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Saga Heirs to the Empire (AU - A/P, Luke, Leia, Han)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by aldo405, Feb 23, 2018.

  1. aldo405

    aldo405 Jedi Padawan

    Feb 23, 2018
    Summary: En route to Endor and the Second Death Star, Luke, Leia and Han are transported into a very different universe, under a different Empire, with a different Vader.
    Characters: The main PT & OT characters

    Prologue: Before the Fall

    "To be a God is to forsake any and all everlasting happiness" - Ancient Naboo proverb


    "What's your favorite strategy out in the field again," her voice trailing off at the end, wishing she had not brought up the war. She once more attempted to feed the spoonful of paste to the unwilling toddler before her, and once more found her efforts frustrated when the child shut her sharp brown eyes and cried out.

    "Nooooo…dun want more," she cried as she scrunched up her mouth and nose.

    "Leia," her mother admonished, and stopped herself. What sense was there in arguing with a child. Especially with such a long day yet ahead of her.

    "Divide and conquer, my love," she heard from their parlor. She looked back at him helplessly and watched her husband pace the room, his son squealing in delight every time he bounced him up and down and up and down.

    "A tactic," her young husband corrected, "not a strategy, whereby you split your enemy's forces, defeat each weaker opponent in turn, win the battle, and wait while Senator Skywalker and her colleagues devise the strategy to win the war."

    Padme watched as her husband carried their son into the dining room and couldn't help but roll her eyes, which only served to further amuse her husband.

    "Senator Skywalker," he almost whispered, and Padme shivered knowing that he enjoyed saying those two words, once forbidden, almost as much as she enjoyed hearing him say it. "Before you admonish my insubordination, I suggest you formulate a strategy to calm our daughter down, lest she get her brother worked up. Force knows my shoulders are about to fall off."

    Giving up, she tapped her husband's shoulder playfully as she bent down to lift Leia up from her seat. "For what it's worth, General Skywalker, I am well versed in strategy."

    "Are you? Is there a strategic purpose in letting your one year old decide when her lunch is over?"

    "You forget I'm a diplomat, dear General. I read a crisis, know when to push forward, and when to retreat and regroup." Picking up her daughter, she followed her husband to the twins' room. "I've gathered this concept should be a familiar one to you as well."

    "Retreat? I've never heard of such a word!" Anakin contorted his head back at his wife in disbelief, then swept his one free arm in an exaggerated circular motion. "I submit the motion, Senator Skywalker, that we never again utter such blasphemies in front of our son."

    "How about this blasphemy? You're a poodoo head." She tried to keep a straight face, but started giggling as soon as she saw her husband's feigned indignation.

    "How dare you, Senator? Such language unbecoming of your position. I hereby move for a motion of censure."

    "Dada moshin," Luke eagerly agreed. His sister giggled despite her foul mood mere minutes ago, and Padme was surprised how easily her daughter settled into her crib.

    "And how would you censure me," Padme teased as she stroked her daughter's soft and wispy brown hair, willing her to calm down.

    "All will be revealed in due time, milady," Anakin whispered wickedly in a low, raspy voice, then quickly shifted back into daddy mode. "Dada needs Lukey to take his nap now. Okay, Lukey?" Anakin set the smiling child down into his crib, spaced across the room from Leia's. Luke happily settled in as well, and Anakin was glad he drew his son this afternoon; his sister was usually much more difficult to put to sleep, but for once Leia seemed to be cooperating, and Anakin was happy for his wife.

    They sat in the room, backs facing each other, reading to each twin their favorite story. As Padme recited for what seemed the thousandth time the tale of the princess who turned into a Bantha, she stole a quick peek at her husband, and remembered again the stories her father had told her when she was a child.

    She recalled especially the legend of Shiraya, the Naboo Goddess of wisdom, who had dared to fall in love with a mortal. Her beloved was Adono, a mighty warrior who served an ancient King of Naboo, the name long forgotten over the millennia. Their love was a doomed one, for Shiraya's father, the God of the Sun, disapproved of her fling with a mere mortal, so they could only meet every night, the only time they could hide from her father's watchful eye.

    But her father's fears proved true; her lover's fire burned so furiously for her, and in her essence transformed him until he himself became a star, shining so bright that he rivaled even her exalted father. For a time, they said, Naboo knew no night, no darkness, not until the wayward Goddess's father banished her lover far away into the stars, restoring the balance between light and dark once more. And Shiraya, mourning her lost love, vowed to disown her father for eternity, and took her place as the largest and most brilliant of Naboo's three moons. Every night she gazed out across the stars, watching over her doomed love, mourning that he would inevitably and too soon, burn out. Then after that, she would be alone, forever.


    The twins were asleep, and later that afternoon Padme stroked gently her husband's soft blond hair in her hands. With a major session of the Senate to attend in the evening, they were too tired to do anything in bed but rest. Anakin had already fallen asleep, his head resting on her chest and his arms clutching her small form. Padme watched her husband sleep and thought about how peaceful he looked, how content he, no, they both were. He had returned from yet another siege in the Outer Rim, she still fought faithfully for peace in the Senate, but their lives had changed so much ever since her husband had left the Order.

    They had had no choice, really. It was only months after Geonosis and their secret wedding that she had found out she was pregnant with the twins. It was a matter of when, rather than if, their secret would be known to all. Despite her protests, Anakin had decided that the best course of action was to get the truth out as soon as possible. As she had predicted by the fireplace so long ago, the lies were killing him. And her as well.

    When Chancellor Palpatine had offered Anakin a command in the Grand Army it seemed a better consequence than either one of them had hoped for. Padme still distrusted the Chancellor and knew in her heart that Palpatine was using the war to augment his own powers, but at the same time she was so happy that her husband would retain his position and place within the Republic. She believed that Palpatine was a practical, even cynical man, and despite the fallout from the ensuing scandal following Anakin's resignation, could not help but recognize that her husband had too much potential to be relegated to the backseat of history.

    Nothing about their relationship or their lives had ever been ordinary. Even as children, a slave and a Queen, together they had led armies and saved a planet. A decade later, they had fallen in love even as they witnessed firsthand the galaxy around them collapsing into war and despair. Every moment she had with Anakin had felt fleeting, cursed by an aura of apprehension and uncertainty towards what future they would be lucky enough to have. Padme remembered often the stories of the Naboo Gods from her childhood, tales of star crossed lovers, of the tragedy fated to befall the protagonists despite their most valiant efforts to fight their inevitable doom. She had often wondered whether she and her husband were indeed living one of those same doomed myths. Now, there was no more secrecy, no more tension. Between the twins and their respective responsibilities to the Republic, there was no time to feel anything except sheer, ordinary, exhaustion.

    And that was what Padme loved most of all, she mused, as she felt her husband's breath beside her. When they had their occasional moment to themselves, there was no longer that panging fear and guilt lingering around them like a shadow. There were only moments like the one now, pure contentment, pure normalcy. It felt normal when she talked to her family back in Naboo, telling them all about her husband and children. She sensed that her husband felt more at peace as well. Ironically, his relationship with Obi-Wan Kenobi, his former master, had seemed to improve since Anakin's resignation. She knew that Obi-Wan had argued his case in front of the Council, and for the first time in their relationship Anakin had recognized how much Obi-Wan cared for him as a person, not as just a Padawan. Now they were colleagues, equals, and fought side by side like brothers, no secrets between them. Padme sighed and wondered when they could finally end this war, and allowed herself to dream for the first time in their marriage a life away from Coruscant, from the reporters and the politics, a life of peace and simplicity back in Naboo, surrounded by everyone she loved.


    "By the time this war is over there will be no Republic left," Padme whispered to her husband. Seated past him in the pod was Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan, who replied with a subtle nod as they listened to the applause following another vote in favor of Chancellor Palpatine, who newly possessed the power to override in the sovereignty of any system "if the situation required it". Almost imperceptibly, Anakin placed his metal hand gently on her knee.

    "Then I will end this war. We will applaud the Chancellor one last time, he will step down, and we will have peace." Padme squeezed his hand. He was still like a child, she thought. Is, she reminded herself. He was not yet twenty-one years old, and same as her felt the weight of the Galaxy on his shoulders, with the additional pressure of already being a folk figure, a Hero With No Fear, as the holonets had already began to call him.

    "I hope you can bring about all that, General Skywalker. It's a tall order indeed."

    Padme was thankful for her alliance, friendship even, with the Senator from Alderaan. He had been one of her first allies since she had arrived in Coruscant, and had been the first to congratulate her after the Jedi scandal broke. She never felt him judge her like so many other of their colleagues. More importantly, he had instantly treated her husband with the same dignity as his closest allies in the Senate, respecting his obvious talents and respectfully turning a blind eye to those moments when Anakin's childish naiveté trickled through into their more serious discussions.

    "Do you really think he will step down when the war is over?" That was another change in their relationship; with everything out in the open, Padme felt more comfortable in challenging her husband on politics. She did not try to lecture him, knowing that she could never will Anakin to believe exactly as she. But she voiced her opinions, and listened to his, and found that they both continued to learn a lot from each other. "Power is a drug. Those who strive their entire lives to gain it seldom volunteer it away with no prompting."

    "I agree, my love. It's part of what makes us human." He examined her with his piercing blue eyes, and she remembered her very own words so many years ago one fateful night on Tatooine. "Chancellor Palpatine is human, and he wants to win the war so badly. I do not doubt that he has made mistakes in doing so, but I do think that at the end of the day he wants the best for the Republic."

    "What if", Bail asked, "what is best for the Republic is for him to let go of his power? You talk to him more than any of us Senators, Anakin. What do you think he will do?"

    Anakin was silent for a minute. He examined the vast chambers around him, feeling the emotions around him and absorbing them.

    "Power counters power," he finally said. "You told me that yourself, Padme. The Jedi crave power. Every Senator here wants power. Most of you wish to sit in Chancellor's seat one day, that is the reason you are here in the first place. Perhaps, when the time comes, the Chancellor's powers will be balanced by those who want his power more than he."

    Bail smiled. "You taught him well, Padme."

    "I'm not sure if he's learning this from me." She turned to face her husband. "Do you think I crave power? Or Bail? What about Obi-Wan?"

    Anakin frowned. "Obi-Wan is different. So are you and Senator Organa. For what it's worth, if I had a vote, I would proudly vote for either of you to succeed Chancellor Palpaline."

    Despite the gravity of their setting, Padme allowed herself a smile. "So much flattery, General Skywalker. Perhaps you'll find yourself in politics one day after all."

    As another round of applause range through the Senate chambers, Anakin leaned away from Bail and whispered softly where only he and his wife could hear, "Maybe that's not all that far-fetched, seeing as I often find myself inside a politician."

    Before she could even blush, she felt Anakin springing into alertness, obviously sensing something wrong. "Bail! Padme! Hold on!" He moved and suddenly steered their pod away from the Chancellor, towards the galleries of the Senate. Half a second later, they all heard the explosions and the blasters in the distance, in the direction of…

    "The crèche," Padme exclaimed. With Anakin home for three days she had allowed her handmaidens a brief visit back to Naboo to visit their families. They had left Luke and Leia in the Senate nurseries, along with so many other children. "Anakin…what do you feel? What's happening?"

    "Droids," he said as their pod arrived at the gallery platforms.

    "The Separatists dare to attack the Senate," Bail said in shock as his friends leapt onto the walkway and sprinted in the direction of the attack.

    She had powerful lungs, and felt she could outrun any Senator, and probably all her handmaidens save Sabe. But she was no match for her warrior husband, who she could now barely make out through the panicked crowd far down the hallway. They all heard another explosion in the distance, and to her horror she saw her husband shriek and collapse onto the ground.

    "Noooooo," he cried in agony as she caught up to him. She saw that he was unscathed, and so were everyone around them. There was no debris, no sign of destruction in their immediate area. But what she saw scared her more than Count Dooku or any droid army that could be mustered. She saw her husbands eyes, flaring in agony, reaching for desperation and comfort, yet deathly afraid to meet her eyes.

    "Ani! No! Do you still feel them? Luke? Leia!" He did not reply to her, but his tears told her all she needed to know. They were both crying openly by the time she collapsed into his arms, husband and wife laid low onto the floor, unconcerned by the chaos of hundreds of panicked politicians and aides running in every direction all around them, because they knew the worst had already happened, and the worst may very well destroy them both.
    Last edited: May 19, 2018
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  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    This is a happy happy reader! A/P FTW. And wow a cliffie to end the first post. =D= The teasing and the AU-ness. I love it already! I will be watching this one. (Welcome to fanfiction too.) @};-
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
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  3. aldo405

    aldo405 Jedi Padawan

    Feb 23, 2018
    Thanks! Glad you liked it! As for the's more of a welcome back after a decade plus hiatus (and a lost password to my old account here.)


    Chapter 1 - Rebirth

    "Are we dead?"

    "Doubt it kid." Han Solo rubbed his eyes and looked around the small shuttle, trying to orient himself and their vehicle. "I'd hope that whoever greets us in the afterlife is a lot prettier than you."

    "What the hell were you thinking," Leia shouted next to her brother, who groaned in disbelief.

    "Something's not right here."

    "No kidding, Luke. And to answer your question, Princess, maybe you should ask your friends back at the base why they didn't notice the hyperdrive is broken on this damn shuttle." Han slammed the control panel in front of him. "We're stuck."

    "Where's the Imperial fleet?" Luke gazed deep into space. Before him he saw what looked to be the Forest Moon; so they had successfully reached their destination. But there was no sign of the enemy, just empty space. "Could our intelligence have been wrong?"

    Chewbacca moaned in the front seat next to Han's. "Yeah, Chewy, that was a black hole all right. We must have clipped it when we came out of hyperspace."

    "Mon isn't a gambler. She wouldn't commit so many of our resources on questionable information." General Leia Organa turned behind her to see if C-3PO or R2 could provide some answers, but both droids were off.

    "No, Chewy, I don't know what happens when you go through a black hole. And after today, I hope we never find out."

    "Han, are you sure we're even in the right system? Maybe we emerged short of our target destination."

    "I'd bet my life on it," Han grumbled, still fumbling around with the controls. "Why don't you ask Yappy and Flappy back there?"

    "They're powered down. I think the same surge from the black hole that fried the ship's engines must have killed their circuits as well."

    "Maybe it was a trap. The Empire gave us this location on purpose." Luke closed his eyes reached out towards the small moon beyond him, concentrating on everything he had remembered for Master Yoda.

    "Well if it's a trap then it's a damn poor one. There's no sign of Imps anywhere." To Han and Chewbacca's delight the controls in front of him started to whirl back up again.

    "I sense something…down on the moon."

    "What is it," Leia asked softly. Luke turned to face the sharp brown eyes of his…sister. After all these years, she still seemed to be in awe of his connection with the Force. And most of the time she trusted his judgment on faith, compared to their more skeptical friend. Luke wanted to blurt out right then and there to her that she had the same wondrous powers he was still struggling to master, and that one day she could grow to be an even greater Jedi than he. But that would require telling her to the truth about their family…all of it. He had not been ready on Bespin, and he wondered whether Leia would be before it was too late.

    "There's activity, and I sense something…dark. Anger."

    His sister's eyes widened. "Vader is here?"

    "No," Luke said. "Not Vader. This presence is different. Weaker…less focused."

    "So we're facing Vader-lite down there. No offense kid, but I'm not putting too much stock on your hunches right now," Han said from the pilot's seat. He had managed to retake control of the shuttle and was steering it closer to the moon. "Here's a fact. Navigation tells me we're definitely in the Endor system…and there are lifeforms down there." Han squinted closer at the panel. "Maybe some kind of base."

    "But where's the Death Star? Could it be that it was completed ahead of schedule?" Leia's mind raced at the possibilities. If the Emperor regained control of his deadly weapon…well the cause wouldn't be lost, but it would stack the odds that much more against them. "We need to reach Sullust. Get the word out to all of our contacts, all our agents in the field. We have to locate the Death Star as soon as possible, then plan our next steps."

    I can't let another world be destroyed. Not again.

    "Calm down, Princess. Let's think this through. I say we check out what's down there on the moon. That base might have been the one manning that deflector shield. Maybe the Empire left some men behind. They're as good of a place to start as anywhere to find out what's going on."

    "I agree." Luke felt his hand reach towards his lightsaber. "It won't be a cakewalk. I can sense it. We're in for a fight."

    "So we're in agreement then, your highness?"

    Leia tried her best to keep a blank expression. She breathed deeply, and let go her personal attachment to the mission, allowing herself a soft smile at Han. After all that had happened, losing control of their ship in hyperspace, somehow steering around and avoiding a black hole, Han had pulled them through it all, and he still did it with a lightness that even managed to calm her whirlwind of emotions. "Go on then. Let's finish this job."


    A solitary hooded figure strode assuredly through the empty Senate halls. The lights were off for the night, but that did not hamper the man one bit; he paused at an unremarkable spot behind the galleries, as he often did. Hands held together as if in meditation, the man took in his setting for what would seem to a passerby no more than a second, then continued on his way.

    If the turbo-lift had held another passenger, they would have noticed that adorned beneath his plain gray hood and outer robes were the richest crimson and golden garments imaginable, weaved from the finest Alderaanian silk. If he shifted his stance just slightly, one might observe the small hilt of a lightsaber, a rare sight these days in the Capital world. If one dared to gaze under the brim of the man's hood, they would have been shocked at how young his sharp, angular facial features looked, especially compared to the weary, even aged, blue eyes they surrounded.

    He walked through the narrower halls lining the uppermost levels of the Senate Building, passing armed guards covered from shoulder to feet in smooth golden robes. He examined the faces of each guard, looking them each in the eye and daring them to return his gaze. They did not. He saw a face he didn't recognize; it was a tall young Chagrian, and he saw the young guard's grip on his vibro-lance falter just for one moment.


    "Arkun, my Lord. Arkun Tandess," he replied. The young guard's tentacles quivered involuntarily, betraying his nervousness.

    "This your first detail?"

    "Yes, my Lord."

    "How long out of training?"

    "I graduated from the Imperial Academy two standard months ago, my Lord."

    The man nodded, and moved as if to continue down the hallway when he pivoted his hips back at the young guard, his lightsaber revealed from the folds of his robe. "Why are you here?"

    "I'm a warrior, my Lord. My family…are all warriors, ten generations before me. I live to serve the Empire, my Lord."

    "And your Empress," the man added with a just hint of malice.

    "Yes, my Lord. My life for hers."

    His reply seemed to satisfy the man. "See that you engrain those words into your soul, young Tandess, and they will serve you well."

    The hooded man continued past more rows of guards, all on even higher alert now, if that possible. None dared to acknowledge the exchange that just occurred before them. He approached a young female Togrutan who, in sharp contrast to the guards she commanded, slouched casually before the doors of the throne room.

    "Lady Tano."

    "Must you scare my men so," she asked, not looking up from her datapad.

    "Fear is healthy for those who serve. Do you have information for me?" The man took his hood off, revealing a healthy mane of dark blonde hair cropped neatly down to his neck.

    "My spies have located a rebel base on a small moon orbiting the planet Endor." The Empire's Head of Internal Security shook her head as she finally acknowledged the man. "You're right again, Skyguy. I don't know how you do it."

    He gave her a ghost of a smile. "Good. Just as I have foreseen." He pointed a finger at the shorter Togrutan. "Remember my lessons, young one. Pay heed to the Living Force. Understand it better than your own heart, your own soul. Only then can you begin to truly understand the possibilties of the Unifying Force."

    "I understand, Master."

    The man flinched. "Do not call me that."

    The Togrutan laughed. "As you wish then, Skyguy. Do you want me to follow up on the rebel base?"

    "I will see to it myself. Prepare my flagship for departure tomorrow morning."

    She paused, then decided to continue. "Do you wish me to accompany you, my Lord? I have reasonable information indicating that at least one of the rebel stationed there is adept in the Force."

    The tall man stood silent and closed his eyes for a long minute. "It will not be necessary, Lady Tano. I will handle this matter. The Empress has much on her plate right now. Assist her any way you can while I'm away."

    "The Naberrian will be docked and ready to go by 0800 then." The Togrutan gave him an abrupt salute and marched purposefully back down the hallway.

    "Make that 0900." With a barely perceptible flick of one finger, he opened the doors of the throne room. The neverending skyline of the Galactic Capital greeted him on three sides, the luminescent night sky above him. He took seven steps towards the throne, comprised of a small desk perched on a platform on the edge of the room opposite the doorway, and knelt reverently before his Empress.

    "What is thy bidding, my Master?"

    The Empress, a brown haired woman whose small bodily frame belied her power and position in the Galaxy, was unperturbed by her visitor and did not deign to look up from her desk. "Ani, what's wrong with you tonight? You reek of Corellian Whiskey."

    She allowed herself a brief glance at her husband, long enough to notice the mischievous grin on his face.

    "Forgive me, Your Grace. But you're the one who forced to attend the Ancient Naboo Theatre just now with Senator Bel Iblis."

    The Empress raised one eyebrow. "Did you enjoy it?"

    "Do you suggest that I would ever not enjoy anything from the lovely planet of Naboo," he asked, as he finally rose and walked up to his wife's throne. "That would be treason, indeed." He dropped to his knees once more, this time beside her to give her a small kiss on her cheek. Padme merely sighed as she shuffled a datapad off to the side of her desk, taking another from a tall stack of pads to her left.

    "Hmpff," his wife replied, reviewing yet another report, this one about the ongoing water crisis in Mandalore. She sighed again, knowing that this was not a briefing she could simply brush aside. "Which play was it again?"

    "The Tragedy of Lord Makath, milady." He ran his fingers gently down her neck, finding the one spot just above her right shoulder. She groaned and leaned her head back despite herself.

    "That story," Padme mused, "sounds like one you would enjoy."

    "It wasn't bad," he admitted. "I think I enjoyed it more than the Senator. But he enjoyed the whiskey more."

    "Seems like you had a healthy appreciation for both. What did you think of Lord Makath?"

    He withdrew his finger from her neck to her dismay, and walked to the edge of the window behind her, examining the massive building in the distance, one that many years ago housed the Jedi Order. A building he had called home for more than a decade. "His ambition was his undoing, milady."

    "So the lesson is abandon all ambition then?"

    "No," he replied, turning to face his wife. "But ambition without vision is fatal."

    "And what of our favorite Corellian Senator's ambitions?"

    "I charmed him," he replied simply.

    The Empress reluctantly set her latest datapad aside, knowing that she could not finish the report in good faith tonight. She picked herself up from her small throne and walked up to her husband, falling easily into his tall form as his arms, one flesh, one metal, enveloped her.

    "Somehow I doubt it's the same kind of charm you use on me."

    "Those charms are for you and you alone." He kissed her again, this time softly on the top of her head. "Did you speak with Snips tonight?"

    "I did. She briefed me about Endor before you arrived." Padme traced her husband's fingers with hers, noting with dismay the lines on her hand. "A small, insignificant rebel base well past the middle of nowhere. Must this require your attention?"

    "There is more to this than just the base. I asked Snips to check out the sector because, well…I felt a disturbance in the force from that origin. The rebel presence at Endor confirms what I have foreseen…"

    "Yeah, yeah, I know," his wife interrupted. "Your visions and all that bantha spit." She could almost feel him raise his eyebrow at her as they both stared into the Coruscanti night.

    "This is different."

    "What's going on Ani?"

    "I…I honestly don't know." He held her closer, nuzzling his face into her neck, breathing in the scent of her hair, woven intricately around the back of her head beneath a delicate platinum crown. "I can't…I don't think I can explain this yet. Something…complicated has happened, beyond anything I have felt before. I can't really say more until I can confirm…my suspicions."

    "Eleven years ago…," she began, and stopped. She felt choked of breath. "Tomorrow will have been eleven years."

    "I know." He clutched her tighter. "I failed you. I failed us. So utterly and completely. I wish I could be here for you, with you."

    He closed his eyes, resting his chin above the crown of her head.

    "Oh Ani," she gasped, and the Empress's tears finally broke free of their walls. "I miss them so much."

    From her husband, a soft whisper, "I won't fail again, I promise."
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
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  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Fascinating utterly! I love this melding of ROTJ-ness with a completely different Empire with A/P being endearing while being in control. :cool: =D=
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  5. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Sep 21, 2000
    I love the AU of this! Great story! :)
  6. aldo405

    aldo405 Jedi Padawan

    Feb 23, 2018
    Thanks! I hope I'm doing the ROTJ-ness justice...this is my first time really writing the OT characters.

    Thanks! I definitely wanted to change the circumstances of our favorite characters a bit and see how they would react.

    Chapter 2 - Captive

    "Those blasters look ancient," Luke whispered, hands raised in the air.

    "Doesn't matter how old they are if they're pointed at us," his sister replied, wondering how everything had gone so wrong. When hailed by the small base on arrival the Imperial codes they had been provided failed to work, and of course they were promptly surrounded by a small army when they landed.

    "No sign of Stormtroopers anywhere," Han observed. "This is the most pathetic group of Imps I've ever ran across."

    "Like an outpost full of farmboys and nerfherders." Leia looked dejectedly at the forest ground where she and Han laid down their blasters for the benefit of their captors. "Luke, if you have any Jedi tricks to pull, now's the time."

    "Quiet," ordered one of the sentries, an older male. He and then other armed soldiers stood in a circular perimeter around them.

    "We're just here to deliver provisions," Luke said, trying his best to sound authoritative. "There must have been a mix up with the codes, I assure you."

    "Provisions," asked another sentry, a younger male. He stepped up to the group, blaster ready. "From where?"

    "The Executor," Han volunteered. "We're actually…quite overdue to return at this moment. Lost contact with the mothership too, so if you happen to know which system she's docked at right now…"

    "Never heard of an Executor," the older sentry.

    "Leave your weapons and your cargo and come with us. Commander Offee will decide what to do with you."

    "Will that take long? We're really in a rush. You know how Lord Vader gets when you're late."

    His response seemed to trigger a response in some of the soldiers, but before they had a chance to reply, several blaster shots rang out from the trees behind them.

    "About damn time, Chewy." Han leapt down on the ground and grabbed his two blasters, tossing one of them at Leia. He watched their young Jedi compatriot cut down the two soldiers closest to them and, rolling behind Luke, fired into the rearguard at the ones trying to take out Chewbacca. Caught in a crossfire now, several of the soldiers fired back, but Luke ably jumped between them and deflected the blaster shots away, giving Han time to take down several more soldiers. He heard a savage howl, and as Luke leapt forward to dispatch the last of the remaining sentries, he saw the growling Wookie leap onto the last soldier and lock him in a chokehold.

    They all ran up to the remaining Imperial at once, who now faced two blasters and a green lightsaber.

    "Where's the Death Star, Imp?"

    "Is it fully operational?"

    "Where the hell did the fleet go?"

    "Answer our questions," Luke said calmly, observing the man's fear and, for some reason, confusion. "No harm will come to you."

    "I…," the sentry motioned upwards with his head towards Chewbacca. Han gave the Wookie a shrug, and he proceeded to release the officer's neck. "Death Star? Fleet? I have no clue what you're talking about? Did you call me an Imp?"

    "You're saying you don't work for the Empire?" Leia's grip on her blaster wavered? Who were these men then? If they weren't Imperials…had their faulty intelligence led them to slaughter a group of innocents?

    "We're…," the man struggled before taking in more gasps of breath. "We're fighting against the Empire. We're rebels."

    "Oh, that's a crock of bull," Han started, but he noticed he wasn't the only one not certain that the officer before them was lying or not. This was the oddest ragtag group of Imperials he had encountered after all.

    "I sense…he's telling the truth," Luke said warily. He pulled his lightsaber away from the officer, only to see a look of alarm from Han, who aimed his blaster towards him.

    "Watch out…" Luke swung his lightsaber back, barely in time to ward off a savage blue lightsaber. A small, sleek woman leaped down from the tall trees above and slashed savagely at Luke. She was far quicker in her movements, he noticed as he parried off her blows, and he struggled to keep up with her frenzied attacks. With a quick feint at his left leg, she vaulted over his right shoulder, and as he moved his blade up to fend off her thrusts, saw her cut through several fingers on his cybernetic hand. Her blue blade made contact with the hilt of his sword and immediately deactivated it just in time for an additional group of reinforcements to arrive.

    The woman, an olive skinned Mirialan, called his own lightsaber to her hand and pointed both weapons at Luke's neck.

    "Don't even try it," she ordered with her back to Han and Leia. "Release Captain Ozzel and drop your weapons. No tricks this time."

    Leia looked at Han, and he could only respond with a shrug and a look of helplessness. "Nothing we can do kid." They raised their arms in surrender again, and this time around the reinforcements moved in quickly to confiscate their weapons.

    "Look," Luke pleaded from the ground. "I think there's some kind of misunderstanding. I'm sorry about your men. We didn't know there was a rebel base down here. We thought you guys were Imperials."

    "We were given bad intel," Han added, flinching as he felt a blaster pointed in the small of his back, pushing him forward. "But I think we're on the same team. I'm General Solo." His name seemed to elicit no reaction. "Han Solo."

    Still nothing. "Come on…the first Death Star? Hoth? Spent the last six months as wallpaper for Jabba the Hutt?"

    "He seems to be rambling nonsense," the man named Ozzel remarked. "Jabba the Hutt's been dead for years."

    "That's impossible," Leia cried. "I strangled him less than a week ago."

    "Look," Han said warily as the sentries continued to nudge them towards their base. "This pretty young thing here is General Leia Organa, and that's THE Luke Skywalker you just disarmed."

    The woman with the two lightsabers examined him for the first time. Encouraged that she may have finally recognized their names, Han continued. "That's right! Hero of Yavin, fired the money shot into the Death Star. Jedi Master or some mumbo jumbo."

    "That's enough," the Mirialan ordered. She looked back and scrutinized the young man lying on the ground.

    "Commander Offee. What do you wish to do with them?"

    "Rise, young…Skywalker." She uttered the last word with some hesitation. "You will all accompany us back to the base."

    "So you believe us then," Luke asked. He wondered who this woman was. Was she another Jedi, hidden away in this lost world? She was certainly much stronger than him, but he sensed darkness and anger in her.

    Barriss Offee sneared, digging her blue eyes into the young Jedi's. "Some Jedi. Your training is weak, but your presence is strong." She motioned with a lightsaber, the blue one she captured, ordering her prisoners forward. "Get up, Skywalker. Either you're all crazy, or pretenders, or the most valuable hostages in the Galaxy. Or all of the above."


    She needed to be strong. She had held her composure when tortured by Darth Vader, when she watched billions of her people slaughtered aboard the first Death Star. She had rescued her friends when they needed her, though she conceded that her attempt on Tatooine did not exactly go as planned. Even so, hadn't she been the one who finally put that slug out of his misery?

    Lying in Han's arms in their small cell, General Leia Organa of the Rebel Alliance wanted to allow herself to be weak for once, give in, and free herself to the idea that whatever future she had left, she did not need to go it alone anymore. She had surrendered herself only once before, on that dark day on Bespin, and subsequently lost her love for what seemed like an eternity. As she felt Han's fingers holding hers, gentler than she had imagined, she wondered what dark punishments lay beyond this brief moment of peace for her, for them. She had endured so much in her young life, yet there was something so disconcerting, so wrong about their predicament, unlike anything she had experienced before, however dire.

    She looked across the cell to Luke, and thought he was feeling the same way. He had seemed almost dazed since he was disarmed way too easily by Offee. The name was not familiar to any of them, which further added to the day's mysteries. She felt Luke's despair and disappointment; she saw how hard he had trained over the last year, and yet was no match for Offee, regardless of whether she was ally or foe. She still wanted to believe in her good friend, but the realist in her wondered if they were running out of time, if Luke would ever be ready to confront Darth Vader and the Emperor.

    "What do you think they're gonna do to us this time," she felt Han murmur behind her. "Throw us into a nest of Gundarks?" Chewbacca said something next to Luke, and Han considered it. "Naw, I'd still prefer the Rancor."

    "Luke, what are you thinking? You haven't said a word since we got here."

    "Let the kid be, Leia."

    "It's alright, Han." He sighed. "Something feels off here."

    "I'll second that motion. Personally, I think Vader set all of us up." Han's eyes lit up. "It makes complete sense actually. They feed us false information, lead us on a wild bantha chase on the edge of the Galaxy, and get us to attack our own people."

    "No," Luke said. Han felt a small twinge of unease; Luke's eyes gazed across the cell at him, but his mind, was elsewhere. "Vader wouldn't do that."

    "Why do you say that?"

    "It's me that Vader wants. If he wanted to set a trap for us he would've been waiting for us here."

    "Kid, what exactly happened between you and Vader on Bespin?" Han grimaced even as he asked the question upon seeing the pain on Luke's face. His own memories with Lord Vader had not exactly been pleasant, but he didn't need to the Force to realize what Luke had went through was on a whole other level.

    "I…," he hesitated.

    "It's okay Luke," Leia said. "You don't have to tell us if you don't want to."

    "No. I have to. We're all in the same danger. You guys deserve to know the truth."

    "The truth," Leia's eyes narrowed. "Was it torture? What he did do to you?"

    "Besides the hand stuff," Han added, earning himself a reproachful look from Leia.

    Luke breathed deeply. "We talked. We fought. He overpowered me. I lost my hand…my weapon. I was at his mercy, but…"

    "He didn't kill you," Han said.

    "No. He asked me to join him." Just say it. You know it to be true. "As father and son."

    "Huh?" Han's jaw just dropped. Chewbacca made a surprised grunt next to him and unconsciously backed away towards the far corner of the cell.

    "He must be lying, Luke! You can't just believe him like that!"

    "It's true, Leia. Obi-Wan confirmed it for me when I returned to Dagobah, but even then, I knew it was the truth." He looked into his sister's eyes. There was anger in them, but not directed at him. Just sadness.

    "There is more," Luke added. At that moment he felt it. They saw him sit up in the cell, spine straightened, shoulders tense. "I feel him. He's here."

    "Oh for sith's sake," Han could only mutter. "Not again."


    He watched several squadrons of clones storm the small base. The small outpost was not built to withstand even a small crack team, much less the might of an entire division. There was little opposition left by the time he walked inside the main facility.

    "Search all of the detention cells," he ordered. "Be on the lookout for twins, a boy and a girl."

    He saw fighting ahead, and heard the hum of lightsabers. A Mirialan woman, valiantly cutting down his clones left and right.

    "Fall back," he ordered. "Clear the room. I'll handle this one." He faced the woman as his surviving troops retreated to form an arc behind him, blasters still pointed at her.

    "Barriss Offee," he said. "You will make a fine present for a certain friend of ours." He sensed a commotion in the room behind him, and resisted the temptation to look.

    "Lord Vader," she spat back contemptuously. He saw in her eyes fear, yet defiance. "Perhaps we can negotiate." She crouched into a fighting stance, crossing two lightsabers in front of her.

    "Such disrespect. There will be no negotiations today." A simple flick of his wrist, and his former fellow Padawan was slammed violently sideways into the wall. He approached her groaning form, and bent down to pick up a dropped lightsaber.

    "Secure her back onto the ship." He turned around and several clonetroopers moved in to apprehend the lone survivor. Out in the atrium, he turned his attention to the new arrivals.

    "Luke. Leia." He nodded at them sternly in recognition. "You're older than I expected."

    "How did you…" Leia observed their 'rescuer', a tall and imposing figure with hardened blue eyes. The same blue eyes as…

    "Father," Luke asked. They had accompanied the storm troopers out to the front of the base because they had no weapons and thus no choice, but oddly enough for the first time this day they were moving without the threat of blasters or other deadly weapons pointed at them.

    "Vader," Leia whispered, softly enough so that only Han could hear, but he seemed to notice anyway.

    "Not quite," he replied, and to her horror, actually had the temerity to extend a gloved hand out from his white robes to her for…a handshake?

    "I'm Anakin Skywalker."

    She took hand in hers despite herself, and was surprised to feel a rugged durasteel surface under the glove. Before she could say a word, he walked past her and approached Luke. He pulled out a lightsaber, which she recognized as Luke's, and pointed it at him almost casually. She reached for Han's hand with the same one that had just gripped Vader's, but rather than ignite the weapon and run it through Luke as she expected, the man calling himself Anakin simply studied the weapon for some time.

    "You built this yourself?"


    "Who taught you to do so?" Luke hesitated to answer.

    "No matter," he said, handing the lightsaber back to Luke in an almost disapproving manner. "This weapon is your life. Don't lose it again."

    Luke's eyes never left the man as he cautiously took the weapon and held it at his side, ready to ignite it at any time. Father and son seemed to observe each other for what felt like hours. Leia felt Han's grip tighten on her.

    "Your hand."

    "It's fine. Just a bit charred."

    He took Luke's right hand into his own and studied it. "You lost it before today. How?"

    "I lost it in a duel," Luke stated simply. They scrutinized each other in silence again for the longest time.

    "You are strong in the Force," Anakin finally said. "And you have endured your share of darkness."

    "I have," Luke replied curtly.

    To her horror, Anakin returned his attention to her. "And her as well." He paused, as if he just noticed for the first time the rest of their companions. "Who's the scoundrel?"

    "The Wookie is our friend Chewbacca. And that's General Han Solo," emphasizing the title.

    "General, huh?" Anakin regarded his son and daughter some more. Leia found that try as she might, she couldn't look away from the man's penetrating, almost spectral blue eyes, so similar to Luke's, yet they were cold, stony...and powerful. She examined the man's face; he was older than them, but not by that much; she would guess that he was about Han's age, maybe even younger. Wouldn't he be way too young to be Luke's father? But then, that made about as much sense as Luke being the son of Darth Vader.

    "Luke," Anakin beckoned, never taking his gaze off of her, "tell your sister that General Solo is way too old for her."

    "Sister?" All three of them besides Luke of them seemed to exclaim simultaneously.

    Anakin sighed. "I see there is still much you need to discuss between yourselves." He motioned towards one of the clone troopers.

    "Rex, escort our guests onto the ship. Make sure they have the finest quarters. Show Luke the medic ward as well." He looked back at the shocked kids behind him. "Take your time to catch up and settle in. We will talk further once we reach hyperspace."

    Leia finally broke her silence. "How can we trust you?"

    "I gave him back his lightsaber, didn't I?" With those words, Anakin turned away and strode back to his transport.


    "...And there were no survivors, though we did not locate Commander Offee."

    If she felt any dismay or disappointment, the holoimage of Mon Mothma did not show it. "How much does she know about the rest of our operations, Admiral Tarkin?"

    "Obviously we take every measure of precaution in our communication chain. She would not know the location of our base here, or of your location. If she talks however, and I have no doubt she eventually will, they may be able to connect some dots."

    The former Senator seemed to consult with someone offscreen. "Do you think marks the beginning of a major Imperial offensive?"

    Tarkin held his chin in contemplation. "Skywalker is a wily adversary. He would not start a major campaign by attacking an insignificant backwater base on the edge of the Galaxy."

    "Perhaps he attacked Endor precisely because of the unpredictability. It's a distraction. Remember the Carida campaign."

    "I do indeed, Senator Mothma. But the circumstances here are different. The Empire operates from a position of strength. The Genius of Carida would not need to attempt to divert our attention. Unless..."

    He studied the galactic map below him, scrolling through the star systems until he found his mark. "Unless there is weakness in the Empire, and he's trying to distract us from it."

    "What are you suggesting, Admiral Tarkin?"

    "Where is the Empire most vulnerable right now?"

    Mothma considered the question. "Mandalore."

    "Precisely." Tarkin pointed down onto his map in triumph.

    "What do you suggest?"

    Tarkin smiled. "We press them where they're weak."

    Minutes later, the image of Mon Mothma faded, and a shadowy figure stepped up to the rebel leader beside the main projector.

    "I hate the cold," the red eyed Zabrak said.

    "Good. You'll find the climate on Mandalore much more to your liking then."

    "That may reveal my presence."

    "Succeed, Lord Maul, and our allies will have no choice but to embrace your place at our table."

    The Zabrak pondered the projection before him. The Endor system was now marked in red. "Have you considered, Admiral," he asked, "that Endor was not a purely military operation?"

    "Because of Offee? I assure you Lord Maul, Skywalker wouldn't shift resources from the capital world for merely a personal grudge."

    "No. But I feel a shift in the Force. There may have been other considerations."

    "And what would those considerations be," Tarkin asked impatiently. He had no time for this nonsense.

    "I am still meditating on the matter."

    "Then don't waste my time, Lord Maul."

    The Zabrak seethed, and left the control room wordlessly.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh, fascinating. The characters are familiar but different. Barris Offee, Ozzel - Admiral Tarkin?! Wow. And :eek: Maul is there with his :eek: don't trust him for less than a second [face_worried] Love the H/L undertones and the reactions to the big reveals, especially the sibling one. :)

    LOL about the fate of Jabba in each timeline. Leia should know that she dispatched him so efficiently. [face_laugh]
    AzureAngel2 and aldo405 like this.
  8. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Sep 21, 2000
    I'm loving the different timelines! A great first meeting between Anakin, Luke, Han and Leia. =D=:)
  9. aldo405

    aldo405 Jedi Padawan

    Feb 23, 2018
    Thanks! It's fun speculating where some of the same characters would fit in much different circumstances. And I have a feeling that Anakin would approve of Leia's conduct with Jabba.

    Thanks Sara_Kenobi! I definitely wanted to make sure the reunion felt right, seeing how discombobulated the OT gang would feel in this AU.

    Chapter 3 - In Motion

    He lay mere inches away, yet she had never felt so apart from him, not even when he had been gone for months on the Outer Rim. His eyes were closed and he lay still, but she could tell by the way he breathed that he also could not sleep.

    "How did it feel," she asked. They had not made love since the night of the attack on the Senate. She told them that she did not think it felt right. To her surprise, he had not argued. Perhaps he felt the same way.

    "When I killed her," Anakin stated. He had tracked Asajj Ventress, the mastermind of the attack, the one responsible for the death of her kids, to the ancient Sith planet of Korriban.

    "Yes." She secretly envied the fact that he had the opportunity to take actual action in avenging their children's murder.

    "I felt…anger. Anger when I killed her. And sadness. Because I knew killing Ventress could never bring Luke and Leia back."

    Padme considered his answer. He was being guarded in his responses, holding something back from her. It was not like this before. For a wonderful interlude, after he left the Jedi Order, they had been together…truly together in mind, body, and spirit. They hid nothing from each other, opening their souls, revealing their deepest, darkest fears and desires. But that could never last, Padme mused sadly. It seemed to her that they were not destined to experience happiness together in this life, and that the Force or the fates or whatever it was would inevitably punish them tenfold for every moment of bliss they shared.

    "Did you feel better afterwards?" Her husband was silent for a long time, and she thought he may not answer her.

    "No. Tracking down Ventress distracted me. It gave me a goal to pursue. I killed her…because it was my duty, to you, to Luke and Leia, to the Republic." He frowned. "Then I thought about them again. The pursuit allowed me to forget, even for a few weeks. But afterwards I remembered that I will never see my son and daughter again. And that the feeling will never go away."

    She slowly moved her hand across the bed and clasped his hand, the one whose flesh matched hers. It was their most intimate moment in months. It did not seem fair to her that Anakin could simply fly off for two months, avenge their children, and gain a kind of satisfaction that she would never get to feel. She hated herself for the thought, but part of her was relieved that her husband was no closer to closure than she.

    They laid in bed absorbed in their own thoughts for more time. Anakin broke the silence.

    "The Chancellor agreed to my request to appoint me Supreme Commander of the Republic's armies."

    She squeezed his hand. "You will be away more."

    "Yes. I am consolidating the Republic's forces into three armies, and I intend to take the war to the Separatist systems after we leave Naboo."

    After we bury our children, she thought. It was for the better. She was surprised that she did not miss him as much as she used to this last time he was gone, and it saddened her. His absence had allowed her to focus on her work, so she could do her part to end the war, though that prospect seemed dimmer day after day. But she admitted to herself that was not all. Senate or no Senate, she was thankful for Anakin's absence because every time she looked at him she couldn't but help think of their children.

    "They still don't trust me."

    "The Jedi?"

    "The Jedi…and Chancellor Palpatine. I intended to take personal command of the Third Army, but they insisted that my command be accompanied by a member of the Jedi Council."

    "You're still so young, Anakin. Of course they should trust you…and I do. But to everyone else, it would seem unprecedented to place so much responsibility on someone so young, regardless of how much it's deserved."

    "Chancellor Palpatine told me it was because I had too much responsibility coordinating the entire Cloned forces. That I would need help, someone to help supervise the Third Army. But I know the truth, Padme. The Jedi fear me. They fear I will become more powerful than they."

    "They answer to you now, Ani. You already are." Not powerful enough to save our kids, a persistent voice echoed in her head. She tried to block that voice away, to argue with it, but it had only grown stronger in the recent weeks.

    "Perhaps some time apart would be best," Anakin said, strangely echoing her thoughts. He sat up and gazed out at the Coruscant skyline. "I have vast responsibilities now. I need to focus on the war."

    "You will not let us down, Ani. I trust you. You and Obi-Wan will make a good team."

    She saw his shoulders tense. "I am assigning Obi-Wan command of the Second Army. He will lead a separate campaign."

    "Who from the Council will accompany you then?"

    "Master Windu."

    "Master Windu? He's never been your biggest champion."

    "No. But he and I are too similar in a way, I sense, and he knows that too."

    "How," Padme asked. She sat up beside her husband, puzzled.

    "We're both driven. By different things of course, but under it all we feel the same kind of...passion. He channels it with his saber form. I…," Anakin paused. He turned, and their faces almost touched.

    "I fight." He concluded in a soft voice. "I will end this war, Padme. I won't return until I do. And Master Windu, for all he feels about me, will also do what is necessary to end the war."

    She studied her husband's face and to her dismay, saw nothing of the cheerful, funny little boy from Tatooine, nor the roguish teenager she had met ten years later. He was a man now. She saw in his eyes great sadness, anger, and resolve, and wondered if the last of that youthful spark she had fallen in love with had died alongside their children.

    "There's a story we tell on Naboo," she said. "The tale of the eternal warrior. He was the greatest warrior in all the land. One day, his village and his people were under attack, and the King said to him, 'only you can save us all'. So the warrior fought bravely for seven long years, and finally drove the enemy away and saved his people."

    "And they lived happily ever after," Anakin asked flatly.

    "No," Padme said softly. She grasped her husband's hands with both of hers, rubbing the center of his palm with her thumbs. "The great warrior returned home, but he was restless. After seven years of fighting, he knew of nothing else. So he rebelled, slaughtering the King and all the nobles who did not join him. He then made war on all the neighboring kingdoms, and destroyed them all. But after all was won, he was still restless."

    She gently took his prosthetic hand and pulled it to her, stroking it the same way she did with his flesh hand, and continued. "So he hunted down all the people in his kingdom, because he suspected the same treason he himself had committed, and killed them all. He returned home to his castle, and faced his family, and realized that they were all strangers to him. He decided that he could not trust his family, so he killed them too."

    She paused again, looking away at her nightstand, and at a small holo of her and Anakin at the Lake House. He was cradling Luke, rocking him back and forth, and she remembered whispering to Leia, probably negotiating with her to stay still and smile.

    "One day the mighty warrior woke up and found himself alone, as usual. He walked to his mirror but the sight he saw was different. In the reflection was a young man, the man he once was. And never in his life was he filled with so much hatred, so he brought his sword down on the mirror for a killing blow. They found his body by the shattered mirror afterwards. Finally, there was no one left to fight...but they say that maybe in his last moments when he destroyed himself, he had set his younger self free."

    She saw a wisp of a smile form on her husband's mouth. "For such a beautiful planet and happy, you Naboo sure tell some interesting stories."

    She cupped her husband's chin with her small fingers, and traced the edge of his lips with her thumb. "Fight your fight, Ani. Do what you have to do. But don't lose yourself in this war."


    "This is insane," Leia said, pacing around the suite. True to his word, their accommodations aboard Vader's flagship was comfortable, though the stormtroopers had for some reason insisted that they all be given separate rooms, with a small parlor and kitchen between them.

    "I think I know what happened," Han said, leaning forward on a couch burying his head in his hands.

    "What," Leia asked.

    "My instincts were correct. We are dead. Probably fell into that kriffing Sarlacc pit. And this must be some twisted version of Hutt hell."

    "He's not Vader," Luke said, staring out a small viewport.

    "How do you know," Leia asked, eyeing her brother warily.

    "His…presence is different."

    "So we're back on this feeling mumbo jumbo again." Han wanted to trust his friend's faith in the Force and the Jedi, but he found it difficult knowing that Darth Vader, whatever version of him it was, freely used the same Force.

    "Luke, you heard her address him as Lord Vader."

    "I don't think he liked that."

    "When were you going to tell me?"

    Luke turned but kept his distance, staying by the viewport. "I was just about to back on the moon, I swear. Then I felt my…our father's presence. But I was expecting Darth Vader, and I had to protect you. He would have been able to read your thoughts."

    "I think he still can." She took a seat next to Han, clutching his knee. "How did he know our names, Luke?"

    Luke returned his gaze back out into the stars. He closed his eyes. "Han, I think you're right, in a sense. This isn't the same world we came from."

    "The black hole," Leia said warily. "How did we not realize? We must have flown through it." She looked up at Han, and for a brief moment he thought she was going to kiss him. Then she struck him in his shoulder with her small fist, and it hurt. "Nice job!"

    "Hey! You try flying an alien ship with a fried hyperdrive!"

    "Don't blame Han, Leia. I think the Force may brought us to this world for a reason," Luke said calmly.

    "So it brings us to a world where Vader doesn't have a suit but still serves the empire," Leia said, still refusing to acknowledge that that thing, or man in this reality, was her father. "Why?"

    Luke closed his eyes. "I have to face him. It was my destiny, and yours Leia, if I failed."

    "My destiny," she said incredulously. "Luke, you're the Jedi, not me."

    "You have the same powers I have, Leia. We both inherited them from father. Only our powers can destroy Vader…or save him." He left the viewport and sat across from the couple. "Obi-Wan told me that Vader was once Anakin Skywalker, a great Jedi warrior and good man, before he turned to the Dark Side. Maybe we need to learn more about Anakin the man before we can face what he has become."

    "I remember Anakin Skywalker," Han mused. "And that's definitely him alright. His face was all over the holonets by the end of the Clone Wars. They called him the Hero with No Fear."

    "Han," Luke looked reproachfully at his friend. "Why have you never told me this?" He felt a twinge of anger at his friend for never telling him this fact about his father, but secretly beamed in pride to hear someone confirm what he had hoped to be true for so long.

    "I wasn't sure if your dad was the same guy? Plus, you have that mopey baby-faced look whenever someone brings up your family. I didn't want to get your hopes up."

    "So we get to know your dad," Leia said, picking up a nearby datapad. She wondered if she could find out where her friends were in this world. A thought popped in her head? Was it possible that Alderaan existed in this Empire? That her parents…adopted parents she conceded, were still alive? "We find out what makes Darth Vader tick, maybe pick up some intel on the inner workings of the Empire, then fly back through that black hole?"

    "It sounds like a long shot," Luke laughed. "But we've faced worse."

    "What if your old man doesn't let us leave?"

    "Leave for where?" A stern voice echoed from across the room, and Luke was stunned to realize that none of them had heard Anakin Skywalker approach.

    "Home," Leia replied defiantly. "Our home. Our world. We don't belong in this one."

    "And yet here you are. You will learn to not question the will of the Force, my child. Not without some training, at the very least. Where's your Wookie friend?"

    "He's still sleeping," Luke replied. "What do you intend to do with us, Anakin? Or is it Darth Vader?"

    "I'm familiar with that concept," his father replied with a stone face, "but no, I'm not a Sith Lord, if that's what you're asking." Anakin helped himself to a seat next to his son, and Leia saw that despite his best efforts, Luke could not help but gawk at his father like a little boy. "I wish to learn about my children. Tell me about your lives and your wars. Obviously you were not raised by me in the world you came from?"

    "No. Leia was raised by Bail and Breha Organa in the royal court of Alderaan. I was raised by my Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru in Tatooine."

    Anakin raised an eyebrow, and Luke saw that he had piqued his father's interest. He continued his tale about his childhood, crazy old Ben Kenobi, and going to rescue a Princess. He saw sadness in his father's eyes when he described coming home to find his aunt and uncle dead, disapproval when he walked through how they had met Han in a tavern in Mos Eisley, and pride as he fired the shots that destroyed the Death Star. Luke studied his face and tried to feel for his father's emotions through the Force when he described the atrocities of Vader: destroying Alderaan, torturing Leia, handing Han over to a bounty hunter, striking down Obi-Wan, and his own meeting with him on Bespin, but he saw and felt nothing. Luke wanted to trust the Anakin Skywalker in this world, but he still decided to leave out the parts about Yoda and Dagobah just in case.

    Leia seemed to soften to Anakin as the story went on, adding in areas where Luke had missed. She seemed to almost blush when Anakin gave her a look of fatherly approval when she described the demise of Jabba the Hutt. Han, for the most part, sat quietly, though he did mutter a few choice words to himself when Luke went over the part where Vader froze him in carbonite.

    "So you believe that you can travel back to your world if you fly back through the black hole," Anakin stated as Luke described their capture at Endor.

    "It seems reckless, but I can't think of any other way."

    "Luke, if anyone can fly blindly through any black hole and travel to different universes, we'd have pathetic life forms like your friend here popping out of hyperspace left and right."

    "Hey," Han objected. "That's strike three."

    "What were strikes one and two," Leia asked.

    "Well, one would be the whole Death Star thing, and two would be the whole frozen in carbonite thing. Not that I can do anything about any of this," Han concluded indignantly.

    "You are right though," Anakin continued, wholly ignoring the other exchange. "It was the will of the Force that you have arrived here. And I believe your powers in the force, yours and your sister's, allowed you to survive the dangers of the black hole."

    With that, Anakin abruptly rose to leave the group.

    "Wait!" Leia sprung up from her seat and to both Luke and Han's astonishment, ran up to her father and grabbed his arm. "We told you everything about us! We have just as many questions for you about this world, and the Empire you serve. Aren't you going to answer any of them?"

    "We are fast approaching Coruscant. I must ready the ship for arrival."

    "Please," Leia beseeched. To her surprise she saw Vader…Anakin's face soften.

    "I have time for just a few questions. Make them quick."

    "How…how did you know who we are?" She saw his eyes harden again.

    "You and your brother did exist in this world…for a time."

    "What happened to us?"

    "Your mother and I had you when we were both very young," Anakin replied, his voice raspier than before. "We did not consider the ramifications of having children in the middle of the Clone Wars, while the Sith still existed. You were both killed when you were very young in a terrorist attack masterminded by the Separatist forces and Darth Sidious, the puppet-master behind the war."

    "The Sith…," Luke gasped. "The Emperor…"

    "He got everything he deserved," Anakin replied, and a chill ran down Luke's spine as he felt the all too familiar waves of anger radiating from his father.

    "What about our mother," Luke asked, and to his relief, saw his father's frown disappear.

    "She's very much alive. You will meet her shortly."

    "Anakin," Leia began, looking uncertainly at her feet. "Why did that woman call you Lord Vader?"

    Her father chuckled. "I think the poor soul meant to insult me. She believes the title is emasculating."

    "Emasculating," Luke asked. That was the last word he would ever associate with Vader.

    "I serve the Empire by the grace and mercy of your mother, the Empress Vader." With that, he left them to their frenzied thoughts.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
  10. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    I like this, but I found it a bit hard to follow at first. It seems to make a bit more sense now though, as our heroes begin to figure out what's going on.
  11. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Sep 21, 2000
    I like that Luke and Leia both had the chance to question Anakin. I can just picture their faces when Anakin told them that their mother is the empress now. Great update! =D=
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb and poignant first scene with A/P. They are so in character =D= and I can believe that the loss of their children would push them apart even though that's the last thing either wants :( That is one chilling legend :eek:

    Loved the exchange of information and "Empress Vader" -- that is one major revelation! [face_thinking]
    AzureAngel2 and aldo405 like this.
  13. aldo405

    aldo405 Jedi Padawan

    Feb 23, 2018
    Thanks for reading Cowgirl! I'm sorry it was confusing at the beginning...I thought about putting in some more prefixes to establish the timelines, but I'm glad you figured it out!

    Thanks! It seems in writing this that the old O/T gang has just been inundated with shocked faces.

    Thanks! I will admit that I found some inspiration from a show called The Affair in speculating how something so devastating as losing one's children could affect these characters. And I'm glad you liked the legend, as I definitely wanted to interweave a sense of legend and mythology, especially in the Clone Wars timeline.

    Note: I'll need to apologize in advance...this chapter is gonna be a pretty long one. But it contains a pretty crucial scene that I didn't want to break up into parts.


    Chapter 4 - Diplomacy

    "Billions will die," Padme pleaded before the committee, "if we fail to pass the compromise!" The Republic was at a tipping point with the refugee crisis, exacerbated by the intensifying pace of the war under her husband's leadership.

    "If we agree to this then we are dooming the Galaxy to tyranny," Mon Mothma countered in her soft voice, holding firm from across the table. "That the Chancellor will hold these lives hostage to augment his powers is despicable in the first place."

    "You know I agree with you, Mon. But I've spend months with Senator Amedda wrangling every little piece of the funding I could get. This is the best deal any of us can wish for, especially considering that the Chancellor's faction agreed to the reincorporation of conquered worlds back into the Republic with minimal Clone presence. That provision alone could shorten the war by months!" Padme shuddered at the memories of the Vice Chair of the Senate recounting yet another pointless rancor hunting story.

    "It's certainly a good deal for Amedda," Garm Bel Iblis muttered. "All the requisitions going through shell corporations controlled by him and his clan. It seems like everyone in Chancellor Palpatine's core coalition will get even richer."

    "That the Senate is hopelessly corrupt is no surprise at this point. This bill will at least use some of the corruption to help save lives." Padme closed her eyes and couldn't help but think about her husband, whom she had not seen in seven months by now.

    "And you trust that this hopelessly corrupt Senate will voluntarily vote to end the Supreme Chancellor's emergency powers," Mon asked pointedly. The Senate referendum was the point that would make or break her careful negotiations. Amedda had insisted on its inclusion, mandated to happen within two weeks of the war's end, in the final bill, knowing full well that he had the votes to extend the Chancellor's powers.

    "That they would even offer a referendum gives us hope. And it gives us time as well. If this compromise passes we can immediately start our efforts to sway the votes for democracy."

    "And only five standard days from the war's end to do so. Essentially right when the Chancellor is basking in the aftermath of his greatest hour," Garm rebutted.

    "We will have our own weapon as well," Padme suggested, hesitating.

    "What would that be," Fang Zar asked, stroking his beard, though Padme wondered why he even bothered asking. She did not expect his opinion on the bill to change, and expected that Bel Iblis would vote against her as well. That left only Bail, whose stance he gave no indication to, and Mon Mothma, whom she had hoped would be practical enough to endorse the compromise for its immediate dividends towards helping the war refugees. While Padme expected that the Senator from Chandrila would have her concerns, it had caught her by surprise how uncompromising she was at the moment.

    "My husband. If we win the war, he will receive much of the credit as well. He is already the most popular figure in the Republic, more so than General Kenobi and the Jedi, maybe even more popular than the Chancellor himself." Anakin had certainly kept the holonets busy with news of victory after victory in the Outer Rim not merely under his army, but his two other armies commanded by Obi-Wan and Plo Koon as well. Momentum had never been greater for the Republic, and Padme could only hope that her legislation would give the impending peace the soft landing it needed. What happened after peace, however, was what kept their small coalition of discrete opposition up late on nights.

    "Your husband," Mon objected, "is practically in Palpatine's inner circle. What makes you think that he will campaign against the Chancellor if he wins the war? His latest actions certainly don't seem to correlate with the idea of accountability to the Senate."

    Mon was referring to Anakin's decision months before to cut all communication with the Capital world, a move that caused much outcry across all factions of the Senate. But he kept winning, and that alone kept his star shining in the public view for the moment.

    "He has cut the Chancellor out as well, I remind you. None of us, not the Jedi Council, not Palpatine or Amedda know of his plans until we receive the post battle briefings."

    "Except you," Garm said, eyebrows raised. "While we are on the subject, has he given you any updates on the course of the war."

    Padme did not reply for a few seconds. It was true that Anakin during their holocalls would occasionally give her insights into his thinking that even the Jedi under his command may not be aware of. She felt guilty about receiving this special privilege, but it had helped her coalition politically in the recent months, and she suspected that her negotiation efforts would not have come so far without the leverage of mere information. "He has received word that the Separatist Council was spotted in the Utapau, and I believe he means to engage them."

    "Utapau," Zar said skeptically, checking the planet's location on his datapad. "The armies are spread dangerously thin. If this gamble doesn't work out, then it leaves the Core Worlds, even the Capital, vulnerable to attack."

    "And if he does manage capture the Separatist Council," Bail offered, "it commences the countdown to a referendum we are vastly outnumbered on."

    "If my husband loses the war, then at least we won't have to worry about the Chancellor's popularity. It will be a black mark on his record as well as General Skywalker's." Padme shuddered at the thought of Anakin losing the war. It would be devastating to herself politically, though she knew that her career would be her last worry were it to come to that. Could Anakin survive yet another debilitating loss, she wondered, mentally even if he did survive the battle physically?

    "Somehow I have a feeling Palpatine will be able to wrangle his way out of any share of blame, especially seeing how he's practically handed off the entire conduct of the war off to your husband. His hands are clean of Skywalker's decisions." Garm took a drink out of his glass, though Padme suspected the clear concoction contained more than just water. The war, and not just the one against the Separatists, had taken its toll on all of them.

    "Then he will bear the ultimate blame for such a rash decision, and we will all hold him to the fire. And I promise," Padme said as she placed her hand down on the table, "that if my husband wins the war, he will speak loudly for the cause of democracy. I will make him."

    "You'd rather enjoy your husband's popularity, wouldn't you," Mothma questioned. "They are already calling this bill the Amidala Compromise. Combine the most popular General in the Republic, who happens to have complete control over the entire Grand Army of the Republic, with the great peacemaker and compromiser of the Senate...passage of this bill would certainly put the Skywalker family in a good place, wouldn't it? I rather think it possible that the two of you would somehow win the referendum."

    "Mon," Bail cut in. "That's out of line, and you know it. We all trust each other's integrity and motivations in this caucus, and we cannot afford to fight each other. Let's not make things personal."

    "It's okay Bail," Padme said. "Mon's line of thinking is valid. I would have the same concerns if I were her." She looked deep into the Chandrillan Senator's light eyes. "I assure you that once this war is over, there is nothing I want more than to return to Naboo, leave the Senate even. This war has already cost me and my husband so much. All I want to do is the chance to restart our family. I'm selfish. I'll admit that. I want this war to end so that my husband and I can think about having children again, and know that we can raise them safely under the umbrella of a peaceful and restored Republic. And for the countless families out there who've children just like Anakin and I, and endured further tragedies like lost parents, cousins, friends, livelihoods, some their entire worlds, this compromise does its part to prevent so many refugees from losing even more."

    "I'm sorry Padme, I cannot support this legislation," Zar concluded. "We can do better than this referendum, and we must."

    "Do you really believe that the Chancellor will voluntarily set aside his powers? If democracy was what gave him his emergency powers in the first place, democracy and the vote of the Senate will be the only thing that can remove them. If we lose the referendum, such is the cost of a democracy and the corruption of our times, but we will try again, and again, because I believe that in the end, freedom will always prevail."

    "My stance remains unchanged," Mon said curtly. Padme looked at Bail, hoping for some words of support. It was her only hope now, that he could maybe sway one vote at the table.

    "I vote to advance it," Garm said, surprising everyone. "It may end up giving the Galaxy to the Supreme Chancellor, but I cannot live with the blood of millions on my conscience, and Senator Amidala is right. Refugees are dying by the minute and every minute we spend arguing is costing more and more sentient lives."

    They all looked at Bail, now that it was clear he would be the deciding vote. He put his head in one hand as he studied the text of the legislation one last time.

    "This compromise leaves our one last chance at restoring democracy purely in the hands of hope," he said. "Hope that you and I and everyone in this room can somehow achieve the impossible when the time comes and talk some sense into the Senate. And it effectively asks us to place blind faith in your husband, that he will come around, miraculously enter the political fray, and successfully put to use his very newly discovered political skills to do what we cannot and shake the Senate out of its current mire."

    "And the Jedi," Padme added in dismay, as she came to the realization that all her months of work on this bill were about to come to naught. "I'm certain the Jedi will speak for democracy, when the time comes."

    "Faith in us, faith in General Skywalker, faith in the in the fundamental goodness of the Senate." Bail motioned to Garm with his glass, and the Corellian Senator obliged by pouring him some of his concoction. He took a stiff gulp of the liquid and made his decision.

    "I will vote to move this bill through committee," he said as Padme saw Mon and Fang Zar shake their heads in disappointment. "How can we serve the Republic if we do not have faith in it? What justice will we achieve if we allow our cynicism to cost countless lives. We must have hope, and we must spread that hope to the rest of Senate when the time comes."

    Padme breathed a sigh of relief. Her compromise would pass, seeing as Mas had guaranteed his faction of the vote. But none of the five Senators at the table, whatever their vote, seemed overtly happy from the result.

    "Thank you," Padme said later when she visited Bail in his office.

    "You miss him," Bail stated. It was a redundant thing to say; of course she missed her husband. But the day's events had left him mentally exhausted and short of words. His face was pale as he considered how he could have potentially just delivered the last nail in the coffin for democracy.

    "The work makes it better during the day, though sometimes I wished he could back me up with a lightsaber or two in Senator Amedda's office." Padme laughed sadly. "But when the night comes and I return to my apartment alone, there's nothing else I can think of."

    Bail was the only colleague that she felt comfortable confiding with. While her other allies were friends, her relationship with them had always been confined to Senate business. Bail had been the only one who genuinely made an effort to know and understand her husband after their marriage was revealed, and that had meant the world to her.

    "I hurt him, Bail. I know it."


    "I was lost in my grief. I allowed it to consume me for a time, and I forgot to even consider that Anakin was grieving too." She slumped down onto one of the couches in the lobby, pensively gazing at the dusk now encompassing the city.

    "We all grieve in our own ways Padme, and none of us are in a position to judge how you could react to such an unbearable tragedy. I'm sure he will forgive you."

    "He already has. I blamed him for their deaths too, Bail. I know it's irrational to think that he could have done anything...but his powers and his visions are so strong, I couldn't help but wonder why they didn't show up in time to save our children. I'm sure he knows how I felt...he can sense my feelings better than I can sense them myself sometimes."

    Padme paused, eyeing a glass of auburn liqueur on Bail's desk. "And I know he's forgiven me for those feelings as well. He will forgive me anything, do anything for me. And now I have to ask for so much more."

    Bail nodded in understanding. "Now we ask him to betray a close friend of his, for the greater good."

    "And he will do it too," Padme added, trying to hold back her tears in front of her most valuable political ally. "He will hate himself for it, and he may never forgive his own actions, but he would do it for me all the same."

    "Maybe in time, he will understand why it is necessary." Bail had noticed in their last political conversations that Anakin's stance towards the Chancellor's powers was softening in the right direction. He could obviously thank Padme for that, yet then had freely helped himself to the same type of unilateral power that they both condemned.

    "And if the referendum fails, we would need to ask for so much more...," Padme said, trailing off at the end. "I believe the Jedi could be convinced of the necessity to remove the Supreme Chancellor's powers."

    "Those are dangerous words, Padme," Bail said, his face more ashen than ever. "I know I don't have to warn you to be careful about to who you say them to."

    "I know. But these are dangerous times. I pray the words will never translate into action," Padme said, not really believing herself.


    The Empress of the known Galaxy was too anxious to work. She had already postponed or cancelled meetings with the Senator from Serenno and the delegation from Eriadu. While it was her prerogative as their sovereign to schedule her day as she pleased, it was still highly irregular for the Empress to fail to meet her obligations, and certainly anything out of the ordinary would send unfavorable gossip running through the corridors of power. Not that she was concerned with any threat of a coup, but Padme knew that chief among her duties was her maintaining her image, and any failure to meet its expectations would be detrimental in the long term to the Empire.

    But the Galaxy be damned, today was her exception. She had long known not to be surprised by the impossible after so many years with Anakin, but the prospect of her children, her very dear and very dead children on their way to meet her as grown adults was an impossible concept to comprehend. Anakin himself had seemed giddy in disbelief when he told her the very valuable cargo he was bringing back to Coruscant.

    "Think of who we were, Padme, when we were young." he had said. "Before the wars and the politics and all the burdens of the galaxy. They have your idealism and your heart, Padme. They have my power, though barely trained. And despite everything they've been through, they still possess an unfettered ability to hope. Especially Luke."

    She skimmed through yet another datapad, barely reading the contents. It was another authorization for yet a new batch of clone troopers…easy approval. A harebrained request for funding for some type of super weapon…quick denial; Padme made a note to herself to tell her husband that he needed to rein in his Research & Development department. A report from her Ahsoka updating her on the status of the Senate corruption probe…this one was important. She reviewed the dossier, struggling to concentrate on its contents.

    "Remember my love, we are strangers to them. And they are strangers to us as well. We never had a chance to raise them in their world; they grew and became who they are independent of us. They are forged by their own struggles, and the causes and beliefs that drive them and give their lives meaning …they differ from what we stand for, what we have built." She pondered her husband's words. Her children would not know that their cause was not all that different from what she and Anakin had fought for so long ago.

    Anakin was right; she took immense pride in her government, in what she had been able to accomplish in the Galaxy in the last decade. And yet they were trapped together, boxed in by the Empire, the world they had built themselves. But the alternative was inconceivable, a price she could not have paid.

    As much as she dreamed of retirement, sitting at the lake in Naboo, travelling and exploring the Galaxy freely with her husband, there were some benefits to being in her position. She smiled at memories of meeting the refugees she had saved, the slaves she had freed from oppression. She smiled too when thought of the men she had condemned to die, corrupt Senators, slavers, and crime bosses whose executions she often felt obliged to personally carry out. Maybe their children would come to understand the choices she had to make; maybe not. But even if they would decide denounce her and her husband, she still wouldn't trade anything for the chance just see their faces again for one second, to gaze into their eyes and understand that however her children might end up feeling about her, those feelings originated from pure hearts and souls...a purity that she and Anakin had lost so long ago.


    Their father met them at the landing pad. As they disembarked their shuttle Leia chuckled as she watched Luke gawk around at their surroundings in awe. He had never seen a city, much less one as all-encompassing as the Galactic Capital.

    "I think we finally broke the kid," Han remarked, and Leia couldn't help but laugh at her poor brother (and it felt so wonderful to say that in her mind: brother). She studied her surroundings, comparing it with the city she had known in her brief stint on the planet. This empire indeed felt different from hers…lighter, brighter. She had seen more speeders flying through the skyscape, scenes of happy families, and hooligans, and children, and cranky old Rodians…all the disparate elements making up such a vast metropolis living their lives freely without the constant presence of Stormtroopers or imperial spies and the like. But she did not forget either the endless fleet of Star Destroyers orbiting the planet, and what she imagined to be millions of troopers, Clones as they seemed to be called here, floating ominously as they descended onto Coruscant.

    "Leia," Luke called out incredulously. "You lived here?"

    "For a time," she replied, still lost in her thoughts.

    "You know Luke," their father spoke, "I felt the same way when I first arrived here as a child from Tatooine."

    "You're from Tatooine?"

    "Yes," Anakin replied, motioning for them across the wide veranda, past rows of armed figures wearing golden robes standing sentry. "I lived there with my mother until the Jedi discovered me."

    "So you are married to the Empress, I presume." Leia had not been able to stop thinking about this woman who called herself Vader. She wondered what scared her more: the fact that her father was (is) Darth Vader, or that her mother in this world stood atop an Empire that she had devoted her life against. "Does that make you the Emperor?"

    Anakin laughed. "Force no. I'm just Anakin. I serve as the Supreme Commander of the Imperial Armed Forces."

    "Not even a Prince or something, father? Even Leia's a Princess."

    "I'm not really one for titles, but technically I am a Prince, also Archduke, among other things." He gazed longingly at a small woman behind the windows of the residence ahead them.

    "Did you hear that Luke," Han asked sardonically. "That makes you a Prince too. Pretty fancy for a farmboy."

    "If you insist on being disrespectful, Solo," Anakin said menacingly as he took a deep breath, "I will remind you that my full range of titles include Grand Baron of Utapau, Mustafar, Christophsis, and Stewjon, Viscount of Varykino, Earl of Dantooine and Mygeeto, Count of Tatooine, Ilum, and Castell, Marquess of Serenno and Velusia, Duke of Corellia, Carida, Shili, Champala, and Ryloth, Archduke of Coruscant and Theed, and Prince of Naboo and Otoh Gunga." He frowned. "I think that's almost than half of them."

    "Showoff," Leia said. It seemed like grandiosity was even more in vogue here than it was in her Empire.

    "Han's from Corellia," Luke added as they approached the apartment opening. He strained to see the woman standing by the doorway and stopped mid-stride when she stepped forward. Leia did as well, grabbing Han's arm to slow him down.

    "Great. Then I outrank you in every way imaginable, General Solo. Remember that and act accordingly." Anakin left them and walked up to the woman. Leia watched as he dropped on one knee for a half second, then moved quickly to embrace this woman, her mother.

    It was a short hug, and yet she noticed their desperation as they clung to each other fiercely for that brief moment, as if they would never see each other again. She knew they were holding back as well, given their presence here, and winced as she recalled the memory of when the Stormtroopers…and Darth Vader, had pulled Han away from her after that all too brief kiss they shared.

    "On one knee," Anakin ordered in a soft voice, and Luke and Leia couldn't help but oblige. Even Han knelt without objecting, though Leia did hear him say under his breath, "never thought I'd ever live to see the day a Wookie bends the knee."

    Luke studied his mother as she approached him first. She was short, though slightly taller than his sister, and wore an elegant and most intricate magenta gown that faded to light blue by the time it reached her feet. Her face was showing the first signs of age, with small lines beside her mouth and weary circles below her soft brown eyes.

    "My son," she gasped, and Luke immediately felt a sense of shyness around her. She brought her hand towards his face and hesitated, as if seeking permission. Luke smiled, and she touched his cheek, tracing the line of his face down around his chin.

    "You've grown up," she said, tears welling in her eyes, and embraced him fiercely. Luke had just met this woman, and yet in her arms he felt such warmth and peace as he had never before. It felt like he had finally returned home, after a lifetime away, and he never wanted to leave again. "Your father tells me you've become a formidable warrior in your world."

    "I still have a lot to learn," Luke replied sheepishly, proud that his father would regard him in such a light, despite his defeat on Endor.

    "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you, Luke. That you had to go it alone."

    "I had help," Luke said. He looked at his sister behind him. "I don't think I could have made it without them."

    She pulled away from him and in a quick motion with her wrists wiped her tears away, walking up to Leia next.

    "You're Padme Amidala," Leia recognized. She held her hands out and met her mother's, greeting each other like politicians. "Fath…Bail Organa told me stories about you. You were a queen and a Senator…and a good friend of his."

    "We are still friends," Padme assured her. "And the Chancellor is one of my most valued advisors. He will be present at the Council meeting this afternoon. You may join us if you wish."

    Leia's face did not react but Luke could easily sense the sudden burst of excitement emanating from his sister.

    "He always told me you were the conscience of the Senate in a very dark time." Leia said, puzzled. She had wondered whether their birth mother in this world would be the same as in hers. Having heard her adoptive father's stories about the great Senator Amidala, it only made sense that she would give her child to Bail to raise. But this did not add up.

    "He said", Leia continued, "that you embodied the ideals of the Republic, that you were the champion of democracy."

    Padme sighed. She looked at Luke. "I was elected the Queen of Naboo at a very young age. It was a different time in our galaxy. I took the regal title of Amidala, which means 'eternal peace' in one of my planet's more obscure dialects. I believed that such name would auger well for my people, and as Senator, the Republic. It was not meant to be. The year I became Amidala was the year peace began its fall in the Galaxy."

    She shook her head, still holding on to her daughter's hands, and pulled her closer. "Anakin tells me you are strong in ways I cannot imagine. Perhaps I have much to learn from you in that regard."

    "And I from you as well," Leia finally relented. Like Luke, she gave in to her mother's embrace and wondered what it would have been like to be raised by this formidable woman, similar in her love and gentility to Breha, yet different in so many other ways.

    Padme moved to the next man in line, having greeted her own children like she would a diplomatic delegation. Which they were in a way, she mused, as they apparently represented an entirely different universe.

    "General Solo," she said, shaking his hand with one hand and clasping her other hand over his. "Despite everything my husband said about you, it's obvious that you care very much for Luke and Leia, and you were there for them in times good and bad. I thank you for taking care of them in Anakin and I's absence."

    "Thank you, your…," Han paused, and whispered at Leia. "What exactly do you call an Empress? Your Highnessness…ness?"

    "Your Grace," Anakin said loudly. "Don't forget again, Solo."

    "Ani," Padme chided in a good-natured voice. "Be nice to our guests."

    Han watched the man who would be Darth Vader smirk in response, and look down at his feet almost in shame.

    "She called Vader Ani," he whispered to Leia as the Empress made her way to the final member of their entourage.

    "Chewbacca," she said, raising her head at their tall companion. "You have fought bravely with Captain Solo and my children. I extend you the same gratitude to you from the bottom of my heart, and hope that you will be there alongside them for many years to come."

    The Wookie uttered a soft grunt in response.

    "I have also heard that Palpatine's Empire committed great horrors on your world where you come from. I assure you that Kashykk is a thriving world in my Empire, just as free and wonderful as it has always been in the days before the Clone Wars."

    Chewbacca responded in a voice that sounded like a longing purr.

    "Anakin and I are planning on departing for Naboo after the Council meeting tonight. I hope you and General Solo will accompany us. My nieces have always wanted to meet a Wookie. Afterwards, perhaps we can arrange for you to visit your home planet. Many of your friends could still be alive in this world."

    Chewbacco replied with another happy growl, and Han laughed. "I think Chewie's getting soft in his old age." He was happy for his friend, and for Leia. For all that they did not like about the politics here, and despite a very unfriendly Vader/Anakin, the prospect that they could find old friends long thought dead warmed his heart. He wondered if there was anything in this world for him.

    The Empress walked back to Leia. "I am so sorry that you all had to endure such horrors at such a young age. I hope that your time in this world will allow you to heal and gain a measure of closure to the trials that have plagued your lives."

    Anakin walked up to his son and tentatively placed a hand on his shoulder. "Your mother is amazing, isn't she?"

    "She's everything I ever imagined," Luke replied. He looked down at his father's belt, examining the lightsaber that he had wielded himself for many years. His father in this world was a stern man, strong but clearly a far cry from evil. He could feel in his mother's presence a strength and determination that reminded him of Leia, as well as a deep seeded pain that he suspected had something to do with his and Leia's alleged deaths in this world.

    "You love her very much, don't you," Luke asked. His father was emanating emotions like love, and joy, and pride, that he could never imagine coming from Darth Vader.

    "She is my soul. The reason I live. I need her more than the air I breathe."

    Luke had often wondered whether there was still a chance, however slim, that his mother had survived on his world. Seeing her and hearing his father speak about her, Luke knew that she must have passed, for there was no way his father could have fallen into the darkness of Darth Vader with this wife alive and by his side.

    "Let us sit down," Padme said as she walked back to her husband's side, bowing before her guests. "My handmaidens will provide us with refreshments. I'm sure you are all starving, seeing as a starship is no place for proper hospitality."

    As they walked into the apartment Han whispered again to Leia, eyes wide, "she called Vader Ani!"

    Luke gawked openly once more at the ornate art and furniture decorating the apartment. Their quarters on the Naberrian were surprisingly tasteful for a military airship, and now Luke knew where that taste had came from. He peeked at one holoimage on the wall. It was a celebration of some kind, and Luke recognized his mother under the layers of ceremonial makeup. She was very young, and Luke surmised that the holo was taken when she was still just a Queen. He squinted at the holo, studying the face and eyes of small boy in the group.

    "That's Anakin," his mother said as she walked up to him. She gazed longingly at the image. "He was only nine years old. My planet was under attack, and I was rescued by the Jedi. Our ship broke and we were stranded on Tatooine."

    "I've never would've imagined Darth Vader looking so...bratty," Han whispered to Leia as they approached the holo as well.

    "Anakin," Padme interrupted just as her husband looked like he was about to say something in return. "Anakin, rather than plot further ways to insult our childrens' dear friend and our guest, why don't you make yourself useful and check up on C-3PO? Remind him that we require additional servings for tonight."

    "Of course, milady," Anakin muttered as he slouched away into the kitchen.

    "You have C-3PO," Luke exclaimed in surprise.

    "We've always had him," Padme said, wondering why the concept seemed so novel to her son. "Anakin built him when he was nine, as a gift for his mother."

    "Great," Han said. "Leia, if you want to kill me, do it now. I don't think I can face Goldenrod and Darth Vader with their powers combined."

    "Have some respect, Han," Leia said tartly. 'Even if I'm still adjusting to the idea, he's still my father."

    "Sorry," Han said, dismayed that the Empress's rather domineering way of handling her husband was now rubbing off on her daughter.

    "3PO has served us capably in our world too," Luke said, as he broke away from the holo and walked towards the parlor, where several plates of colorful fruits and jars of wine already awaited them. A nagging thought stayed in his head. "Along with R2-D2."

    "R2 was originally my droid from my time as Queen." As her guests sat Padme began pouring the wine herself into their glasses. "It makes sense that they would have been passed on to you, even if Anakin and I longer part of your lives."

    She drank first. "Please. This is the finest vintage from the Lakes district."

    "Not too bad for fancy stuff," Han said as he cupped the glass awkwardly. "So what happened on Tatooine, your Grace?" He never remembered much of Galactic history and was genuinely curious about what a young Darth Vader would've been like.

    "We scoured the planet looking for replacement parts for our ship, and encountered your father in a small junk shop. Anakin was a slave, yet all he wanted to do was to help a group of strangers he had never met."

    "Father was a slave?" Luke was dumbfounded by this latest revelation. He knew that slavery existed on Tatooine of course, but had trouble reconciling the idea of either version of his father, the great Jedi warrior, or evil enforcer of the Empire, to having grown up in bondage.

    Padme nodded. "His master was kind to him, relatively speaking. And Anakin volunteered a great gamble that won us the parts we needed, risking his own life in the process. The Jedi Master Qui-Gon saw his potential and freed him. When we returned to Naboo to free our planet, Anakin fired the pivotal shots of that battle as well, destroying the control ship of the droid army. Even at such a young age, he was so powerful, and so generous with his power and willing to help others. I know that in your world he was twisted by the machinations of Palpatine into something horrible. And even here, he can come across as cold and aloof sometimes."

    "Slavery must have hardened him," Leia said. She could never imagine growing up in such a horrible way, and considered herself lucky that her upbringing taught her to never take her own privileges for granted. It was one of the driving forces of her quest to free all the sentients that the Empire had enslaved.

    "Slavery, the war, his Jedi training, Palpatine. Give him time, that's all I ask of you. He's very careful about who he trusts, but once he lets you in, he will devote his entire heart to you, I am sure."

    A small smile appeared on the Empress's face. "It was different when he was young. He trusted all of, the Jedi, our friend Jar-Jar, immediately. I was in disguise as a handmaiden, and his first words to me was to call me an angel and tell me I was beautiful. He then told me he was going to marry me. I laughed at him of course, but he got the last laugh on that one. We met again ten years later just as the Clone Wars were beginning, and I had no chance."

    "Geez," Han said to Leia, looking around the room carefully to see if Anakin had returned. "You're lucky, Princess, that I wasn't so smooth at that age. Or there'd be none of me left for you."

    "Don't underestimate yourself, General Solo," the Empress said warmly to him. "I'm sure no daughter of mine would be easily courted."

    "The two of you were meant to be," Luke said sadly, thinking out loud about what could have gone so wrong to make his father fall in his world. While he wasn't entirely sure, he had a feeling that their parents' earlier years on his world had transpired the same way as Padme described here. "Both of you must have suffered so much where we come from, for things to have turned out the way they did."

    "Your father is a good man," Padme said, staring at Leia as she said the words. "He is kind, and caring, and filled with endless love for those he feels for. But he is not a saint, and I know...I've seen firsthand...that he would do anything to protect the people who matter to him. His powers give him the ability to see visions of the future, yet those visions are a curse as well, especially for one so young at the time."

    Padme poured herself another glass of wine, and Luke saw the way her fingers shook as she did so. He regretted bringing the course of the conversation to such a dark place, when all of this, ideology aside, should have been a purely happy occasion.

    The Empress continued. "When we were reunited after those ten years, Anakin was suffering from nightmares of his mother. He saw your grandmother Shmi in pain, dying. We flew to Tatooine, but it was too late by then. Your father found himself in a dark place, but the cruelty of the Clone Wars didn't even give him a chance to mourn. Mere days later we were caught up on Geonesis, in the first battle of the Clone Wars."

    "He failed though," Leia said. "Bail told me Amidala had died in childbirth at the end of the Clone Wars. Obviously we were raised in secret away from Darth Vader. When he met me he tortured me, and took Luke's hand with a lightsaber at their reunion. Some protection."

    "To be fair," Luke added, "Vader did not know who Leia was really was at the time. He still doesn't. I didn't find out until just days ago." And it already feels like years, he thought.

    "When the two of you died here, we were both tormented by our failures to save you." Leia observed her mother's eyes reddening. "Had events transpired like you described, I have no doubt that Anakin would have tormented himself endlessly with guilt and anger, perhaps until there was little left of him. I realize in talking to you how lucky I am here. In time, Anakin has been able to manage his visions, and use them to the benefit of the Galaxy. But he has long told me about darker visions...many possibilities of what could have happened in those troubled times..." She stopped, not wanting to go into further detail.

    "But Luke, if in some manner you are able to return to your world, you have to know that despite everything you've seen, under it all your father is a good man. And he would care deeply for you, whether he even realizes it or not."

    "I knew already," Luke said to Han and Leia's surprise. "I felt it when he confronted me, even when we dueled. He held back and refused to kill me."

    "Father said he killed the Emperor," Luke said after they all seemed to take a long sip of their wine. "How exactly did that happen?"

    "In the end, Anakin almost single-handedly won the Clone Wars. With the conflict over, the Supreme Chancellor had no reason to keep his war powers. He orchestrated a supposed coup as a pretense to eliminate the Jedi. Though Anakin was no longer a Jedi by that time, he confronted Palpatine in the Senate chambers when the Jedi failed."

    "He hurt my family," Anakin said coldly as he walked back into the room, looking pointedly at Han as he did so. He sat himself next to his wife and placed his arm protectively around her. "That was his undoing. He was the mastermind behind the horrors of the Clone Wars, and he was the one ultimately responsible for the attack that killed the two of you."

    "And yet the Republic still fell, despite the death of the Emperor," Leia said bitterly. Han braced himself as Leia finally gave voice to the bantha in the room.

    "The Republic fell long before that," Padme asserted defensively. "It was hopelessly corrupt, and most importantly, it failed to protect the very planets it served. Entities like the Banking Clan and the Trade Federation had more power than honest politicians like Bail Organa. When the latter attacked my home planet, the Republic was helpless, and Anakin and I had to take back Naboo on our own. The Jedi accompanied us, but even they were hampered by the complexities of their code from bringing justice about."

    "So you gave up hope on freedom and democracy."

    "We still have democracy, Leia. The Senate remains strong, and Bail Organa as Chancellor is a great leader who continues to ensure the voices of all sentients in the Galaxy are heard. But some things are too important to be left to legislative debate. The Senate is a slow process, and meant to be slow for the purposes it serves. But as a mother, I swore that I would no longer allow a world where children, fathers, mothers die needlessly due to procedures and codes. And Leia, I promise you that freedom is the highest priority in my Empire. Dissent is allowed for the most part, in the Senate and in all worlds. And where freedom needs protection from itself, because a free world will always give freedom to those who mean to oppress others, it is only the Empire that can step in and protect the people from themselves."

    "It all sounds so nice, doesn't it, when you're the one who gets to decide whose freedom takes priority" Leia replied dryly. She set down her wine and stared at this Empress Vader. "Tell that to the rebels we just saw slaughtered."

    "They meant harm to my children," Anakin said, interrupting the debate between mother and daughter. "I may not have raised you, or known you, but you are my children all the same."

    "Leia," Padme added, "I have a feeling the rebellion I am faced with is a vastly different rebellion that the three of you led."

    "It is far weaker," Anakin said. "The Rebel Alliance you serve has clearly attracted to it people of the strongest caliber, in addition to its share of smugglers and the like. Here, it recruits really only the fringes, the purists, idealists, and the misfits of the world, along with opportunists. The woman who took you hostage, she is a fugitive former Jedi who set off a bomb in the old Jedi Temple and murdered members of her own order. She also framed a fellow Jedi, who happened to be a good friend of mine, and that might have been the only reason her crime was discovered. I regret that we did what we had to do to rescue you from their base. I prefer to not engage the rebellion at all, not out of mercy, but because even acknowledging them escalates their political legitimacy."

    "I don't know much about politics Leia," Han said. "But I have to believe that your father, the Organa one, wouldn't suck up to an Empire as evil as Palpatine's."

    You have no idea, Leia thought, recalling her adoptive father's struggles to keep his support for the Rebel Alliance a secret. But she did sense that Bail's role in the Empire here was vastly different, as Palpatine would never have granted him any significant power, much less leadership of the Senate. On the other hand, all of this could be lip service, to her, and relative to her adopted father's position. "I suppose I will have to see how things work myself and be the judge."

    "You will," Anakin replied. "And your mother and I will not judge you any differently however you decide to feel about us."

    "Why Vader," Leia asked. "Why take that name, especially now that you know the significance of that title?"

    "I felt it appropriate," Padme said, looking away as two handmaidens came and set onto the table a round of pre meal delicacies. "I am proud of what I have achieved under the name Amidala, but the Galaxy needed more than Amidala. I did not want to confuse the legacy of who I once was with what I had to do to bring about peace."

    "Do we have brothers or sisters here," Luke asked, hoping to change the subject to something lighter. He as well as Leia had so many more questions about how things worked in this world, such as what was the fate of the Jedi order, but right now he just wanted to get to know who his parents were as people.

    Now his father looked away from them. "Unfortunately, your mother is unable to bear any more children."

    "What happened," Leia asked. One thing she could easily sympathize with her mother was the devastation of losing her children. She herself had lived through the death of her family, as well as her entire planet and all the heritage and memories it held, and she was determined to have children one day so she could continue the legacy of Alderaan through them. The thought of that denied would terrify her.

    "Palpatine attacked me as he and Anakin fought in front of the Senate, with what is known as Sith Lightning."

    Luke shuddered upon hearing the words...Yoda had warned him vaguely about that certain power of the dark side, telling him it was the vilest and most damaging manipulation of the Force.

    "He meant to taunt your father, to unbalance him, but he wanted to torment me too, just for cruelty's sake. As the pain hit me, I saw brief visions of a dark future...of Anakin kneeling before him and pledging himself to the Dark Side, and Palpatine giving him the title you knew him as. Anakin defeated him anyway, but his attack on me damaged my body." She paused, closing her eyes and rubbing her temples slowly, and none dared to interrupt her during such as harrowing recollection.

    "I am lucky. It could have been so much worse, especially if Anakin had not stopped him so quickly. But my infertility is a consequence of the attack."

    "I'm so sorry," Han said. He had learned to care about politics just a little in recent years, but right now he knew that the woman before him, Empire or not, had a good heart and did not deserve that kind of pain inflicted on her, no more than Leia deserved to be tortured at the hands of Darth Vader.

    "Thank you Han," Padme replied graciously. "It is in the past now, and we must move on from it."

    "Palpatine suffered," Anakin added in a dark tone. "For your pain, and for your mother's, I made sure he suffered a billionfold."

    Luke did not want to imagine how his father could have made the Emperor suffer. "Is that what you want," he asked instead, recalling his conversation with Vader on Bespin. "For my sister and I to inherit the Empire from you one day?"

    Anakin laughed while Han shook his head, muttering something about farmboy emperors. "My son, getting ahead of himself already. A Skywalker indeed."

    Padme placed her hand on her husband's leg, gently admonishing him. "Despite her protests, my sister Sola Naberrie is next in line for the throne. I have a feeling that once they come of age, one of her daughters, Ryoo or Pooja, will take her place as my successor. Not that I will disqualify either of you, but many things will have to happen for the line of succession to change. You will have to want a claim, knowing full well its burdens and what would be required of you. I will judge that alongside the wishes of my sister's family, and the Electors will have to determine whether you are true of heart and your intentions pure."

    "Electors?" At this point Leia did not know what to think of her mother's Empire as she tried to ponder the ramifications of everything she was learning.

    "Yes. Any line of succession must be voted on by the designated Electors, and reapproved prior to coronation."

    A small black haired handmaiden approached the party. "I'm sorry to interrupt, your Grace, but Senator Karryne has arrived."

    "It's a complicated process," Padme explained, as Leia saw traces of a diplomatic smile return to her mother's face. "One that I will describe to you in due time. But the Imperial Council is about to arrive."

    She stood and nodded at Han. "General Solo and Chewbacca, I doubt you wish to listen to us drone on endlessly. I have asked my good friend Eirtae to take you on a tour of the district." Padme gestured with her arm at a pretty blonde woman, around the Empress's age, approaching them. "Luke and Leia, you can join them if you wish, or sit in on the Council meeting if you are curious. Chancellor Organa is on his way, and he is accompanied by Master Kenobi."

    "Ben...Obi-Wan's alive," Luke said, his eyes lighting up.

    "And as delightful as ever," Padme said, clearly cheered at her son's joy. "The Jedi failed the Republic, and their era has ended. Chancellor Organa agreed to take in what remained of the Order on Alderaan, and Master Obi-Wan represents the interests of the Jedi from exile on my Council."

    Luke puzzled at all of this even as he sensed the familiar presence approaching them.
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Fantastic flashback =D= You definitely have the characters spot-on as far as their stances and reactions. Bail is wonderful and Mon Mothma is outspoken. Garm is speaking for both sides, helping to strike a balance.

    The scene with the reunited family was excellent and heartwarming! Padme's reactions were so what you would expect.

    LOL on the reaction about 3PO :p and yay that Bail is Chancellor and Obi-Wan still is playing a vital role. :cool:

    The Empire in this variation doesn't strike me as excessively cruel or oppressive. @};- Obi-Wan and Bail would not support it if it were. [face_thinking]

    I have a strong feeling that if/whether Luke and Leia can return to their own time and place, they'll have mixed emotions about it, but they'll certainly be the richer for it.
    aldo405 likes this.
  15. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Sep 21, 2000
    I loved the interactions of Luke and Leia with their parents. The flashback was a great read. I love that Bail and Obi-Wan are still alive in this timeline. A very well done update! :)
  16. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jun 3, 2002
    Love Anakin's digs at Han. [face_laugh] Is the familiar presence Luke senses Obi-Wan? [face_praying]
  17. aldo405

    aldo405 Jedi Padawan

    Feb 23, 2018
    Thanks again for reading, and your kind words! Padme certainly plays the diplomat, but we'll see just how truly benevolent her Empire is in due time.

    Thanks! I don't even the twins, being caught in such a confusing world. And everyone is alive and happy...we'll see what the price of happiness is.

    Thanks! It sure is his old master, and I trust Anakin appreciates the tradition of a light hazing.


    Chapter 5 - Council

    "This is clearly a trap," Mace Windu intoned ominously, "and you're leading us right into the thick of it."

    "We have received good intelligence that the Separatist Council is holed up on Utapau. It's less than two days away. Surely you wish to end the war in one fell swoop, Master Windu?" The Supreme Commander of the Republic betrayed no emotion as he stood transfixed by the viewport, concentrating on everything and nothing at all in the command room of the Resolute.

    "The intelligence is flimsy at best," Windu countered, "and has not been vetted by either the Jedi Council or Coruscant."

    "Why should that matter," Anakin asked impassively. "I am the Supreme Command. If I declare it valid, then so it will be."

    Mace had been unnerved when Skywalker had ordered all three armies to cease communications with the capital world, including the Jedi Temple. He had no choice to obey, and surprisingly the move had paid off. Their initial campaign had been frustrating as they made their way through the Outer Rim, gaining small victories in freeing worlds from Separatist control, but the bulk of the enemy army had always been able to get away and live to threaten the Republic another day.

    Skywalker suspected that there was a leak in Coruscant, at the heart of the very Senate. While Mace did not tell him, his suspicions did fit the Council's conjectures that the Sith was influencing events at the core of the Republic, even possibly in the Chancellor's inner circles. And since they had cut off communication and began coordinating the entire conduct of the war through Skywalker alone, it had been hard to argue with his success, with each move yielding bigger and more devastating victories. Their most recent win had been perhaps most significant. Barely off a defeat of Grievous himself on Roon, Skywalker had pursued him to Ryloth, beating him to the besieged world and clearing the CIS presence before reinforcements had arrived. When they did, they were no match for the 501st, the final attack on the Invisible Hand led by Skywalker personally.

    It was the same with Master Kenobi and Master Koon's armies; with Skywalker directing their movements from across the Galaxy, they had been handing the Separatists defeat after defeat in their respective sectors as well. But it was the pace of the war that was worrying to Mace. Skywalker made no attempt to regroup, rest his weary armies, and consolidate his gains. Like an impatient child, one goal accomplished meant only an even more accelerated pace towards the next one, the burden left on the Republic and politicians like his wife to clean up the mess they left behind. And while both he and Senator Skywalker's efforts had been was successful thus far, Mace was worried that all this success was going to overwhelm them all.

    "Our armies are spread too thin. If the reports on Utapau are true, then I agree, the war is practically won, especially if we can finally apprehend Grievous this time." He was as angry as Skywalker that the CIS general had eluded them on Ryloth; seeing the battle was over, the Kaleeshi General had abandoned his command before the Third Army had moved in to engage the bulk of his fleet.

    "But if the reports are false, Anakin, it would lead us further away from Master Kenobi's positions."

    "My orders stand," the Supreme Commander said, unmoved.

    "Anakin!" Mace shouted almost to the point of insubordination, though the concept that he prostrate himself to a twenty-two year old rogue Jedi was absurd in itself. Many things would change with the war ended, they all knew, and the fate of Skywalker loomed large on the minds of all on the Council. "Master Koon is on the other side of the Rim in Muunilinst. You are leaving a gap in our forces right into the core worlds! We are committing everything to Utapau, and if the main Separatist army does not materialize there...they would be free to attack Alderaan...or even the Capital! Don't you see?"

    Mace clearly saw this shatterpoint, those vergences in the Force that had the power to affect the future in one way or the other. Skywalker as a boy had arrived in the Jedi Temple surrounded by them, and that had stayed constant over his years apprenticed to Master Kenobi. In time, Mace would see those shatterpoints spread to Senator Amidala as well, and eventually their twin children, while they were alive. They still swirled around the Senator the last time he had observed her on the Capital world, and that was disturbing enough, but what scared him the most was the lack of not just shatter points but of any presence in the Force now surrounding his new Commander. Anakin, it seemed, was a void in space and time, a vacuum in the Force strangely absent from the battle between Light and Dark swelling through the Galaxy. Once again Mace cursed how easily the Council had let Skywalker go, and how pliable they were to the Chancellor's demands. Had Anakin still been in the Order, he would have never been allowed to go by himself to the dark world of Korriban after the Senate bombing, much less flaunt his wife and kids freely through the Galaxy.

    "Do not forget your place, Master Windu. Your only responsibility is to carry out my commands within the Third Army. Nothing more. Besides," Skywalker said, eyes closed, "I have ordered Master Kenobi back to guard the Core routes."

    "While taking away half his army for your next offensive," Mace protested with as much anger as was allowed a Jedi. "If the Separatists elude us and counterattack, your former Master is as good as dead."

    The Master Jedi narrowed his eyes, coming to a realization. "It's almost as if you are doing your best to destroy the Jedi on purpose, with the Republic along with them."

    "I find your lack of faith disturbing, Master Windu. You see a shatterpoint around our events here, I presume?"

    Mace wondered at his superior, who almost looked as if he was in deep meditation; he would even believe it if he didn't know Anakin too well from his early years in the Temple.

    "Yes. This will make or break the war for us."

    Anakin turned with what Mace saw was a trace of a smile on his lips, a sign of his arrogance to the Jedi Master.

    "Do you ever wonder, Master Windu," Anakin asked in a low voice, "what it's like to see beyond just one shatterpoint? How it feels to know the course of Force itself?"

    He walked impassively by the Jedi Master and to the Clone Commander.

    "Rex, continue the course I have set. No one is to know," he said, looking back at Master Windu, "and no one is to alter it in any way."


    The Imperial Council made its decisions in surprisingly casual settings, Leia decided, watching the proceedings. She and Luke sat in yet another plush red couch, one of countless ones in the Empress's apartment, and to their left was Chancellor Organa, leaning forward towards the Empress, and the not so old Jedi who slumped next to him in his coarse gray robes. Their father sat in a lone chair placed diagonally to the Empress's right, between her and Kenobi. Across from them on a wide golden chaise were a small Togrutan and an older human woman with short dark brown hair, neither of whom Leia had been able to immediately place.

    "If Rodia wishes to support the Risi regime, we must hear them out," the human woman continued. Her name was Mina Bonteri, Leia had learned, and the former Separatist Senator had now been granted a position as the High Imperial Ambassador, a vastly important role which supervised an infinite amount of diplomats representing the Empire to all its subservient worlds across the Galaxy. "They have legitimate concerns about the integrity of their sovereignty."

    "Their concerns," Anakin stated sternly, "is that they be free to kill each other with impunity, to form local militias and clans and engage in the barbarity that the Empire has left in the past."

    "Thousands of years of culture cannot be overturned overnight," the Ambassador explained. "By banning the profession of bounty hunting, you are sending thousands of Rodians adrift through the Galaxy, harboring violent tendencies which remain unchanged, and with nowhere to direct their energies."

    "They can always join the Army. My Clones will keep them in line."

    "What if they don't want to? Do you plan to force them?"

    "Do you plan to allow special exemptions to freely violate the Vader Doctrine?" The rhetoric escalated, but Leia noticed that none dared to raise their voices.

    "The Vader Doctrine," Padme turned to explain to her children, "maintains the principle that the Empire holds the sole monopoly of violence in the Galaxy. The only source of legitimate violence is through the sovereignty of the Empire and its agencies, and the employment of violence by lesser entities such as planetary governments, private corporations, or the Jedi, is allowed only through the legitimacy of Imperial power, passed directly from the sovereign to lesser, non-Imperial planetary authority, subject to constant supervision and surveillance and immediate removal if powers local violate the basic tenets of the Empire."

    "Director Tano," the Empress turned towards the young Togrutan woman. She took another sip of her wine, and all five Council members drank theirs in turn obediently. "What information do you have on Tervian Risi's support?"

    "His base stems from many of the old clans who freely wielded power in the days of the Republic. Certainly the influx of migrants, many of them former bounty hunters and mercenaries, have disrupted the local economy, displacing the balance of castes established at the before the Clone Wars. Rodia has always been a stronghold for the Hard Loyalists, and Risi has strongly made the case of Rodian sovereignty and self rule over the years." The Hard Loyalists were a faction that supported the immediate decentralization, even dismemberment, of the Empire and wished to return the Galaxy to the home rule similar in the days of the Republic, perhaps even to a higher degree. The Chancellor headed the Soft Loyalist faction, who supported the structure of Empire and but worked to lessen its centralized powers. Padme's friend Eirtae, who now accompanied Han and Chewbacca somewhere in the Senate District, led the Soft Imperialists, and her alliance with Bail allowed him to keep command of the Senate. The two "Soft" factions dominated most of the chamber; there were few Hard Loyalists or Imperialists, though based on their discussions thus far, Leia suspected her father would fall into the latter were he to hold a political office.

    "The instability reached a breaking point last year," Ahsoka continued, "and with a Hard Loyalist wave approaching, the old clans lent their support to Risi, allowing him to sweep the elections."

    "He's a populist, despite his support from the elite" the Empress said, adjusting the crown that she now wore before the official audience. The centerpiece of it were the three gemstones in the forefront, two small octagonal green ones flanking a blue diamond-shaped stone in the middle. Luke had told her that these were the same gemstones that the Jedi used to craft their lightsabers. "He took advantage of a regional anxiety to his benefit and personal gain."

    "And yet it raises valid questions," Bail said, "of whether the Empire is paying heed to the needs of the Rodian populace. I do not suggest we allow them to militarize, but perhaps a compromise can be reached."

    "What do you suggest, Chancellor?" Padme leaned forward in interest. She took another sip of wine, and again all five members of the Council drank theirs obligingly. Leia noticed Luke sipping on his glass all too happily as well, not noticing that much of this Galaxy's decisions were being made in a drunken stupor. She did acknowledge however that no one besides Luke seemed to be feeling the effects of the alcohol.

    "We allow Risi to create a limited number of Home Rule brigades, under the supervision of the Empire, of course. Let Rodia know that we will permit them some measure of their traditions."

    "And give a dictator in waiting the means to oppress his own people and oppose the Empire itself once his arrogance reaches that point?" Anakin furrowed his eyebrows in disappointment. "I've met this Risi once, and he does not exude good intent. He speaks disgusting rhetoric and spreads vile slanders of his Monarch. I propose we let one of Director Tano's agents take care of him."

    "Patience, Anakin," the Empress responded. "He will die."

    Padme turned to Leia and Luke and added, "if his actions justify it, of course. Which they typically do, in my experience. Petty local tyrants cannot help themselves from committing capital crimes."

    "With respect, your Grace," Bail protested, "I cannot keep my coalition afloat in the face of another Imperial action such as General Skywalker is suggesting. Senator Bel Iblis has been quite vocal in his concerns. If he withdraws his votes, I cannot guarantee passage of the Army's funding for the next year."

    The Empress turned to Bonteri. "Mina, give the Rodian Ambassador permission to create five Home Rule brigades."

    While all save the Jedi voiced their opinions during the debate, none reacted once the Empress had made her decision. She continued.

    "Anakin, cut Rodia off from all trade routes. Allow in only basic foodstuffs, waters, and medical supplies, with no limitations. Let in spice and low-grade ales as well, but no luxury goods of any type. The clans will be punished for their intransigence, while the general populace will turn on Risi when they find that he has exacerbated rather than mend their economic woes."

    The Empress turned to the Togrutan. "Ahsoka, employ additional agents on the ground to monitor the abuse of the Home Rule Brigades by the Governor. Initiate a corruption probe as well, find every credit he's ever given or received, uncover every one of his friends, allies, family members and their connections to the Governor, and dig into every cent of their accounts as well."

    She finally returned her gaze to her children. "We give him the rope. The Governor and his sycophants will decide whether or not to fashion the noose. If they do, we use it. Liberally. And Anakin? Chancellor Organa?"

    "Yes, your Grace," they both replied meekly.

    "General Skywalker, I suggest you do better than some cheap Corellian whiskey next time in keeping Senator Bel Iblis...happy. And Chancellor Organa, remember that if your coalition does fall, I will be more than willing to allow Senator Karrhyne to form one with the Hard Imperialists."

    "Yes, your Grace," both of Leia's father figures echoed obediently.

    Satisfied, they underwent another round of the wine ritual as a flurry of handmaidens came up and refilled all their glasses.

    "Next is Mandalore," the Empress said dejectedly. "I presume the situation has worsened?"

    "Unfortunately, their water reserves are running low, enough to sustain the system for maybe another two standard months," the lone Jedi in the room said sadly. Two Jedi, Leia thought, if you included Luke.

    "There is no progress in the trilateral talks with the Stadtholder of Thustra to end the water trade embargo?"

    "Lord Krimli is adamant that the importance of Aquaris as a source of water has been exploited by the Empire and nearby systems," Bonteri replied. "He is refusing to negotiate unless his planet receives an exemption from all trade taxes."

    "We believe members of the Mandalorian Death Watch has infiltrated the High Lord's inner circle," Ahsoka added. "They are hoping to use unrest from the water shortage to oust the Duchess and her regime. There are grumblings amongst the people that only aggressive actions can force the Thustrans to relent."

    "Your Grace," Anakin said pointedly, "with all due respect, it is your relationship with your old friend that has held you back from treating this situation as you would any other system. The crisis is now on the edge of a humanitarian crisis, and this water embargo has implications far beyond just Mandalore. Were tragedy to be accompanied by the localized violence of the Death Watch to infect the key system of the Outer Rim, trust in the Empire would fade quickly and we could have a repeat of the Separatist crisis. Insurrection looms if Mandalore cannot be held."

    "My former friend," Padme corrected sadly, and another round of wine drinking commenced. "As distressing as her positions may be, she is still far preferable to any of her rivals."

    "The Duchess Satine is a staunch pacifist," Mina said to Leia, seeming to recognize an ideological ally in the young woman.

    "She refuses the presence of an Imperial Army in her system, yet from the Clone Wars onwards it has only been army after army, with the support of Director Tano's agents, that have kept her in power, much less alive. On a peaceful planet," Anakin mused, "such as Naboo or Alderaan such a visionary may be free to reign for generations without worry. But the Mandalorian traditions of violence make it impossible for such a regime to maintain power under her ideological rigidity!"

    "But that tradition of violence is precisely why she must remain true to her beliefs," Mina argued back. "Giving in to force just slightly will tempt even the most pacifist of regimes on that planet to relapse to their old ways. The Duchess understands that, and we must trust her to understand her own peoples and traditions better than we do."

    "The Duchess is a wise ruler," the Chancellor said. "She must keep true to her principles, else her rivals would brand her a hypocrite. But she has been practical enough to accept outside help in the past, when the situation has become desperate. Overreach however, and she will push back hard."

    "And vocally," the Empress added sadly. "We all remember the Tarkin incident."

    "The Tarkin incident?" Leia couldn't help but interrupt. She certainly didn't remember this incident, but she remembered the man responsible for destroying her homeworld, more blood on his hands than even Darth Vader.

    "Admiral Tarkin was known to have made cause with the rebellion in the early years of the Empire," her father replied. Leia wondered how the other Council members felt about how either Anakin or the Empress would constantly interrupt their debates to explain the background to the two newcomers. "He spearheaded the irresponsible prosecution of Director Tano at the end of the Clone Wars, falsely accusing her of the terrorist act against the Jedi Temple, and had passed upon her the death sentence. Once the truth was known, he knew that his career was at an end under Imperial auspices and decided that his fate lay with the rebellion. He requested asylum on Mandalore, which was granted by the Duchess."

    "Imperial justice always takes precedence over local sovereignty," the Empress continued, "but then, as now, I made an exception for Satine. The final straw came when the Admiral managed to secure the defection of an entire fleet, formerly under his command, to the rebellion. Anakin led three whole divisions to apprehend him despite the Duchess's protests, but Tarkin had escaped by then, and Satine was none too pleased by the intrusion of the military into Mandalorian airspace for the first time since the Clone Wars."

    She had held back during most of the meeting, keenly letting herself observe the senior officials of the Empire debate (and drink) in silence, but she could not hold her tongue, and hoped that the Council would forgive her. "He is a vile creature who ordered the destruction of Alderaan. He would not espouse the true principles of democracy, and I suspect he must be using the rebellion for his own purposes."

    She noticed Bail perk up and examine her carefully as she mentioned the fate of their own planet. He had greeted her warmly upon his arrival at the Empress's apartment, accompanied by Kenobi, but she knew well that his kindness towards her was purely perfunctory, having only known her as an infant in this world. He looked as she remembered when she was a young child, but she saw none of the warmness and love in the eyes, once only reserved for her. In its place was a sense of sadness, and weariness, even more apparent than she remembered in Palpatine's Empire.

    "Be mindful around him," Padme had said to her before he arrived. "He is under a lot of strain right now. There are...issues at home he is dealing with at the moment. I have briefed the entire council on you and Luke and where you come from, so Bail will be aware of what he is to you, but I'm afraid it will take time before you can truly form a relationship with him."

    "Your observation is a wise one," the Empress said, breaking her reverie, and Leia felt a pang of shame in her joy at her mother's approval. "But Tarkin is not the issue at hand right now."

    "I propose we show our hand, albeit in a limited manner." Leia was surprised to see Anakin almost wink at the Empress as he continued. "Perhaps the Jedi can investigate the true nature of the Thustran motiviations, and whether reports of the Death Watch resurfacing are overblown. Their neutrality is respected, even by the Duchess."

    "As long as it's a limited presence, with only one or two Jedi acting ambassadors and not as combatants," Mina conceded, "I believe the Duchess will accept their presence."

    "It is not her prerogative to decide, but so be it." Anakin turned mischievously to Obi-Wan, and despite having no Jedi senses, Leia could tell that Luke's old Master was trying too hard not to show his feelings for some strange reason. " haven't lost any of that Negotiator charm, have you?"

    "I assure you I can still hold my own as a diplomat, Anakin. But there are far more qualified members of the Jedi who could undertake such a task. May I suggest Master Olin?"

    "Anakin is right," the Empress overruled. "Sending a member of the Jedi Council will impress upon the Duchess the importance of the crisis to the Jedi. Sending a member of my Council will properly communicate the gravity of her situation from the Empire's point of view."

    "Of course your Grace," the Master Jedi conceded reluctantly. "I am in a corner, and your reasoning leaves me no room for argument. I will depart at once for Mandalore."

    "The Duchess waits with bated breath," Anakin said smugly, and again Leia wondered what the inside joke was. "Luke."

    "Yes father," he replied, shocked to have been called upon for the first time all meeting.

    "The Empress is looking forward to introducing you and Leia to her family on Naboo. Afterwards, with your Grace's permission of course, you may join Master Obi-Wan on Mandalore to...continue your training."

    "Anakin, that is a wonderful idea." Padme turned to her son. "Jedi or not, and with no disrespect to my dear friend Mina, Master Obi-Wan is one of the finest diplomats the Galaxy has to offer. You will learn as much about statecraft as you will the Force, were you to choose to join him."

    "They are often one and the same, young Luke," Obi-Wan said with a twinkle in his eye.

    "Try not to pollute my son's young mind with too many stories of the glory days of the Republic, Master Obi-Wan." Her tone was serious but Luke could see the humor in her eyes.

    "Mother, I'm perfectly capable of making my own decisions on politics and things."

    "Of course, my son. Though Master Kenobi in this world has been known to make liberal use of the Jedi Mind Trick."

    Don't I know it, Luke thought wryly.

    "Only on the truly wretched, your Grace, of which your son is certainly not one." The Negotiator rose and walked over to Luke, studying him carefully. "One lesson about its failures to counter each tale of nostalgia, does that strike the right balance?"

    "I hope you can do better than that in your negotiations with Satine," the Empress said in clearly feigned contempt. She lifted her glass in a decisive manner and finished what remained emphatically and with extra flourish. Once again the rest of the Council followed suit, and this last drink seemed to indicate the end of the meeting.

    "If I may, your Grace," Anakin interrupted as they were all getting up, "one last small matter to attend to?"

    The Empress nodded.

    "Director Tano," Anakin turned at the Togrutan with a dark look. "How goes the interrogation with the rebel leader we captured?"

    "There's not much to learn," Ahsoka responded passively, as Leia tried her best to pay close attention to the conversation without appearing to do so. "She has a few coded contacts that we are following up on, but I'm not expecting much." She paused, thinking. "I suggest Barriss be turned over to the supervision of the Jedi. They may be able to rehabilitate her."

    "You are far too kind sometimes, Ahsoka," Anakin warned, standing up with his arms crossed. "But nevertheless, her life is yours to spare. I will arrange transport for her to Alderaan."

    "Thank you Anakin," she replied, in a voice that, to Leia, seemed to say much more than the words themselves, "for understanding."


    The former Dark Lord of the Sith landed his craft on a cold moon above the water planet of Aquaris, meeting a solitary armored man of late middle age. He supposed the title of Grand Master was his to claim, though it was a dangerous time for his kind in the Galaxy at the moment. He aimed to change that in time.

    "Lord Maul," Kiin Vizsla greeted. "Not who I was envisioning representing the rebellion."

    "You will find that we are full of surprises," the Zabrak replied. "I commend you, Lord Vizsla. You have done an able job of stoking unrest in this sector."

    "I have done what I can, with limited resources. Is your rebellion willing to offer more?"

    "I offer you the opportunity to make history, my friend, to plant the seeds that will bring down this Empire," Maul replied, noting his barren and rocky surroundings. It was a vast improvement to years spent on Hoth. "The true glory of Mandalore will be restored, and we will both have our revenge."

    "Strong words, my friend, suggesting stronger action. I wonder if your superiors would approve?"

    "Senator Mothma will have served her purpose soon enough, and her shortsightedness will come to an end along with your dear Duchess. I trust your contacts on the planet are ready for action?"

    "What do you require of them," the human asked. He was wary of committing all he had worked to build one bold gamble, but he knew he may never get such an opportunity again. He had been wary of seeking an alliance with the rebellion, regarding its leader as no different an idealist than the wretched lady Kryze, but this former footnote of history standing before him offered hope that there was still a place for his movement in the future of the Galaxy.

    "Our operatives from across the Galaxy will converge into the Mandalore system. Give me the coordinates of your strongholds, and together we will set the world aflame."
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Fascinating interplay and Imperial directives. I love seeing Tano and Bail and Obi-Wan in their "adjusted" ;) roles. =D=
    AzureAngel2 and aldo405 like this.
  19. aldo405

    aldo405 Jedi Padawan

    Feb 23, 2018
    Thanks! Hopefully that last chapter provided a decent glimpse of how Padme runs her empire. We will hear more about her advisors soon enough...

    Chapter 6 - Counsel

    "Another one?"

    The blonde senator from Naboo did not wait for her guests to answer, motioning to the bartender for two more ales. She scanned her peripheries amidst the dimly lit bar, located several hundred stories below the glitz and glamour of the Senate District. The odds were not high that she would recognize a fellow politician here. The small cantina fell far below the tastes of a Senator or even their aides, and it was too close and not hidden enough from their usual haunts were they needing for a spot for more illicit activity.

    It suited Han perfectly though, and he gulped down the ale the Senator handed to him. He still wasn't quite sure what to think about her, or the Vaders, or any of this nonsense, but free ale was free ale.

    "At this point," he said, "I'm can't even say for sure that my entire life has been real. If I just woke up from a coma, and everything I thought I knew was just a dream...hell that would make a lot more sense than this sithspit."

    "I certainly don't envy you and your friends," Eirtae remarked as she drank her lone ale slowly. "I've seen the Jedi and General Skywalker accomplish some interesting things, but...different universes? I'm neither a scientist nor a philosopher to guess what happened to you."

    "You're powerful enough though. I imagine being lifelong friends with an Empress has some nice perks to it," Han said, noting the woman's fine clothing. That was another detail striking him as different from the Coruscant he remembered. Everyone, from the royal family to their guests on down to even some of the stragglers in the lower levels, all were quite concerned with keeping up with their wardrobes. While it was certainly preferable to his Empire's drab sensibilities, much less the grime of the dustball planets of the Outer Rim, it did make him feel self-conscious.

    "We were rivals at first," the Senator replied. "I ran for Queen and lost; the Empress graciously offered me a role in her court. Looking back, I wonder how I would have handled the crisis that engulfed us weeks later."

    "But you eventually got what you wanted." They had briefly introduced their backgrounds to each on their way down, as Han navigated his host to this old hangout that he remembered from his days back in the Academy. It might have been the only spot on the capital planet that appeared unchanged to him thus far.

    "Not in the same way. Elections on Naboo are mere formalities now. The Empress does not leave the politics of her homeworld to mere chance. I still don't know whether she chose me to be Queen because she truly believed me capable, or if she felt guilt for defeating me all those years ago." Obviously her career after a stint as the monarch was to logically follow her friend's path to the Senate, a position also held by the last (and only) two Emperors of the Galaxy, though Palpatine's actual reign as Emperor had been one of mere minutes, and not counted by most historians. She had originally ran as a modernist against Amidala, and the former Queen Iridina decided to revert to her birth name once she moved from throne to the Senate chambers.

    "Consider yourself lucky you even get that dilemma," Han said bitterly, finishing another ale and hoping Leia would not be too mad at him. Chewie echoed his agreement beside them.

    "I choose my words poorly," Eirtae said sincerely. She was flattered that the Empress had chosen her to host these all important guests, and did not want to disappoint her. "I cannot imagine the horrors you and your friends endured on your path here. But those are not our sins."

    She realized in her years as Queen that it was not where she truly belonged. Her friend Dorme was Queen now, and seemed to adapt to the position better than her, but Eirtae had in a short time mastered the intricacies of the Senate better than perhaps Amidala in her day, wielding every small procedure, rule and tactic not just to survive but to thrive. Even, she hoped, had she not had the Empress's blessing.

    "Honestly, I like her," Han admitted. "Your Empress, that is. She's no angel, I'm sure. No one gets that powerful without trampling over a whole lotta poor souls, but she seems to genuine enough for at least some of her schtick to not be an act."

    "And even the old man isn't that bad," Han added, noting the oddity of Leia's father being around his own age. "He's certainly not warm and fuzzy like Luke, but he hasn't tried to kill me or give me the old carbon freezing treatment...yet anyway."

    "Anakin is immensely powerful. He is respected and feared by the entire Galaxy, and at this point he can sit around and brood around for the of his life and get by on reputation alone, without resorting to cruelty."

    "So could Darth Vader, but that didn't stop him from killing everyone in sight." Han wondered which version of the older Skywalker he would rather face; at least the other one would simply put him out of his misery early, and he didn't have to endure hours of painful small talk and passive aggressive barbs. "He's the grumpy type, huh? Just like the version I know."

    "Not all the time," Eirtae said. "He can be very different, on those rare occasions I visit with the Imperial couple as friends, rather than dignitaries. Even after all these years, Anakin still acts like a lovesick teenager sometimes, and she's not much better. He can even be funny too, when it's a small audience."

    "So I've noticed," Han mused. "The Vader-tamer. Who could've imagined?"

    Eirtae smiled. "Technically, he's the Vader-tamer here. I think you'll see another side to Anakin on Naboo, away from all the pomp. He loves our planet, and treats it as his own homeworld. He loves his nieces too, and dotes on them entirely."

    The Senate and faction leader paused, and added more solemnly, "I think they remind him of what it was like to be a father."

    "I'm happy for them. Leia and Luke have found their long-lost family, all of them, but...," Han stopped, wondering why he was confiding in this total stranger, especially one who happened to be an Imperial lackey. It must have been the ales.

    "You're not sure what place is there for you in this world," Eirtae said for him, finishing his thoughts. "In her life."

    Force, either he was that easy to read, or this woman ranked as good a politician as the Empress, or her daughter. He did not respond, and his silence spoke as much as any words could.

    "I wonder myself whether I'd be where I am had Sabe not retired from public life to raise her family."

    She explained further. "She was a handmaiden, like myself, and Padme's favorite. But the Skywalkers are extremely loyal to those lucky to earn their loyalty. All of us who served her before her ascension do not find ourselves wanting under her patronage, whatever life we have chosen to pursue."

    "That's a rather fancy way of describing corruption," Han said dryly. So this Empress played dirty too, just like everyone he had ever known.

    "Not corruption," Eirtae said, still smiling, but more like a politician now. She sipped her ale, just as strong as the ones she ordered for him and Chewie. "What the Empress wants becomes Imperial prerogative. And the law. Fear not, young Solo. I have no doubt Anakin and Padme have passed on their sense of loyalty to their daughter. And if you all decide to stick around for awhile, I'm sure the Empress will make certain that you and your friend will be men of importance here."

    Han drank, not knowing whether that thought elated him or scared him more.


    Luke found his old master in what he assumed was his parents' study, a dignified room filled with shelves of old archives. This Obi-Wan, who looked so much younger, with nary a hint of grey in his hair and closely cropped beard, and whose lack of sadness and regret made him feel like a stranger.

    "Master Obi-Wan," Luke called out, as the Jedi perused what seemed to be a history of the Clone Wars. He turned to face Luke with the same serenity and self-possession he remembered from years ago.

    "Young Luke," the not-so-old Jedi nodded to him. "Your father tells me I, or what passed for myself in another world, served you well enough."

    "You were a great mentor," Luke said, eyes welling as he finally got the opportunity to catch up with his old friend again. "I would not be who I am without you."

    "And yet here you stand before me, in a strange world. Though from a certain point of view, the world you come from seems quite strange to me as well."

    Luke laughed, seeing that this Obi-Wan's diction at least was not all that different one he had known.

    "And what is your view of my father," Luke asked. Though this Obi-Wan was not immersed in regret, he sensed that he was not devoid of it either. "He seems to have abandoned the Jedi path."

    Obi-Wan set down his holo and meandered slowly to the next shelf. Luke followed him.

    "I tried my best with Anakin, of course. He tried his best to oblige me as well."

    "Do. Or do not. There is no try."

    The older Jedi turned to Luke, and seemed to truly scrutinize him for the first time.

    "Master Yoda. He trained you too."

    "For a time," Luke said, lowering his mental shields for the moment. He still did not know why he wished to keep secret his tutelage under the old Master. It was just instinctive paranoia towards the Empire, despite its differences from his. "He has passed, of his own accord."

    "I see." The Jedi Master leaned down and selected an old holo, activating it. It was an old news broadcast from the Clone Wars, and Luke recognized images of his father, except younger, maybe than even him. "Based on everything I've heard, perhaps Anakin's destiny never lay with the Jedi. Not in my world. Not in yours. My old Master would have disagreed, but the Force speaks for itself."

    "Why did he leave the Order?" Obi-Wan had told him about how he and his father had fought as a result of their estrangement. Here, they were at least civil.

    "He loves," Obi-Wan replied emotionlessly. "Not like a Jedi, but like a husband. Or a father."

    "So?" Luke was puzzled. To him, love was the simplest, most obvious emotion he knew. He loved Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. He loves his sister, and Han, and Chewie. He is already beginning to realize how much he loves Anakin Skywalker and his Empress, and he has a feeling that he would be able to love even Darth Vader, if that Sith Lord allowed it.

    "I see the extent to which our legacy was wiped out in your world," Obi-Wan said, sadness creeping into his voice for the first time. "Love for all sentient beings, and true compassion, is the way of the Jedi. But love in the form of attachments, possessive love, love colored by fear, that goes against our teachings. Our Code."

    "You're saying that love can lead to the Dark Side," Luke said quietly. Though they had hinted at it in his urge to save his friends on Bespin, he wondered why neither Obi-Wan nor Master Yoda had taught him this explicitly.

    "Has, many times, in the past," Obi-Wan said. The holo switched to footage of Palpatine giving a speech. "Perhaps it was even love, a misguided sense of it, no doubt, that created the Darth Vader you know."

    He deactivated this holo abruptly and moved on to another one, an obscure reference to the Great Sith Wars of old. "Or perhaps, the Order was misguided in its interpretation of the Code."

    He saw a shift in Luke's eyes, and continued. "We had failed, in a way. Our ways grew old and we did not adapt, while the Sith did, taking full control over the Republic right under our noses. Darth Sidious manipulated all of us, of course. The Jedi, the Republic, the Senate. Yet we willingly fought for him, killed for him. The Jedi waged a war for many years on behalf of a Sith Master."

    "What happened to the Jedi," Luke asked, remembering the Empress's words. "My mother said something about an exile on Alderaan."

    "Your parents saved much of the Order from Palpatine's genocide, before it could be carried out fully. Many still died, too many, but many more are alive today because of them, along with millions across the Galaxy."

    Obi-Wan smiled, and continued. "Then your mother proclaimed herself an Empress and banished us from the capital world."

    "Why would she do that," Luke wondered. His mother perplexed him in many ways. He could feel her kindness, her genuine care for her subjects, and her boundless compassion. And yet he had already seen firsthand evidence of her ruthlessness, much subtler than the Sith's Empire no doubt, but still nevertheless tangible.

    "I was not there to see what happened firsthand," Obi-Wan pondered regretfully, grasping his bearded with one hand. "It may have been for the better anyway. Rather than involve ourselves with all the pettiness of politics, we are much more in tune with the Force these days. We meditate, we learn, we teach, we heal, and we assist your mother on the rare occasion where she asks, provided that what the Empire requires of us does not go against the Jedi way."

    "Where were you when this all happened? Were you still fighting in the Clone Wars? You told me that you had fought side by side with my father, until he became Darth Vader." He had always wondered what kind of warrior the old wizard was back in his glory days, fighting alongside his father.

    "Anakin is a remarkable man, Luke. He is far more clever than most people realize. Even I underestimated him at times."

    Rather than explain, the older Jedi motioned for Luke to follow him to the open center of the study, where he activated what was a massive projection of the Galaxy. Obi-Wan drew three courses leaving the Core Worlds.

    "The death of his children hit Anakin extremely hard, Luke. He had already left the Jedi at the time, his wife's pregnancy having revealed their secret marriage. It's possible that the Council may have decided to grant an exemption for him, due to the escalating nature of the war, but he did not give us the opportunity. He left behind a new Padawan as well, and I took it upon myself to finish her training. You met her today, at the Council."

    "Director Tano," Luke said, remembering the quiet Togrutan woman who betrayed the least during the meeting. He had sensed her power in the Force too, though never did she hint towards it.

    "Ahsoka, yes. We failed her too as well. The war had cost us so much. It robbed the Republic and the Senate of its soul, and the Jedi of our vision. To Anakin, losing his children was the last straw. He decided to end the war by himself. Palpatine granted him complete control of the entire Clone Army, hoping to continue his manipulation of him. He practically gave him the Republic, handing the entire Jedi Order over wholesale for a mere boy to command. He a had more power than anyone maybe, save the Chancellor himself, but somehow, Anakin had realized what we in the Jedi Council already suspected: that a spy, possibly the Sith Master, had infiltrated the heart of the Republic and the Senate itself, and was manipulating events to prolong the war for dark reasons."

    Obi-Wan continued drawing the complicated lines along the map, leading each further and further into the Outer Rim.

    "Anakin divided us into three armies. He cut off all communication with Coruscant, and all of a sudden, we began winning the war. Worlds after worlds were liberated under your father's direction. Every time the Separatists thought we would zig, we zagged. Every time we made the Separatists think we were going to zag, we zigged. It was a masterful campaign, and yet entirely too risky."

    The three lines under Obi-Wan's fingers grew further and further apart. "Master Koon's armies made their way through Dantooine, Mygeeto, Muunilinst. My own command liberated and secured worlds like Mandalore, Felucia, and Saleucami. Anakin had stretched himself even further, fighting from Hutt Space through Bothan territories and all the way to Ryloth."

    Luke's eyes widened as he studied the path of the three armies. "He separated his forces, leaving the Core vulnerable."

    Obi-Wan nodded. "Practically undefended. It was brilliant, really. He acted exactly like everyone would expect of a rash young boy, barely twenty-two years of age, fresh off the greatest tragedy a man can bear. He lashed out wildly, strong and fierce in his actions, but short-sided and immature, greedily eating up every piece of action, pursuing the enemy to the ends of the Galaxy with little heed to caution.

    Obi-Wan pointed out a single planet at the edge of the Outer Rim, far from Anakin's course and even further from the other two armies.

    "He received word that the Separatist Council was sighted on Utapau. Capture them, and he could end the war."

    He traced a several paths from the Outer Rims back into the Core. Luke saw them converge onto one route. "The Hydrian Way," he said, "left wide open."

    To Luke's surprise, Obi-Wan smiled. "Utapau was a lie of course. Count Dooku and the droid General Grievous were no fools. They had regrouped, despite our endless pursuit, and was preparing to combine what remained of their armies for a massive counterattack on Coruscant itself. Anakin commanded me to retreat from my offensive and guard Carida, the supply depot for all our three armes. But not before taking away half my army for his next offensive."

    Luke watched as Obi-Wan pointed out the star system, at the center of several trade routes leading right into Alderaan and Coruscant and drew two circles away from the key planet towards Utapau. "It all came down onto Carida. Dooku had a clear path to the capital, but he could not leave me threatening his rear. And I was easy pickings too, half an army guarding an all too important position; an easy appetizer for the main course. Destroy me, and he would cut off the remaining two armies from their lifelines."

    Obi-Wan marked the routes of several Separatist armies converging on Carida. He looked at Luke in his pale blue eyes, and smiled again, gentler this time. "In a way, it was Anakin's ultimate compliment to me. He know that I better than anyone was prepared for the siege, and that I alone could withstand it. And I did, barely keeping my army together for days through the enemy barrage."

    "You were bait," Luke realized.

    "Anakin had manipulated Dooku and Grievous into combining what remained of their spent forces. He gave them a favorable position along the Hydrian Way, then lured them to abandon it in order to eliminate a despised member of the Jedi Council, the famed Negotiator for good measure. Utapau was a feint, of course, and in truth Anakin had all along plotted a course from the other side of the Outer Rim to break our siege just as the Separatists were about to get the better of me. He showed up, along with my two missing divisions, and used them to blockade the entire system as he and Master Windu pressed their advantage."

    Obi-Wan traced a third line into Carida. "Of course, when Plo Koon showed up on secret orders as well, the Separatists were destroyed utterly and completely. Three armies from three directions converging upon one; with nowhere to flee, Dooku and Grievous escaped onto the planet. Anakin and I pursued them. I destroyed Grievous, and Anakin killed Dooku. He had indeed won the war with a single battle, taking advantage of how everyone, from allies, to Jedi, enemies, politicians, Sith...we had all underestimated him. He had disrupted the plans of the Sith as well, ending the war far earlier than Palpatine had planned, and separate from his control."

    Entranced by the tale, Luke barely noticed as Obi-Wan put a warm fatherly hand on his shoulder, looking him deep in the eyes. "War is horrible, Luke. You know that as well as any of us; you've seen the costs, the tragedy, the suffering. In this world, you were one of its casualties. But the Carida campaign will be remembered as the epitome of the perfect battle for millennia to come. It was your father's masterpiece, Luke, as close to a work of art as you can create in such a cruel, horrible enterprise."

    "And it gave my mother her crown."

    "He fought. He won. Now he rests, I suppose, with an ample share of the spoils. I would not underestimate your father in politics either, Luke, but as much as he is a master of war, the political arena is your mother's playground. Opinions aside on the merits of Empire or democracy, she did as much as he to earn her title. While the war continued, Senator Amidala worked endlessly to save refugee lives, repatriate conquered worlds, negotiate compromises to prevent the Senate from falling apart, and curb the Supreme Chancellor's dictatorial powers. Their stars shone bright, and with their marriage, a scandal at first, now only served to amplify the other's. By the end of the war, she was known as the Great Compromiser, the Conscience of the Senate. Anakin, of course, got the Genius of Carida added to his repertoire, along with the Hero with No Fear."

    "This is his potential," Luke said, feeling once more those pangs of pride he had always wanted to associated with his father. But the double-edged sword of his legacy remained. "It was what he could have accomplished as a Jedi, had he not fallen where I come from."

    "You are living in the fruit of his accomplishments now, Luke, and they are quite different than what he could have done as a Jedi. But Anakin is his own man, he's made that very clear, and what's done is done. While I obviously don't agree with the path he has chosen, it is obvious now, with the tales you've told, that it could have been much, much, worse."

    "And you serve him now, despite everything." Luke did not want to be acrimonious, especially towards a long dead friend. And he in many ways was tempted to embrace his parents' creation as well. But he needed to hear the words of justification come from the man who had taught him everything.

    "The Jedi will always stand for democracy Luke. I will question what could have been. But your parents have chosen to empower to their high Council three who oppose them, and they even listen to us at times."

    "You, Bail, and the Ambassador," Luke said. Again, Obi-Wan nodded.

    "And Ahsoka is ambivalent at best on the ideology of it all. To me, that is no small encouragement, and I will take what I am given and do the best I can with it."

    "Why," Luke asked. "Why did my mother abandon democracy?"

    "That question, Luke, is theirs and theirs alone to answer."


    "Leia," Anakin beckoned to his daughter. She was observing the Empress and Bail converse quietly in the corner, after the meeting had been adjourned. Leia hoped to approach the man that had raised her, and even though it shouldn't have hurt it, the fact that barely paid any thoughts to her broke her heart in a small way.

    "He's different here, in so many ways." Leia had watched her adopted father serve the Empire for nineteen years as well, feigning obedience. It was the cost of protecting her, she knew, and his wife and homeland, but he had always been able to compartmentalize his sadness about the state of Galaxy when he was home with her and Breha. She wondered if they had another daughter in this world, a child to love and raise that pushed had him through the darkness of Palpatine's Empire. "The Empr...mother...said there were problems at home."

    "There is...," Anakin stopped, not wanting to elaborate, but once more he could not refuse his daughters eyes, beseeching him for an answer however painful it would be. "There is an issue of infidelity. It was a scandal a few weeks ago; the whole thing has died down now somewhat, but he will have a long ways to go to repair his marriage."

    "An affair," Leia repeated, curiosity turning to anger. "My mother! Poor Breha!"

    She wanted to run over and slap the man that had raised her. How could he do this to her adopted mother, to the dignity of her throne and to their entire planet? Before she could do so, Anakin stepped in and pulled her away, in the opposite direction towards an open veranda overlooking the city and the Senate Building on one side.

    "We are all human, I'm afraid. The Empire is no easy taskmaster. Pressures build, temptation arrives easier than it normally would. Bail is a good man, but we all make mistakes."

    "Who was she," she asked, looking again at the two politicians conversing in the corner. What had they done to Bail Organa's soul?

    "No one important," Anakin said. "A former aide."

    Leia looked at Anakin again, eyes accusing yet wondering. "What about you? You're a war hero, second in command of the Empire. You can certainly have anyone you want."

    "I already do. And no, I would never cheat on your mother." He almost sounded hurt that Leia could even bring up the idea.

    "That's what I would have thought about Bail too."

    "First off," Anakin chuckled, "the Empress can always sign my death warrant."

    Then he turned serious. "There has never been anyone else for me besides your mother, Leia. From the moment I met her, I never wanted anyone else."

    She wanted to believe him, even though her parents were technically still strangers to her. Words were words after all, but she could feel the truth to them.

    "Luke was a rather easy child to raise," Anakin said after awhile. "You were more difficult, always putting up a fight, whether we wanted you to eat, or sleep, or wake, or just wear a matching pair of socks." He smiled sadly.

    "When we finally got you into your crib, your mother and I would watch you sleep, proud of our work. 'She has the spirit of us combined,' she would say to me. Your mother loved you so much, because you were strong; a fighter. She loved you both of course, and we both knew that you and Luke could accomplish anything in time. But Padme worried about you more. We wanted so much to retire and return to Naboo after the war was over, and devote ourselves to raising the two of you. Padme wondered though, whether as you grew, Naboo would be enough for you."

    "It must have been horrible," Leia said sympathetically, "losing your children. I could never imagine such a thing."

    "But you're both here now," Anakin said, holding his two hands together under his green robes in contemplation. "For how long, I don't know. Whatever the Force wills, we will accept. Your mother is so happy to see you and your brother again, if even for a few fleeting days, and she is so proud what you both have become."

    Anakin turned and looked at his daughter closely. This time, it was his eyes that were doing the begging. "But in the time you are here, please don't begrudge your mother for the crimes I committed, Leia. She doesn't deserve that."

    She felt something break inside her. "Luke said that Darth Vader is a different person. He is not the man you are now, or were in our world. That Anakin Skywalker died when Vader was born."

    "That is a lie," Anakin said quietly, with a hint of menace. "A myth to perpetuate the infallibility of the Jedi, as if they, unlike anyone else in this universe, do not have the capacity for great evil."

    He closed his eyes. "I have seen visions of my crimes, Leia. I know full well what I could have become, what I could have done, had chance broken in different ways. I have seen the machine that you described, Leia. And worse, too. I have seen myself fully unleashed and uncaged, more powerful and terrible than even the Darth Vader you know, committing even more unspeakable crimes, destroying not just mere worlds but almost the Galaxy itself."

    "But you haven't," Leia said, her voice quivering. To hear her father admit to his darkness was not something she would have ever expected of him, or Vader. "I've seen the blood your Empire has shed firsthand, and know that it will shed plenty more in the future, but you haven't destroyed or enslaved entire planets here...have you?"

    "No. But I could. Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader are the same. They've always been, and will always be. Whatever I do, in this life or any other, the responsibility is always mine alone."

    "Your wife," Leia said. "The Empress holds you back."

    Anakin looked at his daughter, bemused. "You don't really think I believe all I say in Council meetings, do you? That I would advocate death and destruction for every small and petty case before the Empire?"

    "So your counsel is a lie then?"

    "It is balance," Anakin replied. "I see one possibility of what could be necessary, and give voice to it. The Empress must hear all the sides of every issue, and consider every fact and option available to her. I say what no one else on the Council would say. At the end, the Empress makes her decision with the advice she is given; I merely expand the range of her options. For what it's worth, she usually doesn't listen to me."

    "But she sometimes does." Leia could accept her father's role in this Empire. She was used to that, but the idea of Padme Amidala not just merely complicit in, but fully responsible for the suppression of democracy was a betrayal that Leia was not sure she could ever entirely accept.

    "Empire, Republic, Jedi, even your Rebellion. Anyone, any thing that seeks to gain and hold power must project strength, or it will not survive."

    Leia wasn't sure if she wanted to keep arguing. She never imagined the prospect of getting into a political and philosophical argument with Darth Vader, but she was exhausted, not just from this recent ordeal, though it was quite enough, but from fighting her whole young life.

    "You will succeed, by the way," Anakin said, changing the subject entirely. "In your world, you and your brother would have brought down the Empire. And Luke...he would have saved me from the prison of my own making. You still could, were you to return."

    Leia's eyes widened. "How would you know?"

    Anakin smiled, but for the first time his presence felt warm, even fatherly. "Visions, my dear Leia. In time you may learn to see them as well."

    "I'm not sure if I'd want to," Leia said nervously. "The Force...Luke says I am strong in it."

    "You are, Leia. Our family is, save your mother. But you should know, I never had a father. I don't say this metaphorically, it just is. I was conceived by the will of the Force itself, and my line will always be strong in it for generations to come."

    "That's...that's a miracle. How is that possible?"

    "The wonders of the Force are beyond our comprehension Leia. I can't explain much of what I am able to see, or foresee. I can't explain how you and your brother came to be in this world. Our decisions are our own, of course, but the Force never ceases to surprise me with the unimaginable."

    "What else have you seen," Leia asked. The thought had been nagging her ever since Luke revealed her true parentage during that standoff on Endor...that she could eventually possess the same powers as her brother...or Darth Vader. "What would have happened in our world, after we overthrow the Emperor?"

    "The future is always in motion, Leia. The Force allows for all things, all possibilities, in the times to come. Visions are dangerous things. Sometimes, a dark future can come to pass despite our best efforts. Our very actions to prevent one possible future may be the very thing that causes it to be."

    Far away along the jagged horizon, the sun came to meet the edges of the capital world. Leia watched the sunset, having never appreciated it in her years on this artificial world in a different past. She had never seen the rough beauty on planet of cities, the miracle of sentient life meshed intricately together in a tapestry that no other place in the Galaxy could replicate.

    "You will experience great joy. You, your brother, Han, your children. You will enjoy peace, prosperity, and the bounty your efforts."

    Leia smiled. She knew that what she had with Han was real, and she was happy to hear her father finally acknowledge the future she envisioned for them.

    He voice turned. "There will be great sadness too. And darkness. In time that will pass, but you will bear great scars from the tragedies to come."

    "Because of me and Luke," she asked, voicing her deepest fears. "Because of our powers?"

    Anakin shook his head. "Not likely."

    Leia allowed herself to feel her despair. She felt the night air breathing through her, around her, beyond her. For the first time, she realized that she could feel her father. She felt great waves, unimaginable torrents of power...and sadness. Not for himself, but for her, and her brother. He truly cared for them, she realized. And she understood then.

    "My children." He did not reply for some time, but she could feel his acknowledgement of the truth.

    "The future is not set in stone, but it is more possible than not."

    "Why?" Leia allowed herself to swim in her own despair. She allowed herself to breathe, to be human, to be a daughter, and a lover, and to truly feel her heart for the first time since her entire existence had been ripped away from her on the Death Star. "Why are we cursed with this darkness? This tragedy? Why can't we just be happy, and simple, and live our lives? Like normal people?!"

    "Leia," Anakin said, cautiously putting his gloved arm around her. She let herself lean in to her father. "I am more powerful than any being in the history of existence. That is not a's just the fact. The Force wills what it wills, and in the end it wills balance, beyond all things. Our darker fates are our heritage and our burden, that we will all forever carry. A trade for the powers granted us. You love Han. Deeply." He did not ask. He stated.

    "Yes," Leia said, missing him so much already, even though it had been mere hours.

    "He loves you too," Anakin acknowledged. "He may not even realize the extent yet. But we Skywalkers are quick to love, Leia. We love hard, we feel hard...we fall hard. And that is our curse, when we fall so deeply into ourselves, and we are too powerful to contain our own nature."

    Leia looked up at this man, so obviously scarred, and she realized, tortured. He had seen so much darkness, in what had already passed, and even more in what had never been. She feared the darkness within her, not knowing its potential. He knew his darkness completely, had somehow even seen it in his visions. And yet here he stood, holding on to his daughter, his family, steadying them through a universe whose infinite possibilities Leia was just beginning to learn (feel).

    "How do I prevent it," Leia asked. She looked at her father, feeling his power, and the cold core mantle underwriting it. And yet her mother had been right, because she felt his love, his empathy, his...wisdom, even, and most strikingly she felt his hope for her and her family's future, a hope that was unaffected by all the darkness that he had experienced in a life not much longer than hers. She tried to reconcile this figure with the dark figure she knew in her world, one that, by his own admission, was one and the same.

    There had to be a way. If it were her children, then she would raise them right, away from the darkness. If it was inevitable, then she would raise them ignorant of the Force. She acknowledged the unthinkable, that she may have to sacrifice the possibility of children to save them. Would she have to sacrifice Han too? Was fate so cruel? So staggeringly unfair?

    "Nothing is certain," Anakin whispered into her ear in a voice so low she wasn't even sure she heard it. "The darker your future, the more you must appreciate what you have now. Be grateful of every moment of happiness you are lucky enough to enjoy with the ones you love. Love, Leia. Don't be afraid to love. Learn to understand love better than anything else you know, more than politics, or justice, or any other passions. Learn to love purely, unconditionally, free of fear, or apprehension, or jealousy. In time, understand that we will be cursed to fight for every moment of happiness we may enjoy. You will have to fight, Leia. Mercilessly even, we do what we must. But you must always remember the love you are fighting for."

    "What about here," Leia asked after an even longer silence. Hundreds of speeders moved gracefully about in the distance, and she played a game, trying to feel the emotions and the life force on each of them. "What lies ahead of us in this world?"

    "I felt your arrival before it even happened, Leia." He withdrew from her, and she saw the Empress approach them. Leia tried to sense her emotions, and felt joy and love towards her presence. She felt gratitude for the fact that her husband had finally gotten to reconnect with their daughter...and a deep, profound sadness because she had yet to do the same.

    "Imagine the Force, the Galaxy as a giant pond," Anakin said, embracing his wife and kissing her forehead. He leaned down and nuzzled his cheek next to hers, then continued. "Imagine a giant boulder, immense beyond belief, crashing into that pond at light speed."

    They walked over to her together, and her mother apprehensively reached a small and delicate hand towards Leia. She took it, and held it, feeling relief.

    "That is how it felt when you and your brother crashed into this world," Anakin explained. "The future is so uncertain, the ripples from this disturbance in the Force so severe, that even I have not yet been able to decipher through it all."

    The three of them stood there for some time, watching the stars appear one by one in the Coruscanti night, family finally linked by flesh once more.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018
  20. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wonderful conversation Han with Eirtae showing the Nabooian and political side of things. Then Luke's with Kenobi showing the Jedi/warrior side. But the topper was Leia with Anakin. So eloquent and forthright he is in this 'verse. I ADORE that he sees how he could have been/was in the other time and is honest about it but has taken the silver lining approach: embrace every single second of love and happiness you can because life is too short :eek: Skywalker or no. :p Love the tableau at the end there with Padme, Anakin, and Leia together.

    SQUEE for the H/L inner thoughts on how much they love each other. [face_dancing]

    Did have a WHAT?! moment about the Bail/Breha reveal though. Like Leia -- I never would have expected that. :( I hope he can mend fences and build bridges to Breha again. [face_love]
    AzureAngel2 and aldo405 like this.
  21. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    I love Luke's response here!
  22. aldo405

    aldo405 Jedi Padawan

    Feb 23, 2018
    Thanks! I wanted to explore who Anakin could have become in the story, not as a Jedi or Sith, but as a man, with all his powers, but with maturity and experience. And I'm sure that he would know too much about forbidden love to truly hold a grudge against Han.

    Thanks! I did realize when writing this why Luke never heard about the attachment thing in the OT. Wonder if lessons had been learned...

    Interlude - Falling

    "The Chancellor is a Sith Lord."

    To say Padme was shocked that her husband would walk into her office so casually and just say such a thing as if he were describing the weather or the color of a dress would be an understatement.


    He lay down on a couch at the far end of the office, holding his flesh hand painfully at his temples, his dark robes overflowing down onto the office floor.

    "He told me as such," Anakin said expressionlessly. "He said the Jedi were about to betray him. And the Republic."

    She dropped her data pad and rushed over to his side from her desk. He moved forward and she scooted in behind him in the couch, hoping that she could comfort him in some way. She could not imagine the betrayal he would be feeling right now, if what he was saying wasn't some elaborate joke. He had not joked for some time now.

    "I've been having nightmares again." He allowed himself to lean back into her as she cradled her arms around him. After eight months away, the touch of her own husband almost felt foreign to her. Almost. With the political storm coming to a headwind since he had arrived two days prior, they had not had much of a chance to really talk, except about the political situation and what she needed her husband to do.

    He had not, as she expected, reacted angrily. He remained quiet, thinking, and then told her flatly that he would do as she asked. Since then, he had been busy, coordinating the endgame of the war and directing the army to the final Separatist strongholds, while her, Bail, Mon and the rest of their allies were busying lobbying any Senator they could get ahold of on the upcoming referendum. They had a chance, she thought, as more Senators than she realized, tired by the war and all it entailed, were receptive to a change now that peace was finally timidly returning to the Galaxy. All she needed was Anakin to push them over the edge, democracy could return, and she could retire from this horrid business, knowing that she had done her job. Maybe that's why Anakin was willing to speak against the Chancellor, knowing that it would give them the chance to restart their lives together. Then this, she realized. Adding a Sith Lord to the mix would certainly change the political equations.

    "That's why you haven't been sleeping." Anakin had departed for the capital almost as soon as he slew Count Dooku, leaving Masters Kenobi and Windu behind to clean up the chaos. She needed him here as well, not just for herself, but to prepare him for what she needed him to do. He had been distant in the half week since he came back, but Padme thought it was from the strain of having to speak out against his old friend, maybe some unacknowledged resentment at her for making him do so.

    "They are visions, but not like what the visions I had during the war. Those came to me as I meditated. I sought them out, and the Force guided me to victory."

    He sniffled several times, as if he were having trouble breathing. "I've been meditating since I've arrived back here, Padme. But nothing comes to me, except at night. And these ones are horrible."

    Padme shut her eyes and clutched her husband's torso tightly, remembering the last time he had his nightmares, and the aftermath after they had arrived on Tatooine too late to save his mother. She remembered that he had been so young, so raw, so vulnerable at that time. She surmised that he felt the same way now, but after almost three years of war and death, he was better at hiding it now. She hoped that he still needed her as much now as he did then.

    "Do they concern me?" She was afraid to hear the answer, and not just for her own sake.

    "Yes," Anakin admitted, turn his blue eyes at her intently. "You, the Chancellor, the Jedi...everything."

    "Tell me," she commanded softly. She needed to guide him through this, at such a perilous moment.

    "I see the Jedi going to assassinate the Chancellor. I conspiring with them." His voice and his eyes told her nothing as she tried to discern how he felt about such a possibility. She had voiced the possibility to a very few of her colleagues in the Senate, but nothing more than that. It was a contingency she held in the back of her mind, should everything else fail.

    "There is chaos. There is bloodshed. And in the middle of all of it, you die."


    "I don't know. It wasn't clear. But you were screaming. In pain." She could hear the pain in his own voice, his efforts in trying to hold himself back and maintain his composure clear. "I went to see the Chancellor this morning."

    Padme nodded. "To tell him about your speech." Anakin's speech before the Senate was only hours away. He would be receiving a hero's welcome, the grateful thanks from the Senate and the Republic for their savior. It would have been the moment he made his plea for a return to democracy, and for the Senate to end the Supreme Chancellor's emergency powers in the fast approaching vote. Padme had been making final preparations for the aftermath of the speech when her husband had walked in. Now, it all seemed pointless. She doubted that the speech would happen; of course Palpatine would find a way to destroy her plans, especially if he were a Sith Master.

    "I didn't think I could betray him. Not without telling him my intentions, at least. And to let him know it wasn't personal."

    Or willing, Padme thought. "Was he angry?"

    "No, actually. He said he understood. That I was being manipulated, that we all were, by the Jedi. He said that the Jedi are zealots, and now that the war was over they, with the help of certain members of the Senate, would seek to destroy him, and everyone in his circle, in their bid to retain power over the Republic."

    "Including you," Padme realized. She had never hated someone more than she hated the Supreme Chancellor right now, that he would try to drive a wedge between her and her husband now that the war was over and they were finally reunited.

    "They fear me, now more than ever since I've succeeded apart from them. They would fear you as well, he said, because they would not be able to control the children we would have in the future."

    "They did not interfere in any way with Luke and Leia," Padme asserted. Though she did not approve of everything about the Jedi, especially when it concerned her husband, she still respected their intentions and integrity.

    "They were otherwise occupied, but no longer." Anakin turned away from her. "He also hinted at other things about you. Between you and Senator Organa."

    Padme's eyes grew wide. "Anakin," she hissed indignantly. "You couldn't have believed him about that, could you? I would never!"

    She waited for his response. Their marriage had not been easy, but they had survived through the worst, until now. But if he could not trust her, if he would believe Palpatine's lies after everything they had been through...she knew it was Palpatine's fault, of course, but she wasn't sure she could ever forgive his lack of faith. Or forget, if she did forgive eventually.

    "No," Anakin said, saving them. "He lies, of course. That is his way."

    Padme breathed a sigh of relief. He trusts me, she thought. Does that make me the fool for doubting him?

    "He murdered our children, Padme. If Dooku was a Sith, then Palpatine was his master. They manipulated both sides of the war, together."

    She felt her anger intensify. She had long known not to trust the Supreme Chancellor from a political standpoint, but to think that he was responsible for such a heinous act, robbing not just her but many other Senators and functionaries of their children on that fateful night...she wished that he was not a Sith so that she could take her own revenge.

    "He disclaimed responsibility for the attack of course; he said Ventress went rogue and did it alone."

    "You can't believe that," Padme said. It was clear now that, whomever responsibility for the attack lay, Luke and Leia...her and Anakin...were its true targets.

    "Of course not. If he is so powerful, enough to cloud even my visions...then there is no way he would allow such a thing to sneak by without his knowledge or consent."

    Padme felt her husband tense. She looked into his eyes, and thought she saw flecks of yellow. She blinked and looked again, and they blue like she always remembered. In a way, she was disappointed that Anakin did not take his revenge on Palpatine right then and there. The logical part of her said that he would need proof, that if he assassinated the Supreme Chancellor unsolicited that it would throw the fragile Republic into greater chaos than ever. But nevertheless, she remembered her son's clear, innocent eyes and easy smiles, her daughter's fierce determination and intelligence, apparent at such a young age, and she wanted nothing but pain for the evil creature that took them away from her, that was trying even now to take so much more from her.

    "So what did you do?"

    "I left. I told him I didn't know what to think. Then I went to tell the Jedi Council."

    "They will seek to arrest him?"

    "They told me to wait behind. They mean to kill him, of course, but are afraid that I would hurt rather than help. I sense their presences in the building as we speak. Master Yoda leads them." He breathed deeply several times. "The Force speaks to me. They will fail."

    Padme stiffened and sat up straight. "Oh Ani. If the Jedi fail, then all hope is lost." She could feel her plans unraveling even as she spoke. A failed attempt on the Supreme Chancellor, especially at this critical moment, would clearly be seen by the general populace as a coup. It would render her husband's upcoming speech moot, and would further drive sympathy towards the Chancellor, giving him the justification to further amplify his powers amidst such chaos. If he were truly a Sith, then he would seek total power and domination, and it would have been Anakin and the Jedi who unwittingly delivered the Galaxy to him.

    A knock on the door interrupted their long reverie. It was C-3PO.

    "Mistress Padme. Master Anakin. The Supreme Chancellor has summoned an emergency session of the Senate in one standard hour. Apparently, attendance is mandatory..."

    Anakin waved the droid away. "Thank you, 3PO. Let us get ready for the session."

    "Then it is over for the Jedi," Anakin said, after the droid left the office.

    "It's over for all of us, Ani. I have a feeling whatever world emerges from tonight, any hints of further opposition will no longer be tolerated." She thought of Bail, and Mon and all of her colleagues who had been brave enough to face the storm with her in the recent years, about how powerful an enemy they were about to face. What little she knew of the Sith and their history, mercy and pity were not among their traits.

    "We could run away," she said. "Find a far away place and hide there forever, away from the clutches of the Chancellor."

    Anakin frowned. "Palpatine...Darth Sidious...he would not let us...let me escape, Padme. He means to have me join him, and he will not rest until that happens, or until he has eliminated me as a threat."

    "Of course," Padme said, thinking his husband's long and odd friendship with the Chancellor, how he had even been their savior when their marriage had been first revealed. "All this time, he was using you."

    "He will stop at nothing. Your family, back on Naboo. If we had children again...he would make them all suffer to draw me out."

    "You're right." Padme buried her face into her husband's hair, allowing herself to sob tearlessly several times. "We cannot run. And I cannot let democracy die, not without a fight. We must confront him."

    She hated the thought, but she realized that her husband was truly the only person who could stop Palpatine now. Master Qui-Gon did believe he was the Chosen One, after all, and what moment could he have been chosen for except this? And if he failed...if Master Yoda and half the Jedi Council could not succeed...she could not bear the thought, knowing that her own death would be the least of her worries.

    "I must confront him," he said sharply, turning almost violently to look at her. "You need to leave this building now. Find somewhere to hide, until this is all over."

    "And leave myself a sitting duck for Palpatine's agents, who would be on the lookout for every missing figure of the opposition?"

    "Yes! You know how resourceful you are. And if I die, run! Tell your family to leave Naboo now, and give them a rendezvous spot. Alive or dead, Padme, I cannot bear the thought of any harm coming to you!"

    He had risen so that his face so close next to hers. She saw his eyes watering, begging her in desperation, but she could not give in. Not this time. Padme took her husband's wrist and gripped it tightly. "And have you stopped to consider that I cannot bear to lose you either? To once again wait, not knowing your fate, whether you live or die? Or something worse? And watch from a distant holo the fate of the Republic? Face it Anakin. I must go, and you cannot stop me. We must both do our duty. And besides, if I'm in danger, where else am I safer than by your side?"

    He grabbed her without warning and pulled her in to kiss her. They kissed, knowing that, like that day on Geneosis, this kiss might be their last, the peril they faced this time infinitely greater. She bit his lip, trying to extract his very essence, and if he felt pain he did not react, instead digging his fingers deeper into her back as he massaged her. She held on to him like she were falling through air, through space, and he was the only one who could save her. Or perhaps they were falling together, and if they never let go they would never need land.

    He held her this time, for some time. They did not need to speak, there was so little time left to waste words. Instead they sat in silence, clutching each other closely, trying to memorize each other's scents, their touch, their very essences.

    "I thought I would never see you again," Anakin finally said. "After the Jedi took me away. I knew I would, because that's what the Force told me, just like it told me that I would marry you some day. But I did not know enough to trust the Force yet. My world was the Jedi, they and the Force were one and the same to me at the time. Ten years, Padme. Every night, I fell asleep thinking of you. I dreamed of you, and in the mornings I woke trying to hold on to what little I could from those dreams, because they were all I had."

    A ghost of a smile appeared on her face. "But you were wrong, weren't you? The Force had better plans for both of us."

    "I could not sleep," Anakin continued, "the night before we met again. I was so excited, but I was scared too. Jedi don't fear of course, but I do. I was afraid that you would not recognize me, that even if you did, it would mean nothing to you."

    "I never forgot you, Ani," she said gently. "I'd be lying if I said I thought about you every day, but how could I forget the little boy who saved my planet?"

    They had recited these same words to each other countless times now, reliving those moments of their lives together. In war, with the present so dark, sometimes all they could do was cling to the past. Tonight, they would tell each other the story of them, the gospel of their love, for what could be the last time.

    "I saw you, and you were so beautiful. And in that moment I was heartbroken, because all I wanted to do was to rush into your arms and kiss you forever, and the fact that you did not feel the same passion that I did killed me."

    "I saw a cocky, handsome young man, Anakin. It is my experience that I be wary of people like that. I had to remember that behind your countenance was the generous heart and wonderful spirit of the little boy I had known so many years ago."

    She kissed him again, but gently. "He had grown, he had changed. And I discovered that I liked those changes."

    She winced as he brushed away a tear from her eye. "And whatever happens tonight, I will always be glad that I opened my heart to him, and I will always be thankful for the time we had together, in this life or the next."

    "I will be strong," was all Anakin said in return.

    "Do you remember when you left the order? How much they hated us? Every word I said in the Senate, as Queen, was used against me." At the time, those were the darkest days of her life. She woke up every morning with Anakin by her side, and dreaded ever having to leave her bed. But she did nevertheless, and faced each day with resolve: the holonet cameras, the sniveling, contemptuous colleagues, the lewd comments from the people on the street, the smug smile of the Chancellor.

    "They said vile things about you," Anakin said, his expression darkening. "They even threatened your family, those cowards. I wished I could kill them all. I still do."

    "Save your anger for Palpatine, Anakin." In her mind, she remembered Obi-Wan's warnings. It was after Anakin had left the Jedi Order. He had come to their apartment, as a friend. He had warned them both, but especially her, about the dangers of the Dark Side, its lure, its temptation, now that Anakin was no longer bidden to the Jedi Code. She knew that she shouldn't be goading her husband to anger; the Chancellor had done enough of that already. "We proved them wrong, didn't we? You and I, we ended the war, we saved lives, we did all we could to save democracy. And now they love us...the same crowds that cursed us chant our names as saviors."

    "So what," Anakin said bitterly, his voice breaking. "We are the heroes of the Galaxy for maybe two whole days. If I fail, then it never really happened, did it? What does it matter, the battles we won, the bills we passed? We failed as parents, we failed our families, and we failed our duties to the Republic. For all we loved, and all we struggled, that will be the only legacy we leave behind."

    "The darkness will not last forever," Padme said, hopefully. "They will judge us fairly, that we failed to accomplish the impossible."

    She looked at her chrono and rose, painfully leaving his grasp. "It is time. We cannot delay the inevitable."

    It was time to face their destiny. No, he decided.

    "I will take destiny into our own hands tonight." He rose and took her hand with his cybernetic one. He felt his lightsaber with the other, knowing he needed more than ever for his weapon to be a part of him. "No longer will fate toss us around like playthings. Padme?"


    "I need you to promise me something."

    "Anything, Anakin," she vowed. "Always."

    The skies had darkened as they sat together, and Padme had neglected to turn on the lighting. Silhouetted against the outer hallway, the tall figure of her husband looked more shadow than man.

    "I need you to trust me. The future is clouded by the darkness, but I may see a path through it all. It will be a dark one, and full of dangers. Whatever happens tonight and after, I need you to stand with me."

    She put her trust in her husband, because she had no choice. If he failed, then she would never see her family again; her parents, her sisters, her nieces...she would never get the chance to watch Ryoo and Pooja grow up. She would never get her own chance have children again, and raise them together with Anakin and this time, watch proudly as they grow into adulthood and beyond. And her Anakin, her life, her have only shared so few fleeting moments of happiness with him, even those marred by tragedy and was all so unthinkable, yet unavoidable. She thought about the small drawer hidden in the depths of her closet at her apartment, where she kept her most treasured possessions, a brooch from her late grandmother Winama, a drawing of her and Ani by Ryoo, an old, worn book of Naboo law from her father, a braid of dusty brown-blonde hair and a small Japor snippet carved for her by a funny little boy an eternity ago, and wondered what would happen to these things if tonight was to be their end.

    "I promise." She remembered their marriage vows, and repeated them to her husband. "Till death, I stand with you."

    Last time, they were led out by enemies to their doom. This night, they would walk themselves into their arena, together.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  23. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wonderful interlude! Very affirming of their love and resolve. =D=
    aldo405 and AzureAngel2 like this.
  24. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    Just found this due to @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha. This is a wonderful AU, showing how things might have worked different for everybody at the end of the Clone Wars. Love your character development here, too. Mostly of Anakin.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018
  25. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Sep 21, 2000
    I really love the interactions between the characters. Great updates! =D=