Disclaimer: I don't own this, it all belongs to George Lucas etc. etc. etc. I'm making no money off of it, etc. etc. etc.
Author's Note: Thanks for reading, everyone. This is set in the time frame after "Vision of the Future" and was inspired by a scene I added to "From Scratch" where Luke is speaking to Tenel Ka about his past. Hope you like it, please review if you do, or don't. Constructive criticism is always welcome, please send it to Thanks again!
Reflections of a Jedi: Post "Visions of the Future"
Where to begin?
It seems almost everyone knows my story, so nothing I say will likely come as a surprise or a shock to you. Or will it? My story is known through actions and deeds, not by how I felt or viewed it, or am now looking back on it. You may know what I did, but not understand how. You may understand the how, but not the why. And even a few of you may understand why, but not to the extent of real comprehension.
Does anyone truly understand what it is to spend your childhood not knowing why you're not allowed to spend time around the populated areas of a world that's almost lifeless? To be kept isolated for a fear you can almost see, but don't understand? I don't know. Do I truly want anyone to go through what I did?
I have spent much of my life alone. Loved but not needed. Needed but not wanted. Wanted but not integrated. Integrated but not accepted.
I have spent it with aliens that defy explanation or contemplation. And yet I have never, until recently, been able to find myself with someone who has truly accepted me.
Acceptance. How precious. A treasure that means little to those with large families. An elusive goal for someone like me. Someone who's never understood the intricacies of a real relationship because they were never allowed to form those relationships. I was allowed friends, acquaintances, but I was not encouraged to go beyond.
Perhaps that has left me stunted when it comes to my emotions. Probably the reason I've been unable to accept or grow beyond the younger people in my life. Or to grow to the level of the older.
But that's not my purpose. I want you to understand what has made me the Jedi I am today. I'm hoping my story, from my point of view, will help you understand.
I don't know where I was born or who my parents were. At least at the time. I know I grew up on a world of sand and desert called Tattooine with two caring individuals I thought of as parents; until they told me otherwise.
Aunt Beru made it very clear from the start she and Uncle Owen were not my parents. For a child, knowing that you've never seen your parents or even have an idea of what they look like, it's very difficult. I always wondered if I looked like my father or my mother. Even when Uncle Owen put me to work in the furthest fields fixing the vaporators, I wondered.
I used to dream they'd someday come back and I could ask them all my questions. Why they didn't want me, why they chose Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen and where had they been.
I always wanted to ask why everyone was always so afraid for me.
Uncle Owen was strict, keeping my contact with the surrounding farmers to a minimum and so I rarely met anyone except the Darklighters and my family.
Even the Darklighters seemed to understand that my contact with Biggs was to be kept to a minimum. I only noticed whenever Biggs always wanted to go do something in Anchorhead and had to ask my Uncle for permission.
Uncle Own was always afraid for me and of me. I would never understand why until after they both were gone.
Aunt Beru... she was an angel. She looked after my gruff old Uncle, making sure he knew the consequences of all the actions he was going to inflict on me. Looking back, I know that they knew who my parents were, they just chose never to tell me. I will always wonder why. Why they couldn't tell me. Why they were afraid and why they always deflected my questions.
I have since found out who my father was, but not his connection to the Lars family. I will probably never know as those who could answer that question are long since dead.
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Owen Lars, Beru Lars, the Emperor, Yoda and lastly, Darth Vader - my father.
All of them dead and all of them my responsibility. My Aunt and Uncle died when the droids I purchased led the Empire to our homestead. The only comfort I have is that they died together. Neither would have survived without the other and they are still together in the Force. Of that I have the utmost confidence.
Obi-Wan Kenobi died fighting Darth Vader and allowing my friends and I to escape. My mentor, my friend, if only for a short period of time, he influenced me greatly. The man who set me on the path of becoming the last Jedi Knight in the galaxy.
The Emperor, who tried to corrupt and seduce me because my father had fallen to his power. The man who embodied all things evil and vile in the galaxy, and yet tried to appear ever the mentor. I can only wonder what he had once been that allowed him to corrupt my father and turn him against the Jedi. Sadly, I will never learn the answer to this question, and it's more pressing than one would think. I likely have much of my father in me and to know what turned him, to know what he succumbed to, would let me sleep better at night.
Lastly, Darth Vader, my father. Also known as Anakin Skywalker before the darkness took him. He came back to save me from the man who had engineered his downfall. Yet for most of my life, I didn't know who he was. I didn't know he was alive and considered to be evil. I didn't know, and will never know, why he chose to hide me from the Emperor. Or if that was even his decision.
Growing up with such strict guardians, I never felt like I really belonged. I felt unwanted at times, just another hand on a farm that they really didn't care about. Oh, Aunt Beru loved me, but Uncle Owen treated me as if I was just another person to help around the house.
At the same time, I was alone. People feared me, feared for me and generally stayed away. I was isolated without ever understanding why.
And I had never met anyone that understood that isolation until recently. How could they? Everyone in my life so far has had family or friends that they've kept through good and bad times. Leia, the sister I never knew I had, always had her politics and the family attached to it - until Governor Tarkin ordered Alderaan destroyed.
I supposed I should be grateful. I can always go back to Tattooine, but Leia can never, even, go back to her home.
Still, even after it was destroyed, she still had Winter and Mon Mothma. And then she met Han Solo.
Han. What a guy. I so admired and respected him right from the start. He was everything I had wanted to be growing up on that moisture farm. He's pulled me out of more scrapes than... than anyone I've ever known. A true friend. He's stuck with me through trials that would make most people cringe. And he's sacrificed much for our friendship.
His best friend, Chewbacca is no different. Though he owes a lifedebt to Han, Han and Chewie are more like brothers than anything else. Chewie has been the solid life line for Han, the voice of reason, when he's inclined to take a step too far. He's also been the one to encourage him. In fact, I'm certain Chewbacca is one reason he and my sister are currently married. Imagine that. A Wookiee giving love advice to a scoundrel. It's almost laughable.
Of course, it's not laughable because I'm in the same boat. The farm kid from the backwater planet who's barely laid eyes on anything female beyond his aunt.
You can imagine my shock when I first saw Leia. I didn't know what to think, or do, or how to act. I almost didn't find my tongue. Looking back I find it sad how nothing in my previous experience remotely prepared me for dealing with women.
I'm just glad I found out that Leia was my sister before I got too jealous about Han wanting to pursue her. Still, if I hadn't found out, I'm sure the eerie feeling that came over me whenever I was around her later would have stopped me from doing too much.
Of course, Han loves to tease me about how she tried to put us against each other on Hoth. It's funny now, but at the time I wanted nothing more then to rub it in his face.
How very un-Jedi of me, don't you think?
Of course, I wasn't a Jedi at the time, I was simply an apprentice. How naive, how innocent, I was.
Sometimes I wish for those untroubled time. At least, for that untroubled state of mind. The Rebellion had problems I wouldn't want to go back and face again. Though I can't help but wonder what would have changed if I'd become a Jedi before I joined the rebellion.
Would Vader have killed me in the trench of the 1st Death Star? Would he have killed me on cloud city? Would I have been in those situations if I had gone into them with more experience?
Yoda would tell me it's useless to look back on a situation I can't change and wonder what would have been different. He would encourage me to look at what did happen and learn what I could from it. And I have, but a part of me still wonders how things would have been different.
A part of me will always wonder how things would have changed if I'd be raised as a Jedi by Obi-Wan instead of having a hidden talent that was late to be revealed.
Would I have known immediately that Leia was my sister? Would I have been able to save Biggs or any of the other pilots who'd flown on the 1st Death star run? Would I have been able to leave Leia and Han in Darth Vader's hands on Cloud City because I knew I was walking into a trap? Or would I have gone anyway, confident in the knowledge that good triumphs over evil?
I will never know the answers to these hypothetical questions. I can only speculate that if I had been trained by Obi-Wan from when I was a child that things would have turned out differently.
A part of me is grateful to him for staying away for so long. By being allowed to grow as a normal child, as normal as was allowed anyway, he gave me a change to have my own perspectives.
Owen Lars gave me a lasting gift in his morals. He taught me to see right and wrong, but to always think for myself and to judge people for who they were, not what.
Now, my education to the fairer sex was sadly lacking, but I've been able to muddle my way through. If not well, then I've been able to get by on telling them the truth.
You'd be amazed how women love to know you've had little experience with women. It's quite amazing to watch them go from being aggressive to treating you with soft gundark gloves.
Every woman I have had the fortune to meet has been different. Some have appeared to accept me for what I am. Others appeared to be drawn to the power they think I wield. Yes, the Force is a Power, but not the kind they think.
Too many are corrupted by visions of power, perceived power or wealth. They expect to be given these things.
I was not taught this; I had to learn it through trial and error.
The few relationships I've had where I thought they would last have disappeared into nothingness because of my own failings.
But I digress.
My experience with women is not what I'm attempting to get across. Not yet, anyway.
I suppose my goal is to be understood, truly understood, as is the wish of any man.
I want you to understand what drove me to become the Jedi Obi-Wan and Yoda wanted me to be. To understand the choices I made and perhaps the fear and self-doubt that has plagued me since I embarked on this journey so many years ago.
I was a farm kid with no world or galactic experience. I encountered aliens and situations my simple upbringing had not, could not have, prepared me for.
I've explained my thoughts and feelings on the people I've lost and those that played a very close role to my own.
I haven't told you of my Jedi training, my time with my Master Yoda, or of my time on Dagobah. You'd think they were one and the same. Are you surprised to find they're not?
I certainly was.
I never realized that my training had only begun on Dagobah to be carried through the years as I grew and searched for answers. To be done myself, without guidance because Yoda couldn't offer it. To be done alone, as I had grown, to find the strengths and weaknesses of me.
I had to understand why I couldn't let other people influence me, as Han and Leia's peril had on Cloud City. I had to learn the hard way that there are no easy choices, no black and white answers, only shades of gray.
Yoda would tell me this isn't so, that the lines between right and wrong are easy to cross because there are no gray areas. That there is no difference between what you choose to do and what you think you can do. He'd tell me that everything is possible as long as you trust the Force.
I had to learn that even Masters are fallible. That to trust blindly is to put my own life, and the lives of those I love, in danger.
I didn't understand until after I lost Yoda that a Jedi's discovery is not of the Force. It's not knowing what you can and can't do; it's knowing what you will and will not do.
Will I stand up for my friends and family?
Will I fight evil to the best of my ability, knowing that there is a possibility of good beneath the acts taken against me and my friends?
Will I try to take that spark of good and bring it out?
Would I have gone to Cloud City if I'd known I was walking into a trap, knowing that Leia and Han might die if I didn't?
Could I do all of these? Of course I could.
The thing you may not understand that is crucial is that to say you'll do something in a hypothetical situation is not important. It's standing up to fight, to back up your words, that is. Being willing to take the chances, to risk everything for the chance to save a friend, or to eliminate the dangers to millions.
Someone wise once told me that all life is precious and is worth fighting for. I've learned that they're right.
My Father, Anakin Skywalker, fell to the darkside only to be redeemed 20 some odd years later. If the most feared man in the galaxy can repent and come back to the light, than no one is beyond hope.
It is my belief that even the Emperor, if he'd been given the time and the chance, could have found his way back to the light.
Perhaps I'm being foolish or whimsical, seeing only what I'd like to see, but I believe it was possible.
I was just never given the chance. Every Jedi who falls has a chance at redemption and everyone who commits evil acts has a chance at salvation. If I didn't believe this, I would never have become the Jedi I am today.
What else in my past is there that you might have seen, but not understood?
My time on Hoth, before I'd met Yoda? My time with the Ewoks on Endor? How about my time with my father on Endor before we saw the emperor?
I'm certain there is much in my history that defies explanation; however, I feel the need to try.
I will resume with a few more recent events, as my time on every planet I have visited has usually been in the company of my friends. Their thoughts and experiences there are their own, however, I feel the need to touch on Cloud City if only once more.
To be a fledgling in anything, be it Jedi, Senator or Bounty Hunter, you'll find that the first experiences are your most remembered. Not because they are the first, but because they are the ones in which you learn the most. They are the ones where who and what you'll become in the future are going to start.
Perhaps, also, the reason this event stands out so clearly in my mind is that this is when I discovered who my father was. I discovered the image I had of a space pirate or smuggler was completely off mark and far worse then I ever imagined. I learned that just because you think someone is something, it doesn't mean they necessarily are.
Even when you look at them and see one thing, it's not actually who they are. It's a very disturbing revelation.
Lando Calrissian is a prime example.
I fought with my father, but then, I knew of Darth Vader because of my encounter with him on the Death Star run. I knew he was to be feared and that the only way to face him was on equal footing.
How naive I was.
I will never be equal to where my father was. I can never allow myself achieve the darkness into which he descended.
Lando, on the other hand, was trying to be everything he appeared to be. A successful, happy, jovial and charismatic leader attempting to do what was right for his people. Even betraying an old friend to save them wasn't beyond him. On one level I have to admire Lando for his willingness to put the people who trust their safety to him ahead of a friend. On another level, I don't know how he could do it.
How could you betray your oldest friend to the galaxy's worst villain? How could you decide that their safety isn't worth more then the many? Theoretically, I know one person's safety compared to many shouldn't matter. And yet it does. Especially when that person is important to you. Or, more specifically, it should matter because you place value on their life.
How was Lando ever able to place a higher value on the other citizens of Cloud City? I don't think I will ever truly understand because I don't think I could ever have made that decision.
Even knowing I was putting thousands at risk to save a friend, by being selfish, I might doom others, I don't think I could sacrifice that friend. We've been through and shared too much to simply throw them away.
I'm not thinking very Jedi-like, or philosophically, but that's how I feel.
As a Jedi I know that sacrificing a friend may eventually be necessary for the greater good. Perhaps I may not have to do it, but one of my students or their friends may have to. I can only hope I am still around to offer guidance if and when this should ever happen.
I was not there for Lando; admittedly I didn't even know him at the time. I was not able to stop Han being frozen in carbonite or to stop the sorrow my sister felt when he was taken away. I was able to offer comfort and support but little else.
I watched as Lando fought to redeem himself in Leia and Chewbacca's eyes and could feel his determination. I felt my sister spiral into depression, only to pull herself out with the knowledge that they could rescue Han, it would simply take time. I felt her never lose hope.
I've watched, an outsider to my friends, as they've formed bonds I could only envy. I tried to be a part of it, and somewhat succeeded, but I have always felt my most comfortable alone. Perhaps it is because of my upbringing, or because of what I was taught, but I am not comfortable in a crowd.
I am comfortable one on one, with Leia or Han, or both, but in large gatherings I can feel myself flounder.
Me, the last of the Jedi Masters, floundering because he doesn't know which fingers aren't supposed to touch a tea cup.
It's sad really. At least, I think it is.
Nothing prepared me for it, but I should just know what's expected of me. I have the Force. If I can't just pull the information I need from someone's mind, what good is it to me?
People smile politely and make excuses for my floundering when it's obvious. The most common excuse I've heard is that I'm a Jedi and all of my time is taken up with study.
Untrue, from a certain point of view.
I study, yes, but not the Jedi ways.
I'm careful to study the traditions I'm walking in on very carefully so that I don't offend anyone. Yet, once I enter that situation, I'm lost. All the preparation in the world doesn't seem to prepare me for the social situations which I am obligated to attend. I could probably spend years rehearsing, in fact I have, and it will do me no good.
Somehow, once the doors open to a hall, I am no longer the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, respected by the galaxy as the man who defeated Darth Vader and the Emperor.
I become Luke Skywalker, Tattooine farm boy, with no social skills.
You have no idea how very frustrating it is to know you've wasted your time the first time you try polite conversation and can't do anything more than trip over your tongue. Even if I manage to get a coherent sentence out, I trip over my thoughts.
Someday, Force willing, I will be able to do more then lecture a crowd about the Force. Be it now, or when I become one with the Force, I intend to be comfortable in a crowd.
Perhaps I'm setting my sights too high?
Of course, I'd rather aim high and have a chance to touch it, than aim low knowing it will not be a challenge. Now, if you look at my history, you'll find I almost always aim astronomically high with little or no chance of statistical success.
The Rebellion's fight against the Death Stars. My Jedi training. My time on Hoth, on Endor; my battles with Vader and my final confrontation with the Emperor.
All of these had little or no chance of success or, if not success, than good outcomes. Yet here I am. Over 20 years later I still don't understand how it is that I managed to surpass all those trials and end up here.
It's quite the feat for the farm boy from a backwater, backwards planet, isn't it?
What's more amazing still is that it doesn't end there. Oh no. Han and Leia went on to be married, and we've encountered our share of problems getting them there.
The Hapans, the "return" of the Emperor, the rise of the Empire's remnants. Han kidnapping my sister just to convince her they really were meant to be together.
It's amazing any one in my family managed to procreate.
Still, things worked out in the end. The Emperor's return was halted, the remnants pushed back and destroyed, and finally, the Hapans were convinced a Dathomirian warrior with Force abilities was to be their Queen.
I think the Hapans got the short end of the stick, at least in the beginning. Tenenial Djo was hardly Queen material; though she's changed much since her first years. She's matured into the role quite admirably, not allowing Ta'a Chume's influence to interfere with her daughter's upbringing. It's enough to impress a Jedi Master.
Finally, the biggest turning points of my life.
Grand Admiral Thrawn's return, Talon Karrde's Smugglers and my association with Mara Jade. My formation of the Jedi Academy on Yavin 4, the birth of my sister's children and my friendships with Rogue Squadron.
All of these changed me in ways that are hard to explain.
Shall I try? Of course. But I'm going to save the best for last and try to explain Mara Jade once everything else has been said. It's only fitting since she has become such an integrated part of my life.
I'm understating, and when I explain you'll understand why.
Thrawn was the beginning and the end. The beginning of my next role and the end of Jedi innocence.
When I became the last of the Jedi, I was terrified. I wondered how it was possible that I could be the only one left and began to search for others. I've made some good friends along the way, and a few enemies.
Kyp Durron. The headstrong, brash young man that fell to the darkside only to be redeemed. Probably my most outspoken and reckless pupil, he reminded me of Han in a lot of ways.
Which explains why the two of them are friends.
But Kyp was probably one of the better of my students in aptitude. He never stopped pushing the limits, never stopped questioning them, and was the Jedi of action I had once been. Perhaps that is why I tried so hard to curb his recklessness. Experience is the strictest of teachers and I didn't want him to feel the helplessness I felt when trying to do something I wasn't ready for.
Not that it ever stopped him. Kyp doesn't seem to know the meaning of "impossible" and so doesn't let anything stand in his way. I sometimes think he's foolish to have carried that into his Jedi training, but it's made him stronger on some levels. Kyp may be the most headstrong of any of my students, but I can only admire the direction in which he's chosen to travel. Perhaps in the future he will find the control to temper his passion and become a voice of reason among the next generation of Jedi.
Corran Horn. An unlikely Jedi if I've ever met one. He came with a knowledge of right and wrong that was so ingrained he has trouble seeing the shades of gray. While the black and white vision Yoda had has eluded me, I believe if Corran had spoken with the Jedi Master, he would have found a kindred spirit.
Perhaps that is his greatest strength. Corran has no conflicts within if he sees something as wrong. He will take the wrong and attempt to right it in a fashion that is within the boundaries of the law.
How envious am I? Very.
I have never known his conviction and certainty when dealing with such matters as right and wrong. Perhaps that is to my benefit. If I had seen things his way, I would never have grown to become the Jedi I am. I would never have believed Vader, my father, had any good left in him. And I would have rather died than be taken before the Emperor.
Eerie as it sounds, I wouldn't have doomed only myself, but my friends and family too.
While Corran's conviction is his greatest strength, it's also his greatest weakness. One that I am, thankfully, not burdened with. It would take a stronger mind than mind to work through the complexities of that.
Tionne. Dear Tionne. The woman who came to me with little Jedi potential and has evolved into one of the most important people in the teaching ranks.
Who'd have thought so much could be learned from legends being turned into songs? Let alone songs that had Force powers to back up their intensity and imagery. She'd proven that even those with only a small amount of potential can be useful and powerful in their own ways. They simply have to find their niche.
I could go on, but these are people who've influences me greatly and have taught me lessons I didn't think I needed to learn. Or thought I already had learnt.
My Jedi academy is probably the greatest of my failures, and yet, the best of my triumphs.
My sister's 3 children have all attended my academy with great success. Kyp, Bakriss, and more have not. I've lost as many students to darkness as I've succeeded in teaching the light. Perhaps that balance is necessary, but it doesn't make the failures any less painful.
Talon Karrde would tell me that there's no use dwelling on what has happened, simply to find a way to con, lie, or negotiate my way out of it. Typical. Smugglers are all the same.
Now I don't really mean that, as Talon and Han are cut from something special. Amazing, isn't it? Scoundrels, not just one, but two in my lifetime with ethics. What's this galaxy coming to?
You should hear Mara when I ask those questions. She's difficult to make laugh, but it's an irony she can appreciate.
Of course, smugglers have their uses. Han and Leia have gotten out of more problems thanks to the Falcon and her modifications than I can count. That ship is as much a part of the family as it is a part of the Solo legend.
Still, Karrde has my undying gratitude for introducing me to Mara Jade. Perhaps it wasn't under the best of circumstances, but it was those circumstances that made me realize that I may be a Jedi, but I'm not invincible. Jedi also have more resources at their disposal than just the Force and I'd allowed myself to forget that.
Karrde, among many, was one of the few people to remind me that I'm simply human, Force or not, and still vulnerable.
It's a very humbling lesson for the last of the Jedi.
Of course, I never wanted to be a Jedi, at least, not before I met Obi-Wan Kenobi. All I ever wanted was to get away from Tattooine and to be a fighter pilot like Biggs. I wanted to fight against the Empire and get a nice girl to like me. That was it.
Sound simple? It should, I was a very simple man at that point in my life. More of a child than a man because I'd missed out on so many experiences.
There is no going back, though. Mara taught me that.
Thrawn brought Mara and I together in a way that was strange, but I now look back on as pre-destined. The Force wanted me and Mara to meet. It wanted our confrontation, needed it if you will, because of the fate of the Jedi. If Thrawn hadn't put a price on my head, I don't think we ever would have met.
Mara was everything Darth Vader was not. She was attractive, subtle and seductive. She was loyal in a fashion that few could ever understand. Not out of fear, but out of love.
Yes, love. Mara served the Emperor because he'd turned her into something special, something that was needed and wanted and willing to assist. He treated her like a daughter, if her stories to me are accurate, and when he died, he tried to use her for his last wish. He tried to have her kill me for something I did not do.
Mara Jade. I have never met a woman like her. Of all the women I have met, none hold a candle to her. Yes, I believed myself to be in love before, but never like this.
Mara Jade is the only woman to ever challenge me on every level. Jedi or not.
Of course, having said that, she's also the only woman capable of aggravating me to no ends. She's headstrong, intuitive and creative. She's opinionated and pig headed and needed to be taught to rely on someone other than herself. Yet she's also gentle, caring and vulnerable in her own way.
No, she's not like Winter, with the photographic memory, or like Leia with diplomatic abilities. She has her weaknesses, among them are anderrian chocolate and, if I have to be honest, I've got to say me.
She's got more strengths, but those strengths, I've found, have been able to balance out the parts of me that I'm weak in. Where she lacks diplomacy, my time with Leia has given me insight and patience. Where I lack world or galactic know-how, Mara makes it up in spades. My naiveté is balanced by her experience. My tendencies to look at solving problems with the Force are balanced by her willing ability to look beyond the Force for a simple, hands-on solution.
Our outlooks are so very different, our upbringings couldn't have been more different, and yet, so similar.
Loved but not needed. Needed but not wanted. Wanted but not integrated. Integrated but not accepted. Accepted but at a price.
And what a price for her.
Before I can really go on about anything else to do about my relationship with Mara, I really have to touch back on the other women I've had the fortune, and misfortune, to meet.
I say that in the nicest way possible.
Why? Because not all of the women I have either thought to have loved left me in the nicest way. I don't hold that against them as each, in their own unique way, helped make me the man that Mara Jade eventually accepted.
Where to begin? Perhaps at the beginning, as I have with many others.
If I were to begin at the beginning, however, I would have to go back to Tattooine, before Obi-Wan ever informed me of my heritage. Before Biggs left, and before Artoo and C-3P0 came to me.
My friends on Tattooine were few, as I've said before, but one couple did go out of their way to challenge me. Back in my skyhoppper racing days. Now, don't go telling anyone I used to do such a dangerous thing. Or you could if you want; most wouldn't believe you.
They'd say, "Luke Skywalker? Skyhopper racing? He'd never do anything so reckless. He'd never take such risks."
And then you'd talk to someone who knew me. Fixer, Biggs or Camie.
Camie. She was a neat girl and I had the biggest crush on her.
Looking back, I think I liked her because I didn't have any other exposure to women who were my age. Strange perhaps, but I also knew she was Fixer's girl, and somehow, even then, I knew nothing would tear those two apart.
A shame. Camie was a girl that reminds me now of Mara, or rather, how Mara would have been in her late teens if she hadn't been serving Emperor Palpatine.
I suppose Camie and Fixer are married by now. One of these days I need to head back just to check in. They'd never believe who I've become.
The next women in my history aren't such wonderful memories. Shira Brie, also know as Dark Lady Lumiya and Akanah Norand Pell.
Both betrayed me in ways few can relate. Shira Brie was a pupil to my father, a Sith in training, and she'd befriended me. Looking back, because I was the creator of Rogue Squadron, perhaps I should have looked beyond her eyes and her tone. Perhaps I should have used the Force to judge her intentions.
It's too late for that now, and I killed her. Unintentionally, perhaps, but her death was on my conscience all the same.
Of course, I know I didn't really end her life, but I did end her chances at a normal one. Because of the wounds I inflicted when I shot down her X-Wing, I made her indebted to the empire so badly, she never would have turned. That is almost worse than ending her life. I turned her into a slave.
She is one of my biggest regrets. I couldn't save her because I didn't know. And my lack of knowledge is not an excuse for failing her. I was a Jedi, or at least, training to be one, and I should have known.
If I ever see her again, perhaps I'll thank her for eventually giving me a deeper respect for the Force and my ability to trust it. I hope she can find some way to forgive me for the damage I did to her. Somehow, I doubt she will, even after all these years, but there is always hope.
I suppose I had no desire for female companionship after Shira. Not beyond my sister's company, yet after my father died I was adrift.
It was here that I met a Fallanassi named Akanah Norand Pell. She was beautiful, intelligent and appeared to appreciate my unique abilities and opinions.
I don't hate her for what she did to me, now that I know she was only using me for companionship and as a method of getting home, but I do somewhat resent being lied to.
In the end I can only let it go as a learning experience. Some people will take advantage of me, especially at my weakest moments. I know this now better then I did then, but the pain of the betrayals when they happen isn't lessened.
Perhaps her betrayal, when I finally understood what it was, hurt only because I had thought myself to have growing feelings for her.
No one likes to be used and a Jedi should be able to avoid it. I guess I should be thankful she hadn't set her sights on taking me for her own, as I would likely have gone along willingly, needing to be needed, and instead of being where I am now, the Force only knows what would have happened.
It is little consolation that she has a wandering eye as if anything had happened between us, I may have very well gone to the darkside from jealousy.
Or maybe I wouldn't. I don't know if I would have cared at all as by the time I would have realized her activities, I would have been beyond my grief.
That was then. I don't know, nor really care what's happened to her since. I can only hope if I do encounter her again, she's not as conniving.
I guess this brings me to the more painful memories of the women in my past. Jem Ysanna, Tanith Shire, Gaeriel Captison-Thanas, Teneniel Djo and Callista Ming.
Jem Ysanna was a student of mine, yet there were possibilities of so much more. It pains me to think of her, even now.
Why? It's my fault she's dead. If I had only trained her better, faster, to be more accurate and swift with her lightsaber. If I could have trained her on Pain suppression and Force healing techniques.
So much time was wasted on seeing what she could do, that I neglected to give her the skills to survive. I, her Master who wasn't ready to be a Master, failed one of my first students.
Yet, even as she died saving me, I know I learned from the painful experience.
Chances left to lie are chances we wish we'd taken.
Jem would tell me not to mourn her as she's still around, talking and acting through the Force. Giving me guidance when I least expect it.
But I can't help it. Jem was the student I failed to train fast enough for fear of losing something more. Right or wrong, that failure, no matter the lessons it taught, was a wound that has never really closed.
Tanith Shire. The lady who loved to call me "Blondie" and came on like a bantha in the middle of mating season.
Wow was that woman forceful. I didn't know how to handle her at the time, not really, but I think I really botched it. Why? For many reasons.
First of all, regardless of her help and her obvious attentions, I feel like I led her on. I feel like I used her to accomplish what I wanted.
And it makes me little better than Akanah, when I put it that way.
I get an awful taste in my mouth thinking that I have anything in common with that woman.
Anyway, Tanith was a nice girl; I think she just needed someone to keep her in line. I knew, right from the start, that someone would never be me. I guess I should thank her for showing me what it is to have a strong woman appreciate you. Otherwise I don't think I would have been able to handle Mara.
Oh no. I'd have taken one look at her and run screaming as fast as I could the other way.
Or maybe I'd have just cowered in a corner of my cell begging her not to eat me. I don't know.
Either way it would have been a bad thing.
Tanith at least took it well when I told her that I couldn't stay and we didn't have a future. I would have liked to be her friend, to learn from her, but with her intentions towards me, that would never have been possible.
Now we come to the subject of the two women that Mara has, on more than one occasion, teased me about. More for my judgment than anything. Of course, she has no reason to be jealous of them and claims to have never been, but I know better.
Mara was jealous that I had loved and not in the way I love her.
Perhaps it's petty, but I know her now. I know that she can be petty; she just won't let it stand in her way of a good thing.
However, I'm rambling about my wonderful fiancée at the moment and, much as I can't wait to get back to her, she's not supposed to be topic at the moment. Soon enough.
I suppose I should start with Gaeriel Captison-Thanas. The senator from Bakura that I had to win over because she didn't believe in Jedi. Or rather, didn't trust Jedi.
She wasn't married to Thanas when I met her, but that only made her all the more stubborn to avoid my opinions I think. It's a chance I took and can't regret taking.
Not now, not when Mara teases me, always gently, about her opinions and my obsession with changing them, or at least, arriving at a compromise and not when I'm close to death.
If I hadn't met Mara, I believe I would have gone on believing I loved Gaeriel until I died. Yes, I loved after her, but not in the same fashion.
Gaeriel was special. She was a woman of conviction who was not Force Sensitive. She was opinionated, intelligent and yet always willing to look at something, regardless of her view point, for the good of her people.
I was terribly hurt when she died. Maybe that's why Mara has never objected to me sponsoring Malinza Thanas, Gaeriel's daughter.
I could ask, but I think Mara would just smile and tell me I already knew why.
Why? Because Mara has a soft spot for me that extends to my hobbies, passions and hurts. She doesn't want to see me suffer, not anymore anyway, and she indulges me because if I hurt, she hurts too.
Some would call her self-serving. I just figure she's looking out for me.
Almost the same way I've been looking out for Malinza. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to go back and see her in some years and need to make the time. I would love to hear her play again; she's very musically talented.
I sometimes wish I could take it a step further and train her as a Jedi so that she could maybe, someday, contact her mother. But the Thanas and Captison genes don't appear to be conductive to creating Jedi. A pity.
Malinza would make a formidable one.
I suppose that brings me to my unfortunate encounter with the Dathomirian Witches while my future Brother-in-Law had kidnapped my sister to convince her to marry him.
Needless to say I was not overly impressed or willing to add a Solo to the gene pool during those first few days.
Especially not when the future Hapan Queen, Teneniel Djo, decided I was one of her 'slaves'. Or rather, potential mates.
Now, to understand where this comes from, look at the typical male. Before I say this, you must understand I do not fall in this category.
Usually men, in my experiences, are brash, boasting, and would love to have a woman be their master, if only for a while. They don't admit it, but they want to be taken advantage and control of.
When I first encountered Tenenial, I had none of these urges. Prince Isolder might have, and likely did as he's the one who married her, but it was also in his upbringing to go for strong women.
A shame really. Isolder would have made a fine King if Hapes could have accepted it.
Tenenial, however, had her sights set on me. I believe it was because I was Force Sensitive.
Now, as you can see from my history, women wanting me because of my Force abilities, has always turned out badly. Usually they end up dead, and I didn't want that to happen again. Especially not with the troubles I was already dealing with.
Thankfully, though I never had feelings for the Hapan Queen beyond friendship, she decided it was better to go for Isolder and to leave me in peace. Even if it did take some convincing. I think I owe Leia for that still; I'd have to ask.
And lastly, we come to Callista Ming. Ah Callie. She'd been a Jedi of the Old Republic, a woman of strength, courage and conviction. A woman willing to give up her living body to help stay a powerful weapon.
And yet, because of that, when she regained a body and was unable to use the Force, she turned on me.
Not to say that she got aggressive, but she began resenting me. Oh, she would have denied it, who wouldn't? It's just that even if she did deny it, it would have been true.
Resentment built on the basis of what I had and she no longer had. Or rather, no longer had in the capacity that she wanted.
Resentment based on a decision she'd made because of me, which had cost her the only peace she'd ever known.
I sometimes wonder what happened to her. What happened that she never contacted me again? Yet I'm glad she never did. She was the only woman I could honestly say I loved, in some capacity, before Mara Jade.
Mara once asked me that, if Callista had come back before our time had come, if I would have taken her back.
Could I have accepted Callista and whatever changes might have occurred in her? I'm not sure. I want to say yes, I'm a good human being and that I would have loved her regardless of the changes.
Yet I can't. People change, feelings change and my feelings for her had grown into acceptance that she couldn't be with me.
Yes I hurt; yes I yearned to know if she was alright, or to have her with me, but no longer.
If Callista had come back before I'd accepted my feelings for Mara, I doubt I could have gone with her. Why? Because of the bond Mara and I share.
Regardless of every other woman, the first time I met Mara she made a lasting impression on me.
Not her wit, or her sarcasm, but her poise and determination. Even if it was to see me dead.
Mara Jade spoiled me for other women. And yes, she's very smug when she hears that.
I can't blame her.
When she tells me there's no other man for her, I can't help but feel exactly the same way.
I sometimes wonder what it was I did that enabled me to come this far. Not just as a person, but as a Jedi, a friend, a brother, a brother-in-law and an uncle.
I've been blessed with a very tight group of friends who would do anything for me and me for them. Some of them, like Wes and Hobbie, you'd never think so, would you?
Or maybe you would. After all this time, it still amazes me that people judge them on their actions.
I met this inseparable pair as part of the rebellion. Even then they were coming up with ways of making Wedge blow a gasket.
Wedge, being the newest hot shot pilot, took a lot of razzing. At least, he did before he became their commanding officer.
The memories with these three are enough to make me smile. More than once they've each saved my life and I hope I've returned the favor. Probably not in the mortal sense, at least not with Wes, but in one fashion or another.
Wedge has always been a leader, but he's been understanding. It's reassuring to know that he'll always listen if I ever need someone outside of my family to speak with. Yes, he can be as bad as the next career pilot, but his heart is like a rare gem: pure and strong. I couldn't ask for a better friend who knows me almost as well as I know myself.
Wedge may not be able to understand the whole Jedi thing, but he sure make a good try. I'm just glad that aspect of my life hasn't driven him away. I know that when he calls on me as a friend and needs me to listen I'll do everything I can for him because he's willing to accept me as I am.
That's a rare and precious thing and, having been burned before, I could never turn it away now.
Of course Hobbie and Wes are very much like Wedge, even though they don't act like they've outgrown their childhood sometimes. Which is, of course, part of their charm.
Each has an outlook that is unique to find, and rarer still, in such close friends. While the two couldn't be more polar opposite, they're close enough they'd willingly die for each other. I suppose I've more watched their friendship than participated in it, but they've always accepted me for what I can do and who I am, as Wedge did, and I can't thank them enough for it.
At least, I don't feel I could. Wes would tell me to spice Wedge's ale and we'd be even, and Hobbie would feel more secure knowing when he's going to be space dust. I just couldn't do that for either of them, seeing as how I respect life, but if I had to fight to protect them for no other reason than their traits, I would expend my last breath.
Friendship is something precious and I learned with Biggs that even the best of friends won't always be around. Whether they want to or not.
I could make a list of close friends, but it would be pretty short as I've already mentioned most of them. And besides, I think of them more like family, even if they're not really related.
But what really makes a relative? I had a close kinship with Han before I found out that Leia was my sister. We had a rivalry, if you will, for her affections, but somehow he's always been like an older brother.
Han's been willing to listen and guide me; however he might misguide me sometimes, but always with the best of intentions.
I heard someone say that the path to darkness is paved with good intentions.
Good intentions, when taken in the spirit they're intended, can bring nothing but goodness. They let you know that you're loved and wanted, that you matter to someone no matter the outcome.
How can I say this?
Think about it. If I had taken everything that Han had done in the past, for example our little debacle on the Death Star when the Falcon was captured, at face value as being Han, I wouldn't consider him a friend.
Why? Because I would have judged him for his actions and not his intentions. Han has always been a wizard at self-preservation. I realized that when I met him on Tattooine. Why would someone like him be willing to risk his neck, a neck he'd been long protecting, for someone he hardly knew?
The answer is it'd take one heck of a reward. But if you look at his actions beyond the Death Star, when he got Vader off my tail to take that final shot, you'll see I was right. His intentions were good; he wanted to help, but couldn't let his pride down to admit it.
I'm just glad he's turned into such a wonderful husband and father.
Believe me, I like Han, I just had my doubts about him as a father. I'm glad I was wrong.
I guess that brings me to my nephews and niece.
Jacen, Jaina and Anakin. I can only hope to have such gifted and unique children one day.
Not just in the Force, though I hoped to be blessed with that as well.
Jacen, the young man who is so much like his mother. A diplomat and reluctant soldier, yet his respect for life rivals even mine. He has an affinity for life and animals that few can match. Or rather, that few would want to match.
He's willing to stand up for his beliefs and is learning to use to the Force in accordance with those beliefs. I suppose it helps his parents have managed to be a guiding, if somewhat semi-absent, force in his life.
Though, I have to admit, the image of Jacen, barely able to walk trying to wield my lightsaber – and succeeding no less! – will stick with me through all of the trials I will face from now on. For such a young child to have convictions that have blossomed in him as a young man, I can't have anything but admiration.
His sister is similar, though very different at the same time. Jaina was brought up with the same dangers, same morals and beliefs that Jacen has. Yet she's her father's daughter. Where Jacen wants nothing more that to explore the next grove of trees, Jaina wants to work on the Falcon with Chewie or Han.
I suppose it was only natural for each twin to follow in the footsteps of one parent to some degree. They are after all, Solo and Skywalker blood.
Yet both are very distinctive in their personalities. They don't let their parent's reputation or their own upbringings go to their heads.
Jacen is a calm, determined young man who knows what he wants, yet tempers the determination to get it with humor.
Jaina is brash, outspoken and thoroughly impish. She loves to take advantage of her parents and exploits any opportunity to fly. No surprise, seeing as her father is a smuggler.
I find half of me hoping that Jaina will eventually follow in my footsteps and take up X-Wings. Maybe I'm dreaming, but she is becoming a really good pilot. Who knows, maybe the Skywalker blood will show and she'll be a fighter ace.
But besides her obvious traits, she has a softer side. She's willing to listen to any opinion, if she agrees with it or not, and is able to act on those opinions under stress. For a young woman, she's very formidable. I suppose that's one reason why her friends are usually older than she is.
Either that or they're just waiting for her to grow up. I pity the spacer who thinks to ask Han for permission to marry her. If I know Han, he's going to have more than a few questions – and maybe the pointy end of a blaster. Either way, it will be an interesting conversation to watch.
And last, but not least, is "little" Anakin. He's not so little, really, but, I suppose being the youngest he's always going to have to work on being recognized as an equal to his siblings.
Leia sees him as her baby, even thought she's acknowledging that he's old enough to be trained as a Jedi. A paradox, perhaps, but then, Anakin would think of it as a challenge.
Anakin is probably the most gifted of the Solo children, not only in Force abilities. Where the twins balance each other out because of their differences, Anakin has to fend for himself. Perhaps that's why he's taken on the role of finding solutions to everything.
Puzzles, riddles, galactic myths, Force impulses. Everything.
If it has a question, Anakin seems to feel the need to find an answer. And always in a good way, or so I feel. I dare say he's my favorite nephew, if for no other reason than his outlook.
Where his siblings are better at finding trouble, Anakin takes a step back and looks at something from all angles before jumping in.
He's a very intelligent, yet empathetic, a rare combination. I've found many intelligent people to be devoid of emotion and those with emotions, let them rule beyond their intelligence.
Anakin has wisdom beyond his years and is able to make his decisions based on both his intelligence and his compassion.
I'm envious, truth be told, as I have never been able to do this.
Racing off to rescue Han and Leia on Cloud city, surrendering myself to Vader; these are the actions of a man ruled by his emotions.
In some ways, Anakin is a far wiser and better Jedi than I.
Now, how could I call myself family without mentioning the only full blooded member of my family who is still alive?
What would a reflection be without talking about Leia?
Of course, I've already told you what it was like seeing her for the first time. I don't know if I conveyed the sense of awe she inspired in me, the reverence for such spirit and beauty.
It may seem like a strange thing for a brother to say, but I didn't know she was my sister at the time.
Maybe that means I shouldn't remember what I thought and felt at the time, as some would believe it to be wrong, however I have to be honest with myself.
I think a part of my loved Leia from the start.
As I got to know her, I learned to admire her courageous spirit, especially after I learned she was from Alderaan and that our Father had held her in place while it was being destroyed.
I got to know the caring, spontaneous, yet restrained, woman she is. I learned nothing can change her mind when it's set and that she has a soft spot for men that defy her.
Which is why I'm not surprised she married Han.
Right from the start he was everything I wasn't. I would have told her anything she wanted to hear, done anything she told me to, just to have her smile at me, or give me a kind word.
Han wasn't willing to fawn before anyone, not even a beautiful woman. I should say, especially a beautiful woman. Something about his pride, yet it was that stubbornness between the two of them that caused the sparks.
As the time has gone by, I've noticed that their relationship hasn't waned, in fact, the sparks fly more often the older they get. Maybe it's a Solo thing. I don't know.
Still, Leia has gained a poise and maturity with age that was lacking when she and Han first met. She's tempered her temper and curbed her tongue, but only when it suits her.
Thankfully that's often, for my sister is one scary woman when she gets angry.
Now, being the good Jedi I am, I tell her anger is the darkside, but I think she knows I'm not serious.
Everyone has emotions. Even Jedi. Emotions are human and we need to express those emotions in some fashion or another. Leia doesn't get angry often, but anger is healthy so long as it's focused, dealt with and dismissed.
Something else she's taught me, even though I've taken to training her in the Jedi ways.
I suppose that should have been my first clue. Leia is not a powerful Jedi – she doesn't have the time to dedicate to the order, to dedicate to her practice, to strengthen her skills.
Which is sad really, considering how strong Jacen, Jaina and Anakin have become.
I can't change the past, and wouldn't want to, upon reflection.
Still, Leia's grown so much in the time that we've been able to spend together and I'm thrilled to have a sister to share my life with.
In some ways she had a harder upbringing than I and, because of it, we've found something in common. She can help me learn the skills I need to survive in her world and I can teach her some to survive in mine.
Still, I think a part of me will always see her as the young woman I first laid eyes on in the Death Star cell block.
Having said that, I know my sister and, regardless of what she said then, if Han had acted meek and subservient I don't think they ever would have married.
Maybe that's why I knew she was never the woman for me, even though I had a crush on her. Maybe it was just the Force telling me it was wrong, I don't know, but I do know this. If she hadn't been my sister I never would have been able to handle her.
Why? I'm a sucker for strong women, but without the right experience, which I didn't have, she would have crushed me.
I guess the best thing I learned from all this is that things happen for a reason sometimes. Leia's attitude and character helped prepare me for Mara Jade just as every other woman I have ever met has played a small or large part.
I suppose I should thank them all for that.
Of course, I have to save the best for last.
I've talked a lot about Mara Jade in passing and in reflection as I've thought about my life and the twists and turns it has taken. All of them, in some fashion or another, have led me to her.
First the Emperor, finding her and turning her into one of his best agents. Giving her the responsibility of seeing me dead.
I probably shouldn't start here, but I have to. It's because of such an evil man's obsession for revenge as his life was ending that she and I finally met.
Probably not the most auspicious beginning to a relationship, but everyone has to start somewhere.
I met Mara when I was Talon Karrde's prisoner, and while she tried very hard to make me believe she would kill me someday, when I lost my usefulness, I don't think I ever really believed her.
Mara's too practical. Why would she kill me, one of the last Jedi, when she has so many unanswered questions? Why would she kill me when she knows I'm the only person left who can tell her the truth about her previous Master?
I've heard people say that if you serve evil you must be evil. Mara has never been evil. Not now, and not when she was a glorified assassin for the Emperor.
How do I know this? Because a Jedi serves those who are important to them. They serve the greater good, regardless of the mission.
Of this I'm certain, as Master Yoda even told me once that the Jedi of old had to do things, to kill people, which they had no desire to do. Yet these killings, for the greater good, because they were serving a higher purpose, did not make them evil.
I admit I would have problems being asked to kill someone, even after all other options had been exhausted, but if it was for the betterment of the galaxy, and in their best interest, how could I say no?
I don't know if I'm making much sense, but I just want to make it clear that Mara is not, and never has been, evil.
This is one reason why I think she couldn't kill me. She was told to do it, but her conscience, once she got to know me, refused to allow her to follow through.
Mara is a practical, resourceful woman who doesn't throw away valuable assets.
At the time it hurt that she only saw me as a way to accomplish her wishes. Now, having had many, many years to reflect, I understand it was her way of making clear I was needed. Of course, I helped make myself indispensable and offered her the trust of an 'enemy' before I really knew her.
I think when I offered to teach her Jedi skills and gave her my father's lightsaber, I floored her. Mara is hard to surprise and even harder to render speechless, but I think I managed to shock her.
She asked me once, not long ago, why, when we were going to face the clone C'baaoth, had I been willing to trust her. What had possessed me to take those first steps into our future.
To be honest, I don't really know.
I can admit I saw a conflict inside her, not unlike the one in my father, but on a more personal level. I saw a goodness, a potential for greatness and a woman who needed to be trusted to feel a sense of self-worth. It's almost like she needed to have the knowledge that she's important to someone to be able to accomplish her goals.
She's not like that anymore. Once she killed my clone, Luuke, she changed.
Mara became almost adrift, yet stayed consistent to her character. She wandered, looking for a purpose and meaning in her life, something to which I can strongly relate. Yet she also had a purpose. She knew she was searching for sometime, just didn't know exactly what.
She even came to the academy after Callista left and tried to help me through my grief in a typical Mara fashion.
I wanted to lash out when she pretty much told me to suck it up.
Of course, that's Mara. She can tolerate weakness, but only if you're willing to work through it to try and turn it into a strength. Looking back, her friendship and support through that hard time was a blessing. I needed her and she was there.
I never knew at the time that I needed her, though. No, I thought she'd been sent by the Force to torment me.
You see, I was attracted to her right from the start. I wanted her, to get to know her, on a level I had never experienced with a woman before. And then she disappeared.
Oh, she showed up occasionally through the years, usually after I'd had a bad experience with the woman, and kept in touch. Yet I wanted more and I couldn't tell her that.
I felt that once our mission on Wayland was completed, she dismissed me. That I'd lost my chance to develop a relationship with her.
I couldn't have been more wrong. Over the years we've become good friends. The best of friends, and I don't know what I would have done if Mara hadn't come into my life. She set me free, challenged me to explore areas of my character that I didn't understand or know existed, and made me grow.
Without that growth, I don't think that she and I would have made it. She needed to accept her new status in life, the experience real freedom for the first time and I needed to gain galactic perspective. I needed to know what it was to love and loose before I could truly appreciate her.
Thankfully, we both grew into the people we are today. We each have our own strengths and weaknesses, but ours counterbalance the others. It's a rare and special thing.
I've talked a lot about the other people who have influenced who I've become with their generosity and, some, with their malice.
But, without any of these people, I wouldn't be where I am today, and Mara Jade would never have agreed to be my wife.