Timeframe: post Legacy of the Force: Betrayal
Characters: NJO crowd
Style: Response to First Sentence Challenge. This is due to be extended in the near future. You can thank McEwok, among others, for that devil of a plot extension.
Notes: This was written shortly after I read LotF: Betrayal and was intended as canon speculation.
Jacen used to have a crystal snake when we were children. I think it was his favorite pet, if you could compel him to admit to having favorites. Sometimes, he reminds me of it. He is very adept at hiding in plain sight, basking in the glowing affections of his family and soothing their worries into peaceful slumbers.
I think it was the worst for Master Skywalker. I remember him smiling fondly and encouraging Jacen to never stop asking questions, eagerly asking about his long treks and taking an active interest in every obscure branch of learning that Jacen would talk about. If Jacen remained silent about many of them, then it was because Jacen was a thinker and so wished to meditate on what he learned before sharing.
Master Skywalker, I believe, saw in Jacen what Anakin Skywalker could have been. He saw the destiny heralded by his father’s birth finally realized. Balance made flesh.
It was Kyp that first distrusted Jacen, finding him unpredictable and cavalier. Risking losing the favor of the Council, the Skywalkers and the Solos, Kyp confronted Luke about his indulgence of Jacen. He left the Council after the ensuing shouting match with Luke where he insisted Jacen was dangerous.
Too powerful, he said.
Most people secretly believed Kyp was jealous. Jaina remained, quite out of character, thoughtful and quiet during the exchange. She left shortly after Kyp, refusing to speak to anyone.
Jaina and Zekk, who were inseparable by then, were the next to bring their worries to someone. I don’t know why they chose me, but I’m glad that they did. They worried that Jacen was too hasty, too casual with his power.
By that time, I already knew what they did not, could not, know. I defended him. I pointed out that he prevented a war. What were a few lies compared with that? They nodded and kept their silence.
Mara grew uneasy. Luke told her they would notice changes in Ben if anything was truly wrong. She countered; reminding him of Ben’s erased memories and Jacen’s increasingly ‘reasonable’ explanations. Luke worried that if they took Ben away from Jacen, he would shut down - again becoming the half-soul they dreaded having for a son.
“Better to shut down than go Dark,” was Mara’s acid reply.
My informants in the Temple tell me they did not speak for three days. When they finally did, Luke’s only concession was to watch Jacen more closely. Mara warned him once more before bowing to the Head of the Jedi Order.
Leia was the last one to speak of the disquiet growing within the Force, but who knows what a mother sees and knows before she chooses to act? She told Han first. He didn’t want to believe her; he refused to understand. When finally he did look at Jacen for what he was, he went to work on the Falcon and didn’t come back for days. Leia wept, but only a little. I think she knew much, much earlier and was merely waiting for confirmation. She has always been able to see the darker sides of life and live with them better than her brother and husband.
My own epiphany came heralded on the iridescent wings of sapphire assassins. In the span of a single moment I watched Jacen weigh consequences and decide to protect our daughter at all costs. Even from the boy who loved him and called him Master.
I knew then.
When he came to me on Allana’s seventh birthday requesting to train her, I asked.
Jedi? Or Sith?
His answer neither surprised nor disgusted me. Already, I was lost in the Consortium - I despaired of ever feeling the sun on my face unveiled. I named my price and sold my soul.
He does not teach the mindless, easy nobility of light blinded Jedi – that would be a weakness here in the Crystal Palace.
He doesn’t instill within her the voracious hunger for power that, by all accounts, the Emperor was consumed with. Hapes has seen enough of that within the Matriarchy in the form of my own grandmother and her cousins.
He is training her as a ruler, the leader of worlds. Sith he may be, but he can teach her how to love, how to punish, how to think. These are the skills she needs.
I know what he did to Ta’a Chume now. Even through the blood lust he felt in the wake of the attack on Allana and I, he was able to reason out the best course for the survival of his daughter. Even more impressive, he was able to overcome Master Skywalker’s training and actually do what was required. A leader indeed.
Ah, Master Skywalker again. It was, as I said, hardest on him. He took over Ben’s training when Jacen’s path became known. He fell into the training with a passion, and Ben took to it gratefully and willingly. He never shied from the Force as Luke feared.
Jacen and Luke kept an uneasy peace through negotiations done by Jaina and Zekk. Jacen allows them to come to Hapes and leave with Force sensitives for the Temple. They culled the questioners and malcontents from the Jedi training and sent them to Jacen.
On Ben's nineteenth birthday, after spending a warm day with his family, he said his farewells and left.
He now stays in the small school Jacen started. There, they teach something not precisely Jedi and not quite Sith. Ben has taken over much of the training there, as is proper for the rightful apprentice of a Master.
No one was really surprised, not really, not on the subconscious level where savage things grow.*
* sentence by Steven King