Chapter XXI - Epilogue: Three Years Later

It was late July, and the denizens of Star City seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief, for the next convention was a safe ten months away. The geeks had all either left town and gone home or put away their costumes and autograph books for the time being. The theater was no longer screening Star Wars movies, stores took most of the licensed merchandise off their shelves, and the Sons of the Sith had retreated to their lair for a time. At last the lazy days of summer could descend, albeit they were nearly over.

The Elite wasn't around to see it, however. They were currently gathered outside the headquarters of a well-known publisher in New York, preparing for a book signing.

"Luke Skywalker!"

Luke smirked when he heard Jason's infuriated scream. He excused himself from his conversation with Tina and turned toward the man. "Yes?"

Jason strode toward him, holding a toddler in Tusken-style wrappings as far away from his body as possible. The child was giggling and kicking his legs in the air.

"Problem?" Luke inquired innocently.

"Your spawn," Jason grumbled, "just bit me in the butt!" He thrust the boy into Luke's arms. "Are all Skywalkers pains in the neck?"

"You gotta learn to like kids, Jason," Luke replied, taking his son. "Someday you'll fall in love with a woman who wants a family, and you'll have to accommodate."

Jason muttered something under his breath and stalked off.

"And you, Ben'arri, are supposed to be behaving yourself," Luke chided, addressing his son. "If you don't be good, Mommy will be cranky, then she'll make Daddy cranky, and Daddy will make his students cranky, and we'll all go dark side on each other."

Ben'arri Skywalker squealed. "Da! Da!"

"Look at my husband," S'kina chuckled, coming to stand beside Luke. "Trying to talk Jedi philosophy with an eighteen-month-old."

"Hey, they're never too old to learn, dear," he replied, setting the boy down. Ben'arri toddled a few steps before plopping down on the sidewalk on his plump bottom and staring up at all the faces around him in wonder.

Luke put an arm around S'kina's shoulders and smiled. She had given him the responsibility of naming their child, a task he hadn't felt adequate for. But she had insisted, reasoning that in the Tusken culture, fathers were responsible for naming their sons while mothers chose names for their daughters. In the end, he'd selected Ben'arri, partly because it reminded him of Obi-wan's nickname, partly because it was a Tusken word that translated to "gift of flight." He wondered if Ben'arri would inherit that gift from his father and grandfather.

Everyone who'd been invited to the book signing's opening gala was present, taking a moment to chat and catch up on personal news before going inside. The entire Skywalker clan was present, as were the Fetts and the Elite. Of Luke's students, only Rachel was present -- Chyna and Korie were overseeing the rest of the Order on Corusant.

It had been a struggle for Leia to make it, for she was extremely busy these days. In a surprise move, she had been nominated for Supreme Chancellor and elected, displacing Mon Mothma. Between leading the Senate and raising her and Han's children -- twin son and daughter Shyan and Shmi -- she had few private moments, so she was making the most of today.

Fett and Liz stood nearby, talking to Cody and Amethyst. Naomi was now a sturdy three- year-old and clutched her mother's hand, holding a toy Firespray in the other hand. She was no longer the terrified baby Luke had seen her as, nor was she an only child. Fett cradled her three-month-old baby brother and his first biological child, Jango Fett, Jr., in his arms. Cody and Amethyst, too, had a child of their own, two-year-old Brandon Suk.

That was the most notable change, Luke thought -- the new faces among the Elite. A second generation being brought up to appreciate the galaxy as a New Republic instead of an Empire. His and S'kina's Ben'arri, Han and Leia's Shyan and Shmi, Fett and Liz's Naomi and Jango, Cody and Amethyst's Brandon, Conrad and Diana's Isaiah... Even the New Jedi Order had a second generation of trainees already. Gabriel and Chyna had gotten married in his home country, and they had a daughter, Eponine, who was promptly enrolled in the Jedi Order.

Austin and Liberty remained happily married, though Trapper was now floundering through his early teenage years. Luke was sure, however, that the boy would pass through the experience relatively unscathed -- any boy who could face the Emperor and live to tell the tale could handle adolescence.

As for the rest of the group... not much had changed. Jason and Patrick still worked at Anakin's garage, and Steve, Emily, Darcy, Mike, Gregory, and Tina had experienced no major changes. Zack had surprised everyone by proposing to Opal at the Nova-Con following the Battle of Tatooine, and Opal was currently pregnant with their first child, tentatively named Alexis Jocasta Brown.

At last everyone filed into the lobby, where Opal and Anakin awaited their guests. The publisher had organized a luncheon to honor them for their book -- Anakin's biography, to be released in bookstores the following day.

"Luke," greeted Anakin, embracing his son. "So good to see you again."

"Gan-pa!" exclaimed Ben'arri, attacking his legs.

"And there's Ben!" said Anakin gleefully, scooping him up. "C'mere, you!"

Ben'arri squealed as his grandfather held him high over his head. The action attracted Shmi and Shyan, who immediately began clamoring for attention. Luke laughed at the sight of the tall Jedi being overwhelmed by three toddlers.

"What a time this has been for all of us," Opal observed.

"I never thought I'd be seeing this," Luke marveled. "My son and my father, playing together."

She shrugged. "The Skywalker heritage has come full circle. Your family has been through a lot, but they've come through it stronger than ever."

Luke picked up one of her books. "Congratulations on your first book."

"Thanks. And a second's on the way."

"No kidding!"

"Yeah, I had the manuscript approved just yesterday," she went on, pulling a sheaf of papers from her bag. "It's a dramatized account of how Earth joined the New Republic."

"Care to share?"

Opal flipped past the title page. "Let see... Chapter One... 'The Force had been kind to this star system. The great Sith Wars, a historic milestone for most of the galaxy, were virtually unknown here. The more recent Clone Wars, likewise, had not touched these obscure planets. Nor had the ongoing Galactic Civil War engulfed the system, even as it raged horribly in nearly every other colonized sector of known space. For millennia this system's one hospitable world -- first by simple ignorance but later by enforcement -- had gone blissfully unknown, unmolested, and undisturbed. Until now.'"

The End


Thanks again to Mom, Keegan, and the Luke/Vader Writers. Also an immense thank you to God for the gift of writing.

Star Wars isn't mine, though I do claim credit for my original characters as well as the Ramothian species, the Kruvexian species, and the Kruvexian culture.

Stormtrooper TK-409's number comes from the Beach Boys' song by the same name (I think). Stormtrooper TK-333's number was originally TK-666 and was changed for obvious reasons.

Liberty's comment and Han's reply in "Chapter I -- Unwelcome Surprise" after Luke's rescue are based on a conversation between Han and Leia in the fanfic "Second Chances" by Kathryn Olsen and Anne Marie Gazzolo.

Fett and Liz's adoption experience in "Chapter III -- Aren't Kids Great?" was inspired by the adoption scene in the movie "The Flintstones."

Luke's "As lovely as I remember it" remark in "Chapter IV -- Cantina Ambush" comes from the "Attack of the Clones" novelization by R.A. Salvatore, only in the book the line was given by Padme.

The song in "Chapter IX -- Fett Family Values" is "Angel Lullaby," from the musical "My Turn On Earth" by Carol Lynn Pearson and Lex de Azevedo. I have changed the word "angel" to "spirit" wherever it appears, as I don't think "angel" means quite the same thing in our universes.

Yes, the squirrel story in "Chapter X -- Love and War" really does come from the movie "Fools Rush In."

Aurra's "I was killing your kind..." line to Gabriel in "Chapter XIII -- Enemy Camp" is from the "Return of the Jedi" novelization by James Kahn, only in the book the line was given by Jabba the Hutt and directed at Luke.

The reactor-shaft battle between Jodo Kast and Boba Fett in "Chapter XVII -- Showdown One: Boba Fett vs. Jodo Kast" was inspired by the cover of the Dark Horse comic book "Star Wars: Twin Engines of Destruction" (which I've never read, but the cover does look cool).

Artoo's thoughts in "Chapter XVIII -- Showdown Two: Pirates vs. Jedi and Republic" come from a phrase by Milo (voiced by Michael J. Fox) in the Disney movie "Atlantis: The Lost Empire."

Chapter quotes come from their cited sources and are accurate to the best of my knowledge.

The persons featured are fictional except for any mentioned Star Wars celebrities. Any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Star City, Stellar-Con, Nova-Con, White Deer National Park, and White Deer Lake are fictional locations/events and any resemblance they bear to any actual place/event is also coincidental.

Is anyone actually reading this?