Children of the Red Sun
Sequel to The Legacy of the Red Sun Trilogy
Prologue: What Should Have Been; What Was
This was not how it was supposed to be. To those that could step outside of time and see the course of destiny originally set, the galaxy was not as it should have been.
A young boy named Luke Skywalker should have grown to brilliant manhood. This boy was destined to become the last of the old Jedi and the first of the new. He was to help lead the forces of Light against the legions of the Dark. He was supposed to change the galaxy forever and live to a ripe old age before passing gently into the Force with his son at his side, and the ghost of his beloved wife awaiting him on the other side with open arms.
That is what should have happened.
Owen Lars was not supposed to swerve his landspeeder away from the large womprat that crossed his path. He should not have lost control of his speeder and driven it into a rock formation at two hundred kilometers an hour.
Luke Skywalker should not have died as a youth, cut down before his light could shine.
That is not what was supposed to happen. And yet, to those eyes looking from outside of time, that is exactly what did happen. If those eyes were to look away from this galaxy, far far away, they would see that at the exact moment Owen cursed and Beru cried out in terrified alarm while a beautiful young boy looked up from his toy skyhopper, a small ship's course altered by a fraction of a millimeter. This minor change, caused by the pulsing radiation output of a nearby pulsar, caused the tiny ship to fall into a black hole.
No craft made by those in the Corusca galaxy could have survived such an ordeal, but this was not a craft made by those mere mortals in this galaxy. The tiny craft emerged from a white hole intact and untouched twenty eight galaxies off course, and crashed onto a desert planet within earshot of the very home that once housed Luke Skywalker.
The Jedi within, caught in mourning for the young hope that was to lead the galaxy, stumbled out into the darkness to discover a child unlike any he could ever imagine.
Thus the Force restored the balance. A new chosen one was selected. A new destiny was shaped, and a new hero emerged.
This was not how it was supposed to be, but this is what came to be.
Chapter One: The Jedi Order
Karia sat with her legs crossed and her elbows resting on her knees. "I still wish dad could have come," she said.
From the pilot's seat, she heard her mother snort. Mara Jade Naberrie left the ship on autopilot as it soared through hyperspace, and walked back into the hold until she sat across from her daughter. "Kale's place is on Naboo," she said. "You know he's never felt comfortable anywhere else."
"You leave all the time."
"I don't feel comfortable anywhere," Mara said with a self-deprecating laugh.
Karia chose not to respond and continued her sulk.
"Pouting does not become you," Mara said with a hint of steel in her voice.
"It's just, Jor said…" She stopped when she saw her mother's expression.
"Jor said what?"
"He said he didn't really like it at the Temple. He said people weren't nice to him."
"Jor's almost seventeen years old," Mara said. "He's nearly a man. He's older than your father was when he fought his first Sith Lord. He can handle himself. Besides, I thought he liked Master Katarn."
"He does," Karia said quickly. "It's the others."
Mara merely nodded. "You mean Jacen and Jaina?"
Karia looked down with a guilty flush.
"If you truly want to be a Jedi," Mara said, "then you are going to have to learn how to handle the negative emotions as well as the positive ones. And Jacen and Jaina don't have any darkness in them. They just don't understand."
"Yes, Mother," Karia said. It was her passive-aggressive signal that she was done with the conversation.
Mara decided that was as good a time as any to end it. "So, are you excited about seeing Coruscant?"
Karia's expression did brighten a little.
"Good," Mara said, "because we're almost there."
In fact, the navcomp started beeping at her just a second later. The two Naberrie women walked to the cockpit and took seats as the ship reverted to real space. Almost immediately their ship was hailed.
"Incoming shuttle, this is Coruscant civilian control. Identify and state your destination."
"Control, this is the Jade's Fire en route for the Jedi Temple."
"Acknowledged, Jade's Fire. We will alert the temple to your approach. Vector in at 2.456 mark 4.278."
"Acknowledged, control. Vectoring at 2.456 mark 4.278. Jade's Fire out."
Karia ignored the exchange as she sat looking down at the most brightly lit planet she had ever seen. The night side sparkled so brilliantly it was difficult to imagine there being any unlit surface area at all. As they crossed the terminator into day, her breath caught in her throat.
There were so many ships coming and going, so many orbital platforms and structures bridging the gap between surface and space, she could hardly believe it. Mara merely grinned as they continued their approach to the surface.
Her com crackled again. "Mara, that better be you," a familiar voice said.
"Who else, you big lug?" Mara said. "I've brought Leia's new apprentice."
"Another Naberrie? Force preserve us!" the voice said. "Your son has almost been the death of me."
"Is that why you taught him to play sabacc?" Mara said.
"Had to be able to beat him at something," the speaker said without a hint of penance in his voice. "He doesn't play any better than his old man. Speaking of, is he with you?"
"What do you think?"
"No, I suppose not. I'll be on the east platform. Come on down!"
"Was that Master Katarn?" Karia asked when the call ended, and her mother nodded.
Karia had read about the many adventures of the famous Jedi. Along with Leia Organa Skywalker Solo, he had co-founded the new Jedi Order and helped build the new Jedi Temple on Coruscant.
The temple came into view just then. Although only half the size of its predecessor, the central tower of the temple still rose in a brilliant glow of white alabaster against the late Coruscanti afternoon. The four towers of the old temple were gone, replaced by the lone tower and the large base that housed the majority of the order.
Mara deftly flew them around the temple until they saw the east platform. She took the lithe Jade's Fire down and landed it so smoothly Karia could not even feel the transition. The two stepped to the side ramp and walked down. Immediately Karia was assaulted by noise on every level of her hearing spectrum. She winced at it, and the forcibly reduced her hearing level.
Kyle Katarn still wore his beard, now streaked with gray. His graying hair was cut short—so short he had more hair on his face than his head. Still, he stood tall, straight and strong.
Next to him stood a young man with hair so black it almost looked blue, but with bright green eyes and strong, angular cheeks. He stood as tall as Kyle with broader shoulders, and a promise to grow larger.
"Jor!" Karia cried. She rushed to her brother, who lifted her off the pad easily.
Moments later a new figure rushed out onto the pad. Jedi Master Leia Organa Skywalker Solo wore her once long, lustrous hair cut in a short bob around her neck. That hair had grayed considerable. She had lines now tracing the shape of her eyes and mouth, and not all were laugh lines. But she carried herself with the calm, regal authority that had led her to two terms as the second chief of state and helped rebuild the nearly extinct Jedi order from two—she and Kyle—to a body of several hundred.
Still, there was a sag to her shoulders Karia did not remember from her occasional visits to Naboo—a tightness about her lips.
Leia immediately wrapped Mara in a tight, almost desperate hug. "Mara," the Jedi Master said. "You look too beautiful to be fair," she said. "Are you ever going to get old?"
"Not if I can help it," Mara said with a laugh. She turned to Karia. "Leia, you remember Karia don't you?"
"I remember a cute little girl with her father's eyes and her mother's hair," Leia said. She stepped forward and gently cupped Karia's cheek. "I've never met this gorgeous woman before."
"Aunt Leia," Karia said, even more embarrassed.
"Give me a hug," Leia ordered. Karia of course complied.
"Let's go in and get you settled," Kyle said. "Droids will bring your things in. Are you going to stay long, Mara?"
"For a few days at least," Mara said. "It's been a while since I've had a fair sparring match."
Kyle laughed. "I bet." He made a show of hitting Jor's shoulder. "This little monkey-lizard is about to ship out for some fighter training and experience. Kyp Durron is convinced he can teach a Naberrie to fly."
No one missed the sarcasm. In fact, it prompted a snort from Mara and a laughing grin from Jor. Leia did not smile.
As they entered the temple and made their way into the housing levels, Karia became aware of eyes watching her from the atrium floor below. She looked, and saw dozens of other apprentices watching her and her mother intently. She felt their curiosity; and occasional hostility.
"Get used to it," Jor told her softly. "It's been like that since I started." His green eyes flashed angrily as he spoke.
Her apartment was tiny compared to her room back on Naboo, but she quickly realized why. She would be sleeping alone rather than with a roommate. She decided this was a good thing, but wondered how common it was for padawans her age. .
"Well, get settled in," Leia said. "You're all invited to my apartment for dinner, of course. Han said he'd even cook some Corellian fire stew."
"We'll be there," Jor said.
"Yeah, I bet," Kyle said. "Come on, Runt. Let's go spar. I want one more crack at you before you take off."
"Yes, Kyle," Jor said with a grin. He smiled and waved at Karia as he left.
"Leia and I will be right back as well," Mara said to Karia. Just then a servitor droid appeared with their things. "Why don't you start getting your things put up? I'll stay with you here for the next few days if we can have another cot."
"I'll see too it, Madame," the droid said as it gently deposited Karia's things.
Leia and Mara left the room, but Karia knew they had not gone far.
Karia was fourteen years old. She was a year younger than her father, the now legendary Kale Naberrie, when he first developed his far-hearing and x-ray vision. Though she had not told anybody, she developed those abilities at age 12. She used them sparingly, but to great effect, as a certain mean classmate of hers from Naboo could attest to when her altering of her school record was made public knowledge, even though she did so from a secured terminal behind locked doors.
Karia watched through the walls themselves as her mother and her father's cousin stepped into the empty apartment next door. She reached out with her senses, and her ears immediately locked onto what was an intensely private conversation.
"I begged him to come," Leia said. "We're losing control, Mara. It would literally take something on the order of Kale beating him to the edge of death to bring Kyp and those like him under control. These wild Jedi are costing us support in the senate."
"I heard about Kyp's quest to stop smugglers."
"Those smugglers have five senators in their pockets," Leia said. "With all the tariffs in place, the smuggling rings are still the main route of goods exchange between Republic and Imperial space. That's why both the Republic and the Empire has chosen not to crack down on them. Kyp is taking the law into his own hands and has refused every request to stop. The way the Order is structured, I don't have the authority to order him to do anything. He says he's following the Will of the Force, and enough Jedi believe him that my hands are tied."
"What about reinstating a Jedi Council?" Mara asked.
Leia sagged onto the edge of a cot and shook her head. Karia had never seen her look so tired. "I've proposed forming a Jedi Council to the senate, but there are still those who think the old Jedi Council really did try to stage a coup against Palpatine. Senator Borsk Fey'la actually had the gall to say the Empire might not have occurred at all if the Jedi did not force Palpatine's hand."
Mara shook her head at the idiocy of such a sentiment. "Fey'la's a treacherous rodent still trying to buy his way into the chief of state's chair. What did Chief of State Elegos say?"
"He supports the idea of a Jedi council in principle, but he did not want to provide a charter without full senatorial support. Once the charter is made, it could never be revoked, and the Jedi Order would be re-established as a fully autonomous body. I think they fear losing that sense of control. But Kale—Mara, even Fey'la fears and respects Kale. If he were to return, we might be able to build the support base we need to get a favorable vote."
Mara sat down and put a hand around Leia's shoulders. Karia of course knew of the unique history the two women shared from the history books. She also knew of the bond that formed from that history. "Leia, I pleaded with him to come. But you know how stubborn he can be, and it's not like there was anything I could do to force him. I came here in the hopes it would make him come, but it didn't. He's afraid that if he gets involved the Republic will become dependent on him. And with dependence comes weakness, and so on and so on. Frankly he's afraid to be a leader. It's the same spiel he uses every time he receives a request for this or that. He may be the most powerful being in the galaxy, but sometime's he's not the brightest." She sighed. "Between us, Leia, he didn't even want Jor or Karia to come."
"His own children? Why? They're both Force sensitive and they need the training."
"That's just it," Mara said. "They are his children, Leia. The Kryptonian physiology is dominant. Believe me—each one came close to killing me during gestation. Without the Force and Kale, I would never have made it."
Leia sputtered. "Jor hasn't demonstrated any excess strength or speed. Jacen beats him in sparring regularly."
"He's under strict orders not to use his full powers," Mara said. "Not unless a life is in danger. He's here to master the Force; he has his father to help him master his Kryptonian abilities. He hates it, but we raised him to obey us, and he does."
Mara turned around and stared at the wall directly at where Karia was looking. "She's watching us through the wall and listening to every word we say, though she'll pretend she doesn't have those powers yet."
Karia blinked and both the vision and sound of their conversation faded before the startling, frightening realization that her mother knew her secret. A few minutes later, Mara stepped back in to the cramped room.
Karia knew better than to play the innocent. "I'm sorry, Mom."
"I know you won't do that again," Mara said resolutely.
"Yes, Ma'am." She shrugged. "Is Dad in trouble?"
"In trouble?" Mara blinked. "No, he's not in trouble. Your Aunt Leia wanted him to ride herd on some of the wilder Jedi out there. But your father doesn't believe in interfering."
Karia sighed. "I know."
Han Solo, Supreme Commander of the New Republic Defense Forces, struck a handsome pose as he opened the door. "Hey, good-looking!" he said. He was not speaking to Mara. Karia felt her cheeks glow red-hot. "Mara, I don't know what you're feeding them at Naboo, but whatever it is I want some. If I looked as good as Karia there, I'd have to be beating the women off with a stick."
"If you looked as good as Karia, you'd be a woman you nerf-herder," Leia said as she stepped from behind her husband. "Come on in, both of you! Kyle and Jor are already here."
Han and Mara did not hug. Rather, they shook hands respectfully. Mara told Karia about a certain kick to the face that Han still remembered, and a reciprocating punch to the face a few years later. Karia however was not able to escape the general's arms as she walked into the large apartment the Solo Family shared within the Jedi Temple. The rest of the family gathered in the formal living area.
"Karia!" a shrill voice called.
"Jaina!" The two distant cousins gave either other a long hug before parting.
"By the Force, you're gorgeous!" Jaina said.
"People keep saying that," Karia said. "I'm just Karia. But you…" Karia touched her cousin's long dark hair. "Jaina, you are beautiful!"
"I think you're both ugly as Hutts," Anakin Solo said from the couch.
"Anakin!" Leia said, aghast.
"At least I don't smell like one," Karia snapped back. Anakin stuck out his tongue. Karia did the same. Then they hugged. "You've grown," she said.
"You have too," Anakin said appreciatively. He looked at Mara. "She has a bigger chest than you do!"
"Anakin!" Jaina yelled in disgust.
"Anakin!" Leia yelled, aghast.
Han merely shook his head and slapped his son against the back of his head. "Idiot," he said. "Never compare women's chests out loud. It's just asking for trouble."
All four women present turned and glared. Han just shrugged. "What? Just trying to educate the boy."
"Go cook, Han," Leia ordered. "Anakin, go help. We'll talk later about manners."
Anakin's happy smile died. "Er, okay. Sorry, Karia."
"You're very sweet," Karia said. "Not very smart, but very sweet."
Anakin grinned at her over his shoulder even as his father led him away.
Finally, Karia turned to face Jacen. "Hello," he said with a genuine smile. She accepted and returned his hug and tried to sense the hostility or darkness that Jor claimed was there. She felt nothing at all.
Dinner was delicious, of course. Aside from being the commander in chief of the New Republic military and a hero of more conflicts than could easily be counted, Han Solo was also a spectacular cook. His fire stew was well named, but everyone there was up to the task of handling the heat.
"Well, here's to Jor-El," Han said after the meal was served. He held up a glass of wine. Even Karia had some, although she knew that was only because alcohol had no effect on her. "May he learn to actually pilot a ship without crashing it!"
"Here, here!" Kyle said with a good-natured laugh.
Mara's brows arched. "Is there a story here I should be aware of?"
"He is his father's son," Han said. "Kale couldn't pilot a ship to save his life. The one and only time I let him ever fly my in a speeder, he almost got me killed. And Jor here is following in his footsteps."
"It wasn't that big of a deal," Jor said. He was fighting hard to be humorous about it, Karia could see, but was still frustrated. He looked at his mother. "I crashed a Headhunter."
"On take-off," Jacen added quietly before sipping his wine.
"It was an accident."
Mara shook her head. "Jor, you were raised by the best pilot in the galaxy. How can you possible crash a trainer on take-off?"
"I didn't raise him!" Han exclaimed.
Mara shot him an arched brow, and he grinned. "Judge the teacher by the students," Han said. "My kids fly just fine."
"Han, shut-up," Leia muttered into the sudden chill.
Kyle looked from one family to the other, and then shook his head. "You folks never change. You are living proof of why Jan and I never had kids."
"I thought that was because you couldn't." Mara said.
"Couldn't, wouldn't, shouldn't," Kyle said with a shrug. "Just goes to show how lucky we were," Kyle said.
The weak laughter was enough to break the tension in the room, and dinner proceeded. Finally, after luke-warm hugs, they parted company. Mara walked with her two children through the mostly emptied temple.
"I'm sorry about your accident," Mara said softly to Jor. "I know it must have been hard."
Jor shrugged. "I could have picked the ship up and thrown it off the edge of the platform, but I couldn't take off without hitting a stupid statue. Jacen didn't stop laughing at me for a week."
Mara placed her hand on his shoulder. "Your father can't fly worth a spec either. But if Kyp thinks he can turn you into a pilot, then you should give it a try. I do want you to remember something important about Master Durron, though."
"Kyp's a nerf-herding fool?" Jor guessed.
"That's right," Mara said solemnly. "He's a powerful Jedi knight, powerful enough that he could almost be a master, if Leia and Kyle weren't so repulsed by the idea. But he is arrogant, and that arrogance is hurting the entire order. Learn from him, but don't learn to be like him."
"I won't, Mom," Jor said. He gave her a hug, and they continued back to their quarters.