Set somewhere in the first third of Legacy of the Force -- after Jacen is named head of the Galactic Alliance Guard. I've only read the series once, so any timeline inconsistencies are purely the result of my bad memory and/or wishful thinking. This actually is the result of a scene I had written for my longer story, but I didn't like the way it fit into what I was trying to do with J/TK in that story. However, I liked the way the scene turned out...so wrote an entire story around it. Chapter 1—Plans and Prophesies Senate Administration Building--Coruscant The head of the Galactic Alliance Guard stood at a sloppy ‘parade rest’ in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows in his unlit office, staring sightlessly into the late-night semi-darkness of Coruscant, trying to settle his thoughts. “A credit for your thoughts?” asked a slightly metallic feminine voice from behind him. Jacen closed his eyes in resignation and leaned his head against the transparisteel. He was not sure how the Dark Lady of the Sith always managed to enter his office without making a sound, but it was a skill he really needed to learn. “Good…” He paused, checking his wrist chrono, “…morning, Lumiya,” Jacen replied drily, glancing at her from the corner of his eye. Nodding in the direction of the cityscape, “I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the view.” Lumiya regarded her student for a moment before replying, a hint of a smile in her voice. “Somehow, I get the feeling that you are not standing in the dark simply to admire the view.” She became more amused when she saw Jacen stiffen slightly. You cannot hide from me yet, young one. Her tone turned serious, “You’ve been giving it more thought?” Jacen sighed, louder this time, turning his attention back to the vista. There was no need to ask what it was; they both knew that she was referring to the final obstacle he needed to overcome on his path to being a Sith Lord: his final sacrifice. “Yes.” His teacher smiled behind her mask as she heard the finality in his curt answer. “You have made a decision.” Jacen noticed that it was not a question. “Yes.” “Go-ood,” she drawled, sending shivers down his spine. Lumiya stepped closer and put a hand on his shoulder. “At last you will realize your full potential.” Jacen supposed that the way she squeezed his shoulder was meant as an affectionate gesture; instead he found himself repulsed by the act. Turning his head again to glance at her, he risked a confident-looking smile, “It’ll take me a few more days to plan out all of the details, of course.” There was the hint of a smile in her green eyes as she squeezed his shoulder again. “Of course.” Sensing his inner turmoil, she tried to reassure her student, “You will save the galaxy.” Colonel Solo had no answer to that, and only gave a small nod as he watched his instructor leave. Hearing his office door close with a quiet thump, Jacen allowed a small smile of victory. Lying to Lumiya was almost impossible, of course, but obfuscating the truth? Not all that hard. She had accepted his answers and filled in the rest with her own misconceptions. In truth, he had known for almost five weeks whom his sacrifice was going to be. Even now, the memory of what he saw in his visions made him break out in a cold sweat: millions of beings slaughtered, planets burning, his daughter becoming the dark ruler of the galaxy. No, Lumiya was correct; someone must be sacrificed for the greater good. Still, it had taken him couple of days to get over his initial doubts. Once fully committed to the task, however, Jacen had started planning out his attack meticulously, going so far as to have all the contingencies detailed in his head for when things started to go wrong. Still, even with all of his planning, it had still been an odd twist of fate that allowed Jacen put his plan into action… | O _____(___)_____ Eleven days earlier… When Jacen had taken the job as the head of the GAG, Chief-of-State Omas had kindly omitted telling him the amount of paperwork the job would entail. Sitting at his desk as the first rays of sunlight peaked through the gaps in the distant skyline, Jacen tried to get a handle on the vast amount of money the GAG had been appropriated. Annoyed by the glare on his computer screen, Jacen turned to close the blinds and stopped, mesmerized by the view. In a shameless attempt to curry favor, Omas had placed the GAG headquarters in the top third of the Executive Office building, allowing for a breathtaking view of the Coruscanti skyline. There were, Jacen decided after a moment, definitely perks to his new job. After a few moments, Colonel Solo turned back to the month’s budget, wishing he could simply go out on patrol with his fellow agents. Frowning at the thought, he glanced at the wall chrono: Why couldn’t he go out on patrol? He was the boss, after all. Wedge had once told he and Jaina that a leader needed to be seen; that leading from an office was not leading, it was managing. Thus decided, Jacen turned off his computer terminal, cringing at how long he would have to stay tonight to catch up with the paperwork. Making his way down the curved hallway towards the briefing room, Jacen lost himself in the sounds of laughter and conversation coming from the armory and small break room as the agents prepared for the day’s shift. More than anything else, Jacen missed the easy camaraderie of being ‘one of the guys’. As he let out a pained sigh, it occurred to him that his mother was right: it is lonely at the top. Pushing the depressing thought aside, he gave the desk sergeant a discreet shake of the head as the slightly older man stood and opened his mouth to call the area to ‘attention’. While Jacen appreciated the sentiment and the discipline, he had never been one for formality, preferring to be seen as just another GAG officer. On some level, he suspected that being Han Solo’s kid had something to do with that. Smiling at the thought, he stopped at the sergeant’s raised desk, “Morning, Sergeant.” The Senior Sergeant nodded in return, “Good morning Colonel. What brings you in so early?” A shorter, dark-skinned man in his late thirties, with piercing dark brown eyes, and a hook nose, Vinsu Karthikayan had the look of one of Coruscant’s hawk-bats - seemingly analyzing you to to determine if you were a threat or simply something to eat. Karthikayan had been working for Alliance Intelligence when Jacen met him quite by accident at a local pastry shop. In the way that only people who fought in combat can, Jacen had recognized him as a fellow veteran. As they stood in line and discussed their work, Jacen picked up on Vinsu’s dissatisfaction with being a ‘paper-pusher’ for the AI; that he was never able to make important decisions. I’m starting a new agency, Jacen had told the older man, I can’t promise danger and excitement, but I can promise that you won’t be cut out of the process. I need people who can think on their feet and aren’t afraid of making decisions. Two days later, Vinsu knocked on Jacen’s office door, asking when he could start. Chuckling humorlessly, Jacen shook his head as he answered, “If I would have known how much paperwork was involved when I started, I might have declined the job.” The other man nodded and shrugged in understanding, “You think it’s bad here? You should have seen it in NRI.” Vinsu paused and narrowed his eyes, his voice turning gruff, “Or AI, or whatever the hell they call it now. I wish they’d stop changing the name on the letterhead.” Jacen smiled at the comment; he had often thought the same thing. It is tough, he decided, to instill loyalty to a government when that government keeps changing its name. “Tell me about it.” Looking back up at the Desk Sergeant, a rare glint of mischief in his eyes, “Isn’t a ‘Federation of Alliances’ a bit...redundant?” Sergeant Karthikayan snorted a laugh. A joke? From Colonel Solo? He never would have guessed. “Kinda like saying VIN number?” It was Jacen’s turn to chuckle, “Or an ATM machine?” Both men chuckled at themselves for a couple of moments, content to simply be ‘one of the guys’ for a time. “As much as I appreciate the jokes...” Vinsu shot Jacen another amused look, “...what’chya need, Boss?” The younger man gave his Desk Sergeant an almost pleading look, “I have got to get out of the office. Please tell me that you have somebody who needs a partner for the day.” One of the reasons that Sergeant Karthikayan respected his boss so much was that Colonel Solo never asked his troops to do anything that he would not do himself. Everyone in the GAG appreciated that their Colonel went on stakeouts with them, threw himself into the line of fire first, and was out making sure that the Senate knew how much safer Coruscant was because of the GAG. He never said so, but everyone in the GAG knew how proud Colonel Solo was of them; they knew because they saw him out doing the same things he asked them to do. Nodding once, Karthikayan answered, “I do. Shimizu’s girlfriend had emergency knee surgery yesterday and I was hoping to give him the day off.” Jacen became concerned. Although technically not allowed because he was not married, Akai Shimizu still should be allowed a couple of days off to help his girlfriend. “Anything serious?” Vinsu gave him a wounded look as he shook his head, “Not life threatening. Someone at work banged into her and she tore a ligament in her left knee when she fell.” He saw Jacen open his mouth to comment but pressed on before his boss could say anything, “She still lives with her parents, so she’s not by herself.” The sergeant nodded over at the briefing room where the day shift was gathering for the shift briefing, “I was going to send him home again today, but he insists on working.” “Akai doesn’t want to leave his partner in a lurch.” The darker man smiled slightly at the quiet pride in his boss’s tone, “Exactly. We need to let him know that there are things more important than the job.” Colonel Solo nodded in agreement and his thoughts drifted to Allana and to Tenel Ka as he made his way to the door to the briefing room. Sticking his head into the room, he looked around and found Akai Shimizu sitting with his partner, Darra Beks. “Akai? Can I have word please?” A deathly quiet filled the room as one of the GAG’s youngest agents slinked out, his eyes full of dread. Once out in the hallway, Jacen turned to face the young agent and saw his uncertainty. Smiling, he shook his head. “No, you’re not in trouble; I heard that your girlfriend had surgery yesterday. I’m going to take your shift so that you can spend some time with her.” Jacen raised his hand to stall Akai’s coming argument. “This job is hard enough on relationships,” he interrupted softly, “We don’t need to make it tougher than it already is.” His thoughts back drifted to what Vinsu had just said. There are things more important than the job. Sergeant Shimizu nodded, somehow understanding that Colonel Solo was partly talking to himself. “Thank you, sir.” Jacen snapped from his reverie and shook the younger man’s hand, “Anytime.” With that, Colonel Solo entered the briefing room to sit next to his partner for the day and listened in on the morning shift brief. | O _____(___)_____ A/N: I know, I know...there probably aren't any ATMs on Coruscant, and speeders probably don't come with VINs...but I liked the joke. Besides, people in-universe probably have some way of getting access to actual credits, and speeders probably have some ID stamped on them at the factory!