I have run out of space at my website! So I will post this story here. All SW characters belong to LFL, and I don't make a penny off this. Yup. We all know that. Thanks to Jedi-2B for the beta! (but the first several chapters she didn't beta, so don't blame her if you see mistakes!)
Act of Mercy, post 'Sacrifice' AU
It was hard to find sanctuary these days for the occupants of the Millennium Falcon. They were fugitives on both Coruscant and Corellia, although for different reasons. Kashyyyk, a place that had always been home, was mostly destroyed. The surviving occupants didn't much care for any human bearing the last name of Solo, and they couldn't be blamed for that sentiment. Even this planet, Chandrila. Han felt uneasy, as if the specter of death were lurking around the nearest corner.
The Corellian was alone on his ship, and alone with his turbulent emotions. His wife, daughter, brother-in-law and nephew were gone 'Sith-hunting', as Ben said, before Luke hushed him. Those closest to him were trying to kill his eldest son, and Han had given his blessings to do just that. Years ago, before the Vong, this would have been unthinkable. Jacen had always been such a gentle soul, before his capture and torture. Before his mind had been twisted and warped by Vergere, a creature Han had actually saved from death. If he could only have foreseen what his benevolent actions would bring on his family….
Han shook his head in disgust, then reached for the pot of kaffe and poured himself another strong cupful. He wasn't a Jedi, and it seemed obvious to him that even a Jedi Master couldn't predict the future with any degree of accuracy. One son long dead, another about to die at the hands of those that once loved him. He'd once told Leia that Jacen died during the Vong war, just like Anakin, but that wasn't entirely true. Both Leia and Han had been overjoyed when Jacen had returned from the 'dead'. Even an emotionally damaged son was better than no son at all, Han had thought at the time.
No one could have predicted the extent Jacen had been twisted and destroyed by the Vong and by Vergere. The kind boy had vanished, and the man that had slowly emerged from the dust and debris was cunning and cruel. Yet, somehow, Jacen had fathered a child amidst all that deceit. Allana was beautiful and bright, and Han wondered how she would be affected by who and what her father had become. Would she turn out like Luke and Leia, stronger because of her parentage? Or would the Skywalker curse follow her, or eventually her children?
If thinking about Jacen made Han feel old, thinking about his granddaughter – granddaughter! – made him feel ancient. So old, in fact, he suddenly decided he needed to sleep. Only in the nothingness that sleep brought could Han find a tiny bit of peace.
That peace was short-lived. Han was shaken awake, and found himself staring up into the bloodied and terror-stricken face of his son.
Han sat up, barely able to believe his eyes. "Jacen?"
"Dad!" Jacen grated out. "You've got to help me…." The younger Solo dropped to his knees, unable to continue to stand under his own strength.
Without thinking, Han reached down and grasped his son's arm, helping him to the cot. "How did you get here?"
"They were all trying to kill me," Jacen whispered. "My entire family."
Han felt his blood chill. "What did you do, Jacen? Did you …." Han couldn't finish his sentence; he could barely finish the thought in his mind.
"They're all okay, Dad," Jacen said, his voice hoarse. "I only used my lightsaber to defend myself. Then I managed to escape by stealing Jaina's X-Wing."
The former smuggler gazed down dispassionately at his son, noting the various bruises and burns that were obviously caused by contact with lightsabers. "How did you know where I was?" He tried not to think about the consequences of Jacen locating him.
Jacen gave a small smile. "The coordinates were in Jaina's ship. I don't think it occurred to her that I'd ever steal it." His smile faded. "Did you hear about Tenel Ka?"
"I assume you're talking about the Hapan Revolution?"
"She's dead at the hands of her own people, and it's all my fault. I loved her, Dad."
Han stepped back, moving away from Jacen. "I don't think you remember the meaning of the word."
"You want me dead, too."
"My son died a long time ago," Han responded sadly. "I'm not sure what's replaced him, but whatever you've become, you're not Jacen anymore."
To Han's utter shock, a tear ran down Jacen's cheek, dripping on the pillow where his blood-matted head rested. "I did die. They made sure of that."
"The Sith. Vergere." Jacen forced his eyes open, and Han noted they were a rich brown color, not the sickly yellow hue of the Sith known as Darth Caedus. "They were using me, and I was too blind, too stupid, to see it, until it was too late."
"You killed Mara," Han snapped. "Do you have any idea what that's done to Luke? To Ben?"
"At the time, I didn't care. But if it matters, Aunt Mara came looking for me, intending to kill me. It was self-defense."
"Really?" Han said, unable to keep the sarcasm out of his voice. "Was it self-defense when you tried blasting the Falcon into space dust?"
"No," Jacen replied, almost too softly for Han to hear. "I'm sorry."
Han couldn't stop himself from shouting. "You're SORRY? You've got to be kidding me! You think you can erase everything you've done just by saying 'sorry'? You've killed millions! You've destroyed entire planets! Saying you're sorry is pointless."
"I don't know what else to do," Jacen replied. "All I wanted was for the galaxy to finally be at peace."
The older man reached down, uncaring that his son could kill him without effort, and jerked Jacen up by his tattered shirt. "Peace? Since when does war bring peace?"
"The Rebellion thought it would," Jacen said evenly, looking into his father's eyes. "General Solo."
"Don't you dare compare the Rebellion to what you did."
"Why not?" Jacen asked. "All wars bring death to innocent bystanders. Don't tell me you never caused collateral damages, or that you or Uncle Luke never caused the death of an innocent by your involvement with the Rebellion."
Han pushed Jacen away, repelled by the close proximity to his own child. "You make me sick."
"Just like Anakin made you sick by letting Chewie die?"
"No! Not like that. This is nothing like that."
Jacen sighed. "What I'm trying to say is that I'm not perfect. You're not perfect. Even Anakin wasn't perfect."
"Why did you come here?" Han asked bitterly.
"You know why."
"You'll have to kill me first."
Jacen almost laughed at his father's words, but the amusement was quickly replaced with a somber expression. "You still don't believe me. I'm done with killing."
"I'd have to guess your mother and uncle didn't take you at your word, either," Han responded.
"That's true," Jacen admitted. "I'm not sure I can ever convince them I've seen the light."
"I'm not taking you at your word, and I'm not taking you to Allana."
"You don't have to take me to her. Just tell me where she's at, so I can go get her," Jacen said, his tone pleading. "Dad… please. She's all I have left. I'm the only one that can protect her."
"That's a joke," Han shot back. "Your version of protecting people leaves a lot to be desired."
The younger man jumped up from the cot, pushing his father roughly against the cabin's wall. The force of the impact knocked Han's breath away. "You can't protect her. Neither can Mom, or Uncle Luke. The entire Hapan population wants her dead, and they've sent out bounty hunters to accomplish that!" Jacen released his grip on Han's shirt. "Then I've got the Sith that twisted me for their own agenda out looking. They know about Allana, and since I've renounced the Dark Side, they intend to take their revenge out on her. That's not even taking into account your buddy, Fett. If he can't get me, do you think he won't go after my daughter? He'd consider it poetic justice. I've got to take her somewhere safe, before it's too late."
Han narrowed his eyes at Jacen. "Fett isn't my buddy, and I'm not the one that murdered his daughter. I'd say you pretty much baked your own crissle buns, kid."
"I agree," Jacen said, nodding. "If they were just out to get me, I could deal with them. But this isn't about just me anymore, Dad. This is Allana's life at stake. Your grandchild!"
"Just where do you intend to find refuge, Jacen?" Han asked out of curiosity. "You've pretty much alienated the entire galaxy from one side to the other."
"The Unknown Regions," Jacen answered truthfully. "I've already been there, during my wanderings to understand the Force. There are places no one from this galaxy has ever ventured, and Allana would be safe."
"Safe, but totally isolated from everyone but you," Han pointed out. "That's not the type of life I'd want for my child, or for my grandchild."
"There are humans living where I want to take her," Jacen informed Han. "They're backwards by our standards, but she won't be alone."
"Backwards? How backwards?"
"They haven't developed space-travel, and they believe they are the only intelligent life in the galaxy. Plus, the planet is divided into various political and religious groups that don't exactly get along."
"Sounds like paradise," Han said sarcastically.
"It's not any different than it is here," Jacen argued insistently. "Just on a smaller scale. But the best part about the place is that I can blend in, and no one knows me."
Han felt himself waver. "I still don't know…"
"Do you want Allana to die at the hands of my enemies?" Jacen asked sharply. "Because if you don't let me find her, that's exactly what's going to happen – eventually." Jacen could sense his father's faltering resolve, and resisted using the Force to nudge him along. Doing so would quickly cause the exact opposite result that he desired. Han Solo might not be Force-sensitive, but he was acutely aware of anyone using the Force to sway his mind.
As if Han could read Jacen's mind, he asked his son, "Why don't you just use the Force to pry the information from me?"
"That would be using the Dark Side," Jacen responded quickly. "I'm not a Sith anymore, so I wouldn't do that."
The Corellian suddenly made a decision that he knew would infuriate his family, and might even destroy his marriage. "I'm not gonna tell you where Allana is hiding, but I'll take you to her."
Jacen grinned in triumph. "Thanks, Dad. You know we'll have to hurry, because Mom and everyone is following me."
"That's not all," Han continued. "I'm going with you and Allana to this planet, too."
The cocky grin faded. "What? You can't be serious! What's the point of hiding there, if you know where I'm located?"
Han stuck his finger in Jacen's face. "You're expecting me to trust and believe everything you're telling me, so I expect some return trust here, Jacen. You want Allana, but you won't get Allana without making some concessions. And don't you ever forget that I'm not doing this for you, but for Allana." Even as he said those words, he knew in his heart that wasn't exactly the truth. Jacen was still his last living son, and no matter what had happened, he simply could not turn off his love like a switch. Both Luke and Leia had forgiven a father they'd never known except as an enemy, for atrocities just as evil as Jacen's sins. How could Han not give his son – a son he'd cradled in his arms as an infant, a son he'd read "The Lost Little Bantha Cub" a hundred times, a son he watched grow from a gangly teenager into a man – a second chance? A third, or fourth chance, even? The galaxy would not forgive, but Han could do nothing less.
"Aren't you worried about what Mom will have to say about this?"
"Yes, but I'd prefer not to think about that right now. Let's deal with one problem at a time." Han sighed and headed toward the cockpit. He had a plan in his mind, but it probably had to be the worst plan he'd ever devised in his entire life.