A/N: This multi-chapter story is one of a series of Canderous/Revan fics co-written with Dinah Lance. Chronologically it fits between "Contingency Plans" and "Reforged," but hopefully it is able stand on its own.
Prologue: For Her Own Good
Thick silence shrouded the opulent study as Ja'Taren Allonis Revan studied the three Jedi sitting across from him.
As a rule, Ja'Taren had no use for the Jedi Order. They were egotistical meddlers in galactic politics and economies that they simply did not understand. The few times he'd run across them in the creation of his corporate empire, they had cost him a small fortune due to their judgmental interference.
When they'd approached him as a young man more than forty years ago and offered him training, he'd merely laughed and told them he had better things to do than join a useless religious order. When they'd approached him years later, offering to take his son for training, he'd been insulted that they'd think he'd just hand over his only child. When they'd approached him two years ago about his only grandchild, he'd nearly had them physically thrown out of his penthouse.
Now they were here by his request. Which was why it was not surprising when Master Vandar finally broke the hostile silence and said, "Your comm call came as a surprise. The last time you were here you made yourself very clear that you would not allow us to train Minuet."
Ja'Taren steepled his long brown fingers. "Things have changed since then."
Master Vrook grumbled, "I bet they have."
Before Ja'Taren could snap a response that would put that sanctimonious bastard in his place, Master Zhar spoke. "It would help if we understood what has happened with your granddaughter to change your mind."
Ja'Taren almost laughed out loud at the "if." Between his family's Force-sensitive bloodline and the fortune and power that would make him a beneficial ally, he didn't believe for one minute that they would deny his granddaughter.
"Minuet has always been a handful, but over the last few years she has grown out of control in her behavior. She has been kicked out of the most exclusive boarding schools on both Alderaan and Coruscant. The ones that remain cannot be persuaded to take her no matter how much money I offer." He shook his head. "It's as though she finds out what the rules are and systematically breaks every single one of them. I'm fairly certain that instead of hiding her misconduct, she goes out of her way to make sure she gets caught."
Minuet was so calculated in her troublemaking that he would have almost been proud of her craftiness if the last four times hadn't cost him key business deals. She had an uncanny knack of finding out the worst possible moment to pull him away from his business affairs with another outrageous stunt that demanded his immediate attention.
"A cry for attention, then?" Vandar asked, his ears unfurling thoughtfully.
"Most likely," Ja'Taren agreed. "My son is…" a disappointment, a loser, a waste of space, "a spice addict that would rather spend all of his time shooting up and racing speeders. My daughter-in-law won't even take the time out of her social schedule to spend ten minutes with the girl." He sighed. "And I run a corporate empire that spans across thirty-five star systems. I don't have the time to spend with her that I should."
Vrook's bushy eyebrows bunched together. "So now you want us to clean up your mess? Why should we take this child that's been a menace to other institutions? Why would we want to subject our peaceful Order to that?"
"Are you afraid of one little girl?" Ja'Taren snarled, temper fraying. "I thought that the power of the almighty Force was greater than star carriers, global economies and governments—anything us mere mortals could ever hope to achieve."
Vandar opened his three-fingered hand in a conciliatory gesture. "It is true that the Force is powerful. That is why we must be very careful whom we take for training."
Zhar's eyes glossed over as he studied a cabinet across the room. "She is… full of much anger."
"And what happens if you don't?" Ja'Taren pointed out. "You told me before that she's one of the most powerful Force sensitives you'd ever seen. What if the Sith find her when she's older and use that anger and hatred for themselves?" From the looks on Zhar's and Vandar's faces, he knew he'd scored a major point. "You can make sure that doesn't happen by training her yourselves."
Unmistakable sorrow twisted Zhar's face. "There is no guarantee that won't happen. Many of our Order have fallen in the past."
"But the odds would be in her favor, right?" When they didn't answer he figured that they were merely dragging this out because, like everyone else in the galaxy, they wanted money. He handed a datapad to Vandar, and it was satisfying to watch his eyes widen when he saw the amount of credits listed. "If money is what you want…"
Vrook snatched the pad away from his fellow master and thrust it back at Ja'Taren. "The Jedi do not take bribes."
For the first time, Ja'Taren realized that the people who were the last chance for his granddaughter might actually deny him. "Then what the hell do you people want? Do you want me to beg?" He ground his teeth, pride making his voice rise. "I know that I've made some terrible mistakes in the past, but this is my last chance to make sure she doesn't grow up as a brainless twit or a useless junkie or worse. You people are supposed to have compassion, dammit!"
The Jedi did not answer and Ja'Taren couldn't tell if they were stunned into silence or if the rumors about their telepathic abilities were true and they were talking among themselves.
Finally, just as Ja'Taren was about to call security and have the whole sorry, judgmental lot tossed out of his penthouse, Vrook spoke. "It is important for you to understand that the Jedi are not some kind of day camp or boarding school for your convenience where you will come and retrieve your granddaughter when you feel like it. It is a lifelong commitment."
"You don't force your members to stay, do you?" Ja'Taren shot back.
"Well, no," Vrook admitted.
"All right then. When she comes of age she can choose. You will have had eleven years to convince her to stay."
Vrook glared at him, but the other two Jedi conceded his point with a nod. Vandar added, "It is most likely that you will not be permitted to see her. Attachments to familial relationships are discouraged. Whether or not you get to see her would be at the discretion of whichever Jedi master takes her as their padawan."
That didn't bother Ja'Taren. He would just have to make sure that she got a master that would decide in his favor. Besides, she was still a minor and if he ended up not being able to rig the system, he'd simply pull her out of the Order.
They took his silence as assent. Zhar continued, "What about her parents? They won't object to you handing their daughter over to us?"
Ja'Taren's voice was hard and cold from the shame of his own failure to raise his son as a decent man. "No. The only reason they brought Minuet into this world was because I threatened to cut them off if they didn't provide me with an heir. Once I made it clear that their monthly allowances will only continue if I get my way, their feeble attempts at objecting ceased. In truth, they will be relieved to have her taken off of their hands."
The three Jedi looked at one another. It appeared that Vandar spoke for all of them. "In that case, we will take your granddaughter in for training."
At the same moment Ja'Taren let out a relieved sigh, a high-pitched sob came from the cabinet. There was a crash as Minuet darted out from behind the cabinet, knocking over a flower-shaped lamp as she ran from the room.
Swearing, Ja'Taren rushed for the door, followed by the Jedi. He paused in the hallway wondering which way she'd gone when the Twi'lek master nodded to the left.
"You knew she was listening this whole time, didn't you?" he spat. Servants scrambled out of their way as they marched down the hallway.
Zhar at least had the grace to look shamefaced. Vrook didn't look even remotely guilty as he answered, "We thought since she was the one under discussion, she had a right to listen."
"Right. It had nothing to do with you using this as a wedge between us, you arrogant bastards."
Zhar held his hands up. "I assure you that was not our intention."
Furious, Ja'Taren nearly barked into his comm for the security staff to toss the Jedi out of his house when another spectacular crash came from up ahead. Dismay hit him as he stepped into the grand foyer that housed his priceless art collection. Irreplaceable antiques were scratched and dented. A beautiful bust of the first Queen of Naboo lay shattered in pieces on the floor. And Minuet had taken up one of the antique vibroblades and was slicing up a moss paining cultivated by a long-deceased Alderaanian artist.
"Minuet, put that down right now!" he demanded, as he mentally calculated the millions she'd cost him in less than two minutes.
Through near hysterical sobs and tears she screeched, "No!"
Terrified that she'd hurt herself or any more of his art, he stepped forward, grabbed the hilt, and wrenched it out of her hand. He laid the blade out of her reach before turning back to his granddaughter.
He took another step toward her. "Minuet..."
"You gave me away again," she said, swiping a hand across her tear-streaked face.
He put his hands on her small, trembling shoulders. "I didn't give you away. This won't be forever, just until you come of age."
"I don't want to go. I want to stay here with you." She swallowed. "If you let me stay, I'll be good this time, I swear."
Ja'Taren took her hand and led her over to a bench away from the Jedi. "This is the best thing for you."
"You're mad about the money I cost you. That's why you're sending me away."
He shook his head, wondering where she'd gotten that idea. "No, sweetling. I'm not mad."
"Then I don't understand." She looked so small and sad that it nearly killed him when she asked, "Why don't you want to keep me?"
His voice became thick. Ja'Taren had faced down senators, planetary governments, labor unions, and gangsters, but he couldn't help but feel powerless and lost when dealing with this little ten-year-old girl. Fumbling for the words that would make her understand, he said, "Minuet, I… I am not a good parent. I made so many mistakes with your father that you've had to pay for. I don't even know how to begin to take care of you the way you deserve." He gestured over at the Jedi. "But they do. They can take care of you in a way that I can't. Teach you how to use your special abilities."
"But I don't want to be a Jedi."
"I'm glad then." He dug his handkerchief out of his tunic and began to dry the tears off of her face. "Because you're not going to be one. You're going to run my empire with me."
The hope shining on her face twisted his heart. "I could do that now."
"I work fourteen-hour days. I travel across the galaxy and I can't take you along on every business dealing I have. You need stability, education, and training, so that when I give you your empire, you will be ready."
"Minuet, the decision has already been made. You're going."
She didn't say anything as her shoulders slumped in defeat. He didn't need the empathic powers of the Jedi to know she felt hurt and betrayed. It was written all over her small face.
He cleared his throat and said, "Let's go up to your room and pack, okay?"
"That won't be necessary," Master Vandar said. "We will provide everything for her at the temple. It would be best if she left all her personal belongings behind."
He was about to protest over the ridiculousness of that request when he realized that Minuet, whom he'd expected to throw a tantrum, was simply staring at the floor in silence. For the first time he became worried. He'd never seen her this quiet and resigned before.
"We should go," Vandar said to Minuet. "Say your good-byes now."
Ja'Taren bent down to give her a hug, and instead of clinging and crying as she usually did, she just stood in numb silence. He hugged her anyway and kissed the top of her head.
"Be good, Minuet. Make me proud."
She looked up at him one last, silent time as though she hoped at any moment he'd change his mind. Instead, Zhar took her hand while Ja'Taren watched with a mixture of guilt and relief as the turbolift door slid shut behind her.