True Colours' A/N: This is the story of Challenge to the Mandate of Heaven.

One day Essence of Gold said, 'Imagine a story where only boys could be Jedi! Mace would be Captain Chang!' True said, 'Izzy, that is genius!'

The two girls drifted around trying to think of a name for the fic, but they couldn't. So they went to their daddy, who knows very little about what goes on on here, but who they thought might bring a fresh eye to the subject.

'Call it Challenge to the Mandate of Heaven,' he said, after a bit of humming and hawing. He explained that it should be called that because in the Olden Days it was believed that Kings had a mandate from heaven (the Divine Right of Kings) to rule, and in this fic males have a mandate to be Jedi and the Jedi have a mandate to defend the galaxy. And Elana and the Sith are challenging these respective mandates. And he said that the Chinese were into ideas of this sort and concepts of heaven rather than any particular god, and so this title would sound Chinese. Because he fondly imagined that the Chinese theme was important. Little did he really know...

For anyone who has been looking at this title all the way through, going, 'what teh heck?' this is your answer.


'Why did you testify for my trial?' she asked Dooku once. They were negotiating on Geonosis at the time, just after he had split from the Order, when he could still have been called an idealist. 'Most of the high-up Jedi were scandalised by the idea of a woman entering the sacred halls. Why did you come down on my side?'

'I spoke nothing more or less than the truth,' he answered evenly. 'I believe that I acted in the spirit of the Code.'

'Huh.' Elana jutted her chin, looking into his flat, sardonic eyes. 'I think you just enjoyed contradicting the Order at every opportunity, no matter what the circumstances.'

'Arguably,' he said, 'that's the same thing.'

'That's not true, Master Dooku,' she said. 'The Order is flawed, like any organisation, but overall it's a good thing.'

'And like any organisation, it needs its mandate challenged from time to time. Just remember this, Elana Sango. In order to function, a community needs more than fervent followers. It must have movers and shakers. Master Windu is a splendid mover. When he gives the order, someone somewhere carries it out. And you and Qui-Gon Jinn and I are shakers. Without people like us, you get stagnation. Remember that.

Dooku looked her in the face. His eyes held only the barest glimmer, hopeless and shockingly lethargic in wells of black.

'I always trained Qui-Gon to shake,' he said. 'Someone's got to stand up against that god-awful code.'

She hated Depa Billaba. When she stood amid the ranks of Jedi at the celebration on Naboo, after the defeat of the trade federation, and watched the other woman standing beside Mace, cool, grave and focussed, jealousy made her want to scream. She shouldn't have felt that way. Depa was a woman, and that made it Elana's duty more than anyone else's to support her. But instead she felt anger. It was worse because she knew that Depa did not. Depa was every inch the Jedi, calm and unattached, all the things that she herself could never be. Did that mean that Mace would like his new Padawan more than he liked her?

It was the fault of the Code. If the Code had allowed her and Mace to marry and still be Jedi, if she had felt secure in his love, she and Depa could have been friends. But as it was, she was left to wrestle with these un-Jedi-like emotions. And alone as well, because now Qui-Gon Jinn was dead.

'He died fighting for good,' she insisted. 'He died fighting for what the Order truly stands for, and the world will be a better place because of it.'

'That is true,' Dooku agreed. 'I wish there were more Jedi like him. But there are not. The Order is steering itself into trouble.'

She was inclined to agree. Everywhere she saw knights stressed, conflicted, eaten up by emotion they could not bring themselves to acknowledge. She helped them when she could, letting them release a little of their emotion into her, instead of into the Force. It was easier because she was not on the Council, and so didn't have to keep the rules as rigidly as a Jedi Master. She was not a Master, but she was still well-respected. Was she not the one who had defied the Order, the one who had staved off the Sith while only a Padawan, the first girl Jedi? She was glad that she had a reputation, because it meant that the young ones came to her for advice. And when they did, she tried to give them a break. Positive subversion, Qui-Gon had called it. Break the Code for the good of the Order.

She met the young knight Anakin Skywalker once, stomping down the corridor, as close to storming as he could get without bringing a dozen reprimands down on his head.

'Why so down in the mouth, Skywalker?' she asked. 'I heard that you were accepted onto the Council only this morning.'

'Yes, Master,' he mumbled, eyes on the ground. It always felt a little odd when people addressed her that way, even after so many years. 'Master' was so masculine-sounding. 'It is a great honour,' Skywalker continued.

'But?' she said dryly.

He looked up at her and the words came out in a rush. 'But they won't make me a Master. I know that to be accepted onto the Council is a great honour, but this feels like a personal slight, Master. It's as though they're still trying to find ways to cut me out. It's worse than just not having been accepted in the first place.'

Elana nodded slowly, feeling satisfaction. Because she seemed gentler, as a woman, and because she had the reputation for rebelliousness, he had already been coaxed into explaining his feelings in more depth. Now she let a little of Caleb Sango seep into her voice and posture as she replied:

'I get it, Skywalker, but seriously, being made a Master isn't that big a deal. Trust me, Knights have all the fun. I expect you'll find being on the Council is grim enough, but if they made you a Master...well, that would be the final knot. All you'd get to do is sit around tables piffling about the Code. I don't know when the last time is that Master Ki-Adi had a good fight. At least this way you keep a little of your independence.'

'But Master, they don't trust me! Master Windu still doesn't trust me, even after all I've done for the Order! I feel...I feel as though he's hated me from the moment I came here.'

'Mace Windu can be...a bit grumpy, sometimes,' Elana admitted. 'I was his Padawan, y'know,' she added after a pause.

'Really? You were?'

'Yeah, and I don't think he liked me that much either, to begin with. But if it's any comfort to you, he warmed up to me eventually. After I'd saved his life and screwed up the Siths' plans twice.'

Anakin even grinned a little bit. 'Master,' he said cautiously, 'may I ask you a question?'

'Fire away.'

'Well, you have one of the highest midi-chlorian counts in the were the first female Jedi, and you stopped the Sith when you were just a Padawan...'

'All true. Your point?'

'Well, you and...and Master Qui-Gon. I'm sorry,' he added hastily, 'if it's insensitive to mention him, but he brought me to the temple and I...well, I've always missed him.'

'Of course,' Elana said. 'Don't worry. Carry on.'

'I always wondered...why neither of you was ever on the Council.'

'Has it ever occurred to you that the Council are not the only ones with power in this Order?' she said evenly. 'Qui-Gon preferred his freedom.'

'And you, Master?'

'Oh, I just generally preferred not to join the Council,' Elana shrugged. 'What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over.'


Anakin was giving her a sharp, puzzled look. She took a deep breath and then spoke more quietly. 'Are you familiar with the feeling,' she asked, 'that you absolutely must be with someone? But sometimes, especially if you want to keep your place in the Order, it's best to do the opposite and stay as far away from them as possible.' She paused. 'You can't juggle two lives forever, you know.'

'Are you suggesting –' he began sharply, but she cut him off.

'Sss-ssh. It takes one to know one.'

'Shakers,' Dooku said, staring at her darkly from across the room. 'No organisation can survive without them, and a mover definitely can't. Make sure you keep shaking up Mace for me, Elana Sango, now that I'm gone.'

'Dooku went to the dark side with his eyes open,' she told Anakin. 'Remember, goodness isn't like a mountain you have to climb, to reach the peak of perfection. Goodness is a balance. You can back away from one edge and fall off the other.' Watching him bow and retreat down the corridor, eying her dubiously after her cryptic statement, Elana thought of Dooku. Had refusing a place on the Council been the Jedi way? He had told her to shake up Mace, not to skulk down the corridors while he gave the Padawans a hard time. What was right? What was wrong? She thought of Qui-Gon Jinn, and a tear squeezed from between her closed eye lids.

Three weeks later

It had been decades since the Sith war. Since then, she had spoken to Mace at length no more than five or ten times. She had meticulously avoided it, passing with her eyes down in corridors, sending a Padawan or younger Knight with a message for him rather than delivering it herself, even passing up a seat on the council. It might seem childish – it was childish – to spend so long avoiding as she had told Anakin, what the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over. The less she saw of Mace, the better. It made it easier for both of them.

Elana sighed, walking down the corridor and stepping into the lift. This life she had made for herself... it wasn't what she had envisaged when she had made the decision to stay here, to choose the order over Mace, all those years ago.

Out of the main doors of the Jedi temple and down the majestic flight of steps. Elana remembered the day when she had clambered out of a cheap taxi and made her way up these steps at the age of nineteen, filled with anxiety and excitement. As she was a Jedi master, nobody looked twice as she exited temple bounds, as they would have done if she were some feckless knight or Padawan. She was a staid master, going for a quiet, late-evening stroll. The contrast between the two images nearly made her laugh.

She ran a hand through her hair – duller now, and with the slightest suggestion of greyness – and stepped out into the surging, life-filled metropolis of Corouscant.

'A Sith Lord?'

'Yes. He told me his plans, and tried to convince me to join him. I refused, and came directly to you, Master.'

Mace shook his head violently, barely able to comprehend this bombshell. He had disliked Palpatine, suspected him of being less than honest, but a Sith...

'Are you sure about this?' he demanded, his robes swirling about him as he swung to face Skywalker.

'Absolutely,' Anakin said solemnly, and Mace admitted to himself, unwillingly, that this boy was speaking with utmost seriousness. He would have to put his dislike for Skywalker aside and trust him on this. Immediate action was needed.

He spoke slowly, choosing his words with care. 'Skywalker. If what you have told me is true, you have gained my trust.' He allowed just a hint of comradeship and approval into his voice. At least Anakin had told him straight away. He was grateful to him for that.

Mace began to stride about, making preparations. He would need two or three skilled Jedi to come with him – he must pick carefully, but quickly. They would leave right away.

Anakin cleared his throat awkwardly from behind him. 'Master Windu... please allow me to come with you.'

'No,' Mace said automatically, and then added quickly, 'your feelings toward the Chancellor may hinder your ability to deal with him in the necessary way. That is why I cannot allow you to come.' Mace knew better than most the distraction strong feelings could create. He wasn't going to take any risks.

'You're going to kill him, then,' Anakin said quietly. It wasn't a question.

'It is what is necessary, for the good of the Republic. Please return to the main temple now, Skywalker, and await our return.'

Anakin looked as though he were about to argue, but then suddenly turned and strode away down the hangar, his cloak billowing out behind him.

Fifteen minutes later, and Mace, Kit Fisto and two other skilled Knights were gathered at the exit to the temple.

'Do you think five will be enough, Master?' asked one Knight nervously. 'Maybe we should bring another person...'

'Who do you suggest, who would be up to the job?' asked Mace briskly.

'What about Elana Sango?' suggested Fisto. 'She's getting on a little, but I've never seen her lose a duel to – '

'I think five will be enough,' Mace said abruptly, cutting across Kit. 'But now, we must hurry. Palpatine may already know we are on our way.'

There were a few raised eyebrows, but nobody commented, and the group moved off toward the small speeder that was waiting for them at the bottom of the Senate steps. Mace cursed himself for allowing his emotions to show so strongly, albeit for a brief moment. As the speeder moved off into the crawling Corouscant traffic, he reasoned with himself. Having... Master Sango there would only distract him. Yes. That was it – of course. This mission would be difficult and dangerous enough without having to worry about her.

Worry about her... more than the rest, Mace?

He wasn't trying to protect Elana. He wasn't. See – even the thought of her was a distraction.

Sometimes Mace wondered if Ki-Adi was right, and allowing women to join the order had been a bad idea from the start.

Elana headed in no particular direction. She walked in whichever direction seemed to be most interesting, trusting that the majestic (pretentious?) tower of the Jedi temple would lead her back from almost anywhere she could get to on foot. If the worst came to the worst, she could stop a speeder. Everybody knew where the Jedi Temple was. Life was simple for her; the plain cloak and tunic she wore in various shades of brown marked her out amongst the chaotic smorgasbord of Corouscant fashion. An aging Jedi, out amongst the populace. She wasn't jostled by the people who passed her – she could, for the most part, pass freely through, receiving furtive glances of respect, curiosity... and, more noticeably since the start of the Clone Wars, fear.

The worst time to feel alone is in a crowd.

It was growing dark quickly now, and a little cold. The sun had disappeared beneath the Corouscant Skyline, the sky was fading from duck-egg green to deep blue, and parts of the darkening city were beginning to turn on their lights. Not a star was visible, though – light pollution from the city beat them to it, Elana thought. She remembered going into the countryside of Alderaan to watch stars with her father, as a child. On Corouscant, she wondered, did small children wish upon the first street-light of the evening?

She had arrived in the semi-derelict, lower-class housing area below where the Senate house towered, grand and imposing in its height, dwarfing the tower-blocks below. Slightly to her left, under the shadow of a tower block, she noticed a three children packing up a small, scrap-plastic stand of some sort. Curious, Elana drew closer, and managed to read the hand-drawn sign attached to the front: home-made Oro sticks – 2 credits for 6!

Elana continued forward with new eagerness. She hadn't had oro for a long time – the sweetened Alderaanian snacks were a childhood favourite of hers. She recalled trying to make them from scratch with Behra a few times, with semi-edible results. It was good to hear people still ate them.

'Excuse me?' she said. The tallest of the children turned around hastily, defensiveness flashing across his face as he took in her age and Jedi attire.

'What? We're not doing nothing wrong, are we? Just sellin' our oro sticks we made fresh this morning, see...'

Elana felt a pang at his distrustful attitude, but pulled a smile onto her face and held up her hands in a pacifying gesture. 'No, no – of course you're not. I just wanted to purchase some of your goods – unless you're finished for the day?' she gestured questioningly toward the two younger children, who had broken off their packing to stare.

The boy processed her words, and then relaxed a little. 'No problem – just lemme get some for you...' he turned to the other children and relayed their conversation in a mutter. A grubby-looking little girl nodded and passed him a bag, from which he produced six largeish, slightly sticky oro sticks, wrapped in a paper napkin, and handed them over to Elana.

'There you go – and – uh, that'll be...' he trailed off, not quite daring to ask Elana directly for the money.

'Two credits? Here you are,' Elana dug around in her tunic pocket and produced two round coins, handing them to the boy. Then she extricated one of the oro sticks from its napkin and unceremoniously took a bite. It was far better than anything she and Behra had succeeded at in their oro-making phase.

'These are really good,' she complimented the children, astonishing them by talking with her mouth full. 'Where did you get the bark from...?'

Mace was astonished.

Every one of the team he had brought with him – himself excepted – had been slaughtered before they had been in the room for five minutes, Palpatine's sudden, vicious attack catching them by surprise. He alone had managed to fight back, using Form VII to match the Sith's aggression blow for blow, but he was astonished at the force with which the old man was fighting.

But it was the lightning that really surprised him.

Now, he was barely keeping it at bay. His mind was no longer focussed; it was continually distracted between Palpatine's assault and the tortured feelings of Anakin Skywalker, watching the conflict but too conflicted to take part.

All those disturbances in the could they have failed to realise that someone was training in the ways of the Sith, mastering these dark arts right on the doorstep of the temple...

No! Don't think of that! Focus on the present!

' the traitor...Anakin!' The words forced their way between his clenched teeth, distorted. Precious stamina, precious breath, but he knew that Anakin must be brought onside. It was too close. He might not win this fight alone, and it was too crucial for 'might.' But he had never dreamed that Anakin would need persuading. How had Mace allowed the Chancellor to lead one of his knights so far astray? He had always been too harsh...but he had had to see that Skywalker, brought to the temple so late, followed the Code...but was the Code worth following if it had led to this?

He didn't know. He couldn't figure this out on his own any more.

Oh, Elana, he thought, and somehow he channelled the emotion and sent it roaring into his sabre's blade, and somehow the lightning had fizzled out, and Palpatine was collapsed panting on the ledge, and Mace was left reeling into the space where the enormous pressure had vanished.

He righted himself, breathless, half-snarling, and raised his lightsaber into neutral position once again. At his feet Palpatine was snivelling, his breath coming in hollow gasps.

'I...I can't hold on any longer...I'm too...too weak...'

Mace swallowed in contempt. This man had slaughtered four Jedi in the space of seconds, and now he had the cowardice, and the audacity, to beg for his own life? Well, he would not be swayed. He couldn't believe that he had won the wrestling match so easily. He would not give Palpatine an inch, a modicum of, not even a minute's time in which to act.

'I'm going to end this, once and for all!' he declared, raising his sabre once again.

'No!' He had almost forgotten Skywalker, but now the young Knight's voice was raised in idealistic appeal. 'He must stand trial! It's not the Jedi way!'

'He's too dangerous to be left alive!' Mace shouted back. What? Was he still trying to defend his actions, to justify them with words? His faith had been rocked to its core. Maybe destroyed. He had stood by the Code, and for what? Best friend lost, love forsaken, a bloody war and Knights so conflicted they no longer even trusted the Master of the Temple. But here was one thing about which there could be no question. Here was one place where he could mete out justice with his own hand.

For one instant, Mace knew the mind of a Sith lord.

His blade came scything down.

And something blue flashed up to meet it.

Anakin had dived forward at the last minute, ignited his blade and cut off his Master's hand.

The scream that rent the building was not one of pain. Mace had borne worse pain than that. It was a scream of frustration, horror, denial, despair. He saw his lightsaber spinning away into the darkness, burning like a comet for a split-second before it extinguished itself. Somewhere, he knew, his hand still grasped the blade. A hand which a mere heartbeat ago he had been able to feel and move and touch...which did he feel the loss of more? The hand or the weapon it had held?

Then the lightning hit him, blurring his vision, lifting him off his feet. It ripped his muscles out of his control, twisted him in spasms, reduced his mind to white noise. He could hear screaming...Palpatine? Anakin? Himself? Sound had no meaning. And then he was aware of a lurching sensation and darkness enveloped him.

He opened his eyes. The office was whisking away above him. Falling, a tiny voice spoke in his mind, but he didn't really care. He was just glad because the pain had stopped. Of course, it hadn't really. His body was aching, twinging, burning and cramping in a hundred different ways, and he couldn't seem to think or see too clearly at all, but at least the source had been removed. The wind was pleasantly cool to his burning skin. It was rushing past him quite fast now, and there was a steadily increasing roar in his ears.

Have I reached terminal velocity yet? he wondered.

Then impact.


Elana hugged the steaming cup of caff tightly to herself, hunching her body around it's comforting warmth. Outside the ship's window, the beautiful, blue-white chaos of hyperspace flew past – it seemed so serene compared to the emotions that saturated Elana as her little ship travelled through it. Two types of chaos – one was perfect, and one was just a mess.

The Jedi temple had fallen. She knew that.

A sudden, jarring feeling in the Force ripped through her, and Elana gasped, her last two oro falling to the ground. Guided by the Force, her head snapped up to stare at the darkening sky, and the black face of the Senate offices that cut across it.

At of the corner of her eye, she could see the children looking at her on astonishment, and the beginnings of nervousness began to dawn on their faces.

'Master, what's...'

And then there was a smash, and on the highest floor of the senate, there was a flash of unnatural, blue-white lightning.

The youngest girl screamed, and her brothers yelled in shock. Elana craned her neck to focus fully to the high window, shaking as she felt indescribable emotions of pain, betrayal, anger... and then she realised, with a surge of horror, that they were Mace's.

He was fighting a Sith Lord up there.

And then the lightning stopped, and Skywalker had arrived. She felt a surge of hope, but a few moments later, there was an audibly cry of agony from the window. A long, tumbling streak of light fell from the window. The glow blinked out, and something clattered onto the pavement in front of them.

Elana moved her body so that she was in front of the children, and the, fighting every instinct of repulsion at what she knew the object was, summoned it with the force into her hands.

For a split second, she stared wordlessly at Mace's purple lightsaber, and with it, his hand.

And then the lightning started again.

This time, the sizzle of it was audible, and beneath it, she could hear yells and screams, the sound of destruction itself, and then the lightning extended beyond the window, carrying something dark and shapeless before it.

'MACE!' ...

Elana had had to time it very carefully. The second the Sith's lightning left Mace's body, and allowed it to fall naturally, she had reached out with the Force. Carefully, subtly, she had begun to pull his descent around into her direction. She had waited until the last flickers of light had left his body – any possible bond of senses the Sith Lord might have to his being – before she really began to pull in earnest.

It had been hard work. But slowly, eventually, she had managed to bring him to a halt, just a few metres from the ground, and right in front of her. She had stepped forward, held out her arms, and let Mace's body flop into them. She had checked for a pulse. He had been alive – but only just.

Then she had sent the children away. She had told them, solemnly, that they must promise never to tell anyone what they had seen, for their own safety. They had agreed just as solemnly. But as they had walked away with their makeshift store, Elana had reached out, with the little mental strength she had left, and wiped a blank hand over their meeting. They had watched the sun go down behind the city skyline, eaten a few Oros, and found two credits in the gutter. Then they had gone home.

The next thing Elana did was go to her ship, and began treating Mace.

She finished the last dregs of the caff and sighed. T0315, her droid, had completely remade the ship's core memory for her. It was now a Procopian G-fly cruiser, with no association or contact to the Jedi order whatsoever. Elana trusted him, but decided she would give in the ship for scrap as soon as she got to their destination, just in case – and have TO315 wiped too. She had never quite regained her trust for droids after discovering the Sith's plans on Alderaan. You never quite knew what they kept locked away in their memory banks, or what they were capable of with the right codes.

Beside her, the intercom crackled, and, thoroughly spooked with her thoughts of traitor-droids, she gasped. For a moment she was positive that she had been intercepted, but then a voice came through, a voice she recognised.

'Master Sango?'

'Senator Organa!' she exclaimed. Behra's husband, and once of the very few senators the Order had still trusted. She had never been so glad to hear anyone in her life.

'Bail, I'm so –' She stopped herself quickly. 'Is this line safe?'

'Don't worry. We're not in the City; we're calling from a small clone transport in orbit. My droid is scanning the area. There's no radio signal apart from yours and mine.'

'How did you know it was me?'

'Master Yoda and General Kenobi are with me. They sensed your presence in the Force.'

Elana closed her eyes for a moment, suddenly overwhelmed. When she'd been running for the hanger, praying that she would arrive before the Sith's clones secured the area, knowing full well what was going on in the temple, she had been certain that she would never hear those words again. But the Order had survived. Her and Mace, and now Obi-Wan and Master Yoda. Already more than she had dared to hope for. They felt your presence in the Force. The teaching was still alive.

'Obi-wan has been in the Temple,' Bail said. 'He saw the –'

'I know,' Elana cut him off brusquely.

'I'm sorry,' Bail said softly, and filled her in on everything that had happened during the hours she'd spent in silence on her craft, getting away and tending to Mace. Elana listened quietly as he told of Yoda and Obi-wan's twin duels, of the slaughter of Jedi all over the galaxy, of Anakin Skywalker's defeat.

That was a short career as a Sith he had, she thought – hysterically, probably – and asked, 'Is he dead?'

'...Master Yoda and Obi-wan weren't too clear on that,' Bail said slowly. 'They talked about him in the past tense, as though he were dead, but they seemed to imply...they talked about Force signatures...I don't know. I think what they meant was, the Anakin we know is dead. I don't know about the new one.'

'Right,' Elana said grimly. There was a pause, then:

'Master Sango, what should we do?'

She had already asked herself that one, and now the words came to her lips, heavily but without hesitation.

'There's nothing we can do.'

'Master!' There was a shocked pause. 'Yoda and Obi-Wan were behaving like that, they've been talking about what to do with the child...but I can't just sit here and do nothing!'

'Bail,' she said gently, 'most of the Order are dead. I was listening over the radio when Sidious made his announcement – I heard how it was received. The most you can do for now is go back to Alderaan. You're in a position of power there. Do everything you can to prevent this dictatorship from taking hold there. It's my home planet, it means a lot to me. But it's not hopeless. People like you are still in power, Master Yoda and Master Kenobi and I are all alive...and Bail, I've got Mace with me.'

'Master Windu?' he exclaimed.

'Don't shout that,' she said. 'Not even on a safe line. Sidious himself thinks he's dead. He hasn't woken up yet. But tell the Masters he's alive, would you? They'll be glad to know.'

'Yes.' She heard him sigh. They were close to a parting; she knew he could feel it. The remaining Jedi would have to go into hiding, and he couldn't afford to have any more contact with them if he was to hold on to his power. At last he spoke.

'What will you do, Elana?' he asked.

'Find somewhere quiet to settle down and bide my time. You're right, we have to do something. But not today. Some day there'll be a resistance, and then you can head it up.'

'You won't come back to Alderaan?'

'No. It's too close to the heart of the Empire, and I'm known there. Not Mace's planet either. Someone would come looking eventually. I think I'll go to Naboo.'

'Palpatine's own planet?'

'Why not? I always wanted to spend some time there. It's on the outer rim, but it's not too far away from civilisation. Nice place for a respectable retiree to settle down. Tell that to Obi-wan and Yoda, will you? Just so that you all know where I am, in case you ever need a Jedi.'

'I will.'

'Thank you. And Bail?'


'Say hi to Behra for me.'

He promised he would, and the radio clicked off. Alone in the sudden silence, Elana felt herself blinking back tears. She would make sure she saw them all again someday, but for now she was on her own. Except for Mace. And that was going to be awkward when she woke up.

Elana blinked. The Behra-voice was back.

She smiled ruefully and fingered the hem of her shirt. Of course, she couldn't dress as a Jedi now; luckily she'd had some civilian clothes stashed away in her ship, all of which were fairly unisex, so Mace would be okay too. She had cut her hair, too – feeling again that childish sentimentality as she sliced through her long, tumbling hair, and was left with a neat, sensible bob.

They had to totally disappear, be nothing, and tell no-one. Jedi would be dying now, all over the galaxy. While Anakin had pledged his loyalty to the Sith Lord – Elana felt a twinge of pain in her chest – Palpatine – both of them had left their thoughts quite unguarded. It had been easy for Elana to learn Sidious's plans straight from his mind. But there was nothing they could do, if they wanted to remain safe themselves. Elana had tended Mace's wounds, and covered their own tracks, and felt the indescribable guilt weighing down on her all the time.

He was asleep now, his heart-rate steady. She was in the medical bay of her ship, sitting by his bed, and setting down her sixth cup of caff on a table next to her. He would wake up soon, and she would have to explain everything. How they would have to start a new life, both of them. But not together. Not if he didn't want to. Swallow. They could go their separate ways once they reached Naboo...

And then she realised his eyes were open, and her was looking at her.

Her own weariness was forgotten, as were her calm greetings, her mentally rehearsed explanation and pretty much every other sane thought in her head. She wondered how long he'd been awake without her noticing. All she could do was stare at him, her heart racing, feeling exactly like a nineteen year-old girl again, and waiting for him to speak.

And he did.

And he didn't say, 'where am I?'

'What happened?'

'Why am I here?'

Or any of the other things Elana had expected him to.

What he did say was this.

'Elana, I love you. Will you marry me?'


And that, she supposed, was all that really needed to be said.


Izzy's (Essence of Gold's) A/N: So. That's the end of Challenge to the Mandate of Heaven. I CAN'T BELIEVE WE FINISHED IT! Sorry. Just freaking out there. But it's done and dusted, and now we just have to update it and wait for the reviews to roll in...

Speaking of which. THANK YOU soooooo much to all the people who read and reviewed this story, especially to our amazing friend Gallica, who has reviewed every chapter without fail, and is currently translating CttMoH into FRENCH! How cool is that? Also to our little brother, and our parents, for the constant emotional support (even though we didn't let you read some bits, which you, mother, read anyway!) throughout, and to Dad especially for thinking up the name.

A big disclaimer and 'thanks' to both George Lucas and Walt Disney, because without the inspiration Star Wars and Mulan, this story would never have existed. Especial kudos for creating the characters of Mulan, Captain Chang and Mace Windu. XD

Also, from me personally, a HUGE HUGE thank-you to True Colours, sister, co-author, who it goes without saying was half the brains in this operation, and probably wrote more than half of it altogether, once all that slash *ahem* was done. Thanks so much, True!

And on that note, au revoir, and we hope you enjoyed Challenge to the Mandate of Heaven!


True's (True Colours') A/N: Wow. I get a thank you from Essence? Even after I stole her bunny and turned it from light crossover comedy to a year-long head-wall disturbia-fest, and destroyed her innocence, all in one fell swoop? Wow. I guess I maybe helped with some bits that weren't related to the slash...but whatever. I like to think it added depth and an intriguing twist to the story. That is what I like to think.

Anyway, we have hacked our way through the jungle that is my brain, and this is the result. Yes! I am free! I would also like to recommend Jedi Lulz and all my fics...yeah, those...and to reiterate Izzy's thanks to Daddy, for thinking of the title. I am convinced that this title is almost wholly responsible for the lack of reviews, because it sounds so highbrow...hmm, would I read anything that was called Challenge to the Mandate of Heaven? I would now!...but the point is, whether for good or no, it was named, and a fic must have a name, and we'd never have thought of one without him. When I typed 'no' back there? I did it on purpose. And the other point is that CttMoH is now the awesome reduction of the title, and you can chant it along to the start of Poker Face along with those creepy bass voices, and really, what more can you ask of a title?

True xxx

(I'm not crazy really.)

And... the CttMoH 'Feelings' Playlist:

For Elana's leaving Alderaan: Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson

For the arrival at the Jedi Temple and her first few weeks there: Aserejé by Las Ketchup or 'A man out of you' from Mulan (hahaha, our Muse!)

For her initial crush on Mace: Automatic High by S Club Juniors (barf-worthy, I know, but...)

For Mace when he's like 'OMGosh I like Caleb': Disturbia by Rihanna (lol)

For Elana after their first kiss: Hot 'n' Cold by Katy Perry

For both of them after their SECOND kiss: Waterloo by ABBA

For Elana's false 'desertion' of the Order to Mace: Behind these hazel eyes by Kelly Clarkson

For the buildup / final battle: If this is love by The Saturdays

For the aftermath, before Elana makes her decision: Reflection from Mulan

For the first part of the Epilogue: What hurts the most by Cascada or Because of you by Kelly Clarkson

For the end: Every day from HSM 2.

I can't believe we ended our story, last line, with HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL. I suppose all roads really do lead to Disney.

But I don't want it to, so I'm going to write a little extra something here.

Mace and Elana
Happily ever after
Jedi, but in love.

It's a haiku, see! I feel so smart. :D

So on that note, we really, really WILL leave it. Before we do something stupid. And also, if you're down that this story's over... Go check out our other fics! And... WE CAN FINALLY, FINALLY CHANGE THAT LITTLE BOX ON THE STORY INFO. PAGE TO COMPLETE! Love you all,

Izzy and True

Co-Authors to Challenge to the Mandate of Heaven