Author's Notes: Well folks, this is it. Its been quite a ride and I'm happy to present to you the last chapter of my first fanfiction story. As stated previously, I don't intend to write any other stories as either sequels or tie-ins, but it's always possible that decision may change in the future. Frankly, trying to rewrite so much history is a little too daunting to me. Thank you to all the people that have followed my story and given me input on how to make it better or have contributed new ideas.
I spent a while on the epilogue, trying to get it just right. I wrote and rewrote it several times, hoping to get it just right. I hope the ending I managed to produce will be one you appreciate and that it sets the stage for a hopeful future to be imagined.
Bountyhunter1977: From what I understand, none of Palpatine's holdings really come about on Wayland or Mount Tantiss until much later.
### - Marks the beginning or end of each letter
# - Interrupts/Scene breaks between letter and real-time.
(Qui-Gon): "Anakin's victory gave us the parts we needed, but one of us gave him something, too...a reason to win."
(Padmé): "One of us? What do you mean?"
(Qui-Gon): "I advise you to consult a mirror, Padmé."
"But you know what I always say: Speak softly and drive a big tank."
- Hondo Ohnaka
"All is as the Force wills it."
- Chirrut Imwe
Perhaps it is odd for a man twice your age to call you 'Father' but it is who you are, and who you will be once again. Though there has been no violence yet, I feel certain that neither Mara nor I will survive the events to come. We have not spoken about it, but I feel it's mutually understood. But that's okay; if Mara and I have succeeded in just a portion of what we set out to accomplish, then my time here will have been time well spent. Before I arrived here, I was close to death and I believe that my arrival here only held it at bay until certain things were set right. The Yuuzhan Vong are an enemy that the Jedi cannot truly comprehend yet and more dangerous than you can possibly imagine. The information Mara and I will provide will be helpful, and the sensor and computer data that I am sure will be recovered from the Falcon will give you a good technical readout on both our ships as well as the Yuuzhan Vong's.
I have faith in you, faith that you will not turn to the Dark side and that you will live the life you should have had in my time. Perhaps the Force was planning on balancing itself by your turning to the Dark side, but the Force didn't anticipate the Yuuzhan Vong, a species entirely devoid of the Force. It is a central reason the Jedi were so caught off guard in my time; hopefully this simple revelation will spare you at least that initial confusion.
Please tell Mother that I love her and that I greatly look forward to getting to know her. I believe you will be a wonderful father to Leia and I. Leia is a gift and in my time, a Princess of Alderaan; somehow I feel certain that even if it is you and not Bail Organa who raise her, she will still be a little princess, just perhaps not in an official capacity. She is a blessing, but be careful, I suspect she will be capable of wrapping you around her little finger with ease and subtlety. She is her mother's daughter, after all. Know this, Anakin, your princess needs a scoundrel and when my sister does find her scoundrel, please do not freeze him in carbonite, no matter how irritating he is. Yes, that actually happened. Even with the terrible things you did in my time, I thought you should know that Leia eventually made peace with your memory and ended up naming her third child 'Anakin.' He was a gift and a prodigy and died far too early in his life, sacrificing himself on a mission that saved many Jedi.
I believe I will be with Mara again, one way or another, and I look forward to an exciting courtship. Hopefully this time it will begin without a blaster to my head, but it is Mara so it remains a distinct possibility. We always wanted a child, but were unwilling to make the commitment while the galaxy fell apart around us. We had always wanted to have a boy, whom we would have named Ben, for Obi-Wan. Perhaps naming him after Obi-Wan won't be for the same reasons to your Luke, but in the event that my hopes are realized, please suggest that name. I know Mara intends to write a letter of her own and I expect her to be more pragmatic about its contents. No doubt she will assume that my letter to you is more sentimental in nature; we've always balanced one another like that.
I never got much of a chance to love you in the future, but I look forward to having a true father. I expect, I'm sure to Mother's dismay, that we will be quite the competitive swoop racers; I look forward to beating you, though it may take a few years. You should call on Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen, they are good people who gave me a good childhood.
Always remember those in your life that anchor you and you will never fall so far deeply that you cannot be pulled back into the Light. Stay true to yourself, Anakin, and remember who you are.
Anakin released a long breath. He stared at nothing and just thought about...everything. About Palpatine, about Luke, Mara, Leia, and the Yuuzhan Vong. So much remained unknown and so much had to be done to prepare. The Yuuzhan Vong; it was in everything Luke and Mara had written and everything they had said. They had practically jumped at the chance to fight a Sith Lord rather than return to a more conventional enemy. Then again, Anakin thought sourly, the Yuuzhan Vong are apparently anything but conventional. Anakin put the letter down briefly to look over his family. Padmé was beside him, curled up against him, her head leaning against his shoulder. Anakin found this position quite agreeable and just spent a moment looking at her, his Angel.
A movement on the other side of their small cabin revealed the two occupied baskets that held the two most precious gifts he'd ever received. Careful not to jostle Padmé, he used the Force to bring Leia to him. Obi-Wan might have disapproved of his display, but Obi-Wan had never had an exhausted wife and cranky children either. He looked at his child. A gift, Luke had called her. Gift, thought Anakin, is a perfect word to describe her. "My little princess," he whispered to her, stroking her forehead lightly enough to avoid waking the dozing child. Carbonite seemed excessive to him, perhaps a simple Force suggestion would be enough, he mused, but perhaps it is too early to think of scoundrel deterrents just yet.
Seeing Luke begin to squirm, Anakin hurriedly put Leia back next to her brother. Luke quieted and went back to sleep, making Anakin smile. By the time the Vong came around, it was a distinct possibility that he wouldn't be around or that he would be unable to fight, but he would do whatever was necessary to make sure his children were ready. Or at the very least, that his children's children, like Leia's Anakin, might be spared their fate. Now that his mind was fixed on the future and on the Yuuzhan Vong, he thought it appropriate to begin reading Mara's letter.
I've attached several files to this document for you to look over. They include people, places, dates, and events that are worth noting as things to look for or watch out for. They include possible assets, future enemies, all those things that I'm sure Luke neglected to include given his predilection for sentimentality. I was closer to the Emperor than a great many people and though I was certainly not his confidant, as his Hand I was in a position to receive quite a bit of highly classified information, some of which is pertinent to you even after his death.
There were people who knew Palpatine's identity as a Sith Lord, who collaborated with him. Mas Amedda and Sate Pestage, for example, and a whole host of others; part of that will be included in the attached files. I'll give you some of the more important details here for you to look over later.
You should go the planet Byss in the deep core immediately. It's possible there is little cause for concern, but you must check it out immediately. It became a bastion of evil in our time; the Dark side had even corrupted the planet itself, feeding on the life force of others. Palpatine kept some Padawans and AgriCorps workers there, whom he turned to the Dark side and set loose as Jedi Hunters and Inquisitors. He also had a stash of clones there, younger bodies of himself that he could possess and become reborn. Again, I am not entirely sure whether those events of my time are cause for concern in yours, but you should check as soon as possible.
Anakin frowned. Well that doesn't sound good, he thought. It was not a pleasant thought that Palpatine might actually have the power to reanimate himself. Before he continued, he took her advice to heart and read some of the details in the files she left. He then copied Mara's information and advice and sent it to Master Windu. He would likely be the one most suited to uncovering the truth of Byss and Anakin prayed that Mara's fears were unjustified, but they would find out. He read on:
Another cause for concern resides on Yavin IV; there exist temples constructed by the Massassi in dedication to their master, Dark Lord of the Sith Exar Kun. Though the Sith was destroyed thousands of years ago, his spirit is intact on the planet and was able to possess one of Luke's students and turn him to the Dark side. Billions died as a result. His temples and his spirit need to be destroyed lest something similar happen to you in the future.
Something else I wanted to mention was the Outbound Flight Project, whose fate, I believe, you remain unaware of. Outbound Flight would have been destroyed by Palpatine, who had secretly assembled a task force to destroy it while it was deep in the Unknown Regions. But it was the Chiss Ascendancy who was ultimately responsible for its fate, who destroyed both Palpatine's forces as well as Outbound Flight. While this isn't especially significant, the person who led the Chiss is. The Chiss officer Mitth'raw'nuruodo, or better known as Thrawn, was arguably the single greatest threat to the New Republic after the Empire's demise. The Empire was an extremely xenophobic regime, so the fact that Thrawn was appointed Grand Admiral is all the more impressive. He was ruthless and utterly brilliant and was without a doubt the single greatest military tactician of our time, bar none. While he was ruthless and cunning, I wouldn't call him evil; he fought for the Empire because he was supporting the Chiss in their opening skirmishes with the Yuuzhan Vong. If you can find this man, and if you can work with him, he will be a tremendous asset. The Chiss Ascendancy is located deep within the unknown regions and is one of the first places that the Yuuzhan Vong will invade.
Yuuzhan Vong agents will begin infiltrating the galaxy within the next 20 years. They are able to disguise themselves through the use of masquers, which like all Vong technology, is a living organism designed to fulfill that task. They will come to learn of the galaxy's weaknesses and to instigate or manipulate events that will fracture the stability of the reigning government. Keep their presence in mind while you decide on how to prepare the galaxy for the Vong's arrival.
Perhaps one of the most disturbing things about the Yuuzhan Vong's civilization is how closely it resembled Palpatine and the Republic. Their leader is lying to them, playing to their fanaticism in order to accomplish his own personal goals. Zonama Sekot's presence in our galaxy is a threat to him as the planet is in fact the 'offspring' of their homeworld. Yeah, it's confusing, but the war ended when the Vong surrendered and exiled themselves to Zonama Sekot.
There are political leaders, pilots, Jedi, and even scientists who will be of vital importance: make sure you pay special attention to my notes regarding Danni Quee and Vergere. The last thing that I was to specifically warn you about are the Voxyn, who were created by the Yuuzhan Vong specifically to kill Jedi; they were extremely effective in that task. The Voxyn however, had a weakness, they were clones of a single Voxyn Queen and with the destruction of the Queen, the rest of the Voxyn soon followed. In our time, the Queen was found on Myrkr and was destroyed by a strike team under the command of one of your grandchildren, who sacrificed his life so that his companions might live.
As a side note: It's interesting to note that some of the most powerful and respected Jedi, like Kyp Durron, Kam Solusar (the son of your Jedi Master Ranik Solusar), and even Luke, were ones that had turned to the Dark side at one point or another. Perhaps that's something that your Council, especially Master Short-and-Green, might meditate upon.
Those are the things I wanted to specifically emphasize. In our time, we did win the war, but so many people and worlds were lost that the victory was almost pyrrhic in nature. The galaxy has to be ready, and as we've said, in some ways Palpatine's Empire did exactly that. Find the balance, Anakin and trust your instincts.
I know that your family's safety has to be one of your top priorities and I happen to know an effective way to ease your worry. The planet Honoghr in the Kessel sector is home to the Noghri people. There was a battle during the Clone War where the planet was rendered virtually uninhabitable. Help them or help them relocate and you will earn their loyalty, something that can rival a Wookiee's Life Debt in its strength. As Vader, they served as your assassins but later would serve as bodyguards for the Skywalker bloodline for decades. Their ferocity and dedication to their charges were second to none. Find them, enlist their aid and there will be little anyone can do to ever harm your family.
Anakin paused. The note in the datapad meant that the rest of the letter would be written by Ahsoka while Mara lay dying next to her. A pang of grief hit him as he remembered the redhead, her sass and dry humor was a good balance to Luke's quiet strength. He would take extra care in his reading of the next words, the final words that Mara Jade Skywalker would speak.
I've been sensing something in the Force recently, something that stems from my galaxy's future but will encompass yours. I'm not sure what it means, but I hear the whispers of Father...Son...Daughter...Mortis...Abeloth. Something else will be coming, I don't know when, but I'm afraid that will be your burden, or likely your children's burden, to bear in the distant future.
I despised you as Darth Vader. In a time when my loyalty to the Emperor knew no bounds, I thought you a threat to him and I hated you because he had chosen you as his apprentice and not me. I had quite a lot of...issues when the Emperor died, especially after he left the lovely Force suggestion "KILL LUKE SKYWALKER" in my mind. I am gratified to know that the father Luke loved when he, by all rights should have hated you, existed. It was one thing to read that you were a good man but it's another thing to have known that good man. Stay good, Anakin, because I will come back as a Force ghost and kick your kriffing ass if you ever disappoint my Farmboy. That is, if I'm not there to do in person.
Anakin laid the datapad on his lap and looked at his wife and where his two children lay and sighed. Reading Mara's mention of Mortis, the Father, Son, and Daughter did very little to ease his mind, and figuring out what Abeloth was might be worth consulting the archives. It didn't seem to be an immediate concern, but anything to do with Mortis rang alarm bells in his mind.
Mara knows me well, he thought wryly. I suppose, when I get the chance, I'll make my way over to find some extremely lethal babysitters. Then Anakin grimaced, I can't imagine Padmé will like that. Now Anakin turned his attention to his other offspring's cradle and brought his son to him.
Luke's eyes were open and he had a finger in his mouth, which he appeared to be mouthing on quite vigorously. Anakin smiled and whispered to his son, "I can't promise that I won't ever disappoint you, Son, but I promise to do my best. Mara will just have to be content with that."
There was a slight movement of the ship that woke Padmé and she looked around confused and obviously still sleepy. "What-Ani?"
"We just left hyperspace, Padmé, we'll be in Theed soon," Anakin answered.
"Oh. You read the letters?"
"Yes, I want to read them again and then you can look it all over. In the meantime, let's go home."
Two Years Later...
Anakin watched as Luke and Leia played with their toys, using the Force to manipulate the objects. They were strong in the Force, so strong that it had astounded just about everyone, much to Anakin's smug satisfaction. Much had changed in the past few years, though things remained somewhat tense in the political arena. The Jedi had begun moving on the information given to them, carefully of course. Most of the information was either irrelevant now or fairly ease to resolve. Though they had found no signs of a cache of Palpatine clones, they had found several Force sensitives on Byss in rough shape and had been working with them to insure that their stay on Byss hadn't harmed them while Mount Tantiss on Wayland turned out to be a false alarm, though they had discovered files that indicated Palpatine's future plans for the place.
Anakin shivered. Palpatine. The specter of the Sith Lord haunted both the Jedi and the Republic. To the Jedi, he was a glaring sign of the Jedi's failures, of what had almost happened. It had been a wake-up call to the Jedi, who had only recently begun reviewing their practices and Code. Change would happen, Anakin knew, but it would be slow. Two years ago, that would have frustrated him but...but he understood better now that rushing such things would only cause division in the Order, something that it couldn't have in the years to come.
Padmé and he had remained on Naboo for about a year and his wife's family had been delighted in spoiling Luke and Leia rotten. Eventually though, both felt the need to return to 'duty.' Padmé was no longer serving as an elected official, but still worked in an official capacity with her former colleagues, especially Bail Organa, whose status as temporary Chancellor had dropped the 'temporary.' Padmé retained a great deal of popularity among the masses and worked with aforementioned colleagues to root out corruption and return peace and stability to the hotspots within the galaxy. Anakin had returned to life as a Jedi, though he resided with his family on Coruscant.
It had been a little odd to see some of the Council members' reactions to his children. Obi-Wan had quickly become 'Uncle Obi' and had gained favored status to the twins and Anakin had been amused at the excuses Obi-Wan would make in order to visit the Skywalker family. Ahsoka didn't even bother coming up with excuses to come over and play with Luke and Leia. Yoda had also been surprisingly popular to his children as well and their affection towards him was returned by Yoda. Anakin knew the Grand Master had always had a soft spot towards the younglings in the creche and he was relieved to know that any misgivings Yoda might have had about him hadn't been extended to either Luke or Leia.
Anakin's relationship with Windu had grown stronger as well, though Anakin doubted they would ever call each other 'friend.' But while they may not be friends, they did respect one another now and it had been a most welcome development. Windu had been, and still was, troubled by Anakin's relationship to Padmé and his fathering of children, but the Korun had been nothing but kind when he had come across Luke. Anakin didn't think Windu would ever truly approve of him having a family, but the dark-skinned man seemed willing to observe for now instead of raising further objections.
And oh had objections been raised. Anakin never thought he would get away with his actions without censure, but he had been a little surprised by the scale of disapproval that more than a few Jedi had expressed. Some of that disapproval had waned when it was discovered that more than a few Jedi had fallen prey to the same desires that he had. It was selfish, but Anakin couldn't help but feel somewhat relieved that the attention was no longer entirely on him. The other Jedi who had either married or fathered children were still consulting the Council about their future. Anakin hoped they would find happiness, all beings deserved it, Jedi or otherwise.
Anakin had remained a Jedi, a Jedi Master, and had been allowed to spend most of his time on Coruscant teaching various classes within the Temple while he remained with his family. He still took the occasional mission off world and thought privately that, in his heart, there was still a nine year-old boy who had looked up at the Tatooine night sky and told a Jedi Master that he wanted to see them all.
The Jedi were quietly watching for some of the people that Mara had said would help them, and watching the others who had made trouble or had been Palpatine's strongest supporters. Evidence of treason had been found against Sate Pestage, Mas Amedda, Republic officers like Wilhuff Tarkin, and Separatist leaders who were aware of the scope of the plot to imprison or quietly remove them from their seats of power. Anakin still shivered at the concept of the Death Star, the plans of which had been found in a hidden data cache, along with a collection of Sith holocrons, on Byss.
Luke and Mara had saved a great many lives with their presence and though cradling his infant son in his arms was one of the most rewarding experiences he'd ever had, he would never forget the Luke who had sacrificed himself to save his soul. Both Luke and Mara had been somewhat vague, deliberately he suspected, on the course of their personal futures. It was Obi-Wan who suggested it was because they wanted events to proceed as the Force willed it and not be forced because of memories of another time. His former Master would always be wiser than he, no matter how much Anakin might think otherwise sometimes. That didn't stop Anakin from watching out for possible scoundrels though, much to Padmé's amusement. She had remarked that if Anakin had his way, Leia would be a child forever and remain permanently in his presence. He hadn't argued, it was true, she was his princess, just as Luke had foreseen.
A beep drew his attention from his children and he fished the communicator out of his robe's pocket.
Obi-Wan's voice made him smile and the delighted squeals of 'Uncle Obi!' behind him made him grin. Anakin heard Obi-Wan chuckling on his end as well. "What can I do for you, Master?" Anakin knew that, at that very moment, that Obi-Wan was rolling his eyes at Anakin's stubborn refusal to no longer call him that.
"I just had a little piece of news that I think you might be interested in."
"Yes, Obi-Wan?" Anakin coaxed.
"When you arrive at the Temple tomorrow, come find me, there's something I want to talk to you about."
Anakin raised an eyebrow and asked, "Master?"
There was an exasperated sigh. "Anakin..."
Anakin rolled his eyes. "Alright Obi-Wan, I'll be there in the morning."
"See you then."
Anakin sighed and looked at his children, who were now fascinated by a large, rare, and very expensive crystal sculpture that was levitating high above the floor. Sensing his attention, they turned delighted faces at him, leaving the sculpture to crash onto the floor.
"Shavit!" Anakin cursed and threw his hand out and barely caught the piece of art from crashing onto the floor. Using the Force, he carefully put it back down in it's original spot and blew out a breath and smiled weakly at the noise of his very delighted children. They are gifts, he reminded himself, precious gifts. He then swore when he had to save another piece of artwork. Placing it back, he stalked towards his happy children and scooped them up in his arms. "You..." he told them gravely, "are precious gifts. Act like it."
Leia leaned over and kissed his cheek and snuggled into his chest. And just like that, he thought wryly, they are perfect once again.
When Anakin arrived at the Temple the next morning, he asked a nearby Padawan if she knew where he could find Master Kenobi, the blushing teen replied that he had been in the creche with the infants for the last few hours. Anakin thanked her, prompting a renewed blush, and made his way towards his former Master. Having been deemed a hero for destroying Palpatine and also being the source of the scandal regarding his relationship with Padmé, he had received more than a few reactions like that from the younger members of the Order. Flattering, yes, but his contested celebrity status wore on him. Obi-Wan, having experienced something of the same reaction when it was believed he killed Darth Maul on Naboo, held little sympathy for him.
Anakin finally arrived at his destination and entered the room, taking care to make little noise. Fatherhood had taught him the value of sleeping children and their less than happy nature when woken. Obi-Wan was standing looking down at a babe, only recently born, Anakin guessed. Walking Obi-Wan's side, he shot the man a questioning look. Obi-Wan gave him a strange look and nodded towards the child, who was awake but blessedly silent. It was hard to tell, given the way a human child's hair could change color as they grew, but Anakin thought the hair that adorned the child's head might be a deep red. The child, a girl he now knew, had very green eyes. Familiar green eyes.
He turned wide eyes toward Obi-Wan, who pointed at an unnoticed card on the side of the girl's cradle.
Name: Jade, Mara
Anakin turned his even wider eyes towards Obi-Wan, who was now grinning. Turning to look at the girl who seemed to be looking at him, Anakin thought she was smiling. No, not smiling...smirking.
Oh, Son...good luck with this one, Anakin thought.
Well folks, it's been a blast. I hope you all have enjoyed my first fanfiction contribution. Again, thank you everyone for helping me, for following or favoriting the story, and for reading it. I hope to come up with another story soon, I'm not sure what yet, but I'm fairly certain it will still be in the Star Wars universe. May the Force be with you!