AN: Sequel to my Jacen/Tenel Ka "You Did What?!" missing moments story from Destiny's Way. All thoughts which are spoken to another person/being are within *'s.
Disclaimer: It all belongs to Lucasfilm, I don't own anything...
The last Yuuzhan Vong frigate exploded with a flash as the Hapan battle cruiser focused on bombarding it. A cheer went up over the comm. unit as the last of the decimated corral skippers headed for the surface of Yuuzhan'tar.
Jacen Solo stood on the deck of the Mon Calamari cruiser, his gaze on the view ports as he firmly held the Jedi battle meld. The Twin Suns squadron was veering away from the battle, closing in on the fleeing corral skippers. Four of the eight exploded as he firmly ordered his sister to pull back from the attack. Slaves implanted with a certain type of slave seed were flying those skips.
Jaina seemed to resent the order, but followed it. A half second later the remaining 6 X-wings from the Twin Suns squadron pulled out of their pursuit and looped around back towards the fleet. Jacen turned his attention elsewhere. Information came to him from every Jedi linked in the battle meld. His Uncle and Aunt, Corran Horn, Lowie, Zekk, and Tenel Ka, on board the Hapan battle cruiser that had destroyed the last of the main Yuuzhan Vong ships.
Slowly he allowed himself a smile, though he found no joy in this victory. In destroying the fleet of the Yuuzhan Vong they'd broken their backbone of power. And they'd destroyed a race. Ninety percent of the warriors would have been committed to this defensive action, he knew that from the World Brain itself. Ninety percent. 9 thousand pilots and troops backed by another five thousand slaves and shamed ones who didn't believe in the cause they were dying for. With the last of the Yammosks dead, the slaves had retreated back towards the relative safety of the planet. Mostly Shamed ones, with the occasional shaper, the rare warrior and the thousands of slaves, would now colonize their new homeworld. Jacen felt change coming in a drastic fashion for the aliens, and could only hope it was for the best.
He looked up, seeing the communications officer addressing him hesitantly. He stepped towards the young woman and offered her a weary smile. "Yes, Kiada?"
"Booster Terrik is asking for permission to bombard the planet from orbit."
"Negative. The planet is to remain untouched."
She nodded, turning back to her comm. unit. "Yes sir."
Jacen turned away, looking around the deck of the cruiser under his command. His command. His lips twisted. Since the General had been killed in the first few minutes by an exploding console, he'd been running the show for the entire battle. He'd also ended up in command of the entire fleet. His powers were mostly needed by the Battle meld so he'd left the crew to fend for themselves. And they'd preformed admirably. Slowly he allowed the Battle meld to fade away and inhaled a tired breath. "Send out the same message to the rest of the fleet. Yuuzhan'tar is to be left alone."
"Yes sir," Kiada told him, sending the signal to the rest of the fleet. Jacen expected resistance and he wasn't disappointed.
*Are you sure you know what you're doing, Jacen?* Luke Skywalker asked him through the Force.
*Yes Uncle Luke. They've been defeated; there is no reason to bombard them into oblivion.*
He thought he heard a chuckle but couldn't be sure. Slowly, the fleet back away from the world that had once been Coruscant. "We've won here today, people," Jacen told the bridge crew. "Let's head home."
A cheer followed his orders as they were relayed to the rest of the fleet. Slowly the fighters docked with their respective mother ships, those who'd lost their cruisers and frigates being taken on by others. They'd lost half of the fleet in this last offensive, and though it was the strike to end the war, those losses weighed heavily on the young Jedi's shoulders. Two years. It had been two years since he'd returned to the New Republic. Two years and he'd lost countless friends and acquaintances in that time. He watched as the ships slowly made their way to the hyperspace jump point, picking up speed before disappearing towards the Mon Calamari homeworld. The last of the ships jumped, leaving the Mon Calamari cruiser alone with the defeated world.
"Helm, bring the engines up and take us towards the planet."
He looked at the young navigations officer. "You heard me. I have something I need to do before we leave."
The ship moved towards the planet, sliding easily into orbit and matching its course. Jacen closed his eyes, reaching out for the constant connection he had with the World Brain. He smiled softly, feeling the agitation, and carefully calmed it.
*Hello my friend. This is yours now, these people are yours to shape. Make them work for their accomplishments, give them a sense of self-worth if you can. I will ensure no one bothers you while you work.*
A feeling of gratitude and sadness came back to him and he offered comfort. *I will be here if you have need of me. Call.*
He felt a warmth envelop him and then the World Brain pulled its focus from him entirely. Jacen turned back to the helm. "Now, we can go home."
The officers exchanged glances but said nothing as they turned and headed for their exit vector. Today's victory needed to be celebrated.
Tenel Ka watched as the starlines flashed by the view port of her room. She was on board the Hapan Battle Cruiser Dragon's Fury, speeding towards the Hapan homeworld. Not that she wasn't looking forward to going home, but with the war won, certain other matters she'd been able to avoid would now become pressing. Like the taking of a consort. Her eyes narrowed at the though, though the rest of her face remained immobile. She had tried to forget that necessity for the last couple of years. Well, not exactly forget, simply misplace. She knew who she wanted if indeed it came down to choosing someone, she just wasn't sure if she could heap that kind of responsibility on him.
She turned from the view port, collapsing to the floor and beginning to do her stretches. She was tense when she should have been relaxed. Winning a war, especially against such a worthy adversary, was no small reason to celebrate. Yet she found she couldn't. Oh, she could have, but if she'd allowed herself to feel anything, she was afraid she'd feel everything. She'd remember to miss Jacen, their contact in the Battle Meld not being nearly enough. She'd remember the way his holo letters, more than a dozen in the last two years, made her want to smile. She'd remember the feel of his arms holding her the last time they'd met.
Ruthlessly forcing the thoughts away again, she forced herself into a vigorous set of calisthenics. She would not remember. If she did, she'd order the ship to turn around for Calamari. She froze in the middle of a backwards arch. Why not? She was the Queen Mother after all. It wasn't as if she had to go straight back to Hapes like some lost child. She straightened and slapped the comm. unit. "Captain."
"Yes, Your Highness?"
"We wish to travel to Calamari. Exit hyperspace and reset your course."
The man on the other end was silent for a few moments. "Yes, Your Excellency."
She clicked the comm. off and resumed her exercises. She would speak to Jacen in person this time. There was bound to be a celebration and her presence wouldn't be unwelcome. She almost smiled, butterflies fluttering nervously in her stomach. She hadn't seen him in two years. Yes, she was looking forward to this.
The doors to the shuttle opened and Jacen almost fell as a surge of sound came blasting through the space. A huge crowd waited outside to greet the newly appointed General of the Republic Forces. It wasn't a job he wanted, but until they could find someone better, he'd agreed to the temporary commission. Jacen stepped down into onto ramp and ducked his head to clear the jamb. He straightened. He was dressed in his customary Jedi robes, the General stars pinned on his shoulder. A young woman with the same eyes as his, ran towards him from the officers standing to the side. Colonel Jaina Solo leapt into her brother's arms and hugged him tight. "Congrads, Jasa," she teased, "You won the war for us.
He hugged her, grinning. "Sure, Goddess."
She pulled away, waving to the roaring crowd. "You've got quite the fan club little brother."
Their parents were waiting at the bottom of the ramp as the twins descended, Jacen wrapping an arm around his sister's shoulders. Her fiancée, Jagged Fel, waited with them. Jaina escaped his grasp and stepped into Jag's embrace as Jacen hugged his mother.
"It's finally over." He whispered softly.
Leia hugged her son, tears glittering in her eyes. "Finally."
Han pulled his son into a hug before Leia could answer and slapped him on the back. "Well done, Jacen."
"I didn't do much, the fleet did most of the work."
"Such modesty," Jaina teased, "He only kept the Jedi from falling apart when the battle seemed lost and directed us into the thick of it. Now that I think about it, who needs enemies when your brother is trying to get you killed?"
Jacen grinned. "Just trying to up your kill score, Jaya." He winked at her.
The family had little time to speak after that as they were escorted through the cheering crowd. They stepped into a waiting airspeeder after a couple of minutes of shaking hands and waving to the crowd, heading towards the pre-arranged hotel. Jacen sat next to his mother, and wrapped an arm about her shoulders. "What's wrong?"
Leia glanced at Han, who was speaking with Jaina and Jag about the battle. The three of them were already exchanging war stories. She turned her attention back to her son and sighed. "Do you remember Tarc?"
Jacen blinked. "The boy who looks like Anakin?" After two years his brother's death was still a sore spot, but he could at least say his name without choking.
Leia nodded, dropping her hands to her lap. "Tarc's sick. He's here on Calamari in their medical ward, but the doctors say there's nothing they can do for him."
Jacen hugged her, "Why tell me?"
"He's asked to see you. Tahiri too, if you'll believe it. She's pretty much flat out refused since seeing him is a reminder of everything... everything she's lost."
"He's not Anakin, Mom, even though he looks like him."
Leia looked up at him, her eyes glittering. "I know, but he's so much like Anakin. He may not be Force sensitive, but he says he's spoken to him..." she sighed and looked out the window. "Tarc told me he wants Anakin to have his body."
Jacen's incredulous question had everyone looking at him strangely. He coughed. "Sorry, mom said something about Danni..."
Jaina snickered. "Is she still trying her luck? Don't worry little brother, I'll set her straight."
Jacen rolled his eyes as they had a laugh at his expense. Jag and Jaina turned back to the conversation with Han and Jacen lowered his voice. "Mom, are you sure?"
She nodded. "Tarc said he doesn't want to live, so he needs your help, and Tahiri's, for this to work. Will you see him?"
Jacen nodded. "I will, but only because I think this is foolishness. Anakin is gone, he's dead, and he can't come back."
Leia said nothing as she stared out the window. Jacen shook his head and sat back, closing his eyes. It wasn't the young boy who looked like a 17 year old Anakin who came to mind, however, it was a young woman of 21 with russet hair done up in warrior braids topped by a glittering crown. He swallowed hard. He was chained here to the New Republic until they found a new General, but when that was over, he had a promise to keep. And he'd never, ever break a promise to Tenel Ka.
Jacen stepped out of the 'fresher, a towel knotted about his waist. His face was clean-shaven, as per his new rank, his hair curling slightly about his face. The unruly locks just a shade too long for the military. Not that he cared, he was going to give up his position as soon as Wedge Antilles returned from his offensive. Wedge could deal with the fleet, Jacen had absolutely no interest in the responsibility. He rubbed a hand across his bare jaw and sighed. His beard had been one sign of the changes he'd been through, now it was gone. He shook his head, feeling rather silly for mourning the loss of his beard.
He froze as a knock sounded on his door, a sense of déjà-vue shooting through him. He paused long enough to grab his robe and shrug into it, searching through the Force for the identity of his visitor. Sadness and desperation flooded through his senses and he sighed. Tahiri Velia. Belting the robe tightly, he slicked his hair back from his face before crossing the room to open the door.
The blonde mop that greeted him was wild, unruly, as if she'd been running. Green eyes full of tears looked up at him for a moment before he was engulfed in a desperate hug. He took a step back to absorb the blow, closing the door in the process.
She tucked her face into his shoulder, sobbing soundlessly as her tears soaked the robe. "Don't make me do it!" she begged brokenly.
Jacen wrapped her in a hug, gently stroking her hair as he backpedaled, dragging her with him. Her sobs were hard enough they shook her body as he sat on the couch and gently pulled her onto his lap. Tahiri. The little sister he'd never had. He hugged her tightly and let her cry, knowing she'd talk when she was able. Tahiri clung to him, taking the comfort he was offering and slowly allowed his presence to sooth her. Her sobbing quieted and her body stilled. She sniffled, pulling away, "I'm sorry, Jacen."
He chuckle softly. "Don't apologize. What's wrong?"
She wiped her eyes and stood, beginning to pace. "You mom wants me to go see Tarc."
Jacen adjusted his robe and sat back on the couch. "She mentioned it to me."
She whirled on him, her eyes flashing. "And you agreed to see him! I won't do it, Jacen, I can't! Not after... after..." she choked, tears pooling in her eyes again. She dashed them away angrily. "You can't make me see him!"
"Tahiri, you're seventeen, don't you think..."
"Don't you start too," she snapped, glaring at him. "I can't forget him, I just can't!"
"I wasn't suggesting you should." He told her mildly.
She paused, confusion flooding her expression. "Then what...?"
"Did you stay long enough to listen to her whole reason he wants to see us?"
Tahiri shook her head. "No... She said something about Ana-" she broke off, biting her lip, her gaze on her bare feet. She still had a habit of walking around without shoes and it wasn't one Jacen saw changing anytime soon.
Jacen watched her, seeing the tension in her small frame, "Tarc wants Anakin to have his body."
Her gaze flew to his, her eyes widening in shock.
Jacen nodded. "That's what my mother was trying to tell you, Tahiri. Tarc is dying from something the doctor's can't cure. Apparently it's affecting his mind, mostly. We'll have to go see him to find out."
She shook her head, her eyes pained. "I can't."
"You can. I have every intention of trying to talk Tarc out of this, but if he's adamant-"
"You'd talk him out of this?!" she shrieked. "When I could get Anakin back you'd try and... and..." she couldn't go on.
Jacen held up a hand to silence her. "Tahiri, let me finish. If he's really set on giving Anakin his body we owe it to both of them to try."
Tahiri's lower lip trembled and she blinked rapidly. "I don't... I can't..."
He stood, grabbing her by the shoulders and looking down into her eyes. "You can and you will. Remember, if this works, you could get him back."
"But, he'll be younger and..."
"Does that really matter?"
She swallowed hard, shaking her head, "No."
He pulled her in for a gentle hug. "Think of it this way. In spirit you're both the same age now. In alot of ways you're old spirits. I know this hasn't been easy for you, Tahiri, but if this works, it will be worth all the pain."
She closed her eyes, hugging him tightly. "Thank you," she whispered, squeezing him. "I promise I'll do my best not to fall apart."
He chuckled, dropping an affectionate kiss on the top of her blonde mop. "I won't hold you to that, but I will need your help."
"Tonight? The celebration is planned for tomorrow and according to my mom Tarc is fading more everyday."
Tahiri nodded. "Alright. Call me when you go?"
He let her go and smiled, clucking her gently under the chin. "I promise."
She smiled gratefully and left. Jacen watched her go, shaking his head silently. Hopefully this night wouldn't hold more heartache for the young blonde. Turning, he went to get dressed. Tonight would be difficult for everyone.