Chapter Forty-Six: A Brief Peace
The Third Battle of Coruscant lasted fourteen days. Fourteen days to wipe out the last Vong hold-outs.
The war itself ground on for another six months, but was nothing like the first two years. Though the Vong continued to fight to the death, when the Alliance destroyed the shipwomb and Sernpidal, they lost much of their ship production capabilities. With the deaths on Coruscant of all the leaders in every caste, individual pockets of Vong fought without cohesion. They were unable to muster the huge fleets that had terrified the Galaxy.
With the Eclipse, those smaller fleets were quickly eliminated. It was the ground war that took the longest, and it was those warriors who still fought most bravely.
The last battle took place on Gyndine. A mixed force of Mandalorians, Hapans and Alliance marines and Jedi destroyed the last Vong warriors, while the now pitiful fleet was obliterated. After that, three more worldships were discovered and destroyed just outside the galactic rim. As far as anyone knew, the last Vong had perished.
When the ash settled, the true import of the war struck almost the whole galaxy. Fourteen worlds had been rendered completely dead, another forty-three suffered ecological damage that put them almost beyond repair. Although it was impossible to get exact numbers, the dead were believed to be in the trillions. Whole species, such as the Rodians and Hutts, had been hunted to extinction by the Vong.
The Jedi Order's charter was adopted by the Alliance Senate and confirmed by President Naberrie ensuring that the Order had autonomy from the government. However, the provision allowing for the civilian trial of Jedi where clear violations of galactic law occurred remained.
No one wanted a repeat of Kyp Durron's smuggler hunting vigilantism.
Four months after the last shot was fired, Anakin Solo and Karia Naberrie were wed in a simple ceremony on Naboo. Each of them were now seventeen, and as head-over-heels in love with each other as ever.
Kale and Mara both proudly walked their daughter down the aisle, while Anakin stood waiting with Kyle Katarn in his full Jedi regalia. It was Kyle, proudly wearing his new prosthetic arm, who would be performing the ceremony. "Jor pushed me hard," Kyle said when the Naberries found him two days after their fight with Doomsday. "Now Jan and I can have a fair arm wrestling contest!"
Next to Anakin stood his father, his best man—Jor-El Naberrie, looking somber and a little sad—and Jedi Master Corran Horn.
Across from the men stood Jaina Solo, resplendent in a blue dress, Danni Quee, equally beautiful, and Winter Celchu. However, Karia didn't see any of them. Her eyes were on Anakin, and his eyes were on her.
The bride wore white shimmersilk laced with Ithorian sapphires that matched perfectly the brilliant blue of her eyes. The dress bared her shoulders, while the veil did little but to throw her face in an indistinct shadow.
The vows were spoken with such sincerity that the few family members invited were in tears.
During the reception that followed, Kale danced with his radiant daughter before passing her off to Han, and then finally to her new husband.
"He'll take good care of her," Leia said as she and Kale twirled around the floor.
"I know," Kale said. "But there is something I need to ask."
Leia must have sensed his hesitation. "What?"
"How do you feel about a Kryptonian for a son?"
"We're a race of four," Kale said. "If there is to ever be a new Krypton, we must increase our numbers. In the end, that's why my parents changed Mara."
"I don't know about that," Leia said.
"A marriage should be among equals," Kale said softly. "Mara and I understand that now. Though we loved each other so much, neither of us was truly happy. Not until now. Because now she is truly my equal. In a few years, Leia, Anakin is going to look up and realize that he is old, and Karia is not. Is that what you want for them?"
The two paused in their dancing a moment to observe the young couple. They were dancing so close, laughing and smiling with pure, unadulterated joy. It was the happiest Leia had ever seen her son.
"I guess not," she whispered. "Will it hurt?"
"Yes," Kale said simply. "Mara screamed for a month. But if you ask her, she would tell you she has no regrets."
"And since the change?"
"She's pregnant again," Kale whispered. "Somehow, she's pregnant again. And the child will be pure Kryptonian."
Their eyes shifted to where Danni Quee and Jor-El danced. They were not laughing with joy like Jor's sister and her husband. Rather, they clung to each other almost as if in desperation. "And Danni?"
"In time, if a strong enough bond forms, perhaps," Kale said. "We cannot risk changing anyone who is not of the purest heart. With your son, I have no doubts. He is the best of us all. But Danni has a darkness within her that I will need to wait out. I don't blame her, but I don't want to tempt her either."
Leia nodded. Finally, she looked up at the man she had called cousin for so many years. "And you? The war's over. What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to serve my term," Kale answered. "And when it is over I will offer to serve one more. And then after that, I'm going home."
"No. To Hoth. To my palace. Mara and I agree. While she was human Naboo was what we needed. But now, the cold is bracing. The whiteness sings to us. It reminds us of our genetic past. In time, Hoth will be the new Krypton."
"And will we see you again?"
Kale smiled and nodded down at Leia. "Yes. I learned an important lesson in all this, Leia. I can't hide from what I am, and I can't hide my responsibility to the galaxy. I'll be back, in any capacity you or the rest need me. I won't go hiding ever again."
"Better not," Leia said.
They finished their dance and he and Han switched partners again, until he was once more dancing with his perfect, beautiful wife, and Leia was once more dancing with her perfect, handsome husband.
* * *
"It was a good party," Jagged Fel said. "I'm unsure why I was invited, though."
Jaina kept her face inscrutable. "I have no idea. But you have to admit, it's a nice planet."
Fel took a deep breath of clean night air and nodded. "It is indeed."
"Would you like to go swimming?" Jaina suddenly asked.
Fel blinked at her.
"The lakes around her have a thermal vent. The water is always warm. I used to swim here when I was a kid."
"I have no suit to swim in," Fel said.
Jaina leaned forward and captured the young pilot in dark, glinting eyes. "Neither do I."
* * *
There is no such thing as happily ever after. But there are times of happiness, and times of peace. Times of rebuilding and times where hope is stronger than despair.
Kale Naberrie served two terms as President of the Alliance. During his second term trouble arose from the Killiks on the edge of Chiss space, but was quickly put down. Civil unrest arose with Corellia, but again compromise was sought and agreed upon. In time, the give and take between the many star systems of the galaxy and the new government that linked them all settled into a bureaucratic system.
Kale stepped down and welcomed his successor. In a tight race between Natasi Daala and Leia Organa Solo, the former Chief of State of the New Republic assumed Kale's seat and served two terms herself before retiring once and for all from public office to reassume her duties with the newly formed Jedi Council.
Kale and Mara welcomed their second son, Jacen Ben Naberrie, and introduced him to his niece Kalli Solo who was born to Karia and a newly Kryptonian Anakin Solo a year after their marriage.
Years went by. Small wars were fought and won. But for a generation at least, there was peace.
It was the best they could hope for, Kale knew. And for that brief peace, he was thankful.
Once again I would like to thank all of you for your support and reviews. The only Star Wars story I still have cooking is The Last Jedi, the first part of which has been submitted for Beta reading. I don't know when I'll start posting.
Thank you again.