restaurant and that the staff was waiting pointedly by the kitchen door. “…and I think that they closed about 10 minutes ago.” He glanced down at his mostly uneaten steak, and noticed that Danni had only picked at her pasta. “I’m actually still hungry, and I know this great 24-hour burger joint about five blocks from here.” Jacen gave her a wink and helped her out of her chair. After paying for dinner, making sure to leave a sizable tip, the two of them walked to the door, still holding hands.