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solo_sword ([personal profile] solo_sword) wrote2017-01-20 09:19 am

Bastion- Friday

Once they got around Bastion, they were asked to stay in orbit for what turned into an hour, at which point they were given strict landing instructions and then escorted by some of Reige's people towards a little-used room in the palace.

"These are all good signs," Jaina muttered under her breath as they walked.

"I'm definitely feeling reassured already," Tahiri -- who couldn't help still feeling a little awkward around Reige -- agreed in a low voice. "Clandestine maneuvers are always so comforting."

It wasn't any more comforting when they got to their destination, a small, out of the way meeting room with a long table surrounded by chairs, with only Vitor Reige inside. He stood when they arrived, and dismissed the escorts, who closed the door behind them.

"So what you're saying is Jag was right to bring some backup with him," Jaina said, as a hello.

"Always good to see you, Master Solo," Reige said, and then his gaze fell on Tahiri. He wasn't exactly comfortable with around her, either.

That was fair. She had murdered his commanding officer, after all. "Head of State Reige," Tahiri said, with a brief nod and an effort to keep her voice neutral.

"Jedi Veila is part of the team," Jag said, a touch pointedly. It also wasn't as if Reige could kick her out under the immediate circumstances even if he wanted to.

"Very well," Reige said, seemingly knowing this, too. "Sit. I apologize for the secrecy in getting you here. I've found it wise to err on the side of caution lately."

Well, it was the Empire. They'd gotten much better than the used to be, but… However Jaina was good and didn't say that, and stuck with the slightly more diplomatic, "Who's doing what now?"

"I believe that the Moffs are conspiring to oust me from power," Reige said simply. "Possibly very soon."

Tahiri refrained from commenting on how much of a surprise that was oh wait, but it was very tempting. "Ah," she said instead. Which was an understatement at best.

"You're sure about this?" Jag asked. Not because he was surprised, but because he'd worked with the Moffs for two years and knew how this went.

"There have been rumors for a while, but now my spies are reporting that the Moffs are taking steps. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before charges are brought against me. Maybe days."

"What do they think you did to get charges brought?" Jaina asked.

"According to them, misappropriation of funds," Reige answered.

"Did you do it?"

Jag frowned at her.

"It's important," said Jaina.

Tahiri nodded. "And it's not like they need more than the faintest hint of something that they can spin and use against you anyway, so we may as well know."

"If I had done it, I would have stepped aside without question," Reige assured them. "Unfortunately for me, they've managed to create a convincing trail of evidence between official accounts and some that seem to have been set up for me. I had to check with my staff that they hadn't set something up without me knowing."

Jaina couldn't help but think that political crimes were pretty boring, and then she remembered how often she'd had to help take down a government, and didn't say it aloud.

"Do you have suspects?" Jag asked. "There's a good chance someone on your staff really is involved."

"I know," Reige said. "I have suspicions, but I also can't fire anyone without looking like I'm trying to cover something up. And those spies of mine have spotted someone I've never seen before who might be involved."

Honestly, for as often as they really did get caught up in exactly this sort of intrigue, Tahiri had never been able to cultivate any kind of patience for it. She made a soft wordless noise, about the only audible concession she'd make to venting any of her exasperation. "That . . . doesn't sound reassuring. What kind of someone are we talking about?"

"A very tattooed someone, and yet no one seems to know who he is," Reige said, pushing a button on the table controls, pulling up a security hologram of a tall man in robes who did indeed have very noticeable facial tattoos.

Jaina stared at the image for a moment, with something niggling at the back of her mind. She didn't recognize him, but she recognized the description. "Uncle Luke said he saw someone with tattoos like these back when we were fighting Abeloth. Luke thought he was with the Lost Tribe, but he walked away from the fight in the middle of it."

Tahiri grimaced at the mention of Abeloth; that had been a fun time. "On Korriban? Or -- no, was that afterward?"

"Coruscant," Jaina said, still looking at the image. "And… possibly in whatever happened beyond shadows, when Abeloth was defeated. I've never really gotten what happened there." All she knew was that one second everything had been fine and the next she was covered in her uncle's blood, and nothing else had made sense.

"Who has, really?" Tahiri squinted at the hologram. "But wait, if Luke saw him in the realm beyond shadows, or even just in the middle of that fight, then how much do you want to bet we've got a mysterious Force-sensitive on our hands here?"

That was a sucker bet, honestly.

"And we can't rule out that he is a Sith, or at least connected with them, and taking an interest in the Empire," Jag added. "That didn't work out so well before."

"This complicates things in a way I didn't expect," Reige admitted.

Tahiri let out a long breath and shook her head. "Boy, does it ever."

"I'm going to regret asking this," Jag began, "but what were you going to ask me to do before this new revelation?"

"I was going to suggest that with no time or apparent way to prove my innocence, I could step down and install you in my place until we found out what was going on," Reige said.

"That would require a conversation," Jaina said, immediately and pointedly.

Tahiri knew better than to get in the middle of this one, and just glanced from Jaina to Jag without saying a word.

"Yes, it would, and it's not something that should happen here," Jag agreed.

"Of course. You should think things over," Reige told them. "I can set you up nearby, somewhere secure. Though I do have to warn you, either way, we don't have much time."

*****

The place that Reige had secured for them happened to be the same hotel where Jaina had stayed often back in Jag's early days as Head of State. She hadn't been ready to return to the Jedi after killing Jacen, and he'd been overwhelmed with the job, and they'd been trying to keep their relationship under wraps at the time so she couldn't stay with him, and this building became a good place for both of them to get away. The familiarity was nice.

At least it was for Jaina. Jag was silent the whole way there, even once they got to their room and Tahiri went off to hers. He was more introspective than Jaina, so she knew to leave him be and let him think things through.

Then she couldn't take it anymore, and took a seat next to him and said, "So what're you thinking?"

"You don't want to know," he answered with a shake of his head.

"Probably not, but we're a team, so out with it."

Jag didn't say anything for a moment, and just as Jaina was about to start rolling her eyes at him, he said, "Say we manage to save Reige's job, and install me as Head of State. What stops them next time?"

Jaina shrugged. "It's not like they can get any dirt on you. You're embarrassingly good."

"That's not actually true. Daala found plenty of ways to smear me when she ran against me. And even so, I might be clean, but you aren't," he pointed out.

She frowned at him. "Are you saying I'm a liability?"

"Yes. It's one of the things I love about you," Jag said, reaching out to take her hand. "I have a good record, but the Moffs could twist anything into something it isn't if that's what they want. It's what they're doing to Reige. My point is, they want power. They obviously should not have power, as they are evil children more focused on personal gain rather than the people they represent. If we fix this current situation, it's only a matter of time before they try to smear me, too, or try a much more destructive option. What then?"

"Then we fight back next time, too. My liability self is extremely used to that."

"I was the target of two assassination or kidnapping attempts in my last months in office, Jaina. Those same people are still on the Moff's Council. I can expect more of the same," he said.

She remembered, and it had terrified her. Moreso the time that she wasn't there to protect him. "Then those people get fired."

"On what basis? There's no evidence that we've ever tied them to."

"On the basis that they suck," Jaina shrugged, feeling irritated. "I don't know. We'll figure it out."

"I'm wondering if we wouldn't be better off trying a more proactive approach."

"By… what? Outright dismantling the Moff Council?"

"No. They do serve a purpose, though some changes will definitely be required," Jag said.

She wasn't sure she liked the way he sounded, like he was already planning. "They won't stand for that, you know."

"They will if they don't have a choice."

Jaina looked at him blankly, and then it clicked. "No."

"I don't want to take that step," Jag said seriously, not exactly looking at her by this point. "But it should be on the table."

"No," she said, moving to the edge of the sofa and turning so she was in a better position for yelling. "That is too far."

"We should at least consider it, even if we dismiss it."

"No, we don't. My grandfather would kill us."

"Neither of us are Palpatine, Jaina," Jag told her.

"You think that's going to matter?" Jaina argued. "We've been through this before. Your citizens already had a problem with you even dating a Jedi, let alone being married to one."

"I maintain that that worry will die off once they see that you aren't terrifying and clearly aren't power-hungry and that their prejudice is misguided."

"Jag…" she said, trying a new tack. "You hated being Head of State. Hated it. You literally gave the job away. And okay, you're probably going to end up in it again, but you can't give it away like that if you're an emperor. There's no term limit. This is final. It's the rest of our lives. Worse, it's our children's lives."

Jag winced, but by his expression, he knew this too. He didn't try to make that seem better, though, and she at least appreciated that."I can't say I was looking forward to putting that on you or the twins," he admitted.

Jaina frowned, and then realized that it wasn't even just about their kids. If something happened to Jag, and she was sure someone would at least try, then it fell to her. And really, she would probably be expected to do a lot more than go off and do her own thing anyway. "Wait… what's my role in all this?"

"I suppose that would be up to you," Jag said.

Now she had to get up, and pace a bit. She couldn't sit still for this. "Because I cannot lead the Empire. My family spent years fighting just that, and I spent my entire childhood getting kidnapped by different groups who thought I'd happily help usher in more evil if they got to me early enough. I can't be it."

"And you wouldn't. There is nothing I haven't seen you be able to handle, aside from maybe criticism," Jag told her. "I haven't made any decisions."

"You sure sound like you have," she shot back.

"No. I'm thinking this through. And I will not do this unless you're with me, Jaina."

She shook her head. "I'm Sword of the Jedi. I can't be an empress, Jag."

"Why do you have to only be one thing?" he asked.

Jaina stopped pacing to frown at him. "You know how this goes. I'd have to choose. I'm probably going to have to already. But I got saddled with the title, and- You're making a face."

He didn't look embarrassed that she'd noticed, either. "Do you want to know what I think?"

"Oh, please enlighten me."

Jag leaned forward, resting his forearms on his knees. "Jacen comes back from the dead after receiving training that might have very well set him on the path to the dark side, and ultimately the Sith. Immediately after that, you take on a Force-given Chosen One title that dictates everything you do, to a point beyond obsession, and fulfill your mission of taking out Jacen."

She narrowed her eyes at him. "And?"

"And what if you also fulfilled that role then?" Jag asked.

"That's insane." Maybe it wasn't, and she knew it. She just didn't like how the thought made her feel.

"Why? You've been a loyal servant to the entire galaxy for half your life. Does there come a point when you actually get to choose what comes next?"

Oh, that bothered her more than she wanted to admit. Definitely more than she would admit right now. "I don't just stop being who and what I am. Problems are always going to surface. I'm always going to want to be there. And quite a bit of the time I'm going to be the best person for it," Jaina insisted.

"All right, then consider this," Jag said. "Can you see where I might feel the same way about this?"

Jaina's mouth opened and closed, expecting a reaction or biting comment that didn't come. Also, she didn't particularly like when she got called out on being selfish.

"I'm an Imperial. I always have been, even when I wasn't particularly wanted," he went on. "You've seen your government fall, you've staged coups and taken out dictators to keep it from happening again. This is the same thing. This isn't something I want, but I don't know that I could live with myself if I could have prevented what would come next and I didn't. Pellaeon, Reige, myself… We've all worked very hard to make the Empire better than it was- not more powerful, but better. How do I sit back and watch that be lost, possibly to the Sith?"

"I need to walk," Jaina said suddenly, already headed for the door. "I'll be back."

He didn't try to stop her.

*****

The good thing about staying somewhere that Jaina knew was that she also had figured out where to get some privacy. So she'd ended up on the roof of the hotel, sort of behind the stairwell to block her from most above views, and it was dark at the moment anyway. And after getting some alone time, she sent a message to Tahiri to meet her here.

It didn't take Tahiri long to get there after the message came through. "We really should stop meeting like this," she said dryly, because to be real this was pretty much their life. She dropped the sarcasm quickly, though, since she thought she could guess why Jaina had called her up here in the first place. "What do you need?"

"You to talk me down," Jaina said, leaning over to pay the ground across from her as an invitation to sit.

Tahiri dropped easily to the ground and tucked her knees up under her chin. "It's a nice change from people having to talk me down, I have to say," she remarked. "But you've got me. I'm listening. I'm also guessing that Conversation --" and you could hear the capital letter -- "didn't exactly go smoothly?"

Yes, that was absolutely a rhetorical question. She knew both of them well enough by now.

"Oh, we're in a fight," Jaina said casually. Couples did that sometimes, it didn't bother her. "He's going to do it. I'm not sure he fully knows yet, but he's going to do it."

"I had a feeling he would, somehow," Tahiri said, with a what-can-you-do shrug. "You're both pretty awful at walking away when there's something you feel like you have a duty to do." Which, to be fair, so was she.

"Still, this complicates things, huh?"

"You have no idea," Jaina sighed, frowning. Since after all, Tahiri had just pegged the main reason for the fight with Jag. "I brought up the fact that I still have a duty myself, and it turns out that he has this theory that I've done my time as Sword of the Jedi, which is not that simple." Even if she was kind of afraid it really might be.

Tahiri was personally of the opinion that Jaina had more than earned a break, but she also knew how well Jaina handled not having much to do. "No, it's not, and besides, I have a hard time picturing you abdicating that responsibility," she admitted. "It's going to put you in a tricky position no matter what, though."

"It gets worse," Jaina warned.

"Of course it does," Tahiri said without missing a beat.

"In Fandom, Jag and I have a great-granddaughter," she said, still aware that not everyone here knew about and rolled with her saying things like that. "Whose father is an emperor."

Tahiri knew about Jaina's tendency to say things like that, but that didn't mean it was easy for her to wrap her brain around these concepts right away. So she had to shut her eyes, pinch the bridge of her nose, and shake her head before she could finish processing that particular bit of information.

"And who happens to be Force sensitive, I'm guessing."

"But who's not a Jedi," Jaina confirmed. "Naturally this all came up today."

"Naturally," echoed Tahiri. "Right. So. How do you feel about these, um, new developments in light of that knowledge?"

"I'd probably feel less of a crushing sense of foreboding if I wasn't already pregnant," Jaina said dryly. Surprise, Tahiri, you got to find out before almost everybody! And while she'd been the one dragging her heels on telling anyone, it kind of helped to actually say it. "Everything's really lining up here."

Oh, Tahiri would have done such a spittake if she'd been drinking anything, and as it was she barely had the presence of mind to keep her voice down when she blurted out, "You're what?" In a whisper, granted, but. "Sithspit, Jaina, that's -- um -- wow."

"We're not telling people yet," Jaina warned. "And it was a much happier thing before all this. Now it's much bigger."

"Understandably," Tahiri agreed; she was thinking a little bit about Allana and everything the Solos had to do to protect her. Then she laughed suddenly. "Well, I guess that's one more good reason for me to stick around, once you do let the news out."

You know, besides the fact that she still wasn't entirely sure the Jedi Order was the right place for her to be right now.

For some reason- and immediately Jaina couldn't understand why she was surprised- she asked, "You would?"

Tahiri shrugged and grinned. "Hey, I might be terrible at being an Imperial Hand, but I'd like to think I'd make a pretty good bodyguard. Not that you need it," she amended quickly, "since I hardly think you'd ever be incapable of defending yourself, but it might discourage some people from getting ideas, at least."

"Jag would probably need it, at the very least," Jaina mused. "Tahiri, you know the Jedi wouldn't be happy about this. For either of us."

"Yeah." Tahiri's expression faded into a more serious one. "For you more than me, I suspect -- you're the one who's a Jedi Master, after all -- but this does cast a lot of doubt on the Order's impartiality, and I guess I can't really blame them for being upset about that. But I'm staying, one way or the other. You and Jag gave me a chance when nobody else would, not even the Jedi."

"You deserved one," Jaina told her sincerely. She took a deep breath, and said, "Kind of sounds like this is happening." She was not thrilled about that.

"Looks like," Tahiri agreed. "I can't even imagine how you've carried all this future knowledge along for so many years without going thermal, but . . . well, you won't have to do it alone, anyway. Though this does bring up the question of what happens to us, since we can't really go back to the Jedi."

"Well, I'm not quitting and they can't force me to do anything," Jaina said, deciding on that as she said it. "When Jag was Head of State, he was very intent on staying friendly with the Jedi, and making sure there was a presence in the Empire. He even wanted to start another Jedi school out here. Maybe there's something to be done there, once the Masters are done throwing a collective fit."

"Imperial Jedi, or something like that . . . huh." Tahiri nodded. "It's an interesting idea, and would definitely make it clear that Jag won't be following directly in the Empire's footsteps. Some people won't be happy, but that was always going to be the case no matter what."

"And if they're willing to listen, they might come around." All right, that was probably more Jaina having some wishful thinking rather than believing it, but she'd take it for now. There were some people she knew she could work on, anyway. "Thanks for all of this, Tahiri. You have no idea how much I appreciate it."

"It's the least I could do, honestly," Tahiri told her.

"Yeah, but still," Jaina said with a little smile. "Okay. I'm done talking your ear off, if there's anything better you want to be doing right now."

"Oh, right, all that sightseeing I wasn't going to do," Tahiri teased her. "I'm just going to go and get some rest. We're going to be pretty busy in the next few days."

"Good call," said Jaina, who was so not going to be resting for a while. Maybe the rest of her life. "I'll let you know when things get started."

[NFB, NFI, OOC okay. Preplayed with [livejournal.com profile] weetuskenraider and <3 <3 <3

I didn't mean to start a coup on inauguration day buuuuuut it happened. OOPS.]

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