Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars. I just created my own little AU sandbox to play in.
AN: Welcome to the newest Forever Destined vignette, 26th in the series. It's really hard to believe this series has produced 25 stories already. This vignette takes place eight months after New Arrival. I'll let the story tell everything else. Enjoy and let me know what you think!
Also, a special note to a reviewer named Marijke S Bush, I was unable to respond to any of your reviews, because they were anonymous. I can only reply to signed reviews. I'm glad you're so anxious for new chapters, but please understand that writing is a process and I don't like to rush my chapters. A little more time taken always results in a better chapter. As for the title, I actually didn't know what the title was for this one until just last night when I finished. The title is usually the last thing I come up with. Thanks for your reviews anyway. ;)
Taking Chances: A Forever Destined Vignette
The pretty Twi'lek woman trembled behind the counter, as the barrel of a blaster stared her in the eyes. The dirty, orange skinned man barred his stained teeth and stared her down.
"Put the credits in the case! Get moving or your dead!" he snarled. She nervously began doing as he asked and when finished, she handed him the case. He chuckled evilly.
"Please…you have the money," she gulped nervously, as he cocked his weapon.
"Sorry sweet cheeks, but I ain't leaving witnesses," he drawled. She screamed and shut her eyes tightly, as he fired. A blur of black intercepted the blast and a sapphire bladed light saber absorbed it.
"What the…get out of the way stupid brat!" he growled, as he fired his blaster again. Luke deflected the blasts harmlessly and then used the Force to pull the blaster from his hand, effectively disarming him. He tossed the weapon to his sister and the man's eyes widened in surprised horror as the girl crushed the barrel and ripped the power source out. He backed away and made a run for it, but found another boy in his way. He snarled and ran toward him, intending to plow right through the lanky looking youth. But he hit what seemed like an invisible wall and fell flat on his back. Jayden smirked, as he lowered his Force shield and watched the man try to crawl away. He was stopped when Jenna grabbed his shirt, hauling him to his knees. She grabbed his arm and twisted it behind his back. He hollered in pain.
"You're under arrest sleamo. Try to escape again and you'll really piss me off. Then you'll have something to cry about," she snapped, as she cuffed him and then shoved her foot in his back, causing him to fall flat on his face. Luke gave her a look, as he picked the criminal up off the floor.
"What have we said about using excessive force?" Luke questioned. She rolled her eyes in annoyance.
"He was going to murder that girl in cold blood. He's lucky I didn't smash his balls," Jenna responded. Luke cocked his head, trying in vain to keep from smiling, waiting for the right answer. She huffed.
"Highly skilled Jedi only need minimal physical force to subdue a criminal. Use of excessive force is not the Jedi way," she recited in annoyance.
"Then practice that," Luke confirmed her answer, as they started out to the speeder to take the man to the prison to be processed.
"You're such a killjoy," Jenna complained.
"Why do you feel the need to beat the Sith of out everything? I didn't even have to touch that guy to catch him," Jayden boasted. Jenna scoffed.
"I wouldn't have to either. But what's the fun in that? I love to fight and beating up guys who deserve it is even better," Jenna replied, as she hopped in the front with Luke.
"You can sit in back with him. He smells like a space dumpster," Jenna told him. Jayden sighed and got into the back with the snarling criminal that was spouting obscenities at them.
"Be quiet or my twin sister will be the least of your worries," Jayden called, glaring at the man. Luke smirked, as the bickering between the two began again and he merged into air traffic.
Kimberly smiled at the small toddler, who had taken a bad spill during light saber practice and skinned her knees.
"There…all better sweetie," she cooed. The young one's tears were mostly dry now and she lifted her down off the exam table.
"Your knees will feel much better in a few hours," Kimberly promised.
"Thank you Healer Skywalker," she chirped.
"You're welcome sweetie," Kimberly replied.
"Gifted, especially with the young ones, you are," Yoda said, as he floated in on his hover pad. Kimberly smiled.
"Thank you Master Yoda," she replied warmly, as she saw her father and grandfather file in behind him with her uncle and Mace.
"Ah, I see you're here for Hunter's results," Kimberly said, as she found the datachip and slipped it into her datapad, before handing it to her father. Anakin read the results and looked up at his daughter.
"Really?" he asked. She nodded.
"I ran it twice, just to make sure it was right," she replied, as Qui-Gon looked at the results.
"Incredible," Qui-Gon said.
"Twenty-four thousand, three hundred. That makes him the third highest count, just behind Anakin and Jayden," Mace stated.
"I'll give Luke the news tonight," Anakin said.
"In the crechling today, Hunter is not," Yoda mentioned. Anakin smirked.
"That's because Padme is home today and insisted that Luke leave him even though she's having the Chancellor and his wife over for dinner," Anakin replied.
"Well, you should probably head home being that it's getting late," Qui-Gon mentioned. Anakin glanced at the chrono and his eyes widened.
"Sithspit…I promised Padme I'd get a few things on the way home. She's probably wondering where the heck I am. Gotta run," Anakin called, as he ran out, leaving behind everyone to shake their heads in amusement.
Padme smiled, as she heard her husband's speeder on the veranda. Hunter hollered in baby-speak from his playpen and she plucked him up.
"There's papa. He's late," she said in amusement, as he came in and kissed her softly.
"Sorry angel, I lost track of time," he said. She smiled, as he kissed Hunter's head.
"That's okay. They won't be here for another hour. That gives me plenty of time to finish getting ready," Padme replied.
"We got the results of Hunter's midiclorian count today," he mentioned.
"And?" she asked.
"Twenty four thousand, three hundred," he told her. Padme's eyes widened.
"Wow…does Luke know yet?" she asked. He shook his head.
"No, he was still out on patrol," he said, pondering silently.
"Ani, what is it?" she asked.
"I want to ask Kimberly to alter the results before they are presented to the rest of the council. And I know it's wrong, but I just feel like I'm protecting him by doing so," he replied.
"Then you still think that Sifo-Dyas really does have someone in the Temple working for him?" she asked.
"I really wish I could say no. But I'm afraid that he might and I just don't want any of them knowing that Hunter's count is almost as high as Jayden's," Anakin said, clearly stressing over it.
"I agree, but you know that we can't ask Kim to do that, even though I know she would do it for her nephew in a heartbeat," Padme replied. He nodded.
"I know and that's why we have to make sure that Hunter is only with people we trust implicitly," he said.
"You'll have a fight on your hands when some Council members find out that we don't intend to admit him to the crechling," Padme mentioned. He nodded.
"I'm ready for the backlash," he affirmed, as Hunter called out sharply and pointed his little finger toward the veranda. Anakin smiled.
"Luke's almost home," Anakin said. Padme shook her head.
"I know it shouldn't surprise me that he can sense that already since all our kids are like that, but it still amazes me," she said. Anakin nodded, as Luke made his way in.
"Hey sweetheart," Padme said, kissing his cheek.
"Hey mom," Luke greeted, grinning, as Hunter reached his arms out toward him. He eagerly took his son in his arms and kissed his head.
"Somebody is happy to see his daddy," Padme said, smiling at them.
"I'm just as happy. When's dinner?" he asked.
"In about an hour. You should go get Hunter ready," Padme replied. Luke nodded and started upstairs with the baby.
"You better get ready too. I'll have Threepio keep an eye on the oven," Anakin told her. She nodded and kissed him tenderly, before heading upstairs as well.
Han slipped into the booth in the dingy Cantina, located in the lower levels of Coruscant. Sitting across from him was a Dug, who glared at Solo as he sat down.
"You're late," he hissed. Han rolled his eyes.
"Well I'm here now, lucky for you," Han replied smugly.
"Only if you have the goods," the Dug replied in a hushed whisper.
"Depends," Han responded flippantly.
"Saving your skin depends on it!" the Dug threatened.
"Relax…I got the goods if you got the money," Han replied with a scoff. The Dug nodded and motioned to the back. Han followed to make the exchange in the alleyway behind the establishment. He had promised his mom he would never run spices, but this time he didn't have a choice. A bit of bad luck in the last few months had seen to him taking a job for Jabba the Hutt and thanks to even more bad luck lately, he now owed Jabba money. He needed this deal to pay the Hutt back and save his skin. He knew if he was caught that he would go to prison, but he was willing to take the risk in order to save his life.
As they walked into the darkened alley, Han immediately knew something was wrong and also knew why the Dug had told him to come alone. It was a double cross. Han raised his hands, as several goons that worked for the spice dealer pointed their blasters at him.
"Never trust a Dug. You've heard that saying, haven't you?" the Dug chuckled, as he took the case of spices from Han.
"Pleasure doing business with you, Solo," the Dug laughed.
"Gimme my money, you slimy space worm," Han growled. The Dug motioned to his goons, who proceeded to gang up on the young smuggler. Han fought back, but he was outnumbered and after a few minutes, he was left beaten up on the ground. It wasn't anything he hadn't experienced before; in fact, he had been on the receiving end of worse. But the goods were gone now and he had nothing to show for it. He was in real trouble. Jabba would be sending someone after him if he didn't return with the money in two days.
"Sithspit…" Han growled, as he pulled himself up and limped back to his speeder. He slammed his fists on the hood and hung his head, running his fingers through his hair.
"Well, the Sabaac tables are the only hope now," he muttered, as he got in the junky speeder he had hotwired and headed to Calin's resort. He hoped there were some rich fools at the tables tonight…
Padme's dinner party was pleasant as always and conversation picked up, as their eating slowed. Lily Iblis happily held and doted on baby Hunter, as she and her husband both thoroughly enjoyed devoting much of their attention to the little one.
"I just can't believe how much he has grown since I saw him just a month ago," Lily marveled, as Hunter sucked on his teething ring.
"I know and he's trying to skip crawling and go right to walking, just like Luke did," Padme mused.
"Anakin didn't crawl either. He was too damned busy getting into everything and he figured out walking was faster," Obi-Wan quipped, earning him a playful glare from his younger brother.
"And I'm just sure you were a completely well behaved at that age too," Anakin replied with an eye roll.
"Hardly," Qui-Gon quipped without missing a beat, causing them all to chuckle. In addition to the Chancellor and his wife, Bail, Breha, Qui-Gon, Shmi, Jobal, Riley, Obi-Wan, Sola, Luke, Leia, Shane, Kimberly, Mace, Zia, and Mara joined them for dinner. Jayden, Jenna, Natalie, and Marcus had chosen to skip the adult dinner party in favor of hanging out at Calin's teen club at the resort. It was clear though that Mara was there only at her parents request and agreed because Leia was also there. The two young women had been discussing things among themselves most of the evening and Zia wasn't surprised to hear her daughter's comlink chime near the end of dinner.
"Excuse me," she said, leaving to take the call. Mace's usual stoic expression remained, but it was no secret that he absolutely abhorred the flippant, casual relationship his daughter had with Tek, a senior padawan her age that was known for charming girls into his bed and Mara had been his recent conquest. Padme immediately noticed Zia's worry too and rose from her seat.
"I'll bring out dessert," she announced.
"I'll help you Padme," Zia said, noticing the opportunity her friend was offering. The redhead followed the brunette into the kitchen and Padme went about readying things on a tray.
"She's still seeing Tek?" Padme asked. Zia sighed.
"If you can all it that. I was no angel when I was her age, but her partying and drinking is really getting out of control. I know she's just rebelling right now and since we both don't approve of Tek, it only spurs her on. He's just using her, believe me, I know his type," Zia confessed. Padme nodded.
"Me too and I'm hoping all this is just a faze. But Tek is the type that will keep using her as long as she lets him," Padme said. Zia nodded.
"I wish I could get through to her," Zia mused.
"If anyone can do that, it will probably be Luke and Leia," Padme surmised, as she put her hand on her friend's shoulder.
"Mara is a good girl at heart. She'll settle down soon," Padme assured her. Zia sighed.
"I hope you're right," Zia responded.
"I can't just up and leave. My parents are already pissed that I'm even talking to you," Mara said into her comlink.
"Come on baby…this party is lame without you," Tek attempted to flatter her.
"I'll ditch as soon as I can. Give me an hour," Mara promised.
"Fine…see you then," Tek said, as he hung up on the other end.
"Are we really that boring?" Luke asked, as he walked out onto the veranda with Hunter in his arms.
"Well, it's Friday night and no offense, but dinner parties aren't usually my normal scene," Mara replied. Luke nodded.
"I know, I thought they were pretty lame too about a year and a half ago. Things change I guess," Luke replied, as Hunter babbled, seemingly fascinated with the shiny necklace around Mara's neck. He squealed and grabbed it with his chubby hand. Luke chuckled and pried it away from him, earning a disappointed whimper from his son.
"You can't wear jewelry without him trying to play with it," Luke mentioned, as he tried to interest Hunter in another toy. His son whimpered and squirmed until Luke finally put him down, allowing him to crawl around under his father's watchful gaze. He then noticed Mara just simply staring at him.
"What?" he asked. She shook her head.
"It's just weird watching you with a kid already. You've…changed a lot," she mentioned. He simply shrugged.
"Having a baby will do that to you…but I'd like to think it's a good change," Luke replied.
"Don't you miss going out with friends and having fun?" Mara asked. He shrugged.
"I still go out from time to time. Mom and Dad are only more than happy to babysit, but I guess I prefer just staying home with Hunter now. Being a parent changes your outlook on a lot of things," Luke replied.
"Well…more power to you, I guess. I've got a hot date," she bragged.
"With Tek again?" he asked.
"Yes, got a problem with that?" she challenged. He shrugged.
"If he makes you happy, then that's what's important," Luke replied vaguely. Mara had expected him to tell her what everyone else told her about him, but was taken aback when he didn't.
"He does. We have a lot of fun," Mara insisted. Luke nodded and plucked Hunter up. His son gave a cry of protest, as his father interrupted his attempted conquest of his Nana's fountain.
"Nana gets nervous when you try to climb into the fountain, little man," he told his fussy son.
"I need to go warm his bottle and put him down for the night. I hope you and Tek have fun," Luke told her. She watched him walk away, almost with a longing look on her face. But she quickly shook herself out of it. Luke was not her type. Being tied down with a baby was not something she wanted anytime soon. Having fun with Tek was much more appealing. At least, that's what she kept telling herself.
After dinner and dessert, they enjoyed cocktails on the veranda while Luke put Hunter down for the night.
"Thank you again for a wonderful dinner, Padme. We always thoroughly enjoy our evenings here," Bel complimented. Padme smiled, as she sipped at her wine.
"We love having you both," she replied.
"There is something, a bit of business I'd like to discuss with you if you don't mind," Bel said.
"Not at all," Padme replied.
"Well, as you all know, my final term is coming to an end next year and there are many already starting to campaign to be my replacement. I wanted to ask you if you have considered running," Bel stated. Padme suspected that this question was coming and took a deep breath.
"I have thought about it and we have discussed it a little, but I'm still torn," Padme replied.
"I understand completely, Padme and I don't want to rush you into a decision. You both deserve plenty of time to discuss this in great lengths," Bel said, looking at both Anakin and Padme.
"While there are a few respectable candidates running, they are not heavily favored. And the rumor is that Rush Clovis and Orn Free Taa intend to run," Bel stated.
"Clovis? He must be joking. His career is in tatters," Padme huffed.
"Yeah, and Taa? He can't even clean up Ryloth. We don't need him making a mess out of the Republic as a whole," Anakin chimed in.
"That fat tub of lard will turn a blind eye to slavery too," Riley added. They knew how many abductions occurred on Ryloth on a regular basis. Twi'lek's were as highly sought after as humans by slavers and the authorities were easily bribed and bought.
"I agree and that's why I think you should consider entering the race. You would be a heavy favorite. Clovis is trying to run on the basis that he intends to devote himself to undoing any damage done by his stint as a Sith pawn, claiming that even though he had no control, he is still taking responsibility. A load of Bantha poodoo, if you ask me," Bel responded. Anakin snorted.
"Don't tell me people are buying it?" Anakin asked.
"Some aren't, but Clovis has a certain charm with some female voters," Bel said regrettably.
"But if Padme were to run, she would capture those female voters over Clovis, no matter what charms he tries," Riley concluded.
"You're correct, Mister Zander," Bel confirmed.
"I don't want to see the wrong person in the Chancellor's chair again, but it's still a very big decision. I'll need more time to think about it," Padme told him. Bel nodded.
"I understand completely," Bel said, as they all rose from their seats.
"Well, it will be an early morning for us, so we should be going," Bel said, as they bid farewell to their friends. Anakin and Padme saw their friends and family out over the next thirty minutes until it was just the two of them. Leia had gone with Mara and Luke was upstairs. Anakin wrapped his arms around her and held her close, as they enjoyed the rest of their wine together.
"You're thinking of running, aren't you?" he asked, breaking their silence. She lifted her head from his chest and looked up at him.
"If I did, would you really be okay with it?" she asked.
"You know I would. I want whatever makes you happy. I think you could make a huge difference, angel. Look at everything you've done for Naboo and think of how much more you could do for the entire galaxy," Anakin replied. She nodded.
"Now that the kids are grown, there is less reason not to. I mean, I'll still have plenty of time to spend with you and our grandson," she reasoned.
"Especially if you hire someone you can trust implicitly as your vice chair and your replacement," he said.
"You think she's ready?" Padme asked. He nodded.
"She's her mother's daughter, so of course she is. She's graduating early with honors at the top of her class in a week. She's a Skywalker, so she'll be ready to jump into campaigning with both feet," he replied, with a contagious smile.
"Well, I have been grooming her for this. I guess on the job training is the best experience she can have. Leia will be an incredible Senator and I'm sure Sabe will accept the offer as my vice chair. I'll just have to find someone trustworthy to take over as Governor of the mountain regions," Padme said.
"So, you're going to do this?" Anakin asked. She smiled.
"Only if my handsome Jedi husband is by my side," she replied.
"Where else would I be?" Anakin asked playfully, as he wrapped his arms around her.
"So…when are we going to make your big announcement?" he asked.
"Hmm…I'd like to keep it just between the two of us for now. I want to talk to Leia and Sabe first and then we can have Ethan and Steph do the interview," Padme planned. Anakin nodded.
"Leia's going to be thrilled, you know. I mean…the people still have to elect her, but she's a shoe in," Anakin replied. Padme nodded.
"Well, if I have to run for Chancellor just to make sure someone like Clovis isn't Chancellor, then I'll gladly take on the challenge," Padme said. He smiled.
"You're going to be amazing, angel. You already are," he assured her, as he kissed her tenderly.
"I love you," she whispered.
"I love you too," he replied, as their lips met again with tender passion.