Title: A Father's Heart
Description: I'm moving it over here...
EmpressJainaSoloFel - March 11, 2012 04:04 PM (GMT)
Moving this over here as I work on picking it back up.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, although I'm quite happy to pretend I own Jag. Everything belongs to George Lucas.
First off, thanks to my wonderful beta, Scarlett. I couldn't do it without you!
This story takes place just after LotF, and is AU from that point. All feedback is appreciated, if it's negative just keep it constructive. Thanks for reading!
General Baron Soontir Fel had always questioned if he’d done the right things for his children. Had their meals been nutritious, their education well-rounded? Had he taught honor, discipline? His mother had once said that parenting was full of doubts and fears; certainties and confidences. This phrase had consoled him when newborn Davin was inconsolable, all the way through to Jagged’s exile. Through his many years of parenting, the aging general had learned that this phrase hid a much deeper meaning. As much discomfort as it brought him, Soontir believed thoroughly in being honest in all things, even to the man in his mirror each morning. He knew he had made mistakes, many of them he eternally regretted. Would Davin still be alive if he had not decided to wait until the next day to teach him that crazy little spiral he’d learned from Han Solo on Carida? If he’d been a little more understanding, would Cherith have stayed home rather than taking on the mission she felt would earn his respect? Even though Soontir doubted his parenting decisions over and over again, only one event had ever caused him to wonder if he’d failed utterly at parenting.
Csilla, shortly after the end of the Yuuzhan Vong War
Only a parent could understand the surge of fierce pride that roared in his heart as the lone clawcraft settled lightly as a dancer on its landing gear. With his experienced eye, Soontir saw that the fighter had been maintained in peak condition, although there seemed to be some slight modifications to the engine. Given Jagged’s love interest, this was hardly surprising. Jaina Solo had an aptitude for mechanics, and the battle statistics Soontir had seen suggested some performance-boosting modifications to his son’s fighter. While Jaina would hardly have been his first choice for a daughter-in-law, he couldn’t deny the newfound sparkle in Jagged’s eyes that testified to Jag’s happiness. Jaina was truly Han’s daughter, although in some respects she resembled her famous mother. The son he loved had blossomed into a man, and Jaina was the kind of woman to appreciate the man Jag became. He knew Syal entertained quiet hopes of a union, and he couldn’t deny his own hopes in that regard. Those hopes were abruptly dashed with the appearance of the lone clawcraft.
Dinner that night was an uncomfortable affair. Syal and Soontir instinctively avoided the topic of Jaina Solo, but Wyn couldn’t be counted on to do the same. Out of his children, Soontir knew that she was the most likely to voice her thoughts. Tonight would be no different. Wyn only tolerated half an hour of discussion on the uncle she’d never met. Her mom might care, but why talk about Uncle Wedge when there was the far more interesting topic of Jag’s girlfriend?
“Jag, where’s Jaina? I’d really hoped to meet her before you marry her.”
“She still has her duties in rebuilding the galaxy, and wasn’t able to get away.”
The tense set to Jag’s shoulders and his sudden interest in the vegetables he normally disliked told Soontir that there was much more to the story than Jag was letting on. He had noticed that Jag had been very quiet on the landing field, and displayed none of the jubilance that he had come to expect from warriors returned from the battlefield. At the time, he thought perhaps it was pilot-lag, as Csilla time was quite a change from where Jag had been serving. Concise and pained, Jag’s answer to Wyn’s query told Soontir all he needed to know. Jaina wasn’t coming. Syal, clearly realizing the same thing, shot Wyn a warning look.
Wyn, feigning ignorance, continued to press the matter. “But when will she be coming? I want to meet her, and see if she’ll be as good a sister as Father said she’d be.”
While Syal tried to curb Wyn’s exuberance, Soontir knew the damage had been done. There would be no concealing the fact that a marriage had been highly anticipated in this household, and eagerly awaited. Jag’s flushed face provided eloquent evidence that he understood the full meaning of Wyn’s statement. With a heavy heart, Soontir watched as Jag claimed extreme fatigue and escaped the table to his room.
“Ya know, I wonder if they broke up. I always thought she was too lively and astral for him…”
“Wynssa Fel, that is enough!” Syal was clearly distressed by her son’s predicament, and was not about to tolerate someone, even someone bound by the title of sister to be obnoxious, making light of it.
As Soontir made his way to bed that night, he wondered if he could find a way to order his son back to General Antilles. That would send him back to Jaina, and serve the added purpose of strengthening Jag’s position as an ambassador. Wedge had done a fine job of adding to Jag’s skills in a fighter, and Soontir suspected his brother-in-law had also taught his son the ropes of sabacc. Or had it been Han and Jaina that taught him? Either way, Soontir knew that he was no longer playing Jag for credits. No, he’ll need to work this out for himself. He is a grown man, capable of making his own decisions, and my interference will only serve to anger him.
Over the next several months, Soontir and Syal spent a considerable amount of time with their son, hearing his stories from the war and encouraging him to be patient. The baron understood why Jaina had refused Jag’s hand, and couldn’t deny that she had a point. She was a Jedi and heir to the legacy of galactic peacekeeping that came with it. She understood what Jag wanted, and wasn’t going to accept his name as her own until she could offer him a future that involved more than moonlight on the bed. Jagged, having come from a very stable home, couldn’t understand what her role would condemn a family to. He was dedicated to his own duty, and would not be swayed. However, when Soontir overheard their last discussion on the holocomm, he knew he’d made a mistake in keeping Jag on Csilla.
“Jaina, we’ve had this discussion before. I am growing tired of waiting. It’s been months; surely you can get away for a week?”
“I can’t, Jag, I’m so sorry.” Even from just outside the door, Soontir could tell she was crying. “The Jedi are in such demand I’m being briefed on my next assignment before I’ve debriefed the last one. I’m not even able to debrief in person, as there isn’t time for it. I want to get away, if I could I would. I just can’t turn my back on the people who rely on me.”
“But you can turn your back on me?”
“Jagged, you know it’s not like that…”
“Really? You could have had me fooled.”
“If that’s really the way you feel, maybe we should end this. I can’t give you what you want, I’ll free you up to find someone who can.” The heartbreak in her voice was thick, laced with bitterness, though the bitterness wasn’t directed at his son. Her duties, perhaps? Jaina was trapped, a slave to the Solo legacy of saving the galaxy single-handedly. Jag was a slave to his own duties, duties Soontir knew he could have changed. Soontir waited with bated breath for Jag to calm down and tell Jaina they’d make it work. His breath left him with Jagged’s response.
That conversation would haunt Soontir the rest of the day. It was impossible to deny that Jaina had been sobbing uncontrollably as they said their final goodbyes. Jagged had remained stoic, at least, in front of his family. As Soontir passed Jag’s room en route to the ‘fresher, he tried to pretend he couldn’t hear his son weeping. Why won’t he give Jaina time? A woman like that is well worth waiting for. Furthermore, if he truly is that upset over this whole thing, he’d be back on that comm telling Jaina just how much she meant to him. Jagged would never make that call.
When their duties tore them from each other, Soontir knew the one lesson he should have taught his son was how to follow his heart. Jagged was everything he had thought he wanted his son to become, and only too late did Soontir realize what he had thought he had wanted for his son wasn’t the right thing at all.
EmpressJainaSoloFel - March 11, 2012 04:05 PM (GMT)
Soontir sat in his office, glumly contemplating the glass before him, as though hoping desperately to find answers floating in the amber depths. Jagged, a head of state? Is he really up for this? And Daala? What in all nine Corellian hells is the galaxy coming to?
Confused and angry, Soontir swept aside the many intelligence briefings he’d collected during Caedus’ power grab. It didn’t matter that they scattered through the room, carried far from the polished desk by currents from the heating vents. No, the only thing that mattered was Jagged, caught in the media frenzy his appointment generated.
“In a shocking move, the Moff Council has declared a new High Moff. Spokespersons for the Moff Council have declined to comment on whether Moff Jagged Fel’s appointment was forced on them by Jedi Grandmaster Luke Skywalker. Join us later tonight for Moff Fel’s address to the Galactic Alliance Senate, detailing the Remnant’s new stance on galactic peace and prosperity.” Didn’t that artificial blonde airhead have anything to talk about other than his son? Didn’t she know that after years of nothing more substantial than the occasional intelligence briefing, so much news of their exiled son was overwhelming? As the blonde droned on and on about Jagged’s new policies and his life story, Soontir began to wonder if there were any other stories to occupy her time. After a highly in-depth analysis of many irrelevant details regarding the current state of the Imperial Remnant, she moved on to the hottest story of the night.
“In further news, we have learned that Jaina Solo has completed the first of many surgeries this morning. She is still listed as being in critical condition, despite improvements. Rumors of a pregnancy complicating her treatment have yet to be confirmed. The Solo family has not yet released a statement, but a close family friend reports that they are recovering from the stress of recent events. Join us after Moff Fel’s speech for exclusive footage taken of Jedi Solo’s duel with Darth Caedus, taken from the personal spy cams of Darth Caedus himself!”
Wearily, Soontir pushed the glass away. Drinking would not burn from his mind the images of Jag standing tall and proud as he outlined his plans for the Imperial Mission, nor the image of Jaina rising to fight Caedus even with severe burn injuries. How had it gotten this far? What happened to the peaceful young man he’d once met? And Jaina, forced to strike her brother down? Nothing would free him from the nausea he felt watching her cradle her brother’s dead body as she sat broken on the floor. Yet, in the midst of tragedy, perhaps there was hope. Soontir saw the way Jagged looked at her and the fear in his eyes as he called for the med team. The look that passed between the two suggested a newfound understanding, acceptance, and friendship. Could a love, once so strong and vibrant, be reborn from the tattered shreds of lives left behind after the flame sputtered? Or was the concern in Jagged’s eyes for his child?
Wait, where had that thought come from? If Jagged was the father, wouldn’t he be in carbonite right now? Or shot into a black hole? Soontir doubted anyone touched Han’s girl and got away with it. Besides, the news of Jaina’s pregnancy was nothing more than a rumor. Then why had he so hoped that a pregnant Jaina was evidence that Jagged had pulled his head out of his exhaust port? Wouldn’t a nice, big, sparkly rock on her left ring finger be as good in the way of evidence? As good, yes. Truthfully, even better. That way Han may just injure Jag instead of killing him outright. Soontir had lost too many children to want to lose Jag over such a thing as a physical relationship with the daughter of the second most overprotective father in the galaxy.
With a sigh, Soontir turned to the one tangible piece of Jagged that remained in his home. It had only been after Cherith’s death that Soontir learned the pledge Davin, Jagged and Cherith had made. Each had vowed to keep two journals, one for each of the other two, in case something happened. It had been a stony-faced Jag who confessed to the scheme when Soontir found him cradling a leather-bound stack of flimsi. Even after Cherith’s death, Jagged had never stopped writing in the journal he kept for her. Tears streamed down Soontir’s face as his weathered hand slid across the gold leaf to open the journal. Though his vision was blurry, Soontir knew what was on the pages. He’d turned to the old journal many times over the years for comfort, and knew it almost by heart. As he turned through more than twenty years worth of pages, his favorite passages leapt off the textured sheets to soothe his troubled mind.
“Cherith, if only you could have seen me you’d have laughed yourself silly. Can you believe I tripped and tried to catch myself on her arm? Worse, I missed and grabbed (somehow) the zipper on her flightsuit. Davin would have said it was my subconscious acting out, but I’ve never been so embarrassed. There I am, in the main corridor, in front of Uncle Wedge, Tycho Celchu, and Gavin Darklighter; sprawled at Jaina’s feet with her flightsuit zipper down, well, much further than it should have been. I just consider myself lucky General Solo wasn’t there; I’d have been vaped faster than you can say “shavit.” It’s been a week, and I still can’t look her in the face.” He’s lucky Wyn never found out, he’d never live it down. I wonder how Wedge handled it; he’s always been a tactical genius with practical jokes.
“I wish you were here Cher; I need your advice so terribly. I’m in love with her, Cher. Very, very much in love. I finally got up the nerve to kiss her, but I don’t know where to take it from here. She’s not like a girl in any of Mom’s holos. She’d rather have a new blaster than a new dress, a hydrospanner over chocolate and flowers. I’m scared of messing this up, Cher. I want this more than I’ve ever wanted anything.” Then what happened, Jag? You’ve been given another chance with her, she still loves you. Please, take this chance and run with it.
“You’d be so happy Cher, to see how Father and I are getting on. Isn’t it funny how we lock horns when I’m on Csilla, but grow closer when I’m on the other side of the galaxy? I haven’t told him about Jaina, but somehow I don’t think I need to. It never occurred to me that the reason we didn’t get along was because we were so alike. I told him this week that I found the roses he planted for Mom, he asked me to pick a few. Are you shocked, Cher? But this isn’t the first conversation we’ve had like this since I left for Hapes. I’m in love with Jaina, she loves me, and Father and I have found common ground. How is it that, in the midst of war, I’ve found such happiness?” Perhaps, Jag, it is because in times of trial we find who we truly are. With this knowledge, we realign our priorities, and focus on what matters. I’ve always been proud of you, Jag, but three wars later you’ve surpassed my wildest dreams. I’m scared of what the future holds for you, but no matter what, I’ll always be proud to call you my son.
Feeling oddly at peace, Soontir scooted back from the desk and reverently placed the journal in the velvet-lined bottom drawer. He knew his time on Csilla had come to an end. The Chiss may have been willing to let Jagged leave without repercussions to the Fel household, but they were not likely to take kindly to the son of an Assistant Syndic being the Head of State of the Imperial Remnant. Thrawn’s family had been exterminated after Thrawn was promoted to Grand Admiral, and Jagged was now a few notches higher than Thrawn. His family would need to pack, and pack quickly. Soontir Fel may have lost his position among the Chiss, but his son had need of talented military minds he could count on to be loyal and maybe, just maybe, someone to watch the grandkids. This time, Jagged, I won’t fail you.
EmpressJainaSoloFel - March 11, 2012 04:07 PM (GMT)
Packing had gone swiftly as Soontir was no fool and had been planning for such an eventuality since Jagged had been exiled. The few boxes were loaded carefully into the Starflare, Cem and Wyn already starting the preflight. After the last walk-through had been completed, all that remained was to find his wife. Syal hadn’t been in the garden, or in any of her usual places. The echoing kitchen was empty, as was Cherith’s old room. Concerned, Soontir moved on to Jagged’s room. It was there he found Syal, beautiful as ever, standing by the window with tears streaming down her face. Gently, he took her in his arms, silently willing all her torments to end. He was a man who could easily stare down an enemy fighter, but the sight of Syal’s tears had always undone him. As she leaned into his chest, Soontir ran his hands through the silky golden strands of hair just now beginning to show gray. The last several years had been hard on them all, first Jagged’s exile and then the death of Wyn’s husband; followed by the loss of the baby Wyn had been carrying. Going back to the Known Regions was going to be a large change, but a welcome one. However, that did not mean leaving the last thirty years behind was easy.
“Are you ready, love?”
“Not really, but I suppose I never will be.” As she spoke, she lifted her head and shook her blond locks out of her face. The blue eyes still had that signature twinkle, even through the sadness clouding them. “Do you suppose Wedge really will help us? Will he ever forgive me?”
“Your brother loves you, Syal. Very much. I doubt that he’s ever stopped worrying about you, but that’s something he needs to forgive me for, not you. Besides, if he can’t help us, maybe I could look up Han Solo?”
His attempt at humor had the intended affect, as Syal smiled, even though it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. “Now that is something I’d love to see. My husband, asking a Solo for help! I’m sure it would simply turn into a very animated discussion of different Corellian brandies, which would then require a taste test, and then a few more taste tests, and probably end in a very drunken sabacc game where you lose a large amount of credits.” That was the problem with being married to an actress, they could joke and keep a perfectly straight face. Well, two could play that game, even if only one could win.
“You may be right about the sabacc game, but how do you know the discussion will be about brandy?”
“You’re Corellian, dear. You’d never pass up the opportunity to discuss brandy with another Corellian.”
“We can talk about ships too, you know. Besides, I can always take a jab or two at his flying junk heap.”
“That would be bad for your health and you know it. Besides, I bet he’s faster with a blaster than you are.”
“But being a Corellian, I’m a sucker for impossible odds.” The banter continued all the way to the Starflare, where Soontir assumed the pilot’s seat to Wyn and Cem’s very interesting argument about whose turn it was to copilot. The argument was abruptly ended by the ring of a booted pair of feet at the door to the cockpit.
“Shawnkyr, I didn’t expect to see you here.” Soontir struggled to keep his voice level and calm. If she was here…
“I could not pass up the opportunity to see Jagged again. Besides, who else is there to shoot him down when he takes too much pride in his flying skills?” She looked unsure, which was highly unusual for her. Cem had dubbed her sense of humor a work in progress. That she would attempt a joke was no longer surprising, but to see her uncertain was another thing entirely. Had the Chiss decided to move against him already? “Could you fit a passenger on your journey? I fear my involvement with your family could mean my end if I do not leave, quickly.”
It only took him a second to reach his decision. “Of course. Please take the copilot’s station.” Cem and Wyn glared as Shawnkyr strapped in, but Soontir pretended not to notice as he engaged the repulsorlifts and set the course for Corellia. Jagged, I’m coming. But how will you feel when I get there? Do you resent me?
Soontir was sure Wedge would be willing to help him, but how Jagged would receive him was a constant worry. He remembered their parting very clearly, and how he’d wished over the last several years that he had told Jagged just one more time how proud he was to call him son. Jagged had been outwardly accepting but Soontir had seen his bitterness over the situation. Soontir chose to cover his grief with a layer of coldness, fearing the Chiss reaction if he displayed any emotion. The note from Jag laying out the circumstances of Alema Rar’s death had been a welcome bit of news, but his tone had been colder than a Csillan blizzard. What had shocked Soontir most had been Jaina’s contribution to the note. Her comment that she was sending the news for Jag, who was currently in the med center, but recovering well was how Soontir had known that Jagged planned to stay and fight with the Jedi, but to hear it from Jaina instead of Jag had troubled him. Why had she done it? She had no reason to, nor any ties to the Fel family. Soontir had never been sure how much Jagged had told her of his family and their station within the Ascendancy. It made no sense, but Soontir would be eternally grateful for the bit of news she had been able to provide.
Soontir was jolted out of this train of thought by Wyn’s excited exclamations of, “Dad, come here, you’ve got to see this!” Aging joints protested as he levered himself out of the pilot’s chair and back to the lounge, where his family and Shawnkyr sat glued to the holonews. Kriffing Sith, that blond airhead is at it again. Will she ever go away? Absently, Soontir wondered what would happen to that reporter when Jaina was well enough to get out of the medward with lightsaber in hand.
“Jayla Mandra here, with the latest on Duchess Jaina Solo’s condition. The Solo family released a brief statement this morning denying rumors of her pregnancy, confirmed in a press conference held by the medcenter overseeing Solo’s care. Exclusive sources have told us at HNE Channel 497 that she has been deemed stable enough to leave Hapan space and is now being transferred to Coruscant to finish treatment at the Jedi Temple. No comment has been released from Bastion regarding this chain of events. A press conference with Imperial leaders is being scheduled, so keep checking back here for more information. As always, this is Jayla Mandra, the first with the juiciest news.”
Soontir knew he was missing something. Jaina Solo, a duchess? And why would Bastion need to comment? She’s not pregnant, so Jag has nothing to do with this. Wyn must have seen his confusion, because she decided to explain.
“Last week, the younger Moff Sarreti was assassinated along with his wife and children. Ephin Sarreti was forced to come out of retirement and resume his role as Moff for the Braxant Sector, as the sole survivor in the family. He feared for his own life and to deter his own assassination, he made Jaina Solo heir to the title Moff of the Braxant Sector and the Dukedom of Bastion. No one knew about it until he was assassinated yesterday and the paperwork came out. So now Jaina’s a Moff and Duchess. Poor thing never had a chance to say no. Investigators think the Sarretis were murdered because they supported Jag’s new Empire.”
Soontir’s head was reeling. He had no doubt that neither Jaina nor his son would be happy about this, but he also knew for a fact that she was up to it. She had the breeding, training, and determination to survive the deadly intrigue of Imperial politics. As much as Soontir had hoped for a grandchild, he knew now was not the time. Jaina would be going through quite a bit emotionally between her duel with Caedus and new responsibilities; adding a pregnancy in would be catastrophic. However, that did not mean in any way that he was abandoning his hope that Jagged would give him grandchildren one day. So lost was Soontir is his thoughts that he hadn’t noticed his family avidly discussing Jaina’s change in circumstances. With a shake of the head, Soontir forced himself to pay attention to the conversation, wondering what Cem had just added.
“She’s also now the prime candidate for Jagged’s wife.” Shawnkyr’s observation was added in low, even tones. “Jagged will need to marry well and soon to solidify his power base, as he has nothing right now. Being the eldest surviving son of an Imperial Baron doesn’t give him legitimacy in any governmental circle - Imperial or otherwise. Nor does the fact that Master Skywalker forced him on the Moff Council help matters with the Imperial establishment. The Moffs won’t tolerate him for long. But Duchess Jaina Solo, first woman to command Rogue Squadron, victor over Darth Caedus, heir to the thrones of Alderaan as well as Corellia, last child of Han and Leia Solo, and granddaughter to Queen Amidala of the Naboo and Anakin Skywalker has more than enough legitimacy to open the door to every governmental circle in which he will need to move. The Yuuzhan Vong have been declaring their loyalty to her since she defeated her twin. She’s a hero more than ever before, beloved of the people and holopress, she has the support of the military, and she’s now titled. Further, the Moff Council is unlikely to forget that her grandfather is Darth Vader, Palpatine’s rightful successor. As Luke Skywalker has already refused his father’s title, it would fall on Leia Solo, who has no interest, but the title, as it has not been refused, can go on to her daughter. This means that Jaina Solo is heir to the throne of the Empire itself. Logically, Jagged has no choice but a marriage to Jaina Solo.”
Soontir leaned back in his seat as his family continued to discuss the matter. Despite Syal’s heated protest, he knew Shawnkyr was right. He had no doubt that Jaina had been the only person Jagged had ever considered marrying. The look in her eyes on that awful holofootage from the Anakin Solo led him to suspect Jaina still loved Jag, and out of duty she would accept his hand if for no other reason than to protect him, but at what cost? Would either of them be happy in a marriage forced on them by political necessity? Would Jag risk repeating the opposing pulls of duty and emotional attachment with her again? Jagged was likely unwilling marry for less than love, and yet her hand would give him everything he needed to fulfill the vision of the Empire he had spoken of two weeks ago. A marriage to Jaina would make Jag an Emperor. Head swimming, Soontir headed back to the cockpit. The beauty of hyperspace had always been soothing to him, and he needed peace and calm. No parent ever quite grew out of wanting to protect their children, but how could he help Jagged when the stakes were so incredibly high?
EmpressJainaSoloFel - March 11, 2012 04:09 PM (GMT)
Soontir tried to contain his nerves as he stood outside of his brother-in-law’s residence. If I think I’m nervous, just think how Syal feels. This is her brother. The sight of speeders whipping by in the traffic lanes outside the viewport did nothing to calm him. Years ago, he’d loved watching the organized chaos of Coruscanti traffic. It had never been easy for Soontir to swallow his pride and ask for help, but he had no choice in the matter now. He had no friends out here; he’d abandoned them when he joined Thrawn. That left family, and Wedge was the only one left in that category.
He had tried Corellia first, only to learn that Wedge had moved to Coruscant for the time being. The Baron hadn’t seen Wedge in thirty years, and had left him without news of Syal until Jagged showed up at Ithor. It was no wonder it required a month to locate Wedge, but at last he was here. Wedge had relocated to the middle of the high-end sections, the kind usually occupied by high-ranking government officials or the absurdly wealthy. He had an apartment at the top of the Azure Towers, which was a statement in itself. How did Wedge manage to get the top two floors of one of the most elite residences on Coruscant? Surely military salary does not pay so well. Isn’t he retired, anyway? Soontir took some solace in the idea that Wedge, a man of modest taste, had to nearly as uncomfortable here as he was. Letting out a deep breath, Soontir pushed the door announcer and waited.
“Soontir? Is that really you?” Soontir smiled, same old Wedge. The years had been hard on him, Soontir noted. There were some definite wrinkles; he might have to tease Wedge about that later. But the shock on Wedge’s face made any form of jesting inappropriate now.
“And here I thought it was bad manners to keep family standing outside. Or maybe things are different among scruffy Rebels?” Amendment: almost any form of jesting. Some jabs were just irresistible.
“Now I know where Jag gets his sense of humor from. Come on in, how can I turn away the second-best pilot in the galaxy?” Soontir’s eyes widened; now he’d be sure to tease Wedge about those wrinkles. Everyone knew the best pilot in the galaxy was…
“Jag could probably outfly you with no trouble these days. I’m sure simming is his new way of working off steam. He always seems to achieve his best scores after a meeting with the Moffs. So tell me, did my sister accompany you out? I doubt you’d show up after all this time for a social visit.” Soontir had to give Wedge credit; he’d almost kept the longing out of his voice.
“Syal is here, just taking care of some last minute purchases. You know women, never enough shoes or handbags. She was most displeased at having to leave half her collection on Csilla. She should be here in an hour or so.”
“Cut the shavit Soontir. What aren’t you telling me? You don’t just go away for thirty years and show up at someone’s door without an explanation.” Now that Wedge was over the shock enough to get angry, Soontir was very glad he’d sent Syal shoe-shopping while he “finished locating her brother.” He knew Wedge had every right to be angry with him, and he’d hoped his wife would miss the blow-up. Wedge deserved honesty; it was the least Soontir could do after barging in on him like this.
“I came here for help. The Chiss didn’t take the news of Jagged’s new job very well, and I promised you once that I’d always keep Syal safe. I left the Chiss to keep my promise to you. I feared for our safety if we stayed. Going straight to Jag is too obvious; the Chiss would be lying in wait at Bastion. I knew I could trust you. I’d like to go to Bastion to help Jag, but until that’s an option, I would like to ask if my family, plus a close friend, would be able to stay here.” Soontir could see Wedge thinking about it. He knew Wedge was debating turning him away out of spite, but he also knew Wedge would never pass on the chance to see Syal or the niece and nephew he’d never met. He’d tolerate Soontir for their sake.
“We’ll have to rearrange things, as we’re a bit crowded right now, but it should work. Let me just…”
Whatever Wedge had planned on saying died on his lips as the front door opened to gales of laughter. Soontir couldn’t place the beautiful soprano laughter of the female, but the strong baritone was one he knew very well. One he hadn’t expected to hear, not for a while, and not on Coruscant. Maybe I need to see a medic. Surely my stomach can’t feel this fluttery without there being a medical problem of some sort.
Soontir turned to look at the newcomers, struggling to find his voice. His son’s back was towards him, but Soontir knew it was him. The aging baron took a moment to take in Jag’s appearance. The hair was slightly longer, but the posture was the same. Jag’s black clothing was new, and Soontir knew in a glance it was costly. The latest cut and fabric had been perfectly tailored to accent Jag’s rugged features and display a highly muscled physique. Jag’s companion matched him perfectly in class and elegance. Long chocolate curls cascaded from an elaborate up-do down over the back of a powder-blue chiffon day dress. The lace-gloved hands were now helping Jag hang his overcoat. Shocked that his son had changed allegiances so quickly, Soontir wondered over the identity of this woman who had replaced Jaina at Jag’s side.
Soontir was brought out of this scrutiny by Wedge’s hand on his shoulder. All these years and Wedge still understood perfectly. Two pairs of brown eyes met, and Soontir knew that he’d been forgiven for the last thirty years. “He still loves you Soontir, one of his biggest regrets was that you weren’t here to see him take office. I’ll be in my office if you need anything, Jag or Jaina know where it is.” Wedge smiled before adding, “Yes, that’s Jaina. She has been staying with us for the last two weeks.”
“Father?” With one last squeeze of the shoulder, Wedge disappeared through a side door, leaving Soontir to face the son he hadn’t seen in far too long. Bracing himself against the possibility of Jag’s anger, the last thing he expected was to feel a strong pair of arms around him. It took a moment for him to realize that those arms belonged to Jag and to return the embrace. “I’ve missed you Father. I have much to tell you, but first there’s someone I’d like you to meet. May I present Jaina Solo?” Jag backed away and held his hand out to his companion.
Soontir had always heard that Jaina was her father’s daughter, and he could easily see it in the roguish twinkle in her eye, but the beauty was all Princess Leia’s. As she came forward, accepting the hand that Jagged held out to her, all Soontir could do was marvel. There was nothing of the roguish tomboy the media had always depicted, instead a graceful woman who exuded confidence and class stood before him. For the first time, Soontir truly understood what Jag meant all those years ago when he’d called her Jedi royalty. Her eyes told him of the ordeal she’d been through, they still held a trace of horror and pain, but it mingled with determination and a keen intelligence. The combination lent regality to her delicate features. She may be one of the deadliest women in the galaxy, but she looked nothing like it now. “Your Grace, it is a pleasure to meet you at last.”
“Just call me Jaina. A friend once told me that being a queen was tiring even in its infancy, and I’m inclined to think the same of being a duchess. Please, take a seat. I’ll call for refreshment.” As Soontir took the offered seat, he noticed the way his son stared after Jaina’s retreating form. The longing was obvious, as was the deep affection Jagged held for her. It took all of his self-control not to ask Jagged the state of their relationship. Jagged would bring it up if and when he was ready.
The next several hours passed in a blur for Soontir, as the rest of his family arrived followed by the rest of Wedge’s family. Dinner was a joyful affair as the two families caught up on thirty years worth of history. Soontir couldn’t help but laugh heartily at the tales of Lt. Kettch and Wedge’s subsequent revenge on Janson. Wyn couldn’t resist peppering Jag with questions about what it was like to fly the Falcon, and Soontir couldn’t believe his old classmate had let a Fel at the controls. When the pilots started comparing different ships, Jaina got a grilling from the Fel side as soon as they discovered she owned a full-spec Bessie. She held her own, eventually returning the favor by grilling them about the Starflare’s specs. Cem, Iella, and Myri found common ground in a love for intelligence work which spawned an interesting discussion on embarrassing moments undercover. Shawnkyr traded her time between the two conversations. Not once was the subject of Jaina and Jag’s new roles brought up, for which the two looked highly grateful. Even the news of Wedge accepting Jag’s offer to take over as Supreme Commander of Imperial Forces was glossed over. And see, Syal, multiple Corellians at the table and not one mention of brandy. Although, I will admit that allowing a Jedi into a Sabacc game was foolish. Especially when that Jedi is also a Solo. He had some explaining to do over lost credits, but he was sure he hadn’t lost as much as Syal had spent on shoes.
Pleasant though the day had been, Soontir couldn’t fall asleep. Syal was curled peacefully next to him, hair streaming across the pillow like a golden banner. Slowly, Soontir levered himself out of bed, chuckling softly as Syal rolled into his vacated space with a gentle smile on her face. For lack of anything better to do, Soontir made his way down into the kitchen. He was about to reach for a glass of water when he realized he wasn’t alone. “Couldn’t sleep?”
“No. There is much to think about, and it seems like there is so little time to weigh options as much as they deserve to be weighed.” Soontir doubted that anyone other than himself and Jaina would have caught the note of despair in Jag’s voice. Soontir had a feeling he knew what was weighing on Jag’s mind most. The glances his son had been shooting Jaina at dinner told the story very clearly. Taking a chance, he decided to toss his earlier determination not to say anything to Jag out the airlock.
“She still loves you Jag. Even I could see that at dinner.”
“But I won’t ruin her over this. She has so much to deal with right now, between Jacen and being a Moff and Duchess. I can’t ask her to marry on top of all her other issues. The whole reason I’m staying here is so I can keep an eye on her. She’s staying here because I hoped Aunt Iella would be able to help her. Iella is the only one I know who has had the misfortune of being forced to kill a family member. Iella has been good to her, and helped her reach an understanding. But that doesn’t mean she’s fully over it. It breaks my heart when she wakes screaming in the night. All I wanted was for her to have a measure of peace after all she’s been through. But the galaxy just can’t seem to leave her alone. I can’t ask her to throw herself into a marriage she’s not ready for just to make my job easier.”
After so many years of silence, Soontir had expected the close relationship he had forged with Jag during the Vong War to have soured. He had expected Jag to be distant at best. He had never anticipated that they could just fall right back into stride, and that Jag would open up the way he used to. The brightly colored lanes of traffic hurried by, silhouetting Jag against the viewport. Soontir stepped up next to his eldest surviving child, joining him in the mindless comfort provided by the neon maze.
“Jagged, have you talked with her about any of this?” Soontir made sure that his voice stayed understanding, that none of his desperation to help his son leaked out.
“I don’t want to burden her.” With a heavy sigh, Jagged turned away from the viewport and sank into a seat at the table. “She deserves to be free and unhindered. Before this whole Duchess thing, Wedge and I were going to ask her to take command of the 181st. She would have loved that. So much has been lost…” The bitter wistfulness of Jag’s last comment set Soontir to wondering. Soontir leaned forward on the table to cover his shock as the possible meaning of that comment became clear. The Solos had lied, and in doing so had saved his son and their daughter a scandal. Soontir motioned for Jag to continue, he didn’t trust himself to speak.
“Would you understand Father, if I said I knew it was a mistake, and yet I could never regret it? We all knew Jaina was as good as dead when she was sent to face Caedus. She knew, her parents knew, the Master’s Council knew, I knew. I…” Soontir’s heart broke at roughly the same time as his son’s voice. He knew his son had had his hands full with new duties, but it had never crossed his mind how lonely his son had become because of them. The one person Jagged felt comfortable talking to was the one person he didn’t want to burden. Soontir vowed that if his son needed to talk all night, he would listen. Jagged needed a listener, and listening was something Soontir could do well.
“I couldn’t let her face him without letting her know how much I cared for her. We didn’t know she’d gotten pregnant until she came out of bacta the first time. A Jedi healer found the baby while doing some Force-examination technique. We lost the baby three days later. Son or daughter, we’ll never know. She was just too broken to carry the baby. If I’d just planned better, she would have never been placed in that situation. I don’t regret letting her know my feelings, but I regret that the consequences of that decision caused her more pain. I won’t have her suffer more because of my selfishness.”
“Jagged, how do you know it was selfishness? I doubt that whatever happened between the two of you was one-sided. You gave Jaina a reason to live, something to come back to. She knew you cared about her and wanted her to come back. I can see it in her eyes; you’ve been her rock and anchor. She may not be ready for marriage yet, but doesn’t she deserve the chance to tell you that herself? You can’t make that decision for her, or you’ll only cause the both of you more heartbreak. You and Jaina deserve the chance to be happy. Give your relationship a chance Jag. Let her know that you care for her, let her know that every day.” Hands trembling with emotion, Soontir pulled out the small, battered velvet box that he had hoped to give to Jagged one day. Soontir had held it close since Davin’s death twenty years ago, as though if he did, perhaps his son would come home to claim it. “You don’t have to propose tomorrow, but when you’re both ready Jag, take this. Your grandfather gave it to me, and now I’m giving it to you.” Soontir didn’t bother to conceal the tears slowly leaking from his eyes as he slid the small box across the table.
“Mother’s engagement ring?” As Soontir looked up, he noticed that his son wasn’t making any effort to hide his tears either. He knew the significance of that small box and its contents. If Syal saw this, I’d never hear the end of it. Big, tough fighter jock crying over a late-night conversation with his son? Oh yes, she’d have a field day.
“Yes. It’s a five-generation tradition in the Fel family to give it to the oldest son when he is about to be married. You don’t have to use it yet, or ever. When you’re ready, it will be here.” Both men rose from the table, and as Soontir enveloped his son in a hug, he reflected that their family had taken a beating. No one had gone through the last few years unscathed, but the fragile threads of his family were drawing back together. It felt right to have dinner with Wedge’s family, and he eagerly awaited the addition of the Solos in a few days time. After all, if he and Han were ever to peaceably split grandfathering duties, shouldn’t they at least agree on what kind of craft the child should be flying? Grandchildren would be some time away yet, but Soontir didn’t doubt they’d come. For the first time since Davin’s death twenty years ago, his family was starting to feel whole.
As he bid his son good-night, he turned to the table to take the small box and keep it safe for Jag. It was then he realized that Jagged had never put the box back on the table. As Soontir looked to his son’s retreating form, he noticed the small box was cradled securely in Jag’s right hand.
EmpressJainaSoloFel - March 11, 2012 04:10 PM (GMT)
Soontir had always risen early, and even the events of the previous day were not enough to change that. He dressed quickly, refusing to dwell on the differences between civilian and military attire. Syal, still tired from the shopping trip and subsequent reunion, slept peacefully on. Silently shutting the door, Soontir made his way to the kitchen. No reason to wake her. Let her pleasant dreams continue, I’m sure she’ll need to do more shopping anyway. After all, just last night she was asking Jaina about the best boutiques in the area. It had surprised him that Jaina was able to provide the information, even if she’d had to think about it. Jagged had leaned over and quietly informed him that Jaina had been dragged through a dizzying variety of shops since she got out of the medward, giving her a good working knowledge of who carried what. I suppose that fits, she is a duchess now. She ought to dress like it, even though I doubt she likes it much more than Jagged. However much Jaina had disliked it, she made a lovely picture, especially when her handmaiden dragged her upstairs to change into slightly more formal dinner attire. She protested, claiming that it was only a family dinner, but the Solos had wisely found her a handmaiden that was her match in stubbornness.
“Would you like a cup of caf? I was just going to start a couple, and if you’d like one I’d be happy to add another.” Even at this early hour Jaina was dressed for the day. Her hair was elegantly twisted and coiled atop her head, although a few face-framing wisps accented delicate cheekbones. The silk gown was elegantly tailored, showing off a trim waist before flaring gently over her hips and flowing to the floor. The lavender coloring reminded him of sunsets on Corellia, when he used to talk with his family in the garden. He couldn’t help but wonder what part of the gown hid her lightsaber.
“I’d love some, Jaina.” He’d never been alone in a room with her before, and the thought of speaking with her was strangely unnerving. Yesterday, he’d had Jag and Wedge to serve as buffers. However, while there was no one else around, it was the perfect time to obtain the answer to a question that had been nagging at him for some time. “If I may, I’d like to ask you a question.” He saw her back stiffen slightly, although she held her hands steady as she continued preparing the caf. “When Jag sent back the report on Alema Rar, you added information about his condition. Why did you do it? You had no obligation to us.”
“A mistake I made cost your family dearly. If it wasn’t for my lack of judgment, you would not have had to endure the financial hardship resulting from my actions at Supply Depot Thrago. I trusted the wrong person. My mistake cost you your son. I know I can’t ever change that. The least I could do was let you know he was being taken care of.” Soontir barely heard the chime of the caf dispenser as he struggled to find a way to tell Jaina that he didn’t blame her. How could he blame her, knowing what the Chiss had planned? She had done her Jedi duty, time and time again without ever stopping to put her own interests first. Now here she was, shouldering a heavy burden, calmly pouring caf as though this was a daily occurrence. Perhaps for her it was.
“How do you like your caf?”
“Black. Thank you.” Soontir gratefully accepted the mug, watching quietly as Jaina prepared the other two cups. One was kept simple, just a bit of cream, while the other was a rather complex mixture of flavorings and cream. Curious, Soontir watched the careful preparation of the second cup. He almost burst out laughing when he recognized Jag’s signature taste. How had she memorized it? Jag, absurdly territorial about his caf, had never trusted anyone to get it right at home. Most of his family remembered the basic ingredients, but the exact proportions were quite challenging. The fact that Jaina remembered, and Jag trusted her to remember, spoke volumes about their relationship. Didn’t those two realize that they gave themselves away constantly? All anyone had to do was watch the little things. A glance here and there, the way Jag had prepared Jaina’s favorite mixed drink after dinner last night, the way they laughed at their private jokes. Everything told Soontir they loved each other deeply.
“Good morning, Father.” Soontir nodded a greeting in Jag’s direction, eagerly watching Jag’s reaction to the caf Jaina prepared. He tried to keep his sabacc face on, but he couldn’t deny his rampant curiosity. Watching his son finish the caf and enfold the small woman in a warm embrace, he wondered if perhaps their separation at the end of the Vong War had been for the best. They had both matured, learning some hard lessons between them. The bond he saw between them now was stronger, the affection in Jag’s eyes deeper, as their love had passed through all nine Corellian hells, and probably a few of the Chiss ones as well, and emerged stronger. He allowed himself a smile as Jag whispered something to Jaina that he couldn’t hear, but it made her blush furiously. The smile only grew as Jaina replied and set Jag’s face aflame.
“Ah, it’s good to know someone is chaperoning those two. You never know what mess a Jedi and a Corellian pilot will get themselves into.” Soontir silently cursed himself for jumping; he had not been expecting the Solos for another week.
“Dad, what are you doing here? I thought you had a week before you’d be back.” Jaina was all smiles as she glided over to where her father was standing. “And then I’d factored in another three days due to some malfunction on the Falcon.” As the banter continued, Soontir had to admit she was brave. As much as Soontir had joked about making fun of the Falcon, he’d never have followed through. He knew that Han was a skilled hand on a blaster. His brown gaze drifted to Jag, who was chuckling softly at the continuing banter between father and daughter. Han must have tired of the abuse, because he moved on to enfold Jag in a hug.
“You’re taking care of her, right?” Soontir felt an invisible hand close on his heart as he saw the look in Han’s eyes. He was entrusting Jag with his little girl, the last of his children. Han’s gaze was controlled, but there was a buried sense of desperation in those eyes. Soontir knew that feeling all too well, he’d felt the same way when Gavron had proposed to Wyn.
“Yes sir, we were just going to go out for breakfast. There’s a bistro that just opened a little way from here. It’s receiving excellent reviews, so I thought I’d take her out. We should be back in a few hours.” Jag wrapped Jaina in an elegant satin cloak dyed to match her dress before grabbing his overcoat and helping her out the door. Soontir watched them go, grateful his son had time to read things like restaurant reviews. Or had it been his staff that provided him the information?
“You raised a good man, Soontir. I couldn’t have asked for a better man to be courting my daughter. Now if only I could scare off the rest of them. Leia has to know some way that won’t leave marks. Mara would have.” The look in Han’s eyes told Soontir just how much Mara had meant to the Skywalker/Solo family. Soontir smiled, Jade would have probably known more than one way…
“Other suitors? Given their recent history, I thought they were fairly cemented as a couple.” The holonet had no problem running stories about Jagged being one of Jaina’s most frequent visitors, as well as dragging up men that Soontir doubted Jaina had even met. However, that annoying little blond had never mentioned anyone but Jag in the picture. She seemed to have the best information, even if her voice could shatter transparisteel, so Soontir usually went with her information first. He had been genuinely sorry to hear the Jedi who had been at Jaina’s side during the Killik Crisis died during the assault on the Anakin Solo.
“Yeah, but everyone wants a piece of her title. You should have been here last week, it was a riot. Moff Lecersen came calling while Jag was here. If looks could kill, Jagged would launch a full proton torpedo complement. He didn’t take kindly to Lecersen’s flirting with Jaina.” The former smuggler reached for the caf and started to prepare a pot for himself. The years were clearly written on Han’s face. His old classmate was nothing like the brash hotshot he’d known on Carida. He’d aged, in more ways than any man should ever have to. Soontir wondered if Han saw the same thing when he looked at the former Assistant Syndic.
“Speaking of my son, I appreciate your leniency; I had expected you to have him in carbonite after what happened.” Jag had been vague, and Soontir couldn’t help but wonder as to Han’s reaction. If it had been Wyn, the unfortunate young man would have been shot. A warning shot or two to the chest might suffice.
“I was tempted, believe me. But I have to be honest, if I’d been in his shoes and it was Leia, I’d have done the same. There’s just a point where you can’t deny what your heart is telling you, and when you hit that point at the same time you think it’s too late, you tend to make decisions that you’d otherwise never consider making. He was petrified the whole time she was on Mandalore, and it was even worse knowing she was walking into a death duel. He asked me for her hand shortly after… Don’t think he’s asked her yet, though.” Han settled himself across the table from Soontir with his cup of caf and a pastry. The Rebellion hero chewed thoughtfully before adding, “It was a shock for all of us when we were told about her pregnancy, but he was ecstatic. He was devastated when she lost the baby.”
“They really are a perfect fit. She’s a good woman, Han. You’ve done an amazing job of raising her.” Two pairs of brown eyes met, for once in complete understanding. The conversation switched to lighter topics as Wedge and Iella made their way down the stairs and into the kitchen followed by Syal. As Leia entered with the little girl he’d heard mentioned last night, Shawnkyr strode into the kitchen. The women immediately gathered in a small group as Iella provided the play-by-play of Lecersen’s visit. The three aging generals sat on one side of the kitchen, smiling over cups of caf, knowing that Jag would claim he wasn’t worried while Jaina would ask if he’d been jealous. As the women moved into a discussion on when Jagged might propose, it took all of his self-control not to burst out laughing. Soontir couldn’t wait until the happy couple got back, this could provide hours of entertainment. With a pang, he wondered how Davin, Chak, and Cherith would have enjoyed this gathering. Would they feel betrayed that he was happy, even without them here?
“No, Soontir. They’d want you to keep on living. They’d only feel betrayed if you didn’t enjoy what they never had a chance to.” If someone had told him thirty years ago that he’d be related to Han Solo, he would have laughed. Now, as Han laid a comforting hand on his shoulder, he realized that he was lucky to have the family he did. It was a blessing in every way. “Besides, I’ve got fifty credits they’ve forgotten Amelia’s hanging on every word and this gets back to Jag and Jaina by the end of dinner.”
Laughing heartily, Soontir exclaimed, “You’re on!” Win or lose, he’d enjoy the show.
EmpressJainaSoloFel - March 11, 2012 04:11 PM (GMT)
Soontir couldn’t stop laughing, and he wasn’t the only one. The entertainment value was well worth the lost fifty credits as little Amelia boldly walked up to Jagged, fists planted on her hips. “When are you going to marry my sister? You better have a really pretty ring for her, she deserves it.” She’d mastered her “sister’s” trademark glare very quickly.
The young couple had barely walked through the door, and Soontir was sure Jaina was tempted to turn and run back out. The shock on her face was something Soontir would never forget, but he didn’t miss that her brandy eyes flicked quickly to Jag to see how he would handle the situation. Not for the first time that day, Soontir marveled at how the Solo family’s resiliency. Amelia, so recently adopted, loved and admired her “big sister” with no reservations. Earlier, as the grownups had discussed the possibility of a pending marriage, she had looked most troubled. As Soontir looked to Jagged to see how his son would react, he was shocked to see Jagged crouch down in front of the little inquisitor, a small smile on his face as he drew out the battered box Soontir had handed him the night before. Despite the laughter of everyone else in the room, his son remained quite serious.
“Do you think this is good enough for her?” Jagged held out the ring for the child to examine, and Jaina’s eyes grew even wider. As much as Soontir had hoped his son would make his alliance with Jaina permanent, he certainly hadn’t expected this turn of events. Apparently, neither had Jaina. His son waited patiently for Amelia to complete her examination, his face betraying no hint of anxiety or anticipation. When had Jag grown to be so good with children?
“Well, it’s a pretty ring. I approve. But when are you going to marry her?” Amelia’s tone was oddly formal; her young voice already had a ring that spoke of royalty and confidence. Despite her formality, she was smiling widely as she handed the ring back to Jagged. “And you’d best say yes Jaina, I want a brother.” Jag’s smile widened as Jaina blushed furiously.
“I’ll marry her just as soon as our mothers can help us plan the wedding.” Jag winked at Amelia before standing and turning to Jaina, who still looked as though she couldn’t believe this was happening. Her eyes were still and her lower lip had started to tremble. Soontir wondered if anyone else in the room saw the small tear threatening to spill from her left eye or the way her breath caught as Jag took her left hand. “Marry me, Jaina.” His son looked as if he wanted to say more but couldn’t find the words and for a moment it seemed they had frozen in time, unaware of the world outside the two of them. The threatening tear finally spilled, followed by more slowly winding their way down Jaina’s porcelain cheeks.
Soontir hadn’t heard her whispered response, but Jag’s laughter as Jaina collapsed against his chest told him all he needed to know. Her small shoulders were shaking, Soontir guessed she was crying. His guess was confirmed as Jag released her to slide the ring on her left hand. Jaina’s eyes sparkled, and Soontir soon found himself being embraced by his now-sniffling wife. As hugs were exchanged all around, the only serious face in the room remained on little Amelia. Soontir watched his son disentangle himself from Iella to turn back to the little girl who was tugging insistently on the leg of his pants.
“You’d better be extra nice to her. Papa Han knows where carbonite is and he isn’t afraid to use it.” As the room erupted in laughter once again, Soontir couldn’t hear Jagged’s response, but she listened as though contemplating his response carefully before finally nodding her approval and hugging Jag. She then ran off to join Jaina, who was currently locked in a three-way embrace with Leia and Syal. All three women were teary, and Soontir knew by the look on his wife’s face and the fresh tears from Jaina that his wife was explaining the significance of the elegant band to her soon-to-be daughter-in-law. As his eye’s traveled from Jagged’s broad smile to Jaina’s sparkling eyes, Soontir knew without a doubt that no matter what anyone else said, this was a marriage based on love. The political advantages were a mere bonus.
Dinner that night was an exuberant affair. Syal and Iella had teamed up in the kitchen to prepare a feast worthy of the most elegant diplomatic reception while Wynn and Leia partnered to prepare the table, decorating it beautifully with elegant floral and candle centerpieces atop a shimmering tablecloth. Shawnkyr helped Cem prepare the sitting room for several additional people, while Han, Wedge, and Soontir sequestered themselves in a corner discussing how to best rearrange the Imperial fleet. The younger Syal, along with Myri, chose to straighten the apartment and prepare several guest rooms. The young lovers sat in a corner, talking and cuddling while the rest of the world spun around them. Shortly before the dinner was served, Tycho Celchu arrived with Winter on his arm, followed closely by the Horn family. Last but not least, Luke Skywalker arrived with Ben.
Conversation was flowing smoothly as dates were set, the Pellaeon Gardens were agreed upon as a venue, and bridesmaids and groomsmen were discussed. After watching Leia Organa Solo plan a formal state wedding over dinner, Soontir was in no doubt about why the Rebels won the war. Shawnkyr’s surprise at being asked to be a bridesmaid and Wynn’s excited whoop at being asked to be the maid of honor left the table laughing so hard that Valin nearly choked. The conversation came to an abrupt halt, however, when Leia mentioned shopping for a wedding dress and Jaina politely declined. The shock in the room was palpable, and Soontir wondered how the young woman planned to get away with cutting Leia out of this. Syal, though as shocked as Leia, hid her hurt just a little better.
“Mom, it’s not like that. Please, I need you to understand.” Jaina’s voice was pleading, and Soontir thought Leia was going to object when Han quickly silenced her. “Remember that undercover mission to Kuat that Mara and I went on before…” Jaina’s voice hitched, but she bravely continued. “It was one of the last undercover missions we went on together before she died. We were posing as a mother and daughter out on a vacation and shopping trip.” Soontir suspected this last bit was added for the Fel family’s benefit. “Anyway, we stopped in a dress shop and found the most beautiful dress. I fell in love with it, and Mara insisted on getting it for me. It’s beautiful, and it’s perfect for my wedding. I’d love some help finding jewelry to match it, and you always had the best taste in jewelry. Would you be willing to help me with that?”
“I’d like that.” Leia’s small smile of support indicated that the hurt had been banished with the understanding of why Jaina chose her wedding dress. “Is it that green dress you showed me?” At Jaina’s small nod, Leia’s smile widened. “You’re right, that is perfect. I’m glad Mara got it for you, she would have loved to see you wear it at your wedding.”
It struck Soontir then, as it had so many times since moving in with his brother-in-law, just how many family members were missing. Mara, murdered by Jacen, brought down by Jaina herself. Anakin Solo, killed at Myrkyr, and Chewbacca, who had died to protect Anakin at Sernpidal. His own children, lost more than twenty years ago. Davin would have been congratulating Jagged and plotting ruthlessly with Chak to come up with the ultimate wedding night prank for the newlyweds as Cherith would have pleaded with the two to leave Jag and Jaina alone before joining in to make it a very memorable prank indeed. What would Anakin have done? It pained Soontir that he would never know, that the missing family members would never get to see a family once so divided come back together and fight to reclaim what they’d thought lost long ago.
“Time for sorrows later, ‘Tir. Now is a time for joy. They are all missed, but I know, somehow, that they are happy for us right now.” As his wife leaned her head onto his shoulder, Soontir smiled, remembering the day long ago when he had asked her to become his wife. The joy that filled his heart all those years ago was the same that filled his son’s today. Oh, just wait Jagged. I know you think you are happy today, but the best is yet to come. I know you think you love her today, but you haven’t even begun to love her yet. I know you couldn’t comprehend how you could love her more, but you will. Your path will not be easy, but you’ve chosen the right woman to walk at your side. Together, the two of you will accomplish anything you set your hearts on.
EmpressJainaSoloFel - March 11, 2012 04:13 PM (GMT)
The evening had gone remarkably well, Soontir mused. He and Han had gotten along; even sharing a chuckle over the interested glances Wynn was shooting in Valin’s direction. The kid wasn’t a bad sort at all, soft-spoken and well-mannered, he was quick in offering his arm to escort Wynn to dinner and seating her, and he didn’t hesitate in responding to her tentative flirtations. He shared the keen intelligence Soontir saw in Hal Horn all those years ago on Corellia, and proved himself capable of holding knowledgeable discussion on a wide array of topics. No, he decided, Wynn could have set her sights on someone much worse.
The ladies had retired to bed; Jag “escorting” Jaina, and Valin had claimed the need for meditation, after which Luke and Ben left to tend to some vague Jedi business, leaving the rest of the men in the lounge. Han was shuffling the sabacc deck while Wedge liberated a bottle of Whyren’s from the liquor cabinet when the whole evening started going downhill. As Wedge handed a glass of Whyren’s to Corran, the Jedi Master shot from his seat, lightsaber in hand. “Wedge, get Iella and your girls. We need to leave, now.” Although Corran’s voice betrayed nothing but commanding calm, Soontir knew something was about to happen. Jedi didn’t go to full battle-readiness over something insignificant.
No sooner had Corran finished speaking than Jysella, clad in only a sports bra and workout pants, tore into the room, lightsaber already ignited with Valin and Wynn hot on her heels. As Corran’s lightsaber sprang to life, Jaina entered the room, violet blade held aloft. It was clear that she had been in the process of changing for the night and not gotten very far, her chocolate hair tumbled in loose curls down her back and the elegant satin gown that she had worn at dinner was missing. Instead, she was clad in only the matching cream silk underskirt and corset she had worn beneath the gown. Jag, behind her, blaster drawn and bare-chested, was clearly not minding the show despite the danger. Syal scooted over to her husband’s side, looking clearly confused. Unlike Jaina, she had elected to throw a dressing gown on over her underclothing. If Soontir hadn’t been so worried about what the Jedi were sensing, the whole scene might have been comical.
In the space of a heartbeat, the scene had gone from silent near-comedy to deafening battle. The viewport exploded, spraying transparisteel shards in all directions. The shards glittered in the light from the sabers before seemingly hitting an invisible wall and flying toward the other direction. Soontir’s confusion lasted only a moment as he noted Jaina’s outstretched hand, directing the shards away from the small gathering. Suddenly she was flying over their heads, flipping gracefully before landing in front of the hall that led to the bedrooms.
“Su’cuy gar, Bob’ika. Tion’ad hukaat’kama?” Soontir couldn’t see who Jaina was speaking to, nor did he recognize the language that she seemed to speak with little difficulty. He heard blaster fire being redirected by the three lightsabers now on his left, but he had eyes only for the scene in front of him. Jaina, brown hair whipping around her lithe form, standing with lightsaber at the ready, smiling as a green-armored Mandalorian stepped into the room, blaster pointed straight at her. Suddenly, Soontir felt like he had been standing outside in a Csillan blizzard with no protection. He hadn’t seen Boba Fett before, but he’d heard stories, and suddenly he knew that he may not be leaving the room alive. Never before in his life, including in his career flying the shieldless TIE fighter, had he felt so vulnerable. Rumor had it there was only one target Fett had ever missed, and now, facing Fett himself, Soontir’s respect for Han increased dramatically.
“I told you, Jedi, I may be Mand’alor, but I don’t speak the language!” Fett’s voice was grating, full of venom, yet with an odd touch of affection for Jaina. Soontir resolved to puzzle that over later, the knowledge was no good if he was dead.
“Well, you should talk to Mirta about that. She’s a good teacher.” The banter threw Soontir off his guard, in the middle of an assassination attempt, Jaina was talking to Fett like they were at a picnic! “Leave, now, and I won’t have to mess up your pretty beskar.” It occurred to Soontir that Jaina was stalling. But why? So puzzled was he that he nearly lost track of the conversation as it swirled around him.
“Ah, but Jedi, you have no armor. You can only stop so many shots on that fancy sword of yours.” Fett’s tone radiated genuine amusement.
“But I believe you once told me that a warrior is more than his armor, no?” Jaina had mastered her father’s trademark smirk, although Soontir thought she was just using it to infuriate Fett. Well, she was brave; Soontir had to give her that. Here she was, facing Fett in undergarments, looking as confident as though she was wearing beskar herself.
“I always thought you were my best student. Shall we test that?”
Jaina didn’t respond in words, she simply dropped into an easy defensive posture as dozens of blaster shots poured through the entrance. Seemingly effortlessly, she batted the bolts back at the shooters, spinning with the grace and beauty of a ballerina to position herself to deflect the maximum number of bolts. The bolts that she couldn’t deflect with her saber she simply caught on her palm, absorbing the energy. Muted screams behind Fett testified to the accuracy of her ability to deflect the deadly fire. Without warning, the couch he’d sat on this morning went flying over his head and into the hall, knocking Fett off his feet and carrying him back towards his still-firing comrades. The sudden end of blaster fire as the couch reached the end of the hall was all he needed to know about the effectiveness of the technique. As though it was choreographed, Jaina came out of a spin and leapt over to the wall separating the lounge from the atrium outside the suite. With a touch of her hand, the wall simply shattered, leaving a clear exit route. Soontir knew his eyes were wide as he stepped through the improvised doorway, but he was past caring.
As he helped Syal over the shattered remnants of the wall, white-armored stormtroopers began pouring through the atrium toward the now-decimated Antilles residence firing at the assassins with a precision that took his breath away. It was over in minutes, as one squad of stormtroopers finished the job Jaina began while the other two focused on the Mandalorians at the viewport. As Fett and his companions were taken away, Soontir’s eyes roamed to Jag, speaking with the captain of the three squads. It was then that he saw why Jaina had stalled; she had given Jag time to call for backup.
“Now that’s just not right. Whoever said this galaxy is fair was drinking too much kriffing Lomin Ale.” Wynn looked distinctly put out, and Soontir knew from her voice it had nothing to do with the battle. Not trusting himself to respond, he simply raised an eyebrow, inviting Wynn to continue.
“I mean, she looked pretty at dinner, but now look at her! She was just fighting for her life against an elite Mandalorian assassin unit, and she looks gorgeous. Her makeup is still perfect; all that wind just gave her hair this totally sexy tousled look, and she’s wearing a corset and silk skirt. She looks like she’s ready to shoot for the cover of ‘Flyboy’. It’s just not fair.” Despite her grumbling, Soontir detected a faint trace of amusement.
“Well, it would sure be the hottest cover that holozine has ever had!” Cem quipped. Soontir was about to let Cem have a well-deserved lecture on propriety, but Jag clearing his throat cut off whatever inappropriate comment Cem was about to make next.
“I’m glad you think so, little brother. The 501st will cover us so we can pack our things. Jaina and I will be going on the Starflare with you, if you don’t mind.”
“That will be fine. We’ll just have to move Shawnkyr in with Wynn.” Soontir was not about to pass on the opportunity to spend more time with Jag and Jaina.
“Shawnkyr will be going with Uncle Wedge. She’ll be taking over as the XO of the 181st and will go with him to the Dominance. We will be going to Yaga Minor on a routine trip, and then on to Bastion. The Solos will meet us there later. We’ll talk more on the way, Father, but now it’s time to pack. You have fifteen minutes.” In that instant, it struck Soontir just how much Jag had changed. He was now the calm, controlled leader of an interstellar government. His son hadn’t left his warrior heritage behind, as evidenced by the empty powerpack on his E-11 and the sweat shining on his chest, but he now had more responsibility and power.
As he looked back into the living room, he saw Jaina striding toward Jag. Wynn was right, as the wind blew her now-tousled hair around and she walked with a combination of Corellian swagger and a dancer’s native grace, she really did look like a one of Syal’s costars in her heyday. He couldn’t stop smiling as Jag embraced Jaina and kissed her passionately, with no regard for how many people were nearby, the two made a dynamic team. Tonight, Soontir thought he’d finally seen the real Jaina Solo, the one behind the elegant hairstyles and fancy clothes. He’d heard her referred to as Jedi royalty, and that made sense when he met her. He had never understood why she had been named the Sword of the Jedi. Tonight, he knew. His musings were interrupted by Syal, as she led him back to what had been their room. As they began packing, it struck Soontir that this really was it, his life in the new Empire was about to begin. After all the hardships his family had endured, things were finally being added rather than lost. Maybe it was a result of that famed Solo luck being added in to the family? Shaking his head at that thought, Soontir grabbed the bags that he had placed at the foot of the bed. He was glad that he hadn’t taken the time to unpack. Now he could help Syal attempt to wrestle her shoes into her suitcase, and maybe spare Jaina the trouble of being asked to levitate them to the Starflare. Life may be crazy, but it didn’t get much better. Soontir smiled as he turned to his wife’s shoe collection, idly wondering how many of them she could really wear.
EmpressJainaSoloFel - March 11, 2012 04:14 PM (GMT)
As Soontir entered the cockpit of the Starflare, he couldn’t help but smile. The sleek ship had lifted off Coruscant days earlier, and was nearly to Yaga Minor. Syal’s shoe collection was packed safely in the hold, thanks to Jaina, who had offered to help levitate the collection down to the hangar. Now that he had met her, Soontir knew with a certainty that his son had chosen very well. While Jaina could look at home in the most expensive of formalwear, she had a distinct practical side. He couldn’t help but respect how she held her chin high, no matter what the Force threw her way, and how she always acted in the best interest of others, and the galaxy as a whole, regardless of the cost to herself. Once onboard the Starflare, she had quickly changed into a comfortable black jumpsuit and busied herself making the minor repairs he simply hadn’t had time for. She had quipped that she needed to find a way to keep her manicurist busy but Soontir had sensed that working on a ship was her way of relieving stress.
Jagged had remained quiet about what business he would be seeing to when they reached Yaga Minor, despite numerous attempts to get him to talk. The best of Cem’s intelligence training, and all of the experience that was Wyn’s by virtue of being a little sister had had no effect. By unspoken agreement, no one had tried questioning Jaina, despite the fact that she was clearly in on the secret. All that Soontir had been able to glean from Jag was that his aide, Vitor Reige, would be meeting them there. The news that his son had chosen to keep Reige shouldn’t have been surprising, but Soontir was struck again by the new circle his son moved in. As the hyperspace reversion alert chimed, Soontir settled in the pilot’s seat to ready the ship for reversion. As he heard footsteps behind him, he realized that not everyone was asleep.
“Would you be willing to copilot for me?” He was sure it was Jaina behind him, the rustling of silk skirts gave her away every time.
“I’d be happy to.” She settled easily into the seat on his right, already familiarizing herself with the instrument panel. Quick steps behind him announced Jagged’s presence in the cockpit. After softly kissing the top of Jaina’s head, he moved to strap himself into the seat behind her. Soontir smiled again, remembering the days when he and Syal had been young and in love. Over time, their love had deepened in ways Soontir had never though possible. Knowing that his son had finally found the same happiness pleased him greatly.
As Jaina helped him bring the ship back into realspace and lay in the heading as per Jag’s instructions, Soontir suddenly realized where they were going. The star destroyer he was looking at was easily half again as large as a Super Star Destroyer. Though he tried, he was sure he hadn’t managed to keep the shock off of his face, and Jag’s smirk confirmed his suspicion. As the Starflare settled into the forward docking bay, Jagged’s smirk disappeared, replaced by a look of deep pride. “Welcome aboard the Pellaeon’s Legacy, first of the Ultra-class Star Destroyers and my new flagship.”
Jag and Jaina led the way, arm-in-arm, to the boarding ramp, quietly discussing something. Given the expressions on their faces, Soontir thought whatever it was might be rather funny. He shook his head as he went to wake Syal, only to find her already emerging from their quarters. Cem and Wynn emerged as well, and made their way to the boarding ramp. He offered his arm to his wife, not for the first time musing on how lucky he was, and led her down the boarding ramp.
“Father, may I present Vitor Reige, my chief aide? Vitor, this is my father, Baron Soontir Fel; my mother, Syal Fel; my brother Cem, and sister Wynn.” Soontir extended his hand to his son’s aide, only to feel the warm that filled him moments ago be replaced by ice. The look in Reige’s eyes stated quite clearly that there was bad news. Knowing his son’s tenuous position in the Remnant, and the fact that Reige had just come from Bastion, Soontir wondered if it had something to do with the Moff council. They were trouble in his heyday, and he was sure that they hadn’t changed that much. He was so lost in his thoughts that he barely registered the aide’s suggestion that they tour the ship.
As they worked their way aft, Soontir tried in vain to hear the hushed conversation that Jaina, Jag, and the aide were having. Judging by the way Jag and Jaina were now talking faster, and the stubborn set to Jag’s jaw and the fire in Jaina’s eyes, Reige was now out of the loop and this was an argument between the couple. About when Soontir began to wonder when the infamous Solo temper would strike so that he could actually hear what was going on, Reige laid a tentative hand on Jagged’s arm.
“Moff Fel, I am aware that you don’t like the situation. However, Her Grace’s suggestion is the only viable one. To do anything else results in a swift death, for all of us in this corridor.” Reige’s raised voice puzzled Soontir momentarily, until Soontir realized that Reige was trying to force Jag’s hand by involving the Fel family as a whole. It was a low tactic, but Soontir wouldn’t complain until he at least learned what was occurring.
“Perhaps, Vitor, we should take this to the conference room. I believe that there’s one down this hall?” Even though Jag’s bearing was still suited to his position, Soontir could see in his eyes that he was deeply troubled. The conference room, as it happened, was conveniently just a few doors down. The Fel family swiftly entered, claiming seats at the far end of the long table, with the exception of Jag who chose to stand by the viewport, his back to the room. When he was younger, this had been his way of hiding just how upset he really was. Jaina, clearly torn between comforting Jag and avoiding further conflict, hesitated at the door before taking the offered seat next to Syal. Soontir felt a rush of love for his wife at that moment. Despite not knowing the situation, she already had an arm around Jaina’s shoulders, offering comfort and support. Jaina was another daughter to Syal, despite the wedding still being months away.
Reige took the floor. “Early this morning, we received intelligence that several Moffs have gathered to discuss the legitimacy of Moff Fel’s status as Head of State. They ruled that upon Moff Fel’s return to Bastion, they would seek to have him removed. As you know, Moff Fel is due on Bastion in three days.”
Cem, ever quick to understand a situation, chose that moment to interrupt. “So what we just witnessed was Jaina offering to save Jag’s hide by moving the wedding up. Jag, being the noble person he is, refuses to throw her under the speeder, so to speak.” Jag gave a tight nod. “All due respect, big brother, you’re an idiot.” As Jag spun to protest, Jaina stood, holding a hand out to forestall what would have been a heated rebuttal.
“He’s right Jag. There is no other choice. You know too much, the Moffs won’t let you walk away from this. They’ll have you killed, and as Vitor pointed out, your entire family as well. If we marry in four hours, when your uncle arrives, your claim by marriage is completely valid. Moreover, declaring yourself Emperor prevents another coup. You’ll have everything you need to keep them in line.” It was obvious that Jaina wasn’t relishing the idea of being an empress, yet she was very well aware of what needed to be done and was not about to shirk her duties, let alone abandon Jag.
“Jaina, I can’t and won’t do this to you. We agreed on the timeframe so that you could recover from the last war and adjust to being a duchess. I refuse to make the same mistakes I made with you after Zonama Sekot.” Jag’s eyes spoke of his determination to do the right thing for Jaina, despite the cost.
“We were both fools then. We both made bad choices, and let the galaxy rip us apart because of them. Don’t you find it ironic, then, that we’re now fighting when the galaxy is throwing us together?” Jaina slowly made her way to stand in front of Jag, pastel green skirts rustling the whole way. “I thought I needed time to recover after the Vong war, and I did. I lost you because I thought that recovery was something I needed space for. I was wrong, what I needed were people to lean on. We made our decision at Shedu Maad, we walk this path together.” Even though Jaina kept her voice low and even, there was no doubt that she was very much in love with Jag and unwilling to back down.
“Jaina, are you sure? I can’t do this if you have any doubt.” Jag’s determination to hold firm was teetering, and Soontir’s respect for Jaina grew a little more. Even he couldn’t change Jag’s mind when it was made up. The small bit of hope in Jag’s eyes was unmistakable, coupled with relief.
“I’m sure. We’ll have to talk to some of the Masters, about how to handle the fact that the next ruling family of the Empire will be Force-sensitive. I already have some ideas along that line, but getting more input doesn’t hurt.” The small smile gracing Jaina’s face told Soontir that Jaina was nervous, but still overjoyed. He had a sneaking suspicion that one of the benefits she saw in this was that she could have the small wedding she’d wanted, and not the large wedding that her position dictated. And combining Fel stubbornness with Solo mischief is bound to yield interesting results. Maybe I will let Han do the babysitting after all. That is, if Syal doesn’t protest, and I’m sure she will.
“You do know that your parents will miss it? And Amelia?” Jag’s tone was serious, but Soontir knew that at this point Jag was simply making sure Jaina was aware of all the details. Knowing some of the crazy plans her father had in their Academy days, Soontir couldn’t blame his son.
Jaina lowered her eyes, the first sign of hesitation she’d shown in the scheme. “They’ll understand, they were well aware that our marriage could be forced at any time. We’ll hold a formal, large ceremony on Bastion next month. That will keep everyone we care about happy.”
“It sure won’t make the Moffs happy, though.” Wynn observed.
Jaina’s answering grin was infectious, and for the first time since they entered the conference room, the sparkle carried into her eyes. “Well, that’s why I said the people we care about.” As the table broke into laughter, Soontir noted that Jag had yet to relax.
The laughter was interrupted by a slight knock on the conference room door. Reige opened the door to admit a blonde officer in a crisp captain’s uniform. The man marched smartly to stand before Jag and offer a salute every bit as meticulous as his uniform.
“Moff Fel, the Pellaeon’s Legacy checks out in the green, all systems optimal. She is a fine vessel, and ready to serve the Empire and its Head of State.” The officer looked to be more than a little proud to be serving where he was, and Soontir couldn’t blame him. Being the captain of the Head of State’s flagship was no small honor.
“Very well, Captain Draco. We shall take her out to the edge of the system, where we will meet the Dominance. When the Dominance arrives, please see to getting Supreme Commander Antilles transferred here and escort him to the bridge, for the ship commissioning.” Jag looked comfortable in his new role, Jaina standing proud at his side. It struck Soontir then, that he was looking at the future of the galaxy itself. His son was meant to be much more than he’d ever imagined and Jaina, unable to escape her own family legacy of shaping the galaxy, would be at his side. He also knew, without a doubt, that the galaxy was being placed in good hands. Maybe, just maybe, Skywalker had known all along what he was doing in appointing Jag.
Cem, as always, had something to say. “Jag, wasn’t your wedding scheduled in four hours? Uncle Wedge can commission the ship, and perform the ceremony, but he can’t do both at the same time.” Soontir had to fight to hold back a laugh as Captain Draco’s eyes widened. It was the first break in composure the captain had shown. And he had to give Cem credit; he’d forced Jag into a corner. Jag couldn’t back out now without losing the respect of his flagship’s captain, and in his current situation Jag needed all the respect he could get.
“Very well. Captain Draco, strike that last. Instead, escort Supreme Commander Antilles to the forward observation room, and after the wedding ceremony, we shall see to commissioning the ship. Is that acceptable to all present?” Jag’s half smile was one that Soontir knew well. As nods were exchanged around the table and the captain dismissed, Syal stood and walked over to Jaina.
“Jaina, I know that I’m not your mother, but would you like some help preparing for the wedding?” His wife looked a little hesitant, but Jaina’s wide smile seemed to banish her uncertainty about taking what should have been Leia’s place.
“I’d like that.” Jaina didn’t need to say more before Syal had her wrapped in a large hug. The two women made their way to the door. Wynn elected to follow them out, leaving the men in the conference room.
The conference room door had barely closed before Jag’s fist met the elegant marbled column by the window. With a look, Soontir signaled to Reige to let him handle this. Reige took the hint, leaving the room to make the necessary arrangements.
“What am I doing?” The despair Jag had held at bay was now being released, and Soontir felt once again powerless to reassure his son. While he decided on an attack vector, Cem moved in.
“Jag what you’re doing is the right thing, and you know it. Think of what will happen if you don’t marry her now. You’ll be dead, and the Moffs will resume throwing themselves at her. She’d be forced, for political reasons, to marry eventually or risk being killed herself. Even a Jedi has a limit to the number of times they can escape assassination. No matter which way you slice it, she’ll be dead or miserable. You’re helping her as much as she is you.” Soontir knew that Cem had chosen the right tactic. Forcing Jag to think of Jaina’s well-being from a different perspective was bound to force him to look at this wedding differently. Jag took a deep breath before nodding.
“You’re right. I just wish there was another way. I see it in her eyes, she does too.” The despair was rapidly shifting to resignation.
“And that’s not wrong, brother. But the two of you have a second chance. Most people don’t get that. The two of you fell apart over an idealistic vision of how love should be. Don’t let that happen again, because she’s not about to. She loves you, you love her, and like she said, the decision’s been made. I watch the way you two act around each other. You’re married in all the ways that matter. Just consider this ceremony to be making official what we all knew to be true anyway.” Cem wrapped an arm around Jag’s shoulders as he started maneuvering his older brother out of the room. As Jag started laughing heartily at whatever whispered joke Cem had sprung on him, Soontir silently thanked the Force for the gift of brothers.
Four hours later, Soontir entered the forward observation room. Immediately, he knew why Jag had chosen this room. Reige had told him an hour ago that Pellaeon had personally designed it to be a meditation area modeled after the famous Pellaeon Gardens, and he had to admit that Pellaeon had excellent taste. The smell was intoxicating as flowers from a variety of worlds freely shared their gifts with anyone nearby. The lighting was muted, coming from strings of lights wound around the trunks of the graceful white Ithorian lilac trees that nestled against the walls. The lighting was soft enough that it didn’t detract from the spectacular vista of space visible through the transparisteel canopy that separated the room from the vacuum of space.
Wedge had mercifully arrived in-system an hour earlier than expected, with Shawnkyr as well as the Celchus and Horns in tow. Shawnkyr was immediately whisked away to assist in the preparations for the wedding, and the younger Syal and Myri had scrambled to follow. Fortunately, the dress Jaina selected had been packed aboard the Starflare. Mirax Horn claimed to have just the right kind of fabric for Jaina’s veil, and Iella, never one to be left out, had started sewing with her. The comm call to the Solos had been made. Everything was set, the guests, though few, were in place. Syal, Iella, and Winter had entered; taking places next to him, grinning in what Soontir assumed was success. Jag, entering with Wedge, moved to stand by the small waterfall cascading into a pond at the front of the room. Next was Shawnkyr on Valin’s arm, followed by Wyn on Cem’s arm. As they took their places, Soontir found himself torn between looking back toward the bride and watching his son. After a moment’s thought, he decided to face forward. He would see Jaina when she reached the front, Jag’s reaction would be but a moment.
He wasn’t disappointed. As the Corellian Wedding March began to play, Jagged’s eyes widened, and in that moment the uncertainty in his eyes vanished, replaced by the deepest love and awe. The growing certainty in his son’s eyes was a relief to him; it meant that the odds of Jagged backing out now were slim. As he felt Syal rest her head on his shoulder, Jaina entered his field of vision. The awe on Jagged’s face was more than justifiable when Soontir saw how beautiful his almost-daughter-in-law looked. Her hair had been twisted and curled into an elegant updo just visible beneath the sheer gold of her veil. The wedding dress was a traditional Corellian green, strapless, lacing up the back with strips of wide satin. The shimmery satin bodice hugged her curves, flattering her petite figure, as the skirt skimmed her slender form down to her knees, where it flared out, balancing the curves above. In back, the flared section split, allowing a delicate train of golden lace to peek out and trail a meter behind her. The love and happiness on her face was infectious, and Soontir felt his shoulder start to dampen with Syal’s tears.
As Jaina placed her hand in Jag’s, Soontir knew that everyone and everything else had long been forgotten by the couple. Jaina’s eyes never left Jag’s, even as she handed the elegant bouquet of Ithorian lilacs, Corellian roses and Alderaanian violets to Wynn. Soontir could only sit and bask as the young couple exchanged vows, eyes sparkling with joy. Soontir’s favorite part of the ceremony was always the traditional wedding blessing, and as Wedge prepared to bless the newlyweds, Soontir found himself remembering his own wedding day. From the smile on Syal’s face, she was remembering the same. The Corellian wedding blessing was part blessing, part advice, and Soontir never tired of hearing the words spoken.
"Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years. May happiness be your companion and your days together good and long."
Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulties and fear assail your relationship, as they threaten all relationships at one time or another, remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives -- remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.” Wedge took a moment to smile, knowing that the next part was the part the couple had been waiting for. “I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
His son offered no hesitation, swiftly taking Jaina in his arms. Despite his uncertainty earlier, Jag was smiling as he and Jaina started back down the aisle. Jaina, smiling herself, laughed as they tried to avoid the flurry of rose petals being thrown by the small gathering. The couple stopped briefly to allow for holos to be taken and accept hugs from their closest friends and family. Soontir made sure to take several holos, in addition to the holovid he’d arranged to have taken. His biggest fear before leaving Csilla had been missing his son’s wedding, and now his old rival had missed the wedding of his only surviving child. He felt the least he could do was at least make sure Han would get to watch it, even if it was days later.
The couple, along with their family and guests, worked their way to the bridge for the commissioning ceremony. Upon entering the bridge, the couple was greeted by thunderous applause. Jaina stayed tucked under Jag’s arm, resting her head on his chest, as Wedge officially named the ship and declared it to be in the Empire’s service. Jag, acting in his role as Head of State, gave the order for the vessel to move out into space, proceeding to Bastion. As the festivities died down, and Jag and Jaina left the bridge, Soontir knew that they had only averted one crisis. The Moff council would seek revenge for being thwarted, but he had no doubt in Jaina and Jagged Fel’s ability to ride out the storm. They had gotten to this point, and with Fel stubbornness, Solo luck, and the Force, all things were possible.
EmpressJainaSoloFel - March 11, 2012 04:15 PM (GMT)
Soontir watched with a mixture of awe and envy as his daughter-in-law executed an impossibly high and perfect backflip, twisting in midair and leveling a “fatal” blow to Jysella Horn’s stomach on landing. Without hesitation, she sent Corran flying with a swift kick to the chest and spun to face Valin.
While Jysella elected to flop on the training mat and watch, Corran joined Soontir at the door of the temporary training room, still rubbing what would surely be a nasty bruise in a few hours. The two men watched in silence as Jaina switched from attack mode into teaching mode. Finally, as Valin moved cautiously through a new series of katas, Corran met Soontir’s eye.
“I’m glad to see Valin training with her. He was going to ask her to train him before the war broke out, but could never quite muster the courage. I always thought the Skywalkers made a mistake in not apprenticing Ben to her.” Corran’s look was almost wistful as he watched student and teacher test the waters with careful practice swings.
“Is it possible they doubted her ability to instruct him after the Killik crisis?” Soontir knew he was treading on dangerous ground, and that the incident was one the Jedi preferred to forget. While the Order had never admitted it publicly, he thought that a good portion of the problem was the failure of the Order to handle the fallout of Myrkyr. That failure had cost not only his family dearly, but the entire galaxy.
“The Killik mess was a direct result of those poor kids going back to battle right after Myrkyr. There’s a reason Wedge and Tycho watched her carefully at Borleias. They had some real doubts about her, well, fitness for battle. Even now, no one knows the details of that mission. Not one of them will discuss it, and the mission report, written by Jaina herself, is decidedly vague. Jaina’s reports are usually highly detailed. With the fall of Coruscant and everything else, no one debriefed them. They seemed to go back to the battle without adverse affects, so the subject got dropped.” Corran took a deep breath and blew it out before continuing. “What we didn’t know was how badly the mind meld affected them. They couldn’t tell the difference between the aftereffects of the meld and the beginning of Killik joining until it was too late. Jaina rebounded well from the Killik incident, especially after spending some time on Naboo. She was probably one of the most balanced Jedi in the Order. She knew when to fight, when to negotiate, and how to fight effectively without resorting to Sith practices. She’s never let personal feelings interfere with being objective, and that’s something I wanted Valin to learn.” Despite the serious subject, Corran couldn’t control the grin on his face as Jaina surprised Valin with a lightning fast barrage that left him thoroughly on the defensive.
“I’m worried about this recent chain of events. It’s too much, too fast. She kills her brother, gets made a duchess, becomes a wife, then an empress… I’m worried about her.” Soontir hesitated, unused to revealing so much to a stranger, and troubled over Corran’s use of the past tense when referring to Jaina as a Jedi. Nodding as Valin regained his balance and launched his own offensive, Corran broke in.
“She’s learned a lot lately. She settled something in her mind before Shedu Maad. It hasn’t been easy for her the last six weeks, but she’s finding her stride. And Jag’s never left her side. They’re a good match for each other. If you’ll excuse me, I need to talk to Valin.” Before Soontir could reply, Corran was moving across the training mat to intercept Valin and Jysella on their way out the door, leaving him and Jaina.
After Valin and Corran left, Jaina, now alone, threw herself into a series of lightning fast katas, far more advanced than she had shown Valin. Her lightsaber was little more than a violet blur as she spun, kicked, leapt, and flipped her way through the kata. As steps sounded on the walk behind him, Soontir turned to greet Shawnkyr. It was surprising to see the smile on her face as she turned to watch the practice session.
“I have always admired her swordsmanship. Not even the best of Chiss fencers make such difficult moves look so simple.” The admiration in her voice was obvious as Jaina executed a double back tuck that led into a complicated tumbling pass.
“I’ve heard that she’s a better pilot than swordsman. What is your opinion?” Soontir still wasn’t sure what Shawnkyr’s feelings about Jaina were. He knew what Shawnkyr’s feelings about Jag’s relationship with Jaina had been negative until recently. He didn’t know what brought about the change, but was grateful for it nonetheless.
Shawnkyr elected to contemplate a few moments before answering. “Her skills in a fighter are impressive. During the Vong war, they did exceed her skills on the ground. I admired her saber skills even then. I was fortunate to see her duel with Mara Jade Skywalker once, and I do not think it is possible to forget such an impressive display of skill. My father would have enjoyed it immensely.” Shawnkyr had always been close to her father, an avid fencer. Shawnkyr had been raised in the competitive fencing circles, that she would admire Jaina’s skills was no surprise, but the respect in her voice extended beyond a simple admiration of skills.
“Master Horn was speaking of her being a Jedi in the past tense. I was under the impression that she was about to achieve the rank of Master.” Soontir kept his voice level; he didn’t want anyone knowing how much this information meant to him. Jaina had suffered enough without losing yet another part of her identity.
Shawnkyr didn’t fail as Soontir’s intelligence gathering source. “The Jedi Council didn’t approve of her marriage to Jagged. Master Hamner in particular made some pointed references to her brother and grandfather. Master Durron was quick to defend her, but the majority of the council had already decided against her. She was not granted the rank of Master, and was asked to retire from the Order. Leia Organa Solo, Kyp Durron, and Corran Horn resigned in protest. If rumors can be believed, there are others. Reportedly, her uncle didn’t defend her marriage. He knew of their relationship when appointing Jag as Pellaeon’s replacement, how could he not have seen this coming? Did he not care that his appointee would be dead unless Jaina married him?” Although Shawnkyr’s expression was level, the anger in her voice was uncharacteristic for the stoic Chiss.
“Or perhaps with Daala cracking down on the Jedi, they needed to get Force-users out of the GA somehow.” Both Soontir and Shawnkyr jumped when Jaina spoke. They had been so involved in their discussion that they had failed to notice when the hum of a lightsaber in motion ceased. “Think about it. Now Kyp, the Horns, Tyria, and my mom are on their way to the Empire. Out of Daala’s reach. If Daala moves against the Order the way Palpatine did, we won’t be eradicated because we’ve already taken action. The Empire can start its own order of Force-users, although I think it has to differ from the Jedi if we’re going to avoid people thinking this is a Jedi power-grab. The split has to look real, and judging by your reactions, it did.” Jaina paused for a moment, considering her next words. “We arrive on Bastion in two days. We announce the formation of the Imperial Knights, intimidate some Moffs, likely survive an assassination attempt or two, and it’s business as usual.” After glancing at her chrono, Jaina gave a brief farewell, and ran off to do whatever she was late doing.
Shawnkyr looked after her departing form for a moment before declaring, “I think her definition of business as usual leaves much to be desired.” Laughing heartily, Soontir and Shawnkyr made their way to the simulators.
After an hour and a half of simming that revealed far more of his age than he’d like to admit, he made his way to the observation room that just the previous night had seen his son and Jaina become husband and wife. As he looked around and spotted Jaina perched atop the rock formation that held the waterfall, knees pulled to her chest, he knew her handmaiden would cringe. Nubian satin was notoriously easy to wrinkle, even if the wearer was being highly careful. As if sensing his thoughts, Jaina looked up, brown eyes wary.
“Have they sent you to find me? If so, I clearly need a better hiding place.” The look of dismay on Jaina’s face troubled him. He knew that she would need to talk it all out eventually, but why couldn’t it have been Syal who found her like this? He had spent enough nights on the couch to know that he was no good at soothing women. And yet, here he was. Farmboy-turned-fighter-pilot talking to Jedi-turned-Empress. It wasn’t her title that scared him; it was the fact that she was his daughter-in-law. What would she tell Jag if he proved to be as bad at this as he thought he was going to be?
Taking a deep breath, Soontir decided to take his chances. “No, I didn’t even know you were ‘missing.’ You’re the Empress; you can come and go as you please.”
“If only that were true.” Jaina resumed her careful scrutiny of the pebble to her left, away from Soontir.
“Isn’t it?” When she didn’t respond, Soontir began moving slowly up the rock. Fortunately, it wasn’t very tall, and didn’t trouble his bad leg as much as he thought it might. “Jaina, your title carries a lot of responsibility, responsibilities I can’t begin to imagine. But there have to be some benefits too; otherwise it just isn’t worth it.” He sat to her right, being careful not to put her on the defensive. “Jag will understand if you can’t do it all. I know my son loves you enough that he just wants you to be happy. If that meant retreating to the wilds of some backwater planet, he’d do it in a heartbeat.”
“But we can’t. We have a duty…”
“A duty that will tear the two of you apart, and tear you each to pieces if you can’t take time for yourselves. Jaina, don’t do this again. No matter what other titles you hold, you’re still Jaina. You can’t forget that.” Soontir hoped she didn’t know that he was mentally crossing his fingers right now.
She thought for a brief moment before continuing. “Would you understand if I said that I’ve always been so busy being what I am that I’ve forgotten who I am?” She shook her head, smiling bitterly before continuing. “I’m sorry, that’s just nonsense.”
“You’d be surprised Jaina, by how much sense that makes. What you are is quite impressive – Jedi, fighter pilot, Empress, wife, and much more. But that means people expect the impossible.” Soontir understood entirely too well where she was coming from, he’d seen each of his children wrestle with this question. However, for none of them were the stakes this high.
He could tell she was starting to open up a bit more; the smile on her face was a little more genuine. “Exactly. And now what I am has changed entirely. It’s like I blinked and all of the constants have turned into variables, I don’t even know when.”
“The beauty of that, Jaina, is now you get to define the what. You may be the Empress, but what kind of Empress are you? That’s your decision. The Imperial Knights will be defined by you. For probably the first time in your life, no one is telling you what to be. You can be who you are, and use that to define what you are.” This was a chance none of his children had ever had, and he wasn’t going to let Jaina miss it if he could help it.
“I never thought of it like that.” She chewed her lower lip thoughtfully. She was about to continue when the door slid open. Although Soontir didn’t see who entered, Jaina clearly sensed it. “I better go, but thank you. You’ve given me much to think about.” With a broad smile, she clambered down from the rock, scowling at the wrinkles in her dress and made her way to the door.
After he thought she’d exited, he climbed down from the rock himself. As he was dusting himself off, he felt a hand on his shoulder and nearly jumped. As he turned, he found himself staring into Jag’s green eyes. “I don’t know what you said to her, Father, but thank you.” With a smile, his son made his way back to Jaina, holding out his arm just the way Syal had taught him, Jaina placing her arm through his with all the grace of an Alderaanian noblewoman. As the young couple exited, Soontir wondered how it had been so easy to talk Jaina through her problem. If he could figure out how to do that with Syal, it might spare him some couch time. His aging back just couldn’t take it anymore.
EmpressJainaSoloFel - March 11, 2012 04:18 PM (GMT)
Soontir couldn’t help but smile as he entered his quarters after dinner that night to see Syal sitting at her vanity brushing her hair. His wife was still lovely, even after all these years. While their path together had not been an easy one, the strength of their marriage had never wavered. Some of those trials had forged their bond into something stronger than Soontir had ever dreamed, and he could only imagine the strength of the bond between Jag and Jaina.
“Tir, what do you think of Jaina?” Syal’s brush paused mid-stroke before she laid it down on the table in front of her.
He sat on the bed, pulling off his worn boots as he contemplated the answer. His thoughts and feelings had been pushed to the back of his mind since his talk with Jaina in the observation room. The truth was, he didn’t know what to think. Jaina was a perfect Imperial noblewoman, yet a fearless fighter. She was part confident Jedi, part scared little girl. Jag had refused to speak of her in anything other than a military sense after his return from Known Space, so all of Soontir’s information, until recently, consisted of holonews reports and intelligence briefings. And then he met her. All his understanding of Jaina, her life, her personality, had imploded. She was a woman of striking contrasts. Where did he begin?
Syal was well accustomed to her husband gathering his thoughts before speaking, and began braiding her hair for the night while waiting for his reply. She had always been the one person that he could talk to without fear of judgment. She wouldn’t think less of him for having a moment of weakness. “I don’t know what to think. I know she loves Jag, and that Jag loves her, but there’s more to it than that. She’s just been forced into something I know she’s not ready for. Knowing it had to be done doesn’t make it any easier to watch her throw herself on a thermal detonator.”
Like she always did after he’d had a difficult day, Syal moved to sit by him on the bed and massage his shoulders. He relaxed into her touch, knowing she wouldn’t have brought the question up unless she needed to talk about it herself. “I guess that’s something I admired about her last night.” Syal’s reply was so soft he barely heard it. “She was willing to marry Jag to save his life. I know Cem says it was saving her own life too, but I don’t think she was thinking of that at all. I don’t doubt that they love each other enough to marry, but she still has to be reeling from killing her brother. I know how horrible it was to think I’d lost Wedge. I couldn’t bear thinking I’d killed him.. She’s barely recovered physically and she’s off saving the galaxy again.”
Soontir turned, allowing Syal to lean into his chest as he held her tightly. Syal had taken to Jaina instantly, and cared about her pain as much as Wynn’s. Jaina was no replacement for Cherith, but she was already filling an emptiness that had lurked in the Fel household for far too long. “Jaina’s well on her way to working through all of that. She and I had a talk today about that, in fact.” As Syal’s hopeful eyes met his, he realized he wasn’t going to get out of telling the story. But it was worth a try. “She’s an amazing woman, Jag has good taste. Seems to be a trait of Fel men.” As the pillow hit his head, he knew that Syal would torture the story out of him. Laughing, he pulled her into his arms. He had a few choice forms of torture himself.
“I think you should invite the Ascendancy.” Shawnkyr’s voice was even, but Soontir could see in her eyes that she was quite serious. A brief meeting had been called for in order to adjust the wedding reception plans to account for the new timeframe. Leia had forwarded a list of GA dignitaries to invite, and Vitor Reige had proven quite capable in pulling together the Imperial side, as well as suggesting leaders of worlds near Imperial Space that needed cultivation. Turr Phennir had been Soontir’s suggestion. The Confederation had openly balked at the idea of rejoining the GA, and had been in regular communication with the Empire since the fall of Caedus. It was the thought of inviting the Chiss that had silenced the entire table.
“She may have a point.” Jag’s voice was thoughtful, and Soontir knew he was considering the suggestion. The Ascendancy would be a useful ally when Daala decided to move against the Empire. “The Chiss would look at us as Emperor and Empress, rather than Jagged Fel and Jaina Solo, which will help our situation there.”
“Precisely. When I left Csilla, the Ascendancy had decided not to ally with the Empire given their role in the last war. Pellaeon had opened talks, but it didn’t get past that. My father is head of the Nuruodo family now and well respected for his ability to propose solutions to complex issues. His word will weigh heavily.”
Soontir knew, by the panicked look in her eye, that Jaina was on the verge of bolting. From the concern evident in Jag’s eyes, he had the same realization his father did. Shawnkyr’s words made sense, but to Jaina this was reopening yet another old wound. While the Fels had carefully avoided any mention of the Killiks, the newest member of the Fel family had yet to forget about it. Syal, clearly realizing both the importance of both the discussion and her daughter-in-law’s plight, was the first to offer a solution.
“Jaina, I’m famished. Would you mind showing me to the mess? I seem to have forgotten where it is located.” Jaina, realizing that escape was hers, eagerly stood and barely restrained herself from running in the direction of the door. Syal, shooting a reassuring smile in Jag’s direction, waved to indicate that he continue the discussion as she exited the small conference room.
“Jagged, I think you’ll have to consider Jaina’s health just as much as the politics here. She didn’t react well to the thought of Chiss in attendance, how will she react to the reality?” Soontir knew the importance of an alliance with the Ascendancy, but he also knew that Jaina walked a very fine line right now. Too much pressure and she would burst.
“I am all too aware of the possibilities of her reaction, Father. If need be, we can postpone the formal reception a bit. This decision is as much hers as mine. I agree that inviting them would be wise, but it is also wise to avoid putting additional pressure her right now.”
As Jag moved to stand by the viewport, it struck Soontir that Jaina wasn’t the only one suffering. Both of them had a past to reconcile, and Soontir was sure that process hadn’t been finished by the time she set foot on the Anakin Solo, regardless of how well underway it had been. Jaina was still in the middle of the grieving process; already Soontir could tell that some days were better than others. Today, clearly, was one of the bad days. Jag was dealing with suddenly being a major player in galactic politics, and he as well had his good days and bad days. Soontir knew Jag well enough to know his son was angry, but trying to hide it. He couldn’t blame Skywalker –he’d had few choices. But all the same, Jagged had never asked for any of this, and certainly never wanted it.
“Jag, no one’s pretending that the decisions the two of you have to make are easy. We all know this one is going to be hard on her, but she’s up to it. If she was against it, don’t you think she would have said something? After all, this is Jaina we’re talking about here. I think she has to remind herself not to speak out.” By the ghost of a smile that graced Jag’s features for the barest of moments, Soontir knew Cem’s comment had hit the mark.
“You’re right, as usual. Perhaps we should table this discussion and save Mother from the evils of the mess food?” As Jag moved to the door, Soontir couldn’t resist putting a hand on his son’s shoulder.
“Why deprive Syal of the knowledge of what we survived on when we were serving in the military?” With a tilt of his head, he indicated that Jag should step back in the room as Cem left, hungry as usual. “I know none of this is easy for you, or her, but know that I am proud of you. You’re doing a good job, and I can’t think of anyone who would do better.”
The words were simple, but the relief in Jag’s eyes indicated they were enough.
oldjedinurse - March 12, 2012 10:01 PM (GMT)
Thank you for moving this over here! I remember it very fondly.
Can't wait for you to add some more... :innocent:
T'Keira Lea - March 12, 2012 10:10 PM (GMT)
Ah some inspiration has returned :) Yay!
EmpressJainaSoloFel - March 19, 2012 02:58 AM (GMT)
Tomorrow, they would arrive on Bastion. Tomorrow, they would face the Moff council with the news that Jaina was claiming her Grandfather’s position in the Empire. Tomorrow, Jagged and Jaina would be tried in the court of public opinion. So much rested on tomorrow. The pressure was high, the cost for failure even higher.
Soontir felt like he was walking on eggshells. He couldn’t blame Jag for being ready to explode at any moment. The tension was nearly unbearable. Jagged had been obsessively poring over reports all morning, while Jaina had stayed out of sight as much as possible. Her emotional meltdown yesterday hadn’t been a surprise. He was eternally grateful that Wynn had been available for that one.
It wasn’t that he didn’t know pregnancy losses happened, he simply didn’t know the words to say. Wynn, however, could relate all to well to what Jaina was going through. He hadn’t anticipated a simple diaper ad on the HoloNet being the cause of the meltdown. Wynn had recognized the look on Jaina’s face immediately, and had been quick to hustle her out of the room. She wasn’t quick enough to prevent Soontir from noticing the way Jaina’s shoulders were shaking or the tears running down her face. It had been only the start of a trying afternoon.
The happiness of a couple days ago seemed so elusive today. Soontir knew that the wounds would heal, and that healing would take time. In healing, sometimes a wound reopened. That didn’t make it any easier to watch his son and daughter-in-law suffer. He stared at the flight simulator, debating whether or not to run a sim solo.
“I’m guessing Jagged turned down your offer for a sim?” Wedge had been invaluable over the last several days. It was his ability to manage any situation confidently and coolly that kept things running smoothly, and Jaina’s meltdown under wraps.
“He did. He seemed unusually interested in the tax stream reports from some world I can’t remember.” Turning down a sim just wasn’t like Jagged.
“Probably one of Lecersen’s planets. That moff is nothing short of trouble, and according to Reige, most of the attempts to remove Jagged are originating from him. Jagged isn’t a fool, and he’s well aware of the importance of tomorrow.” Wedge, for the first time that week, looked truly tired. No wonder he’d ventured to the simulators.
“Everything rides on how the Moff Council reacts. I’m starting to think Jaina’s assessment of the next few days is about spot on. A few assassination attempts, moff intimidation, complete and utter boredom… Has anyone told her about the ball that is being thrown in a week?”
“She knows. Winter has spent quite a bit of time refreshing both Jaina and Jagged’s knowledge of the various dances that may be utilized. Winter insisted on Jaina learning them in childhood, so she is familiar, just out of practice.”
“I can imagine the fun Winter had in teaching Jaina anything feminine.” Jaina still protested furiously at being forced into a dress, and was quick to throw on a flight suit every time she could find an excuse to do something where a dress would be hindrance. She was getting increasingly more adept at finding reasons to stay out of the dresses. She tolerated them in public, but only because her position dictated it. Her handmaiden was working overtime trying to keep Jaina manicured, made up, and coiffed.
“You should have seen the arguments that ensued when Winter mandated Alderaanian ballet in addition to Galactic Standard ballroom. The only way they got Jaina to agree to it was Han offering her one hour of flight time for every hour she spent in ballet. Until that agreement was finally reached, there was pure chaos in the Solo household.” Wedge laughed, and Soontir could only imagine how Jaina had made her protests known.
“I didn’t know she took ballet at all. I could see Leia mandating ballroom, it would be a necessity for her family given her station. I can’t imagine how Jaina enacted revenge.”
“Winter felt it was an essential part of the upbringing of every young lady. It’s helped her footwork in ground combat immensely, so today Jaina is grateful for it. At the time, though, a riled nexu had nothing on her temper. Even as a little kid, Jaina was more than creative with revenge. I distinctly recall the purple fizz powder she’d snuck into the water supply at the Orowood Tower. Winter was less than amused.” As Wedge continued with the various pranks Jaina had used to illustrate her point, including a rather amusing one involving “borrowing” a crystal snake from Jacen, Soontir was laughing so hard he elected to sit down lest he fall over. There was no denying that his daughter in law was as devious as they came, and he almost, almost, felt pity for the moffs who would dare cross her.
Jagged was no slouch in the devious plot area, either. When you added Cherith and Davin to the mix, the plotting became an art. When Soontir had made the mistake of scaring off Cherith’s first boyfriend, he’d ended up in a rather embarrassing situation in front of several of his best squadron leaders. The Chiss were far too professional to bring it up again, but the humans under his command snickered about it until the day he retired.
He just hoped that Jagged and Jaina never teamed up with Wes Janson. The galaxy simply couldn’t take that kind of mayhem.
EmpressJainaSoloFel - April 16, 2012 03:10 AM (GMT)
As Jagged’s shuttle left the docking bay, Soontir felt the knot of tension tighten. Jagged would be holding a press conference prior to the arrival of Jaina and the rest of the Fels. If the reaction was unpleasant, he could adjust plans so Jaina could avoid it. If Jagged had known how the morning would play out, he would have taken Jaina in the first shuttle. Soontir shook his head, resigned that nothing would go the newlyweds’ way today.
The shuttle that arrived in system was all too familiar to Soontir. “That is Aristocra Chaf'orm'bintrano’s shuttle.” Shawnkyr took another step towards the viewport, watching the shuttle make its way to the landing bay, and continued. “He’s here for an alliance. The Chiss would rather cement an alliance than risk having your family and Jaina consider war. Your family knows too much, and Jaina has proven her ability to fight the Chiss and win. They aren’t willing to have that kind of loose end.”
Even forging an alliance would be tricky. The Aristocra was used to dealing with Jedi. However, Jaina was not her uncle. She was too perceptive, and tended to assume everything was a trap and work from there. Soontir had no idea how Jaina would respond to a Chiss on board the Pellaeon’s Legacy. Worse, he had no control. There was nothing he could do to shield Jaina from the interaction he knew she’d been dreading. They had thought Jagged would be there to serve as a buffer. The pitfalls of scheduled press conferences… The only reason the Aristocra would arrive now would be to avoid dealing with Jagged directly. He clearly anticipated an easier time negotiating with Jaina. It had been no secret that she was arriving on Bastion with Jag, but her appearance was tentatively scheduled for the afternoon conference only.
Halfway to the landing bay, Soontir was joined by Jaina. If she was nervous, it wasn’t showing. Her sabacc face was carefully in place. He offered his arm, and she accepted with a small smile. The walk was completed in silence. Out of the corner of his eye, Soontir noted the deep crimson gown Jaina wore today. Again, her hair was up and curled, although today’s style was far more elaborate than any he’d seen on her previously. Small flowers were carefully placed throughout, their delicate white standing out dramatically against her dark hair.
Before he knew it, they were passing through the doors to the landing bay and he had just enough time to whisper the proper greeting for an Aristocra before Jaina released his arm to stride confidently up the aisle created by the elite stormtroopers standing in formation through the bay.
As Chaf'orm'bintrano strode down the ramp, the politician’s mask that Soontir had seen him use so many times was firmly in place. If he was surprised at the warmth in Jaina’s greeting, he didn’t show it. Rather, he politely bent over and kissed the back of her hand before responding, “Lady Solo, it is a pleasure to meet you. Please, call me Formbi.” From the slight rustle of movement in the stormtrooper ranks, the Aristocra must have realized he made a mistake. Jaina had enough familiarity with the Chiss to understand their culture reasonably well. The formalities of court life amongst the Chiss were new to her, but she had followed Soontir’s instructions exactly. Formbi, however, had utilized the greeting for an Imperial baroness, not a duchess. It was a subtle and simple mistake. But it was a mistake that gave Jaina the edge. Formbi would have to tread more carefully, as everyone in the hangar was aware of the inadvertent insult.
He was too seasoned a politician to allow the error to throw him off stride for more than a moment. As they walked toward the back of the hangar, Formbi had engaged Jaina in a discussion of her family, particularly the Jedi Grand Master. She gave nothing away about the true nature of her departure from the Jedi Order, or her disappointment at being denied the rank of Master. Even though she knew the game, Soontir knew that the denial of that title had hurt deeply.
“I must admit, Aristocra, that I had not expected you here.” Jaina’s voice was level, giving nothing away.
“The Chiss have learned that it is… unwise to keep ourselves wholly separated from the galaxy. Given recent events, it was felt that an alliance should be sought with the Galactic Empire.” Formbi was on guard, unwilling to give away anything that wasn’t immediately obvious.
“I am sure Head of State Fel will be most interested in your proposal. I will bring it forward at tonight’s council meeting. Please, allow my staff to arrange quarters for you on Bastion during your stay.” She led the Aristocra to the conference room just off the hangar, where Shawnkyr and Syal had supervised the hasty preparation of refreshments. She handled the conversation masterfully, carefully keeping the discussion flowing on neutral topics. Soontir stayed clear of the conversation as much as possible. The Aristocra was courteous, but Soontir knew there was more to this than met the eye. There always was.
It wasn’t long before General Antilles summoned Jaina to the afternoon press conference. Formbi had insisted on taking his own shuttle to the surface, leaving Soontir with Jaina as they made their way to their shuttle. Once up the boarding ramp, he enfolded Jaina in a tight hug. The young woman was formidable, but even the strongest of people needed support. Support he was more than willing to give. She gratefully returned it before marching into the cockpit and promptly removing the crew member sitting in the pilot’s seat. Soontir chuckled as he took the copilot’s station.
“But, Your Grace, my orders…” The young pilot was clearly no match for the Solo Glare. He wilted before he’d even finished his protest.
“Lieutenant, I’ve flown my way through more wars than you’ve lived through. No one, and I mean no one, takes the pilot seat from me.” Soontir wasn’t unwise enough to point out that she would have to argue with Jag for that privilege. That glare was not anything he wanted sent his way. Soontir couldn’t wait to see it used on the moffs.
EmpressJainaSoloFel - April 16, 2012 03:20 AM (GMT)
The Lieutenant elected to strap himself in behind Jaina, and he was studying her every movement intensely. Smart man, electing to learn from one of the best instead of wallowing in defeat. The ride down to the planet was incredibly smooth, although by the look in Jaina’s eyes he knew she was wishing she was in her X-wing. He hated to admit it, but he was dying to try a sim run against her. He’d truly loved watching the recordings of the space battles she was involved in, starting with the ones Jagged had brought back with him after Ithor. The ones he brought back upon his return to Chiss space were even more impressive. There was no doubt she was one of the best. His favorite recording, however, was the sim she’d shared with Jagged on Mon Calamari after Ebaq 9. That had been the most breathtaking display of sheer skill he’d ever witnessed. Even though Jagged had eventually shot her down, the sim was very narrowly won. The recording soon saw use in the Empire of the Hand’s training program, and never failed to leave stunned silence.
He jumped slightly as she began communicating with ground control. Lost in my thoughts again… That’s happening more and more these days.
As she finished the landing sequence, the unhindered joy of a few minutes ago vanished from her face, the serene aristocrat’s face back in place. She straightened her shoulders as she hit the top of the boarding ramp, pausing a moment to be announced, then started down the ramp gracefully, headed in Jagged’s direction. Soontir couldn’t hear over the roar of those who had assembled to welcome Jaina to Bastion. The applause and cheering was near deafening.
Although he didn’t think it possible, the volume intensified as Jag wrapped Jaina in his arms. She blushed for a moment, burying her head in Jag’s chest. The love between them was plain to see as Jagged tilted her chin up and kissed his new wife, ignoring everything but her. Jagged had waited long enough to call her his, and he was not about to waste a moment of their time together worrying about what anyone else thought of them.
Soontir noticed the holocams zooming in as the kiss intensified, and spotted that annoying blonde reporter across the plaza. She was chattering excitedly at the holocam aimed her way, the kiss in the background. He made a mental note to watch the news tonight, and see what she had to say. Jayla Mandra’s reports on Jaina had always been complimentary, and that attitude clearly dominated on Bastion, much to his surprise. Soontir didn’t fail to notice the pink flower petals drifting down from the higher balconies, thrown by young children hopping up and down as they looked at the two war heroes. Jaina was being given a warrior’s welcome.
Finally, the couple broke apart, and Jag turned to face the crowds, Jaina tucked securely under his left arm. She laughed at whatever Jagged whispered in her ear, and gently brushed the pink petals out of his hair. Soontir moved around the plaza to allow for a better view of the press conference, watching the crowd carefully for reactions. In the back of his mind, he noted the pilot starting up the shuttle, preparing to move it to the Imperial Palace.
The plaza quieted instantly as Jag began speaking. “Citizens of the Empire, thank you. The Empire is what it is because of who you are: strong, determined, and dedicated. I know many of you saw the press conference earlier today, and know of my plans to rebuild the Empire to the glory we once enjoyed, without the cruelty and tyranny that characterized our age in the spotlight. This afternoon, I’d like to ask the privilege of introducing you to my wife, who will be by my side.”
Jagged was forced to pause briefly, as it was impossible to hear anything over the cheering of the crowd. The blond reporter was mere feet from him now, and Soontir could hear her happily begin reporting on the fairytale that was unfolding before her eyes. He lost track of what she was saying, instead looking at the gaze that passed between the newlyweds.
“Please allow me to introduce Her Grace, the Duchess of Braxant, Jaina Solo Fel.” As Jaina stepped forward to speak, he stood in awe. There weren’t many moments in a man’s life where he knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that history was being made. Today, however, was one of those days. Not only was history being made, but his son, and the lovely woman he’d asked to remain by his side, were the prime architects. As Jaina began speaking, directing her gaze from those in the plaza, to those who watched on the rooftops, she emanated confidence and power. Soontir could only stand, pride roaring in his heart, as Jaina described the orphanage system that had been set up over the last month, the new educational system that would be in place shortly, and pledged her life to the service of the people of the Empire. He would never be able to remember the rest of the words they spoke that day, but he’d always remember the electricity that shot through him as the Empire he’d once served so faithfully lifted its head and dared to dream of a future. A future it could be proud of. A future he’d be honored to serve.
The petals began to fall again as the couple made their way to the speeder a short distance from them. This time, there was no brushing the deluge of petals aside. Jagged spared one determined glance back at the crowds in the plaza as he handed his wife into the speeder. He allowed himself to wave briefly before following his wife.
As Jayla Mandra turned to interview the people around her, Soontir knew the court of public opinion had spoken. His heart wanted to celebrate, but he sternly reminded himself that they still had to face the moffs.
oldjedinurse - April 29, 2012 08:04 PM (GMT)
The court of public opinion had spoken.
I love that. And apparently, Jaina spoke pretty well herself. :D
I'm sorry that it took me so long to catch up and comment on this. You know I love this story, especially Soontir's POV.
BTW, your writing is excellent. :waytogo:
EmpressJainaSoloFel - September 6, 2012 06:50 PM (GMT)
Soontir didn’t know how he would survive the waiting. Knowing that Jaina was announcing her intent to claim her grandfather’s place and secure Jagged as Emperor made waiting for them to come home torture. The afternoon’s press conference had been a stunning success. From watching the commentary on the holonews, the average citizen loved Jaina for how swiftly she had moved to improve the lives of the people she was responsible for. Her first move had been to ensure the safety and well-being of the Empire’s orphans. Her second, and most popular, was her plan to rebuild the Braxant Sector. Those who were struggling just to survive could be hired by the Empire in agriculture or construction and earn a wage while they contributed to improving the infrastructure of the sector. Not only would they be able to earn enough to provide care for their families, they would learn the skills needed to continue supporting themselves long past when they left the program. To help oversee the project, Jaina had brought in Lando Calrissian. His unique flair and business-oriented mind took the project from the debate stages to a venture that, one month in, was already garnering an unusual amount of interest in the holopress. The project was expected to add programs for medicine, technology, and the arts soon.
Jaina’s schedule over the next month included touring the sites selected for the project, as well as the various orphanages and children’s hospitals in the sector. Syal had offered to accompany Jaina on the orphanage/hospital tours, and Jaina had been enthusiastic in accepting Syal’s help. Syal was currently involved in preparing for the tour by placing orders for stuffed animals. She couldn’t resist adding model X-Wings and clawcrafts for Jaina and Jagged to sign. Soontir had given up teasing her about the scheme when she’d threatened to add TIE Interceptors for him to sign. She was bent over the console, smiling as she anticipated making a child’s day just a little brighter. His wife had extensive experience in these types of tours, and it was the thing she missed most when she gave up her acting career. Secretly, Soontir thought she also wanted to keep an eye on Jaina.
Jaina, much as she looked perfectly composed and confident in public, still had semi-regular periods of emotional upset in private. Aristocra Formbi’s arrival hadn’t helped. Soontir considered it progress that Jaina was slowly allowing the Fels to be part of her support system. Wynn had made a special effort to stay by Jaina’s side when Jag couldn’t be there, and Syal was just as fiercely ensuring that Jaina had an emotional safe haven. Jaina was family, and family put family first.
The sound of Jag’s footsteps brought Soontir out of his reverie. He quirked a dark eyebrow in his son’s direction, waiting for Jagged to speak.
“The moffs are not happy about it, but there is not much they can do short of assassinating us. And right now, losing Jaina would be a public relations disaster for the moffs. The general populace adores her.” Jagged stood by the side table, comparing a few of the crystal decanters, before he settled on his favorite brandy.
“It probably helps that the Imperial News Network has a variety of reporters who are only too happy to talk about your dedicated service during the Yuuzhan Vong war, and they’re playing up her role in the last war pretty hard, particularly being willing to give her all to ensure galactic peace. By the way, that kiss from this afternoon has been replayed frequently.” Soontir couldn’t resist the opportunity to make Jag blush, and he wasn’t disappointed. Jagged quickly turned directly to the table and poured himself a brandy to cover his discomfort.
“I wanted to talk to you about something, actually. You told me, on Coruscant, that you would be happy to help in any way possible. If you are up to it, I have a job for you.”
“I’d like you to oversee the Flight School.”
It only took Soontir a moment to make his decision. “On one condition. Jaina gets to participate as a guest instructor as often as she wants.” She could never be allowed to fly in the 181st, she was far too valuable to risk in a fighter squadron but Soontir could give her the next best thing.
Jaina’s face was split in a broad smile as she followed Soontir into the training facility a few days later. Jagged had readily agreed to Soontir’s condition, and Jaina was more than willing to take him up on the offer. Like her father, she had flying in her blood and was an excellent instructor. He’d enjoyed working with her to program the sim they’d be running today. She had a mind with a distinct turn to the devious. As agreed, she waited at the door to the simulator room. Soontir wanted to introduce her at the opportune moment.
He smiled as he noted the cadets standing at strict attention. It hadn’t taken long for word to get out that the legendary Baron Soontir Fel would be running flight school. Clearly, the cadets were determined to impress. “As many of you know, I am General Baron Soontir Fel. I am here to ensure you have the best flight training the galaxy has to offer.” As he continued, the memories of his first training class flooded his mind. I am Captain Soontir Fel. I will teach you how to fly and how to survive. If you think you know better than me, all I can teach you to do is die. He was the best the Empire had ever had, and teaching was his passion. Jagged couldn’t have given him a better assignment.
“Now that you have received your instructions, I have one last piece of information to brief you on before we begin. Your wing commander.” Jaina strode into the room, her signature Corellian swagger very much in evidence. She didn’t react to the sudden tension in the room as the cadets realized they would be flying under the command of their new empress. Without breaking stride, she moved to Soontir’s right side and gave the cadets an appraising glance.
“Your wing commander today is Empress Jaina Solo Fel. She started her military career during the Yuuzhan Vong War as a member of Rogue Squadron, and took over command of Twin Suns Squadron during the Borleias campaign. She served with distinction during the battles for Hapes, Ebaq 9 and the retaking of Coruscant, among others. After the Vong War, she became the first woman to command Rogue Squadron. She participated throughout the Second Galactic Civil War in a variety of squadrons and missions, most notably the strike on the Anakin Solo. Her skill in a starfighter is legendary, and we’re very lucky that she has agreed to take time out of her schedule to participate today. Are there any questions?”
The sense of awe among the cadets was poorly hidden. Even if Jaina hadn’t flown for the Empire, she was a living legend and one of the deadliest fighter pilots alive. She answered their questions on the mission with a brisk efficiency gained from years of command experience before ordering the cadets to their cockpits. As the cadets moved to the simulators, Soontir glanced sideways just long enough to catch the feral grin on Jaina’s face. “If you have the time Jaina, I’d love a one-on-one after this sim.”
“If your ego can handle it, I’m in. Just don’t use your age as an excuse for losing.” She grabbed her helmet and made her way to the ball cockpit she’d be using, leaving Soontir no chance to respond. As she swung up into the cockpit, his mind was alive with the various sim scenarios he could use for their one-on-one. He couldn’t wait for the cadets to finish.
oldjedinurse - September 6, 2012 08:59 PM (GMT)
Oooh! :wavehi: Oooh! :wavehi:
You're giving us that one-on-one, right? RIGHT?