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  1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

Beyond - Legends The Path of Dreams (LotF AU--ZekkXJainaXJag, BenXJysella, ValinXSyal) Part 2 Chps 3 and 4 are up

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Flowerlady, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    In 2006, I started this story and finished it a year later. I had no idea what an adventure I’d embarked on. Of all the stories I’ve written, both Star Wars fan fiction and my published works, this massive novel is still one of my favorites. It has been my wish to take another look at The Path of Dreams, shortening it a bit and giving it some much needed editing.

    The inspiration at the time came from speculation that Darth Krayt was either Jacen or Ben, since his identity had not yet been revealed in the Legacy Comics. I mulled over the idea for a while and decided Ben would make the better Darth Krayt. And so, this story quickly formed. I wrote it in three acts, and despite the numerous romantic story arcs in the novel, it is more tragedy. This is a huge “what if” story, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing and reworking it… BUT I’m not promising you won’t need some tissues at times, and nobody is safe. :eek:


    Won the Summer 2007 Best Romance Award on The Force. Net

    Title: The Path of Dreams
    Rating: PG-13
    Author: Flowerlady (Sara Walter Ellwood)
    Timeframe: Legacy Era
    Dramatis Personae: (association is at time of introduction into the story)
    Alema Rar, Twi’lek female, Sith Assassin
    Alexandria Winger, human female, Jedi Knight
    Allana Djo, human female, Hapan Princess
    Allia Judday, human female, Lieutenant Rogue Squadron
    Ben Skywalker, human male, Jedi Apprentice
    Booster Terrik, human male, Captain Errant Venture
    Cha Niathal, Mon Calamari female, Chief of State GFFA
    Corran Horn, human male, Jedi Master
    Darth Caedus, human male, Sith Lord
    Darth Krayt, human male, Sith Lord
    Dur Gejjen, human male, Head of State, Corellia
    Gavin Darklighter, human male, Supreme Commander GA Defense Force
    Han Solo, human male, General Corellian Defense Forces
    Jacen Solo, human male, Jedi Master, Colonel Galactic Alliance Guard
    Jagged Fel, human male, Imperial Admiral
    Jaina Solo, human female, Jedi Knight, Major Rogue Squadron
    Jysella Horn, human female, Jedi Apprentice
    Kyp Durron, human male, Jedi Master
    Leia Organa Solo, human female, Jedi Knight
    Lon Shevu, human male, Major Galactic Alliance Guard
    Luke Skywalker, human male, Grand Master of the Jedi
    Lumiya, human/cyborg female, Lady of the Sith
    Mara Jade Skywalker, human female, Jedi Master
    Masen Krieg, human male, Admiral, Second Imperial Fleet
    Mirax Horn, human female, Captain of the Pulsar Skate
    Qing Niao (Vongerella), Yuuzhan Vong female, Sith Acolyte
    Soontir Fel, human male, Imperal Baron, Advisor to the Moffs’ Council
    Syal Antilles, human female, Commander Corellian Defense Forces
    Tahiri Veila, human female, Jedi Knight
    Valin Horn, human male, Jedi Knight, Lieutenant Rogue Squadron
    Wedge Antilles, human male, Admiral Corellian Defense Forces
    Zane Skywalker, human child
    Zekk, human male, Jedi Knight, Lt. Colonel Rogue Squadron
    Genre: AU, Drama, Angst, Dark, Romance
    Disclaimer: The universe and the characters belong to George Lucas and/or the authors who created them. I can only lay a slight claim on the original characters and the plot bunnies that brought about this story.
    Author Note: I wrote this long before Jysella's canon age was identified in Fate of the Jedi. At the time of my writing this story, it was speculated she was only 3 - 5 years older than Ben.
    Summary: After two years of galactic civil war, Jacen Solo achieves Sith Mastery and uses manypawns to garner as much power as he can. Ben Skywalker is a young Lieutenant in GAG and apprenticed to Jedi Master Jacen Solo, esteemed Jedi Council member and an up and coming officer. Jysella Horn is finishing her Apprenticeship with Mara Jade Skywalker and is trying to come to terms with her feelings for her younger best friend. When love wins out, the two young lovers enter a relationship that is far from accepted by family and friends. Spurred by his love for Jysella, Ben will eventually make a decision that could destroy the Galaxy.

    Meanwhile, Grand Admiral Jagged Fel positions himself to become the new Emperor of the Galactic Empire. Jaina Solo, her fiancé and Jedi partner Zekk, and Valin Horn try to figure out where they belong as they face a fateful battle that will change all of their lives and the future of the Galaxy. While the fate of the Jedi falls on the shoulders of a pair of very unlikely compatriots.

    The Path of Dreams
    Book I: The Loss of Innocence
    Sand from the hot, dry terrain blew into his face, clogging his nose and eyes. The dunes rose before him as if they too were trying to foil his escape. The brutal double assault of the twin suns beat upon him mercilessly, their intense heat causing rivulets of sweat to run down his dusty forehead and into his eyes. He squinted against the relentless glare, making vision even more difficult. His heart pounded painfully against his ribs as he ran, but he somehow knew that if he paused long enough to catch his breath, to wipe the sand and sweat from his eyes, or even to lick his parched sun cracked lips, the monster behind him would catch him.

    The horrible thing raced up one dune and leapt to another. He could sense it and its intent. It wanted to consume him. It wanted to become him. The thought made the boy run even faster, never wavering in his speed even though his muscles, lungs, and sunburned skin begged him to slow down. If the krayt dragon caught him, all would be lost...




    Thanks for reading! [face_cowboy]
     
  2. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Chapter 1

    42 ABY

    Public Landing Strip 156EP, Coruscant

    Ben Skywalker, Jedi Apprentice, licked his dry lips and glanced at the older man beside him. Major Shevu knelt beside him and peered over the barrier of old plasteel packing cartons providing their only cover from the enemy. Ben hadn’t slept well last night, and after eighteen hours of chaos that led to staking out the holed up terrorists inside the old Corellian freighter, he felt exhausted.

    The Galactic Alliance Guard, GAG, had deployed after a group of Corellians and Bothans sabotaged the main city computer system of Eastport, one of the most populated and influential areas of Coruscant, affecting many of the government operations of the city-planet. Many of the galaxy’s leaders resided in this area. With the central computer down, power to over ten million beings was lost. The systems controlling sewer and water were also shut down, as was communications. While all this had halted a major portion of the population, it had been only a smoke screen for the terrorists to perform their most sinister of deeds. The explosion of three crude baradium bombs near the Senate Building shocked the planet to a standstill and set the galaxy reeling. The death toll numbered in the thousands and grew by the hour. Some of the most important people in the galaxy were dead, including Chief of State Cal Omas.


    Now the GAG watched the ship believed to be the getaway vehicle for the thugs responsible for these horrendous actions. Several teams were set up over the public landing strip to watch the ship and waited for orders from their commander, Colonel Jacen Solo. The war between the Galactic Alliance and Corellia had been brutal since the first opening shots, but this had to be the worst action so far against the civilian populace of Coruscant. For the past years, Corellia and its allies felt the Galactic Alliance government was becoming too Imperial-like. Corellia’s fellow traders were the Bothans and the Imperial Remnant, but they also received support from Hapes, Kuat, and many other planets who didn’t like sanctions placed on the right to have their own militaries.

    Major Lon Shevu looked over at Ben. “Getting anything?”

    Ben swallowed again and shook his head. He had a special knack for feeling out bad situations. He knew Lon had long ago learned to trust his intuitions. After all, he’d had saved the major’s life more than once.

    “No.” He turned back to the ship. He scensed the oily determination of the five humans and two Bothans. Jacen estimated there had to have been more involved, but they’d probably perished in the blast.

    Lon watching him, feeling the older man’s concern. He leaned close so only Ben could hear. “Not sleeping again?”

    Swallowing hard and shaking his head, he looked down at his folded hands.

    Lon nodded his head once. “Have you talked to the Colonel about this?”

    “No.”

    Lon sighed and looked back at him. “You should. This has been going on for months now. Every time something happens, you have the dream. I’m no expert on the Jedi, but if you ask me, that seems to be a Jedi thing. If nothing else, I wish you’d tell me what it’s about.”

    Ben looked the major in the eye. He was nearly at eye level with him. When had he gotten so tall? At age fifteen, he was as tall as his father and Lon. He took a deep breath and glanced back at the rest of the team, scattered close by and watching him and Shevu. Meeting Lon’s deep, brown-eyed gaze again he shook his head. “I’ll talk to Jac…Master Solo when we get back to headquarters.”

    Lon smiled at Ben and patted him on the shoulder. “Good. Maybe he’ll be able to help. If not, then you always have your dad.”

    Ben cringed at the mention of his father. He always felt he never measured up to the Grand Master of the Jedi. All he ever seemed to do with his parents was fight, usually over his involvement in GAG. Since Ben’s introduction to the police unit, he’d become an asset to the peacekeepers’ success. His parents didn’t see it that way. They had fought long and hard with Jacen over Ben’s involvement in something as dangerous as staking out terrorists and breaking down doors of possible innocents. Ben more than once pointed out that what he was embarking in wasn’t any more dangerous than infiltrating a Yuuzhan Vong voxyn lab, which his cousins and several of their classmates did at an age not much older than him. Luke always had the same counterargument. He’d long ago stopped listened to his father and how the raid had been a near failure and how he’d lost one of his cousins in it. That wasn’t the point.

    Ben’s danger sense piqued and he turned his attention to the YT-1300 freighter. At the same time, his built-in comlink came alive with Jacen’s commanding voice. “Teams stay alert. Deploy in twenty seconds, starting now.”

    Shevu acknowledged with a click of his comlink. Ben could hear the chorus of acknowledging clicks from the other seven leaders. Shevu turned to the rest of the eight-man squad. “Beta Team get primed and ready. You heard the boss. On my mark.” Lon held up a hand as he watched his overhead display. “Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Mark!”

    Ben leapt over the packing crates as the other teams came out of their hiding places. His ignited his lightsaber a nanosecond before Jacen as he came out with Alpha team on the opposite side of the strip. Despite the situation, Ben felt an odd sense of joy in the fact that his reflexes were becoming faster than his Master’s. He didn’t have time to congratulate himself too long, because the ship began to fire its turret laser guns at one of the charging teams.

    The sudden explosion shook the repulsor-supported landing pad and knocked four of his team to the floor, including Lon. Using the Force to remain standing, he felt the winking out of the lives of the eight Guardsman at the receiving end of the blast. He tried not to think of them or the families they left behind.

    He pushed the memories of Malik’s new baby and the holos he’d shown him yesterday, of Jakson’s bragging about how his son was the best pilot in the GA Navy, and the shy smiles seventeen-year-old Milli Offree had flashed him. He focused his strength on building an energy field around himself and his seven comrades. He might have been the youngest member in the GAG, but everyone respected him for his skill and his intelligence, and he wasn’t about to let another group of his friends be blasted away. He lifted his sapphire blade and spread his feet apart, bracing himself against any possible onslaught. As he concentrated, he felt Jacen doing a similar thing, pulling the Force in and expanding it outward, but Ben sensed his Master’s growing anger and hate intensify until explosive energy crackled around the Jedi Master.

    Ben stared wide-eyed as the green laser beam came his way. The delight of Bothan in the turret grated over Ben’s fear like a viroblade over flesh, and he let the pang of hatred and anger fuel his grip on the Force. He felt Jacen’s approval but quickly focused completely on the laser. Holding his hilt with both hands, he turned his head away from the growing green ball of light. He was ending this here and now.

    The beam crashed into Ben’s blade withenough energy to knock him off his feet, but he stayed firm and deflected ray with his lightsaber and his command on the Force. Splinters of electricity and the Force both stabbed into him, threatening to blow him apart. He gritted his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut against the pain until Shevu shoved him hard to the ground.

    “Get down!”

    Ben and Shevu hit the ferrocrete as the ship exploded.

    ****

    Presidential Mansion, Coronet, Corellia

    Dur Gejjen, Head of State of Corellia and Five Worlds Prime Minister, reread the report and let a small smile tug at his lips. Even though he hadn’t agreed completely with the methods implemented, he was pleased with the results. He looked up at the beautiful woman sitting elegantly before him. Brisha Syo was dressed as she always was when she came to him in a form-fitting jumpsuit and veiled face. Her green eyes were alive with a fire he couldn’t quite discern, but he could trust her. She had, after all, proven herself very useful.

    “Prime Minister, as you can see the plan has gone accordingly. The Chief of State is dead, Coruscant is in shambles, and all those hired to carry out the plan are dead, just as I promised.” Her tone was silky and Gejjen felt lulled by it.

    He looked away from those piercing eyes to scan the report one last time before he hit the delete key. The last thing he wanted was evidence tying him to the terrorists who had assassinated the leader of the GFFA. “Yes, you did promise and you were successful, and now the GA has an incompetent fool as their Chief of State. Cha Niathal will seek revenge, which can only alienate more systems. I assume the false identifications were planted?”

    Syo’s eyes smiled, and he wished the rest of her face was visible. “Of course. Colonel Solo will uncover the information today, and by tomorrow every Adumari, Commenoran and Eriaduan citizen living on Coruscant will find themselves subjected to the same treatment that Corellians and Bothans have.”

    Standing, he clasped his hands behind him, turned to look out over the expanse of lawn. “I don’t like Solo’s involvement in this. I wish there was a way to rid us of him as well. My fear is that now that Niathal is in charge, she will do the unthinkable and put her favorite Darth Vader impersonator in charge of the military.”

    Syo moved behind him and purred, “Don’t worry about Jacen Solo. I’m sure he will be kept busy, but I do not feel as you do about his success equating advancement in the GA military. You need to remember he was essentially demoted when he tried to have his sister court-martialed. You overestimate Solo’s abilities.”

    Gejjen turned to her and grinned. “I never over- or underestimate anyone, Miss Syo. If I did, I wouldn’t be Corellia’s Head of State and the Five Worlds Prime Minister.”

    A chime emitted from Gejjen’s desk. He crossed the room and hit the receive key. “Yes?”

    The tinny voice of the secretary droid came across the speaker. “Prime Minster, Admirals Fel and Antilles are here for their appointment.”

    Annoyance creased his brow as he looked up at Syo. “Thank you, Esspeio. Tell them I’ll be out for them in a few moments.”

    “Yes, sir, as you wish.”

    “You can’t be seen here.” He opened a panel in the far wall, revealing a dimly lit corridor beyond. “Take this to the end and it will come out near the fence at the other side of the grounds.”

    Her green eyes smiled again and she nodded once. Without a word, she moved into the secret passageway and he closed the door. Taking a deep breath, he quickly headed to the main door of his office. He couldn’t keep the Imperial Admiral or his Corellian uncle waiting for long. They were here to discuss their next move against the military of the GA, and he was sure they would want to discuss yesterday’s attack on Coruscant. Taking another deep breath and donning an authoritative but pleasant expression, he opened the door.

    ****

    The wooden panel slid closed and Lumiya, Dark Lady of the Sith, moved down the dimly lit corridor. She paused to listen to the conversation between the Prime Minster and his military leaders as discussed a counterattack on Bothawui. But all too soon, the talk bored her and she followed the darkened tunnel to the edge of the grounds, Force-flashing any electronic devices that she came across to mask her presence. She did the same to the minds of the passers-by, stealing seconds from their minds. No one would ever know she had set foot on the planet. If her Master discovered her activities, she’d forfeit her life. That the Sith Lord allowed her to live at all, surprised her, but since she was alive, her duty was to make sure he became everything his destiny demanded of him.

    She had been willing to concede her role as Master, because Lord Caedus was far more powerful than she could ever be. She had chosen aptly when she had approached the young Jedi to complete the training her acquaintance Vergere had began all those years before. And within the past two years Jacen Solo had proven himself as the first true Sith Master since Palpatine. However, Lumiya felt he was faltering; he was stuck in a position that would never be able to give him the power to bring order to the galaxy. The war was a standoff, the Confederation content to not attack and only defend, and the GA was not forcing the situation by attacking the defenders.

    Of course, there were still battles, but nothing decisive and nothing important. Even if the GA lost Bothawui in the coming battle, it wouldn’t harm the GA. The Bothans weren’t conquered, they weren’t contributing to the GA. Her recent trip to the world had proven they were more militant now than before, and cost a great deal of GA resources by keeping the planet, resources that the GA couldn’t afford to waste. Since the GA attacked and occupied Bothawui a year ago, the GA had lost important planets like Bespin and Roche. Despite the importance of these planets, the imbeciles in the Senate or the military didn’t see their significance. The Bothans were seen as true enemies since they were early Insurgents. Keeping Bothawui was more politic than strategic, even Darth Caedus accepted that.

    Even the endless terrorism had become all but non-existent on Coruscant, mainly because Colonel Jacen Solo, commander of the Galactic Alliance Guard, was so successful. Success bred complacency; the public and the government alike was too comfortable which brought questions as to why Jacen Solo still held so much control.

    Smiling, she used the Force to unlock her skiff. She would be leaving Corellia; her work was done here for now. The devastating attack on the GA which she’d orchestrated would not only be enough to set in motion events that would bring power to her Master, but would help fuel the anger and hate in the young boy whom she took pleasure in seeing taking the Dark path. It was time for the Sith to bring order to the galaxy, and to do that Darth Caedus needed to formally claim his apprentice.

    Thanks for reading! [face_cowboy]
     
  3. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    Whoa....interesting start. I like that you're making the Corellians more central to the story so far...that part of the plot-line mostly got dropped from LotF. I'd prefer to see a non-evil Jacen, but I'll deal with it if you at least make him rational.

    Look forward to reading more.
     
  4. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Thank so much for stopping by, SiouxFan!
     
  5. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Chapter 2

    The Villa Hotel, Senate District, Coruscant

    As Darth Caedus sat on the couch near a window overlooking the smoking rubble of the Senate Building and other government facilities, he let his anger wash over him and used it to give him strength. He hadn’t slept well in the three days since the attack, and the crackling power revitalized him. Lack of security had led to the attack and made the GA government a refugee in its own capital, forcing the power of the GA to a private hotel turned into the Senate headquarters.

    How long would he be kept waiting? Glancing around the room of functional,yet elegant furnishings, he knew the temporary office had been determined by the Mon Cal Chief of State. He turned his attention past the secretary droid busy fielding communications to the inner door and reached out to touch the occupants of the Chief’s office.

    Niathal burned with an unwavering authority and determination. Her grief at the loss of the lives of friends and colleagues, as well as the lives of the many thousands of other beings was like a sour taste in his mouth. The Mon Calamari Admiral might have hoped for the opportunity to occupy the office of Chief of State, but she hadn’t wanted it to come about in this matter.

    When the door slid open, he stood and took a deep breath, releasing some of the anger and frustration. The new Supreme Commander moved through the door, boldly meeting Caedus’s gaze. No pretence of friendliness softened the older man’s face as Caedus saluted. “Admiral Darklighter.”

    “Colonel Solo.” Gavin Darklighter tossed off an obligatory return salute to the junior officer.

    Without further comment, Darklighter passed him and exited the doors. Darklighter’s animosity did not surprise Caedus. The one-time Rogue Squadron pilot considered him responsible for the war when he’d fired on the transport his sister refused to. Gavin had been one of Jaina’s biggest supporters during her court-martial and he’d fought to have Jacen Solo’s responsibility in the GAG downgraded.

    Darklighter’s stubbornness would prove fatal against Niathal’s durocrete determination and love for control. The old ex-fighter jock would tire of the bureaucracy before too long and turn the coward’s way just as Tycho Celchu had, opening a door Jacen had said he didn’t want. But times had changed. He’d changed.

    Smiling, Caedus entered the office. Darklighter could prove to be quite useful.

    Seated at an elegant blackwood desk, Cha Niathal swiveled her large eyes to look at him and opened her mouth in the Mon Calamari imitation of the human expression of smiling.

    Caedus bowed low. “Chief of State Niathal, I am sorry I missed the inauguration ceremony. I know how much this means to you.”

    “Colonel Solo, I may have wished to be given this position, but I am sorry for how it had come about.”

    He stepped closer to her desk. “I’m sorry if I offended you, Chief. That was not my intent. I know how much you are disturbed by what happened. I just meant I’m finally glad you are here. Now, you can implement your policies and achieve the goals I know you have for bringing a lasting peace.”

    She turned her head slightly and looked upon him with slight suspicion, but soon he sensed only trust from her. “Please sit.”

    “Thank you.”

    After he was seated, she folded her arms on the glossy desktop and leaned forward. “I’m sorry to hear about your losses. I wanted to ask how young Skywalker is doing, and how are the four soldiers who were injured in the final blast?”

    Caedus sighed and looked at his folded hands in his lap. “Thanks for your condolences; I will pass them along with the communications I am sending to their families. Ben is doing well, though I will admit despite the four who were injured in the resulting explosion of the freighter, I am quite proud of my apprentice. He has proven his importance to the GAG more than once. The injured are still in the Medical Center but are scheduled to come out of bacta later today. They will be fine.”

    She nodded her large head and leaned back in her chair. “This news brings some hope on a dark day.”

    Niathal didn’t bring him here to talk about the injured. She wanted to gage his reaction to Darklighter’s promotion. “I’m still surprised that the Senate chose him to replace you as Supreme Commander.”

    “Yes, I am as well. I fear Admiral Darklighter is not being agreeable. He and I never have agreed on much. At the present moment, he wants you removed from the GAG.”

    “That surprises you? He has wanted me removed from the military since my sister’s court-martial.” He shrugged and straightened in his chair. “However, I am not here to discuss military politics.”

    Niathal smiled and spread her hands. “No? I was under the impression politics was your favorite topic of conversation.”

    Caedus smirked despite the weight of the information he was about to present to his pawn. “Only when it involves a lightsaber, otherwise I want no part of it.”

    They shared a moment of laughter, then he quickly sobered. “I’ve identified four of the bodies recovered from the Senate Building attack.”

    “Yes?”

    He pulled a data card out of his pocket and set it on the desk. “One of them was Corellian but the other three were Commenoran, Adumari, and we believe the last one was Eriaduan. All of them lived here for over eight months. From the information I’m receiving, they were here to stir up trouble among their respective ethnic groups. I would like permission to deploy a unit into each of the neighborhoods where the most of these groups live. My hope is our presence will send a message that we will tolerate nothing more.”

    The newly appointed and elected GFFA leader slowly nodded her head in a thoughtful way. He smiled inwardly. Having her in the highest office would be exactly what he needed to rebuild the galaxy and create a long and enduring peace.

    She looked up at him with her large watery eyes. “Yes, Colonel, you have my permission to deploy the GAG as you see fit. In fact, I am proposing to have you promoted to General and putting you in charge of the 51st Infantry.”

    Feigning surprise, he suppressed a smile and bowed his head. “I would be honored to accept the command. Will General Wassin agree? I mean, I’ve always considered myself more of a fighter pilot than a groundside soldier.”

    He didn’t care what the dinosaur Naboo from the end of the Clone Wars thought. Zeep Wassin would be glad to be asked to retire, and since being in charge of the GAG, Jacen was as well suited for ground command as starship command.

    Niathal looked at him from the side again and then smiled. “Let me worry about everything.”

    ****

    Jacen Solo’s Apartment, Coruscant

    Despite her master’s displeasure at her skipping out on her studies, Jysella Horn paced outside the door of the apartment her friend shared with his master. She sighed, crossed her arms over the light green robe and leaned against the door. Why couldn’t Ben see his parents’ perspective? He was in way over his head sometimes. When she’d sensed his spike of anger and hate through the weak bond they’d developed as friends, she’d never been more afraid for him.

    She stretched out her feelings, and Ben acknowledged her with a gentle brush against her presence. His warm and comforting touch soothed her nerves, within which Jysella closed her eyes to envelop herself. She sighed and popped her eyes open. Emperor’s black bones! She shouldn’t feel this way about Ben.

    The thought rattled her so much she missed Ben coming around the corner until his amusement tickled her senses like a feather on skin.

    “Hey. I’m surprised Mom let you out. Have you been waiting long?”

    She shoved off the wall and mustered up a smile. He was dressed in the black fatigues of the GAG. His unruly red-gold hair framed a face that lost most of its boyishness and had taken on maturity. As he regarded her, his blue eyes burned with an intensity belying his age, causing her heart to skip a beat. The Coruscant sun had bronzed his face, making the few freckles he still possessed over his nose more prominent.

    When had he gotten so tall? She smiled and shook her head. “Well, Master Skywalker doesn’t know I’m here exactly. And no, I haven’t been waiting long.”

    Giving her one of his lopsided grins that reminded her more of Han Solo than Luke Skywalker, he shifted his bag from one shoulder to the other. “You’re taking an awfully big chance at suffering Mom’s wrath when she finds out you ditched your personal combat lesson.”

    Shrugging, she glanced down the hall. She imagined Mara waiting at the Temple sparing room for her. “It’s a chance I’ll take.”

    He touched her shoulder. Only a brief brush, but she snapped her gaze to meet his concerned expression. “What’s wrong?”

    She swallowed hard, not sure how to ask about his emotions from him the day of the attack, but knowing she had to. “I sensed what you felt the other day. Do you want to talk about it?”

    He stiffened and stepped away to key the door panel. “No. I know what you want me to say. Mom and Dad were here after the attack, wanting the same thing. So what? I was mad.” He slashed the air with his hand. “Those Sithspawn on that freighter were responsible for over 5500 deaths, not to mention the 15,000 injured. Yes, I used my anger to give me the strength. I’m not sorry for it either. If I hadn’t, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to deflect that blaster bolt.”

    Jysella followed him into the sparsely furnished apartment. “But, Ben, to use anger for such a purpose is of the Dark Side. That is what worries your parents. That’s what worries me,” she said more to herself than to him.

    “Do you worry about me?” He removed the carry-all from his shoulder and threw it onto one of the chairs in the sitting area.

    She took a step toward him, getting lost in his deep blue eyes. “Of course, I care for you. You’re my best friend. I don’t want anything to happen to you, including going someplace where you may never return. Promise me that you won’t do that sort of thing again.”

    He grinned and reached out to tug on one of her braided pigtails. “I promise.”

    He rubbed his thumb over the silky strands of her braid, causing her heart to flutter. She shouldn’t feel like this for Ben. He was only a child, barely into adolescence! He probably didn’t even shave yet. She was two months away from turning nineteen. How she could feel anything other than friendship for a fifteen-year-old boy? No matter her rationalizations, her heart wasn’t listening. He wouldn’t always be a boy and had lived more life than most men twice his age.

    She couldn’t name her emotion. To do so was too frightening a concept.

    Breaking the spell, he flopped on the couch and leaned his head on the back. He closed his eyes and sighed.

    Jys sat beside him and took a deep, calming breath. “You’re still having that nightmare, aren’t you?”

    She didn’t know what the dream was about, but it scared Ben more than anything she had ever known to frighten him.

    He straightened and faced her. “Yes. But it’s nothing to worry over. I’ll tell you the same thing I told Major Shevu. I’ll talk to Jacen when I get a chance. But right now, he’s been too busy with trying to find out just who these Corellian scum were.”

    “Good. Master Solo will know what to do.” She folded her hands in her lap. “You won’t tell me?”

    He stood and ambled across the room to the window. Evening sun glared off the blurs of air traffic. He was quiet for so long she wondered if he would tell her, then he clasped his hands behind his back. “I run and run, but I know the thing chasing me will catch me someday,” he said so low she had to strain to hear them. “I don’t know how to stop it, every time I have the dream it is closer. At first I thought it was a sign bad things were going to happen. Like the attack.” He glanced over his shoulder at her. “But I’ve had the dream when good things happen too, like when Jaina finally accepted Zekk’s proposal of marriage or when I was officially given a rank in the GAG last month.”

    Jysella went to him and laid a hand on his shoulder. “What is the thing that’s chasing you?”

    He swallowed and looked out the window. “A krayt dragon.”

    Spidery fingers of fear skittered down her spine. “But you’ve never been to Tatooine, and as far as I know, the krayt dragon is only native to that planet. It must mean something, right?”

    He spun away from her. “Of course it means something. That’s why I need to talk to my Master about it, which I’ll as soon as things settle down. Hopefully, I don’t have the dream again, unless….”

    He turned back to look at her and grinned mischievously. He was going to change the subject something silly, she was sure. This habit of his, when the topic of conversation got too personal, drove her crazy, but never failed to cause her to smile in the end. She’d play along. “Unless what?”

    His eyes scanned her face, searching. When his eyes came to her lips and stopped there and he swallowed, her heart slammed into her chest. She knew what he wanted and even though she wanted it too, she realized how terribly wrong it would be. He’s still a boy! “Unless you….”

    His comlink buzzed. Scowling, he pulled it off his belt. She let out a sigh of conflicted relief as he turned away to answer the call. “Sergeant Skywalker.”

    She waited for Ben to finish his short conversation with whoever was on the other end. Once he finished, he turned back to her. “I’m sorry, Jys, but I have to go back to base. That was Shevu. Jacen wants to talk to me.”

    She furrowed her brow and shook her head. “But you’re exhausted. You need sleep. What does your Master want you to do, fall over from complete and utter fatigue?”

    “I’ll be fine. But I have to go.” He picked up his black bag. “Walk with me to HQ?”

    She let out a breath. Her time with him was limited, but she was glad to be away from the apartment where she was alone with him. “Sure, it’s on the way back to the Temple anyway.”


    Thanks for reading! [face_cowboy]
     
  6. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Chapter 3

    Jedi Temple, Coruscant

    Ben didn’t want to leave Jysella’s company. At the main entrance of the Jedi Temple, Jysella turned to him. “Promise me you’ll tell Jacen about your dream.”

    Grinning, he reached out and tugged on her left braid as it laid over her shoulder. “I promise.”

    Jys furrowed her brow. “Promise on your heart.”

    He snickered at her use of the old oath they’d used as children and laid his hand on his heart. “I promise on my heart.”


    She smiled, and his breath caught. Her green eyes danced. Sweet Force, she had to be the most beautiful girl in the galaxy.

    “Good. I’ll hold you to it,” she said.

    She’d always had a special place in his heart, but over the past few years Jysella Horn occupied a large portion of his dreams: day and night. He loved her. It was as simple as that.

    Jysella considered him too young for her, but he didn’t think the same way. She was only three years older than him, not ten or even five. From the research he’d done on his grandparents, he figured Padmé Amidala was at least five years older than Anakin Skywalker, which didn’t stop them from being married and that was before his dad changed the rules and allowed the Jedi to marry.

    She blushed and looked away. “You had better be going.”

    Ben swallowed and nodded. “Yeah, I’d better, or Jace will be mad.”

    Instead of moving away, Ben brushed the backs of his fingers over her cheek. The pink in her cheeks turned red. His heart pound as he realized just how much he wanted to kiss her. Just once, just one kiss. He wanted to feel her lips on his to show her he wasn’t a kid. He wanted to dream of her, not of dreadful sand dunes in a place he’d never been, nor a terrifying krayt dragon.

    He leaned in. Jys’s eyes grew larger as fear spiked in her aura, but more he felt her desire for the same thing. He contacted the petal-soft lips and as he began to brush them with more pressure, she turned her head causing him to kiss the corner of her mouth and cheek.

    He pulled away disappointed and sought Jysella’s gaze, but she wouldn’t look at him. “Why’d you do that, Jys? You have to know what I feel for you.”

    She turned moist eyes to him and whispered, “Yes, but I can’t. Don’t you understand this, Ben?”

    He swallowed and turned away from her. The confusion in her was more than he could stand. “I understand that you think I’m still a kid who doesn’t know what he wants.”

    She tried to touch his arm. “Ben, I’m sorry, but...”

    “No, I’m sorry, Jysella. I may not be the great empathic Jedi you are, but I possess enough of the talent to know what you feel. You want it as much as I do. I...”

    He froze, wanting to tell her he loved her, but he didn’t want to tell her this way. Why couldn’t she see past his age to the man? He stepped away. “I have to go. I’ll see you around.”

    He jogged down the marble stairs, away from the Temple he never entered much these days.

    ****

    GAG Headquarters, Coruscant

    As Ben moved through the familiar corridors of the base of operations for the GAG, he absently acknowledged the greetings he received, his mind still on Jysella. In a sour mood, he reached the commander’s office. He stopped at the door and reached out to hit the buzzer when it slid open. Sighing, he entered and sensed Jacen’s displeasure.

    Jacen finished typing into a datapad before looking up. “Where have you been? You were ordered to return immediately, Sergeant Skywalker.”

    Ben straightened to attention and glanced over at Shevu, sitting before Jacen’s desk. “I’m sorry, Sirs. I walked a friend back to the Jedi Temple.”

    “Walked? Why didn’t you take an air taxi?” Shevu smiled, seemingly unconcerned for Ben’s tardiness. “Let me guess. The friend was that pretty little Jedi we’ve seen around here with you?”

    Averting his eyes, Ben couldn’t help the blush scolding his cheeks. “Yes, it was Jys. She came to see how I was doing. I walked her to the Temple, but we had a fight and I took the long way here.”

    “Welcome to the whims of what the poets call the fairer sex, my young friend. One minute, they are worrying themselves into fits of tears over us, and the next, they would end our lives with their own bare hands for the most mundane reasons.” Lon grinned and the amusement boiling off him did nothing to help Ben’s hurt over Jysella’s rejection.

    Ben mumbled, “Yeah, tell me about it.”

    Jacen tented his fingers before him and he peered at Ben over them. “You seem too upset for this to be just an argument, Ben.”

    Ben looked from his friend to his cousin and master and felt his face heat up. He couldn’t keep anything from Jacen, so he didn’t try. “I…uh…kissed her. Well, I tried to.”

    “You what?” Lon chuckled and shook his head. “No wonder you’re late. And as red-faced as a Tatooine sunset.”

    Ben narrowed his eyes on Lon. “She reminded me again I’m just a kid.”

    Jacen cut Lon off before he a chance to reply. “Major, will you excuse us, please. I will call you when we are ready.”

    “Sure, Colonel.” Lon patted Ben on the shoulder and winked on his way out.

    Once the door was closed again, Jacen gestured to one of the chairs before his desk. “Sit.”

    Ben nodded and settled on the chair Lon had vacated.

    Jacen tented his fingers again. This time his master’s steady regard made him squirm in his seat. “Ben, you have to understand Jysella is older than you.”

    “Only by three kriffin’ years. Our grandmother was at least five years older than Grandfather, and that didn’t matter to them.”

    Jacen maintained his infuriating calm and shrugged. “True, but Anakin Skywalker was still older than you are right now.”

    “Not by much from what I’ve seen of their history.” Ben let out a breath and looked at the ceiling. Why didn’t anyone understand? “She haunts my dreams. I love her so much it hurts. I know she feels the same for me.” He shook his head and met Jacen’s unreadable gaze. “Jace, I want marry her someday and spend the rest of my life with her. Have you ever felt that way for someone? Have you ever loved someone so much you would do anything for her?”

    ****

    The sudden, sharp pain speared Jason Solo’s heart. His Apprentice didn’t know about the woman who filled his dreams and fantasies because he had long ago erased those memories from the boy’s mind. The Sith Lord Darth Caedus took a deep breath and remembered doing the unthinkable two years ago.

    Jacen had gone to Hapes knowing what he had to do. The Prophesy of the Tassels foretold it: He will immortalize his love. He’d hoped he wouldn’t have to take the lives of the most precious people in his universe, but he had to if he’d wanted to achieve the true power of the Sith to bring total and lasting peace to the galaxy.

    Falling deeper into the mists of the past, he let the memory play out. He’d masked his presence and entered the palace where the only woman he had ever loved resided with their secret daughter late in the night. The palace security had been intensified after a botched assassination attempt by a group of Corellian extremists and the N’Korish, but Jacen used the Force and easily went into the Queen’s Chambers. When he killed Tenel Ka, Queen Mother of Hapes, the backlash would most likely be the Hapes Consortium joining the Confederacy, but such things were inevitable and could be dealt with later.

    Darth Caedus buried the pain still haunting the heart of the man he’d once been. He focused on the manner in which he had so easily taken the Jedi warrior queen’s life. He’d kissed her as he reached out with the Force and caused her brain to hemorrhage. Unlike what he had done to her grandmother some years before, this time he’d finished by killing her. Tenel Ka was never given the chance to fight. By the time she’d realized what was happening, it was too late. Darth Caedus had been born and soon in hyperspace again heading for the Jedi Academy on Ossus. To the galaxy, it seemed Tenel Ka had suffered the same fate as her grandmother.

    Caedus never had the chance to harm Allana. He’d been unable to find his daughter. Tenel Ka had her hidden somewhere, being fearful of possible assassination attempts. Later he’d heard the young princess had been seen with Leia Solo by his spies in Corellia. Isolder, Tenel Ka’s father, had taken her first to Dathomir and then to Leia to be trained as a Jedi. Leia was training her granddaughter and didn’t even realize it, Jacen mused.

    “Jace?” Ben’s agitated voice brought him out of his bitter memories. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

    Caedus covered his thoughts with a small smile, “I’m sorry. I was trying to decide the best way to answer you. Love can be selfish or it can be selfless. I loved selflessly. I gave up my love for peace.”

    Ben wrinkled his brow as if trying to figure out who Jacen’s lover was.

    “Be mindful of your kind of love for Jysella, Ben. Selfish love will lead you to somewhere you may not wish to go.” Which was exactly what Caedus hoped.

    Ben let his shoulders slump. “I can’t help it. I’m so drawn to her. I always have been.”

    Conflict churned in his young apprentice. Ben was at an venerable time in his real training. His use of his anger, fear, and hate to deflect the laser blast had pleased Caedus. Jysella Horn could prove to be Ben Skywalker’s greatest crutch, causing him to fall far when she was taken away. Ben’s attachment could also be dangerous, but Lumiya wasn’t concerned about it. She had assured him his Jedi apprentice would prove to be the perfect Sith apprentice. He only needed to be patient… which was what the Sith were best at.

    “But it’s not just Jysella that is bothering you. I’m concerned for you. You haven’t been yourself lately and I know you haven’t been sleeping well.”

    Ben let out a long breath and shook his head. “No, I haven’t been sleeping, and I wish it was only Jys filling my dreams.”

    “Go on.”

    “I’ve been having a vision. It’s always the same except for one detail.” Ben visibly shivered as he described the nightmare he’d been having for the past year and half. “What could it all mean? Why would I be chased by a krayt dragon? And why would it always be closer?”

    Caedus rubbed his jaw and moved to a shelf with some small mementos on it. “I’m not sure what it means, but it has to be significant. Why do you think the dragon represents something bad? You commented you’ve had the dream when good things had happened as well. Maybe the dragon is nothing more than a symbol of the future.” He smiled and looked over his shoulder at his apprentice. He had no idea what Ben’s dream meant, but he suspected the dragon represented the dark side. “Don’t we all feel like we’re being chased by the future at times?”

    Ben didn’t look convinced, but smiled anyway. “Yeah, I guess, but I want to know what I should do to end the dreams.”

    Jacen leaned against the edge of his desk and laid his hand on Ben’s shoulder. “We’ll figure it out, I promise. I’m glad you confided this to me. As your Master, it is my responsibility to help you through these sorts of things. You’re extremely strong in the Force, Ben. I wouldn’t be surprised if you someday surpass even your father. But try to remember that you are not alone. I’m here to help you achieve your ultimate strength.”

    Ben bobbed his head in two quick jerks. “Yes, Master.”

    His patience would pay off in the end. “I think this vision is just an indicator of significant things to come. The reason the dragon is closer each time may not mean anything at all. I’d like you to tell me each time you have this dream, okay?”

    “Okay.”

    He patted his cousin’s shoulder, then he called for Shevu. “I would like to deploy your team, plus three others into the Mullin neighborhood ASAP.”

    Lon furrowed his brow. “Mullin? That’s mostly a Commenoran neighborhood.”

    Caedus picked up his datapad and handed it to his second in command. “Yes, Major, it is.”

    After Shevu read the brief report, he looked up at him, disbelief in his expression. Before he had a chance to voice his question, Caedus said, “It was in this neighborhood the plot to strike at our government was hatched. It will be your jobs to find out who else may have been involved and make sure they never have the chance to harm the Galactic Alliance again.”

    ****

    Solo Apartment, Coronet, Corellia

    Leia Organa Solo watched the six-year-old girl figure out the old puzzle game her children had enjoyed. Leia tried not to think too much about her twins these days because when she did, it made her heart ache. She feared for the worst for her son, and for her daughter she only felt regret.

    Jaina chose the wrong side of the war, just as Luke had. Leia missed her own twin nearly as much as she missed her children. She hadn’t seen any of her family for eighteen months, but she would often feel their loving embrace come through the Force and would send her love back to them.

    Jacen outright frightened her. Her son had crossed the thin line separating Light and Dark with the justification there was no Light and Dark. Her own brother had recently crossed the line as well during the Swarm War, but unlike Luke’s brief departure from the old teachings, Jacen seemed to ignore them completely. Her only hope was he’d someday see his error and find his way back.

    “Princess Leia?”

    Leia shook the melancholy thoughts from her mind and smiled at the little girl sitting cross-legged on the floor. “Yes, my dear.”

    She sprang to her feet with a single graceful movement. “Look! I completed the puzzle.”

    She took the holographic puzzle from Allana. The multi-leveled game had originally been given to the twins and Anakin when they were around Allana’s age by their Uncle Luke. Mirax Horn discovered it was an ancient Jedi game for Younglings. Only persons with the intuitive ability from the Force were able to solve the puzzle. Once solved, the next game would be harder. Normally several tries were required to come up with the solution. Allana was able to do it in her very first try. “Excellent, Allana. You have done well.”

    “Thank you, Princess.” A smile curled Allana’s lips as she took the game and returned to her spot on the floor.

    Allana agonizingly reminded Leia of a mix of Tenel Ka and Jacen. Her russet-colored hair was only a few shades darker than Tenel Ka’s. Allana’s eyes were the same warm brandy brown as Jacen’s. When Leia’s old friend, Prince Isolder, had searched them out after Tenel Ka’s tragic and unexpected death, he had related the awful truth. Allana was Tenel Ka’s daughter with Jacen.

    Han’s first response had been Jacen should’ve taken responsibility for his daughter. Isolder had reminded Han why that hadn’t been possible. Isolder himself hadn’t known about Allana’s paternity until after the opening of a confidentially sealed document addressed to him or the older Solos. Isolder’s conclusion had been that his daughter sensed her death and wanted to make sure her beloved Allana was well taken care of.

    In the letter, Tenel Ka had requested Leia train Allana in the ways of the Jedi, stunning her. She couldn’t understand why Tenel Ka would chose her and not the child’s father or the Dathomiri Jedi, but maybe the queen had also feared Jacen and hadn’t wanted her daughter influenced by him. Leia hadn’t felt confident enough to train an apprentice, but Isolder wouldn’t have it any other way. Two years had gone by and Leia was glad that Tenel Ka trusted her enough to allow her this honor. She loved Allana. Maybe she could correct some of the wrongs she had done to her own children.

    Allana could never know her father or that she and Han were her grandparents. The information could endanger the young girl’s life.

    With her head tilted to the side, Allana stared at her. “Princess, is something wrong? You look so sad.”

    Leia forced a smile and held out her arms. “Come here.”

    As her granddaughter settled in her embrace, she fought the pain stabbing her heart with a calming breath. She thought of her own adopted parents and what they had done to keep her safe from her father. “I’d like to tell you a story. It’s an old one and is from my home world, Alderaan…”



    Thanks for reading! [face_cowboy]
     
  7. Chilla

    Chilla Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 30, 2005
    I'm not too fond of Dark Jacen or the LotF era, but I peeked into this story threat and you have a wonderful writing style, so I may stick around for the ride. :D
    I really like your attention to detail and your descriptions.

    Just a little side note, it should be:

    Sounds very interesting so far. I feel for Leia. That seems very lonely.

    And man, little Allana addressing her as "Princess Leia" all the time really reminded me of Tenel Ka. Speaking of Tenel Ka... [face_worried]
    Jacen is so messed-up! *ranting*

    Hm....I admit I don't see the issue of the age, but that might be because the age of consent is 14 in my country and most people will not have an issue with a 3 year age difference. Heck, the first guy I loved was 17 and I was 14....
    I think the age difference between Han and Leia is like 13 or 14 years, so Jacen shouldn't be the one admonishing Ben about their age difference.

    Still, curious to see where this will go. Keep it up! =D=
     
  8. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Thanks Chilla! Sorry about the grammar error. I didn’t catch that on the rewrite. Guess that's why authors have editors, and believe me I need mine! Too bad they can’t edit my fan fiction.... LOL! :oops:

    Jacen had never been one of my favorite characters, and honestly, I wasn’t surprised that he went dark. So, writing him was fun.

    I originally wrote this before Jacen killed Mara in the books, and it had been speculated that Tenel Ka would be his Sith sacrifice... So, I used that speculation in this.

    I guess with the age thing, I'm writing it from the US prospective where 18 is the age of consent. Here in the US, if a 18 year old dated a 15 year old and they had a sexual relationship, it would be deemed statutory rape and punishable in the eyes of the law.

    Thanks again for reading, and I hope you stay for the ride... :)
     
  9. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    Okay, I promise NOT to rant about why Jacen wasn't going to kill Tenel Ka, even though that was the popular thought at the time, but I will try and 'stick up' for my favorite character! Why not have him admit that he likes politics? There is really nothing inherently wrong with being a competent politician.

    Why is Leia only '...hoping that Jacen would see the error of his ways...'?(bit of a paraphrase) If my son were headed on a path like that, I think I'd stop at nothing to try and save him from his slide.

    Will we get a backstory on why Jaina and Luke have sided with the Corellians?

    Hmmm....I have Jysella's eyes as brown in my story, but I could be wrong!

    Thanks!
     
  10. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Thanks for reading!!! :)

    There were many reasons why Jacen wouldn't kill Tenel Ka... For one, not to make my story unbelievable, if he had, he would have lost Hapes sooner than he did. But when I wrote this story, especially these early chapters only the first 2 books of LotF were out (I believe it was only 2, maybe 3). In fact, I'd actually given Jacen an original Sith name because it hadn't come out in the books yet. During this reediting, I changed it to Caedus, just to keep confusion down. Jacen loves politics, but for him to reach his goals he pretends not to.

    As for Leia not going to Jacen and trying to change him back, she had tried... That's why she and Han ended up siding with Corellia. Basically, you have to forget what actually happened in the books because I took this story in a completely different arc, for the most part. And I'm sure you remember another Sith Lord that had the Jedi completely snowed for a long time.... Jacen is a lot like Palpatine in his double dealing. He hides his feelings and actions well enough that when the Jedi (Luke, Corran and Kyp) wake up and see what really is happening it may be too late.

    Actually Luke and Jaina are sided with the GA, not Corellia. Han and Leia are sided with Corellia. And yes, the back story will come out.

    Not much was known about Jysella when I wrote this. Not even her age was known for sure--in canon she is several years older than I made her, but that didn't come out until the Fate of the Jedi. I do believe according to canon, her eyes are brown and her hair is redish brown not black, but that came out long after I'd written this story. And like with her age, I chose not to change hair or eye color.

    I hope you continue reading!
     
  11. Chilla

    Chilla Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 30, 2005
    I recently read about this on a different message board. The age of consent in the US is actually different from state to state, but it's always between 16 and 18. To quote Wikipedia:

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_North_America#State_laws

    But I guess you can simply avoid the entire issue by stating that in the New Republic, the age of consent is 18.

    (Sorry to give you such a hard time. @};- )
     
  12. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Cilla... You aren't giving me a hard time... Just engaging in some discussion...:cool:
    I live in Pennsylvania, so that explains my prospective. But let's look at this at a slightly different angle, and one that is also as much as a part of the conflict in this story as anything... Ben is one extremely messed up boy. He's 15 and living beyond his years (which is not unusual in SW--I get that). But consider WHO is telling Ben that he is too young for Jysella... Jacen is manipulating him BIG TIME.. He's using Ben's own insecurities and Jysella's confussion over their ages to achieve his goals. He wants Ben to be conflicted. As for Jysella's conflict over their ages. It's a fleeting thing. She is reacting to the fact that she's almost 19 (her birthday will be in a few more chapters) and Ben just turned 15... And that she's the one older, not him... Get it? ;)

    Luke and Mara (which will come out later) are concerned because of how serious Ben and Jysella's relationship becomes and wonder if Ben is mature enough to handle those emotions. And they feel Jysella is old enough to realize Ben is in emotional danger. But they aren't totally opposed to them as a couple and neither are Corran and Mirax. They just feel they are rushing it.... But that's a discussion for another post...:D
     
  13. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Chapter 4

    Jacen Solo’s Apartment, Coruscant

    Ben jerked straight up in bed. Cold sweat ran in rivulets down his bare chest and damp hair stuck to his face. Breathing hard, he threw his legs over the side of the bed and glanced at the chono. 0145. Since he would have to get up in less than an hour anyway, he stumbled over to the window and looked out. Jacen’s apartment was high enough in the six-hundred-floor building to afford Ben a spectacular view of the Senate District and the dazzling lights of the never sleeping city.

    As a familiar presence brushed his, he closed his eyes and focused on the sweetness and warmth of her mental hug. Jysella, his heart sang and he let her touch revitalize him. He sent his reassurance that he was okay back to her. She remained with him for a long time, and although they didn’t pass words or even feelings across the bond, he was glad she was here. As if letting go would cause him to fall into a chasm, he hung onto her, but soon her touch was gone, leaving him shivering in the lonely coldness of the night air.

    He opened his eyes and stared out the window, but the city wasn’t what he saw. The nightmare replayed before him. What terrible thing would happen during the mission that he couldn’t stop?

    Jacen had told him the vision was a way to predict the future. But what future? What did it all mean?

    He hit the window frame with his open palm. “Why? Why can’t I understand this? If the dragon represents something that will happen in the future, why can’t I stop it from happening before more lives are lost?”

    As the weight of his words pressed down on his shoulders, he leaned his forehead against his hand on the frame.

    ****

    Mullin, Northern Hemisphere, Coruscant

    The community of Mullin, about a thousand kilometers north of Galactic City, was famous for its small shops and shopping centers. Although Commenor had allied with Corellia two years ago, its Coruscant population had attempted to remain neutral, until less than a week ago. GAG’s informants insisted this was the place and these were the people who helped to nearly bring Coruscant’s and the GA’s government to a standstill.

    As the open transport entered the beautiful area of low-rise buildings with terrace gardens, Ben hung onto the handgrip and peered over the side. How could such villainy come from some place appearing and feeling so peaceful?

    The plan wasn’t hard and had been executed for two years now. Three of the teams would deploy on the ground and search the area where the informant pinpointed the hideout of the traitors, while another three teams blocked the flow of traffic and managed attempted escapees and those arrested. He was part of the ground deployment headed up by Beta Team commanded by Major Shevu. Jacen commanded Alpha team, and the third team Calamiri was commanded by Captain Betsi Webs.

    As the troops transport began to descend, Lon spoke through a voice amplifier. “This is the Galactic Alliance Guard. Please do not panic and remain in your dwellings. Repeat: this is the Galactic Alliance Guard. Please do not panic and remain in your dwellings…”

    Ben tuned the familiar phrasing out as the targeted street come closer. Uneasiness about the mission made his skin prickle. He’d told Jacen about the latest dream, but his master’s explanation did nothing to reassure him. Jacen encouraged him to use the vision as foreshadowing, a warning to be extra vigilant. Ben already had been doing that. Something was going to happen. What he wanted to know was how to stop it.

    They put down on the main street and split up, and each team rushed to cover the area. Ben was so used to the process, which was always the same, he didn’t have to think about his actions as he and his partner split off to inquire at each door.

    Going from apartment to apartment, Shevu would question the occupants, while Ben searched the apartment with a hand-held device that could detect firearms and explosives. After the initial wave of terrorism two years ago, all personal firearms had to be registered with the government and was tracked with a computer chip issued individually and impossible to forge. The scanner read these chips and identified the owner. If a weapon was registered but in the possession of someone else, the possessor would be detained. If any unregistered weapons were found, the possessors were immediately arrested. Even if weapons were registered, often the owners were subjected to more questioning then those without any. It was a fair way of doing things. Why those against the government’s policy had claimed the Personnel Weaponry Justification and Reporting Act echoed the types of laws the old Empire had, he just didn’t get.

    Jacen always assigned the Major and Ben on the most dangerous of search areas. Due to Ben’s ability to sense, not only the intent of the people they questioned, but also his ability to snoop out explosives, they had discovered several suspicious persons and two stashes of illegal arms within the first half hour of the search.

    Shevu looked at Ben as they came to the next door. The data retrieved from the city census identified the residents as Clarice and Foss Dakin. Neither of them had ever been in trouble with the law, and they were well respected in the community.

    Ben answered Lon’s unspoken question of whether he was getting anything with a shake of his helmeted head. Despite not feeling any ill intent, apprehension skittered along his nerves as the older man banged on the door.

    “This is Major Shevu of the GAG, open up.”

    Ben let the Force calm his anxiousness as the door slid open a few centimeters and a female voice came through the crack.

    “Go away. We have done nothing wrong.”

    “I’m sorry Mrs. Dakin, but our orders are clear and come from the highest office. We must search your home, and you will answer my questions or face detention.”

    The door slid open. Ben shifted away from Shevu to scan of the main sitting room of the spacious home of one of the wealthiest members of this neighborhood. GAG’s spies reported seeing the terrorists entering and leaving this particular apartment building. As his skin tingled with his rising unease, Ben glanced sideways to Shevu and reached out to touch the woman again with a probe. He still felt nothing from her except genuine fear. To look at the well-dressed woman, he had a hard time associating her with terrorism.

    Were they just honest hard working immigrants who came to Coruscant after the Vong War to make a better life for themselves? Research of the occupants of this building revealed she was from Commenor but her mother was Corellian and her husband had been from the industrial world of Eriadu. She had cultural ties to the Insurgents and to the terrorists who bombed the capital. But so did a lot of people, including Jysella and she was as loyal to the GA as he was.

    Wanting to get away and leave this woman in peace, he turned his attention back to the task at hand. He circled the room when his danger sense sent a shock through him.

    “Get down!” As a blast ripped through the room, he leapt over the couch and landed on Shevu, pushing the older man to the floor. He called on the Force to throw up a protective shield. As the fire ball shattered the windows and engulfed the room, Ben was vaguely aware of the woman’s terrified screams, then her winking out of existence.

    Heat of the fire burned though his combat uniform and he drew on the Force to reinforce the shield, but he wasn’t strong enough to hold back the flames for long.

    Jacen’s concern flashed over him with a prodding of urgency. Use your hate. Let your anger make you stronger.

    Ben took a deep breath and let his boiling hate and anger at those who took so many innocent lives crackle through him. As he pulled the Force to him, electric power enveloped him. He pushed outward and concentrated on dousing the flames around him and Lon.

    Using the Force for strength, he stood. The burns on his body and the gashes on his face stung, as did his lungs from the smoky air. He shook his head to clear the ringing in his ears, then bent to check the major.

    Lon was unconscious and burned in several places, but his breathing was strong. Ben sighed with relief. The rancid odor of burned flesh wrinkled his nose, and he glanced at the remains of the woman. He should have saved her, too, but he’d only been thinking of his friend. Before the guilt choked him, the memory of her treachery slipped into his thoughts. With another shake of his head to clear it, he forgot his sorrow over her death and pushed himself to his feet. Despite the pain, he hefted Lon onto his burned shoulder and carried him out of the ruined apartment.

    At the door, he glanced once more at Clarice Dakin. The woman got what she deserved. She was a traitor after all.

    ****

    Hyperspace on the way to Bothan Space, Insurgent Flagship, Intrepid

    Wearing the immaculate white uniform of an admiral, Jagged Fel made his way up to the front of the command tactical center of the Imperial Star Destroyer Intrepid. His Corellian counterpart, who happened to be his uncle, followed closely behind. Jag still found it odd he and Wedge Antilles were of the same rank and fighting on the same side in a war with the GFFA.

    He had come to Corellia eighteen months ago under the orders of Grand Admiral Gilad Pellaeon to find Han and Leia Solo and Wedge Antilles. Through Jag, the old Imperial Head of State and one-time GA Supreme Commander had asked his friends to petition the new Corellian Head of State Dur Gejjen with a treaty. The Remnant had wanted to join the fight on the side of Corellia, but Pellaeon had known his interest in the Corellian conflict would look suspicious. However, Pellaeon’s reasons hadn’t been as calculating as those who had fought him in the days of the Rebellion would have guessed. The old admiral hadn’t liked where the GFFA was headed. He’d spent his life’s blood to mold and chisel out a government from the fragments left at the end of the Rebellion, and he’d refused to see his dreams be torn apart by leadership that was making the same mistakes they’d fought against.

    Pellaeon had realized he was too old to fight this war. Jag recalled the first time his father’s friend approached him with the idea of coming to Corellia. He was new to the Imperial Navy, having defected to the Remnant after the Swarm War. The Chiss had not been pleased with him, but after demoting him and taking his command away, he’d been politely asked to leave their service. He’d been crushed at first, but his father had helped him realize he was destined for greater things then being a Chiss whipping post. He’d gone to the Remnant and Pellaeon had put him in for a commission. After accepting the job of coming to Corellia, Jag had been promoted to admiral and put in charge of the fleet deployed to the war.

    He tucked those thoughts away as he and Wedge returned the salutes of the top ranking officers of the task force, and he took his place before the podium. “Please be seated.” As a holoprojector showed a star chart of the Bothan sector, he glanced at Admiral Traest Kre’fey. The commander of the Bothan component of the Insurgents gave him a nod, and Jag faced his command staff. “The government on Coruscant received an incredible blow six days ago. Although, the governments of the planets the alleged terrorist are said to be citizens of have denied involvement in the horrendous act, Cha Niathal, the new Chief of State, has declared war on these governments.”

    “She has also ordered Colonel Jacen Solo to round up and interrogate anyone who may remotely be involved in this act, much as he had Corellians and Bothans starting two years ago.” Jag glanced at Han Solo, who sat toward the back. The man scowled and shook his head in utter disgust at the mention of his son.

    Jag swallowed and fought the memories of the other Solo twin as he continued speaking. “The Ruling Council has decided not to wait for the GA to strike at our forces. Instead, we will use this time of confusion and disorder to implement our own initiative. We will take on the offensive and attack the GA at Bothawui. We had lost this valuable sector eight months ago, but today we will take it back.” After the tickling of applause died down, Jag turned to the highest ranking Bothan in the Insurgency and stepped away. “Now Admiral Kre’fey will outline the particulars of the battle plan.”

    Kre’fey turned to the commanding officers and pointed at a bright spot on the star chart. “If you turn your attention to the hologram of the planet Bothawui, you will see the Galactic Alliance has the planet well secured. The Fifth Fleet is assigned to that task…”

    ****

    Officer’s Club, Intrepid

    Han Solo lifted a glass of whiskey to his lips and winced at the comforting burn as it slid down his throat. Wedge sat on the barstool beside him at the bar of the Officer’s Club and placed his ordered.

    As the droid set a glass and a bottle of Corellian whiskey on the bar, Han glanced at his friend. “Do you think this will work?”

    Admiral Wedge Antilles took the bottle and the glass and motioned toward the back of the room with his chin. Han followed him to one of the vacant booths in a quiet corner.

    “I don’t know. The kid has a good plan and I trust his tactical abilities.” Wedge refilled Han’s glass, then his own with whiskey. “Yeah, I think we might have a chance here.”

    Han swallowed another drink, feeling older than he’d ever had. He hadn’t felt this bad since the GA government had arrested him and Leia nearly two years ago on the trumped up charges that they had assassinated the ruler of Kuat. Not even Luke had been able to help them when the GAG discovered the murder weapon in their apartment. Han and Jacen had long been on the outs since Han disowned him for the cold-blooded murder of Boba Fett’s daughter, and his son believed the worse. They escaped Coruscant under fire by the GAG and headed for the only place they could—Corellia.

    “Jaina flies with the Fifth, Wedge. I don’t think I could bring myself to shoot at her if it came down to it.”

    Wedge set his glass on the table and slowly nodded. “Yeah, I know what you mean. Remember, Syal had her chance more than once to make starfood out of me.”

    Staring into the amber liquid before him, Han shook his head. “Well, at least she wised up and joined the right side.”

    “That’s true, but she isn’t happy. She misses Valin.” Wedge poured another shot of whiskey and held up the bottle.

    Nodding, Han recalled the rumors he’d heard regarding Wedge’s elder daughter and Corran Horn’s son as the admiral refilled his glass. They’d become romantically involved after the Battle of Drall eighteen months ago. But Syal’s loyalty to the GA began to diminish around the same time, then six months ago she defected to the Corellian side. She’d tried to convince Valin to switch sides, but he was as stubborn as his father and remained with the Jedi and the GA.

    Han twirled the dark liquid in his glass. “Hopefully, there is still hope for him to change his mind. Love is a powerful convincer.”

    Wedge smiled and raised his glass. “It sure is.”

    Han raised his glass in salute, and both men drank.

    With a wince, Wedge set his glass on the table. “Have you heard anything from the twins?”

    Han shook his head and reached for the bottle to refill his glass. Thinking of his son and daughter made him want to get falling down drunk in a way he hadn’t since Chewie died. “No. Although, Leia has been in contact with Jaina and Luke via the Force. From Jacen, she gets nothing.” After tossing back another shot, he met his friend’s gaze and admitted to himself as much as to Wedge. “I’m worried about him.”

    “Worried? By the way you say that, I gather you mean more so than the fact you are on opposite sides of a civil war.”

    Should he divulge his thoughts regarding his son to Wedge? He couldn’t talk about them with Leia because the implication would upset her. Besides, other than his shady dealings with the GAG, Jacen was a Jedi Master and sat on the Council with Luke. Surely, Luke would have sensed something dark in him. But the nagging thoughts wouldn’t leave Han alone. He’d recalled a vision Leia had had not long after they married when they’d headed to Tatooine. As he’d remembered her description of the details, she’d seen Vader’s mask within the twin suns as his voice repeated the word mine.

    Realizing Wedge waited for him to respond, Han drained another shot of whiskey. “Yeah, worried. I’m beginning to think Jacen has fallen to the Dark Side. It would sure explain a lot of his actions.”

    “Han. He’s on the Jedi Council.” With his brows furrowed, Wedge leaned in over his forearms. “You’re accusing your son of the something pretty significant. You do realize that, don’t you?”

    A short bitter laugh escaped his lips as Han sat back in the booth and spread his arms. “You forget I’m married to the Jedi, Wedge. I fought as hard and as long for that order as Luke or Leia had. Yes, I know what I’m saying. I fear that my son is turning into the monster his grandfather had been, not just in comparison with his actions, but in what Jacen is becoming. And Force help us if Luke doesn’t soon see it.”


    Thanks for reading! [face_cowboy]
     
  14. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    Interesting stuff! Jacen is both over-the-top (...use your hate...) and very subtle (clearly, he was altering Ben's memory/perception of the raid). A disclaimer: all of the following is only meant to spark discussion, and is in no way an attack on writing style--

    Without knowing the backstory for this, it still looks as if Corellia is seceding from the GFFA. With that, I have my doubts that the Imperials would weigh in on the side of what is, after all, a breakaway republic. If you're following the overall plotline from LotF, Corellia DID make demands of Coruscant that I think the Imperials would view as unreasonable and detrimental to law-and-order. From Niathal's point-of-view, if Corellia secedes what is to stop everyone else from leaving? What is keeping the Alliance together? This alone could take us pages to figure out.

    The political argument for secession got buried in LotF, so I'm hoping that you delve into it more. At it's base, BOTH sides of the war were wrong: Corellia did NOT have the right to secede, and Jacen CLEARLY went too far in trying to stop them. I'm hoping that Niathal has a better plan....and that she lives to implement it.

    I'm also hoping (somewhat naively, I suppose) that Jacen isn't too far gone and can be redeemed somehow. Unfortunately, he's already killed the love of his life, so I'm guessing that is not in the cards. I do think, however, that the comparison to Palpatine falls a bit flat...Palpatine was an unknown Senator from a minor planet that managed to stay in the shadows until it was too late. Jacen does not have that as an ally...EVERYONE knows who he is.

    I think you're handling Ben and Jysella's relationship rather well...when I was 19 I had a HUGE crush on a girl who was a HS freshman (yeah, I know...a bit creepy). Anyway, I was acting like 'your' Jysella...to afraid to ask her out, even though I wanted to and even though I knew she liked me.

    If you don't mind my Jacen rants, I would like to continue reading.
     
  15. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    I would love for you to keep reading! And I don't mind the Jacen rants... Actually (since this is a reposting--with some minor changes where I need them to the plot and much needed editing) most of your comments aren't something I haven't heard before...LOL

    You are so right, the politics did get buried in LotF. I hope I make things a bit clearer, but I too hate to admit that I kind of brush over them. As for the Empire joining Corellia, I can see why they wouldn't and why they might do so. If they support Corellia and they win, the Empire could expand. I hope I am able to give you a satisfying reason within the many more chapters to go.

    As for my Jacen - Palpatine conparison. Again you are not wrong, but it is Palpatine from whom I drew my inspiration from when I created my Sith Jacen and his double identity as a Jedi Master and a Sith Lord.

    And I'm glad you get where my conflict comes from regarding my making an issue out of Ben's and Jysella's age difference.

    Thanks again for reading!!! :)
     
  16. Chilla

    Chilla Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 30, 2005
    That was really good. I feel for Han (and Leia), but I'm relieved that Han can see clearly what's going on. Goodness, I hope everything will be alright during the battle and no one will shoot a lover or family member down....

    I'm a bit confused why Ben is not seeing the direction Jacen is steering him in. I mean, his Jedi training must have included a bazillion warnings against the Dark Side and yet his own master telling him to use his hatred doesn't make any alarms go off inside his head? Maybe he just trusts Jacen too blindly.

    =D= Another well-written chapter! Looking forward to more!
     
  17. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Thank you, Chilla... Writing some of Han and Leia's scenes were the hardest. As for Ben not seeing Jacen's guidance... Remember Jacen's belief that there was no light and dark Force? That using emotion for the intent of good didn't make it dark? That's why Ben doesn't question it. He's feeding Ben faulty info, in the guise of what he'd learned when he went on his journey to learn from other Force groups.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    Chapter 5

    Presidential Mansion, Coronet, Corellia

    He read the encrypted report and hit the delete key. After a moment of digesting the information, Prime Minister Dur Gejjen balled his fist and slammed it down on his elegant native red stone desk, which was the only thing he’d kept that had belonged to his predecessor Thracken Sal-Solo.

    His plan to rid the galaxy, and more importantly, himself of Jacen Solo hadn’t succeeded. The extremist thugs he’d hired to rig up the explosives in several of the apartments in the Commeror neighborhood had failed. They hadn’t even managed to do away with the Skywalker brat. The only good thing had been five GAG members were killed and twelve injured, but both Jedi and Shevu survived.

    Sithspit! What did he have to do to get rid of them?

    He didn’t buy into Brisha’s assessment that Cha Niathal wouldn’t put Jacen Solo in charge of something that could prove disastrous to the Insurgents and in particular to Corellia. He’d been in politics too long not to think like a politician, and he knew what he would do if Solo was on Corellia’s side. Cha Niathal was just as cunning with her assets.

    Getting rid of Solo was his top priority and Brisha Syo had proven she was very good at such things.

    He called the comlink frequency for Syo only to find it disconnected. With another curse, he stood and looked out his window at the grounds of the mansion. As he punched in frequency for the hotel Syo was staying, he paced behind his desk.

    “Grand Coronet Hotel,” said the irritatingly pleasant droid.

    Dur ran his hand through his hair. “Connect me to Brisha Syo’s room please.”

    “Sir, I’m sorry, but we do not have any guests by that name. Would you like me to check for another name?”

    Dur stopped in his trek across the carpet. “What do you mean you don’t have any guests by that name?”

    “I’m sorry, sir, but she checked out three days ago.”

    He threw the comlink down on the stone surface of the elaborate desk. “Kriff!”

    Why would she disappear during such a crisis? She’d been giving him information and supplying assassins since his ascension to power two years ago. Her plans to assassinate several leaders of planets teetering on the edge of which side to support had been brilliant. The first attempt to create an opening for a new, pro-Corellian leader had been a failure when Han and Leia Solo prevented the assassination of Tenel Ka of Hapes. He’d been willing to give her another chance when she orchestrated the assassination of the leader of Sluis Van, implicating the GA. Then in a stroke of genius, she arranged the assassination of the leader of Kuat and framed the Solos. Both governments immediately declared war on the GA, but the jackpot for him was Han and Leia’s defection to Corellia. He’d much rather have the two on his side than against him. When the Queen of Hapes died, the regent Prince Isolder had declared alliance to Corellia. Dur still couldn’t believe the Jedi queen had fallen over dead. Brisha had something to do with her death, too. He’d bet his office on it.

    He had to be patient. Brisha hadn’t let him down yet. Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, he sat at his desk and put his comlink back in its assigned spot. He used both hands to smooth his hair and got back to a more publicly acceptable initiative—the attack on Bothawui.

    Admiral Fel wouldn’t fail him; he seldom did.

    ****

    Freedom Medical Center, Northern Coruscant

    Luke and Mara Skywalker made their way through the throngs of HoloNet reporters and the shouting civilians in the medical center lobby. Jysella silently followed her masters, steering clear of the yelling beings and the security guards holding them back. She held her robes tightly around her as if they would shield her from the intense emotions in the Force—anxiety, confusion, sorrow, distrust, anger and hate. All directed in equal parts toward the residents of the Commenoran neighborhood and the GAG.

    Had the GAG had been smart to bring their injured to the hospital that serviced the neighborhood they had just investigated?

    She rushed to keep up with Luke and Mara when a spike of anger directed at her brushed her agitated senses. A reporter from the anti-Corellian Coruscant Tonight shoved in front of her, effectively cutting her off from the Skywalkers.

    “What do you think of the attack, Jedi Horn?” The sneering human in his late twenties pointed a microphone at her.

    Jys looked up at him and swallowed. He had a certain callousness she’d noticed more often on Coruscant, especially from those who thought of themselves as true Coruscanti. “I do not understand, sir.”

    He smiled but without much sincerity. “Oh, come on, by the color you choose to wear, we know where your loyalties really lie. You are Jedi Jysella Horn, are you not? You are Corellian.”

    Jys tapped her foot and tightened her grip on her robes as she glanced around for an escape route. “Yes, I am Jedi Horn. And yes, my parents are from Corellia, but they, my brother and I have chosen to protect the greater good of the GFFA over any planetary claim to patriotism we may have.”

    The reporter loomed larger over her. “Yet, you, your father and brother still insist on wearing Corellian green.”

    Jys couldn’t help the spike of frustration. She straightened to her full height, which to her disappointment she was still several centimeters shorter than he was. “Look, sir, I wear the green of Corellia because I honor our Jedi tradition. I am a Corellian Jedi, but I do not agree with Corellia’s politics. Although it weighs heavy on my heart, I will fight my home world to my last breath because they are wrong. However, I will always consider myself Corellian even if I never set foot on the world again.”

    Her master coming up behind her, and Mara scowled at the reporter. “Jysella, is everything okay?”

    Jysella smiled and bowed to the reporter as she glared into his hard, dark eyes. “Yes, Master, and I was on my way back to you and Master Luke.”

    Mara rested her hand on her shoulder. “Good. We know where he is.”

    Jys nodded and let Ben’s mother steer her to where Luke stood waiting by the turbolift.

    ****

    Luke entered the bacta lab and the antiseptic tang of the healing substance assaulted his nose. He’d been dunked into the tanks more than once, but despite the miracle of the slimy stuff, he never cared for the stench.

    He glanced over at the young woman at his wife’s side and smiled. Did she believe she was actually hiding her feelings for Ben from anyone? However, Luke was unsure of Ben’s feelings for Jysella. They were friends, but were Jysella’s emotions one-sided? He wasn’t sure what he felt regarding her love for his son. She was all but a few months shy of being four years older than Ben, and he hoped, if Ben did return her love, they waited until they both were a little older and not under the stress of war before making any commitments to each other.

    Then again, he didn’t know much about his son’s mindset these days. He hadn’t had a decent conversation with him in over a year.

    He sighed and came to a halt and waited for the man walking toward him.

    His nephew bowed. “Uncle Luke, Aunt Mara, I’m glad you were able to come so quickly.” He turned to Jys and smiled. “Jysella, how nice it is to see you.”

    The tension rolling off Mara was almost palpable. “Where is he, Jacen?”

    The smile never wavered from Jacen’s lips, but something cold flashed in his eyes. Mara’s and Jacen’s dislike for each other was no secret. “Ben’s fine. He’s received several burns, but as with the case the other day, he managed to save his life and that of Major Shevu. You should be quite proud of his abilities.” Jacen turned to Luke. “It won’t be long before Ben is as powerful as I am.”

    “You didn’t answer my question, Jacen.” Mara folded her arms and glared at her nephew.

    Jacen lifted his hand and brushed it over the bacta bandage on his forehead. Other bandages covered his left forearm and his thigh where the fabric of his uniform had been burned away. Dropping his hand to his side again, he said, “He’s in room two. The droids just put him in the tank.”

    Mara didn’t wait for anything else from Jacen. She pushed past him and headed for the door with Jysella following close behind.

    Jacen watched them leave. “I don’t know what I ever did to warrant such displeasure from her. I miss my Aunt Mara.”

    Luke rested his real hand on his nephew’s shoulder. “She will come around. She’s worried about Ben, as I am. We fear he’s slipping away from us.”

    Jacen met his gaze. “What he does for the GAG is important.”

    Luke frowned and dropped his hand to his side. “We fear his tactics, Jacen. As we fear yours.”

    Jacen nodded and looked back to the closed door of the treatment room. “We do what we have to, Uncle Luke. These are difficult times, but the survival of the Galactic Alliance—the Republic we all fought so hard to defend—is of highest importance.”

    Luke swallowed hard as he thought of his sister and best friend and the years they fought against the Empire, then the Yuuzhan Vong. Leia and Han were on the wrong side. The Corellians wanted nothing more than to dissolve the GA and set up their own confederation. If he’d ever been able to figure out who framed them of murder and exonerate them, maybe they could come home. The GA needed them.

    Mara’s surprise and grief washed over him, startling him. How bad were Ben’s injuries? “When we get back to Galactic City, we will discuss Ben’s involvement in the GAG.”

    Annoyance flashed across Jacen’s face, but he quickly covered it. Although Luke didn’t expect to feel anything in Jacen, he was surprised to find sadness and a desire to protect those he loved.

    Jacen sighed and looked down at his boots. “Luke, Ben may be young, but he has talent, and being part of the GAG is what he wants to be doing. But more to the point, he is learning how to use and control the Force while performing his duties. He is also learning to trust the Force as his ally. Isn’t that why you let him come with me to begin with all those years ago?”

    Luke had to agree with Jacen on some of what he’d said, but not all. Yes, he and Mara had thought Jacen was good for Ben, until Jacen started using the Force in questionable ways, but by then, it was too late. The Jedi Council had promoted Jacen to master, and Ben had chosen him as his official teacher. He may not sense darkness in Jacen, but his nephew was confused. Luke believed Jacen’s search for and learning of other Force techniques had given him a diluted sense of light and dark.

    Mara’s heartache brushed over his nerves again, reminding him she needed him by her side. Luke headed for the treatment room. “Now isn’t the time.”

    He stopped beside Mara and slipped his arm around her waist. She pressed her hand against the tank where an unconscious Ben hung in the fluid with nothing covering him but a pair of shorts. Several large, ugly burns covered his lanky, sinewy frame, which reminded Luke of the young Anakin Skywalker from Artoo’s holograms. The worst wounds were on his shoulders and across his back. Serrated gashes cut across his right cheek and forehead. The burns would most likely heal without scaring, but the lacerations on his face probably wouldn’t, which saddened Luke. His son was too young to have battle scars.

    ****

    Outer Bothawui Orbit, GA Fifth Fleet, Mon Mothma

    Jaina pushed the steamed purple vegetables across her plate for the tenth time, and Zekk had enough of it. Laying his fork down and pushing his plate away, Lieutenant Colonel and Jedi Knight Zekk grinned. “I know you don’t like sparci cabbage, but Force, Jaina, do you have to torture it any more than it already has been.”

    She looked up absently. “Huh?”

    He laughed and reached for his tray. “C’mon, it doesn’t look like you’re hungry either. Let’s get out of here.”

    With a sigh, she laid her fork down across her uneaten meal. “No, I’m not hungry. I have a lot on my mind.”

    Zekk stood and waited for her to follow, then falling into step beside each other, they deposited their trash and left the mess hall to head back to the privacy of the sleeping quarters they shared. Once behind the closed door, Zekk asked, “What’s the matter? You haven’t been yourself for days.”

    She sat on the bunk assigned to her and adverted her eyes to her folded hands. “I’m worried about the battle coming up. Something doesn’t feel right, Zekk. I think Dad is out there.”

    Zekk sat across from her on the bunk that was officially his, although he never slept in it. He had a hard time sleeping without Jaina beside him. “You’ve fought against him before.”

    She nodded and surprised him by moving to sit beside him. “I know. But one of these times he’s either gonna have to shoot at me or I at him. I don’t think I can do that. I wish I knew how Mom and Dad were doing.” She slipped her arm around his waist and he pulled her into his lap. These moments of true intimacy were rare between them. They often found themselves on different shifts or too exhausted to do more than sleep. So, holding each other and talking felt like heaven to him, even if the topic was depressing.

    She laid her head on his shoulder. “I wish they knew about us, about our engagement.”

    Zekk chuckled in spite of the gravity of their conversation. “And then your father would think he really had a justified reason to kill me.”

    Jaina playfully slapped his chest and glared up at him. “He might have very good reason. Sometimes, you torment the life out of me.”

    He treasured her lopsided grin and the twinkle in her eyes. Jaina didn’t smile much these days.

    Zekk pulled her more into his embrace and shifted until he was leaning against the wall. “Jaina, do you ever wonder if we are fighting on the wrong side?”

    She turned within his arms and met gaze, seemingly lost for a long time, just searching. “Yes, I do, especially when the government I’m defending keeps someone like Jacen around. I can’t help but feel uneasy about him, Zekk. I’m afraid that he’s losing himself.”

    Zekk reached up and tucked a loose lock of her medium length brown hair behind her ear and swallowed. He didn’t like where his old friend’s actions much these days either. “Jaina, I fear for him, too. But I also worry about Ben. I still don’t know why Master Skywalker hasn’t done anything about him.”

    “Uncle Luke is the only person who seems to see good in Jacen anymore. Well, him and the Council.” Shaking her head, Jaina sighed and rested her head against his shoulder again. “I hope Ben is okay. He’s too young for what he’s doing. Look what fighting a war young did to us.”

    Zekk rested his chin on top of her head, closed his eyes and tightened his arms around her small shoulders. “I know what you mean.” Through their bond, which was as much a left-over from their time as Killik Joiners as a product of their love and the Force, he added, But we all had each other to get us through, Ben has no one.

    ****

    Hangar, Mon Mothma

    Jedi Knight and Rogue Squadron pilot Valin Horn lay on his belly over the top of his XJ7 X-wing. He leaned into a service compartment and used a hydrospanner to make a few adjustments to the inertial compensator when his R-5 astromech began to tweeter at him.

    “Not now, Fetcher, I realize you don’t like it when I do my own work, but I don’t like how the inertial compensator is acting. Besides, I am the one who needs it.”

    The astromech, who had been a gift to him from his mother and had flown with him since he was sixteen, screeched again. This time, Valin lifted his head to look at the droid tucked into its slot, and in the process, banged his head on the edge of the service compartment.

    “Owww!” He rubbed the back of his head and glared at the droid. “This had better be for a good—” Tickling laughter forestalled the rest of the comment.

    Valin turned towards the chuckling young red-haired woman. She leaned against his X-wing and crossed her arms over chest. “I was under the impression Jedi were more perceptive.”

    Valin continued to rub his head and slid down the closed S-foil. Once reaching the tip he stood and easily leapt off the end, landing in a crouch beside her.

    She turned and held out her hand and smiled. “I’m Allia Judday.”

    Valin returned her smile, wiped his hands on his flight suit, and shook her hand. “You’re the new pilot?”

    She nodded and crossed her arms again as she looked over his X-wing. “Yeah. Just arrived yesterday.”

    “I’m Valin Horn. But somehow I think you already know that.”

    She blushed and her lips curled in a small smile. “Yeah, I do. According to the new roster, I’m your wingmate. I thought I should introduce myself before the commander gets here.”

    Valin puckered his brow. “I thought the other new guy—Fritzer—was supposed to be my co-pilot?”

    She shrugged. “Apparently, he came down with something and has been pulled from the roster. Colonel Zekk assigned me to fly as your wing and another pilot is being assigned to us.”

    “Oh.”

    Fritzer and Allia had been assigned as pilots just a few days ago. Fritzer was a vetron pilot from the Yuuzhan Vong war. Allia was young, but had a good flight record. Although command seemed impressed with her for her aggressiveness, Valin would have preferred a more experienced wingmate. He felt the familiar presence of Zekk coming into the hangar with Jaina close behind.

    Zekk stopped beside Allia. “Well, I see you two have met. Lt. Fritzer will not be joining Rogue Squadron.”

    “What happened? I just met him two days ago.”

    Zekk glanced at Allia, and the man’s cheeks reddened. “He’s come down with—ah—”

    Jaina shook her head and amusement twinkled in her eyes. “The Bothan flu.”

    Which wasn’t influenza at all, but a rather nasty venereal disease that humans usually couldn’t contract, but there were exceptions.

    Jaina snickered and shrugged. “It seems he came back from his leave with more than just memories of a good time.”

    The blush deepened on Allia’s cheeks. She pushed her short auburn hair behind an ear, and her eyes brightened to vibrant silver grey.

    Zekk cleared his throat. He didn’t seem any more comfortable with the subject than Allia did. “Well, I’d like you two to hit the sims and get some flight hours in. We have a battle coming up and we all need to be at our best.”

    Valin nodded. “Yes, sir.”

    After Zekk and Jaina moved away, Valin said, “You came from V-Swords, right?”

    Allia narrowed her eyes on him and irritation poured from her in the Force. “Hey, I know it is an Eta-5 squad but I have been flying X-wings since before I could walk.”

    Widening his eyes at her defensiveness, Valin held out his hands. “Wait. Did I say anything about you being an interceptor pilot versus an X-wing pilot?”

    “Well—no…”

    “What I was getting at is I have a good friend who used to fly with them.”

    “Oh, I’m sorry.” Her cheeks flamed again, and she laughed, which dispelled some of the tension. “Wait, that didn’t sound right. I mean I’m sorry—”

    “I know what you meant. Though once you find out who, you may feel the other way.” Grinning, he headed for the simulators, and she quickly fell into step beside him.

    “Now, I’m curious.”

    His heart ached as he thought about the woman he loved. They’d always been friends, but when he' joined Rogue Squadron, they’d become closer. At the Battle of Drall, he’d saved her life after she’d been injured. In the process, they’d fallen in love. He understood her decision to follow her heart and defect. The thought had crossed his mind more than once, but to think they were on different sides in this crazy war, hurt like a lightsaber through his heart sometimes.

    “Well? You are the one who brought it up.” Allia stopped at the door into the simulation room.

    “Syal Antilles.”

    She averted her eyes to the decking, and her voice came from somewhere deep inside. “Yeah, I know her. I wasn’t surprised she defected. I know I couldn’t fight my dad.”

    Valin reached for the door, wishing he hadn’t brought up the subject of Syal Antilles. “Not sure I could either.” But fighting the person I want to spend the rest of my life with is even harder.




    Thanks for reading! [face_cowboy]
     
  18. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Chapter 6

    Bothawui Orbit

    Tension built in Syal Antilles, and she bounced her foot on the floor of the X-wing cockpit. She hated waiting for the orders. The big ships took up their positions around the planet of Bothawui outside her viewport. The Fifth Fleet was the defender against the slightly larger Insurgents fleet. The Bothans were given the privilege of attacking first, then the rest of the fleet opened up on the GA.

    Was Valin among the fighters the Mon Montha spewed? Sighing, she hoped she wouldn’t have to face him again in battle. She’d known Valin Horn all her life. Her father and his mother were like brother and sister, Booster Terrik was as much a grandfather to her and her sister as he was to Valin and his sister Jysella, but oddly Syal and Valin never considered each other as close as family. They’d always been just friends—until he’d saved her after she’d crashed on Drall.

    Valin had somehow used the Force to keep her alive. She assumed he’d put her into a healing trance, but he’d never share the specifics with her. She had been taken back to Coruscant to recover, and Valin had managed to get leave to escort her back. She’d lived with Mirax and Corran Horn, while she’d convalesced. Valin had also stayed with her for a while, then one day he’d admitted he’d fallen in love with her. She would never forget the fire of their first kiss. Of course, it would have been better if his mother hadn’t caught them.

    She’d always loved Valin, ever since they’d been children on his grandfather’s ship the Errant Venture during the Vong war. But Valin hadn’t always loved her. His first love had been a Melodie Jedi named Sannah. Their relationship had been doomed from the beginning and ended shortly after she’d turned into an adult.

    As she bounced in her seat waiting for the order to engage, rage bloomed in her heart. Why couldn’t he see the injustice of the GA? If he wouldn’t be so sinking stubborn, they wouldn’t be on opposite sides of this stupid war.

    Her comm came to life, jarring her out of her thoughts. “Mynocks, you’re next. Follow the Falcon. Mix it up.”

    Syal clicked her comm to acknowledge her commanding general, Han Solo. She wasn’t the only one facing someone she loved on the side of the enemy. Han and his co-pilot were facing their daughter.

    Shaking her head at the absurdity of it all, she hit the squadron frequency. “Okay, Mynocks, we have a go. Lock S-foils in attack position. Let’s convince the GA we mean business.”

    She received eleven clicks as she kicked up her sublights when the Millennium Falcon shot forward. As she headed into the battle, she recognized the oncoming X-wings of Rogue Squadron and her heart broke. “Oh, Valin, I’m so sorry it has come to this. Please forgive me. I love you.”

    ****

    “Sticks, take your flight up the middle, Nine, take your flight port side. Two you’re on me, starboard.”

    Valin acknowledged Zekk’s call over the comm with a double click, then turned to his flight’s tactical frequency. “Three Flight, we’re going port. Ten you’re on me.”

    As he headed to the left of the Jaina’s Two Flight, a cold horror turned his guts to liquid as the Insurgent squad came closer following the Millennium Falcon. He soon realized the feeling came from Jaina through the battle meld he had with her and Zekk. He sent his understanding and reassurance back to her and felt Zekk do the same. Her pain spiked again when he felt another presence— Leia Solo. She was on the Falcon with Han, no doubt.

    As he engaged the first of the oncoming X-wings, a soft tremor brushed against his senses. The feeling wasn’t strong and didn’t come from another Force-sensitive. He got more of a sense someone was out there thinking about him. As the distance closed, he gasped when recognition hit him. “Sweet Force, no! Syal.”

    A laser blast hit his forward shields, forcing him to shoot back.

    ****

    “Han, that’s Rogue Squadron coming at us,” Leia said from the co-pilot’s chair. Han stared at his wife as she gazed out at the battle blooming around them.

    “You sure?” The question was unnecessary. Leia would have sensed Jaina in the Force.

    Leia turned to him. In all the years they’d been married, only one other time caused such profound sadness in Leia’s deep sienna eyes—when Anakin had been killed and Jacen believed so.

    “Yes.” She turned back to stare out the view port.

    Han looked forward as well and swallowed hard. “We’ve done this before. She knows we’re here and we know where she is.” With a forced lopsided grin, he glanced back at her. “So, we just won’t shoot at her and she won’t shoot at us.” Leia glared at him, and after a moment, he got her point. “Okay, that might not be always possible, but it’s worked so far. This isn’t the first time we’ve faced her in battle.”

    “No, it isn’t, but someday your luck is going to run out. Either we will have to take aim at her, or she will shoot at us.” Leia stood to head to her usual spot in the top turret. At the cockpit exit, she faced him. “Han, I don’t have a good feeling about this. And I’m getting too old for this.” Her voice took on a faraway quality as did her moist eyes. “I gave birth to three children, but I never really got to know any of them. I wasn’t there when the twins said their first words. I not only missed Anakin’s first words, but also his first steps. Do you realize that I never knew what Anakin’s favorite color was? I don’t know what Jaina’s dream wedding would be like, or if she’s even given it much thought. And Jacen has become such a stranger I’m afraid of him.” She shook her head and turned toward the exit. “I will not fail Allana as I’ve failed her father, Han. I will fight this battle, but I cannot fight this war with you. It kills me a little each time I pull the trigger.”

    When she left, Han stared at the looming X-wings. His baby girl was among them. What in all the seven hells had brought the galaxy to this?

    ****

    Jaina flew into the melee and shot at the oncoming leading green and white X-wing. Green light flashed off the shields of the enemy and the pilot banked starboard. Jania lost the fighter for a moment until she realized it looped over her and was now behind her. Her astromech screeched at the same time her lock alarm began to blare.

    “Stang!” She pulled hard on her stick.

    “I got’em, Sticks,” Zekk said over the comm and an instant later he loosed a torpedo into the pursuing X-wing.

    “Thanks, Lead.” She focused on the next group of ships and cringed. The Falcon was coming right at them. Oh, Mom and Dad, why can’t you just retire?

    She felt her mother’s spike of fear and profound sorrow as Jaina and her wingmate Rogue Seven neared the Falcon. Horror filled her as the ship, which was as much a home to her as any planet-side dwelling ever could be, took a barrage of laser fire on the forward shields from her wingmate. She nearly hit the comm to order the offender to stop shooting at her father’s ship.

    The irritated voice of Rogue Seven come over her comm as Jaina banked and flew away from the Falcon, never releasing a single shot. “Sticks, why didn’t you shoot? I can’t believe you had a chance to get ’em and didn’t.”

    “Stop the chatter,” Zekk commanded. The Falcon had looped away, leaving them alone with a flight of enemy X-wings. Her mother’s guilt and grief at what nearly happened prickled Jaina’s skin. Her mother couldn’t have shot at Jaina any more than she could have shot at her parents. She shivered despite the sweat running down her face under her mask. Through her bond with her fiancé, she heard, You okay?

    The unfamiliar sting of tears burned her eyes and she blinked to prevent them from falling. What are we doing? Zekk, I can’t kill my parents. “I can’t,” she whispered aloud for her ears only and her tears began to fall.

    Zekk shot at the X-wing coming at Jaina before she had a chance to shoot. “Get out of here, Rogue Six.”

    “Wh—what?”

    “You heard me, Jaina. You’re relieved of duty. I’m escorting you back to the ship. You can’t fight like this.”

    As if to prove that she still could, she went into evasive maneuvers to rid herself of a tail that Zekk dispelled with his lasers. “Jaina, I’m ordering you to leave the field of battle now. Nine?”

    Valin Horn, flying in the same position his father had occupied years before, answered, “Nine, here, Lead.”

    “Nine, you have the squad. I’m escorting Six back to base.”

    Valin simply clicked his response, but through the battle meld, Jaina felt his understanding and support.

    She turned her X-wing as Zekk shot his lasers at another green X-wing. It didn’t explode, but her sensors showed the ship lost its shields. She got a lock on it and held her thumb over the firing stud, but she froze. Before Jaina had a chance to reconsider her actions, the ship pulled away in a series of twists and turns she instantly recognized as the same type of moves Wedge Antilles had been known to use.

    “Syal?” Jaina’s broken heart only shattered further as Valin Horn took aim at the X-wing of the woman he loved and fired.

    ****

    Freedom Medical Center, Northern Coruscant

    Jysella paced outside the Room 2. Ben was being taken out of the bacta tank. She had to talk to him. The way they had ended things before he left her at the Temple had been bothering her for days.

    Three of the other GAG officers injured in the attack were also coming out of bacta. The raid on the Commenorian community of Mullin had become as much a planetwide story as the attack in Eastport and on the Senate Building. Hospital security droids and GAG officers kept the HoloNet reporters at bay in the distance. The noise from the crowd and her thoughts concerning Ben distracted her so much she never heard or sensed Jacen.

    “I’m glad you came along with Master Skywalker.”

    Startled, she jumped before turning to face him. “Jac—I mean Master Solo, you scared me half out of my skin.”

    He flashed smirking lopsided grin. “You may call me Jacen. But I’m afraid your master needs to work on your awareness skills with you. If I had meant to do you harm, you most likely would never have known I was even here.”

    She blushed and looked down at the floor between them. “I’m sorry. I’m distracted. I wish I could be in there with my friend. I want to see him and need to talk to him.”

    Jacen gently laid his hand on her shoulder. “I know. I was asked to remain outside while he’s taken from the tank and brought to consciousness.”

    She met his dark eyes again. “I would have thought they’d want you in there.” Looking back at the door, she sighed. “Master Luke told me to stay out here.”

    Jacen slipped his arm around her shoulders and led her over to a bench in the waiting area. The familiarity made her uncomfortable, but after sitting down he pulled away. “I think Uncle Luke and Aunt Mara feel cheated that Ben would rather spend time with you or me than with them.”

    She stared at Ben’s cousin agape. “You mean they are jealous of us?”

    He leaned back on the bench and folded his hands before him. As he looked down at them, he slowly nodded. “Sadly, yes.” After a moment, he met her wide eyes. “But we can’t let their feelings interfere with our friendship or our responsibility to Ben. He needs us as much as he needs his parents, maybe more so.”

    She reached out into the Force to get a read on the Master’s feelings. She was having a hard time grasping what he was claiming. Masters Mara and Luke were jealous of her? What she felt from him assured her he really believed this. He was sorrowful his relationship with his uncle and aunt had taken such a turn and he was worried about Ben. Swallowing hard, she asked, “What do you mean by more so?”

    “His parents don’t understand him, Jys. But we do. They want him to be a holocopy of what they are now. The perfect Jedi. But Ben doesn’t want to be like his father or his mother. He wants and needs to find his own way, which means he will make mistakes. He isn’t perfect. You and I accept his imperfections and love him despite them.” Jacen smiled, and she looked away with a blush heating her cheeks. “Luke and Mara, regardless of their seemingly good intentions, can’t do this. They’ve forgotten that we all have made mistakes on our journeys to being good Jedi, including them.”

    Jysella met his gaze again. “I just hope he can forgive me. I—I hurt his feelings before the mission and now I feel terrible.”

    Jacen patted her hand where it lay in her lap. “Then I think it is important for you to see him first. I should go and check on Mrs. Shevu anyway and make sure she and the major don’t require anything.” Standing, he straightened his black jacket and grinned. “She’s had her hands full with the children. Those two youngest are quite rambunctious.”

    Jysella never got the chance to reply before he walked away, heading for Major Shevu’s room.

    The door to Ben’s room slid open revealing a medical droid. It floated toward her and said in its tinny female voice, “You may go in now, Jedi Horn.”

    Jysella greeted Luke and Mara with a shy smile as she entered the room where Ben had spent the past two days in bacta. He wore a blue-green, loose-fitting hospital gown and sat on the edge of a gurney with his bare feet dangling.

    He flashed weak smile. “I’m glad you’re here.”

    Jysella glanced at his parents, then met his gaze again. “I couldn’t stay away. You scared me half to death, for the second time in less than two weeks’ time.”

    Mara smiled and patted Luke on the arm. “Come on, Skywalker, let’s leave these too some time to visit. Ben, we’ll be right outside.”

    Ben nodded, but didn’t take his eyes from Jysella as she smiled at Mara. “Thank you, Masters.”

    Once his parents left and the door closed again, she raised a brow and looked him over. “You know that’s a good color on you.”

    He grinned and held out the skirt of the gown. “You really think so? Maybe I should wear this instead of my Jedi robes.”

    She sat on a chair beside the bed. “Of course, you never wear robes. I rarely see you in anything but your GAG uniform.”

    He huffed and glared at the door where his parents had exited. “If Dad and Mom have anything to do with it, I won’t be wearing GAG black for much longer. They want me to give up my commission.”

    Jacen’s words echoed in her mind. She leaned over her arms and studied him. “Ben, why are you part of the GAG?”

    He furrowed his brow. “Don’t you start on me, too.”

    His tone surprised her, and she straightened in ther chair. “I’m not. I just want to know if this is something you really want to do. If it is, I’ll support you all the way, but if you are only doing this to get back at your parents or because your master is the commander...” Letting question hang, she shrugged.

    He slid off the gurney and stood up. When he wavered unsteadily, Jys jumped up to catch him if he were to fall, but he’d regained his balance. He turned away from her and walked around the room. “Jys, I never wanted to do anything else in my life. I feel like I’m actually contributing to something.” His eyes were intense when he faced her. “I save lives, Jys, and I help keep the peace. Dad, I think sometimes, has gotten so big he forgets this is what Jedi are supposed to do. We aren’t monks who sit and meditate all day. He forgets that he wasn’t much older than me when he blew up the first Death Star, nor did he have as much training as I’ve had. And Mom did Palpatine’s dirty work when she was my age.” He took a step toward her, backing her up against the gurney.

    His fiery blue eyes held her captive. She gently traced the red jagged scar on his cheek with her fingertips. “That’s all I wanted to know, Ben. I only wanted to make sure this is what you want to do. I will support you always.”

    He brushed his fingers over her braid. “You should wear your hair down more. You are so beautiful when you do.” As if he realized what he’d admitted to, he blushed and glanced away.

    Her heart skipped a beat at thought he considered her beautiful. He’d never looked more handsome. “Ben...”

    He rested his hands on her waist. She held her breath as he pulled her closer with a strength that surprised her.

    She threaded the fingers of her right hand into his coppery hair and pressed the other hand against his chest over his rapidly beating heart. For a moment, time froze as she got lost in his eyes, then he leaned forward, and she didn’t fight what was coming. She wanted it as much as him.

    Ben’s lips were soft on hers, and his kiss was unsure at first. She slipped her arms around his neck as he pressed her back against the gurney. As urgency filled them, the kiss became more passionate as it deepened.

    “Oh, Jysella.” Ben huskily whispered against her lips, “I love you so much.”

    Her heart sped up, and she allowed herself to name to the emotion haunting her dreams. “Ben, I love you, too. Force help me. But I don’t know what I’d do if I ever lost you.”

    He smiled broadly and his eyes widened. “You do?”

    “I do.” Before he had a chance to say anything else, she kissed him.



    Thanks for reading!! [face_cowboy]
     
  19. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Chapter 7

    Bothawui Orbit

    Syal took a barrage of laser fire and her astromech screeched as her shields went down. She pulled the injured ship level and immediately saw her mistake as she picked up another Rogue Squadron X-wing.

    “Kriff!” When the tail didn’t shoot, she banked the ship and pulled it into a series of evasive maneuvers her dad had taught her. “We lost that one Zippers.”

    Then the R-9 squealed again, and she looked down at her sensors. “Sithspit, don’t they ever give up?” She tried to pull into another dive but her ship was sluggish and didn’t respond. Looking down at her sensor display, she stared wide-eyed as the X-wing got a lock on her. “Oh, no. Zippers, get out of here!” She screamed and hit the ejector. As the canopy exploded off her ship, the enemy lasers blasted through the hull of her ship. She closed her eyes and prayed she would clear the blast zone.

    As she made a slow turn in the weightlessness, the expanding ball of superheated metals and gas which had been her X-wing seemed to be moving in the other direction and away from her. What the...

    She wasn’t able to ponder the sight too long as a piece of debris hit her helmet and she lost consciousness.

    ****

    “Valin! No!” Jaina screamed over the comm and through the Force. She knew the type of guilt that went with shooting at a loved one. She’d been forced to do that same thing six years before when she shot down Jag Fel during the Swarm War. She shoved the sorrow of a love gone terribly wrong to the back of her mind as she reached out with the Force to catch the exploding ship and to pull it away from the ejecting pilot.

    “Jaina?” Both Valin’s and Zekk’s voices came over the comm at the same time. As Syal got far enough away from the danger, Jaina let go of the energy she strained to hold back.

    Valin’s profound despair hit Jaina as he let out a shattering cry. “Syal!”

    She reached out to find Syal floating in her ejector seat unconscious, but she seemed unharmed. “Valin, she’s okay. You hear me? Syal is okay. She cleared the blast and is going to be all right.”

    Valin’s voice was detached and lifeless. “I almost killed her, Jaina. I almost killed her.”

    He was in worse shape to fight than she was as she took aim and at a Corellian fighter coming at her and fired. “Lead?”

    Zekk must have sensed her thoughts. “Yes, Sticks, you’re right. Nine. Get back to base. You’re relieved of duty. Do you copy?”

    Valin never responded.

    Zekk called, “Ten?”

    “Yes, Lead, Ten here,” Allia Judday’s distraught voice crackled over the comm. She hadn’t been privy to the Force thoughts passing between the Jedi, but the entire squad heard their conversation.

    “Ten, you are to escort Nine back to the Mon Mothma, understand?”

    A double click sounded, but Valin’s protest countered it. “Colonel, I’m fine. I’m upset, but I’m okay. I don’t intend to leave this battle. I won’t let anything happen to her until she’s evac’ed.”

    Jaina felt Zekk reach out to the younger man through the meld and he said, “Nine, there is nothing you can do. Go back to the ship. That is an order.”

    “That’s an order I can’t keep. Nine, out.”

    Valin pulled away from the group and headed toward where Syal floated in cold space. A Corellian ship pursued him and Jaina headed after it, but Allia got there first. After she fought off the ship, she stayed with Valin.

    They were going to get themselves killed. She scanned the battleground until she found the Falcon flying evasively to rid itself of a tail. Mom! She called out into the Force. Leia’s touch came like brush of silk over chaffed skin. Jaina relayed, the best she could, telepathically about Valin and Syal. She breathed relief as the X-wings harassing Valin and Allia backed off. Thank you, Mom.

    She picked up a tail and went through a portside banking turn to avoid being vaped, she took out a fighter from another squadron. “Lead, permission to remain in the fight.”

    “As long as you’re sure, Sticks.” Zekk’s loving touch warmed Jaina’s heart, and she sent her reassurance back.

    “I’m fine, Zekk.” She dropped all pretense of military propriety. “Come on, we have a battle to win.”

    ****

    Hangar Mon Mothma

    Valin set his X-wing down on the deck with his heart shattered into a million pieces. He’d stayed with Syal until the evac team showed up, then he made a micro jump to escape being shot down by the escort fighters. He waited for Allia to come out of hyperspace beside him and then they plotted the course to the rendezvous point with the Mon Mothna and the rest of the battered GA forces.

    He’d be in a heap of trouble with the higher ups. It didn’t matter.

    This was the last time he’d shoot at the woman he loved.

    Pulling off his helmet, he popped the canopy and stood up. He looked to his right as Allia stood in her cockpit. What would he to say to her? She’d stayed with him and together they’d protected Syal from both sides. He owed her big time, but he didn’t understand why she’d stayed, especially after they’d been ordered to back to the Mon Mothma before the battle group jumped out of the system.

    He would never tell her that if she hadn’t stayed with him, he may have defected. But without her help, he may not have lived long enough to protect Syal.

    Valin climbed down the ladder and waited until she dismounted her ladder. Coming up behind her, he cleared his throat and rubbed his stubble on his jaw. “Allia, I—emm—I want to thank you for what you did out there, but you shouldn’t have.”

    She turned, and her spike of emotional pain surprised him. Her gray eyes flooded with a grief. “You don’t need to thank me, Val,” she whispered and rushed away through the droids and mechanics working on the crippled fighters.

    What had happened to her? He caught up with her and laid his hand on her upper arm. When she turned to meet his gaze with tearful eyes, he took a deep breath and dropped his hand. “Yes, I do. You went beyond the call of duty, and most likely, will be reprimanded because of it. You defied an order.”

    Allia glanced down at her hands and shrugged. “I stayed because I know what it’s like to think you may have killed someone you love.” Shaking her head, she sniffed and wiped at her nose. “Ah... I hate this crap.”

    He rested his hands on her shoulders. “You don’t have to talk about it.”

    She rubbed at her eyes with the back of her hands and took a shuddering breath. “Yes, I do. My fiancé was a member of CorSec. We would have been married last year after he finished his last bit of training. He was a fighter pilot but wanted to be an investigative officer.” She stepped away from Valin as she spoke. “I was among the Aleph squad called Gray Squadron. Syal, or as I knew her then Lysa Dunter, and I flew together during the First Battle of Tralus.”

    “Your fiancé was killed during the battle.”

    She turned and stone-cold bitterness replaced her tears. “Yes. I don’t know for sure if I killed him, but I was in that battle and in the end Raife was dead.”

    Valin understood her pain all too well, and despite the curious audience of mechanics and lingering pilots, he took her into his arms and hugged her. “I’m so sorry, Allia. This war is a terrible thing. Families fighting families and friends fighting friends. I only hope it is all worth the sacrifices some of us are forced to make.”

    She pulled out of his embrace and looked up at him. “What do you mean?”

    He looked around as he filled his lungs with air filled with the scent of fuel and carbon smoke. “I’m Corellian, did you know that?” She nodded and then he went on, “My grandfather still supports Corellia although he hasn’t gotten involved in the war—yet. My mother is trying to stay neutral through this, mainly because my father supports the GA wholeheartedly as a member of the Jedi Council. My sister also supports the GA. She and my mother have gotten into more than one political debate because of the war.”

    There was an uneasy silence between them as he watched the scurrying pilots and techs. He sensed her studying him before she asked, “And what do you feel?”

    He met her eyes again and realized he wasn’t sure how he felt. What was right and what was wrong? He honestly didn’t know anymore. But he knew trying to kill the woman he loved was not right. Did he really support the GA or was he fighting for the same reason his mother was staying with his father on Coruscant, because that was what was expected of him? What did he feel for Corellia? He had always considered himself Corellian, but he never lived there more than a few months. Yavin 4 and Ossus was more home to him than anywhere else. He had to admit the more he thought of it, he found himself thinking he was fighting on the wrong side. But those thoughts could be considered treason. Was he ready to cross that line?

    Realizing Allia was still waiting for an answer, he shook his head and looked at the battle-scarred decking. “I don’t know anymore. I’m fighting for the GA because I’m a Jedi and a member of Rogue Squadron, but I have no idea where I stand politically.”

    “Valin.”

    He turned at the call of his name from Jaina and swallowed. He knew what was coming. “Yes, Major.”

    She looked from Allia to him. “Valin, you and Lieutenant Judday are summoned to Conference Room B143.”

    Valin met his friend’s brown eyes and slowly nodded.

    Allia saluted Jaina, then moved on in the direction of the lift. Valin turned to follow her when Jaina’s voice stopped him. “Valin, you know Zekk and I would have done the same thing.”

    He looked back at her. “Yeah. I know. Thanks Jaina. Zekk or you probably saved her life by pulling the blast away from her.”

    Jaina nodded and moved to stand beside him. Slipping her arm around his waist, she smiled, but it never reached her sad eyes. “She’s my friend too. I had to do everything possible to save her.”

    Before they reached the trubolift Allia had boarded, Valin stopped and looked around the hangar again. “Jay, do you ever think we—” He shook his head. “Never mind.”

    “Do I ever think we’re fighting for the wrong reasons?”

    He couldn’t hide his surprise.

    “Yes,” she whispered and moved into the lift.

    ****

    Conference Room B143, Mon Mothma

    “Lieutenant Horn and Lieutenant Judday both disobeyed a direct order, not only from you but also from General Mazzi. I realize that Rogue Squadron has always walked the slippery edge of insubordination, but this time your squad has crossed that line one too many times, Colonel Zekk.”

    Zekk stood at attention as the Fifth Fleet Commander, Mon Calamari Admiral Cheb continued with his tirade concerning his lack of disciplinary control over the squadron he inherited when Jaina was demoted. He couldn’t help but wonder if those in power promoted him into her position as some cruel joke. Everyone knew about their relationship. They may not have been engaged when she was demoted, but even then they were Jedi partners, former Joiners and lovers.

    “Do you deny any of this, Colonel?”

    Zekk took a deep breath and stared straight ahead at the wall. “No, Admiral Cheb, I do not deny the Rogues are a special case.”

    “A special case?” The Mon Cal’s outburst caused Zekk to look at him as he paced the room to his left. “You call what happened today a special case?”

    Zekk called on the Force to keep his calm and turned to stare at the wall again. “Yes. I do.”

    “Admiral.” Sullustan General Mazzi shot Zekk a warning as he leaned over the table. “I too feel Rogue Squadron has a unique structure. First of all, it is the only squadron that has three Jedi in it. Secondly, Major Solo and Colonel Zekk maintain a relationship normally not tolerated in a commander and a subordinate. Thirdly, Major Solo and Lieutenant Horn were put in precarious positions today.”

    Cheb glared at Sullustan general before turning away with his webbed hands clasped tightly behind him, “Maybe the problem is the Jedi have been allowed to demand too much. They have always felt they deserve special considerations. However, I find their considerations often hinder a mission more than help it. Concerning your last statement, I totally disagree. If they were loyal to the GFFA, they would not have disobeyed orders. Colonel Jacen Solo does not have problems with family loyalty verses patriotism.”

    Zekk struggled to control his frustration, but Cheb’s continued support of Jacen and the dislike for Jaina was too much. “Admiral, Colonel Solo has not been put in the position Jaina or Valin have. They have pledged to uphold the rights and laws of the GA, sir, and they do. But since we are Jedi, we are able to see things from different points of views.”

    Cheb opened his mouth to protest when Zekk sensed Jaina and Valin outside the conference room. “Sirs, they are here.”

    The Mon Calamari and Sullustan both stared at Zekk as the door slid open allowing Jaina to escort the junior officers into the room.

    Jaina, Valin and Allia saluted their superiors, and Zekk sent Jaina and Valin his reassurance as he returned the acknowledgement. Cheb had supported Jacen’s charges and attempt at having Jaina court-martialed two years before. Zekk felt Jaina’s concern for their younger friend and his wingmate.

    The Mon Calamari admiral stopped in front of Valin and Allia. “Lieutenants Horn and Jadday, you are facing the serious charge of disobeying a direct order from a superior. Do either of you disagree with this charge?”

    Valin pulled the Force to him, and Zekk looked over at Jaina. Had Valin said anything to her?

    “Admiral Cheb, General Mazz, Colonel Zekk, I do not deny the charge. I disobeyed direct orders, and I would do it again. However, Lieutenant Jadday tried to convince me to give up my personal reasons for not obeying the orders. This charge should be dropped for her.” Wide-eyed, Allia stared at Valin as he said, “She felt that, as my wingmate, it was her duty to remain with me.” Valin gave her a half-smile and defiance flashed in his hazel eyes.

    He’d always been independent. He nearly left the Order to stay on Yavin 8, but Zekk had a sinking feeling Valin was about to do something even more radical than that.

    Looking back at the admiral and the fighter wing commander, Valin reached up and ripped the rank insignia from his flight suit. “I take total responsibility for my actions, and would do them again if it ensured the continued welfare for Commander Antilles of the Corellian Defense Forces.”

    “Valin?” Zekk said just above a whisper. “You do realize what you are doing.”

    Valin turned bright eyes to him and nodded once. “Yes, Colonel, I do. I can no longer fight in this war. I am a Jedi first and foremost, sir, just as you are, but I am also a Corellian. I realized I can no longer fire upon the people of my home planet, or more importantly the woman I want to marry someday.”

    “Valin…” Allia gaped at him, shaking her head.

    He gave her a sad crooked smile. “I’m sorry, Lieutenant. You risked your neck for a traitor.”

    “Security!” Admiral Cheb turned to the guards standing by the bulkhead. “Lieutenant, you are under arrest until court-martial for the charge of disobeying orders and for treason.”

    Zekk and Jaina stared at their fellow Jedi, but neither of them could do anything. Nothing could improve the situation.

    “Mr Horn.” An armored sergeant flanked Valin and held out his hand. “Please hand over your lightsaber and blaster.”

    Valin removed the lightsaber from his belt and held it out to the enlisted man. The guard nervously looked at the Jedi weapon before taking it and handed it to another guard. The sergeant took Valin’s blaster and stuffed in his belt. Valin’s face held no expression but a passiveness that Zekk had to admire, because the emotion coming through the Force from the Corellian was anything but passive.


    Thanks so much for reading!! [face_cowboy]
     
  20. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Chapter 8

    Galactica Opera House, Coruscant

    “The recent events caused a terrible blow to the Galactic Alliance…” Caedus only half listened as Cha Niathal addressed the Senate concerning the events of the past week and a half.

    Galactica Opera House, the newly constructed tribute to the arts, was one of the few places large enough to contain the thousands of members of the Senate, the Judicial branch, the Jedi Council, the highest ranking officers of the military, the HoloNet reporters and curious citizens. Normally he would have been with the Jedi Council, since he was a member of the pitiful collection of weaklings, but today, he sat next to Darklighter. The new gray dress uniform felt stiff over his shoulders. Cha Niathal would pin on his rank insignia after the announcement of his promotion.

    In normal times, evaluation of an officer, especially only a level one general, didn’t receive such a grand ceremony, but Cha insisted his promotion would breathe hope into, not only the GA military, but also the still mourning Senate. Another fifty Senators had died since the bombing, raising the total to 1072, plus twenty-five judicial members. Many in the government placed blame on the assassinated Cal Omas, who had put a restraining tether on the GAG.

    The unexpected positive outcome of the bombing was many in the Senate laid some of the blame on the Jedi Council, and particularly Luke Skywalker, who had recommended that Omas restrict the GAG in the first place. Many believed, if the GAG would have been able to perform its duties, the bombing wouldn’t have happened.

    Stacked rows of royal blue seating surrounded a circular stage set down in a pit. Gilded arches, rich red carpeting and heavy draperies completed the over-the-top decorating. Room-sized holograms of Old Republic buildings and portraits of famous actors from the time period added a final touch. To his taste, the décor was too old fashioned for a modern building.

    Caedus didn’t particularly like the Old Republic Rival plaguing Coruscant architecture since the reconstruction after the Vong War. He didn’t miss the irony that the GA wanted to look like the Old Republic considering it was reordered by a hidden Sith, and he would bring much needed order to the GA in a similar fashion.

    He probed several of the Jedi Masters seated on the opposite side of the stage area. He couldn’t see them with his eyes, but he felt many of the simpletons’ reactions to Niathal’s speech through the Force. His aunt distrusted much of what the Cheif of State said, not because she didn’t believe in the GA, but because she never put much stock in politicians. Corran Horn and Kenth Hamner shimmered with unquestioning approval. Of all the Masters those two were his biggest supporters, except when they felt he crossed the line, which he had been careful not to do recently.

    He had learned patience was the Sith’s greatest ally and rebuilding the galaxy took time. Without them even noticing the gentle whispery probe, he continued down the line of Jedi Masters. Katran, Durron, Sebatyne, and Ramis all seemed to be wavering. He frowned because having so many questioning the position of Niathal, and ultimately him, wasn’t acceptable. Katran, Durron and Sebatyne were leaders, and despite their narrow-mindedness, they could be powerful foes. The other members of the Council were absent except for his uncle, but there was no need to read his thoughts, Caedus already knew them.

    As the Chief of State concluded her speech, he tuned in. “However, despite the unpleasant events of the past several days, there has been one glimmer of hope and order. Colonel Jacen Solo has severed valiantly, and his investigations have produced several arrests of those who would cause such harm to our great city and government. Over the past two years, Colonel Solo has performed his duties effectively and proficiently, transforming a hodge-podge of security, police, special forces and military personnel into an elite force, spurring fear in the hearts of the enemy all over the galaxy.

    “Many have criticized the Galactic Alliance Guard for not being able to predict and prevent this latest and most terrible attack on us. However, the media, and thus the public, do not and cannot know about the hundreds of threats this unit, under the brilliant command of Colonel Solo, has forestalled.

    “Nevertheless, I should take some of the responsibility of the inability to predict and stop the attack that destroyed our Senate building and has taken the lives of so many of our fellows. If I had not allowed certain factions of this government to demand restrictions on the GAG’s ability to function, this atrocity would not have occurred. Therefore, it is my duty as Chief of State of the great and glorious Galactic Federation of Free Alliances to make every certainty such things will never cast shadow over our freedoms again.”

    As she looked at Caedus, he felt the usually subdued Mon Cal’s increasing excitement. “I am honored to advance this young, brilliant leader to the rank of General. General Solo and Admiral Darklighter will you please step forward?”

    Caedus glanced at Darklighter and fought the smirk tugging at his lips. The Supreme Commander was all but fuming as they made their way down the stairs to a standing ovation and loud ruckus applause and whistling, but from the Force he sensed not much of the emotion was for Darklighter. Good, it won’t be long before Darklighter is gone. His star is fading and mine is rising. He already is being blamed for the loss of the Bothan Sector.

    ****

    Luke watched the ceremony with a heavy heart. He could sense Gavin’s misgivings as well as those of every Jedi in attendance, but for the most part the entire Opera House was joyous. One would swear Jacen was being promoted to Supreme Commander, not to a brigadier general. From Jacen, Luke sensed only humility and honor. All of Jacen’s other emotions seemed locked behind a durocrete barrier.

    Kyp Durron leaned sideways from his seated position. Only the Jedi remained seated, and the younger master gave voice to the fear eating away at Luke. “You know, Luke, he’s gonna be Darklighter’s replacement, don’t you?”

    Luke stared at Kyp and swallowed, but he kept his emotions strictly under control. It wouldn’t do for any of the Jedi to see him so concerned. “What makes you so sure?”

    Kyp flashed Luke a lopsided grin, then gestured with his hand as he looked around at the still applauding crowd before meeting Luke’s gaze again. “That is what convinces me. The Senate loves him. The public hates him. But the government and many in the military see Jacen Solo as the answer to all of their many woes. The glorious hero to some, the hated despot to others, but most importantly, he is feared by all.” Luke was stunned by the intensity Kyp’s dark green eyes took on. “And quite frankly, that is what scares the vapin’ Sith out of me.”

    Luke pulled his eyes away from his friend and fellow master as Gavin Darklighter pinned the rank bars of general on Jacen’s lapels. A chill slithered down his spine as he remembered the vision he’d been having for two years. He faced a dark cloaked figure. As the vision disappeared as quickly as it came to him, he felt a brush of another’s presence—shadowy, oily and vague—but he recognized it. Lumiya.

    ****

    GAG Headquarters, Jacen Solo’s Private Office

    Caedus sensed her through her incredible shielding long before he entered his office. They had agreed she wouldn’t return to Coruscant but remain at her asteroid. He frowned at her gazing out the window. She leaned against the front of his desk with her arms loosely folded in front of her. Without turning, she said, “You have done well today, Darth Caedus.”

    He walked into his office and looked back at the door to make sure it had closed the entire way. “You are never to address me as that when there is a possibility of being over heard.”

    Lumiya, the once beautiful Emperor’s Hand, was more cyborg than human these days. Thanks in part to having her fighter shot down by Luke Skywalker during the Rebellion. She was dressed as she normally was when she came to him—her head wrapped and her face veiled in an opaque scarf and dressed at the height of fashion in a dark tailored business suit. The Dark Lady of the Sith slowly turned, and he sensed her subtle amusement. “Em…I seem to remember another Sith who felt the same way. Amazing, the similarity.” She seemed to glide around his desk to stand before him “But you are correct.” She looked around the room for dramatic effect. “One never knows if the walls have ears.”

    Caedus sent another glare at his onetime master, if he’d ever really considered her as such, and walked to his desk. He scanned the items on top to ensure nothing was out of place. Never quite trusting her in the past, but now that he was the true master, he trusted her even less. “What do I owe this pleasure?”

    She sat on the chair before his desk, crossing her legs and arranging her skirt. “I just wanted to congratulate you on your promotion, General Solo. Is that a better title for you? I seem to remember the other preferred Emperor over Sidious.”

    “I’m sure that you do,” he responded dryly and sat in his nerfhide chair. “Things are progressing nicely. A few more battles like the disaster at Bothawui, and Darklighter will be begging to be replaced.”

    A glint of amusement tugged at the corners of her bright green eyes. “Of course, you will make sure your star is the first one Chief of State Niathal sees on her dark horizon. But why stop with Supreme Commander? Chief of State or perhaps Emperor would be better?”

    “I’m content with Supreme Commander for now. Niathal still has her usefulness. But there will come a time when she’ll stop being useful. The galaxy is being broken, torn down like an old graniteslug infested building, and I must ensure that it is completely taken down to the foundation. Then the time will come for the rebuilding and I’ll be the architect to bring about a lasting peace and definite order.” He narrowed his eyes at the woman across from him. “When that time comes, I will want to be at the top, not before.” Jacen smiled and leaned back in his chair. “Those most loyal to me will share in the glory of helping with the reconstruction.”

    “Ahh…And that will include your cousin?”

    “Yes. And the rest of the Jedi, once I’m able to control the Council.”

    Standing by the window again, she scoffed. “How do you plan to control the Jedi?”

    He flashed a grin. “It won’t be as hard as you may think. I have great sway over the so-called Master’s Council already and they don’t even see the manipulation.”

    She turned from the window. “Except for your uncle.”

    He let out a short bitter laugh and stood. “Oh, my uncle could become a problem. But for now I keep him around for entertainment.” Leaning over his desk, he narrowed his eyes and let the darkness in him reach the surface. “Trust me, Lumiya, when he becomes a problem, he will be taken care of. Just as anyone else who stands in the way of my vision of peace and order.”

    She was silent for a moment, then moved back the chair. “How is your apprentice doing?”

    “Ben is progressing well. He is slowly overcoming his fear of using his emotions and touching the Dark Side. In fact, he has done so twice within the past two weeks with incredible results.” He regained his seat and leaned back.

    She readjusted her scarf and nodded. “Good. Do his parents suspect?”

    Caedus left out a short humorless chuckle. “They are aware of his using his emotions, but I’m not concerned about them turning him away from me. I’ve dealt with that before.”

    “Does he know your true identity?”

    “No, not yet.”

    Her delicate brows furrowed together. “Has he not questioned your encouraging him to use the Dark Side?”

    “No. Long ago, I taught him there is no true Light and Dark Sides of the Force, only the Unifying Force, and using strong emotions to do good does not make the use of the Dark Side.”

    “Ah... Sounds very Jensaarai.”

    “He thinks I’m a Gray Jedi, as is how I’m viewed by the Council, which suits my purposes.”

    She nodded and uncrossed her legs to lean forward. Her eyes brightened with intensity. “But what will young Ben do when he learns the truth?”

    Shrugging, Caedus looked down at his hands. “He will either follow me to his destiny or he will die.” Could he kill Ben? He wasn’t so sure he could. Ben was more than just his apprentice or even his cousin. In some ways, he was like a son to him. Killing Tenel Ka had about broken him. He couldn’t imagine living through that pain again. Shaking the betraying thoughts from his head, he leaned forward over his arms on the desk. “You let me worry about Ben. He’s as much an unformed piece of clay now as he has always been, except now I've discovered he has a weakness I have every intention of exploiting.”

    “Oh?” With her interest piqued, her eyes widened ever so slightly. “That would be?”

    He raised his brow and grinned. “I think I will keep that information to myself for now. I will let you know this. I’ve found the golden key to my young cousin’s heart and ultimately his soul.”

    ****

    Horn Apartment, Temple District, Coruscant

    “Your father should be home from the Chief of State’s address soon.” Mirax Terrik Horn pushed the button on the food cooker and turned to Jys, leaning against the work station counter of the kitchen. “You haven’t been over for dinner in so long.”

    “I’ve been busy.”

    “I know. So, has Mara said anything about you completing your trials soon?”

    Jysella looked away from her mother’s brown eyes and gave her head a shake. Pushing off the counter, she picked up the plates. She didn’t want to discuss her pending trials, but her mother would press the issue.

    “Jys, she assured me just the other week you were more than ready.” Mirax wiped her hands on a towel and followed Jysella into the dining area. “What’s changed? You were so excited when you told us about being ready. You aren’t having second thoughts because of Kirana Ti’s death, are you?”

    Jysella’s heart tumbled at the mention of her first master. The Dathomiri had died at the Battle of Kuat.

    Pushing the memory of Kirana Ti to the back of her mind, Jysella busied herself with setting three plates around the table. She had agreed to have dinner with her parents after her return from Mullin the day before. To Jysella’s relief, last evening had been canceled due to her mother having to take care of some business, but she was unable to avoid dinner tonight. She didn’t dislike spending time with her parents, but they never seemed to see things her way. She loved them both dearly, but sometimes they forgot she was almost nineteen not nine.

    She glanced back over her shoulder at her mother. “Kirana has nothing to do with it. I just want more time. I don’t feel ready yet to be a full Knight.”

    Mirax may not have been Force-sensitive, but she had an uncanny way of being able to read people, which didn’t exclude the three Jedi in her family. Her mother studied her expression, and put her hands on her hips. “Jysella Horn, does this have anything to do with Ben Skywalker?”

    Jysella let out a long sigh and turned away from her mother. “What would make you think that?”

    Mirax laughed and Jys glared over her shoulder at her. “You should know you can’t hide things from me. From your father yes, me no. How is it he’s the Jedi and I’m not, but when it comes to you and your brother, you’re both like an operational datapad to me.”

    Jysella turned away again and stood in front of the window. She stared out at the cityscape as early evening darkness settled into deep shadows across the transparasteel and durocrete surfaces of the buildings on the other side of the deep canyon where lanes of traffic buzzed by. She felt her mother come up beside her and lay a hand on her shoulder. “Jys, what’s the matter?”

    She faced her mother and softly said, “Mom, I’m in love.”

    Her mother’s stunned expression told her everything she needed to know.

    She turned back to the window and swallowed. “Is it so wrong for me to love Ben? I’m not sure Master Luke would approve.” She turned back to Mirax. “I don’t even what to think about what Master Mara will do if she doesn’t approve.”

    “Why would they disapprove?”

    “I’m almost nineteen. Ben’s only fifteen.” She paced the room. “I shouldn’t even look at him as... as...” She felt her cheeks heat up.

    “A potential lover?”

    “Mom!” She stared aghast at her mother. “No!” But as she remembered the passionate kisses she and Ben had shared, she turned away to pace faster around the living room. She closed her eyes, bit her bottom lip and nodded.

    Her mother pushed away from the window and stepped in front of Jysella. “How does Ben feel for you?”

    Her stomach fluttered and heart sped up thinking about his confession in the hospital. “He loves me as much as I love him.” She met her mother’s gaze. “I’m I wrong to love him this way, Mom?”

    Mirax turned away and walked to the couch. “Jysella, he is young. Some would even say too young to think of making such declarations. What if this turns out to be a crush for him? Ben is still so young. That’s what has you concerned, isn’t it?”

    Jys shook her head in disbelief. “No. Ben is more adult than some so-called men who are my age.” Jys threw her arms in the air and spun away. “I know this feeling between us is no crush. See? This is why I don’t tell you anything.”

    Mirax stood and took a deep breath. “You are twisting my words and my meanings. Jysella, I just don’t want to see you hurt. And I think that’s the reason you are so worried about your age difference.”

    Was that what worried her? Jys closed her eyes again and bowed her head. “I want to marry him someday, Mom. But I’m afraid that something awful will happen. I’m afraid Ben’s...” She shook her head, not even able to say the words. How could she even think of such a thing? Ben wasn’t going to die in this stupid war. He wasn’t!

    Mirax took her into her arms and hugged her tightly. “Jys, if that is his fate, refusing to take your trials isn’t going to prevent it. You can’t be an apprentice forever.”

    “I know,” she whispered, finding comfort in her mother’s arms.

    The front door slid open and Corran rushed in. He came to a stop when he saw them. Jysella stepped out her mother’s arms. The anger and anguish radiating off her father made her stomach pitch. Something had happened. Something bad.

    “Corran, what’s wrong? Has there been another terrorist attack?” Mirax put her hands on his upper arms.

    Corran took her into his arms and held her for a long moment. Whatever happened was personal. She let out a breath of relief because Ben wasn’t involved. A ripple in the Force chilled her, and she reached out as the cause of her father’s pain hit her. “Valin!”

    “Corran?” Her mother pushed away to stand at arms’ length.

    He glanced at Jys, before meeting her mother’s frantic gaze. “Valin’s been arrested.”

    “What? Who arrested him? The Insurgents?” Shrill anxiety painted Mirax’s words.

    Despite Jysella’s relief that her brother was unharmed, worry chilled her blood. She and Valin had always been close despite their ten year age difference. She reached out into the Force to find him. He seemed unharmed, though his emotions were a maelstrom of anger, grief and frustration.

    Corran shook his head. “No, the information is sketchy, but apparently he defied a direct order when he remained with an EV enemy pilot he’d shot at.”

    “Syal?” Jysella’s eyes widened with horror. No wonder Valin seemed so bewildered.

    Corran glanced over at her as if he’d forgotten she was there and slowly nodded. “When he was questioned about it, he said he wouldn’t fight any longer on the side of the GA. His loyalty is with Corellia.”

    After a long silence, Mirax whispered, “At least he’s come to his senses finally.”

    Corran stepped away from her and narrowed his eyes. “What is that supposed to mean, Mirax?”

    “It means that you parade around wearing the green of a Corellian Jedi Master and you call yourself Corellian, and yet you have your head so far up Jacen Solo’s butt you can’t see daylight.” She glared at him for a long time, until Corran’s shoulders sagged. Moving to him, she rested a hand on his arm. “Corran, is he okay?”

    “Yes. He’s worried and angry. But I think physically he’s okay.”

    “You know as well as I do it was only a matter of time. He loves Syal. We both know that. What would you have done if you faced the possibility of this?”

    Corran looked like he deflated completely. Had she ever seen her father so confused? “I would have done the same thing. You and the kids have always been the most important thing in my life.”

    Her mother smiled and reached up to lay her hand on his cheek. “See. Despite what you try to claim, you and Valin are very much alike.”

    What will become of her family? Oh, Val, she called out and sent her love and support to her brother through their sibling bond, though it was weak, and Jysella felt his relieved acknowledgment.



    Thanks for reading, Everyone!! [face_cowboy]
     
  21. mattman8907

    mattman8907 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 17, 2012
    nice story, i'm only on the second chapter but i was looking up on Wookieepedia and apparently Jysella was born in circa 16ABY and Ben was born in 26.5ABY which means there is almost a 10 year gap between Jysella and Ben so in 42ABY Ben would be only 15/16 but Jysella would be 25/26.
     
  22. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    6
    Thanks for reading! Hopefully you'll enjoy the rest of the ride. As for Jysella's age in this.... It truly is AU. But when I'd first wrote this story back in 2006 (I'd originally posted this story in Nov 2006 - Dec 2007), Jysella's age was unknown in canon. Neither were her hair color nor her eye color. In canon, she has reddish brown hair and her eyes are brown; also her nickname is Ella. It was common among fan fiction writers during the time before her canon age and features became known, to make her 3 - 4 years older than Ben and to give her black hair like her mother and green eyes like her father, we also gave her the nickname Jys. Her age isn't even mentioned in the books until the Fate of the Jedi series. I decided not to change her age in my story because, well, I wouldn't have had a story. Unless I gave the Horns another younger daughter, but that would have been more obtrusive than just fudging Jysella's age. If you look back through the archive, you'll find a decent number of fan fiction writers who liked paring Ben and Jysella during the years of 2006 - 2008. I was one of the first and I'd written several J/B stories, but I wasn't the only one.
     
  23. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Chapter 9

    Detention Block, Mon Mothma

    The door slid open and the security troopers behind him gave Valin a hard shove. The one who had taken his weapons snickered. “Welcome to your new home, Jedi traitor.”

    Valin could have fought back, but he didn’t. Showing force now wouldn’t help him. He regained his balanced and took a deep calming breath as the cell door closed. All that mattered to him was Syal’s safety. She’d been retrieved by the Imperials. He should have stayed with her instead of running, but he couldn’t leave Allia to be captured. Someday, he hoped they would be reunited.

    He shuffled to the only furniture in the small room and sat heavily on the edge of the narrow cot. As he stared at the door, he sighed. Even with his inability to use telekinesis, he could have escaped the cell, but getting far without having to harm someone would have been impossible. He really didn’t what to have to do that—at least not yet.

    Lying on the firm surface of the cot, Valin folded his arms under his head and closed his eyes to try to meditate. Angry at the war and those who promoted it, he needed to find peace and to let go of his negative feelings if he wanted to get through this with his santity. Serentity woudn’t come, however, only sorrow over Syal.

    As he fell deeper into the meditation, he felt his father and sister reach for him. He didn’t want them to worry about him. The Council would have been notified of his arrest. He sent his love back to them and his reassurance that he was all right, then he pulled out of the contact. He fell further into the Force and reached for Syal. He couldn’t really find her within the vastness, but he didn’t expect to. She was probably unconscious or the time and distance between them prevented him to connect with the bond they had formed. The Fifth Fleet would be hundreds, possibly thousands of light-years away from Bothawui by now.

    Eventually, his meditation quieted his emotions, allowing him to float along the beautiful currents of the Force. Soon he found himself staring at a vast field of yellow and red Coronet poppies.

    The sun crowned the gently rolling Blue Mist Mountains in the distance like a golden diadem. A warm breeze rippled over the valley, creating a colorful sea out of the wild flowers carpeting the Rebellion Wildlife Reserve on the southern continent of Corellia. He’d been there many times as a child with his family and the Antilles family while on break from the Academy.

    A small girl, not more than two, run toward him. Flapping in the breeze as she ran, her light brown hair was pulled up into pigtails, similar to how his sister always wore hers when she was younger. A gray and white spotted dog barked and snapped playfully at the toy Ewok the girl grasped in her small chubby hand.

    “Daddy!” she squealed with glee.

    Valin gasped as he caught sight of her bright blue eyes, Syal’s eyes. His heart raced as another sweetly familiar voice called to him, “Val, you had better come here or you’ll miss this.”

    Valin turned around and was stunned when he saw Syal, older with her dark blond hair longer and pulled over her right shoulder, but nevertheless as amazingly beautiful in the mid-day sunlight. She sat on a blanket spread out over the wildflowers looking down at an infant cradled in her arms. With her face was full of joy, she looked up at him, smiled and opened her mouth to speak but he couldn’t hear her words. As he was about to ask her to repeat them, the field of flowers swirled around him and took the scene away.

    He jerked awake and sat up. He run his hands through his thick brown hair and scratched his scalp as he wondered how long he’d been in the trance. If he fell into a deep enough meditation, he’d been known to be out for days. After a moment though he realized, he’d only been in the trance for a few hours. He took a deep breath and remembered the details of his vision. Letting a small smile touch his lips, he’d glimpsed the future. A possible future for him and Syal.

    “Always be leery of visions, Valin, because the future is always in motion.” In his head, he heard the whispery voice of his master, Devaronian Jedi Cheklev.

    A new sense of determination and purpose settled over him. “Well, Master, that’s one vision I have every intention seeing come true.” He lost his grin and leaned against the bulkhead. Now, if I can only figure out how in the nine Hells of Corellia I’m going to get out of this one.

    ****

    Council Chambers Jedi Temple, Coruscant

    “I believe this Council should desistance itself from Knight Valin Horn,” Caedus said from his position next to Kyle Katran. He considered the latest development as one more way to divide the Council. He looked down at his folded hands. “We don’t need another fiasco like the one occurring when Jaina Solo was court-martialed and the Jedi Council became involved in a matter that should have remained within the military.”

    “We don’t need or you don’t need?” Kyp Durron leaned back in his chair.

    Caedus smirked and couldn’t believe Kyp had first recommended him to be promoted to Master. For that he supposed he should be thankful, but the Jedi Master had proven himself to be as much an irritation as Luke. “Master Durron, I am concerned about the direction the Jedi is taking. We haven’t been a favorite among the Senate lately.”

    Kyp snorted. “That circus the other day could have fooled me.”

    “Master Durron, we’ve discussed my dual status as an officer in the military and as a master on the Council. My decisions are not influenced by either nor are my opinions.”

    Kenth Hanmer glanced apologetically at a stoic Corran Horn. “I have to agree with Master Solo regarding the position we take concerning Knight Horn’s court-martial. This Council is already feeling enough pressure from those in the Senate who believe it was our doing that Cal Omas restricted the power the Galactic Alliance Guard had in discovering potential threats.”

    Caedus miled as Tresina Lobi nodded in her reserved fashion. “I too feel the the Jedi are losing credibility among those in power. This is the third Knight to go rogue.” She scanned the others with her unreadable black eyes until she came to stop on him. “I’m afraid that Knight Leia Solo set a precedent when the Jedi Council didn’t rescind her title of Jedi Knight when she chose to side with the Insurgents.”

    His mother’s knighthood meant a great deal to the Grand Master, and her decision to side with the Corellians continued to upset Luke.

    The Grand Master leaned forward and touched fingertips together over his lips. “I’ll make the ultimate decision on who maintains the title of Jedi Knight. Leia has more than earned her title and as such she will keep it, as will Fondorian Jesi Chivel.” Luke straightened and looked at Corran. “Valin Horn will also remain a Knight. His charges stem from his actions as an active member of the military and do not reflect on his performance as a Jedi Knight. As such, I think it is important to stand behind him through his trial. Despite the backlash we may have seen concerning our disagreement in this, Jedi Knights serve the Force and therefore his refusal to follow an order to save a life should be commended.” Caedus didn’t miss the hardness in Luke’s gaze as it fell onto him. “Just as this Council decided concerning Jaina Solo’s refusal of a direct order.”

    Caedus fought the smile tickling his lips by forcing a frown. “I will agree with your assessment the Jedi serve the Force, Master Skywalker. However when Jedi join the military, we also serve the GFFA, which includes following difficult orders, or as an officer, giving orders that may seem at odds with our teachings as Jedi.”

    “Getting back to the rogues keeping their status as Jedi,” Tresina Lobi said. “I see that as damaging to the Jedi Order. I disagree with Master Skywalker, if they have pledged loyalty to the Insurgents and betrayed the GFFA, they have betrayed the Jedi Order.”

    “Why do you think that, Tresina? The Jedi have an obligation to the galaxy not just to the GFFA.” Kyp Durron reiterated. “Last time I checked a star chart Corellia and it’s followers were still in the borders of the galaxy.”

    “Master Durron.” The tall Chev openly glared at him. “We are not supported by the galaxy and you know it. Only the GFFA—”

    Kyp raised a brow and snickered, interrupting her tirade. “Ahhh…so the HoloNet is correct. The Jedi will only help those with the largest creditchit. I was under the impression we weren’t swayed by money.”

    “That is not what I meant and you know it!” The Chev’s passion’s surprised and amused Caedus

    “Masters.” Luke’s deadly calm voice stalled whatever Kyp’s response would have been.

    Instead, Durron mumbled, “Sorry, Masters.”

    Lobi glowered at Kyp, then bowed her head in apology to the Council. “Please forgive me.”

    Luke looked around the circle of masters. “We should not be fighting among ourselves. As for the Council’s position on Valin Horn’s—”

    “Master Skywalker, may I interrupt?” Corran Horn looked broken. He and Valin hadn’t always seen eye to eye, particularly over Valin’s doomed romance with Sannah, but Caedus sensed the Corellian’s confusion and bewilderment. Was he was losing one of his supporters?

    “Go ahead Master Horn.”

    Corran took a deep breath and gazed at his folded hands. “I just wanted to say that I personally feel my son has done what he believes is right and I can’t fault him.” He looked up and shrugged under his green robes. “I would’ve done the same thing under the circumstances. However, I agree with Masters Solo, Hamner and Lobi, the less involvement the Jedi Council has in the actions taken by the military leadership the better. Valin disobeyed his superiors and has declared himself a traitor. Being a former officer in the military, I understand the need for discipline and the need to punish those who don’t follow orders.” He stroked his goatee and straightened in his chair. “But Valin is my son and I can’t turn my back on him.”

    ****

    Skywalker Apartment, Temple District, Coruscant

    Ben shuffled his feet and buzzed the doorbell for the third time. When Jys called out, he couldn’t help but smile at her irritation.

    “For Force sakes, Ben, I’m coming!”

    He hooked his thumbs in his belt as the door slid open.

    She stood inside the door, her hands on hips and stamped her foot. “Ben Skywalker, for the sake of the galaxy, why didn’t you just come in? This is your home more than it’s mine.”

    He grinned and leaned forward. “And miss the chance to see you so riled up. Never.”

    She huffed and took a few steps into the living room. Ben stepped over the threshold, and before Jysella out of his reach, he encircled her waist spinning her around to land against his chest.

    “Ben!” She laughed, but before she had the chance to say anything else, he leaned in and captured her lips in a sweet kiss.

    She slipped her arms around him and opened her mouth to his, deepening the kiss. Way too soon they parted. Breathless, he leaned his forehead against hers. “Jys, I love you so much. Please promise me you’ll never stop loving me.”

    She smiled and laid her hand over the scar on his cheek. “I promise to love you forever and beyond.”

    She shivered as he placed kisses along her jaw to her ear. “Do you promise on your heart?”

    He caressed over her robes from her waist to the curve of her hip. The last two nights he’d dreamed of Jysella, which was way better than the other dream, but no less frustrating. Though in completely different ways.

    He nibbled on her neck where her pulse fluttered like the wings of a flitterfly. She fisted her fingers in his hair and gasped. “On my heart.”

    His heart raced when she kissed him. As she explored his mouth, she pulled him closer, and he was very aware of what she was doing to him. He almost broke the kiss in his embarrassment, but when he sensed the heat of her own passion, he broke the kiss. If he hadn’t, he feared what would happen as much as he wanted it to happen.

    With her face flushed and her lips swollen, she’d never looked more beauiful. He swallowed hard and fought the blush heating his own face and got himself under some semblance of control again. “I came over to ask if you…ah…wanted to spar with me.”

    She grinned and her eyes twinkled with mischief. “I thought we already did.”

    Heat exploded in his face, and she laughed as she pecked him on the cheek. “Yeah I’ll spar with you. Your mom wanted me to practice with some remotes. But I’d rather practice with you. Even if you’ll beat me anyway.”

    He shrugged. “Who knows you might get lucky this time. I’m still pretty weak from my swim in the tank.”

    Picking the carry-all up from the couch, she narrowed her eyes at him over her shoulder. “Weak, huh?”

    “Weak as a new born whisperkit.” He pouted and took the bag from her to sling over his shoulder.

    Shaking her head, she laughed, a sweet lilt he’d never tire of hearing. “Well, kitty let’s go. Maybe we can catch lunch afterward. The Market Cross serves salm soup today. “

    He wrinkled his nose as he followed her out the door. “Yuck! I don’t know how you eat that stuff, Jys.”

    She looked up at him and shrugged. “How do you know you don’t like it? You’ve never tried it.”

    He shook his head. “And I never will. I’m not desperate enough to eat entrails of some Naboo bird.”

    She glared at him. “Salm are not entrails!”

    “Well, they are part of the digestive system. Sounds like entrails to me.”

    “Oh! You are impossible!” She huffed, then laughed as she ran down the hall to beat him to the lift at the end.

    “Jys!” Laughing, he chased her down the hallway and was lucky enough to hop into the lift before the door closed on him.



    Thanks for reading, everyone!! [face_cowboy]
     
  24. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    I loved your discussion about what role the Jedi Order should take...a discussion that was skipped in profic. Here's the thing...the Order gets its funding from the Senate so Kyp's argument rings hollow...the Order is as much a part of the GFFA as the Treasury Dept (I'm assuming they have one).

    What Valin did (disobeying a direct order in combat) is a treasonable offense, and the Order should look at it that way. Sure, he's a Jedi, but that becomes secondary the minute he joined Rogue Squadron...again another problem that most of us ignore (I'm just as guilty). I didn't get to disobey orders I disagreed with just because I'm a Democrat and thought the invasion of Iraq was misguided...I lost that right the minute I joined the AF. Likewise Valin lost his right to 'quit' the war. The Americans, British, and French killed such deserters as late as WWI, and the Germans and Russians did the same all the way through WWII. Admittedly, my point of view is skewed, but this is a HUGE deal.

    I know that most of us like to paint Jacen with the 'He's evil and must die' brush, but he really DID view the Force as a single entity, absent of a light or dark side. I argue that your Admiral Niathal is much more competent than the one in LotF, and because of that, Jacen would not see the need to climb higher. Just my take.
     
  25. Flowerlady

    Flowerlady Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Nice to "see" you're still reading, SiouxFan!

    I get your point about Kyp's argument, but Kyp also kind of always did his own thing. I think (or at least I hope) I captured some of that independent spirit that makes Kyp tick.

    Oh, Valin is in deep bantha poodoo over what he did. Don't worry about that.

    About Niathal...I may have made her slightly more competent than she is in canon (if I did, it unintentional), but she still isn't beyond manipulation.