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Saga Seeds of Resistance (sequel to Under Fire)

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

  1. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Skywalker Saga/LFL/YJCC Manager star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Title: Seeds of Resistance
    Author: anakinfan
    Timeframe: AU, ANH era
    Characters: Anakin Skywalker, Padme Amidala, Luke and Leia Skywalker, Han Solo, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Bail Organa, OCs
    Summary: Twenty years after the defeat of Palpatine, the Skywalkers and their allies battle a continued threat to the galaxy. (reposted from the IGN boards)
    Disclaimer: Alys Organa and a few minor characters belong to me, all other characters and some dialogue belong to Lucas


    The Clone War ended almost twenty years ago, but the Republic remains in a state of unrest, particularly on the Outer Rim territories, where resistance cells commandeered by former members of the Confederacy of Independent Systems have reappeared in growing numbers. The Republic Navy, with the assistance of the slowly-rebuilding Jedi Order, has managed to contain the cells in the Outer Rim. However, concerns are growing about the spread of the resistance, especially after a transport carrying Princess Alys Organa, heir to the throne of Alderaan, falls under attack in the Mid-Rim. In response to the attack, the Supreme Chancellor sends a squadron from the Republic Navy to rescue the Princess and return her home.

    Chapter 1

    “Captain Solo. We’re caught in their tractor beam, sir.”

    “Good,” Han Solo replied.

    “Good, sir?”

    “Yes, good. I want a straight-up fight. I don’t like sneaking around.”

    The young lieutenant looked confused. “If you say so, sir.”

    “I say so,” Han replied. “Once we’re brought on board, two commands: one, shoot them down before they can stun you. Or shoot you. Two, disperse immediately and search for the Princess. Commander Calrissian and I will go in first and we will go in shooting, giving you time to spread out in different directions. Several R3 droids will accompany you and hack into the system computers. They should be able to quickly give you a location on the Princess. Once you have her location, get to her and free her from her cell using whatever means necessary.”

    “Sir, yes sir!” The lieutenants and midshipmen replied.

    “Good. Let’s do this.”

    The CR90 corvette was drawn into the tractor beam of the Inferno, a Recusant-class light destroyer, and the troops readied themselves, their hands on their loaded blasters.

    “Chewie,” Han said, nodding to his co-pilot. “Stay with the ship.”

    The Wookiee barked in protest.

    “Sorry pal, that’s an order. I need you to make sure they don’t destroy it or disable it.” He waved his second-in-command over.

    “Lando,” he said, his voice low enough that the other men couldn’t hear. “No flirting. Just get her out of there.”

    Lando Calrissian smiled, without removing his hand from his blaster. “Han, old buddy, what are you talking about?”

    Han scowled. “You know exactly what I’m talking about, you old pirate. We’re probably outnumbered 10 to 1 by battle droids in there, not to mention D-90 assault droids and droidekas. There is no time for your antics.”

    Lando, the smile gone, nodded. “Alright, alright, no problem.”

    The ramp lowered but there was no sound. They descended, slowly, warily, their blasters ready.

    The attack came at once, an entire legion of battle droids. Han and Lando fired several rounds from their blasters, taking out the first division of them, but more followed. Behind Han and Lando, the lieutenants and midshipmen dispersed as instructed, scattering about the ship, accompanied by two astromechs.

    Han and Lando took out the second division of droids but the division that followed was much more numerous.

    This isn’t going to work, Han thought.

    “Lando,” he whispered out of the corner of his mouth as they both fired several rounds from their blasters. The lines of battle droids were growing more numerous. “Go. To your left. Find the lieutenants. Find the R3s. Find out where the Princess is.”

    “But what about you?” Lando replied fiercely.

    “I’m creating a diversion.”

    “No you’re not! You’re sacrificing yourself! I can’t let you do that!”

    “You can and you will. Now shut up and go. Don’t worry about me. You have to get the Princess off this ship. Do you understand?”

    Lando didn’t speak for a second, then he nodded. “Alright. Good luck to you, old friend.”

    “I’ll get out of here. This is just a bump in the road.”

    “It’s a mighty big bump.” Lando fired one more round from his blaster then turned and ran as Han instructed.

    Han dropped his blaster and raised his hands in surrender. The battle droids surrounded him. “You are under arrest.” One of them turned to its companion. “Inform Pestage that we have a prisoner.”

    The corridor along which Lando Calrissian ran appeared to be deserted, but he ran with his blaster raised just in case. He quickly found an astromech plugged into a wall socket. “Any word?” He whispered.

    The droid beeped in reply.

    “Second level? Got it.” He kept running. He found a lift and punched the buttons, looking warily around him as he did.

    Several droids arrived at the same time that the door to the lift opened. Lando fired a round, ducked into the lift, and fired another round into the corridor for good measure. The lift ascended to the second level and opened to another deserted corridor.

    “I have a bad feeling about this,” Lando muttered, gazing around him. “Now which cell is this Princess in?”

    He walked slowly down the corridor, his blaster raised. He found one cell with a closed door. This must be it. He pushed the button on the wall.

    The door slid open to reveal a woman lying on the hard bench. She was taller than Lando expected, too tall to fit comfortably on the bench. Her long legs, clad in white boots, were curled under her. One long platinum blonde braid, laced with silver cord, draped over the shoulder of her white gown. Her eyes were closed, but at the sound of the door, she opened them and fixed her hard gaze on Lando. She was scowling but at the sight of Lando’s Republic Navy uniform, her expression changed to one of relief and mild wariness.

    “Did your squadron get pulled in here as well?” She asked.

    Lando grinned. “We did. On purpose.”

    She scowled. “On purpose? Have you lost your kriffing minds?”

    Lando laughed. “No. It’s all part of my captain’s grand strategy.” He held out his hand. “Commander Lando Calrissian, Your Highness. May I escort you off this ship?”

    She sat up. “Your captain must have a death wish. And yes, you certainly may.” She took his outstretched hand and stood. She was, as Lando anticipated, very tall, the top of her head almost reaching the ceiling of the cell. “Do you have an extra blaster?”

    Lando looked confused. “Why?”

    She met his eyes with her own large, ocean-blue ones. “Look, Commander, I’m grateful that you and your squadron came after me. But this destroyer has several divisions of battle droids, any of which could come around that corner and attack us. You’re too short for me to hide behind you while you do the shooting. So…do you have an extra blaster or not? Or am I going to have to try to kick the tinnies over while you shoot?”

    Lando, who could not think of anything more coherent than wow, handed her his secondary blaster.

    “Better,” she said, taking his arm and leading him further down the corridor. “There’s another lift this way, it’s not in the main line of fire. Where is your ship?”

    “In the main hangar two floors below,” he replied.

    Her eyes widened. “You flew into the main hangar? You didn’t at least try to sneak in?”

    Lando smiled. “My captain isn’t one for sneaking.”

    “So he’s either an idiot, or has more courage than the rest of the galaxy put together.”

    “I’ve known Han for a long time. Trust me, it’s the latter…”

    Before Lando could say anything else, Alys turned around and fired a round over her shoulder.

    “Wha…?” Lando asked, at the same time that a battalion of assault droids rounded the corner and fired at them. Lando ducked, raised his blaster and fired back. Alys went around a corner, stuck her blaster arm out and fired a round, and with the other arm, pushed a button to call the lift. Lando managed to cross the aisle, taking out a few droids, and reach the Princess, who was now ducking into the lift. She grabbed his arm, pulled him in with her, and pushed the button.

    Lando powered his wrist com. “This is Commander Calrissian. I have the Princess, and we are headed back to the ship. Meet me there in five minutes. Did you get the tractor beam out of commission?”

    Lieutenant Nindo Keler’s voice crackled over the com. “We did, sir. Only encountered a few tinnies, which we were quickly able to destruct.”

    “Good. Well done, Lieutenant.” Lando powered off the com and turned to Alys. “Where’d you learn to shoot like that?” He asked.

    She scowled at him. “What do you think I spend my free time doing, getting my hair coiffed?”

    He shrugged. “I just hadn’t imagined royals spending much time at the firing range, that’s all.”

    Alys sighed. “My parents survived the Clone War. After that experience, they made sure that I could defend myself. Just in case. I’m not always surrounded by Republic Navy officers.”

    The doors to the lift opened. The corridor was deserted but they could hear the drone of droidekas nearby.

    “The ship is this way,” he said, waving his arm and beginning to run. She ran beside him, easily keeping the same pace while looking warily around her. They reached the ship just as several droidekas rounded the corner. They fired quickly and lifted the ramp. “I hope my men are on board,” Lando muttered.

    His question was answered quickly. “Commander Calrissian, sir, we have set the coordinates for Alderaan.”

    “Well done, Lieutenant,” Lando replied.

    “We have not seen Captain Solo,” the Lieutenant answered.

    Lando frowned, sinking into a seat. “Captain Solo has been captured, Lieutenant,” he said.

    The lieutenant appeared in the doorway, his eyes wide. “Sir?” From the cockpit, Chewbacca emitted a bark of sadness.

    “I’m afraid so,” Lando answered. “But his orders were to get the Princess off this ship. Our priority is to get her home safely, then we will come back for him.”

    “But Commander…”

    Lando gave the man a hard glance. “Lieutenant, how do you think Captain Solo would react if we were to risk the Princess’ safety—her life—in order to rescue him right now?”

    The lieutenant sighed. “He would probably have us court-martialed, sir.”

    “Exactly. Now strap yourself in and take off before more droids arrive.”

    The lieutenant returned to the front of the ship, engaged the engines, and the ship rose into the air. Lando and Alys strapped themselves in, preparing for the jump to hyperspace.

    “I did not realize your captain had been taken into custody,” Alys said quietly.

    Lando nodded, not looking at her. “He allowed the battle droids to take him in order to, as he said, create a diversion so that we could disperse and find you.”

    She looked down for a moment, then met Lando's eyes with sad ones of her own. “I think I can help you. My parents have contacts in both the Jedi Order and the Chancellor’s office.”

    “Who is in charge of the ship where you were held?”

    Alys rolled her eyes. “A man named Sate Pestage. He has a long-standing enmity with my father, which is probably why I was taken. I think he wanted to use me as some sort of bargaining chip with my father, hoping he could use his influence on the Senate or the Chancellor’s office to get Pestage and his friends what they want.”

    “What do they want?”

    “They have a fairly long laundry list. Free trade along all the major trade routes, and I do mean free trade, no taxes or restrictions at all. Lower taxes, again. My father’s administration and Mon Mothma’s administration lowered their taxes but it was not enough for some of them. The Techno Union and Banking Clan seem to think they are above being taxed at all. They also want a repeal of the Republic’s anti-slavery laws.” She rolled her eyes again.

    Lando’s eyes widened. “Are you serious?”

    “Absolutely. They claim the businesses of some of the groups they represent, would fall apart without slavery. The illegality of slavery is enshrined in the Rights of Sentience clause, which is as old as the Constitution itself, but in some parts of the Outer Rim and Hutt Space, slavery exists anyway, and there are a few large and well-known slaving guilds whose leaders manage to elude Republic capture. The resistance wants slavery as a legal if not condoned means of doing business, probably so that they can make more money from it.“

    “No respectable business person would claim to ‘need’ slavery,” Lando said, disgusted.

    “That’s what I thought,” Alys replied. “The debate and vote will happen next week, let’s just hope it’s over quickly.”

    “We can hope so, that common sense and basic decency will prevail.” Lando changed the subject. “Have you seen this Pestage?”

    Alys laughed. “Oh yes, he came to see me. He thought he would try to interrogate me.”

    “Thought he would try?”

    “Well, he did try. I kicked him in the…”

    Lando held up his hand. “OK, I get the picture.”

    “He didn’t come back. He sent interrogation droids into my cell, tried to get them to do a mind probe.”

    “Mind probe for what?”

    “Information on my father, and inside information on the Chancellor’s office. He and former Chancellor Mothma are the current Chancellor’s closest advisors.” She sighed. “I did not have the information Pestage wanted, nor would I have given it to him even if I did, so the droids gave up.”

    “So holding you was pointless.”

    She nodded and looked up. “Yes.”

    “Maybe that means they aren’t likely to try again.” Lando stood. “Can I get you anything?”

    “Yes,” she said. “There’s no point in my asking for a place to bathe since those kriffing barves destroyed my ship with my clothes in it, but I would like to wash my face. And here,” she added, handing him his blaster. “I suppose you should have this back now.”

    Lando smiled at her, took the blaster and replaced it in his holster. Then he put a hand on her shoulder and gestured towards a small ‘fresher. “It’s all yours.”

    Han Solo didn’t know he could feel this kind of pain. He didn’t know he had so many nerve endings in his body.

    The droid turned the dial and sent stronger bolts of electricity into Han’s pressure points. His head pounded, his joints cried out, and he gritted his teeth to keep from screaming. He would not give the sneering man in the corner such satisfaction.

    “Are you ready to talk, Captain?”

    “When hell freezes,” Han said, gasping.

    “We’ll see about that,” Pestage said, turning to the droid. “Give him another jolt.”

    The droid obeyed, but this jolt seemed briefer than the last. Or Han was still in so much pain from the last jolts that this one did not add much.

    “Did you think you could just walk onto my ship without permission? This is private property, whether the Republic respects property rights or not.” He spat the word “Republic.”

    Han glared at him. “Did you think you could kidnap a member of the Alderaanian royalty with no one noticing or coming to her rescue? You’re stupider than you look.”

    Pestage’s sneer grew more prominent. “I expected her filthy father to come for her. But I suppose he is now hiring the Navy to do his dirty work. Now, Captain, let’s try this again. I’ll need the identities of the members of your squadron. If you don’t want to talk, I will use an alternative source to find their names—at which point I will ensure that bounty hunters track down each of them and kill them immediately.”

    Lando. Chewie. The brave midshipmen under his command, three of whom were new recruits, just finished basic training last week. No. Han scrambled for a way to buy them some time.
    “Commanders Cooper Dray and Fargus Deel. Lieutenants Feyyaz Ferdusi, Boon Soniita, and Grubber Vapps. Midshipmen Grelk Micabra, Birdigan Nasalle, Jonra Far, Dretti Grond, Blizz Pinnix and Wryk Jobones.”

    Pestage gave a nasty grin. “I thought you could be reasonable.” He turned to the droid. “Release him.” Han’s binders came off, and he fell to the floor in a painful heap.

    Pestage left the cell. Han was not a praying man, but he sent a brief plea, to any gods that might be listening, that someone would rescue him before Pestage discovered that he had been given a list of famous swoop bike racers.

    The Corellian corvette landed easily in the main hangar at the Palace of Aldera. On the platform stood Bail Organa, Prince Consort of Alderaan and former Supreme Chancellor of the Republic; his hands were clasped behind him. When the ship’s ramp lowered and his daughter descended, Bail’s face softened. Alys walked quickly to the platform to hug him. “Daddy.” Her voice trembled slightly although she shed no tears.

    Bail returned the hug. “Alys. Thank goodness you are safe.”

    Lando stood at the top of the ramp, with Chewbacca beside him, and Bail waved them both down, his other arm still around his daughter’s shoulders.

    “Alderaan owes you a great debt of gratitude, Commander…”

    “Calrissian,” Lando said, extending his hand to shake that of the Prince. “Lando Calrissian, Your Highness.”

    “Commander Calrissian. Welcome, and please accept my heartfelt personal thank you.” He turned to the Wookiee. “Chewbacca. It’s been many years.” The Wookiee barked a greeting.

    “You two know each other?” Lando asked.

    Bail nodded. “Chewbacca was of great assistance to Master Yoda and myself at the end of the Clone War. He helped us escape Kashyyk.”

    “Chewie has been with our squadron since Han—our captain--rescued him from Trandoshan slave traders.”

    Bail scowled. “We had several issues with the slave traders invading Outer Rim and Mid Rim planets during my administration.” He looked at Chewie again. “I’m glad you’re alright. I hope you and your men will come inside for a meal and some rest.”

    Chewie barked an affirmative, and Lando replied, “We would like that, sir. Thank you.”

    “Daddy, Pestage is holding this squadron’s captain. His name is Han Solo,” Alys said.

    Bail turned from Alys back to Lando, his eyes wide. “Your captain was taken hostage?”

    Chewie barked again, a low, mournful bark this time. “Yes, sir,” Lando said. “He surrendered himself in order to distract the droids so that we could disperse throughout the ship and find your daughter.”

    Bail frowned. “I will contact the Chancellor. She is a personal friend. Do you have the coordinates on the Inferno?”

    “It is probably in hyperspace again by now, returning to the Outer Rim.”

    “We will find it for you. We owe you that.” Bail turned on his comlink and contacted the Palace’s head of guest services. “Galatea. Please have some refreshment ready for the Navy Commander who rescued Alys as well as his squadron. They will join us for dinner as well.”

    “Yes, sir,” the voice crackled over the com. Bail powered it off and turned to Lando. “I will join you as soon as I speak with the Chancellor.”

    Bail went into his private office in the Palace and submitted the code for the Supreme Chancellor’s office. “Your Highness,” the assistant said. “I will put you through to Her Excellency right away.”
    A minute later, Padme Naberrie Skywalker, more widely known as Supreme Chancellor Amidala, appeared, her gray-streaked dark hair swept back into a chignon, her dark eyes filled with worry.

    “Bail,” she said. “Is Alys…?”

    “She’s home and she’s safe, Padme,” he replied. “The Navy squadron you sent for her was successful. They boarded Pestage’s ship and rescued her fairly quickly, with minimal losses.”

    “That is good news,” she said. “But what’s wrong?”

    “The captain of the squadron apparently surrendered himself in order to save Alys. He’s trapped on board the Inferno.”

    She frowned. “Any idea of its next destination?”

    “Commander Calrissian didn’t say, but has Alys’ capture been the only breach so far? The resistance is being contained on the Outer Rim?” Bail hesitated in calling the group the “separatists.” Most were former members of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, but they no longer seemed interested in seceding from the Republic. Instead they tried to promote their destructive agenda within the Republic itself.

    Padme’s frown deepened. “It is, but we are using all of our resources. The majority of Republic Navy squadrons and most of the Jedi are being used for this effort. If there is another major crisis, we might not have the resources to contain it.”

    He gave her what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “The majority of the Senate is on our side, Padme. We must have faith in democracy.”

    She sighed. “I know,” she said. “About this captain—What is his name?”

    “Han Solo,” Bail replied.

    “Captain Solo. We should probably send Jedi after him. Sending his squadron or another squadron after him would probably result in more captures. Pestage will not expect a…”

    “Stealth operation,” Bail said, the same time that Padme said it, and they both laughed.

    “You know what they say about great minds,” Bail said.

    Padme smiled, and just as quickly, the smile disappeared. “Anakin and Leia are on Coruscant. I can send them as early as tonight if we can get possible coordinates on the location of the Inferno. Obi-Wan and Luke are on Corellia, the majority of the rest of the Jedi are on the Outer Rim.”

    Bail nodded. “Mace Windu shows up here occasionally, but it does seem that there are few Jedi on Mid Rim and Core Worlds anymore.”

    “I know,” she said. “I hope that changes soon. Tell Commander Calrissian that I will do my best to ensure his captain’s rescue, and as quickly as possible.”

    “Master Skywalker.” Padme’s personal assistant, Sovi, gave him a nod.

    Anakin glanced at the closed door to his wife’s office. “Is there a squall going on in there? Should I wait?”

    She smiled but the expression didn’t reach her eyes. There had been far too many “squalls” lately. “No, you can go in.”

    Anakin nodded, smiled at her, and palmed open the door. Padme stood behind her desk; Pooja Naberrie, her niece and successor as Senator from Naboo, stood on the other side.

    Anakin approached the young woman and put an arm around her shoulders. “Pooja,” he said. She returned the embrace. “Uncle Anakin.”

    He looked at Padme. “Am I interrupting anything?”

    She gave him a weary smile. “No. Pooja and I were just going over her speech. She’s leading the debate against the legalization of slavery.”

    Anakin smiled. “Good.”

    “Do I have permission to use… anecdotal evidence?” She asked warily.

    Anakin laughed, squeezing her shoulder. “Pooja, I’ll be disappointed if you don’t use it. Something good has to come out of what happened to me on Tatooine.”

    She looked relieved. “OK, then. There may be other anecdotal evidence but I’m afraid much of it will be about how cheap goods are when produced with slave labor.” She scowled.

    “It’s a good speech, Pooja,” Padme said. “Add as much anecdotal evidence as you would like.” She glanced at her husband. “Otherwise it’s perfect.”

    Pooja let out a nervous sigh. “Thank you, Aunt Padme. I’ll see myself out then?”

    She nodded. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

    As soon as Pooja left, Padme sighed, sank into her desk chair and rubbed her temples.

    Anakin stood behind her, kissed the top of her head and put his hands on her shoulders. “What is it?” He asked. He slid his hands under the heavy Chancellor’s robes to massage the tense muscles in her neck.

    “This sickening bill.” She sighed again. “Ani, if this goes badly, it is likely that millions of Republic citizens will be sold into slavery under my watch. We should be working to capture and prosecute the large slaving guilds, not legitimize their crimes.”

    “Do you really think the majority of the Senate would vote to legalize slavery? I don’t.”

    “I would like to say no. But then again, I never thought such a ridiculous notion would come to a vote in the first place.” She looked up. “And I am very afraid of another war.”

    He turned her chair around, knelt in front of her and stroked her cheek. “Don’t be. We will do this. We will hold them off. It will not come to a full-scale war, I promise you.”

    “It’s not up to you unfortunately.” She looked away.

    “Actually it is, at least to a point. We overpower the resistance in the Outer Rim, we don’t let them enter the Mid Rim and Core Worlds, and there will be no war. They would not be dumb enough to start a war that they have no chance of winning.”

    “I have Senators from the Outer Rim who are afraid that the members of the resistance are going to take complete control of their planets. I have Senators from the Mid Rim who are afraid the resistance cells are going to infiltrate their planets, especially after Alys was captured between Ansion and Keitum. And then there are the business groups who can only complain about labor and taxation and trade, and how much the cost of doing business is increasing. There has to be a diplomatic solution to this mess somewhere, but it’s hard to find when everyone is only looking to further their own interests and will not give an inch.”

    “Qui-Gon once said that greed can be a powerful ally…” Anakin said, stroking his short, newly grown goatee.

    Padme looked at him. “What are you thinking?”

    “That you’re right. There has to be a diplomatic solution to this. There has to be a way to make that greed work to everyone’s advantage. I just don’t know what it is.” He stood, put his hands on her shoulders again. “Meanwhile, you want Leia and me to get this Navy captain off the Inferno. And arrest Pestage.”

    Padme nodded. “With or without Pestage, bring Captain Solo to Coruscant. I want to find out what Pestage did to him in captivity. We need specific charges to bring against him, as many as possible. We need evidence.” She met Anakin’s eyes. “Meanwhile…Pestage does not get his hands dirty unless he is being well paid, so any information that you and Leia can extract on who might be paying him, would be helpful.”

    “I’m sure it’s Ventress. The question is, are the two of them operating alone?”

    “I doubt it,” Padme said. “And that’s what we need to find out. We need to know who else is involved. Ventress alone could not meet Pestage’s demands.” She rubbed her temples again. “I don’t want Captain Solo to be put in any more danger. Rescuing him needs to be your first priority. And if you can arrest Pestage and bring him here for questioning as well…”

    “We can, and we will.” Anakin took her hands, encouraging her to stand, kissed her and brushed a tendril of hair away from her face. “Meanwhile, why don’t you come home. Eat a real dinner. Take a blocker for that headache. Leia and I will leave as soon as we get the last known coordinates of the Inferno. You can see us off.”

    Padme looked as though she wanted to protest, but then thought better of it. She commed Sovi and told her to go home for the evening, then left with Anakin.

    In the Chancellor’s quarters on 500 Republica, Anakin and Padme found Leia gazing intently at her work station. “Daddy,” she said, waving Anakin over without taking her eyes off the screen. “Where is it recorded which Separatists did not sign Master Yoda’s treaty at the end of the Clone War?”

    “It was really Bail’s treaty, Senate business as opposed to Jedi business, so ask your mother.”

    Anakin nodded towards Padme, then crossed the room and rested his hands on his daughter’s shoulders, glancing at the screen she had pulled up. “What are you working on?”

    Before Leia could answer, Padme said, “Wat Tambor, Poggle the Lesser, and Shu Mai.” She unzipped the thick Chancellor’s robes and removed them, revealing her slender frame clad in black slacks and a white blouse.

    “Master Anakin, Mistress Padme, may I offer you something?” C3PO appeared from the kitchen.

    “Hot tea and a blocker, 3PO, I’d appreciate it.” Padme sank into a chair, leaned against its back and closed her eyes, putting her hand on her forehead.

    “Shouldn’t you eat first, milady?” The droid asked.

    “Yes, she should,” Anakin said. “So, food as well.”

    “Yes, Master Anakin,” 3PO replied. “Right away.” He disappeared into the kitchen again.

    “Anyway, Leia,” Padme said. “All three of them gave some horrific excuse for not signing, and we were so glad to get the rest of the Separatist Council on board at the time that we disregarded their refusal.”

    Leia nodded. “I should have just called you first. For some reason I thought the treaty was done primarily through the Jedi.”

    “Master Yoda oversaw the negotiations,” Anakin said. “They were touch and go for a few hours. This was right after we discovered that Chancellor Palpatine was a Sith, and Master Windu and I were forced to kill him.”

    “Can we not talk about Palpatine right now?” Padme said. “My head is pounding.” She sat up, opened her eyes again, and looked at her daughter. “What are you trying to find, Leia?”

    “Who Pestage is working for,” she said. “And what he wanted from Alys.”

    “He wanted to blackmail or threaten Bail somehow,” Anakin said. “Have you talked to Alys?”

    “She called to let me know that she was alright, but from what she said, she didn’t learn much.”

    “Did Pestage question her?” Padme asked.

    “He tried. And met the brunt end of her roundhouse kick.”

    “Roundhouse kick?” Anakin asked, then the realization dawned on him. He held up his prosthetic hand, now covered with synthflesh. “Oh. Say no more.”

    Padme realized what happened at about the same time as her husband, and let out a hearty laugh. “Alys deserves a medal of honor just for that one,” she said. 3PO set a tray in front of her with tea, food and a blocker. Padme downed the pill with a sip of the tea, then munched on a roll.

    “Now, Chancellor Amidala,” Anakin teased. “You are not suggesting that roundhouse kicks to the groin should become an acceptable method of, say, interrogating prisoners?”

    Padme swallowed her food and returned the teasing smile. “Only Pestage,” she said. “Anyway, Leia, did Alys overhear anything at all?”

    “The only thing she knows is that they did not go into hyperspace while she was on board. I don’t know if Pestage was awaiting a signal from someone else in the resistance or not.”

    “They could not have gotten very far then,” Anakin said. “Master Ti is on Felucia and Master Vos is on Dantooine. I have contacted them already.”

    Padme’s comlink buzzed. “Maybe this means more information,” she said. She switched it on. “This is Chancellor Amidala.”

    It was Sovi. “Transmission for you from Admiral Madine, milady. High priority.”

    Padme stood. “Send him through.” She walked into her study and connected the comlink to its port, allowing the Admiral’s hologram to appear. The garbled message only took a couple of minutes, during which time Padme said little other than “Yes” and “Thank you.” When she turned the comlink off and stood, she found Anakin waiting for her at the door.

    “I have coordinates on the Inferno,” she told him. “Admiral Madine’s fleet found it as it came out of hyperspace near Ord Mantell.”

    “Ord Mantell?” Anakin stroked his goatee. “Pestage could be meeting with some bounty hunter…”

    “Bane.” Padme scowled.

    Anakin laughed. “Bane disappeared years ago, love.”

    “Disappeared,” Padme said. “He wasn’t killed. Not that we are aware of. It is pretty reasonable to think that he’s been hiding out all this time and waiting for a grand opportunity to re-emerge. He’d only be happy working for the Hutts until something bigger came along. But Pestage might not be after a bounty hunter. There is also a Navy weapons storage facility on Ord Mantell, one of our largest ones. And Madine said he has reason to believe that Pestage has several thousand battle droids on the ship.”

    “Leia,” Anakin said, turning to his daughter, who still had not moved from her work station. “Did Alys mention battle droids?”

    “Yes,” she said. “Pestage has divisions upon divisions of them. She and Commander Calrissian shot several of them down.” Leia closed the work station and stood, twisting her long braids and pinning them to her head. “I’m going to pack. I assume we are leaving soon?”

    “Within the hour, yes,” Anakin said.

    “Admiral Madine has put a tracker on the Inferno but has not boarded it,” Padme said. “Pestage is probably on high alert for a Navy squadron to come to Solo’s rescue and if we did just that, it would result in a high loss of life.”

    “He won’t be expecting us. And battle droids are no match for Jedi,” Anakin said. He kissed Padme’s forehead and hugged her. She closed her eyes and rested her head against his chest. Anakin’s frame was as lean and muscular as it was when he was in his 20s, thanks to the rigors of Jedi life. Only his shorter graying hair and goatee gave away his age.

    “When are you expecting Luke home?” he asked.

    “Day after tomorrow,” she said. “Assuming they don’t run into any trouble. And I’m not expecting any, not on Corellia.”

    “He and Obi-Wan will deal with any trouble,” Anakin said. “And when are the slaver barves having their day in the Senate?”

    She scowled again. “The same. Day after tomorrow.” She sighed. “I’ll be glad when that is over.”

    He hugged her again. “We’ll rescue Captain Solo, we’ll find a holding cell with that karking sleemo Pestage’s name on it, and we’ll get back as soon as we can. Maybe all four of us can be on Coruscant at the same time for a change. It's been awhile.”

    “That would be nice.”

    Leia appeared in the living area carrying her bag. She set the bag down, hugged her mother and kissed her cheek. “I hope we’ll be bringing back some answers for you,” she said.

    Padme returned the hug and kiss. “I hope so too,” she said. “Are you going to eat before you go?”

    “We’ll eat on board,” Anakin said. “If we go ahead and leave, we’ll be on Ord Mantell before dawn.
    And just in case we end up having to chase the Inferno, I’d rather not give Pestage too much of a head start.” He left the room and returned quickly with his bag and two dual-ringed, circular, glowing objects.

    “Are those Force binders?” Leia asked.

    Anakin nodded, opened his bag and dropped them in as if they were on fire. He was scowling. “Yes.”
    Leia’s eyes widened. “Pestage is Force-sensitive?”

    “I don’t think so but I’m not taking chances either. He worked for Palpatine for years. And nobody thought he was Force-sensitive.”

    Padme tightened her lips, closed her eyes briefly then opened them again. She hugged her daughter and kissed her husband one more time.

    “Be safe, darling,” she said.

    “We will, I promise,” Anakin replied, returning the kiss. “I’ll send you a report as soon as we have something.”

    She nodded, and he took her hand and squeezed it. “I love you. Get some rest,” he said. Then he and Leia were gone.
  2. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Sep 2, 2012
    Very great start to the story. Good to see Lando and Han and Chewie in the story. Will we see Mara? One last question about Palpatine, will he have a holocron? I'm done
    Lady_Misty likes this.
  3. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    You've got to try to bring Mara into this. You won't know what you are capable of until you try. I thought that I'd fail doing Palpatine/Sidious but no one has complained yet about how I do him.

    Force Binders [face_laugh] Well even if he's not Force Sensitive they supposedly give the wearer slight shocks so that they can't concentrate.
  4. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Skywalker Saga/LFL/YJCC Manager star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Force Smuggler : There will be plenty of Lando and Han and a bit more Chewie as well, but no Mara and no Palps holocron. Palpatine is only around in his influence.

    Lady_Misty : The only Mara I've read has been the Zahn books and Vector Prime, 15 years ago and eight years ago respectively. I liked her in the Zahn books but nowhere near comfortable with her enough to write her. It was enough for me to write Luke and Leia as adults. :p

    I hadn't thought of that regarding the Force binders but...yeah. Pestage needs to be held as tightly as possible.

    Thanks for reading. :) Here's the next chapter:


    Chapter 2

    “There it is,” Anakin said as his ship, the Ornate, came out of hyperspace. “Ord Mantell. And there,” he added, pointing to the left of the planet, “is our ship.”

    “Do you think they saw us?” Leia asked.

    Anakin grinned at her. “No.”

    “I suppose you have a plan?”

    The grin widened. “Don’t I always?”

    “One you would like to share?”

    He continued to grin, steering the ship. “Be patient, Princess, I’m coming to it.”

    “You know I lose a hundred midichlorians every time you call me that.”

    Anakin laughed. “You think so?”

    “Princesses wear fancy gowns and whine for big men to rescue them from tall towers.”

    He laughed again. “Did Alys teach you that?”

    “She’s…unusual. Always has been.”

    Anakin raised his eyebrows. He was still laughing. “If you say so.” He turned to the astromech sitting a few feet away. “R2, ready to hack into the computer of a strange and probably dirty ship?”

    The droid emitted a series of beeps in reply.

    “As ready as you’re going to be, huh? I hear you.” Anakin turned to Leia. “The plan is that I’m going to dock onto one of the emergency airlocks and we’re going to jump in that way.”

    Leia whirled around. “What?”

    “Relax, I’ve done this before. I boarded a Separatist general’s ship through the emergency airlocks, and the ship was destroyed an hour later.” He frowned. “Of course I would have just blown up the ship from the air if your mother hadn’t been taken hostage on board.” Anakin shook his head to clear the memory.

    “Mom was taken hostage aboard a Separatist cruiser?”

    “She was a favorite target for the Separatists. And let’s just say she’s a little more cautious now when a group like the Banking Clan says it wants to negotiate.” Anakin shook his head again. “Uncle Obi-Wan and I got her off there within ten minutes. Let’s not talk about it anymore. Bad luck.”

    “I thought you didn’t believe in luck.”

    Anakin didn’t answer. The Ornate flew lower and lower, now skimming the top of the Inferno…there. He expertly docked onto one of the airlocks and powered down the ship.

    Leia stood, put her hand on her lightsaber. “Now what?” she whispered.

    Anakin smirked. “We open the hatch and float down.” He nodded at R2. “Ready, R2?” R2 beeped a reply and rolled to them. Anakin opened the hatch and using the Force, he and Leia floated, slowly and gently, to the ship’s floor 15 feet below. R2 fired up his rocket boosters and followed.

    They stretched out with the Force but did not sense any danger immediately nearby. “There are battle droids on the floor below us and above us,” Anakin said. “Are you wearing a wrist com?”

    Leia turned hers on. “Yes.”

    “Let’s split up, you go left and I’ll go right. First priority is Captain Solo, but if you happen to run into Pestage…” He tossed her a set of Force binders, which she attached to her utility belt.

    “Got it,” she said. “May the Force be with you, Daddy.”

    “May the Force be with you, Leia.” They went in different directions.

    Leia walked quietly down the corridor, stretching out with the Force. Someone was there. It was an indescript corridor, strangely deserted, no cell blocks, no droids, nothing at all but shiny floor and blank walls. She kept her hand on her lightsaber. The presence she had sensed was growing closer, and…

    “Leia Skywalker.”

    The saber ignited, its green blade piercing the dim light of the corridor, illuminating the man’s sneering face and greasy black hair.

    “Sate Pestage,” she spat. “I thought I smelled your foul stench.” She held the blade under his chin, with her other hand, taking the binders from her utility belt. “In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you are under arrest.”

    He smirked. “Charming,” then pushed a button on the wall. Several droids rolled in and immediately began firing. Leia turned and with several deft movements of her lightsaber, deflected their rapid fire, jumping over them to fight from behind. Pestage laughed. “And there are several more where those came from. You arrogant Jedi…”

    Leia sliced five droids in half, jumped over them, flipped over in mid air and stomped two more droids to the ground. Her lightsaber blade was once again at Pestage’s throat, with her other hand, she put the binders on one of his wrists. “Now,” she said. “You are under arrest.”

    He laughed again and started to raise his hand to summon more droids.

    “Not so fast.” Anakin appeared from the corridor on the left. “The droids you are about to call are in pieces around that corner.” He took the other set of Force binders from his utility belt. “I suggest you cooperate. Neither you nor your tinnies are any match for two of the strongest Jedi in the Order.”

    Pestage looked at Anakin and seemed to realize the truth in his words. He glared and scowled, but put his wrists together, allowing Leia to finish attaching the binders. Then he smirked. “I have some information that would be valuable to your Chancellor. I’m sure I can find a way to motivate her to release me.”

    Anakin gave Pestage a scathing look then turned to Leia. “Captain Solo is in cell block 1138. I’ll see you both in a few minutes.” He glared at Pestage again. “I have a piece of Hutt dung to lock up.”

    Leia nodded, turned and sprinted around the corner. Cell block 1138 should be…there. She palmed the door open.

    Han Solo did not know what to make of the figure standing in front of him. Were Pestage’s interrogation droid sessions causing hallucinations now? She was short and slender, what he and his fellow midshipmen called “95 pounds soaking wet,” long dark hair in braids wrapped around her head, tendrils of hair loose and perspiration on her brow as if she’d been running. White jumpsuit, white boots, white leather utility belt and…kriff, was that a lightsaber?

    He sat up and gave her a bleary look and his best flirtatious grin. “I didn’t know the Jedi Order admitted hot females,” he said. He immediately knew it was a lame, and very wrong, attempt to break the ice.

    Her withering glare affirmed his suspicion. “Well, you’re about 25,000 years behind,” she said icily. “The Order does not, however, admit half-witted misogynistic twits, so I suppose it’s best that you stuck with the Naval Academy.”

    Ouch. Bad move, Solo. He held up his hands in mock surrender. “Sorry, I meant it as a compliment.”

    “Sounded more like a pick-up line worthy of a seedy bar in the Uscru District.” She took a quick glance around his nondescript cell. “I’m here to get you out of here. Are you interested?”

    “Am I? Where are we headed?”

    “Coruscant.” She closed her eyes for a moment, then looked quickly around her. “We need to hurry. There is an entire division of battle droids approaching us.”

    Han stood. “Where?”

    Leia gestured with her thumb. “That way, but no matter. Are you injured? Are you able to run?”

    “I can run.”

    “Come on then.” Leia took off to the right, with Han behind her, struggling to keep her pace. He could run, certainly, but in spite of his rigorous Academy training, he had a hard time keeping up with her.

    The squadron of battle droids came suddenly. In a blur of green lightsaber, Leia sliced several of them in half, then jumped in the air, did a double flip, and landed behind them to eliminate the rest. Within several seconds the entire squadron was decimated into a pile of scrap metal.

    Han stared, frozen in place, his mouth agape. “Damn,” was the only thing he could manage.

    Leia kicked a tin arm. “What can I say? I like taking droids apart.” She looked at Han. “Let’s move, we don’t have time to lose. I’m pretty sure this ship has droidekas as well. I’d rather be off the ship before they show up.”

    Han picked up a couple of blasters from the destroyed droids and followed Leia around a corner. He heard the low drone of approaching machinery. The droidekas that the female Jedi mentioned? He fired a couple of blaster shots around the corner for good measure. She whirled around on him, glaring. “Would you put that thing away?! You’re going to get us both killed!”

    He returned the glare. “Fine, I was only trying to help.”

    “You’re not helping by making your presence known and putting the entire ship on high alert! Don’t they teach you any kind of strategy at the Academy?”

    “Wait a minute now…I teach strategy at the Academy.”

    “It’s a wonder anyone in the Navy is still alive.”

    The noise grew louder; the droids had sensed Han’s blaster fire and increased their numbers. When the first few droids rounded the corner, Leia raised her hand, Force-pushing them into a wall, where they splintered.

    With her other hand, she cut a circle in the wall with her lightsaber, and was met with a nasty odor.

    “What an incredible smell you’ve discovered,” Han muttered. “May I ask what the hell you’re doing?”

    “Getting you out of the way while I give the jani droids a bit more metal to clean up,” she said. “Into the garbage chute, flyboy.” Han found himself being pushed from behind, but she never touched him, not with her hands anyway. “Whaa…?” he muttered just before he landed in a pile of trash.

    “Blech,” he said. “Essence of Pestage.”

    “I’ll be back for you as soon as this floor is droid-free,” she said, then ran.

    Han scowled as the stench hit him anew. “Wonderful girl,” he muttered. “Either I’m going to kill her or I’m beginning to like her.”

    It was only a few minutes but it seemed an eternity later to Han when he heard another voice above him, this one deep and male. “Captain Solo?” The face that appeared in the hole above him was vaguely familiar but Han couldn’t place him. He was a middle-aged man with piercing blue eyes; the short hair and neatly trimmed goatie were light brown sprinkled with grey. “How did you end up down here?”

    “Some kriffing woman pushed me down here,” Han said. “At least I think she pushed me. She never touched me, but I think she’s a Jedi.”

    The man looked vaguely amused, then reached a hand down the hole, a hand with a gold wedding band on the ring finger. “Well, would you like to come out?”

    “Would I? I didn’t know one human being and a bunch of battle droids could produce such a smell.” He reached for the man’s hand but could not stretch far enough.

    “I’m not sure the term ‘human being’ applies to Pestage. Do you trust me, Captain?”

    “I’ll trust you once I’m out of this dump. Why?”

    The man smiled. “Because I’m about to do something unorthodox.”

    “If it gets me out of here, be as unorthodox as you like.”

    He nodded. “OK. You’ve said so.” The man closed his eyes, and Han felt himself being lifted off his feet, towards the ceiling, towards the hole in the wall, by an unseen Force. Then he was pulled gently through the hole out into the corridor, where he stood, his mouth agape.

    “What was that?” he managed, and received a smile in return. “A little help from the Force.” The man extended his hand. “I’m Anakin Skywalker. I’m here to rescue you. Follow me. My ship is this way.”

    He started walking to the right, followed quickly by a shocked Han. “The Anakin Skywalker?” No wonder his face was familiar. One of the Jedi Order’s most famous members, the Clone Wars’ Hero with No Fear, and…

    He laughed. “I should hope so. I don’t think my wife could handle two of us, and my Jedi Master would have had a stroke by now.”

    The Chancellor’s husband. The Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic sent her husband after me.

    Anakin stopped under one of the emergency airlocks of the Inferno and turned to Han. “Captain, I need you to trust me one more time, because there are no ladders here and my ship is directly above that airlock.”

    Once again Han’s mouth fell open. “You came in through an emergency airlock?”

    Anakin grinned. “Best way to conduct a stealth operation in my experience.”

    Stealth operation. No wonder that woman Jedi was so pissed. Where did she end up anyway? “I can’t say I’m much for stealth operations, Master Skywalker. I usually go in full steam and engage the enemy directly.”

    “Well, there’s more than one way to win a battle, Captain.” Anakin closed his eyes and shot up the airlock. From the roof, he reached a hand down to Han. “I’m going to lift you. Are you ready?”

    Han nodded. “Sure,” and once again, he felt himself being floated gently up the shaft to the roof. The shiny J-type star skiff waited on the platform. Han blinked. “Impressive,” he said.

    Anakin smiled. “You think so? Wait til you see how she flies. I’ve made a few special modifications myself.” He went up the ramp and gestured to Han to follow him.

    “Pestage is in a holding cell in the rear,” Anakin said. “With Force binders on his wrists and ankles, and being watched by a very obedient astromech droid who has been instructed to contact me if he so much as breathes wrong.” Anakin scowled. “But come to the cockpit. You can get a look at the Ornate before I get her started.”

    At that moment they heard pounding boots up the ramp and a female voice, slightly out of breath but very familiar to Han. “Daddy, did you find the captain? I had to leave him while I knocked a few tinnies out of commission. I went back for him but he disappeared.”

    Han turned to look. The female Jedi had just boarded the ship and was raising the ramp behind her.

    Daddy? Anakin Skywalker is her Daddy? How much more interesting was this day going to get, exactly?

    “I found him right where you left him, Leia. Curious choice of locations if I may say so.” He turned to Han. “I apologize for my daughter, Captain. She wasn’t quite that creative last time she dumped a man.” He looked amused.

    “I did not ‘dump’ him!” Leia snapped. “I got him out of the way so I could protect him from himself! You didn’t tell me that naval officers have such itchy trigger fingers and…”

    Anakin put his hands on her shoulders, meeting her eyes. “Calm down,” he said. “Captain Solo and I are going into the cockpit. As soon as we go into hyperspace, shower and change your clothes, then get something to eat.”

    Her face relaxed, and her voice softened. “You’re actually going to let someone other than Luke help you fly?”

    Anakin smiled at Han. “He seems to know his ships. And after that garbage chute, we probably owe him one.” He looked at Leia again, then indicated a chair. “Strap yourself in, and we’ll see you in a few minutes.”

    Leia fell into a chair, fastened the straps, leaned back and closed her eyes. Han followed Anakin into the cockpit and strapped himself into the copilot’s chair. “You must have hit something pretty close to the mark to get her all riled up like that,” Han said.

    Anakin adjusted his straps and pushed a few buttons on the controls. “She’s hungry and tired,” he said. “She’ll be friendlier later.” The ship took off, and the navicomputer calculated the jump to hyperspace.

    “Master Skywalker?” Han asked.

    Anakin nodded, signaling Han to continue.

    “My squadron…have they made contact with either the Jedi or the Chancellor’s office?”

    “They landed safely on Alderaan with the Princess. Commander Calrissian, Chewbacca and the rest of your crew have been ordered to the Republic Navy headquarters on Coruscant. They are doing fine, and will be waiting for you there.”

    Han sighed with relief. “Pestage tortured me for their names.”

    Anakin turned to him quickly. “He did?”

    Han nodded. “I gave the idiot the names of several famous swoop bike racers.”

    Anakin laughed. “Good work.”

    “I wasn’t sure how long he would buy it.”

    “Long enough for your squadron to be transported safely from Alderaan.” He turned to Han again. “Swoop bikes? I raced pods as a kid.”

    Han’s eyes widened. “Really? I didn’t think humans could race pods.”

    “I was the only one who could. I won the Boonta Eve Classic when I was nine,” Anakin replied.

    For an hour or so they exchanged racing stories, and went over details of Anakin’s modifications to the Ornate as well as Han’s modifications to his own cruiser. Then, deciding they were hungry, they left the cockpit and went into the main bay of the ship.

    The sight that met them there, made both of them smile. Leia had showered and changed clothes and was now stretched out on a couch, fast asleep, her still-damp braids falling down her shoulders.

    “Please tell me she ate first,” Anakin muttered, and finding an empty meal pack in the waste bin, he nodded. He Force-floated a blanket from an overhead compartment, covered Leia with it, smoothed her hair and dropped a kiss on her forehead. Then he stood and headed for the next room, waving at Han to follow him. “Let’s eat,” he said quietly so not to wake Leia. “I’m starving.”

    “Just for the record,” Han said as they entered the small dining area, “I didn’t know she was your daughter when she found me.”

    Anakin retrieved two meal packs from a cooler and handed one to Han. He gave him an amused look with raised eyebrows. “I gathered as much,” he said.

    “Certainly explains where her skill level. I’ve never seen anyone take out battle droids that quickly.”

    Anakin pressed the warmer on his meal pack and opened a bottle of water. “She has a twin brother. They’ve been competing since they learned to walk. Maybe earlier.”

    “And…of course I didn’t make the connection with the Chancellor…” Han said.

    Anakin laughed. “No worries, she and Luke don’t play that card, it’s not appropriate.” He sat down and opened his meal pack. Han sat across from him and did the same. “Being married to a Jedi and having Jedi children probably cost Padme a few votes,” Anakin continued. “And gained her a few others. A couple of decades ago, the Jedi were so unpopular that it would have cost her the election.” He downed all the water in his bottle in a couple of gulps. “But all that being said, other Jedi aren’t forced to spend the night on their ships if they don’t give her their reports in time. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to use the secure com transmitter and I’ll be back.”

    Han laughed. “Of course.”

    Han finished his meal pack and was throwing away the wrapping when the door opened and Leia walked in, bleary-eyed, pinning up her braids.

    “Good nap?” Han asked. Leia nodded but did not speak, just went to the cooler, opened it, and retrieved a bottle of water.

    “Do you want one?” She asked, getting a second bottle.

    “Sure,” he said, taking it from her and unscrewing the top.

    Leia looked down the corridor. “Where did my father go? To interrogate Pestage?”

    “I don’t think so,” Han said. “He said he was delivering a report to your mother so she doesn’t make him sleep out here.”

    Leia smiled. “Like she would do that. She’ll just make some comment about him always being late. Which she is probably doing right now.”

    “So,” Han said cautiously. “Is this a good time to call a truce? We got off on the wrong foot.”

    Leia gazed at him, her face expressionless, then took a sip of her water before she spoke. “You aren’t too fond of Jedi, are you?”

    “What gives you that idea? You got me off that cruiser, didn’t you?”

    “I knew as soon as I opened your cell.”

    Han sighed. “I’m not much for any kind of religion, sweetheart,” he said. “I’ve been from one end of this galaxy to the other, I’ve seen all kinds of strange stuff. And I haven’t seen anything that leads me to believe that some all-powerful Force controls everything. No mystical energy field controls my destiny. It’s all a bunch of simple tricks and nonsense. And that thing,” he indicated the lightsaber hanging from her belt. “I saw what you did with it, but I still say it’s no match for a good blaster.”

    She didn’t answer, just stared at him.

    “It’s not personal,” Han said quickly. “I’m glad you and your Dad came after me.”

    Leia continued to gaze at him, her eyebrows raised, her expression changing from blank to amused.

    “What?” Han asked. “Don’t do that, are you reading my mind or something?”

    She laughed, and stood. “No, Captain, even I can’t read something that isn’t open.”

    “Nice,” Han muttered.

    At that moment Anakin re-appeared. “Look who’s awake,” he said, smiling at Leia. Then he looked from her to Han, and back to her. “Did I miss something?”

    “Captain Solo is quite the skeptic,” she said. “And he seems to be able to dish out more than he can take.”

    “Skepticism isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” Anakin said. “The alternative is passive complacency and blind acceptance.”

    Han gave Leia a hard look. “Yeah,” he said. She returned the look.

    Anakin looked amused, and raised his eyebrows. Then he addressed Leia. “We should be back on Coruscant at noon Galactic City time. The debate over legalizing slavery takes place in the Senate in the morning so your mother may be in a foul mood. But Luke and Uncle Obi-Wan will be back in time for dinner.”

    “Hold it,” Han said. “Legalizing slavery???”

    Anakin and Leia both scowled, and Anakin nodded. “The Banking Clan, the Corporate Alliance and the Commerce Guild want it legalized. They practice as much as they can get away with anyway, and as I’m sure you know, the Republic expends military resources chasing after slave guilds.”

    Han scowled. “I know it all too well. It was on one of those operations that I got Chewie out of the clutches of the Trandoshan slave traders before they killed him.”

    “Well, these groups want the practice legitimized and are using the expenditure of Republic resources, which they call ‘wasteful’, as an excuse. They also argue that legalized slavery will mean cheaper goods and an improved economy.” Anakin’s scowl had deepened to something much darker, and he went to a closet and removed six or seven training remotes. He looked at Leia. “I’m going to go spar for awhile.”

    She nodded, and Anakin left quickly. Han looked after him, surprised at the drastic shift in his mood. “What happened to him?” he asked.

    “He’s fine, he just needs to work off some negative energy. He was enslaved on the Outer Rim as a child, it’s a bad topic.”

    “Oh,” Han said. “I had no idea.”

    “You couldn’t have known.” Her eyes went to the door that her father had just walked through.

    “Did the Jedi free him?” Han asked.

    “In a manner of speaking. A Jedi convinced his slave master to gamble him in a pod race, and the slave master lost.”

    “Wow, that could have gone very badly.”

    “No kidding,” Leia said. “My cousin is leading the argument against legalizing slavery, and she’s using Daddy’s story to add a human element to it.” She sighed. “We can only hope that we can appeal to people’s sense of compassion above their rampant greed.”

    “I’m a greedy scoundrel and I would never…”

    Leia put her hand on his arm. “I know. Of course you wouldn’t. No one with any decency would.”

    Han smiled. “Good to know I fall under the category of ‘people with decency.’ With you I wasn’t sure.”

    Leia returned the smile. “You have your moments. Not many of them, but…”

    I should keep this conversation going now that I’ve made it five minutes without offending her, Han thought. “So…did you grow up on Coruscant?”

    “Naboo,” Leia said. “My parents own a house in Theed, although we’re not there much anymore. My brother and I went to school there until a couple of years ago. We transferred to a school on Coruscant when Mom got elected Chancellor.” She looked at him. “What about you?”

    “Grew up on Corellia, joined the Navy at age 16. Not much to tell,” he replied.

    “Your parents let you do that?”

    “They’re gone. Dad passed away when I was 12, Mom only made it a couple of more years. She wasn’t stable anyway and didn’t function very well without Dad.”

    Leia’s face fell. “That’s horrible. I’m sorry.”

    Han shrugged. “It is what it is,” he said. “The Navy is my family now.” He looked at her. “How old are you, Leia?”

    She eyed him suspiciously. “Why?”

    Han sighed. Why were women so touchy over certain questions? “Because I’d like to ask you to have dinner with me, and I’d like to do it without landing my ass in some jail in the underbelly of Coruscant. Or being impaled on the end of your father’s lightsaber.”

    She gave him a half smile. “Well, you’re in luck then.”

    “I am?”

    She raised her eyebrows. “I’m 18. And Daddy seems to like you. Assuming you haven’t modified his ship.”

    Han smirked. “If I modified it, it would be to make it go faster,” he said. “So you’ll go out with me then?”

    Leia stood, and winked at him. “Maybe,” she said, and left the room.
  5. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 16, 2005
    I love me a sassy female.


    Keep writing fun banter like that and I *may* not even miss Obi-Wan from the chapters (so far. As if.)

    Love how you've incorporated so many classic lines in just one chapter and so perfectly, too.
  6. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    Forgot that it's been a some time since you read Mara byy Mr. Zahn. He's the best writer in the EU IMHO.

    But it is an AU so Mara could be different.

    I like how you bring things up and say how they connect to other things.

    Famous Swoop Bike Racers! [face_rofl]
  7. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Skywalker Saga/LFL/YJCC Manager star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Valairy Scot : I think we share our perception that Leia's sassiness is friggin' awesome. :D And she was sassy enough after being raised by the diplomatic Bail Organa in canon; Anakin's daughter raised by her biological dad... o_O[face_mischief]:D

    As far as Obi-Wan...he's coming. Very soon. A lot of him.

    Lady_Misty : Mara's character is definitely the best of Zahn's writing; if he didn't shoehorn so much Thrawn, I'd like him a lot more. But that's another topic. If I wrote Mara I'd keep her personality from the Zahn books.

    The famous swoop bike racers actually came from John McCain giving his North Vietnamese torturers the names of the Green Bay Packers lineup when they asked for the names of the members of his squadron.

    Thanks for reading, both of you. :) Here's more:


    Chapter 3

    “The Supreme Chancellor recognizes the Senator from the sovereign system of Murkhana.” Vice Chair Molis Tarin announced.

    The pod lowered and Senator Aegent Andray stepped forward.

    “Chancellor Amidala, fellow members of the Senate,” he said. “For 22 years my home world has been the headquarters of the Corporate Alliance. Our economy was in shambles two decades ago, but when the Alliance took control, prosperity reigned again within a year. The businesses comprising the Corporate Alliance were the only groups that continuously turned a profit throughout the Clone War, when many businesses found their costs dramatically increasing and their profits decreasing, some to the point where they could no longer stay in business. One reason that these businesses remained profitable is that they took advantage of the services provided by slaver guilds.”

    Andray ignored the gasps from the chambers and continued. “Obviously these transactions took place undercover, as the guilds preferred to avoid any entanglements with the Republic military. However, they did take place, keeping the businesses profitable and goods cheap enough for the average Republic citizen in an economy that was bankrupt due to the war. I am asking today that this delegation vote to legalize and regulate the activities of the slaver guilds and allow our businesses to negotiate with them in the open.”

    Shouts of protest erupted in the chamber. Tarin banged her gavel. “Order! Order!” Padme surveyed the room, and when the shouts had quieted, she said, “You may continue, Senator Andray.”

    “Thank you, Your Excellency. Now I know many of you will ask why we don’t use droids instead. Slavery is more profitable for several reasons. One, slaves can think creatively and are therefore much more efficient than droids. They can be trained to perform a new task much more quickly and easily than a droid can be reprogrammed, and we don’t need a mechanic and a programmer on staff to retrain slaves. We need both to maintain and reprogram droids. Additionally, droids have half the lifespan of most sentients, and their oil and parts are more costly than food and clothing for slaves. Finally, on systems outside the Republic in which slavery is allowed, treatment of slaves is better regulated. Slave owners can be compensated if another mistreats his or her slaves. I ask this delegation to consider our proposal, if for no other reason, than to allow precious Republic military resources to be diverted from tracking down and investigating slaver guilds to maintaining security on Outer Rim worlds, worlds increasingly overtaken by resistance cells. Thank you.” He nodded and sat. Shouts erupted again, and Tarin banged her gavel.

    The shouts died down, and Tarin spoke. “The Supreme Chancellor recognizes the Senator from the sovereign system of Naboo.”

    Pooja’s pod lowered. “Chancellor Amidala, fellow members of the Senate, I am certain that we all want to enact legislation that will improve the economy and the financial well-being of the citizens of the Republic. And given the fears that the resistance on the Outer Rim is growing, we all want to liberate as many military resources as possible to deal with that conflict. However, legalizing slavery is not the answer. If this bill passes, who will decide who is sold into slavery? Do we as a delegation? And how would we choose which of our fellow citizens to degrade in such a way? How do we choose who keeps their rights as sentients and who loses their rights to become the property of another? If not us, do the slaver guilds decide? Will they be given the right to kidnap sentients and sell them? Does the Corporate Alliance decide? Will they be given liberty to take over planets and sell their citizens as they did during the Clone War as part of the Confederacy?

    Senator Andray claims that slaves are a more efficient source of labor and are cheaper to maintain than droids. How many of us have actually encountered a slave and seen how they live? If they labor more efficiently, it is because they are afraid to do otherwise. Afraid of being beaten or starved. If they are cheaper to maintain than droids, that is because their masters generally feed them as little as possible.

    Another difference between droids and slaves is that sentient beings have families—parents, siblings, children--whom their masters can hold over their heads as a threat. A commonly used punishment for disobedience in the slave world is the selling away of a family member. The bottom line here, ladies and gentlemen, is not the profit margin of the Corporate Alliance. It is the fact that sentient beings are not commodities to be bought and sold.” She paused. “My uncle was enslaved on Tatooine as a child.”

    Several Senators gasped. Pooja continued. “I have seen the scars on his shoulders and upper back from his owners’ whips. I was an adult before I knew what happened to him. I assumed the scars were wounds from the Clone War. But they weren’t. My uncle worked in his owner’s shop. The owner sold junk parts and mechanical goods, which is why he kept my uncle around. To fix droids and race pods to win his owner money.” Pooja took a deep breath. “The beatings were for small mistakes. Giving a customer too much change. ‘Allowing’ a droid to break down too early. Losing one of those awful pod races. He was even beaten for trying to protect his mother from some of the thugs that appeared in that shop and thought they would pay the owner for a piece of her dignity. A four-year-old child should not be beaten with a bantha whip for making mistakes that any adult could make. Or for protecting his mother from rapists.” She paused. “My uncle was only freed from slavery because his owner liked to gamble and eventually lost. His owner gambled him—a human being—as if he were nothing more than a handful of druggats. Because to his owner, that’s all he was worth. I hope you will understand that if you vote for this bill, you are voting for the degradation of sentient beings into nothing more than currency changing hands. You are voting to steal their very lives, their souls, along with their freedom. Thank you.”

    Pooja sat, and when she did, there was no applause, no shouting, only stunned silence. Padme stood. Her hands trembled, causing the rings on her left hand to catch the light. Her wedding band, and the band with 20 small diamonds, the one Anakin had given her last year for their anniversary.

    But when she spoke, her voice was even. “I usually refrain from interjecting my opinion on a bill until the bill has come to a vote, however, I feel the need to speak on this one. Ladies and gentlemen, as the Chancellor I am charged with protecting the rights and freedoms granted to your citizens by the Galactic Constitution. If this bill passes, I have great concerns about my ability to do so. Senator Naberrie has pointed out that decisions on who is enslaved might not be left to this Congress, nor should we want such power to decide the fates of our fellow sentient beings. If you cast your vote for this bill, you very well might be voting to enslave those who elected you.

    I will ask Vice Chair Tarin to preside over this vote. I will retire to my office until its fate is decided. Thank you.” With that, Padme turned and stepped down from the podium, the velvet Chancellor’s robes billowing behind her.

    Padme summoned her guards standing immediately outside the chambers, bidding them with one hand to follow her to the lift. The Senate thought little of her excusing herself while the vote was taken and counted; she often did so when the Senate voted on bills affecting the Jedi, to avoid any accusations of bias or vote manipulation on her part.

    What surprised her guards was the drawn look on her face, and the fact that she did not say a word in the lift. When it opened into the corridor outside her office, she waved at them again, indicating that they should stand guard outside the door, then turned to her assistant. “Sovi, the Senate is voting on the resolution and results should be in within the next few minutes. Contact me when that happens; until then, please see that I am not disturbed.”

    Sovi nodded slowly. “Of course milady.” She surveyed Padme’s face. “The slave that Senator Naberrie discussed in her speech. Your husband?”

    Padme met her eyes but said nothing. She went into her office and closed the door behind her.

    Alone in the expansive office granted to the Supreme Chancellor, Padme sat at her desk and wept.

    “Milady, the votes are in and the bill has been defeated,” Sovi’s voice came in clearly over the com. “Chancellor Organa and Senator Naberrie wish to see you. And your husband called, he just came out of hyperspace over Coruscant. He will be here after he puts Sate Pestage under lockup.”

    Padme sniffed and wiped her eyes. “Thank you, Sovi. Send Chancellor Organa and the Senator in.”

    Bail and Pooja entered slowly and closed the door behind them. Padme stood, crossing the room to meet them. Pooja hugged her. “Aunt Padme, I am so…”

    Padme held her hand up to silence her. “Don’t,” she said. “Don’t apologize. You told the truth. And you said nothing that I didn’t already know.”

    “I told her that she did well,” Bail said. “The final vote on the bill was 1546 against it to 454 for it. She had at least a third of the delegation in tears.” He looked at Pooja. “Appealing to people’s base emotions is a very old political tactic,” he said.

    Padme nodded and began to pace. “People need to know that their constituents, their friends, their families could be affected if a bill like this passed. It’s not just emotional appeal, it’s reality.” She sniffed and dabbed at her eyes again.

    “You know, it is quite possible that the Corporate Alliance and Banking Clan have been planning this for years,” Bail said. “And were just waiting for you to be in position where you could neither campaign against it or vote against it.”

    Padme sniffed again. “That has crossed my mind.”

    “Are you alright?” Bail asked.

    She nodded. “I’m fine. Really. The bill was defeated, that’s all that matters.”

    Bail nodded. “Can we do anything?”

    Padme gave him a watery smile. “You can come for dinner. Both of you. Bring Breha and Alys if they’re on planet. Anakin and Leia are back, Luke and Obi-Wan will be here tonight.”

    Bail put a hand on her shoulder. “Sounds good. Breha stayed home but Alys came with me.”

    “I’ll be there as well,” Pooja said.

    “I’ve got to interrogate Pestage this afternoon,” Padme said. “After that I’m going to be ready for wine and good conversation. I need to question Captain Solo as well but that can wait until tomorrow. He should be reunited with his squadron first.” She kissed Pooja’s cheek. “You did well. I’m proud of you.”

    “I only wish that speech hadn’t been necessary,” she said.

    “So do I,” Padme said. “I’m going to meet Anakin and Leia. I’ll see you two tonight?”

    They nodded, and the three of them left the office.

    Leia descended from the ship first, followed by R2. Padme enveloped her in a hug. “I trust the return trip was uneventful?”

    “As uneventful as it could be,” Leia said.

    Padme smiled. “Where’s your father?” she asked.

    Leia scowled. “Bonding,” she muttered.

    “Bonding with whom?” Padme said. A minute later her question was answered as Anakin descended with a man who could have only been Captain Solo, both of them laughing. “The guy thought he was flying a completely different ship. The only difference was that I had boosted his hyperdrive motivator,” Han told Anakin.

    “Captain Solo likes machinery as much as Daddy does. And he’s a very…interesting person,” Leia said.

    Padme raised her eyebrows. “Interesting? How so?”

    “Oh, you’ll find out soon enough,” Leia said.

    At that moment Anakin reached his wife and hugged her, lifting her off the ground, and kissed her.

    Leia walked a few feet away, averting her eyes, finding herself meeting those of Han. “Yes, they’re always like that,” she said.

    Han shrugged. “The PDAs I see are usually my midshipmen trying to pick up women whose names they don’t even know, or the ones with their mistresses while their wives sit at home. Nice to see a married couple behaving that way for a change.”

    “Captain Solo.” Padme’s voice caused Han to turn quickly and give her a bow.

    “Your Excellency.”

    “I contacted headquarters just before I left my office. Commander Calrissian and Chewbacca are on their way to meet you. In fact…there they are.”

    A Navy gunship pulled up to the platform and stopped, and Lando and Chewie bounded out and ran to Han. Chewie reached him first, wrapping him in his arms and lifting him from the ground with a joyous bark.

    “Easy, pal,” Han said. “Good to see you too.”

    “Han, old buddy,” Lando said, clapping him on the shoulder.

    “Lando,” he said. “I told you I’d get out of there, didn’t I?” He nodded at Anakin and Leia. “Thanks to these two Jedi.”

    Lando saw Padme and Anakin and gave a short bow. “Chancellor Amidala, Master Skywalker. On behalf of Han’s squadron, we thank you.”

    Padme smiled. “You are quite welcome, Commander. We are thankful that he is home safely.”

    Lando saw Leia, grinned, took her hand and kissed it. “And who might you be?”

    She raised her eyebrows. “Leia,” she replied. A couple of feet away, Anakin frowned, his eyebrows knitting together.

    Han put a hand on Lando’s shoulder. “Come on, you old smoothie,” he said. “We need to get back to headquarters.”

    “I will contact you tomorrow, Captain,” Padme said. “I need some information on Pestage and your captivity.”

    “It was ugly, and Pestage did more asking than telling,” Han said. He saluted her. “I will look forward to seeing you. I hope I have some information that will help.” He, Lando and Chewie climbed aboard the gunship.

    “Thanks for coming after me,” Han said to Anakin, who nodded.

    “You are welcome,” he said, without smiling.

    Han turned to Leia and mouthed, “Can I call you?” She mouthed back, “Yes.” Anakin noticed the exchange, and his frown deepened.

    Han and Lando waved, and the gunship took off.

    At the Republic Navy headquarters on Coruscant, the midshipmen in Han’s squadron were engaged in a very competitive and very loud game of sabacc. For a few minutes Han enjoyed the sounds of their laughter, sounds that he had greatly missed while in captivity on the Inferno. Then he retreated to a private room, fired up his work station and began his search.

    The record he was looking for, didn’t take long to find.

    Name: Leia Amidala Skywalker. Rank: Jedi Padawan. Birthplace: Coruscant. Homeworld: Naboo. Father: Anakin Skywalker. Mother: Padme Naberrie, also known as Amidala. Siblings: Twin brother, Luke Skywalker, Jedi Padawan. Jedi Master responsible for training: Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

    Lando appeared over Han’s shoulder and started laughing. “Han, what are you doing?” Chewie gave a raucous bark.

    Han scowled. “Laugh it up, fuzzball.” Then turned to Lando. “What? Jedi records have been public for 20 years.”

    “Maybe, but somehow I don’t think you were looking her up to find out how long she has before her trials,” Lando said.

    “Or maybe I am,” Han said. “What’s it to you?”

    Lando stopped laughing. “You really like her, don’t you?”

    Chewie gave another bark. Han ran his fingers through his hair. “Pal, you have no idea. I’m not sure I have any idea.”

    Lando raised his eyebrows.

    Han stood. “She’s got a lot of spirit.”

    The sabacc game in the next room had gotten louder and more raucous.

    “It was the first time I’d seen the Chancellor in person. Who knew she was that small? Skywalker is about 6’2”, I’ll bet he’s not on top very often…” Another burst of loud laughter.

    Han entered the room and glared at them. “Hey!” He snapped. “She’s your CO and mine. Show a little more respect.”

    The laughter stopped as if the sound had been turned off in the room, and the surprised midshipmen all stared at Han. Was this their same captain who had only recently made an obnoxious joke about the six-foot-tall Alderaanian Princess not being able to find any “short help”?

    Finally one of them spoke. “We’re sorry, Captain, it won’t happen again.”

    “See that it doesn’t,” Han said.

    As he left the room, the midshipmen looked at each other. What the hell happened to him?

    At the Republic Judiciary Central Detention Center on Coruscant, guards saluted as Padme entered, followed by Anakin, and took the lift to the high security cell containing Sate Pestage. As the lift reached the top floor and opened, Padme walked briskly down the corridor, reaching Pestage’s cell located at the end.

    Behind the heavy blaster-proof glass, the prisoner smirked. “Chancellor Amidala,” he said. “What a wonderful surprise.”

    “You may dispense with the false pleasantries, Pestage,” she replied. “I am here to find out why you kidnapped Princess Alys as well as who you are working for.”

    The smirk grew bigger. “I do not give out information for free, as I am sure you know well, Your Excellency. So why don’t you present me with an executive order stating that I’ll be released from this cell as soon as I tell you what you need to know, and then I’ll start talking.” He looked at Anakin, then back at Padme. “Worked for your friend Organa. We both got a sweet deal out of that arrest, and so did you, since my testimony kept your husband from landing in this building himself.”

    Anakin’s hand gripped the handle of his lightsaber. Padme had warned him to keep quiet and let her do the talking. He was only there because she thought—and correctly so, if this exchange was any indication—that she needed a Jedi escort. But Anakin also knew that it would take every ounce of his Jedi training to avoid cutting through the prison door with his saber and slicing Pestage in half.

    “There will be no immunity under me,” Padme said. “You will not take advantage of me as you did Organa, by joining the resistance against the very Republic that he was fighting to rebuild.”

    “Take advantage?” Pestage shrieked. “I testified in favor of your husband and another Jedi who murdered a man in cold blood, a man who had been my friend and mentor for 30 years! I paid a price. It was an exchange. And then I moved on.”

    “You are quite the mercenary,” Padme said calmly. “And you have a choice: you can talk to me now, or you can talk in front of the courts during your trial for kidnapping, and, I suspect, assault on both the Princess and Captain Solo. At which time I will see it noted in the court record that you refused the Supreme Chancellor’s request for information valuable to the Republic. Now,” she asked. “Who is funding the legions of battle droids on your ship?”

    Pestage’s eyes, which locked with Padme’s, were like black chips of ice. “I do not give information for free,” he snapped.

    “Very well then,” Padme said. “The court will be happy to add to your list of charges. Good day, Pestage. Enjoy this cell, I suspect it will be your home for awhile.” She turned and left, her robes swishing behind her, Anakin on her heels.

    Padme did not speak on the ride back to the Senate building, or in the lift up to her office. She barely acknowledged her assistant before entering her office with Anakin and closing the door.

    Anakin walked back and forth for a minute, his hand still gripping the lightsaber hilt, before Padme spoke.

    “Anakin, I need you to stop pacing and take your hand off your lightsaber.”

    He stopped walking but did not move his hand. “Why?”

    “Because I have had a long day, and I need to be able to swear and maybe throw something heavy, so I need you to be the calm one right now.”

    Anakin’s eyes widened and his hand dropped. He scanned the room, wondering exactly what heavy object his wife planned to throw, when Padme emitted a string of curses that Anakin recognized in Huttese, then in a couple of more languages that he wasn’t familiar with. Then her face and shoulders slumped.

    Anakin went to her quickly and took her in his arms.

    “Breathe,” he said.

    She did, a few slow, deep breaths, then looked up. Anakin kissed her. “Better?” he asked.

    “Yes,” she said, exhaling slowly. “We had a victory this morning even if it was hard won, and in a battle we should have never had to fight. And Pestage will talk eventually.”

    “Or someone will talk for him,” Anakin said. “The largest droid foundries during the Clone War were on Geonosis. Master Windu is on Rodia right now. We could always…”

    “Ask him to investigate?” Padme finished.

    “He might come up on a dead end if Pestage’s droids are not financed or built by Geonosians but it’s worth a look.”

    Padme sighed. “I agree.”

    Anakin smiled and stroked her cheek. “I’ll call him. Are you coming home?”

    “In awhile. I need to transcribe what happened in that non-session with Pestage.”

    Anakin’s comlink buzzed. “Skywalker.”

    “We’re out of hyperspace. Care to see your old master?”

    “Obi-Wan! I’m in Padme’s office but go straight to our place. I’ll meet you there.”

    “Will do. Kenobi out.”

    Anakin turned the comlink off and looked at Padme, who put the datapad down. “Alright, I’m sure this will still be fresh on my mind later.”

    The ship pulled up to the private landing platform at the Chancellor’s quarters and Anakin noted that Luke was flying. The ship ramp opened and Luke descended quickly. Anakin watched him with pride, the blond-haired blue-eyed young man in his dark Jedi tunic, Anakin’s old lightsaber hanging from his belt. Anakin walked to him and put an arm around his shoulders.

    “Daddy,” Luke said, returning the embrace.

    “Welcome home, son,” Anakin replied. “Good trip?”

    “Good enough. Not much happening. But we resupplied the training facility. And the Corellian younglings are making a lot of progress.”

    “Good. And you made the entire flight? Your uncle isn’t complaining about his stomach being left in hyperspace, is he?”

    Luke laughed, as did Obi-Wan, who appeared directly behind him. “He’s not as dangerous as you are,” Obi-Wan said. “Not yet.”

    “What do you mean, ‘yet’?” Luke said, feigning offense.

    Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows.

    “Welcome back, Obi-Wan,” Padme said, appearing next to Anakin.

    He nodded. “Padme,” he said. “Still holding the galaxy together?”

    “With spackle and duct tape,” she said, sighing. “Today was one of those days that I could have really used the Force.” She turned to her son. “Luke.”

    He wrapped her in a hug. “Mom,” he said.

    Padme kissed his cheek. “Come inside,” she said. And he did, his arm around his mother’s shoulders.

    “All is well on Corellia, Master?” Anakin asked.

    “Completely quiet just as it should be,” Obi-Wan replied. “I think Luke was a bit disappointed, would have liked for someone to start a skirmish.”

    Anakin frowned. “Let’s hope he gets that out of his system soon,” he said.

    Obi-Wan suddenly looked amused, eyeing Anakin’s trim goatee. “You’re cheating, you know that,” he said. “You should just grow a full beard.”

    “So I’ll look as old as you do?” Anakin said, and they both laughed.

    “Every grey hair on my head and on my chin has your name on it, my very young apprentice,” Obi-Wan said. Obi-Wan, like his former padawan, was as fit as he had been 20 years earlier, although his reddish-brown hair and beard had gone mostly grey.

    Still laughing, the two of them went inside.

    Leia emerged from her room, wearing a long burgundy dress. Her hair was free from its usual braids and fell in waves down her back. She hugged her brother.

    “I hear you got to see all the action this time,” Luke said.

    “I would hardly call a confrontation with a bunch of tinnies and Sate Pestage’s halitosis ‘action’,” Leia replied disdainfully.

    “What about this Navy captain that you rescued?” Luke asked.

    Leia smiled. “He’s interesting.”

    Luke gave her a knowing grin. “Interesting? How so?”

    “I haven’t made up my mind yet.”

    Luke raised his eyebrows. “Ooohhh…”

    Anakin was scowling again. “Leia, we need to talk.” He indicated the next room. “There.”

    Leia looked confused, as did Padme and Luke, but she followed her father. “What is it?” she asked when they were alone.

    “Captain Solo…asked to contact you,” Anakin said.

    “He asked me to have dinner with him. Why?”

    Anakin’s scowl deepened. “Did you accept?”

    “Not yet. I said maybe. But I plan to accept. Why?”

    “He’s at least 30 years old, Leia.”

    “He’s exactly 30 years old, Daddy. He told me himself.”

    “Yes. Exactly. He’s much older than you and by his own admission, he’s been all over the galaxy and had…experiences.”

    Her confused look turned angry. “Luke and I have been all over the galaxy. With you and Uncle Obi-Wan. What is your point exactly?”

    “That’s different.”

    “Different how? You had no problem with Han when you and he were having long conversations about racing and starship parts. But he wants to take me to dinner and suddenly he can’t be trusted? Because of his age?”

    Anakin opened his mouth to respond but was cut off.

    “Or maybe I’m the one who can’t be trusted? “ Leia said angrily. “Is that it? Because Han was your new friend that you could talk shop with until he took an interest in me.”

    “He’s Han now?”

    “Did you think I’d call him Captain Solo forever?”

    “I didn’t know we were discussing your calling him anything ‘forever’.”

    “Oh, never mind. You’re being ridiculous.” And with that Leia turned and walked out of the room, down the hall that led to her bedroom.

    Anakin went into the kitchen and without a word to his wife, son or best friend, poured a glass of Corellian brandy. Then he took the bottle and headed for the balcony.

    Luke looked at his mother and then at Obi-Wan. “What was that all about?”

    Several minutes later Obi-Wan found Anakin sitting on the balcony, staring at the horizon, swishing the brandy around in his glass. Obi-Wan picked up the bottle on the table and examined it. “I’m taking this back inside,” he said. “You’ll thank me tomorrow when you don’t have a hangover.” He disappeared, reappearing a minute later. He took a seat next to Anakin. “Care to tell me what’s going on?”

    Anakin swished the brandy around and took a gulp. “Nothing,” he said.

    “Leia is confused and hurt, Padme and Luke are confused, and you’re out here sulking with a bottle of brandy. Curious behavior over ‘nothing’.”

    Anakin sighed but didn’t say anything.

    “Anakin, you can get whatever this is off your chest or we can both sit here all night. But Padme mentioned that Bail and Mon Mothma and Pooja are coming by for dinner. I’m imagining that you’ll want to be sociable.”

    He sighed again. “This captain that we rescued…he’s interested in Leia.”

    “OK,” Obi-Wan said. “And why exactly is this a problem? I was under the impression that you two hit it off pretty well.”

    “We did,” Anakin said. “That isn’t the point.”

    “Then tell me what the point is, because I’m obviously missing it.”

    “He’s 12 years older than she is.”

    Obi-Wan looked amused. “Anakin, not every man likes older women.”

    Anakin glared. “He’s as close to my age as hers.”

    “She’s 18,” Obi-Wan said.

    “Exactly. She’s 18. He’s 30.”

    “How old were you when you married Padme? Two or three weeks past your 20th birthday?”

    “That was different,” Anakin snapped.

    “How was it different? Because you were breaking a major tenet of the Jedi Code?”

    “Obi-Wan, this is not about me.”

    “Yes, Anakin, it is. This is entirely about you. Are you going to tell me that if you weren’t Leia’s father, you would have a problem with Han Solo taking her to dinner?”

    “I am her father. I can’t separate myself from that role.”

    “And no one expects you to. But you need to recognize that that’s the role from which you speak. And this isn’t about Leia, or about Han Solo. This is about you and your fears. That he’ll hurt her. Or that he won’t hurt her.”

    Anakin swished his drink around in his glass and didn’t comment.

    “You still see Leia as a four-year-old in long braids. She’s a grown woman, and an attractive one at that.”

    Anakin took a swallow of brandy. “I know that. It’s not the first time a man has noticed her. This time just seems different.”

    “Maybe it is. Would that be such a bad thing?”

    Anakin swished his drink again. “I don’t know.”

    “I think you do. And that’s what scares you. Do you not think Leia can handle herself?”

    For the first time since the conversation began, Anakin smiled. “Of that I have no doubt. She’ll just push him down a garbage chute if she gets tired of him.”

    Obi-Wan raised his eyebrows. “I look forward to hearing the story that prompted that comment. But right now, you need to stop brooding out here and go talk to your daughter. If for no other reason, so the rest of us can have a pleasant relaxing dinner.” He stood, squeezed Anakin’s shoulder, and left the balcony.

    Anakin set down his brandy glass, stood and went inside. Luke appeared to be regaling his mother and his cousin with a story over glasses of wine. “They’ve tightened security at the spaceports in Corellia lately, I’m assuming because of smugglers. Anyway, we had no idea and didn’t have the identification they asked for; they wanted two forms each, we only had one. Uncle Obi-Wan handled it though, mind tricked the guards and told them they didn’t need to see our identification…”

    Anakin found Leia’s sitting room door closed, and he knocked cautiously. “May I come in?”

    She didn’t respond but the door slid open. She sat on a sofa, her back to him. He sat next to her and laid a hand on her shoulder.

    “You smell like brandy,” she muttered.

    “I only had one glass.”

    No response.

    “OK, two.”

    Still nothing.

    “And it’s Corellian. I’m sure Solo drinks it so you should get used to it.”

    He had hoped to make her smile, but she didn’t respond.

    “I’m sorry. I overreacted. I wasn’t fair to you,” Anakin said.

    Still no response.

    “Leia, please.”

    “I don’t understand what you’re so bent out of shape about,” she snapped. “You and Mom have taught me to take care of myself. He’s a high-ranking officer in the Republic Navy. You’re acting like I picked up a smuggler in some seedy bar.” She turned and looked at him. “Daddy, it’s not like this is the first time I’ve dated. I was dating before we left Naboo. Why are you being so weird about this?”

    Anakin couldn’t answer her. Because, curse my ability to use the Force, I am sensing that this time will be the last. He looked away so she wouldn’t see the tears that suddenly stung his eyes.

    She noticed, and understood. When she spoke again, her voice had softened. “Oh.” She moved to his other side, so that he faced her, and wrapped her arms around his neck. He returned the embrace, and for a moment neither of them spoke.

    Leia pulled away and kissed his cheek. “I love you, Daddy.”

    Anakin blinked furiously, smiled at her and touched her hair. “And I love you.”

    “Don’t make such a big deal out of this. I’m having dinner with him. We’re not eloping.”

    Anakin raised an eyebrow. “That would be wise, considering that the Holonet would stalk you for months afterward.” He stood and held his hand out to her. “Come on, everyone is probably here by now.”

    They appeared in the living area a minute later, Anakin a couple of steps behind his daughter, and were immediately approached by Padme. “Good,” she said, pecking Anakin on the lips. “It’s about time. Bail and Alys and Pooja are here.” She took her husband’s hand and led him to their niece and Bail Organa. Leia found Obi-Wan and began briefing him on Han’s rescue.

    Anakin, Padme, Pooja and Bail were laughing heartily over glasses of fine red wine. Leia was answering Obi-Wan’s questions about Pestage and the Inferno. A few feet away from her father, Alys Organa stood, a spaghetti-strapped and backless sky blue gown flattering her tall slender figure and reflecting her eyes. Luke, standing near his sister, sipped his wine and tried not to stare.

    I grew up with her. Why do I feel like I’m only seeing her for the first time?

    He averted his eyes, took another sip of wine, and glanced at Obi-Wan, who was looking at him with a knowing smile and raised eyebrows. He felt his face redden. He turned back to Alys, and noticed that she was looking at him as well.

    He took a deep breath and crossed the room.

    “It’s been a few months, Alys,” he said.

    She nodded. “I’ve seen Leia but I keep missing you. We never seem to be on planet at the same time. How are you, Luke?”

    “Same as always.”

    “That bad, huh?” She teased, and he reached behind her.

    “You’re not going to yank my braid like you did when we were kids, are you?” She asked, winking at him.

    “That’s not exactly what I had in mind,” he said. His hand rested on her shoulder. They stopped looking at each other long enough to scan the crowd again.

    “So,” Luke said. “Why were you on Ansion?”

    “Negotiating,” Alys replied. “Convincing their government that they need to accept Republic military help to keep the Commerce Guild out. It wasn’t a hard conversation to have. I wasn’t telling them anything they didn’t already know. And they are right at the edge of the Mid Rim and the Outer Rim.”

    “So you were successful?”

    “Right after I was taken by Pestage, the Senate voted to establish a temporary naval base there. The Ansionians should be thrilled. The base will employ thousands.”

    Luke smiled. “Well done, then.” His hand tentatively brushed her back.

    She sighed, and looked down. “Luke, I’m supposed to run for Senate next year.”

    “Supposed to?” He asked, trying to catch her eyes again.

    She nodded and looked at him. “It’s tradition. The heir to the throne of Alderaan always serves at least one term as Senator.”

    “But you don’t want to.”

    “No,” she said, looking at her father deep in conversation with Anakin, Padme and Pooja. “I don’t have the patience for the political meandering and ass-kissing that our parents are constantly forced to do. I’d probably get expelled from the Senate chambers for telling the bureaucrats that they are all a bunch of kriffing morons.”

    A server droid came around with more wine, and they both accepted refills. Luke sipped his with an amused expression on his face.

    “What?” Alys asked.

    “Just imagining the Holonet headlines. Princess Alys Organa tells the head of the Corporate Alliance to go to hell.”

    Alys laughed, then just as quickly, the laughter disappeared. “But that’s exactly it. I don’t know how long I could bite my tongue around a group like that. And your mother and my father…they do it all the time. It’s painful to watch, because you know they must want to say something.”

    “Diplomacy isn’t a bad skill to learn, in politics or not,” Luke said. “I think my mother could banish her political enemies to Hoth and make them think they’re enjoying the trip.” He looked at Padme. Anakin’s arm was around her shoulders, and they were chatting with Obi-Wan, Bail, and Mon Mothma, who had just arrived. A few feet away, Leia and Pooja were laughing over glasses of wine.

    “Sometimes I think my father could sway people to his side without even saying anything.” Alys said.

    “Maybe the politicians’ way is more effective than a more…reckless way of getting one’s point across.” He smiled at her. “Hey, when is the last time you saw a Coruscant sunset from the main balcony?”

    Alys returned the smile. “I'm not sure..."

    Luke put an arm around her shoulders and led her from the living area to the adjoining sitting room, then to the balcony on its right. The setting sun blazed a brilliant purple and orange as it made its slow descent, illuminating the city below in an array of color. They watched for a few minutes without speaking, Luke gently caressing her bare arm.

    Finally he spoke. “If you don’t want to run for Senate, don’t,” he said. “I’m sure your parents could be persuaded to change a tradition that isn’t working anymore.”

    “Huh?” For a moment Alys had forgotten what they were talking about. Then, “Oh. Well, Daddy would understand, but Mom would just be angry.”

    Luke moved his hand from her arm to her back, also bare. “The other option is to make the best of it. You persuaded the Ansion government to allow a naval base there, obviously you can do this. And isn’t politics about public service? Upholding the principles of democracy?”

    “Ideally,” she said. She moved closer to him, covered his other hand with hers, and met his eyes. “Let’s talk about something else?” The hungry look in his eyes made her breath catch.

    “What do you want to talk about?” He asked, moving his hand from her back to stroke her cheek.

    He kissed her then, a soft, tentative kiss, then when she didn’t resist, he deepened it, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her closer. One of his arms rested on her waist, the other stroked her back, underneath the braid.

    “Master Luke, Princess Alys, Mistress Padme says that dinner is ser…oh dear, so sorry to interrupt.” C3PO glanced at the scene on the balcony and quickly turned away, walking in the other direction.

    The kiss ended abruptly, both of their cheeks flushing. “I…maybe I shouldn’t have done that,” Alys said.

    Luke looked away. “I’m sorry.”

    She kissed his cheek. “Don’t be. We’ll talk later. We’d better go to dinner.”

    As they walked in the dining room, not touching, Luke thought he saw Leia’s eyebrows go up. Otherwise no one seemed to notice the pink tint on his and Alys’ cheeks, or the way they avoided each other’s eyes.
  8. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Sep 2, 2012
    Very good chapter. I like the allusions to cannon about Han and Leia. The garbage chute, the cantina (well Luke found him there but still). Pooja relating about Anakin in the Senate. Really good chapter
  9. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 16, 2005

    Obi-Wan is so wise (by now) he knows Anakin well and set him up properly for his sweet talk with Leia.

    Luke and Alys; you sure work in canon stuff in unexpected places (and it works very well).
  10. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    I personally think Leia said similar things that Alys feared saying
  11. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Skywalker Saga/LFL/YJCC Manager star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Force Smuggler : I had too much fun writing about that garbage chute. And I'm glad you caught the cantina reference. :)

    Valairy Scot : Thanks. :) As far as Obi-Wan and Anakin...much more of that coming.

    Lady_Misty : I hadn't thought that much about it, but yeah, she probably did.

    Thanks for reading. :)


    Chapter 4

    “How dare he!?” Asajj Ventress shrieked. Against the walls of the underground bunker, several droids splintered into spare parts, victims of her towering Force-enhanced temper.

    “Wh…who? Pestage?” Pors Tonith asked cautiously.

    She glowered at him. “Pestage,” she spat, “is as clumsy as he is stupid.” She turned her fierce glare onto the other members of the delegation. Shu Mai. Wat Tambor. Poggle the Lesser.

    And Shanah Qualkin, Senator from Ord Mantell. They backed away, wide-eyed, afraid she would turn her fury on them next.

    “What possessed him to kidnap the Organa brat, knowing that the Chancellor would send her Jedi to the rescue? What made him think that he could waste our resources on his own petty vengeances?”

    “Where is he now?” Shu Mai asked.

    She glared at her. “In prison where he belongs, because we are not saving him. Let him sit there like the waste of space that he is.”

    “Would he betray us the way he betrayed Sidious?” Poggle asked.

    Ventress sneered. “No. Amidala will not grant him immunity in order to make him talk. Unless the Jedi can mind trick him, we are safe from his mouth. But…” She sent another glare around the room. “The Chancellor and her Jedi are onto us. They know we have moved into the Mid Rim.” She looked at Qualkin. “Pestage’s ship was docked near Ord Mantell. They have probably deduced that we were planning to break into their weapons facilities, and may have even deduced that we were planning to rescue Bane.” She looked around the room again. “Therefore, both of those plans are on hold.” She turned her gaze to Poggle.
    “Pestage had battle droids, although Skywalker and one of his brats destroyed a lot of them when they rescued that Navy captain. But the Jedi will be looking for a foundry, and Geonosis is the first place they will look.”

    “What is the plan?” Wat Tambor asked.

    “Shut down all the factories on Geonosis. We move everything to Hypori.”

    “What of Amidala?” Poggle asked. “Our cause would be aided by a…friendlier Chancellor.”

    Ventress stared at him for a moment, then, as she realized what he was proposing, her face contorted in fury and she Force-shoved him against the wall. “Are you out of your skull???”

    His mouth dropped open in shock. “I…I only thought…”

    “No,” she snapped. “You did not think. Do not tell me you ‘thought’. You most certainly did not, or you would know that an assassination attempt on an extremely popular Chancellor…a Chancellor who also happens to be Skywalker’s wife…is an idea so ridiculous that even your pathetic mind should not contemplate it. Do you want to make her a martyr? Have the wrath of the entire Jedi Order and most of the Republic on us? How would that help our cause?” She looked around the room. “No. We hold onto our cells in the Outer Rim worlds. We move slowly into the Mid Rim. Then the Core. We do not take control of the Republic, we win control of it. We destroy Amidala by making her administration a complete and utter failure and sending her back to Naboo in shame.” She paused. “Her husband and children are fair game, but Amidala remains untouched. Is that understood?”

    “Y-yes,” the group stammered, almost in unison.

    “Good,” she said. “We move to Hypori within two days’ time. And you,” she said, addressing Qualkin. “Make a motion in the Senate to loosen security around the weapons facilities on Ord Mantell. Use the budget as an excuse. And try to locate Bane. We will move as soon as the Jedi and the Republic Navy are sufficiently…distracted.”

    “Captain Solo,” Sovi said. “Her Excellency will see you now.”

    Han stood. “Thank you.” He entered the open door to the Chancellor’s office, finding her seated at her desk. Behind her stood a young man with blond hair, wearing a dark Jedi tunic. He had the Chancellor’s nose and chin and Skywalker’s blue eyes.

    “Captain Solo,” Padme said. “Thank you for coming by. I’d like you to meet my son, Luke. I have asked him to sit in on this interview. The courts will need your statement for Pestage’s trial and I thought it best to have an additional witness.”

    Han nodded and extended his hand to shake Luke’s. “Nice to meet you. I’ve heard stories of your flying skill already.”

    Luke looked surprised and smiled. “Really?”

    Han returned the smile. “Really.”

    So this is Leia’s twin brother, Han thought. And if first impressions are correct, her calmer half.

    “Shall we begin?” Padme asked.

    Han nodded and sat. Padme pressed a button on the recording device.

    “How long were you on the Inferno before you were arrested, Captain?”

    “Maybe ten minutes. My squadron and I were outnumbered by battle droids. I wanted to give the clankers something to do, so I surrendered, distracting them long enough for Commander Calrissian and my midshipmen to disperse and look for Princess Alys.”

    Han thought he saw Luke shift uncomfortably. Padme continued. “You were arrested by battle droids?”


    “What type?”


    Padme frowned, then continued. “Where were you taken?”

    “To a cell on the same floor. Pestage came in an hour later.”

    “To interrogate you?”

    “Yes. I knew Princess Alys had escaped because Pestage was swearing in more languages than I thought he knew.”

    Padme took a deep breath. “How…did he interrogate you?” She asked.

    “Shockprods,” Han replied.

    Padme’s lips tightened; she looked down and away for a moment, then met Han’s eyes again. “What questions did he ask?”

    “He wanted the names of the members of my squadron. I assumed he wanted some sort of vengeance on them for the Princess’ escape.”

    “How long did he torture you?”

    Han sighed. “I don’t know. I lost track of time. I gave him the names of several swoop bike racers in place of the names of members of my squadron; he bought the story and left. I think it was a few hours afterwards that the Jedi arrived.”

    Padme said nothing for a minute, then asked, “Did he give you any information on why he kidnapped the Princess?”

    “Only that he expected her father to come for her himself.”

    “Did he mention any resistance cells? Any contacts that he made or was about to make?”


    “Did he say why he flew to Ord Mantell from the Ansion system?”


    Padme sighed and initially gave Han no response. Finally she said, “Pestage and former Chancellor Organa have an enmity that has lasted for decades. It appears that he may have only been working for himself, at least with this act.”

    “If I may venture a guess, Chancellor…”

    She looked at him. “You may.”


    “I’m sorry?”

    “Pestage planned to demand ransom money from the Princess’ father.” Han shrugged. “That’s just a hunch though, I have nothing to base it on. Commander Calrissian had a long conversation with the Princess after he rescued her, he might know more.”

    “It’s a good hunch,” Padme replied. She turned off the recorder.

    "If I may ask," Han said, "What is Pestage being charged with?”

    Padme frowned. “Kidnapping and, thanks to the evidence you just gave me, assault. And there may be some extortion charges before this is over. And refusal to cooperate with a Republic government investigation. He will not be leaving prison for awhile.”

    Han nodded again. “That’s good.”

    “Yes.” Padme stood, came around from behind her desk, and shook Han’s hand. She smiled at him. “I understood that we’ll see you in a couple of days?”

    He returned the smile. “Yes.”

    Luke looked confused.

    “Your sister agreed to go out with me,” Han told him. “We’ll see if we get through the evening without her pushing me out of the speeder.”

    Luke looked surprised, then fixed Han with a penetrating gaze.

    There are no words for how much I hate it when Jedi do that, Han thought.

    Then Luke seemed to relax, and he smiled. “Just stay away from Mandalorian food. She doesn’t like it.”

    Han, relieved, took Luke’s hand and shook it. “Thanks for the tip.”

    “I hope I’ll be home when you come by for Leia but work has kept me late recently,” Padme said. “So if I don’t see you, have a good time.”

    Han nodded. “Thanks,” he said, and left.

    Luke couldn’t meditate. Each attempt to clear his mind frustrated him more than the last one. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw Alys staring back at him, her large blue eyes meeting his. He felt his hands on her hair, her soft lips on his, her arms around his neck, her hands making their way down to his waist…

    Luke’s eyes flew open again and he sighed. Their conversation from the day before still rang in his ears.

    Luke, we’ve known each other all our lives. How often was your and Leia’s stroller parked next to mine in what was then my father’s office, now your mother’s? You were beating me over the head with your rattle before we could walk. Kriff, you’re like my older brother!

    Not much older, Luke replied. They were only a month apart.

    To which she replied with the same question she had asked several times already. Is this a good idea?

    And he asked the same question he had asked several times. What could possibly go wrong?

    She didn’t want to make a list. Your sister is my best friend. Our parents have been friends for decades. We are both well known, and whatever the outcome of this relationship, the Holonet is going to have a field day. You might do better to ask what couldn’t go wrong.

    Master Yoda says the future is always in motion.

    Didn’t he also tell you to be mindful of it?

    At that point Luke sighed. Yes, of course. But then again, bringing Master Yoda’s platitudes into a conversation about romantic relationships was probably a waste of time.

    The question was really this: do we risk something going wrong, and at the same time, risk allowing ourselves to be happy?

    She looked away from him, but not before he saw the tears shining in her eyes. I don’t know, Luke. Of course I want to but…I don’t know right now.

    He reached for her hand but she stood and walked to the private landing platform where her speeder sat. I need to go right now, Luke. I’ll call you later. She kissed his cheek so quickly that he barely felt it, then climbed in her speeder and was off. And the only coherent thought Luke had was gratitude that Alys’ driver and bodyguard was well known for his discretion.

    And now he couldn’t meditate.

    He stood and stretched his legs, sighing again.

    “Are you alright?” Anakin’s voice came from the doorway. Luke turned quickly, startled.

    “I’m fine, why?”

    “Because you were projecting pretty loudly.”

    Luke’s face fell. “Oh. Sorry about that, I’m having a hard time focusing today.”

    “Do you need to talk?”

    He shrugged and turned away. “I don’t know,” he said.

    Anakin waited as Luke clenched and unclenched his fists, struggling with something deep within himself. Then he turned back to his father.

    “Daddy, why did the old Order not allow attachments?”

    Anakin sighed. “It was thought, at the time, that a Jedi who had either romantic or familial attachments would have a hard time keeping his or her priorities straight.”


    “We were expected to be completely selfless and serve the good of the group above the individual.”

    “We’re still expected to do that.”

    “I know. But at the time, attachments were considered a distraction, an interference. It was thought that attachments would lead to the Dark Side.” Anakin frowned. “Ironically enough, the philosophy of detachment kept us isolated from the very people we were intended to serve. It fueled distrust of the Jedi, which Palpatine exploited in his attempt to destroy the Order. Almost all sentients form attachments. We had a hard time connecting with average citizens of the Republic when we forbade for ourselves such a basic part of existence.”

    “You’re the one who convinced the Council to change the rule?”

    Anakin ran his fingers through his hair. “Yes. Although I broke the rule first.”

    Luke gazed at him, waiting for him to continue.

    “To marry your mother. I could have just left the Order and married her, and under ordinary circumstances I might have, but the Clone War had just started and I felt the Republic needed me.”

    “Well, if all the legends are true…Anakin Skywalker, the Hero with No Fear…”

    Anakin’s frown deepened and he looked away. “Don’t believe everything you hear. Not a moment went by that I wasn’t afraid. I lived and breathed fear, every second of every day and night.” Anakin took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and didn’t speak for a minute. He had never discussed with his children the nightmares and flashbacks that he still experienced. “Anyway,” Anakin continued. “For three years we pretended we weren’t married.”

    “No one knew? Not even Uncle Obi-Wan?” Luke knew his parents had eloped, but he assumed they had done so because of the war.

    Anakin smiled. “Your uncle knew we were in love. We couldn’t hide that, not from him. He knows both of us too well. I’m pretty sure Ahsoka knew as well. And Bail Organa was close enough to your mother that I think he picked up on it.”

    At the mention of Bail’s name, Anakin detected a shift in his son’s emotions, a rising level of turmoil and…sadness? Anxiety?

    Suddenly he understood. Why Luke couldn’t focus. And why he had asked about attachment.

    He put a hand on his son’s shoulder. “Luke…”

    Luke turned, met his father’s eyes.

    “Is this about Alys?”

    Luke looked away, unable to answer.

    “You’ve been friends since you were babies.”

    Luke sighed. “And that’s exactly the problem. Do we risk that changing?”

    “My mother had an expression. You can’t stop change, any more than you can stop the suns from setting.”


    “Tatooine had two.” Anakin blinked rapidly. “And it seems that you have already crossed that line. If you hadn’t, she wouldn’t be distracting you to the point that you can’t meditate. Whatever you decide, change has already happened. You can’t go backwards from here.”

    Luke still didn’t say anything.

    “Let me ask you this, Luke. Are you willing to take a risk in order to let yourself be happy?”

    Luke didn’t answer.

    Anakin continued. “You’ve never been one who was happy making the ‘safe’ choice. In fact, from the time you were small, the safest choices were the ones that either made you miserable or bored you to tears. Or both. So maybe the question you should ask is not ‘What if this doesn’t work out?’ Maybe you should be asking, ‘What if it does?’”

    Luke nodded slowly, and then said, almost too quietly for Anakin to hear, “I’d take the risk. But I don’t know that she will.”

    Anakin pulled him into a quick hug. “I’m here if you need me, son.”

    Luke sighed, looking down. “Thanks. This isn’t going to work itself out overnight unfortunately.”

    “Nothing worth fighting for ever does,” Anakin replied.

    Han punched in the code for the Chancellor’s private landing platform, parked his speeder, and went to the door. Anakin answered it, an opened bottle of Corellian ale in one hand and an unopened bottle in the other.

    “Captain Solo,” he said. “Come in. Leia will be out in a minute. Ale?” He handed him the bottle.

    “Sure,” Han said, opening it and taking a swallow. It was good quality ale.

    “Come have a seat,” Anakin said, gesturing towards the sofa. “Let’s talk.”

    Uh-oh, Han thought, wondering how quickly the Jedi’s smile would disappear if Han said the wrong thing.

    Han sat down, and Anakin sat next to him and took a swig of ale. “You and I,” Anakin began, “both like ships. And we both know the type of men who like ships as much as we do. Some of them just like new, shiny, fancy ships. They aren’t happy unless they get the latest upgraded model with as many fancy bells and whistles as possible. They spend all their credits buying a new ship every year or two, when the latest model comes out. They have no real love for their ships, their passion is for shiny, fancy objects. They measure their personal success by whether or not they have the latest model of the fanciest ship.”

    Han nodded slowly. “A few of my midshipmen are exactly like that. Putting themselves into debt trying to buy fancy new ships on an E-2’s salary.”

    Anakin continued. “Then there are the men who manage to find a ship, one ship, that they fall in love with. They give her a name. They spend a lot of time and money on her. They might make some adjustments so that man and machine run as one body. They don’t discard her when a fancy new model with shinier features or upgraded technology comes along. They call the new-ship-a-year guys for the materialistic barves that they are.” Anakin took another swallow of ale.

    Han nodded slowly and didn’t answer for a minute. Then he said, “The Millenium Falcon.”

    Anakin looked up. “I’m sorry?”

    “My ship. I never told you her name. The Millenium Falcon. She’s back on Corellia. I’ve had her since I was 15. A YT-1300f light freighter. Won her in a game of sabacc and modified her myself.”

    “You told me you had modified your ship but I assumed you meant your Navy cruiser.”

    Han smiled. “Well, I modified that one too, but the Falcon…she’s special. And she’s mine, not on loan from the Navy.” He looked at Anakin. “I’m a one-ship kind of guy, Master Skywalker. And I’ve only had one girlfriend. Am I correct in assuming that’s where you were going with this?”

    Anakin raised an eyebrow.

    “I won’t hurt her. You have my word.”

    Anakin continued to stare at him.

    “I’ve seen the way she uses a lightsaber. I’m more afraid that she’ll hurt me.”

    Anakin gave him a half smile and continued to gaze at him.

    “You’re not…reading my mind, are you?”

    Anakin laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. “No,” he said. “Not sure where you’re hearing your rumors but Jedi don’t have that ability. We can make connections with other Force-sensitives, particularly our apprentices, and we can get a feel for people’s emotions. But we don’t randomly go around reading minds. Nor could we even if we wanted to.”

    Han exhaled. “OK, then.”

    “I’d like to see the Falcon if you get the chance to fly her in. And at some point I’ll show you my fighter. The Azure Angel II.”


    “The first one got blown up during the Clone War.” In answer to the question in Han’s eyes, Anakin continued. “She’s blue, and I named her for my wife.”

    “That’s some of the highest praise a woman can get.”

    Anakin laughed again. “I think so too, but be warned, I’m not sure Leia agrees.”

    “Agrees with what? What are you two talking about?” Leia entered the room slowly.

    “Ships,” Han and Anakin said in unison.

    Leia made a face. “I should have guessed. And you’re right, I probably don’t agree.”

    Han stood. “You are beautiful.” She wore a long forest-green dress; her hair fell loosely down her back. She smiled.

    “Thank you. And I believe it’s the first time I’ve seen you without your uniform.” He wore black pants, a white shirt and a black vest. Her teasing smile and raised eyebrows indicated approval.

    He returned the smile and reached out a hand. “Shall we?” She nodded.

    Anakin stood, put one hand on his daughter’s shoulder and the other on Han’s. He was smiling and seemed more relaxed. “Have a good time,” he said.

    Han started the speeder. “Your brother warned me against Mandalorian food. Is Alderaanian food a safer bet?”

    Leia’s brow furrowed. “You went to Luke for advice?”

    Han laughed. “Not exactly. He offered it on his own accord.” He kept one hand on the wheel and put another on Leia’s shoulder. “At least let me get some wine in you before you get annoyed with me.”

    Leia sighed, and smiled. “I practically grew up on Alderaanian food. I like it.”

    “Good. I know just the place.” He whipped the speeder around and dropped it several floors. Leia shrieked and clung to the sides.

    “Would you warn me before you do that???” She snapped.

    “Sorry, sweetheart, I was under the impression that you were used to a little fast flying.”

    “I may be used to it but that doesn’t mean I like it!”

    If I ever name a ship for her, Han thought, It will be The Fierce Beauty.

    Leia caught her breath. “Do that after dinner and I will throw up on you.”

    Han smirked. “That would be a lousy way to end our date.”

    “I’ll also cut through the ion engine with my lightsaber.”

    The smirk disappeared. Han turned quickly. “You brought that thing with you?”

    It was Leia’s turn to smirk, holding up her small handbag. “I don’t leave home without it.” The smirk disappeared. “You’ll have to get used to that if you want to date me, Han. Jedi are never separated from their lightsabers. We are taught that our weapon is our life.”

    Han shook his head. “OK, then. You learn something new every day.”

    “What?” Leia asked.

    He looked at her again. “I get it, alright?” With one hand he eased the speeder into a nearby skylane, with the other, he put a hand on the blaster in his holster. “I don’t leave home without my weapon either.”

    Leia didn’t answer. Han asked, “So where do you get your lightsabers? I’ve never seen a Jedi merchandise store that sells them.”

    “Nor will you, which is one reason we keep ours on our persons at all times. During the Clone War, lightsabers were very hot items among smugglers, fetched thousands and sometimes millions of credits from the Separatists.” Han’s mouth dropped open, and Leia continued. “We build our own, as part of our trials.”

    “You build your own weapon?”

    “Yes. It’s an important skill to have. But that comes later. Lightsabers are sometimes passed along to Jedi apprentices to use until they take their trials. Luke has our father’s old saber; mine belonged to his first Padawan.”

    “Where is he?”

    “She,” Leia corrected. “Ahsoka Tano. She was killed in the Clone War.”

    “That’s terrible.”

    Leia nodded. “My father still blames himself.”

    “For what? Not being able to stop death?”

    “Basically, yes.” Leia sighed. “The only time he’s talked to me about Ahsoka was when he gave me her lightsaber and a speech on honoring her with its use. She had a lot of courage.”

    Leia didn’t explain further. She didn’t expect Han to understand a Jedi’s connection to his or her lightsaber, or the fact that she could feel Ahsoka Tano’s Force presence running through her veins from the time she first ignited her saber. She did not need her father to tell her how courageous his feisty Padawan was. Leia knew, just as she knew why, on days of training frustrations or adolescent antics, she occasionally heard her father call her “little Snips” under his breath.

    “I don’t think anyone could have fought the Clone War without a lot of courage.” Han slowed the speeder down to a crawl, parking it in front of a cozy-looking restaurant boasting fine Alderaanian food and wine. He threw an arm over the back of Leia’s seat and looked at her. “I was only 12 when it ended, and Corellia was spared most of the hard-core fighting. But our economy went to hell. I’m pretty sure that’s what spelled the end for my parents.”

    Leia touched his hair, then let her hand drop. “Han, I’m sorry.”

    “Don’t be,” he said, getting out of the speeder and reaching for her hand to help her out. “Let’s talk about something else. Even if you are the only woman I know who can have an intelligent conversation about weaponry.”

    They entered the restaurant and were shown to the table Han had reserved. Han pulled out Leia’s chair. So old-fashioned, Leia thought. Not what I expected. The waiter came by with a basket of flatbread and poured them each a glass of red wine.

    “So, your commander…” Leia said, taking a sip of her wine. “A personal friend of yours I’m assuming?”

    “Lando. Yes, he is. I’ve known him for about 14 years. We joined the Navy at the same time.” Han smirked. “He lied about his age too.”

    “Oh really…” Leia said, raising her eyebrows. “And why did you do that?”

    “I needed a job. I’ve wanted to be in the Navy since I was three. Seriously. And I’ve been on my own since I was 14, I didn’t see the point in waiting two more years. So at age 16, I told the recruiter I was 18. The old fossil believed me. And here I am.” Han smirked.

    “I’m surprised the Navy continued to promote you after learning that you lied to get in.”

    “Sweetheart, I’m a hell of an officer, and I proved it to them,” he said. “The Navy decided the lie was forgivable.”

    Leia’s eyebrows went up further. “And Lando?”

    “Also a hell of an officer. And in his case he told the lie to get away from his home planet. Socorro, on the Outer Rim.”

    Leia looked at him questioningly.

    “A dust infested hellhole. If there is a bright center of the universe, Socorro is the furthest from it.”

    “I can’t say I’ve ever been, or heard of it. Must not call attention to any Jedi.”

    “Pretty sure the Socorrans would try their hardest not to attract Jedi attention. It’s a smuggler nest. Lando’s parents are smugglers. Or they were last time he was in contact with them. He couldn’t deal with the mess that was their lives anymore.”

    The waiter returned. Han ordered nerf steak, Leia ordered kebroot stew.

    “Pretty sure Lando learned how to flirt in one of those smugglers’ dens though,” Han said dryly.

    Leia laughed. “Flirting is a survival skill now?”

    “On Socorro? Probably.”

    “Where did you meet Chewbacca? Were you on Kashyyk?”

    Han scowled. “No,” he said. “But we were near there. Chasing Trandoshan slave traders.” He grinned. “And we caught them, because we are that good.” The grin disappeared. “They did not want to let go of Chewie though. He’s brilliant and a good mechanic, and the barves picked up on that pretty quickly. They were planning to kill him rather than give him back to us. We had already taken custody of the other nine Wookiees, including Chewie’s nephew.”

    “What did you do?” Leia asked, horrified.

    “I shot down a couple of them, Lando shot down one more, and Chewie…well, let’s just say it’s not wise to upset a Wookiee.”


    “You sure you want to know? It’s not dinner table conversation.”

    “I’m not grossed out easily.”

    “OK,” Han said. “While Lando and I were shooting, Chewie grabbed a couple of traders and yanked their arms out of their sockets. I don’t think the Trandoshans will try to enslave Wookiees anymore.”

    Leia’s eyes widened. “I would think not.” She paused, then said, “I wonder if that’s what he did to those clones.”

    “Clones?” Han asked.

    She smiled. “Chewbacca has a history with the Jedi. He saved Master Yoda’s life 18 years ago.”

    “From clones? I thought the clones fought with the Jedi.”

    At that moment their food arrived, and for a few minutes, Han munched on his steak and Leia ate spoonfuls of stew. Leia broke the silence.

    “How much history do you get at the Naval Academy, Han?”

    “Military history only. And I quit school after Mom died. So if history doesn’t relate to the Navy, I probably don’t know it. Why?”

    “Your question about the clones and the Jedi. I wondered if you had heard of Order 66.”

    Han swallowed. “I did know about that. That’s not exactly history, since I remember it.” He raised his eyebrows. “Most of the Jedi were wiped out. That’s what I know. I assumed by the Separatist droids. Are you saying the clones did it?”

    Leia nodded, buttering a piece of flatbread, not meeting his eyes. “The clones were genetically modified to obey any order. The Supreme Chancellor ordered them to kill the Jedi.”

    Han’s fork clattered against his plate. “What?

    Leia nodded soberly, then took a bite of the bread.

    “Palpatine? My understanding was that he was a warmongering power-hungry slime who invented a war in order to make himself dictator. But I had no idea…why the hell didn’t Chewie ever tell me this?”

    “Most sentients who survived the Clone War, have no desire to discuss it now.” She took another mouthful of stew, then another, ensuring that for a few minutes, she would not be able to talk. She could not tell him the rest. About the fact that even now, she was occasionally awakened in the middle of the night by screaming or sobbing coming from her parents’ room. The Clone War had been over for eighteen years, but her father’s nightmares never completely stopped. He didn’t know that she knew. During the day, any mention of the Clone War was quickly marked by a change in subject.

    Han’s hand was on her wrist and his eyes locked onto hers. “I said something really wrong, didn’t I?”

    Leia shook her head and gave him a weak smile. “No.” She took a deep breath. “Master Yoda is the most senior member of the Jedi Council. He and a battalion of clones were on Kashyyk, defending the Wookiees from the Separatists. Palpatine gave the order to the clones and they attacked Master Yoda. Chewbacca helped him fight back and escape.”

    Han shook his head. “He’s never mentioned it once.”

    “There may be a reason for that.”

    “I know,” Han said soberly. “Was this before your time?”

    “Luke and I were born a month after the war ended.”

    “A month?”

    Leia nodded. “Then we were sent to Naboo with our mother. Our father helped take down Palpatine, and was tried for treason. Acquitted obviously, but…”

    Han shook his head. “Dark times.” He gave her a half-smile and took a sip of wine. “How do we get on these subjects? Are we just gloomy people or what?”

    “You’re easy to talk to,” Leia said. “You’re a scoundrel and an arrogant twit, but you are easy to talk to.”

    Han smirked. “I think you like me as a scoundrel. You’re around Jedi most of the time, I think you need more scoundrels in your life.” His eyes were locked with Leia’s with such a look that she found impossible to turn away. Her heart pounded.

    “I like nice men,” she said.

    He touched her cheek. “I am nice men,” he replied, and leaned across the table and kissed her, his lips brushing slowly and gently across hers. She didn’t resist, and the kiss ended almost too quickly. “There’s more where that came from,” Han said quietly.

    Leia nodded slowly. “I know.”

    “In the middle of the restaurant, Leia?” Anakin slammed the piece of flimsiplast containing Holonet news on the table. At the top of the page was a picture of her surreptitious kiss with Han over the table in the dimly lit restaurant, the cut line reading, Leia Skywalker enjoys the company of a Republic Navy captain in the Senatorial district.

    Leia returned her father’s glare. “It was dark. How was I supposed to know there were reporters lurking in the corner with night vision lenses on their holocameras? And why am I supposed to care anyway? Because it’s such a slow news day that my social life is all they have to talk about?” Never mind that they are behind on their gossip… She started to add. It had been three days since her date with Han. The fact that the Holonet reporters were that far behind both amused and irritated her.

    Padme, sitting at the table with a sandwich in one hand and a datapad in the other, smirked at Leia’s comment. Luke set down the datapad he was reading, and ran his fingers through his hair. So this is what Alys is trying to avoid.

    “Why are you supposed to care???” Anakin snapped. “You were in public. You really couldn’t have come back here before you started locking lips with him?”

    “And been under your watch?”

    Before Anakin could reply, Padme set her sandwich down, stood, and swallowed the mouthful she had been chewing. “Anakin,” she said. “Let her alone. She didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not like Han has a wife hidden on Corellia.”

    “So he says.”

    Leia’s face contorted in fury. “Oh for the love of…”

    “Anakin,” Padme said in a tone that brokered no arguments. She pointed to the next room. “Now.”

    He sighed and followed her into the room, and she slid the door shut behind them.

    Padme took both of Anakin’s hands in her own. “Anakin, understand that I am saying this because I love you and you need to hear it. You are being a hypocrite.”

    “What?” Anakin snapped.

    “Yes. And you’ve been acting like a crazy overprotective father ever since Han Solo took an interest in Leia. It’s not fair to either of them.”

    He sighed. “Fine. How does that make me a hypocrite?”

    “Because, darling, when we got married, I had to insist on discretion so that you wouldn’t be expelled from the Order. You would have liked nothing better than to have a picture of us…what did you call it? ‘Locking lips?’…on every billboard in every skylane in Coruscant.”

    Anakin looked away, let go of her hand and ran fingers through his hair. “That was different.”

    “Different how?”

    Anakin didn’t answer her.

    “Leia isn’t doing anything wrong, Anakin. You made sure of that when you convinced the Order to change the attachment rule. Are you saying you want to go back to the old Code?”

    Anakin looked at her again, took her hand in his again. “No, of course not. This has nothing to do with…that,” he said.

    “Then stop treating our daughter like a wayward Padawan. Stop scolding her for having the audacity to enjoy herself without checking every corner for reporters.”

    Anakin sighed again. “Remember the lengths to which we went to protect them from Holonet gossip when they were babies?”

    Padme reached up and touched his hair. “Ani, they aren’t babies anymore. Don’t tell me you want to send Obi-Wan on their dates to mind trick the reporters.”

    Anakin laughed. “No, I don’t think that would be enjoyable for anyone.” He hugged her. “Alright. You win. I have to meet with the Council in about ten minutes. Master Windu is back from Geonosis, he should have information on those droid foundries, and hopefully on what Poggle the Lesser is up to.”

    “I’ve got to get back to work as well. My 1400 appointment is with the Trade Federation. They want taxes lowered along the Rimma Trade Route, the Corellian Run and the Hydian Way again.” She scowled. “If we do this and there is another war, we won’t have enough money in the Treasury to finance it. It will break our economy, because there is no way the Senate will approve the type of tax increase we would need to cover a war effort. All the more reason to avoid war, but…”

    Anakin stroked her cheek. “You’ll be fine.”

    “It could be worse. I have to meet with the new Banking Clan chair next week.” She took his hands again. “Should I expect you later?”

    “Someone on the Council will come by, and it will probably be me.” He kissed her. “Good luck.”

    “You too,” she said. They both went into the room where the twins sat, both holding datapads, but Anakin and Padme could tell they were only pretending to read.

    “I’m meeting with the Council,” Anakin said. “You two should probably have bags packed, it’s possible we’re going to be sent on a mission.”

    “Where?” Luke asked.

    “The Outer Rim,” Anakin said. “I’ll let you know more when I have more information myself.” He turned to Leia, who still had not looked up from the datapad she was pretending to read.


    She looked up long enough to glare at him, then looked back at the datapad. Anakin gave her a quick hug, which she did not return. “I’m sorry. We’ll talk later, OK?” She did not look up or respond to him at all.

    Anakin sighed, and left the apartment. Padme blew the twins a kiss. “I’ll see you tonight,” she said and followed her husband.

    “So,” Luke said after their parents left. “I saw Han yesterday. He seemed disappointed that you weren’t with me.”

    Leia felt her cheeks redden. “He called last night. And I saw him this morning, although only for a few minutes.”

    Luke gave her a knowing look.

    She sighed. “It’s weird. He’s an arrogant barve and not the type I’d normally want to be in the same room with. But I like him. A lot.”

    “There must be something under that arrogance then.”

    “He’s fun,” she said.

    “And fun may be something you don’t get enough of,” Luke said. He looked at her. “Daddy will get over it.”

    She sighed. “He’s acting odd. And not in a good way.” She met her brother’s eyes. “For that matter, so are you and Alys. Is something in the air?”

    Luke looked down, but not before Leia saw his cheeks flush. “No.”


    He hid behind the datapad and said nothing.

    “You can tell me, you know.”

    “Nothing’s going on, Leia.”

    She sighed, stood, walked to her workstation, and powered it up.

    “What are you doing?” Luke asked.

    “Checking the alignment of the planets,” she snapped. “Since no one seems to have a logical explanation for everyone’s strange behavior.”

    “A disturbance in the Force…” Luke muttered, almost too low for Leia to hear.

    “What?” she said. “Have you felt one?”


    “Neither have I. If I had, it would actually make sense. Except that Alys isn’t Force-sensitive.”

    Luke set the datapad down and stood. “You know, Leia, maybe I just can’t talk about it right now, OK?” And he left the room.

    Her eyes followed him. “OK,” she said. “You could have just said so. What is wrong with everyone lately?”

    The Jedi headquarters on Coruscant was only a fraction of the size and glory of the old Jedi Temple, but it sufficed for training younglings native to Coruscant, storing the remains of the old archives, and Council meetings. The Council room, like the one in the old Temple, consisted of comfortable chairs in a circle surrounded by windows giving an expansive view of the Galactic City.

    Mace Windu, Yoda, Shaak Ti, and Obi-Wan were already seated when Anakin walked in. “I’m not late, am I?”

    Obi-Wan smiled. “No, you’re right on time for once.”

    Anakin sat. “What do we have?”

    Mace leaned forward, glancing at the datapad in his hands. At 76 years old, he moved a little more slowly than he once had, although he was still formidable in a lightsaber duel.

    “I went to Geonosis at your request, Anakin,” he said. “There are some droid foundries that appear to have been used relatively recently but they are abandoned now. And Poggle the Lesser was nowhere to be found.”

    “The foundries were used recently?” Obi-Wan asked.

    Mace nodded. “Yes. We can probably assume that the resistance was building droids on Geonosis but for some reason has chosen to abandon the planet.”

    “They were discovered,” Shaak Ti added. “Or thought they would be discovered.”

    Anakin rubbed his temples. “Any idea where they might go?” he asked.

    “We can only guess,” Obi-Wan said. “And our best choices would probably be other former Clone War foundries. At least, until we can learn who is funding the resistance.”

    “An investigation into Banking Clan activities, we need,” Yoda said.

    Anakin whirled on him. “You suspect the Banking Clan?”

    Yoda’s eyes were closed. “Difficult to see,” he said.

    Anakin stood and began pacing. “Padme is meeting with their new chair next week,” he said. “Pors Tonith. I have a hard time believing he has let go of his Separatist sympathies.”

    “Agree with you, I do,” Yoda said. “Present at that meeting, a Jedi should be.”

    “I can do that,” Anakin said.

    “You can,” Yoda replied, “But attend, I will as well.”

    “When it comes to Tonith, the more the merrier,” Anakin said, taking his seat again.

    “That’s settled then,” Shaak Ti said. “What of the droid foundries?”

    “One of the largest foundries during the Clone War was on Hypori,” Mace said. “The planet is near Geonosis; they are maybe two parsecs apart. My best estimate is that the resistance would go there if they plan to build more droids.”

    “Anakin and I could go and take the twins,” Obi-Wan said.

    “Four Jedi?” Shaak Ti asked. “Is that really necessary?”

    “I think so,” Mace said. “The droid foundry is large. And if the resistance is using it as its main operation, it will need to be destroyed. That’s a job for more than one Jedi.” He paused. “And I sense something there. Something elusive.”

    “I do as well,” Obi-Wan said.

    “Go with their Masters, the young Skywalkers should,” Yoda said.

    “I agree,” Obi-Wan said. “Don’t you, Anakin?”

    Anakin was scowling.

    “What is it?” Obi-Wan asked.

    Anakin shook his head. “Nothing. It’s…personal. You are right. We need Luke and Leia with us. Especially if this turns out to be anything like your investigation of Geonosis at the beginning of the Clone War…we will need their skill.”

    Mace nodded. “You should leave tonight.” He looked at Anakin. “I assume you’ll take this report to the Chancellor?”

    “Of course,” Anakin said.

    Mace couldn’t hide his scowl. He was, in spite of all that had happened, an old-school Jedi. He had accepted the changes to the attachment rule simply because he recognized that Palpatine had exploited many aspects of the old Code, and change was needed to keep history from repeating itself. However, he had a hard time accepting the politicization of the Jedi, and a Jedi Master married to a Supreme Chancellor was the stuff of nightmares for him. Only his respect for both Padme and Anakin kept him from being more vocal about his opposition.

    Obi-Wan stood. “I’ll go with you, Anakin,” he said.

    Anakin checked his chrono. “Padme should be finished with the Trade Federation by now, so we shouldn’t be interrupting anything.”

    “Good,” Obi-Wan said. He turned to Mace. “We’ll send you a report from Hypori. Are you staying on Coruscant?”

    “No, I’m going to Alderaan, I want to check on the training facility there. Contact me there.”

    Obi-Wan nodded. “Will do.”

    “If you need reinforcement, Chron Belami is on Rodia. He came with me to Geonosis and is aware of the situation.”

    “Thank you. We’ll keep that in mind.”

    “May the Force be with you,” Mace said.

    “With you as well, Mace.”

    Anakin and Obi-Wan entered the apartment to find Luke and Leia engrossed in the screens of their separate work stations. “I hope you two packed your bags,” Anakin said. “We need to leave in an hour for Hypori.”

    Luke powered down his work station, closed it, and looked up. “What’s on Hypori?”

    “Battle droid foundries,” Obi-Wan said.

    “Beautiful,” Luke muttered.

    “No kidding,” Anakin said sarcastically.

    “All four of us are going?” Luke asked.

    “Yes,” Obi-Wan said. “Given the potential size of this foundry and the fact that we think—and your mother agrees – that the resistance may be headquartered there, we can only hope that all four of us are up to the task.”

    Leia closed her work station, pinned up her braids, and without a word to her father or Obi-Wan, headed to her room, powering on her comlink as she went. “Ensign Sekel, this is Leia Skywalker, I need to leave a message for Captain Solo.”

    “Padawan Skywalker, the Captain left instructions that we are to find him immediately if you call. So if you will hold for a moment, I will do that.”

    “Thank you,” Leia said, using the Force to close the door to her room and setting her comlink in its transmitter. A couple of minutes later a hologram of Han appeared.

    “Hey, sweetheart, everything alright?”

    She nodded. “Fine, but I’m leaving in an hour on a mission.”

    “Where are you going?”


    “What’s there?”

    “I’m not at liberty to say right now. I’ll tell you when I get back though.”

    Han grinned. “Another stealth operation I guess.”

    Leia laughed. “Something like that.”

    Han’s grin disappeared. “Well, be careful. Take the ‘shoot me now’ sign off your back before you come out of hyperspace.”

    She rolled her eyes. “Han, don’t be ridiculous.”

    “I’m not. I’m serious. I’m not familiar with Hypori other than they used to make clankers there. But if it’s as secretive as you’re saying…”

    Leia smiled. “You’ve seen me with the droids.”

    He laughed. “Yes, I have.” He paused. “Can I come by before you leave?”

    “Sure. But I should probably warn you, my father is irate over that picture of us in the Holonet.”

    Han shrugged. “He’s a father. He can’t help it. Somewhere in his mind I was probably charging up your loading ramp right there on the restaurant table.”


    “Hey. It’s me.” He grinned. “Relax, he’ll come around. I’d still like to come by. I’ll keep my distance, without looking like I’m keeping my distance.”

    “How are you going to do that?”

    “I don’t know. I’ll figure something out.”

    Leia sighed. “OK, then, well I’ll see you…?”

    “In half an hour or so.”

    She nodded, and powered down her comlink.
  12. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Sep 2, 2012
    The he is as clumsy as he is stupid remark was great. As was the nice men and scoundrels remark. I love stories that bring in quotes from the movies. Thrawn trilogy was great with that. Pors Tonith-great seeing him again. Wonder what ever happened to him in cannon? I liked Han and Anakin talking about ships. Maybe have Han, Lando and Chewie fly in and save the day?
  13. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 16, 2005
    Han keeping his distance without keeping his distance - reminds me of a certain scene above Endor.

    Anakin as the over-protective father, priceless.
  14. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Skywalker Saga/LFL/YJCC Manager star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Force Smuggler: I've gotten the impression that people either love or hate the bringing in lines from the films into other work--glad to know that you like it. And Han may have his chance to save the day, more than once, although I'm not sure it will be quite as good as "Let's blow this thing and go home." :p

    Valairy Scot : Han will walk casual, or fly his speeder casual, or something. :p I've pulled a little from Anakin and Ahsoka's relationship to determine how I'd think he'd be as a Dad and I can't imagine him any other way. There's more of that coming.

    Thanks for reading. :) Now on to Hypori...


    Chapter 5

    Anakin descended the ramp of the Ornate. “Alright, she’s ready to load,” he said.

    “Good,” Obi-Wan said, turning to the twins. Luke seemed to be gazing off at a point unknown in the district. Leia stood a few feet away, talking to Han.

    “Leia,” Obi-Wan said, indicating with his hand that she should come. Leia nodded, acknowledging him, and turned back to Han.

    “I’ve got to go,” she said.

    “Tell me who he is again?” Han said.

    “My uncle. Well, sort of. He’s my father’s best friend and mentor. And he’s helped train Luke and me.”

    “So, Jedi Master…”

    “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” Leia finished.

    “My ears are burning,” the Jedi Master said as he approached Leia and put a hand on her shoulder. He held his other hand out to Han. “Captain Solo. Your reputation precedes you.”

    “I don’t know if that’s good or bad,” Han said, taking Obi-Wan’s offered hand. “Pleased to meet you, Master Kenobi.”

    “Likewise,” Obi-Wan replied, then turned to Leia. “Keeping your father waiting means much faster and more dangerous flying than I would like, so hurry.” He turned and went back to the Ornate. Luke was already on board. Anakin was at the foot of the ramp, frowning.

    Han took both of Leia’s hands in his. “I’ll see you when I get back?” He asked. He was trying to catch her eyes, but she was glancing nervously at her father, Obi-Wan and the ramp of the ship and gave no response.

    “Alright,” he said, letting go of one hand, then the other. “No need to get all mushy on me. I’ll go ahead and leave.” He climbed into his speeder.

    “Han!” Leia said. Moving quickly, she climbed into the passenger side of the speeder, took his face in her hands, and kissed him, a deep, passionate kiss.

    “Now that’s more like it,” Han said.

    “I really do have to go,” Leia said, climbing back out of the speeder.

    Han grinned. “Miss me,” he said.

    She raised an eyebrow. “I’m sure I will,” she replied. “I’ll call you when I can.”

    A few feet away Obi-Wan put a hand on the glowering Anakin’s shoulder. “Get on board,” he said, using the tone that reduced Anakin to tears when he was younger, but now just caused his sour expression to deepen.

    At the top of the ramp R2 emitted a series of beeps.

    “Yes, we’re ready, R2, and no, nothing is wrong,” Anakin snapped.

    The droid’s reply, even without a translation into Basic, clearly indicated disbelief.

    Leia came on board a moment later, her face flushed, and without a word to anyone, sat down and began to strap herself in.

    Anakin, still frowning, nodded to Leia, then turned to Luke. “Are you coming?” He asked, indicating the direction of the cockpit with his thumb.

    Luke nodded and followed his father.

    “Obi-Wan, we’re out of hyperspace,” Anakin said.

    Obi-Wan came into the cockpit and glanced out the viewscreen. “Good,” he said. “The largest foundry during the Clone War was in the high rocky area near the ocean. Right about…”

    “There,” Anakin pointed as the ship made its descent and the planet grew larger.

    “Yes,” Obi-Wan said. “That would probably be the best place to start our search.”

    “Are you sensing anything, Master?”

    “From you and Leia, enough tension to double the gravity of a large planetary system. You two have barely said two words to each other this entire flight.”

    “I meant from the planet, Obi-Wan.”

    “I know you did, but I needed to point that out anyway. And yes, I’m sensing a disturbance in the Force. The Dark Side has a presence here.”

    Anakin sighed, lowering the ship towards the planet’s rocky surface. “Not much here,” he said.

    “The foundries were deep underground,” Obi-Wan said. “Look for anything that might serve as an exhaust vent or even an entrance.”

    This is looking far too much like Geonosis, Anakin thought. He ignored his heart pounding and rising in his throat and continued to study the planet’s surface for a possible landing area.

    “For what it’s worth, Obi-Wan, I told her that I was sorry. She doesn’t want to talk to me.”

    “You told her that you were sorry but you didn’t seem to mean it, Anakin. Solo came over to say goodbye and good luck and you stared them down.”

    “Goodbye and good luck is not exactly all that was happening in that speeder.”

    “I think you’re wrong about that. But even if you are right, what does it matter? Would you prefer that Leia have to go into hiding as you and Padme had to do?”

    Anakin scowled. “Do you always have to make this about me?”

    “Only when it is,” Obi-Wan replied. Then he pointed at a crevice on the planet’s surface. “There. Do you see that?”

    “Yes,” Anakin said. “It will do nicely.”

    Anakin lowered the ship into the crevice; it sank further and further down into the darkness before landing on a nondescript surface. Luke and Leia, their hands on their lightsabers, met Anakin and Obi-Wan as they exited the cockpit.

    “Is this where the droid foundry was located?” Luke asked.

    “Was located or is located,” Obi-Wan replied.

    “Be very careful,” Anakin said. “Your mother and I landed in a similar bunker in Geonosis; the Geonosians were hidden in crevices and swarmed us all at once. They’re hard to detect.”

    “…And we know that Geonosians were relocated to Hypori to work on the droid foundry here during the war. It is very possible that they are still here, and still building droids,” Obi-Wan added.

    Luke nodded. “Understood,” he said. Leia nodded as well but did not say anything. The ramp opened and they descended, followed by R2.

    The corridor was silent, dark, and appeared to be deserted. The four Jedi walked slowly, stretching out with the Force. Then they heard the sound, a clanking and droning of machinery below.

    “What is that?” Luke whispered.

    “It’s a droid factory,” Obi-Wan replied.

    “I’m not sensing any life forms in that area, I wonder if it’s completely automated,” Anakin said.

    “If it is, that should make it easy,” Leia said. “We dismantle the tinnies and go home.”

    “Be careful,” Obi-Wan said. “It might be a trap.”

    “There’s one way to find out,” Anakin said. He turned to the astromech next to him. “R2, see if you can find the controls to the factory production line and shut them down.” The droid beeped a reply, and Anakin turned to Obi-Wan. “If it’s a trap, that should spring it, and if not…Leia is right. Easy operation and we go home.”

    R2 wheeled himself to a nearby control panel in the wall, and the Jedi walked slowly to an opening at the end of the corridor and peered down.

    Anakin scowled. “Ever wish Master Windu was wrong?” The very expansive automated assembly line churned out legions upon legions of battle droids.

    Obi-Wan frowned as well. “B1s and B2s. Looks like this factory has been operational for awhile.”

    “Padme would be sick if she saw this.”

    “I’m sure you are not looking forward to giving her this report any more than I am,” Obi-Wan replied. “But who is financing these? This is a large foundry and it is expensive to maintain.”

    “There is no longer any doubt about one thing,” Anakin said. “Whoever is financing it, badly wants another war and plans to start one soon.”

    “Who in the resistance has that kind of money? And who seeks to gain the most from attacking the Republic?”

    Anakin sighed. “Who knows. The Banking Clan. The Commerce Guild. The Corporate Alliance. Any number of Senators who oppose Padme’s administration.”

    Obi-Wan put a hand on his shoulder. “If it’s any consolation, Anakin, this is probably not about Padme. She took office two years ago, this foundry is well established and appears to have been in use longer than that. It probably started when Mon Mothma was in office or even earlier, with Bail.” He sighed. “This appears to be a planned attack on the Republic itself, on democracy. Not on one particular Chancellor.”

    Anakin’s scowl deepened. “Well, regardless, let’s see about stopping the attack before it starts. R2,” he said, turning to the astromech, who beeped a reply. “You’re working on it? OK.” Anakin jumped down into the foundry, followed by Obi-Wan.

    Leia had been listening to bits and pieces of her father and Obi-Wan’s conversation while continuing to scan the area using the Force. She sensed something vague, elusive, and it gnawed at her, growing stronger as she gripped her lightsaber hilt. She started down the corridor in the opposite direction from the foundry, moving slowly, continuing to sense a Force presence entrenched in darkness.

    Luke followed several steps behind his sister, although if she noticed him, she gave no indication of it. She walked slowly to the end of the corridor, then stopped suddenly and turned to the right. The room she entered appeared to be a hangar of some sort; it opened to the outside, an opening large enough to admit a small starfighter. The dark presence that Leia sensed was strong enough here to cause her chest to tighten and her breath to catch in her throat.

    “Well, well, well, if it isn’t Skywalker’s baby girl.” The mocking female voice came from the shadows, and a moment later the figure emerged, very tall, skin unnaturally white, tattoos on either side of her bald head, her reddened lips curled in a sneer. “I look forward to leaving you in pieces for your father to find.”

    “Not so fast,” Luke said, emerging from behind his sister.

    Ventress laughed. “Two brats at once. This should be a great day.”

    She ignited her lightsaber, one red blade, then the other, and lunged. Luke and Leia ignited their sabers and met her parry easily, their blue and green blades matching her red ones slash for slash. Then slow slashes turned into sudden thrusts, and the twins felt they had to predict her moves before she made them in order to stay on defense. Even with two of them against one of her, they had no time to move into offensive mode.

    “Count Dooku trained her,” Luke whispered to his sister. “Old style fighting, abandoned until the Clone War, remember?”

    “Yes,” Leia whispered back, adjusting her strategy. They backed Ventress slowly into a corner, then in a blink of an eye, she switched tactics, coming at them with thrusts almost too quick for them to deflect. Her saber met Luke’s lower thigh, causing him to wince and stumble backward. He recovered quickly, but not before Leia charged her, and with a sudden parry, knocked the red saber out of her hand. But Ventress would not lose that easily. She closed her eyes, lifted her hands and with a strong Force-push, sent Leia crashing against the hangar wall. She slammed against it with a hard crack, then slid down onto the floor, but not before Ventress loosened a piece of machinery from the wall to land on Leia’s head with a hard thunk.

    Leia barely heard herself screaming “Daddy!” across their bond before slipping into unconsciousness.

    “NOOO!” Luke yelled, suddenly finding himself fueled by rage, and charged at Ventress, his saber moving at lightning speed, counteracting hers, which had flown back into her hand. He called Leia’s fallen saber to his hand and moved both sabers with exact precision to counteract Ventress’ duel blades. One of the blades met Luke’s shoulder, scorching the skin there as it had on his leg, but Luke kept moving, powered by fierce anger and adrenaline. By moving his blue blade under the hilt of her red ones he managed to disarm her, and with another vicious slash of the green blade of Leia’s sword, he cut off Ventress’s left hand at the wrist.

    Her saber dropped and for a moment she stood, gripping her wrist, glaring at him. Then she picked up her saber, disengaged it, and ran to the hangar opening. Luke heard a ship roar to life.

    He ran to his sister.

    R2-D2 had managed to disengage the automated droid producers and the conveyor belts, and in the silence, Obi-Wan and Anakin were destroying the droids, several at a time. Suddenly Anakin gasped, gripped his head in agony and dropped to his knees. Then just as suddenly, he sprung up and began to run. Using the Force, he shot up the shaft into the main corridor and continued running, Obi-Wan directly behind him.


    “Leia,” he managed to call back. “Leia’s in trouble.”

    At that moment Obi-Wan felt it too, the increased presence of the Dark Side, intense agony from Leia, some pain from Luke. He followed the presence, and Anakin, to the end of the corridor.

    Luke was on his knees on the hangar floor next to his sister, her hand in his. Leia was unconscious, the side of her head swollen and bruised, all the color drained from her face. Obi-Wan stretched out with the Force to sense her signature. Yes, she was still alive.

    Anakin knelt down on the other side of his daughter and looked at his son. “What happened?”

    “Ventress,” Luke said.

    Anakin’s eyes widened. “Ventress was here?”

    “Yes. We fought her and…”

    Why didn’t you call us to help you?!?” Anakin snapped.

    Luke stammered and backed away. Obi-Wan reached across Leia to put a cautionary hand on Anakin’s arm. “Anakin…” He said.

    Anakin looked at him. “Two Padawans taking on Ventress alone?”

    Obi-Wan fixed him with a warning look. “We’ll deal with that later. Their injuries are our first priority right now.” He put his hand on Leia’s forehead and closed his eyes.

    Anakin turned to Luke, who was now sitting on the hangar floor, his elbows on his knees. Anakin put his hands on Luke’s forearms. “I’m sorry, son. Can you tell me what happened?”

    Luke met Anakin’s eyes then looked down again. “Leia sensed…something. I don’t think she knew what or who it was. I followed her. There was no time to call you by the time Ventress showed up.”

    Anakin touched Luke’s hair. “It’s fine. Are you injured?”

    Luke gave a half smile. “I got a little scorched. My shoulder and my leg.” He pointed to the open burned patch on his Jedi tunic.

    “What happened to Leia?”

    Luke looked away. “She disarmed Ventress. Ventress used the Force to slam her against that wall and drop a piece of machinery on her head.”

    Anakin blanched and felt bile rising in his throat. “Where did Ventress go?”

    “I disarmed her and she ran.”

    Anakin hugged him gently. “Well done. Can you stand? We should look at those burns and get some bacta on them, and we’re going to need to get more help for Leia.”

    “Anakin,” Obi-Wan said. “Her neck isn’t broken and we should be able to move her. I’m sensing several other broken bones and a lot of pain though.”

    Anakin nodded. “I’ll carry her. Can you help Luke?”

    Obi-Wan nodded, extending a hand to support Luke into a standing position while with the other hand, turning on his comlink. “This is Obi-Wan Kenobi. I need a medical frigate right away. Look for the Ornate in orbit around Hypori.”

    Anakin knelt next to Leia and gently slid an arm under her shoulders, another under her hips, and lifted her slowly. She groaned, opening her eyes into slits then closing them again. “Shhh…” Anakin whispered, as if Leia were small again and had had a nightmare. “It’s alright, Princess. Daddy’s here. You’re going to be OK.” Leia relaxed at the sound of his voice, slipping back into unconsciousness.

    They left the hangar and moved slowly down the hall, Luke leaning slightly on Obi-Wan.

    On the medical frigate Triumph, Anakin laid Leia gently on a hospital bed then sat on the bed’s edge, taking one of her hands in his and placing his other hand on her forehead.

    She’s in a lot of pain. A horrific amount of pain in fact. Anakin was reminded of the day he lost his arm on Geonosis. On that medical frigate he had clung to Padme’s hand, squeezed it until it bruised, when the waves of pain hit him.

    He wanted Leia to have a hand to squeeze, if she needed it. Right now her hand lay limp in his. One of the medical droids had covered her face with an oxygen mask; her breathing was slow and even, mechanical.

    “Sir.” The 2-1 BX combat-trauma droid stood next to him. “If you will stand aside, we can assess her injuries much more adequately.”

    He opened his mouth to protest but heard Obi-Wan saying, “Let them do their jobs, Anakin.”

    He looked at his former master as the droid added, “We cannot diagnose and treat her injuries while you are sitting there, sir.”

    Of course not, Anakin thought, I’m in the way. What else is new?

    He moved to a chair that Obi-Wan pushed next to the bed and the droids closed in with instruments, bandages and plaster for a body cast. For several minutes Anakin listened to the mechanized sounds of medical equipment and the droids’ clipped tones.

    “Avulsion fracture, right clavicle…”

    “Fracture of the scapula on the right side with associated pulmonary contusion…”

    “O2 levels holding steady at 92…”

    “Fracture of ribs 2 through 7 on the right side with moderate affects on the thoractic diaphragm, pulmonary hygiene may be needed within 72 hours…”

    “Linear fracture in the parietal and temporal bones of the neurocranium…”

    The word neurocranium echoed in Anakin’s ears. “Excuse me,” he said. “Can you cut through the medical terminology long enough to tell me if my daughter is going to be alright?”

    The medical droids turned to him at the same time and he counted them; five total.

    One of them spoke, the 2-1 BX droid who seemed to be in charge. “We have not yet completed our assessment, sir, but we are expecting to stabilize her within the hour and then monitor for a potential hematoma in the parietal or temporal region, or atelectasis on the right side.”

    Seeing Anakin’s confused look, the droid added, “Bleeding of the brain or collapse of the lung, sir. These are the greatest potential dangers at the moment.”

    Anakin’s heart pounded. “How likely is that to happen?”

    “The odds are slim, sir, but it will take further assessment to know how slim they are.”

    Anakin nodded slowly, sinking back into the chair as the droids continued their work. They encased Leia’s right side in plaster and bandages and inserted an IV into her arm. Pain medication? Anakin thought.

    He turned to Obi-Wan. “Where is Luke? He needs to be treated too…”

    Obi-Wan held up a small vial of bacta. “This should take care of his burns, and I’ll bandage him as well.”

    Anakin swallowed and nodded again. Obi-Wan squeezed his shoulder. “I’ll be back,” he said. And he disappeared.

    Four of the droids finished their work on Leia and took their leave, with one droid remaining to monitor Leia’s vital signs. Her breath was slow and shallow but even; the hand that Anakin took in his, was cold.

    “Leia,” he said, surprised at how scratchy his voice sounded.

    She didn’t reply. He had hoped that she would at least squeeze his hand or even move her fingers in response to him, but there was nothing.

    Nothing, all her response systems geared towards clinging to life. And his last words to her had been in anger. His only words to her in the past several days had been in anger.

    And how ridiculous the whole argument seemed now.

    “I’m sorry, Princess,” he said.

    No response, and no movement. Still.

    “I’m sorry I pushed you away. When I was trying to do the opposite. I’m sorry that you had to pursue Ventress alone because I wasn't paying attention. I’m sorry I gave you reason to believe that I couldn’t or wouldn’t help you; I’m sorry you felt you couldn’t ask until it was too late.”

    From the back of his mind came images that were a constant presence there, the image of his mother’s bruised and battered face, of the fading life in Ahsoka’s blue eyes and the cauterized lightsaber wound in her abdomen. And the ever-present thought:

    I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help you. I promised I would never fail again, and yet I fail over and over.

    Anakin lowered his head and pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes.

    Obi-Wan helped Luke out of his tunic. Luke winced as his sleeve pulled away from the burn; Obi-Wan examined it. “It’s not too deep; it should heal with bacta. But tell your father or me if it’s worse in a couple of days.”

    “She nicked me. It’s not too bad,” Luke said, although he was gritting his teeth against the pain.

    “How is the one on your thigh?”

    “About the same,” Luke said, wincing again.

    “Maybe we should have a droid look at it anyway, once they’re done with Leia.” Both men looked at the closed door; on the other side of it lay Leia, being examined and treated by the droids.

    “Have they given a report on Leia’s condition yet?” Luke asked as Obi-Wan rubbed bacta ointment into his shoulder burn.

    R2’s series of beeps were sad. Obi-Wan turned to him. “Oh don’t worry, my little friend, she will be alright.” He turned back to Luke. “Her skull is fractured in two places, she has five fractured ribs, a fractured collar bone and a fractured shoulder blade. She will have to be monitored for a brain bleed and she definitely won’t heal overnight, but she will heal. Given the blow she apparently took, it could have been much worse.” He bandaged the shoulder burn. “Now let’s see that leg.”

    Luke unzipped his boot and raised the pants leg to just above the knee, wincing again as the cloth rubbed the burn. “I definitely want one of the droids to look at this one, it’s a little deeper,” Obi-Wan said.

    “Uncle Obi-Wan…” Luke began.

    The older man looked up. “What is it?”

    The confession came out in a rush of breath. “I cut off Ventress’ hand.”

    Obi-Wan looked at him, as if expecting Luke to elaborate. “I heard you tell your father that you disarmed her.”

    Luke looked down. “I was angry. I did not just disarm her. I knocked her lightsaber from her hand and then kept fighting. Against an unarmed woman.”

    “You had just watched Ventress injure your sister.”

    “What happened…it wasn’t the Jedi way.”

    Obi-Wan put the bacta down and sat back. “Luke, you are correct. Jedi do not use the Force for aggression, and Jedi do not act in vengeance. But you have recognized that, and that is important.” He gazed at Luke. “I know what it is like to want to hurt the person who has attacked someone you love. Anyone who says he doesn’t know, is either devoid of life experiences or lying through his teeth.”

    Luke didn’t say anything, but Obi-Wan read the question in his eyes.

    “My Jedi Master was killed on Naboo by a Sith. I watched it happen. Then I charged the Sith with every ounce of anger I had, and cut him in half.”

    Luke looked down. “I’m sorry.”

    “The Sith find such actions acceptable, Luke. They welcome that kind of rage, believe it gives them power and focus. They recruit potential apprentices by fueling their anger and desire for revenge. It is important to work through such feelings, but that doesn’t mean you will never have them. It only means you must learn to control those desires rather than allowing them to control you.” He picked up the bacta again and finished putting it on the wound. “If Ventress is leading the resistance, which I have reason to believe that she is, you may have done the galaxy a favor by putting her out of commission for awhile.” He bandaged the leg and stood. “I’m going to see how soon a medical droid can look at these burns. And based on the sense I’m getting through the Force, I am probably going to need to sort out your father.”

    Luke closed his eyes. “I’m sensing it too. Guilt. And anger. He still thinks we shouldn’t have taken Ventress alone.”

    “There’s a bit more to it than that I’m afraid, but that’s for another time.” He indicated a nearby sleep couch. “You should lie down.”

    Luke nodded and obeyed. Obi-Wan slid open the door to the next room, then slid it closed behind him.

    A lone medical droid stood at the head of the bed where Leia lay, heavily bandaged on her right side. Her eyes were closed, a tube sent oxygen into her nose, the machinery humming in the corner. Anakin sat next to the bed, his head in his hands. Obi-Wan pulled up a chair next to him and rested a hand on his shoulder. “Anakin.”

    “She’s stable,” he said. He didn’t look up, and he sounded as though he had caught a head cold.

    “She is. What about you?”

    He didn’t answer.

    “Anakin, don’t do this.”

    “Don’t do what?” He snapped, unable to hide the tremor in his voice.

    “You know what. Your old pattern. Believing that you have somehow failed if anyone is injured while you are nearby.”

    He looked up. His eyes were red and swollen and his cheeks were streaked with tears. “I did fail this time, Obi-Wan. How is it that Leia sensed Ventress and I didn’t? And how could I have allowed them to fight her alone?”

    “Leia has Ahsoka’s old lightsaber. Ahsoka was one of Ventress’ favorite targets. I suspect that’s why Leia was the first to sense that Ventress was nearby.”

    “Ahsoka…” Anakin said, wiping away a couple of fresh tears that fell from his eyes. “She was reckless. I taught her to be reckless. And it killed her.”

    “Anakin,” Obi-Wan said sharply. “You were reckless when you charged Count Dooku on Geonosis and lost your arm. Was that my fault?”

    Anakin looked at him. “No, of course not.”

    “Then how it is your fault if your apprentice was reckless? Or if your children are?”

    Anakin didn’t answer. He put his head in his hands and sobbed.

    “Have you ever thought that along with this recklessness comes a great deal of courage? That maybe it makes Luke and Leia, and you, stronger Jedi?”

    Anakin lifted his head again, looked at his unconscious daughter, and didn't answer.

    “Would you have her be afraid?" Obi-Wan asked. "Simply because it might keep her safe?”

    Another tear fell down Anakin’s cheek. “I don’t know, Obi-Wan. I don’t know.”

    “I think you do.” He squeezed Anakin’s shoulder. “I called Padme. She’ll be here as soon as possible.”

    Anakin nodded, sniffled and wiped his eyes. “How is Luke?”

    “I think the burns are superficial but I want a droid to look at them anyway. He’s resting.”

    “I can look now if you would like, sir,” the droid said. “Padawan Skywalker will need another injection for pain in two hours but she needs nothing else from me until then.”

    “That would be appreciated,” Obi-Wan said. He stood, squeezed Anakin’s shoulder again. “I will be back later. Stop chastising yourself. That doesn’t help anyone.”

    At the Navy headquarters, Han was at his work station when Lando came in.

    “What is it?” Han asked at the apprehensive expression on Lando’s face.

    “I don’t want to have to tell you this, but I was just listening to the secure military channel, and it mentioned that the Jedi ran into some trouble on Hypori.”

    Han whirled around. “What kind of trouble?” he asked.

    “It didn’t say.”

    “Well, why don’t you find out?” Han snapped, standing and walking towards the door.

    Lando held up a hand. “Alright, alright.”

    Han went into the next room to see several midshipmen eating their lunch; the com channel sounded from the far end of the room. Han started towards the transmitter so he could hear better when he was approached by an ensign. “Captain Solo, sir,” he said breathlessly. “The Supreme Chancellor wishes to speak with you personally.”

    Han barely acknowledged the man before taking off on a run into the room that housed the main communications networks for the headquarters. “This is Captain Solo.”

    “Han,” Padme said. “I need a military escort to Hypori right away. Can you be at my home in 15 minutes?”

    “I can be there in five,” Han said. “Can you tell me what is happening?”

    “Not over the network. I’ll tell you when you get here.”

    Han nodded. “Do you need my squadron or just me?”

    “Have Commander Calrissian put your squadron on standby but right now, come alone.”

    Han nodded again. “Of course. I will see you in five minutes.”

    “Thank you.”

    Han grabbed the bag that he kept already-packed for emergency missions, told Lando to stand by for further orders, got in his speeder, and flew quickly to 500 Republica.

    Padme’s guards opened the door for Han, and he found her standing in the living area, a bag in her hand, ready to leave. Her hair was in its usual chignon, she wore a solid black flight suit with boots and a utility belt with-- two blasters?

    “Are we expecting trouble?” Han asked.

    “I don’t know, but I’m not taking chances right now either. I’ll tell you more when we get on board.” She turned to her protocol droid. “3PO,” she said. “I do not know exactly when I’ll be back. Give no one information on my whereabouts other than Chancellor Organa or Chancellor Mothma. And anyone with emergency Senate business should contact them. Is that understood?”

    “Of course, Mistress Padme,” he said. “And try not to worry about Master Luke or Mistress Leia. They are quite clever, for human beings. I am a bit worried about R2, though. He always seems to get himself into trouble…”

    “Right now I believe R2 is in better shape than anyone,” Padme said dryly. “Good day, 3PO. We will be in touch.” She waved at Han to follow her to the landing platform, where her ship waited. It was identical to the Ornate, albeit a bit larger in size. “I am assuming you can fly one of these?” She asked Han.

    “Absolutely,” he replied. The ramp opened, they boarded, and he went into the cockpit right away. Padme stowed their bags and joined him in the co-pilot’s seat.

    “Normally I would just take 3PO to help me fly this ship but this mission may not be a diplomatic one. I also thought you would want to come for more…personal reasons.”

    Han started the ship and piloted it into Coruscant’s atmosphere, then had the navicomputer calculate the jump to hyperspace. “Can you tell me what’s happening? Lando was listening to one of the military channels. It said that the Jedi ran into some trouble.”

    “They did.” Padme’s voice quavered. Han looked at her, and was surprised to see that the Chancellor Amidala façade was almost completely gone. Padme Skywalker sat beside him, twisting her rings on her fingers, obviously very, very frightened. Han wanted to put his arm around her but they were strapped in, and he would have been afraid of overstepping his bounds anyway.

    “What kind of trouble?” Han asked quietly.

    “I know what you are really asking so I’ll get right to the point. Leia is badly hurt.”

    “How badly?” Han asked.

    “Several broken bones, including two in her skull. She will be alright but…”

    The navicomputer successfully calculated the coordinates to Hypori and the skiff jumped into hyperspace.

    “How did that happen?” Han asked, unstrapping himself.

    “Have you heard of Asajj Ventress?”

    “Only once or twice. Dark Force user?”

    “Yes,” Padme said. “Apparently she found the twins, or they found her. They fought, and she threw Leia against a wall. Using the Force. Threw her hard enough to knock her unconscious, then dropped something on her head.” Padme blinked rapidly and bit her lip.

    Han’s heart pounded. “Was anyone else hurt?”

    “Luke got a couple of lightsaber burns which should heal quickly. Anakin and Obi-Wan were in another part of the foundry, dismantling an entire legion of battle droids.”

    “They’re still making clankers on Hypori?”

    “Someone is,” Padme said. “I wish I knew who.” She unstrapped herself and stood. Han caught her arm.

    “Can I do anything?”

    She shook her head and gave him a small smile. “Not right now.”

    “Thank you for asking me to come along.”

    “You are very welcome. I think it will do Leia good to see you when she regains consciousness.”

    “I hope so.”
  15. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Sep 2, 2012
    Well this story is an AU of the OT trilogy correct? Then it stands to reason that lines from the OT would be used but under different circumstances.
    Something tells me Ventress won't be out of commission as long as they think she will.
    I doubt anything Han does will be as good as "Your all clear kid. Now let's blow this thing and go home."
    Will we see Boba Fett, Tarkin or Jabba?
  16. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 16, 2005
    I [face_love] all of Obi-Wan and Anakin's conversations, including the one where Obi-Wan addresses Anakin's guilt. Even now, years later, he is the mentor and calming influence and he knows Anakin so well (the kids, too, I suspect).

    And Han - dear Han - so recognizable and yet different than canon due to different life experiences. Perfect characterization. Is he going to call protective daddy "an old fossil" soon? :D I thought it would have been funny if upon meeting Obi-Wan, Han was all "General Kenobi! The creator of the Kenobi offensive - a brilliant plan, sir" to totally contradict the canon reaction.
  17. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    So sorry for miss an update. I went to Boston Friday afternoon and didn't have a means to connect to the internet and i got back about an houru ago.

    Either way really good adn what not. Things seem to be moving quickly but that just might be me.
  18. ccp

    ccp Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Apr 29, 2005
    Awesome can't wait to read this again.
  19. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Skywalker Saga/LFL/YJCC Manager star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Force Smuggler: About Ventress...that's a pretty good, um, guess. On Boba Fett, Tarkin, and Jabba: Boba will not play much of a role but Tarkin and Jabba both play pretty big ones, Tarkin's being in the sequel to this story.

    Valairy Scot: My favorite aspect of Obi-Wan and an aspect that might have saved Anakin if he had been more receptive of it. I don't remember the Kenobi Offensive but I probably should have had Han recognize Obi-Wan by reputation since he did recognize Anakin that way. Glad Han is still in character, that was my goal, especially as my favorite from the OT. He'll interact with Obi-Wan in the next couple of scenes although with not quite the contrast to canon. :p

    Lady_Misty: It's all good, I'm posting pretty quickly. And yeah, I can't say I really do long complicated love stories, I'm too old. Either they like each other or they don't, sort of the reason I'm not patient with love triangles.

    ccp: Thanks for stopping by. :)


    Padme alternately paced the main cabin of the ship and typed new searches into her work station. Financiers of the droid foundry on Hypori, financiers of the abandoned foundry on Geonosis. History of taxation along the southern Hydian Way, history of taxation along the Corellian Run, history and purpose of the Rimma Trade Route… Could the droid foundries possibly be funded by the same interests who advocate lower taxation and less restricted trade, and if so, are we looking at a repeat of the Battle of Naboo, in a locale yet unknown…

    Padme stopped pacing and glanced at the doorway to find Han gazing at her. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Was I thinking aloud?”

    Han shrugged. “No, it’s fine.” He wanted to say that she seemed anxious and he wanted to help, but he couldn’t bring himself to say it. Of course she’s anxious. Her daughter is lying on a medical frigate with multiple broken bones. And she’s trying to run a galaxy that, by my best recent estimates, is full of idiots.

    Padme sank into a chair. “When Anakin was fighting the Clone War, I had myself placed on six different committees in the Senate.”

    “Six?” Han said.

    “Most Senators stay with one or two. I threw myself into my work because if I didn’t, I would go insane worrying about him. I suppose I’m repeating that pattern now.” She sighed and closed her eyes, then opened them again.

    “Are you sure I can’t do anything? I’m feeling pretty useless here,” Han said.

    She smiled. “You are far from useless. But no, I’m fine. I’m about to pull up statistics on the Baktoid Armor Workshop. They funded the Hypori droid foundry during the Clone War. I’m suspecting that I’ll need to ask the Republic Security Committee to subpoena their financial records next.”

    “Well, I’m going to make caf. Should I make enough for two?”

    Padme smiled at him again, a tired smile. “That would be nice, thank you.”

    He nodded and left the room. When he came back with two cups of caf, Padme was holoconferencing with someone who appeared to be former Chancellor Organa. “I ordered all the foundries on the Outer Rim closed down at the end of the war,” he was saying. “I suppose I should have ordered them destroyed as well.”

    “No, Bail,” Padme replied. “Destroying the foundries would have interfered with our negotiations with the Separatists. It would have been considered an act of aggression. Ordering them to cease operations was the only fair thing you could do. It allowed them to keep the property and use it for another purpose. Besides, even if you had ordered them destroyed, they could be rebuilt. And that’s the issue. Who wants to make battle droids and why?”

    “The Techno Union supplied most of the technology before,” Bail said. “I suspect that they are involved this time.”

    Padme put a hand to her head. “Wat Tambor. Of course. We should probably suspect anyone who did not sign the peace treaty. Shu Mai and Poggle the Lesser as well. How long have they been in contact with Ventress and who initiated the contact? Poggle appears to be hiding. He was not on Geonosis and the foundry that Anakin and Obi-Wan found on Hypori appeared to be completely automated.” She took her caf from Han and nodded to him. “Thank you.”

    Bail looked amused. “I didn’t know you were the type of Chancellor to order Naval officers to make your caf for you.”

    Han saluted the hologram of Bail. “I volunteered for this duty, sir. And of course I would have done the same for you.”

    “Han is providing a military escort just in case the resistance decides to make an appearance,” Padme said. “And I also asked him to come along…for Leia.” The Chancellor mask slid slightly and the anxious mother reappeared.

    “Ahhh…” Bail said, looking at Han. “So you’re the Navy captain who caused Anakin Skywalker to rediscover Corellian brandy.”

    Han gave a half-smile. “I don’t really want to take credit for that one. A good ale is more my speed.”

    Padme laughed.

    Bail’s face had gone serious again. “I’ll call you if I get any new intel. Let us know how the twins are doing,” he said.

    “I will,” Padme said. “As far as I know, Luke’s injuries were mild enough to be treated with bacta. Leia took the brunt of the attack for some reason. I’m having her transported to the Galactic Senate Medical Center as soon as possible.”

    Bail nodded. “I will see you when you get back then.”

    A few hours later Padme and Han boarded the Triumph and found Obi-Wan almost immediately . “How is everyone?” She asked.

    Obi-Wan frowned. “Stable. That’s probably the best I can say right now.” He nodded towards Luke, who was lying on a nearby sleep couch. Padme ran to him, sat on the edge, and kissed his forehead. He opened his eyes briefly, murmured “Mom,” then closed them again.

    Padme laid her cheek on Luke’s forehead and looked at Obi-Wan. “He’s burning up. What’s happening?”

    “The medical droids think an infection may have set in one of the burns,” Obi-Wan said. “He was fine until about an hour ago when he suddenly spiked the fever. He’s been given an antibiotic injection and extra bacta patches.”

    Padme pulled the blanket up to Luke’s chin and kissed his forehead again. Then she stood. “Where’s Anakin?”

    Obi-Wan nodded towards the closed door. “With Leia. He came in here briefly after I told him about Luke, but other than that, he hasn’t left her side.”

    Han went to Luke’s bed and put a hand on his shoulder. “Rough day, huh, kid?”

    Luke opened his eyes to slits. “Hey, Han.” His lips were dry.

    “Can we get some water or something?” Han asked.

    Obi-Wan went to the cooler. “I’ll do that. You two go see Leia.”

    Padme was already walking towards the door and pressing it open. Han followed.

    Anakin sat in the hard durasteel chair, his head in his hands. Padme walked past him to the head of her daughter’s bed, taking in the sight of Leia’s bandages, the tubes sending oxygen into her nose, her sunken closed eyes rimmed with purple circles. She kissed her cheek, being careful of the bandages. “Oh, Leia…” Padme felt tears sting her eyes but quickly blinked them away. Then she put a hand on her husband’s shoulder.

    Anakin looked up. “Padme,” he said, the relief in his voice palpable. He stood and took her in his arms, holding her tightly, his cheek resting on top of her hair.

    “Luke is sick,” he said. His voice was husky and unsteady.

    “I know,” Padme replied. “I just saw him. He’ll be alright. Those antibiotic injections usually work pretty quickly.”

    “And Leia hasn’t regained consciousness,” Anakin continued, his voice more shaky by the minute. “I should have stopped them from…”

    “Shhh…” Padme said, rubbing his back. “None of that talk. You’re exhausted. Obi-Wan said you’ve been sitting here the entire time except for a few minutes to check on Luke. You need to get some rest yourself.”

    Han moved to Leia’s other side and took her hand in his, caressing her knuckles with his thumb, gazing at her. Oh, Leia… was going through his head as well, in the same tone that her mother had used, but he did not say it aloud.

    “The oxygen…” He began.

    Anakin turned to face him, resting his other cheek on Padme’s head. “She’s in a lot of pain,” he said. “And with broken ribs…she needs the help. She doesn’t need to have to struggle to get air.” His voice choked and he broke off. For the first time since they boarded, Han got a look at Anakin’s face. His eyes were bloodshot and rimmed with red, his cheeks were splotchy, a five o’clock shadow stood out above the goatee.

    Han wanted to say, Last time I had a midshipman who looked as bad as you do, I ordered him to barracks for a minimum of 18 hours. He slept for 20. But he didn’t dare, not now.

    “Anakin, please go lie down,” Padme said.

    “There is a sleep couch on the other side of this room, sir,” the medical droid said.

    Anakin looked at Han. “You’ll stay with her?”

    “For as long as I am needed,” Han said. “And I’ll buzz you if she wakes.”

    Anakin nodded slowly. “Thank you,” he said in a voice barely above a whisper, and allowed Padme to lead him to the sleep couch on the other end of the room, where he stretched out, without even removing his boots, and closed his eyes.

    A few minutes later Padme approached Han. “He’s asleep,” she said quietly. “I’m going to check on Luke.”

    Han nodded. Padme touched his shoulder briefly then went into the other room, closing the door behind her.

    Han continued to watch Leia, and with his free hand, ran a finger up her arm to the bandages, then traced the parts of her face that weren’t bandaged. “Leia,” he said quietly. “This wasn’t supposed to happen.” He paused. “And I’m not just talking about you getting hurt, although that wasn’t supposed to happen either.”

    He ran his finger back down her arm to rest on top of their entwined hands. “We haven’t had that much time together. A ship ride after you rescued me. A few conversations over the comlink, a few quick visits like ships passing in space. One evening together. Best evening of my life. By the time it ended, I felt like I’d known you forever. But it was just one evening. It was not supposed to happen this fast. But I can’t get you out of my mind. You’re always there, it’s like you’ve used your Jedi powers to move into my brain or something.”

    He looked at her, at the short and rapid rise and fall of her chest; she could not take in a deep breath due to the broken ribs. “This is the part where you are supposed to sit up in bed and yell at me for saying something so stupid.”

    Still no response other than the hum of the machinery.

    “You were right about me not liking Jedi. I thought you were so absorbed in learning to use the Force or sense the Force or whatever the hell it is you learn in training, that you ignored what really needed to be done. All that talk about something elusive going on who-knows-where in the galaxy and ignoring the frak going on right under our noses.”

    One of the machines emitted a series of three beeps.

    “Now I really wish you would smack me and call me a twit. You’re going to have to, once you’re healed. You owe me that. Or I owe it to you, take your pick.”

    A medical droid wheeled next to the bed. “It is time for her pain medicine injection, sir.”

    Han nodded. “Right.”

    The droid injected a hypodermic in Leia’s arm. She flinched, then relaxed again, and the droid left.

    Han continued. “If anyone had told me even a month ago that I would ask a Jedi to go out with me, much less be as crazy about one as I am about you…I would have told the person that he had lost his damn mind. And now maybe I’ve lost my damn mind. I don’t know.”

    Her lips opened, then closed again.

    “That kiss you gave me in the speeder before you left…I keep reliving it. Over and over. And then when Lando said the Jedi had some trouble on Hypori, then your Mom called and said you were hurt…I’ve seen some scary stuff in my life. I’ve never been as scared as I was at that moment though.” He ran his thumb along her knuckles again. “Although that could change if you don’t wake up soon. I know they said you’re going to be alright, Leia, but you know me, I’m the type of guy who has to see to believe. ”

    Nothing other than the rasps of breath, which had grown slower, deeper and more even after the injection.

    “Sweetheart, please.” It was an odd position for Han Solo, finding himself begging.

    Leia’s eyelids fluttered and opened. Han stood, gazing down at her face.


    Her eyes, glazed with pain and sedation, met his. He grinned. “Oh, thank the…” And without finishing the sentence, he bent down to kiss her. He stroked her cheek, and then the words came tumbling out before he could stop them. “I love you.”

    A smile appeared on her dry, cracked lips, and with a voice raspy from disuse, she responded. “I know.”

    In a medical center in the Ryloth capital of Kala’uun, Asajj Ventress flexed her new mechanical hand.

    “How does it feel?” Wat Tambor asked.

    “It will do. It’s not my real one, but it will do.”

    “Skywalker did this?” Tambor asked.

    She glared. “No, one of his brats. The boy.” Then she smirked. “After I killed his sister.”

    Tambor looked horrified. “Y…you killed the Skywalker girl?”

    “No.” Senator Orn Free Taa’s voice came from the doorway, and he sauntered slowly into the room, his lekku twitching. “She is alive.”

    “What???” Ventress shrieked. “I caught her in the first few seconds that she was off her guard and I threw her against a stone pillar! And I dropped a heavy piece of machinery on her head! She could not have possibly survived!”

    “The Skywalker family’s strength in the Force is legendary,” Free Taa said. “I am quite certain that even the Chancellor has that power, although she has never been tested or trained. There is no other possible way that she could continue influencing the galaxy to her advantage. How is it that she and her friends have managed to defeat me in the Chancellor’s race four times in a row now? When I am more established as a Senator? It could only be her Jedi Master husband…or her own untapped reserve of sinister power…”

    “I am not interested in your whining,” Ventress spat. “Once the resistance takes over the Republic, you will have your chancellorship. And you can do what you want with it.” She smirked, then the smirk disappeared. “Meanwhile…so the brat lives. What happened to the foundries?”

    “D…destroyed,” Tambor said. “By Skywalker and Kenobi.”

    Ventress pushed him against the wall, channeling the Force through her flesh hand. “Destroyed?!?”

    “Completely decimated.”

    Tambor and Free Taa could feel Ventress’ anger rising, and Free Taa held up a hand. “There is one…action that we can take in response.”

    “And what might that be?” She spat.

    “The droids belonged to the Baktori Droid Workshop, the Commerce Guild and the Techno Union. In other words, Skywalker and Kenobi broke into a private facility and destroyed private property. I can petition the Senate Committee for Oversight of Jedi Activities for an investigation. Unauthorized use of the Force. Burglary.”

    Ventress’ angry expression disappeared, and she smirked. “Yes, you certainly could do that. And imagine Amidala’s disgrace if her husband is convicted. And her children also broke into the facility.” The smirk disappeared and she glared at Free Taa. “Do it,” she snarled.

    Free Taa returned the glare. “It will be done,” he said. He turned and left the room.

    “She’s awake,” Han said excitedly, opening the door to the next room, where Padme sat, sponging Luke’s face.

    “Good,” Obi-Wan said, standing. Padme wrung the cloth into the basin of water. Luke tried to sit up, and lay back on the bed immediately.

    “Go ahead, Mom, I can’t make it right now,” he said.

    Padme looked worried, but she kissed his forehead and stood. “I will be back in just a minute, I promise,” she said.

    “So will I,” Obi-Wan said, running his hand over the young man’s hair. They both went into the next room.

    Leia’s eyes were open but they were glassy and hazed with pain. “Mom,” she said.

    Padme touched her cheek. “How are you feeling?”

    “Everything hurts,” she said.

    “I know,” Padme replied sadly.

    Han, who had taken his position next to the bed again, looked at the med droid. “Can you give her something else for the pain?”

    “Her body is at its limit for pain medication, sir.”

    “What the hell does that mean when her body is also at its limit for pain itself?” Han snapped, standing.

    Obi-Wan put a hand on Han’s shoulder. “Calm yourself, Captain Solo,” he said.

    Han glared at Obi-Wan but sank back into the chair. Leia’s hand moved slowly across the bed covers, reaching for his, and Han took it. “It’s OK, Han,” she said quietly. “Uncle Obi-Wan…”

    Obi-Wan moved to the head of the bed so that she could see him, and brushed away a tendril of dark hair that had escaped the bandages. “You gave us quite a scare, young one.”

    “I know,” she said. “I wasn’t strong enough…”

    “No,” Obi-Wan said. “You were strong enough. You and Luke fought as a team against a Sith who was murdering Jedi before you were born. You did well. Your father and I are proud.”

    “Where is he?”

    As if on cue Anakin woke up, stood and rushed to her bedside. “I’m here, Leia,” he said.

    “Daddy…I’m sorry…”

    “Sorry for what?” Anakin said. “You fought well, and you won.”

    “I was angry. I shut you out,” Leia said.

    “Shhhh…” He took her hand in his. “You had every right to be angry with me.” He swallowed. “I’m not ready for you and your brother to grow up. That’s my issue alone, but I made it yours, and for that, I am sorry.”

    He looked at Han. “Both of you.”

    Han nodded. “No problem,” he said. “I meant what I said. I won’t hurt her.”

    Anakin nodded. “I know.” Once again he looked like a man who had too much worry and not enough sleep.

    “Where is Luke? Luke didn’t get hurt, did he?” Leia asked.

    Padme touched her cheek again. “He had a couple of burns from Ventress’ lightsaber. One of them was deeper than originally thought, and got infected. He’s resting now; you’ll see him in a little while.”

    “Or,” Anakin said. “I’ll be right back.” He turned and went into the next room, where Luke lay, his face pale and covered with sweat.

    Anakin went to his side and brushed his damp hair away from his face. “How are you feeling, son?”

    “Like I’ve been stampeded by a herd of banthas.”

    “Your fever seems to have broken,” Anakin said.

    “Yeah, I think so.”

    “Would you like to see your sister?”

    “I tried a few minutes ago. I’m not up for walking.”

    Anakin smiled and raised his eyebrows. “I am,” he said. “If you aren’t too old to let me carry you.”

    Luke laughed. “OK,” he said, and threw his arms around his father’s neck, allowing himself to be picked up and carried into the next room. Obi-Wan pushed a chair over for Luke, and he sat next to his sister’s bed.

    “Together again, huh?”

    “Wouldn’t miss it,” she said.

    “How are we doing?” He asked.

    “Same as always,” she said.

    “That bad, huh?”

    She smiled, then winced. “Don’t make me laugh right now, Luke,” she said.

    Luke returned the smile, took her hand and squeezed it. “OK,” he said. “But that means you have to get better soon. Not much fun in life when I can’t tease my twin sister.”

    “Oh, I’ll get better. In a few weeks I’ll be ready to spar with you again. And I’ll kick your ass like I always do.”

    Luke smirked. “Oh, I think I’ve kicked yours a fair number of times. But I look forward to it anyway.”

    She tried to nod, and winced again. Her eyelids were growing heavy.

    “You should sleep,” Anakin said, kissing her forehead.

    Leia closed her eyes. Anakin turned to Luke. “There is a sleep couch in here if you want to stay.” He pointed at the other side of the room, where he had napped.

    “Yes,” Luke said. Anakin nodded, and once again lifted his son, carrying him to the sleep couch and covering him with a blanket. Luke closed his eyes and drifted off almost immediately.

    Anakin went to Padme and hugged her again, almost collapsing against her. “Come on,” she said, taking his hand in hers. “Time for you to eat something. And shower and shave. And get some more sleep yourself.”

    “Han?” Anakin said, looking at him. He still sat next to Leia’s bed, her hand in his as she slept.

    “I’m not going anywhere,” he said.

    “Can we bring you anything? Food? Drink?” Obi-Wan asked.

    Han shook his head. “I’m good.”

    “Thank you again,” Anakin said quietly.

    “No thanks needed,” Han replied.
  20. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 16, 2005
    So much h/c and yes, love, in this chapter. And SW phrases sprinkled quite liberally.
  21. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    The only bone I've broken was one of my collar bone. I had about eighteen to nineteen months old and one of my sisters was giving me a piggyback ride. Since she was only three years older than me she didn't have the strength to carry me like that. She dropped me and I slammed against a two drawer filing cabinet.

    This isn't going to end well for the traitors.
  22. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Skywalker Saga/LFL/YJCC Manager star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    Valairy Scot : [face_love] Glad the love was obvious. I dig hurt/comfort, it's one reason I like Karen Miller's stuff so much, but I try to be careful not to shoehorn it in either.

    Lady_Misty: *knocking very hard on wood* I've never broken a bone. Tore all the ligaments in my ankle once, but haven't broken a bone. I had to research the type of injuries Leia might get from that attack and how they would affect her. As far as the traitors...they'll fight hard, I'll leave it at that.

    Thanks for reading. :)


    Chapter 6

    A stretcher carried Leia from the ship into the Galactic Senate Medical Center. Anakin stood on one side, Han on the other, and Padme at the foot. Directly behind her, Luke moved slowly, leaning on Obi-Wan for support.

    Yoda met them at the door. “Improving, is she?” He asked Anakin.

    “She will be alright, physically anyway,” Anakin said, falling into step beside Yoda and letting the stretcher move ahead. “A few more weeks for the bones to heal, and then…the shoulder and collarbone were broken on her lightsaber arm. She’ll need to learn to use it again, and get back to her old speed.”

    Yoda studied Anakin's face for a moment. “Your fault, this was not,” he said.

    Anakin shook his head. “When she learns that she can’t fight the way she once could…”

    Han, hearing the exchange, frowned, knowing that Leia’s father was right. Leia would become frustrated and depressed very quickly if she had to completely re-learn the lightsaber techniques that came to her as naturally as breathing.

    “Lost your lightsaber arm completely, and learned to fight again, you did,” Yoda said. “Focus on the negative, you must not. A powerful Jedi, young Leia is. Heal quickly and completely, she will.” They approached the room where Leia would rest, and Yoda turned, heading back towards the main door. “Meet in three hours, the Council will. Be there, you and Obi-Wan should.”

    Anakin nodded. “We will.” Yoda hobbled away on his cane.

    Inside the expansive hospital room, Leia was eased gently from the stretcher to a bed. “Much better,” she said.

    One of the droids started an IV line into her arm. Anakin and Han fluffed the pillows behind her head while Obi-Wan, Padme and Luke stood at the foot of the bed.

    “Are you comfortable?” Anakin asked.

    “I will be once the drugs start working,” Leia said, closing her eyes.

    Padme turned to Luke. “It might be a good idea to get you a bed for tonight as well.”

    “I’m fine, Mom,” Luke said. “The infection is gone.”

    “You’re still weak,” Obi-Wan said. “Your mother is right. Rest here tonight and go home tomorrow.”

    “I agree,” Anakin said.

    Luke held up a hand. “OK, I’ll do it. I don’t feel like arguing with all three of you.”

    Anakin nodded to one of the medical droids, who said, “Right away, sir. I think the room next door is available,” and turned to leave.

    The droid passed Bail and Alys as they appeared in the doorway. Alys, without a word to the others, ran to Luke and threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly.

    “Um…hello?” Luke said, returning the hug. He noticed that she was shaking. “Alys?”

    She pulled away from him suddenly. “You stubborn, reckless Jedi! I would smack you right now if you weren’t already injured! You scared me to death!” She sank into a nearby chair and put her face in her hands, but not before Luke saw that her large blue eyes were filled with tears.

    Han shook his head and muttered, “Damn.” Padme gave Anakin a look that clearly asked, Do you know what this is about? Anakin raised an eyebrow. Obi-Wan gave Luke a knowing look. Alys sobbed quietly.

    A surprised Bail finally found his voice. “Alys, honey…” He began.

    She looked up, her face blotchy and wet. “Leave me alone, Daddy,” she said, and stood and bolted from the room.

    What is going on?” Padme asked.

    Bail sighed. “I have an idea, nothing more, as she hasn’t told me anything. It was the look on her face when we got the news that the twins were injured on Hypori.” He turned to Padme. “The last time I saw that look on a woman’s face was on yours when Anakin was trapped on Lanteeb. Remember that?”

    “How could I forget?” Padme said.

    “That’s when I knew you were in love with Anakin. I tried to get you to tell me.”

    “I couldn’t. You know that, Bail.”

    “I figured it out pretty quickly. Anyway…” He looked at Luke again. “I don’t know what happened with you two, but…” He raised his eyebrows.

    “Um…long story,” Luke said.

    “So I’ll get it in pieces I guess?” Bail said.

    The medical droid returned to the room. “Padawan Skywalker, the room next door is ready, sir.”

    “Thanks,” Luke said. He turned to Bail. “We’ll tell you. But it’s complicated right now.” He followed the droid.

    Anakin moved from Leia’s bedside and walked towards his wife and Bail. He put an arm around Padme’s shoulders. She returned the embrace, looking towards the doorway where Alys had disappeared. “She must have been so scared.”

    “Poor kid. I know how she feels,” Han said.

    Alys reappeared in the doorway, red-eyed and sniffling, loose blonde tendrils flying from her braid. She looked around, and then a panicked expression appeared on her face. “He’s in the next room,” Padme said. “He’s being kept here tonight for observation.”

    “Observation?” She said, unwanted tears filling her eyes again.

    “He’s alright,” Anakin said softly. “He could probably go home today if we really wanted, we’re just being careful.”

    Alys nodded and didn’t speak. Her father approached her cautiously, arms outstretched, and this time, she allowed him to comfort her.

    A few minutes later she freed herself from his embrace, wiped her eyes, and walked slowly to Leia’s bedside.

    “I was wondering if you were going to come see me or if you were so focused on my brother that you forgot I was here,” Leia said.

    Alys gave her a watery smile and touched her arm. “Of course I was planning to come see you. How do you feel?”

    “Like I got thrown against a duracrete wall.”

    Alys bit her lip. “I’m so sorry. And I thought the Sith died with Palpatine.”

    “No. Ventress was an apprentice of Count Dooku. Luke got her though. She’ll be out of commission for awhile, unless she can operate a lightsaber with one hand.”

    Alys said nothing, just looked down.

    “Now I know why you’ve both been so moody lately.”


    Leia squeezed Alys’ forearm. “Work it out with him…whatever this is you two are doing. It’s worthwhile, I promise. Or if it isn’t, do it so you’ll both stop driving me crazy.”

    She managed a laugh, then looked at Han, as if just now noticing that he was there, and extended her hand. “Captain Solo. I believe I owe you my freedom. At least that’s what your commander said.”

    Han took the offered hand. “Your Highness. No thanks needed. I get paid good money to fight for your freedom.”

    Alys smiled. “Well, I’m going to thank you anyway.”

    Leia’s eyelids were drooping. Alys stood. “I should probably go.” She gave Leia’s hand a squeeze. “I’ll come back tomorrow.” She looked at Han. “Very nice to meet you.”

    He nodded. “You as well.” Alys left. Leia had fallen asleep.

    Alys found Luke propped up in bed in the next room. She sat on the bed, leaned over and kissed him hard, then threw her arms around his neck. A few tears splashed on his shoulder.

    Finally Luke spoke. “Alys, I’d almost rather you slap me. This isn’t like you. What’s wrong?”

    “Luke…” She lifted her head, sniffled and wiped her eyes. She opened her mouth to say something else and found that she couldn’t.

    He took her hand. “It’s alright, I think I understand.” He smiled at her. “You know what I was just thinking about?”

    “What?” She asked.

    “Remember when I used the Force to float an entire box of your hair barrettes over the side of the balcony, twenty stories up?”

    She laughed. “I had almost forgotten about that. Your father was furious.”

    “Yes. Something about unacceptable use of the Force and barrettes boring holes in people’s heads from that height. Although I didn’t drop a single one of them. Then Uncle Obi-Wan said something about my coming by such behavior naturally, Daddy got irritated with him, and I was spared any further lecture.”

    “How old were we?”

    “Six I think.”

    “What made you think of that?”

    Luke shrugged. “I don’t know. It was fun.” He met her eyes. “Nothing is going to change, Alys. Not for the worse anyway. We know each other well enough to know what we’re getting into.”

    “I know,” she said. “But you’ve got to promise me you won’t put yourself in the path of any more Dark Force users.”

    He reached up and touched her cheek. “I can’t promise that. You know that.”

    She sighed, looking down and away. “Yes. I guess I do. And that’s one of the things I love about you. You’re not content to sit still and let other people have all the action.”

    Bail appeared in the doorway. “I’m going back to the Senate building. Do you want me to take you home?”

    Alys sighed again. “For now I guess.” She turned to Luke. “You’re getting out of here tomorrow?”

    “If all goes well,” he said.

    Make it go well,” she said. “Get some sleep.”

    He nodded, closing his eyes.

    “Orn Free Taa did what?” Padme asked, her eyes wide.

    “Petitioned the Committee for Oversight of Jedi Activities to investigate Obi-Wan and Anakin for burglary and destruction of property,” Bail repeated.

    Padme gazed at him for a minute, then suddenly burst into laughter.

    Bail, Mon Mothma, Vice Chair Tarin and Sovi stared.

    “Milady?” Sovi asked.

    “Chancellor Amidala, I had not assumed that this was welcome news,” Tarin said.

    “Oh, but it is,” Padme replied. “Because in order to make a burglary and destruction of property charge stick, Free Taa and his minions are going to have to prove that the battle droids were not a threat to the Republic. And how exactly are they going to do that? What exactly are they claiming as the purpose of an entire foundry of battle droids? Did they need all of them to guard Free Taa’s or Tambor’s homes?” The amused expression disappeared, and she turned to Sovi. “Contact Senator Revinu Vadith of the Republic Security Committee. I need him to subpoena the financial records of the Techno Union and the Baktori Droid Workshop immediately.”

    “Madam,” Tarin said. “A subpoena for the financial records of a private company…”

    Padme gave her a hard look. “They can object to the subpoena if they so choose, and I will hear them out, but in exchange they will need to offer concrete undisputable evidence that their droids were not intended to threaten the Republic. If they cannot do so…my best offer is that they can be assured of the committee’s utmost discretion in handling the records.” She paused. “Meanwhile, the Jedi Oversight Committee is welcome to conduct its investigation, and the result will be the same. Anakin and Obi-Wan had every reason to believe that the droids were a threat to the Republic; if the Baktori Droid Workshop can prove them wrong, I welcome it.”

    “What of Qualkin’s bill to loosen security around the weapons storage facilities on Ord Mantell?” Mon Mothma asked.

    “I don’t understand his reasoning,” Padme said. “Passage of such a bill would cause the loss of hundreds of jobs on the planet. Not to mention the fact the consequences of that facility falling into the wrong hands…”

    “He is using cost-cutting as a reason,” Bail said. “He believes that if budgetary costs are restricted sufficiently, then the taxation bills can move forward.”

    Padme sighed. “On that I can only hope the Senate does the right thing. The Treasury has never recovered from the Clone War. We cannot afford further tax cuts. We could rewrite the tax code to alter the balance of taxation but if we do that, some citizens will have to pay more in taxes in order for others to pay less. That will not be a popular move. As far as cost-cutting measures—Senators are always willing to introduce them but balk at those that affect their own planets. Qualkin seems to be the exception, which makes this bill even more…unusual.”

    “It is highly unusual for any Senator to suggest cost-cutting and job-cutting measures in his or her own system,” Tarin agreed.

    “And I am not at all comfortable with the idea of leaving a large Republic Navy weapons facility unprotected,” Padme said.

    “No one should be,” Mon Mothma said. “Especially since Ord Mantell is in the Core. Do we know how large the resistance is now? Do they have the manpower to launch an attack on Coruscant itself?”

    Padme frowned. “I don’t know,” she said. “I am hoping we learn more through this investigation of the droid foundries. That is why I welcome the petition to the Jedi Oversight Committee. The petitioners have outed themselves as producers of the droids. That part of the investigation is done for us.”

    “And now you are giving them enough fibra-rope to hang themselves,” Bail said, looking amused.

    “Or prove me completely and utterly wrong. Prove that there is no threat to the Republic, that no one else is any more interested in another war than I am, and that I have been overly cautious at best, delusional and paranoid at worst. I would love nothing more than for that to happen,” Padme said firmly. She stood and looked at her assistant. “What is on tomorrow’s agenda, Sovi?”

    Sovi scrolled through her datapad. “The Trade Federation will present its argument to the full Senate on why taxes along the Rimma Trade Route should be lowered,” she said. “That will be in the morning. Pors Tonith has an appointment with you at 1400. He wants your support for further deregulation of the banks.”

    Further deregulation?” Padme asked, eyes widening. She put a hand to her forehead then lowered it, seemed to start to say something then think better of it. “Never mind, I need to hear him out before I comment.” She turned to Bail and Mon Mothma. “I am on my way to the medical center. I will see you in the morning?”

    “Burglary?” Anakin snapped. “Destruction of property? Have those karking sleemos lost their minds?” He was pacing in the middle of the Council room.

    “I would think not,” Mace said. “In fact, this seems to be a very calculated attempt to justify the production of the droids in the first place. Additionally, if they are successful in demonizing you and Obi-Wan for breaking into the foundry, they have free reign to produce more droids, without interference.”

    “Which is probably their goal,” Obi-Wan said. “They want to be able to say that their use of the droid foundries falls under private property rights. Unfortunately for them, the government has the right to investigate any perceived danger to the Republic, even if that danger involves private property. And while the Jedi Order may operate very differently than it did before the Clone War, one aspect has not changed: the Supreme Chancellor is authorized to send us to investigate threats, without prior Senate approval, and use ‘aggressive negotiations’ when all else fails.” He raised an eyebrow. “The best they can do is demand compensation for the so-called ‘destroyed property,’ and that is only if they can prove that they were not planning to use the droids to attack the Republic.”

    “While they are at it, they can explain why my daughter is in the Galactic Senate Medical Center in half a body cast,” Anakin muttered, continuing to pace. “I suppose their ‘destroyed property’ trumps her well-being?”

    “These are the same people who wanted to legalize slavery,” Shaak Ti said dryly.

    “I know you’re upset, Anakin, but it is probably best not to bring Leia’s condition into this,” Mace said. “Luke cut off Ventress’ hand. Nothing is stopping the resistance from claiming that the twins started the fight.”

    “Except that they wouldn’t be that foolish,” Anakin muttered.

    Both of Obi-Wan’s eyebrows went up. “Wouldn’t they?”

    Anakin sighed, sinking back into his chair.

    “The committee wishes to meet with the two of you next week to answer their questions,” Mace continued.

    Obi-Wan nodded. Anakin’s comlink buzzed. He picked it up, looked at the identification number, and blanched. “It’s the medical center,” he said. He turned it on. “Skywalker.”

    “Sir, a clone captain CC-7567 was just brought in. He is demanding to see you.”

    “Rex,” Anakin said. “I’ll be there as quickly as possible.”

    “You’ll want to hurry, sir. We aren’t sure how much time he has left.”

    “Understood. Skywalker out.” Anakin turned off his comlink and replaced it in his utility belt, then turned to Mace. “Do you need me for anything else?”

    “No,” Mace said. “Go see Rex.” He shook his head sadly. “The clones are passing so quickly now. We lost Cody and Fives last year, now Rex…”

    “Growth acceleration,” Obi-Wan said. “Not only is it very painful for them, but it only gives them about 30 years to live.” He looked at Anakin. “Do you want me to come with you?”

    Anakin nodded. “I would like that.”

    “See you in the Chancellor’s office, will I, Anakin?” Yoda asked.

    “Padme is meeting with Pors Tonith. Yes, I’ll be there.”

    “May the Force be with you,” Mace said. Anakin and Obi-Wan left the building, boarded Anakin’s speeder, and hurried to the medical center.

    They found Rex resting in one of the larger first floor rooms. His face was thin and pale, his black eyes sunken into their sockets. “Generals,” he said hoarsely when Anakin and Obi-Wan appeared.

    Anakin took the loyal clone captain’s hand in his. “Rex,” he said. “Try to hang on. Is there anything you need? Are you in pain?”

    Rex shook his head. “It’s over for me. And it doesn’t matter. I’m ready.” His voice was barely above a whisper.

    Anakin blinked, biting his lip against the rising swell of tears. He did not want to ruin Rex’s last moments by crying.

    Rex gave the hand a squeeze. “General, listen to me. This is important.”

    Anakin met his eyes. “What is it?” He asked.

    “Ventress…your little ‘uns fought her, did they not?”

    “Yes,” Anakin said. “Luke cut her hand off. Why?”

    “I hear rumors…gossip…you hear all kinds of talk in the tapcafs in CoCoTown. I can help you. The resistance…Ventress…Tambor…Shu Mai…Tonith…Qualkin…Free Taa…”

    “Qualkin and Free Taa?” Anakin and Obi-Wan said at the same time.

    “Shhh…” Rex warned. “Just rumors, no proof. But…might want to investigate.” He looked directly at Anakin. “Tell the Chancellor…some resistance on the inside…” Rex’s voice was growing weaker. “Banking Clan…wants…control…Republic…”

    “Rex,” Anakin said quietly, putting a hand on the clone captain’s bald head. “It’s OK. Don’t try to talk anymore. Save your strength.” He squeezed his hand. “And thank you. This is valuable and much needed intel.”

    “Told you…years ago…I’d help. Need to atone…killing Jedi…”

    Anakin wiped away a tear from the corner of his eye. “You already have, Rex. Any atonement you needed to make, was done when you told the courts what Palpatine made you do.”

    “And you tried to save the younglings,” Obi-Wan added.

    Rex nodded slowly. The very act of moving his head seemed to cause him pain now.

    “Rest,” Anakin said. “We’ll stay with you. You won’t have to be alone. Not now.”

    “Pleasure serving with you, General…”

    Anakin swallowed. “You as well, Rex.”

    “…Force…be with…you.” Rex closed his eyes and breathed his last.

    Anakin lowered his head and wept. Obi-Wan put a comforting arm around his shoulder, his eyes on Rex’s still form. “It’s hard,” he said. “Watching them go. It’s very hard.”

    “Rex deserved more than this," Anakin said.

    Obi-Wan nodded. “I know. They all did.” He held Anakin for a few minutes until the sobbing ceased, then said, “I’m assuming you want to check on Leia?”

    Anakin dried his eyes, nodded and checked his chrono. “Yes. Hopefully Padme has made it by now. She was in meetings all morning.” He turned back to Rex, giving one last squeeze to the clone captain’s hand, which was rapidly growing cold. “Goodbye, old friend. I hope you have found peace.”

    They emerged from Rex’s room at the same time that Padme entered the hallway, motioning for her guards to wait for her by the door. Padme saw her husband’s tear-streaked face and her heart skipped a beat.

    “Anakin…is Leia…?”

    Anakin shook his head. “The children are fine, love,” he said. “At least as far as I know…”

    “We just lost Rex,” Obi-Wan finished.

    Padme looked relieved for a second, then her expression changed to one of sadness. She hugged and kissed Anakin. “I’m sorry,” she said.

    He nodded, holding her tightly for a minute, then with his arm around her shoulders, they both walked towards Leia’s room, Obi-Wan following directly behind.

    “We’re going to need to talk,” Anakin said. “Rex had some leads on the resistance.”

    “What kind of leads?” Padme asked.

    “You’re not going to like this.”

    “I’m not expecting to like it.”

    Anakin looked at her. “You may have a few resistance members among the Senators. And the Banking Clan…nothing good can come from any agenda they have.”

    She sighed. “That doesn’t surprise me. Thankfully the bill to lower taxes along the Rimma Trade Route has failed, but that failure will probably mean that they will redouble their efforts to lower taxes along the other trade routes. I’m interested to see what Pors Tonith wants. Surely he knows I didn’t support the deregulation bill that passed during the Clone War.”

    “He may just be sizing you up,” Anakin said. “The resistance is up to something, and if the Banking Clan is financing their efforts and they have assistance from the inside…”

    They reached the door to Leia’s room. “Tell me more when we get back to the office," Padme said.
  23. ccp

    ccp Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Apr 29, 2005
    Great update
  24. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 16, 2005
    Love, death and taxes in the GFFA.
  25. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    A part of me hopes that Rex will go out with a bang during the Clone War that way he won't participate in Order 66.

    Now that have been warned they can now work to stop the ones that wish to destroy all that is good.