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Beyond - Legends Warrior Queen (Jacen/Tenel Ka) one-off

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by SiouxFan, Jan 20, 2016.

  1. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    A/N: This story is a spin-off of Origami Fish’s A Destiny Altered over on FF.N. The basic premise of his story is that Anakin doesn’t die above Myrkr, and how it changes everything after that event. Check it out if you’ve got some time, it’s really quite good. Long, but good. His story made me remember why I liked NJO and the ‘new’ Jedi before it got all dorked up.

    Anyway, I posted this years ago on FF.N, and stumbled across this a few weeks ago as I was rummaging around the computer looking for things to get me in the right frame of mind to start the ‘Long story’ challenge. And because there is always a shortage of J/TK stories…
    Warrior Queen
    Tenel Ka made her rounds amongst the military leaders, leading politicians, civilian dignitaries and common soldiers at the becoming-more-raucous-by-the-minute party Lando and Talon were hosting to celebrate the end of the war. Clearly, remaining sober was not on anyone’s list of things to do. After graciously disentangling herself from a clearly inebriated Cal Omas for the third time, Tenel Ka searched around for her best friend, hoping to find a respite from all of the glad-handling and hand-shaking. It was not that she did not appreciate the sentiments coming her way on behalf of the Hapan Armed Forces—she did. Even from her biased point-of-view, the Hapans had accounted themselves quite well on the field of battle; they had helped turn the tide of the war, after all. No, the problem was that many of the revelers at this party had starting calling her the ‘Warrior Queen’ for her actions in the Battle of Yuuzhan’tar; a nickname that she knew that the press was going to have a field-day in using.

    Shaking her head, the Queen Mother continued to wander aimlessly around the outdoor party, soaking up the ambiance as she tried to distance herself from the large speakers, speakers that seemed to get louder by the minute. As she mingled, she remembered what Han had told Leia once when the Chief-of-State had complained about the volume at a music-themed restaurant one evening long ago: If it’s too loud, you’re too old. Smiling at the memory, she took a long look at the setting and realized that for all of their faults, Calrissian and Karrde really know how to throw a party: the large clearing was overlaid with a parquet floor, they had strung a myriad of lights that were just dim enough to allow the spectacular glow of Yuuzhan’tar’s ‘Rainbow Bridge’ to shine through and had recruited some of the local Ferroans to act as wait staff. At the end she had just vacated, sitting beside the speakers, was a video-music machine that allowed a singer to read the words to a song as they attempted to sing along. Tenel Ka shook her head at the thought; it was only a matter of time before one of the inebriated guests got enough courage to serenade the crowd.

    Having long ago mastered the art of being able to mingle while casting the impression that she wished to be left alone, Tenel Ka took a sip of her bubbly wine and continued searching the assembled throng for her friend. As she searched, she caught sight of her parents; the two of them standing back-to-back, as if they were unwilling to let the other out of physical range, each engaged in lively discussions with some of the other party-goers. Watching her parents, her mind wandered back to the time when she was a child, roaming around the Palace’s ornate ballroom at one of the numerous ‘official’ functions, trying to stay out of the way. And, just like in those earlier days, her father seemed to know that she was looking at him and cast her a quick look. Smirking his ‘Dad’ smirk, he shot her a wink; the one that always seemed to say: I know kiddo, I’m bored stiff, too. Just another twenty minutes, okay? Taking another sip of her wine to keep from breaking out in a grin, she winked back, just like she used to. Before she broke eye contact, her father’s eyes narrowed mischievously and he nodded his head fractionally in the direction of a grove of trees silhouetted at the top of a small hill not far away. This time, Tenel Ka did not try to hide her smile, warmed by the thought that Father knew who she was looking for. Nodding once in thanks, she started in the direction of the grove.

    Passing a waiter carrying a tray of drinks, she place her now-empty flute on the tray and deftly grabbed two more, impressing the young Ferroan with her ability to do so with one hand. Giving the waiter a wry smile, she continued to pick her way through the crowd. Once she finally managed to achieve escape velocity from the gravity of the crowd, she increased her pace, her heels clicking on the parquet floor as she did. After the fourth ‘click’, two things occurred to her: First, where did Lando get a parquet floor on Zonoma? Second, climbing even a small hill such as the one in front of her in six-centimeter heels was only asking for a twisted ankle. Shaking her head, Tenel Ka put down her two flutes of wine, kicked off her shoes, and picked up the entire ensemble: two flutes and a pair of elegant heels, all with one hand. If only the waiter could see me now.

    Not until she reached the summit of this hill was she able to make out her best friend from the other shadows. He was sitting with his back towards at the far edge of the grove watching as Yuuzhan’tar’s sole remaining moon was just starting to rise over the eastern horizon. As she traipsed through the small copse of trees to approach him, the shadow that was Jacen rose wordlessly to his feet and met her as she walked towards him. Saying nothing, he took her shoes and one of the flutes, and led her back to his ‘nest’. Following his lead, she said nothing but shot him an amused look as she followed and sat next to him on a large blanket. The blanket, and the small warmer of finger foods sitting on his right were clear indicators that he expected her to come find him at some point tonight.

    Finally, after several moments of the two of them just being together, he looked over at her, “I was afraid I was going to have to go rescue you.”

    The Queen Mother rolled her grey eyes, “You probably should have; I had to sneak away from Omas three times, and my face hurts from all of my ‘amused, yet polite’ smiles.”

    Somehow, Jacen heard the quotes around the adjectives and snickered quietly as he shook his head, “’Amused, yet polite...’ is that a Ta’a Chume description?”

    Tenel Ka narrowed her eyes, “You know it is not; Ta’a Chume never smiled.” Her lips rose in small smile at Jacen’s bark of laughter; the sound of his laugh had long been her favorite sound, “No. My mother coined the phrase.”

    “Ah. Aha.” Jacen deadpanned. Seeing his Queen’s menacing look, he tried, and failed badly, to keep from laughing; his Queen tried, and failed badly, to maintain the look before she, too, started to laugh.

    The two of them once again fell into a comfortable silence as they simply watched the sky, content to be serenaded by the sound of the loud music and raucous laughter coming from the party two hundred meters down the hill behind them. Only when the music paused between songs did Jacen realize that the almost imperceptible rumble he had heard a couple of times was not part of the bass-beat. Shaking his head, he leaned to his right and lifted the small food warmer closer, placing it between them.

    “You could have just said you were hungry.” He deadpanned, taking her flute away and placing on the tree stump she was leaning against.

    Looking slightly embarrassed, she answered with a half-shrug, grabbing a deep-fried ham and cheese quarter-sandwich as she did, “I was unaware that I was; until now I have been too busy ‘mingling’.” After taking a bite of her sandwich, her lovely eyes widened in surprise, “These are really good.”

    Jacen chuckled playfully as he wiped a bit of melted cheese from her chin and winked, “I can tell.” Ignoring her mock-scowl, he leaned forward and selected a small meat-and-potato pasty from warmer and closed the lid. “How’s your chest, by the way?” He asked, belatedly grimacing at his phraseology.

    Glancing down to take a quick peak at her rather low-cut bright blue blouse, “Still a 36C.” Tenel Ka replied wryly, her eyes sparkling with delight as Jacen ashamedly hung his head, murmuring something about being ‘…my fault for asking’.

    “I meant...”

    His Queen interrupted, “I know. My ribs are fine, just a tad sore.” She could see the concern on his face as Jacen gave her a quick once-over. Satisfied that she was telling the truth, he again leaned forward toward the food warmer to grab another sandwich, seeing as she had finished the first one in about three bites. Nodding her thanks, she playfully bonked him with her shoulder. This one took her four bites to finish, and she went to get another as Jacen only shook his head in disbelief; he still had not eaten half of his pasty.

    Shrugging in reply, she cast him a serious look, “When do you plan on....” Tenel Ka trailed off, not wanting to finish her sentence. Truth be told, she did not really want Jacen to leave on his ‘voyage of self-discovery’. She knew that it would be selfish to ask him to stay, but she found herself relying on his advice more and more; Jacen was the only one, besides her father, that never had ulterior motives when offering an opinion, only wanting her to make the best decision possible. Furthermore, in the darkest part of her mind that she tried her best to ignore, was the thought that Jacen would never return; of if he did, it would not be back to her. It was this thought, more than any other, that almost had her pleading for him to stay. Almost.

    If Jacen had picked up on her thoughts, he was not letting it show. Smiling her favorite ‘Jacen smile’, he replied warmly, “Not for a while. I’ve got to get a hold of a ship before I can go anywhere.” Sensing her relief, he allowed a small chuckle; “I will be fully at your beck-and-call for the near future, your Majesty.”

    “Good.” Came the reply, a small smirk on her face. As the auburn-haired young woman finished her third sandwich she scooted closer to Jacen, reaching for his hand. “If you were Queen Mother and wanted to take a vacation, where would you go?”

    Jacen narrowed his eyes; if he knew anything about Tenel Ka, it was that she never asked questions hypothetically.

    Shaking her head at his look, she grimaced and explained further, “Mother thinks that it would be good for us to take a small vacation, spend some time as a family again.”

    “Makes sense.” Jacen agreed, trying to remember the last family vacation he had been on; it had been ages. He remembered Dad taking himself, Jaina, Anakin and Kyp rocket skiing, but Mom was unable to go because of her Chief-of-State duties. Shaking his head to refocus on the question at hand, he started thinking aloud: “It does create a problem, doesn’t it?” He looked over at her and Tenel Ka could almost see the gears spinning in his head, “It’s not like the three of you can just go hang out on the beach somewhere.” Jacen waved his hand in front of them, miming the marquee above some theatre somewhere, “Imagine the headlines, ‘Queen Mother sunning it up while galaxy rebuilds’. Yeah, that’ll go over well.” Tenel Ka gave him a warm smile; this was why she really did not want Jacen to leave: he understood the political realities better than almost anyone else, he understood that sometimes image was everything. If she could get him to come up with a workable plan, she could probably entice him into coming along, thus guaranteeing another week or so together.

    Pulling his knees to his chest, Jacen stated to slowly rocked back and forth, “The three of you need to go on a vacation without looking like your going on a...” Suddenly his head jerked up as it hit him and grabbed his Queen’s hand excitedly, “That’s it. Steal Anakin’s idea!”

    Tenel Ka gave him a quizzical look, “Tattoine?”

    Her friend frowned and shook his head, “No, not the location; I meant the idea of a ‘working vacation’.” Catching her not-quite-convinced look, he elaborated further, “There are hundreds of worlds...” Jacen started gesturing wildly overhead as he talked, “...millions of municipalities, trillions of beings out there that are now trying to rebuild. We could go somewhere and aid in the rebuilding effort.” The Hapan monarch smiled at his use of ‘we’ and squeezed his hand affectionately, knowing that she had got him on a roll. “What better way to prove to the rest of the galaxy that your Hapes is not what Ta’a Chume’s was? That you are more than just a ‘Warrior Queen’?”

    Tenel Ka was too stunned by his insight to be offended by his use of her new moniker; she had thought him to not be paying attention when she had confessed her father’s desire to make the Consortium better.

    “Where do you think we should start?”

    Casting her a wry look, he had caught her use of ‘we’, Jacen let out a deep breath, “Take your pick, really. I only have first-hand knowledge of Coruscant, but I’ve heard stories about how bad a shape Commenor is in.”

    The Queen Mother’s eyes narrowed. Wasn’t Danni Quee from Commenor? Letting her voice frost over a touch, “Commenor? Do tell.”

    Jacen fought the urge to laugh as he retook his best friend’s hand. Even royalty can get jealous, apparently. “You have nothing to worry about.” He smiled as her face softened, “Although, you should get to know her; Danni is the smartest, most caring person I’ve ever met.”

    Her eyes searched Jacen’s face as his words sunk in. Tenel Ka knew, of course, that Danni was very intelligent--everyone knew that—but for Jacen to say, ‘she’s the most caring person...’? Grimacing slightly, she realized that she could not think of anyone else that Jacen would say that about. Offering Jacen an apologetic smile, it dawned on her that she should have known that there was more to Danni Quee than just a pretty face; if half of the stories she had heard were true, Danni would be an interesting person to get to know.

    We will leave for Commenor late tomorrow morning.”

    Jacen leaned closer, his breath tickling her nose as he whispered, “Yes, your Majesty.” Tenel Ka closed the gap and the two of them forgot all about returning back to the party, content to lie under the stars.

    _____(___)_____


    The next morning—

    Not bothering to change out of his sleep pants and an old t-shirt, Jacen padded into the kitchen of the small abode that the Solos had been loaned and saw his mother reading from her computer tablet as she sat on the sofa of the living room.

    “...’Morning, Mom,” he chirped as he started to heat some water in the kettle, adding two tea bags to the water.

    Leia looked up at her son, giving him a warm smile. “Good morning.” Narrowing her eyes suspiciously, she continued, “You weren’t out very late.”

    One of the disadvantages of seeing the Hapan Queen Mother, he was starting to realize, was that everyone tended to know where you were and what you were doing. A fact that tended to put the brakes on any ‘extra-curricular’ activities that he and Tenel Ka might want to partake in. Shaking his head, he replied drily, “Nah. There are wa-ay too many Hapans here to even think about keeping her out past ‘curfew’.”

    As he turned back to the kettle, adding creamer and cinnamon to the tea, he heard Leia’s slight chuckle, “Well, at least one of my kids is still respectable. You’ll notice that Anakin and Jaina made...alternative sleeping arrangements for the night.”

    Jacen let out a snort of laughter at his mother’s phrasing, nodding once as he poured the tea into two cups. “And for the next few nights, unless I miss my guess.”

    As Jacen made the short trip from the kitchen to the living area, Leia held her hands over her ears, humming loudly to herself. “I’m not listening, Jacen.”

    Her oldest son could see the glint of amusement in her warm brown eyes, and he could only shake his head as he handed his mother a cup of tea and got a nod of thanks. “Dad still asleep?”

    Leia only glared at him over the top of her cup in response.

    Seeing the look, Jacen visibly grimaced as he sat in the wingback chair sitting diagonally opposite the couch, “Someone should tell him he’s not a smuggler anymore.”

    His mother rolled her eyes, “I have told him.” She took a sip and muttered, “Impossible man.”

    Turning her attention back to her son, “Is our favorite Queen going to be able spend some time with you today?” she asked lightly, hoping to hide her since of longing. Ever since he was small, Leia always understood Jacen better than her other two kids. Both Jaina and Anakin took after their father: quick to action, heedless of the consequences. It was a wonder they were both still alive. Mentally banishing that thought, she reflected that Jacen was only one of the three that seemed to want to think things through, content to let others have the attention. More than his siblings, Jacen understood the necessity of solid, well-thought-out policy; he saw the opportunity politics offered to bring people together. Whether it was on the Jedi Council or, as seemed increasingly more likely, the Fountain Palace, Jacen could continue from where she left off.

    Jacen looked at his mother, guilt evident on his face. In truth, he had hoped to be able to spend some more time with his parents. It seemed like he had not had the opportunity to talk to his mother for more than a couple of minutes here and there ever since the war began. He supposed he should be embarrassed to be such a ‘Mama’s boy’, but the truth was he liked his mother. Leia seemed unflappable in the face of any family ‘emergency’, and always offered solid advice. Suddenly, it occurred to Jacen just how much he missed being able to talk to her. For a brief moment, he thought about backing out of going with the Royal Family on their trip, but decided against it. Something was telling him that it was important for him to accompany Tenel Ka.

    “Actually...” he paused, trying to find a way to not sound like he was eager to rush off again, “...the Djos asked me to take a short vacation with them.”

    “Oh.” Leia tried, and only partly succeeded, in keeping the hurt out of her voice. She became perplexed, though, when she thought of what had happened two days prior. “After the look Teneniel gave you a couple of days ago, I would not thought that possible.”

    Jacen nodded as he hid a smile, “I am not sure she knows yet.”

    “Ah.” She offered an understanding smile, “The ‘spring-this-on-Mom-when-she-can’t-say-no’ ploy.” Seeing Jacen’s feigned innocence at the comment, she continued drily, “Anakin taught Tenel Ka well.” This time, Jacen tried to hide his laugh behind his teacup as she asked nonchalantly, “Where are you headed?”

    Shrugging as he finished swallowing his tea Jacen answered, “I suggested Commenor, but I suspect it will be somewhere closer to Hapes.”

    Leia’s flabbergasted look turned into a smile of pride as it dawned on her what Jacen was getting at. As she looked at her oldest son with motherly affection, she said softly, “You are using this to spotlight the plight of all of the refugees.”

    Jacen nodded in reply, “And to show how much rebuilding needs to be done.” He leaned forward, “If everyone sees the Hapan Royal Family out helping, maybe it will spur others into getting involved.”

    For a long moment, Leia said nothing as she regarded her son; her biggest fear was that this war would take Jacen’s empathy away from him, leave him bitter or soulless like had happened to so many other people, Jedi and non-Jedi alike. Somehow, he had found a way to keep it and, for that, she would be eternally grateful.

    Smiling warmly, she offered a compliment he would be sure to understand, “Bail would be proud of you.”

    Her son only closed his eyes and nodded once at the comment. His whole family knew how much Leia Organa strived to live up to her father’s ideals. For her to say how proud he would be of her son?

    Leia noticed that Jacen’s eyes were suspiciously damp when he reopened them, but said nothing. Instead, she asked, “When do you leave?”

    “Well, if Teneniel is in as bad a shape as Dad...” Jacen trailed off, smiling his father’s trademark half-smirk.

    Leia hung her head as she laughed, if the former Queen Mother had as much to drink as Han, it would be late morning before either saw the light of day. “Good. I’d like to talk about the ‘new’ Jedi Council, if you are in the mood.”

    “To talk politics? I’m always in the mood for that!” Jacen replied as he got up and sat next to his mother on the couch.

    _____(___)_____

    After the Rock Dragon cleared the atmosphere of Zonoma, Tenel Ka turned to her left and started to enter their destination into the navicomputer: Obroa-skai. After a quick and not-quite-heated exchange with her parents on their way to the small freighter, both Tenel Ka and Jacen quickly gave in to avoid a rather pointless argument about the relative suffering on Commenor compared to that of Obroa-skai. As they discussed their destination, Jacen had gotten the distinct impression that Teneniel only disagreed because it was his idea.

    Despite their disagreement with Teneniel, Jacen’s spirits were buoyed by the fact that Tenel Ka had sided with him. As he adjusted the throttles to maintain their current orbit, the young Jedi risked a glance at his best friend sitting in the ‘captain’s’ seat, smiling to himself. Even though they had only seen each other off-and-on for the last couple of years they still made a pretty good team; whether it be arguing the case for going to Commenor, performing the pre-flight on the Rock Dragon, or handling piloting duties.

    After a few moments, the navigation computer sounded a quiet ‘ping’, indicating that the route was ready. After querying the temporary air traffic control agency, Tenel Ka glanced over to her right. “Fleet control has cleared us to depart.”

    Jacen smiled again at her serious tone; when they were out on their adventures from the Academy, Zekk often complained about their one-armed friend’s use of her ‘droid-like’ voice when in the cockpit, but Jacen always found it endearing. Regardless of his sister or father’s cavalier attitude, flying was a serious business and Jacen appreciated that Tenel Ka always treated it that way.

    “Acknowledged. Matching heading now.” Jacen tried to match her professional tone and grinned at his friend as he steered the Dragon to line up with the required heading. As he did, it occurred to Jacen that he could count only about three times where the two of them actually flew her ship. The other two would deny it, of course, but Jaina and Zekk were horrible passengers and tended to sulk unless they were in control. Shaking his head at the memory, Jacen aligned the Dragon with the indicated course and nodded at his pretty pilot, “Hit it.”

    “Acknowledged.” With a sly grin of her own, Tenel Ka started pushing the hyperspace throttles forward and the Dragon’s engines sounded their characteristic low whine as the stars elongated and disappeared.

    Not long after they had made the jump to lightspeed, Teneniel unbuckled her restraint and headed aft, Isolder following her out with an apologetic glance at his daughter. Jacen started to comment on her mother’s cold behavior when Tenel Ka leaned to her right and grabbed his arm, her eyes desperate. “Can you start making dinner? Now?”

    Tenel Ka was keeping her tone low, but even in her whisper he could hear the almost-panic. Why the rush? They had all had a lovely brunch at his parents’ quarters not two hours ago. Concerned that maybe both Djo women had come down with some weird disease, he answered confusedly, “Uh.... sure. What’s the...”

    His auburn-haired pilot interrupted as she cast a quick look at the door, apparently fearing that it was spying on them, “I heard Mother mention that she was going to make her lentil casserole. You have to pre-empt her before she can get started.”

    Jacen recoiled. “Lentil...what? That sounds....”

    Tenel Ka interrupted again, frantically grabbing the front of his shirt, “It is AWFUL. Go. Now!”

    “Yes ma’am.”

    With an audible sigh of relief, the Queen Mother pulled him into a deep, seductive kiss. After a few moments, she broke contact, her face flushed. Winking at her best friend, “Thank you.”

    Jacen said nothing as he nodded absent-mindedly in response, still trying to come to grips with what just happened: Tenel Ka just...flirted. Leaving the cockpit, he took one last look at Tenel Ka who returned his glance with a sultry one. Smiling to himself, Jacen made his way back to the galley, nodding at her parents as he passed them in the crew lounge.

    Fifteen minutes later, as Jacen was busy browning ground nerf, Isolder joined him in the small galley. When the younger man turned his head, Isolder nodded in the direction of the skillet, “What are you making?”

    Jacen shrugged nonchalantly, “Some of Chewbacca’s chili. It needs about four hours to simmer, so I figured I’d get started now.”

    The Crown Prince’s eyes narrowed knowingly, replying in a low tone, “Ah. You know about Teneniel’s lentil casserole.”

    Jacen shook his head, and replied drily, “Only by reputation.”

    “It’s best if you keep it that way.” Isolder rejoined quietly, smirking as Jacen coughed to cover his laugh. Returning his tone to normal, “You need any help?”

    The brown-haired Jedi nodded once, “Sure. Check to see if the food dispenser has a recipe for cornbread.”

    As Isolder squeezed by Jacen to check, the former Queen Mother strolled into the getting-more-crowded-by-the-minute galley, “What are you two up to?”

    Without missing a beat, Jacen answered sincerely, “Well Mum, the Corellians have a custom that the owner of the ship never has to cook.” He smiled warmly, “Since this is still technically your ship, I have to do all the cooking for the trip.” Truth be told, Jacen had no idea whether Teneniel’s name was still on the Dragon’s registry or not, but it was the best he could come up with on the fly.

    The former Queen only stared at him for a long moment, clearly trying to decide if he was telling the truth. Her husband only shrugged when she turned her attention to him, “His father is Corellian; Jacen would know their customs better than I.”

    Teneniel did not survive the Hapan Court by being easily duped, and she cast her glance back to the eldest Solo boy inwardly smiling at his feigned innocence; he was actually doing quite well in her little test. “Fair enough. I insist on making dessert, however.” Nodding at the food dispenser, “I make a mean cherry cobbler.”

    Smiling warmly, Jacen replied, “Of course.”

    After she left, Jacen could hear Isolder exhale loudly before whispering, “Do the Corellians really have that custom?”

    Jacen shrugged as he glanced over at the older man, “Dad always said so.” He paused as a wry grin appeared, “Although...I’ve long suspected it a ruse to get Anakin, Jaina and I do all of the cooking on the Falcon.”

    _____(___)_____

    Dinner went pleasantly enough, and Jacen could not help but notice that Teneniel was acting less distant towards him, a fact that confused him greatly. It was not that he did not appreciate her increasing friendliness, he did; he just could not figure out what he had done to earn it. Something odd was going on.

    Later, as the four of them sat around the small table in the crew lounge playing a board game, Teneniel moved her small canine playing piece four spaces and looked across the table at her daughter’s best friend and watched as the young man picked up the dice, “Your mother mentioned that she was going to finish her Jedi training now that the war was over.”

    Jacen never looked up from the table as he let out a long breath and tossed the die. “Yeah.”

    “You don’t think she should?” Isolder asked disbelievingly as Jacen moved his top hat piece three spots.

    The younger man looked up and saw three pairs of eyes looking at him as if he had just announced that he was going to join the Sith. Grimacing, he tried to explain. “I am not sure I see the need.” Seeing Teneniel’s flash of anger, he pressed on before she could interrupt. “When I was a kid, Uncle Luke used to stop by the house now and then and make comments like, ‘Leia, you really need to finish your ‘Jedi’ training.’” Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Tenel Ka try to hide her smirk at his fair impression of Luke Skywalker. Looking back at Isolder, Jacen continued, “He always said it partly in jest, but we all knew that he meant it.” Unconsciously running his hand through his hair, he looked down at the table, clearly frustrated. “Even at ten, it rubbed me the wrong way. Dad too, come to think of it.”

    Raising his head, Jacen and looked from Isolder to Teneniel sitting opposite him. “Anyway, here Luke was, telling the CHIEF-OF-STATE that she needed to be more ‘Jedi-like’; implying that she was inferior to him because she couldn’t wield a glowing sword. While she was working her butt off to keep all these little squabbles from becoming BIG squabbles, he was teaching Kyp and Corran and me how to float rocks.” Years of frustration came boiling out; years of watching people like his mother get second billing because they see the need to think. “Uncle Luke gets all of the credit for defeating the Empire, but Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, and Mom were the reason he got the chance. Not once has she complained about living in her brother’s shadow, but I would think a little less condescension on his part would have been nice.”

    Long used to his occasional emotional rants, Tenel Ka reached to her right and grasped his left hand, giving it a warm squeeze as Jacen hung his head again at losing his cool; he desperately wanted to impress Tenel Ka’s parents, and he had just gone on a rant about the head of the Jedi Order, one of the most respected men in the galaxy. Great way to make a lasting impression, Jace. Why not kick their pet feline, too?

    Isolder leaned forward to pick up the two die, asking quietly, “What do you think the best use of her talents are?”

    Jacen was slightly confused by his tone; he was expecting a tone of disbelief, or perhaps a slightly pitying one. Instead, the Crown Prince sounded genuinely interested in his opinion. Risking a glance at the Queen seated on his left, he saw her warm smile and her nod of approval; she wanted her parents to hear what he thought.

    Shrugging slightly, he answered truthfully, “My mother needs to be out there telling the trillions of refugees out here that the Alliance will get them the help they need. Omas needs to use her to get some sort of agreement in place with the Remnant; she needs to be acting as an ‘unofficial’ emissary to the Chiss; maybe tell the Bakurans that their concerns about ‘Alliance meddling’ are warranted and will be looked into.” His tone turned thoughtful as he stared intently at the older couple sitting across from him, “She can make a huge impact, much bigger than most of the rest of us; this is what my mother should be doing, not trying to fill some antiquated view of Jedi.” His dropped his tone to a whisper, “Leia Organa Solo is a Jedi—she has been one for years.”

    Teneniel looked at the young man who had slumped back on the couch and asked pointedly, “You said antiquated?”

    Jacen hung his head at airing all of his frustrations in front of his girlfriend’s parents. No sense stopping now, he supposed. In for a penny... “Uncle Luke’s view works for him, it works for my sister, it works for Kyp.” He looked up again, violently shaking his head. “But it doesn’t work for me, it didn’t work for Sannah, and it won’t work for Mom.” He offered a resigned sigh, “The Force is not a one-size-fits-all entity. There are lots of Jedi who need a different view of the Force.”

    “People like Danni?”

    Surprised, Jacen looked over at Tenel Ka and laughed tonelessly at her wry smile. “Yeah.” His look turned thoughtful, “Danni has devoted her entire life asking why. We can’t ask her to turn that off; we shouldn’t ask her to turn that off.” Casting a look across the table, he continued, “Her and Sannah, Mom and I; we all need to know why the Force works. Just knowing the how isn’t enough.”

    The former Queen Mother smiled warmly at his response, “What would you say if I told you that I was starting a Praxeum on Dathomir to explore different aspects of the Force?”

    “Really?”

    Teneniel and Jacen both missed the knowing look that Isolder shared with his daughter as the four of them continued to talk about the new ‘Jedi’ school on Dathomir while continuing their game.

    Hours later, as she tried valiantly to stifle a yawn, Teneniel rose off of the couch shaking her head, “Okay, the old woman has had enough. Jacen, you can have all of my hotels, Tenel Ka gets the maglev lines.” As she got up, she shot Jacen a wink and ruffled his hair as she squeezed by his seat. “Good night.”

    “Good night.” Jacen replied and started to pack the game away when he saw that Isolder, too, had gotten up to turn in. After the pair had left, he folded the game board and commented warmly, “Well, that was fun.” Not getting the expected reply, he looked over at Tenel Ka and saw that she was staring after her parents, clearly lost in thought. Confusion echoed in his voice as he asked, “Are you okay?”

    “Yes. Fine.” The young woman on his left answered absentmindedly. Not once in her entire life could Tenel Ka ever remember her mother winking at someone, not even her father. And yet, not thirty seconds ago, Teneniel winked at Jacen. And ruffled his hair. The last time her mother acted that affectionate towards her was...so long ago she could barely remember. And the way she did it was so...unguarded. Shaking her head at the implication, Tenel Ka smiled a small understanding smile; Jacen had managed to win over her mother, and had done it only by speaking his mind. Turning her attention back to Jacen who was still looking curiously at her, she offered a small shrug of apology, “Sorry, I was just...reminiscing.” Seemingly satisfied, Jacen turned his attention back to the table and the two of them finished putting the game away.

    As her boyfriend put the board game away, Tenel Ka started turning off the lights in the Dragon, leaving only a small light in the galley and one in the crew lounge illuminated. After waiting for Jacen to catch up, she took his hand and leaned her head onto his shoulder as they slowly walked down the corridor. “You were right, that was fun.” After years of war, it was nice to spend a nice quiet evening with her parents, doubly so since they seemed to genuinely approve of her and Jacen.

    Stopping outside her cabin, Jacen kissed her lightly and pulled back, clearly intending to sleep in the cabin further down the corridor. “Good night, Tiki.” The use of his long-dormant pet name for her made her heart skip a beat—he had not used her nickname since before Myrkr, and she was afraid of what that might imply.
    _____(___)_____

    Six years earlier....

    Tenel Ka had gotten Jacen up early to take a run together through the Yavin jungle. A couple of miles in, he had gotten distracted by the lovely view in front of him and tripped on a tree root. Writhing in pain, he yelled out for her to stop. The young warrior girl stopped and, seeing her friend’s anguish, sprinted back to him. Kneeling beside him, Tenel Ka frantically ran her hand down this ankle, clearly afraid that he had broken something. “Friend Jacen, are you injured?”

    He stopped writhing and grabbed her hand. Looking up she saw the sparkle of mirth in his eyes. “I’m fine. I just needed to rest!”

    She stood up abruptly and glared at him. Not saying a word, she spun around and started to walk briskly away.

    Jacen got up quickly. “Tiki, wait!” He started to chase after her, “Stop!“ Sprinting now, his voice raised in panic, “Tiki! Stop!”

    Tenel Ka stopped and spun back around to face him, her red braids whipping around. “What did you call me?”

    Jacen stopped, fury clearly evident in her grey eyes. Why does she always think I am making fun of her? Not wanting to infuriate her further, he quietly apologized, “I’m sorry.” Noticing that her eyes softened a little, “When I leave a note explaining where we’ve gone, it’s always something like, ‘TK and I went for run. Back in an hour’.” He took a tentative step closer, looking chagrined. “I just...” Jacen looked down at the ground, embarrassed by the foolish notion that she would actually like the dorky nickname he had used, “...pronounced your initials.” Looking back up guiltily, he shook his head, “I won’t do it again.”

    Embarrassed by her emotional outburst, the Hapan princess also took a step forward. Not everyone is out to get you. Outside of a staff member’s son ages ago, she had never been close enough to anyone to even have a nickname. With startling clarity, she realized that she had let Jacen Solo get close enough; from him, a nickname would be...nice. Looking into his brown eyes, she said quietly “No, it’s okay.” Jacen smiled at that, the smile that always made her feel special. “Will you not tell anyone?” From him, it was a term of affection. From anyone else, it would imply intimacy that she did not feel.

    Jacen shook his head, his curly hair waving with the movement. “No. Only when it is just you and I.”

    _____(___)_____

    Grabbing him by the collar, she pulled him into a long kiss. Did he not know how much his nickname meant to her? After breaking contact, she whispered, “There is no way that you can call me that and expect me to sleep alone.” Seeing his smug smile, she belatedly understood that he did know what her reaction would be.

    A few hours later as he lay staring at the ceiling cuddled up with his best friend, Jacen reflected that there were far worse places to be then in the arms of one of the galaxy’s most beautiful women. Sighing deeply, Jacen reluctantly got out of bed and pulled on a t-shirt over his sleep pants, careful not to make any noise to wake Tenel Ka as he grabbed a couple of holozines from on top of the foot locker. Not that it really mattered—Tenel Ka had long ago mastered the art of being able to sleep through everything short of an orbital bombardment. Hearing a small sigh, the young man turned and shook his head as he watched his Queen roll over; somehow, he did not think Anakin would believe him if he were to mention that the first time he and Tenel Ka slept in the same bed they just slept. With this thought in mind, Jacen worked his way forward to the cockpit, stopping to grab a drink from the fridge.

    Before settling into ‘his’ copilot’s chair, he turned the chair around so that the back was to the cockpit viewports. After propping his feet up on the engineer seat, he opened his fizzy beverage and started to read. Twenty minutes or so later, the cockpit door opened again. Startled, Jacen sat up and watched as a Teneniel entered the cockpit wrapped in a well-worn pale blue robe and sipping a cup of caf.

    “Couldn’t sleep either?” she asked.

    Jacen smiled and shook his head, “Nope.” He paused as the former Queen regally sat at the sensor operator station behind the pilot. “I’ve never been able to sleep very well aboard ship.”

    Teneniel nodded over her cup, “Me neither.” Her brown eyes sparkled mischievously, “Isolder, however...” Jacen nodded in understanding as he quietly chuckled.

    For a long moment, the two of them cautiously regarded each other. Finally, before the silence became too awkward, Teneniel asked quietly, “Why did you do it?”

    They both knew what ‘it’ was: Jacen’s passionate kiss of the Queen Mother two evenings previous, in full view of Force-knows-how-many members of the Hapan Navy. For a fleeting moment, Jacen thought of answering the same way he had when asked by Tahiri later that night: It seemed like a good idea at the time. Mentally shaking his head, he decided not to be as flippant; the mother of his best friend deserved to know that what he did was not solely to stun his mother speechless, although that was an added benefit. After taking he quick drink to think on how to frame his response, Jacen finally answered, “I did it because I wanted everyone to know how much I love and adore your daughter. Most would have thought I was making some over-the-top joke if I had just yelled, ‘I Love You, Tenel Ka.’”

    His cabin-mate smiled at his response, she knew all to well that most people never took Jacen very seriously. Encouraged by her reaction, Jacen continued, “I kissed her because I have a rough idea of how much she loves me, and I wanted everyone to know that as well. I want everyone to know that I am not afraid of my feelings for her; that I won’t sneak into the Palace in order to see my best friend. I intend on wear my feelings for her on my sleeve. I wanted everyone to know that I am not afraid of the Ruling Council, or the nobility, or the Ni’Korish.” Affecting his best Ganner Rhysode voice, Jacen continued, “‘Bring on your Hapans; one at a time or all in a rush...’”

    “’...I don’t give a damn.’” Teneniel finished quietly, watching as Jacen nodded slowly, the memory of Ganner still fresh. “And if it doesn’t work out?”

    Jacen shrugged in reply, “Then it doesn’t work. Look, I know how hard this is going to be, but at least we’ll know that we tried.” Smiling sadly, “I don’t think that I could live with myself if I didn’t at least give it a shot.”

    “If you feel that strongly, why are you leaving?”

    Jacen grimaced as he took a long sip of his drink. Finally, he decided on telling Teneniel the same thing he had told her daughter as they sat on their hill watching the stars. Holding up two fingers, “Two reasons: I need to know what I am; what it means to me to be a Jedi.” His brown eyes met hers, “If I am to be the Conscience of the Jedi, I need to understand more about the Force than I do. I cannot advise others if I don’t understand my role, let alone the role of the Force.”

    As he paused to let that sink in, Teneniel found herself impressed by the young man. After a few moments, she nodded for him to continue. Picking up the cue, “Your daughter has been only a war-time Queen. She needs some time to be able to become a peace-time leader.” Jacen took another drink, more to give him time to articulate what he meant than anything else. “There is enough anti-Jedi sentiment on Hapes as it is. If I were to start showing up now at the Palace, there would be a sizable faction that would start to think that the Jedi are trying to take over Hapes. She needs to be able to show that the Hapan people come first. Only when they know that her first loyalty is to them will they accept us.

    When they were lying in bed earlier that evening, Isolder had mentioned to her that he thought Jacen to be a lot like his mother; always able to see beyond the immediate future and concentrate on what really mattered. At the time, Teneniel thought his comments to be wishful thinking, knowing that Isolder still had a bit of a thing for Leia Organa. Perhaps her husband was more right than she cared to admit; perhaps Jacen was the man for their daughter. Perhaps she should have realized that Tenel Ka would not give her heart to just anyone.

    With a flash of insight, Teneniel hatched upon a plan that would help assuage some of the guilt she felt for dumping the Hapan throne on her daughter. The Ruling Council had never really approved of her and Isolder; Teneniel would be damned if she would allow that same body to treat her daughter and her likely choice of Royal Consort with the same disdain. Allowing a predatory smile, she stared intently at the young man sitting across from her as he started to regard her warily, “If you are willing to play along, we can outflank the Ruling Council.”

    Jacen was the son of the former Chief-of-State, he knew what Teneniel’s look meant: it meant a political fight. Trying to keep the growing apprehension out of his voice, “Play along...how?”

    “Relax, all you have to do is be yourself.” Teneniel paused theatrically, “We just need you to be seen being yourself.” This did little to assuage Jacen’s wary look, so the auburn-haired woman continued, “While we’re on Obroa-skai, we simply make sure that you and Tenna are seen together as we...end up doing whatever it is that we’ll do.”

    Jacen wrinkled his brow in confusion. Tenna? Shaking his head, he let the nickname pass for the moment, “That is not what...”

    “Yes it is.” The former Queen interrupted. “The whole point of this trip is to be seen helping the galaxy rebuild, to spur others into like action. There is nothing wrong with your plan; in fact, I applaud what you are trying to do. All I am saying is that as long as we are there, we might as well let everyone see the side of Jacen and Tenel Ka that I see: the side that shows just how well the two of you work together.” Jacen still looked unconvinced, so Teneniel went for the soft sell. “Take today as an example; it quickly became apparent to both of you that we were adamant about going to Obroa-skai and that it was a pointless argument. More importantly, you stuck together with you arguments and then graciously let us have our way.” Leaning forward, Teneniel continued, “For dinner, I let it ‘slip’ that I was planning to make lentil casserole, and the two of you found a way to stop me without hurting my feelings.” Taking his hand, she gave it an affectionate squeeze, “Both of you were able to solve these problems without anyone losing face; a rare talent that not everyone has. We need to let Hapes see this.”

    Jacen nodded, finally understanding why she had been so distant towards him earlier, “So all of today was just a test?” His voice betrayed no emotion, but he could not quite keep the flash of betrayal from his eyes. If Jacen had learned anything from his time with Vergere, it is that life is one big test; he was just hoping that he would not had to pass one from his prospective mother-in-law.

    Teneniel shook her head, “No, the test was limited to the ‘argument’ and dinner.” Smiling warmly, “Everything else was just me liking to talk policy.”

    The Jedi nodded once, a look of relief on his face. “Back to the press...” Jacen’s gaze hardened, “...they didn’t do my brother any favors; what makes you think they’ll treat me any better?”

    Teneniel shook her head, her hair coming undone as she did. “Anakin’s ‘fall from grace’ is just as much his fault as it is theirs.” Seeing Jacen open his mouth to reply, the former queen held up her hand for forestall the coming argument. “Anakin used the press to further his agenda, and he did it well. People loved him. He became the face of the Jedi; the next Kenobi.” Even Teneniel had to admit that she had been impressed with the way Anakin had dealt with the press early on. “He became the hero that we all needed, able to pull off audacious plans that few others would have dared try. And then...” she trailed off.

    Jacen’s head fell into his hands as he finished, “...Bastion.”

    Nodding solemnly in agreement, “Bastion. Anakin refused to speak to the press after the disaster, not even to the reporters who were clearly willing to cut him some slack.”

    Looking up, Jacen felt the need to defend his brother, “Anakin thought they would understand just how badly we all felt, that they would...” he trailed off, realizing belatedly what his friend’s mother was trying to get across. The press was not just going to leave Anakin alone; he had become the voice not just of the Jedi, but also of the Alliance as a whole.

    Teneniel allowed a sad smile, seeing that Jacen had finally caught on to what she was trying to get across. Her voice soft, “Now you see.” Pausing, she saw Jacen’s forlorn nod, “Anakin thought the story would blow over, but it will not: Bastion is gone. I know it was not his fault, the press know it was not his fault, but the public needed answers, and he gave them none.” Teneniel balled her fists, clearly aggravated by Anakin’s actions over the last few months, “By avoiding the press, Anakin was loudly saying If I can’t win, I am going to take my toys and go home.” Her voice rose as more of her frustration seeped through, “He got everyone to buy into his ‘hero’ mystique and then when things go horribly wrong, he starts to act like the teenager he is. In absence of getting his side of the story, the press created one: Anakin Solo is a quitter.” She paused to let Jacen absorb that thought and her voice became harder, “While Tenna, Jaina, Doran, and millions of others were still out there risking their lives, Anakin Solo quit.”

    “I was at Bastion; I left for Zonoma, same as him.” Jacen pointed out quietly.

    You...” She pointed at him angrily, “...did not sell yourself as the new face of the Jedi. He sold them hope and then appeared to bail when the going got tough.” Taking a deep breath, Teneniel realized that she was taking her frustration with Anakin out on his brother. Softening her tone, “Trust me when I say this, the press will not tolerate hypocrisy.”

    Jacen smiled wanly, “Anakin probably could have used your advice.”

    The older woman chuckled humorlessly and rolled her eyes, “Leia would have told him the same thing had he asked.” She leaned forward again to recapture his attention, “I’m not asking you to be larger than life; I am only asking you to let the press see...you. When you are out doing...” Teneniel paused theatrically as she waved out the viewscreen, “...whatever it is that you are going to be doing, talk to the press when they ask. Engage them. Let the galaxy see you for the thoughtful, intelligent, handsome, funny guy that you are.” Squeezing his hand again, she continued, “When we ‘leak’ holos of you and Tenna together as you two meet occasionally over the next few years, Hapes will start to understand just how much you adore their Queen Mother, not for what she is but simply because she is Tenel Ka. They will see how much you both mean to each other. This is how we end-run the Ruling Council.”

    Jacen nodded thoughtfully, clearly digesting her plan. Would it work? He was never really comfortable with the idea of Jedi talking to the press, but Ganner was able to pull it off with relative success. Unbidden, he started to picture his uncle having a panic attack at the thought that someone was actually going to imitate Ganner Rhysode. Chuckling at the mental image, he nodded at his ‘mother-in-law’, “When do we start?”

    Patting his knee, Teneniel smiled warmly. “We’ll allow a few questions as soon as we get to Obroa-skai. After that, we’ll plan on making a bigger splash at Tenna’s coronation.”

    Making a mental note to ask ‘Tenna’ about the origins of her nickname, he and Teneniel continued to discuss her strategy for him appearing occasionally with Tenel Ka at various events, so that they would still look to be a ‘couple’.

    _____(___)_____

    As Jacen quietly slipped back into bed a couple of hours later, Tenel Ka rolled over again and draped her arm across his chest, pulling him closer. Smiling, he leaned over to kiss her forehead, whispering softly, “ ‘Morning, Tenna.” Just as he had hoped, he was rewarded with her grey eyes snapping open. “I’ve had a most enlightening conversation with your mother.”

    Even in the darkened room, he could see her grimace. Chagrined, Tenel Ka murmured, “Did she mention how I got the name?”

    “Nope, I kinda figured she was in the mood to ratchet up the embarrassment and let you explain.”

    “Remind me to thank her tomorrow.” Sensing Jacen’s amusement, Tenel Ka proceeded to explain how Commander Janka Vessau, the Palace’s Naval Attaché for a time, let her son Gadell come to her office after school. Tenel Ka had bumped into the slightly older boy one day and the two had become fast friends, doing their level best to hide from their parents and terrorize the local avians that flew about the Palace Gardens. Either because he could not be bothered to pronounce it, or just because he liked her slightly annoyed look, it took Gadell three years to finally get her name right, insisting on calling her ‘Tenna’ in the meantime.

    After she finished, Jacen smiled warmly, “That’s nothing to be embarrassed about, it’s a cute story. I got my nickname because Anakin couldn’t pronounce ‘Jacen’, after all.”

    Tenel Ka shrugged as she started to cuddle up once again to Jacen before stopping. Looking worriedly into his face, she asked, “You didn’t tell Mother about...”

    Jacen shook his head, and whispered into her hair, “Of course not, Tiki.”

    Smiling in relief, she started to nibble on his ear as she took off his t-shirt, “Good.”

    With a low growl, Jacen rolled her on top of him and quickly removed her purple silk camisole, reveling in the feel of her skin against his. Somewhere in the back of his mind was the thought that her parents were only about six meters away across the corridor, but he was beyond caring. He just hoped that the Dragon’s cabins were as soundproof as he remembered.
    _____(___)_____



    A/N: Back when I was stalking J/TK stories both on here and on FF.N, I noticed that quite a few of the posters from years gone by would refer to her as Tiki. To me, it always seemed like a name that Jacen would give her and that it was a name that she would only tolerate from him, so I invented a backstory for it.
     
    Kahara and Chyntuck like this.
  2. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Got to love Jacen/Tenel Ka.
    So many good moments.
    Can't wait to see this continued.
    One of the best AU series' I've read.
     
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  3. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    I know! I've always been confused why more people didn't like them as a couple. Apparently, they weren't 'angsty' enough for folks. Don't get me wrong, I like Jaina a lot as a character, but her dating life got to be a pain in the neck.

    I changed the title screen to reflect that this is just a one-off! Sorry, I totally didn't mean to imply that there was more to this. And yes, I totally agree, Fish's story is one of the best AU's around. Don't know how he does it.
    Thanks for reading!
     
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  4. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Have people not read YJK or something?
    I haven't read all of them. First 7 or so with excerpts from books after that.
    Those two are the highlight of the series imo. I loved Jacen's jokes and liked Tenel Ka not getting it or acting aloof or whatever.
    Never really cared for Zekk. Jag stiffing Borsk Fey'lya was more memorable than anything Zekk did imo.
    Need to read YJK from start to end though.
    Aw. Not getting them on their vacation? Boo!
    Certainly helps ease the change from EU stories to NEU stories for me anyway.
    I don't envy him.
    An altered LOTF and FOTJ, another arc or two or three of Forging the Future, and the Zekk Legacy comic era story.
    Krayt's One Sith, Alema and her schemes, other Dark Siders with Krayt, The Lost Tribe, a plot with the TFA characters or so he told me several weeks back, several different Jedi Praxeums and so on and so forth.
     
  5. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    Were I a betting man, I'd bet that a lot of us on here have read YJK, but have forgotten how well the two of them got along. Sure, Jacen told corny jokes, but the two of them always had an easy chemistry that I thought everyone else lacked...including Anakin and Tahiri. Which might get me stoned since most hold them as the 'ideal'. Personally, I think TK acted like she didn't get it because it was a way to get him to keep talking to her.

    I'll be honest, I don't think I've read all of YJK in 15 years or so...can we still get them?

    And I've got no idea how Fish is gonna pull all of that off...seems awfully ambitious, you ask me!
     
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  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Wonderful! =D= =D= What a sensible way to handle the paparazzi. :p I will have to hunt up that story you mentioned: Destiny Altered. :)
     
  7. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    ^^Thanks! Truly, the Jedi could have used a decent press secretary. And a decent plan for dealing with the post-war galaxy.

    Do! You'll like it. He's continued the story with another long epic centered on DNT, but without everyone getting absurd.
     
  8. Anedon

    Anedon Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    A nice story.
    Intersting idea to have Anakin survive Mykr. I enjoyed Jacen´s and Tenel Ka´s interactions with each other.
    Nice nickname he has given her, maybe I should use that as well sometimes. :)
     
  9. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    A/N: I signed up for the 'One-hit wonder' challenge and decided to run with a follow-up chapter to this story. I was given 'I'm too sexy..."!

    Jacen's still doing his 'out-and-about' stuff after the Vong War, but is also doing some 'political' stuff on behalf of his mother and best friend. What was he supposed to be doing in those five years, anyway? Sure, learning arcane stuff takes time, but five years? When he has a gorgeous woman he's best friends with? Who are they kidding? Of course he and Tenel Ka are still going to talk.


    “Ri-ight.” Said Fred -- Chapter Two


    Ministry of Defence Building, Chume’dan, Hapes


    “We have a problem.” The Queen’s Chief-of-Staff announced as she barged into the Minister of Defence’s office in the north wing of the Fountain Palace.

    Prince Isolder, Defence Minister and acting Crown Prince of the Hapes Consortium sighed loudly, but did not look up from his datapad. “Anhaje, I’ve just had to issue a ‘stand down’ order for the entire inventory of Creutz Battle Tanks because of problems with the turbine engines, development of the Battle Dragons new long-range sensors are months behind schedule, and the fleet is facing a retention problem.”

    He glanced up from his datapad with a look of resigned amusement, “I really don’t need any more problems for the day.”

    Undeterred, Anhaje pressed on, “I was going through the RSVPs for the Queen’s Coronation, and I saw that Jacen hasn’t replied yet.”

    After the war, the Hapan Ruling Council pressed the Queen Mother for a Coronation Ceremony as a way of restoring tradition and to bestow legitimacy upon the war-time government. Tenel Ka politely demurred, saying that it was more important for her people to reclaim their lives and restore some sense of normalcy after years of sacrifice and bloodshed. A year later, the Majority Leader of the Council again broached the subject, saying that it had been over 20 years since the last coronation and that after all of their hard work, Hapans deserved to celebrate and witness a bit of Royal pomp and circumstance.

    Not wishing to appear aloof to her people or unappreciative of all they had done, the Queen Mother reluctantly agreed and her coronation date was set —a date one week from today.

    Isolder made a face, “That doesn’t sound like him.”

    “No.” Anhaje agreed, “So I did some digging around. Apparently, his official invite was never sent.”

    The older man sighed again and pinched the bridge of his nose. It would explain why his daughter was acting a bit…off…these days. She was trying her best to hide it, but Isolder had picked up on the way she avoided any conversation about her friend, or how she seemed a bit short with both the staff and with him. All because she assumed that her best friend was ignoring the most important day of her life.

    “Accidentally or on purpose, do you think?”

    “Gadell is trying to find out.” She replied, referring to the Chief of Palace Security and unofficial head of the Hapans commercial espionage department. “But, my money is on the latter.” She added, drily.

    Before Isolder could reply, Anhaje continued, “I’ve tried calling his personal comlink a couple times, but always get a ‘no signal found’ message. I’m pretty sure that he KNOWS about the Coronation, do you think he’d come anyway?”

    The Crown Prince shook his head, “No, Jacen grew up with official protocol, so he knows the drill. He’s probably assuming that she’s not asking on purpose…that she doesn’t want to create problems with the Council or Nobility.”

    “Doesn’t he know that the Queen Mother doesn’t care what…”

    Isolder interrupted, shaking his head again, “He also knows that it’s not entirely up to her.” As he talked, he searched through his datapad for his contact list. Finding it, he looked up again at his daughter’s Chief-of-Staff and gave her a wink, “This isn’t as big a problem as you think--I’ve got his ship’s emergency number…I think this qualifies.”

    Anhaje nodded as Isolder started dialing his office’s official comlink and left the office, hearing the Hapan Prince’s ‘Royal’ voice as he started to leave a message. “Mr. Solo, this is Prince Isolder. There’s been a problem…”



    Capiston Spaceport, Bakura

    Even though Jacen had come to Bakura with a completely different agenda than that what he had ended up doing, it had still been a good day. He had helped Malinza raise funds for her election campaign to Parliament, had an informal talk with the Under-Secretary of Communications about improving Bakura’s holonet bandwidth, and gave an interview with the capitol’s local news station about the extent of Hapes’s relief efforts in this part of the galaxy.

    As he keyed in the code to unlock his ship, he smiled to himself. He might not have learned a single thing about the Cosmic Balance from Bakura’s ecumenical leaders today, but he had learned a fair bit about his policy skills and maybe that was what his galactic wanderings were all about. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Vergere gave him a wink.

    After changing into more comfortable clothes, Jacen entered the cockpit and saw the blinking ‘Message’ indicator on the ship-board comm system, with a time-stamp of ninety minutes previous. Scowling to himself, he activated the recording.

    “Mr. Solo…” came a smooth tenor voice that Jacen recognized immediately, “…this is Prince Isolder. There’s been a problem…”

    If there was more to the message, Jacen never heard it. He had spent enough time around his father and sister to know how to perform an ‘alert’ preflight, and had the auxiliary power unit started, external power cart disconnected, and flight instruments online all before Isolder had finished the message. Rushing into the pilot’s seat, he became another flurry of activity—as he made sure the navicomputer had the hyperspace jumps programmed into the flight management system, he warmed up the engines and obtained departure clearance from air traffic control.

    It was not until he had been in hyperspace for a full thirty minutes and his adrenaline had wound down before Jacen realized that he had not actually listened to Isolder’s message. “Mr. Solo, this is Prince Isolder. There’s been a problem with Tenel Ka’s paperwork and I was hoping you could assist me in clearing up the issue. Please call at your earliest opportunity.”

    Jacen hung his head at acting so rash. Paperwork? He’d blasted out of Bakura in a panic for paperwork? It was probably some silly issue about not having Tenel Ka’s diploma from the Academy on file, or her discharge papers from military service after the Myrkr mission. He debated on simply turning around and heading back to Bakura, but decided that he should go support his best friend on the lead-up to her historic event, even if he could not actually attend. Besides, he was not really in the mood to look like a fool to Bakuran air traffic control. With a loud sigh, he activated his hypercomm antenna and called Prince Isolder.

    Unsurprisingly, Isolder answered on the second ring. “Hello, Jacen! Thank you for calling back so quickly.” The older man noticed the static on the line, and his tone turned puzzled, “Where are you?”

    “About a half-hour out of Bakura.”

    “Ah.” The Prince replied, amusedly. Jacen got the impression that Isolder expected that to be his answer. Well, probably not Bakura per se, but he had assumed that Jacen would be en route to Hapes after hearing his cryptic message. Smirking at the prince’s psychic ability, Jacen at least had finally learned where Tenel Ka’s trademark reply came from.

    Isolder continued, “Anhaje tried calling, but she was never able to get a signal.”

    Jacen fought a grimace, “Bakuran’s are still a bit…” He paused, searching for the right word, “…apprehensive about too much outside communication, so they’ve limited the amount of bandwidth available off-planet.”

    “Given their history, I can’t really blame them.” Isolder replied drily. “About my call: you are aware, I’m sure, of the Queen’s upcoming coronation?”

    Jacen bit back a retort; the Queen Mother’s coronation been on the news, even out on far-away Bakura, every evening for a week. Jacen had learned heard about the official guest list, he knew what the menu was going to be, he’d learned which four of the twenty-five galas the Queen was planning to attend…. of course he was aware. He was also aware that he had not received an invitation, which meant that this call was the Crystal Palace’s way of ‘breaking it to him gently’. A polite way of saying that he would allowed to visit his best friend this week, but that, due to politics and because of the still simmering anti-Jedi sentiment, Jacen would have to remain persona non- grata for the actual festivities.

    Visibly bracing himself, he tried to keep his tone light. “I might have heard a thing or two.”

    His comment earned a throaty chuckle from the Prince. Given the amount of media attention that was saturating the Hapan airwaves, the older man knew Jacen had understated things a touch.

    “Oh, I am sure.” He paused theatrically, “Unfortunately….” Isolder paused again, and Jacen stiffened in anticipation of the bad news, “…your invitation seems to have gotten lost. I’m afraid that a verbal invite is going to have to suffice.”

    Jacen stared, stunned, at the communication console for a long second. They were actually going to let him attend? “Ex---excuse me?” He finally managed to stammer out in reply.

    “Right. Well….” The Prince sounded apologetic, “…we are not really sure what happened to your official invitation. As it happens, Anhaje was going through the RSVPs today and noticed that you had not replied. When she investigated, she realized one had never been sent. Which is why you never responded.”

    Recovering from his shock, and trying not to sound too excited about this invitation, Jacen became curious. “Was it lost, or simply….lost.”

    Laughing, Isolder replied, “See, we’ll make a Hapan out of you yet.”

    Jacen did not know how to reply to that. On one hand, he really wanted to be at the Queen Mother’s side through thick and thin. On the other…well, it is Hapes, and one does get tired of the constant maneuvering and posturing.

    Jacen quickly changed the topic before the silence became too awkward, answering Isolder’s invitation as stately as he could. “I would be most honored to attend the Queen’s coronation.”

    Isolder laughed again in reply. “I thought you would.” A small pause, “How are your ballroom skills? And I don’t suppose you have any formal wear on-hand?”

    “Pretty good…” Jacen answered honestly, thinking back to all of the formal events he and Jaina were forced to attend. A fond smile of crossed his face as he remembered Anakin always seemed find a way to escape all of those events. The twins, though, started to enjoy all of the attention they got at the things. Having a number of attractive women (or, in Jaina’s case, handsome men) flirt with you for a few hours did tend to boost your teen ego. “…and no.”

    “Well, it was just an idle hope. Can I get your sizes then? I’ll have my tailor get started on something.”

    Jacen told him, and reassured the older man that, yes, those measurements were accurate…he had purchased a couple of ‘business attire’ ensembles just a few months ago for the purpose of meeting all of the mid-level officials his mother and girlfriend wanted him to meet. Purely for ‘off the record’ discussions, of course.

    Isolder explained, a bit apologetically, that because the Coronation itself was highly scripted, Jacen’s role would be limited to that of chauffeur of the Royal carriage—a vintage wheeled carriage that pre-dated Hapes repulsor-lift technology. The Prince went on to explain that he had chauffeured Teneniel to her Coronation and thought it most appropriate for Jacen to act in the same role. The Prince went on to explain that because only a formal consort to the Queen Mother was allowed to sit at her table for dinner, Jacen would have to content himself with eating with the Prince. Fortunately, the formalities ceased with the conclusion of the formal dinner, and the Queen would be able to attend any and all balls with whomever she wished.

    Jacen took all of the information in stride; he knew that the ceremonies of State were only designed to add to the legitimacy both to the Crown and to the Queen’s appointed Ministers and to confirm Tenel Ka’s responsibility to protect and defend to the people of Hapes.

    After the formalities of the ceremony were explained, Isolder thanked Jacen for ‘casually mentioning’ to the Kuati mining CEO he’d happened to meet at one of Calrissian’s parties about Gallinore’s deep core mining expertise. The CEO had contacted one of the Gallinore’s firms, and an opila mining joint-venture was started in a cluster of asteroids in the Bimmiel system.



    Fountain Palace, Chume’dan, Hapes -- Three days later

    Tenel Ka was standing at the far alcove of her Throne Room office trying to decide which of the five gowns arrayed in front of her she would wear to her final gala of Coronation Day. She had been invited, of course, to all twenty-five balls and receptions that were being thrown in Chume’dan, but if she tried to attend all of them, she’d never be able to enjoy any of them. So, her, Anhaje, and her father had winnowed the list down to four for her to attend.

    The biggest problem she faced was that almost all of them were also fund-raisers for various causes around the Consortium, and her presence would ensure that a lot of money would be raised for the cause in question. With all of these good causes, any event she did not attend would surely complain.

    The first two choices fairly straight-forward and free from controversy: both the Army and Navy were hosting events to raise money for the families of the fallen soldiers. Tenel Ka might be their Commander-in-Chief, but she looked forward to being able to swap tales of danger, excitement, and loss with those who knew the cost of having such memories. As an added bonus, she would be able to wear her military dress uniform to both…thus eliminating the need to choose a gown.

    Deciding to try to defuse some political tension, she also chose to attend an event that her biggest critic on the Ruling Council had organized. Maguella Dotter had long argued that the Crown was too slow in bringing change to the electoral system, but she was also a strong advocate for legal defense for the less fortunate…a cause the Queen could embrace whole-heartedly without fear of political posturing. Once again, the nature of the event made her choice of dress easy: a short-sleeved black dress that hung just above her knees.

    As she stood in front of the five gowns, she found that her gaze kept returning to the blue one on the center-left, a simple gown of bright blue of about ankle length with a slit to mid-calf on the left side. It was an off-the-shoulder number, however, that left her right arm and shoulder bare. When she’d made the decision to attend the benefit for the Chume’dan Zoo, however, it was on the assumption that Jacen was going to attend as well. Now that it was clear she was going to have to attend with someone else, she did not think she could tolerate anyone else trying to sneak a look at her cleavage. Sighing, she turned instead to a high-neck green gown with lace sleeves.

    “You really should go with the blue.” Said a recognizable voice behind her. Tenel Ka turned to see Jacen leaning on her desk, a single white rose in one hand and an amused grin on his face.

    “I should, should I?” She asked mock-menacingly, left eye-brow raised, as she padded over to her friend.

    “Definitely.” Jacen replied playfully, stepping towards her and opening his arms.

    Tenel Ka stepped into the offered embrace. “You came.” She whispered as she kissed his ear, putting her head on his shoulder.

    “Of course.”

    After a few moments, Jacen released his embrace and offered her the rose he had brought. “I couldn’t let the lack of a formal invite keep me from attending.”

    After taking the offered gift, her small smile turned into a look of confusion. “What do you mean, ‘…lack of a formal invite’?”

    Jacen hopped up onto her desk and proceeded to tell the tale of Anhaje handing the stack of official invitations to the Palace courier, but grew suspicious at the lack of an RSVP from Jacen. Upon checking the official communications log, the Queen’s secretary found that there was no record of an invite to Jacen being sent. When questioned, the courier stated that she had accounted for receipt and delivery of all the invitations, and the data communications officer on duty that day verified that she had sent all the invitations in the queue. Somehow, Jacen’s invitation had gone missing.

    Tenel Ka stopped pacing after Jacen had finished and sat next to him on her desk. “So…the odds of it actually being lost….” She trailed off. She had only been Queen Mother for a little over a year and she had tried her damnedest to keep her Grandmother’s political games out of her Palace. Apparently, she still had a lot of work to do in that regard.

    “Are pretty low.” Jacen agreed. “But, seeing your Grandmother’s look when I show up as your chauffer will almost be worth it.”

    Despite herself, Tenel Ka chuckled. One of the things she loved most about Jacen was his ability to simply shrug off problems that he could not control…a trait she was trying to emulate. She knew that he was bothered by Ta’a Chume’s blatant interference, but also knew that the best way to fight back was to simply ignore the woman’s pettiness. What others saw as lackadaisical, she knew to be pragmatism. Encouraged by his lack of animosity towards the situation, she talked about how she was afraid to bring up the topic of the Coronation because he seemed disinterested. Laughing, Jacen replied that he was afraid to bring it up because he knew the political realities of her position and did not want to make her uncomfortable.

    Smiling again at his admission, she hopped off the desk, took Jacen’s hand and led him over the array of gowns in the alcove to their left. “What’s wrong with the green one?” she asked, mock-seriously. “It is very pretty.”

    Jacen gave his best friend a sideways look, “Princess, you are much too sexy for the green one.”
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
    Kahara, Anedon and Force Smuggler like this.
  10. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent to read of Tenel Ka and Jacen: their warmth and banter with one another :)
     
    SiouxFan likes this.
  11. Carlos Danger

    Carlos Danger Jedi Master star 2

    Registered:
    Jul 25, 2013
    I always liked Tenel Ka and Jacen. Nicely written.
     
  12. Anedon

    Anedon Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Great new chapter, I like the bater between Jacen and Tenel Ka , as well as Isolders efforts to find a place for Jacen during the coronation despite the anti Jedi sentiments.
     
  13. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    Thanks! For me, they are super fun to write.

    Me, too! I'm trying to improve on the decided shortage of J/TK stories on here...but I write slowly. Ask Invictus...he's probably pulling out his hair on my lack of progress on my other story! In truth, I'd outlined more to this story...but wanted to stop before it got insufferably long!

    I think Isolder is really under-developed as a character...I don't think he could have survived if he were weak-minded or incompetent. Nor does he want his daughter to be lonely...so he comes up with ways to work around traditions without being obvious about it. And thanks!
     
  14. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    A/N: This is my entry for the ‘Songs of the English Restoration Theatre’ challenge. I was given Henry Percell’s Thus the gloomy world at first began to shine from The Fairy Queen. My compliments to Findswoman as she really knows how to find some lovely music!

    Because I like writing them, and because there needs to be more J/TK stories on here, I’m shamelessly continuing this story with another chapter.


    T
    _________|_________
    O O(___)O O​




    Chapter 3—Brightening a gloomy world

    Mil’lar Event Center, Chume’dan Zoo

    The Queen Mother risked a glance across the large ballroom and saw her best friend in animated conversation with the director of the Royal Zoological Institute. From the way the director was nodding and smiling and from the way Jacen was gesturing, Tenel Ka was sure that both had found a kindred spirit in the other. Whether by coincidence, or whether Jacen knew she was trying to catch his attention, he returned the glance and nodded fractionally.

    Taking a sip of her wine to hide her amusement, the Queen returned her attention to the Duchess of Telaphon who was offering gushing praise of the Crown’s progress in animal conservation. A praise, Tenel Ka knew, that was completely feigned and an obvious attempt to try and curry favor with the Palace.

    “I really think….” The Duchess continued haughtily, not noticing the Queen’s lack of attention, “….that the N’goro wildlife preserve should be expanded to include more of the migration patterns of the ceratotherium.”

    Tenel Ka nodded in agreement before her eyes turned hard. “Pity you have been so opposed to our efforts for the last ten years.” She replied in a coldly conversational tone. “Telaphon has lost almost half of the ceratotherium population while you complained about ‘government over-reach’.” Leaning closer, she whispered menacingly, “You might not want to wear your endangered moreletii boots next time you show up at a wildlife fundraiser.”

    The Duchess’s eyes widened as she glanced quickly at her feet. “Forgive me, Queen Mother…”

    “Many pardons, Majesty….” Jacen interrupted as he approached, unwittingly rescuing the Duchess from further embarrassment, “…but it is well past time for us to depart.”

    “Is it?” Tenel Ka replied amusedly as she held out her partial left arm allowing him to wrap his right arm around it, “Well, lead on my good sir.” She turned her attention back to the other woman, and nodded coldly, “Duchess.”

    “Queen Mother.” The other replied, properly chastised.

    Jacen shot Tenel Ka a confused look at the exchange but made no comment after seeing her small smirk. Smiling in reply, Jacen led the Queen to the door. As they exited, everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and applauded their new queen.

    “Sorry.” Jacen said out of the corner of his mouth under the raucous cheering. “Lost track of time.”

    “I do not mind.” Tenel Ka replied in the same manner, her smile increasing fractionally as she waved to the crowd. In truth, she had expected Jacen to lose himself at this event, which was why she scheduled it to be the last of the evening’s four coronation galas.

    Jacen gently squeezed her left bicep in thanks as the two turned around at the door and she offered the crowd one final wave. After turning again, Tenel Ka fought valiantly to keep the sigh of relief from escaping until after they had exited the final set of double-doors and were outside. Chuckling, but again saying nothing, Jacen opened the passenger door of an antique dark-green, wheeled speeder.

    After the door closed with a quiet thump, Tenel Ka kicked off her heels, closed her eyes and leaned back into the quilted leather seat. Even though she had been apprehensive about using such an old speeder – the Transport Museum curator mentioned it was two-hundred-eleven years old – there was no question that the Nyköpings Company really knew what they were doing: even being centuries out-of-date, this speeder put anything currently in the Palace garage to shame with regards to luxuriousness and power. Pity the company had gone out of business long ago.

    Tenel Ka sighed happily and let her fingers run along the rich mahogany accents in the door. After a few moments, realizing that Jacen still had not gotten into the speeder, she opened her eyes and looked around, finding him conversing with the head of her security detail as they stood in front of one of the Palace’s large conventional speeders. The woman, a major in the Royal Marines, was shaking her head as Jacen was trying to explain something. Not giving up, Jacen made a box-shape with his hands and then peeled the left hand away in a sweeping motion and followed it with his right – something Tenel Ka had seen her fighter-pilot friends do dozens of times – obviously Jacen was describing some maneuver. The major’s look turned thoughtful before nodding once in acquiescence. Jacen gave her a big smile and a friendly slap on the back has he returned to the speeder.

    “What was that all about?” Tenel Ka asked as Jacen got in.

    “Just changing our plans a bit.” He replied cryptically.

    Tenel Ka narrowed her eyes and stared at him, waiting for a better explanation. Jacen ignored the look and started their speeder, the engine noise barely audible inside the plush cabin. “You’ll like it, I promise.”

    She was about to protest until she felt his infectious joy flood their bond. For a moment, she was taken back to when she was sixteen and he was always getting her to try something new. Tenel Ka shook her head in amusement and sat back in the seat, closing her eyes.

    “Lead on, good sir.”

    Jacen laughed his addicting laugh and slowly accelerated their borrowed speeder. After a few blocks, Tenel Ka turned sideways in her seat and simply looked at her friend. For the better part of a decade, he had been one of the constants in her life, always ready to lend support and affection when she most needed them. Now here she was, Queen of the Hapan Consortium, and she realized that she had never properly thanked him for always being there…and that she did not want him to leave. Right then and there, she almost blurted out that she needed him to stay on Hapes, that she could not be Queen without him at her side, that she loved him dearly. But when she opened her mouth, she found that her courage had left her. She could never ask him to be tied to Hapes…to do so would kill him, just as it did her mother.

    “Thank you, Jacen.” She whispered.

    Jacen smiled the smile that he only shared with her and ran the back of his hand down her left arm affectionately. “You’re welcome, Tiki.”

    She knew that he knew she was trying to say more, and his reply warmed her soul. Sometimes, less really is more.

    “What did you and the Madame Director talk about?” She asked, blatantly using the Solo First Rule of Conversation: change topics as soon as possible to avoid the uncomfortable.

    Jacen recognized the dodge and gave her a wry smile as he made a right-hand turn. “The board is discussing an upgrade to the zoo. I simply pointed out that larger enclosures would be a great start, but what they really needed to do was start a wildlife park…” He launched into a recap of his conversation with the Director of how much land would be needed, about how focusing on animals from the 63 worlds would increase a sense of Hapan identity and pride. Jacen relayed how he had seen visitor numbers at other locations around the galaxy and they had always exceeded expectations, about how the revenue earned could then be used to improve the existing zoo and be funneled to other animal conservation projects around the Consortium.

    As Jacen talked, Tenel Ka smiled in the knowledge that she had repaid some of her debt by taking him to an event where he could talk to others who shared his same passion for wildlife. His enthusiasm was so infectious, that she had not even noticed that they had come to a stop until he gestured out the windscreen.

    “Kopp’s!” He exclaimed excitedly. “Home of the best burgers and ice cream in town!”

    The newly coronated Queen’s eyes opened in surprise, “We cannot stop here! It is my coronation.”

    “Exactly! Today of all days, you should be able to do what you want! ” He exclaimed, craning his neck to the left and right in an exaggerated effort to see if anyone was around. “Tiki, it’s twelve-thirty in the morning…there’s no one here. It’ll be fine.” He opened the door, “Besides, I’m starving.”

    As if on command, Tenel Ka’s stomach rumbled in agreement. Frowning at being let down by her own body, she looked around and noticed that her security detail had parked their speeders in a quasi-barricade formation, and that Jacen had positioned their speeder in a way that facilitated a quick exit. Suddenly, the conversation between Jacen and Major Kjus made more sense; he had describing the parking arrangements for this excursion.

    As Jacen was walking around the front of the speeder, she watched as her detail quickly formed a loose perimeter around the outdoor restaurant. One of them gave a curt nod, and Jacen opened the door.

    Taking Jacen’s hand after he had opened the door, she shot him a look and was rewarded with a grin. Closing the door, he whispered, “You have your lightsaber, right?” She nodded once, and he breathed a sigh of relief. “Good. I promised Major Kjus that we could delay an infantry squad if attacked.”

    Tenel Ka gave him a mock scowl as he escorted her to one of the many outdoor tables. “Ah. Did you also tell her that I was a bit out of practice?”

    “I might have left that out.” Jacen dead-panned, knowing that even slightly rusty Tenel Ka could probably hold off an entire platoon of shock troops. She smiled at his admission and let him lead her onto the modest-sized outdoor patio.

    “What would you like?” He asked as he pulled a metal chair away from one of the tables, nodding at the large menu board behind him.

    “Surprise me.”

    Jacen gave an exaggerated bow as he pushed her chair closer to the table. “Of course, your majesty.”

    Tenel Ka watched as her friend stopped in front of the menu board for a moment and then walked up to the teen-aged girl behind the window. The girl’s slightly bored expression changed to one of shock as she peered over Jacen’s shoulder. Tenel Ka gave her a small smile and waived, causing the girl’s face to redden in embarrassment. Her co-worker, another teen, stuck his head around a metal cabinet, his eyes widening in surprise at seeing the Queen. Tenel Ka waived again, and the boy quickly ducked behind the cabinet.

    Jacen made a gesture towards the back of the small kitchen and Tenel Ka saw the teen’s ponytail bounce in a nod in reply. The blonde girl opened the side-door allowing one of the security members to quickly enter and stand against the wall.

    After a minute or so, she handed Jacen two large cups and a plastic number card. He nodded his thanks and returned to the table.

    Placing the cups on the table, Jacen nodded towards the teen, “Kyria said that their vanilj malts are the best in town.” He pulled two straws from his jacket pocket and placed them in the cups.

    Tenel Ka took a sip and her eyes widened in delight. “This is good. How’d you hear about this place?” She glanced at the window, one of her security members still standing in view inside the restaurant. “And why is Kjetelle standing in the kitchen?”

    “Oh, Major Kjus insisted that someone be able to watch the cook to make sure they weren’t trying to poison you.” He rolled his eyes, “I thought the odds of that were pretty low seeing as we only just decided to come here…but if it keeps Major Kjus happy, it’s worth the bother. I told Kyria that everything would be fine so long as they explained what they were doing.”

    He took a sip of his malt. “Whoa…this is good!” He took a longer sip. “Anyway, I read about Kopp’s in a ‘What to do and see in Chume’dan’ tourist book and I figured that the odds of you ever eating here were pretty low. So…. I thought it would be as good a place as any for our second date.”

    Tenel Ka gave him a warm smile. Their first date, a rare unaccompanied trip to the Chume’dan Zoo, had been so long ago that she was not even sure he remembered. The fact that he had, and the fact that he thought of this simple dinner as their ‘date’ instead of the earlier four galas was proof enough that he understood her thoughts on pomp and formality.

    “You realize that this ‘date’ will be on the news later?” She asked pointedly, stressing that he had just eliminated any chance for anonymity with this side-trip. That he had just become a person of interest of all the remaining nobility.

    Jacen nodded, “I know.” He paused and took another sip, “If I can handle captivity, I can certainly handle a few jealous Hapans.” He shrugged, “I figure the pros outweigh the cons.”

    “Pros?”

    Jacen shrugged again, “I get to share dinner with a gorgeous red-head,….” Tenel Ka felt herself blush, and she gave Jacen’s hand a squeeze at the compliment. “…we get to show to Hapes that you aren’t some remote figurehead, and we get to make your grandmother angry in the process.” Tenel Ka let out a small bark of laughter, and he returned the squeeze of his hand before continuing, “All-in-all, a fair bargain.”

    Tenel Ka did not know what to make of the second of his three comments. The first and last were easy enough to reconcile: she had long known that her friend would lead with humor at almost every opportunity; and while Jacen was not the sort to hold a grudge, she also knew that Ta’a Chume’s blatant attempt to keep him from her Coronation rankled more than he was willing to admit. The second comment, though, implied that he viewed this ‘ spontaneous date’ as nothing more than political posturing and her heart fell a bit with the revelation.

    “This is just a public relation move?” She asked, cautiously

    “Tenel Ka….” He started, exasperated, “…this whole evening…..” He stopped again as the blonde teenager emerged from the side door carrying a tray of food, the Palace guard trailing behind. Jacen rose to meet the teen, thanked her, and set the tray on the duracrete table.

    Kyria followed and gave her Queen a small curtsey. “Congratulations on your coronation, your Majesty.” She said timidly. “It is an honor to meet you.”

    Tenel Ka rose and glanced at Jacen, who was trying to stay inconspicuous by moving the nerfburgers and pommes frites from the tray to the table. She caught his small smile and suddenly this whole thing made more sense: he was simply trying to make her appear more approachable than her predecessors; to announce to Hapes that she would not simply hide behind her fortress walls and rule by edict. In fairness, his attempt was a bit naïve and could be viewed by some as condescending; but Tenel Ka knew his motives were genuine and she found her spirits soaring once again.

    Returning her attention to the teen, Tenel Ka held out her hand, a gesture the girl correctly interpreted that she was permitted to shake hands with the Queen.

    “The honor is mine.” Tenel Ka replied. “I trust we are not intruding on your time?”

    “Of course not!” Kyria exclaimed. “Our friends will never believe us!”

    The Queen smiled, “Perhaps I can assist with that…would a picture of you two with us suffice?” She gave Jacen another glance and caught his knowing grin. “After dinner, perhaps?”

    “That would be astral! Thank you so much!” The blonde curtsied awkwardly and rushed back inside to tell her co-worker the news.

    “You know she’s going to call her friends, right?” Jacen asked as he took a bite of his sandwich.

    Tenel Ka gave him a half shrug. “I know.” Her tone became thoughtful, “I also know that you were about to tell me that everything I do is going to be a public relations exercise.”

    Jacen smiled and nodded. “I was.” He leaned forward, “But that doesn’t mean we can’t also enjoy the experience.”

    “Fact.” Tenel Ka dead-panned, as another smile crossed her lips.

    The two ate in companionable silence for a couple of minutes, the Queen glad to be able to simply sit and eat and not have to engage in idle chit-chat with some random Duchess or Lady or Countess.

    “These are good.” Jacen finally commented, breaking the silence.

    “Indeed.” Tenel Ka gestured to the pommes frites, “Particularly the gravy frites.”

    Jacen nodded as he swallowed a bite, “Those are Kyria’s suggestion…she said they’re the house specialty.”

    Tenel Ka nodded again but said nothing and the two returned to their relative silence…the buzz of the overhead light, the light traffic from the city street in front of the stand, and the soft footfalls of the Palace guard patrolling the grounds being the only sounds.

    After another couple of minutes, the Queen caught Jacen’s eye. “Thus, the gloomy world, at first began to shine…” she sang.

    Jacen gave her a confused look. “Beg pardon?”

    Undeterred, Tenel Ka pressed on, “And from the power divine, a glory round about it hurled.” Jacen’s look of confusion did not change, however, so she felt the need to explain. “The words to the first song played at the coronation.”

    Comprehension dawned on Jacen’s face. “The one with the trumpets? That was lovely…I just couldn’t make out many of the words.”

    Tenel Ka grimaced slightly, so used had she gotten to him being at her side this afternoon and evening, she had forgotten that her friend was relegated to the back of the cathedral as the chauffer when the day began. “I am….”

    “Don’t be.” Jacen interrupted, taking her hand. “I’d rather have had to stand in the back than not be there at all.” Giving her hand a squeeze, he let go and his look turned thoughtful, “What do you think it means?”

    Tenel Ka was a little disappointed in his question. She had thought that Jacen, of all people, would have been able to pick up the song’s meaning of rebirth and renewal. An unfair thought, she quickly realized – he had only heard the words just now, not being able to make them out at the cathedral, whereas she had been listening to the song every day for a month…and had been familiar with it even longer; the song having been composed for the coronation of Chume Ro’Cehelle II four-hundred-odd years ago.

    “If you could change one thing about Hapes, what would it be?” She asked instead, answering his question with one of her own.

    If Jacen was surprised by her lack of an answer, it did not show. Then again, he had grown up with a politician mother and smuggler father where most answers were vague, and all questions were leading.

    He leaned back in his chair, “That’s easy. The men of Hapes need to be have more rights and more independence.”

    Tenel Ka nodded as if expecting that to be his answer. “How would you do that?”

    Surprisingly, Jacen had a ready answer. Or perhaps not surprisingly, considering that dinner conversations at the Solo household always wound and undulated through a vast selection of topics.

    “The Naval Academy and Army Institute.” He stated matter-of-factly. Seeing Tenel Ka’s puzzled look, he started to explain. “Almost everyone I talked to at the military galas was impressed with the ability and fighting spirit of Hapan men. I think the men of the Navy and Army proved to everyone that gender doesn’t matter; that men are just as capable as women.” He munched on a pommes frites as he continued. “I think we can get Admiral Ehrensvard or General Sigismund to agree to admit men to an upcoming freshman class.” He took another bite, “Ehrensvard is probably our better bet, though…she didn’t have a problem with a man serving as her helmsman aboard her Flag, so is probably a bit more progressive.” He sipped the malt and shrugged, “Once men are admitted to the Naval Academy, Sigismund will want the Institute to follow suit so as to avoid being seen as out-of-touch.”

    Tenel Ka nodded absently, trying to decide if Jacen was able to remember the names of Hapes’ High Command after the one meeting, or if he had researched them ahead of time. Either way, she was impressed. “It would be better, I think, if they integrated at the same time.”

    “Agreed. So, we’ll have to have the Admiral help us convince General Sigismund.” Jacen leaned back in his chair, “And the best part about the whole thing is that you can make it happen by Royal Edict. The Ruling Council won’t be able to stop you.”

    “Assuming I can get Admiral Ehrensvard to agree.”

    Jacen conceded her point with a shrug.

    “And after?” She asked, pointedly.

    Jacen leaned forward, “We wait a bit for all of the backlash to die down. After a couple of years, no one will think twice about men in the service academies. Once the initial fervor dies down, more universities will start admitting men, men will start to branch into non-traditional careers, men will start taking on more non-traditional roles.” He took another sip and shrugged, “In ten years, I’ll bet that the military is ten…maybe twenty percent male, and there will probably be a couple male CEOs.” He took another bite before continuing, “Four generations from now, your great-great-grandson will be the first King Father of Hapes.”

    For a long moment, Tenel Ka sat stunned. She had not expected such a thorough answer at such short notice. “And you just came up with this right now?”

    Jacen frowned, “I didn’t. I’m just passing on what has worked on other worlds who have had to integrate society with a sizable minority.” He shrugged, “I mean, if it can work on Mon Cal, it can work here.”

    For the second time since they had left their last gala, Tenel Ka realized that she needed him closer than just a comm-call away. Her strength, she had long ago realized, was her ability to finish any task set before her, to never give up until her task was completed. She had always known how to get things done. Jacen, on the other hand, was always trying to improve things, find things that needed to be fixed. In truth, he did not always finish everything…but he was always looking to make something better. He was able to give her the what. With startling clarity, she understood that she needed him on Hapes…that they could give each other direction.

    “I cannot do this alone, Jacen.” She stated quietly.

    Confusion clouded his face, “Of course not. Your father will assist where he can. But, I really don’t think the Admiral would be opposed to such an idea, and there are men working on assembly lines all around the Consortium, so obviously business leaders are….”

    “No Jacen,” Tenel Ka interrupted, “I cannot do this alone. I need…” She paused before trying to flood their bond with images of their past holo conversations, hoping that he would understand what she was asking. “I need you to help me with this. I need….” She paused again, wishing that she were better at expressing her feelings. “I need you, Jacen.” Her voice dropped to a whisper, “I need you here.”

    For a long moment, Jacen sat stunned and Tenel Ka thought that she had over-stepped. While she was certain that Jacen loved her, perhaps the thought of spending all his time on Hapes was too much. As it stood now, he was the son of the former Chief-of-State and a respected hero of the Vong war…he could talk to the Admirals and Generals and government officials and have their attention. If he stayed, he would just be someone else trying to attract favor. If he stayed, he would be forced to deal with the back-biting and gossip and not-so-subtle threats from the nobility…and probably from Ta’a Chume. Tenel Ka’s eyes fell, embarrassed by her comment. She should not have asked her best friend to sacrifice all that he was simply because she was lonely.

    Just before she could withdraw her comment, Jacen flashed her favorite smile again. “Then here is where I’ll be.”

    The Queen shook her head, “No, I should not have….”

    “Tiki…” Jacen interrupted quietly, taking her hand, “…we’re a team.” He paused before singing quietly, “There was no room then for empty fame: no cause for pride, ambition wanted aim.”

    Tenel Ka’s eyes widened in surprise…apparently Jacen had heard more of her coronation song then he had let on.

    Grinning wickedly, Jacen leaned back and waved his right arm with a flourish. “Bring on your Hapans, one at a time, or all in a rush….”

    “…. I don’t give a damn.” Tenel Ka finished quietly, not bothering to hide her smile.

    “Damned straight. I do have one demand, however.”

    The Queen sighed dramatically, “I sup-pooooose…” she drawled, “…we can allow one. And your demand?”

    Jacen made another show of looking around the small patio, “That we do something like this every couple of weeks.”

    Tenel Ka pondered in mock-deliberation for a few moments before finally nodding. “Deal.”

    Jacen smiled as he stood. “Good.” He nodded at the order window, “We promised to chat with Kyria for a bit.”

    Tenel Ka held out her right hand again, her eyes sparkling in delight. “Lead on, good sir.”



    |
    O
    _____(___)_____


    Fountain Palace, the next day

    “What in the hell….” Ta’a Chume bellowed as she barged into Isolder’s office, throwing today’s news flimsi on his desk, “…is this?”

    Non-plussed, the prince glanced down at the offending flimsi before returning his gaze to his clearly frazzled mother. He had read the news articles about his daughter’s coronation earlier, of course, and had seen the holo of his daughter and her best friend sharing frites and drinks. Because the offending picture was buried on page eight of the news, he had hoped that his mother might miss seeing it. Obviously, the former Queen was still as observant as ever.

    Isolder shrugged nonchalantly, “It looks like two kids sharing dinner.”

    “It looks like a date.” His mother shrieked. “And on her coronation day. I told you the Solo brat would be a bad influence; this is a public relations disaster…we have to control this story!”

    While there was no question that Solo had talked his daughter into stopping for dinner, it was also far from clear that it was a disaster. His source with the press was telling him that most of the comments about this particular holo were positive.

    The prince shook his head, “What’s to control? My sources tell me that everyone thinks the picture is great…gives the Queen a more relatable persona.”

    Ta’a Chume huffed, “Queen’s aren’t supposed to be relatable. They’re supposed to rule.” She paused, sneering at her son, “I’m going to go talk to her right now.” With that, she turned and exited his office, slamming the door as she did.

    “Good luck with that.” Isolder whispered before dialing his daughter’s residence. After someone picked up, “Tell the queen that a cyclone is coming.”

    After hanging up, Isolder sat back in his chair with a grin. Anyone who could rattle his mother with such ease was definitely someone the he wanted around.


    |
    O
    _____(___)_____

    “Excuse me, mum?” Teegan announced, entering the breakfast nook where Tenel Ka and Jacen were both eating breakfast and reading the news. “Your father called. Said that a cyclone is coming.”

    Tenel Ka nodded. “Thank you, Teegan.”

    “Of course, mum.” The butler replied, leaving the two.

    “You ready for the force of nature that is your grandmother?” Jacen asked, a small grin on his face.

    “Bring on my Hapans, one at a time or all in a rush.” She replied, returning the grin.






    A/N: Hope you enjoyed! I'll do my best to pick some other challenges and not leave Tenel Ka and Jacen hanging!
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
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  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    What a delightful date full of yummy food and exchange of ideas - superb idea also to make Tenel Ka more approachable and integrate Hapan men into different social roles. [face_thinking] =D=
     
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  16. Anedon

    Anedon Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Wish we had gotten something like this in the novels, I like how you had Jacen and Tenel Ka actually adress the societal injustices of Hapes instead of just ignoring it. Also great to see Tenel Ka be so friendly and approachable to the teens at the restaurant. Kinda proving that coronation isn't "meet the new boss she is exactly like the old boss" but that she is trying, with Jacen's aid to be something better. Great chapter, would defenetly enjoy seeing a followup. :)
     
  17. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    Thanks! I really think that Tenel Ka would like to mold Hapes into something more than it is. During WWII, women in the US, the USSR, the UK and other countries took on a huge role in manufacturing and military intel and loads of other 'non-traditional' jobs. In my mind, Hapes has just gone the same sort of thing with the Vong war...men would have HAD to have taken on a bigger role. Jacen is recognizing that some men are already in these roles and he is just trying to prevent a 'back-slide' like we saw here in the US.

    Yep, you and me both. IMO, Tenel Ka does address some of these issues in the books, but just does so off screen. Nobody in profic likes to write much about the politics, though, so it gets left out. Jacen, I think, will be a great addition to the Hapan throne....he grew up in politics, so (in my mind) knows how to do a 'line walk', knows how to engage with people, knows how to talk to civic leaders, business leaders, and Cabinet officials. I cannot see Teneniel ever 'walking the line' like we see Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and his kids do, but I think Jacen could get Tenel Ka to start. Part of the reason the British monarchy is so highly respected by the people is because they try to appear in public quite a bit...something I think the Hapan crown needs to do.

    I'll try to keep this series of 'snippets' going with some of the 'challenges'...my hope is that you are having just as much fun reading them as I am at writing!
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2019
  18. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    I really enjoyed this and am so glad it could be part of the Restoration Challenge! :) I have to start by saying I know very little about these characters and this era, but all the way through it very clear what was going on with them and what their feelings were. After all the ceremonies and galas and Grand Official Stuph, Tenel Ka really deserved this chance to kick back in a relaxed environment with her best friend and some tasty comfort food; that will certainly be one of her most cherished memories of an already very special and busy day. I loved the way you incorporated "Thus the gloomy world"—not only is it a very apt song for a coronation in general (trumpets = royalty ever since the beginnings of music history), but especially for this one, as we see from the ensuing conversation that TK's queenship could usher in some real renewal for Hapes. And Jacen adds such a wonderful personal touch when he reminds TK, using the words of the song's middle section, that he's not in this for fame or ambition. They most definitely are a team, and one that I'm sure will be more than capable of weathering Ta'a Chume's bluster! Let her just try! :D Thanks so much again for sharing this and for being part of the challenge. =D=
     
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  19. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    Definitely! I would think that a coronation would be a horribly stressful event...and then you've got to attend the state dinner (where you probably don't have time to actually eat anything), and then attend 4 over-the-top galas where you're expected to wear a different gown, chat with everyone, and dance with people who probably can't dance. (At least Jacen can rescue her from some of that...Leia would have taught him some ballroom skills) The poor woman definitely needs to unwind...and grab something to eat!

    To me, it is a wonderful song about new beginnings, and I felt it was a great song to use in a coronation...even if it happened off-stage. I'll confess that I started to write a Coronation scene...but I just couldn't do it justice.

    Thanks again for throwing us these challenge thingies!
     
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