Genre: Romance, Angst
Characters: Luke/Mara, Anakin/Padma, Leia/Han, Rogue Squadron, OCs
Timeframe: The original movies didn't happen, as you will see from the first chapter, but this starts, date wise, about when Endor would have happened and then goes on a few years after.
Summary: In a universe split in two, a peace treaty is made, but what is a treaty without visible support to show the galaxy? The two governments decide to give the galaxy a tangible symbol of peace...
NOTE: This story was originally published on the Jedi Council Forums in March 2010 by my alter-ego, RedGold. It sits there in shambles due to the coding error which truncated the chapters, it is also without a final chapter. I will be posting an updated/edited version here every few days… completely completed. I've given myself that much time to finish the finale.
Chapter 1 – Padawan Skywalker
He stood on the terrace, legs slightly apart, hands behind his back, letting the sun's rays beat down on him as he meditated. Had his eyes been open he would see the beautiful lake that was now his home, but there was no time for that now. It was quite possible that everything would be over soon.
"You have something to say?" he asked her quietly as she was starting to walk away.
"I didn't want to disturb you," she answered softly.
He smiled, "You're never a disturbance, my love."
"You were meditating," she pointed out, coming nearer to stand in front of him.
"There is much to think about," he opened his eyes and realized she had yet to dress for the day, her body still in a soft white sleeping gown that, while it covered everything, only enhanced her beauty.
"Oh, Ani," she reached up and ran her hand down his cheek, "I know that it's the right thing to do, for everyone, but a part of me is... reluctant."
"With good reason," he sighed, remembering the first time they had shared a moment alone on the terrace, her body dressed similarly, so much younger then. "Would we take this away from him?"
"I know," she dipped her head slowly, "but he has never expressed interest in following in your footsteps, in this way at least."
"The Jedi are more important to him," he nodded, "and so is helping those who cannot help themselves."
"He will be doing just that," she sighed and wrapped her arms around him lightly, laying her head on his chest. "Tell me, what do you see?"
"Nothing," he said after a moment. "The Force is strangely quiet."
"Then it's our decision to make," she looked up into his eyes, "as his parents, we have to do what's best for him."
"And as a Jedi and a Senator?" he gazed back into her dark orbs.
"We cannot force him," she gave him no room to edge in an argument.
He kissed her forehead and laid her head back to his chest, "I would never do that to him."
"Show off," Luke yelled out good naturedly, watching as his sister levitated the five stones in a pattern above her head. In a mask of Jedi serenity, she stuck her tongue out at him and he couldn't help but laugh.
For Luke, such a feat of levitation would be simple, easy, but he could feel her struggle through the Force. Though they were twins, he seemed to have gained most of the Force sensitivity between them, an interesting occurrence. But Leia was not without her own talents, she was already rivaling their mother's skill in politics.
Given half a chance the Nabooians would have elected Leia their Queen when they were younger, but unfortunately the war and her Jedi studies kept such an option far from attainable.
"Luke," he heard his name called by his mother from across the small field in which they were practicing. "Can you come here please?"
"You okay here, Leia?" he asked, knowing he would be leaving her out there alone.
"I'll be fine," she opened her eyes and smiled, "we're practically adults now, you don't have to worry about me anymore."
"Nineteen doesn't really classify as full adulthood last time I checked," he pointed out.
"Semantics," she waved him off and then winked.
Shaking his head he turned and left her to practice. He was the one who was supposed to be practicing, his trials coming up soon. If he wanted to become a Knight, passing was the only option.
"Mom?" he asked as he entered the large lakeside retreat that had been his family's home since his parents fled Coruscant. Sure, he could reach out and find her location, but then his father would scathe him for unnecessary use of the Force.
Talk about the Wookiee calling the Bothan hairy... but that had been in his father's youth, and it had almost cost the man everything as he dipped towards the Dark Side. Thankfully his mother and Obi-Wan were able to bring him to his senses before things got out of hand.
"Luke," his mother's voice drifted in from the dining room and he followed. When he entered he found a group larger than he was expecting at the dinner table.
Sitting closest to the entrance where he now stood was his mother and father, then his master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, his hand stroking his beard in thought. Farther down the table were members of the New Republic High Senate. The Chancellor herself, Mon Mothma was there, as well as her advisors Bail Organa of Alderaan and Tork Ge'reth, a tall, light colored Bothan.
Also seated was two Grand Admirals, Bel'Ibis of Corellia and Madine, a former Imperial turned rebel.
"I didn't realize we were expecting company," he said quietly, and meant it. This was supposed to be a vacation of sorts while the truce was in effect, a time for all families with military ties to be able to take a breath.
"This isn't quite a social call," his father said dryly, then deferred to Mon Mothma who folded her hands on the table in front of her.
"Luke," her voice was soft, but then most Chandrillan's where, "how much do you know of the current peace talks between the New Republic and the Empire?"
"That they are long in coming," he started off safely, then dived in, "and that all of you should be there."
"Yes," she nodded, not taking any notice to his tone of voice, "and we have been discussing several compromises with the Empire's Ruling Council, such as free trade between the borders."
"That's... good," he started to get a wary feeling, not a dangerous one, just a cautious one.
"This means we can trade with the core planets," her face also brightened a bit, "and we can insure that the slavery laws have been lifted on such planets as Mon Calamari."
"Even better," while the laws were supposedly lifted by the Imperial Ruling Council after Emperor Palpatine's death, there was often debate on the Republican side of the galaxy if it truly had any effect.
"About this point," Bel'Ibis broke in, his accented Corellian richly baritone, "you're asking what's in it for the Empire?"
"Crossed my mind," he answered truthfully.
"Similar things," Mon Mothma continued, "trade, technology, bacta. Naboo itself is rich in staple crops which it would benefit from."
He glanced around at the members present, feeling no despair. "Sounds like you think it's a good deal?"
"I've had a chance to look at the draft myself," his mother spoke up, that political look of approval on her face, "it's the best we could hope for considering the fact that the Empire is stronger now than it's ever been."
This was an understatement. When Palpatine had issued Order 66 and his clones did their best to exterminate the Jedi, he destroyed what true opposition he had to forming the Empire and then submitted his will on the galaxy. The few Jedi who survived fled and eventually found their way into the Alliance, a Rebellion against the Empire. Palpatine, however, was too good at what he did and was able to manipulate everything to his advantage.
Then he died suddenly.
The Alliance took their own advantages at this lucky break but was unable to secure the Core worlds where the new Ruling Council of the Empire had taken a stand and kept the government intact. So then the galaxy became split, the Alliance becoming the New Republic on the fringe, the Empire in the core, gaining power day by day. There was a very good chance that they could make a play for the fringe worlds, destroying the Alliance, hence the peace talks to at least compromise between the two governments.
"So?" Luke's eyes landed on every member in the room, "why aren't you signing it right now? Why come here?"
"Luke," Mon Mothma picked up a datapad from beside her and held it up, "would you look over this?"
He was about to go around the table to fetch it but it quickly left her hand and flew into his own, neither of the Masters in the room showing signs that they were the culprits. Ignoring this for the moment, he did as the Chancellor asked and started to read what he realized was the draft of the truce agreement.
And at about the fifth paragraph, sub-article twelve, addendum three, he started to get a headache.
"Don't worry," his father chuckled softly, "I felt the same way."
"Leia would be better at this than I," he sighed, setting it back onto the table. "The writing might as well be in ancient Corellian for all I know."
Mon Mothma sighed, "And that's the condensed, simplified version."
"Oh," he said quietly.
"The average people, even the intelligent ones," the leader of the Alliance leaned back in her chair with another sigh, "they will have trouble understanding it, and things they cannot understand, they fear."
"I know the concept," he tightened his jaw a bit, hatred for the Jedi was still ripe in a few areas where those were afraid of the Jedi simply because they could not understand their abilities.
"If this truce is going to work," she continued, "then we need to have the people behind it."
"And to be behind it," Bail spoke up for the first time, "they need to understand it, have something visible and tangible."
"Yes," she nodded to the Alderanian, then her gaze locked onto Luke's the way only a lifetime politician could, "I might be the Chancellor, but I am no more powerful than those in this room, I simply hold a title that those can relate too, understand. I am more of a symbol of those who govern, not a single ruler."
Luke ended up nodding his head in return, knowing that often people had to focus, reduce the bigger image to a single frame. He did this with the Force, the energy sometimes being too great to comprehend without reducing it something easier to wrap your head around.
"The Senate and the Empire's Ruling Council have decided to give the people a symbol," the Chandrillian pressed, "something to personify this truce, to make it real in the eyes of the people. Something they can understand and get behind."
"And what would make up this symbol?" Luke asked, the wary feelings returning.
"Something traditional," this was his mother's soft words, "something that has been used since the time of the Old Republic."
"They are going to go with the old marriage pact," Anakin said bluntly, shaking his head.
"It is traditional," Mon Mothma seemed to scold his father with her eyes, "the concept of marriage on a wide scale immerged from the tradition of marrying one side to the other, their marriage contract being just that, a contract between the two interested parties."
"I thought we had become civilized?" his father returned, never one to be afraid to butt against authority.
"As a people, yes," she retorted, "but as a society, we still cling to traditions and symbols that are easy to understand."
Anakin let out a sigh that could only be listed as defeat, but Luke wondered if he wasn't already conquered before he came into the room and it was simply his pride that made him save face.
Suddenly, a thought dawned on Luke, "Who's getting married?"
"The Empire has already selected the only real person that they have for this," Mon Mothma turned her eyes towards him again, "the Emperor's granddaughter."
"Jade?" he tried to imagine that firebrand agreeing to this, but then her loyalty to the Empire had never been in question.
"Yes," she paused slightly, "and so we need to provide the groom."
It only took a second for the pieces to fall into place, but he kept quiet, studying each and every one of them as he let them sweat a bit, "Why me?"
"Well," the Chancellor sat up tall in her chair, probably already having this reply worked out in her head, "you are just a year younger than Jade, but more importantly, you are a Jedi, son of the Jedi and Senator that defied the Empire more than any other..."
"And she's the granddaughter of a Sith, the man my family fought against for a decade," he cut in, "the irony is not lost on me Madam Chancellor."
Bel'Ibis laughed, "You're also probably the only one who could handle her."
Luke frowned, ignoring the comment. "Don't I get a say in this?"
"Of course you do," his mother said quickly, then sternly, "this council will not force you do to anything. But I do urge you to consider what doing this means, for the galaxy."
So his mom wanted him to do it, his dad had become resigned to it, but at least they weren't going to force him, just push him into it. Curious as to the sentiments of his quiet master, he turned to Kenobi and asked, "What about my training? I am to become a Knight soon."
"There is nothing to say that this has to interfere with your trials," he answered cryptically, "though granted you will probably not be an active member of the Jedi Order, but a member you will be, and you can use your position to the advantage of the Jedi, thus still being a productive member."
Ask a straight question, get a crooked answer.
"You don't have to decide this instance," Mon Mothma added, "we are not due back on Ithor for a few days."
"Empire gave you time to find a groom?" Luke replied dryly.
"Something like that," she nodded.
"You'll have your answer tomorrow," and with that, he dismissed himself. He would receive scolding from his mother about etiquette later, but they couldn't expect him to just smile and nod and jump through this hoop for them without some serious thought to the consequences.
Later that night, Luke sat on an old stone bench overlooking the lake his family had taken refuge on. He liked to be alone, just him, nature, and the Force... and now they wanted him to get rid of all that.
"I think you're being just a tad melodramatic there," his sister's voice drifted in behind him.
"Would you stay out of my thoughts," he scolded his twin as she straddled the bench next to him.
She laughed at him, "You're thinking so loudly I'm sure even mom can hear."
"Yeah, well," he mumbled, picking up a blade of grass, "I have a lot to think about."
"Mom told me," Leia replied quietly. "They both want what's best for the galaxy."
"Stop a war," he laughed sarcastically, "marry a shrew."
"She's not a shrew," she scolded, he got a lot of that today. "You've never even met her!"
"But I know of her," letting the grass fall from his hand he looked up at the stars. "You yourself described her as cold."
"Yeah, but that was at that summit," his sister waved it off, "we were still at war then, I probably came off a bit distant myself to the other side."
"Sure," he retorted sharply.
"Is that what this is about?" Leia reached out and laid her hand on his shoulder, "you don't want to marry into the other side?"
"I don't want to marry into any side," he bit out, locking eyes with her. "I want to be a Jedi, to serve the Force, not play a pawn in this political game."
She gave him a decent shove against his shoulder. "How do you know you're not serving the Force by doing this?"
"How possibly could I be doing that?" he blurted out, and then immediately buried his head in his hands. "Shut up."
"The Force will reveal itself when you are ready to accept what it has to say," she quoted his master.
"I said shut up," he replied but with no real malice. "Why me?"
"Because you're the right age," she paused and he buried his head deeper against his fingers knowing what she was about to say, "and you have expressed no interest in furthering the Skywalker name anyway."
"Hey, unlike some persons I could name who spend entirely too much time with, shall we say, questionable ship captains," he alluded to her off and on relationship with the Corellian pilot, Solo, "I spend my time learning to be a Jedi Knight."
"And I'm sure that will keep you warm at night," she stuck his tongue out at him and grinned, but then sobered. "Come on Luke, if you can give me one good reason not to do this, other than you just can't be bothered, then I will go with you to the Senate Council and stand right next to you and fight them off with my fists if I have to."