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Tahiri had been to Coruscant three times since the war began, and every single one of those had been an infiltration mission. This time was no different: the Jedi landing party would meet up with Page's commandos to go after Shimrra, and Han and Leia would take Harrar to go after the planet's World Brain. This time, at least, she was pretty sure they wouldn't crash-land, not with Han piloting the Millennium Falcon and Jaina in the copilot's chair, Luke and Leia manning the quad-laser turrets, and an escort of starfighters. Mara and Kenth were in the Falcon's forward compartment with her, along with Leia's Noghri guards Cakhmaim and Meewalh, and despite two of the best pilots in the galaxy at the helm, they were going for a landing in the middle of a raging fleetwide battle, trying to get past the Yuuzhan Vong blockade. It was going to be rough.

But still, it wasn't crash-landing.

She didn't share the others' stunned shock at the ruin that had once been the galactic capital; it had never been home to her. Still, there was no denying that it was in ruins, durasteel and ferrocrete constructs reduced to rubble by the aggressive worldshaping the Yuuzhan Vong had done. Tahiri half heard Mara and Kenth murmuring things about what various smoking craters and piles of stone had once been, how they'd used to go to that one neighborhood for dinner or spent a lot of time in the air traffic lanes that used to be over there. Once the ship had landed, they all slipped into their biosuits and headed down the landing ramp.

Tahiri wasn't surprised to see some of the Wraiths among the commandos, and truth be told she'd actually missed them; she was surprised to see Jag Fel there, and more than a little weirded out about how glad Jaina was to see him. Captain Page gave them a quick rundown on the situation: the Shamed Ones were in full-out revolt, and Shimrra was scapegoating them for the war's reversal of fortune -- he'd issued an extermination order for all of them. There were a few thousand troops guarding Shimrra's citadel, which was a hell of a lot more than there had been when Tahiri had been here with Corran a few weeks ago, but on the upside, air support was minimal. After some quick but heartfelt goodbyes all around, Han and Leia headed back to the Falcon to go in search of the World Brain, leaving the Jedi and the commandos to find Shimrra.

Tahiri was uneasy about working with Jacen, but he was the only other one who had the 'Vongsense' that gave them a shot at tracking the Supreme Overlord, and he'd had more practice at it, so it ended up being the two of them leading the party toward the citadel over the ruined rooftops of what had once been one of Coruscant's more affluent neighborhoods. It took a lot of acrobatics, which wasn't a problem for the Jedi . . . or for the commandos, who were equipped with jet packs, although they were always a step behind.

It got a little trickier once the rain started pouring down, but they were making good time. Either way, it was dark by the time they approached the citadel, which was under an all-out assault by squadrons of X-Wings and E-Wings who weren't making much progress thanks to the dovin basal-generated voids swallowing their fire. There was just one bridge left to cross, and Luke leaped out onto it, but as soon as his feet touched down on the bridge an enormous bellow sounded from the other side.

"A mon duul," Jacen yelled over the din. "If it's been implanted with a villip, the belly can function like an amplifier. It's harmless, either way."

"If you say so, kid." Captain Page was clearly dubious. "But you cross first."

So Jacen did, along with Luke, but they'd barely started to move forward again when the mon duul sat down to block the way, and a booming voice began to speak in Yuuzhan Vong.

Which meant, naturally, it was Tahiri's turn to contribute. "'Perish,'" she translated. "'Perish, all of you who would stand between me and exaltation, who would seek to profane me in our finest moment.'"

"Shimrra?" Luke asked.

"Could be," Jacen said with an uncertain shake of his head.

"'I battle the gods on your behalf,'" Tahiri went on, "'and you repay me with rebellion. Perish then. Go to your deaths and your gods, while I remake the world.'"

"Too bad we can't answer him," Mara said.

"We will soon enough," Luke assured her.

Jacen glanced at Tahiri, who realized what he had in mind. She really, really didn't want to do this, but they needed the mon duul out of the way and she was the only other member of the party who could help him. Kriffing Vongsense -- it didn't just give them a way of sensing the Yuuzhan Vong, it gave them a way to communicate with Yuuzhan Vong creatures. They walked toward the mon duul and, in a perfect sync that would have bothered her a lot if she'd spared the time to think about it, gestured with their right arms. All four metric tons of the creature turned very, very docile and ambled off.

That was creepy, she thought as she made her way across the bridge with Jaina and Jacen. Pushing forward, they eventually encountered a group of Shamed Ones and a handful of Coruscanti survivors who all looked like they'd seen much better days; along with the latter were a couple of Page's commandos.

One of them, a sergeant by the look of the insignia barely distinguishable under the grime on his uniform, hurried forward and saluted Page. "Bacta Squad, sir," he said. "We've just come from down below. It's a real mess, Captain. The heretics are fighting tooth and claw, but they need reinforcements, and fast. If you can spare anyone, sir . . ."

"Congratulations, Corporal," Page told one of his men, "you've been promoted to squad leader. Take ten men and go with the sergeant. We'll regroup at the Citadel, soonest."

While the brand-new squad leader picked out his teammates, the sergeant turned to Luke. "Master Skywalker, a couple of your people would make a world of difference, not only to us --" He motioned to the Shamed Ones. "-- but to them, as well."

Tahiri and Kenth immediately volunteered to go, but first Tahiri had to translate for one of the Shamed Ones, a former warrior, who had been to the Citadel and could tell them how to get there. Things got slightly more complicated when Page's sergeant informed them that the Prophet had been sighted, apparently leading the Shamed Ones' revolt, and at Luke's request Mara reluctantly agreed to go with Tahiri and Kenth while Luke, Jaina, and Jacen went after Shimrra.

Tahiri couldn't say she wasn't relieved. Knowing what happened to Jacen in Ben's future, and knowing Mara would die at his hand . . . even if things didn't turn out that way here, it was profoundly uncomfortable to say the least.


It was, to grossly understate things, complete chaos. The insurgent Shamed Ones were doing the best they could in a drenching downpour, but Shimrra's warriors were herding them toward a sunken amphitheater known colorfully as the Place of Bones. If they got trapped there, it would all be over. The air was thick with rain and thud bugs, sharp with the smell of blood, loud with the sound of slashing coufees and amphistaffs and the cries of the wounded.

Funny how ten commandos with blaster rifles and three Jedi could turn the tide. Tahiri had never been in a battle this insane before, but with her Jedi training working in seamless sync with her Yuuzhan Vong warrior instincts, she was holding her own surprisingly well. There was no time to think, just to react -- to swat that thud bug out of the air and whirl to bat away an amphistaff, deflect a misfired blaster bolt into a warrior's face and reverse her lightsaber blade to drive it into the throat of another. She was yelling battle cries in Yuuzhan Vong and encouragement in Basic, backing towards one of the Shamed Ones --

In the crush of the melee, he couldn't get that far away from her. Shimrra's warriors were closing in, and Tahiri threw up the hardest Force Wall she could manage, then another to clear the space, watching the warriors fall like bowling pins in five lanes at once at Fast Eddie's.

Then she spun and grabbed the Shamed One by the arm, swearing in Tusken under her breath when she got a good look at him.

A quick Force shove sent his amphistaff flying, and she twisted her fingers into the yoke of his robeskin to immobilize him.

"Mara!" she yelled. "I have Nom Anor!"

Through the Force she could feel Mara's attention focused on them instantly, and a split second later she felt Nom Anor's coufee slash so close to her fingers that she wouldn't be surprised if he'd shaved off a few skin cells. The slash did the job, though, cutting through the robeskin and propelling him far enough away to shove a wounded Shamed One at her feet and trip her up.

Tahiri swore another blue streak, this time in Yuuzhan Vong, as he crawled away through the chaos, but turned back to the battle; Mara was already on his trail, and she was needed here.


After Mara brought Nom Anor back alive, Tahiri and Kenth ended up charged with keeping him in custody. Part of her wanted to argue, to go help Jaina the way she'd insisted on going to help Anakin so many times, but . . . no, she wasn't that fifteen-year-old kid any more. She had her job to do, and Jaina had hers, and it wasn't about proving she was good enough to keep up. Somehow, she thought she didn't have to prove anything any more. They'd regrouped along with Mara, Han and Leia, and the commandos, and Tahiri could hear Leia talking to Captain Page.

"Have you seen Luke or either of our children?" she asked.

"They said they were going after Shimrra," Page told her. "Last we saw them was on what was left of the western concourse. After some huge creature knocked a hole in the Citadel wall, in they went."

"So where is Shimrra?" Han asked.

Page scratched at his chin. "We think he's somewhere up top. Some Shamed Ones I talked to said something about a 'coffer.'"

Han rounded on Nom Anor and demanded, "You know anything about this?"

"The Shamed One must have been referring to Shimrra's private chambers. His bunker in the summit," Nom Anor answered, then offered, "I've been there. I can lead you to it."

"Then what are we waiting for?" Tahiri almost laughed, hearing that from Han; no question of where Jaina had gotten that from.

Nom Anor led Tahiri, Mara, Leia, Han, and Kenth through the Citadel toward the summit to Shimrra's bunker, and it was weird that no one was more surprised than him to find the Supreme Overlord's head lying on the floor, meters away from his very dead body.

Mostly because Tahiri and the others were more concerned with Luke, badly wounded and lying in a pool of his own blood. Kenth hurried back out to comm Admiral Kre'fey and inform him of Shimrra's death; Mara was already kneeling by Luke, calling his name, while Han and Leia looked stricken. Tahiri was mostly stunned by the irony of it, knowing Luke would be alive thirteen years from now, and Mara . . . wouldn't.

"He's been envenomated by Shimrra's amphistaff," Nom Anor said. "There is no antidote. If the Force can't heal him, he will die." That was not remotely helpful.

"We have to get him out of here!" Mara insisted, just before Luke opened his eyes.

"I'm slowing the blood flow, Mara." He looked at Han, who dropped into a kneeling position beside him. "From the way this place was shaking, Han, I'm assuming you convinced the World Brain to see reason."

"A bit thorny, but we managed," Han said after a glance at Leia, who took the lightsaber from Luke and wrapped her hands around his.

"We've won, Luke. Once the word spreads that Shimrra is dead, the armada will deteriorate -- if it hasn't already. Luke . . . where are Jaina and Jacen?"

Luke jerked his chin weakly toward the stairway, prompting Han to look in that direction and demand, "What's up there?"

"The upper decks of this vessel. Command and control chambers. The bridge," Nom Anor replied.

"Vessel?" Leia repeated in confusion that Tahiri definitely shared.

"This was to have been Shimrra's escape craft and shelter-similar to the one that would have kept the dhuryam alive, had it decided to flee rather than betray its makers."

"Why would Jacen --"

Luke answered quietly, "Shimrra's minion."

"Can the minion launch this ship?" Han asked a suddenly panicked Nom Anor.

"It responds only to the Supreme Overlord." Nom Anor's gaze flickered hectically around the room. "Onimi -- Shimrra's familiar -- must be in hiding."

That was when the bunker started to vibrate again, the way it had when Han and Leia had gotten through to the World Brain.

Except -- "The dhuryam isn't doing this!" Nom Anor blurted out. "The vessel is being readied for launch!"

Han ordered Mara and Tahiri to get Luke out while he, Leia, and Nom Anor went after Onimi and the twins, and Tahiri was beginning to comply when Luke pointed to something across the room.

"Anakin's lightsaber," he said, and that was all the cue Tahiri needed to dart across the chamber and retrieve it. It was odd; she thought she'd have more of an emotional reaction, but all she did was smile slightly before hooking it to her belt and moving to Luke's side. She might have grown a couple of centimeters, but she was still happy to let Kenth take over once they caught up with him.


Unsurprisingly, Coruscant was in a complete state of chaos once word got out that Shimrra was dead, and Tahiri didn't have time to ask questions, or find out what exactly had happened in the citadel that left Jaina in bad shape but Onimi dead. She was too busy helping to organize the survivors, do whatever cleanup needed to be done, and eventually making it back onto the Millennium Falcon as part of an intensely awkward, tearful, but relieved pile along with the Skywalkers and Solos once they were assured that Luke would survive.

The next few days passed in a blur of exhaustion and work, getting the Yuuzhan Vong settled on Zonama Sekot while the terms of surrender were negotiated. Eventually Luke called all of the Jedi to a meeting among the boras trees on the planet and gave them a day to mingle. It had been a long time since Tahiri had seen Sannah, Jysella, and Valin, who'd been stashed away in the Maw this whole time and would someday go insane because of it oops, and while she enjoyed her time with them, she couldn't help being saddened by the realization that she felt so much older than them now. The war really had aged her.

Everything was different from here on out, and she'd known that it would be even before Luke started to speak about the future of the Order. They'd be setting up a new Jedi Academy on Ossus; several of the Masters would serve on Chief of State Omas's Advisory Council; several Jedi would be exploring the possibility of another Academy on Dathomir. And overall, Luke asked all of them to devote thought to how each of them might, individually, best serve the Force.

When the meeting finally ended, Tahiri found herself settled cross-legged on the ground next to Mara and baby Ben, grinning awkwardly.

"Where are you going to go?" Mara asked.

"That's the thing," Tahiri replied, letting Ben grasp her outstretched finger and hoping she wasn't turning red. "Tekli and Danni are going back to the Unknown Regions with Zonama Sekot, and wanted me to go with them. I can't deny it would be an opportunity to get to know the Yuuzhan Vong side of my heritage, but . . . I'm not going with them."

"Back to Fandom, then," Mara guessed.

"Yeah." Tahiri smiled slightly. "I've still got a year and a few months to go there, and I think no matter what I could learn on Zonama Sekot, I've got a better shot in Fandom. I think I'd rather learn to be me."

"I think that's a smart decision."

"I'd like to think so. No . . ." Tahiri shook her head. "I know it is." She disentangled her finger from Ben's grasp and stood, but not before giving Mara a fierce hug, and another for good measure. For Ben, really. "I'd better say my goodbyes, I suppose."

[OOC: NFI, NFB, OOC-okay, majorly tl;dr, and finished. Also kind of half-assed because the original got eaten. Stupid computer. Heavily summarized with bits of dialogue ganked from The Unifying Force by James Luceno, the last little bit by me, and Tahiri will be home tomorrow, yay. Seriously, that final battle is ridiculous.]


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Tahiri Veila

July 2013

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