Author: Jennifer (Jedi-Princess-Solo)

Title: Changing Tides Trilogy: Devotion

Category: Post Rebel Stand Jaina/Jag Fan Fiction

 

 

The office set up to serve as the pilots' lounge for Rogue, Blackmoon and Twin Suns Squadrons was crowded with pilots celebrating their success-and survival-at Borleias. While most of the people around him were enjoying pre-invasion brandy, Kyp Durron was content sitting in a corner, enjoying the company of his friends.

Jag Fel sat to his left, leaning back in his seat with his feet propped up on the edge of the caf table. The Imperial pilot looked more relaxed than Kyp had ever seen him. Not that that's saying much, Kyp thought with a smirk. Jag was far from being as relaxed as most of the pilots gathered, but he had definitely come a long way from the young Colonel Kyp had met at Ithor.

The change in Jag, like the change in Kyp himself, he accredited to Jaina Solo, who was sitting beside Jag, engaged in a lively conversation with Tahiri Veila, who completed the circle around the table. Tahiri and Jaina were both smiling, which stirred something in Kyp that he couldn't quite identify. Anakin Solo's untimely death had devastated everyone, but no one had taken it as hard as his sister and his girlfriend. Months later, both girls were beginning to heal.

Kyp cared about Tahiri, and not just because she was a fellow Jedi. He liked the kid, and admired her for the way she handled herself against Lord Nyax on Curscant. Luke Skywalker had told them the story when they had returned to Borleias, and Kyp was still amazed at how much Tahiri had grown in so short a period of time. She was technically still a Jedi apprentice, but in Luke's mind, and now in Kyp's, she was already a full fledged Jedi. Kyp only hoped that with the love and support of her friends, she might one day be able to put Anakin's death behind her.

Jaina, however, seemed to have found her balance again. Although she still mourned Anakin, and Jacen, too, Kyp sensed a peace in her that had been missing for a long time. It made him feel warm inside to see her smiling, to see her happy.

He wasn't Jaina's boyfriend, that was Jag's job, and he wasn't her Master, that would always be Mara, but he was her partner. Kyp wasn't entirely sure what that meant yet, and he doubted Jaina did either, but it felt right. There was a bond between them that was incredibly strong and deep, and Kyp knew Jaina was right-their partnership was until one or the other of them was killed. He only hoped that they could avoid that. He rather liked living, and he suspected Jaina did, too.

And while he wasn't sure what exactly he and Jaina were to each other, Kyp knew that he had not cared for anyone the way he did Jaina since his brother's death, and Jaina's love filled the void in his heart. For the first time in what seemed like years, maybe it was years, Kyp felt like he had a family again.

"Come in Rogue Jedi..."

Kyp blinked and looked up to see Jaina peering at him curiously, her brow knitted in concern. He smiled at her, giving her an apologetic brush with the Force to let her know he was okay. "Sorry, guess I zoned out again."

Jaina rolled her eyes. "Males," she said, sharing an exasperated look with Tahiri. The younger girl chuckled softly, the first time Kyp had heard her laugh in months.

"I'm sure we could think of a few vices you females have," Jag retorted, the corner of his mouth twitching in amusement.

Jaina feigned innocence. "Who? Us?" She batted her eyelashes at him. "Whatever gave you that idea?"

Kyp snorted, and had to look away to keep from laughing. When he turned back, Jaina glared at him, and he did laugh. "Sorry," he said. "Only I seem to recall hearing you use that 'Who, us?'line on your father a few times."

"A testament to how old you are," Jaina shot back with a wicked smirk.

Tahiri covered her mouth with her hand, and Kyp heard muffled laughter filter through her fingers. Before he could make a reply, however, he noticed a familiar figure making his way towards them. "General Antilles," he said with a salute.

Wedge nodded at him distractedly. "Hello, Durron." He glanced at Jaina with a decidedly more affectionate look. "Hello, Jaina."

"Good to see you again, Wedge," Jaina said with an easy smile that drew one in return.

"It's good to be seen at all, after my little skirmish at Borleias," Wedge replied. He turned to Jag and Kyp felt a flicker of weariness through the Force. "Jag, I would like to speak to you in my office."

Jag stood at once. "Certainly." He glanced at Jaina. "By your leave, Great One," he said with a slight leer.

Jaina waved him away. "Take him, General. He's annoyingly cocky."

Jag gave her a small smirk. "I'm not cocky, Exalted One. I'm Corellian."

Jaina grinned and Kyp rolled his eyes. Without turning around, Jaina somehow knew and gave him a sharp nudge with the Force, nearly knocking him out of his seat. Jag and Wedge looked at him in confusion, but Tahiri and Jaina both looked away to hide smiles.

"I'll come by your quarters when I am finished," Jag told Jaina. When she nodded, he turned and followed his uncle out of the lounge. Jaina watched them go, a frown on her lips.

"What?" Tahiri asked her.

Jaina shrugged. "I'm not sure. Wedge seemed..."

"Uneasy?" Kyp suggested.

Jaina nodded. "Like he had some bad news."

Kyp was inclined to agree with her from what he'd felt. seeing the worried look on her face, though, he decided not to mention it and hurriedly changed the subject. "You two up for some lightsaber sparring? I think Master Skywalker set up the training room."

Tahiri leaned forward eagerly. "Yes," she said with a firm nod.

She looked at Jaina questioningly and Jaina stood up, stretching her slender arms over her head. "I'm in, too," she said. She draped her arm over Tahiri's shoulders. "Let's go work out our frustrations on Kyp."

 

------------------------------------

 

Jaina sighed wearily as she entered the code to her room. After a long and exhausting duel with Kyp, and some sparring with Tahiri, she was tired and ready for a nice, long shower and a couple hours of sleep.

The door slid open and she stepped into the room-only to come to a dead halt just inside the doorway. Although the room was dark, she could feel his presence, and the clouded emotions surrounding him.

"Jag?" she asked, using the Force to turn on the lights.

He was sitting on her bed, his back to her, staring at a holo of her and her brothers, taken just after they escaped Thrackran Sal-Solo. For a moment Jaina's thoughts slid dangerously close to a memory of rocking her little brother in her arms, telling him it would be okay, that she would protect him always. Steering herself away from the bitter reminder that she had failed to protect Anakin in the end, Jaina took a step closer to Jag, but he didn't seem to know she was there.

Frowning, she reached out with the Force to gently probe his presence, and was slammed by a wall of tortured grief and guilt. She staggered back and reached out a hand to brace herself on the wall.

"Jag?" she repeated, her voice breaking.

He looked up at her, his pale green eyes distant and full of pain. "Jaina," he rasped so softly she barely heard him.

"What is it?" she asked, moving to sit beside him on the bed. "What's wrong?"

Jag looked down at his lap and was silent for a long moment, and Jaina sensed he was trying to gather himself together enough to speak. "Shawnkyr is dead," he finally said in a quiet, choked voice. "She was shot down at Borleias."

For a moment Jaina was stunned. The Chiss female was too good of a pilot to have been shot down. You know that's not true, Jaina scolded herself. Even the best have been shot down during this war.

As she shook aside her own disbelief, Jag's sorrow rolled over her in waves, and she felt tears sting her eyes. "Jag," she breathed. "I'm sorry." She slid her arms around his waist, pressing her cheek to his chest. "I'm so sorry."

She felt Jag's arms rise to embrace her tightly, and his chin come to rest atop of her head. They held the embrace for a long moment, Jag's shoulders shaking with silent tears, and Jaina held him closer. After a few moments his shaking stopped, but the turmoil in Jag's soul only grew, and Jaina got the impression that there was more to Jag's sorrow than just Shawnkyr's death. She pulled away and met Jag's gaze searchingly.

"What is it?" she asked softly, not sure she wanted to know. There was so much pain in his eyes, so much guilt and uncertainty, that she knew something bad was about to happen.

Jag reached a hand to touch her cheek and she felt his fingers trembling. He brushed a loose strand of hair behind her ear and brought his hand to rest along the curve of her jawline. "I made Shawnkyr a promise on Borleias. I gave her my word."

He looked at her expectantly, and she nodded that she understood what that meant. "What did you promise her?" Jaina asked, her voice quaking.

Jag's expression twisted into one of turmoil. Jaina's hands began to shake and she suddenly found it hard to breathe. "I promised her that I would fulfill her duty."

Jaina swallowed hard, her heart pounding against her chest furiously. "What-" she began, but he voice broke. "What does that mean?"

"That means-" Jag swallowed, taking a deep breath and Jaina knew, even before he told her. "It means I have to return home."

 

-----------------------------------

 

For a long moment, Jaina didn't say anything. She closed her eyes and used a Jedi calming technique to soothe the panic threatening to overtake her. She was aware of Jag leaning close to her, could feel his concern, but she could not focus on him. Not yet. Not until she could open her eyes without crying.

He promised he wouldn't leave, she thought, her breath catching in her throat. Part of her wanted to be angry at him for breaking his promise, but she knew it was irrational to think like that. He didn't want to leave, she knew that for certain, but he had given Shawnkyr his word, and if there was one thing Jaina knew about Jag it was that he always stuck to his word.

"I'm sorry," Jag said softly, startling Jaina out of her meditation. She opened her eyes to see his face inches from hers. His pale green eyes bore into hers. "I don't want to go. I want to stay here, with you."

Jaina felt like demanding that he did, then, but she resisted the urge and nodded, unable to find her voice.

Jag touched her cheek tenderly. "I want nothing more than to stay with you, but I have to go. I gave her my word, and I owe it to her to return home and give my father a report. I've been putting it off because I didn't want to leave you."

"I know," Jaina said softly, her voice seeming small and weak even to her own ears. "And I know you have to go. I won't ask you to stay, even though I want to."

Jag gave her hand a grateful squeeze. "Thank you. I don't know that I could go if you did."

They sat in silence for a long moment, each wrapped up in the bleak situation before them. Neither wanted to part, but both knew they had to. It was logical, and, to honor Shawnkyr's memory, it was necessary. And if Jag could persuade the Chiss to send military support, it would be a great addition to the resistance movement. Both Jaina and Jag knew that he had to go, for many reasons, but that did little to ease the turmoil in either of their hearts.

"I'll be back," Jag promised, meeting her gaze. "I promise you. I won't stay away a moment longer than I have to."

"What if your father forbids you to come back?" Jaina asked hoarsely.

Jag's eyes bore into hers with an intensity that should have made her shiver, except she was already shaking. "Nothing will keep me from coming back to you. I swear it." His thumb brushed across her cheekbone and only then did Jaina realize she was crying. Jag's face contorted in pain and he leaned closer, kissing her cheek. "Please don't cry."

"I can't help it," Jaina said truthfully. "You're going away and I don't know if I'll ever see you again." Or if we'll both be killed before you can come back, she added to herself, unwilling to voice the horrible truth. The thought of not being together if-or when, more likely-one or both of them was killed was agony.

She hadn't believed that Jag's eyes could look anymore tortured until that moment. "You will," he said softly. "No one can stop me from seeing you again, not even the Yuuzhan Vong. I'll only be gone for a while, you won't even notice I'm gone." Although they both knew that wasn't true, neither chose to argue the point. "And we'll both survive these next few weeks and then we can be together again."

So the thought of not being there when she was in danger, or killed, was as terrible for him as it was for her. "What if we have to leave Mon Calamari?" she asked, steering away from the morbid image of Jag's clawcraft being shot down. "What if we have to leave before you get back?"

"Then I'll find you," Jag promised, stroking her cheek. "No matter what, I'll find you."

Jaina swallowed back tears, and reached a trembling hand to caress his cheek. "I know you will," she said quietly, trying to sound more certain, though she felt anything but. "When do you have to leave?"

Jag sighed, and Jaina felt his longing through their Force bond. "Tomorrow. My uncle gave me clearance to leave at sunrise."

Jaina nodded, wishing they could have more time than the few hours until his departure time. She was getting similar thoughts off of Jag, so she wasn't surprised when he bent his head to capture her lips in a gentle, passionate kiss. She snaked her arms around his neck, pulling herself against him. "I'd like to be carried away," she said softly.

Jag smiled. "I have the time if you do."

"I don't care if I have the time or not," Jaina replied honestly, pressing her lips to his. She felt Jag lean back onto the bed, taking her with him. She forced all thoughts of his leaving out of her mind, and let herself loose herself in his kisses.

 

-------------------------------

 

Jag Fel finished packing his flight bag and took one last glance around his room to make sure he hadn't forgotten anything. He knew that his room would probably be reassigned, at least for the duration of his absence, and he didn't want to leave anything behind.

Anything else, that is, he reminded himself with a bitter sigh. He wished he had not made that promise to Shawnkyr, or better yet, that she had not died at Borleias. He hated leaving Jaina, especially now, when things were so uncertain and she could be captured or killed at any moment. And he would be light-years away, helpless to do anything for her.

Jag Fel hated feeling helpless.

Shaking his head clear of those thoughts, he swung his bag over his shoulder, casting a glance out his transparisteel window. The skyline was dark, but the small pinpoint of light on the horizon was beginning to grow brighter and larger. He needed to get going, the sun would be up before long, and with it the inhabitants of the base. Particularly one inhabitant that he could not bear to say goodbye to.

He walked out of his room and down the corridor, and found himself stopped outside of Jaina's door. Although he did not want to say goodbye to her, he desperately wanted to see her before he left. She's still asleep, a voice in his head argued. Just peek in and look at her before you go.

Before he could change his mind, Jag entered the access code and stepped into her room. It was dark, but he could make out her sleeping form under the bedsheet, exactly where he had left her a few hours ago when he'd discreetly slipped out to pack his belongings. Moving with quiet steps, Jag made his way to the bed and knelt down so her could see Jaina's face.

She looked so peaceful that Jag couldn't help but smile. There was an innocence about her in sleep that was misleading. She didn't look like a skilled pilot or a powerful Jedi Knight, she looked like an angel, and it made Jag's heart swell. He reached out a hand to brush a loose strand of hair from her face, tucking it under the mass of disheveled hair on her pillow, and letting his hand rest on her cheek.

"I'll be back," he whispered. "I promise." He leaned in carefully and placed a gentle kiss on her cheekbone. She stirred, her nose crinkling as she shifted towards him, but did not wake up. Jag smiled to himself, stroking her cheek one last time, then stood and opened his duffel bag.

He pulled out the holomessage he had recorded for her in his room and placed it on the stand beside her bed. He had recorded it so that he could leave a piece of himself behind, with her, and he hoped it would bring her some comfort while he was gone.

He turned and strode back across the room, stopping at the door. He glanced back over his shoulder at Jaina, his heart catching in his throat. "I'll be back," he repeated, more to himself than to her. He opened the door and whispered, "I love you."

Then he stepped out into the hallway, the door sliding shut behind him, and he leaned against the wall. He took a few deep breaths to gather his composure. You have to go, he ordered himself. You promised Shawnkyr. You gave her your word.

Another part of him was raging, telling him to forget his promise. No one would ever know, it said. You could just stay here, with Jaina. You could look after her and protect her and hold her and no one would ever know.

"But I would know," he muttered to himself, shaking his head.

"Having conversations with yourself?" a familiar voice asked.

Jag looked up to see his uncle standing at the end of the corridor. "Uncle," he said, straightening quickly.

Wedge smiled. "Your powers of observation are astounding, Jag."

Jag couldn't help the small smile that crossed his lips. "Thank you, sir."

"Are you ready to leave?" Wedge asked, his smile fading.

Jag nodded. "Yes, sir." He gestured at his bag. "I was about to head to the hangar."

"I'll walk with you," Wedge offered, heading for the turbolift. Jag followed, easily matching his uncle's pace. They continued in silence as the turbolift carried them down towards the hangar, and Wedge studied him appraisingly. After a long moment, Wedge said, "I know it's not easy to say goodbye, even when it's only for a while, but if it makes it any easier, she'll be alright."

Jag looked up in surprise. He searched his uncle's eyes until realization dawned on him. "You know?"

Wedge nodded, a small smirk tugging at his lips. "How could I not? It's completely obvious, no matter how hard you two try to keep anyone from noticing."

Jag didn't know what to say, so he merely nodded as they entered the hangar.

"It's difficult to be apart," Wedge sympathized. "When Curscant was attacked, I had to leave without Iella and the girls. They got off in time, of course, but I didn't know that at the time. There was a long period of time that I didn't know what had become of them, and it was unbearable. The thought of not being there when they were in danger, or worse, killed, was horrifying."

Jag was careful to keep his expression clear "How did you handle it?" he asked quietly.

His uncle looked at him as they came to a halt next to Jag's clawcraft. "Military discipline has some benefits," he confessed with a small smile. His smile faded and he met Jag's gaze with serious eyes. "It's not going to be easy, Jag. The worry eats at you like a starving rancor. The uncertainty, the fear, you can't help it. What you can do is remember that you have a job to do. While you're out in the Unknown Regions, you just have to keep telling yourself that you can't help her, that you can't be there to protect her all the time, but that you can help protect others by convincing the Chiss to send military support."

Jag nodded. "I truly hope I can convince them. We should be fighting the Yuuzhan Vong with everything we have, not waiting until they are directly upon us."

Wedge clasped his shoulder. "Just do your best, Jag. And come back as soon as you can. You're too good of a pilot to loose, and I don't think Her Greatness will be very pleased if you don't return soon."

Jag extended his hand, which Wedge grasped firmly. "Watch her back, Uncle."

"Don't worry about Jaina Solo," Wedge assured him. "She can take care of herself just fine. And with so many Jedi around, I think they can keep her out of trouble."

Jag sincerely hoped so, but a nagging doubt in the back of his mind knew better. He let Wedge embrace him in a strong hug, which he returned, then stepped back. "Good luck here, General," he said, as he climbed into the cockpit of his clawcraft.

He didn't hear Wedge reply, "Good luck to you, too, Jag. I have a feeling you're going to need it."

------------------------------------

Luke Skywalker reached out with the Force and focused on the energy field shimmering before him. With a hard mental shove, he pushed past it and into Jaina Solo's room.

His niece sat in the transparisteel alcove, her knees hugged to her chest, gazing out at the horizon. She was wearing a pair of black fighting pants and a large white shirt that had once been Anakin's, with her hair pulled back in a thick but simple braid that hung down her back. Though he could not see her face, Luke could imagine the pained expression there.

"You weren't supposed to be able to do it," Jaina said accusingly, not turning around.

Luke smiled slightly. "Did you think I would teach you kids how to do it if I couldn't undo it? You would have used it all the time to escape punishment."

Jaina didn't reply, so Luke moved to stand beside her. He studied her profile in silence, noting with a pang of sorrow the similarity her features held to both Anakin and Jacen's. He turned his head and followed her gaze to the Calamari horizon, patiently waiting for her to speak. His patience paid of a few minutes later.

"He left," Jaina said quietly.

Two words, with a thousand more carrying over through their Force bond. "I know," Luke said softly. "I'm sorry."

Jaina nodded, accepting his sympathy. "So am I." She looked at him curiously, and Luke felt her gently probing him for his intentions. He drew back the shroud he wore around his presence and watched her face carefully. She sighed and looked down at her feet. "I suppose this talk has been coming for a while, hasn't it?"

"It has," Luke agreed, sitting beside her on the window sill.

Jaina nodded to herself, then met his gaze. "I failed you, Master. I let my anger and my pain lead me astray and lost myself in the dark side's grip."

Luke was pleased that she did not try to run from the conversation. That she had initiated it only proved how much she had grown over the past few months. "You are not the only one who has walked that path."

"I know," Jaina replied. "I know Master Solusar and Master Durron have, as well. And I know that you, too, fell into to dark side's clutches for a time."

"I sense a 'but' coming," Luke said evenly.

Jaina bit her lip. "I am the granddaughter of Darth Vader."

"You are the granddaughter of Anakin Skywalker," Luke corrected firmly.

"I can see his shadow, Uncle Luke. It's all around me. In my dreams I see him, as he was before he became a Sith Lord. I see him when he was my age. I can't see his face really, but I know it's him. There's so much pain in his heart, so much grief and anger and hatred for his enemies." Jaina shook her head gently. "I see so much of myself in him." Quietly, she added, "I see what I could become."

Luke was silent for a moment. Until Anakin's death, he had always assumed if any of the Solo children were to fall prey to the dark side, it would be impulsive, brash Anakin. Lately, though, Luke had come to realize that it was not the grandchild who had inherited Anakin Skywalker's name, but his temper, who was perhaps the most like the man who had become Darth Vader.

"You have put the dark side behind you, Jaina," Luke said. "I can see that when I look at you through the Force. You won't fall again."

Jaina nodded. "I think you're right," she agreed. "However, 'the future is always in motion', is it not?"

Luke managed a small smile. "Touche."

"Zekk was right," Jaina said softly. "About a lot of things, but one thing in particular. When he kept us from entering the temple on Yavin Four after the defeat of the Shadow Academy, he told me that the dark side was like a scar. That you could cover it up all you wanted, but it never really went away. He was right."

"No," Luke agreed. "It doesn't go away." Jaina looked at him in surprise, and Luke realized that she had been expecting him to disagree. He suddenly regretted that he had never openly discussed his own fall to the dark side with her, or with her brothers. "I still have scars from my own experience with the dark side, so does your Aunt Mara. The same goes for Kam and Kyp, as well. The things that we did while under the influence of the dark side stay with us for the rest of our lives, and that's a good thing."

Jaina looked at him incredulously. "How do you plot that course?"

Luke smiled. "Because we have those memories, those painful reminders of how wicked and strong the dark side is, we can keep ourselves from falling prey to it again. And we can try to keep others from doing the same."

"I'm sorry I let you down, Uncle Luke," Jaina said softly.

Luke shook his head. "You didn't let me down, Jaina. You fought the dark side's temptations and won. You tasted dark power and were strong enough to resist it and turn away from it." He met her gaze steadily. "You could not have made me more proud."

Jaina's cheeks flushed and she looked away. "I was weak. I let my grief overwhelm me."

"You lost your brothers," Luke said. "No one could expect you not to grieve."

"I'm not the only one who has lost loved ones," Jaina replied. "No one else has turned to the dark side."

"Yet," Luke reminded her with a weak smile.

Jaina's lips twitched slightly. "Yet," she agreed. She sighed and looked out the window. "Anakin and Jacen are both gone, Uncle Luke, and they're never coming back."

"Your mother believes Jacen is still alive," Luke reminded her.

Jaina met his gaze, her brandy brown eyes intense. "Do you?"

Luke hesitated, then let his shoulders slump. "No," he said quietly.

"Neither do I," Jaina said simply, turning her gaze back out the window.

Luke watched her for a long moment, studying her with his eyes and with the Force. Her eyes were framed with redness and lacked their usual brandy brown luster, and a terrible sadness clouded his perception of her through the Force. Reaching out a hand to rest on her knee, he said softly, "I can't begin to understand what it must be like for you, to loose Jacen. I can only imagine if I lost your mother..."

Jaina nodded. "You would feel like you'd been cut in half, like half of you was gone."

Luke bit his lip as his own grief over the loss of his nephews was enhanced by the horrible thought of loosing Leia. Although he and Leia had not been raised together as Jacen and Jaina had, they hadn't even met until they were eighteen, Luke and his twins sister shared a bond like no other, one that both supported and sustained him. He could not imagine living if her presence was suddenly gone.

"It was harder with Anakin, in a way," Jaina confessed softly. "I actually felt him die. I felt the Yuuzhan Vong reach deep into my chest and tear him out of me. It was like the part of me that was Anakin died along with him, and in its place is this cold, empty space, and it's never going to heal."

"No," Luke agreed hoarsely, his own chest aching. "It won't. But it will get better."

Jaina looked at him doubtfully. "How?"

"I don't know," Luke admitted. "I just know it will."

They sat in silence for a long time, and then Jaina spoke, her voice quiet and soft, bringing to mind the mental image of a much younger Jaina Solo. "Uncle Luke?"

"Yes?" Luke asked softly.

"I miss my brothers," Jaina said, her voice breaking. "I miss them so much."

Luke enfolded her into a hug and she buried her face in his shoulder. "I know, Jaina," he said hoarsely. "I miss them, too."

 

-----------------------------------

 

Jag waited patiently outside of his father's office. He had arrived only moments ago, and his father was still in a meeting with one of the representatives of the house of Nuroudo. Jag was slightly uneasy about facing Shawnkyr's family with the news that she had died while off "playing hero" with him, as he was quite sure they would see it.

He was thankful that his uncle had taken the liberty to inform his father about Shawnkyr's death and his return, Jag wasn't sure he could have broken the news right then.

As sad as he was to have lost Shawnkyr, who had been with him for as long as he could remember, he knew that there were always casualties in war. Especially this war. The fact that he had been the reason she was at Borleias at all did not escape him, and though he felt guilty for that, he knew that Shawnkyr would not have wanted him to.

She wouldn't have wanted to be dead, either, he thought bitterly. His memory served up the last conversation he'd had with her, and her words had echoed in his mind the entire trip home. I think that the idea of not being here when Jaina Solo is endangered, or killed, is what is keeping you here. But your duty is to our people, and only our people.

She had been half right. Jaina was the reason he stayed. Or the main reason, anyway. Jag wanted to be fighting with the resistance, he wanted to be flying in Twin Suns Squadron, he wanted to be among the brave men and women who were risking everything to save others, like his uncle General Antilles. Jag had practiced all his reasons why he needed to return right away, that the Vong had to be stopped, and that the harder they were fought in Republic space, the weaker their forces would be by the time they reached the Unknown Regions, but the most important reason of all was one he could not argue with his father.

I have a duty to Jaina, as well as to my people, Jag thought wearily. And if I have to choose between them... He shook his head, banishing such thoughts. He didn't have to choose between them, at least not yet, so why worry about it until he had to?

The door to his father's office slid open and out stepped a tall, menacing looking Chiss male whom Jag recognized as one of Shawnkyr's uncles. The Chiss gave Jag an icy glare, then strode past him without a word. Jag watched him go, then turned to see his father standing in the doorway, his eyes narrowed appraisingly.

"General," Jag said, executing a deep bow.

The Baron nodded. "Colonel Fel." He stepped aside and gestured to his office. "Please, come in. Have a seat."

As Jag sat down, he glanced around the office to see if anything had changed since he had been there last, just before he had departed for Hapes. It looked exactly as he remembered, even down to the howling winds whipping at the transparisteel.

"I trust you had a safe journey home?" his father asked.

"Yes, sir," Jag replied. "It was uneventful in any case."

"Good," Soontir said. "I'm glad to hear that." He glanced down at something on his desk, then looked back up at Jag. "I'm sorry to hear about Shawnkyr. She was an excellent pilot."

"Yes," Jag agreed. "She was." And a good friend, he added silently.

"Now," Soontir's face seemed to harden a little. "Your scouting mission has taken longer than expected, Colonel."

"Yes, sir, it has."

"Care to tell me why?"

"Our assistance was needed elsewhere," Jag answered truthfully.

"Elsewhere being under the command of General Antilles?" Soontir asked coolly.

Jag nodded curtly. "Yes, sir. Although, if I may make a correction, sir, I was not flying under the command of General Antilles."

"Yes, so I've heard," Soontir replied. "Tell me about this Twin Suns Squadron of yours, and why you felt it was appropriate to forget your duties to be a part of it."

Jag kept his eyes focused just above Soontir's head. "Twin Suns is an elite squadron focused on psychological warfare and Force-enhanced techniques."

"So you're telling me you're Force sensitive now?" Soontir asked evenly, but Jag did not imagine the spark of amusement in his cool eyes.

"No, sir," Jag replied. "Not anymore than you. However, one does not have to be a Jedi to work with Jedi. You yourself have flown with Luke Skywalker on more than one occasion."

Soontir looked thoughtful. "You were saying something about psychological warfare?"

"The Yuuzhan Vong think that Jaina Solo is associated with their Trickster Goddess Yun-Harla," Jag explained, ignoring the way his heart skipped a beat when he spoke Jaina's name. "The New Republic military is trying to play on that."

Soontir didn't even try to hide his surprise. "Why would they think that?"

"She is a twin, sir," Jag replied. Or was, he added silently, remembering Jaina's agony over loosing her twin brother. "To the Yuuzhan Vong twins are sacred. Yun-Harla was a twin, and Jaina has managed to execute one seemingly impossible trick after another."

"And General Antilles has decided to treat her as a Goddess?" Soontir asked.

"For military purposes, yes," Jag said. "It's been very interesting to watch Jedi Master Durron bow to her every whim. I think that's her favorite part of the operation, that and infuriating the Yuuzhan Vong."

"I imagine they are quite infuriated," Soontir nodded. "Have they attempted to silence her?"

"No, sir," Jag shook his head. "Their warmaster wants her alive. He promised their gods a twin sacrifice, and he cannot fulfill this until he has Jaina."

If Soontir noticed the tightness in Jag's voice as he spoke of the intended sacrifice, he didn't show it. Instead he looked thoughtful and asked, "And what of Jaina Solo's twin brother? Jacen, isn't it?"

"Jacen Solo is dead," Jag answered quietly. "He was captured and killed aboard the same worldship where their younger brother Anakin died."

Soontir's face remained emotionless. "I am sorry to hear that. This must be a terrible ordeal for the Solos. To loose both of their sons at once, and to have their daughter provoking the Yuuzahn Vong at every turn."

"It has been a trying time for all the Jedi," Jag said evenly. "Many have died fighting in this war."

"A war that you think we should be actively participating in?" Soontir asked, already knowing the answer.

"Yes, sir," Jag confirmed. "Every blow we strike at them out there makes them weaker when they arrive here. And they will arrive here, sir. It's only a matter of time. I for one would rather bring the fight to them."

A small smile tugged at his father's lips. "I am not surprised." He stood and Jag did the same. "We'll talk about these matters later. Your mother and your siblings are looking forward to seeing you. I have some work to finish up here, but I'm certain they would appreciate it if you went ahead to visit."

"Yes, sir," Jag replied, suddenly eager to see his mother, and even his younger brother and sister. He hadn't seen them in so long that he doubted the mental image he carried of them was still accurate.

"Tell your mother I will be home for dinner," Soontir said. "Dismissed, Colonel."

Jag bowed and backed out of the office feeling more at ease than when he had first arrived on planet. His father had not agreed to send military reinforcements, but he had not refused either. Nor had he said anything about Jag not returning to Twin Suns Squadron. Hurrying towards his speeder, Jag decided to make a point of informing his father that he was going back at dinner. The sooner he get that out in the open, the sooner he could return to his squadron.

And to Jaina.

 

---------------------------------------

 

 

Kyp Durron was exhausted.

Climbing down from his X-wing, he glanced over at Zekk to see if the younger Jedi was as tired from their training run. If possible, Zekk looked worse than Kyp felt.I guess we both need some rest, Kyp thought with a groan. Unlike Jaina.

Jaina jumped down from her X-wing looking vibrant and ready for anything. To the casual observer she looked happy and content, but Kyp was no casual observer. He was a Jedi Master, and Jaina just happened to be his closest friend. Through their Force bond, he could sense that she was still terribly sad over the loss of her brothers, and that she missed Jag fiercely, but she seemed to have settled something within herself.

Maybe that talk she had with Luke helped, Kyp mused as he rubbed his sore shoulder. She's been a lot more easygoing these past few weeks.

"Nice flying, mortals," Jaina called with a smirk.

Kyp grinned. "Thank you, Exalted One." He executed a dramatic bow. "Your Greatness honors us with her praise."

Zekk rolled his eyes, and Kyp shot him a glare. He had doubts about Jaina's decision to recruit Zekk as Jag's replacement pilot. The kid wasn't a spectacular pilot, but being strong in the Force allowed him to link up to Jaina and Kyp's Force bond, and Kyp had admit he was doing a pretty good job. However, Zekk seemed to have to struggle to address Jaina as a Goddess, and, though Jaina didn't mind, it was making Sharr and Piggy annoyed.

Oh well, Kyp sighed. He's Jaina's friend and I guess having him here helps ease the pain over Jag's absence. At the same time Kyp was uneasy with Zekk's feelings for Jaina so directly open through the Force. It was a little distracting, and Kyp didn't imagine it would sit well with Jag, but Jaina didn't seem to notice. Or if she did, she valued Zekk's friendship too much to risk loosing it by hurting him.

"Why don't all you mortals go get some rest, hmm?" Jaina suggested. Not waiting for a reply, she strolled over to Kyp's side. "I'm going to go find Tahiri and see if she wants to take a dip in one of the steam tubs. If you need me-" she grinned. "Well, you're a Jedi Master, I'm sure you can find me."

Kyp winked at her. "Have fun."

She nodded in reply, then turned and walked off with a graceful stride. Excellent godly exit, Jaina, Kyp called through he Force, and though she didn't stop or turn around, he could got the distinct impression that she stuck out her tongue at him.

Kyp laughed to himself, then headed into the base in search of Corran Horn. The two had decided to do some sparring after Rogue Squadron finished up with their sims, and Kyp was looking forward to a good workout-which was guaranteed when Corran Horn was around.

Although Kyp and Corran had never really gotten along very well, particularly during the early stages of the Yuuzhan Vong war, Kyp respected him and admitted, to himself at least, that there was a lot he could learn from him.

A wry smile lit Kyp's face as he imagined Corran's expression if he ever told him that.

Now, he told himself. To find Colonel Horn.

He reached out with the Force and searched for Corran's familiar presence. He wasn't hard to find, he was in the pilots' lounge, where Kyp should have known he would be. He gave Corran a tentative mental shrug, asking if he was ready to spar, and received an affirmative nudge in reply. With a small smile, Kyp strolled down the corridor towards the pilots' lounge.

He was disconnecting himself from the Force when it happened.

It hit him like a concussion grenade, slamming into him so hard he stumbled back into the wall. Pain, terrible and fierce pain screamed at him through the Force, and a white light flashed behind his eyes. He saw a young man with scruffy dark hair dressed in a tattered jumpsuit, a purple blade ticking back and forth in his hands.

Jacen!

And just as suddenly as it had come, Jacen's presence was gone again. Shaking, Kyp reached out with the Force, searching for him, but there was only cold darkness.

Jacen was gone, but he was alive.

Jacen was alive.

Taking a deep breath to relax his shaking, Kyp turned and found Corran stumbling towards him, his own face twisted into a look of disbelief. "You felt it, too?" Kyp asked, his voice coming out hoarse.

Corran only nodded, obviously shaken.

"Then there's a good chance the others did, too," Kyp said. "Come on, we need to find Master Skywalker."

It wasn't until they had reached Luke and Mara's quarters that realization struck Kyp. If they had felt Jacen, then surely... "Jaina," he cried, just as the door slid open to reveal Luke standing there.

"Come in," Luke said calmly, but there was an energy about him, an excitement in his eyes and Kyp knew that Luke had felt his nephew, too. As they stepped into the room, Kyp saw that they were not the only ones who had come to see Luke. Han and Leia were already there, both smiling and talking to Mara, and Kyp spotted Cilghal and Kenth Hamner among the Jedi gathered inside.

"Jacen's alive, isn't he?" Kyp asked without preamble.

Luke grinned. "Yes. He's alive."

A surprisingly strong wave of relief rolled over Kyp and he gave a low sigh. "That's wonderful." He looked at Han and Leia. "I'm so glad for you both. I know it doesn't make the hurt of Anakin's death go away, but at least Jacen is still alive."

Leia smiled at him. "Thank you, Kyp. I appreciate that."

Han flashed him a lopsided smile. "Yeah, what Her Worshipness said." He gave his wife an affectionate look. Lowbacca growled something from the corner of the room where the younger Jedi were talking eagerly, and Han frowned. "I don't know where Jaina is," he said, looking around the room. He shot Kyp a questioning look. "Have you seen her?"

Kyp shrugged. "She told me she was going to go with Tahiri to soak in the steam tub."

Before the words had even left his mouth a nagging feeling tugged at his mind. Something wasn't right. Something wasn't right about Jaina and Tahiri, he could feel it, but he wasn't sure what it was. They're probably just emotional because Jacen's alive, he told himself. As happy and relieved as they both must be, it's probably devestating to know that Anakin won't be coming back.

That didn't seem right, though, and something told Kyp that Jaina was up to something. He reached into his robes and pulled out his commlink. "Jaina?" he called over her frequency. "Jaina, are you there?"

There was no answer. Han shrugged. "Maybe she just turned it off."

Leia frowned. "Why would she do that?" she asked, something in her voice alluding to the uneasiness Kyp was feeling.

Luke shook his head. "She wouldn't, not unless-"

Kyp's eyes went wide. "Not unless she doesn't want us to be able to reach her."

Luke glanced at him curiously, and Kyp saw him blink in sudden realization. Both Jedi Masters moved for the comm-station at the same time and Luke quickly hailed General Antilles. "Wedge, this is Luke. I need you to ground Jaina immediately! Right away!"

Wedge looked nervous. "Why?'

"Jacen's alive," Luke explained. "We all just felt him. Jaina's planning to go after him herself. We need to stop her."

Wedge looked pale. "It's too late for that," he said.

Luke started. "What?'

Wedge gave him an apologetic look. "The Jade Shadow just left the atmosphere," he said regretfully. "Jaina and Tahiri are already gone."

Kyp expressed everyone present's feeling with one word. "Sithspawn!"

 

--------------------------------------

 

Jag Fel had never realized how different his family was from most.

Sitting in his chair at the dinner table, listening to the polite conversation about his brother Wik's recent promotion to lieutenant, he wondered what Jaina would make of his family.

Don't go there, a voice in his head warned. Once you start thinking about her, you'll never get your mind off of her.

"Don't you agree, Jag?"

Jag blinked, startled out of his thoughts. "What?"

His younger sister Zena was looking at him expectantly. "I said, we should be out fighting beside the Republic, don't you agree?"

"Yes," Jag nodded. "Of course. The harder we fight them in Republic space, the weaker they will be when we have to fight them here."

"The Republic forces aren't even hurting the Yuuzhan Vong," Wik scoffed.

Jag shot him a glare. "Actually, that's not true. General Antilles has executed some brilliant tactics that have severely hurt the Vong."

Syal smiled. "That's my brother. Always causing trouble for his enemies."

Soontir grunted. "Yes, I do remember that about him," he said darkly.

Syal laughed, and Jag couldn't help but smile to himself. His family may have been different from most, but they were still a family.

"Besides," Soontir said. "Jagged was telling me about some psychological warfare tactics the Republic is using against the Vong."

Jag groaned to himself. So much for keeping my thoughts off of Jaina. Not that he minded, of course. Jaina was nice to think about. It was the distance between them that wasn't.

"Psychological warfare?" Zena asked, eagerly leaning forward.

Jag nodded. "The Yuuzhan Vong believe that Jaina Solo is associated with their Goddess Yun-Harla. We have been playing on it quite a bit."

More like every hour of every day, he thought with a mental sigh. It would be nice if he and Jaina could spend some time alone without having to make sure no one was around to witness it.

"How so?" Syal asked curiously.

"Jaina is a Jedi and very strong in the Force," Jag answered. "She is also a brilliant tactician. She and Master Kyp Durron have been integrating the Force into our tactics, since the Yuuzhan Vong can not detect the Force."

Wik frowned. "I thought the Force didn't work against the Yuuzhan Vong."

"It doesn't," Jag replied. "However, it does work on torpedoes." Seeing the confused looks on his family's faces, he explained. "The Vong can detect an incoming torp from it's ion trail. Jaina and Kyp can launch torps with the Force and guide them across space to their targets mentally. we call them shadow bombs."

Even his father looked impressed. "That's an interesting method," Soontir admitted.

Jag nodded. "It's just one of many that Jaina has devised. She and Kyp seem to enjoy thinking up new ways to harass the enemy, and the Vong can't figure out how she does the things she does."

"Which leads them to wonder if she really might be their Goddess," Zena concluded with a grin. "That's stellar!"

Jag smiled slightly. "It works."

"What about this Goddess business?" Syal asked. "I assume that Jaina has to keep the charade up constantly?"

"Yes," Jag said. "Even Master Skywalker is calling her Exalted One."

Soontir's eyebrows went up. "Luke is calling his own niece Exalted One?'

Jag nodded. "He's not the only one. Everyone has to treat her like she really is a goddess constantly, just in case any Vong spies are around."

"So they've got you bowing to this girl's every whim?" Wik smirked.

Jag glared at him. "I wouldn't say that. Jaina is taking it very lightly." she's taking me very seriously he added to himself.

Wik opened his mouth to say something when his father's commlink beeped. Soontir turned it on and said, "Yes, Nykan?"

"Excuse me for interrupting your dinner, sir," Nykan said. "But there is a call coming through for Colonel Fel. From a Kyp Durron."

Instantly Jag's blood went cold. He could only think of one reason for Kyp to call, and it was not a reason Jag was capable of handling, much less in front of his family.

"Did he say what it was about?" Jag asked, his voice coming out hoarse and faint. He felt everyone looking at him curiously, but he didn't care. All he cared about was Jaina, and he knew without a doubt that Kyp's message was about her. Somehow, he didn't think it was good news.

"Only that it was urgent," Nykan replied after Soontir relayed the question. "And that it had to do with the Great One."

"Thank you, Nykan," Soontir said, shutting off his commlink. He looked at Jag with curious eyes. "You can take it in my room," Soontir offered.

Jag nodded, unable to speak. He stood and walked towards his parents' room, barely able to breathe. His heart was pounding wildly, but his steps felt heavy and sluggish. His hands were trembling and for all his years of military discipline he could not stop them. The terror that seized him was soul wrenching, and the thought of what Kyp was about to say filled him terrible dread.

He entered the room and somehow managed to close the door behind him. The comm station was already turned on and as soon as he slid his ID, Kyp Durron's face appeared on screen, looking angry, scared, worried and down right pissed off all at once.

"Jag, thank the Force!" Kyp cried. "You have to come back! Right away!"

Jag swallowed, his throat dry. "Jaina...?" he could not even voice his fears aloud. He couldn't even think them, or he would fall apart, he knew he would. Jaina was his one weakness. He couldn't live without her.

"She's gone after Jacen," Kyp replied grimly. Before Jag could comprehend that, before he could comprehend anything except that Jaina was alive, Kyp hurried on. "We all felt a...a surge in the Force. It was Jacen. He's alive after all."

"She went to rescue him?" Jag asked, finally shaking off the dark fog clouding his mind. "Alone?" Kyp gave a grim nod in reply. "Why didn't you stop her?" Jag demanded.

"She was too fast," Kyp answered, sounding annoyed. "By the time Luke and I realized she would be going after him, she had already been given clearance to take the Jade Shadow out. She and Tahiri were gone before we could stop them."

Jag clenched his teeth together to keep from screaming in frustration. "Do you have any idea where she was headed?"

"Coruscant," Kyp replied. "We're sending Twin Suns in to find her."

Coruscant? Hadn't Luke and Tahiri just been on Coruscant? Jag shook his head clear of the pointless thoughts. "I'm coming with you," he declared.

Kyp actually smiled. "I sort of figured that." He glanced down at something, then looked up at Jag. "Can you meet us halfway? I'll send you the coordinates."

Jag nodded, not bothering to think about if it was possible to get there in time. Jaina was in danger, he would get there, no matter what it took. "I'll leave immediately."

"Thank you," Kyp said. "Now, if you'll excuse me, we have a runaway Goddess to find. May the Force be with you."

After the Jedi Master's image cut away, Jag waited only for the coordinates to print out before heading back to the dinning room. He walked briskly to the table and stood, his eyes on his father. Everyone else's eyes were on him.

"I must go," Jag said, in what he hoped was an even tone. "I am needed in the Core Sector."

"What for?" Syal asked, with curiosity, not anger.

Jag gave her a grateful glance. "Jaina Solo is in grave danger," Jag replied. "I have to go to her."

"What sort of danger might that be?" Soontir asked evenly.

Jag turned to face him. "Jacen Solo is alive, it seems. Jaina and most of the Jedi on Mon Calamari all felt his presence on Coruscant. Before anyone could stop her, Jaina took her aunt's ship and is headed there now, to rescue her twin."

"A dangerous thing to do," Syal commented. "But also a very brave one."

Jag nodded. "There's more to it, though. Jaina isn't thinking clearly. The Yuuzhan Vong want to capture her so that they can sacrifice the twins to their gods. Jaina could be walking directly into a trap."

"And even if it's not a trap," Soontir finished grimly. "She's walking right into their clutches."

"Yes," Jag agreed. "That is why I must go."

Soontir's eyes narrowed. "Shouldn't the New republic be sending their own people after her?"

Jag couldn't help but hear the emphasis his father put on the words their own. "They are sending a squadron to intercept her," he answered. "Twin Suns Squadron. That is why Master Durron called. To request that I lend my assistance and return to the squadron earlier than I had planned."

Soontir kept his face emotionless, and Jag wished he could use the Force like Jaina could to know what he was thinking. After a long pause, his father replied, "That is not the reason you are going, Colonel." His cool black eyes bore into Jag's. "If you expect me to allow you to return to this squadron, then I would like to know the real reason."

Jag met his father's gaze. "I love her, sir," he confessed evenly. "I don't intend to stand by and let her die."

It was his mother who spoke. "Love?" she asked with a mild tone. "This is about love?"

Jag did not take his eyes off of his father's unreadable face, his chest tight in anticipation of his father's reply. "Yes, ma'am, in part."

"Then why are you still here?" Syal asked.

Jag jerked his head to look at her. "What?' he asked.

Syal smiled at him and Jag could see the similarity to Wedge in her smile. "If you love her," she said as she stood and embraced her son warmly. "Then go to her."

Jag looked at his father. "Sir?" he asked softly.

Soontir raised his chin. "You're going to go regardless of what orders I give, aren't you?"

"Yes, sir."

Soontir sighed. "Go rescue Jaina Solo." Jag felt the tightness in his chest ease slightly. "After that, your orders are to relinquish yourself into the command of General Antilles. He may place you where he sees fit."

Jag managed to keep the surprise off his face, but he could not help but smile. "As you wish, sir." He turned to go when his father stopped him.

"Oh, and Jagged?"

Jag turned to look at his father inquisitively.

"Perhaps you could send your mother a holo every once and a while? I'm certain she would appreciate that."

Jag nodded. "Of course."

"And at some point we would like to meet this girl who my son has fallen in love with," Syal added with a smile.

Jag gave her a kiss on both cheeks. "Certainly, Mother." He looked at his brother and sister, who had been silent the whole discussion.

Zena stood and placed a kiss on his cheek. "Be careful, Jagged."

"You should head your own advice," Jag reminded her.

Wik shook Jag's hand. "Good luck, Jagged." He offered him a sharp salute. "Safe travels, Colonel."

Jag saluted him back. "And you, as well, Lieutenant."

Jag hurried from his parents' quarters and sprinted towards the hangar bay. He was relieved that things went so well with his parents, and even more relieved that his father had given him permission to stay with Twin Suns Squadron. He was even relieved that his parents knew he and Jaina had a relationship.

You won't have much of a relationship at all if you don't get there in time to save her, he reminded himself. He climbed into his cockpit and began his preflight check, his lips set in a grim line.

Hold on, Jaina. I'm coming, he thought out at the stars, hoping somehow she could hear him. And when I get you back, I'm never leaving you again.

 

---------------------------------------------

 

Shouts echoed through the crumbling hallways. Angry, harsh voices yelled in the Yuuzhan Vong tongue.

Jeedai.

There were Jeedai in the battered palace, moving swiftly and dispensing anyone who got in their way. They were dangerous, and they had already killed a dozen warriors as they made their way through the palace. They were females, two of them, and Tsavong Lah wanted one of them alive.

She knew who it was that the guards were looking for. They wanted the Pretender, the one who dared to call herself Yun-Harla, who defied the Yuuzhan Vong gods and bore the title Trickster with a sneer.

She was here, and she had come for her brother.

She broke into a run, heading immediately for the detention block. Time was running out, and if she didn't act fast...

There was an explosion ahead, from the location she was headed for. The shock sent her into the wall and she nearly fell, but caught herself and pushed on. There was smoke billowing into the corridor, and she smelled something burning.

She stumbled around the corner just in time to see the Jeedai reach their destination.

The Pretender was there, slicing her violet blade through the iron door between her and her twin, a determined scowl on her face. The One Who Was Shaped was beside her, swinging her blue blade back and forth, fending off thud bugs being thrown at them and yelling curses at the Yuuzhan Vong in their native tongue.

They didn't see the warrior dropping from the ceiling until it was too late. The One Who Was Shaped whirled to attack, but it was too late. An amphistaff shot through her throat and she fell back, gasping blood.

The Pretender screamed her name, dark fury in her eyes. She sliced the door open and threw herself at her friend's murderer, driving her blade across his head with a sickening screech. His head rolled off his shoulders, and she kicked his body out of her way before engaging the other warriors behind him.

The door crashed outward into the hallway and the male twin emerged, looking tattered and bloody, but determined. He screamed his sister's name and called the blue blade the fallen Jeedai had dropped into his hands, then joined his twin in battle.

Out of the shadows stepped Nom Anor, hurling a razor bug at the female's back. She whirled, batting it aside with her blade, and scowled at him. She extended her hand and the ceiling began to cave in on top of him.

With a satisfied smile the Pretender returned her attention to the battle around her.

Except that now they were surrounded, and Tsavong Lah was making his way down the corridor. There were two voxyn straining to get loose from a guard in the next hallway, and Tsavong Lah had a nerve gas vial in his hand.

Realizing that he was going to render them unconscious and take them captive, the Pretender looked at her twin, speaking to him through an unspoken bond, and looked over her shoulder at the transparisteel.

Following her thoughts, her brother nodded and took her hand in his. They extended their hands and the entire building began to shake as the walls and ceiling began to crumble. The air itself began to grow hot and flames erupted from the floor, reaching hungrily for the Yuuzhan Vong warriors.

The Pretender squeezed her brother's hand, and they launched themselves out of the transparisteel and began to plummet towards the ground below
.


Vergere awoke with a start, her vision fading away as she blinked at her surroundings. She was in the small quarters the Yuuzhan Vong had given her, deep in meditation. She took a deep breath, and concentrated on the images she had just seen.

As her vision, and the meaning behind it, became clear to her, she pushed to her feet and hurried out of the room towards the detention block. She walked right past the guards, who knew she was allowed into the prisoner's cell, and flung open the door.

The tattered young man looked up at her from beneath dark eyebrows, and for a moment she stopped, remembering a young Jedi with similar features whom she had known a lifetime ago.

Jacen Solo was no Anakin Skywalker, though, and Vergere supposed that was a good thing.

"Vergere?" Jacen asked, sensing her anxiety. "What is it?"

Vergere supposed that Jacen was what human females found attractive. With his dark hair and brooding dark eyes she could see why they might think that. But what Vergere thought was Jacen's best feature was the concerned smile he flashed at people whenever he sensed there was something wrong.

Right now, though, she found that smile unnerving. "Your sister is coming," she said quietly.

Jacen's eyes widened in horror. "Jaina's coming here?"

Vergere nodded. "She and the One Who Was Shaped are on their way."

Jacen looked pale and his hands were shaking. "They can't get her. Vergere, they can't take my sister!"

"I know, young Solo," Vergere replied softly. "That is why we must hurry. We have much to do if we are to be ready to help your sister when she arrives, and all escape with our lives."

Jacen nodded, looking dazed. "Jaina..." he whispered in awe, and, Vergere noticed, a twinge of fear. Sensing her eyes on him, Jacen looked up at her. "Is she still...?" he trailed off, uncertain how to say it, uncertain he could say it.

Vergere gave him a slight smile. "Your sister is no longer in the clutches of the dark side, young one." Jacen's eyes lit up with relief and he opened his mouth to speak, but Vergere cut him off. "But if we are not ready when she arrives, she will walk right into the clutches of Tsavong Lah."

Jacen's face hardened with steely resolve, and Vergere was again amazed at the fierce bond between the Solo twins. Not for the first time, she wondered if the same was true between the Skywalker twins. She supposed it was, if Anakin's children were anything like their father.

"That isn't going to happen," Jacen said firmly. "Jaina is not going to be taken, no matter what."

Vergere nodded. "Then we must act quickly, no?"

Jacen's brown eyes were sharp. "What do you need me to do?"

 

-------------------------------------

 

Aunt Mara is going to kill me.

Jaina Solo sighed, shaking her head. There was no point in worrying about that now. What was done was done, and she would just have to deal with Mara when she got back.

She checked the consoles again to make sure they were still on course through hyperspace, nodded with content when she saw that they were nearing Curscant, then pushed out of her seat and into the back of the ship where Tahiri was practicing against a remote. Jaina leaned against the wall, watching her friend deftly reflect bolts across her indigo blade.

Tahiri was a puzzle, one that Jaina hated to think about at times. She loved Tahiri as if she was a sister, and she very well may have become one by marriage one day, and that was precisely the problem. Tahiri had been Anakin's girlfriend, the love between them carrying through the Force, and the pain over loosing him surrounded her like a heavy cloak. Jaina's own anguish over her little brother's death burned so fiercely in her veins that she woke up sweating at night, but Jag Fel helped ease some of that pain.

Tahiri's anguish could not be soothed, though, because the only person she truly loved was dead.

It broke Jaina's heart to look at her, and to wonder what might have been if Anakin had lived.

Tahiri might not have been alive at all if it wasn't for Anakin. When the Vong had attacked Yavin Four, Anakin had run off to rescue her and the other students by himself. Jaina had been terrified for her brother while he was gone, and angry when her uncle refused to let her go after him, but Anakin had proven himself on Yavin Four, when he had saved Tahiri from a fate worse than death.

The Vong had been trying to shape Tahiri into one of them, had brainwashed her into thinking that the Jedi had kidnapped her and were her enemy. Jaina shuddered to think how many Jedi Tahiri could have killed had Anakin not intervened and placed his life in her hands to bring her back to her own mind. Jaina always wondered how he had managed it.

Another monumental victory for my little brother, Jaina thought to herself. He always was the hero. She turned to look through Mara's weapons locker so Tahiri wouldn't see the tears welling up in her eyes. She knew Tahiri was devastated without Anakin, and she didn't need Jaina reminding her of her loss.

"It's okay for you to cry in front of me, you know," Tahiri said, switching off the remote and clipping her lightsaber back at her belt.

Jaina looked at her in surprise.

"I know when people are trying to keep me from seeing them cry by now," Tahiri shrugged. "And it's nice that you care and all, but it's not necessary. I'm not going to loose it because you're sad about your brother. I know you love him, too, and I know that you miss him just as much as I do. Maybe more."

Jaina wondered if that was possible. The pain radiating off of Tahiri was like a Hoth blizzard, and a severe one at that. She didn't know what to say to that.

Tahiri noticed and sat down in one of the hover chairs in the corner and fixed Jaina with her cool emerald stare. "I know you just don't want to make me think about him," Tahiri said evenly. "But I think about him every second, regardless. You aren't going to make me feel any worse than I already do." She averted her eyes. "Nothing can."

Jaina went to her side and slid her arms around her shoulders. "I know," she said softly. "I can't imagine what it's like for you, but I know how terrible it is for me, and it's unbearable."

Tahiri looked at Jaina, tears shimmering in her eyes. "He told me he loved me," she said hoarsely. "That's how he brought me back on Yavin Four. He told me he loved me and I remembered."

Jaina squeezed Tahiri's shoulders. "He did love you, anyone could see that. He loved you so much."

"He loved you, too," Tahiri replied softly. "He always felt like you understood him better than Jacen did, like you really cared about what he thought and what he wanted."

"Jacen cared, too," Jaina said. "He was just always too hard on Anakin."

"He wanted Jacen to be proud of him," Tahiri said quietly.

"He was," Jaina whispered. It was true, too. Even when they were fighting about the Force, even when they weren't speaking to each other for days at a time, Jacen was always proud of Anakin. He had been proud to call Anakin his brother.

"Did you scream?" Tahiri asked after a long silence.

"What?" Jaina asked, breaking away from her thoughts.

Tahiri looked up at her. "Did you scream, when you felt him die?"

For the first time Jaina saw the true depth of the pain Tahiri was suffering. She saw the shadows around the younger girl's heart, felt the empty blackness whirling inside of her, and knew the cold, icy feeling of loosing the man she loved.

Jaina swallowed back a sob. "Yes," she said hoarsely. "I screamed." Bitting her lip, she added, "And then I screamed at Jacen some more."

"Do you still blame him?" Tahiri asked, studying he carefully.

Jaina sighed. This had been the very question she had been asking herself ever since she felt Jacen's surge in the Force several days earlier. "Somewhat," she admitted, since this was Tahiri. Seeing that her friend was about to protest, she hurried on. "I don't blame him for doing what Anakin asked. I understand that we had to finish the mission. But I would never have left Anakin behind. Never."

"Maybe that's why Anakin left Jacen in charge," Tahiri said softly.

Jaina started. She hadn't thought of that. "And I proved he was right to do so when I abandoned the mission and went back for his body."

Tahiri gave her a weak attempt at a smile. "You weren't the only one."

Maybe you were right to leave Jacen in charge instead, little brother, Jaina thought. But that doesn't mean that Jacen was right to leave you. "I don't think I'm mad at Jacen for leaving Anakin," she said slowly. "Or not that much, anyways. I think I'm angry that he dragged me away. That he wouldn't let me stay with Anakin and help him."

"He was beyond help, Jaina," Tahiri replied gently. "He was already dying."

"You would have gone back," Jaina accused.

"Yes, I would have," Tahiri admitted. "And then we would both be dead, and how would that make Anakin feel?" She leaned closer to Jaina and met her gaze with an intensity in her eyes that made Jaina shiver. "I know you wanted to fight beside him to the end, and if it came to it, die beside him. I wanted to, too. But, Jaina, can you imagine how horrible it would have been for Anakin? To face his own death knowing that we were throwing our lives away to die beside him?"

Jaina was surprised to hear Tahiri say that, and it must have showed, because Tahiri forced a small, sad smile onto her face, one that made Jaina's heart break for her.

"I know, I know, everyone thinks that I'm wishing I had died there with him," Tahiri said. "And I guess I have been. But Anakin had to have been happy, knowing that you and Jacen and I- and all the others-were alive and escaping."

"You've really thought a lot about this," Jaina said. "Haven't you?"

Tahiri shrugged. "It's kind of hard not to."

Jaina squeezed her hand. "I know. It's hard for me not to think about him, too." She paused, biting her lip. "Can I ask you something?" she said in a hushed voice. Tahiri nodded. "How did you resist the dark side when he died? Weren't you tempted?"

"I was," Tahiri said simply. "But I was too depressed to be angry, and whenever I felt my anger welling up inside of me, there you were and I saw what the dark side did, and it just sort of faded. It didn't go away, but it wasn't uncontrollable anymore."

"Do you think I was weak for giving in?" Jaina asked softly, swallowing hard.

"Yes," Tahiri replied honestly, and Jaina winced. "But not in the way you think," Tahiri said. "I think that everything you felt was normal and understandable and that you needed an outlet for all those dark emotions, and the dark side was an easy way to deal with the pain. I don't think you were weak for using the dark side, I think you were weak for pushing everyone away like you did." Jaina opened her mouth to protest, and Tahiri held up a hand, cutting her off. "I know you said you did it to spare everyone the pain when you were killed, but I don't think that's true. I think you were doing it to spare yourself the pain of loosing anyone else that you loved. That's why I think you were weak."

Jaina expected to feel some anger over Tahiri's words, but surprisingly she only felt a calm acceptance. "You're right."

Tahiri swueezed her leg. "Don't feel too bad. We've all had moments of weakness during this war. We are only human, after all."

Jaina raised an eyebrow. "When did you get so insightful?"

Tahiri smiled. "Hanging around with your brother too much, I suppose." Her smile faded and she studied Jaina's face for a long moment, biting her lip. "You look like him, you know," she said quietly. "Your smiles are the same and you both have your mother's slender nose." She shrugged. "Anakin has your uncle's eyes, though."

"And his chin," Jaina added. "They both have those little clefts in their chins that make them look boyish."

"And both of them always have ruffled hair," Tahiri said with a sad smile.

Jaina hugged her again. "It'll be okay, Tahiri." She pulled back and offered her a lopsided smile. "Just don't ask me how, alright? I threw that one at Uncle Luke already."

Tahiri smiled at her. "And did he have an answer?"

"He said he didn't know how, that he just knew it would," Jaina replied with a sympathetic shrug.

"Then it will be," Tahiri said, sounding confident. "He's a Jedi Master, after all. He must know what he's talking about by now, right?"

Jaina grinned. "He likes to think so, at least."

 

---------------------------------------------

 

 

Colonel Jagged Fel was impatient.

He was scared, really, and he didn't like being scared, which made him impatient, which made him angry. Sighing, he checked his diagnostics to make sure he was still on course.

He was traveling through hyperspace with the other ten Twin Suns pilots, one short since Jaina was missing. Although it felt odd to be flying under Kyp's command instead of Jaina's, Jag had to admit it felt good to be back with them.

Now if only Jaina was here it would be perfect, Jag thought with a sigh.

His trip through hyperspace had proved to be long and restless, but it had given him time to think. About the war, about his family, but mostly about Jaina.

Jaina. Beautiful, brave, intoxicating Jaina Solo. He remembered the first time he laid eyes on her on the Tafanda Bay before the battle of Ithor. She had taken his breath away. She still did that to him whenever he saw her. Whenever she walked into the room his heart skipped a beat and his breath caught in his throat. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, and knowing that she was his made him dizzy whenever he thought about her.

He had never expected to fall in love with her. He had never expected to fall in love at all. He had even tried to fight it, to deny what he was feeling, but just being around her was intoxicating, and his will had crumbled every time she looked at him.

The skirmish over Borleias had been his breaking point. Jaina had been in danger then, and he had been willing to sacrifice himself to get her out of there. When she had plunged back into the battle to rescue him, he had come to understand that she felt the same way he did, and in the face of death she had done the only thing she could do; save the man she loved.

Jag would never forget that first kiss in the conference room on Borleias, that deep, longing kiss that had spoken all of the passions, all of the desires, that they had been keeping locked away. In that one moment, Jag had truly been free.

He wondered if Jaina had felt that way, too, if she had felt that same relief as all their tortured barriers faded away and they let themselves love one another.

Maybe you can ask her, he told himself. After you rescue her that is.

He refused to think if, because he knew that once he started thinking that way he would go crazy. He couldn't imagine life without Jaina anymore than he could life without flying. She had become such an intricate part of his life, of him, that the though of loosing her was unbearable.

And not just for him.

"We will find her," Kyp had said firmly. "Even if we have to tear apart the entire planet itself. We are not leaving without her."

In that moment, hearing Kyp's voice break with intensity, Jag had realized how deeply Kyp cared for Jaina. The Jedi Master wasn't in love with her, even Jag knew that, but he did love her, and the idea of living without Jaina in his life was as unbearable for Kyp as it was for Jag.

Kyp Durron had lost his family years before Jag had ever met him, and he could relate to the Jedi Master's sense of loneliness. He missed Davin and Cherith more than he could ever say. But while Jag still had his parents, and two younger siblings, Kyp had no one.

Well, not no one, Jag conceded with a smile. He has Jaina.

Not even Jaina and Kyp were sure how to define their relationship, so Jag didn't even bother trying. He understood that their was nothing romantic between them, but it was still painful at times, to see how close they were and to know that no matter what, he could never share that kind of intimate bond with Jaina. He was jealous of that, he couldn't deny that, but he was glad that Jaina had someone to share herself with in that way. Someone to understand the things that Jag couldn't understand, someone who knew her inside and out, someone who could offer guidance and advice, but never pushed.

Sometimes Jag wished he was a Jedi, so he could have that closeness with Jaina. He wasn't, though, and he never would be, so he had to accept that Jaina and Kyp were ... whatever they were.

As he made the transition into realspace, Jag's commlink crackled, and the Jedi Master's voice filled his cockpit. "Ready for some trouble, boys? I've got incoming skips strafing the planet's atmosphere. They're headed this way."

Jag glanced at his sensors, but they remained blank.

"The Force, Fel," Kyp said dryly. "Jedi, remember?"

Jag bit back an annoyed remark. He didn't try to conceal his aggravation, though, and he heard Kyp chuckle to himself. Jedi, he thought with mock disgust.

"Piggy, your group break left. I'll break right," Kyp ordered. "Twin Suns Three, Twin Suns Four, on me."

Jag fell into formation along side Kyp, anxious about flying the shield trio without Jaina. He knew that Corran Horn, a Rogue Squadron legend and a Jedi Knight, was flying as Twin Suns Four for the sole purpose of giving Kyp a hand in case there was any need of Force techniques, but Jag didn't think it would work as well as it did with Jaina.

"Don't worry about me, Colonel," Corran said with a light leer. "I've managed not get myself killed, haven't I?"

Jag felt his cheeks warm in embarrassment. "My apologies, Colonel Horn. I wasn't implying that you weren't capable. It's just that-"

"No explanations necessary," Corran assured him. "It's only natural for you to think Jaina would do it better. She's younger, got faster reflexes, she's had practice with you, she's close to Kyp, and you're in love with her."

Jag couldn't help his startled surprise that Corran knew about his relationship with Jaina. After a pause he realized that he probably shouldn't be so surprised. Corran was, after all, a Jedi, and Jag was beginning to think that it was not as easy as he had thought to keep secrets from a Jedi. "This is one of those benefits of being a Jedi, I assume?" he asked. "Knowing all the gossip before the HoloNet reporters?"

Corran laughed. "Yes, I suppose so."

"Can we focus, here?" Kyp said dryly. "We have a Goddess to save, remember? Short woman, brown hair, brown eyes, pretty smile? Temper like a Ryloth heat storm?"

Jag smiled to himself at the accurate description, though he thought that pretty was too plain of a word for Jaina.

"Right," Corran said. "Let's go save us a pair of Solos."

Jag had almost forgotten that Jacen was on Curscant, too, but now he realized that Kyp's plan was based around more than just rescuing Jaina. They were going to find Jacen, too, and get both twins back to their parents.

Jag truly hoped they could save them both, but if it came down to it, came down to leaving one of them behind... well, he knew that he and Kyp were going to be going after the same twin.

And it wasn't going to be Jacen.

He wondered if Corran knew. Jag had learned from Kyp that Corran was very fond of Jacen, and that he had been one fo the ulterior motives behind Corran temporarily joining the squadron.

Let's just hope it doesn't come to that, Jag thought. I'd hate to have to tell Jaina we left her twin brother behind.

"Let's try not to make this look too bad," Kyp drawled. "Because if Her Greatness starts complaining because we pulled off a less than spectacular rescue, she's riding home with one of you."

 

---------------------------------------------------

 

Jacen Solo was running.

Running through the gnarled, twisted corridors of the remains of Curscant, his heart pounding madly, his breath coming out ragged and labored. Behind him, the pounding of heavy footsteps grew louder, and angry Yuuzhan Vong voices shouted menacingly.

Jacen kept running.

He had to, no matter that his lungs were about to burst, that every muscle in his body was screaming in agony, that he was barely holding onto consciousness. He had to keep running, because Jaina was coming.

Run, Jasa, Anakin's voice filled the air. Run!

An explosion shook the ground and Jacen stumbled, slamming his head against the rocks. He fought back the wave of darkness that threatened to overtake him, and pushed to his feet, stumbling through the smoke billowing around him.

There was a loud crash up ahead, and Jacen's hand went to the lightsaber at his hip. There were two there, but his hand slipped unconsciously onto the one belonging to his brother.

Footsteps were coming towards him now, from ahead of him this time, and Jacen did not hesitate. He drew his blade and ignited it, not even noticing that it was purple, not green.

Jacen, don't! Anakin warned sharply. Jacen, stop!

Jacen hesitated, unsure what Anakin was trying to tell him. Two silhouettes began to move towards him through the smoke, wavering and flickering like spirits. Jacen held his blade at ready, and as the first figure emerge from the smoke, he struck.

Jaina, look out! Anakin screamed, and only then did Jacen see the face of the figure before him. He cried out, but his swing had too much momentum.

Luckily, Jaina swung her blade up to parry his, violet clashing against violet, her fierce brown eyes boring into his. They stayed like that a long moment, blades locked, eyes locked, and then Jaina took a step back, extinguishing her blade.

Jaina held out her hand to him silently, her fingers outstretched toward him.

Jacen slid his hand into hers, and for a moment all was right in the universe. He was complete again, whole.


And then he woke up.

Jacen sat up in his cell, panting hard.

Vergere was meditating in the corner, but she opened an eye when he gasped for air. "A dream, young one?" she asked softly.

Jacen shook his head, positive that what he had seen had been no dream. "No," he said, barely able to keep a smile off his face. "It's Jaina. She's calling to me."

Vergere raised an eyebrow in concern. "How far away is she? Can you tell?"

Jacen paused, closing his eyes for a moment. He reached out with the Force, extending his perceptions beyond the cell walls, beyond the palace, beyond the city streets, and searched for his sister.

A jolt went through him when he found her. It was like someone had turned on a light after months and months of darkness. He clasped his sister's presence tightly, felt her reach out to him and do the same, and tears welled up in his eyes.

Jaina, he cried.

Jacen!

Her delight and relief shouted back at him like a hail storm. In that moment there was no anger, no fear, only happiness. Jacen had never felt anything quite like it. He probed her gently, searching for a trace of the darkness that he had felt surrounding her the last time he had felt her presence, and was relieved to find none.

There was an intense sorrow buried deep within her, but he did not probe it. That was Anakin's place, her grief was a private thing, and he would not intrude on it. Judging by the way she stiffened when he touched the memory of Anakin, he knew she wasn't completely over her anger at him for what had happened on Myrkr. He gave her a gentle brush with the Force, embedding it with all the love and warmth he could.

She hesitated briefly, and Jacen realized that he would have to deal with her blame over Anakin's death soon, but for now he pushed all thoughts aside and embraced her hungrily. For months he had felt incomplete, unfinished, and it had been agony not to reach out and feel his sister, not to just brush her once, to reassure her and to reassure himself that she was alright. He could not live without Jaina. They were twins, they had been together since before birth. They had been created from the same breath of the Force. One could not be separated from the other, just like what they were could not be separated from what they were to each other.

Still, there was an uneasiness in Jaina, one that surprised and worried him. There was a resistance to him, even though she was clearly ecstatic that he was alive. He was about to question her, then Tahiri's presence filled his senses, and he stumbled under the tortured grief buried inside of her. Anakin's death had devastated her, devastated her in ways Jacen could only imagine.

Tahiri reigned in her grief and sent Jacen the image of Jaina clutching a holo of Anakin to her chest, sobbing openly. He knew this was not a real memory, only a symbolic representation of what Tahiri was trying to tell him.

He gave her a grateful brush and touched again on the pain washing over him through his Force bond with her, and vowed to help Tahiri in any way he could once they got off of Curscant. And to talk to Jaina about Anakin, he added silently, dreading the latter.

While Jacen had spent his months in captivity mourning his brother and putting his spirit to rest, Tahiri and Jaina still burned with raw grief that made Jacen's heart ache and brought his own pain to the surface.

But now was not the time for sadness. He knew that. There would be time for that later. Right now they had to escape, then he could worry about everything else. And everyone else. Mom, Dad, Uncle Luke, Aunt Mara, Jaina, Tahiri, Zekk, Lowie... Tenel Ka...

It was not the first time he had thought of the Dathmori warrior princess during his captivity, nor would it be the last. Tenel Ka was such a big part of Jacen's life, and he hadn't even known until it was almost too late. But sitting alone in a cell, battered and broken, waiting for the Vong to capture his sister so that they could be sacrificed, he'd managed to sort out alot of his priorities.

As soon as I get back, he promised himself. As soon as I get back I'm finding her, and I'll tell her everything. Everything that I should have told her years ago.

"Can you tell your sister that we'll meet her outside the Senate Hall?" Vergere asked, placing a hand on his shoulder and jolting him back to reality.

"I think so," Jacen nodded. He reached out for his sister, calling, Meet us at the Senate Hall. We're making our escape now.

He felt her agreement, and her eagerness to see him alive and well, with her own eyes, and couldn't help the giddy smile that crept onto his face. Can't wait to see you, either.

He gave Tahiri a warm nudge, felt her clasp him back quickly, and then he disengaged and turned his attention to Vergere. "We're all set. Jaina and Tahiri are already on planet and moving fast. They haven't even been seen yet."

Vergere nodded. "Good. We must hurry, for I doubt that they will remain unseen for long."

Jacen stood and extended his hand. Vergere reached into her robe and pulled out his lightsaber. She placed it in his hand and gave him a meaningful look that he understood. She ignited Anakin's blade in her own hand, and once again Jacen felt a lump rise in his throat, but he quickly swallowed it down.

"After you," he said, gesturing at the door.

Vergere smiled that strange smile of hers. "Thank you, Jacen."

And she plunged Anakin's blade into the door, slicing it cleanly in half. Before any of the guards outside could react, Vergere was flying through the air, violet blade flashing, and the warriors fell at her feet.

Jacen leapt out into the hall, glancing around. "Coast is clear."

"For now," Vergere warned grimly. "Follow me. And keep your attention on watching for trouble."

Jacen obediently turned and ran after her down the hallway, using the Force to keep a look out for the Vong. He found it much harder to do than in his training sessions with Vergere, though, because one thought kept running through his head, over and over.

Jaina.

He could feel her presence nearby, and the thought of seeing her again, the thought of holding her in his arms after so long, was driving him crazy. It had been so long since he had felt her presence, since he had felt that powerful link between them blazing with fire, and now he could feel her.

In a few minutes, he would see her.

And after that he would see his family again. His mother and father, his Uncle Luke and Mara, even his baby cousin Ben. And he would see his friends.

And Tenel Ka.

Jacen pushed himself into a sprint, suddenly unable to keep from grinning.

 

-----------------------------------------

 

 

Luke Skywalker sighed, tearing his gaze away from the stars overhead.

It was night time on Mon Calamari, but on Coruscant it was only mid-afternoon, and that's where Luke's thoughts had been all evening.

Jaina is gone. Jacen is alive.

He alternated between being angry over the first and relieved over the second. If something happened to Jaina, Luke would never forgive himself for not going after her himself. He should have been prepared to stop her, he should have known she would go after Jacen. Then again it was a situation that Luke had deemed impossible, Jacen had been dead- Luke had been sure of it. And yet here he was, Jedi Master and uncle, waiting for the Force to show him some sign of the fate of Leia's children.

Her surviving children, he thought with a bitter sigh. Luke had been the one to send Anakin's team to Myrkr, and although Leia and Han both assured him that they did not blame him in any way, Luke could not help blaming himself.

He had watched Anakin grow up, he had helped raise him. The boy had been like a surrogate son to Luke, all of Leia's children had. Anakin's death had shaken Luke's very being, shaken him so badly that he constantly questioned himself and his decision to send the strike team to Myrkr.

He knew Anakin would not want him to think that way. The voxyn had been a major threat to the Jedi, and Anakin's team had managed to destroy the last bit of voxyn cloning material. The voxyn already cloned were dying fast, and the Yuuzhan Vong had one less weapon to kill the Jedi with. It was a justifiable sacrifice when one looked at the big picture, but to Luke it was a tragedy.

Anakin was special, Luke mused to himself. Special in a way that I can't really define. He was meant for something greater. For some higher purpose.

Luke sighed again. He knew that Jaina thought that Anakin had begun to figure out something, some missing piece of the Force that was lost with the fall of the Old Order. Luke had a nagging feeling that Jaina was right.

With Anakin's death we lost our brightest star, he thought sadly. But perhaps all was not lost. Jacen was alive, somehow, even Luke was shocked at that. Luke had felt Jacen die. He had felt the familiar flame that was his oldest nephew burn white hot and then die out completely. Other Jedi, including Kyp Durron, had felt it.

But Jaina Solo had not, and now that Luke took the time to analyze that, it made sense. Although he had no idea what he had felt, or how Jacen had seemed to die when he had not, it suddenly seemed perfectly clear that Jacen's twin would have felt it, no matter how deep she had been in the dark side. Jacen's death would have been something the dark side could feed off of, something it could use to fuel Jaina's anger and hatred.

And yet Jaina had felt nothing.

And then there was Luke's own twin Leia, who had felt what Luke felt but was certain that Jacen was still alive. She was Jacen's mother after all, she had a connection with him older than Jacen himself. Luke had chalked her denial up to shock, but now it was clear that the Force had given Leia insight it had refused him.

That puzzled Luke, for normally it was the other way around. Perhaps it's because Jacen is her son, he told himself. In truth, he had absolutely no idea what was going on, and he didn't like feeling that way. It made him vulnerable, and in this war, vulnerability could get him killed.

He reached out with the Force, extending his perceptions beyond Mon Calamari, towards the Core Sector, onto Coruscant, searching for some sign of his nephew Jacen. He could feel Jaina without effort. His niece blazed in the Force like a star gone nova, and through their link Luke knew she had been in contact with her brother.

Contact through the Force.

Using Jaina as a conductor, he reached for Jacen, and found his nephew's strong, vibrant presence near his sister's. Not yet together, but close.

Jacen reached back for him, quick and reassuring, and then withdrew, leaving Luke with the impression that he was in a situation requiring complete concentration. Luke drew back to himself, not wanting to distract him.

A smile lit Luke's face as he leaned against the balcony of his room. Jacen was alive. Jacen was strong. Jacen was fighting. And soon, Jacen would be home. Luke knew it with Jedi certainty. Smiling, he turned and entered the quarters he was sharing with Mara and called out a soft mental summons to his wife.

She emerged from the 'fresher, her copper hair wet and clinging to her scalp, dressed in a jumpsuit that matched her eyes. She paused in the doorway, seeing his grinning face, and asked, "What is it?"

Luke went to her and took her hand in his. "Jacen," he said. "Jacen is coming home."

Mara's eyes brightened. "Are you certain?" she asked softly. "I haven't felt him with Jaina yet..." She trailed off and Luke knew that she was unsure what to think. Mara had a close bond with Jaina, but Jaina had been reserved for a while, and she was obviously still sheilding some.

Luke nodded. "I'm certain. Jaina is on Coruscant, and Jacen is nearby. They've spoken to each other, through the Force." His grin widened till it reached his eyes. "And Jacen has spoken to me."

Mara smiled, her relief flooding over him through the Force. "By the Force. It's a miracle, isn't it?" She threw her arms around her husband and held him tightly.

"It certainly seems that way," Luke agreed.

Mara stepped back, searching his gaze. "Does Leia know?"

Luke shook his head. "Not yet. I'm going to let her feel it for herself. Jaina is incredibly close to Jacen. I'm certain that as soon as the twins are together again, Leia will know. If she doesn't already."

Mara nodded. "I'm sure she will." She hugged him again, then smiled. "I think that we should probably make some preparations."

Luke raised an eyebrow. "Preparations?"

Mara rolled her eyes. "Party preparations, Farmboy. This is a big deal. I think Jacen might appreciate a welcome home party, don't you?"

"That's why I love you, Mara," Luke said, tilting her chin and kissing her softly.

Mara's eyes narrowed in amusement. "I thought you loved me because I decided not to kill you?"

Luke grinned. "That too."

 

------------------------------------------

 

There was a loud crash as amphistaff collided with lightsaber.

Vergere spun, parried her attacker's next strike, and feinted left, then slashed low. The purple blade in her hand sliced open his chest plate.

She risked a glance over her shoulder to see how Jacen was faring.

Jacen was engaging a fierce looking warrior, obviously one of great skill, and Vergere was grateful that Tsavong Lah wanted Jacen alive. If we don't succeed, at least Jacen will live, she thought bitterly. Another voice in the back of her head replied, Until they capture Jaina, that is.

Vergere spun and blocked a strike aimed at her head, driving back her attacker with enough force that he stumbled. He recovered his footing quickly, though, and scythed his staff around in a cut that aimed at her chest. Vergere spun inside the arc of the cut and parried it wide with Anakin Solo's lightsaber. She continued her spin, pivoting on her right foot, and brought her left foot up in a round house kick that cracked her heel against the Yuuzhan Vong's face mask.

The Yuuzhan Vong staggered backwards and caught his legs amidst a sharp pile of debris. he fell back, off balance, and found his limbs tangled in the rubble. Before he could disentangle himself, Vergere closed in and slashed at him twice, the first swipe dismembering his chest plate, the second opening him from hip to hip.

Jacen was handling the last of the guards. This batch, anyway, Vergere muttered silently. His opponent lunged and Jacen parried, slashing low at his legs, and managing to slice through his left leg, taking it off at the knee.

Vergere was impressed to see the warrior now balancing on one leg. The warrior snarled, then let loose a stream of angry strikes, all of which Jacen blocked, grinding his blade down on the amphistaff. Jacen leapt above the next strike, then slashed down and caught the warrior's right arm at the juncture of his elbow. Sparkling and smoking, the acid green lightsaber sawed off the warrior's arm and the amphistaff clattered to the floor.

Eager to keep moving, Vergere steeped in and carved her blade across the warrior's chest, splicing open his flesh.

Jacen gave her his trademark lopsided smile. "Thanks."

Vergere nodded. "Come. We must hurry."

Jacen gave a curt nod in reply and broke into a run along side her. She carried his brother's lightsaber at ready, and, not for the first time, she saw him wince when he looked at it. Vergere understood, she was a Jedi after all. Or she had been, a lifetime ago. A lightsaber was a Jedi's most prized possession, his life. From what Jacen had told her, Anakin's lightsaber was very special to the young man, and she knew that it pained Jacen to see someone else wielding it.

You can return it to Jacen once you are off of Coruscant, she told herself. Right now you need it. The Yuuzhan Vong destroyed your lightsaber years ago. You must keep Anakin's for now if you are to survive.

Pushing away those thoughts, Vergere raced through the twisting corridors of the gnarled remains of Coruscant. The debris was scattered across the halls, and they had to jump over heaps of metal without breaking stride, but they pushed on.

Vergere could hear voices shouting in Yuuzhan Vong behind them.

"Jacen Solo has escaped!"

"Vergere is a traitor!"

"Capture Solo!"

"Kill Vergere!"

Jacen, who could not possibly know what they were screaming, even after the brief lessons she had given him in the native tongue, was panting hard, looking weak and tired, but Vergere sensed an iron determination welling up inside of him, and knew he would not falter.

About five seconds before the explosion, Vergere's danger sense went off, and she threw herself aside, using the Force to take Jacen with her. Their lightsabers went clattering to the ground and they both hit the floor hard. Vergere rose to her feet and reached out her hand, calling the silver hilt of the lightsaber laying beside her into her hand.

Jacen stumbled, hitting his head, but he climbed back to his feet, grabbed his fallen lightsaber, and began running again.

It wasn't until after they had rounded the corner ahead that Vergere realized she now had Jacen's lightsaber, and he had Anakin's.

Footsteps echoed through the halls, coming from in front of them now, and Vergere motioned for Jacen to ignite the lightsaber in his hand. He did so, not even noticing he now held a purple blade instead of his own green one.

Two silhouettes appeared in the smoke ahead, moving towards them like ghosts, and Vergere could make out the outline of Yuuzhan Vong armor. She hefted Jacen's blade into a dueler's crouch, and Jacen tensed to make the first strike.

The first Yuuzhan Vong emerged from the smoke, only a shadow at first. Vergere urged Jacen to attack, but he hesitated, a confused look on his face, as if he was trying to figure out a puzzle. The second Yuuzhan Vong stepped beside the first as they came into clear view, both tattooed warriors.

Vergere lunged, green blade driving towards the one closest to her.

Only to be stopped by two purple lightsabers.

Vergere stepped back in surprise. She looked from Jacen's stony face, illuminated by the purple blade he held, back to the Yuuzhan Vong holding the violet blade. The second Vong had a lightsaber, too, this one a deep blue hue. Vergere looked at Jacen again, seeking an explanation, but it was the Yuuzhan Vong warriors who gave her the answer.

"Hello, Vergere," the one holding the violet blade said, and it was not a Yuuzhan Vong voice she heard, but a human one. The Vong touched the side of his nose, and his skin began to peel away to reveal human flesh.

The second Vong did the same, revealing piercing green eyes and a tousle of golden hair.

Vergere watched as the lead warrior faded into the familiar form of the Pretender, Jaina Solo.

"Jaina!" Jacen cried, throwing his arms around his sister in a fierce embrace.

Jaina wrapped her arms around his neck with furious strength. "Jacen!" They held each other for a long moment, and, just as Vergere was about to interrupt, they released one another. It was obvious that both twins were trying not to cry, and that there would be a more personal and emotional reunion once they were safely off of Coruscant, but for now both twins recognized that they had to focus.

"How did you know it was us?" Jaina asked. "I was shielding."

Jacen looked quite taken with himself, and Vergere shook her head in amusement. "I had a vision, when you were calling to me earlier. In my vision I was here, and I lunged to attack, but it was you." Vergere got the impression he wasn't telling her everything, but she didn't mind. A Jedi's visions were for him and him alone, unless he chose to share them.

"Luck for us," The One Who Was Shaped said flatly, and Vergere got little from her except that she was wrapped up in numerous emotional shields.

"Hey, Tahiri," Jacen said softly to The One Who Was Shaped. He slid his arms around her in an affectionate hug, less fierce than the one he had shared with his twin, but no less loving.

The One Who Was Shaped gave him a weak smile. "Hi, Jacen." She kissed his cheek. "Glad to see you alive."

Jacen grinned. "Glad to be alive."

Vergere turned to Jaina Solo, and found the woman's intense dark eyes studying her from under thin, dark eyebrows. For a moment Vergere started, taken aback by how much this girl looked like her grandfather. That same fierce look about the eyes, the same determined set of her lips. Jaina had changed since Vergere last saw her on Myrkr, but the intensity of her eyes had not.

"We have a ship nearby," Jaina Solo said evenly, her voice betraying even less than her sense in the Force. "Are you coming with us or do you want to stay?'

"I would be grateful to accompany you offworld," Vergere replied.

Jaina didn't show any reaction tot hat one way or another, but she nodded curtly. "Well, then, let's go. The Jade Shadow is about a hundred kilometers that way."

Jacen raised his eyebrows. "Aunt Mara let you borrow her ship?"

The One Who Was Shaped snorted, and Jaina smiled like a Tuskan wildcat. "Define let."

For the first time since his capture, Jacen Solo laughed. "Aunt Mara is going to kill you."

Jaina's wicked grin did little to ease Vergere's nerves. "Only if the Vong don't kill us first."

 

--------------------------------------------

 

For Leia Organa Solo, the daughter of Darth Vader, the former Chief-of-State of the New Republic, and the sister of Luke Skywalker, never had a single moment ever held so much meaning.

For one single moment, the pain of Alderaan, the pain of learning of her lineage, the pain of loosing too many friends, and even the pain of loosing her youngest child, all seemed to fade away.

For one moment Leia knew true and utter bliss, and it took her breath away.

Her twins, her children, were together again, and their presences blurred into a dizzyingly bright web through the Force, molding back into one another like fingers intertwining. She could almost see them sliding back into one another, filling that empty void that had been torturing them both for months and months.

And, as one presence, with one voice, her twins reached out for her.

Mother!

Leia closed her eyes, savoring their touch on her mind, luxuriating in the feel of their presences surrounding hers. She gave them both a deep embrace, willing all of her love and strength into her children.

She felt them brush back, then they drew away to focus on their escape, but Leia didn't mind. She was filled with an elation she had not felt since their birth, nearly two decades ago.

She sat in a hoverchair by the window overlooking the Mon Calamari ocean, but she wasn't there, not really. Leia was millions of light-years away, watching over her children, keeping a silent, but awed, vigil.

The air around her was suddenly warm and bright, and Leia could feel Anakin with her, could almost see her youngest son's smiling face looking down at her. She knew he wasn't there, not physically, but she could feel his spirit all around her.

Everything will be okay, Mom, the wind seemed to whisper to her, Anakin's smooth voice flickering into her mind. Everything will be okay.

Leia smiled, her eyes shimmering with tears. Yes, everything would be okay. Jacen was alive, and on his way back to her, and Jaina was strong again, vibrant and beautiful, and, though she had not come out and said it directly, planning on a future with a certain charming pilot. And though nothing could ever make her forget Anakin, nothing could ever take away the intense pain she felt whenever she thought of her youngest child, Leia felt at peace.

"Han," she whispered, her voice choked with emotion.

Across the room, her husband was talking to Lando Calrissian and Wedge Antilles, all three oblivious to her hushed voice or her silent rapture. They were busy discussing strategy and tactics, important plans for the next battle against the Yuuzhan Vong.

That meant nothing to Leia right then. The Yuuzhan Vong meant nothing right then.

"Han," she said again, this time a little louder.

Her husband looked up at her in concern, and strode over to where she sat, kneeling beside her. "What is it, Princess?" he asked, his brow furrowed worriedly.

She lifted her chin and met his gaze. He must have seen something in her eyes, because he drew a sharp breath and swallowed hard, his eyes searching hers.

"Can you feel them both?" he asked hoarsely, afraid, it seemed to Leia, to hear the answer.

Leia nodded. "Yes," she said softly.

Han closed his eyes, and she could feel the grateful happiness welling up inside of him. He opened his eyes and looked at her and she tried to speak, to make him understand what this was to her. She tried to think of what to say to make him understand the gravity of this moment, of this revelation, but she couldn't.

But when her husband let out a relieved sob and embraced her in his arms, she found that there wasn't anything she needed to say after all.

When they seperated, she looked over her shoulder at Lando and Wedge, both of whom were watching them curiously. She stood and smiled at them. "She found him."

Both men let out sighs of relief, and it warmed Leia's heart to see their friends genuinely cared about her children. Lando grinned and walked over to kiss Leia on the cheek. "I knew she would," he said with a laugh. He clapped Han on the back. "Kid's stubborn, that's for sure."

Han smiled. "Believe me, she gets that from the Skywalker in her." He jerked his elbow at his wife for emphasis.

Wedge gave both Han and Leia an apologetic smile. "I hate to say it, but I'll have to figure out some kind of punishment for Jaina. She did take off without permission."

Han nodded, a scowl on his face, and Leia didn't need the Force to know that he was looking forward to dishing out some punishment of his own. She placed a hand on his arm and said gently, "Jaina is an adult, Han. You can't punish her for making her own decisions."

"Well Wedge can," Han retorted.

Leia shook her head, then glanced at Wedge. "What did you have in mind?"

"Well, Jaina's an intricate part of our plans, so we can't take her out of action," Wedge said. "And I figure if we did she and Kyp Durron would just run off and fight on their own."

Han's lips were set firmly, but Leia thought she saw a hint of a smile tugging at his lips. Kyp had been like a kid brother to Han for a long time, and evern though Kyp had been at odds with everyone as of late, Han was still fond of him. And it had not escaped either of their attention that it was Kyp who brought their daughter back from the dark side, and their daughter who brought out the much needed changes in Kyp Durron.

He's enjoying this, Leia muttered to herself. He's enjoying the idea that no matter what Jaina does, no matter what trouble she gets herself into, Kyp's going to be there to help her out. Or to get into trouble with her. It wasn't until that moment that Leia realized she, too, was pleased by that thought.

"I think I have an idea that could work," Wedge said with a smile. "As I'm sure you've noticed, your daughter and my nephew have become... close."

Leia nodded, and beside her Han winced, but didn't say anything.

"It occured to me that perhaps the best form of punishment would be to have Jag fly with Rogue Squadron for a week," Wedge said with a smirk. "It would give Corran a chance to work with Jaina and Kyp on those Force manuevers, and it would give Jag a chance to observe Twin Suns' tactics from an outside point of view."

Han grinned. "Plus it would drive Jaina and Jag crazy."

Wedge nodded. "Exactly."

Han reached out to clap Wedge's shouler. "Wedge, old, pal, I think I like how you think." He took the General by the arm and guided him away from the others. "Now, do you have any ideas for what to do next time I find your nephew's tongue down my little girl's throat? I'm thinking carbon freezing might not be drastic enough."

Leia shook her head, stiffling a laugh.

 

---------------------------------------------------

 

"You were saying, Jaina?" Jacen glared at his sister.

Jaina shot him a dark look. "This is not my fault. It has nothing to do with what I said."

They were pressed up against the wall of an alley, only meters from the Jade Shadow. The only problem was that it was surrounded by at least two dozen Yuuzhan Vong warriors, and there would soon be more on the way.

"It doesn't matter who said what," Vergere said calmly. "We have only one way off this planet, and we must take it."

"How?" Jacen asked. "It's surrounded by Vong."

"Yuuzhan Vong," Tahiri corrected without even meaning to. She winced, and looked away for a moment, and when she looked back Jaina was giving her a concerned glance.

I'm fine, Tahiri assured her.

Jaina nodded slightly, then turned back to her brother. "It doesn't really matter, now does it? Vergere's right. We have to get out of here, and we have to do it aboard the Shadow. Not only is it the only way off this planet." She flashed them a small smirk. "But I'd rather stay here and face the Yuuzhan Vong than face Aunt Mara without her ship."

Jacen nodded. "So what do we do, then?" He glanced at Vergere for a suggestion, and Tahiri couldn't help wondering what the deal was with the feathered woman. She was obviously involved in Jacen's escape, and he obviously trusted her a great deal, and it had certainly not escaped Tahiri that Jacen now carried Anakin's lightsaber.

A lightsaber which had been in Vergere's possession the last time Tahiri had seen it.

Not to mention she's holding Jacen's lightsaber with the finesse of a Jedi Master, Tahiri thought with curiosity.

Tahiri tore her gaze away from Vergere and focused on the conversation going on between Jacen and Jaina.

"We can't just run up to them, lightsabers swinging," Jacen was saying to his twin.

Jaina's eyes flashed. "Why not?"

Jacen rolled his eyes. "Because we're not stupid. We do it that way and we all die."

"Tsavong Lah wants us alive, laser brain," Jaina retorted, and Tahiri had to stiffle a laugh at the childish insult, one she had not heard since she and Anakin had been at the Jedi Academy together.

"We'll be captured, then," Jacen replied. "And Tahiri and Vergere will be killed."

Tahiri watched Jaina carefully, wondering what she had in mind, when Jaina turned to her, her eyes bright with adrenaline. "Do you have that stick of maekei ink I gave you?"

Tahiri's eyes widened in realization. She fished into her pocket and pulled out the black tube. "Here," she said, tossing it to Jaina.

"What's that for?" Jacen asked.

Jaina grinned wickedly. "You did hear that I'm a Goddess, right?"

Jacen nodded, looking confused. "Yeah, so what?" Jacen asked.

"So, I'm going to pull a little rank, here," Jaina replied with a smirk.

Jacen stared at her in disbelief. "You can't really expect them to just let you walk onto the ship! They'll capture you right away!"

Tahiri rolled her eyes. "No, dummy. She's not going to just walk up to them." Jacen looked at skeptically. "She's going to be the distraction while we fan out around them. Jaina's good with a lightsaber, and they won't kill her. She can handle them while we take them from behind."

"A good plan," Vergere said evenly. "I am impressed, Jaina Solo."

Personally, Tahiri didn't think Jaina cared whether Vergere was impressed or not, but the older girl didn't show any negative reaction. "Thank you," she said.

Jacen frowned. "So what's the ink for?"

Jaina grinned and offered the stick back to Tahiri, brushing her bangs away from her forehead. "You'll see." She gestured for Tahiri to go ahead, and Tahiri leaned forward, carefully tracing the stick across Jaina's forehead in the pattern they had gone over.

When she was done, she drew back so Jacen and Vergere could get a look at her work.

"The mark of Yun-Harla," Vergere gasped softly.

Jaina's dark eyes sparkled. "The symbol of the Trickster."

Jacen was staring at his sister, obviously uncertain about her plan. Tahiri shook her head slightly. Jacen was going to have to get used to this new Jaina Solo, a Jaina who had lost so much, been to the dark side, and come out stronger and wiser.

Not to mention fiestier.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Jacen asked quietly. "You're provoking their religion and mocking their gods. This is going to infuriate them."

Jaina shrugged. "That's kind of the point, Jacen." Seeing his concern, she gave him a weak smile. "It's nothing I haven't done before. Don't worry, I know what I'm doing."

"I hope so," Jacen muttered.

Jaina rolled her eyes, then stood and looked at Vergere. "You take the left, and Jacen can take the right. Tahiri will go down the middle. Hard." She locked gazes with Tahiri, and Tahiri gave her a knowing nod.

"Good luck," Jacen said, squeezing Jaina's hand.

"Who needs luck?" Tahiri smirked. "She's a Goddess, remember?"

Jaina flashed her a grin. "See you out there."

She took a step towards the field where the Shadow was docked, when Vergere reached a hand toward her. Tahiri tensed, still not entirely trusting the creature, but all she did was lay a hand on Jaina's arm. "Be careful, young one," she warned quietly. "You are playing with fire. Make sure you do not get burned."

Jaina's eyes narrowed and Tahiri felt a whisper of the Force pass between Jaina and the feathered creature. Then Jaina's face settled into an expression of acceptance and she cocked her head sideways and brandished a Solo smile. "I've walked through the fire and come out unscathed haven't I?" she asked, although her tone was anything but cocky.

Somehow Tahiri didn't think they were talking about the plan anymore, at least not entirely.

Vergere's lips twitched into an amused smile. "Yes, I would say that you have."

Jaina nodded, and Tahiri thought she saw genuine relief in Jaina's eyes. "Thank you."

Then she was Jaina the Goddess again, and she drew herself up tall, tossed her long, dark hair over her shoulder, and stepped out into the midst of the Yuuzhan Vong.

"Step away from my ship, mortals," Jaina's voice drifted back into the alley.

And there was a loud snap-hiss as her lightsaber leapt to life in her hands.

 

-------------------------------------------

 

Kyp Durron had learned over the years that it was always best to listen to his feelings.

And right then he had a feeling that Jaina was about to get herself into trouble.

"Why am I not surprised?" he muttered to himself.

Reaching out with the Force, he sought out his partner, sending out mental summons for her to answer him.

He got a hurried reply, with whispers of danger close by, and then she was gone, tuning him out to concentrate on something else. But he was left with the image of Jacen free and fighting alongside her, and of a location.

His fingers danced over his controls before he even realized what he was doing. "Twin Suns," he called to the squadron. "We've got a lock on our Goddess. I'm tracking her as we speak. Just stick close and follow me in."

"Is she alright?" Jag asked, and Kyp didn't have to look to know it was over a private line.

"For now she's fine," Kyp replied honestly. "But she's in some sort of trouble and needs me to leave her be so she can concentrate right now."

Jag didn't answer and Kyp took that for a good sign. At least he wasn't frantic. Or if he is he's doing a good job hiding it.

Kyp let the Force take over his actions as he sunk deeper into contemplation. He was uncertain what had happened to Jacen Solo, and in a way he was scared to find out. In the back of Kyp's mind, Jacen's final agony, or what they had believed to be his final agony, still burned fiercely. Whatever Jacen had experienced, it had been horrifically painful, and Kyp would not have traded places with him for anything.

I wonder how the Sith he survived, Kyp mused darkly.

And another voice, another more selfish voice, wondered, I hope he's not sill that same self-righteous kid he was when I last saw him.

Kyp cursed himself silently for thinking such things. The kid had been given up for dead and trapped amongst the enemy for months. The least Kyp could do was try to be nice to him.

Besides, that nagging voice belonging to his conscience asked. Are you so certain that Jacen was completely wrong?

That startled Kyp, because he had not really given Jacen's philosophies any thought since the boy's death, but now that he thought about it, he wondered. Since Hapes, Kyp's views had changed dramatically, and that was, he knew, mostly because of Jaina Solo. While Kyp no longer believed that the Jedi should fight the Vong by any means possible, he still thought that they should be making more of a stand.

Which has been happening more and more, Kyp thought with a nod. Master Skywalker has been working hard to find ways to use the Force to our advantage without giving in to aggression.

And Luke's mission to Coruscant only weeks before had proven to be vital. If Lord Nyax had been allowed to live, he would have taken over the galaxies with his awesome dark side power. Kyp had heard the story of his defeat, and he had to admit he was impressed. Not just with Master Skywalker, but with Tahiri Veila. From what Luke had said, the young woman had proven herself against the Dark Lord, and Kyp took that as a testament to how far her skills had come.

Maybe I'll ask her to spar with me when we get back, Kyp thought. His thoughts turned to the duel on Mon Calamari, when Tahiri and Jaina had teamed up against him mid-duel to send him flying off the mat, and he added ruefully, One on one this time.

"There!" came Tilath's voice over the comm, jolting him back to reality. "Lightsabers! Four of them!"

Kyp glanced down out of his cockpit window to see flashes of light on the ground. There was a glimmer of blue, a spark of green, and two pillars of purple violet dancing below.

"Someone's fighting down there," Piggy observed.

"Jaina," Jag murmured grimly.

Jacen and Tahiri, too, Corran called to Kyp silently, and Kyp was glad that he had brought him instead of Zekk. Corran was not only a better pilot, but much more logical and focused.

Who's the fourth? Kyp hurled back.

You wouldn't believe me if I told you, Corran replied.

They broke through the clouds and the battle below came into view.

Kyp was dimly aware of Jacen and Tahiri driving back Vong warriors together, of Jaina in the center of a swarm of Yuuzhan Vong, her violet blade ticking back and forth with surreal accuracy, but his attention was drawn to the green lightsaber flashing through crab armor with lightning speed.

Fighting alongside the young Jedi, a lightsaber in her hand, was the creature Vergere.

And she was using the Force.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

A blue blade flashed across Jacen's face and dismembered the Yuuzhan Vong he'd just turned to engage. With two quick swipes, Tahiri had the warrior opened from shoulder to shoulder, and was lunging for the next one.

Jacen decided he never wanted Tahiri Veila on his bad side.

Off to the left, his sister was more than holding her own, her movements swift and light, her violet blade ticking side to side deftly. She moved like a Tuskan wildcat, each step and thrust graceful and controlled, as if some part of an unconscious dance.

Her hair was whipping around her head as she spun to drive her blade into the chest of a Vong warrior with enough force to shatter the chestplate. Her hair was longer than it had been at Myrkr, and her features more serene, even in battle. There was a peace about her that Jacen would have thought impossible given the way Anakin's death coursed through her veins, but it was there, strong and unyielding.

Her swordsmanship had improved drastically. Jaina had always been good with a lightsaber, but now her thrusts and cuts were perfectly placed and timed, and Jacen was already looking forward to sparing against her sometime.

It should be a challenge, he thought as he flipped over his opponent and landed on the back of a second warrior. He swung his blade downward to cut through the warrior's exposed neck and decapitated him. Not hesitating, he dove out of the way of a strike aimed at his head, and rolled back to his feet, blade ready.

"Watch yourselves!" Jaina yelled a warning, and Jacen jerked his head up, looking for some new danger, but saw none.

It happened so fast that he barely had time to register the new presences through the Force. Laser fire streamed down from the sky and into the crowd of Yuuzhan Vong, and Jacen stumbled back, startled. He looked up in surprise to see a squadron of X-wings diving towards them, cannons blazing.

"Is that...?" Tahiri shouted at Jaina.

"Yes!" Jaina shouted back, not sounding at all surprised.

"Durron, I could kiss you!" Tahiri yelled at the lead X-wing, and, reaching out with the Force, Jacen was shocked to find Kyp Durron leading the squadron. Even more surprising was that Corran Horn was with him, as well.

"What's going on?" Jacen shouted to his sister.

"My squadron!" she shouted back, diving under the amphistaff swinging at her head. She grinned at him. "Kyp came for me!"

Kyp? Jacen thought with a start. The last time he had checked, saying that Jaina and Kyp were allies was a stretch. Now Kyp was here, apparently part of Jaina's squadron, and Jaina was glad to see him? I really have been gone along time, Jacen muttered silently.

He threw his concentration back to the warriors around him, but they were backing off wearily, as the X-wings picked off their numbers one by one with precision shots. He felt a surge of danger and whirled to find a razor bug hurling at his face. He brought up his blade to deflect it just in time, and started towards the Vong who had thrown it.

But a strange looking TIE fighter swooped in blew the warrior out of the sky. Jacen watched as the fighter dove towards his sister, and for one terrifying moment he thought the pilot was going to hit her. He reached out with the Force-only to be blocked out by his sister.

Don't.

Jacen looked to her for an explanation, only to see the fighter pull up and skim just over Jaina's head, laser fire taking out the Vong around her. His sister grinned up at the pilot, offering a salute, then broke into a run for the Jade Shadow.

Jacen glanced around and was amazed to see that there were very few Vong left standing. Reaching out to probe the alleys, he felt hundreds swarming towards them. If they were going to get away, they had to do it now.

"Tahiri!" he shouted.

The blond girl whirled to look at him without disengaging her opponent.

"Get to the ship!" Jacen ordered. "Vergere and I will take care of the rest!"

Tahiri hesitated, obviously uncertain. For a moment Jacen thought she was going to ignore his order, but then she lunged at her opponent, feinting a thrust, and kicked him hard in the chest, sending him reeling. Turning on her heel, she broke into a sprint towards the ship.

Vergere was moving towards him, fending off her attackers with sharp swings and thrusts. The remaining Vong closed in on the two of them, and Jacen felt Vergere reach for him through the Force, clasped her presence readily, and took a step backwards to brace himself.

Vergere held out her hand, taking Jacen's energy into her and redirecting it at the Vong. The first warrior went flying backwards, slamming into the others and knocking them all down. Jacen felt bone tired as Vergere released him and turned to look at him, her mouth drooping in fatigue. "Let's go," she said hoarsely.

Jacen nodded, and together they stumbled towards the Jade Shadow, leaving Kyp and his squadron to take care of the incoming army.

He dragged himself up the boarding ramp and slammed his hand down on the tickle pad, and the door slid closed behind them with a loud whoosh. Jacen slid to the ground, panting hard, and saw Vergere do the same.

In the cockpit he could hear Jaina and Tahiri scrambling to get the ship ready for liftoff. "Twin Suns," Jaina called, and Jacen gathered she was using the comm. "This is Lead. I've got incoming skips. Forget the warriors and start blowing some coral!"

Kyp Durron's distinctive voice came back, "It would be our pleasure, Great One."

The Shadow lurched as Jaina lifted off the ground and Jacen half-walked, half-crawled towards the cockpit. Jaina was in the pilot's seat, of course, and Tahiri was flipping switches like crazy from her seat as copilot. The ship shook as skip fire hit it, bouncing off the shields, and Jaina looked back at her brother.

"Strap in," she ordered. "Vergere, you, too. This is going to be a bumpy ride."

The engines hummed, vibrating with power. Jacen sensed the flow through the engines, the pulse through the ship. Tahiri activated the repulsorlifts and the ship began to rise into the air.

Jacen had barely gotten his crash webbing buckled when Jaina pointed the nose skyward and shoved the throttled forward, slamming him back into his seat.

As the ship shook under the fire hitting the shields, Jacen was dimly aware that Jaina was pushing the ship towards the atmosphere at a veritcal angle, and he realized just how desperate the situation outside of the ship must have been getting if she was risking the kickback of slamming into the atmosphere too quickly.

Jacen glanced at Vergere, who had strapped herself into the seat beside him. "How we doing out there?"

Vergere's eyes were grim. "They have already launched coralskippers to engage us. And stronger firepower is on the way. If we are to escape alive, we must break into hyperspace soon. Very soon."

"Jaina will get us out of here," Jacen said confidently. He only hoped that flying an X-wing for so long had not hindered her ability to maneuver in a the much larger Shadow. Closing his eyes, he let the Force flow through him and focused on the battle outside.

The Twin Suns pilots were flying cover for the Shadow, and Jacen was all but amazed at the skill with which they were evading Yuuzhan Vong fire. The lead shield trio, which consisted of Kyp and Corran along with a non-Jedi, was causing some serious damage. While Kyp and Corran's shots were being absorbed by the voids, the third pilot, the one flying in the TIE, was making direct hits.

He's good, Jacen thought. I wonder who he is.

One of the pilots took heavy fire and struggled to maintain consciousness, and Jacen heard Jaina curse from the cockpit. Jacen wasn't surprised to realize that she had opened herself up to them, monitoring their status.

The Shadow jerked and Jacen opened his eyes to see that they had broken clear of Coruscant. Instead of jumping immediately into hyperspace, Jaina reversed throttle and kicked the etheric rudder right, causing Jacen to lurch forward against his crash webbing.

"Tahiri, set us some coordinates," Jaina barked out. "Feed them to Kyp's X-wing."

Without waiting for Tahiri to acknowledge her orders, Jaina threw the Shadow into a snap roll, jolting Jacen around in his seat, then pumped it full throttle and kicked the rudder back to the left, then hard right, spinning the ship in a brutal turn.

Jaina straightened out with a sharp turn that left Jacen dizzy. The Shadow vectored away from an oncoming skip at a sharp angle, and at single engine full throttle, pressing Jacen back in his seat, his teeth clenched against the g's.

"Hold on!" Jaina warned, and pulled back on the stick, lifting the Jade Shadow's nose, then shoving it forward, dropping into a sudden inverted loop. She broke off the circle halfway through with a tight snap roll, and kicked into a fishtail, then into a barrel roll, cannons blazing.

Jacen heard Tahiri give a little yell of excitement, and gathered that Jaina was scoring hits.

"Their reinforcements are coming," Vergere warned evenly. "We can not wait any longer, Jaina Solo."

If Jaina heard her, she didn't show it. Jacen opened his mouth to suggest that they make the jump, when the comm-unit crackled to life with a burst of static.

"Jade Shadow, this is Twin Suns Two," the familiar voice of Kyp Durron filled the ship. "We've got those coordinates and we're ready to jump. Can we go home now?"

"No," Jaina replied simply, hitting the forward attitude adjustment jets, lifting the nose of the Shadow and pumping the throttle. She kicked the rudder hard, bringing the ship about to starboard to face an incoming skip.

Two well placed shots hit the void, but the third, fired so quickly after that it wasn't until later that Jacen realized it had not been part of her first volley, slammed into the skip, reducing it to space dust.

"Now we can go," Jaina said with a smirk.

Kyp laughed. "Great shot, Goddess!"

"Thank you, Kyp," Jaina said. "Twin Suns, thanks for the assist. You all get an extra hour of sleep for this!"

"Only an hour?" a mechanical voice grunted.

Jaina laughed. "We'll see, Piggy. We'll see. See you all back at base." She paused, and Jacen felt a surge of warmth well up in his sister, and he didn't notice the way her voice softened. "And Colonel Fel? It's good to have you home."

"What's she talking about?" one of the pilots stage-whispered. "We're not home- ooooohhh."

Jaina shook her head. "Twin Suns Leader out."

She hit a button and the space around them faded as they jumped into hyperspace.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Checking the controls once more to be sure they were on course for Mon Calamari, Jaina leapt from her seat and threw herself into her brother's waiting arms.

Jacen clung to her as if he would never let go, and she wrapped her slender arms around his waist, squeezing him fiercely. Tears spilled down her cheeks and onto his dirty jumpsuit. All of Jaina's barriers, all of her strength, crumbled and she let out a relieved sob, burying her face in his shoulder.

She felt Jacen brush her with a soothing touch of the Force, and she opened herself up to him, letting his joy be her joy, his pain be her pain. She felt the agony of the torture he had been through, the endless torment dealt at the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong, but more than anything, she felt his pain at their separation. Jacen had felt as incomplete those past few months as she had, and feeling her presence was again was like being able to see again after going blind.

It was one of the most wonderful moments in Jaina's life, but it was also one of the saddest. Because although one of her brothers had returned to her from death, the other never would. Standing there, holding Jacen in her arms, it broke Jaina's heart to know that there could never be a reunion with Anakin.

A whisper of the Force touched her again, but this time Jaina pulled back, glaring at her twin. "I'm still mad at you, you know," she said coolly.

Jacen nodded. "I know," he replied, his eyes not quite meeting hers.

He really does know, a voice in Jaina's head told her. Her expression softened and she touched his cheek gently. "I still love you, though."

He flashed her a lopsided smile she knew he meant to be cocky, but to her it just looked relieved. "I know."

Jaina hugged him again, closing her eyes and just feeling him beside her. When they drew apart, Jacen glanced over his shoulder at the cabin door where Tahiri had gone to lay down. "I'll be back," he said. "I just want to speak to Tahiri for a minute."

Jaina nodded. She had already surmised as much from the way he had watched the younger girl retreat from the cockpit once they'd reached hyperspace. "Good idea."

Jacen leaned in and kissed her on the cheek, and this time she got a good whiff of him and wrinkled her nose in disgust. "Hop in the 'fresher while you're back there. I've been around rontos that smelled better than you."

Jacen chuckled, and the deep, rich sound warmed Jaina's heart. "Well, I have been a prisoner for like six months, Jaya. What did you expect?"

Jaina took a moment to look at him, really look at him. His brown hair had grown long and unruly, and his face was stained with dirt and grime. He had a slight beard on his face, and Jaina wondered whether he would shave it off once they got home. He looked good with the facial hair, and she was surprised he had never tried to grow any before.

Jacen caught her looking at him and raised an eyebrow. Covering quickly, Jaina rolled her eyes. "Go take a shower."

Jacen grinned. "As you wish, Oh Great and Glorious One."

"Glorious One?" Jaina snorted. "Don't let Piggy hear that one or Kyp will never let me live it down."

Jacen laughed again, and Jaina watched him disappear into the cabin. Feeling eyes on her, she turned back to the cockpit. For a long moment she and Vergere regarded each other appraisingly, then Jaina slid back into the pilot's seat and said evenly, "Sorry I tried to kill you at Myrkr."

Vergere's gaze flickered across her face, then she nodded. "It is forgotten."

Jaina raised an eyebrow. "How about forgiven?"

A small smile tugged at the corner of Vergere's beaked mouth. "That, as well."

Although she did her best not to show it, Jaina was relieved. It was bad enough having used the dark side at all, much less against a fellow Jedi.

"That was lifetime ago," Vergere said quietly, picking up on her thoughts.

Jaina bit her lip, then decided to throw aside diplomacy and manners. "How did you end up with the Yuuzhan Vong anyway?"

"I will explain everything when we meet with your Master Skywalker," Vergere replied. "But since you have saved my life, I will give you the answer to that which you have asked."

In other words, you'll tell me as long as I don't ask you anymore questions until you talk to Uncle Luke, Jaina translated. She nodded her agreement.

"Many decades ago, I was a Jedi Knight," Vergere began softly. "Anakin Skywalker was only a very young apprentice at the time."

Wow, Jaina thought. How old are you?

Vergere's lips twisted in amusement. "I was dispatched to Gardaji Rift to investigate rumors of alien visitors near the planet Zonama Sekot." She gave Jaina a meaningful look. "The aliens proved to be an advance strike force for the Yuuzhan Vong."

Jaina's eyes widened. The Yuuzhan Vong had been poking their noses around in the galaxy for that long and no one had ever known?

"The Sekotans were a race with bio-organic technology," Vergere went on. "When they refused to surrender the secrets of their technology to the Yuuzhan Vong, the Yuuzhan Vong attacked."

Just like the Yuuzhan Vong, Jaina shook her head in disgust. What they can't conquer they destroy.

A small voice in the back of her head wondered if that was the fate awaiting the Jedi.

"In exchange for sparing the Sekotans, I surrendered myself to the Yuuzhan Vong," Vergere said calmly, and Jaina found new respect for the feathered Jedi. "At first they took a... clinical interest in me."

Something in Vergere's tone warned off any questions regarding that experience, and Jaina couldn't help but shiver at the idea of the bird-woman submitting herself to their tortures.

"Over the years, I became sort of an exotic pet," Vergere said, her voice betraying nothing. "I hid my Jedi abilities from them and served them well, until at last I was made Tsavong Lah's advisor." She glanced at Jaina when she said the warmaster's name, but Jaina did not react, and so she concluded. "At last I was ready to make my move."

Jaina tilted her head. "What move is that?" she asked evenly.

"I have trained your brother in the Old Ways of the Force," Vergere replied. "And I have taught him all that I know about the Yuuzhan Vong." She smiled that unnerving birdlike smile. "Now I must share what I have learned with your Master Skywalker."

"Why?" Jaina asked.

Vergere's eyes shone brightly. "Because I am going to join this New Jedi Order," she said. "And together we shall defeat the Yuuzhan Vong once and for all."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"What do you want?" Tahiri rasped out, not turning to look at Jacen.

She had come to the cabin to be alone, and to cry, which Jacen had inadvertently walked in on.

She had been fine one minute, thinking how amazing it was that Twin Suns Sqaudron had shown up to rescue them, and then Jacen had said something that caused her to look at him, and for a split second she had seen Anakin in his features.

It had just been too much, so she all but run from the cockpit, muttering that she was tired. She'd wanted to hide her tears-hell, she'd wanted to hide period. But apparently Jacen Solo had other ideas.

Wordlessly, he placed something cool and round in her hand. She looked down to see the familiar hilt of Anakin's lightsaber. Her eyes traced over the metallic handle, memorizing every detail all over again.

She looked up at Jacen inquisitively, her eyes searching his. "He would want you to have it," Jacen said quietly. Tahiri knew he was right.

Tears welled up in her eyes as she ran her fingers over the only thing of Anakin's she had left. She remembered when he built the weapon. They had been students at the Jedi Academy together and she had been the first person he showed it to. He had waited to turn it on until she was with him, and Tahiri had been touched that he had included her in such a personal moment. The pride in his eyes when he ignited the purple blade had never died out.

From that day forth, where Anakin went, his lightsaber went. It had been his most prized posession, and he carried it with him everywhere.

For Tahiri, being able to carry his blade beside her own meant she could carry another piece of Anakin with her, this one something she could touch and hold.

"Thank you," she whispered to Jacen.

"It's what he would want," Jacen replied hoarsely.

Tahiri turned to look at him, and took a moment to just study him, this brother of Anakin's. They had the same roguishly handsome features, but Jacen's face was older, more mature in ways that went beyond his age. While Anakin's strength had been physical, Jacen's was more philisophical.

Looking into his eyes, though, Tahiri saw weakness.

It was uncertainty, doubt. Jaina's accusations back on Myrkr had stayed with him apparently, and he was doubting his retreat, doubting his decision to put the mission before Anakin.

It was Anakin who made that decision, not you, Tahiri wanted to say, but she could not bring herself to say it. Although she did not blame Jacen in any way, Tahiri knew that Jacen had made the decision in the end.

"You did all you could, Jacen," she said quietly. "There was nothing anyone could have done."

"Are you positive about that?" Jacen muttered, more to himself than to her.

"Yes," Tahiri said firmly. "I am. Jacen, Anakin was dying. Even I knew that. You couldn't do anything to help him."

"I know," Jacen said, hesitated as if he wanted to say more.

Sensing where his thoughts were headed, Tahiri added, "Neither could Jaina."

Jacen didn't reply.

Tahiri knew what he needed to hear, what no one had said to him since the retreat, what he had tried to tell himself since Anakin's death. And she found that she could say it, could mean it, without any effort. "You did the right thing."

Jacen looked up at her, his eyes searching. After a long moment, he looked away. "Jaina doesn't think so."

"Jaina is..." Tahiri looked for the right word. "Jaina," she concluded, unable to find any word suitable. "And Anakin is..." She swallowed hard, using the Force to keep her composure. "Was her little brother. She's not going to be rational when it comes to him."

"No," Jacen agreed quietly. "She never was." He sighed, and lowered his head. "She's right, though. I left him."

"He told you to," Tahiri said. "You had no choice."

"Didn't I?" Jacen retorted softly. "Jaina would have stayed."

"Yes," Tahiri agreed. "She would have. And then she would be dead, too, and the voxyn queen would still be alive. You did the only thing that you could do, Jacen. You gave Anakin's death purpose."

Jacen stared at the floor, his brow furrowed in deep thought. Tahiri gave him a moment to gather himself together. When he looked up at her, she saw acceptance there.

"You did the right thing," Tahiri repeated, touching his arm. "You didn't let Anakin die in vain. You finished his last mission for him."

Jacen let out a long sigh. He looked down at Tahiri curiously, biting his lip. Through the Force she could sense that he was apprehensive about something, but before she could search for what, he did the most surprising thing in the galaxy.

He kissed her.

It was a soft, simple kiss that only lasted a moment, but it was a kiss with purpose, with meaning.

Jacen drew away, his cheeks red. "There," he said quietly. "Now I've finished his last mission." He gave her a weak smile, then slipped out of the cabin, leaving Tahiri stunned.

"No, for that you have to come back."

"Soon, then."


"Anakin," Tahiri breathed, touching a hand to her lips. You promised me that kiss, dummy. I should have known you would deliver somehow, even if it was through your brother.

In some ways that kiss would be more memorable than even the first kiss she had shared with Anakin, the one that had shown her his true feelings for her.

This final kiss from Anakin Solo was for more than to fulfill a promise, it was to show her that his love for her was unending, and that not even death could take that away.

And then the tears came, unbearable to hold them back any longer, and Tahiri Veila cried herself to sleep.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

From her seat in the cockpit of the Jade Shadow, Jaina could see the crowd gathering along the wall of the hangar, waiting for them to emerge from the ship. She couldn't miss the expressions on Mara and Wedge's faces, and she knew that neither of them were very happy with her.

You did sort of take off without permission, she reminded herself. And you did take Aunt Mara's ship without permission. You deserve whatever they throw at you.

As apprehensive as she was about facing her aunt and General Antilles, as soon as she saw Jag's clawcraft touch down beside the Shadow she threw aside her crash webbing and slapped the boarding ramp down and bounded out of the ship.

Jag met her halfway, catching her as she launched herself off the ramp and into his arms. Not caring if anyone was watching, Jaina threw her arms around his neck and kissed him desperately. When she pulled back a long moment later, she felt dizzy and could tell by the expression on his face that Jag felt the same way.

"Wow," Jag murmured, touching a hand to her cheek. "Maybe I should rescue you more often."

"That wasn't for rescuing me, dummy," Jaina said. "That was for coming back."

"I told you I would," Jag replied softly. "And I meant that."

Jaina smiled and kissed him again, loosing herself in his embrace. They were completely oblivious to the crowd of onlookers gawking at them until Kyp's wry smirk entered Jaina's mind, along with the telepathic snicker, You have an audience, Solo.

Jaina started, pulling away and looking over her shoulder. Jag followed her gaze, finally realizing they weren't alone, and stiffened immediately. Jaina's gaze flickered from her parents, her mother looking amused and her father shocked, to her aunt and uncle, both of whom were trying to hide smiles and failing miserably, to Wedge and Tycho who were frowning at the young couple from across the hangar.

"What?" Jacen's voice drawled from behind her. "You all have never seen people kiss?"

Although Jaina could feel a slight uneasiness in her twin, she would have to talk to him about Jag later, she was never more grateful as his remark had the desired affect and all attention turned to him. There were gasps and cries of delight and Jaina's parents and Luke and Mara rushed forward to embrace Jacen.

She stood with Jag, leaning against him, his arm encircling her waist, and watched the reunion with a smile on her lips and tears in her eyes. Excited cries echoed back to her from her family.

"You're alive! You're really alive!"

"It's a miracle!"

"Mom? Dad? I can't breathe!"

"Oh, Jacen, thank the Force!"

"My boy! My boy's alive!"

"Uncle Luke, not so tight! Ow, Aunt Mara, don't hug so hard!"

Jaina laughed and Jag squeezed her, smiling down at her. "I missed you," he said softly, his green eyes bright.

Jaina grinned up at him. "I missed you more, Colonel."

Jag raised any eyebrow. "Is that so?"

Jaina smirked. "Yes, and I'll prove that later, but right now your uncle is headed this way looking a little angry with me, so I'm just going to be over there hugging my brother."

She heard Jag laugh as she made a beeline for her family. They drew open their arms and Jaina joined in the embrace, warm laughter and happy cries filling her with a warmth she had not felt in a long time. She was aware of Tahiri protesting halfheartedly as the girl was drawn into the hug, and as Tahiri's face was pulled closer, Jaina winked at her.

Tahiri grinned and Jaina let out a happy little laugh. Her family, though it could never again be complete, was together again.

And just when she thought things couldn't get any better, a familiar voice shouted, "Jacen! Jacen, my friend!"

Jaina looked up, shocked to see Tenel Ka running towards them at full speed. She looked at her mother for explanation. "She felt Jacen," Leia whispered. "She came right away."

Jacen pulled away from his family, and Jaina felt his emotions well up inside of him like a tidal wave. "Tenel Ka," he choked out, and broke into a run towards her. The Queen Mother threw her good arm around him, sweeping him into a fierce embrace. Jaina was amazed to see tears pouring down the Dathmori warrior girl's face.

Although she couldn't hear what they were saying, she got the gist of it when Jacen lowered his head and captured Tenel Ka's lips in a long, hard kiss. Jaina didn't even realize she's let out a cry of delight until her father looked at her, eyebrows raised.

She ignored him, though, grinning at her brother and Tenel Ka. About time, she called to the two of them, and they broke apart guiltily. They both blushed, another thing Jaina had never seen Tenel Ka do, and it made her grin even more.

"Well," Kyp drawled, moving in beside her. "This has certainly been an entertaining day."

Jaina whirled and threw her arms around him, drawing him into the fiercest hug she could manage. "Thank you," she whispered into his chest, holding onto him tightly.

She felt Kyp's surprise, but he wrapped his arms around her shoulders, hugging her back. "You knew I'd come after you. I wasn't going to let the Yuuzhan Vong get you. What kind of partner would that make me?" He drew back and raised an eyebrow, a slight smirk on his lips. "Besides, I didn't want your uncle telling me I was a bad influence on you."

Jaina smiled. "You're a wonderful influence, you scruffy looking nerf herder, but that's not what I meant."

Kyp looked down at her, puzzled. "What did you mean then?"

"I meant thank you for caring about me," Jaina said softly. "For being there for me when you had every reason not to. I don't think I ever really thanked you for what you did for me on Hapes."

Kyp waved her off. "What are partners for?"

Jaina grinned and kissed his cheek. "Thank you."

Kyp grinned back at her. "You're welcome. Now, I think a certain pilot could desperately use your help getting out of an uncomfortable conversation with General Antilles."

Jaina nodded and turned to go find Jag. Through the Force she reached out to give Kyp a loving caress. I love you, you know, she called softly.

Instead of the cocky smirk she expected to see in her head, she saw a simple, happy smile. I'm glad. I love you, too. Now go save your boyfriend.

Taking a deep breath, Jaina started towards Jag, Wedge and Tycho, even as her father drew Kyp into a hug, grinning and joking with his old friend about Force knows what. Jag looked up at her as she approached, and she gathered through their Force bond that he was not being chastised, but teased about their inappropriately timed kiss.

Wedge looked up at her, his dark eyes sparkling with amusement. "Jaina, it's good to see you now that you and Jag have finished rehearsing you holodrama love scene."

Jaina called on her Jedi discipline to keep from blushing. "I don't know, sir. I think we're still a little rusty." She slid her arm through Jag's. "I think we should go practice some more."

Jag looked shocked at her remark, and Tycho looked surprised, but Wedge burst out laughing, his cheeks turning red. "I think that can wait a while," he finally managed to get out. "We have alot to discuss right now." He exchanged a smirk with Tycho. "Don't we, Colonel Chelcu?"

Tycho smiled. "Certainly. There's paperwork to do and we need Jaina to sign the transfer papers before we relocate him."

"Transfer papers?" Jag echoed dully.

"Relocate him?" Jaina asked, her heart stopping, and her face going pale.

Wedge must have noticed, because he gave her a sympathetic look. "It's only temporary. For a week."

"What's only temporary?" Jag asked, not understanding, but Jaina already did.

"He's taking you out of my squadron," she said in disbelief. "He's going to reassign you as punishment for my leaving."

Jag looked at his uncle, as if pleading for it not to be true. Wedge shrugged. "She did leave without permission, and it's really the only thing we can do to reprimand her without affecting the war."

Jaina shook her head. "Sir, with all due respect, no one else will be able to fill in for him as well. Jag flies with me and Kyp almost as well as another..." she trailed off, realizing what Wedge was planning. "A Jedi?" she asked dully.

Wedge nodded, a small smile on his lips. "Corran Horn is transferring to Twin Suns for a week. I expect you to give him some conditioning on that Force coordination of yours." He looked at Jag. "Which means, Jag, that you will be joining Rogue Squadron, temporarily at least."

There was no mistaking the pride in his voice that his nephew would be a Rogue, even if it was only for a week.

Jag gave his uncle a stiff bow. "As ordered, sir."

Jaina felt all eyes on her and she knew they were waiting for her reaction. She sighed. "Tell Corran that Jag's old room is open."

"He's already moved in," Tycho replied, and Jaina winced. Tycho looked at Jag. "We have a room available for you in the Rogue's hall." He paused and Jaina thought she saw a smirk playing at the corner of his mouth. "Next to Colonel Darklighter's room."

So Gavin can keep an eye on us, no doubt, Jaina grumbled to herself.

Jag nodded. "Thank you, Colonel." He watched the other men walk off to talk to Luke, then turned to Jaina, and she didn't imagine the sadness there. "I think this reprimand applies to me, as well."

"You're definitely being affected," she agreed. "It's not even really about who's in what squadron. The real punishment is that we won't get to spend any time together, and Wedge knows it."

"Then we'll just have to take advantage of the time he doesn't expect us to use, won't we?" Jag whispered huskily.

Jaina studied his face for a minute, probing him with the Force. Understanding his meaning, she grinned. "They never said that you had to move into Rogue Squadron's hall. Only that there was a room available."

Jag nodded, a satisfied smirk appearing on his handsome face. "They said I couldn't stay in your squadron, they never said anything about me staying in your room."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jag Fel was breathless.

There were not many things that could take his breath away and leave him utterly speechless, but Jaina Solo was one of them.

He was laying in the dark of her room, running his fingers through her long, dark hair, with her head resting on his chest. He could tell she was asleep by the shallow breath that spilled onto his bare chest, and the gentle rise and fall of her small form against his.

Moonlight streamed in through the blue transparisteel behind the bed, bathing them in a soft sapphire light. The shadows danced across Jaina's face, and Jag felt a lump rise up in his throat at the sight of her. He traced her delicate features with his thumb, caressing her cheek tenderly.

She was so beautiful that she was breathtaking. That had been his first observation when they had met at Ithor all those years ago, and to Jag it seemed she grew more beautiful every day, but that day on the Tafanda Bay stayed with him. It had been a prelude to the most amazing experience in his life.

He wondered if some part of him hadn't fallen in love with her then and there.

He didn't know when he had fallen in love with her, though, all he knew was that from their first meeting, Jaina Solo had been the center of his thoughts. Three years later she still was.

It had not escaped Jag's perceptions that the terror that had seized him when he had thought Kyp was calling to tell him that Jaina was gone was more hideous that anything he had ever felt before. The thought of not being with her was unbearable, the notion that he could loose her filled him with unprecedented agony.

He had never before felt anything so strong and so fierce for anyone, and Jagged Fel knew what that meant. It meant that he could never be happy unless Jaina was in his life, he could never carry on if something were to happen to her.

It was for that reason that he had tired to resist her in the first place, to spare them both the pain that comes from loosing the one you love, but resisting Jaina was like resisting a cup of water after months wandering the deserts of Tatooine.

Unthinkable, excruciating and downright impossible.

Jag Fel knew the truth.

The truth was he could not bear to be without this woman who dared to challenge him, to test him, to love him. And watching her sleep, he knew with absolute certainty that she was the only woman he would ever love.

Laying in her bed, with her slender body pressed against his, her skin warm on his, Jag Fel was truly at peace.

Forget that in the morning there would be hell to pay, not just when her father found out, but when word got around that he had moved himself into her room to outmaneuver General Antilles' discipline. In the morning there would be consequences and concerns, and Jag and Jaina would have to defend themselves and their decisions not only to Wedge, but to her family as well.

No to mention Kyp, Jag thought with a sigh. He hoped that the Jedi Master would understand, that he, at least, would side with them. It was highly unlikely that anyone else would.

Jag was not looking forward to telling Han Solo that he had moved in with his only daughter, but he knew that it had to be done, and the sooner they got it over with and made everyone realize they weren't going to change their minds, the better. Still, when Jag had jokingly asked, What's the worst he can do to me? Jaina had winced and muttered something about carbon freezing, and had Jag decided he definitely did not want to find out.

Jaina wanted to tell her brother first, and Jag knew without question that Jacen Solo would either be their biggest supporter or their biggest opposition.

He only wished he knew which one, but not even Jaina seemed sure. She had gotten quiet and stared out the window for a while, but Jag had not missed the murmured, I wish Anakin was here. Jag wished that, too, and not only because it would have made Jaina happy. He had a feeling that Anakin and he would have gotten along, based on what Jaina had told him about her little brother.

Jaina stirred in her sleep, nuzzling closer to him, and Jag smiled. Everything will work out, he told himself, gazing down at her. It will work out because you'll make it work. You'll make it work for her.

The bedsheet had slipped down off of Jaina's bare shoulder to the small of her back when she had moved, and Jag let his eyes wander down her shoulders and across her smooth skin. He ran his fingers over her shoulder blades lightly, the feel of her soft skin against his fingertips making him lightheaded.

Only Jaina had this affect on him, only she could make him forget the entire universe, could make him loose control of his thoughts, his emotions, his actions. Even on Hapes she had done that to him, whether she realized it or not. Recalling how she had baited him into arguments, Jag realized with a chuckle that she probably did.

Jaina stirred again, and this time she opened her eyes, blinking hazily. "Hi," she said softly.

Jag smiled. "Hi yourself."

She pushed up on her elbows, pulling the bedsheet around her as she peered at him curiously. "Couldn't sleep?" she asked.

Jag shook his head. "Wasn't tired."

Jaina frowned and Jag's heart skipped a beat as her brow crinkled in the fetching manner that it did when she was confused. "So what were you doing, then, if you weren't sleeping? Don't tell me you've just been laying there?"

Jag smriked slightly. "I was thinking. You should try it some time."

Her eyes narrowed. "I'm going to break a bone you'll need later, Colonel."

Jag grinned. "I've heard that before."

Jaina yawned, laying her head back on his chest. "You're just lucky I'm too tired to beat you up right now."

"Yes," Jag said softly. "I am lucky."

He lifted her chin and stared into her eyes. He had found himself drowning in her brandy brown eyes the first time he laid eyes on her, and now he found it hard to resist the urge to loose himself in her completely. Sometimes when he looked into her eyes, saw the fire and determination there, felt the love burning for him and him alone, he found himself wanting to surrender himself to her. To just scoop her up and carry her away from it all, from the battles, from being a Jedi, from their duties and responsibilities, from all of her pain and sorrow. Her eyes made him want to leave everything behind and just stay with her, just the two of them, forever.

But that wasn't possible, and even if it was, it could never happen. They both had duties they would never abandon, and people who desperately needed them. Jaina would never turn her back on her responsibilities, and that was one of the things Jag loved about her. One of the hundreds of tiny details about her that made his heart pound furiously and even his most stoic demeanor melt.

He wanted to tell her all those things, wanted to tell her how much she meant to him. He wanted to tell her how beautiful she was, how deeply she was rooted in his very soul, how his entire world would be destroyed if anything ever happened to her, that he could not live without her.

"Jaina," he whispered, his voice catching on her name. "Will you marry me?"

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Kyp Durron had done some stupid things in his life, but this was by far the stupidest.

Not to mention the most dangerous, he thought to himself.

It's not all that bad, Jaina protested, and Kyp glared at her. "Your father is going to kill me," he stated coolly.

She grinned. "I know. Is that going to stop you?"

Kyp groaned, wishing it was. "No. We're partners, if you're doing this, I'm in, too." He gave her a sharp look. "But if your father comes near me with anything remotely resembling carbonate..."

Jaina rolled her eyes. "First of all, my dad likes you, Kyp. He's not going to do anything to you." Seeing the doubtful look on his face, she amended. "Nothing that drastic, anyway. It's Jag who needs to worry, not you."

"I know," Kyp said, turning to Jag. "Are you certain this is what you want?"

Jag nodded silently.

"And you realize Han is going to kill you?"

Jag nodded again.

Kyp sighed, wishing to hell that he wasn't being made part of this. Then again, if Jaina had asked anyone else, you'd be insulted, a voice in his head pointed out. Kyp scolded himself for such thoughts, then looked back at Jaina.

She was dressed in white Jedi robes that made her accentuated her dark beauty, her hair pulled back in a simple crown of braids atop her head, with one thick braid trailing from the center down back. Kyp didn't know how she had managed to do it so quickly, since the decison had been made less than two hours ago. She looked beautiful, and it made Kyp's heart flutter.

Jag, on the other hand, was dressed in black, his dress uniform a stark contrast to Jaina's white Jedi robes, but just as symbolic of his own heritage.

Kyp himself was dressed in sand colored Jedi robes, projecting an air of confidence that he didn't feel. He was a Jedi Master, yes, but he had never done this before, and he could think of a few other Jedi Masters who were more qualified.

Like maybe Luke, he muttered to himself. Seeing how he is her uncle. He winced as he imagined what the older Jedi Master would say when he found out about this little ceremony.

Too late to back out now, Durron, he told himself. Besides, look at her. She's happy. This is what she wants. She's an adult now and can make her own choices. And she chose you to be a part of this.

In truth, just the fact that she had asked him made him feel like he had just won the Kessel Run. This was an important day for her, for her and Jag, and they had decided to allow Kyp to take part in it.

Focusing on the couple before him, Kyp took a deep, cleansing breath. Each of them held a rock in their hand, and Kyp knew that Jaina wanted this to be as close to a Jedi bonding ceremony as possible, so he would be lending his Force abilities to assist Jag in his part of the service.

Beyond the young pilots stood Tahiri Veila, dressed in her Jedi robes and wearing a bright smile, and Jacen Solo, also in his Jedi robes, who looked reserved, but happy for his sister. Kyp imagined that this must have been quite a day for the young Jedi. He had been rescued from the Yuuzhan Vong, reunited with his family, and was gaining a brother-in-law all in the same day.

Kyp had no idea what Jaina had said to get Jacen to agree to be the second witness, much less to not protest the wedding, but somehow she had managed it, and Kyp could sense that Jacen was here willingly.

She probably just told him she was doing it with or without him, Kyp surmised. And he chose with.

Glancing out the transparisteel, Kyp could see that the sun was just starting to rise, which meant they needed to get started before the base began to wake up. Taking a deep breath, Kyp began, "It was once believed that emotional attachment made a Jedi vulnerable, but the Force brought Jaina Solo and Jagged Fel together, and it continues to strengthen their bond, uniting them as one. I strongly believe that this is the will of the Force."

He glanced at Jacen, expecting the young man to disagree in some way, but he sensed only acceptance from the male Solo twin. Jacen, too, knew that this was the intent of the Force, and whether he liked it or not, he was not going to interfere.

Kyp turned to Jaina, and motioned for her to speak. She swallowed, smiling at Kyp, then looked at Jag. "From the moment I met Jag, there was a spark between us. Somehow it grew unnoticed until it blazed in the Force with such intensity that it became obvious that we were meant to be together." She waved her fingertips slightly and her rock floated into the air. To Jag, she said, "I have never felt more complete than I do when I am in your arms."

Kyp glanced at Jag and gave him a nod of encouragement. The dark haired pilot's eyes were riveted on Jaina, and Kyp could feel his awe that he was marrying such an amazing woman. "When I first laid eyes on Jaina, I was struck by how beautiful she was. As I grew to know her, to love her, I was amazed at how fiercely my heart longed for this woman." He glanced at Kyp and the Jedi Master focused on Jag's rock, lifting it out of his hand to hover beside Jaina's. Jag flashed him a grateful smile, then turned back to Jaina. "You are all that I desire in this galaxy, and in whatever lies beyond. You are the only thing that I need to feel content, to feel whole."

Kyp felt an intense swell of emotion well up in the young Colonel, and for a moment he thought that Jag would loose his voice.

"I love you, Jaina Solo," Jag said softly. "And I swear that I always will."

Kyp relied on his Jedi training to keep the emotional expression off his face, but it was not an easy thing to do. He extended both of his hands and called on the Force to fuse the two rocks together as one. "Like these stones, you are two becoming forever one. You have sworn your love, and your lives, to one another."

He looked at Tahiri and Jacen and swallowed. Not surprisingly, Tahiri was crying, as she did alot as of late, but this time they were happy tears. Jacen, too, looked emotional, and Kyp thought he saw a tear trickle down his cheek as he beamed proudly at his sister.

"Let no one question the will of the Force," Kyp said, although he could not help thinking, Which almost everyone not here will do. "May the Force be with you both always, and in your life together."

He bit back a smile as the warmth in the room flooded over him, and he knew that, regardless of what Han or Luke or anyone else had to say about it, he had done the right thing.

Jacen cleared his throat, startling Kyp and he blinked, noticing everyone looking at him expectantly. Jacen gave him a hard look, nodding at the waiting couple, and Kyp grinned sheepishly. "Oh, right." He straightened and gestured with his hands. "You may kiss the bride."

And Jagged Fel and Jaina Solo shared their first kiss as husband and wife.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jaina Solo Fel stood by the blue transapristeel of the room she was sharing with her husband, gazing out at the Mon Calamari horizon.

Her husband Jag, newly wed for only hours, was still asleep in their bed, but Jaina had been awake for a while. A vision had plagued her sleep, and now she was trying to discern what it meant.

You know what it meant, she thought dryly.

Flashes of brown haired, green eyed children danced through her mind, and she found she could remember their faces with Jedi accuracy. A boy and a girl, close in age but the boy was older, both with their father's eyes and their mother's smile.

Jaina had never really given children much though until the day Jag kissed her on Borleias, and then it had suddenly been in the back of her mind, like a whisper of premonition. She had always known that she wanted kids, but it had seemed so far in the future that she never really gave it any thought.

Now, though, she was married. She was somebody's wife.

Not just somebody, she thought with a content smile. Jag's wife.

Through their Force bond she knew he was awake now, and watching her, but he knew her well enough to know that this was a personal time for her, one of reflection and searching, one of meditation.

But Jaina had done enough meditating, and there was a man waiting for her, and not just any man, but the most handsome and wonderful man in the galaxy, and he had chosen to make her his wife.

She turned and smiled at him. "Good morning."

He smiled his trademark half-smile. "I certainly think it is." His eyes raked her over, and Jaina felt a blush rise on her cheeks. She was wearing a simple white robe that she had thrown on when she had stepped out of bed, and it was too big for her small frame, but from the look in Jag's eyes he didn't even notice that.

Jaina walked back to the bed and kissed him. A long, slow kiss, unlike the many breathless kisses shared the night before. Jag smiled at her, his pale green eyes warm and bright. "Good morning to you, too, Jaina Fel."

Jaina grinned at him. "Solo Fel, Jag, Solo Fel. You don't want to tell my dad you married me without his permission and that I gave up his name for yours, do you?"

Jag kissed her nose. "I think Solo Fel has a wonderful ring to it."

Jaina sighed. "Too bad we can't start letting everyone call me that."

Jag stroked her hair quietly, his expression unreadable. For the security of their psychological warfare mission, they had agreed not to make their marriage public right away. It had not escaped either of them that the Yuuzhan Vong would find Jaina Solo's husband an excellent target to use in her capture, and Jaina was determined not to let Jag get hurt because of her.

However, if word just happened to spread, neither of them would deny it. Jaina couldn't imagine even trying to deny their marriage to anyone.

"I love you," Jag whispered, kissing her hair.

Jaina smiled, craning her neck to look at him. "I love you, too, Jagged."

He kissed her, and for a long moment everything in the galaxy faded away except for the two of them. That familiar soaring sensation that was synonymous with kissing Jag filled Jaina's senses and she let out a happy sigh.

Jag chuckled, a deep, rich sound that made Jaina's heart swell. "You're so beautiful," he whispered between kisses. "Like an angel."

Jaina raised an eyebrow. "This is Mon Calamari, not Iego," she teased. "And angels aren't real, I am."

"So I've noticed," Jag whispered huskily, kissing her shoulder and running his fingers along her neck.

Jaina leaned her head back onto his shoulder, letting herself get swept away in the moment.

Which was horribly ruined when the door-comm buzzed to life and Colonel Celchu's voice filled the room. "Great One? A word if I may?"

Jag groaned, and Jaina flashed him an apologetic look before striding over to the door-comm. "What is it, Colonel?"

"General Antilles would like a word with his nephew," Tycho replied sternly, and Jaina could sense his disapproval of their living arrangements. That didn't come as much of a surprise, though, since Tycho was not only a good friend of her uncle's, but his wife Winter was practically a surrogate mother to Jaina, having raised her for most of her early years on Anoth, and then sticking it out to act as a nanny for the troublesome Solo children.

"Certainly," Jaina said. "I'll send him down right away. Is there anything else?"

"Yes," Tycho said, and Jaina thought she heard some sympathy in his voice, but she couldn't be sure. "Your uncle wants to see you, as well."

Oh man, Jaina thought with a groan. Uncle Luke must have heard that Jag moved in.

"He said that he and Mara will be waiting, and that you would know where."

"I do," Jaina sighed. "Thank you, Colonel."

Turning back to Jag, she found he was already out of bed and getting dressed quickly. She bit back a sigh, knowing that they had no choice, really, but to go meet with their respective uncles. Although Jaina would have given anything to trade with Jag at the moment.

"Duty calls," Jag offered her a wry smile.

"Again," Jaina murmured. She reached out a hand and used the Force to call her flightsuit to her, smirking at the startled look on Jag's face as the clothes floated right past him.

"Jedi," he muttered, rolling his eyes playfully.

Jaina ignored him and reached under her pillow and pulled out her lightsaber. As she was hooking it onto her belt, she noticed Jag looking at her strangely. "What?" she asked.

"Do all Jedi sleep with their lightsaber under their pillow?" Jag asked with raised eyebrows.

Jaina tapped her blade in her hand menacingly. "The better to strike down unsuspecting husbands in their sleep."

Jag grinned, and walked over to her as he zipped up his flightsuit. "Well now I'm a suspecting husband, so we have nothing to worry about, right?" He leaned down and kissed her softly.

Jaina couldn't help but smile. "Right." She draped her flightsuit over her shoulder and headed for the refresher. "I'm going to rinse off real quick, then go meet my aunt and uncle."

"Are you going to tell them?" Jag asked, his voice emotionless, but Jaina didn't miss the hopefulness there.

"Yes," she promised. "And after that we are going to tell my parents."

Jag grimaced in anticipation. "That sounds ... interesting."

Jaina laughed. "It sounds horrifically painful if I know my father." She gestured towards the door. "Since you're dressed, you may as well go ahead and meet with your uncle. I'll go meet with mine as soon as I'm dressed, and then I'll meet you back here when I'm done."

Jag nodded, looking weary about his impending meeting. "Alright." He ran a hand through his dark hair. "Any advice on how to tell my uncle we're married?"

Jaina shrugged. "Just come right out and say it, I guess." She bit her lip. "It's going to be much easier than telling my parents."

Jag shuddered. "You're right." He walked over to her and gave her a nice, long kiss, stroking her hair softly.

When they pulled apart Jaina raised an eyebrow. "What was that for?"

Jag smiled ruefully. "Just in case your father gets hold of me before I can do that again." As he was walking out of the room, he glanced back at her. "There isn't any Republic law I should know about is there? Say, one that allows angry fathers to kill men who marry their daughters in secret?"

Jaina shot him a sympathetic look. "Don't think so." She paused and smirked at him. "Then again, my mother did help write the New Republic constitution. I wouldn't put it past my dad to sneak that in there somewhere, just in case."

"Wonderful," Jag muttered. "If I don't survive the night, make sure you tell my family what happened to me. Tell them I died bravely, facing a terrifying enemy."

Jaina grinned. "My dad's not that bad."

Jag raised and eyebrow. "You have met your father, haven't you?"

Jaina pretended to think about that, then shrugged. "You're right." She smiled wickedly. "So do you want to be jettisoned out into space or buried on Nirauan?"

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jag entered his uncle's office and gave the General a sharp salute. "You wanted to see me, sir?"

Wedge raised his face and Jag couldn't read the expression he saw there. "Yes, Jagged, I did."

Jag winced at the use of his full name. "I take it this is not a military meeting, sir?"

"You're correct," Wedge said, leaning forward in his seat and clasping his hands together on his desk. "I suspect that you already know why you're here."

Jag nodded. "Yes, sir."

"And what exactly do I want to talk to you about, Jag?" Wedge asked, his tone flat and unreadable.

"We've done something that you may disprove of," Jag said evenly. "Jaina and I."

Wedge nodded grimly. "So I've heard." His eyes narrowed. "Gavin says that you declined the room assigned to you and took it upon yourself to become Jaina Solo's roommate. Would you care to explain that?"

"I suppose I should explain that, too," Jag conceded, more to himself than to Wedge.

"Too?" Wedge raised an eyebrow, instantly weary.

"Too, sir," Jag confirmed.

"I see," Wedge said. There was a flicker of apprehension in his dark eyes. "Well, first thing's first, I suppose. Let's discuss this temporary living arrangement, Jag."

It's more permanent than you'll ever know, Jag thought, a warm smile tugging at the corner of his mouth at the thought of spending the rest of his life with Jaina.

"This is unacceptable," Wedge said with a disappointed sigh that reminded Jag of his father. Jag winced at the prospect fo telling his parents he had married Jaina in secret. It was not something he was looking forward to, but he could hardly push it out of his thoughts with his uncle sitting there, his mother's frown upon his face. "It goes against military policy, for one thing," Wedge said. "Not to mention how upset this will make Han and Leia when they find out!"

"They don't know?" Jag asked, looking at his uncle in surprise.

Wedge gave him an annoyed glance. "Believe it or not, Jag, I'm on your side. I told Luke first so that we could give you and Jaina both a chance to fix this before we have to tell Han." His eyes bore into Jag's and his voice softened. "I understand that you love Jaina, Jag, and I want you two to be together. I really do. But this is inappropriate. You need to move your belongings into Rogue Squadron's hall right away. If you do, then we won't have to tell Han about this."

Jag was startled, and touched, that his uncle was trying to give him a way out, trying to protect him from one of Wedge's own friends, and Jag wished that he had come to his uncle the night before so that Wedge could have taken part in the wedding.

A new thought occurred to him, though, as he processed what his uncle had just said. Han and Leia don't know that we moved in together before we were married, then there's no reason for us to tell them. They'll just assume we moved in together because of the wedding.

Focusing on his uncle's face, set with expectant sternness, Jag decided to take Jaina's advice and just tell him. "With all due respect, sir," he began quietly. "You can keep me from flying in her squadron, but you can't keep me from sharing a room with my wife."

"I can- your wife?!" Wedge's eyes went wide and his eyebrows shot up into his hairline. Jag would have found the expression amusing if he hadn't been holding his breath for his uncle's reaction.

"Yes, sir," Jag confirmed, raising his chin and meeting his uncle's incredulous stare without flinching.

For a moment Wedge seemed in shock, a flurry of emotions playing across his face. Finally he seemed to compose himself and looked at Jag seriously. "When did this happen?" Wedge demanded steadily.

"Last night, sir," Jag replied, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

"I see." There was a long, tense pause, and then Wedge cocked an eyebrow. "And why wasn't I invited?"

Jag let out a relieved sigh, and only then did he realize how desperately he had wanted his uncle's approval. "We didn't want anyone to stop us," Jag answered. "And we don't want the entire base to know, just in case there are any Yuuzhan Vong spies about."

Wedge nodded thoughtfully. "That's definitely something that has to be considered." He frowned. "Don't tell me you were actually able to convince one of my officers to marry you behind my back?"

Jag shook his head. "No, sir. It was just a quiet, simple Jedi ceremony."

"Jedi ceremony?" Wedge asked. "Who would be stupid enough to..." His voice trailed off and his mouth set in grim amusement. "Durron. Kyp Durron married you?"

Jag nodded.

A wicked gleam lit Wedge's eye. "Kyp married off Luke's only niece without his consent, and he conducted a Jedi ceremony for you two, a ceremony I'm sure Luke would have wanted to conduct?"

Jag nodded again, this time uneasily. He was beginning to wonder if maybe he shouldn't be more worried about Jaina's uncle than her father. After all, Luke was not only a Jedi, but he was the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy.

I've got a bad feeling about this,Jag thought with a shudder of dread.

"Does Luke know about this?" Wedge asked with a grin.

The entire building shook suddenly, wind blowing papers across the room, and Wedge heard Corran give a yelp from the hallway. "By the Sith! What is wrong with Master Skywalker?!"

Jag exchanged a grim look with his uncle. "I would imagine so."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

No, Han Solo shook his head. I must have heard wrong.

"Can you repeat that?" he asked. "Because I could have sworn that you just said you two got married last night!"

Leia frowned at him, and for a minute Han thought she was going to use one of the Jedi tricks her brother had taught her to calm him down, but if she did he didn't notice, because he was on the edge of loosing control.

"You heard right, Dad," Jaina said, encircling her arm around the Fel boy's waist. "Jag is my husband."

No words had ever broken Han Solo's heart so much.

He glared at Jag. "What made you think you could just marry my daughter without my permission, huh?" He jabbed a finger at him. "You're too young to be married! Especially to my daughter!"

"Han!" Leia scolded.

"Dad!" Jaina protested sharply.

Han ignored them, anger coursing through his veins. He glowered at Jag and saw the young colonel flinch, which gave him bittersweet satisfaction. "You better be glad that Jaina took my blaster away when you got here, or I'd-"

"Han!" Leia snapped, and this time he knew she had used the Force, because instantly his anger and rage cooled and he felt complied to shut up.

Jaina was staring at him, her eyes pained, and Han swallowed hard. "Daddy," she said softly. "I love Jag very much. He means everything to me, and that's why we got married. There's so much uncertainty about the future right now- if there's even going to be a future."

Han hated the calm acceptance in her voice, hated that she understood all too well that their way of life was on the brink of extinction, but he could not disagree.

"We know that any day now one or both of us could be killed in battle," Jaina said. "We want to make the most of the time we have, however long that turns out to be." She met Han's gaze and the determination there made him proud and sad at the same time. "I love Jag, Daddy. And he is my husband, and he's going to be my husband for the rest of my life. You don't get a say in that."

Han winced, wanting so bad to protest, to deny what she was saying, but he could not. His little girl was grown up, a beautiful, amazing young woman. She was no longer just his kid, she was somebody's wife.

"Can you accept that, Daddy?" Jaina asked softly, and he didn't miss the quiet desperation in her voice. "Can you accept that Jag is my husband and treat him the way he deserves?"

Han had to bite back a comment about what he thought the kid really deserved, but he didn't really believe it. He liked Jag Fel, he really did. He was an excellent pilot, a skilled commander, and a genuinely respectful and pleasant young man. Han Solo had liked him from the moment he met him, and that made it even worse.

Because this was his daughter, his Jaina. He could still remember the day she had been born, when the midwife had placed her in his arms and he had gazed down at his firstborn child, amazed and in awe of how tiny and beautiful she was. In his mind, she would forever be the little girl who would run around getting into trouble with Anakin and finishing Jacen's sentences, whose brown eyes would light up whenever she saw him, her dark braids flying out behind her as she ran squealing from Chewie.

But those were memories of the past. Chewie had been dead three years, and now Anakin was dead, too. Han would never get to see Anakin grow into the man he knew he would have become, would never get to see his younger son marry and start a family. And Anakin would never get to see Jaina grow into the amazing woman she was, would never get to be an uncle to the children Han knew she and Jag would have.

It was a humbling thought, really. Suddenly Han felt ashamed for having been concerned about what he was loosing and what he was feeling, and not what Jaina was gaining. Jaina, who still grieved so intensely for the loss of her brother, who had only recently begun to heal. Han had seen her smile more in the past few days than he had in the months since Anakin's death, and he knew that was because of Jag.

Jaina was watching him intently, and Han wondered if she was reading him through the Force. She probably was, she was so strong in the Force that using it was like breathing to her. Han was proud of her for becoming a Jedi, and he was proud of her for being such a skilled pilot. More than anything, though, he was proud of her for being Jaina Solo. Feisty, determined, stubborn, beautiful, caring Jaina Solo.

His daughter who had become a woman.

Swallowing his pride, Han turned to Jag. "There isn't anyone in this galaxy good enough for my daughter, kid. But I guess you're closer to the mark than anyone else."

Jaina's eyes lit up and Han felt a lump rise in his throat. She threw her arms around her father and held him tight, burying her face in his chest the way she had done when she was little. "Thank you, Daddy," she whispered.

Han grunted. "I just want you to be happy, Jaina."

She beamed up at him. "You've just made me happier than anything ever could."

Han looked up at Jag. "And you, Flyboy, listen up. If you so much as hurt my little girl even once-"

"Carbonate, sir?" Jag asked.

Han nodded. "Count on it." He glanced at Leia and saw her smiling at him. He gave her a lopsided smile and let go of Jaina so Leia could embrace her. It did something to him to see them like that, his wife hugging his grown up daughter, their appearances so similar, both of them beautiful beyond words.

How did I get so lucky? Han asked himself. How did a guy like me end up with a wife like her, and a daughter like that?

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jag watching Jaina. From the way the young man watched her, Han knew that Jag was having similar thoughts of his own.

Good, Han smiled to himself. At least he knows how lucky he is.

"You actually took this better than Uncle Luke did," Jaina said with a smile.

Han raised any eyebrow. "That so?" He didn't mean to sound pleased, but he couldn't help it. He was glad to see that he wasn't the only one who was having a hard time dealing with Jaina being grown up all of the sudden.

"I think it had more to do with the ceremony than the actually marriage," Leia said with a small smile, exchanging a knowing look with Jaina. "He really is happy for you, you know."

Jaina nodded. "I know. No matter what he was trying to say, I'm a Jedi, too. He and Aunt Mara were surprised, but pleased."

Han frowned. "Why would Luke mind the ceremony?"

Jaina looked uncomfortable. "No reason," she said hurriedly, glancing meaningfully at Jag.

Knowing that Jaina would never give in, and that Jag was very much concerned with Han's opinion of him, Han turned to Jag. "Whatever she's trying to get you not to tell me, tell me." Jag hesitated, glancing at Jaina. "Don't look at her, kid," Han said. "She's a Jedi, there are rules about what she can and can't do to you. Me? I'm a firm believer that rules are meant to be broken."

Catching his meaning, Jag nodded, shooting Jaina an apologetic look. "Your uncle already knows, so we may as well tell him, too."

Jaina sighed. "Fine. Just wait until I'm out of the room, okay? I think I should go warn him."

Han watched her go, wanting to order her to stay put, but much too interested in what Jag had to say to do so. "Tell me," he said.

"Jaina wanted a Jedi bonding ceremony," Jag said. "Kyp conducted one."

Han's jaw dropped. Kyp had married them? Kyp?

"Why that little-" Han trailed off, as a new thought struck him and he broke into a smile. "Good for him."

Leia and Jag stared at him incredulously. "Aren't you upset?" Leia asked.

Han shrugged. "Nah. Now if he didn't remember to take some holos then I will be." He looked at Jag, who nodded that they had taken some. Han grinned. "See? No problem."

Leia was eyeing him suspiciously. "What are you up to?"

Han feigned innocence. "Me? Nothing." A feral grin lit his face. "It's Brother Luke that Kyp should be worried about. He took away Luke's right as an uncle and as Jedi Master to marry our daughter off, and that's not going to sit well with Luke."

Leia grimaced, and Han could tell she agreed.

Turning to Jag, Han smiled. "Kid, there's three things you need to remember if you're married to my daughter. One, my wife is the former chief-of-state, my brother-in-law is head of the Jedi, and I helped blow up two Death Stars. We can make your life a living hell."

Jag nodded that he understood, and even though he wasn't a Jedi, Han could tell he understood perfectly.

"Two," Han went on. "Jaina is the most amazing woman in the galaxy, but she is also the most stubborn, willful girl you will ever meet. You think I have a bad temper? You should see Jaina when she's angry."

"I have, sir," Jag reminded him. He grimaced. "Several times."

Han grinned. At least the boy could hold his own against Jaina, which was saying quite a bit about Jag. "And three," Han said. "Never, ever make Luke Skywalker angry. He doesn't need the dark side to scare you senseless. He's got something much scarier."

"What's that?" Jag asked.

Han grinned. "Mara Jade."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jaina was sprawled out on the center of her bed, flimsies spread before her. She wore a pair of black fighting pants and one of Jag's burgundy shirts. Her hair was pulled back into a thick braid to keep it from falling in her eyes.

The bed was the one that she shared with her husband, and just referring to Jag as such made her heart pound and her pulse quicken. It had only been a few days since their impromptu wedding in the meditation room, but already married life felt natural and normal.

Sometimes it seemed like their room was the only place where Jaina could let go of the Goddess routine and just be herself.

It was also the only place where she could be completely alone and undisturbed, which was why she had chosen to retire to the small suite after her briefing with General Antilles. She needed peace and quiet while she studied the documents in front of her.

Battle plans, strategic maneuvers, Yuuzhan Vong technology discoveries ... it was all there, right in front of her and just waiting for her to figure out how to use it to their advantage.

Jaina had given Sharr and Piggy copies of the information, and she hoped that they would have some ideas when they met that evening, because she was having a hard time concentrating. She wished Jag was there to look over the data, he was observant and good at strategy, but he was away from the base at the moment. Wedge had needed someone to scout the planet and look for any signs of Yuuzhan Vong activity, and he had asked Jag to go. Jaina felt better knowing Kyp had gone with him, even it was only to avoid her uncle Luke for a while longer.

I still don't know how he's managed to do it for this long, Jaina mused with a smile. Uncle Luke is pretty hard to loose.

And even though Jaina was worried about both men, she would know if anything happened to Jag through their Force bond, and she was, as always, in close contact with Kyp. If anything went wrong, she would know, and she would go after them on a repulsorsled if she had to.

Sighing, Jaina tried to focus her attention back on her work. There was alot she needed to get done, and not very much time to do it in. Especially not if she wanted to be able to have evening meal with her family. Her uncle and aunt were busy with Blackmoon Squadron, but she knew that she could call her uncle for advice if she needed to. She wanted to do it by herself, though, she was just having trouble concentrating for some reason.

She took a deep breath and decided to meditate for a few minutes. Maybe that would help clear her mind. She closed her eyes and reached out with the Force, letting it flow through her and around her, and let her mind slide into the serenity only the Force could give her.

She felt a presence approaching and let go of the Force, opening her eyes. She looked up expecting to see Jacen.

Instead she saw a shimmering figure standing behind her, translucent and bathed in a soft white glow. He looked different than when she had last seen him, his scars from their last mission gone.

Jaina drew a sharp breath, staring at the handsome boy before her. "Anakin?" she whispered in disbelief.

Her little brother smiled at her. "Hello, Jaina."

Hearing his voice again was like someone had finally lit a fire to warm the icy cold inside of her. "Anakin!" she cried, jumping off of the bed so fast that she knocked all of the flimsies onto the ground. She started towards him to embrace him, then stopped, realizing that she could not touch him. She stood there, staring at her brother, for a long moment, her voice lost and her breath caught in her throat.

"I'm sorry if I interrupted your work," Anakin said. "I know that you're busy."

Jaina blinked. "Busy?" she gaped in astonishment. She could never be too busy for Anakin, especially like this. "No. I'm not busy."

Anakin smiled his lopsided smile. "If you say so."

"What are you doing here?" Jaina asked. "I mean, not that I mind, I don't! I just can't believe you're really here, it's just that, wow, you're here and I just don't-"

"Tahiri's been rubbing off on you," Anakin commented with an amused look.

Jaina laughed. "It's just... you have no idea how desperately I wanted to see you."

"I think I have some idea," Anakin replied. He studied her for a moment, a wistful look in his eyes. "You look even more beautiful than you did before."

Jaina felt her cheeks grow warm, but she couldn't hide her smile. "You're my brother, you're biased."

"Jag certainly seems to agree with me," Anakin noted.

It made Jaina feel warm inside to know that Anakin had been watching, that he knew about Jag. She wondered if he had watched their wedding.

"Of course I did," Anakin said. "Do you really think I would miss it?" He smiled at her. "Jag is a good man. He loves you. You made the right decision."

Anakin could not have known how much those words meant to her. She had never voiced it out loud, but she had been asking herself what Anakin would have thought about Jag, what he would have thought about Jaina getting married so young and so suddenly. Knowing he approved made her smile.

"I know," Jaina said.

"You've made some other decisions you should be proud of lately, too," Anakin said, his blue eyes intense. "It takes great strength to turn away from the dark side, Jaina. It's not an easy thing to do. I'm proud of you for that."

"Not so proud that I turned in the first place, though," Jaina said.

Anakin gave her a rueful smile. "I never expected you to be the one to turn."

Jaina shrugged. "No one did, I suppose. Uncle Luke certainly didn't."

Anakin nodded. "You've put the dark side behind you, though. There is no darkness around you anymore, only light. You've survived your ordeal, and it has made you stronger."

"Has it?" Jaina asked softly. "Sometimes I feel weaker."

"You doubt yourself," Anakin said. "Why?"

Jaina sighed. "I'm afraid, Anakin. Afraid I might slip back to the dark side. Uncle Luke says that I won't, but I can't be certain. Darth Vader's shadow hangs over me like a cloak, it's always there, always tempting me, and I'm afraid someday it may just be too much and I may give in."

Anakin was quiet for a long time, watching her so carefully that Jaina began to shift nervously. Finally, her brother spoke, "You and I are more alike than anyone ever realized, I think. I have always felt like our grandfather's fate could end up being mine, that one tiny misstep would sentence me to imprisonment in his armor. But," he smiled weakly. "I think that you can defeat Vader's ghost, Jaina."

"How?" Jaina asked hoarsely.

"By letting go of your fear," Anakin said. "As long as you fear you might fall again, the dark side will always have some control over you. In order to beat it, you can not fear it."

Jaina bit her lip for a long moment, then blew out a sigh. She cocked an eyebrow at her brother curiously. "Were you always this smart?"

Anakin smiled. "You're the one who said I was the genius in the family."

"Well it certainly wasn't Jacen," Jaina snorted.

Anakin's smile faded and his expression grew serious. "You cannot blame Jacen for my death, Jaina. It's not fair to him. It's cruel. And it absolves the Yuuzhan Vong of my death."

"I don't blame him for your death," Jaina said softly. "I know that you probably would have died on Myrkr anyway. The wound you took for me was too severe, and you were too stubborn to go into a healing trance."

"There were more important things at the time," Anakin replied.

Jaina didn't respond to that, because his words were ridiculous. To Jaina there could never be anything more important than Anakin. It just wasn't possible. "I blame him for leaving you," she said. "For abandoning you to die alone."

Anakin frowned. "I gave an order, Jaina. He followed it."

"And I guess it's a good thing he did," Jaina admitted. "Otherwise the queen would still be alive and the voxyn would still be hunting the Jedi." She looked up at her brother, her eyes dark and intense. "I can even accept that he did the right thing for doing what you asked. That's why you put him in charge instead of me, because you knew that I wouldn't make the same choice."

Anakin did not try to disagree, the truth of that matter was evident in his eyes.

"What I can't accept is that he forced me to leave you behind," Jaina said softly, her voice tightening. "He had no right to do that. I could have stayed, I could have helped you, I could have-"

"Could have what, Jaina?" Anakin asked evenly. "I was dying. You know that. All your staying would have accomplished was getting us both killed."

"You would never have left me behind," Jaina accused, and she knew that he could not deny it. There had never been any doubt in her mind that if it had been her dying there, Anakin, and Jacen, too, would have stayed with her till the end. "And you would never have left Jacen."

Anakin was silent for what seemed like an eternity. When he spoke it was in a quiet voice that Jaina could remember him using with Tahiri after her ordeal with the Yuuzhan Vong, and with herself many times when they had gotten themselves into trouble as children. "Jacen did what I asked him to for the same reason you wanted to stay. Because it was unbearable for him to loose me, and that was the last thing he could do for me, to make it easier on me. That is why he dragged away, Jaina, so that I could die in peace, knowing that he was safe, that Tahiri was safe, and that you were safe."

Jaina swallowed hard, tears welling up in her eyes. She could not deny the truth of his words, not with the weight of the Force behind them, and it broke her heart to admit, even to herself, that staying would have been a mistake.

"I'm sorry for all the pain my death has caused you," Anakin said gently. "I'm sorry for asking such a thing of you as to leave me behind when I know that I would not have left you. I'm sorry for everything you've been through, and that I wasn't here to help you through it."

"You were here," Jaina sniffled. She placed a hand over her heart. "You were right here."

Anakin smiled slightly, but Jaina could see the sadness in his eyes. "You will heal, Jaina, I promise. I know it seems impossible right now, but in time it will get better."

"You sound like Uncle Luke," Jaina commented with a shaky smile.

Anakin grinned. "I have been told that, actually." His smiled faded, but his expression remained gentle. "Ask Uncle Luke to train with you in your spare time. Ask Aunt Mara, ask Kyp, even ask Jacen. But you must resume your training, Jaina. Everything depends on it."

Jaina frowned. "What do you mean?"

Anakin spread his hand apologetically. "That I cannot say. I can only tell you that you are a Jedi above all else, Jaina. You are a Skywalker. The Force has a plan for you, and you must resume your training if you are to fulfill your destiny."

Jaina nodded slowly. She had already begun to think that she needed to start training again, although she hadn't been sure why. It had just been a feeling, an urge, really. But it had been strong, and growing stronger everyday.

"I will," she promised.

"Get Tahiri to train with you some," Anakin suggested, his blue eyes full of longing. "And be there for her. You're the only one she trusts enough to share her pain with, Jaina. And she needs to share it."

"Of course," Jaina said. "I'll be there for her as long as she needs me."

Anakin smiled. "I know you will." He hesitated, then said, "Tell her I love her?"

Jaina nodded her head. "She knows. But I'll tell her anyway."

"Thank you," Anakin said, and Jaina realized in a sudden panic that he was growing fainter.

"Wait!" she cried. "Will I see you again?"

Anakin smiled sadly. "One day. When you, too, make this journey. I'll be waiting for you."

Jaina swallowed hard. There was so much she wanted to say to her brother, so much that she needed to tell him, but she couldn't find words.

He smiled knowingly as he began to fade away. "Give my love to our parents."

Jaina nodded, tears spilling onto her cheeks. "I will," she croaked out.

Anakin gave her a tender smile, and then he was gone.

Jaina felt her throat close up. "I love you," she whispered hoarsely.

And I love you, her brother's voice whispered back, fading away like a dream.

But it was no dream, and Jaina could remember every detail of their encounter perfectly. Even though his presence had made her feel whole at last, she felt a terrible sadness that she would never see her brother again.

But then her brother's words came back to her and she smiled. She would see him again, someday. And he would be waiting for her.

For the first time since Anakin's death, Jaina felt truly complete.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jacen Solo had fallen in love with the woman in front of him the day they first met at the Jedi Academy on Yavin Four, all those years ago. Back then he had thought she was only a Dathmori warrior, but he had later learned that she was a Hapan princess.

Now she was Queen Mother of the Hapes Consortium.

"Wow," Jacen murmured, stunned. "A lot's happened while I was gone."

"Yes," Tenel Ka agreed. "Much has changed." She eyed their intertwined hands. "But some things have not."

Jacen grinned. "Yeah, well, I wanted to tell you on Myrkr, when you leaned in to kiss me, but Vergere got in the way."

Tenel Ka nodded. "I did not understand that then. But I do now." She looked up at him, her cool gray eyes calm. "She was trying to lessen the pain your death would inflict on us both."

Jacen cocked his head thoughtfully. "I suppose so." A smirk tugged at his lips. "But somehow I think that kiss might have helped get me through that experience easier." His expression grew serious. "It was thinking about you that got me through at all."

Tenel Ka's eyes shimmered brightly. "I am glad of that, my friend."

"I thought we were more than friends?" Jacen asked with a smile.

Tenel Ka nodded. "You thought correctly." She raised an eyebrow. "What would you like me to call you?"

"How about just Jacen?" Jacen laughed. "And I'll just call you Tenel Ka."

"It is nice to be addressed by my name instead of Queen Mother," Tenel Ka said, her voice wistful.

Jacen studied her face for a long moment, her creamy skin framed by her cinnamon gold mane, her gray eyes the color of liquid steel. "You miss the Jedi, don't you?" he asked.

"That is a fact," Tenel Ka agreed. "I took up my mother's crown to keep my grandmother from taking the throne, and to save your sister from my grandmother's ploys, but I did not do it willingly."

Jacen bit his lip. "This is going to make things hard, isn't it?" he asked. "For us, I mean. With you being the Queen Mother of Hapes, and me being a Jedi, the son of Leia Organa Solo, no less."

"My grandmother thought your sister was good enough for the royal line," Tenel Ka observed grimly. "But I think you are right, this will be a challenging time for us." She looked at him, her gaze softer than Jacen had ever seen it. "But I do not wish to rule forever, Jacen. In time my father will remarry, and I will step down as Queen Mother. Perhaps they will have a daughter, and she may rule after her mother."

"It doesn't bother you?" Jacen asked, frowning. "The thought of your father marrying someone else so soon?" He could not imagine how upset he would be if it was his father remarrying.

"I know that my father loved my mother," Tenel Ka said softly. "That is not a common occurrence in the Hapan royal family. My father may choose another wife, and another woman to produce his children, but my father's heart will always belong to Tenneniel Djo."

Jacen squeezed her hand. "Like my heart will always belong to you."

Tenel Ka smiled slightly, and Jacen leaned down to kiss her even as she tilted her head upward towards him. Their lips were just meeting when a voice interrupted.

"It's certainly about time."

Jacen jerked up in surprise, his eyes going wide. "Anakin?!" he yelped, falling off of the bench.

His brother stepped out from behind the bushes, shimmering and glowing with the power of the Force. He wore sand colored Jedi robes that set off his dark hair, and his familiar smile lit his handsome face. "Hello, Jacen." He smiled at Tenel Ka. "Hello, Tenel Ka."

"Anakin," Tenel Ka said softly.

"I don't have much time left," Anakin said, smiling apologetically. "I used most of my time talking to Jaina."

Jacen was relieved to hear that. He could think of nothing better for Jaina than to see Anakin's spirit. If anyone could get through to her, it would their brother.

"That's alright," he assured him. A pause fell over them as Jacen struggled to think of what to say. There were so many things that he could say, so many things he wanted to say, but none of them seemed good enough. What do you say to your little brother's ghost? he asked himself.

There was really only one thing to say.

"I'm sorry, Anakin," Jacen said hoarsely. "I'm sorry for all the fighting we did, and for not giving you the credit you deserved."

Anakin waved a hand dismissively. "All brothers argue, Jacen. It's natural."

Jacen raised an eyebrow. "Do all brothers argue with lightsabers?"

Anakin smiled. "I don't suppose so, no." He eyed Jacen curiously. "For a minute there I was worried you were going to try and apologize for Myrkr."

Jacen shook his head, swallowing down the grief and pain that welled up in him whenever he thought of the worldship where his brother had fallen. "No. I made the right choice. I know that."

Anakin's smile looked relieved. "I'm glad. That's why I came." Jacen frowned, confused, and Anakin noticed. "I needed to tell you for myself that you did the right thing. You did exactly what I needed for you to do. You got rid of the queen, you survived, and you kept Jaina from getting herself killed."

Jacen's face fell at the mention of his twin. "Jaina doesn't see it that way. She's pretty mad."

"Talk to her again sometime," Anakin said. "I think you may be pleasantly surprised."

Before Jacen could ask what he meant by that, Anakin began to dissolve. A lump rose up in Jacen's throat, a sob barely kept down by the strength of the Force. There is no death, he repeated the line from the Jedi Code to himself. There is the Force.

"I am always watching, Jacen," Anakin said. "Even though I can't reply, I can always hear you. Remember that."

Jacen nodded. "Goodbye, Anakin."

He waited until his brother was gone, and then let the tears slid down his cheek. Tenel Ka slid her arm around his waist and he leaned against her, letting her strength flow into him. "You will see him again one day, Jacen," she whispered, her own voice tight with emotion. "He is part of the Force now, back where life itself comes from. He is at peace."

Jacen nodded. "I know." He smiled weakly at her. "And now so am I."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jag Fel was exhausted.

He had been out all day flying a scouting mission around Mon Calamari with Kyp Durron, and he wanted nothing more than to hop in the 'fresher, and then fall asleep with his wife in his arms.

When he entered their room he found that she had already fallen asleep without him.

Carefully, he tiptoed over to the bed and quietly kicked off his boots, lowering himself down onto the bed beside her.

One of the advantages of having a wife who was a Jedi was that she always seemed to know he was there, even in her sleep. Jag smiled as she snuggled closer to him, pressing her curves against his. He stroked her cheek lovingly, inhaling the scent of her thick, dark hair.

This is my wife, he thought. I get to wake up every day for the rest of my life with this woman in my arms. I get to see her face first thing every morning and kiss her goodnight every night.

Jag could not think of anything more precious.

He let out a content, tired sigh, holding Jaina to him. She stirred and blinked up at him, a small creeping across her face. "You're back," she whispered in the soft, silky voice Jag had come to know as her morning voice.

He smiled at her. "Yeah. We just got back." He ran his fingers through her hair. "I didn't mean to wake you."

"It's alright," she assured him. "I was just waiting for you to come home."

Jag's throat constricted everytime she said that. Home, he mused to himself. Once my parents' house on Nirauan was my home. Now home is wherever Jaina is.

"Have you had any word from your parents?" Jaina asked, picking up on his thoughts.

"No," Jag replied. "I sent my mother a hololetter but she has not replied yet."

"Did you tell her about us?" Jaina asked.

"No," Jag shook his head. "That is something I want to do in person."

"I understand," Jaina smiled, leaning her head to kiss him. Her lips were soft against his, and the taste of her kiss sent fire through his body. Her eyes were bright when she pulled back and Jag knew instantly that she had something tot tell him.

"What?" he asked. "What is it?"

A smile lit her face. "I saw Anakin."

For a moment Jag was confused, then he remembered Kyp telling him that Jedi were sometimes visited by the spirits of fallen Jedi. A shiver went down Jag's spine at the thought of seeing his own brother's ghost, but Jaina was a Jedi, and this was not strange and terrifying to her like it was to him. "You did?" he asked softly, stroking her hair.

She nodded. "He came to talk to me."

That's good, I suppose, Jag thought, not entirely comfortable with the idea of ghosts popping in on his wife. Then again, it's Anakin. Her brother. There's nothing to worry about there.

"What did he have to say?" Jag asked.

"He helped me work through some of the dark side stuff I've been going through," Jaina replied.

Jag looked down at her in surprise. "I thought you were over that."

Jaina shrugged. "It's not something that goes away, really. It's always going to be a part of what I am. A part of who I am."

Jag didn't need the Force to understand that cryptic comment. What I am- a Jedi. Who I am- the granddaughter of Darth Vader. "And what did you and Anakin discuss about that?" he asked.

"I've been afraid of slipping again," Jaina confessed softly. "But fear is of the dark side, too. As long as I let the dark side scare me, I'm not completely free of it."

Jag didn't understand the Force and the dark side well enough yet to know why fear was a bad thing, but he knew that it was something Jedi tried to avoid. Now he understood why. "And are you still afraid of it?" Jag asked quietly. "Or are you free?"

"I'm free," Jaina said softly, her breath spilling over his neck. "Anakin freed me."

Jag kissed her head. "You freed yourself. Anakin just helped."

Jaina sighed and hugged him closer, resting her head on his chest. They laid like that for a long time, Jag running his fingers through her hair, her cheek pressed against his chest. "I think I'm ready to forgive Jacen," Jaina said softly.

Jag nodded. "I'm glad. I think you need to."

"I don't think I'll ever be completely okay with the decision he made," Jaina said. "But he made the right choice for him and for the Jedi. My decision would have gotten me killed."

Jag's mind flashed back to the moment in his father's office when he had told him that one of the Solo children had been killed. Jag's heart had stopped, and for one terrifying instant he had thought Jaina Solo was dead. He had not known at the time why the thought scared him as deeply as it did, but his father had realized, and Jag wondered if his father hadn't known all along that Jag was in love with Jaina.

"I'm glad it didn't," Jag said softly. "I love you, and I can't imagine my life without you in it."

"I love you, too," Jaina smiled, placing a kiss on his chest. She laid her head down again, and he could see her biting her lip from over her head. "I wanted to stay with Anakin, to fight and die with Anakin, because I loved him and I couldn't bear to let him suffer alone. Anakin made me realize, Jacen was doing the same thing for Anakin by leaving him. Anakin didn't want anyone else to die with him, and by dragging me away, Jacen was able to at least give Anakin that little bit of strength, to die happy in the knowledge that I was going to live."

"It sounds like Anakin knows what he's talking about," Jag observed.

"He does," Jaina replied. "When Chewie died, we all knew that Anakin did the right thing by leaving him. Chewie would have been horrified if Anakin had died alongside him."

"Just like Anakin would have if you had stayed behind with him," Jag surmised.

"It's more than that," Jaina said, sitting up. "When Chewie died, my father blamed Anakin for leaving him. I realized that I've been blaming Jacen the same way."

Jag didn't know what to say to that, so he just propped himself up on his elbows and studied her. She was wearing a pair of black fatigue pants and one of his shirts, and it was hard not to think about how fetching she looked wearing his clothes.

Jaina looked at him, a smile tugging at her lips. "Fetching, huh?" she whispered huskily, and Jag's heart began to pound furiously as she lowered her mouth to his. "You think I'm fetching, Colonel Fel?"

"I think you're beautiful," Jag whispered against her lips.

Jaina kissed him hard, pushing him back down onto the bed. "I think you're pretty handsome, yourself."

"We have to meet Piggy and Sharr in a few minutes," Jag protested weakly. "Kyp will know what-"

Jaina pressed a finger to his lips. "They can wait. I'm a Goddess, remember? I'm supposed to be fashionably late."

Jag raised an eyebrow. "I think this will put us beyond fashionably late."

Jaina grinned. "What's the point of all this Goddess stuff if I don't use it to my advantage every once and a while?"

She ran her fingers through his hair, sending shivers of delgith of coursing through him. He swallowed, trying to resist the affect she was having on him. "I don't think-"

"Stop thinking," Jaina hissed softly against his ear. "This is to your advantage, too, dummy."

Jag found himself compelled to agree.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

While Vergere and Luke talked on the balcony overlooking the beach, Jacen Solo sat on the sand, gazing out at the horizon. The sun was just beginning to set, spilling rays of orange and pink light across the water.

Jacen hardly noticed, though, he was so deep in thought. He had made his peace with Anakin, and now all he needed to do was talk with his sister. But Jaina was stubborn and her temper was more dangerous than the dark side could ever be, so Jacen knew he had to let her come to him when she was ready.

Which may be never, he thought to himself, sighing.

"Such a sigh," her voice filled the air.

Jacen started. He hadn't even detected anyone else's presence. He looked over his shoulder to see his sister leaning against the side of a tree, cloaked by the shadows cast by the sunset. "Join me?" he asked.

Silently she emerge from the shadows, and for one horrifying instant Jacen could almost see the Jaina she might have become, a Jaina dressed in shadows and bathed in darkness. He quickly ended that train of thought, though, as she sat down next to him and rays of light played across her face.

She really is beautiful, Jacen thought. I know she always has been, but it seems like she grows more beautiful every day.

Jaina sat beside him in silence for a long moment, staring out at the sky, her face more serene than Jacen could recall ever seeing it. Deciding to take the initiative, he said quietly, "Anakin came to me."

Jaina nodded. "I figured he would."

"It was ... nice to see him," Jacen said.

"Yes," Jaina agreed, not taking her eyes off the sunset. "It was."

"Do you think he went to see Tahiri?" Jacen asked after a long pause.

Jaina shook her head. "I doubt it. Appearing to her now would only make it harder for her since he can't appear to her again."

Jacen nodded thoughtfully. "I hadn't though of that."

Jaina didn't reply. She dangled her feet over the water, and Jacen watched as she used the Force to create a small funnel of water at her feet, then sent it swirling out into the ocean. He remembered playing that game as children. He, Jaina and Anakin would see who could get theirs the farthest, while being discreet about it enough that their dad never caught on.

Jacen created his own funnel and gave it a good nudge, spinning it just past Jaina's. A small smile lit his sister's face. "We haven't done this in years," she said.

"No," Jacen agreed. "We haven't."

"This was Anakin's game," Jaina said, her voice much softer.

Jacen swallowed, preparing himself for the accusations he had come to expect from her when it came to Anakin.

Instead she lowered her head and whispered, "I've been blaming you the way Dad blamed Anakin when Chewie died, and it's not fair. It's cruel. You did what you had to, and you made the right choice."

Jacen drew a sharp breath of surprise.

Jaina looked at him. "I'm not ever going to be completely okay with that choice, because it's not the choice I would have made," she said. "But I would have chosen wrong. I can admit that."

"Not an easy thing to admit," Jacen said softly.

Jaina shrugged. "I've been wrong before." She bit her lip, then glanced at him again. "Jace, I'm sorry. I had no right to say the things I said to you on Myrkyr."

"You had every right," Jacen replied. "You were being a sister."

"Just not to you," Jaina said. "I acted like you weren't suffering right along with me, and I'm sorry. You were hurting just as bad as I was, and I purposely took out my pain on you."

Jacen gave her hand a squeeze. "Don't worry about it. I understand."

Jaina nodded, pushing to her feet. She glanced out at the water, then down at her brother. "Come on," she said, extending her hand to help him up. "Let's take a walk."

Jacen stood and fell into step beside her as she walked along the sand. They walked in silence for a while, enjoying the warm breeze rolling off of the water and the comfortable feeling of being together.

After a while, he glanced over at his sister. "Jaina?" he asked softly. "Are we okay?"

"Yeah, Jacen," she replied with a small smile, her hand sliding into his. "We're okay."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Luke Skywalker stood in the shadows of the training room, alertly watching the fight taking place before him. The room echoed with the loud crack-hiss of lightsaber slamming against lightsaber, and beside him, Jag Fel winced.

Jaina Solo, now Jaina Solo Fel, stumbled back, and a white blade lunged at her stomach. Jaina was a Jedi, though, and extremely strong in the Force. She had been trained by Mara Jade Skywalker to use every movement to her advantage, so as her foe lunged for her vulnerable chest, she leapt into the air, flipping over his head.

Kyp Durron whirled just in time to block her next strike, sparks flying from their blades. Both of them had feral grins on their faces, and to a casual observer one might think they were locked in a death duel. But Luke knew that Jaina and Kyp were close friends, and the trust they had in one another showed as they struck again and again, for there was no practice mode on a lightsaber.

Kyp pivoted on the ball of his foot and snapped a side kick at Jaina's head. She ducked, rolling through a somersault, then came up on her feet. Kyp darted in to strike at her throat, but Jaina brought her blade up to crash into his, pushing off the ground to drive him back.

This time it was Kyp who stumbled, and Luke allowed himself a small smile. His niece was getting better, and Kyp knew it. Luke could see the resolve on Kyp's face as the young Jedi Master swung his blade up to parry a blow aimed at his chest. He rolled his wrist, looping his blade about Jaina's, hoping to force her to leave an opening.

But Luke could see that Jaina was reacting faster than Kyp was attacking. Already she had snapped her blade straight down to break it free of the dangerous tangle, the brought it up fast enough to knock Kyp's blade aside before he could put it point-in at her throat and win.

Kyp struck again, his blade hissing towards her, but Jaina leapt above the slash and flipped backwards to land with her blade in high guard. "Good," Kyp commented, his bare torso dripping with sweat. "But not good enough."

Jaina was sweating, too, and using the Force to regulate her breathing, but Luke didn't see any signs of fatigue. "We'll see," she replied with a wicked smile.

Kyp advanced, then darted forward with a quick, feinting lunge. Jaina anticipated his move and leaned away from it, the quickly changed directions and lunged for him, sweeping her arm up into a rising parry that threw his lightsaber out wide. She twisted her wrist deftly, slicing the blade towards him, but he rolled under the swing, bringing his lightsaber up as if to score a point on her leg.

But she had been prepared for that, and Luke saw the surprise on Kyp's face as Jaina leapt straight up into the air, twisting her body out of his reach. She landed lightly and in full battle stance. Kyp pushed to his feet, holding out his blade, and for a moment they watched each other, anticipating the next strike.

Luke took the moment to appreciate the Force flowing through the room. Both Jaina and Kyp were strong in the Force, though Jaina had not yet reached her full potential. Both were skilled swordsmen, and their styles, so alike in theory, so different in execution, complemented one another perfectly. Luke could think of no one better to test his niece's skill. Kyp was determined not to let her win, and she was just as determined to beat him.

"You're getting better," Kyp said as their blades crashed.

"And you're getting older," Jaina retorted, her eyes gleaming.

She whirled away from Kyp's high, slashing attack and brought her blade up to catch his an overhead parry. Making a surprise and sudden rush, Kyp swung low at Jaina's knees, trying to get her to send herself off balance when she parried.

But Jaina leapt over the blade with a graceful twist of her body and brought her own blade down on top of his as she landed. Luke let out a pleased hiss of air, and he saw pride in Kyp's eyes as the Jedi Master pressed his next attack, alternating between long, flowing slashes and short, chopping strikes. Luke was amazed at the the intensity with which the Force was flowing through his niece as she used it to anticipate Kyp's every move.

Kyp, too, was impressed, and pushed a wild, sparkling attack, hoping to push Jaina beyond her limits. But Jaina was deep in the Force, Luke could feel it, and he wasn't surprised when she suddenly pressed an attack of her own, catching Kyp by surprise and forcing him back as he blocked her flowing wave of strikes.

Luke glanced at Jag, and was amused by the look of shock on the young man's face. This was the first time Jag had watched his wife fight with her Jedi weapon, and Luke could see respect and awe in his pale green eyes.

Kyp feinted left, driving his blade in from the right, but Jaina dipped her blade to parry his and slid it along the white blade. Kyp had to disengage to avoid her scoring a hit on his hand, and he withdrew for a mere second before slashing wide at Jaina's bade with enough momentum to send her falling.

Jaina rolled under the swing, and Kyp moved to strike as she came out of the roll. Except that she didn't come out of if, instead she rolled backwards, bringing her blade up with lightning speed and pointing it at Kyp's exposed chest.

"Point," Jaina said quietly, but Luke did not miss the smug pride in her voice.

Kyp blinked, surprised, then stepped back and extinguished his lightsaber. Her clipped it back on his belt and shook his head. "I didn't see that coming."

Jaina grinned as she turned off her own blade. "You weren't supposed to."

They bowed to each other, deep and respectful, and Luke smiled. "Very impressive, Jaina," he said, stepping towards them. "You've gotten better. Make sure you spar with Mara sometime soon. I'm sure it would please her to see how far you've come."

"Unless she beats her, too," Kyp said dryly.

Luke smiled at the image of Mara's shocked face if Jaina were to disarm her. "True."

Jag stepped up beside Luke, his face still set in stunned amazement. "That was amazing," he said. "Both of you."

Jaina flashed a lopsided smile. "To you maybe. I can always get better, and so can Kyp."

Luke nodded. "A Jedi must always work towards self-improvement."

"Can't make the galaxy a better place until you make yourself a better person," Kyp reasoned, drawing a surprised look from Luke. Kyp really had changed over the past few months, and it never seized to amaze him.

"I need a shower," Jaina said with a sigh. She took the towel Jag held out to her gratefully and dabbed the sweat off of her face. She smiled at Luke and gave a slight bow. "Master Skywalker." To Kyp she smirked and lifted her chin. "Mortal."

Kyp snorted. "Goddess etiquette is left at the door," he protested, but he gave her a deep, dramatic bow that lit her face with a smile. Luke watched her disappear, Jag at her side, and he wondered to himself when Jaina had grown into such a beautiful woman.

"Hard to believe she's married, huh?" Kyp asked.

Luke smiled. Ever since Kyp had married Jaina and Jag in a secret Jedi ceremony, everyone had thought that Luke was going to kill him. Although Luke had been angry, watching Kyp jump every time Luke entered a room for nearly a week had been enough for Luke. He was happy for his niece, and since Kyp had promised never to marry any of the other Jedi without discussing it with Luke, Luke had let it go. Watching the holos form the wedding, though, he had to admit Kyp had done a pretty good job for a spur-of-the-moment, surprise wedding.

"It's taking some getting used to," Luke replied.

Kyp nodded. "How is Jacen handling it?"

"About as you'd expect," Luke answered. "He's happy for her and he likes Jag, but it seems so sudden to him." Silently, he added, To me, as well.

If Kyp caught on to his thoughts, he didn't show it. "I sort of need a favor, Luke."

Luke raised an eyebrow. "What sort of a favor?"

"The squadrons are throwing a surprise party for Jaina and Jag tonight," Kyp grinned. "It was Janson's idea. You know how he is when there's an excuse to party."

Luke nodded. He did know. All to well.

"Well, Wes and Gavin have taken care of almost everything," Kyp said. "But we need to get Jaina and Jag there, separately, to surprise them."

"And you want me to get one of them there?" Luke asked, catching on.

Kyp nodded. "I was thinking that you could ask Jag to walk with you or something. You know, give him one of those 'I am Luke Skywalker, fear me or my wife will cut you down' speeches."

Luke raised an eyebrow at that, but chose not to comment. "I'll see what I can do," he said wryly.

Kyp smiled in relief. "Thank you."

"And Kyp?" Luke asked suddenly weary.

Kyp looked at him inquisitively.

"This party of yours? Did General Antilles approve it?"

Kyp's smile turned wicked. "Of course not. If we'd asked for permission we would have had to invite him." Luke frowned at that and was about to say something when Kyp grinned. "This way we get to take bets on how long it takes for him and Colonel Celchu to crash the party."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Wedge Antilles had a headache.

Rubbing his forehead, he stared down at the tactical readouts Danni Quee had given him. In his hands he had the information needed to destroy a major Yuuzhan Vong vessel.

Tsavong Lah's worldship.

"This is big," he muttered to himself. "If we blow up Tsavong Lah, we hurt the Yuuzhan Vong."

Danni's team had collected all the data they could on the worldship, and they had discovered a range of weaknesses that could be used to their advantage.

The only problem was that each one of those weaknesses was too difficult to target individually, and Wedge had yet to figure out how to target all of them at once.

He was glad that Jaina Solo- Jaina Fel - had been given a hard copy of the data. She was smart and ingenious, and had proven herself to be a master of military strategy. Wedge was all too aware that she could do his job, if she had the discipline.

Or the patience, Wedge thought to himself, smirking at the thought of Jaina having to deal with Wes Janson. Even though Wes had been horrified to discover he had been flirting with Han Solo's daughter over the comm-traffic, Wes seemed to enjoy teasing her. Thankfully, Jaina seemed to take it in stride, and Wedge had seen her throwing remarks right back at the Rogue veteran.

Wedge liked Jaina. He thought she was a wonderful girl, he admired her bravery and her determination, when it wasn't working against him, and he was glad that Jag had married her. Wedge had been a prominent figure in Jaina Solo's extended family since she was a baby, and Wedge liked the idea that she was now part of his family.

Although their kids are going to have a hell of a reputation to live up to, Wedge mused. Baron Fel, Wedge Antilles, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia... not to mention Jag and Jaina, themselves. They're making their own mark on the galaxy already.

Wedge allowed himself a small smile at the prospect of being a great uncle, and sharing the title with Luke. We have got to have the biggest family tree in the history of the galaxy, he told himself.

There was a knock on the door, jolting him out of his revere. He looked up to see Tycho standing in the doorway, a slightly confused look on his face. "What is it?" Wedge asked.

"We've just received word from a large fleet in orbit," Tycho replied.

Wedge held his breath. "Yuuzhan Vong?"

Tycho shook his head and Wedge breathed a sigh of relief. "They're here as allies," Tycho said. "A dozen Star Destroyers and about twelve squadrons of fighters."

Wedge let out a whistle. "Who would want to help us that badly?"

Tycho smiled. "An old Rogue."

Wedge raised an eyebrow. "An old Rogue, huh?"

"A very old Rogue," Tycho confirmed. "And he's brought along some friends."

Wedge grimaced. "If it's Hobbie, we're giving him to Wes. The two of them deserve each other."

"It's not Hobbie," Tycho replied almost apologetically.

"Then who is it?" Wedge asked.

"That would be me, General Antilles," a deep voice said from the hallway.

Wedge didn't need to see his face to know who it was, he knew even before Tycho stepped aside to let him into the office. The tall, strapping man stood rigid and gave Wedge a sharp salute, his handsome face set grimly.

Wedge was to startled to say anything for a long moment, as he stared at the dark haired man before him. It had been a long time since the two men had seen each other, and even longer still since the man had flown under Wedge's command in Rogue Squadron, but Wedge would have known him anywhere.

He was, after all, his brother-in-law.

"Soontir," Wedge said at last, standing to shake hands with his brother-in-law. "This is certainly a surprise."

"I assumed it would be," Soontir replied.

"Does Jag know you're here?" Wedge asked.

Soontir shook his head. "Not yet."

He's going to have a big surprise when he finds Jag, Wedge thought. It should be an interesting conversation.

"We have come to help you fight these invaders," Soontir said. "While he was home my son convinced us that we needed to assist you."

"So here you are," Wedge said.

Soonitr nodded. "So here we are."

"We?" Wedge asked, unable to hide his eagerness. Was he saying what Wedge thought he was saying? "Is..." he trailed off as he caught sight of the woman entering the room behind Soontir.

"Wedge..." she breathed, pale green eyes shimmering, long blond hair pulled back with a simple tie at the nape of her neck. Laugh lines decorated her mouth and eyes, but she retained that graceful appearance that had made her a legend on the holovid screen.

It had been years since he'd last seen her, not counting the holovids he'd watched, but he would have known her anywhere.

She looked heartbreakingly like their mother.

"Syal," Wedge said softly, his throat tightening as he stepped towards her and embraced her in a firm and powerful hug.

His sister was crying and laughing all at once and Wedge found himself joining in. He couldn't help it. After so long, he finally had his sister back again, could finally see her with his own eyes and touch her with his own hands, and smell her faint perfume with his own senses.

Wedge looked up to thank Soontir, only to find that there were now two other people in the room, both of whom looked familiar, even though he had never met them.

Syal pulled back, smiling. "Wedge, these are my other two children," she said.

Ah, so that's why they look familiar, Wedge mused. They both resemble Jag.

"This is Zena," Syal waved her hand at the woman, the girl, really, for she couldn't have been more than sixteen, standing beside her father.

"You named your children after both of our parents," Wedge realized, and it made him feel warm inside to know that Syal had missed them just as much as he had. He looked Zena over, amazed at how much she looked like Syal. The same wheat blond hair, the same pale green eyes, the same striking good looks.

"Pleased to meet you, General Antilles," Zena said, extending her hand.

"Oh, no," Wedge said, shaking his head. "I went through this with Jag already. It's Uncle Wedge, or even Hey-You, but no niece of mine is going to call me General."

Zena smiled. "Since I think my father would find the Hey-You disrespectful, I think I can manage to address you as Uncle Wedge."

Wedge stepped forward and hugged her, and was pleasantly surprised that she did not seem to mind. She hugged him back, her smile still bright.

"And this is our youngest son," Soontir said, motioning to the young man beside Zena. "Lieutenant Wik Fel."

Wik was Jag's complete opposite in appearance. While Jag had inherited his father's dark hair and his mother's green eyes, Wik had the same dark blond hair Syal did, but his father's dark eyes. He was tall and thin, with the lankiness common to teenage boys, but he was solid and strong.

From the way Wik's chest puffed up when his father introduced him as a lieutenant, Wedge gathered that it was a newly appointed title, and offered the young man a salute. "Lieutenant," he said, letting Wik salute him back before embracing him like he had his sister.

Wedge stepped back and studied his sister's family, not yet complete. He would have liked to have met Davin and Cherith, from what Jag had told him about them he thought that he would have been pleased with how well they had turned out.

It was a wonderful surprise to meet his niece and nephew, and to see his sister again, and even to see Soontir, but Wedge knew that the surprise in store for them was even bigger.

Jaina Solo Fel.

Wedge knew that Jag hadn't told his family about Jaina yet, and he was nervous about how they would react. How would I react if my son got married without telling me? Wedge asked himself. He grimaced. Not very well.

"Now," Syal said with a smile. "Where is Jagged?"

Wedge exchanged a look with Tycho. "I believe he is at the squadron party," Tycho replied slowly, his eyes boring into Wedge's.

The party for Jaina and Jag.

Wedge winced.

"Party?" Soontir asked, looking at Wedge. He had seen the look that passed between Wedge and Tycho, that much Wedge knew.

"You know Rogue Squadron," Wedge said. "They like to party."

"Besides," Tycho added. "Wes Janson has recently joined up with us. He's certainly made things ... livelier since his arrival. He's been laying the celebrating on pretty thick."

Soontir smiled slightly. "Why does that not surprise me?"

"Because you know him," Wedge replied. "Everything about Wes is thick, especially his head."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

If there's one thing I remember about the Rogues, Jaina thought. It's that they know how to throw a party.

She glanced across the room at her husband Jag, who was listening to Wes Janson brag about how he had saved Wedge Antilles' life more than anyone alive. Jag caught her gaze and rolled his eyes slightly, undetectable to anyone but her, and she stifled a laugh.

Gavin Darklighter followed her gaze and shook his head. "Poor, kid. I don't know how he stands it."

Jaina grinned at her former commanding officer. Gavin had been like a surrogate father to her during her time with the Rogues, and as much she loved commanding Twin Suns, she missed flying with him. "I suppose we should just be thankful that he's not in either of our squadrons."

Gavin chuckled. "How very true." He took a sip of his whiskey, studying her over the rim of his cup. "You've grown so much since the day you first joined Rogue Squadron."

Jaina knew he wasn't talking about her height. Smiling, she replied, "Well, I had a great example to follow."

Gavin smiled back. "Probably had more to do with you being a Skywalker, that family seems to produce top notch pilots, but thank you anyway."

Laughter erupted from the other side of the room and they looked up to see Wes looking crestfallen as Zindra Daine, one of Jaina's female Twin Suns pilots, stalked away scowling. Wes' face lit up, however, as he spotted Tilath Keer, another Twin Suns pilot nearby.

Wes excused himself from Jag and hurried over to flirt with the violet haired woman. Jag looked relieved as he walked over to join Gavin and Jaina. He eyed Gavin's drink and flashed a wry smile. "Pour me some of whatever that is."

Jaina thumped him in the chest playfully. "You're technically on duty, Colonel."

Jag shot her a dismissive look as he took the whiskey Gavin poured him. "You go listen to Janson rambling about how great he is for an hour, and you'll be drinking something much stronger than your brandy." He nodded at the cup in her hands.

Jaina shrugged. "I'm a Goddess. I can just order Janson to buzz off."

Gavin shook his head. "I've tried that before. It won't stop him."

"Will anything?" Jag asked, taking a long sip of his drink.

"No, probaly not," Gavin said. "There are some things in life you just have to grit your teeth and live through. Wes is one of them."

"No one said he has to live through it, though," Jaina mused with a wicked smirk.

Gavin and Jag both grinned. Gavin glanced at Jag, then at Jaina. "I've been meaning to tell you two congratulations. It was a surprise when Wedge told me, but a good one." He smiled at Jaina. "In a war like this one where there's so much hardship and death, it's nice to have something to celebrate. Your marriage has shone a little light on a very dark time. It's given us all a reason to be a little more hopeful."

"Not to mention a little more drunk," Jag commented, nodding at a stumbling Rogue pilot who waved at them as he passed.

Jaina snorted. "Please. This is reserved for them. You should see them at some of the parties I've been to."

Gavin laughed. "I'm not so sure Jag would want his wife at any of those kinds of parties."

Jaina grinned. "Probaly not."

"You're always welcome to attend, anyway, though," Gavin told her. "Even if you aren't flying with us anymore, you'll always be a Rogue."

Gavin could not have known how much those words meant to her, not even Jag could have known. Rogue Squadron had been her dream since she was little, and it had hurt badly when she had been given indefinite leave due to anti-Jedi sentiments in the Senate. She had been given the option of returning to Rogue Squadron once she had rejoined the resistance after Hapes, but, as tempting as that had sounded, she had known that she was needed elsewhere. Plenty of good pilots could fly an X-wing, but how many could masquerade as a Yuuzhan Vong goddess?

"Thank you, Gavin," Jaina said, relying on her Jedi training to keep her eyes from tearing up. "That means alot."

Gavin nodded. "I know. Rogue Squadron is more than just the best squadron in the galaxy, we're a family. It's important for you to know that you're still a part of that family." He looked at Jag. "And as for you, Colonel Fel, should you decide to stay in Republic space after the war's over, you're more than welcome to join the Rogues. Your father flew with us for a while, and he did alright, so I imagine having another Colonel Fel in the squadron would be fine."

Jaina swallowed. She hadn't given much thought to where she and Jag would live after the war. She couldn't imagine not living in the New Republic, couldn't imagine not living among the Jedi and her family, but she realized that Jag might feel the same way about his family.

"I'd like that, sir," Jag replied. "When the war's over I may just take you up on that offer."

Jaina blinked. Was he saying what she thought he was saying? She reached out with the Force and probed his thoughts and was amazed to see that he was serious. He liked the idea of flying with Rogue Squadron, he wanted to stay with the Republic.

She must have shown some trace of the excitement she was feeling, or maybe he just knew her well enough to know what she had felt behind his words, because Jag smiled at her. "Yes, Jaina, I plan for us to stay."

Jaina threw her arms around him. "Thank you," she whispered.

"I'm doing this for me, too, you know," Jag replied with a grin. "I happen to like the idea of living among you 'Rebels'. Who knows, I may just decide to become one myself one day."

"That's very interesting," a deep voice said from behind them.

Jag stiffened and through their Force bond Jaina felt a wave of surprise and dread wash over him. Turning, she looked up to see a tall, handsome man dressed in a black Imperial uniform standing behind them. He had dark hair and piercing dark eyes, one of which was covered with a black patch, and even without the Force Jaina would have known him.

Gavin spit out his whiskey in shock.

"Father," Jag rasped.

"Hello, Jagged," Baron Soontir Fel replied cooly.

Jaina swallowed hard, glancing at Jag uncertainly. Before either of them could speak, however, a woman pushed past Soontir and embraced Jag. "Mother?" Jag cried in surprise, blinking at the blond woman hugging him.

Syal Fel pulled away and smiled at her oldest son. "Oh, Jagged, you've grown even taller since I saw you last."

"That was only a month ago, Mother," a female voice said, and Jaina looked up to see two teenagers had come to stand beside their father. The girl, who looked about Tahiri's age, had wheat blond hair and green eyes, and looked like a younger version of her mother. Jaina imagined that she heard that quite a bit. I can relate, she thought to herself.

The boy looked like a perfect blend of Soontir and Syal Fel. He had Syal's hair and Soontir's eyes, with the same ridiculously handsome features that Jag had. Jaina knew this had to be her brother-in-law Wik.

"Wik, Zena," Jag gaped. "What are you all doing here?"

"The Chiss have allied themselves with the New Republic forces," Soontir replied. "We just arrived and spoke with General Antilles a few moments ago."

Jaina caught Wedge's gaze inquisitively, and he shook his head slightly. He hadn't told them about her, that was up to Jag. And it seemed like now was the time.

"Hello, Soontir," Gavin said, finally recovering.

Soontir nodded at him. "Gavin. I hear Janson is back. How's your sanity holding up?"

"It's holding." A crash sounded in the background and Gavin winced. "So far."

Jag swallowed, and reached for Jaina's hand. "Mother, Father, there's someone I'd like for you to meet." He looked at and gave her a weak smile. She squeezed his hand encouragingly. "Jaina, these are my parents and my siblings. Mother, Father, Zena, Wik, this..."

Jaina felt a spike of panic and fear go through him and she reached out with the Force to give him a soothing brush, but she was just as nervous as he was, and it showed. She was grateful when Kyp reached out to clasp her presence tightly.

"This is Jaina," Jag said, looking at his father. "Jaina Fel."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"I am dying."

Luke stared, not knowing what to say. He had met her only a few weeks before, but he had come to know and care for her. As a Jedi he understood that death was not an ending, merely a beginning, but it was difficult to accept that someone could be there one moment and gone the next.

"Are you certain?" her asked quietly.

She nodded. "It is my time."

"I'm sorry," Luke said, and he was.

"I am not," Vergere replied. "I have lived a long life. There are not many who can say they have seen the fall of three powerful galactic governments."

"No," Luke agreed. "There aren't."

"I am tired, young Master," Vergere said. "I am ready to rejoin the Force."

Luke nodded. "'There is no death, there is the Force'."

Vergere smiled. "The words of Master Yoda are wise indeed."

Luke studied her for a moment, this Jedi of the Old Order. Her species was extinct, her way of life gone, and the Order she served long extinguished. Not for the first time since their meeting, he wondered what she truly thought of his New Order, what she thought of the Jedi he had trained.

"You have done well, young Master," Vergere assured him, picking up on his thoughts. "There is much that Palpatine destroyed, much that was lost to the Jedi forever, and yet you have rebuilt the Order and trained Jedi strong in the Force. You have built a strong Order, Luke Skywalker."

"The Old Order was stronger," Luke said.

"Different, yes. Stronger, no." Luke looked at her inquisitively and she smiled at him. "The Old Republic is dead, Skywalker, and the Order which served it would not function in this new galaxy. You have adapted to protect and serve the people that need you, which is what you should have done. You can not compare your Order to the old one, for the Old Order is dead, and it shall remain so. It is up to you, young Master, to keep this new one alive."

"Should I become a dictator of the Jedi then?" Luke asked in weary disgust. "Wouldn't it be better if I reestablished the Council?"

"Establish a new council, yes," Vergere replied. "But you will find that there will be times when a central voice of authority is needed. It must be yours." She nodded. "So make your council, and choose your members wisely, but keep yourself as the head of the council, for in time it will prove imperative."

"And what if I make mistakes?" Luke asked, more to himself than to her.

"Do you think Yoda did not make mistakes?" Vergere raised an eyebrow. "Yoda lived for nine hundred years. Imagine how many mistakes one could make in that amount of time."

Yoda would never make the same mistakes I have, Luke thought. Neither would Ben.

Vergere rapped him upside the head with her hand and Luke winced, rubbing his temple. "Stop wondering what Obi-Wan or Yoda would think," she lectured firmly. "Do not ask if someone else would have done better. There was no one else, Skywalker. Kenobi was right, you are not the last of the Old Order Jedi, but the first of the New. The Old Order is dead. It was not strong enough to prevail against Palpatine and Vader. It would not have stood against the Yuuzhan Vong."

Luke doubted that and began to say so when she rapped her knuckles against his head again. He glared at her, rubbing his sore temple.

"I was there, you were not," Vergere reminded him. "I have seen the Yuuzhan Vong in ways no one else has. I know, with the certainty of the Force, that the Old Order would have fallen to the Yuuzhan Vong. Your New Order is strong, and I can still teach you what I have learned."

"Is there time?" Luke asked.

She smiled sadly. "Yes and no." She produced a small box from behind her bed and held it out before him. His eyes went wide and she smiled again. "You know what this is then?"

Luke nodded. "It's a holocron."

"Yes," Vergere confirmed. "It belonged to a Jedi Master named Qui-Gon Jinn. Your Obi-Wan Kenobi was his apprentice."

Luke stared at the box in his hands. "Did he know my father?"

"Yes," Vergere said. "He knew your father. I believe you will find information on Anakin Skywalker's childhood on there. As well as information about your mother."

Luke's eyes went wide. "My mother?" he asked softly.

Vergere nodded. "Obi-Wan added the later entries, of course, but they only date until shortly after your parents were married. After that I do not know."

Luke's hands were trembling as he turned over the box in his hands. After all these years, after all the searching he had done, after all the longing to know who he was and where he came from, to know what his mother gave to him, the answers were literally in his hands.

"You will also find many of the Old teachings in there," Vergere said. "I have added all that I have learned about the Yuuzhan Vong, as well. Take what you can, and use it as you see fit. But do no feel like you must recreate the Old Order, young Master. My order is dead, yours will survive."

Luke looked up at her, not able to find words except for two. "Thank you."

Vergere smiled. "No, thank you, young Master. Knowing that the Jedi will live on allows me die in peace. I thank you for that." She looked over his shoulder at the door. "Would you please call Jacen Solo in? I would like to spend my last moments with him here."

Luke nodded and strode silently to the door. He opened it and Jacen looked up from his seat outside. "She wants to see you," he said quietly.

Jacen nodded, swallowing hard. "I imagine so." He hesitated and gave Luke an appraising look. "Will you stay? I'd like for you to be here..."

Luke nodded. He followed Jacen back into the room and stood along the wall, out of the way, as his nephew walked over to Vergere's bed and knelt down beside her.

"Why didn't you tell me?" he heard Jacen ask softly.

"I did not want to cause you pain, young Solo," Vergere said.

"I'm in pain now," Jacen said. "I wish I could help you. It hurts that I can't help you."

"I know, young one," she replied softly. "But there is no death-"

"Only the Force," Jacen finished. "I know. It doesn't make it hurt any less, though."

Luke could feel Vergere's life force start to flicker and her voice grew weaker as she spoke. "You must be strong, Jacen. You must be so very strong. There are dark times ahead, and you must be strong, you must bring light to the darkness."

Jacen nodded his head, and Luke could see his shoulders starting to shake. "I'll try."

"'Do or do not'," Vergere rebutted gently.

"I'll be strong," Jacen promised. "I will."

"I know you will," Vergere said softly. "You will grow stronger, yet, young one. So strong. And you will make us all proud."

Even from across the room, Luke could see that she was fading. Her face was growing pale and translucent, and she was barely a ghost of her former self now.

"You and your sister," Vergere hissed weakly. "You twins are the key."

Twins? Luke wondered. Could that be because of the Yuuzhan Vong obsession with twins? He hoped not, because that would mean placing his niece and nephew in even more danger, and the thought was unbearable after loosing Aankin.

"I will always be with you, young Solo," Vergere whispered.

A muffled sob escaped Jacen's throat.

"Goodbye, Jacen."

Her robes fluttered lifeless onto the bed and Luke closed his eyes, savoring the incredible sensation as Vergere became one with the Force.

He walked over to his nephew and placed a hand on his shoulder.

They stood like that for a long time.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Baron Soontir Fel was an intimidating man.

Jag had never been so acutely aware of any fact before.

"What are you saying?" Soontir asked in a quiet, controlled voice that suggested he was very close to loosing that control.

Jag swallowed. "I'm saying that Jaina and I are married."

He watched a range of emotions play across his father's face, the most prominent being shock. He glanced at his brother, who was gaping at him, his sister, who was biting her lip, and finally, to his mother.

Syal Fel was smiling.

That sight alone took away some of Jag's apprehension. His mother was alright with this. That would take away some of the sting from his father's words.

"Well," Zena said. "I certainly had no idea you were so spontaneous, Jagged."

Jag was relieved to see that she had a look of eagerness on her face, although she was trying to hide it. When he had been home, he had seen the way Zena's eyes lit up when he talked about Jaina. Zena had been impressed with her before ever meeting her.

At least they're both on my side, Jag thought. Our side, he corrected himself. Whatever happened, he and Jaina were in it together now.

"Neither did I," Syal said softly. She raised an eyebrow. "How long ago did this happen?"

"Last week," Jag answered, not daring to look at his father. "The night we returned to base."

"When were you going to tell us?" Syal asked. "You know I would have wanted to be here for your wedding."

"I'm sorry," Jag said, and he was. He would have liked for her to be there, too. "Jaina's parents weren't even there. We married in secret, just our witnesses were there."

Syal nodded, and Jag did not miss the relief in her eyes that they had not been the only ones excluded. "A small, intimate wedding."

"Yes, ma'am," Jag agreed.

Silence fell over the group again, and Jag looked at his father. Soontir's face was unreadable, and not even Jag could dissect the look he saw there.

"We have holos," Jaina said softly, looking at Syal. Jag thanked her silently. "I'd love to show them to you if you'd like."

Syal smiled at her warmly. "I would love that." She glanced at her husband, then turned to Zena. "Zena, why don't we go with Jaina and look at the holos?"

Thankfully, Zena caught on. "Of course. I would love to see them."

Jag watched the three women walk out of the room. He heard his uncle speaking to his brother, but didn't catch what he was saying. All he registered was that the two men walked away, leaving Jag alone with his father.

"Is there somewhere we can... discuss this privately?" Soontir asked, not looking at his son.

Jag nodded and led him down the hall to a little used conference room. Once inside he waited for his father to speak.

"Jagged," his father said in a cool voice. "I'd like an explanation."

Jag swallowed. "I assumed as much, sir." He took a deep breath, gathering his thoughts. "I am twenty-one years old, sir, and very much an adult, as you yourself have noted on more than one occasion."

"You certainly haven't acted like one lately," Soontir snapped.

"On the contrary, Father," Jag said, purposely not addressing him as 'sir'. "I acted perfectly like an adult. I am in love with Jaina Solo. Jaina Solo is in love with me. We did what adults do when this is the case and decided to get married."

Soontir glared at him. "You are too young to be married!"

"Regardless of whether that is true or not," Jag replied flatly. "I am married. And Jaina is my wife."

Soontir made a noise of disgust in his throat. "I'm disappointed in you, Jagged."

Jag clenched his jaw. "And I am disappointed in you, Father."

Soontir's eyebrows shot up. "Why you-"

"I had hoped that you would be happy for me," Jag said through gritted teeth. "I had hoped that you would see how deeply I love Jaina and that you would accept what we have." He swallowed back his rage to keep from shouting. "But I don't care whether you accept it or not, whether you accept Jaina or not, you will respect her and you will respect our marriage."

Father and son glared at one another for a tense moment, until Soontir sighed. "What were you thinking, Jagged?" he asked.

"I was thinking that I love her," Jag said quietly. "That there is nothing in the known galaxy that means more to me than Jaina. I was thinking that I want to spend the rest of my life with her."

Soontir's eyes bore into his. "And if that means resigning from the Chiss military and moving here? Surely you don't expect her to give up the Jedi."

"No, sir," Jag replied. "I don't." He hesitated, then said, "Colonel Darklighter has offered me a spot in Rogue Squadron when the war is over. As I'm sure you gathered from the conversation you overhead at the party, I am considering taking him up on that offer."

Soontir raised an eyebrow. "You would fly under someone with your own rank after years of commanding your own squadron?"

"Yes, sir," Jag answered. "I would do whatever it takes to make Jaina happy."

Soontir sighed, running a hand over his beard. He gave Jag a weak smile. "How did Han Solo react to this?"

Jag smiled slightly. "He threatened me with encasement in carbonite."

Soontir chuckled. "Well, I don't think I can top that, so I suppose I'll be the rational one." He clapped a hand down on his son's shoulder. "If this is truly what you want, if you're sure about this girl, then I am happy for you. For both of you."

"I have never been more certain of anything," Jag replied.

Soontir smiled. "Now, then. I think that your mother and your siblings are probably hungry. Why don't you and Jaina join us for dinner? I need to get to know this woman who stole my son away from me."

Jag smiled at his father. "I'm sure she'd like to get to know you too."

As they walked back towards the party, Soontir placed an arm around his son's shoulder. "So tell me about Jaina Fel."

"Solo Fel, actually," Jag replied. "And she's the most amazing woman I've ever met. She is a superior pilot, an excellent tactician, a powerful Jedi, and a wonderful commanding officer."

"And the Goddess deal? Has it gotten to her head at all?" Soontir asked.

"No, sir," Jag replied. "Although she does seem to be constantly looking for ways to harrass Wes Janson."

Soontir grinned. "I like her already."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"I do not know what the Council will decide," the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi whispered sorrowfully. "I don't even know what I will decide. I love Anakin dearly, as if he were my own son, and his betrayal is more agonizing than anything I have ever felt." The Jedi Master sighed. "By marrying Padme, Anakin has broken his vows to the Jedi Order. I fear he will be expelled." A grimace crossed his handsome face. "Worse still, I fear I shall be the one to tell him."

Luke Skywalker swallowed as the image of his former teacher flickered, then disappeared back into the holocron. For a long moment he sat there, breathing deeply, letting what he had just learned sink in.

His father was conceived by the Force, by the symbiotic organisms living inside of the Jedi. His father was the Chosen One.

His mother was a former Queen of Naboo, whom Anakin had fallen in love with when he was only a boy. Ten years later, Anakin had been a Padawan learner and Padme Amidala a Senator, when fate had thrown them together again.

They had fallen in love, despite the rules it broke and the price they would pay. Anakin's mother had married Owen Lars' father, and died at the hands of Tuskan Raiders. There had been a terrible battle on some distant planet, after which Anakin Skywalker had married Padme Amidala in secret.

It seems I was right when I said that Jaina was more like my father than we knew, Luke muttered to himself.

"At least now we know where she gets that temper," Mara agreed from beside him.

Luke gave her a weak smile, then looked to his sister, their eyes meeting. A thousand words flew between them in silence, and for the first time in his life Luke felt complete. He knew who he was, who knew where he came from.

And he knew that his father had once been a good man.

A good man who Luke would have loved and respected, had their fate been different. A man who would have been overprotective of Leia, and pushed Luke to succeed at whatever he chose to do. A man who would have been a good father to his children, and a good husband to his wife.

And his mother, he now knew her name. That, perhaps, meant more to him than anything else they had learned. To be able to say that he was the son of Anakin and Padme Skywalker filled him with a sense of peace.

Padme Naberrie Amidala. She would have been a wonderful mother had she been able to raise her twins. She would have taught Leia all the things that Bail had, but she would have given her humility, and reigned in her temper. She would have given Luke the love and comfort he had longed for so much as a child.

How cruel fate had been to them all.

"At least we know who she was," Leia said softly. "And who Anakin Skywalker was. Who he really was, under the mask."

Luke understood how much that meant. It gave them both serenity to know they were not the son and daughter of Darth Vader, but of a young man named Anakin who was very much in love with a woman named Padme.

"I wonder what happened after that," Jacen said from his seat beside his mother. "I wonder what the Council decided."

"We may never know," Mara said softly.

"I don't need to," Leia said, her voice tight with emotion. "I know all I needed to know."

"But aren't you curious what pushed him to the dark side?" Jacen asked. "I mean, even if he was kicked out of the Order, he still had Padme. He should have been able to be happy with her, right?"

"I'm sure he was," Luke replied. "For a while, at least. But he may not have been expelled. The Council may have ordered him to annul their marriage."

"That would drive anyone to the dark side," Mara commented.

Looking at her, and imagining how he would feel if Yoda or Ben were to tell him he could not be with her, to denounce their marriage and their love, Luke was inclined to agree.

Before he could speak, however, there was a low humming sound that came from the holocron. He turned to see Vergere's image leap to life before them. Through the Force he felt Jacen's anguish rise up, but the young man quickly put it aside.

"Hello, Jacen," Vergere said. "I am leaving all that I have to teach you inside this holocron. The information it contains is very valuable. Listen to it carefully. Study it. Have your uncle study it. Then have your sister study it."

Again she mentions them together, Luke thought. It's like she's hinting at something to come, something that they will have to stand against together or all will be lost.

"I must give you a message first, though," Vergere said. "I have not been completely honest with you, Jacen. You asked me if the strike team survived, and I told you that those on the Kstaar did." A sad smile graced her face. "There is another still alive."

Luke felt his heart stop. One of his students was still on the worldship? Still in Yuuzhan Vong captivity? His blood went cold and he clenched his fists under the table.

Jacen's face had gone from confused to pale, and he was leaning forward to peer at the hologram intently. "Who is it?" he asked.

Vergere went on, ignoring his question. "I did not tell you before because it would only have saddened you. I tell you now because I believe you must know before I die."

Why do I have a horrible feeling about this? Mara asked him silently.

I don't know, but I have the same feeling, Luke assured her.

"Your friend is not a captive of the Yuuzhan Vong," Vergere promised. "Had he been, I would have found a way to bring you two together, to train you both. Unfortunately, that was not possible."

Silently, Luke began to run through the list of Jedi who had died at Myrkr, trying to remember which of them the strike team had not actually seen die.

"He is being held captive by something much worse, I am afraid," Vergere said. "The dark side."

Luke drew a sharp breath. Another Jedi had fallen to the dark side?

"He is being held captive on the planet of Ryloth."

Jacen groaned. "I hate that planet," he muttered darkly.

Remembering how his niece and nephew had almost died there during the Diversity Alliance crisis, Luke was in complete agreement. He would never forget the blistered, dehydrated Jaina he had dragged back to Coruscant, although he was pretty certain that Jacen was reliving his own experience in the cold, Dark Lands of the planet.

"I don't know if you have ever been there, Jacen," Vergere was saying. "But it is not a very pleasant planet from what I remember."

"That's an understatement," Leia murmured.

"However, I'm sure the climate pales in comparison with his company," Vergere said with a sad note in her voice. "He is being manipulated by Dark Jedi, and I fear that he is too weak to hold out much longer. I am telling you this because you can not let the Dark Jedi fight the Yuuzhan Vong. You must stop them. And him, if he falls to the dark side, as well."

After facing down Lord Nyax, Luke readily agreed. He had seen what the Dark Side could do to the Yuuzhan Vong, but it was not worth the sacrifice.

Nothing was.

"I hope he survives," Vergere said softly. "But if not, at least you can tell his family what happened to him."

Better than never knowing, Luke mused. Better to know he's dead than to spend your whole life waiting and hoping against hope.

"His name," Vergere said. "Is Raynar Thul."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jaina?

Her brother's voice in her head startled her, and Jaina tuned out the dinner conversation going on around her. Reaching out with the Force, she sought out her brother's presence.

What is it, Jacen?

I need to see you. Right away.


Jaina sighed. Is it important?

Very.


She bit her lip. She couldn't very well just skip out on dinner with her in-laws. Could she? I'm sure I'll want to someday, she mused to herself. Frowning, she decided that if Jacen had thought it important enough to interrupt dinner, then it probably was.

I'll be right there.

Good. Meet me in Uncle Luke's room.


Jaina let out a frustrated sigh and blinked heavily, letting her eyes focus back on the table. She was surprised to see everyone watching her worriedly. "Sorry," she murmured.

"I know that look," Wedge said, shaking his head. "Luke gets that look on his face whenever he's hearing voices."

Jaina smiled weakly. "It's my brother. He and my uncle need to see me right away." She shot an apologetic look around the table, finishing on Jag. "Jedi business. I have to go."

Jag nodded. "I know you do." He gave her a wry smile. "If it's anything to do with Kyp getting himself into trouble, leave him where he is. He deserves whatever he gets."

Jaina smiled. "I doubt that's it, but I'll be sure to let Kyp know you're so concerned about his well being." She leaned in and kissed his cheek. "I'll see you later, I guess." Standing, she looked at the family. "Sorry to eat and run, but duty calls."

"As long as we're not scaring you off," Soontir said with a smile.

Jaina chuckled. "After hanging around with Kyp Durron, nothing scares me anymore."

She excused herself and hurried out of the room, taking the halls at a quick stride. She didn't knock when she reached her uncle's room, she just walked right in. She had been summoned, after all.

Inside she found her uncle Luke and Jacen sitting in hoverchairs in the corner, talking quietly. From the looks on their faces when they looked up at her, she knew that there was something happening.

Something big.

"What is it?" she asked, drawing to a halt.

"Jaina," Luke said with a weak smile. "Please, join us." He gestured with his hand and a third hoverchair floated over to them. Jaina sat down in it, not taking her eyes off of the two men.

"What's happened?" she asked.

"Quite a bit, actually," Luke replied. "Vergere has passed on."

Jaina winced. So that had been the disturbance she held felt earlier. She felt guilty for not knowing, and even more so for not asking. "I'm so sorry, Jacen," she said softly.

Her brother nodded. "Thank you, but that's not all. She left us a holocron with information on our grandparents."

Jaina's eyes widened. "That's wonderful!" she cried. Seeing the grim looks on her brother and her uncles' faces, she asked, "Isn't it?"

"Yes," Luke nodded. "It is. But there was more on the holocron. More that Vergere added just before her death."

"It's about Raynar," Jacen said quietly.

Raynar? Jaina thought, a wave of sadness washing over her. Had Vergere seen what had happened to his body?

"He's alive," Jacen said, with a shake of his head.

Jaina started, blinking. "Raynar's... alive?"

Jacen nodded wearily. "Yes."

"Where is he?" Jaina demanded. "When are we leaving? Is he okay? He's not captured is he? Was he on Coruscant, too? Is-"

Luke held up a hand to silence her stream of questions. "As far as we know he's alright, and no, he wasn't on Coruscant."

"He is being help captive, though," Jacen said. "Just not by the Yuuzhan Vong."

Jaina frowned at him, studying the bitter look in his eyes. Then realization swept over her and her eyes went wide. "Lomi and Welk!" she growled.

Jacen nodded grimly. "Lomi and Welk."

"Where are they?" Jaina asked. "Did she know?"

"Ryloth," Jacen answered dully.

Jaina winced. Of all the planets for him to be on, Raynar had to be on the one where the two of them had nearly fried to death in the Bright Lands, and where Jacen and Tenel Ka had nearly frozen to death on the planet's cold side.

"I hate that Sithspawned planet," Jaina muttered.

"Me, too," Jacen agreed.

"There's more," Luke said, his gaze boring into Jaina's. "The Dark Jedi are planning a strike on the Yuuzhan Vong. Raynar may have joined them."

Jaina couldn't imagine the Alderaanian boy she had gone to the Academy with using the dark side. Then again, she told herself. You couldn't imagine yourself using it, either.

Jaina looked at her uncle. "When do we leave?"

Luke didn't refuse to let her go, but there was weariness in his eyes. "Are you certain you want to do this, Jaina? You have a husband to think about."

"That's right, I do," Jaina replied. "A husband who will be up fighting the Vong with my squadron while I'm gone. Me being here won't keep him any safer, and if I slip out unnoticed, the Yuuzhan Vong won't be able to find me. They'll be confused."

"You won't just be dealing with Yuuzhan Vong, Jaina," Luke warned. "They may be on Ryloth already, we don't know. But you'll be facing Dark Jedi again, powerful ones. Are you sure you're up for that right now?"

Jaina nodded. "I'm not afraid of the dark side anymore. And Raynar's one of my best friends. I'm going after him. Besides, if he has turned, I figure I'm probably the only one who can relate to him. I can try to turn him back like I did for Zekk."

Luke pressed his mouth into a grim line. "Take the Shadow. Assemble a strike team, and get everything ready. I'll inform your parents."

"I already have a strike team," Jaina said. "The survivors of Myrkr. None of them will want to leave Raynar."

"What bout Kyp?" Luke asked, raising an eyebrow.

"I want him to stay," Jaina said. "I want him to be safe and to take care of Jag for me." She sighed and shook her head. "But I know he won't. So I guess I'll make it easier on all of us and invite him along."

"Good idea," Luke replied. "i'll go speak to your mother and father."

"And I'll go gather up the strike team," Jacen said.

"Thank you," Jaina said. "I'll find Kyp and pack the ship. Meet us there in two standard hours."

"Do you want me to speak to Wedge for you?" Luke asked. "You need clearance to leave."

Jaina shook her head. "No, I'll do it. I need to let him know Jag's in charge of Twin Suns until we get back." She grimaced, imagining her husband's reaction to the news she would have to break.

Then again, maybe I don't, she thought with a smile.

"I'll speak to Wedge," Jaina promised. "I need to ask him a favor, anyway."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"I'm not asking you to lie to him, Wedge," Jaina argued. "I'm just saying, don't tell him unless he asks."

Wedge groaned. "Jaina, this is ridiculous! Why can't you just tell him?"

"Because," his niece-in-law replied. "He'll just try to get me to let him come with us, and then he'd get himself killed, and Twin Suns wouldn't have a leader." She lifted her chin stubbornly. "Besides, I'm the Goddess, remember? We can't afford for him to kill me." She smiled wickedly. "You, on the other hand..."

Wedge hid a smile and stared out the red transparisteel behind her. Jaina was a very stubborn and persistent woman when she wanted to be, and Wedge wasn't sure who she got that from, her mother, her father, her uncle, or all three.

He glanced back at Jaina and studied her for a long moment. He had known her since she was a baby, and looking at her now, seeing what a beautiful woman she had grown into, a woman who had married his nephew, Wedge felt old.

Just wait until they have kids, a voice in his head muttered. And wait and see how old you feel when it's Syal and Myri who are married.

Wedge grimaced. His daughters were not going to be allowed to date. Especially not pilots. Especially not any of his pilots.

"You know I'm right," Jaina said with a the soft conviction of someone who knew that she had won the debate.

Wedge shook his head. Jaina had been arguing the same reasons with him for a quarter hour, and he knew he wasn't going to win this argument. He had known that from the moment she had walked into his office.

Sighing, Wedge threw up his hands. "Fine. Alright. I won't say anything." He glared at her. "But if you get yourself killed on Ryloth, Force help me, I will find a way to reprimand you, even if Luke has to send some sort of beyond-death telepathic message to your grandfather!"

Jaina grinned at him. "Thanks, Wedge," she said. "And don't worry about me. I can take care of myself, you know."

Wedge nodded. He did know. "Now," he said. "Since I'm helping you out here, why don't you tell me what this mission of your is all about. If I'm going to have to be the one to tell my nephew that he has to command Twin Suns because his wife ran off on some crazy Jedi mission, I'd at least like to know what the crazy Jedi mission is."

"Raynar Thul is on Ryloth," Jaina said simply. "We need to rescue him. So are some Dark Jedi. We need to stop them."

Wedge struggled to keep himself from thinking that he hoped Jaina didn't slip back to the dark side while she was there. It got through, though, and Jaina winced. Sithspawn, Wedge muttered to himself.

"No, it's alright," Jaina assured him. "I imagine that's what everyone is thinking. Even my Uncle Luke."

"We're all just concerned about you," Wedge said gently.

Jaina nodded. "I know. But you don't have to worry. I'm not going to fall again, and Kyp will be there in case I struggle."

Wedge was surprised, and a little terrified, that that actually made him feel better.

Jaina laughed. "Kyp has that affect on people."

"Yes," Wedge agreed. "He does." He frowned at Jaina and asked, "Who else is going to Ryloth? Not just you and Kyp, I hope?"

"Jacen's coming," Jaina replied. "And so are Zekk, Tahiri Veila, Tesar Sebatyne, Ganner Rhysode, and Alema Rar." She hesitated, and Wedge had a sinking feeling. "And Tenel Ka," she said quietly.

Wedge groaned. "This is not going to help dealings with Hapes if we're sending their Queen Mother on what they'll see as a suicide mission."

"If it makes you feel any better, they won't know," Jaina replied. "Tenel Ka spoke to Isolder through a secure line. He's going to cover for her prolonged absence."

Too bad Isolder isn't the one who has to cover for yours, Wedge thought grimly.

"It's not that bad," Jaina rolled her eyes at him. "Jag's not going to be that upset."

Wedge narrowed his eyes at her. Want to try that one again? he thought with a groan.

He stared at her in silence until she conceded. "Okay, well it's not like you have to worry about him killing you," she replied.

Wedge raised an eyebrow.

"Okay, okay, so you might have to worry about that," Jaina sighed. "But if it's any consolation, he won't be nearly as angry with you as he will be with me." She smiled weakly. "And he can't kill me. Marriage vows and all."

"About that," Wedge said slowly, his eyes boring into hers. "This could really hurt your relationship, Jaina. It's one thing that you're running off on a mission without telling him. It's even worse that you want me to put him under house arrest to keep him from coming after you."

Jaina bit her lip. "I know," she said quietly. "But it's the only way."

"Is it?" Wedge asked with a frown.

Jaina scowled. "Can you think of any other way to keep him here?"

"Not that doesn't involve stun cuffs, sedatives and motion sensor grenades," Wedge agreed with a weak smile.

"Exactly!" Jaina cried. "My husband is too stubborn for his own good."

Wedge snorted. "Look who's talking, Solo."

"I am not stubborn," Jaina replied. "I'm just always right."

Wedge shook his head. Women. They always think that they're right, and that we can't admit that we're wrong.

"That's because we are, and you can't," Jaina retorted with a smirk.

"You know, reading your superiors' mind could be considered insubordination," Wedge drawled dryly.

"Good thing you're not my superior anymore, then, huh, mortal?" Jaina shot back.

Wedge groaned. "Go. Just go." He waved his hand at the door. "I swear, Janson is having a terrible affect on you. I'm going to have to order him to stay away from you."

Jaina flashed him a lopsided smile. "We've tried that. He just said that it made annoying me dereliction of duty, which makes it even more fun to do."

Wedge smirked. "We'll try some reverse psychology, then." His face grew serious and he looked at Jaina in concern. "Be careful, alright? I don't want to have to Jag that something happened to you."

Jaina smiled. "Don't worry. I'm always careful."

"Why doesn't that make me feel any better?"

"Because you know me," Jaina grinned. "And I attract trouble like magnetic concussion grenades."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Luke Skywalker had an uneasy feeling about Ryloth.

It wasn't a premonition or anything, just a feeling. A feeling like something bad was going to happen, something that was going to make things difficult for the young Jedi.

Still, he knew that the strike team needed to go. He knew they needed to rescue Raynar and deal with Lomi and Welk. He even knew that Jaina had to be one of those going.

It didn't make it any easier, though, standing there watching the team load the Shadow. He hated sending the younger Jedi off into such certain danger, but they weren't children anymore. They were Jedi and they had a mission to accomplish.

That didn't stop him from thinking about the last strike team he had approved. Nearly half of the team had died, including his own nephew Anakin. Luke only hoped that this strike mission went better than the last.

"They'll be alright," Mara said from beside him. She had come down with him to see the strike team off. Leia and Han had not. They had said their goodbyes in their room, and Luke was relieved that he wouldn't have to see his sister's eyes as she watched her children leave to face terrible danger.

"I hope so," Luke said softly.

Mara squeezed his shoulder silently.

The strike team was packing up the last of their equipment in the ship's cargo hold, and Ganner Rhysode took the last pack from Tahiri and heaved it into the hold, closing the hatch. Lowbacca roared something at Jaina, and then disappeared into the ship. A moment later the engines began to hum.

Luke plastered a calm expression on his face as Jaina hurried over to them, dressed in fatigue pants and a green sleeveless top, her dark hair pulled back into a thick braid. "Hey," she said with a smile. "You come down to see us off?"

"Had to make sure you knew what would happen to you if you get a single scratch on my ship," Mara said with a feral smile.

Jaina grinned. "Not a scratch, I promise."

Mara nodded. "Good enough for me." She pulled their niece into a hug. "Take care of yourself, Jaina."

"I will," Jaina said. "You just make sure that you do the same." She turned her head towards Luke and he felt the same awe well up inside him that he did whenever one of Leia's children looked at him. "I'll be back soon, Uncle Luke. You don't have to worry."

"But I will," Luke said with a smile. "It's my duty as an uncle."

Jaina hugged him. "Thank you for understanding, Uncle Luke." She leaned on her toes to kiss his cheek. "See you all when we get back?"

"You know it," Mara replied with a smile.

Jaina waved and hurried back into the ship to get ready for lift off. Jacen walked over, wearing pants identical to his sister's, and Luke wondered where Jaina had gotten enough fatigues for the entire strike team on such short notice. While Jaina was wearing a sleeveless top, though, Jacen had on a short-sleeved one. I hope they brought some thermal wear in case they end up in the Dark Lands again, Luke thought. He was pretty certain that neither Tenel Ka nor Jacen would have forgotten to pack layers, not after their experience on Ryloth a few years back.

Jacen smiled and kissed Mara on the cheek. "Be careful out there, Aunt Mara," he said. He looked at his uncle. "You, too, Uncle Luke. We don't want to come back to find you let the Vong get you."

"Us?" Mara snorted. "No way."

Luke clasped his nephew's shoulder. His grown up nephew. Jacen had cut his hair since his return, but he had kept the goatee, and he looked happy and healthy and strong. He's a man now, Luke thought. Whether you want to admit it or not, he's not a boy any longer. He's a man, more of a man than you were at his age.

"Good luck," Luke said. "May the Force be with you."

Jacen smiled. "Thanks, Uncle Luke. I have a feeling we're going to need it."

As he watched his nephew hurry up the ramp and into the ship, Luke had that same feeling. Stretching out with the Force, he reached out to all those onboard the Shadow. Jaina and Lowie were in the cockpit preparing for takeoff. Jacen, Tenel Ka, Tahiri and Zekk were in the cabin, laying out plans for once they set foot on planet. Tesar and Alema were strapped into their seats, eager to get under way. Only Kyp and Ganner seemed patient, and Luke was grateful that the two older Jedi were going along. Ganner was a smart man, he could think of ways to get out of almost any situation. And Kyp was...well, Kyp.

And for once that's a good thing, Mara snickered in his head.

Luke nodded. Having Kyp along made Luke feel better about sending Jaina, so recently over her brush with the dark side, to face the Dark Jedi. And having three Jedi who had all used the dark side at one time or another on the strike team could only help. Sometimes it seemed like the only people who truly knew how to fight the dark side without lightsabers and weapons were the people who had once been to the dark side themselves.

They would handle the Dark Jedi, by whatever means necessary, and they would handle whatever surprises the Dark Jedi threw at them.

Luke only hoped that Raynar was not one of them.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Two crackling stun rods crashed against each other in a shower of sparks.

Jag Fel darted forward, going on the attack. His brother Wik parried quickly, backing away as he deflected the next two blows, his face creased in a determined scowl.

The two men were in the training room on the Mon Calamari base, sparring like they used to do back home, except this time neither of them was that concerned about winning.

Jag needed to work off his anger and frustration, and Wik was more than willing to help. The night before, Jag had retired to his room to find that his wife had not returned from a meeting with her brother. When he had not been able to hail Jaina or Jacen, he had gone to see his uncle Wedge, who had given him the news.

Jaina was gone.

She was leading a strike team to Ryloth to rescue a fellow Jedi and close friend whom they had thought dead. She had assembled what was left of her broken team from Myrkyr, and had departed immediately.

She had not even told him. Instead, she had given Wedge a hologram to give to him, explaining what was going on and why she had to go. Raynar Thul was a dear friend, and a Jedi, and he needed rescuing.

Jaina had insisted that she had to be the one to go, because Raynar might have slipped to the dark side and only she and Zekk could bring him back. The idea that Raynar might hurt Jaina was terrifying, but not as much as the fear that Jaina might be captured by Yuuzhan Vong troops. His uncle had told him that they had little information on the situation on Ryloth, and for all they knew the Yuuzhan Vong could have already begun invading.

If anything happens to her...

Jag swept his weapon in an angry counterstrike, letting his emotions drive his attack.

Jaina had gone behind his back and departed Mon Calamari without telling him. Worse, still, she had pulled rank on his uncle and gotten him put under house arrest on the base, eliminating any chance that might try to follow her.

Which he would have.

He understood why Jaina had not told him. That wasn't hard to understand. Jaina was his wife, his love, she knew him better than he knew himself. There was no way he would have let her go without him, and she had refused to let him put himself in that kind of danger for her. He even understood that her reasons for not wanting him along went beyond personal interests and concerns. He was not a Jedi, he would not be able to defend himself as well as the rest of the team, and Jaina would be distracted trying to look out for him.

He hated knowing that he would have been useless to her there.

But it was the truth. He was not a Jedi and Jaina was, and so there were some things that she could do, had to do, that he could not. From a strategic point of view, Jaina had made the right decision.

But right then Jag didn't give a damn about strategy.

His wife was off on some Sithspawned planet, fighting Dark Jedi, trying to rescue a friend who very well might be an enemy now, and that was all without considering the possibility of Yuuzhan Vong interference.

Jag parried Wik's strike, and spun away hard, whirling to rap his brother on the wrist. Wik let out a howl of pain at the sudden shock, then intensified his movements, clashing his blade against Jag's again and again.

The real source of Jag's anger was not Jaina's deception. He could forgive her for that easily. Had he been in her shoes, he would have done the same thing. Not that I'll ever tell her that, he thought sharply. No, the real reason Jag was angry was very simple.

He was scared.

Scared for his wife, scared she might be hurt, scared she might fall back to the dark side when surrounded by so much evil. And, as much as he tried not to think it, scared she might die.

That thought was more terrifying than any Jag had ever known.

He slammed his stun rod down on Wik's ferociously. The thought of his wife, lying dead in a cold, dark place fueling him with a fury he had never known.

The thought of never seeing her again, never smelling her hair or kissing her again made him shake uncontrollably. The idea that he might have held her for the last time, that he might never again hear her laugh again, never see her smile again...

She's not dead, he raged to himself. She's not! And she isn't going to die!

He wouldn't let her.

The only thing keeping him from falling apart with worry was that the Jedi would know if anything happened to her.

Not that he would be able to do anything about it.

That was precisely the problem. Jag felt helpless, was helpless, to do anything for her if she got into trouble. And knowing his wife, she had probably already found some trouble.

The pewter rods clashed again and Jag let himself go, pouring all his fear and worry and frustration, into the fight. Wik noticed and let loose a frenzied string of blows, keeping pace with Jag's anger.

"I'm sure she's okay," Wik said, catching the next blow on the staff. "She seems more than capable of taking care of herself."

"She is," Jag agreed flatly, striking again.

"And she's a Jedi, with other Jedi," Wik pressed his logic as he pressed his attack. "You have to figure they know what they're doing."

I hope so, Jag muttered to himself.

"Don't you trust her?"

Jag blinked, startled. "What?"

"Don't you trust her to get herself out alive?" Wik asked. "You won't always be there to protect her, Jag. You have to trust that she'll find a way to survive."

"You sound like Uncle Wedge," Jag commented.

Wik laughed. "Great minds think alike."

"Yes," Jag agreed, a smirk on his face. "But what's your excuse?"

Wik scowled. "Funny, Jagged. Funny." He wiped sweat from his face. "Can we take a breather?"

Jag nodded, eager for a break, as well. "Certainly."

The two powered down their weapons and walked over to the cooler. Jag gulped down some water, the icy liquid soothing his burning throat. he reached for a towel and wiped the glistening sweat off of his bare torso, his loose black fighting pants clinging to his legs after the workout.

He looked out the transparisteel and watched as Corran Horn and Mara Jade Skywalker sparred with their lightsabers.

The Jedi moved with grace and speed that was unnatural to Jag, although he realized that to them it seemed perfectly normal. They spun and flipped around one another, blades flashing in a blur of blue and silver. Jag was impressed with the sheer accuracy and timing of their movements, moving in perfect harmony as if practicing some choreographed dance instead of a duel.

"I've never seen Jedi fight before," Wik commented. "It's very impressive."

"Yes," Jag agreed. "It is."

"Have you watched Jaina fight with her lightsaber?" Wik asked curiously.

"Not in actual combat," Jag replied. "But I have watched her spar with Master Durron. She's quite good. Even her uncle was impressed with her during their duel."

"I'm sure Master Durron was thrilled to loose to her," Wik said dryly.

Jag shrugged. "I think he was, actually. The Jedi aren't in competition with one another, unlike you and I when we spar. Kyp seemed proud that she had bested him."

"You must be proud of her, then," Wik said.

Jag nodded. "I am."

And I'm proud to be her husband, he added silently.

He just hoped he got the chance to tell her that.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Kyp glanced over at the pilot's seat of the Jade's Shadow.

Jaina was sleeping lightly, her head leaning against the side of her seat, and Kyp wondered if he should move her to the cabin so she could be more comfortable. But he knew that Jaina wanted to stay in the cockpit, and he was hesitant to move her in case he woke her up. If that happened, he knew she would never go back to sleep, and Force knows she needed sleep.

She looked fine, but Kyp could see beyond what others did. He had a backdoor that let him get past her shields, and he could see that leaving things unresolved with Jag was wearing on her.

While she was asleep, though, Kyp could sense nothing but tranquility. He smiled at her peaceful face. It had been a long time since he had seen her so serene, and it filled him with a warmth he couldn't quite explain. She looked so innocent in her sleep, something Kyp knew she was not. She had seen too much in her life, done too many things that could never be undone.

Kyp could relate.

At an even younger age than Jaina, he had destroyed an entire world under the influence of a Sith Lord, and had almost killed Luke Skywalker. Though he had been turned back to the light side of the Force, many people still felt he should pay for his crimes, even though Luke had pardoned him and allowed him to continue his training.

Contrary to popular belief, Kyp had the greatest respect for Luke Skywalker, he even liked him, they just didn't always have the same views on the Force. For a long time, Kyp had believed that he was right and Luke was wrong, that his way was the only way, but the events on Hapes had opened his eyes to alot of things.

Jaina had opened his eyes to alot of things.

Kyp had known Jaina since she was little, and could still remember the six year old with messy braids and grease on her cheek as she worked on the Falcon with her father. In the early stages of the Yuuzhan Vong war, though, he'd started noticing her as more than just Han's daughter or Master Skywalker's niece. She was a beautiful young woman suddenly, not to mention an amazing pilot and a powerful Jedi.

She had tried to reason with him about the rift in the Order, and about his dangerous philosophies, but he hadn't listened. It wasn't until Jaina had let herself fall into the dark side's clutches that he had begun to question and doubt his views.

Jaina had marveled at the fact that it was Kyp who was saving her, but Kyp knew better. It was Jaina who was saving him. While Jaina denied that she was the one who would learn the secrets of the Force, Kyp was certain that she had a role just as important to play in the preservation of the Jedi.

He reached out a hand and brushed a loose strand of hair from her face just as he felt another presence enter the cockpit. "Is everyone well rested?" he asked.

Zekk crossed his arms. "Yes," he said coolly, his annoyance easy to pick up on, even without the Force. It was common knowledge among the Jedi that Zekk and Jaina had been together for most of their years at the Academy, but they had gone their separate ways after graduating. Zekk had decided to fly cargo ships when he wasn't needed as a Jedi, while Jaina had thrown herself fully into her training with Mara, and then into her position as Rogue Eleven. During their time apart, they had both grown into other people, and while it was obvious Zekk's feelings had not changed, Jaina's had. While she still loved Zekk, in much the way she loved Jacen and even Kyp himself, her heart, and her hand, now belonged to Colonel Jagged Fel.

Kyp felt sorry for Zekk in a way. The kid was in love with a girl- a woman, really- that he could never have. it must have been difficult for Zekk to see her married while he was still in love with her.

"We just came out hyperspace a few minutes ago," Kyp said after a long moment of silence. "We should be touching down within a quarter of an hour."

Zekk nodded, then glanced at Jaina. "Do you need me to be your co-pilot? Or should I wake her?"

"I'm good on my own," Kyp shrugged, not really wanting to fly with anyone but Jaina, and not willing to wake her.

"Okay, then. I'll go gather everyone up." Zekk said, turning to leave with one last wistful look at Jaina.

"Make sure that all the packs are packed right!" Kyp called after him. I don't want to be wandering around the Bright Lands with a pack made for the Dark Lands.

They had decided that they would split up once they reached Ryloth. One team would go searching the Dark Lands, and the other would take the Bright Lands. Jacen and Tenel Ka were leading Ganner, Tesar and Alema through the Dark Lands since they were the only ones who had been there before, while Kyp and the others followed Jaina across the scorching Bright Lands.

I'm going to look like a roasted nerf sausage by the time we go home, Kyp muttered to himself.

Then you'll know how I felt, Jaina's voice filled his head. He looked over at her and saw her yawning. Where are we?

"Just about to enter the atmosphere," Kyp replied aloud. He gestured at the controls. "Do you want to do the honors?"

Jaina shook her head. "You can do it." She stood and stretched her arms. "I should go check on the others. Make sure everyone has all their gear packed."

Kyp shrugged. "Okay."

"You could have woken me up, you know," Jaina said as she moved out of the way so he could slide into the pilot's seat.

"I know," Kyp replied.

Jaina placed a hand on his shoulder and kissed his cheek on her way out of the cockpit. "Rise and shine, boys and girls!" she called into the back of the ship. "The fun's about to begin."

"You scare me with your ideas of fun," Ganner replied.

Jaina laughed. "Good. Let's just hope that I scare Lomi and Welk, too, then. We just might get to rescue Raynar and leave without any trouble."

Kyp had a feeling it wasn't going to be that simple.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Jacen Solo was grateful for the warm thermal pullover he was wearing as the rigid wind whipped at his bare face. He stared out across the glacial landscape before him, taking in the frozen mountains and ice floes with distaste.

I never thought I would come back here willingly.

Tenel Ka moved up beside him and slid her hand into his. Her cool gaze passed over the snowy terrain around them and she said, "I do not care for this planet, either."

Jacen flashed her a lopsided smile, his lips cracking. "We came willingly. Imagine how Raynar must feel."

The mention of their friend that they had come to save drew a nod from Tenel Ka. "That is a fact," she said, a white cloud of steam formed from her breath.

Jacen looked her over and was relieved to see that the thermal clothing she was wearing seemed to be keeping her warm enough. He was also aware that they hugged her curves in a manner that was distracting to say the least.

A slight smile crept onto her face and she raised an eyebrow. "If I am going to be a distraction, perhaps I would prove more useful working with Alema, so you can concentrate."

Jacen grinned and squeezed her hand. "No thanks. I like having you as my partner." He glanced towards the frozen tundra. "And there's no one I would rather have beside me here. At least we know what to expect this time."

"Ah," Tenel Ka agreed. "Aha. And we are more prepared for these temperatures this time, as well."

"Thiss place iss too cold," Tesar hissed.

Jacen silently agreed. His body was already aching from the sharp cold, and the chilling wind rubbed his face raw.

"The temperate zone is in the middle of the planet," Alema said. "We must begin to work our way there. Jaina and her team will cover the Bright Lands and meet us at the climate controlled area."

"Unless they find Lomi and Welk first," Ganner said grimly.

Jacen felt his body tense at the mention of the two Dark Jedi who they had encountered on the worldship where Anakin had died. He knew that Lomi and Welk would not hesitate to kill his sister and the others if they found them. And even though Jacen had faith in his sister's abilities, and in those of her team, he hoped that his team was the one to stumble upon the Dark Jedi's hiding place. For if Lomi took Jaina's team by surprise...

Jacen shivered, and this time it had nothing to do with the with the deep, gnawing iciness of the eternal winter around them.

Flexing his fingers to keep the blood circulating, Jacen raised a gloved hand to his comm-link. "Goddess, this is Philosopher." The raw air burned his throat as he spoke. "We're in position."

There was a burst of static, then his sister's voice came back, hoarse and raspy, "Copy that, Philosopher. We're moving out. See you on the other side."

Jacen reached out with the Force to brush his sister's brilliant presence, then turned to face his team. "The temperate zone is over those mountains." He pointed at the steep, rocky crag looming against the horizon. His cheeks and eyes stung from the biting winds. "Let's get moving."

They stayed close together, trying to conserve body heat and to shield one another from the icy winds. The snow whipped at their faces, each flake searing as it melted onto their already numbing skin. The biting wind roared around them, shrieking angrily as it tore at their layered clothing.

They walked in silence for a long while, using their hands to communicate since opeining their mouths would only fill their lungs with the artic air.

"I'm beginning to wish I had gone with Jaina's team," Ganner said, shivering against the cold.

Jacen flashed him a grim smile. "I'm sure right about now they would love to trade places with you."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I'm starting to think I should have gone with Jacen," Kyp muttered, wiping at his face. He would have been sweating, if the broiling heat didn't absorb every drop of perspiration the minute it fell.

Jaina flashed him a weak smile. "Then you'd have frostbite instead of sunburn. Which do you want?"

"How about neither?" Tahiri asked, though her skin was already red and blistered. They were all going to need a dip in the bacta tanks when they got back, even if they managed not to get any serious injuries during the mission.

"I can't believe we came back to this Sithspawned planet," Zekk groaned. The relentless sun bore down on them with agonizing heat, and the boiling surface radiated the hot air back around them in shimmering waves.

Jaina shot him an amused look. "You can't complain. All you did last time was show up in the Lightning Rod."

"To rescue you, as I recall," Zekk retorted, giving her a wry look, his eyes already red and his cheeks starting to look sunken. All of their skin was already drying out, encrusting itself with the salt pulled from their evaporating sweat.

Jaina just laughed hoarsely, her throat already dry and scorched, feeling like someone had rubbed it raw with sandpaper. "Well, now we get to rescue Raynar. He's been stuck here twice."

"Poor kid," Kyp said, glaring at their surroundings. His lips were chapped and the sweltering, intense heat was turning his face a sickly pink color.

A blast of hot wind hit her face and Jaina winced as she looked around at the fiery day side of Ryloth, with its unrelenting, pounding sun and scalding hot rocks and sand. The flaming heat burned the landscape, and only the deepest shadows would offer them any protection from the sun. In the distance she could see rivers of running lava veining out across the rocky terrain.

"This is so not a place I'd come for a vacation," Tahiri muttered, her eyes narrowing at the blackened outcroppings eroded by temperatures near the melting point. The air was literally sizzling around them, the torrid heat unbearable if not for the Force.

"The Twi'leks send their banished out here," Jaina told her. "To wander the desert and die of thirst and heat exhaustion."

"If I were them, I'd throw myself in one of those lava floes to put myself out of my misery," Kyp decided with a scowl.

"Imagine how Lowie would feel if he was out here," Tahiri said. "All that fur."

Jaina nodded. "That's why I chose for him to stay with the ship. He's the best pilot other than me, and the Bright Lands would probably kill him."

"They'll probably kill us, too," Zekk said dryly.

"Speak for yourself," Kyp said. "Jaina, toss me that cantina."

Jaina used the Force to levitate the water cooler to his hands and watched him take a quick dip. "We need to watch how much of that we drink," she warned. "We don't want to run out of water while we're out here."

"Right," Kyp rasped. He passed the cantina to the others, letting everyone have a quick sip before handing it back to Jaina. She gulped down a small sip, letting the icy water soothe her scorched throat.

"We need to move out," she told the others, each breath coming to her as though she had just breathed in a mouthful of fire. "Put on your breath masks and let's get going."

They did as they were told, and Jaina found it much easier to breathe once the breath mask was filtering cool air into her lungs. The air in the Bright Lands was too hot for them to breathe for long, and their breath masks would give them some relief, at least, from the searing heat.

Taking a deep breath and savoring the cool air, Jaina took the lead and began to lead her team through the scorched wastelands of melted rock and sand, weaving their way through the shadows as much as they could, trying to avoid the cracks of lava that wound through the ground.

They could not wear gloves or pullovers, since the heat would have suffocated them, so their exposed skin began to blister and burn painfully. Jaina drew on the Force techniques she had learned at the Academy to keep her body temperature stable, even as they made their way through the melting rocks around them.

Her hands burned furiously, and Jaina knew it would hurt when they had to draw their lightsabers, but she pushed on, determined. Raynar had helped her escape the sweltering fire of the Bright Lands years before. She intended to make sure he survived long enough to do it again.

As they climbed across the shadowy rocks, her hand accidentally touched a rock exposed to the direct sunlight. She let out a hiss of pain, using the Force to dampen the agony and continued onward.

I hate this planet.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Beams of light danced wildly against the night sky, flashing shadows across his face.

Ice green, acid yellow, copper red, turquoise, and white silver flickered to his left.

Violet, fiery orange, deep blue and white purple ticked back and forth to his right.

And directly in front of him two blood red blades crossed one another.

A dozen pair of eyes watched him, piercing, prodding, waiting.

A rainbow of colors on one side. Brown, blue, yellow, gray, black eyes.

And on the other, brown eyes surrounded completely by green ones.

And two pairs of dark, undefinable eyes boring into him from the shadows before him.

All watching, begging, pleading.


For what? What do they want with me? he cried.

But he knew.

They wanted him.

They all wanted him.

And he had to choose between them.

From the darkness around him they called his name, a dozen voices all screaming to be heard.


Leave me alone!

But they didn't, and they wouldn't.

Choose! they ordered.

He shook his head, trying to clear out the voices echoing in his mind, crying out to him.
No!

Choose!

He tried to make out the faces of the people around him, but he could not. All he saw were their eyes. Eyes glowing against the black darkness, shadowy figures holding glowing blades of fire.

Who are you?!

Laughter met his ears. Cold, cruel laughter. Who are you?

He tried to run, but the swords of rainbow fire had formed a circle around him. He was trapped inside of a cage of light, with no escape.

Choose! the voices snarled. Choose now!

I can't! he shouted. Tell me who you are!

More laughter filled the air, but this time it was the sweet, simple laughter of children. You know who we are. Who are you?

He shook with anger. Leave me alone!

Why?

Because I said so! he roared furiously, and black winds rushed from his hands, throwing them back.

The lights went out and the world was plunged into darkness.

But then a flash of light blinded him, and he looked over his shoulder to see one single fire sword had come back on. The violet one.


Not good enough, a voice said, and this time it was just the one.

Who are you?! he snarled.

The figure didn't answer, and the violet light drew nearer, the light searing into his eyes.


Tell me who you are! he roared, raising his hand and black lightning crackled at his fingertips. He twisted his hand into a claw and extended his hand toward the approaching figure. Answer me!

The figure did not, and the mocking silence enraged him. With a furious scream, he unleashed the dark power inside of him and black bolts struck the figure wildly.

But the energy did not pulse through the figure, instead it billowed around it, like a cloud of lightning that followed the figure as it approached. Shadows formed a shield around the figure, deflecting and absorbing whatever he threw at it.

And finally the figure came to a halt, just in front of him, face hidden in the shadows.


What do you want?! he screamed at it. Why have you come?!

I have come for you, Raynar, the voice said, decidedly feminine, but strong and fierce.

The granddaughter of the Betrayer stepped out from the shadows.




Raynar Thul's eyes shot open and he gasped for air, clutching the side of the wall for support.

Lomi Plo looked at him sharply. "What is it?" she asked in a harsh voice. "What did you see?"

Welk turned away from his work to look at him, his face twisted into a scowl. "What now?"

"The Jedi," Raynar rasped. "They're here."

Welk snorted, turning back to his Force manipulations. "Then we will take care of them."

"There's more," Raynar said, hesitating. A small voice in the back of his head begged him not to do it, begged him to resist. It told him it was not too late, told him he could go back. Then a wave of darkness settled over him and he let out a sigh of relief, thankful for Lomi's soothing brush.

"What is it?" Lomi asked seriously.

Raynar looked up at her, his eyes boring into hers. He knew what was to come. He knew what this meant.

He also knew that not even Welk could dismiss what he had to say.

"The Solo twins are here."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

"Colonel Fel?"

Jag looked up to see one of the Blackmoon pilots, Hali Rev, watching him from her beside X-wing. The black haired woman was the only other pilot who had not already left the hangar bay. "Yes, Major?" Jag asked, forcing his voice into something resembling calm.

"Forgive me if I'm intruding, sir," Hali said in a silky voice. "But are you alright?"

"Of course," Jag replied, raising an eyebrow. "Why wouldn't I be?"

Hali moved towards him, her eyes raking him over in a manner that Jag felt certain Jaina would not have approved of. "You just seem a little...tense." She gave him a wide eyed look and a suggestive smile. "I could help you relax..." she offered.

Jag's jaw dropped open in shock. Was this woman crazy? She had to know that he was married, almost everyone on base did by now, and she was a pilot in Jaina's uncle's squadron. Jag knew for a fact that Luke had told his squadron.

"You are overstepping your boundaries, Major," Jag warned.

Hali shrugged. "I don't see anyone around to report me, Colonel."

Jag pressed his lips together in a thin line. "I don't think that my wife would approve of your innuendos, Major."

"She would never know," Hali said, batting her eyelashes seductively.

"I would know," Jag replied coolly. "And I would not betray my wife like that. Not for any woman."

Hali reached out a hand and ran her fingers across his chest. "Well, I'm not just any woman, Colonel," she purred.

Jag stiffened. His blood was coursing angrily at the suggestion that he would ever dishonor Jaina and their vows to one another. Hali Rev was an attractive woman, yes, with wide eyes and pouty lips, but in Jag's mind there would never, could never, be a woman more beautiful and more seductive than Jaina Solo.

"You are just another pilot," Jag replied, removing her hand from his chest. "Perhaps you have had too much brandy. You are not thinking clearly, Major."

"I'm thinking perfectly clearly, Colonel," Hali hissed in his ear, pressing her body against him.

Jag stepped back, pushing her away from him. "Obviously that is not the case." He glared at her with barely controlled anger. "I love my wife. I respect her. I desire her, and only her. There is nothing you could offer me that would make me even consider you."

Hali pressed her lips together in amusement. "I think I could change your mind."

"No," Jag shook his head firmly, feeling his patience begin to unravel. Who did this woman think she was? No Chiss woman would ever act in such an appaling manner. "You could not. Jaina is my wife, and I am insulted that you would think that I would ever consider dishonoring her in such a fashion."

He turned and began to walk out of the hangar, but she grabbed him by the arm and whirled him around with surprising strength.

Before Jag could react, she grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him to her, kissing him.

Jag shoved her off of him, his eyes blazing. "Have you gone space happy?" he demanded angrily. "I'm a married man, and you know that quite well."

"Your wife doesn't scare me," Hila said with a seductive smile, biting her lip.

"Well I should hope I do," Jag snapped. "Because by tomorrow you'll be lucky if you hold the rank of flight officer."

With that, he turned on his heel and stalked out of the room. He heard Hali say his name and heard her take a step towards him, then cry out.

He looked back to see her struggling in place, as if held back by some invisible force.

Jag glanced towards the shadows of the corridor and gave Corran Horn a grateful nod.

Corran's eyes flickered, a frown creasing his features, but he nodded in reply before turning his attention to Hali.

Jag headed back to his quarters, sinking down onto the bed in exhaustion. As if his day hadn't been long enough without some harlot rebel pilot throwing herself at him...

With a sigh, he turned on the holovid screen and popped in one of the holovids that Zena had brought for him from home.

Come home soon, Jaina, he thought. The whole galaxy seems to go space happy when you're gone.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jaina jerked her head towards the sky suddenly, a distant look on her face.

"What is it?" Kyp asked worriedly, leaning closer to her, studying her face through the breath mask.

"Jag," Jaina murmured, barely a whisper.

Kyp winced. "Is he hurt?" he asked, not eager to hear the answer.

Jaina hesitated, then shook her head. "No. He's alright." She bit her lip. "There's something wrong, though. I just don't know what."

Kyp gave her arm a squeeze, relieved that nothing had befallen Jag. "He'll be fine."

Jaina nodded, but Kyp could tell she was still distracted. He squeezed her arm again, then turned back to face Tahiri and Zekk, who were both watching Jaina with concern. He caught Tahiri's eye and nodded at Jaina, and the younger girl hurried over to her friend's side.

Zekk raised an eyebrow inquisitively. Not wanting to hurt the young man, Kyp replied, "Woman things, I guess."

Zekk looked doubtful, but didn't say anything about it. Instead, he shouldered off his pack and let it drop at his feet. He pulled out the cantina and removed his breath mask to take a long swig, then held it out to Kyp.

Kyp took it and pulled back his own mask, coughing violently as the scalding hot air filled his lungs, burned his lips, and scorched his nostrils. He took a large sip of water, letting it slide down his sore throat, and sighed in relief. He handed Zekk the cantina and hurriedly resealed his breath mask over his face.

Jaina seemed to be doing better by then, her expression focused and determined as she and Tahiri strolled over to join them, and Kyp wondered what the blond Jedi had said to have such an affect. Jaina gave him a pointed glance and he felt her presence intertwine with his for a moment in a warm embrace, then she withdrew and focused on the group.

"I haven't been able to sense Raynar," she said. "Have any of you?"

Tahiri shook her head. "No."

"Not at all," Zekk said.

Jaina looked at Kyp, and he gave a slight shake of his head that he had not, either. Jaina bit her lip and nodded. "I didn't think so. Which means that either they have ysalamari around or..." she glanced meaningfully at Kyp and Zekk.

"Or he's gone over to the dark side," Zekk finished with a deep sigh.

Kyp didn't respond. Instead he closed his eyes and reached out with the Force, trying to find any trace of the Dark Jedi at all. He extended his perceptions across the Bright Lands, towards the temperate zone, out into the Dark Lands-

And slammed into a large void in the Force.

Frowning, he nudged at the space again, but he still detected nothing.

His eyes shot open and he drew a sharp breath.

"What?" Tahiri asked. "What is it?"

But Jaina was linked to Kyp, and had felt very clearly what he had felt. "Yuuzhan Vong," she cursed. "In the Dark Lands." She fumbled for her comm-link desperately. "Where is it?"

Zekk pulled it from the pack. He handed it to Kyp, who thumbed it on. "Mortal to Philospher," he said into the comm-link, ignoring Tahiri's snort at the call sign Jaina had given him. "Philosopher, do you copy?"

The only reply was static.

Kyp glanced up at Jaina worriedly, and noticed a distracted look on her face. He groaned. Is she thinking about Jag again?

When she glared at him, he decided she wasn't. "They're okay," she said. "That much I got clearly. But he isn't answering me."

"Did you tell him there are Vong headed their way?" Zekk asked.

"Yuuzhan Vong," Tahiri and Jaina corrected at the same time, then exchanged a conspiratory look before Jaina said, "Yes."

Kyp nodded. "Let's just hope that they got the message."

"What about Lomi and Welk?" Zekk asked, his voice darkening. "Did you feel them anywhere?"

Kyp shook his head, but it was Jaina who answered. "They're shielding from us."

Kyp raised an eyebrow at the use of the word us since he was the one who had actually looked for them, but it made him smile to see how deeply their partnership truly ran, that Jaina was thinking with his thoughts and seeing with his vision.

"That's not good," Zekk muttered.

You think? Kyp rolled his eyes, and nearly stumbled when Jaina gave him a Force nudge in reprimand.

"So they could be anywhere?" Tahiri asked with a frown, glancing around nervously.

Kyp nodded gravely. "They could be waiting for us in the temperate zone, or they could be sneaking up on Jacen's team, or-"

"Or sneaking up on you," a cold voice sneered.

Kyp froze, silently cursing. Of all the Sithspawned times for that to happen!

He turned to see a tall, thin woman with pale skin and long black hair, dressed in black. Beside her stood a young man about Jaina's age, with blond hair and hate-filled blue eyes.

They both carried red lightsabers.

"Welk," Zekk growled through gritted teeth.

Kyp was startled by the tension in the young Jedi's voice, and even more so by the way Welk's eyes flashed. "Traitor," he snarled.

Shadow Academy, Jaina told him before he could ask.

"Lomi," Jaina said coolly. Her eyes narrowed. "Where's Raynar?"

"Here," a familiar voice said from behind them.

Kyp turned to see a young man with sandy blond hair and cold hazel eyes staring down at them. He looked familiar, but nothing like the kid Kyp remembered meeting when he had visited the Academy a few years back.

This new man looked older, weary, and very, very dark.

"Raynar!" Jaina gasped, stepping towards him.

Kyp reached out a hand to stop her, but it was too late.

A lightsaber leapt to life in Raynar's hand, and it's blood red blade was pointed at Jaina's throat.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"What did you say?" Jacen yelled to Tenel Ka over the roaring wind.

Her face was contorted into a fearful expression, and Jacen had a sinking feeling that she did not have good news.

"I said there's a heat storm!" Tenel Ka shouted, her voice barely making it over the screaming wind.

"Not again?!" Jacen cried in disbelief, his jaw dropping. He had not forgotten the broiling winds that had nearly caught them the last time they were there.

"I am afraid so, Jacen, my friend," Tenel Ka replied grimly.

"I thought I told you to call me Jacen!" he shouted with a grin.

"I will call you a taun taun if it will make you happy. Later." Tenel Ka grabbed his hand. "Now we must run."

"Why?" Ganner asked, frowning. "Heat's good, right?" He shivered, his pale face twitching in the cold. "I mean we're cold, heat should be a good thing."

"Heat storm, Ganner," Jacen replied sharply. "The air is so hot it will boil us alive."

Ganner's pale face got even paler. "You've got to be kidding me!"

"Sorry," Jacen shook his head. "I don't tell bad jokes anymore."

"Let us hurry!" Tenel Ka ordered, starting off towards the crevices ahead. "We can hide in one of those caves until it passes!"

"Again?" Jacen chuckled, and when Tenel Ka flashed him an amused look, he knew that she, too, was thinking about how close they had cuddled up against each other to stay warm the last time they had been stuck in a cave on Ryloth.

"Thiss one thinkss we should run," Tesar hissed, pointing at something in the distance.

Jacen squinted, and drew a sharp breath. The air was beginning to ripple. Shimmers of light reflected in the wind, tiny droplets of flame combusting in the heat. Then the funnel came into view, dropping over the mountain with a huge jet of steam and a hideous hiss as it touched down on the frozen ground.

"Run for it!" Jacen shouted.

No one needed to be told twice.

They took off at a dead run, sprinting as if their lives depended on it. Which, as Jacen noticed was a frequent situation for them, it did.

Behind them the frozen rocks began to shatter and the ice began to evaporate at an alarming rate under the rage of the scalding, shrieking wind.

He could feel the hot wind lunging for his back, could feel its hungry tendrils grabbing for his clothing. Up ahead the others were rushing into the cave.

Pouring on a burst of speed, Jacen dove headfirst into the cave, rolling out of the way just as the winds roared by.

He lay there, panting hard. Tenel Ka pressed her gloved hand to his cheek. "Are you alright, Jacen?"

"Yeah," he gasped out. "Fine."

"Can you tell if there are any more of those storms out there?" Alema asked from somewhere out of view.

"I think so," Jacen replied. Closing his eyes he reached out with the Force-

And froze, his body going rigid. No, he thought. Please no.

He reached out again, desperate to be wrong.

But, of course, the one time he wanted to be wrong, he had to be right. There was no justice in the galaxy.

He opened his eyes and looked up at his friends. "Are there more of them?" Ganner asked, leaning against the cave wall wearily.

"The heat storms are the least of our problems now," Jacen replied quietly. Everyone sat up, eyeing him nervously. "There are Yuuzhan Vong here."

"Here? As in here on Ryloth?" Ganner demanded. "Or here as in here in the Dark Lands?"

"Here as in farther back in this very cave," Jacen replied, hissing quietly. He didn't need the Force to see the terror well up in his friends. "They don't know we're here yet," Jacen whispered. "As soon as the storm passes, we'll run for it."

"We'll have to run sooner than that," Alema whispered, her voice faint.

"Why is that?" Tenel Ka asked worriedly.

Jacen knew even before Alema answered. He felt them clearly in the Force a moment before, and he was already pushing to his feet and drawing his lightsaber into his hands as Alema hissed, "Here they come."

The other Jedi leapt up just as the troop of Yuuzhan Vong came around the corner. The Vong skidded to a halt, shocked to find Jedi in their midst. Maybe they'll think we ambushed them, Jacen thought with a sigh. That's better than them knowing we walked right into their camp.

For a long moment the two groups stared at one another, and then the crowd of Vong parted and Nom Anor stepped forward. "Jeedai Solo," he snarled.

Jacen clenched his teeth. Serenity, he told himself. Serenity is the way of the Jedi.

But facing the Yuuzhan Vong who had poisoned Mara, who had tried to capture his sister for sacrifice, who had led the Vong that killed his brother, and who had inflicted so many cruelties on him during his captivity, Jacen found it very hard to stay calm.

"Where is your Jeedai twin?" Nom Anor asked, smiling wickedly. "The warmaster will reward me well for your recapture."

Jacen thumbed on his lightsaber and held the green blade out in front of him. "You haven't captured me yet."

To his friends, he sent a simple telepathic instruction: Get ready to run.

He felt them hesitate and, while he was touched at their reluctance to leave him behind, corrected, We have to take the battle outside.

The Jedi tensed as one, waiting for Jacen to give the signal.

"You are captured now," Nom Anor smirked.

"I think," Jacen retorted. "That you will find things are not always as they seem, Nom Anor."

And Jacen and the Jedi with him simply vanished into thin air.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jagged Fel emerged from the refresher, wearing his black drawstring pants, feeling better after a long, hot shower.

He toweled off his dark hair and draped the towel around his neck, stretching his arms over his head. He walked over and sat down on the edge of the bed, running his fingers through his hair quickly.

He glanced over at the bedstand, at the holophotos Jaina had placed there. In addition to the one of her with her brothers as children, she had added one of her cousin Ben and one of Anakin and Tahiri, taken just after the Yuuzahn Vong attack on Yavin Four.

Not for the first time, Jag wondered what that meant to her. He knew that her homeworld was Coruscant, but she had spent just as much, if not more, time on the jungle moon. He had never asked her, but he imagined loosing that Yavin Four was worse than loosing Coruscant for her.

The holophoto that demanded his attention, however, was the most recent one. It was one of the ones Kyp had taken at their secret wedding. After she had shown the photos to Jag's mother and sister, Jaina had decided to put one of them out on the bedstand.

Jag picked up the holophoto, cradling it in his hands preciously. He studied it silently, his chest aching for Jaina as he stared down at her smiling image.

It was Jag's favorite photo. He had never seen her look more beautiful than she had that night, and whenever he looked at it, saw her warm smile, dark hair set off against her white Jedi robes, it stirred something powerful inside of him.

That night, however, with Jaina gone for nearly two weeks and no word from her, it stirred sadness.

Jag wasn't naive, he knew that Jaina would have to go on Jedi missions, that she would have to be gone for weeks, maybe months, at a time. He had known that when he married her, and he respected her duty as a Jedi.

But that didn't keep him from worrying, or from missing her.

They had only been married for a month, and more than half of that time Jaina had been gone. Jag missed her desperately.

He missed sleeping with her in his arms, he missed kissing her awake in the morning. He missed discreet smiles across the hangar, subtle glances at one another during meetings. He even missed flying under her command, more than he would have ever though possible.

Mostly, though, he missed her smile. She had the most amazing smile, the kind that could light up the room. Jag had fallen in love with her smile the very first time he saw it, at the diplomatic reception on the Tafanda Bay.

Jag longed for her so fiercely that it was a deep, physical ache.

He hoped she was okay.

He hoped she was safe.

Most of all, he hoped she was on her way home.

He didn't know how much longer he could stand to be away from her. If she didn't come home soon, he was going to go crazy. And when she does get home, Jag thought with a sigh. I'm not letting go of her for a week.

While the logical, rational part of him knew that was ridiculous, knew that just wasn't possible, not with the war going on, Jag didn't care. He couldn't be rational, not when it came to Jaina. That was something he had discovered a long time ago.

Sighing, he placed the holophoto back on the bedstand and sank down onto the bed, laying on his back and staring up at the the transpaisteel slot in the ceiling. It was a clear night, and the stars glistened like Corusca gems against a black backdrop.

He wondered which of those stars Jaina was on.

And he wished that he was there with her.

She's fine, he told himself, for the thousandth time since she had left. Luke would tell you if she wasn't. You spoke to him a few hours ago and he assured you that Jaina was perfectly alright. Why can't you believe that?

That was simple, really. He couldn't believe it because he couldn't see it. Until he could see for himself that Jaina was fine, could hold her in his arms and look her over for injuries with his own eyes, he couldn't believe that she was alright.

He wanted to, and he could pretend that he did, but deep down, his doubts and fears prayed upon his uncertainty.

He knew that Jaina was in danger on Ryloth. She was in danger pretty much anywhere right now, but at least when he was with her he could do everything in his power to protect her.

And even though Luke and Mara and Leia all told him over and over that Jaina and the others weren't in any kind of trouble yet, Jag knew it was only a matter of time.

Jaina had a symbiotic relationship with trouble. If it didn't come to her, she went to it.

Jag closed his eyes, imagining his wife's face. He had memorized every curve of her face, and his mental image was flawless. He could see her perfectly, right down to the lopsided smile and the raised eyebrow, the look she gave him more than any other.

She's alright, he told himself as sleep claimed him, letting her image slide into his dreams. I'm sure she's doing everything she can to stay out of danger.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jaina stared at the blade hovering a second away from slitting her throat.

She looked at the man who was threatening to kill her, and let out a frustrated sigh. "Emperor's black bones, now Raynar's gone over to the dark side, too?"

Behind her she heard her friends ignite their ligthsabers.

Jaina used the Force to nudge Raynar's blade away from her neck with a hard shove that sent him stumbling. He looked at her in surprise and she rolled her eyes. "Raynar, put the lightsaber away before I have to hurt you."

Jaina was aware of Kyp and Zekk moving up alongside her, their lightsabers ready to defend her should Raynar attack again. Tahiri stood behind her, cold green eyes alert and watchful. Jaina didn't draw her lightsaber, only looked at Raynar for a long moment, then shook her head softly.

"Hello, Raynar," she said.

His lips twisted into an unpleasant smile. "Jaina Solo."

"Jaina Solo Fel, actually," Jaina replied calmly.

Raynar's face contorted in confusion. "What?"

"I would have invited you to the wedding," Jaina said, ignoring the blade still pointed at her. "But, well, you know, I thought you were dead." She paused, a thoughtful look on her face. "Then again, we thought alot of people were dead that aren't."

"You're... married?" Raynar asked, blinking in surprise. Jaina didn't need the Force to sense astonishment from Lomi and Welk, as well.

"Have been for a month," Jaina replied. "You'd like him Raynar. And I think he'd like you."

What are you playing at, Jaina? Kyp asked in concern.

He still cares about me, Jaina replied. I know he does. I'm just going to throw him off, make him less certain of what he's doing here.

Sensing Kyp's reluctance, she added, Trust me.

She got the distinct mental image of him throwing up his hands in exasperation, and stifled a smile. She focused on Raynar, who was looking a little unsure of himself. "Put away the lightsaber, Raynar," she said evenly, adding the full weight of the Force to the words. "I'm not here to fight you."

For a moment it seemed Raynar was going to comply, but then Jaina felt the surge of darkness well up inside of him and he scowled at her. "Then you'll be killed, Jaina."

She spread her hands complacently. "Is that what you really want, Raynar?" she asked. "To kill me?"

Raynar didn't answer, and she saw his grip tighten around the handle of his lightsaber. She could see the battle he was waging with himself. The dark side was powerful and merciless, but there was still a part of Raynar that was the Alderaanian boy she knew. She just had to find a way to get through to him.

"I thought we were friends, Raynar," she said softly, searching his averted gaze.

"We were," Raynar said, glaring at her. "Now we're enemies."

A tingle through the Force told Jaina to roll out of the way just as a red lightsaber slashed towards the back of her head. A loud crashing hiss filled her ears, and she rolled to her feet to see Tahiri's blue blade crossed with Lomi's red one.

She gave her friend a grateful brush with the Force, and stared coolly at Lomi. "Are you so cowardly that you have to strike from behind, Lomi?"

Lomi growled and Jaina sensed the dark power growing inside of her. So did Kyp, who moved to stand beside Tahiri, silently taking his mark. As the only Jedi Master of the group, it only made sense for Kyp to be the one to deal with Lomi, and Jaina knew that Zekk wanted to be the one to handle Welk, which left Raynar completely to her.

"You might as well surrender now," Welk sneered. "We'll make it less painful for you if you do."

Jaina rolled here eyes at him. "Welk, I do believe you've finally gotten even stupider than you are ugly."

Zekk snickered.

Welk let out a snarl and lunged for her, but Zekk caught his strike on his blade, preventing the Dark Jedi from reaching her.

Jaina smirked at Welk. "You seem to be forgetting something here, Welk. Zekk was once a Dark Jedi, too. A very powerful Dark Jedi, as I'm sure you remember."

The anger in the boy's eyes suggested that he did, in fact, remember.

"That's Kyp Durron over there," Jaina nodded at Kyp. "Surely you've heard of him? The Destroyer of Caridia?" Silently, she apologized to Kyp for the pain those words had to cause. Through their bond, what hurt Kyp hurt Jaina, and she winced slightly, until Kyo gave her a reassuring brush.

Welk's eyes darted to Kyp for a moment, and Jaina was proud of Kyp for the regal, bored look he plastered on his face. It was unnerving.

"What is your point, Jaina?" Lomi growled, and Jaina wondered for a moment why she and Welk had not yet begun to launch a full attack.

The answer was painfully obvious, though. They were waiting for Raynar to attack her first, to throw her friends off and distract them while they were attacked, as well.

"Two former dark siders against three Dark Jedi?" Lomi scoffed.

Jaina flashed her the most wicked smile she could manage. "Three former dark siders, you mean, Lomi."

Lomi's eyes narrowed. A moment later realization washed over her, and Jaina had the pleasure of seeing the woman's jaw drop in surprise. "You?" Lomi hissed through her teeth in disbelief.

Jaina gave her the coldest look she could muster up. "That's right, Lomi. Three Dark Jedi against three Jedi who know how to defeat the dark side."

"You think us evenly matched then?" Lomi sneered.

Jaina gave her a nasty smile. "No. I don't. I think we're stronger than you'll ever be." She grinned wickedly. "Besides, we have a secret weapon that you don't." She winked at Tahiri, who had her blade pointed readily at Lomi. "We have a Tahiri."

She felt a sense surprise and embaressement roll off of Tahiri, but she didn't miss the pride the girl felt that Jaina thought so highly of her skills. Tahiri gave Lomi a predatory little smile, and Jaina smirked, then turned back to Raynar.

Her face softened and she met his gaze."I know what you're going through, Raynar," she said gently. "I've been there. Let me help you."

He glared at her. "You don't know anything!" he snarled furiously. "I lost my father! I lost Lusa! And because of your brother, I lost Eryl!"

Jaina swallowed back her rage that he would dare blame Eryl's death on Anakin. That's not Raynar, she reminded herself. That's the dark side talking.

"And how many of my friends do you think I've lost?" she replied in a soft tone. "I lost my brother, Raynar. Anakin died trying save the Jedi, to save you."

"You all thought I was dead," Raynar snapped.

"Yes," Jaina replied. "We did. And we grieved for you, Raynar. I grieved for you."

Raynar's face twisted. "I don't want your pity," he snarled.

"It's not pity," Jaina shook her head. "I care about you. I missed you. I cried for you."

Raynar's hands were shaking now. "Lies. All lies," he growled, his eyes dark. "You never cared for me. You and your brother always thought you were better than everyone else, because you were Luke Skywalker's niece and nephew." He scowled at her. "I don't want your lies, Jedi princess," he sneered.

Jaina slammed the door on the hurt those words caused, determined not to loose Raynar. Not like this. "You know that's not true, Raynar," she said quietly. "I care about you very much. You're one of my closest friends. You have been ever since the Shadow Academy attacked us. Remember that, Raynar?" she asked. "You fought the dark side then and won. You can do it again."

"Finish her!" Lomi ordered shrilly.

Raynar nodded, his eyes cold as slits of ice. "Gladly." Instead of striking with his lightsaber, though, he extended his hand towards her, dark energy crackling at his fingertips.

Jaina felt her the others tense as if to come to her aid and take Raynar down, but she gave them a telepathic order to take care of Lomi and Welk. She felt a mental question mark from Tahiri, and she gave her a reassuring nod.

Raynar threw out his hand and Force lightning flew at her, coursing through her body with pain so livid and bright that she screamed in mental agony. The torment was white hot, as if someone had shoved a vibroblade into her veins. But Jaina had been ready for it, and she stood her ground, refusing to move an inch, despite how badly her body throbbed with hot fire. She narrowed her eyes and focused on Raynar's energy, doing to him what Kyp had done to her.

The energy around her vanished.

Raynar's eyes widened in shock. "How did you do that?" he demanded.

"If I can summon it, I can dispel it," Jaina said cooly. Ignoring Kyp's telepathic, Hey, that's my line, she lifted her chin. "I too know the power of the dark side, Raynar."

"Kill her!" Lomi shrieked, and Jaina heard the sounds of lightsaber crashing against lightsaber.

The fight was under way.

Raynar raised his blade as if to take off her head with one powerful swing.

"Give my regards to Anakin, Jaina."

And he swung the blood red lightsaber at her exposed throat.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jacen's knees buckled slightly as his sister's pain filled his head, and he gasped, unable to keep the illusion up any longer.

The Force trick that had cloaked their escape and shielded them from view dropped away.

Nom Anor snarled something that translated into "There they are!" and pointed at the Jedi.

"What's wrong?" Tenel Ka asked Jacen as they ran, giving him a worried look. "Was the strain too much to keep our presences hidden?"

"No," Jacen said, his voice coming out raspy and hoarse. "Jaina's in pain. I think they found Lomi and Welk." He glanced at her with hollow eyes. "Raynar is using the dark side."

Tenel Ka's gray eyes darkened. "Then we must help our friends."

"We're kind of in need of some help ourselves," Ganner panted as they ran, trudging through the thick snow.

"The snow is slowing them down," Alema announced. "We may be able to out run them." She glanced at Jacen with a wicked smile. "Unless we wish to fight them?"

There was eagerness in her tone, and Jacen wondered why he hadn't sent Alema with Jaina. His sister was better at handling the Twi'lek girl. And Alema would get to see some of that action she wants.

"The snow iss slowing uss down as well," Tesar hissed back. "And it iss too deep to fight in. We are outnumbered. Stopping now would not be wise."

"Keep running," Jacen ordered. "If we can make it to the temperate zone, we'll lead them out into the Bright Lands. Their armor will fry in the heat."

"And so will we," Ganner replied. "Look at all the layers we have on, Jacen. We won't make it ten feet before we pass out."

"Would you rather take your chances with the heat or the Vong?" Jacen snapped, his lungs aching and his body screaming for rest. He used the Force to give him strength, and wove the battle meld around his friends, allowing them to draw on one another to keep going.

"You're right," Ganner rasped. "I could stand a little warmth, anyway."

Jacen didn't reply. He kept running at full speed, his body near collapse, determined not to loose any of his team. The Yuuzhan Vong were still pursuing, but on foot, and Jacen was grateful that they could not fly their coralskippers in the blizzard.

"If we lead the Vong to the Bright Lands," Tenel Ka said. "We lead them right to our friends." She cast a meaningful look at Jacen. "And to Jaina."

Jacen nodded, breathing hard. "I know. But it's our only option."

"Maybe the Vong will decide to go after Lomi and Welk," Alema grunted. "This time we should leave them to that fate."

Jacen was inclined to agree.

"Look!" Ganner shouted. "Up ahead! I see light!"

Jacen drew a sharp breath. Sure enough, through a crevice in the rocks on the horizon, there was light. Natural daylight.

"Start loosing this equipment," he ordered. "Take off what you can but don't stop running!"

He fumbled with his pullover, tearing it off as he ran. He threw it to the ground behind him and started yanking off his gloves. His fingers burned with pain as the icy chill crept through his blood, but he was running so hard and so fast that he barely noticed. His bare arms stung as ice flakes lashed at his skin, but he forced himself to ignore the pain and keep running.

He never took his eyes off the temperate zone ahead.

"I hate this planet!" he cursed, his body raging with exhaustion.

"I think it's safe to say that the feeling is mutual, Jacen, my friend," Tenel Ka replied.

They hit the temperate zone and it took all of Jacen's will not to just collapse in the cool, perfect air. His lungs breathed in the first breath of clean, pure air they had taken since landing on the planet. The others panted hard, ripping off layers of clothing and heaving them aside.

Up ahead the sunlight blurred into a fiery ball of light.

"Come on," Jacen yelled, forcing his legs to start running again.

As they drew nearer to the broiling Bright Lands, his sister's presence filled his senses. Jaina blazed in the Force with white-hot brightness, and the image of her surrounded by Force lightning entered his mind.

For a terrifying moment he thought she had slipped and used the dark side, but then his mind focused and he realized that the dark lightning around her was coming from someone else, not her.

He also realized that his sister was blocking her presence from him. Which meant for him to be feeling her pain this strongly, even with her shields in place, she must have been in terrible agony.

Terror seized him as he felt her brilliant presence falter, almost slipping into unconsciousness.

Jaina! he cried, his chest burning as if he had been sliced open from neck to navel.

Someone was using the dark side against Jaina.

And it was killing her.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jag Fel sighed and looked up at his father.

"Don't give me that look," Soontir said, frowning. "I'm only suggesting that you might serve better if you had a squadron to command."

"I do have a squadron to command," Jag replied. "Twin Suns."

Soontir shook his head. "That is only temporary. When Jaina returns, the squadron is hers to command again. You will be free to command your own squadron. A Chiss phalanx if you wish."

That is what you have intended for me since you arrived, isn't it, Father? Jag thought. You think that it is beneath me to fly in a squadron after commanding a Chiss phalanx.

"I have made a commitment to Twin Suns," Jag told him. "Not because Jaina is my wife, but because I am a superior pilot and they are a superior squadron. No one could replace me as effectively."

"Not even a Jedi?" Soontir asked dryly. "I hear that you were replaced for a week by Colonel Horn." There was something in his tone that told Jag he knew why, as well. "Colonel Horn did an adequate job."

"Yes, sir," Jag agreed. "He did. But I have a bond with Jaina, and with Kyp, that allows them to interact with my actions. They were not able to do so as effectively with Colonel Horn."

"Despite the fact that he is a Jedi and you are not?" Soontir challenged.

"Yes," Jag answered truthfully. "I may be blind to the Force, Father, but the Force is not blind to me."

Soontir groaned. "These Jedi are having a bad affect on you."

"On the contrary," Jag said. "I think they are having a very positive affect."

Father studied son for a long moment, and Jag wondered what his father was thinking. Was he noticing the way they both held themselves, the same stubborn demeanor, the same cockiness hidden by formality?

Soontir sighed. "Will you at least think about it, then?" he asked. "You know that we are pressed for skilled commanders. Your presence at the head of one of our squadrons could make a difference in the war."

Yes, Jag agreed silently. It could. Only would it be a positive one or a negative one?

"I will think about it," he promised his father.

Soontir nodded. "That is all I ask."

Jag didn't respond, turning his head to gaze out the conference room transaparisteel. The sun was setting, and night would soon fall on the base.

And Jag would spend another night alone.

Was he making a mistake staying with Twin Suns? He knew that his father was right, there weren't enough competent commanders to go around, and he was certainly more than competent. He knew that it had surprised everyone when he had surrendered command of the Vanguards to Shawnkyr, even his uncle. Maybe especially his uncle.

Jag loved flying. He loved commanding his own squadron.

He also loved flying under Jaina's command.

Which was exactly the problem. Am I staying with Twin Suns merely to be with Jaina?

He didn't know.

He liked the Twin Suns pilots. He liked the way the squadron worked. He liked not having to be the one to make all the decisions and take all the responsibility.

And yet weren't those the very things he had loved about commanding Spike Squadron?

You would fly with Twin Suns even if Jaina wasn't commanding it, he told himself. And she very well may not be much longer.

His thoughts wandered to the conversation that he had witnessed between his uncle and Master Skywalker at the last squadron briefing. Luke had explained that he felt like he needed to get the Jedi to have a more active role in the war. Not necessarily more aggressive, but more active.

Which meant more Jedi missions and strike teams.

Which Jaina would want to be part of.

Which she should be part of. She was a Jedi Knight, and one of the strongest in the Order.

Luke and Wedge had even discussed forming an all Jedi fighter squadron, and Jag knew that they would want Jaina to be part of it, if not command it. There wasn't a better Jedi pilot, except for maybe Luke Skywalker himself.

And if they did give Jaina the Jedi squadron, that would leave Jag in command of Twin Suns permanently.

He could request a transfer to a Chiss phalanax, of course, but Jag wanted to fly with Twin Suns even if Jaina didn't.

That, perhaps, was the most confusing realization of all.

Jag looked over his shoulder to tell his father that he was going to remain with Twin Suns, but his father was gone. On the table sat an ensignia patch.

Jag walked over and lifted it up to inspect it. He blinked, and a small, slow smile crossed his lips.

Colonel Jagged Fel
Twin Suns Squadron


He looked at the door, slightly amazed. His father had known that he would refuse the phalanx. Baron Fel had come here to try and persuade him to accept, but he had come prepared to hear otherwise.

Jag fingered the patch with a smile, remembering how not long before she had left, Jaina had joked about complaining to Wedge that they needed ensignia patched for their flightsuits.

She was certainly going to think that this was funny.

Jag looked down the hall where his father had disappeared.

Sometimes you amaze me, Father.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jaina barely managed to get her lightsaber into her hand and up to defend herself before the red blade in Raynar's hand could decapitate her.

She should have been able to parry easily, she was the better swordsmen, but Raynar had known that, and so he had decided to play dirty.

Jaina flicked her blade left to block the next volley of Force lightning he heaved at her, then twisted her wrist to block his blade's strike, letting the Force guide her movements.

He had taken her by surprise moments before, hurling lightning at the same time that he swung at her with his blade.

The dark lightning had raced through her body, searing pain exploding at every nerve ending, and she had nearly blacked out.

He had surprised her then, but he would not do it again.

So much for reasoning with him, Jaina thought grimly. You don't have any choice but to fight back now.

It was not something she was going to enjoy.

"Not good enough," she hissed at Raynar, drawing on the Force to quiet her screaming cells. She dropped into a dueler's crouch, her palm extended outward. "You can do better than that, Raynar."

His eyes flashed and he snarled angrily, unleashing another round of dark lightning at her. She deflected it, and rolled under his swing, coming up to kick him hard in the back of the knee. There was a hideous crunching sound, drowned out by Raynar's scream, and Jaina winced. Sorry, Raynar, she thought dully.

He whirled on her, his eyes dark and raging with a frenzied storm. "You shouldn't have come here, Jaina."

"I came for you Raynar," Jaina replied, keeping her voice soft and calm. "And I'm not leaving without you."

"Is that so?" he asked, his lips curling back in a sneer. "That's fine by me, since you won't be leaving at all." He darted forward, red blade flashing, and Jaina parried a quick and sharp succession of blows without breaking his gaze.

"I think I will," she said evenly. "And I think that you know that."

"You won't kill me," Raynar snarled, twisting to striker at her side.

Jaina flicked her wrist and brought her blade down to block his. "No," she agreed, throwing his blade back with hers. "I won't."

"That's the difference between us then," Raynar laughed coldly. "You won't kill me, but I intend to kill you."

"I don't believe that," Jaina replied, leaping over his low swing and ducking under the one after it. "You don't want to kill me, Raynar. I can sense that."

And she could.

She could sense that Raynar Thul, the Jedi Knight and boy she knew, did not want to kill her. He was struggling with the dark side of himself, wrestling to take control.

Jaina knew how hard that could be.

"You know nothing," Raynar spat venomously. He struck again, and Jaina flipped over his head and landed behind him, sweeping her leg behind his bad knee and dropping him to the ground.

Raynar groaned and struggled to stand, and Jaina risked a glance at the others. Zekk and Welk were dueling it out nearby, the tension between them palpable in the Force. Tahiri and Kyp were alternating darting in and out to block Lomi's strikes and administer their own. They all seemed to be fairing okay, so Jaina turned her attention back to Raynar, bringing her blade up to parry before she even registered his attack.

Their blades crashed with a loud hiss, and for a moment they held the pose, blades crossed, eyes locked.

And then they were moving, lightsabers flashing in a frenzy of parries, strikes and cuts. Red and violet blurred around them, until all Jaina could see was Raynar and his blood red lightsaber. Everything else faded from her mind, and she felt the whispers of the Force, telling her what she had to do, what had to be done.

Their blades clashed, and Jaina feinted left, then stepped back and withdrew, Raynar's momentum sending him stumbling. He glared up at her, surprise in his wild eyes.

"I won't fight you, Raynar," Jaina said quietly.

"You will when your life depends on it," Raynar snarled, starting towards her.

Jaina held out a hand and sent him stumbling backwards with the Force. "No," she said firmly. "I will not fight you."

She flicked off her lightsaber and tossed it aside.

Kyp's alarm shot through their Force bond like a groundquake. Jaina felt his acute terror, his anger, and, more intensely, his urge to defend her. Don't, she ordered him. I have to do this on my own.

She felt him probe her gently, and, when he finally caught on to her plan, she felt his weary resignation. He didn't like it, but now that he knew she wasn't going to let Raynar kill her, he was calmer, at least.

But not by much.

Zekk and Tahiri, who weren't connected to Jaina the way Kyp was, didn't notice the standoff taking place at the edge of the rocky ravine.

Raynar's dark gaze flickered, hesitation in his eyes. "I will kill you, Jaina. This isn't a game. You can't fix me like you fixed Zekk."

"I know," Jaina said softly, and she did. She had saved Zekk from darkness by putting her life in his hands, by playing on his love for her. But Raynar was not Zekk, and Jaina wasn't the girl she had been back then anymore.

And her life wasn't in Raynar's hands.

It only seemed that way.

Raynar scowled. "Then you are a fool." His eyes flickered again, and Jaina saw him hesitate. "It doesn't have to be this way, Jaina. You've been to the dark side. You know the power. You could join me. We could beat the Yuuzhan Vong, together."

"Fight darkness with darkness?" Jaina asked wearily.

"You are the granddaughter of Darth Vader," Raynar insisted. "This is your legacy."

"No," Jaina said, with a small, sad smile. "My legacy is that of Anakin Skywalker, not Darth Vader."

"Then I'll give you to him," Raynar said coldly, extending his hand and letting black energy crackle at his fingertips. His black gloved fingers formed a claw and he snarled at Jaina.

Jaina closed her eyes, letting the Force flow through her and around her, breathing it and living it.

Raynar unleashed the deadly lightning.

It hit Jaina's palm and bounced aside.

Raynar's eyes went wide in shock. Scowling, he poured forth more Force lightning, but Jaina continued to turn it away. At the same time, she reached out with the Force and plunged into Raynar's memory, feeling guilty for the invasion, but knowing it was necessary.

She pulled up images of their life at the Academy. Of their adventures against Black Sun and the Diversity Alliance, of the party they had thrown for him on his birthday, of happy times with friends and the knowledge that they loved him.

Realization crept into Raynar's eyes, and Jaina did not imagine the horror she saw at what he had been trying to do.

"Come back to the light, Raynar," Jaina said softly, extending her hand towards him.

He hesitated, looking confused and torn.

"It's alright," she promised him. "We'll figure this all out. I promise."

Hesitantly, Raynar turned off his lightsaber and let if fall to the ground at his feet. He looked at Jaina, his face pale and his eyes wide. "Jaina," he rasped. "I didn't mean..." he swallowed and Jaina saw tears welling up in his eyes. "Can you... I didn't..."

Jaina smiled gently and opened her mouth to reply-

"VONG!" her brother's voice spliced the air, carried to them by the Force.

All fighting stopped, and Jaina, Raynar, Welk, Zekk, Lomi, Kyp and Tahiri all turned to see the other half of the strike team sprinting towards them.

Right behind them was a swarm of Yuuzhan Vong warriors.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jacen Solo sprinted towards his sister. "Are you alright?" he yelled to her.

She nodded. "What happened?"

He grimaced. "Don't ask!" He glanced wearily at the Dark Jedi, then at Raynar, who looked like he was about to fall apart. He turned to face Lomi, swallowing back his doubt. "Look, we don't like you, you don't like us, when this is over we'll go back to trying to stop you and you'll go back to trying to kill us, but for now we have a common foe."

Lomi studied him with dark eyes. "Are you proposing another alliance, Solo?"

Jacen nodded. "For now. If we all want to survive, we have to work together for now."

"Last time we worked with them they betrayed us," Zekk pointed out gruffly.

"We don't have much of a choice, Zekk," Kyp said. He looked at Lomi. "All we ask is that you don't try anything on any of us while we've got our backs turned."

Lomi nodded, her eyes grim. "That is fair. I trust you will not attack us either."

"Deal," Jaina said, calling her lightsaber back into her hand.

"They're going to use the dark side!" Zekk cried. "We can't allow them to do that."

"They have a right to defend themselves," Jaina snapped. "And we don't have time to worry about that now, Zekk. They're going to use the dark side regardless of what we say. I prefer that we don't have to worry about them striking us down during the fight!"

Zekk looked to Jacen, as if waiting for him to argue with Jaina, but Jacen only ignited his lightsaber. There wasn't time for arguing.

Immediately lightsabers all around him turned on, and the Jedi stood together, blades raised high, facing their enemy.

Jaina called a black handled lightsaber into her left hand and held it out to Raynar. The boy hesitated, swallowing hard, and Jaina slapped it into his palm hard. "You want to repent?" she demanded. "Then you have to survive long enough to do it."

Raynar looked from Jaina to Jacen, and Jacen nodded for him to ignite the lightsabers.

Holding a blood red blade, Raynar moved to stand beside Jaina, and Jacen couldn't help but worry about where his loyalties lied. If he was still with the Dark Jedi, when this was all over they would have a big problem.

But right then they had an even bigger one.

The Yuuzhan Vong entered the ravine and snarled at them. "You are captured now, Jeedai Solo," Nom Anor snarled.

Jaina's eyes narrowed. "Nom Anor," she hissed.

Nom Anor looked at Jaina and something resembling fear flickered in his eyes. "Jaina Solo," he sneered. "The warmaster will be very pleased when I bring in both Jeedai twins."

Tahiri spat out an insult in Yuuzhan Vong, something along the lines of what the warmaster would think of him after she dismembered him, and Nom Anor's eyes flashed.

"Capture the twins," he ordered. "Kill the others."

Yuuzhan Vong warriors swarmed forward, and Jaina, Tahiri and Kyp rushed forward, launching themselves fully into the battle.

Jacen was determined to keep an eye on his sister, as much as possible at least, and he gave a telepathic order for the others to join the fight, then he threw himself at the nearest Yuuzhan Vong, parrying the amphistaff's wild strikes, the sounds of staffs clashing against lightsabers haunting the air.

He surrendered himself completely to the Force, reaching out with the skills Vergere had instructed him in to sense the Vong around him. He was barely aware of his actions as he ducked, rolled, twisted, parried and thrust. He was barely aware of the amphistaffs rushing at his head, or the thud bugs being hurled at him, they were of little concern. He was deflecting them without even thinking about it.

Through the battle meld he wove around them, he was aware of the other Jedi fighting furiously alongside him. He darted in and out, attacking, defending, blocking blows aimed for his friends, and they did the same for him. The battle meld fused them together, letting them fight as one.

A flash of blue swept past him and Tahiri struck down the Vong who had been poised to attack him. She drove her blade through his chestplate, and rolled out of the way of an amphistaff aimed at her head. She came up under Jacen's blade and sliced open his attacker from hip to hip.

Jacen flipped over her head, coming down feet first on the back of one of the Vong warriors. He drove his blade down through the back of his neck, then pushed off and leapt towards the next one.

Streaks of white and purple were blazing across the sky somewhere off to his left, and he knew Kyp and Jaina had taken the battle meld one step further and had sunken into their Force bond. They worked side by side, moving in a pattern identical and yet each with their own style.

Jacen reached out to Tenel Ka through the Force, felt her intertwine with him, and he didn't need to ask her to join with him. She was already at his side and her blade was moving in time with his, thoughts whirling so fast between them that they were just a blur of feelings.

The Jedi were fairing well, but Jacen could sense reinforcements on the way. He reached out to check, and grimaced. Too many, he thought.

He wished Vergere was there. If she had been he could have linked with her to amplify his Force abilities against the Vong.

As soon as that thought occurred to him, another one followed, Vergere's words calling to him through the Force. You and your sister. You twins are the key.

Could he link with Jaina like he had Vergere? It seemed plausible, given their twin bond. Glancing up at the rocky slope ahead where more Vong were pouring their way into the ravine, he decided it was worth a shot.

Jaina! he cried. Join with me!

She responded instantly, her presence enveloping his. He drew on her strength in the Force, let her draw on his, and gave her a simple telepathic order to shove.

She complied without question and he felt her reach and push at the front line of Yuuzhan Vong. They went flying back into the wall of the ravine and the Jedi jerked up their heads to stare in shock at Jaina.

Jacen extended his hand, leaning into his sister to brace himself, and sent the next row through the air to slam into the jagged rocks. He took a deep breath, drawing his energy to focus, re-aimed, and fired. He was aware of Jaina doing the same, and then, as if someone had placed a weight on his shoulders, some of his strength ebbed.

He glanced up to see Kyp Durron wave a hand, heaving a group of Vong across the ravine. Jaina joined with him, too, Jacen realized, and suddenly an idea came to him. Reaching out to the battle meld, he wove the others into his bond with Jaina, and though he grew weaker, the others were now joining in, hurling the Vong away from them.

Lomi, Raynar and Welk stared in shock and disbelief, as, one by one, the Vong were knocked unconscious by the team of Jedi.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Raynar stared in disbelief as the Jedi repelled the Vong with the Force, working together through the battle meld. He knew that was what it was, for he had been part of the meld on Myrkyr and he recognized a battle meld when he saw one.

Jacen Solo and Tenel Ka had joined hands and were standing with their feet planted firmly, free hands outstretched toward the Vong. Tesar and Alema were with them, and Ganner Rhysode was off to the side, both hands out in front of him, his face twisted in concentration.

On the other side of the ravine, Jaina Solo- Jaina Solo Fel- had her fingers resting on her temple, her other hand extended toward the Yuuzhan Vong. Kyp Durron stood beside her, hands spread wide, his brow furrowed intently. Zekk and Tahiri were on either side of them, waving their hands as they telekinetically hurled the Vong across the rocks.

"The schism!" Jaina yelled. "Knock them back into the lava schism!"

Raynar watched in horrified fascination as the Vong were pushed back across the rocky terrain until they tumbled over the cracks and fell into the scalding hot magma below.

Only one Yuuzhan Vong remained, and Raynar felt a wave of hatred well up inside of him at the sight of Nom Anor. He clenched his fist tighter around his lightsaber, taking a step towards him.

But Jaina moved past him, stalking towards Nom Anor like a Tuskan wildcat. The air seemed to ripple around her and for the first time since he had come to Ryloth, Raynar found the intense heat sweltering. He had used the dark side to keep himself cool until now, but his concentration had faltered and now he was broiling, his mouth dry and his skin blistering.

Memories of crawling through the rocky desert with Jaina filled his head. Images of her defending him from the Diversity Alliance soldiers with her lightsaber, while he used his TK to hurl rocks at them. They had nearly died of heat exhaustion that day.

Raynar wondered for a moment if Jaina hated this planet as much as he did.

"You poisoned Aunt Mara," Jaina said, her voice colder than Hoth. "You led the team that killed my brother."

"Jaina," Jacen warned in a quiet voice.

Jaina glared at Nom Anor. "I'm afraid that you won't be able to sacrifice me to your gods, Nom Anor," she sneered. "But you'll be able to explain your failure to them yourself."

Not even bothering to use the Force, Jaina shoved him backwards with her hands, and he stumbled, limbs flailing, before falling down into the river of lava.

Silence fell over the group, and Raynar watched the Jedi curiously. They were all watching Jaina, some calmly, some with indifference, but Jacen had a frown on his face.

Jaina turned and saw his face and raised her eyebrow. "What?" she demanded. "That wasn't the dark side."

"She has you there, you know," Kyp replied with a wry chuckle.

"We could have taken him back as a hostage," Jacen said, but there wasn't necessarily disapproval in his tone.

"And take the chance that he escaped and captured you two?" Kyp retorted. "I think not."

Jacen shot Jaina a small, dry smile. "Aunt Mara is going to be disappointed. She's been waiting for the chance to do that for ages."

Tahiri smiled coolly. "The Force is with Mara Jade. First Viqi Shesh, now Nom Anor. I think the rest of her enemies better watch their backs."

Raynar watched his friends- were they still his friends?- talk to one another, but his mind focused on the whispering going on behind him.

"...take...Solo..."

"...two...three..."


Before anyone could react, Lomi and Welk struck, leaping at the Solo twins with mercurial speed, their lightsabers flashing down at the twins.

For Raynar everything moved in slow motion. Kyp cried out a warning, reaching for his lightsaber. Tenel Ka and Tesar moved to intercept the attack. Tahiri yelled, breaking into a run towards Jaina, Alema howling in outrage at her heels. Ganner lifted a cluster of rocks to telekinetically hurl at the Dark Jedi.

But it was all too slow, too late.

Raynar lunged, his blade leaping to life in his hand, and flipped through the air to land in front of Jaina. He brought his lightsaber around hard, and with a quick slash, Lomi was stopped, gapping down at the wound across her stomach before sliding to the ground.

Raynar spun, desperate to stop Welk from killing Jacen, but he was too far away and Welk was moving too fast.

And then Zekk was there, diving between Jacen and Welk, his orange blade driving into Welk's chest. Welk fell, gasping to the floor. He tried to form Force lightning to throw at Zekk, but he was too weak, and his eyes fell closed as he collapsed.

For a long moment there was silence.Raynar's vision flashed in his mind again. At least I made my choice, he thought. And I made the right one this time.

Everyone looked at Raynar, not certain what to say or what to do.

Everyone except for Jaina.

She rushed forward and threw her arms around him in a tight embrace. Raynar was surprised, and embarrassed, but he returned the hug after a moment's hesitation. Jaina stepped back and grinned up at him and Raynar realized for the first time how small she really was.

"I told you that you could beat the dark side," she said softly. She leaned onto her toes to kiss his cheek. "Thank you for saving my life."

Raynar looked at her, so much he wanted to say. How could he ask for her forgiveness? How could he explain what he had done? Why he had been so weak? How could she ever understand?

"Don't worry," Jaina said with a smile. "I've been through this. So have Kyp and Zekk. We'll help you figure everything out." She squeezed his arm. "Everything will be okay, I promise."

Raynar could only stare down at her, his voice caught in his throat. He had tried to kill her and she was willing to help him? She wanted to help him?

"Of course I do," Jaina replied. "I'm your friend."

"We all are," Jacen called, and Raynar looked up to see the others watching him with completely open trust. He felt tears well up in his eyes again, and his knees felt weak. He thought he was going to collapse when Jaina's slender arms encircled his waist.

She grinned up at him. "You have no idea how glad I am to see you, by the way," she said with a laugh. "I wasn't sure I could survive this planet without you."

Her comment drew a weak smile, and from the twinkle in her eyes he knew that had been her intent. "I feel like a nerf sausage on a hot plate," he said hoarsely.

Jaina grinned up at him. "Don't you just hate this planet?"

Raynar smiled down at her. "Yes. I really, really do."

"Can we go home now?" Kyp asked loudly.

Jaina laughed. "I'd like nothing better."

"I just want off this Sithspawned planet!" Jacen replied.

Raynar smiled faintly. "I can't believe you came back willingly."

"We couldn't very well leave you here, could we?" Jaina asked, and Raynar looked away, ashamed that he had caused his friends so much pain. An uncomfortable silence hung over them, and Raynar shifted nervously.

"Hey," Jacen said, grinning broadly. "Which side of a Wampa is the furriest?"

For a minute everyone stared at him in surprise, then the Jedi who had been at the Academy together burst out laughing. They didn't stop laughing until well after Lowie had picked them up in the Shadow.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jaina Solo Fel stood on the balcony of the room she shared with her husband Jag, gazing out at the lapping turquoise ocean below. The sun was playing across the Mon Calamari waters, rays of light glistening on the rolling surface.

She had been back on Mon Calamari just long enough to come out of her last attempt at a healing trance and give her uncle a report, then return to her room. She had requested that no one tell Jag she was home yet, because she wanted to see his face when he discovered her waiting in their room. She knew that none of the other strike team members would be seen by Jag, because they had all gone immediately to their rooms to catch up on some much needed sleep.

Now, though, as she glanced at her holowatch again, Jaina was beginning to think she should have had Wedge notify Jag that she was back. She didn't know how much longer she could wait to see him.

Just as she let out a sigh, she felt his presence drawing near their door, his crisp stride contradicting to the weariness she sensed in him. He was ready to kick off his boots and go to sleep, and he was wishing terribly that she could be there to fall asleep in his arms.

Surprise, surprise, Jaina thought with a small smile. She took a step into the shadows, concealing herself along the wall. This should be fun.

The door slid open, and Jaina heard Jag's footsteps enter their room. In her mind, she could see him walking towards the bed with tired footsteps. He dropped down on the soft mattress with an exhausted sigh, and Jaina silently counted the seconds it would take him to notice.

She felt a wave of surprise as he spotted her lightsaber on the table, and his elation as he realized that if it was here then so was she. He jumped to his feet and moved towards the door to the refresher.

Jaina stepped into the room, and even though he could not use the Force, he felt her presence. He turned and his pale green eyes lit up when they saw her.

"Jaina!" he cried, rushing to envelope her in his arms. he held her close to him, smelling her hair and just breathing her in. Jaina allowed herself to relax in his arms, feeling safe at last. After a long moment, Jag lifted her chin and brought his lips to hers, kissing her desperately.

Jaina's lips burned, the cracks from the sun stretching to an agonizing limit, but she didn't care. She returned the kiss hungrily, ignoring the pain that flared up in her face when his hands caressed her cheek.

She must have winced, though, because Jag pulled back, a concerned look on his face. She saw his eyes widen as he looked at her, really looked at her, for the first time. Although she had spent time in a healing trance on the trip back to Mon Calamari, Jaina had been weak from the Force lightning attack she sustained, and her healing trance had not worked as well as it should have.

Her skin was flushed a tender red, her lips chapped and cracking, her eyes red-rimmed and her face scratched and bruised from fighting the Yuuzhan Vong. And the Force lighting attack had left her considerably weak, her skin pale and clammy and her eyes glossy. She was pretty sure that one of the times she tried a healing trance she had blacked out instead.

"What happened to you?" Jag whispered, his fingers caressing her cheek lightly.

"What didn't happen to me would probably be a better question," Jaina replied with a weak smile. "Ryloth is not a nice planet. The burns and blisters are from days trekking the Bright Lands. The bruises and scrapes are from Yuuzhan Vong problems."

Jag drew a sharp breath, and Jaina realized that he had been fearful of such an attack. She was grateful that Jag had not been there. She didn't think he would like to see the kind of fighting she was usually involved in.

"And why do you look like you're about to pass out?" Jag asked softly.

"You noticed that, huh?" Jaina asked softly.

"How could I not?" Jag replied. "You're as fragile as a skeleton leaf."

Jaina sighed. "We had a fight with the Dark Jedi. I got hit by some Force lightning, that's all."

Jag glared at her. "That's all, huh? That sounds pretty serious to me."

Jaina shrugged. "I'm alive aren't I?"

Jag frowned, studying her, and Jaina realized she must look words than she thought. "Barely," Jag replied. "Have you gone to the med bay yet?"

Jaina shook her head. "No. I'm just going to go into a healing trance." If that works this time, she added silently.

"Then why haven't you done that yet?" Jag asked suspiciously.

Even though she knew he was Force blind, sometimes Jaina wondered about her husband. "I was feeling sick on the ship," she confessed. "I tried a few trances, but I was too weak to focus."

"Why didn't you have Kyp give you a boost?" Jag asked.

Jaina groaned. "I didn't want to worry him." Seeing the look in Jag's eyes, she added, "He would have insisted on taking me to Cilghal, and that's not necessary. Cilghal's needed to attend to Raynar." Eager to change the subject, she smiled, "We brought him back, you know. And not just to Mon Calamari. To the light."

"Good," Jag said, kissing her hair. "I'm glad he's alright." He raised an eyebrow. "Now how are you? Really? Because if I think you're keeping something from me, I'll get your uncle to come check you out so I can have peace of mind."

Jaina found his concern endearing and annoying at the same time. "I'm just tired," she replied. "I need to get some rest."

Jag nodded. "Yes, you do."

Jaina took him by the hand and pulled him back to the bed. She sat down and bent over to untie her boots, but Jag was already there, doing it for her. She smiled at him gratefully, then laid back against the pillows.

Jag kicked off his own boots and crawled onto he bed to lay next to her. She rested her head on his shoulder, snuggling into his embrace. "I think I can manage a trance if you stay with me," she said. "Your presence is soothing."

"I'm not going anywhere," Jag promised, kissing her cheek gently.

Jaina pressed her cheek to his chest. "I love you, Jag," she whispered.

"I love you, too, Jaina," he whispered back, stroking her hair.

She slid into darkness, his thin fingers running through her hair, and she let the warm, peaceful oblivion of sleep take her.

And, for the first time in over a month, she slept the entire night through.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Raynar Thul looked up at the knock on his door.

"Come in," he said flatly.

The door slid open and Jaina Solo Fel walked in, dressed in a green flightsuit and looking much better than she had the night before. Her dark hair was pulled back into a thick braid, and a bright smile lit her face. "Hi," she said. "How are you feeling?"

Raynar shrugged. "The healing trance helped."

Jaina gave him a lopsided smile. "I'm glad, but that's not what I meant." She sat down next to him in one of the hoverchairs. "I meant how are you feeling?"

Raynar looked down, uncomfortable. "Not so good."

Jaina put a hand on his knee. "I know," she said softly. "It's not an easy thing to deal with, and everyone keeps trying to help you, but they don't really know what it's like."

Raynar nodded dully. "They haven't been to the dark side. It's hard trying to make them understand. Jacen keeps saying that I saved you, that I made my choice and it's done with, but it's not that simple."

Jaina nodded. "No, it's not." She gave him a weak smile. "Kinda feels like the only people who know what you're going through are the people who have been to the dark side, too, huh?"

"Yes," Raynar agreed. "It does."

"Have you talked to Uncle Luke yet?" Jaina asked.

Raynar shook his head. "I've been putting it off. I feel too ashamed to face him right now. I let him down."

"Everyone makes mistakes," Jaina pointed out. "Even Uncle Luke. He fell to the dark side for a while, too, remember. He knows what it's like."

Raynar bit his lip. He didn't think that anyone else, even Jaina or Master Skywalker, could understand his situation. When he had first come to as Lomi and Welk's prisoner, he had fought against the dark side, he really had, but as the months went by and the Yuuzhan Vong killed more of the Jedi, like they had Lusa and Eryl, Raynar lost his will. The anger and hatred he felt over losing Lusa, and Eryl, of course, had been pushed to its breaking point.

You should have been stronger, he told himself. You shouldn't have been so weak.

"The real test of weakness is what you do now," Jaina said softly. "You have two roads in front of you, Raynar. You must decide which one to take. The path back to the light is long and hard, but you are strong enough to make it."

"I'm not so sure about that," Raynar muttered. "I wasn't strong enough to resist the dark side in the first place, was I? How am I going to be able to resist the temptation to use it again? Now that I know that kind of dark power?"

"I wasn't strong enough to resist, either," Jaina replied quietly, drawing his gaze. "And neither was Zekk. I know you remember how hard it was for him. He felt like he couldn't stay with the Jedi and went off to be a bounty hunter before he came back." She gave him a small smile. "I certainly hope that's not what you want to do."

Raynar shook his head. "No, it's not. I want to stay and work with Master Skywalker. The Yuuzhan Vong are a threat, and I want to help the Jedi fight them." He glanced at her uneasily. "That is, if you all will have me?"

Jaina squeezed his hand. "You know we will. And there are plenty of Jedi you can talk to about this stuff. Zekk, me, Uncle Luke, Aunt Mara." She grinned. "You could even talk to Kyp."

"I'm not that depressed," Raynar said with a weak smile. He eyed her curiously. He had noticed the closeness between Jaina and the older Jedi Master on Ryloth, and wasn't quite sure what to make of it. "So were you that depressed?"

Jaina smiled. "Not exactly. Kyp helped me turn back to the light. He's been my support through it all, and he's understood me perfectly, even when I didn't understand myself."

"You two seem ... close," Raynar observed.

Jaina shrugged. "We are. He's my partner, whatever that means. We're not in love, but there's something just as strong and powerful between us, even if we don't really know why that is."

Like Master Skywalker and Master Jade Skywalker's bond, except without being in love and married, Raynar mused.

"What does Jag think about that?" Raynar asked curiously. "I think that if my wife was that close to another man, even a Jedi, I'd be a little uncomfortable with it."

Jaina nodded, biting her lip. "I'm sure part of him is, but he understands that there isn't anything going on with me and Kyp. We're just friends. Close friends."

Raynar smiled. "Jag sounds like a very understanding guy," he noted. His smile widened at the way Jaina's dark eyes brightened at the mention of her husband.

"He is," Jaina agreed. "He's the best thing that ever happened to me."

Raynar grinned at her. "Do I get to meet this best thing that ever happened to you, or is he too busy with all that bowing he has to do to you, Goddess?"

Jaina groaned. "Kyp told you about that, didn't he? I'm going to kill him."

Raynar laughed. "He was instructing me on how to bow with just the right amount of disrespect."

"Why that little-" Jaina smiled wickedly. "Come on," she said, standing up and grabbing him by the hand.

"Where are we going?" Raynar asked as she dragged him towards the door.

"To find Durron," Jaina replied. "He and Jag were going to play sabaac. We're going to even up the score for Jag, a little."

"we're going to use the Force to cheat at sabaac?" Raynar asked with a laugh.

Jaina smiled. "I'll split whatever Kyp loses to Jag with you."

Raynar grinned. "Keep the money. I just want to see Kyp's face when a Jedi actually loses at sabaac."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"This was a great idea, Goddess," Sharr Latt called from his perch on the sand dune. He was laying on his back, head resting on his arms.

"I'm inclined to agree," Jag said. "Although I still don't know how you talked General Antilles into this."

Jaina grinned. "I'm a Goddess, remember? I have benefits."

The twelve pilots of Twin Suns Squadron were lounging on the sandy beach outside the base, soaking up the sun and enjoying some much needed relaxation. Jaina was still feeling a little tired after the Ryloth mission, so she had convinced Wedge to give her and her squadron twenty-four hour leave.

She had woken them all up and announced that instead of flying evasive maneuvers, they were going to spend the day on the beach, General Antilles' orders.

She had never seen so her squadron look more shocked.

"I don't know, she probably pulled rank on him," Kyp laughed from her other side. "What do you think, Jag?"

Jaina was stretched out between the two of them, laying on a lightweight blanket that Iella Wessiri had given them to use, dressed in a simple white slip dress. She felt like she was on vacation, but most of all she felt at peace.

"More likely she played on his sympathy for the injuries you both sustained on Ryloth," Jag replied with a smirk.

Jaina smacked him playfully. "Hey, I can still send you to General Antilles, you know. I'm sure he'd like to hear about the little sabaac game you and Kyp played this morning."

"Tell him," Kyp called.

Jag snorted. "You wouldn't want her to if you'd won."

"You only won because your wife cheated for you," Kyp replied.

"Like you didn't cheat?" Jaina demanded with a laugh. "I saw those illegal Force peeks you took."

"I'm a Jedi, I don't peek," Kyp retorted with a grin. "I observe."

Jaina rolled her eyes, but she couldn't help smiling. She closed her eye and laid back, listening to the rolling sound of the waves crashing on the rocks, feeling the wind rustle through her hair. She hadn't had time to relax and really enjoy herself since the start of the war. She hadn't thought that she ever could enjoy herself again after Anakin's death.

She smiled to herself. It's nice, being here, enjoying the sun and enjoying my friends. It was even nicer being there with Kyp and Jag, the two people that she loved to be with the most.

"We enjoy your company, too, Your Greatness," Kyp called.

"Awww," Sharr drawled. "I told you Her Greatness loved me."

Jaina laughed to herself. The squadron had gotten used to Kyp and Jaina reading one another's thoughts. They were no longer surprised by the seemingly spontaneous comments.

"How about it, Goddess?" Sharr called. "Want to ditch that Flyboy husband of your and run away with me?"

Jag rolled his eyes, and Jaina was pleased that such comments made in jest didn't bother him. "You forgot Prettyboy, Latt," Kyp said.

Jaina laughed. "And egotistical."

Jag shot her a mock look of betrayal. "What happened to all that talk about loving and honoring me, hmm?"

Jaina winked at him. "Sorry, Latt," she called to Sharr. "I think I'm going to stick with the egotistical, prettyboy Flyboy. I like his uncle."

"Is that why you married me?" Jag asked, his eyes twinkling with amusement. "To bring my uncle into the family?"

Jaina plastered on a look of surprise. "Well, yeah, didn't you know that? I could have sworn Kyp put that in there somewhere at the wedding..."

Jag opened his mouth to reply, but she cut him off by leaning over him and kissing him soundly on the lips. He smiled up at her. "Trying to shut me up, huh?" he asked. "You'll have to do better than that."

Jaina kissed him again, feeling his fingers running through her hair. She closed her eyes, savoring her husband's kiss and the feel of his hand on her cheek. She gave a deep, content sigh.

"How come whenever she wants to shut me up she knocks me over with the Force?" Sharr complained.

Jaina broke away with Jag, sending him an apologetic look, then turned to grin at Sharr. "Would you prefer I knock you out with the Force?"

Sharr pretended to consider that for a minute, then shook his head. "No. I'll settle for the shoving."

"You should be honored Her Greatness deems you worthy of being shoved," Piggy snickered.

Kyp snorted. "And I suppose I should feel honored to get to lug around her luggage?"

"Well, you are her man servant," Jag replied wickedly.

"Now how the Sith did I get stuck with that job, again?" Kyp asked wryly. "Oh, yeah, you volunteered me. Thanks, Fel."

"Better you than me," Jag replied. "Besides, you only have to carry her belongings. I have to pay for her belongings."

"Hey," Jaina thumped him gently. "I haven't exactly gone shopping, you know."

"That's only because there's a war going on," Kyp called. "All the stores are closed." He turned to Jag. "And at least you never had to baby-sit her. She and her brothers were horrible little monsters."

"Hey!" Jaina protested. "We weren't that bad!"

Kyp raised an eyebrow. "I seem to recall Jacen being caught nearly cutting his arm off with your uncle's lightsaber."

"Okay, so Jacen was a little wild," Jaina allowed. "But I wasn't a monster."

"No," Kyp agreed. "Jacen caused blatant trouble, you and Anakin were much more discreet and subtle." A wicked gleam crept into his eyes. "I remember Han telling me about the time you reprogrammed your alarm to Zekk's voice and-"

"Durron, I'm warning you!" Jaina cried.

Kyp grinned. "And then there was the time that you and Anakin tried to take apart Threepio and when you couldn't get him to turn off you-"

"Kyp!" Jaina shrieked, siting up. "I'm going to kill you."

"Oooh, and let's not forget the time that you-"

Reaching out with the Force, Jaina scooped up a heap of sand and dumped it on his head. Kyp cried out in surprise and jumped to his feet, wildly shaking sand out of his clothes. He glared at Jaina, a mischievous gleam in his eyes.

"This means war, Solo," he warned, reaching out with the Force to hurl some sand back at her. She shrieked, sand catching her in the face, then pushed to her feet and extended her hands.

"Oh, you are so dead, Durron," she cried, laughing. The wind began to pick up and a small sandstorm began to form in front of her.

Seeing what she intended to do, Kyp hurriedly began to make his own sand funnel. "Then I'm taking you down with me, Jaina," he called with a laugh.

Jag, realizing what was about to happen, jumped to his feet and began to run for cover. The other pilots hurriedly scrambled to their feet and began to follow him.

Jaina and Kyp's sand storms hit one another, sending sand flying. It rained down on the pilots, coating them in a thick layer of grime. Jag dusted himself off, coughing, and glared at his wife and Kyp.

Neither of them had a speck of dirt on them.

"Force field," Kyp grinned.

"I hate Jedi," Sharr moaned.

Several of the pilots muttered in lighthearted agreement, but Jag only smiled.

Jaina was laughing and smiling, playfully kicking sand towards Kyp.

Jag hadn't seen her look so happy in a long time.

"Oh, I don't know," he said to Sharr, watching Jaina and Kyp laugh. "I'm kind of fond of them."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"You wanted to see me, sir?"

Wedge looked up to see Jaina Solo Fel standing in the doorway of his office, her white slip covered in dirt and sand in her hair. Wedge stifled a laugh. "You have sand in your hair," he told her.

Jaina reached a hand to shake out her hair, her cheeks red.

"What happened to you?" Wedge asked with a smile.

"Kyp Durron happened to me," Jaina replied, grinning. "But you should see him."

Wedge chuckled. "Children these days." He gestured for her to sit, then stopped, realizing she would get sand on his hoverchair.

Jaina noticed and laughed. "I can stand."

"Thank you," Wedge replied. "Have you looked over the data I gave you a few weeks ago on Tsavong Lah's worldship?"

Jaina nodded. "Some. Piggy and Sharr have, too. They think that the information we have is useable."

Wedge nodded. "So do I. The only question is how do we use it? Hitting just one of the weak spots won't cause enough damage, and hitting them one at a time will take too long. What we need is a way to hit all of them at once."

"Causing a chain reaction that would blow the worldship out of space," Jaina concluded. She bit her lip, a thoughtful look on her face. "I have an idea about that, but you might not like it."

"Try me," Wedge said.

"An all Jedi squadron would be able to spread out and stay in contact through the Force," Jaina replied. "Once everyone had their targets acquired, they could fire at precisely the same time." She gave him a weak smile. "It would still take alot of fancy flying, though, and it wouldn't work for anyone but Jedi."

"You have a plan laid out, don't you?" Wedge asked with a smile.

Jaina flashed him a Solo grin. "It just sort of came to me while I was meditating." Her face grew serious. "If we were to use the Shadow bombs and the Force, we can take down the worldship."

There was something she wasn't telling him about the plan, that much he knew, but Wedge had faith in her. It was a good plan, and Jaina was a good tactician. The confidence in her voice told him enough to know that she was certain her plan would work.

"Will you be leading this strike then?" Wedge asked.

Jaina's expression flickered, and he could see the conflicting emotions in her eyes. "I suspect that my uncle will want me to," she said finally.

Wedge nodded. "I think you're right. You're the best Jedi pilot we have, Jaina, save maybe Luke, and you're an excellent squadron commander. We could get Kyp to lead, but I don't think that's the best choice."

Jaina sighed. "You're right. If we're going to do this, I have to be the one to lead it."

"Think of it this way," Wedge suggested with a small smile. "If you succeed, the Vong will really begin to fear that you're Yun-Harla."

Jaina nodded. "They certainly will." She smiled faintly. "And I do want to vape Tsavong Lah. The Vong won't be too thrilled when I kill their warmaster."

"So you'll accept this assignment, then?" Wedge asked.

Jaina's eyes narrowed. "You and Uncle Luke already thought of this," she accused. "Didn't you?"

"Not the strike, no," Wedge replied. "But we had discussed forming a Jedi squadron for special missions, and we both felt like you would be the best choice to lead those missions."

Jaina bit her lip. "Jag's not going to like this at all."

Wedge gave her a sympathetic smile. "No, he probably won't. On the bright side, though, it means he'll get to command Twin Suns for a while."

Jaina nodded. "He'll have to find two more pilots to fill in for me and Kyp, then."

"I'll find him two of the best," Wedge promised. "Who knows? Maybe Wes will decide he's had enough of the Aces and agree to fly with Twin Suns."

Jaina laughed. "Now that would be entertaining. Jag trying to deal with Wes?"

Wedge grinned at the image of his disciplined nephew trying to get Wes Janson to shut up and follow orders. "It'll be good for them both," he said.

"I agree," Jaina said. She eyed Wedge carefully for a moment, then said, "I'm going to go see Uncle Luke, then find Kyp and tell him we're transferring to a new squadron. I'll start recruiting Jedi pilots as soon as Uncle Luke gives me the go ahead."

"Any idea who you'll ask?" Wedge inquired.

"Kyp, obviously," Jaina replied. "I was thinking about Corran..." She hesitated, looking at Wedge for approval to remove him from Rogue Squadron. Wedge nodded and she relaxed. "I think I'll find Saba Sebatyne and see if she'll lend me Tesar and some of her pilots, and Octa Ramis just got here, so I think she'll want to join."

"And any idea what you'll call this new squadron?" Wedge asked.

Jaina shook her head. "I was hoping you or Uncle Luke might have an idea," she admitted. "All I could think of was Trickster Squadron, but that would just cause confusion with me being referred to as the Trickster already."

Wedge nodded. "It would." He paused thoughtfully. What's the first thing you think of when you think of Jedi? he asked himself.

A grin lit his face. Jaina noticed and leaned forward eagerly. "What? You have an idea?"

Wedge told her his idea, and a smile lit her face.

"That'll do."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jag Fel stood beside his wife's X-wing, watching her perform her preflight checks. He had already checked over her fighter himself, just to be sure it was alright, but he let her do her own inspection, knowing she wouldn't fly unless she did it herself.

Besides, he thought. If there's something wrong that you missed, she'll catch it.

When she was finished, she smiled down at him and jumped out of the cockpit, landing with a nimble grace that Jag admired and envied. "I don't need to tell you to be careful," he said. "But I'm going to anyway."

Jaina smiled, but it seemed forced to him. "I will. You just worry about keeping yourself in one piece, okay? I'm not going to be very happy if I come back to find you got yourself turned into space dust."

Jag smiled, but it felt fake and he was certain that she knew it was. "I am always careful. It's you we worry about."

Her smile eased a little. "I'll be careful," she promised.

Jag nodded. "I know you will." He studied her for a moment, tracing the lines and curves of her face with his eyes. She was beautiful, even with no make up and wearing a simple brown flightsuit. Her skin was back to the rich creamy hue it should be, after several hours in a healing trance to erase the scars of Ryloth, and her cheek bones were tinged with a hint of red from the heat.

She looked him in the eye, unspoken fears and worries flowing to the surface. Her dark eyes were faded, without the usual bright sparkle that he adored, and filled with a pain he suspected was mirrored in his own eyes.

She wasn't worried about herself, only him, only always him. It was one of the hundreds of tiny things he loved about her. He wanted to tell her that, wanted to tell her that he didn't want her to go. He wanted to tell her how desperately he missed her already, though she wasn't even gone, and how terrifyingly painful it was to be away from her. He wanted to tell her how scared he was he would lose her, how such thoughts plagued his sleep and haunted his dreams. He wanted to tell her that he needed her to come back, or he couldn't go on.

But he didn't, those words would only make it harder to say goodbye.

"I love you," he told her instead.

She smiled that smile, the one that made him weak in the knees. "I know," she said. "I love you, too, Jagged."

The use of his full name told him that she was feeling all of those things, too. That she was just as fearful that this might be the last time they were together.

He hugged her to him for a long moment, desperate to feel her against him, terrified he might never get to again. He tried to smother out that fear, but it was overpowering.

He leaned in and captured her lips in a deep, long kiss, willing all of his love and passion into that kiss, as if it might somehow keep her alive. He felt wetness hit his cheek and realized that she was crying. Only later would he realize that he was, too.

He pulled away, slamming a door on the anguish welling up in his chest so she would not feel it. He gave her a small smile, then stepped back so she could leap up into her X-wing. He watched her pull on her helmet and fire up the thrusters with a lump in his throat.

She turned her head and gave him a weak smile. Jag raised a gloved hand to his lips, and her smile seemed to brighten a little.

She looked down, listening to something for a long moment, then spoke into her comm-link, her voice echoing from the speaker on the wall. "Saber Squadron ready for take off."

"Take off approved, Saber Leader," the voice of Tycho Celchu replied. "May the Force be with you."

Jag's comm-link crackled and he lifted it to his ear. "I'll come back to you," Jaina said softly. "I promise."

Jag didn't reply. He couldn't find the strength to offer empty agreement or voice confidence that he didn't feel. Jaina understood, he knew that. She hadn't expected a reply.

So he stood there, watching her take off, watching her leave, and praying that it would not be for the last time. He stood that way until he could no longer see her X-wing, and then hung his head.

"It's difficult, isn't it?" his father's voice asked from behind him.

Jag didn't look up as his father moved to stand beside him. Soontir stared off into the sky, not looking at his son, although Jag knew that he wanted to.

"I remember back when your mother and I were first married," Soontir said evenly. "Everything was uncertain and she was in so much danger if anyone found out she was the sister of Wedge Antilles. We had a plan laid out in case she was discovered, and I was ready to abandon the Empire and my duty at the first sign of danger to your mother."

If only Jaina and I had that option, Jag mused. The Resistance needs us, and neither of us would ever consider running from the danger. And Jaina's a Jedi, this is her war more than anyone's. The Jedi are being hunted and killed, Jaina would be in danger anywhere.

"It was heartbreaking to leave on missions," Soontir confessed quietly, his eyes focused on the skyline intently. "Never knowing if the kiss we shared parting would be our last, never knowing if we would ever see one another again."

Jag looked at his father in surprise. He had always known that his parents loved each other, but his father had never discussed that love with him, or any of his siblings as far as he knew.

"I never feared for myself," Soontir admitted. "Only for her. I feared that while we were apart she would be discovered and killed. And I would be powerless to stop it." He glanced at Jag now, and he saw sympathy in his father's eyes. "That was my worst fear. That she would die and I would be powerless to stop it, forced to go on living without her."

Jag was stunned by his father's confession, and silence fell between them.

Soontir looked back at the horizon, in the direction in which Jaina's squadron had vanished. After a long moment, he said, "You chose a wonderful wife, Jagged. Beautiful and brave, determined and capable. I admire that."

"So do I," Jag said softly, his voice coming out weaker than he would have liked.

"It must be hard," Soontir commented. "To watch her throw herself at the Yuuzhan Vong over and over, and to not be able to help her."

"It is," Jag agreed. "Very."

Soontir clasped a hand on his son's shoulder. "I truly believe in Jaina's abilities, Jagged. I believe that she will be fine."

But you can't know for sure, Jag thought bitterly. No one can.

"I'm sure she'll be fine, Jagged," Soontir said softly, his tone gentler than Jag could ever remember hearing it. "She's a Jedi, and Jedi take care of themselves quite well."

Jag nodded. "i know."

Soontir smiled sadly. "Doesn't make it any easier, does it?"

"No," Jag replied. "No, it doesn't."

Soontir squeezed his son's shoulder again, then headed towards Wedge's office, leaving Jag alone to stare out at the dark night sky, thoughts and emotions welling up inside of him. Jaina's departure left him in a frenzied panic, his terror excruciating.

He hoped he got to see her again soon.

He hoped he saw her again period.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jaina's pain at being separated from her husband sang across their Force bond like a shout across water, making Kyp wince.

The other Jedi in the squadron didn't feel anything, because Jaina had her shields firmly in place, but her bond with Kyp was uncommonly strong, and she was unable to shut him out, nor did she want to.

Kyp reached out to give Jaina a soothing brush with the Force, which she clasped gratefully, allowing him to comfort some of her pain. It made Kyp glad that he could do that, take away some of the pain. Jaina was the closest thing to a family he had, and he hated to see her hurting. When she hurt, he hurt. It was that simple, really.

He reached out to make sure the others were doing alright. Some of them hadn't flown in very many combat missions against the Vong, while others were veteran pilots. He wasn't too concerned about Tesar Sebatyne or the other two Wild Knights pilots, Izal Waz and Wonetun. They had all seen aerial combat during the war.

I don't need to be concerned about Corran, at all, Kyp mused thankfully. As a veteran of Rogue Squadron, Corran had been flying with the Rogues while Kyp flew with Twin Suns, and had probably flown against the Vong more than Kyp had.

Octa Ramis had flown with Kyp before Hapes, and though he sensed that she was not thrilled to be doing it again, he had no doubts about her abilities.

Keyan Farlander had been working with Master Skywalker, training the younger Jedi pilots for fighter combats. Kyp was confident that he knew what he was doing, and Keyan was certain that the two pilots he had brought, young Jedi named Chane Margrey and Nianne Teratt, were capable of the job ahead of them.

Kyp had flown in the same battle over Coruscant with Tam Azur-Jamin, and he had seen first hand that the young man could fly an X-wing. When Luke had suggested the young pilot to Jaina, Kyp had encouraged her to accept. Tam was a nice addition to the squadron.

The only real concern Kyp had was for Zekk, and he wasn't entirely sure if his concern was biased or not. The young man was a decent fighter pilot, and he had flown against the Vong before, but Kyp was uneasy about his inexperience compared to the others. That and he felt like he was obligated to find the dark haired Jedi's presence frustrating, out of loyalty to Jag.

That and the kid just annoys you, Kyp thought to himself with a smirk.

Play nice, Jaina scolded lightly.

I didn't say anything, Kyp protested.

We're not the only Jedi here, you know, she retorted. Besides, you're way more annoying than Zekk will ever be.

Kyp chuckled, a smile gracing his lips. That Jaina, he thought. She's such a sweet girl.

The mental image of her sticking out her tongue at him filled his head, making him laugh even harder.

"What is going on back there, Renegade?" Corran's voice filtered over the comm-link.

"Nothing, CorSec," Kyp replied. "Just having a discussion with Goddess."

"Ah," Corran said knowingly. "Well, could you two keep it down back there? Some of us are trying to take a nap."

"Only those of us that are old," Jaina drawled.

Zekk snickered.

"Bounty Hunter, did you say something?" Corran asked sharply.

"No," Zekk replied.

"Yess," Tesar said. "He did. Thiss one believess he said that she was right."

"Thank you, Scales," Corran said, his voice cool. "Goddess, we don't really need twelve fighters, right? If I accidentally vape him it won't hurt our plans, will it?"

"Afraid so, CorSec," Jaina laughed. "How are you doing back there, Blackeye, Nightstar?"

Keyan's two trainees responded positively, and Kyp felt that they were secretly quite pleased to be flying with so many famous Jedi pilots. Corran Horn, Kyp Durron...

And Jaina, too, Kyp mused. Even though she doesn't realize it yet. They're proud to be flying under her command. She's already starting to leave her mark on the Jedi, and the Republic.

"How about you, Instructor?" Jaina asked.

"I'm fine, Goddess," Keyan Farlander replied. "Just relaxing and enjoying letting you kids bicker."

Jaina chuckled over the comm-link. "Like I said, you two are just old, and Kyp's gaining on you."

"Hey," Kyp said. "I resent that."

"And I resent you," Jaina shot back wryly. "What's your point?"

"She has you there, Renegade," Octa said, a cool smirk in her voice.

"Thank you, Mage," Kyp said. "I would never have noticed."

"You're welcome," Octa replied with icy sweetness.

"Is everything okay with you, Knight?" Jaina called. "You're awfully quiet."

"I am wondering if Master Skywalker knows what you people do on these strikes," Izal retorted sarcastically. "Isn't that what you were wondering, Sentry?"

Wonetun hissed lightly. "Do not bring me into this. I have heard the sharp side of the Goddess' tongue. I am not foolish enough to provoke it."

Kyp laughed. I like him, he thought.

Me, too, Jaina's grinning face filled his mind.

"So does Master Skywalker let you all act up like this, Junior?" Jaina asked Tam.

Tam snorted. "I don't believe you're letting them, Goddess. I believe it is just their irreversible nature to be so irritating."

Jaina laughed. "You're right, it is." She paused, and Kyp sensed a wicked thought creep into her head. "But I'll let you in on a little secret, Junior. No one, and I mean no one, is more irritating than Kyp Durron."

"Hey," Kyp protested. "I prefer the term tranquility challenged, thank you very much."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jacen Solo ran his fingers through the mane of red-gold hair before him, fingering the thick braids woven into Tenel Ka's hair.

"You seem tense," Tenel Ka observed, looking back at him over her shoulder, a worried set to her face. "Is it because of the Yuuzhan Vong ships spotted in orbit?'

"No," Jacen said, shaking his head. Although that definitely makes me feel worse. "I'm just worried about Jaina."

"Ah," Tenel Ka replied. "Aha. You fear for her safety during this strike that she is leading on the warmaster's worldship."

Jacen nodded silently, resting his chin on her shoulder. He slid his arms around her, drawing her back against his chest. "I worry about her all the time," he confessed. "But it;s worse when she's gone. I can't be there to keep her safe."

"But you can feel her," Tenel Ka replied gently. "Imagine how Jag must feel, not being able to do either."

Jacen bit his lips at the rebuttal. He did feel bad for Jag, his brother-in-law had been feeling the affects of Jaina's absence, and though Jag was busy with Twin Suns Squadron, Jacen sensed anxiousness in him. He's terrified that Jaina will be killed, Jacen thought with a sigh.

But Tenel Ka's remark had been more than just a rebuttal, it had been a reminder that she, too, must soon leave. She was the Queen Mother of the Hapes Consortium, and thought she trusted her father's ability to rule in her absence, Hapan law said that men could not rule. She would have to return soon, and she would have to do it without Jacen.

He wished that he could go with her, he had even toyed with the idea of asking Master Skywalker about sending him to Hapes to escort the Queen Mother home safely, but he knew his place was here. He was needed on Mon Calamari, with the other Jedi, ready to defend the provisional capitol of the Republic and its citizens.

And to use the new battle meld to fight the Vong, he added silently.

"I wish you didn't have to go," Jacen said softly.

"I wish that, as well," Tenel Ka replied. "But it is not so. We should not wish for things that can not be."

"What should we wish for then?" Jacen asked with a small smile.

"For the Yuuzhan Vong to realize their mistake and go back to where ever they came from," Tenel Ka said. "But since that will not happen, we should wish for some steam caf and nerf steak. I am famished."

Jacen blinked at her in surprise. Seeing the corners of her mouth twitch, he grinned. "I believe that was a joke, was it not?" he asked. "I'm having a good affect on you."

"From your point of view, at least," Tenel Ka replied with a smile. She stood and held out her hand to help him to his feet. "Let us return to the base and enjoy some dinner."

"The rations taste like cardboard," a voice warned and Jacen turned to see his brother-in-law walking towards them from the direction of the base. "I should know. It's all they feed us pilots."

Tenel Ka smiled at Jag. "Colonel Fel," she gave a slight nod of her head.

Jag executed a deep, flowing bow and Jacen found himself impressed with Jag's military finesse. "Queen Mother Tenel Ka," he said. "It is a pleasure to see you again."

"Tenel Ka will do fine, Colonel," Tenel Ka replied.

"Then I request that you address me as Jag," Jag smiled. "I am not here on military business." He glanced at Jacen. "I was hoping I could speak to you, Jacen, if that's alright."

Jacen wished that he could have waited until after Tenel Ka was gone, he wanted to spend as much time with her as he could before she left. Stop it, he told himself. His wife, your sister, is off on a daring strike that she might not survive, and you're worried about spending time with your girlfriend.

He felt ashamed for that and glanced at Tenel Ka. "Why don't you go ahead?" he asked her. "I'll meet you there when I'm done."

Tenel Ka nodded. "Of course." She gave Jag a warm smile, or warm for Tenel Ka anyway, then strolled off towards the base. Jacen watched her go, admiring her strong, quick stride, then turned back to Jag.

He was leaning against the coral reef wall, a troubled look on his face. Reaching out with the Force, Jacen sensed that he was worried about Jaina, but that was not the reason he had come.

"What can I do for you, Jag?" he asked.

"I would like for you to join Twin Suns Squadron," Jag replied.

Jacen's jaw dropped in surprise. "I'm not a fighter pilot," he said when he found his voice again.

"I know," Jag nodded grimly. "But Jaina spoke very highly of your piloting skills, and General Antilles and I have come up with a battle tactic to take out the Vong ships in orbit, but we need a Jedi pilot. Your uncle and aunt are going to fly Blackmoon alongside us, but we need a Jedi in Twin Suns to pull it off."

Jacen hesitated. "I'm not that good," he warned.

"I trust Jaina's judgment," Jag replied with a shrug.

How can I argue with that? Jacen asked himself. "I guess you've got yourself a Jedi pilot then." He smiled ruefully. "Or at least a Jedi pretending to be a pilot."

Jag smiled back slightly. "Thank you. I appreciate this."

Jacen shrugged. "What are brother-in-laws for?"

"I don't know," Jag replied with a smirk. "I have never had one."

Jacen grinned. "Me neither."

The two men studied each other for a long moment, the two men who loved Jaina Solo most in the galaxy. Well, two of them anyway, Jacen amended. Dad, Uncle Luke and Kyp are up there, too.

"Would you like to spar sometime?" Jacen asked. "With stun rods, that is." He smirked. "I don't think you want to duel with lightsabers."

Jag nodded. "So I've heard." He looked at Jacen curiously. "You don't want to spar with me so that you can accidentally inflict bodily harm on the man who married your sister, do you?"

Jacen couldn't be sure, but he thought he detected sarcasm in Jag's voice. He laughed. "No, I promise you, that's not it." He smiled. "Besides, I prefer diplomatic solutions. Now if Anakin were here..."

Jag blinked, and Jacen sensed surprise. "Jaina can't speak his name without choking up," Jag said. "Yet, you can make wistful jokes."

Jacen shrugged. "Jaina and I are very different, despite being twins. As Jedi, we were instructed in the belief that there is no death, only remergance with the Force. When Anakin died, we felt him remerge with the Force. It was a spectacular feeling. Like nothing I have ever felt."

"But Jaina didn't feel that way about it," Jag concluded grimly.

Jacen nodded. "Jaina and Anakin always had a special bond. They were both mechanically inclined and were always taking things apart and rebuilding them the way they wanted them to be. Whenever Anakin was hurt or scared, he ran to Jaina. When he needed help, he went to Jaina. She still feels like it was he job as a big sister to protect him." He shook his head. "She feels like she let him die, even after all that's happened."

"I heard about Nom Anor," Jag said slowly, and Jacen frowned expectantly. "Kyp told me she killed him."

"Yes," Jacen agreed. "She did."

"Do you think that she'll ever stop throwing herself at the Vong?" Jag asked. "Will she ever back off from these tactics she's using to infuriate them?"

"Knowing my sister," Jacen said, shaking his head. "She'll only fight them harder."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Syal Fel smiled as her daughter strolled into the room.

Zena was the only daughter she had left, and she looked so much like her sister Cherith that it made Syal's heart ache to look at her sometimes. Cherith had been blessed with the same long, honey colored blond hair and green eyes that Syal and Zena had, and her two daughters even had the same gait when they walked.

Oh Cherith, Syal thought with a wave of sadness. Davin...

She missed her two fallen children more than words could ever say, and she wondered sometimes how she was able to keep on going without them. No mother should ever have to bury a child. There was no worse pain in the galaxy.

"Hello, Zena," Syal said, forcing a smile on her face, and swallowing back the sadness thoughts of her children stirred.

"Hello, Mother," Zena replied. She gestured to the empty hoverchair beside her. "May I join you?"

Even after all these years of being married to Soontir, of living in his world and by his rules, Syal still thought it was ridiculous that her children sometimes spoke to her as though she was their commanding office.

Well, I suppose from a certain point of view I am, she mused with a small smile.

"Of course," Syal replied. "Please, sit."

Zena did, and Syal took a moment to look her only daughter over. Zena was still young compared to her brothers, but she was growing into a young woman, and one of great beauty. It made Syal proud and sad to realize that.

"I spoke to Jagged this morning," Zena said without preamble.

That's my daughter, Syal thought. Subtle as always. "And what about your conversation with Jagged has you so tense?" she asked.

"Father offered him command of his own Chiss phalanx, and he turned him down," Zena replied.

And you can't understand why he would do that, Syal finished to herself. But you will one day, darling. One day when a handsome man sweeps you off your feet and everything else seems to fade away except for him.

"Jagged has a squadron to command," Syal said. "Twin Suns."

"That is Jaina's squadron," Zena said, shaking her head. "When she returns he has to recede command back to her."

"Are you angry because your brother doesn't want to command a phalanx, or that you want to and he was the one asked?" Syal inquired gently, even though she already knew the answer. "And he refused it."

Zena frowned, biting her lip. "The latter," she admitted after a long moment. She sighed. "Jag is a whole different person out here, Mother. He smiles, he laughs, he makes jokes."

Yes, Syal thought with a smile. I know.

"Maybe Jag has just realized that there are more important things in life," Syal replied.

"Or maybe Jaina's just finally broken that stoic shell he wore around himself," Zena chuckled.

"I don't know how she managed," Syal smiled.

"I do," Zena said. "She's a Jedi, and an amazing pilot." She looked at her mother inquisitively. "Have you seen her fly?"

Syal shook her head. "No, I haven't."

"She's good," Zena replied. "Just as good as Jag, maybe better."

High praise indeed coming from Jag's sister and biggest supporter, Syal realized.

"Besides," Zena said with a smile. "Have you seen the way he looks at her? He'd follow her into a supernova."

Syal chuckled. "Well, I certainly think Jaina would like to steer clear of any supernovas. But that's the way love is, darling. When you find the person who completes you, you find that there's nothing you wouldn't do for them. Your priorities change. Jaina is the most important thing in the galaxy to Jag."

Zena nodded. "I know that," she replied. "It's just that..." she trailed off, her cheeks tinted slightly.

It's just that you wish you would find someone. You want so badly to experience love, the kind that Jag and Jaina have. You want to know what it's like and you want to feel that chemistry that sparks between them whenever they're in the same room. It's just that you're growing up and turning into a young woman, and you're ready for the things that come with womanhood. You see the way Jag's eyes light up when he sees Jaina, and you want someone's eyes to do that when they see you. You want to find the kind of happiness Jagged has, if only to experience it.

Syal reached out a hand to caress her daughter's cheek. "I know," she said softly, smiling slightly. She gazed at her daughter, pride welling up in her chest. "You've grown so beautiful, Zena. Soon you'll have trouble keeping men at bay."

Zena's cheeks turned redder, but she smiled. "You think so?"

Syal nodded. "I know so."

And then my youngest child will be an adult, Syal thought. You'll fall in love and know the joy and warmth that it brings, but you'll also know the pain and heartache that comes with it.

As a mother she wanted to protect Zena from that, from the terrible pain of a broken heart, but she understood that it was part of growing up, part of becoming a woman. Zena was strong, and she would handle whatever life threw at her, and it would only leave her stronger in the end.

Syal was grateful that Jag had found Jaina, someone to love and share his life with, someone who understood his needs and desires, for they were the same as her own. Syal, too, had noticed the life that seemed to emerge from her oldest son when he was amidst the Republic officers, the sense of comradery and friendship that he had been missing with the Chiss. Her son was happy here, and when Jaina was with him his eyes burned with a fire that Syal had never seen in him before.

You've seen it in his father's eyes, though, she told herself. When he looks at you.

"I hope that I find someone who feels for me what Jag feels for Jaina," Zena confessed softly.

Syal touched her arm. "You will, Zena. I know it." A small smile tugged at her mouth. "And if by chance he breaks your heart, I'm certain that between your father, Jagged and Wik, he'll realize the err of his ways."

Zena smiled. "I would almost feel sorry for the guy."

"I wouldn't," Syal replied. "Anyone who hurts my daughter deserves what he gets. And I can't think of a better punishment than leaving him to your brothers' devices."

"Maybe carbon freezing?" Zena suggested with a chuckle.

Syal grinned. "Han Solo would probably find some for Jag to use. I hear he threatened your brother with it once or twice."

"Jag is lucky," Zena grinned. "Han Solo's father-in-law actually did dip him in carbonite."

"I don't know," Syal said with a slow smile.

Zena looked at her curiously.

"I think Jagged would make a very nice wall decoration."

Mother and daughter grinned at each other, and launched into a discussion about where Jaina would put him.

This is what I miss about my mother, Syal thought sadly. Long talks and gentle laughter.

Zena and Jagged Antilles had been killed years ago, when Syal was just a young woman. She had left home to find her fame as a movie actress, and had not been there when their station was blown up. For years she had mourned the loss of her family, only to find later that not all of it was gone. Her brother Wedge had not been on the station when it exploded. He had survived, and gone on to fly in the Rebellion.

Her brother had helped take down two Death Stars, and that was before he even reached full adulthood.

Being here, on Mon Calamari, back in Republic space and reunited with Wedge, Syal felt more content than she had in years, even with a war raging around them.

My family is complete again, she thought. And so am I.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Well, here goes nothing, Jacen Solo thought with a grim sigh.

He was in the cockpit of one of the Resistance X-wings, flying away from the Mon Calamari base, keeping his fighter tucked snugly into the formation Jag had requested. Jacen was nervous about the impending battle, not so much as about his survival as whether or not he could do what Jag needed him to do.

He was certain Jaina could have done it, but she wasn't there, and her husband needed Jacen's help, so Jacen had to try.

Do or do not, there is no try, he reminded himself. Find a way to do.

He ran through the plan in his head again, making sure he had not forgotten anything. As the only Jedi in the squadron, it was his job to launch the new shadow bombs Jaina had devised, and he wasn't completely sure of himself. He thought Jaina's idea was a good one, near brilliant, but he wasn't a pilot and the idea of trailing a bomb behind one of his own pilots was unnerving. One slip could mean disaster.

The Twin Suns pilots didn't feel worried, though, they had come to trust completely in Jaina and Kyp's abilities, and were accrediting him the same faith.

He wished he had the same faith that they did.

He also wished that Jag wasn't going to be one of the pilots his shadow bombs lurked behind. The idea that he might make a mistake and get one of the Twin Suns pilots killed was horrifying, but Jacen could not bear to imagine what would happen if he slipped up while his bomb was trailing Jag. Jaina would be devastated, and Jacen could never live with himself.

Stop that, his Aunt Mara's voice filled his head.

Jacen looked out of his cockpit at the Blackmoon Squadron, which was flanked out around Twin Suns. His aunt waggled her fighter's wings for a moment so he would know where to look.

You think like that and you will get him killed, Mara scolded. Jag trusts you, Jaina trusts you. Your uncle and I trust you. You have to trust in yourself.

I'm not a pilot, Aunt Mara,
Jacen reminded her. I've never done this before. I've only flown against the Vong once, at Dubrillion.

You did okay then, didn't you?
Mara challenged.

Only because Anakin linked with us and we followed Jaina's lead, Jacen retorted. They inherited the piloting skills, not me.

It was his uncle who replied, though, his tone firm. You can do this, Jacen. Search yourself, you know you can. Just stop thinking about it and let the Force guide you.

Jacen got the distinct impression that his uncle was smiling.

Even Kyp can do it, so you should have no problem, right?

Jacen rolled his eyes. Of course his uncle would play on Jacen's slightly competitive nature with Kyp Durron, one that had gotten a little more emotional and less physical since Jaina and Kyp had grown so close.

Right, Uncle Luke.

May the Force be with you, Jacen.

You, too, Uncle Luke, Aunt Mara.


"Twins Three, are you alright?" Jag's voice carried over the comm-link, startling Jacen out of his thoughts.

"Yes," Jacen replied. "Sorry about that...uh, Lead... I was distracted."

"Don't let it happen again," Jag replied, but Jacen heard the amusement in his voice.

"Right," Jacen smiled. "No problem."

"Blackmoon Leader, this is Twin Suns Leader," Jag called. "Approaching target zone. Suggest that we move into attack formation."

"Acknowledged, Twins Leader," Luke's voice came back, and Jacen was amazed at how easily his uncle seemed to slip back into the role of a squadron commander. "Blackmoon Two, Three, on me. Five, Six on Four. Eight, Nine on Seven. Eleven, Twelve, on Ten. Operation Knockout under way."

"Twins Two," Jag said to his brother Wik, who was flying with the squadron to fill in for Kyp, and who completed the shield trio with Jag and Jacen.

A real family affair, Jacen mused.

"Form up on me," Jag ordered. "Twins Three, get yourself situated behind me and Two will cover you."

"Copy that, Lead," Jacen said.

Wik clicked his comm-link in acknowledgment.

Here it goes, Jacen murmured to himself, preparing the first of the shadow bombs. He lunched it carefully, using the Force to drag it along behind Jag's clawcraft. He broke into a sweat as he struggled to divide his attention between flying his X-wing and guiding the shadow bomb.

Thankfully, Wik seemed to realize that Jacen's concentration was all that stood between Jag and oblivion, and was doing his best to keep all skips and their fire from coming near Jacen's X-wing. Still, not even he could keep all of the skips from getting near enough to spray some fir across Jacen's shields, and he gritted his teeth every time his X-wing rocked gently.

Through the Force he was aware of Luke and Mara using their own shadow bombs, coming in from the opposite direction. The three frigates ahead were launching coral skippers, but they weren't Jacen's concern. Rogue Squadron, Saba's Wild Knights, Starlancer Squadron and the Taanab Yellow Aces were darting around vaping the skips as quickly as they could, but the skips were firing back, and Jacen felt more than one pilot get vaped.

It was Blackmoon and Twin Suns job to take care of the frigates, and while Jacen, Luke and Mara focused on controlling their shadow bombs, their pilots picked off incoming skips. Two of the Blackmoon pilots had shadow bombs trailing behind them, each headed directly for a frigate. Jag was flying straight towards the one closest to him at such a speed that Jacen feared he would not be able to pull up in time.

"Shadow One in position," Jag said, his voice grim and steady.

"Shadow Two ready," one of Luke's pilots called back.

"Shadow Three all set," the pilot leading Mara's shadow bomb announced.

"Disengage fighters," Jag ordered as the frigate wall rushed up at him. Jacen drew a sharp breath and held it as Jag wrenched his clawcraft into a steep climb, skimming over the frigate and slamming the thruster just as Jacen's shadow bomb hit its target.

Jag's clawcraft shot away from the massive explosion, circling around to rejoin the squadron "target One dispatched," he announced calmly.

In the distance a massive fireball erupted from the second frigate, followed immediately by the explosion of the third.

"Targets Two and Three exterminated," Luke called. "Commence mop up operations."

Jacen focused on his turbo lasers and let the Force guide his shots. Without the yammosk on the frigate, the coral skippers began to weave and fall out of formation, making easy pickings for the veteran pilots around him.

Jacen got a few kills, but mostly he didn't do much damage. His job was done, the frigate was destroyed.

Reaching out with the Force, he felt for his sister, and found her engaged in a dogfight with the worldship. Giving her a quick brush of reassurance that he and Jag were both all right and well, Jacen drew back to himself, letting her focus solely on the mission ahead of her.

Jacen's was done for now, but Jaina's was only just beginning.

He sent out a simple telepathic message to all twelve Jedi pilots in Saber Squadron:

 

May the Force be with you all.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

May the Force be with you all.

Jacen Solo's telepathic message sang through the Force, and Jaina smiled. And also with you, brother dear, she called back, then shut the door on their link sot hat she would not be distracted from what she was doing.

One mistake could get her killed and ruin the mission.

"Sabers, split into shield trios now," she ordered as her squadron swooped around the underside of Tsavong Lah's worldship. "CorSec, take Junior and Mage, break port. Instructor, take Nightstar and Blackeye, break starboard. Scales, you, Knight and Sentry take aerial run, and I'll take the low run with Renegade and Bounty Hunter. Everyone copy?"

Ten comm-links clicked in acknowledgment, but Kyp didn't bother. Jaina knew he was ready, they were linked openly. The moment she had decided on her orders he had begun sliding into formation. She waited for Zekk to move into position, then turned hard left and began a downward loop towards the underbelly of Tsavong Lah's worldship.

"Prepare shadow bombs," she ordered.

Kyp and Zekk reacted instantly, opening themselves up to her and weaving a battle meld between the three of them. She knew that Corran's group, Tesar's group and Keyan's group were all doing the same thing with one another.

Master Skywalker had suggested they use a large battle meld to link them all together, but Jaina had decided against it. If someone was off target just a little bit, it would mess everyone up. It was better to make three out of the four hits they wanted, rather then none at all.

"Shadow bombs ready," Kyp replied.

"Mine, too," Zekk added.

Jaina winced at his lack of decorum, but then shrugged. Not everyone was a fighter pilot full time. She had flown and trained with Rogue Squadron, and Gavin Darklighter had taught her many things. Decorum was one of them.

The shadow bombs they were using were not the usual ones. Jaina had asked the mechanical technicians to replace the standard torps with the newest missiles that Danni Quee's team had developed, specifically for this mission. They were designed to function like a tracer missile. When they hit their target they would not detonate for several minutes.

Jaina had a wonderfully wicked idea of what to do in those few minutes while they waited for the explosion.

"CorSec? Scales? Instructor?" she called. "Shadow bombs ready over there?"

"Affirmative, Goddess," Corran replied.

"Incoming skips at three-three-seven," Keyan reported. "We're all set here, Goddess."

"Thiss one iss iss also in position, Great One," Tesar hissed, chuckling at the title.

Jaina couldn't help but smile. "It was sort of funny to have her friends and fellow strike team members calling her Great One. "Blackeye, Nightstar, keep those skips off of Instructor so he can get a clear shot."

"Copy, Great One," Nianne responded.

Jaina reached out for Kyp and Zekk, felt them clasp her presence and merge as one. She angled her X-wing towards their target, the vulnerable port opening on the underside of the worldship, and grabbed her shadow bomb firmly.

"Acquiring target," she announced. "All fighters, fire on my mark."

Eleven clicks of acknowledgment came back.

Jaina let her shadow bomb drag along in the grip of the Force, aware of Kyp and Zekk doing the same beside her, and, farther away, three other shield trios preparing to fire.

Her target flashed up at her, the Force screaming in her veins, and she snapped, "Fire!" and let loose her shadow bomb.

It streamed toward the port, two others trailing it, and slammed into the side of the worldship, rocking the Vong vessel under the impact.

Perfect hit, she thought with a sigh of relief.

"Good work, Renegade, Bounty Hunter," she said. "CorSec? Scales? Instructor?"

"Three in target, Goddess," Corran called happily.

"All direct hits," Keyan confirmed.

"Target hit," Tesar reported.

Jaina grinned. "Good work, mortals. You did good." She paused, smirking, then called to her astromech, "Cappie, access the new villip data I uploaded into you, will you?"

Her R2 unit beeped happily, and let out a soft squeak when he had established contact with Tsavong Lah's private villip.

"Jaina, what are you doing?" Kyp asked, concern in his voice.

"Playing my part," Jaina responded, pulling off her helmet and brushing her hair aside to reveal the symbol of Yun-Harla drawn on her forehead.

"Your part?" Kyp echoed.

"Tsavong Lah knows I tricked his father at Borleias, he knows I tricked Nom Anor," Jaina replied. "He's about to be blown out of the universe, I want him to go out fearing the wrath of the Trickster."

Kyp groaned.

Jaina ignored him. "Okay, Cappie, hail the warmaster. Let's see if he has anything entertaining to say."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Tsavong Lah was startled to see his villip begin to shift and morph, until the image of Jaina Solo stared back at him. He snarled in surprise, and growled an order to his crew to launch more fighters to capture her.

"That won't be necessary," Jaina Solo said in his native tongue, surprising Tsavong Lah even more than her appearance. "You won't be alive to capture me for much longer."

Tsavong Lah scoffed at her arrogant foolishness. "You have twelve fighters, and their attack on the worldship was deflected by our defenses. Your pathetic infidel weapons are no match for the might of the Yuuzhan Vong."

Jaina Solo laughed, an eerily secretive laugh that insinuated that she knew something he did not. "You won;t think that in a few minutes, Tsavong Lah."

"Surrender yourself to me now and I will let your companions live," Tsavong Lah said coldly, ignoring the rage her knowing laugh brought up in him. "I will allow them to retreat if you surrender. Otherwise, they will all be slaughtered."

Jaina scoffed. "I think not, Tsavong Lah. I think it is you who is going to be slaughtered."

"Your weak weapons are useless against us," Tsavong Lah snapped. "Surrender to us now and we will track down your brother and the sacrifice may begin."

"That sounds absolutely wonderful," she replied, her tone condescending and fake. "But I don't think I should surrender to someone who's about to be blown out of the universe, do you?"

Tsavong Lah clenched his jaw angrily. "The Yuuzhan Vong are-"

"Loosing," Jaina Solo snapped, cutting him off. "You have lost the favor of the gods, Warmaster," she sneered the title as if it were an insult. "You believe it is my destiny to fight my brother? I have come to show you yours."

"Your destiny is to die, Jeedai," Tsavong Lah snarled. "And you shall, at my hands. I will sacrifice you to the gods myself!"

"We grow tired of your pathetic sacrifices, Tsavong Lah," Jaina Solo replied haughtily. She drew aside her hair to reveal the mark of Yun-Harla, drawn on her forehead with vivid black lines. "And we grow tired of you."

"Blasphemy!" Tsavong Lah roared, shaking with anger. "You dare to taint the holy-"

"Your worldship is about to explode," Jaina Solo replied smugly. "Because I wish it to."

"Impossible!" Tsavong Lah shouted, but a bristle of fear welled up inside of him. It wasn't possible, was it? Surely this infidel, this Jeedai, was not capable of such a thing?

Before he could speak, the worldship shook violently, and the ship wailed in protest. Tsavong Lah looked at his commander in shock. "The ship is dying," the commander cried. "Explosions are taking place in the dovin basins!"

Alarm and terror seized Tsavong Lah like nothing ever had. Jaina Solo had done the impossible, and destroyed his worldship with merely a thought.

Yun-Harla! he thought, his eyes widened in panic.

"I warned you, Tsavong Lah," she said coldly. "You should not have come to this galaxy. Lord Shimmra lied to you. This galaxy is not yours for the taking, it was already given to others. Your ignorance has sentenced the Yuuzhan Vong to defeat."

"Yun-Harla," he whispered in horrified awe.

The Trickster Goddess smiled ruthlessly. "A pity it took you this long to realize that, Tsavong Lah. You could have saved your people much pain and suffering."

Tsavong Lah welcomed death at that moment. He had defied his gods, led his people to ruin, and all because Lord Shimmra had been wrong.

Wrong.

"Give my regards to your father," Yun-Harla said coldly.

Tsavong Lah sank to his knees as the explosions neared his quarters. He had failed. He had failed his father, his people, his gods.

He would have taken his own life, had not Yun-Harla already taken care of that for him.

"Remember, Tsavong Lah," Yun-Harla said, her dark eyes flashing and the seal on her forehead seeming to glow with power. "Remember what happens to those who dare to oppose Yun-Harla."

And the villip introverted back into itself.

Tsavong Lah prepared himself for his death.

Death at the hands of a goddess.

The explosion tore through the room and everything went dark.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Luke Skywalker was climbing out of his X-wing when his connection with his niece flared, bright and exhilarant. Jaina was dazzling with excitement, and those around her were brimming with satisfaction and delight.

He reached out to her, clasping her presence, and willed all of his relief and pride into the Force. You did wonderful, Jaina, he told her. He felt her beam under his praise, and smiled to himself.

He glanced over at Mara and Jacen, both of whom had stopped atop their ladders when Jaina's presence had flashed through the Force. They looked at him, eyes wide and smiles crawling onto their faces.

They knew what had happened, and they also knew what Jaina had accomplished. She had done more than just kill Tsavong Lah, she had made him into a believer. He had called her Yun-Harla.

Which means our ploy is working, Luke thought. And since we know that Lord Shimmra's priest keeps an open villip to Tsavong Lah's worldship, Lord Shimmra will have witnessed Tsavong Lah's death, and more importantly, his crisis of faith.

If Lord Shimmra didn't have doubts after that, Luke didn't know that he ever would.

"What?" Jag Fel asked from behind him, his voice worried. "What is it?"

Realizing that all Jag had seen was the three of them come to a sudden halt, and probably thought that Jaina was hurt, Luke turned and smiled at him. "Jaina destroyed the worldship, and Tsavong Lah is dead."

Jag's eyes went wide and his face flickered with relief and pride before settling into a calm expression. "That is extraordinary news," he said.

"Who are you kidding, kid?" Mara called with a laugh. "Go ahead, let it out, yell or something. You know you want to."

To Luke's surprise, Jag grinned at her. "I would, but my father is headed this way with my uncle and I don't want them to think I've gone space happy."

Mara scoffed dismissively. "They both went space happy a long time ago."

Luke stifled a smile as the two Generals made their way towards them, but Jag and Mara made no effort to conceal their amusement.

"What are you all so happy about?" Wedge called as he and Soonitr Fel drew near.

Luke turned to look at his old friend. "Tsavong Lah is no more," he said with a small smile.

Wedge closed his eyes for a moment, and Luke felt his relief. He opened his eyes and searched Luke's face expectantly. "Jaina's mission succeeded?"

"Perfectly," Mara grinned. "I hope you plan to throw my niece a party, Wedge. If not, Luke and I will have to call all the Jedi here and throw one ourselves."

Wedge smiled, more at ease than Luke had seen him in a while. "I think that we can arrange for something to welcome them back."

"Just leave it to me, General!" Wes Janson called. "You want a party? I'll give you the best party Mon Calamari has ever seen!"

"Or at least the wildest," Soontir commented dryly, exchanging knowing looks with Luke and Wedge. Luke smiled. He, too, remembered Wes' parties from the old days in Rogue Squadron.

"Gavin!" Wedge called, waving the Rogue Squadron commander over. He cupped his hands around his mouth, cleared his throat, and announced, "All pilots and personal, listen up!"

The hangar fell silent instantly, and everyone turned to look at Wedge curiously. Gavin came to stand by Wedge, giving Luke an inquiring glance. Luke just shrugged, and nodded at Wedge.

"Operation Trickster's Hammer was a success!" Wedge called, his voice echoing through the hangar. "Jaina Solo and her Jedi squadron have destroyed Warmaster Tsavong Lah's worldship."

Shock fell over the docking bay for a moment, then whoops and cheers went up from the squadrons and Wedge grinned, turning to look at Gavin's gaping face. After a moment, Gavin gathered himself together and smiled. "So I take it Rogue Squadron is throwing another party?" he asked dryly.

"You guessed it," Wedge said with a chuckle. "There's only three rules you have to follow."

Gavin nodded. "Okay, what are they?" he asked.

"One, make sure you have enough Corellian whiskey to go around," Wedge said. "We'll crack open our secret stash since it's a special occasion."

"I was saving that," Wes moaned.

"Two," Wedge said, ignoring Wes. "See if you can find something reasonably resembling food. Those rations taste like stale data chips."

"Oooh, we can have roast Ewok," Wes suggested with a grin.

"And three," Wedge continued, glancing at Wes. "Janson here gets to clean up the mess afterwards."

"No fair," Wes groaned.

Wedge raised an eyebrow. "After what you pulled at their wedding party, you should be greatful I don't make you dress up in a butler's uniform and serve drinks."

"What did he do?" Jacen, who was not a pilot and therefore had not attended the party, asked curiously.

"I brought up this really embaressing time," Wes answered with a grin. "See what had happened was that Wedge here-"

"Janson?" Wedge cut him off, glaring at him in warning. "Do I need to tell them about your little courting ritual with a nine year old?"

Luke frowned in confusion. Obviuosly it was some kind of jab, and knowing Wes, it had to do with a woman.

"Uh, no, sir," Wes said quickly, glancing uneasily at Jag and Luke, then at Jacen. "I'll pass on that, sir."

"I think that's very wise," Jag replied evenly, but his eyes held a wry sparkle. "After all, this nine year old happens to be my wife."

Jacen blinked. "What are you all talking about?"

Jag looked at him with a small smile. "Captain Janson here was flirting with Jaina at Borleias over the comm traffic."

"I didn't know it was her," Wes protested.

Luke grinned. He could just see Wes' expression when Wedge told him whose daughter he had just been hitting on, a daughter who Wes had known since she was little.

"You're a really nasty commanding officer, you know that?" Wes asked Jag. "I don't know how Jaina puts up with you."

"Easy," Wedge smirked. "She outranks him."

Jag opened his mouth to protest, but Wedge raised an eyebrow and Jag grumbled something incomprehensable. Then he turned to Wes and said, "You're lucky. Jaina just laughed at you. Han Solo threatened to dip me in carbonite."

Wes smirked. "I didn't sneak off and marry his daughter in secret, either. I just hit on her."

"Yeah," Jacen said. "But you're old."

Everyone except for Jag stared at him.

"What?" he asked.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jaina laughed as Kyp spun her in a circle, her arms wrapped around his shoulders. The music was playing loudly, and she was enjoying herself.

Dancing with Kyp was always enjoyable.

Off to the left, Jag was dancing with Tahiri, dipping the young Jedi in a slight swoon and Jaina giggled. Kyp followed her gaze. "Want to outdo them?" he asked, waggling his eyebrows at her.

"Kyp, you know how I feel about being competitive with Jag," Jaina replied. A grin lit her face. "I never turn down the chance to beat him senseless."

Kyp pulled her closer, and began to move in the difficult steps of the Corellian waltz. "We'll see how Corellian Fel really is, then, eh?" he asked with a grin.

Jaina laughed again, and let Kyp guide her through the steps, even though she knew them by heart. Her father used to dance this dance with her when she was little, and she never forgot those happy times when she would beam up at him and her brothers would make faces at them as her father twirled her around the room.

How much life has changed since then, Jaina thought with a touch of sadness at the reminder that Anakin was no longer with them.

"None of that, now," Kyp scolded lightly, touching her chin. "We can't very well make your husband look bad if you're not giving it a full one hundred percent, now can we?"

Jaina laughed and glanced over her shoulder at Jag and Tahiri. Jag seemed to have caught on to what Jaina and Kyp were up to, and he and Tahiri were now moving through the quick paced steps, trying to do them faster than Kyp and Jaina.

"Let's do this," Jaina grinned up at Kyp and threw her arms around him, then began to lead him through the steps, with much more extravagance and flare. The crowd began to part to give the two couples more room and Jaina got a glimpse of her uncle's amused face as they twirled past him.

She let herself get caught up in the dance, enjoying swaying in Kyp's strong arms almost as much as in Jag's. Almost, she thought with a smile.

"I thought I was doing pretty well," Kyp whispered playfully in her ear as they spun past Jag and Tahiri.

"You are," Jaina replied. "I just like to keep you on your toes."

"Ah," Kyp grinned. "In that case..." He lifted her by the waist and spun her around, making her laugh in surprise. He set her down and they continued the dance without breaking the pattern of steps.

"Show off," she accused with a smile.

Kyp flashed a charming smile. "So I'm told." He glanced over her shoulder and his lips twitched in amusement. "Uh-oh," he said. "Jag's trying to upstage us. They're going for a dip."

Before Jaina could react, Kyp changed the direction of their spin, and let go of her arm, sending her spinning gently into Jag's side.

Jag and Tahiri jolted to a stop and looked at her with narrowed eyes. She shrugged, and grinned at Tahiri. "Mind if I cut in?" she asked.

Tahiri stepped back and smiled. "Not at all." She moved towards the crowd, but a hand grabbed her by the arm and pulled her back onto the make shift dance floor. She glared up at her dance partner as he began to spin her around. "Kell, haven't you figured out that you shouldn't annoy me yet?"

Kell grinned. "Then it's a good thing I'm not annoying, isn't it?"

Tahiri made a frustrated sound in her throat, but let him lead her through the dance.

Jaina smiled up at Jag, studying his pale green eyes that always seemed brighter when he was looking at her. "Congratulations, Goddess," he said, placing a husky infliction on the title. He slid his arms around her slender waist, and Jaina closed here eyes, leaning her head on his shoulder and enjoying the feel of swaying against him, safe in his arms.

The whole galaxy seemed to slide away in that moment, and there was only the two of them, husband and wife, dancing in each other's arms. There was nowhere Jaina felt safer, nowhere she felt more free. When she was in Jag's arms, the pain of losing so many friends, the pain of her slip to the dark side, even the agonizing pain of loosing Anakin, all seemed to fade away. Jag made her feel strong again, whole, even when she was being torn apart inside.

She raised her head to look him in the eye, and found his tender gaze had already been watching her. "I love you," she said softly.

Jag's eyes shone brighter than any Corusca gemstones. "I love you, too, Jaina," he said softly. "So much."

"Soontir, I thought you said your kid was Corellian," Han Solo's voice drawled. "That sure doesn't look like the Corellian waltz to me."

Jaina looked over her shoulder to see her dad watching her with a smile. Soontir Fel was standing beside him, drinking a glass of whiskey. "Why don't you show him how to do it then, Solo?" he challenged.

"Alright," Han said, straightening his shoulders. He walked over to them and nudged Jag's shoulder. "Sorry, kid, you'll have to sit this one out. Go play with all the other little boys, okay?"

Jaina glared at her father, but she couldn't keep from smiling. Glancing at Jag, she was relieved to see that he was smiling, too. He gave her father a crisp bow. "As you wish, General Solo," he said lightly.

Han scowled. "Wedge, I told you I wasn't reconsidering that reinstatement!" he called over his shoulder.

"Just dance with your daughter, Solo," Wedge retorted wryly. "You're getting too old for much else."

Han opened his mouth to say something, but Jaina tugged on his arm. "Dance with me, Dad," she said, and his face softened.

"Sure, sweetheart," he said with a smile.

"Come on, Jag," Wedge called to Jaina's husband. "You can come play sabaac with us."

"As long as Kyp isn't playing," Jag replied, and Jaina hid a smile in her father's chest.

"We have a very strict No-Jedi rule in Rogue Squadron poker games," Gavin said. "Just ask your wife. No one was crazy enough to gamble against her."

"That's because she's a Solo, not a Jedi," Han called smugly.

Jaina smiled up at her father. He winked down at her and began to twirl her in the familiar steps that seemed to take years off of her father's face. He was grinning and laughing as they followed the fast tempo of the music, and Jaina could literally see the memories stirring in her father's eyes.

Happy memories, this time. Memories of spinning his little girl around the living area of their Coruscant home, memories of punishing Jaina and Anakin for reprogramming their homework droids, but secretly proud that they had figured out how to do it. Memories of twin toddlers peering over his shoulders to look at the new baby, of children laughing and playing.

Jaina felt tears well up in her eyes, and she rested her head on his shoulder so that no one would see them, but her father knew anyway. His hand came up to stroke the back of her hair, and he held her close while she cried, twirling her around the room like he had done when she was just a little girl.

"I love you, Daddy," Jaina whispered, her voice breaking softly.

"I know, sweetheart," Han replied gently. "I love you, too."

And Jaina danced the rest of the night in her father's arms, grieving for the brother she lost, and the future that was taken from him.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"Jaina?" Luke asked.

His niece lifted her head from the datapad she was studying. "Hi Uncle Luke," she said with a smile, placing the datapad on the table. "What are you doing here? I thought you and General Antilles were in a meeting about Shelter."

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about," Luke replied. He sat down in the hoverchair next to her and fixed her with a steady gaze. He knew that she wasn't going to be exactly thrilled with this newest decision, and he wasn't looking forward to telling her.

"What is it?" she asked, the weary hesitance he had expected in her voice.

"I need someone to take the next shipment of supplies and materiale out to Shelter," Luke said evenly. "There are very few people that we trust enough to send, because the location is secret."

"And you want me to go," Jaina concluded calmly. "Because you trust me and because I already know where it is I'm going."

Luke nodded. "i know that it's not what you want to be doing, but we really do need you right now, Jaina."

Much to his surprise, Jaina nodded. "I understand, and it's fine, really. I don't mind going."

Luke raised an eyebrow skeptically. "Are you certain?"

Jaina smiled. "Yes. I've been rushing around fighting one battle after another, I could use a break. And I would like to see Ben and Kam and Tionne."

Luke was grateful for that. It was difficult not being there with his son, and even though he knew Kam and Tionne would love him and protect him as if he was their own, it was comforting to think that Ben would have a family member around for a while.

He's so strong in the Force that he'll probably recognize her before she walks in the room, Luke thought with a small smile.

The idea to send Jaina had come to him in his sleep the night before, when he'd dreamed about her holding her own baby son. Luke wasn't sure if it had been a vision or just a dream, but either way he felt like sending her to look up on Ben would be good for her.

And for Mara and I, he admitted silently. He knew they would both breathe easier after Jaina returned to confirm that their son was fine. Jaina cared for her cousin deeply, and Mara had agreed that no one would be more finicky about his safety, save Mara herself.

"Thank you," Luke told Jaina. "This makes it a lot easier."

Jaina smiled at him, and Luke was taken aback momentarily by how pretty she was. She looked like a younger copy of her mother, except that there was some of her father in there, too, but softer and more gentle featured.

"I'd like to take Jag with me, if I can," Jaina said, her tone wistful. "But if I can't, I'll take Jacen with me."

Luke shook his head. "I need Jacen here. He's going to help me start schooling the Jedi in the Old Ways. Bu Wedge already decided it wouldn't be fair to separate you and Jag again." He smiled and winked at her. "He's gotten soft in his old age."

Jaina laughed. "I don't know about that," she said. "If Jag's going with me, then who's going to lead Twin Suns? Kyp?"

Luke nodded. "Unless you want him to come with you."

Jaina bit her lip. "It's either or, huh? I can take Jag or I can take Kyp, but not both of them."

Luke nodded and could see from the flicker on her face that she was uncertain what to do. While Jag was her husband, Kyp was her partner, and she didn't like going off on missions without him. "This won't be a real mission," he told her. "It's just s delivery run with a few days layover at Shelter. You won't really have much for Kyp to do. And I don't think a couple days with a bunch of 'Jedi brats'," he smiled, echoing Han's words. "Is exactly what Kyp would enjoy."

Jaina nodded, looking relieved. "You're right. He'd much rather stay here and command the squadron." A frown crossed her lips, and she looked up at him. "Um, how are we supposed to get there? We can't exactly take the supplies in our fighters."

Luke grinned at the image those words provoked. "No, you can't. You can, however, take the Shadow."

Jaina's eyes lit up. "Are you sure Aunt Mara won't mind?" she asked.

Luke shrugged. "It was her idea. I was going to have Wedge lend you one of the ships he has stationed here, but Mara insisted that if you got into trouble, you'd need the Shadow's firepower." He gave her a wry grin. "And she seemed quite certain that you would find a way to get into trouble."

Jaina smiled the trademark Solo smile. "I do seem to have a track record in that department, don't I?"

"It's not just you," Luke assured her. "It's this whole family. I think the name 'Skywalker' is synonymous with trouble."

Jaina laughed. "From what Obi-Wan said on the holocron, I think Anakin Skywalker made sure of that."

Luke smiled. "Can you imagine what it must have been like for Obi-Wan?"

Jaina shrugged. "It couldn't be any worse than it was for you. After all, there was only one of him, and three of us."

Luke chuckled. "I would have liked to see Ben trying to handle the three of you children at once."

Jaina nodded. "I think he would have gone space happy."

Luke smiled at her, then returned to the business at hand. "Wedge doesn't want you two going off alone, though, so I'm afraid we're going to have to send a team with you."

Jaina sighed, then smiled slightly. "Okay, they can do all of the loading and unloading of the ship." She hesitated, studying her uncle's face. "Who are we taking?"

"Do you remember the Wraiths who went to Coruscant with us?" Luke asked. "Face and Kell?"

Jaina nodded wearily. "Yes."

"They're your first two," Luke said. She groaned and he smiled. "They're not that bad." She raised an eyebrow, and he amended, "Okay, well, Face isn't."

"Who else is coming?" Jaina asked, now looking even more weary.

Luke smiled, glad to have good news. "Tahiri and Danni."

Jaina's face lit up with pleasure. "Really? They're both coming?"

Luke chuckled to himself. Jaina and Danni had become friends at the beginning of the war, when Jaina and Jacen had rescued her from the Vong, but as the war progressed, they had not gotten to see much of each other, and when they had, both of them had been busy with their duties. And Tahiri and Jaina had always liked one another, but they had become close since Anakin's death. It seemed very natural to Luke, that the two women who grieved for Anakin the fiercest would become easy friends.

"Yes," Luke said. "They're both going with you. Danni is going to install some new defense technology to Shelter, and Tahiri is going to visit Tionne and Kam. They've been worried about her."

Jaina nodded, understanding. Tahiri's real parents had been killed when she was very little, and she had been raised by Tuskan Raiders until Tionne and Luke had brought her to the Academy. Tionne was the closest thing to a mother Tahiri had ever known, and Tahiri the closet to a daughter for Tionne.

Luke grinned. "She's also going to babysit Kell."

Jaina gave him an inquisitive look.

"You'll see," Luke assured her. "Less than five minutes into the trip, you'll see exactly why Tahiri and Kell are so pleasant to have work together."

"Pleasant?" Jaina echoed doubtfully.

"Well," Luke shrugged. "Entertaining, anyway."

Jaina nodded. She stood and smiled at him. "I guess I should go talk to Jag, then, and ask him to pack some of our things. And I should speak to Kyp about the squadron."

Luke nodded. "I'll speak to the others and let them know what's going on. When do you think you'll be ready to leave?"

"As soon as possible," Jaina replied. "We should try to leave unnoticed before the next Vong attack."

Luke's mood sombered, remembering the other thing he wanted to talk to her about. "Be careful. We don't know if the Vong have identified the Shadow as Mara's ship yet. The Vong will be searching for you even harder now that they know you destroyed Tsavong Lah's worldship."

Jaina smirked. "That was a nice explosion."

Luke stifled a smile. "I'm serious, though, Jaina. The Vong want you bad, more than anything."

"Think I've got the highest bounty on my head in history yet?" Jaina asked.

Luke smiled. "I don't know. There have been some pretty high ones. Most of them taken out on your father."

Jaina grinned. "I'll just have to keep annoying the Vong then. The least they could do is put out a respectable price on my head."

Luke reached out with the Force to see if there was any concern or fear behind her wry words, but he found none. Jaina was confident that she could keep thinking up tricks to escape the Vong. And when her tricks ran out, well, she would throw her fate to the Force and let it guide her to her destiny, one way or another.

As a Jedi Master that kind of faith made him proud, but as an uncle, it was slightly unnerving. Jaina was bold, brave, fearless, and she never flinched in the face of death. It was a morbidly proud feeling that Luke felt when he looked on her at moments like this, moments when her eyes burned with a determination to do or die.

"I better go," Jaina said, flashing him a smile.

Luke stood and embraced her tightly, her frame small in his arms. "Promise me you'll be careful," he said.

She hugged him back, wrapping her slender arms around his shoulders. "I promise, Uncle Luke."

She pulled back and smiled at him, then kissed his cheek.

"I'll tell Ben hello for you," she promised.

Luke nodded. "Thank you."

"And I'll be sure to make certain the kids are all listening to Kam and Tionne," Jaina smiled. "And if they're not, I'll figure out some kind of trick to play on them."

Luke raised an eyebrow. "Jedi kids can be pretty tricky themselves, you know."

Jaina scoffed. "Please. I'm the Trickster Goddess, remember? Like a bunch of kids will get the better of me."

A hundred credits says she comes back with a different attitude, Luke smirked to himself.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"Hyperspace is so peaceful," Danni Quee murmured.

Jaina turned around in the pilot's seat and smiled at her. "Especially when real space is swarming with Vong."

"Yuuzhan Vong," Tahiri Veila said, automatically.

Jaina flashed the girl an understanding smile. "Yuuzhan Vong," she corrected herself. "It seems like you can't go anywhere without running into them."

"Let's hope that's not the case here," Jag Fel said wryly from the back of the ship.

Danni turned to look at Jaina's husband. The young pilot was tall, with a wiry muscularity that was inevitably attractive, and the white lock amidst his black hair was striking. His pale green eyes always seemed cool and calm, except for when he was looking at Jaina. Then he looks like he just won the Kessel Run, Danni thought to herself.

Jag was sitting at the table in the back, playing sabaac with Face Loran and Kell Tainer, the two Wraiths who had gone with Danni and Tahiri to Coruscant, and were now coming along to drop off supplies at Shelter.

"If we do, we do," Jaina shrugged. "Nothing that we can't handle." A smirk crossed her face. "Well, nothing Tahiri, Danni and I can't handle. I guess us women will have to protect you men."

"Auntie Tahiri protected us on Coruscant," Kell called.

Tahiri groaned. "Only because Master Skywalker would have objected to leaving him."

Danni smiled. It had not gone unnoticed that Kell seemed to enjoy annoying Tahiri, and while the girl moaned about how irritating he was, Danni thought that she secretly enjoyed the friendly affection.

Face laughed. "Don't worry, Tahiri. We would have lost him a long time ago, except General Antilles is pretty big on the whole 'Don't' kill your squadronmates unless it's absolutely necessary' rule."

"It's necessary for us to keep our sanity," Tahiri replied.

"Hey, I'm right here, you know," Kell protested. "Plot my assassination attempts somewhere else. I'm about to beat these two clowns and take all their money."

"Of course you are," Tahiri said with fake sweetness. "And I'm about to pull back an ooglith masquer to reveal that I'm really an Ewok."

Kell raised an eyebrow. "I always thought you were kind of short."

Tahiri rolled her eyes, giving Jaina and Danni a look if exasperation. "Men."

Jaina laughed. "They're impossible, aren't they?"

"Genetic predisposition, sweetheart, I keep telling you that," Jag called.

Danni chuckled, and Jaina shook her head in amusement. Tahiri frowned, and her eyes sort of glazed over for a moment. Danni frowned, watching her worriedly.

Jaina's eyes took on a sad set as she gazed at Tahiri, and Danni got on clear telepathic explanation from the young woman; Anakin.

Now Danni understood. From what she had been told, Anakin and Tahiri had met at the Academy as children, and had instantly become best friends. It wasn't surprising that years later, they fell in love. Anakin's death had hit her hard and sometimes Danni thought that Tahiri was struggling just to keep going.

Danni felt Jaina reach out with the Force and start to weave air molecules together around them. Danni looked at her in confusion, then realized what she was doing and joined in. Soon they had constructed an invisible barrier between them and the men, just thick enough to keep noise from escaping the cockpit.

Jaina placed her hand on Tahiri's shoulder and Danni thought the younger girl would shake it off, but she didn't. Instead she brought her hand up to rest on Jaina's and raised a pale face to look at them. "I'm okay," she promised weakly. "I just sort of got caught in his memory for a moment."

Jaina nodded. "I know what you mean."

From the look in her eyes, she really did. Danni wished that she had been there for Jaina after Anakin's death, even if Jaina wasn't letting anyone console her. Jaina had been there for her after liberating her from the Vong, and Danni wished she could do something to liberate Jaina form her pain. And to liberate Tahiri from hers.

"I have dreams about him," Tahiri said softly, her eyes welling up with tears. "I keep reliving our times together, and I keep having these dreams about what life would have been like if he hadn't died."

Danni's heart broke for the girl.

"I know," Jaina said quietly. "I dream about him, too. All the time. Sometimes I wake up shaking it's so bad. I'm just grateful Jag's a sound sleeper."

Tahiri nodded. "I keep playing his death over in my head, too. Imagining all the ways it could have been different, all the things I could have done that might have changed it." She shook her head. "I know it's pointless, because I can't change it. Nothing can."

Silence fell over the cockpit for a long moment, then Danni looked Tahiri in the eyes. "I have dreams, too," she confessed softly. "About Miko, and what they did to him." Tears stung her eyes as memories swelled up inside of her, filling her with a bitter sadness, even after all these years. "I know it's not the same as with you and Anakin, but it's still hard, you know?"

Jaina looked surprised by her revelation, but Tahiri nodded. "You always seem so strong and together," she said hoarsely. "How do you do it?"

Danni smiled sadly. "I accepted that there are things that I can't change, and that there is some good that has come from Miko's death. I was rescued and able to escape with valuable research, the Jedi are fighting back." She swallowed hard. "I know it doesn't seem worth the price we paid, but Anakin's death prevented any more voxyn from being cloned. He saved a lot of Jedi that day."

"Yes," Jaina said softly. "He did. Anakin was a hero. He was always a hero."

Danni nodded. "It doesn't make the hurt go away, but by remembering what it is he died for, what he gave to us with that final gift of his life, it makes it a little easier to accept."

Tahiri was looking down at her hands in silence, but she raised her face to Danni, her cheeks stained with quiet tears. "Thank you," she said hoarsely. "It helps yo know that others realize what he did for us all."

Danni squeezed her hand. "We all know what he did for us. And we're all so very grateful to him for it."

Tahiri nodded and wiped her cheeks with the sleeve of her Jedi robes. "Thank you," she said again, collecting herself calmly.

Yes, Danni, Jaina's voice filled her head. She looked over at Jaina, who was watching Tahiri. Thank you.

"I bet Tionne will be glad to see you, Tahiri," Jaina said with a smile, deftly directing the conversation to a more pleasant topic. "It's been a long time."

Tahiri nodded, her eyes suddenly brighter. "It has. I haven't seen her since they left with the students at Borleias."

"Aren't you glad you didn't have to go with them?" Jaina grinned. "You'd be stuck out here in the Maw with all the kids."

Tahiri smiled. "Some of them aren't so bad. Valin's not as annoying as Anakin may have claimed, and Sannah is a good friend."

"So I've heard," Jaina said. Her eyes twinkled mischievously. "Although, I seem to recall Corran muttering something about Valin being enough to turn any father to the dark side."

Tahiri grinned. "Did you get the hololetters he and Mirax recorded for Valin and Jysella?"

Jaina patted her Jedi robes. "Got them right here. And there's one from Uncle Luke to Tionne and Kam, too. I think he's worried about them being out here all alone without any adult companions."

Tahiri laughed. "Somehow I think they'll be grateful to see us, if only to have some intelligent conversation."

"Don't let Kell talk to them, then," Danni said, drawing laughter from both girls.

The console beeped and Jaina swung around in her seat. "We're approaching the Maw," she told them. "Strap yourselves in. This is going to be a tricky maneuver."

Danni buckled her crash webbing and Tahiri did the same, looking over her shoulder at the men. "Strap in!" she ordered, then turned back to watch the viewport as they dropped back into real space outside of the Maw Cluster.

"Here we go," Jaina said with a smile, pushing the ship into a sharp turn into the black hole cluster.

Thuds and shouts rang out from the back of the ship and only then did Danni remember the sound proof Force field they had constructed.

"You forgot to take down the Force field!" she told Jaina.

The younger woman smirked up at her. "Did I now?"

Tahiri and Danni burst into laughter, ignoring the cries of protest from the back of the ship.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"Tionne!" Kam Solusar called to his wife. "They're here!"

Tionne emerged from the room with Ben Skywalker in her arms, her long silverish hair flowing freely behind her. Kam smiled at the sight of her cradling little Ben in her arms, his red-gold hair smoothed gently atop his head, his eyes closed peacefully.

"Have they come down yet?" she asked eagerly.

Kam understood her eagerness. Tahiri Veila was on the Shadow, and Tahiri was like a daughter to Tionne. She had been the one to bring the girl to the Academy when she was only nine years old, and they had always shared a close bond. The last few months had been difficult for Tionne, worrying about Tahiri, feeling her pain through the Force, and being unable to do anything for her.

"They just touched down," Kam replied with a smile. "Why don't we go up and meet them?"

Tionne's face brightened. "I think that's a wonderful idea. Let me just tell Streen where we're going."

Kam waited patiently as his wife ducked back into the office serving as a classroom for the Jedi students, and he smiled at the excited murmuring that filled the room when Tionne announced that the Shadow had arrived.

"Can't we go to?" Valin Horn's voice asked.

"You can see them soon enough," Streen grunted.

"Actually, let them come," Tionne said, surprising everyone. "They can help unload the supplies."

Valin and a few of the other kids groaned, but they filed out into the hall behind Kam. He gave them a smile. "Let's go unload the ship, children."

"I'm not a child," Valin protested. "I'm fourteen, so I don't have to help right?"

Kam gave him a look and Valin slid back into line, grumbling something to Sannah, but the Melodie was too excited about seeing Tahiri to pay him any attention.

Kam led the group up to the hangar bay and the familiar hull of Mara Jade Skywalker's ship came into view. The boarding ramp was just extending and Danni Quee hurried down, a datapad in hand. She smiled and gave a little wave. "Hello, Master Solusar!" she called, then ducked towards the cargo hold of the ship to begin unloading supplies.

Two men strolled down the ramp, both of whom looked familiar. When they glanced his way he smiled to himself. The Wraiths, he thought with a shake of his head. Kell Tainer, who was married to Kam's fellow Jedi Tyria, and Face Loran opened the cargo hold and began to stack boxes of materiale on the ground.

The next person to emerge from the Shadow was a young man with a wiry build, dark hair and a single white lock that fell over his right eyebrow. This must be Jagged Fel, Kam mused. Jaina's husband.

Before Kam could greet him, however, a blur of tan and yellow scampered down the ramp and launched itself at him. He braced himself just before Tahiri tackled him in a big hug. He smiled down at her. "Hello, Tahiri. How are you?"

She grinned. "I'm alright. How are you, Kam?"

"I'm fine, thank you," Kam replied. "There's someone who wants to see you." He turned as Tionne hurried over to them and lifted Ben from her arms as Tionne and Tahiri embraced one another tightly. He smiled as he looked at them, then turned back to look at the ship just as the last figure emerged.

Jaina Solo, Jaina Solo Fel, really, walked down the ramp at a much more reserved pace than Tahiri, but her smile was just as bright. She grabbed Jag's hand and led him over to the group. "Hello, Kam," she said.

"Hello, Jaina," he responded with a warm smile. He opened one arm to embrace her. "It's good to see you again. You've gotten even more lovely since I saw you last."

Jaina's cheeks turned a faint pink and she grinned. "Thank you." Her eyes widened. "Is that Ben?" she asked, staring at her cousin.

Kam laughed. "It certainly is." He held the sleeping boy out to her and she took him carefully, tucking him into the nook of her arm. Kam watched her face as she gazed down at Ben, her eyes wide with awe and amazement. She'll be a good mother one day, he mused to himself.

"He's gotten so big," Jaina cried.

Tionne laughed. "Babies do that. When he wakes up you'll be amazed at how much he jabbers on and on."

Jaina smiled up at her. "Hi, Tionne." She balanced Ben on her hip and hugged Kam's wife warmly. "I've missed you."

Tionne smiled brightly. "We've missed you, too, Jaina." She glanced at Jag. "I take it this is Jagged?"

Jaina's eyes lit up. "Yes," she nodded. "Kam, Tionne, this is my husband. Jag, this is Master Kam Solusar and his wife Jedi Knight Tionne."

Jag bowed. "A pleasure to meet you both."

Kam extended his hand and shook Jag's. "Nice to meet you, finally." He glanced at Jaina and raised an eyebrow. "By the way, what's this I hear about you having Kyp conduct your bonding ceremony?"

Jaina smiled weakly. "Well, you weren't exactly available, Kam. And I don't think Uncle Luke would have been too thrilled with the whole secret wedding idea."

Kam chuckled. "No, I don't imagine he would have been."

Tahiri, who had gone from hugging Tionne to hugging Valin and Sannah, laughed. "I didn't think Jacen was going to be thrilled about it, either, but he as fine with it."

"Only because I told him he had no say in the matter," Jaina grinned. "He couldn't really say much to that."

"I, for one, am glad he didn't," Jag said wryly, gazing at Jaina with unbridled adoration. Kam smiled. It's good to know that he really loves her, he told himself. Being married to a Jedi is never easy, especially not to a Skywalker.

Jaina smiled at Valin. "Hey, Valin, I have something for you from your dad." She reached into her robes and pulled out a datacard. Tossing it to him, she said, "It's a hololetter for you and your sister."

"Thanks," Valin said, catching it with one hand.

"You're growing up, Valin," Jaina said, looking him over. "Pretty soon you'll be even more handsome than Ganner."

Valin blushed, and Kam felt a swell of pleasure from the boy. "I doubt that," he said. "But you look prettier, too. I mean, not that you weren't pretty before, you were, you're just ... you look nice, too."

Kam stifled a smile. Crushes are never easy at that age, much less when you're surrounded by other Jedi, he thought.

Jaina flashed a smile. "Thank you, Valin." She looked over her shoulder at the Wraiths. "See, boys? That's how you compliment a woman!"

Kell's mouth opened in mock horror. "Is that why you're never nice to me? I've been doing it wrong?"

"You do everything wrong, Tainer," Tahiri called.

"Whatever you say, Ewok," Kell retorted with a smirk.

Tahiri growled in aggravation. "I'm going to kill him."

"That would be of the dark side," Jaina said with a smile. "Let Jag here do it for you."

Jag rested hand on the blaster holstered to his hip and his lips twitched in a wry smile.

"There are kids around," Danni said, walking over to join them with a box under one arm. "We could just leave him here with them."

"Tempting," Jaina said. "Very tempting. But I'd not be so cruel to Kam and Tionne."

Tionne chuckled. "Come, we'll get you all settled." She took Ben from Jaina, and he opened his eyes, looking around in confusion. Tionne glanced at Danni. "I will show you where the power core is if you wish to start your work right away."

Danni nodded. "Please."

Kam looked at the kids gathered around. "Alright, children, start unloading those boxes."

Groans filled the room and Jaina laughed. "I remember this exercise. The old 'It will help you practice your Force skills' routine, right?"

"Right," Valin grumbled as they shuffled by.

Kell grinned as he saw the crowd of children begin to levitate the heavy boxes and stepped back with a laugh. "You guys should open your own moving service." He looked at Jaina. "Get over here Goddess, and Jedi me some of those boxes up to the roof."

Jaina snorted. "I'll Jedi you up there." She hurried over, though, and began to use the Force to lift the boxes into the air. "When we're done," she told the Jedi students. "You can help me find the highest peak of this station, and we'll drop him up there."

Kam shook his head, smiling, and began to help move the supplies out of the hangar.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"Can you say Jaina, Ben?" Jaina's soft voice filled the air, distracting and intoxicating.

"Jaya," the one year old squealed happily, clapping his little hands together.

Jaina laughed. "That's right, I'm Jaya, and you're little Ben."

Jag Fel hid a smile behind the datapad he was looking at. Jaina was sitting on the bed, directly in front of the couch he was perched on, playing with her cousin.

Kam and Tionne had given them one of the larger rooms, one that had a sitting area for Jag and Jaina to use while working out new tactics for Twin Suns Squadron, and when they had seen the way Ben and Jaina had instantly bonded, they had suggested Ben sleep in their room.

He recognizes me through the Force, Jaina had said to explain the way Ben had immediately wanted her to hold him once he fully woke up. He knows that I'm his cousin.

Jag didn't really understand that, but Jaina sounded certain, and Tionne had nodded her agreement. I wonder if our children will know her like that, Jag thought, and that thought startled him. Though he and Jaina had been married for many months now, they had never talked about children.

Jag had always known that someday he would have them, but he had never wondered much about it. Now, suddenly he did. He wondered if his children would be strong in the Force, he wondered if they would have brown eyes or green. He wondered if they would have a bond with Jaina that he could never fully comprehend, never fully share. Mainly, though, he wondered if he was capable of raising Force sensitive children.

Han Solo had done it, though, so Jag was certain that he could, too. He was also certain that it would be much more difficult than raising a normal child.

"Can you say X-wing?" Jaina asked Ben in the soft, gentle tone Jag know thought of as her "motherly" tone.

"Exing," Ben gibbered happily. "Exing, exing."

Jaina shot Jag a lopsided smile. "Close enough," she said with a wink. "Imagine if I tired to get him to say clawcraft."

"Cawcaf," Ben said, and when Jaina laughed he joined in, little chuckles that made Jag smile and made something inside of him stir with longing.

"Yes," Jaina said. "Jag flies a clawcraft. Sometime when the war is over, Jag will show it to you, okay?"

Ben peered over her shoulder at Jag, his gray eyes curious. "Jaggy," he said with a ridiculously cute smile.

Jaina giggled at the nickname, and Jag raised an eyebrow. "I didn't tell him to say that," she promised. "I said your name was Jag, and he decided you were Jaggy." A wicked gleam crept into her eyes. "Maybe that should be your call sign for the squadron."

Jag knew she was only joking, so he rolled his eyes. But the gleam in her eyes didn't fade and he wasn't so sure anymore whether she was seriously that wicked. She is, he groaned to himself. He could just see the expressions on the other Twins pilots if she called him that. Kyp would love it, Jag thought, shaking his head. He would absolutely love it.

"Jaya," Ben squealed, tugging at her hair.

Jaina laughed and turned her attention back to the little boy, and Jag set down his datapad to watch them. Ben had reddish blond hair and gray eyes, but his features were strikingly similar to Jaina's. Jag figured that the Skywalker blood ran pretty strong in both of them.

Jaina's eyes lit up in a way that Jag had never seen before when she was around Ben. She hadn't stopped smiling since they had arrived at Shelter, and Ben had refused to leave her side. The little boy's bright eyes were wide and warm when he looked at Jaina, and Jag could imagine her laying on their bed, with their son in her arms, while he sat on the couch working. The imaginary scene made him smile.

Jaina would be a good mother, that he was certain of. He could tell by the way she was with Ben, gentle and loving, but firm and sure of herself. There was something about the look she had about her, that glow that Jag had only seen when she was with Ben, that did something to him, something he couldn't explain.

I want that, he realized. I want this. This scene. Jaina and I with a kid of our own to love and raise and care for. I want to be a father. But most of all, I want Jaina to be a mother to my children.

Jag slumped against the couch, trying to shield his thoughts from Jaina. They had not discussed children, and though he was certain she wanted them one day, now was not the time for them. With the Yuuzhan Vong such a threat to the galaxy, to Jaina, how could they bring a child into the universe?

Luke and Mara did, a voice in the back of his head reminded him.

And their son was hidden away in a safehouse for his own protection, without either of his parents there with him, and the possibility of loosing one or both of them hanging in the air.

Jag did not want that for his child, did not want to have to send his son or daughter off to hide from the galaxy. Jaina and her brothers had to do that, he thought. And look how much Jaina resents that.

It would break Jaina's heart if they ever had to send their child into hiding, and that was something they would certainly have to do if they had a child during the war. It wouldn't be safe for their child to stay with them, not with Jag flying into dogfights and Jaina the most wanted "infidel" in the galaxy.

"Jag?"

Jaina's soft voice startled him out of his thoughts and he looked up to see Jaina frowning at him worriedly. "Sorry," he said. "What?"

"I asked if you could put off that strategy planning till tomorrow," Jaina said. "You could do it while I'm teaching. I'm tired and so is Ben."

Jag glanced at the little boy, who was already asleep, curled up on the bed. "It can wait," he said, standing up. He walked over to the bed and kicked off his boots. Jaina laid down, lifting the bedsheet up so that they could slide under it, and settled down next to him, with her arm around Ben.

Jag pulled her closer, drawing her head onto his shoulder, and kissed her hair. "I love you," he whispered.

She smiled up at him. "I love you, too, Jagged."

She closed her eyes and fell asleep almost immediately, with Ben snuggled close against her. They wore each other out, Jag thought with a smile. He reached out a hand to brush hair from Jaina's eyes, caressing her cheek tenderly.

He glanced over at Ben, and his peaceful little face filled Jag with a warmth he had never known. He hesitated, then stretched his hand to gently stroke the boy's red-gold hair. It was soft and silky to the touch and he smiled slightly in his sleep. Jag found his heart was aching for this, for this moment with his wife and a child, more than anything in the galaxy.

It wasn't a simple wish or desire, but a powerful yearning. A yearning to be a father, to have a son, to live in peace, and to do all those things with Jaina.

When the war's over, he told himself. When the war's over we can have children.

He wanted them now, young or not, but he knew that was not possible. There was too much uncertainty and violence for them to bring a child into the galaxy.

Don't even mention it to Jaina, he ordered himself. It will only hurt her. She wants children, you can see that in her eyes when she looks at Ben. And right now we just can't have any.

Jag sighed, wishing that he had the power to change their galaxy, to push the Vong back to wherever they came from, so that he could settled down with Jaina, have a career with the military, but most importantly, start a family.

Forcing himself to forget such impossible thoughts, Jag rested his head on Jaina's, gazing down at her and the sleeping boy in her arms. One day, he told himself. One day we'll have this, and we'll have a son or daughter of our own, and we'll be happy.

For now, though, he was content to lay there in the dark, watching them both sleep, their chest rising and falling in unison.

When he finally fell asleep, he dreamt of children with dark hair and bright green eyes, and he slept with a wistful smile on his face.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"Hey, stop that!" Kell Tainer cried. "I mean it! Don't levitate that!"

The young Jedi girl rolled her eyes at him, but let his bottle of lomin ale gently fall back onto the table. "You told me to practice," she said, glaring at him.

"Yeah, well, go practice being annoying or something," Kell replied. "And practice on someone else."

The girl opened her mouth to say something, but Tahiri cut her off. "Don't worry about Kell, Sannah. He's clinically insane."

Sannah smiled at Tahiri, then ran off to help Corran Horn's son with whatever he was doing in the corner. Kell smiled at Tahiri. "Thanks," he said.

"I didn't do it to save you," Tahiri replied dryly. "I felt bad for Sannah. No one should have to put up with you."

Kell laughed. "That's what my wife says. The two of you should meet. You could start a "Kell Tainer is an Idiot" club."

Tahiri smiled despite herself, and Kell grinned. It was hard work to make the kid smile, but it was well worth it when she did. And she needed to smile more, Kell was certain of that. He had lost loved ones before, and he knew that smiling always helped. So he had made a point of making sure he made Tahiri Veila smile whenever possible.

"I see you have a way with children, huh?" Tahiri drawled dryly.

Kell winked at her. "I have a way with you, don't I, kid?"

Tahiri scowled at him. "I'm not a kid."

"I know you're not, Auntie Tahiri," he replied, grinning at her scowl. "So how come I have to babysit these Jedi brats and you get off easy, huh? You're the one with the good bedtime stories."

"Which I'll tell them after you bore them all to sleep," Tahiri smirked.

Kell shook his head, laughing. "Where are the others?" he asked.

"Face is giving Myri and Syal a history lesson to prove their father is not the only great pilot in the galaxy," Tahiri replied. "Jag is in his room working on tactics for Twin Suns Squadron, and Danni is with Kam showing him how the new defense systems she installed work."

"And the Great One?" Kell asked with a grin.

As if to answer this question, Jaina threw open the door to one of the classrooms and heaved a bunch of junk out into the hallway. "Now that you have nothing to play with, let's see if you can actually do the lesson, hmm?"

She spotted Kell and Tahiri and gave them an exasperated look, then disappeared back into the room and shut the door behind her with the Force. Kell stared at the door for a long moment, wondering, What was that about? He looked at Tahiri in amusement.

"She's trying to get them to meditate," Tahiri replied, answering the unasked question.

Kell smirked. "I take it you came up with your own methods of entertainment during those lessons?"

Tahiri smiled. "Sometimes. They need work, though. They were trying to manipulate objects without her noticing."

"And what would you have done?" Kell asked.

"I would project the image of myself meditating into her mind, then fall asleep," Tahiri replied evenly.

Kell grinned. That's why I like this kid. She's not only funny and mature, she's also ingenious. "Really? So could you do that to, oh, General Antilles?"

Tahiri raised an eyebrow. "Possibly," she said cautiously. "Why?"

"Do you know how much sleep I could catch up on if he thought I was actually listening to his briefings?" Kell asked.

Tahiri laughed and shook her head. "You're impossible."

"Like I said," Kell replied wryly. "You need to meet my wife."

Tahiri's face grew serious. "Have you heard from her?" she asked, and Kell heard a soft concern in her voice.

"Not for a while," Kell replied evenly.

"Doesn't it worry you?" Tahiri asked. "Not to know if..."

If she's dead, you mean, Kell finished silently. If she and our son are alive and safe, or captured and killed.

Of course it worried him. How could it not? Tyria was his wife, he loved her, he adored her. And their son, their only child, was with her, training in the ways of the Force out alone among the stars. He could do nothing to protect them, and he had no idea where they were. Though Tyria was determined to send him word at least once every standard month, she never said where they were, for fear the message would be intercepted.

How did he deal with it? Jag had asked him that on the journey to Shelter, and Kell didn't really have an answer for him. He just did.

"I worry all the time," Kell replied. "But Tyria is a Jedi, and I trust her to keep herself and our son alive. If they're in danger, she'll find a way to get out of it. If she can't, then my presence there wouldn't have made a difference either way."

"She's very pretty," Tahiri said.

"What?" Kell asked, blinking.

"Your wife, Tyria. Face showed me a holophoto. She's very pretty," Tahiri explained.

Kell smiled. "Yeah, she is."

Tahiri opened her mouth to reply when Tionne hurried into the hall, carrying a screaming Ben. "Incoming," Tahiri cried, and dragged Kell into the alcove, just as a wave of intense heat rolled past them.

Kell gaped. "What was that?"

"Ben," Tahiri replied. Kell stared at her incredulously. "Force assisted tantrum," Tahiri continued. "Tionne was closing him off as best as she could. If she hadn't, you would have been thrown clear across the room."

Kell gaped at her. The Skywalker kid had that kind of power so young?

"You're born with the same Force potential you'll have all your life," Tahiri said. "But as a child, you don't really know how to use it, and when you get angry or upset, you can't really control it, so you sort of go space happy for a bit."

Kell raised an eyebrow. "Sounds like you're speaking from experience," he observed.

Tahiri winced. "Unfortunately. I've experienced my share of them, although back then I didn't know what they were. When I came to the Academy, Tionne put a stop to them real quick."

"Seems like she was having trouble doing the same for Ben," Kell said, looking after Tionne, who was opening the door to Jaina's classroom.

"Seems that way," Tahiri agreed, stepping closer to see into the room.

Kell moved behind her, peering over her head. Tionne was handing Ben to Jaina, murmuring something about not being able to calm him down. To Kell's amazement, Jaina placed a finger on Ben's forehead, closed her eyes, and a minute later the kid stopped crying, and blinked, looking around like he was bored.

Jaina sighed in relief and put Ben down on the ground. "Ben, you aren't allowed to do that anymore, okay?" she said. "You need to be calm if you want to be a Jedi like your parents."

"Miss Momma," Ben sniffled.

"I know, sweetheart," Jaina said, hugging him. "Your momma misses you, too. But she needs you to behave for Tionne and Kam, and to do what they tell you, too, okay?"

Ben nodded, wiping his eyes on his sleeve. "'Kay."

Jaina smiled. "Good. Now go with Tionne and listen to her, alright?"

Ben squeezed her arm. "Jaya." Then he turned to Tionne and held out his arms to be lifted.

"You can walk, Ben," Jaina said firmly.

Ben looked up at her, his lip trembling, then let his arms drop and reached fro Tionne's hand. "Ti," he said, smiling as if nothing had happened.

Tionne shot Jaina a grateful look as she followed Ben out of the room. "Thank you, Jaina. I couldn't get him to calm down, and I thought he might listen to you."

Jaina smiled. "No problem. When Anakin was little, he used to throw terrible Force tantrums. Everything in the play room would be thrown against the walls."

A sad look flickered across her face, but she shook her head and turned back to the students. "Alright, now that Ben had shown you how not to get the best of me, why don't you all go back to pretending to work while you try to think up new ways to outsmart me?"

The kids looked up at her in shock, and Kell heard Tahiri giggle, turning to hide her face in his shoulder. He grinned and led her out of the classroom, letting the door slid shut behind them.

"Well," Kell said. "I think I know why her pilots all like her."

Tahiri raised an eyebrow. "Because she's good with kids?" she asked skeptically.

"No," Kell shook his head. "Though some of them have the combined IQ of children." He grinned. "But if she can do that to a Jedi kid who's throwing a tantrum, just imagine what she can do to shut up Sharr."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"Have a safe trip back," Kam said, embracing her gently.

Jaina smiled at him. "I'll do my best to make sure we do."

Kam nodded. "I'm sure you will."

Tionne finally let go of Tahiri, giving her a teary-eyed smile, then pulled Jaina into a hug, too. "Be careful up there," she told her. "Don't let the Yuuzhan Vong get you."

"I plan not to," Jaina assured her with a grin. She turned to Ben, who was standing at her feet, clutching her Jedi robes in his tiny little fist. "I have to go now, Ben," she said quietly.

Ben looked up at her with red eyes and trembling lips. "Don't want you go," he said his voice raspy, sniffling hard.

Jaina's heart broke to see the sad look on his face. "I know, sweetheart, but I have to."

"Why?" Ben asked in a throaty voice, near tears.

"Because your momma and papa are counting on me," Jaina told him, swallowing her own tears. "Remember? We talked about this. Your momma and papa need me to come back so they know you're okay. Otherwise, they'll be very, very worried."

"Don't," Ben choked on a sob. "Want you go," he said again.

"Oh, Ben," Jaina dropped to her knee in front of him and took his little hands in hers and kissed his knuckles. "I'm sorry. I wish I could stay with you. I wish I could take you to your momma and papa, but I can't. There are some very bad people who want to hurt your momma and papa, and I have to go stop them."

"Momma hurt?" Ben asked, his eyes wide.

"No," Jaina promised, squeezing his hands. "That's why I have to go. To keep your momma from getting hurt. And to keep your papa safe, too."

Ben clutched her robes even tighter. "Miss Jaya," he sobbed, burying his face in the robes.

Jaina felt hot tears sting her cheeks. "I know, Ben," she said, hugging him. "I'll miss you, too. So much. But you'll see me again. Soon. I promise."

Or at least I hope you will, Jaina amended to herself.

"But you have to be brave," Jaina said softly. "Can you do that for me, Ben? Can you be brave for me and for you momma and papa? Your papa needs you to be brave."

"Papa come soon?" Ben asked hopefully, and Jaina felt a stab of grief that the boy had seen so little of either of his parents since the students had been relocated to Shelter. She was thankful that she had taken some holos of Ben to give to Luke and Mara, so that they could see for themselves that he was fine and so they could see how much he had grown.

"I hope so, sweetheart," Jaina replied honestly. "He wants to, very, very much. But he's trying to stop the bad guys right now. Understand?"

Ben nodded, and she felt certain that he did understand. Jedi children always showed an amazing amount of intelligence at a young age, and if Ben was anything like Anakin, he would be using that intelligence to get into trouble soon.

I suppose I was the same way at his age, Jaina admitted to herself with a smile.

"I'll come see you again soon, okay, Ben?" she asked, hugging him again, then standing up.

"'Kay," Ben said softly.

"Why don't you say bye to Jag?" Jaina suggested.

Ben's eyes lit up. "Jaggy!" he cried, tottering over to Jaina's husband and latching himself onto Jag's leg.

Jag looked down at Ben in amusement, then smiled at Jaina before bending to lift the boy into his arms.

Jaina turned back to Kam and Tionne, and smiled as she saw Streen approaching. The Jedi Master had kept to himself for most of their stay, although he had come up to her to say hello once she was alone. Jaina understood. The former cloud prospector didn't like being around people very much, especially non-Jedi, who didn't know how to shield their thoughts and emotions from him.

"Give this to your uncle," Streen said, handing her a datacard. "And tell your aunt that I said hello."

Jaina smiled. "I will." She looked at Kam. "If Ben has anymore Force assisted tantrums like that, all I did was confuse him. I didn't want to dampen his presence, but if he gets out of control, I guess you'll have to do that."

Kam nodded. "I'll try everything I can first."

Jaina smiled gratefully, then looked up as Jag walked over to her with Ben in his arms. "Everyone's ready to go," he told her, gently easing Ben into her arms.

"Thank you," Jaina said. "I'll be right there." She looked down at Ben. "Say bye to Jag, Ben."

"Bye, Jaggy!" Ben waved, a grin on his face.

"Goodbye, Ben," Jag replied, shooting Jaina a look before boarding the ship.

Jaina gave Ben a kiss on the head. "I'll see you soon, Ben. Be good for Tionne and Kam, okay? And when I come back I'll bring Jacen with me. He's your other cousin. We're twins."

Ben seemed to ponder that, then grinned, as if that meant he could have two Jainas to play with. "'Kay," he said, kissing her cheek. "Ben down!" he said, squirming in her arms. "Ben down!"

Laughing, Jaina set him down and watched him waddle over to Jysella Horn, alertly watching what she was doing with her ribbons. I guess I should go before he gets upset again, she mused, standing up. "I'll see you all again soon, I hope," she told the Jedi before her.

"We look forward to it," Tionne smiled.

"May the Force be with you," Kam added.

Jaina hurried into the ship and sat down in the cockpit. Jag had already done her preflight checks for her, and she knew with Jedi certainty that they were all complete and correct, so she prepped the thrusters, glancing out one last time at Ben.

He was playing with Jysella, chasing the ribbons as Sannah made them float in the air, and Jaina could see him laughing and smiling happily. Leaving him was hard, especially since he was not her son, just her cousin, but in the past few days they had built a special bond. It tore at her heart to look at him, not knowing when, or if, she would ever see him again.

Now I know how Mara feels, she thought. And how Mom felt all those years ago when she had to leave me and Jacen and Anakin in shelters like this one.

She fired up the thrusters, and Ben looked up at her. For a moment Jaina was terrified he was going to burst into tears, but he didn't. Instead, he waved wildly, nearly falling over on his unsteady legs. Jaina smiled weakly and waved back, then lifted off.

She purposely didn't look back, because even though Ben wasn't crying, she was.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"Thought I'd find you here," a familiar feminine voice said from behind him.

Kyp Durron smiled and turned to face Jaina Solo Fel. "Did you now?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

She shrugged. "Well, when you weren't in the hangar bay to greet us, I figured you must have been distracted. I could feel your agitation through the Force, and I assumed you would be in here trying to meditate."

"You assumed correctly," Kyp replied, opening his arms to embrace her tightly. He held her close, savoring the smell of her clean hair. Jaina was the best thing that ever happened to him. She was smart and funny and beautiful, and she cared for him in a way no one ever had before. They loved one another, yes, but not the way Jaina loved Jag. They were partners, friends, the perfect team.

Sometimes Kyp wondered how he had gotten so lucky.

"I hope my squadron is in perfect condition," Jaina said with a wry grin.

"By your standards, yes," Kyp retorted with a grin.

Jaina rolled her eyes, then sat down on the meditation mat and cocked her head to the side. "So what's with you?"

"What do you mean?" Kyp asked, although he knew perfectly well what she meant, just as she knew perfectly well what was bothering him. Sharing the kind of bond they did, it was hard to keep secrets from one another. But Jaina had asked, to give him a chance to vent and talk out his troubles with someone else, someone who he trusted as much, if not more, than he trusted himself.

"You know what I mean," Jaina said, gesturing for him to sit down. "Tell me what's bothering you. Maybe I can help."

Kyp wasn't certain that anyone could, but he figured if anyone could, it would be Jaina. Sighing, he dropped down next to her. "It's just the Jedi Order is getting to me."

Jaina raised an eyebrow, amused. "Are you saying you're tired of being a Jedi?"

Kyp shot her a look and shook his head. "You know that's not it. Being a Jedi is my life, the same way it is for you. It's who I am."

"You're just frustrated with the discord about what the Jedi should do to fight the Vong," Jaina said, nodding sympathetically.

If anyone walked in and heard us conversing like this, with her replying to my thoughts and feelings instead of my words, they would think we'd gone space happy, Kyp thought with a wry smile.

Who says you haven't? Jaina replied with a mental smirk.

"I think it's too much for your uncle to have to decide everything by himself," Kyp said. "What happens if he and Mara go off again and a decision has to be made while he's gone? Who's going to make that decision? And will the Jedi respect that decision?"

"I see your point," Jaina replied, frowning. "That is a problem, isn't it?"

Kyp nodded. "And if Master Skywalker is killed or captured, who are we supposed to look to then?" He gave her a weak smile. "I mean, you or Jacen could always say it's your birthright to lead the order after him, but I can't see you wanting to give up the squadron, and I'm not to thrilled with the idea of following Jacen. He's gotten better about a lot of things, but he's still stubbornly certain that any attack is a bad idea right now."

"And you think he's wrong," Jaina surmised evenly.

Kyp shrugged. "Don't you?"

Jaina didn't have to answer, Kyp knew. Jaina had mixed feelings about what the Jedi should do and shouldn't do, but she believed with all her heart that they had to fight as hard as they could, without overstepping the line between light and dark.

"I think he's right and wrong, if that makes any sense," Jaina replied. "We need to be watchful of our actions and where they lead us, but Jacen is afraid of the dark side, and that fear is his weakness. We have to fight the Vong, the only question is how."

Kyp nodded. "Exactly. But Master Skywalker shouldn't have to make those decisions alone. He shouldn't be the only voice in the decision, even if he usually chooses the best direction to take."

"So you think that he should focus on establishing a new Jedi Council?" Jaina asked.

"I think it would be a wise thing to do," Kyp replied. "It would make it easier to make decisions that come up, and Master Skywalker could hand pick the Jedi who he trusts to make those decisions."

"And do you want to be one of those Jedi?" Jaina asked gently.

Kyp winced. That was the real question, wasn't it? He wanted his opinions heard, wanted his say in what role the Jedi should take, but did he think he was wise enough to be on the Council?

"Not really," he answered, blowing out a sigh of air. "I'd like to get my point across, but I think that I'm too aggressive at times, and my presence would be disruptive for a lot of the other Jedi who I opposed before. I think your uncle should pick whoever he thinks will do the best job."

"And you'll be fine with it if you're not picked?" Jaina asked.

Kyp shot her a wry look. "Can you ever see Master Skywalker picking me to be on the Council? After what I put him through, and how I carried myself over the past few years?"

Jaina shrugged. "I don't know. Uncle Luke can surprise you sometimes."

Kyp nodded. "He can at that," he replied, remembering how Luke Skywalker had pardoned him his crimes when he had fallen to the dark side. "I don't expect him to pick me," Kyp said. "If he did I would be shocked. So, yes, I'm fine with not being on the Council."

Jaina smiled that bright, happy smile that made Kyp feel warm inside. "Then I think you should go talk to him."

Kyp blinked. "What? Now?"

Jaina nodded. "You have some good ideas about the Council, I've seen them in your head, and I think Uncle Luke wants to reestablish the council, too. The two of you are the most powerful Jedi Masters right now, you should sit down and discuss the logical reasons why a Council should be formed."

Kyp stared at her incredulously. "You think he'll listen to what I have to say?"

"If there's one thing I know about Uncle Luke," Jaina grinned. "It's that he's a good listener." She reached out her hand and pulled him to his feet so that he towered over her. She smiled up at him, her eyes bright. "Now I'm going to go spend some time with my in-laws. You go see my uncle."

Kyp nodded. "Alright."

Jaina started for the door, but Kyp reached out to her with the Force and wrapped her in a loving embrace. She stopped and looked back over her shoulder, shooting him a smile. "You're welcome," she said.

"You're going to spend time with Jag's family?" Kyp asked.

Jaina nodded. "Zena and Wik want to see the rest of Mon Calamari, and Soontir and Syal are both curious about it. Jag asked me if I would take them on a tour."

Kyp raised an eyebrow. "Did you ask General Antilles if you could leave the base?"

Jaina waved a hand dismissively. "I'm just going out with my husband's family. We're just going to go for a little walk and do some sightseeing."

"I'm not so sure that's a good idea," Kyp said.

Jaina rolled her eyes. "There aren't any Vong on Mon Calamari, you know that. You took the squadron out on a scouting expedition yesterday, I heard. There's nothing to worry about."

Kyp shot her a doubtful look.

"What could possibly go wrong?" she demanded.

"I don't know," Kyp replied, shaking his head. "But knowing you, whatever could go wrong, will."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jaina Solo was beautiful.

Jag Fel had thought so from the moment he laid eyes on her.

She had dark, silky hair and intense dark eyes, and a smile that could melt the ice on Hoth. She had a slender, suggestive form that most women envied and nearly every man admired. Jag was used to other men looking at his wife, it bothered him, but he knew that it was natural given how alluring she was.

Jaina looked attractive in her Jedi robes, striking in her flightsuit, and stunning in a gown, but right then she was absolutely gorgeous.

She was dressed in a pair of black fighting pants and a black tank top, both of which hugged her curves snugly. Jag stood there, watching her finish gathering her dark hair back into a thick braid, his breath caught in his throat.

Jaina seemed to sense his raging pulse, and flashed him a small smile before leaning over to pick up her utility belt from the bed. As she clipped it loosely around her narrow waist, Jag was relieved to note that in addition to her lightsaber, a blaster also hung from the holster.

Although he had been the one to ask Jaina to give his family a tour, he had been reluctant to do so. At dinner his mother had commented that she would like to see more of Mon Calamari, and had asked Jag if he had seen much of it besides the base. Jag had confessed that he had not, but had told her that Jaina had visited Mon Calamari many times over the years, and was quite familiar with the area.

He hadn't mean to imply that Jaina could show them around, but his father had decided that Jaina would make an excellent tour guide, and Jag had found himself unable to come up with a strong enough reason against it.

Other than she's only the most wanted person in the galaxy right now, Jag thought bitterly.

His father had insisted that nothing could happen to her with Wik and Zena around, and had even agreed to go along just in case. Jag was still weary, though. He was all too aware that Jaina was in constant danger. The Yuuzhan Vong wanted her badly, and if any of them were on Mon Calamari, they would do everything they could to capture her, even kill his family.

Jag had the highest opinion of his father's skills, and of Wik and Zena's, as well, but he knew that against a Yuuzhan Vong warrior, those skills would be useless. And even though Jaina could defend herself, she could not defend them at the same time. Jag's biggest fear was that they would be attacked and that Jaina would surrender herself in exchange for the lives of his family.

Not that Soontir Fel would ever agree to that, but Jag knew Jaina could very easily persuade him otherwise. She was, after all, a Jedi.

"You'll be careful?" he asked, trying not to sound worried.

Not that it matters, he scolded himself. She can sense that you are.

Jaina walked over to him and slid her arms around his waist. "I'll be as careful," she said. "I promise."

Jag nodded and wrapped his arms around her protectively. He knew that she could take care of herself better than anyone, but it was hard not to worry. He wanted to carry her away in his arms and protect her from the whole galaxy.

"Jedi, remember?" she asked softly, smiling at him. "Not too big on the protection needing."

Jag kissed her hair. "I know, sweetheart. You're a one woman army."

Jaina grinned up at him. "Well, one Jedi army anyway."

There was a buzz from the door-comm and Jag sighed. "That would be my family."

Jaina laughed. "You say that like it's a bad thing."

"You've only had to live with them for a few months," Jag replied wryly. "I've had over two decades to enjoy their company."

Jaina grinned and sat down on the bed, pulling on her tall, black field boots, while Jag walked over to open the door.

His father stood outside of their room, dressed in more casual black pants and a black shirt, but he still carried himself with the poise of a General. "Jagged," his father nodded in greeting. "Is Jaina ready to go?"

"All set," Jaina called, coming up behind Jag and ducking under his arm to step out into the hall. She smiled at his father. "Hello, Soontir. Where are Syal, Zena and Wik?"

Baron Fel smiled down at his daughter-in-law and Jag gave silent thanks to the Force for the millionth time that his father genuinely seemed to like Jaina. "Outside waiting. Since I assume that this little expedition was not cleared with my brother-in-law, I thought it best for us to draw as little attention to ourselves as possible."

Jaina grinned, but Jag blinked, staring at his father in shock.

Soontir smirked. "I have been known to bend the rules before, Jagged."

"I was not aware of that, sir," Jag replied, recovering quickly. "I was under the impression that you lived by the rules, and intended to die by them."

Soontir chuckled. "I do, but outmaneuvering your uncle is one of the finer things in life." He gave Jag a wry look. "As I'm sure you've noticed."

Jag blushed slightly at the light rebuke. "I certainly have, sir."

"Let's get going before Piggy or Sharr come looking for me," Jaina said with a smile. She stood on her toes to kiss Jag gently. "I'll see you when we get back?"

Jag nodded. "I should be out of my meeting with General Antilles and Admiral Ackbar by then."

Jaina winked at him. "Not if I know Wedge. When he finds out I'm gone, he'll hold you responsible."

"No, he'll hold Durron responsible," Jag replied with a smirk. "After all, Kyp's your Jedi partner, he can sense you. I'm just your husband."

Jaina rolled her eyes, kissed his cheek, then started down the hallway.

Jag watched her go, a small, but worried smile on his lips. His father noticed and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry, Jagged. Your brother and I will defend her if it comes to it."

Jag shot his father a wry glance. "Father, if it comes to it, I think you'll find that Jaina will be the one defending you."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Luke Skywalker looked up as Kyp Durron entered the room.

"Master Skywalker," Kyp bowed. "I'd like to speak to you, if you have the time."

I wonder what this is about, Luke thought. "Of course," he replied, gesturing to a hoverchair. "Please, have a seat."

Kyp nodded and swept into the living area, dropping gracefully into the empty chair. Luke took a moment to study his fellow Jedi Master. Kyp had been a young boy when he first came to Luke's Jedi Academy all those years ago, but he had grown into a handsome man, and, finally, it seemed he was acting like one.

Kyp had long since traded in the flashy garments he had worn for simple Jedi robes, and the air about him had changed drastically since he had first arrived at Borleias months before. He had changed in many ways, but perhaps the one most relieving to Luke was there was no longer any hostility or insincerity between them. Kyp was easy to read, and the respect and faith he had rediscovered in Luke meant more to him than Kyp would ever know.

"What can I do for you, Kyp?" Luke asked.

"I've come to speak to you about the Jedi Council, Master," Kyp replied evenly. He hesitated, then said, "I spoke with Jaina and she suggested that I come discuss the matter with you."

Luke nodded. "Jaina is an insightful young woman. If she thought it best for us to talk, then I'm sure it is."

Kyp looked a little less nervous hearing that, and Luke smiled to himself. When's the last time you saw Jedi Master Kyp Durron nervous? he asked himself. He couldn't remember.

"Now," Luke said. "What did my niece send you to discuss with me?"

Kyp swallowed, and again Luke marveled at the fact that Kyp Durron was nervous about talking to him. "I think you should consider reestablishing the Jedi Council again," he said.

That surprised Luke, since the last time there had been discussion about reforming the Council, Kyp had been one of those who opposed it. Then again, he thought. A lot has happened since then. Kyp has changed.

Luke was grateful for that, especially since it now seemed he and Kyp were on the same side of an issue for once. "Why do you think that?" he asked curiously.

"I think that you shouldn't have to make all of the decisions," Kyp replied. He hesitated, then added, "And I think it's unfair to the other Jedi if they don't get a voice in what we do."

Luke was impressed with Kyp for having the courage to say that. Not many Jedi would.

"It's not that you don't make the right choices or that I don't trust your judgment," Kyp hurried on. "it's just that I think having a council would allow everyone to have their voices heard, and would offer a more diverse point of view on issues."

"I agree," Luke replied.

"You do?" Kyp asked, sounding slightly surprised.

Luke nodded. "I think that it's a good idea. I was pushing for this when the Yuuzhan Vong first came to our galaxy, if you recall."

Kyp winced. "I do. I opposed your movement to reestablish it."

"You and Jacen both," Luke reminded him with a slight smile.

"The one time Solo and I agree on anything," Kyp observed with a wry shake of his head.

"It was bound to happen sooner or later," Luke responded.

"Then you're going to reestablish the Council?" Kyp asked eagerly.

"No," Luke shook his head, and Kyp's face fell. "I'm going to form a new one," Luke explained. "The old Council is dead, and so is the Old Order. We don't have to rebuild something lost, but construct something new."

Kyp nodded. "A New Council for a New Order."

Luke smiled. "Exactly."

"Have you given any thought to who you'll ask to be on the Council?" Kyp asked.

Luke reached out with the Force, searching for any sign of self-motivation in the man, but found none. Kyp truly has changed, he marveled. "Some," Luke admitted. "But I would like to hear who you would choose."

"Me?" Kyp asked.

Luke nodded. "Please. Share your thoughts on this with me. I am interested in your opinion."

Kyp seemed to absorb that for a moment, then he sat up straighter. "I think that the obvious choices would be the Jedi Masters. Kam, Streen, Kenth, Cilghal, Tresina and Mara. And you, of course, but you should be the head of the council."

Excepting my authority, even encouraging it? Luke mused to himself. Kyp had come a long way since Hapes.

"I notice you did not mention yourself," Luke observed. "Are you not a Jedi Master, as well?"

Kyp looked down. "I do not think that I am Council material, Master."

Luke raised an eyebrow. "And why is that?" he asked curiously.

"I have been a source of great discord over the past few years, Master," Kyp answered. "I haven't exactly been very supportive of you. Or very respectful."

"No," Luke agreed. "You haven't." Through the Force he felt Kyp flinch weakly. Luke smiled to himself, imagining the look that was about to appear on Kyp's face. "But you have changed since then," Luke added evenly. "And while I accredit that change to Jaina, I think part of it is because you grew up. It certainly took a while," he said with a wink. "But it finally happened."

Kyp smiled faintly. "Jaina can be very..."

"Opinionated?" Luke offered with a smile. "Willful? Stubborn?"

Kyp chuckled. "All of the above. She gave me a powerful wake up call."

"I have noticed that," Luke said. "Which is why I'd like for you to be a member of the Council."

Ah, there's the look, Luke thought triumphantly as Kyp's mouth dropped open and his eyes went as wide as solar eclipses.

"Me?" Kyp echoed incredulously.

"That's what I said, isn't it?" Luke asked, smiling wryly.

"Why me?" Kyp asked.

"You bring a very good point of view to the table," Luke answered with a shrug. "You're well spoken and you think things through, most of the time, anyway. I trust you and I trust your convictions."

Kyp looked stunned.

"There's only one condition to your admittance to the council," Luke warned.

"What?" Kyp asked, almost wearily.

"I want Corran on the council," Luke replied. "I know he's not a Jedi Master yet, but I value his opinions and trust his judgment more than anyone's. Can you accept Corran being on the Council even though he's not a Jedi Master?"

Kyp nodded immediately. "Of course. Corran is very wise," he admitted. "I can learn a lot from him. We all can."

Luke smiled. "It's settled then. Would you gather the others to meet me here? I'd like to discuss this with all of you here."

Kyp nodded, standing. "I won't disappoint you, Master Skywalker," he said. "I promise."

"I know," Luke replied. "I have faith in you, Kyp."

He felt Kyp's swell of pride through the Force, and saw it in the man's eyes. "Thank you, Master Skywalker," he said, bowing and then striding from the room.

Luke smiled to himself. Things are looking better, he thought. Things are looking much better.

The smile stayed with him for the rest of the afternoon.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Walking around the floating city of Reef Home, Zena Fel was in awe.

She had never seen a place like this before. The entire city was a floating island, the architecture designed to look like the coral grown naturally in the planet's oceans. The city was beautiful and it took her breath away.

Even more amazing still was that her sister-in-law, Jaina, did not seem to notice. No, Zena corrected herself. She notices. Only this isn't anything new to her. She's been her so many times it must seem normal to her.

It seemed anything but to Zena.

From the looks on the faces of her brother and mother, they, too, were struck by the natural beauty of the city. Her father's face was passive, calm, but Zena saw his eyes sparkling with interest. Zena had never been to Republic space, none of her siblings had except for Jagged, but her mother and father had both grown up in this galaxy when the Empire ruled. Neither of them had ever been to Mon Calamari before, though, and they were all grateful to Jaina for taking them on a tour.

Zena glanced over at her sister-in-law, Jag's wife. The first time Zena had met her had been when they arrived at the base, and they had discovered that her brother, her cool, level headed, disciplined brother, had secretly married her. Zena would never admit it out loud, but she thought it was incredibly romantic, like something out of a holodrama.

Jaina was exactly the kind of woman Zena would have chosen for her brother. She was smart and funny, an excellent pilot, beautiful, strong and pleasant to be around. Jaina was confident in herself, but not arrogant, even though Zena suspected she had every reason to be. She had seen Jaina fly, and she had to admit that she was good. Very good.

And she was also a Jedi, which Zena found very interesting. She had never met a Jedi until she met Jaina, and sometimes she wondered if her sister-in-law could read her thoughts. She didn't think Jaina would do it on purpose, but Jag had told her that sometimes it was impossible for a Jedi not to, unless they shut themselves off from that person. There was so much Zena wanted to ask her about the Jedi, but she had yet to find the right time to do so.

"This is the most beautiful place I've ever seen," Syal cried, and Zena smiled. Her mother had been a famous holoactress, going by the name Wynssa Starflare, and she had made holofilms on many exotic planets, but she was still as amazed by Reef Home as Zena was.

"It's one of my favorite Calamari cities," Jaina replied, smiling brightly. "You can see the water in every direction."

"It's so big," Wik said, staring out at the ocean. "It makes me want to go swimming."

Jaina laughed. "I wouldn't if I were you. The seas are filled with krakanas."

"I've read about those," Syal said. "They're supposed to be extremely dangerous."

Jaina nodded. "They are. When we first came here as children, my brother Anakin was so amazed by them that everywhere we went he felt the need to point out that it was safe for him to wander off because there were no krakanas."

Jaina's face remained expressionless, no doubt a Jedi trick, but Zena saw her eyes flash with raw pain. Jag had told them that Jaina was extremely sensitive about her brother's death, and had explained to them that the Solo children had been connected since birth by the Force. When Anakin had died, Jaina had not only seen it, she had felt it, and the agony had been so terrible that she had let out a furious scream.

Zena could not imagine the horrifying agony that the girl was going through.

"Do you know where the Calamari cruisers are built?" Soontir asked, and Zena was grateful to her father for the obvious attempt to change the subject to one less painful.

"On Coral City," Jaina replied. "There's a large factory of sorts there." She smiled apologetically. "I would take you there but Admiral Ackbar would have to clear us first, and he's in a meeting with Jag and Wedge."

Soontir nodded. "No matter. There is plenty to see here on Reef Home."

"What are the other cities called?" Wik asked, still gazing out at the water. In the distance, Zena could see the outlines of floating cities on the water.

"There are four other cities," Jaina answered. "Coral Depths and Kee-Piru are over in that direction." She gestured to their left, then turned and pointed to the other side of the city. "And Heurkea and Foamwater City are over there."

"You seem to know a lot about Mon Calamari," Wik commented.

"I've been here many times," Jaina replied. "My mother brought us with her whenever she came to see Admiral Ackbar, and my uncle brought us along whenever he and Cilghal came here. They wanted to keep us safe and entertained at the same time."

"Jedi children must be a terrible ordeal for parents," Syal laughed.

Jaina grinned at her. "You have no idea. Especially when there are two of them. My father likes to brag about how he raised twin Jedi."

"Your father likes to brag period," Soontir said dryly.

Zena glared at her father, but Jaina only laughed. "I see you know him, then. Have you heard his tale about flying the Kessel Run in under two parsecs?"

Soontir snorted. "Han Solo has no shame."

"No," Jaina agreed with a grin. "He doesn't."

Deciding to start a conversation with Jaina, Zena asked, "Do you enjoy being a pilot or a Jedi more?"

Jaina smiled at her. "I don't know. I've never not been both. Even before I joined Rogue Squadron, I was flying. My friend Tenel Ka had a ship that I flew for a few years while we were at the Academy, and I flew the Falcon for the first time when I was still just a kid."

"Tenel Ka?" Syal asked. "Isn't she the new Hapan Queen Mother?"

Zena's eyes widened. Queen Mother? Jaina did have some connections, didn't she?

Jaina rolled her eyes. "Unfortunately. She didn't want the throne, but it was either her or-" she stopped and looked at them curiously. "Jag didn't tell you about Hapes, did her?"

"I don't think so," Soontir replied, frowning. "What happened on Hapes?"

Jaina shrugged. "Ta'a Chume tried to get me to marry Isolder when Tennienel Djo died. Jag thought I was accepting, I thought he was insulting me, we had quite a few nasty little spats."

"You were considering taking the throne of Hapes?" Soontir asked.

Jaina shook her head. "No way. Me? A queen?" She snorted derisively. "That's the last thing I want. Besides, Isolder may have been a prettyboy in my mother's day, but he's old enough to be my father. He's my best friend's father!" She shuddered at the thought.

Still, Zena thought. She gave up an entire system for my brother. She didn't say it, but I know that was one of the reasons she didn't accept. She was in love with Jag.

Jaina glanced at her, and winked. Zena started in surprise, her eyes widening slightly. Jag's words came back to her then, Jedi can't help but know what the people around them are thinking and feeling. It's part of their heritage.

Zena relaxed and smiled back at her sister-in-law. "I think you're right about Isolder," she said. "He's old."

"No older than I am," Soontir commented.

Zena shot Jaina a conspiratorial look. "Like I said, he's old."

Jaina grinned at her, and Zena's heart leapt. She liked Jaina, a lot, and she wanted to have a good relationship with her. Not just for Jag's sake, but because she wanted to be friends with her. Jaina seemed like the kind of person that Zena wanted as a friend.

Jaina opened her mouth to say something, then jerked her head up, throwing out her hand. Her lightsaber snapped off her belt and leapt to life in her palm, a violet blade of light hissing hungrily.

"Get down!" Jaina yelled, flipping over Zena's head and darting in front of Soontir to deflect a blaster bolt aimed at his head.

Soontir and Wik drew blasters immediately, and Zena yanked hers from its holster. Blaster bolts continued to pour towards them, Jaina dancing lightly on her feet to deflect them all.

Moving to stand behind her father, Zena spotted a swarm of soldiers rushing towards them, armed with high powered weapons and wearing green uniforms.

"Who are they?" Wik cried.

Jaina glanced back at them, her eyes burning with a torrid fire that seemed to sear right through them.

"Peace Brigade," she snarled.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

About twenty Jedi were all gathered in the main conference room, awaiting Master Skywalker's announcement. The only Jedi missing that was currently on Mon Calamari was Jaina Solo Fel, who was busy with other things, and Master Skywalker had not wanted to bother her. There was a large number of Jedi offworld at the moment, on small missions and slowly making their way towards Mon Calamari, traveling along the Jedi safe route the Solos had set up.

The Jedi murmured amongst themselves, wondering what the announcement was about. Corran Horn, knew, of course.

It was about the Council.

Kyp Durron had shown up in the pilots' lounge with a message to meet Luke in the Skywalker suite. When Corran had shown up, he had found that not only were Tresina, Cilghal, Kenth, Mara, Luke and Kyp waiting, but Kam and Streen's images were waiting patiently on the comm-screen.

Luke had told them of his decision to establish a new Council, and that they were it. The eight of them, working under his guidance, were now the official voice of the New Jedi Order.

Corran had been shocked. Not about the Council, but that he had been appointed to it. He was not a Jedi Master, all the others were.

But Luke had been adamant about him being a vital addition to the Council, and the others had all agreed, even Kyp. That was the most astonishing thing of all.

"Thank you all for coming," Luke said in a quiet voice, but immediately all the whispering ceased. "I have called you all here today to discuss a very important matter. A matter that involves all of you here, and all of our brother and sister Jedi unable to attend today."

Luke glanced around the room, his gaze flickering from one council member to the other, before finally focusing on the crowd of Jedi as a whole.

"I have decided to reestablish the Jedi Council," Luke said.

Murmurs filled the room and Luke folded his hands patiently, letting them all absorb that and waiting for them to fall silent again before continuing.

"I have already chosen eight Jedi to complete the Council," Luke went on. "I am going to remain the head of the Council, but I intend to delegate responsibility to the Council. I chose eight Jedi who I think are fit to serve you the best right now."

Luke gestured for the Council members to stand, and the Jedi turned to look at them, whispering excitedly and muttering their disappointment that they were not asked.

"Jedi Masters Solusar and Streen could not be here today," Luke said. "They are busy safeguarding our next generation. But I have spoken to them and they have accepted my offer to serve on the Council." He smiled at Corran and the others. "The Jedi you see before you have my complete trust and my utter confidence. I have every faith in them. I ask you to do the same."

Though silence rang out through the hall, there was a rumble of approval through the Force. Corran caught Jacen Solo grinning at him and smiled back at the kid. Ganner Rhysode squeezed Corran's shoulder, something akin to a proud gleam in his eyes.

"Congratulations, Corran," he said. "You've earned this."

"Thank you, Ganner," Corran smiled.

"Does this mean you have to spend more time with Durron?" Ganner raised an eyebrow wryly.

Corran smirked. "I doubt it. He can barely stand to be apart from Jaina more than a few hours without starting to worry. I think he actually worries more than Fel does."

Ganner frowned. "What do you think of that kid, anyway?"

"Jag?" Corran asked, surprised at the uneasiness he sensed in Ganner. "I like him. Why?"

Ganner hesitated, and Corran narrowed his eyes. He had known that the Jedi were concerned about Jaina's impromptu marriage, but he had thought that most of them had finally begun to accept it. Well, except for maybe Zekk, he thought. Poor kid's likely to be hurting a long time.

Ganner shrugged. "He's not good enough for Jaina."

Corran groaned. "Don't tell me you're in love with Jaina Solo, too."

Ganner chuckled. "No. I'm not in love with Jaina. I just don't think he's good enough for her."

"It's not because he's not a Jedi, is it?" Corran asked gruffly.

Ganner shook his head. "No. Mirax isn't a Jedi, Han's not a Jedi. It would have been nice if Jaina had married a Jedi, just to keep the Skywalker blood strong, but it doesn't bother me that she didn't."

"Han wasn't a Jedi and Luke was always amazed at how strongly the Force was with Anakin and the twins," Corran replied. "So Jaina and Jag's children will probably be strong in the Force, too."

"He's just not good enough for her," Ganner said.

"Will anyone ever be?" Corran asked simply.

Ganner shrugged, then flashed a smile. "No. I guess not." He sighed and tugged at his blue robes. "Jaina's our Jedi princess, it just seems strange to think of her as someone's wife instead of Luke's niece."

Corran nodded. "I think Jag is a good man, though. He's in love with her."

"Love can't move big rocks," Ganner retorted with a wry grin. "I don't think-"

He trailed off as a cry for help echoed through the Force, determined and focused, calling out to any and all Jedi who could hear her.

"Jaina," Corran murmured.

Jedi all around the room leapt to their feet and surged towards the door, Master Skywalker and Jacen Solo at the front of the pack.

Only as they hurried out the door did Corran realize that Kyp Durron had a huge head start on them, as he was already running down the plaza at top speed, leaping over speeders and hoverlifts.

"Guess that faster than the speed of light bond he has with Jaina pays off, huh?" Ganner asked as they ran.

The door to General Antilles office slid open and Wedge, Jag Fel and Admiral Ackbar emerged, looking concerned. Luke hesitated, looking torn, and Corran waved him on. "I'll tell them," he called. Luke gave him a thankful look, then vanished out the door.

"What's happening, Corran?" Wedge demanded. "Is it the Vong?"

Corran shot a glance at Jag before replying, "No. It's Jaina."

Jag's face went whiter than Corran had ever seen anyone's skin. His pale green eyes went dim and Corran saw terror on his face.

"Where is she?" Wedge cried.

"Somewhere out in Reef Home," Corran shrugged. "We're homing in on her."

"Reef Home?" Wedge's eyes went wide and he whirled on Jag. "What is she doing off base?"

Corran winced. Jaina obviously had not gotten clearance to leave, and it was just as obvious that Jag had known she had left.

"She went with my father," Jag said softly. "They took my mother and my siblings to see the rest of the city." He swallowed hard. "She promised she'd be careful."

Wedge blew out a sigh. He looked at Corran. "Do we need to send reinforcements?"

Corran shook his head. "It's not Vong related. Jaina was fighting just fine. She only called to us because there's some danger that we need to know about."

Wedge nodded, relieved. "When you find her, send her to me."

Corran nodded. "Yes, sir." He started off down the hall and was not surprised to find Jag Fel matching him pace for pace, his blaster already drawn and in hand.

"You are certain it's not the Vong?" Jag asked as they ran.

"Yes," Corran replied. "Jaina wasn't panicked. Just mad."

"Ah," Jag said. "Then I think that they are the ones in danger, not my wife."

Corran glanced at him in surprise, and found a slight smirk on Jag's face.

"If Jaina is truly mad, then I pity anyone fool enough to attack her," Jag said. "There is no force more dangerous than Jaina Solo when she's angry."

Given the events of the past year, Corran was inclined to agree.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Peace Brigade? Wik thought. Who the Sith are the Peace Brigade?

And then suddenly he remembered a conversation he'd had with Jag several years ago, before Jag had gone to Hapes. There are people in the Republic who are capturing the Jedi and handing them over to the Yuuzhan Vong. Traitors. Murders. They will do anything to capture a Jedi.

And Jaina was a Jedi.

Not only that, but the Yuuzhan Vong were willing to go to any lengths to capture her. She was the most wanted Jedi in the galaxy.

And the Peace Brigade had found her.

Wik fired angry shots from his blaster, striking down two men in the chest. His father was shooting beside him, using one of the speeders Jaina had overturned with the Force as a shield to fire behind. Wik's mother was crouching at his father's feet, ducking her head from the blaster fire aimed their way. Zena was kneeling over their mother, firing protectively, taking out the Peace Brigaders closing in on Jaina.

Wik wished there was something he could do for Jaina, but it was more than obvious by the sheer number of soldiers swarming the pavilion that he cold do little good. The best thing he could do for her was to stay out of the way and pick off whatever soldiers he could from behind the speeder.

Not that she appeared to need much help anyway.

Wik had to fight an urge to stand there and gawk at her, he was so in awe of her fighting abilities. She moved quicker than he had ever seen a human move before, and with a grace and ease that Wik could never have. She seemed to have a sixth sense about when and where shots were aimed, and she had yet to deflect one, even though Wik didn't think her eyes were even open all the way.

Jaina rolled, dove and flipped around the courtyard, her violet lightsaber flashing so quickly Wik could barely keep track. Her violet blade sent shots back at the soldiers who fired them, catching them square in the chest. She had yet to rush them, lightsaber swinging, and Wik figured she was trying not to kill them unless it was absolutely necessary.

It's necessary, Wik thought, taking aim and firing at another Brigader.

Jaina rolled backwards, pressing onto her toes, and did a backflip to land on a scaffold two stories up. This time Wik did gawk.

She threw out her hand, and Wik heard gasps of horror as the blasters in the Peace Brigaders' hands were yanked away and soared up to land on the roof next to Jaina. She smirked down at them, then launched herself off the roof, blade arched over her head.

She landed swiftly in front of their leader, a tall, dark haired man with dark eyes and a wicked looking beard. She pointed her blade at his throat, but did not press in for the kill as Wik had expected, as he would have done.

"Surrender," she said coolly.

"To a Jedi?" the man sneered. "Never. I'd rather die."

Jaina shrugged. "I am holding a lightsaber to your throat. That seems to be your only other option."

"Wrong," a female voice snarled.

Wik turned to see a woman standing behind him, wearing a pilots' flightsuit and holding a blaster rifle pointed at his family.

The woman was quite beautiful, with long black hair and shadowy gray eyes. If she had not been holding a blaster aimed at him and his family, he might have thought she was attractive.

Jaina's eyes narrowed and Wik felt a chill go through him. "Hali Rev," she said coldly, something in her voice alluding to past grudges. "I should have known you would be part of this."

"Part of it?" the woman laughed, and it was a decidedly cruel and heartless laugh. "I planned it. You have no idea how long it took me to find the perfect opportunity to ambush you. I'm grateful to you for setting it up so nicely for me."

Jaina growled, her eyes full of fire. "You shouldn't be. I have my lightsaber. Your men are unarmed. Do you really think one blaster can stop me?"

"No," Hali replied calmly. "But it can stop your in-laws here." She gestured with the blaster to Wik and his family. "Drop your weapons," she ordered them. When they hesitated, she took aim at Syal. "Now!"

Immediately, Soontir, Zena and Wik all dropped their blasters and kicked them towards her.

Wik was shaking with a cold rage. how dare this woman attack them? How dare she use them as hostages against his sister-in-law? How dare she threaten his mother?

He saw similar outrage in Jaina's eyes as Hali turned back to her. "Your lightsaber, Jedi Solo Fel," she ordered. "Or I kill the woman."

Jaina scowled, flicking off her blade and chucking it at Hali. The woman tried to dodge, but Jaina used the Force to predict where she would move to, and it smacked her solidly against the side.

Hali yelped, glaring angrily at Jaina. "Do anything like that again and I'll kill them all." She turned to one of her men and gestured for him to come forward.

The man reached into his uniform and pulled out some kind of small lizard. Wik frowned at it in confusion. A lizard was supposed to stop them?

But Jaina was backing away from it, her eyes wide in horror. "Ysalamari," she spat, her voice full of disgust.

Hali smirked. "You didn't think I'd be stupid enough to try to take you without it, did you? I flew with your uncle, I know what you Jedi can do. This little guy," she held up the lizard fondly. "Will keep you from using any of your Force tricks."

Jaina looked ready to run Hali through, but she glanced back at Wik and the others, at the blaster aimed at Syal's head, and froze in place.

Hali handed her blaster rifle to the solider, who turned and leaned over the prisoners, keeping the rifle pointed at Syal.

Hali strolled towards Jaina, holding the ysalamari out in front of her, and Wik saw Jaina's face pale.

She looked sick, like she was going to throw up, or pass out. Wik didn't understand what was happening, but he knew that whatever it was, the ysalamari was causing it.

"Now then, Jaina Solo," Hali sneered. "Maybe you'll pass this bit of information along to your husband." A scowl lit her face, making her look dark and cruel. "You may be a Jedi, but there's not force that can stand up to the wrath of a scorned woman."

There was a thunder of feet ahead and Wik turned to see more Peace Brigade soldiers marching down the steps, all carrying high powered blaster rifles. They came to a halt behind Jaina, their blasters aimed at Wik and his family.

"Now then," Hali said coldly. "Are you going to cooperate, Jaina Solo? Or do we have to start shooting your in-laws?"

Wik wanted Jaina to hit the woman, wanted her to fight back, but he knew she wouldn't.

Not when his life and the lives of his parents and sister hung in the balance.

Jaina raised her chin and glared at Hali. "I'll cooperate."

Wik hung his head in defeat.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Soontir Fel was furious.

This Hali Rev woman had been a Blackmoon pilot. She had flown under Skywalker's command. She had lived and worked alongside the Republic and Chiss forces.

And she had betrayed them all.

Worse, still, she had set an ambush to capture Soontir's daughter-in-law and hand her over to the Yuuzhan Vong.

"I'll cooperate," Jaina said, glaring at Hali, and Soontir's heart sank.

"Very wise of you," Hali sneered. "I'm sure your friends here appreciate that."

Of course they appreciated it. Jaina was surrendering herself into the hands of her enemy for them. To save them. And there was nothing Soonitr could do to save her.

If he tried, his wife and children would be killed instantly.

Hali placed the ysalamari on Jaina's shoulder and Jaina's entire body convulsed in agony. Soontir gritted his teeth against the urge to run and tear it off of her. Her face was sickly pale and her eyes sunken, and she had a dazed look about her.

She's cut off from the Force, Soontir thought with a wave of dread. Without the Force not only could Jaina not defend herself, but she could barely function, the ysalamari had such a powerful affect on her. How anything so small could cause so much damage, Soontir would never understand.

One of the Peace Brigade soldiers stepped forward, a pair of stun cuffs in hand. Soontir's muscles tensed as they snapped them onto Jaina's slender wrists, securing them firmly in place. Jaina glared weakly at the guard, who only snickered at her, fearless now that she was no threat to him.

"I'll take her to the transport," Hali said to her guards.

"What should we do with them?" the guard asked, waving at Soontir and the others.

Hali glanced back at the Fels and a dark scowl crossed her face. "Kill them," she snarled.

"What?" Jaina cried, struggling against the stun cuffs, even though the ysalamari made her too weak to do much. "You said you'd let them go!"

"You're far too trusting," Hali sneered. "This will teach your husband what happens to anyone who crosses Hali Rev."

"Why you heartless little-" Jaina lunged at her, swinging her arms around to slam the stun cuffs into Hali's head.

Hali stumbled, nearly blacking out, screeching in pain.

One of the guards stepped up behind Jaina, a stun rod in hand.

Soontir yelled out a warning, but it came too late. The stun rod crashed down on the back of Jaina's head and she slid to the floor in a heap, her eyes closed.

Soontir's pulse was racing, his heart pounding so hard he thought it would break his chest. Syal and Zena cried out, and Wik clenched his fists angrily at his sides. Soontir ignored them, focusing on Jaina. Was she still breathing?

He let out a sigh of relief as he saw her chest rise and fall.

She was alive.

For now.

"Sithspawn!" Hali cursed.

"Well, technically she is," Zena spat, her eyes flashing with rage.

Hali glared at her. "Brave words for someone who's about to die." She looked at her guards. "Half of you come with me. The other half, stay here. As soon as we reach the shuttle, I'll give you the signal and you can kill them."

"Why not just do it now?" Zena demanded angrily.

Hali snorted. "And take the chance that someone will happen along before I get out of here with the Solo girl?" She smiled coldly. "Not a chance."

Snapping her fingers at Jaina, she started back towards the public docking bay. One of the guards bent and picked up Jaina's limp form, throwing her over his shoulder. "She's quite a looker," he commented, throwing a wicked look at Soontir.

"Touch her and you'll die," Wik snarled. "My brother will find you and he will kill you."

Hali laughed. "By the time your brother finds us, Jaina will be in the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong. I think we'll be the last of his concerns."

Soontir watched, his body rigid in fury, as they strolled off, taking his son's wife with them.

"By the Force," Syal whispered, her eyes welling with tears. "Jaina."

Soontir squeezed her hand, nodding. "I know, love. I know."

She looked up at him, tears sliding down her soft cheeks. "Oh 'Tir, what are we going to do?"

"You're going to die," one of the guards snapped with a cold laugh.

Soontir glared at him, but having a weapon in his hand made the solider cocky, and he rolled his eyes. If we get out of here, Soontir thought. That one's mine.

"We'll be alright, Mother," Wik said, placing a hand on Syal's shoulder. "I'm sure help is already on the way."

"It's not us I'm worried about," Syal replied softly.

Wik swallowed, looking up at his father. "I'm sure Jaina will be fine, too," he said evenly, but the truth was in his eyes.

If Jaina was handed over to the Yuuzhan Vong, without even her lightsaber, she was doomed.

They crouched in silence, each dreading what lay ahead. For them, for Jaina, for Jag. Jag would suffer the most out of anyone. Not only would he loose his parents and his siblings, but he would loose his wife, the woman he loved. And Soontir wasn't sure that Jag could live without her.

He'll go after her, Soontir sighed to himself. Even if it costs him his life, even if he has to die to do it, he'll find her.

Part of Soontir was terrified to die, but the other part of him had seen enough death in his life to know that it was inevitable. And another, quieter part of him, wondered if maybe he would see Davin and Cherith again.

There was a click over the lead guard's comm-link and he smiled wickedly at them. "Well, it seems your time has run out." He raised his blaster rifle at them, and the other guards followed his lead.

Soontir took Syal's hand in his and clutched it tightly. He placed the other on Wik's arm, letting Zena press close against his chest. He swallowed hard, raising his chin defiantly.

"Now," the guard said. "It's time for you to die."

"Couldn't have said it better myself, Sithspit," a male voice sneered, and a white-purple blade of light swept through the guard's torso, cutting him in half.

The other guards whirled, opening fire on the newcomer, a tall, dark haired man dressed in Jedi robes and swinging a lightsaber.

Soontir let go of his wife and children and dove for their weapons, still laying on the ground across the pavilion. He grabbed them, rolled to his feet, and tossed two of them to Wik and Zena. He turned and opened fire on the Peace Brigade soldiers, while the Jedi's lightsaber flashed wildly.

"Father!" Jag's voice shouted.

Soontir looked over his shoulder to see Jag running towards them, a legion of Jedi running ahead of him, diving and flipping into battle with graceful ease. At the lead Soontir spotted Luke Skywalker and Jaina's twin Jacen Solo.

Jag ran to his father's side. "Are you alright?" he asked, his brow furrowed worriedly.

Soontir tried to speak, but couldn't seem to find his voice, so he nodded.

Jag looked around. "Where's Jaina?" he asked tensely.

Soontir looked away.

Jag stiffened, his green eyes going a shade paler and his mouth dropping open. "Do you mean to tell me she's been taken?" he demanded.

Soontir nodded. "Peace Brigade jumped us," he said hoarsely. "That pilot, Hali Rev, set us up."

Jag's eyes hardened with a fury that Soontir couldn't even begin to define. "They captured her?" he asked, his voice near breaking.

"She surrendered," Wik said quietly. "They had a blaster to mother's head."

Jag closed his eyes, breathing hard. When he opened his eyes, Soontir saw fierce determination there. Jag whirled, shouting, "Kyp! They took Jaina!"

The Jedi who had saved their lives looked up sharply, his eyes blazing. "Which way did they go?" he demanded.

"Towards the docking bay!" Zena shouted, angrily pumping blaster bolts into the remaining Peace Brigade soldiers. "They knocked her unconscious and put her in stun cuffs!"

"And they're using ysalamari," Soontir added meaningfully.

Kyp cursed. "Jacen!" he yelled. "Luke! Mara! They took Jaina! I'm going after her!"

Luke nodded, looking angry. "Take Ganner, Zekk, and Lowie!" he shouted. "Jacen, Mara and I will be there soon!"

Kyp nodded and his group of Jedi broke off and took to the corridors at a dead sprint, lightsabers blazing high overhead.

Luke Skywalker shouted something to the other Jedi, one of whom gave him a salute with his lightsaber, then he, Mara Jade and Jacen Solo took off after them.

Soontir turned to his wife and helped her to her feet. She was incredibly pale and felt frail in his arms. "It's alright, love," he said.

"No, 'Tir," she shook her head. "It will never be alright if they don't find her."

Looking after his son, who had turned to follow the group of Jedi in search of Jaina, Soontir nodded. "If they don't rescue her, I pity the Yuuzhan Vong. Jag is going to blow apart every chunk of coral in the galaxy until he finds her."

"And if he doesn't?" Wik asked hoarsely.

Soontir met his gaze. "Then he'll die trying."

He glanced up and spotted the guard who had been pissing him off and fired on quick shot that struck him in the head.

"Feel better, Father?" Zena asked dryly.

Soontir nodded. "Actually, I do." He looked around. "Now where was that short guard? The one who laughed at me?"

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jagged Fel was devastated.

His wife was gone, captured by the Peace Brigade to be handed over to the Yuuzhan Vong.

He knew she was still alive, Luke had assured him that they would know if she was dead, ysalamari or not, but he had not clue where she was or if she was alright.

The docking bay security officials had not been able to get an accurate lock on Hali's hyperspace jump, so they had no idea where the cargo ship had jumped to. General Antilles had ordered a full house arrest on all base personnel until the analysts were able to break the complex encryption code on the ship's signal.

Jag was livid. He wanted to be off searching for his wife, not sitting in his room, their room, waiting helplessly.

His father had persuaded him to at least wait until morning before breaking the house arrest order. He had argued that if the analysts could decipher where the ship was headed, it would give them a better idea of where to start looking.

The only thing keeping Jag from stealing a ship and running off to look for her at that very moment was that Master Skywalker had asked him to wait. He had promised that the moment the analysts figured out anything important, he would notify him, and that regardless of what they found he could leave in the morning.

Jacen and Kyp had already told him they were coming with him, and Raynar Thul had requested to come along, as well. Master Skywalker had offered them the Shadow, which had surprised Jag. More surprising, though, was that the Jedi Master intended to go with them. There had been a fire in Luke's eyes that Jag had never seen before, and it unnerved him.

But it was understandable. The Peace Brigade had turned over many of the Jedi to the Yuuzhan Vong, and had even attacked the Jedi praxeum. They would have taken Luke's students, had Anakin Solo not run off to rescue them.

But Anakin was dead, and no one was running off to rescue Jaina.

Yet, Jag hissed to himself. First thing in the morning, we're going to look for her, and we're going to find her. We have to find her.

Jag sighed, dropping onto his bed. His and Jaina's bed.

He could barely stand to be in their room because everything in it reminded him of her. The room itself reminded him of her. He had confessed his love to her for the first time here, asked her to marry him here. The room had been theirs since their wedding night.

Neither of them had many personal possessions, the war had forced them to leave them behind. But the things in the room were all things that had to do with Jaina, each of them carried a memory and a story that brought a smile to her face.

He had turned over all the holophotos, it hurt to look at them. He had not opened the clothing lockers because he did not want to see her robes and flightsuits folded lifelessly on the shelves. He didn't have the heart to look at the trinkets scattered around the room, various little bits and pieces of people and places that Jaina wanted to remember.

A framed flimsy of her record time at Lando's Folly. Her Rogue Squadron helmet and the insignia patch with her call sign embroidered on it. A ring given to her by Anni Capston's mother. The necklace Chewbacca had made for her on her twelfth birthday. Anakin's multitool.

Little things to remember people and places that had been taken away by the Yuuzhan Vong.

All of it reminded Jag of the simple, horrible truth that threatened to overwhelm him.

Jaina was gone.

She had tired to turn their dull, barrack style room into a home, and it broke Jag's heart not knowing if she would ever see it again.

He closed his eyes, wishing that he was a Jedi so that he could cry out to her, maybe hear her call back. Jacen had told him that none of the Jedi could hear her because of the ysalamari, but Jag felt certain that if he could use the Force, he could hear her. He didn't know how, but he was certain he could.

He glanced over at the holowatch on the bedstand and groaned. Eight standard hours before he could start his search.

He supposed that he should try to get some sleep, but it was impossible to sleep without Jaina curled up against him.

Sighing, he stood and headed for the clothing locker. He might as well pack his equipment bag while he waited. He tossed in a change of clothes for himself, and one for Jaina, just in case. He slid one of the portable med kits into the bag, along with their comm-links.

He reached into the very back of the locker and pulled out his sharpshooter blaster.

He held it in his hands for a long moment, studying the assassin weapon with great interest. Remembering who was responsible for Jaina's abduction, he gritted his teeth in fury.

Hali Rev.

He made sure that he had extra energy packs for his normal blaster, then stuffed both them and the sharpshooter blaster into the bag and closed it.

He tucked his regular blaster into the holster at his side, eyeing his bag with grim determination. The assassin blaster was safely tucked inside where it would not be found.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jaina woke up with the worst headache of her entire life.

She tired to reach out with the Force to ease the pain, but found herself completely cut off from it.

For a moment she panicked, terrified that she could no longer feel the Force, but after a few deep, calming breaths, she focused her attention on trying to find the source of the interference.

It wasn't hard. The source was sitting directly on her shoulder.

Jaina nearly screamed, half from shock of it being so close to her face, and half from utter disgust of the ysalamri being within a hundred meters of her.

"Great," she muttered, shaking her head, and instantly regretting it as a wave of stabbing pain tore through her head.

She blinked, looking around at her surroundings. She was in a dark room, a cargo hold of some kind. There were boxes crowding the room, all marked with the same hauntingly familiar label.

"Peace Brigade," she hissed venomously, and suddenly she remembered how she had gotten there.

Or at least, she remembered up until the point she had been knocked unconscious.

"Hali," she growled, her eyes flashing.

While Jaina had been away on Ryloth, rescuing Raynar from the Dark Jedi and the dark side, Hali Rev, one of the pilots in her uncle's squadron, had literally thrown herself at Jag. When he had told her when she got back, Jaina had wanted to find Hali and demonstrate a few lightsaber techniques on her Sithspawned hide.

Bet Jag feels bad for not letting you kill her now, she thought wryly.

But thoughts of Jag brought pain and worry, not for herself, but for him. He had to be terrified, angry, and, if she knew her husband, feeling incredibly guilty. He had been worried that something would happen to her, and she had promised him nothing would.

Of course, fitting with the ironic justice in the galaxy, something had.

She hoped that Jag was alright. She hoped that his family was alright.

As soon as she thought of Jag, thoughts of others who loved her swam through her mind. Her parents, her brother, her uncle Luke, Aunt Mara, Kyp. Her friends and fellow Jedi, even her Twin Suns pilots. They all had to be worried sick.

Guess I should probably find a way out of this mess, then, huh? Jaina asked herself.

She bit her lip, thinking hard. She couldn't use the Force, not with the ysalamari on her shoulder, and -

She started, and jerked her head sideways. The ysalamari on her shoulder. The Peace Brigaders had left the ysalamari loose on her clothing, knowing it wouldn't let go because it could sense she was Force sensitive.

What they hadn't known was that there was a reason one was supposed to keep ysalamari in a strong cage when holding a Jedi hostage.

"Their mistake," Jaina grinned. "My advantage."

She brought up her bound hands and grasped the slimy little lizard in her hands. She yanked the ysalamari off of her and held it out in front of her, wrinkling her nose in disgust.

"Sorry," she told it. "But it's me or you here."

And she snapped its neck, wincing at the sharp sound.

Immediately, she felt the Force swirl back into her as the floodgates holding it at bay crumpled. She took a deep breath, savoring the feel of the Force around her, giving silent thanks to the stupidity of her captures.

First thing's first, she thought, looking down at the stun cuffs attached to her wrist. She narrowed he eyes, focusing on the lock, and the heavy metallic cuffs fell away from her arms. She stopped them with the Force before they could hit the ground, gently lowering them without a sound.

She rolled her wrists around, eager to get the blood flowing again. While she did that, she reached out with the Force to lift away the aching pain in her skull.

"That's better," she murmured.

She reached out with the Force for her brother and was startled, and yet not at all surprised, to find him looking for her. She gave him a reassuring brush, and felt his elation at hearing her.

Where are you? he asked.

Don't know. Just woke up, she told him.

She felt a second familiar presence reach out to her, then a third, and then a fourth. She smiled to herself, shaking her head. Her uncle, Jacen, Kyp and Raynar were coming for her.

Are you alright? Kyp asked.

Did they hurt you? Raynar added.

Is Hali there with you?

Luke's question made Jaina scowl, remembering that the dark haired woman had set her up.

I'm fine, she called back. Reaching out with the Force, she felt for the presences around her. Hali's on the ship, along with at least a dozen other guards. They're tense about something. I think we're coming up on the drop to meet the Vong.

She felt all of them cringe, and bit her lip. She was just as unhappy about her current situation as they were, but she felt confident that she could find a way out of it.

Jag says that he loves you, Kyp called.

Jaina reached out to her husband, and found him with the others. He's with you?

The image of Kyp's wry smile filled her head, along with the words, Like we could have stopped him?

As worried as she now was about her husband, Jaina couldn't help but smile. It was nice to know that Jag would go to any length to get her back.

Tell him I love him, too, she called.

Luke informed her that they were going to home in on her presence, and asked her to try to stay put, but warned her that if the Vong showed up before they did, she needed to find a way to escape.

I think I'll find a way to escape anyway, she thought to herself, standing up and stretching her legs. She must have been unconscious for a long time, because her knees felt weak and unsteady at first. Another thing to discuss with Hali.

Now Jaina was determined that Hali was going to pay.

One way or another.

She didn't care if the woman was killed or not, but if Hali drew a weapon on her, she would defend herself. Jaina could think of worse things Hali could face than death.

Many of them things Jaina herself had suffered at the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong On Myrkyr.

Maybe I should just hand her and her friends over to the Vong, Jaina thought with a snicker. Let's see how they like being tortured.

Deciding that she had seen enough of the cramped compartment they had stuffed her in, Jaina started for the door, looking around to see if there was anything she could use as a weapon.

Not that she needed one.

She was a Jedi.

She was a weapon.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Hali Rev was not an evil woman.

At least, not by birth.

She had led a hard life, filled with loss and pain, and she had struggled for everything she had.

Unlike Jaina Solo, who had been born to a life of privilege.

Hali resented Jaina for that, even though she knew it was not Jaina's fault that she was the daughter of Princess Leia and the niece to Luke Skywalker. Jaina had been born important, whereas Hali had worked hard to gain the little bit of notice she received.

That was the logic Hali used to explain her betrayal. That and that the Jedi had lost Ithor, and refused to fight when they were capable of it. They claimed they could not attack because of the dark side. Hali thought they were just cowards and didn't want to lose any more of their precious numbers.

I wonder how they'll feel when they lose one of their most precious ones, Hali thought with a cruel smirk.

She was proud of her strike.

And why shouldn't she be? She had captured a Jedi, and not just any Jedi, but Jaina Solo, granddaughter of Darth Vader.

She glanced towards the back of the ship, where Jaina Solo was being held in a cargo hold, unconscious and restrained with stun cuffs and a ysalamari. It was quite an accomplishment to have captured the Solo girl, and she knew the Yuuzhan Vong would reward her well.

They really wanted Jaina Solo. So much that they had agreed to retreat from her homeworld of Tynna, as long as she delivered Jaina Solo to them alive and whole.

Hali smiled to herself, imagining what her family would say when she returned with news that she had managed to get their planet spared.

I could rule the entire planet if I wanted to, she thought with a grin.

And all because Jaina Solo had a weakness. She could not in good conscience let others get hurt for her.

And, as Hali had known she would, she had surrendered rather than risk others.

Only the others were dead by now, and she had been helpless to save them.

Hali didn't feel any remorse for what she'd done. The Fels were Imperials, after all. And after the way Colonel Fel had refused her that day in the hangar, she wanted him to suffer.

Just be glad Irik was there to stop you from making an even bigger fool of yourself, she thought.

"Thank you," his voice said from behind her.

Hali smiled up at her friend. "That's why I hate Jedi," she said, shaking her head. "Always reading other people's thoughts."

Irik grinned coolly. "Then it's a good thing I'm not a Jedi, isn't it?" he asked.

Hali looked the former Dark Jedi over appraisingly. She had met the young man nearly five years ago, when he was only about sixteen or seventeen. He had been seeking shelter on Tynna, a refugee from a destroyed order of Dark Jedi called the Shadow Academy. To her knowledge, Irik had not used the Force, light or dark, since he had come to stay with her.

Except for that day in the hangar.

When she had joined Blackmoon Squadron, Irik had followed suit, enrolling with the newest of the squadrons, Darkstar. Irik had managed to avoid the one person who might recognize him as a former Dark Jedi, the Jedi Knight Zekk. In five years, Hali had never seen him scared of anyone, and yet he seemed terrified of the young man. When she had asked him about it, he had dismissed it, saying that Zekk was just a bad memory from the Shadow Academy. She never asked again.

She had not known Irik was in the hangar when she had thrown herself at Jagged Fel, she never would have done it, had she known he was there. Irik had used the Force to keep her away from Jag, and Hali couldn't help but wonder if he had done it out of frustration or jealousy.

He had not used the Force again after that, not even when they ambushed Jaina Solo.

"How's the prisoner?" Hali asked.

Irik shrugged. "I looked through the transparisteel slide a while back. She was still out cold."

Hali grinned. "Guess you hit her a little harder than you thought, huh?"

Irik nodded. "I suppose so. She'll live, though."

"At least until the Vong get her," Hali smirked.

Irik flashed her a small smile. "How very true." He glanced over her shoulder at the display board. "Speaking of which, aren't we coming up on the drop point soon?"

"In about another ten standard minutes," Hali replied. She noticed Irik shift uneasily, and frowned. "What is it?"

He shot her a rueful look. "You don't think that they'll bring voxyn with them, do you?"

"Why? You haven't used the Force," Hali said. "They shouldn't be able to detect you, right?"

Irik shrugged. "I don't know. I've never run into one before. I don't know if they sense the use of the Force or if they can sense Force ability."

Hali bit her lip. "I'm sure they won't bring them," she said. "The last of them are dying anyway, thanks to a strike mission our prisoner went on a while back."

Irik nodded. "And I doubt the Vong want to risk having her injured by an overeager voxyn. They want her alive for their sacrifice."

Hali smiled. "See? Nothing to worry about. Absolutely nothing to worry about."

There was a loud smashing sound from outside of the ship, and they looked out the viewport to see a sleek looking ship docking alongside their ship.

"That's the Jade Shadow!" Hali cried in shock.

Irik shot her a dark look. "Is this one of those things we don't have to worry about?"

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jaina Solo felt the impact of the two ships brushing against one another, and would have lost her balance, had she not been expecting it.

She had felt the presences of those she loved on the ship, and even from a distance she had known it was the Jade Shadow.

The only question she had was who the Sith was flying that they would make such an ungraceful docking?

That would be my brother, she thought with a groan.

Up ahead she could hear panicking voices shouting as the Peace Brigaders prepared to be boarded. With her Force generated disguise on, she knew that they would walk right past her, thinking that she was just another guard.

They were running towards the compartment that had served as her cell, and Jaina had half a mind to go watch their faces when they discovered she was gone.

Better not risk it, she told herself.

With one last glance at the Peace Brigaders ahead, she turned and began to wander down the corridor, reaching out with the Force for any sign of Yuuzhan Vong technology on the ship. She knew that there had to be some, the Peace Brigaders had to communicate with the Vong somehow, and Jaina was willing to bet that Hali didn't trust her crew enough to keep it out in the open.

No telling whether or not they would kill her and take the bounty for themselves, Jaina mused.

In this case the bounty was her.

She hit a tiny patch of nothingness, somewhere behind the door ahead.

Gotta be it, she thought, pressing her hand against the touch pad and stepping into the dark room.

Inside was a bed, a 'fresher unit, and a small desk. Guided by the Force, Jaina walked directly to the desk and opened the bottom drawer.

Inside was a villip.

She lifted it out, glancing at the blaster in the drawer, and setting the villip down on the desk in front of her. "Should I or shouldn't I?" she mused with a smirk.

She stroked the villip gently, letting it attune itself to her, and waited to see who would appear before her.

She could not have been more surprised.

"Lord Shimmra," she whispered, recognizing his image from Intellegence reports.

After she had destroyed Tsavong Lah's worldship, Lord Shimmra must have decided that no one else was competent enough to capture her but himself. No one knows he's here, Jaina thought excitedly. The Vong have kept that a secret, but now that I know he's here, I can use that to my advantage.

"Have you reached the rendezvous point?" he asked, his voice like gnarled rocks.

"I'm afraid not, Lord Shimmra," she replied evenly. "We seem to have had a problem."

"A problem?" Lord Shimmra growled.

"Yes, sir," Jaina replied, trying not to smirk. "It seems Jaina Solo is too powerful for us. She overcame the ysalamari and defeated my men with her bare hands. She had no weapon other than herself."

"I was told that was not possible," Lord Shimmra said.

"It isn't possible, sir," Jaina replied. She pretended to hesitate, then said," I have heard rumors that she is a goddess, sir. Not just among your people, but from my own. Even the highest military officials concede to her, and Jedi Master Kyp Durron bows to her every whim."

Lord Shimmra hissed. "This blasphemy has tainted the holy-"

The sound of blaster bolts hitting lightsabers distracted Jaina momentarily, and she hid a smile. I take it my captures have met my rescuers.

She turned her attention back to Lord Shimmra. "I am sorry, Lord Shimmra, but I must go," Jaina said. "Jaina Solo is making my ship explode." With the Force, Jaina amplified the sounds of battle from around her, to make it appear that she was indeed under attack.

"I will capture her myself," Lord Shimmra snarled.

Jaina nodded. "I wish you luck, Lord Shimmra." She reached out a hand and lifted the blaster from the desk drawer, keeping it out of view. "And Lord Shimmra? Please tell Harrar that Tsavong Lah was right. She is Yun-Harla."

Before he could roar in outrage, Jaina fired and the blaster destroyed the villip.

Smirking, Jaina settled back in the hoverchair, propping her feet up on the desk. The others had the Peace Brigade covered. That much she was certain of.

She was just going to sit back and relax.

Isn't that what a goddess would do, after all? she thought with a satisfied smirk.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Raynar Thul had forgotten what it was like to have people shooting at you with blasters instead of amphistaffs and razor bugs.

"Well," he said as he deflected another shot easily. "One good thing about the Yuuzhan Vong war is when it's over, we'll be better prepared for all the minor threats."

"You call a dozen soldiers shooting at you with a blasters minor?" Jag Fel called wryly.

"Yes," Kyp Durron replied, darting forward to slice through the blaster in one of the Peace Brigaders' hands. He fell back into place alongside Master Skywalker, who was deflecting blaster bolts with a one handed lightsaber technique, his other hand outstretched towards the Peace Brigaders.

"We don't want to kill you," Luke said in a cold voice that alluded to otherwise. "If you surrender, we will let you live."

"We don't surrender to Jedi!" a female voice snarled.

Raynar saw Jag and Luke both tense rigidly. "Hali," Jag sneered.

"Hali," Luke called. "Hali, listen to me. You know that you can't win. You know we will kill you if we have to. Surrender."

"You'll kill me anyway, Skywalker!" Hali's voice came back bitterly. "I will not surrender!"

Kyp shrugged. "Suit yourself."

Raynar dodged a blaster bolt aimed at his head. "You know, we could just rush them," he said dryly.

Jacen grinned at him. "Not enjoying watching their own shots pick them off?"

"Oh, it's not that," Raynar replied with a wry grin. "This hallway is just a little cramped."

Kyp chuckled. "Well, then, I guess we should spread out a bit, hmm? Some of us just happen to wander into the bridge?"

"Stay back or we'll kill the Solo girl" Hali screeched.

Raynar hesitate, glancing at Jacen uneasily. Kyp snorted, shaking his head. "Jaina's not up there," he replied. He pointed towards the back of the ship. "She's back there somewhere, and she's in absolutely no danger."

"Don't you know that you can't lie to Jedi, Hali?" Jag called coolly.

"Colonel Fel? Well, well. How is your family?" Hali's voice sneered.

Raynar smirked. Hali had left before the Jedi had shown up, so she did not know that the Fels had been rescued.

"Very well, actually," Jag called with fake pleasantness. "They send their regards."

There was stunned silence for a moment, even as blaster fire continued to pour into the corridor. "You lie," Hali sneered.

"Sorry," Kyp called. "Fel doesn't lie. The Baron and the wife and kids are all safe and sound. Your men are dead, though. Hope you weren't too attached to them."

Blaster fire continued to shower towards them, then stopped suddenly. "Sithspawn!" Raynar heard Hali curse. "I'm out of power!"

"So am I," a male voice said evenly.

There was a long pause, and the Jedi glanced at one another curiously. Jag, who did not have the Force to enhance his hearing, was frowning in confusion. "What's going on?"

"They're out of ammo," Kyp smirked.

"Okay," Hali's defeated voice came back. "I'm surrendering. Don't slice and dice me, okay?"

"You have our word," Luke said evenly.

Slowly, a tall, slender woman with long black hair emerged from the bridge, walking slowly towards them. Jag growled when he saw her, and Raynar got the distinct impression he held malice for her for more reason than just Jaina's kidnapping.

She approached uneasily, glaring at them with hatred in her eyes. She moved towards them from Raynar's side, eyeing Luke and Jag wearily. Particularly Jag.

She thinks he's going to shoot her, Raynar mused, rolling his eyes.

"Jag," Kyp said. "Can I see your blaster for a minute?" he asked. "There's one guard over there still firing at me. I want to stun him."

Jag nodded, never taking his eyes off of Hali. He tossed Kyp the blaster and Kyp grinned, turning to aim at the man, Luke and Jacen following his gaze.

It happened so fast that Raynar barley had time to throw himself aside as his danger sense went off.

He dropped to the floor, felt something go whizzing by his head, saw legs run past him, heard a blaster shot ring out, and heard a body slump to the floor.

He glanced up at the vibroblade embedded in the wall where his head had been only moments before and winced. That would have hurt.

He pushed himself up and turned to see Hali laying dead on the ground.

In Jag's hand was a smoking assassin blaster.

Huh, Raynar thought wryly. She was right after all.

"Nice shot," Kyp commented calmly.

"Where did you get that?" Jacen asked Jag, nodding at the blaster in surprise.

"I keep it in my locker at base," Jag replied gruffly, staring down at the body before him. He looked up at Raynar. "Are you okay?"

Raynar nodded. "Yes. I'm fine."

"Good," Luke said, sighing and shaking his head at Hali's limp form.

Raynar frowned. "If Hali's dead and you're all here ... then who ran past me?"

Everyone looked at him in surprise. "What?" Luke asked.

"Someone ran past me," Raynar said.

"I didn't feel anyone in the Force," Kyp said, looking doubtful.

"I felt a surge of the Force," Jacen said. "I thought it was one of you."

Raynar shook his head. "Whoever it was, they were headed for the back of the ship."

Kyp's eyes went wide. "Jaina!" he cried.

Sithspit! Raynar cursed, breaking into a run alongside the others.

The sprinted through the narrow corridor, their hearts pounding as loud as their feet.

From behind the closed door of the cabin ahead, a shot rang out.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jacen Solo's heart stopped.

"Jaina!" someone screamed, but he was too disoriented to tell who.

They sprinted towards the cabin, and Kyp waved his hand, opening the door without breaking stride. They burst into the room, and skidded to a halt.

Stepping over the body just inside the door, Jacen looked up and shook his head, smiling.

There, leaning back in a hoverchair, with her feet propped up on a desk, a bored smirk on her lips and a still smoking blaster in her hand, was Jaina.

"If Dad could see you now," he said with a chuckle.

Jaina grinned and twirled the blaster around her finger. "That Solo heritage, never know when it's going to come in handy."

Luke glanced down at the body of the young man on the floor. There was a blaster still clutched in his hands. "I don't know how he got by us," he said. "I didn't even feel his presence."

"Neither did I," Jacen said.

"That's not a surprise," Jaina shrugged. They all looked at her in surprise. "He's Force sensitive."

Jacen blinked. A Force sensitive was working with the Peace Brigade? Wasn't he worried about being handed over to the Vong himself?

"I felt it earlier," Jaina explained. "When they went to get me form my cell and found I wasn't there. I felt someone reach out hesitantly with the Force to try to find me. He wasn't very good, though. It wasn't hard to conceal my presence."

"Looks like he knew you were back here," Kyp commented.

Jaina shook her head. "I think he was just running from you all. He was probably after this blaster I found back here, along with a villip." She gestured to the destroyed Yuuzhan Vong communications device with the blaster she held. "I felt him coming, though, and before he could fire, I fired."

"Your wife's got an even better shot than you, Fel," Kyp drawled.

Jacen noted, with an amused smile, the way Jaina's eyes lit up as she focused on Jag. In one quick, fluid movement, she was springing out of the chair and throwing herself into Jag's arms, her head tilted up in a long, passionate kiss.

Jacen and the others averted their eyes, but Jacen could not help but chuckle.

Jaina pulled back form her husband, but did not release the tight embrace she held him in. "Something funny, brother dear?" she asked. "I seem to recall you kissing a certain Queen Mother goodbye with just as much intensity."

Jacen blushed, but shot her a cocky lopsided smile. "Well, she is a queen, you know. I was just following orders."

Jag laughed. "And Jaina is a goddess, don't forget. I have no choice but to obey her commands."

Jaina raised an eyebrow wickedly. "Really now? Why didn't you say so? First of all, I want for you to do all my paperwork for me, and I want a good meal ready everyday when I get home from my evening meetings, and maybe you should do something about that hair of yours-"

Jag silenced her teasing with another kiss, and Jacen rolled his eyes, exchanging a look of mock exasperation with Kyp.

A sharp shock went through the back of his neck, and he yelped in surprise at the same time Kyp did. Both of them turned to glare at Jaina, rubbing their necks. She gave them her most innocent smile, but Jacen had seen that look practiced too much over the past twenty years, and Kyp wasn't falling for it, either.

"Don't do that," Kyp said.

Jaina's eyes widened. "Do what?"

Before they could get into a wry banter, Luke cleared his throat. Jacen turned to see his uncle holding the destroyed villip. "I take it you used this?" he asked Jaina.

She nodded, her eyes suddenly bright and eager. A wave of excitement rolled off of her through the Force. "And you'll never guess who I spoke with."

Jacen reached out across their twin bond and gasped at the same time Kyp did. Jacen winced to himself. Having Kyp share a bond with Jaina that was as close, or almost anyway, as the one Jacen shared with her was taking some getting used to.

"Lord Shimmra?" Jacen asked.

Jaina nodded. "The Supreme Overlord of the Yuuzhan Vong himself." She grinned cockily. "Guess after I blew Tsavong Lah out of the sky, he didn't feel very confident in his subordinates anymore."

"What did he say to you?" Luke asked.

"He didn't know I was me, and he didn't have much to say. He was very boring," Jaina replied smugly. "But let's just say he now believes I single-handedly destroyed the crew holding me captive as well as this ship, all without my lightsaber and with ysalamari blocking the Force."

Kyp snorted. "Don't we get any credit for this rescue, Your Greatness?"

Jaina smirked. "I managed to free myself, what makes you think I needed rescuing? I could have just flown the ship back to Mon Calamari with a room full of prisoners. But no," she grinned. "You boys just like to make big, dramatic entrances and get into shootouts."

"We had to rescue the damsel in distress," Kyp shot back dryly.

Raynar chuckled. "I don't think Jaina's much of a damsel," he said with a smile. "And I'm pretty certain that she doesn't need anyone's help to get out of distress."

"Nor, apparently," Luke smiled. "To get into it."

Jaina groaned. "Speaking of which, Wedge is going to kill me, isn't he?"

Jag nodded grimly. "I believe my execution will take place immediately following yours. Perhaps we can ask for a joint space coffin?"

Jacen shook his head. "I think Wedge will go easy on you. I mean, you did just get kidnapped by Peace Brigaders who wanted to turn you over to the Yuuzhan Vong for sacrifice. Do you really think Wedge is that heartless?"

Everyone stared at him, particularly Jaina and Luke.

"Does a wanton have fur?" Luke asked dryly.

Jacen sighed. "I guess you're right." He shot his twin sister an apologetic look. "I can ask him to lower your sentence to life imprisonment in his office."

"No thank you," Jaina shook her head hurriedly. "I think death would be better."

"For both of you," Jag replied with a smirk.

Jaina smacked him playfully. "Who's side are you on anyway, Flyboy?"

Jag pretended to look thoughtful. "Well, General Antilles is not only my uncle, but he's also my commanding officer..."

"And I am your wife," Jaina reminded him with a gentle shove.

Jag smiled down at her, his pale green eyes raking her over. "How could I forget?"

Jaina blushed, and Jacen shook his head. He couldn't take much more public displays of affection towards his sister right then. There was only so much a twin brother could take.

"Can we go?" he asked.

"What about this ship?" Raynar asked, looking around. "It's a nice ship. The Resistance could use it."

"It could stand some redecorating," Kyp said, nudging a body with his foot.

Luke looked at Jaina. "Do you mind flying it back to Mon Calamari? You're the best pilot."

Jaina nodded. "Of course." She glanced up at Jag. "You'll stay with me, right?"

Jag smiled. "Sure," he replied. "I'm not too fond of you being all alone on a ship full of enemies, even if they are dead."

"Well, then," Luke said. "That's settled." He gave Jaina a warm smile, then turned to head back to the Shadow.

Kyp shot Jaina and Jag a mock glare. "Behave, children," he ordered, winking at Jag. He disappeared out the door after Luke.

Raynar smiled at Jaina, shaking his head. "If we had known you could rescue yourself, Zekk and I could have saved a lot of energy running off to save you back at the Academy."

Jacen snorted. "She always did have a knack for finding trouble, didn't she?"

"Look who's talking, Solo," Raynar laughed, shooting Jacen a smile before leaving the room.

Jacen gave his sister a hug. "I'm glad you're alright, Jaina."

She smiled. "Me, too."

Jacen looked at Jag. "Keep an eye on my sister, huh?"

Jag was gazing at Jaina in a way that made Jacen embarrassed to be in the room. "Oh, I will. No need to worry about that."

Jaina, too, understood the hidden context behind those words, and blushed.

Jacen hurried from the room, trying not to laugh. When he caught up to the others, Raynar frowned at him. "What's so funny?" he asked.

Jacen grinned. "I think it might have been a bad idea to leave them together unchaperoned right now."

Catching his meaning, Raynar's cheeks flushed slightly. "Oh."

Kyp chuckled. "Come on, boys. Let's leave the Fels to some quality time together."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"I'm here to see General Antilles."

Tycho Celchu nodded. "I imagine so," he said, opening the door to Wedge's office and leading her inside. "General, Jaina Solo Fel is here to see you."

Wedge and Soontir Fel looked up from their discussion, and Wedge shot Tycho a meaningful look. Tycho nodded and shut the door, sealing the four of them into the private office.

"Hello, Jaina," Wedge said with a blank expression. "I'm glad to see you safe and returned to us."

"Thank you, General," Jaina replied.

"It does me great happiness to see you alive, Jaina," Soonitr said, giving his daughter-in-law the barest of smiles. "Syal and Zena were quite distressed over your disappearance."

"I apologize for causing anyone to worry," Jaina said softly, glancing at Wedge.

Good, Tycho thought. At least she sees through his General facade to know that Wedge was genuinely worried about her, and not just as our resident goddess.

"Is there anything else you would like to apologize for?" Wedge asked evenly.

Jaina swallowed. "I suppose I should apologize for not receiving permission to leave the base in the first place."

Wedge nodded. "I think that that's a start." He shook his head. "Jaina, what are we going to do with you? I can't exactly order you and Jag apart again. You're married, and I don't think that anyone could keep you two apart."

"No, sir," Jaina agreed quietly. "You couldn't."

"So the question is what do we do here?" Wedge sighed, leaning back in his chair. "You disobeyed direct orders not to leave the base, you got yourself attacked by Peace Brigaders, and were nearly handed over to the Yuuzhan Vong."

"You're going to punish me, sir?" Jaina asked calmly.

Wedge raised an eyebrow. "Do you think that you should be punished, Solo?"

Jaina shifted uneasily, and Tycho could tell she was gathering herself together to argue with Wedge. Brave girl, he mused to himself.

"With all due respect, sir, no," Jaina said. "I don't think I should be punished."

Tycho was never more grateful for his Imperial training as he was right then. Wedge's jaw dropped and even Soontir looked startled. Tycho managed to keep his face emotionless, but it wasn't easy.

"Perhaps you'd better explain that, Jaina," Soontir said quietly.

"Yes," Wedge agreed. "I think perhaps you should."

"It's simple really," Jaina said. "If I hadn't left the base, we would never have known that Hali Rev and Irik were traitors. And if they hadn't kidnapped me, we would never have known that Lord Shimmra is here. And if I hadn't made Lord Shimmra start to fear me, we would never stand a chance at making the Yuuzhan Vong as a whole believe I'm Yun-Harla."

Tycho stared at her, while both Generals gaped openly.

"So you see," Jaina smirked. "If I hadn't disobeyed those orders, then things would be a lot worse. It was a good thing that I was captured."

"I don't think my son sees it that way," Soontir murmured.

"Neither does Han," Wedge added darkly.

"Neither of them are Generals in charge of strategic maneuvering," Jaina replied calmly. "It would be ridiculous to reprimand me for something that provided vital information."

Ridiculous, huh? Tycho thought with a smirk. Han, you sure raised a bold daughter.

"I see," Wedge said, glancing at Soontir. "Well, Jaina, I was going to tell you that General Fel here already signed an official report saying that he gave a direct order for you to accompany his family off the base, as a military escort."

Tycho saw Jaina's eyes widen in surprise.

"Soontir already accepted full official blame for the incident," Wedge went on, causing Jaina's eyes to grow even wider. "The report was already filed."

"You mean I'm not going to be reprimanded at all?" Jaina asked in surprise.

"Not officially," Wedge replied, a wry smirk tugging at his lips. "We were going to just give you a warning, but seeing as how you think that General Fel and I make ridiculous decisions, I think we can come up with some kind of unofficial punishment." He glanced at Soontir. "Don't you agree, General?"

Soontir nodded solemnly. "Certainly."

Wedge grinned and turned back to Jaina. "I'm sure that Luke can use your help with finding a new pilot for Blackmoon Squadron. You used to enjoy screening pilots, right?"

Jaina hesitated. "For a while."

"Well, I'm sure you can help your uncle find someone to replace Hali Rev," Wedge replied. "And then you can help Major Forz find a replacement pilot for Irik."

Jaina groaned.

"It could be worse," Tycho offered, giving her a rare smile.

"How?" she asked.

"You could be forced to find pilots for Captain Janson's squadron," Tycho replied.

Wedge smiled. "That reminds me... Jaina, Wes needs two more pilots for the Yellow Aces. Add that to your list."

Jaina shot Tycho a dark look. "Thank you," she said dryly.

"Better get started, Jaina," Wedge said. "You know how Wes is when he has to wait."

"Whine, whine, whine," Tycho said, shaking his head.

Jaina gave the three commanding officers salutes, then disappeared out of the office, grumbling to herself.

Soontir glanced at Wedge. "Janson? Don't you think you're being a little hard on her, Wedge?"

Wedge smiled. "Possibly." He broke into a grin. "But I think that after dealing with Wes' complaining for a while, she'll have some respect for what I had to go through."

"General," Tycho said with an amused smile. "Just knowing Wes is enough for us to feel sorry for you."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"You should have seen her, Han," Kyp Durron laughed. "She looked like a smuggler instead of a pilot."

"A chip of the old block, huh?" Han asked, his chest puffing up with pride.

"A smuggler instead of a pilot?" Leia asked, smiling. "What's the difference? They're both cockier than a Tuskan wildcat."

"Hey," a half dozen voice protested, and Leia laughed to herself.

Her family was gathered around her, enjoying evening meal together. It had been so long since they had all sat down to eat together, and Leia was so grateful that everyone could be there. In the kind of war they were in, one was grateful that any of them could be there at all.

Leia's husband Han sat next to Kyp Durron, a Jedi Master who had once been like a younger brother to Han, and was now partners with their daughter Jaina. Kyp had done questionable things in the past, but he had saved their daughter from the dark side, and that gave Leia reason enough to trust him again.

Jaina sat on the other side of Kyp, not surprisingly, with her husband Jag close to her left. Jaina and Jag had secretly married almost a year ago, and Leia could not have picked a more perfect husband for her daughter.

Jaina had grown into a beautiful young woman, with dark hair and dark eyes and a warm smile. She was a wonderful pilot, a powerful Jedi, a brilliant tactician, and an amazing woman all rolled into one. Sometimes it seemed like Jag Fel had been meant for her all along. Perhaps he had been.

Jag was the son of TIE ace Baron Soontir Fel, and the nephew of Wedge Antilles. So, naturally, he was a superior pilot. But he was also kind, respectful, brave, and he truly loved Jaina. And he's Corellian, Han had said with a proud grin. My little girl had enough taste to marry a Corellian man. Leia half-suspected that Jag being Corellian was one of the main reasons Han liked him.

To Leia's left sat her brother Luke, her own twin that she had not even met until she was eighteen years old. And it had been a few years still till they realized they were brother and sister. Now, though, Leia could not remember what life was like without her brother. Nor did she want to. Luke completed her in a way no one else ever could.

Next to Luke sat his wife Mara Jade Skywalker, a woman who had gone from hating him to loving him. She was a skilled Jedi who had been trained as the Emperor's Hand, and her last assignment had been to kill Luke. She hadn't been able to bring herself to do it, though, and killed his clone instead. Years later, they were married, and Leia knew that they had been destined to be together.

Sitting beside Mara, talking with her eagerly about something to do with the Force, was Leia's oldest son- her only son, now- Jaina's twin brother Jacen. Jacen had grown into a handsome young man over the years, and after his rescue from the Yuuzhan Vong, he had decided to keep the goatee he had grown, making him look older than Leia had ever seen him look. Leia was proud of her son, not just for surviving the Vong torture, but for being strong enough to stay the same boy she had always known.

No, she shook her head. Not boy. Man.

Sitting beside Jacen, leaning across the table to talk excitedly with Jaina about something Leia didn't catch, was the most painful member of their family. Tahiri Veila was not her child, but she might very well have become her daughter-in-law, had Anakin lived. The blond Jedi was devastated by the death of her boyfriend, but Leia was beginning to see some of the old Tahiri shine through from time to time, particularly around Jaina. The two girls had become great friends, and Leia was certain that would have pleased Anakin to no end.

My family, Leia thought to herself. This is as close to a complete family as we're going to get right now. Anakin was gone, forever, and that pain still ached in a place deep inside of Leia, a place cold and dark, left empty after the Yuuzhan Vong tore him out of her heart. And Ben, her little nephew Ben, was safely hidden inside the Maw, at the new praxeum run by Kam and Tionne. Jaina had brought back holos of the boy, most of them of her playing with him, taken by Jag.

Those holophotos made Leia think of Anakin as a little boy, bright and eager, and she remembered Jaina caring for Anakin with the same gentle love she bestowed upon Ben. And while that thought brought pain and heartache, it also brought hope. One day Jaina would have children of her own, and Leia would be a grandmother.

She smiled. Jaina would make a good mother, and Jag a good father. And Han and I can spoil their children rotten, Leia thought to herself with a wistful smile.

"And then she actually has the nerve to say, 'What took you so long?'" Kyp cried. "Can you believe that?"

Han laughed. "Yeah, kid, I can." He winked at Jaina. "My daughter is something else."

"Dad," Jaina protested, her cheeks red.

"I happen to agree with him," Jag said, squeezing Jaina's hand under the table. Leia hid a smile as Jaina's eyes lit up. Only Jagged Fel could ever have that affect on Jaina.

"She's something alright," Kyp drawled wryly. "Some kind of pain in the-"

"Finish that sentence, Durron, and you'll be doing the dirty work for a week," Jaina warned playfully.

"The dirty work", Leia knew, referred to the pilot who was lucky enough to test out the newest experimental weaponry Danni Quee's team dreamed up. Jaina's squadron was used to test the weapons, mainly because Jaina and Kyp would sense it if the weapon was going to malfunction.

Kyp groaned. "Shutting up now."

Jaina grinned triumphantly. "The most intelligent thing you've done all month," she said dryly.

"Now, Jaina," Tahiri said with a frown. "You know that's not true." Her eyes sparkled wickedly. "That's the most intelligent thing he's done period."

Kyp shot her a mock look of betrayal. "I thought you were on my side, Auntie Tahiri," he drawled the nickname Kell Tainer had given her.

Tahiri's eyes narrowed. "I am going to kill you," she said evenly.

Jaina laughed, clasping her friend's hand. "I'll help."

"Hey," Kyp cried. "That's no fair. Two against one?"

"Sorry, Kyp," Han said with a grin. "I know better than to stand in the way of my daughter."

"Get in the way of my sister?" Jacen snorted. "I'd like to live, thanks."

Kyp looked at Luke, who only shrugged. Jag was barley concealing a smirk as he raised his and Jaina's linked hands in silent answer.

Mara snickered, shooting Kyp a wickedly playful look. "I think I have to side with the girls on this one." She glanced at Leia with a smile. "Don't you?"

Leia nodded. "Oh, definitely," she deadpanned. "If Tahiri and Jaina want to kill Kyp, we are obligated to assist them in any way."

"Run," Han stage whispered to Kyp. "Run very fast and very far."

Everyone laughed, and they kept laughing for the rest of dinner.

Leia felt happy tears welling in her eyes.

My family, she thought. For better or worse, whatever comes our way now, this is my family.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Gentle fingers ran across her bare arms, and Jaina Solo Fel let out a content sigh.

Her husband Jag nuzzled his cheek against hers, his arms draped around her and holding her close against his chest. "What was that for?" he asked softly.

Jaina smiled. "Just happy, I guess."

"You guess?" Jag asked wryly.

"I know," Jaina said, tilting her head up to look at him over her shoulder. "Have I told you that I love you today?"

"I thought you loved me everyday?" Jag replied dryly, raising an eyebrow.

"I do," Jaina said. She smirked. "Most days, anyway."

Jag chuckled, a deep, rich sound that made Jaina's heart skip a beat. "Well, as long as you love me most of the time."

Jaina lifted her chin to kiss him in reply. She leaned back into his chest, pressing her cheek to his bare skin and closing her eyes.

She took a few deep breaths, letting her body relax. She had been feeling tired all day, and she wasn't entirely sure why. Maybe she had just been wearing herself out, working too hard and too much lately. She knew that she probably needed a break. Maybe she could ask Wedge to give her a day or two off to rest. Jag or Kyp could lead the squadron for a couple of days.

Somehow, even without the Force, Jag could sense that she was weary. "Are you alright?" he asked quietly. He said it evenly, but there was concern in his voice, and in his eyes.

"I'm just tired," Jaina replied truthfully. "I haven't felt very well today. I'm just sort of out of energy."

"Yeah," Jag replied softly, rubbing his thumbs against her neck. "I had noticed that."

"I'm sure it's nothing," Jaina assured him. "Uncle Luke has been worried about me pushing myself too hard, and I guess I finally did."

"You have been running from one battle to the next lately," Jag agreed, kissing her shoulder. "I'm surprised you have the energy to keep going with how little sleep you've been getting."

Jaina shrugged. "I'm a pilot, it sort of comes with the job."

Jag craned his neck around to kiss the front of her shoulder. "And you're also a wife. Sleep comes with that job description, too, you know."

Jaina wiggled her eyebrows at him suggestively. "Along with other things."

Jag smiled, his eyes bright. "Yes, along with other things."

Jaina stifled a yawn, trying to hide it by turning her head, but Jag saw anyway. He frowned at her, stroking her hair tenderly. "Sorry," she said.

"You really are tired," Jag observed. "Maybe you should get some sleep, hmm?"

Jaina nodded. "In a minute. I just want to reach out with the Force and make sure everything is alright in the base."

Jag nodded, understanding the necessity of her nightly ritual. He continued to run his fingers through her hair, and she closed her eyes, leaning back against his chest, and opened herself up to the Force.

Before she could reach out to feel through the base, though, she noticed a strange sensation in the Force.

Something alive.

Something primitive, but alive.

And it was coming from inside of her.

She withdrew into herself, using the Force to trace the odd tingling back to its source, and what she found nearly made her loose her breath.

A cluster of cells, growing rapidly, had attached itself to the interior lining of her uterus.

It can't be, she thought. There's just no way...

She probed the cells, searching deeper for the truth about their existence. Two life signatures swirled around the cluster, pulsing and twisting as the collection of cells thickened.

One of them was hers.

The other was Jag's.

I can't be, Jaina told herself quietly. Not now. Not when there's so much hanging in the balance.

But the Force was screaming at her now, and she could not ignore its truth.

"Jaina?" Jag asked, his voice sounding oddly distant, but worried nonetheless. "Jaina, are you alright?"

Jaina looked up at him, her eyes wide. She let go of the Force, blinking rapidly. "I-" she said, her voice cracking.

"What is it?" Jag asked, his eyes boring into hers, darting back and forth in concern.

"I need to talk to Kyp," Jaina said, pushing aside his arm and swinging herself out of the bed. She heard Jag calling her name, but she ignored him, had to ignore him, and ran from their room without even bothering to pull on her boots.

She ran to Kyp's room down the hall and waved her hand over the touchpad, using the Force to slide the door open.

Light streamed into the room from the dimly lit corridor and she stepped into the room, momentarily bathed in light, then the door slid shut and the room was plunged into darkness.

"Jaina?" Kyp asked groggily.

He didn't ask the customary "Is that you?" because he knew it was, of course. He always knew when she was around.

"What is it?" he asked, sensing her whirlwind emotions. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Jaina said, he voice coming out faint and weak. "I just need you to do me a favor."

Kyp was sitting up now, rubbing his eyes sleepily, but he threw aside his bedsheet and looked up at her worriedly. "What do you need me to do?" he asked.

Jaina stepped over to him, her hand shaking slightly. "Give me your hand," she instructed. When he complied, she placed his hand over her stomach. "I need you to scan me with the Force," she told him softly.

Kyp blinked, raising his eyebrows at her.

"Please," she said. "Just do it. I need a second opinion."

Kyp nodded, then narrowed his eyes in concentration, focusing on her body. Jaina felt the familiar warmth of their connection blaze to life inside her, and she closed her eyes, silently guiding him to the spot she needed him to look at.

She felt him probe her, then his eyes went wide and he gaped up at her, his mouth dropping slightly. "Jaina," he whispered.

"I knew it," she said softly. "I knew it, but I needed you to confirm it for me."

Kyp squeezed her hand, his eyes not leaving hers. "Oh, Jaina," he said softly, his eyes bright and dancing with a light she had never seen in them before. His face lit up with a grin, and he stood, embracing her tightly.

Jaina leaned into his arms, hugging him back, when he suddenly pulled away, a concerned look on his face.

"I shouldn't hug you like that," he said worriedly. "I might hurt it."

Jaina smiled. "I think that he can stand a hug."

"You can tell it's a boy?" Kyp asked, doubtful.

"Not yet," Jaina admitted. "It's just a hunch."

Kyp shrugged. "Your hunches are good enough for me." He grinned. "Hey, I'm the first to know, right?" Jaina nodded and his grin went even wider. "I feel special."

Jaina laughed. "Good, because you are special." She squeezed his hand. "You're very special to me. Now promise me you won't go blabbing this to anyone just yet, okay?"

Kyp nodded. "I won't say a word," he promised.

"Thank you," Jaina said, turning to go.

"Are you headed to tell Jag?" Kyp asked.

"Not just yet," Jaina shook her head. "I need to talk to Aunt Mara first. And my mother."

Kyp gave her a warm caress through the Force, and she felt one brush the baby, too.

The baby, she thought to herself, marveling at the words. They sounded foreign and strange, and yet absolutely perfect.

Jaina smiled at Kyp, then hurried out the door, eager to find her mother and Mara and tell them the news. And ask for some advice on how to break the news to Jag, among other things.

She glanced at her holowatch and saw that it was still fairly early, the only people who were asleep on the base were the Twin Suns pilots, since it was their sleep cycle. She turned down the hallway and headed for the turbolift, barely able to contain her excitement.

Pregnant, she thought giddily. I'm pregnant!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jaina was nervous about something, that much Jag knew.

He could tell by the way she was glancing at everything but him, purposely focusing on the sky overhead and the coral sculptures around them.

They were walking through the coral garden belonging to Admiral Ackbar, and Jag still wasn't sure why they were there. Jaina had woken him up and asked him to get dressed, but she hadn't said much else since then.

Jag was beginning to wonder just why she had brought him here.

"I used to come here," Jaina said quietly, reading his thoughts. "With my brothers, when we were children. Our mother used to let us play out here while she and Ackbar discussed politics up on the balcony overhead."

"I can understand why you like it here," Jag said, looking around. "It's very beautiful, and I'm sure children are fascinated with the coral statues."

Jaina nodded, biting her lip. She cast Jag a sideward glance. "They are," she said softly. "That's why I was thinking, hoping, really, that in a few months..." she swallowed. "We could bring our own child here."

Jag stared hard at her for a long moment of silence, absorbing what she had just said. Hope welled up inside of him, and he had to swallow to find his voice. "Our child?" he asked softly.

Jaina nodded, her eyes searching his worriedly.

Our child, Jag repeated to himself, his mind not yet comprehending the meaning of those words. As they took form, though, a sense of wonder and awe seeped through him.

His child.

His and Jaina's child.

And then the happiness seized him, slamming into him with all the force of a Tatooine sandstorm. His eyes went wide and he gaped at Jaina, finally understanding the full importance of those words. He was going to be a father.

"We're having a child?" he gasped out.

Jaina nodded, smiling now that she felt his euphoria through the Force. "We're having a child," she confirmed.

Jag scooped her up in his arms, spinning her around. Jaina laughed, her loose hair streaming out around them. Jag came to a halt and leaned down his head to kiss her, long and fierce, letting every fiber of his being cry out with the joy he was feeling.

"I take it this makes you happy," Jaina observed wryly.

Jag grinned. "Jaina, my love, you have no idea how happy this makes me."

Jaina laughed. "Yes, I do. Jedi, remember?"

Jag didn't know what to say, so he kissed her again.

When they pulled apart, he set her down gently on her feet. "When did you find out?" he asked, not able to keep the dizzy grin off of his face.

"Last night," Jaina replied.

Realization crept into Jag's mind. "That's why you ran off to find Kyp?"

Jaina nodded. "I needed him to verify what I felt. I didn't want to tell you and then have it not be true."

Jag stroked her cheek with his hand. "You could have told me last night," he said, kissing her nose.

"I know," Jaina replied. "But I needed to speak to my mother and Aunt Mara first," she said with a small smile. "A woman thing, I suppose."

Jag smiled. "And how did they react?"

Jaina laughed. "How do you think? I barely got the words out of my mouth and they were both crying and hugging me and hugging one another and it was all emotions flying through the roof."

Jag kissed her forehead. "Did you tell Jacen?"

Jaina shook her head. "Not yet. I wanted to tell you first." A weak smile touched her lips. "Think he'll be hurt that Kyp found out first?"

Jag smiled. "If he is then I'm sure he and Kyp will handle it like adults."

Jaina raised an eyebrow at him. "Kyp and Jacen? Act like adults? You have met them before, right?"

Jag laughed. "I see your point," he said, kissing her cheek gently. He stared down at her, his chest tight with emotion. She was so small, so beautiful, his wife Jaina, and they had created a new life together. A life that was tiny and precious, that would grow into a son or a daughter.

Jag placed his hands over Jaina's stomach, stroking her flat belly that would be swollen with his child in a few months. He smiled to himself, imagining a child that would be part Jag and part Jaina.

Picking up on his thoughts, Jaina smiled up at him, placing her hands over his. "Think he'll have your green eyes?"

"Can you tell if it's a boy?" Jag asked, surprised.

Jaina shook her head. "Not yet, but we can't call our baby an it, now can we? Besides, call it woman's intuition here, but I know it's a boy."

"That's good enough for me," Jag said, kissing her again. He pulled back and searched her eyes with his. "I love you, Jaina," he said. "I love you more than life itself."

A bright smile lit his wife's face. "I love you, too, Jagged."

What about the war? a nagging voice in the back of Jag's mind asked, and some of Jag's excitement faded.

Jaina squeezed his hand. "We'll find a way to make it work," she promised. "We won't let this war hurt our child. I won't let anything hurt our child," she said fiercely, and Jag believed her.

"I know," Jag said. "I won't either."

"Gives us another reason to keep fighting, doesn't it?" Jaina asked softly. "To protect our child and to give him a peaceful galaxy to grow up in."

Jag brought up one hand to gently stroke her cheek tenderly. "You're going to make a wonderful mother."

Jaina gave him a weak smile. "I hope so."

"If you make half as good a mother as you do a wife, then you'll be the best mother any kid could ask for," Jag assured her.

Jaina's cheeks flushed. "Not as good as the father you'll be."

I certainly hope I'll be a good father, Jag thought. I love this child already. My child. Jaina's child.

"Our child," Jaina corrected aloud, beaming up at him.

Jag swallowed past the lump of emotion in his throat. "Our child," he agreed, embracing her in his arms.

Our child.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Nine months later...



Jaina Solo Fel listened intently as Colonel Celchu ran through the data recently collected by Danni Quee's team of scientists. She knew that this new information was vital, and could be key in beating the Vong, possibly even usable by her own squadron.

Jag's squadron, really, she corrected herself with a mental sigh.

For most of her pregnancy, she had continued to fly as Twin Suns Leader, despite uneasiness from Jag and Kyp. Her father, her uncle, Tycho, Wedge and Gavin had all tried to discourage her from flying, but Jaina had refused to budge. She was grateful to her Aunt Mara, who pointed out that she had flown while pregnant, and her mother had taken her side, arguing that Jaina was not a normal woman, she was a Jedi and more than capable of protecting her child.

After six months, though, Jaina had decided it was time to hand over the squadron to Jag. She was still in charge, for all intensive purposes anyway, but Jag was commander once they hit the sky. It made Jaina sad to watch her squadron take off without her, she missed the feel of her X-wing as she dived and rolled, but she knew it was for the best.

Besides, Jag was more than capable of commanding the squadron, he had been commanding a Chiss phalanx since before Jaina had even joined Rogue Squadron.

So while her husband, her partner, and her squadron were up in space, locked in a dogfight with Yuuzhan Vong coralskippers, Jaina was stuck sitting in a meeting in Wedge's conference room, having to settle for listening to the comm-traffic of the battle overhead on the comm-link on Wedge's desk.

"Twins Two, Twins Three, form up on me." That was Jag's voice, calm and collected as always. "Twins Four, take Five and Six and make your run. Seven-Eight-Nine, cover him. I want Ten-Eleven-Twelve on my flank."

"Copy that, Jaggy," Kyp Durron called, and Jaina stifled a laugh, imagining Jag's expression. Upon relinquishing command to her husband, she had instructed all of her pilots to address him as Jaggy. The call sign, given to him by Jaina's two year old cousin Ben, had a very unique affect on Jag's face.

"Remind me to have a little discussion with Her Greatness about that," Jag replied coolly, though Jaina detected no anger in his voice, or in his presence in the Force.

"If we attempt a strike on Lord Shimmra's worldship," Tycho was saying. "It would have to be an all out attack. We'd get one chance. If we failed, that would be it. Most of our fleet would be destroyed."

"I think we should wait on that," Soonitr Fel responded. Jaina's father-in-law was a strapping man, whose mere presence seemed to command attention. Whenever he spoke, it was hard not to listen to him. "We may need to fall back on it later, but for now we should wait. It is too large of a risk to take right now."

"I agree," Wedge Antilles, Soontir's brother-in-law, nodded. "Right now, we don't have the forces to hold off a retaliation. As good as the plan sounds, it's not worth the risk yet."

"Jaina?"

Jaina blinked, turning to Colonel Celchu. "I think that General Antilles and General Fel know best," she replied. "But I do think that we need to strike Shimmra's worldship. Just not yet."

Tycho nodded. "Precisely."

"When we do strike, however," Jaina said. "We'll need to make it a full force attack. Like when you went up against the second Death Star, General Antilles."

Wedge nodded. "I think that General Calrissian and I can dream up something along those lines." He glanced at Lando, who was leaning back in his chair. "Don't you, Calrissian?"

"I'm not a General yet, Wedge," Lando replied with a smirk. "I haven't agreed to this recommision yet."

"You will," Wedge said with a confident smile. "If only so you can outrank Han."

Jaina smiled to herself. Lando and her father were old friends, and life long competitors. Her father had made it clear he was not interested in being a General again, which meant that if Lando accepted he could bully Han around a bit.

"Perhaps," Lando conceded with a shrug and a small smile. With the Force, though, Jaina could tell he was going to accept.

She was leaning forward to tell him so when she felt a strange hardening in her stomach. She stopped suddenly, frowning.

"Jaina?" Wedge asked, his eyes narrowed in concern. "Are you okay?"

As quickly as it had come, the strange sensation was gone, and Jaina looked up at Wedge. "I'm fine," she said. "I just felt a little uneasy for a moment."

Soontir smiled faintly. "Pregnancy is not something I would ever choose to experience. Watching Syal go through it five times was enough for me."

Jaina nodded. "I'm alright now. Please," she waved at Tycho. "Continue."

"The data provided by Danni Quee's research team suggests that Lord Shimmra will be with the rest of the main forces. They are working on focusing a target area where the Vong have most likely set up base, but Danni believes, from what she saw on Coruscant when she accompanied Master Skywalker there, that Shimmra will choose to set up his Empire there, if only as a slap in the face to us."

"That's a good theory," Lando agreed. "Especially since we know that they know the significance of Coruscant. They know how much it represents to the Republic, and to its citizens. Tsavong Lah made Coruscant his headquarters for that very reason."

"And Tsavong Lah is dead," Wedge said, glancing at Jaina with a proud gleam in his eyes. "It would be natural for Shimmra to try to reestablish the control that Tsavong Lah lost."

"What bout our Resistance Cells set up there?" Tycho asked.

Jaina's stomach tightened again suddenly, and she let her attention shift away from what Colonel Celchu was saying. There was a tingling sensation in the back of her mind, a hazy sense of forewarning that seemed to come from within her.

Turning to the Force, she withdrew into herself, following an invisible trail to the source of the strange feeling.

The gate opened and she felt another pulse, another life.

The tightening increased, and with it a growing sense of uneasiness from her unborn son. Frowning, Jaina reached out to her son, examining the situation.

That's when she realized that it was not her stomach tightening...

Reaching out with the Force to soothe her son, Jaina focused on the conversation going on around her. "Wedge?" she asked softly.

The four men in the room all turned to look at her. "What is it, Jaina?" Wedge asked.

"Are you going to be sick?" Lando added worriedly.

Jaina smiled weakly at them, both of them her hold-fathers. "No," she said. "I'm not going to be sick. I do, however, need to get down to the med-ward right away."

Wedge's eyes widened. "The baby?"

Jaina nodded. "I think so."

Soontir and Lando both stood and rushed to open the door at the same time, nearly running into one another. Wedge stood and moved to Jaina's side, taking her arm in his. "Let's go," he said, giving her arm a reassuring squeeze.

"I'm going to go let Syal and Zena know that my grandson is about to be born," Soontir said, flashing Jaina a proud smile.

"Don't let Jag know," Jaina said. "Wait until he's landed safely. Otherwise he might get himself blown into space dust."

Soontir smiled. "I believe you are correct."

"I'll find Han and Leia," Tycho volunteered.

"Better get Mara, too," Lando advised. "And Jacen."

Just then Jaina felt her brother reaching out to her. He had felt the tightening sensation, so had their mother and Mara, and they were already on their way.

"No need," Jaina said with a smile. "They're already on their way."

There was another tightening sensation, as muscles clenched together tightly, this one much more intense, and Jaina let out a hiss of breath.

"And so is my son."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Han Solo could not stop pacing the lobby of the med-ward.

Behind one of the closed doors, his daughter was in labor, about to give birth to her first child. His first grandson.

When Jaina had first announced that she was pregnant, Han had been in shock. It was one thing for his little girl to be married, but to be pregnant?

Almost right away, though, the excitement had set in. He was going to be a grandfather. Sure, he had to share the title with Soontir Fel, but he was sure the kid would like him best. After all, Soontir was disciplined, stiff and rigid, while Han just liked to have fun and enjoy himself. And if not, I'll bribe the kid to pretend.

He was already looking forward to seeing Jaina's son drive Soontir crazy, because, as Jaina herself had proved, any kid with Skywalker and Solo blood was bound to be a handful. Especially when that kid was a Jedi.

Han was eager to watch Jag try to deal with a Force sensitive child. It had not been easy with Jaina, Jacen and Anakin, and Han still didn't know how he had survived their Force assisted tantrums. Luke or Leia had always been able to quiet them down using the Force, but Jag didn't have that advantage. It should be entertaining to watch, Han thought with a snicker.

Pacing the lobby was driving Han mad, and he kept glancing at the chrono on the wall to see what time it was. What's taking so long? he thought, but he knew that he was just being impatient. Leia had been in labor for hours with the twins, and nearly as long with Anakin. Cilghal had said that Jaina's son was in a hurry to get out, and that it would be fairly quick, but Han was ready to see his grandson. Now.

It was being outside the room that was really making him anxious. He had been inside with Leia when Jaina was born, and he wanted to be there with her now, but Cilghal had given strict orders that none of the men were to be present, except for Jacen, who was there to help Jaina with the pain through their twin bond.

Not even Jag was there, though, to be fair, the kid didn't even know Jaina was in labor. He was up flying in a skirmish in space with the rest of Twin Suns, and Jaina did not want anyone to tell him, for fear that in his distraction he'd get himself shot down. Smart logic, Han agreed silently.

Han doubted that they could keep it from him for long, though. As soon as Jaina started to have serious contractions, Kyp Durron and Luke would both feel it. He considered going to a comm-link and giving them a heads up, so that the sudden wave of pain did not disorient them or knock them unconscious- he remembered how Jacen had reacted to Mara's labor pains when she gave birth to Ben. He didn't want either of them being killed because Jaina's pain threw them off track.

The door opened and Jacen stuck his head out, looking weary and rubbing his hand. "Is Tahiri here yet?" he asked.

The blond Jedi girl darted forward and ducked under his arm, disappearing into the room. Han heard Jaina cry out, "Thank the Force you're here! Jacen is driving me nuts!"

Jacen gave his father a wry look, then retreated back into the room and shut the door behind him. Han sighed, shaking his head. He was dying to know what was going on in there, but the only people allowed inside were Leia, Mara, Jacen, Cilghal, and, apparently, Tahiri. Han just hoped that between the five of them, they could manage to get his little girl through this with as little pain as possible. He remembered Leia's pain from the twins' birth.

Wincing, and remembering how badly his hand had hurt for days after, he imagined it was a good thing Jag wasn't there. Jaina was likely to break his hand clean off.

"Don't worry, Han," Syal Fel said from behind him. "Jaina will be fine."

Han turned to face his daughter's mother-in-law. "It's taking forever," he complained.

Syal chuckled. "I'm sure it seems that way to Jaina, too. But she's doing fine. Believe me, I know. I've done this five times myself."

Iella Wessiri Antilles, Syal's sister-in-law, shuddered. "I did it twice and that was enough for me. I don't know how you did it, Syal."

Syal smiled. "With lots and lots of sedatives."

Iella laughed. "Wedge nearly passed out I squeezed his hand so hard."

"It's not just my little brother, I'm afraid," Syal replied with a smile. "I never saw 'Tir's composure break like it did when I held his hand during Davin's birth. He looked about ready to cry."

"Your husbands are both babies," Han drawled.

Winter made a snickering sound. "I seem to recall you screaming right along with Leia, Han. And not from any sympathy pains."

Corran Horn tried to hide his amused smile, but Mirax elbowed him in the ribs. "None of that, Corran. When Valin was born you could hardly hold him, your hand was bandaged so much."

"I am never having children," Ganner Rhysode moaned from the corner where he sat with Lowbacca, Zekk, Alema and Raynar Thul.

"You're not the one who has to carry the baby around for nine months," Alema said, smacking him lightly against the head.

"And you don't have to endure hours of excruciating labor," Zena Fel added. She shook her head. "I can't believe Jaina's not screaming in there."

"There are some advantages to being a Jedi," Ganner drawled. "Being able to withstand incredible amounts of pain is one of them."

"I just can't believe she's not demanding Wedge call Twin Suns back to base," Syal said. "I would have been livid if Soontir wasn't there."

"I offered to call Jag," Han replied, shaking his head in exasperation. "She told me if I did she was going to use me for lightsaber practice."

"She knows how important this battle is," Iella said softly. "She's not going to risk loosing it."

"Or loosing Jag," Mirax said with a smile. "Could you imagine how distracted he'd be if Wedge were to tell him that Jaina's in labor, but that he couldn't return to base until the Vong were pushed back enough?"

"I imagine he'd be more than willing to ignore that directive," Syal said.

Corran nodded. "Which is precisely why..." his voice trailed off and he grabbed onto the back of a chair to balance himself.

In the corner, Ganner let out a moan, Lowie growled in pain, and Alema muffled a scream. Zekk and Raynar both swayed on their feet, faces twisted in agony. All five of them looked ready to pass out at any moment.

"What?" Han demanded. "What is it?"

"The baby's coming," Mirax said, watching Corran's face carefully. "The same thing happened to all the Jedi with a bond to Mara when Ben was born."

"All the Jedi with a bond to Jaina are going to feel that?" Han asked worriedly.

Corran stood up, looking better but still weary. "Unless they disconnect themselves from her temporarily." He wiped sweat from his forehead. "I just did."

Han glanced at the other Jedi, all of who were starting to look better. "You all okay?" he asked them.

Ganner nodded. "Just had to sever the link for a while."

"Wow," Raynar murmured. "That hurt."

"Imagine how it feels for Jaina," Iella said dryly.

Han let out a soft curse, and everyone turned to look at him in concern. "What is it?" Corran asked him, his brow furrowed.

"If you all felt it that strongly," Han said. "Just imagine how hard it's going to hit Kyp and Luke."

Corran winced. "They're going to have one hell of a headache."

Han nodded grimly. "If they don't blackout and get vaped first."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"What do you think, Durron?" Jag's voice came over Kyp's comm-link. "Should we risk it?"

Kyp stared at the massive frigate looming ahead of them. If they could take it out, the coralskippers would be easy pickings, the yammosk was on that frigate. But the frigate was heavily guarded, and any strike at it would cost them dearly.

He opened his mouth to offer his opinion when the Force blindsided him with agony.

He must have cried out, because his comm-unit crackled. "What is it?" Jag asked worriedly.

Kyp couldn't reply. The agony was unbearable, overwhelming and searing through every fiber of his being. It took all of his strength not to faint as blackness threatened to overtake him, and he gritted his teeth against a scream.

Jaina! he screamed mentally, her anguish tearing through him like a heatstorm, every cell alive with fire and pain so bright his vision erupted in a flash of white.

Suddenly an image of Luke Skywalker's face twisted in agony leapt into his mind, along with the telepathic order to sever his link to Jaina.

Too dazed to do it, he opened himself up to Luke, and felt the Jedi Master reach out to the part of him that was Jaina, and then the pain was gone. The bond he had with Jaina was smothered out, for now, and Kyp had to pant hard, taking deep breaths just to keep from choking.

Thank you, he called to Luke weakly.

He felt Luke give him a reassuring brush. She's having the baby.

Kyp's eyes went wide and he almost lost the breath he'd fought so hard to get. Now? he cried.

Luke gave him a strong nudge of confirmation. Jacen's with her, he assured him. Mara, Tahiri and Leia, too. She'll be fine.

Kyp nodded to himself, stunned. He had never, ever felt anything like that before. Never had he felt anything so excruciating, not even when he had felt Jacen Solo's "death". I don't know how women do it, he thought to himself with a groan.

"Kyp?" Jag was demanding, sounding near frightened. "Kyp, are you alright?"

Kyp filed it away in his mind that the kid really did care about him, then shook his head, trying to clear it of all the agony he had just experienced. "I'm alright," he answered, but his voice came out hoarse and broken.

"What the Sith happened?" Jag asked.

"Jaina," Kyp managed, still breathing hard.

"What?" Jag asked, his voice tense. "What happened to her?"

"She's having the baby," Kyp replied. He felt Jag's shock scream through the Force, then his concern, his fear, his anger at not being there for her. "Jacen's there, trying to fend off some of the pain, but it nearly knocked me unconscious."

"Sithspawn!" Jag cursed. Kyp heard him switch over to the main comm-frequency. "General Antilles? This is Twins Leader. Permission to return to base?"

"Permission denied, Colonel," Wedge's apologetic voice came back. "We need that frigate knocked out before I can let anyone return to base."

"General," Jag protested. "My-"

"I know, Colonel," Wedge said wearily. "She's in good hands. You'll just have to trust them to take care of her for now."

"Uncle," Jag pleaded. "Please reconsider. I need-"

"You need to do your duty, Jagged," Soontir Fel's voice cut in. "Your squadron is the one carrying the proton torps. If you return to base, the other squadrons will not be able to take down the frigate, and will be overrun by those coralskippers. You have your orders, now take out that frigate."

"Yes, sir," Jag said through gritted teeth, and Kyp got a flash of intense anger from the young pilot.

"As soon as it's destroyed, you have permission to fall back," Wedge told him. "I'm sorry, Colonel. I know how important this is to you. But it's imperative that we knock out that frigate, or they'll both be in considerably greater danger."

"Understood, sir," Jag replied evenly.

"Let's go knock out that frigate then," Kyp said.

"I agree," Jag responded. "Twin Suns, we are engaging now. I repeat, we are engaging now."

As they rushed towards the looming frigate, Kyp had the foresight to hope that they all lived through this, but if they didn't, he hoped Jag did.

It would be a cruel trick of fate for one Fel to leave the universe, just as another came into it.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jaina took deep, calming breaths, drawing on her Jedi training to hold off the pain coming from her protesting muscles.

Jacen squeezed her hand, willing some of his strength into her through their twin bond. "Almost there, Jaina," he said gently. "You're almost done."

The later stages of labor were now so intense that she couldn't reply without losing her concentration, so she gave him a grateful caress with the Force, then reached for her son. Don't be afraid, she told him. It's okay. I'm here. I promise, it'll be okay.

Jaina didn't know if he understood the words, but he understood the feeling behind them. Recognizing his mother's touch, he relaxed some. To Jaina's delight, he reached back to her, and an amazing wave of warmth flooded between them.

I love you, she told him, putting as much emotion as she could behind those words. I love you and your father loves you. Don't be afraid. We won't let anything happen to you. I promise.

She felt her son join with her like the pieces of a puzzle fitting together, and their identities began to blur together until they were not two separate beings, but one.

Images flashed through her mind, glimmerings of the future granted to her by the Force in this moment of miracle. She saw a boy with dark hair and bright green eyes peering at a baby with similar features, his eyes wide in awe. She saw the same boy holding hands with a little girl, dark hair swept away from her face in curls and identical green eyes wide in delight as they played in the surf.

And she saw herself, holding the little girl on one hip, with the boy holding her hand, all watching with smiles as a clawcraft soared overhead.

She felt panic seize her son as the contractions intensified, and she let go of the images, reaching out for her son with a soothing brush. She felt him calm down a little, and felt his presence clinging to hers, and a wave of sadness washed over her that Jag would never, could never, connect to their children this way.

But tiny hands brushed her mind in reassurance and Jaina marveled at how strong her son was in the Force. Just like Anakin was, she thought in awe.

A bright light exploded behind her eyes and she heard someone- Jacen?- cry out. Her agony had carried over to him through their twin bond. His cry jolted Jaina's focus back to med-room ceiling as she felt her son's touch being pried away from her.

"What...?" she gasped.

"He's halfway out!" Jacen's voice seemed to boom in her ears. "Keep pushing, Jaina!"

Overwhelming agony washed over Jaina and she gritted her teeth against a scream. She saw her mother's face swim over hers, felt cool hands on her forehead. "Come on, honey, you can do this. You're almost there."

"One more push, Jaina," Tahiri urged gently.

The door beside her slid open and Jaina turned her head to see Jag rush in, still in his flightsuit and tearing off his gloves. "Jaina!" he cried.

"Jag!" she gasped out, relief flooding through her.

"On three," Mara called. "One ... two ... three!"

Jaina clenched her teeth so hard she thought they would shatter, and focused all of her strength on pushing. She felt Jag grab onto her hand, squeezing tightly. She closed her eyes, every muscle in her body screaming in agony.

At the peak of the surge of pain, she heard a burst of crying.

Human crying.

Her son's crying.

"Oh..." Jag gasped, clutching Jaina's hand. "Oh, Jaina..."

"He's out," Jacen announced, sounding oddly dazed and out of breath.

"How is he?" Jaina asked weakly, too exhausted to sit up. She felt Jag rub her hand with his thumb tenderly.

"He's fine," Mara promised. "He's fine and wailing like a bantha cub."

"Oh, Jaina," Leia was smiling, tears welling up in her eyes. She kissed Jaina's forehead. "Oh, sweetheart, you did it. I'm so proud of you."

Sighing in relief, Jaina leaned back into the bed, drawing on the Force to soothe her pain. A moment later, Jacen stepped into view, a tiny bundle wrapped in a blanket with a Rogue Squadron emblem on it in his arms.

Jaina had only a moment to wonder when Gavin had snuck that down, and then Jacen was leaning over her.

"You did it, Jaya," he said softly, gazing down at his nephew in awe. He lowered the baby gently into Jaina's arms. "You have a son."

Jaina stared down at the crying baby in her arms in wonder. She had created him. She and Jag had created this tiny little person.

She gave him a tender nudge with the Force, telling him he was in her arms, and his crying faded as he realized who she was.

"He's beautiful," Tahiri breathed, gaping at the baby with wide eyes.

"He is," Mara agreed, coming to stand beside Leia and squeezing her sister-in-law's arm. "Congratulations, Jaina, Jag."

"Thank you," Jaina whispered, not taking her eyes off of her son. She heard Jag murmur thanks, his eyes wide as he watched their son in amazement.

"What are you going to call him?" Jacen asked, kneeling beside her to peer at the baby with a bright smile. His eyes reflected Jaina's own amazement and wonder.

Jaina looked down at her son and smiled. His eyes fluttered open, pale green eyes with flecks of blue dancing around the retinas. He blinked at her groggily, an expression of bewilderment on his tiny little face.

"Anakin," Jaina whispered.

She looked up at Jag, who nodded his consent, then smiled up at her brother, mother, aunt and Tahiri, her eyes welling up with tears.

"His name is Anakin."

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jagged Fel sat on the edge of the bed, cradling his sleeping son in his arms.

"Amazing, isn't he?" Jaina asked softly, leaning her head against his shoulder.

Jag smiled at her. "You're pretty amazing yourself," he told her, causing her to blush slightly. It made him smile to know he cold still make her blush after all they'd been through.

"He's so little," Jaina murmured, gazing at their son.

Jag nodded, looking down at his son. It was still shocking to think that less than two hours ago, this little person had been inside of Jaina, and now he was laying peacefully in Jag's arms. The first hours had worn their son out, with family and friends crowding the room to get a look at him. The first group had, obviously, been their respective families, Kyp and Tahiri included. Jag had never seen his father and Han Solo get along as well as they had then. Proud gleams shone in both of their eyes, and Syal Fel and Leia Solo had both been moved to tears more than once by the happy sight in Jaina's arms.

Luke Skywalker had not stopped grinning since he came into the room. He, along with Kyp and Gavin, had run from the hangar with Jag, and Luke's eyes were bright and shimmering as he watched his great-nephew. Wedge had been close to shedding happy tears, too, and Jag had not missed the conspiratorial smiles pass between the two great-uncles. Nor between Iella and Mara, both of whom were now great-aunts. They were all going to spoil his son worse than a Kauti baroness.

Though they aren't the only ones, Jag thought with a smile. Kyp had been absolutely speechless when Jaina lowered baby Anakin into his arms, and Jag had never seen his eyes as wide as they had been at that moment. Jacen and Tahiri had taken turns rocking the baby, grinning at one another and at Jaina like they had just won the Kessel Run. Those two were going to be trouble, Jag had no doubt of that.

Jag's little sister Zena had cradled Anakin for a long time, her green eyes wide and wistful. Jag had a sinking feeling that she now wanted children of her own. Wik, on the other hand, had been content to watch, not wanting to hold something so small and breakable. Probably a good idea, Jag realized in hindsight.

Gavin Darklighter had given Wedge a Rogue Squadron blanket to put in the room, and had been pleased to no end to see that little Anakin was wrapped up in it. Piggy and Sharr had made jokes about going to gather the squadron and sit down to sew one with a Twin Suns emblem- until Jaina had pointed out they didn't have one.

"I'll make one up then," Sharr had shrugged. "Kid can't grow up wanting to be a Rogue. He's got to worship the mighty Twin Suns."

The rest of the squadron had sent holos with congratulations, not wanting to bother the new mother or the baby, and that had pleased Jaina to no end. Corran Horn, his wife Mirax, and Tycho Celchu and his wife Winter brought little gifts for the new baby. Winter had helped raise Jaina and her brothers, and had managed to hold onto one of their favorite toys from Anoth all these years. Seeing it had brought tears to Jaina's eyes, and she had hugged the woman fiercely.

The Jedi had been no less exuberant about their excitement. Ganner Rhysode and the rest of the strike team had all made a fuss over the baby, and Lowie had made Anakin a member of their Wookie honor family, which, oddly enough had made Han Solo grin and shake his head, muttering, "Doesn't waste any time, does he?"

Dozens of holos had fluttered in from the Jedi scattered around the galaxy, offering their congratulations, but the two that had meant the most to Jaina were the ones from Tenel Ka on Hapes, and the one from Kam and Tionne. They had let Ben say hello, and he had asked all sorts of questions, wanting to know when he could play with baby "Ankin". He had blown Jaina a kiss, waved hello to "Jaggy", and asked his Momma and Papa to come see him soon.

After that, Luke and Mara had decided to go to the Maw and pay their son a visit, taking holos of Anakin with them to show the students and the Solusars. They had stayed long enough to visit with Jaina and Jag for a bit, each of them holding the baby for a while, then had headed out to see Ben.

Gazing down at his son, Jag could not imagine how they could bear to be away from him. He only hoped that it never came to it for him and Jaina to send their son into hiding.

"We'll need to figure out what to do about that," Jaina said softly, reading his thoughts. "And soon. I need to get back into the air as soon as possible, and neither of us can afford to take time off from fighting."

Jag looked at her, raising an eyebrow. "You aren't suggesting we send him to the Maw, are you?"

Jaina shook her head. "No. Not unless we run out of options. I want him here, with us, but if it gets too dangerous for him, then I want to take him to Kam and Tionne."

Jag stared at her for a long moment, then nodded, understanding how painful that would be for her, for them, but especially for her. "We'll figure something out," he promised.

"I was thinking of asking my mother to help," Jaina confessed. "She's good with Ben, and she has more free time than we do. Winter volunteered to help, too, and Iella and Mirax both offered to lend a hand when we need it."

"And I'm certain my mother would be pleased to look after him for a while," Jag added. He smiled at her teasingly. "See? Our son has even more hold parents than you do."

Jaina laughed. "I'm not sure that's possible. But you're right, he has a lot of people who love him and will help take care of him." Her eyes darkened a little. "And if one or both of us is killed, at least we know that there will be plenty of people to love and care for him."

Although the thought was heartbreaking, Jag knew she was right. It did make him feel better to know that there were so many people who would lay down their lives to protect their son, people who would raise him with love and kindness should his parents fall to the Yuuzhan Vong.

"If the Vong find out we have a son..." he said hoarsely, for the first time giving voice to his fears. Looking up, he saw the same fear in Jaina's eyes. The Yuuzhan Vong would go to any lengths to get their hands on this child, Jaina Solo's child, and they would use him to lure her into surrendering. Even then, they would never let him go. They would either sacrifice him, force him into slavery, or shape him as they had tried to do to Tahiri.

That was the truly horrible thought. The idea of the shapers turning their twisted vision on his son, making him in their image. His impressionable mind would be easily molded, and he would grow up a hardened, bitter Vong warrior, lusting to spill the blood of Jedi, his own people.

His mother's kind.

"I will not let that happen," Jaina whispered fiercely. "I will never let them lay a single hand on our son. On any of our children."

Jag did not miss the meaning of those words, "our children". He turned to look at her, his eyes narrowed intensely. "Have you had a vision?" he asked. "Or is that just motherly instinct that we'll have more than one?"

Jaina smiled slightly, as if she knew some secret he didn't. Which she probably did, being the Jedi in the family. "I saw another child. A daughter."

A daughter. Jag let that sink in, imagining what it would be like to hold a baby girl in one arm and his son in the other. "You seem certain about that," he said.

Jaina nodded. "I am," she said simply.

That was good enough for Jag.

"So we're having a daughter, too, huh?" he asked, smiling down at his son. "Hear that, Anakin? You're going to have a little sister one day."

"One day soon," Jaina said quietly.

Jag looked at her. "What does that mean?"

Jaina shrugged. "She didn't look much younger. Maybe a year or so."

A year or so? That would mean that Jaina would get pregnant again within the next year, maybe the next couple of months. Jag eyed Jaina carefully. "Are you alright with that?" he asked. "It would mean giving up the squadron again, and sometime soon."

"I know," Jaina said, sighing. "But either of us could be killed any day now, so I guess whatever the Force throws at us, we'll deal with."

"Yes," Jag agreed. "We will." He turned and placed Anakin in Jaina's arms gently, kissing his son's soft skin. "The three of us will deal with it together."

"It'll be four sometime soon," Jaina pointed out with a smile.

Jag grinned. "The four of us then. Jag, Jaina, Anakin and..." he trailed off, uncertain. He glanced at Jaina inquisitively.

"Padme," she said without looking up from playing with Anakin. "Jag, Jaina, Anakin and Padme."

Padme Fel, Jag mused with a smile. I like it.

"Thank you," Jaina said with a light laugh.

Jag chuckled. "Our kids going to be able to do that? Read my thoughts?"

Jaina shrugged. "Probably."

Jag smiled and leaned his head down to kiss her, savoring the softness of her lips against his. Kissing Jaina was like nothing else in the galaxy, he never wanted the moment to end. But it did, of course, courtesy of his son's first giggle.

Jag broke away, smiling down at his son. "I think he liked that," he said.

Jaina laughed. "He's not the only one."

"Well, he'll be doing a lot of giggling, then," Jag said with a smirk. "Since we're going to be giving him that little sister he wants, right Anakin?"

Anakin giggled again, and Jag's heart swelled.

"Anakin," he murmured, watching his son blink his green eyes up at Jaina in amazement.

"Anakin Fel," Jaina replied with a smile.

Jag grinned. "I think I like the sound of that."

"I'm sure you'll yell it plenty of times by the time this one grows up," Jaina said with a wry smile. "If this one is anything like my brother was, there is never going to be a dull moment with him around."

"These should be some very interesting years," Jag agreed.

Aankin giggled in agreement.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

THE END