This story is dedicated to Markus who suggested the crossover and helped in the story's development. Enjoy!
Belma Tasou, still as beautiful as the day she met Ricar, beamed at her son. How handsome he has become. Tall, with the build of an athlete, dark-haired and blue-eyed, just like his sister, Kirel carried himself with much self-assurance. Marbe had grown into a beauty as well, good looks obviously inherited from the mother. Yet Belma could sense something in Marbe that was missing in Kirel: An exceptional sense of honor and compassion. Where Kirel had a tendency towards cockiness and moodiness, Marbe had a steely will that could not be broken, a deep love for all that was good and true. She also kept her feelings in check, not giving in to anger and fear, traits Kirel too readily displayed. Perhaps that was Ricar's reasons for his children not to be Jedi Knights. Maybe for the daughter but not the son. Like Ricar, Belma held high hopes for Marbe yet had many reservations about Kirel. She loved both children intensely, but Belma knew her son's weaknesses may lead to his downfall. Too many good men fall prey to the dark side of the Force, as evident nearly two decades ago in Anakin Skywalker. Obi-Wan Kenobi told Belma so much of Anakin's ultimate fate, that the young Jedi fell victim to Palpatine's machinations thus destroying himself in the process.
At any rate, Belma enjoyed watching her children train as Jedi. With the careful instructions recorded by their father himself, Marbe and Kirel trained in all ways of the Force. They practiced lightsaber combat techniques passed down from Ricar who trained under Jedi Master Artmo Hox. It was as if Ricar had never left them; his commanding form on the Holocron was an ever-present reminder of the glory days of the Jedi. He instructed his children to resist emotional attachments despite their sibling affection for each other. They were to keep their feelings in check, never to let their guard down. The lightsaber is never regarded as just an ordinary weapon. It is a symbol of honor and refinement. Jedi, for thousands of generations, kept order and peace in the Old Republic, before the dark side plunged a once peaceful galaxy into an evil Empire. Above all, don't think, feel. Let the Force flow through your very being. Listen and heed what it is saying to you. Only then a good Jedi you will be.
Belma Tasou, in a quiet moment, replayed the HoloNet message received nearly four years ago. It was a dark time for the Rebel Alliance what with Bail Organa's daughter, Leia, being part of that alliance. She remembered meeting Leia that last time, just before Bail retired from the Senate after thirty-one years of service. Actually, Bail Organa. So taken with Leia's intellect and bravery, Belma told Bail that he did right in rearing Padmé's child. It also cheered her that Leia was serving out her father's unexpired term, and that both father and daughter worked tirelessly with the Alliance, hoping to defeat the Empire thus restoring peace and justice to the galaxy.
With Bail's retirement and ultimate return to Alderaan, that was the last time Belma saw her best friend. Nearly a year later, after the destruction of the Death Star, Leia, with heavy heart, sent a message to Belma. How she hated to break such news, yet Belma had to know Alderaan and all its inhabitants had been destroyed by the awful weapon.
Transmitting her reply, Belma said, "You and your friends stop this Empire from consuming whatever is left of our former lives. Bail and Breha Organa were great friends and will be deeply missed. My only hope is that my own children may join you in defeating this nightmarish existence. Yet I feel my children may not see this happen as their paths will be altered by unknown events and machinations. Marbe will prosper in a world far different from our own; Kirel, I fear, may fall into paths not of his father's desires. Perhaps it is best not to allow them to remain here. Things are far too dangerous for all of us. Therefore, if anything, my children will taste freedom for the first time in nearly two decades. May the Force be with them and you."
She closed the HoloNet then made arrangements for her children. Remembering something Ricar told her long before the children's birth, Belma stole to the landing platform outside the house. Ah, a star skiff that hadn't been flown in years, not since that fateful day Padmé Amidala took off to Mustafar...
How did Belma fell into possession of Padmé's star skiff? Thank the Naboo senator. In her last will and testament, Padmé left the skiff to Belma Tasou as token of her love and appreciation. Renamed the Endurance, this ship was so prized for its speed and sleek design. Armed with two laser cannons and enough room for a crew of four plus droids, the Endurance was an aptly named ship to transport Marbe and Kirel far from Palpatine's clutches. Belma's only regret was that she would not go with them.
"Oh, how I wish for the good old days when Madame Tasou gave the most spectacular dinner parties."
So said U-4PO, Belma's faithful protocol droid who had been in her mistress' service ever since Belma was a child. Programmed as a wise, aged grandmotherly sort, 4PO was fluent in over three million languages; she was first and foremost programmed in all etiquette and the finer points of social affairs. It was 4PO who oversaw the myriad dinner parties, luncheons, and balls Belma and Ricar Tasou hosted in their short married life. She was in charge of everything from menus to guest lists, laying up the table to the proper service of any given formal meal.
What made 4PO wax nostalgic was that last party hosted by the Tasous. This affair was during the thick of the Clone Wars, and the guest list was as close to star-studded. In attendance was Obi-Wan Kenobi and his young Jedi companion, Anakin Skywalker. The Jedi had precious free time in those days as both were constantly on this and that war mission. Also included on the guest list were Bail Organa, Padmé Amidala, and Mon Mothma. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, though invited far in advance, respectfully declined, explaining that previously scheduled official duties conflicted. So, Palpatine could not attend, too bad, and he missed a memorable evening.
Marbe and Kirel, only four at the time, an age when most younglings are in bed, sneaked downstairs just short of the grand dining room. Oh, how beautiful everything was! From the finest porcelain dinnerware to the numerous crystal stemware, the table was gorgeous beyond compare. Of course, the dinner was an astounding twelve-course feast, beginning with a special Naboo fish roe Belma had imported for this occasion. The children tried not to giggle when Obi-Wan turned up his nose at this Nabooian caviar. Yet Anakin Skywalker ate heartily, each and every course, and asked for a fourth helping of the entrée. It was a wonderful evening, and the children never forgot it to this day. Alas, the dinner was the last social affair their parents hosted as Ricar shortly returned to the Order. Upon their father's death, Belma curtailed all entertaining, preferring to live out her widowhood quietly. How much her life had changed in those few weeks following her husband's death and the ensuing extermination of the Jedi Order. This was one time Belma wished she could turn back time.
Kirel turned up his nose at the plate of herders pie Edbar Wolon passed down to him. Not that it wasn't tasty, but this made the third time this week the stuff was served. Indeed, Daipa Wolon was a good cook, but she did have a tendency to economize. The pie, actually a savory dish of leftover roast, vegetables, and gravy topped with a goodly amounty of mashed tubers, was a specialty in this working-class district of Galactic City and served in many a household. Nevertheless, Kirel wished for the glory days when his parents served nothing but the best – and no herders pie.
Marbe, on the other hand, ate with gusto. So what if we had this three times already. Many people, she so often said, would be grateful for this even one day let alone several times a week. Belma admired her daughter's utter selflessness, so unlike Kirel's never-ending whining and foul moods. She sighed as she passed the bowl of hot field cabbage to her son; at least he can't complain about that.
In truth, life with the Wolons was not that bad. These many years holed up in a shabby yet comfortable house in the Coco Town district proved to be the perfect hideout from the Emperor's dreaded Stormtroopers. The Tasous couldn't come and go as they pleased, and that didn't matter to Belma. She just wanted her children safe; yet she could feel, on this very day, trouble afoot. Not quite able to sort it out, she had a deep premonition that all efforts to keep her and the children safe were for naught. Her best friend Bail Organa was gone, blown to bits with the rest of Alderaan. Obi-Wan Kenobi was dead, killed by Darth Vader himself, so it was reported by Leia. Master Yoda was still in exile as were the few surviving Jedi. Is there anyone else she could turn to? Not in this life, not on Coruscant, and not in the entire galaxy. Belma would have to take matters in her hands – tonight. Her grown children may protest – Kirel more likely than Marbe – but Belma had to make that ultimate sacrifice, and she saw the perfect opportunity once Kirel made an odd request.
So the kid wants creme fraisa torte. The only place I know close by is Stardust Bakery, but Ruby may not have one ready...Oh, what a time to go out, just when I finally got settled...
Taking care not to be spotted by the many Stormtroopers roaming about the city, Wilsh Wolon, Daipa's nephew, sped off into the night sky toward Stardust Bakery, purveyor of wonderfully prepared sweets. The owner, Ruby Turnfinch, had moved to Coruscant from her native Tatooine just before the Clone Wars. First working out of her home, she supplied many of Galactic City's working stiffs delicious cakes, pastries, and candy. She reasoned, if the rich could have such fine things to eat, why not the everyday guy on the street.
Once her profits increased and business outgrew her space, Ruby located a few doors down from Dexter's Diner. How awful, after the end of the wars and beginning of the Empire, for Dex to lose his diner. Dex was a friend of the Jedi, thus an enemy of the Empire, and his diner was destroyed. Dexter moved to Coruscant's sublevels to live as one of the Erased. To honor Dex, who gave her much advice on how to run a business, Ruby took on his waitress droid WA-4 to help with everything chores and keep up with customer demand.
Tonight was no different, what with the endless parade of customers clambering for Ruby's delicacies. However, Ruby spotted a familiar face in the crowd. At once she greeted him.
"Wilsh Wolon! What a surprise. What brings you here?"
Wilsh replied, "Just need to pick a few goodies. Uncle Edbar says hello, and Aunt Daipa is doing well. I know you hadn't seen them for a while. See, they've had this hankering for creme fraisa torte, so I..."
"Say no more, Wilsh," said Ruby with a smile. She whistled for WA-4 to fetch the cake laden with whipped cream, fruit, and laced with ample brandy. Wilsh also asked for three dozen of those spiced cookies Marbe likes so well. This he told to Ruby who asked, "Who is Marbe?"
Oops! Wilsh nearly forgot never to say the Tasous' name in public. Looking about for suspicious characters, he quickly gathered his wits, saying, "Oh, she's my girlfriend. Hey, why not throw in some breakfast pastries. You know, the flaky ones with the cacao paste inside. She really likes those. Give me a bunch."
"My goodness, that's a lot of sweets for four people!"
The purchase was quickly wrapped and bagged. After Wilsh Wolon paid for the goodies, he and Ruby Turnfinch exchanged more pleasantries. Then, noticing the time, he departed. If only he hadn't opened his big mouth...
Another customer, seated in the cafe area but within earshot of the counter, took in all Wilsh and Ruby's confab. He pondered to himself, "Yeah, that seems like a lot of stuff for one guy and two old people. And the girlfriend...Either she's a big gal with an enormous appetite, or...Did he say her name was Marbe...As in Tasou? Could it be?"
He hung back for a while, just to watch Wilsh take off in his beat-up speeder. Ah, yes, the homing beacon planted should lead us right to what His Excellency has been seeking.
Spence Llan, Imperial spy extraordinaire, paid for his snack then exited the bakery. Once outside, he made a hasty communique.
"Sir, I think the ones you're looking for are here...Been here all along, right under our noses. Yes, I put the beacon on Wolon's speeder. I just need to follow the signal to the exact location. If it pans out, if this is the right place, they're all yours."
Copyright @2006 by P.R. Parker. All Rights Reserved.