This story is a sequel to A Bumpier Road (also posted at this site),
which is an AU version of AOTC and Episode III. In the Lightside ending of ABR,
Anakin and Padmé were tempted by the dark side after he killed Darth Tyranus at
Geonosis. They drew perilously close to falling before pulling themselves back
from the brink to defeat Darth Sidious. While I hope you will read ABR if you
haven't already, it is my intention that you need not have read it to enjoy
this story. All of the important events and consequences of ABR will be reviewed
briefly at some point in the opening chapters here.
The Skywalker Prophecy is an epic-scale story that ultimately will encompass AU versions of Episodes IV, V, and VI of the saga of Anakin Skywalker and his family. Some of the broad plots arcs will be familiar; others will be very different. Like the movies, some characters play more pivotal roles at certain times, while others predominate in different sequences, and the story will contain some drama/angst and romance/mush in addition to heavy doses of fun action sequences. It is my sincere hope you will find this story as entertaining to read as it is for me to write.
And so we begin with Episode IV: A Destiny Renewed.
Episode IV: A Destiny Renewed
Twenty-three years after the Battle of Geonosis, the Galactic Republic again faces a crisis of legitimacy. Despite the death of Darth Sidious, the once-glorious Senate has continued to be mired by incompetence, scandal, impasse, and corruption. Throughout the Republic, the central government on Coruscant is perceived as ineffective at best, harmful at worst. In his eight years in office, Supreme Chancellor Gannis Trellem of Nubia has proven incapable of fulfilling his campaign pledge to restore faith in the Senate and the bureaucracy.
A more direct threat also exists. Five years ago, the coronation address by King Argis IV of the small Mid Rim planet of Vyhrrag began what has come to be known in the galaxy as the New Justice movement. The founding principle espoused by Argis' followers claims that the planets of the Core use the institutions of the Republic, most importantly the democratic legislature of the Senate and the system of trade taxation, to exploit the planets of the Mid and Outer Rims. It calls for a reversal of the flow of wealth and capital from the luxurious central worlds to the impoverished hinterlands, whether through reformed taxation or piracy. Many adjacent planets with aligned political and economic interests initially joined the New Justice cause willingly, only to find soon after a notable presence of Argis' military forces garrisoned in their major cities.
In the last year, the zone of the galaxy controlled by Argis' movement has expanded dramatically. In each instance, the planet's leader has signed a treaty with Argis and proclaimed the freely chosen decision to join New Justice. Yet the ability of Holonet reporters to cover these developments is dramatically restricted by the governing authorities in that domain. Whether Argis' increasing power is the result of persuasion or conquest is unclear.
On Coruscant, the crisis in the Mid Rim has divided the Senate. Many Senators, led by the Chancellor, believe that the demands of the New Justice movement can be satisfied through negotiation and compromise. Although Argis previously has violated several agreements with the Republic, the peace faction insists a diplomatic solution is possible. Other Senators, led by the brash Bail Millius of Alderaan, maintain Argis already has revealed his scheme to gain power through war and violence. To the defense faction, any further concessions to the movement would be tantamount to total capitulation to a dangerous and unstable dictator.
When the late evening session of the Jedi Council adjourned, the two human members lingered after the other ten departed. At the top of main spire of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant the light of the setting sun streaming in the high windows was fiery red, casting a grim glow and deep shadows in the circular room.
The younger man, still athletic and limber at forty-three, rose from his seat across from the single door to the chamber. With a quick spin on his left heel he looked out over the towering skylines of the city beyond. He ran his hands twice through his short gray hair, then crossed his arms over the front of his tan Jedi robes. After a slow and deliberate breath, his baritone voice was filled with resignation. "Does this disturbance in the Force seem as familiar to you as it does to me?"
"Hmm," grumbled the older man, who at fifty-eight finally had discovered himself facing the aches and pains of an aging body. He pushed off from the armrests of his seat, which was several chairs around the arc in the position always given to the Council's chairman. "Unfortunately, it does."
The younger man turned back to face his companion. "It can only mean one thing, then. Someone has found the missing holocron and revived the Sith menace." He scratched absentmindedly at calluses on the fingertips of his right hand, an almost imperceptible physical reminder of a violent use of the dark side many years ago.
As he ambled slowly to stand next to his former Padawan, the older man ran the fingers of his right hand through his neatly trimmed white beard while his left adjusted the folds of his identical tan robes. "The aberrance has been growing greater and greater, especially the last few years. I think we can draw no other conclusion. The shroud of the dark side has fallen."
"I should have known it was too good to be true," the younger man sighed, "that I could fulfill the prophecy at age twenty and live happily ever after."
"Maybe so. If the Sith truly have returned, I have faith your leadership will bring the Jedi victory yet again." With his slight hunch, the older man now was a full head shorter than his colleague. He reached up and gently rested his hand on his friend's shoulder. "No one doubts it. You are the Chosen One, Anakin."
The younger man nodded. His right thumb and forefinger spun the golden wedding band around his left ring finger. "I know. I'd just always held out hope it was over, Obi-Wan."
The taps of her shoes on the marble floor echoed away into the cavernous arching hallway ceiling of the Social Sciences Building of the University of Naboo in the suburbs of Theed. In the informal clothes and single long brown braid of hair she wore, the forty-seven-year-old woman easily could be mistaken for a graduate student half her age. Her obligations concluded on this final day of the semester, she headed to her office one last time before the long-anticipated trip back to Coruscant. Awaiting upon her return was an uninterrupted four months with her husband. She stopped at the door and smiled as she read the engraved nameplate.
Her Royal Highness and the Honorable
Padmé Naberrie Skywalker
Professor of Political Science and
The Queen Amidala Chair in Galactic Relations
She pushed the door open and walked past her assistant in the outer office with a nod. Padmé went straight to her desk and packed her datapad and assorted other items into a shoulder bag. Before calling for her transport, however, she paused and looked at the framed family portrait sitting prominently on her desk. It had been taken two years earlier at the twins' twentieth birthday party, one of only two times in the last three years the entire family had been together.
In the middle of the picture, she and Anakin stood with both arms wrapped around each other. She wore a simple powder blue dress; he his now-ubiquitous tan Jedi robes. His hair long ago had gone completely gray, while hers remained as brown as ever. After so many years, no one teased her about marrying a younger man anymore; from appearance, everyone assumed he was older than she. As he always did, he was gently resting his chin on the top of her head as he held her close.
To the left stood the twins, one arm around each other's shoulders. Luke's sandy brown hair and thin Padawan learner braid matched his Jedi robes perfectly. Leia wore a formal dark blue gown and her long brown hair up in a traditional elaborate Naboo style. He was a few inches taller than Padmé and a good half-head shorter than Anakin; she was by far the shortest member of the family. Like his father, the Force was extraordinarily strong in Luke; like her mother, Leia's midichlorian count was well above average but far below a Jedi's.
To the right were their two younger children. Their daughter Danaé, eighteen then, also was a Padawan learner in the Order. She too had inherited Padmé's long and luxurious brown hair. Most people said she had more of her father in her, though, including the sharp angles of her face and most noticeably her height. Danaé was only an inch or two shorter than Anakin, and sometimes it seemed as if she towered over Padmé and Leia. Above all she had his eyes: the brilliant, piercing, intense deep blue gaze. His arm around her, their son Bryon, another year younger, stood in his dress-whites military uniform. He was four inches taller than Anakin, maybe more, and an imposing physical specimen. With strength in the Force to fall back on, Anakin was content to be lean and fit; without those powers, Bryon had honed his body into supreme athletic condition, his powerful muscles bulging beneath the trim officer's attire. This certainly made him the anomaly in the family in size and physique. His face was the exception: he took after his mother very closely, and in particular had her warm and compassionate brown eyes.
Padmé smiled to herself at their children's successes since the picture was taken. Luke and Danaé continued to excel as Jedi. Bryon was now a highly decorated lieutenant in the Special Forces of the Republic's army. And Leia was about to complete her second year as Galactic Senator from Naboo; she was performing exceptionally and soon would have a longer tenure in the post than Padmé's.
Yet her reverie was broken by the stark reminder, in the form of a glittering diamond on Leia's left hand, that tragedy had not avoided the Skywalkers. About half a year after that birthday, the family had gathered when Leia married Jarren Organa of Alderaan, son of Padmé's long-time friend and former Senate colleague Bail Organa. Anakin and Padmé had been delighted for their daughter and son-in-law and had wished them only the best. The young couple had shared a happy life together on Coruscant and even had talked of starting a family of their own. Six months ago, however, just after their first wedding anniversary, Jarren had been killed under mysterious circumstances while on a refugee relief mission to the troubled planet of Gimna 3. Although the family suspected a connection to the New Justice movement, the Jedi investigation as yet had yielded no proof.
And so a few weeks earlier Senator Leia Organa had returned to Naboo to spend her twenty-second birthday with her mother in Theed. As a widow.
The small chrome Naboo schooner Marigold shuddered violently as it abruptly dropped out of hyperspace well short of its intended destination of Sullust. By the time the principal passenger reached the cockpit, the crew had determined the status. Facing them out the front viewport was a heavily armed frigate with the crests of Vyhrrag.
"They used a gravity well projector, Senator," the pilot informed her. "The instruments would not let us fly into it."
"We are caught in a tractor beam," the co-pilot reported. "We are being drawn into a docking hangar in the side of the warship. Our distress signal already has been broadcast."
"We must assume we will be boarded, Senator," her chief of security, Captain Wayland, pointed out.
Leia felt a chill run down her spine. "We are far outside the territory Argis controls. This is a dangerous action his forces are taking."
"That is true," Wayland agreed. "Should we resist or submit?"
"Unlock our boarding ramp and place your men in defensive formations. Do not fire unless fired upon."
"Yes, my Lady, of course."
Leia took a seat in the small conference room on the ship and waited. She adjusted the shoulders of her close-fitting white diplomatic attire: a simple long-sleeved top with matching pants, short cape, and knee-high white boots. To avoid any possible misunderstanding, she unclipped the holstered blaster pistol from her belt and placed it on the table in front of her.
Many times she had faced difficult situations, whether in the legislative youth program, her election campaign, or in the Senate. Twice before, in fact, she had been held hostage by disgruntled radical groups, only to bargain successfully for her own release shortly thereafter. No doubt a short negotiation would resolve this dispute as well. So she was not afraid as the Marigold rocked to its landing gear inside the frigate's hangar.
A few minutes passed before the ringing retorts of firing blasters echoed down the hallway. From the screams, she knew the dozen Naboo soldiers in her ship were being decimated.
First into the conference room were four Vyhrragian soldiers. They wore the distinctive garb of Argis' forces: tan body armor over green fatigues, and white helmets without face shields. Without a word, the men took up positions at the door but did not point their blaster rifles at her.
After a few more seconds she heard a sound so recognizable, yet so impossible, she almost fainted. The hum of a lightsaber whirring through the air. And then the two figures marched in with her. A tall man and short woman, wearing black tunics and pants, black boots and gloves, and huge black cloaks, hoods up to conceal their faces. Each carried a blazing lightsaber.
The blades were a brilliant red.
Fear raced through her body after all. So this is how I'm going to die. She could not stop herself from thinking that she hoped Jarren had died instantly, not with conscious awareness that he was about to be killed. Not like this.
Leia quickly regained her determination and burned the image into her memory. She closed her eyes, scrunched her forehead, and screamed in her mind at the top of her mental lungs the way she had been taught.