This is a work of fan fiction. No monetary profit has been gained from its production and no copyright infringement is intended. The Star Wars characters and events used in this fan fiction are the property of George Lucas. Mike Stackpole and Aaron Allston invented or shaped most of the characters with whom I'm playing, so my special thanks go to them for writing such great novels and comics. If you would like to republish the fanfic, please ask me. Any comments are very welcome at email@example.com.
Part 1: Unexpected News
"It's beautiful, isn't it? I'm amazed such a quiet, marvelous place exists just outside the city. How did you find it?" Nyiestra looked curiously at her boyfriend who stared absently into the sunset. "Tycho?"
"Hmm? Ehm, yes, when I was in this area looking for wild animals with Skoloc a few weeks ago we came across this place."
"And why did you bring me here tonight?"
He raised his eyebrows. "I thought you'd like it. Don't you?"
She smiled at him, putting her arms around his waist. "I love it. But you wouldn't miss a zone-ball match with your friends for a sunset you hardly noticed if there wasn't something up."
When he started to protest she gave him a stern look. "Don't lie to me."
Sighing, he unwound from her embrace and retreated from the edge of the cliff to a small rock. There he sat down wordlessly, looking at the ground.
Nyiestra stood perplexed. She had expected Tycho had wanted to share some more intimate moments with her when he suggested their trip to this small mesa at the outskirts of Aldera, but his whole behavior made her suspect his reason for coming here was a much more unpleasant one. She slowly approached him. He didn't even look up when she stood before him. Gently she ran her fingers through his light-brown hair that now, in mid-summer, had turned almost blonde. "Talk to me, Tycho."
Still staring at his feet, he moved over to allow her to sit beside him. When he eventually looked up, she detected a seriousness in his expression she had never seen before. "During the last weeks I've thought about what to do after school, and I've finally come to a decision." He hesitated.
Nyiestra stared at him, confused. That was an important decision, no doubt, but hardly something that should make him this solemn. "And?"
He watched the almost set sun with unseeing eyes, obviously struggling with choosing the right words. When their eyes met again, she noticed fear -- *fear? that's impossible* -- and determination in his blue eyes. "I decided to apply to the Imperial Military Academy on Prefsbelt."
"What?" Barely noticing what she was doing she stood up and stumbled a few steps back. "You're joking, right? This is not funny." The words hadn't even completely left her mouth when she noticed an earnestness on his face that removed all doubt; he was indeed very serious about it. "But, Tycho, the military? Why? Have you forgotten what happened in the Clone Wars?"
He shook his head. "No, I haven't. And I've thought about it a lot. Alderaan is such a peaceful world that we tend to forget the rest of the galaxy isn't peaceful at all. We sit here, proud of our pacifism, not caring what happens elsewhere."
"That's not true!" She almost shouted at him. "We do care. We give financial and moral aid to people who suffer, and our politicians are well respected mediators."
"But we can't protect people. We help them after they have suffered; we can't prevent it. And if parties don't want to negotiate, we have no means to force them. Damn, we can't even protect ourselves."
"No one would attack Alderaan, no one. People respect our way of living."
"Mock at it, more likely."
She drew a deep breath, trying to calm down. A heated argument would lead to nothing. She sat down next to him again. "Did it ever occur to you that Alderaan might be such a peaceful world because we are pacifists, because we unarmed? Isn't it better to give an example to the galaxy that there is a different way instead of following their violent lead?"
"But no one takes us as an example. I've talked to many offworlders when I've accompanied my father on business trips, and I regularly read several holonet discussion groups. They say Alderaan is a special case, that we are some cranks who live in our own secluded world with no idea what's really going on in the galaxy."
She sighed. He had a point there. Most people respected the Alderaanians for what they did, that she was sure of, but most non-Alderaanians she'd met really regarded Alderaan's pacifism as something special, not something other planets could afford to do as well. *But that is no reason to give it up, just a reason to work harder to convince others.* But a general discussion about the concept of pacifism wouldn't be helpful right now, and that wasn't the only problem she had with Tycho's decision.
"Okay, let's assume for a moment I accept it as the sad truth that people prefer to kill each other instead of living together peacefully, and that therefore it is necessary to be able to protect them from each other, with military force if necessary. But the Imperial military? Don't you remember Hemrytz where TIE fighters shot at peaceful demonstrators? Or Kolmogor where an Imperial Moff supports a dictator even though the people voted for a different president? These might be exceptions, but still..."
"I know things are happening in the Imperial military, and in the Empire, that are wrong. But I won't condemn an organization because some parts of it are foul. The Imperial military ensures peace and stability, and it protects the planets that can't protect themselves. And by becoming a part of it I will get the chance to change things, to make a difference, maybe even bring some of our Alderaanian views into it." He smiled slightly, but she supposed that he knew very well he hadn't convinced her.
She leaned her head against his shoulder. "Give me some time to come to terms with it, will you? This came as a complete surprise to me."
"Did you already send in your application?"
"No. I wanted to talk to you first."
"Would you give up your plan if I asked you to?"
He hesitated. "I..."
Kneeling down in front of him she quickly covered his lips with her fingers. "Don't. I would never ever ask such a decision from you. You know that, don't you? I love you, Tycho. And I will support you whatever you do. Understand?"
"Yes." He smiled broadly now, and she could almost feel his relief wash over her physically when he hugged her closely. "I love you too, Ny."
On their way back to the city she asked, "What did your parents say about your decision?"
"Nothing so far. I haven't told them. I don't even know whether my application will be accepted, so why agitate them now?"
"Dad wants to talk to you."
Surprised, Tycho put down his bag at the foot of the stairs. "Where is he?"
"In his office." His sister followed him upstairs. "What did you do this time, Tych?"
"Oh, don't tell me."
"Mind your own business, Alischa." He quickly escaped into his father's office. Sisters could be so annoying.
His father looked up when he entered, greeting him with a smile. Tycho relaxed a bit. It rarely happened that his father asked him to come to his office, and it usually meant trouble. When his parents wanted to talk to their children, they preferred to go to them instead of summoning them. He had run a list of things his father might want from him through his mind on the way up, but he couldn't come up with anything. At least he had a good conscience -- for once.
"You want to talk to me?"
"Yes. Here is a message for you -- from the Imperial military academy."
"Oh. Thanks." Tycho snatched the datacard his father held out to him and started to turn around to leave the room.
"Wait. Sit down, please."
He reluctantly did.
"You don't seem to be surprised. May I ask what they want from you?"
Tycho took a datapad from the desk and anxiously started to read the message. He couldn't hide his smile while he skimmed it. He quickly became serious again when he remembered that his father was waiting for an answer -- an answer he most likely wouldn't like at all. *Well, now is as good a time as any to tell him. No use in delaying the inevitable.*
"It's the answer to my application."
"My application. I want to go to the academy next year."
His father stared at him in utter disbelief. Nervously, Tycho looked at his hands, waiting for the news to sink in. There was an long awkward silence before his father had recovered enough from his surprise to speak again. "And you were planning to tell us about it when?" His cold voice caused his son's stomach to tighten.
"As soon as I knew whether I got accepted."
"I take it they did accept you."
"The military academy. Have you completely lost your mind, Tycho?"
"I did think about it. Thoroughly." He felt anger rising in him. He was no child. He knew what he was doing.
"Oh, you did? What do +you+ know about being a soldier, about war?" The sharp, almost arrogant tone of his father's voice was more than Tycho could endure. He jumped up.
"I'm no child anymore, and I know what I'm doing!"
"No, you don't," his father retorted. "I don't understand how you could ever consider joining the Imperial military. I believed you to be more sensible."
"Obviously you were wrong!" Furiously, Tycho stormed out of the office, almost knocking over two of his sisters who were lingering near the door, and ran into his own room, locking the door from the inside.
Samir Celchu sat motionless at his desk, still shocked. He had never expected he'd be surprised like this by his own son. He'd thought he knew him well. He'd been so wrong. Samir slowly shook his head. Never had he imagined that one of his children would want to become a soldier, never.
Tycho was wild, impatient, and longing for adventure, and he had half expected the boy to leave Alderaan after finishing school, searching for adventure in the galaxy. On the other hand, there was Nyiestra's influence, his son's love for her. He'd thought that would very likely make Tycho stay at home. Wrong again. But Tycho wasn't just leaving, that would have been something Samir could have accepted immediately. He himself had spent several years away from his homeplanet, and he considered it a very useful experience. No, Tycho wanted to join the military.
Samir had experienced the Clone Wars, and he had put all his energy into raising his children on a peaceful planet to make sure they wouldn't have to spend their teenage years fighting a war. He supported Alderaan's pacifistic way wholeheartedly, certain that it was the only way to ensure such a war would never happen again, and he had tried to impart his beliefs to his children. All the ideals his wife and himself had tried to teach them -- had it been completely useless?
What hurt even more than Tycho's decision was the fact that he hadn't even talked to his parents before he had made it. His son should have talked to him. They should have discussed it. Damn. He had been so sure Tycho trusted him, that he knew he could talk about everything with his father, his family, that he +would+ talk about everything with them. They'd had their difficulties a few years ago, but his relationship to his son was very close now -- at least he had thought it was -- and he'd been proud of it. It hurt deeply that Tycho hadn't even asked for his advice.
His comlink beeped. "Yes?"
"Dinner is ready. And bring the kids down with you, please."
"I will." He stood up slowly, wondering how his wife would react. *I need to discuss the whole subject with her before I try to talk with Tycho again.*
Lycha Celchu had just finished setting the table when her youngest daughter and her husband came in.
"Where are Tycho and Skoloc?"
Besca shrugged. "Tycho said he wouldn't come. He even locked his door. And Skoloc is in their room, too."
"What? They both know it isn't up to discussion whether they join us for dinner. I'll go upstairs and get them."
Her husband stepped in her way. "Leave them, please."
"What?" She looked at him unbelievingly.
"Please sit down. I know you want to have the whole family together at least for dinner, but tonight it is better if Tycho doesn't join us. At least not before I talk with you about something." He sat down. His wife and daughters looked at him in utter confusion.
"You told him to stay in his room?" Such a thing had never happened before.
"No, I didn't. But tonight it is better this way." He sighed.
No one spoke during the meal. For once their daughters didn't grumble when asked to help with the dishes. When all were finally gathered around the table again, as they did every evening to discuss the topics of the day, Samir still wasn't sure how to tell his wife.
"Will you please tell us now what is going on?" Alischa demanded impatiently. Everyone watched Samir curiously and with a bit of apprehension.
He nodded. "Today a message from the Imperial Military Academy on Prefsbelt arrived. For Tycho. At first I was shocked, but then I thought they might have begun to send messages to all young men, though I couldn't imagine our government would allow that. When Tycho came home half an hour ago, I told him about it. He wasn't surprised. Not at all. He expected the message."
"What?" In his wife's voice Samir noticed the same confusion he'd felt when he'd seen Tycho's unexpected reaction to the news.
"Why did he expect the message, Dad?"
"Because he had sent an application to the academy, and the message today was the answer that he was accepted." This news came as a bombshell. He looked from one to another. His wife had turned pale and just stared at him, too shocked to speak. His daughters whispered with each other, all three looking surprised. Apparently even Mia, his oldest daughter, who was very close to Tycho, hadn't known of her brother's plans.
"He wants to go to the Imperial military? Tycho?" Besca seemed to be unsure whether to consider the news to be disturbing or exciting.
"Who gave him that idea? I can't believe it, Samir. And I won't allow it," his wife stated vehemently when she'd finally recovered from her shock.
"I don't understand it, either. And I don't like it. My first idea was the same as yours, Lycha, to forbid him to go." He sighed deeply. "But it isn't our decision to make; we both know that."
"How can you be so calm? One of our children wants to become a soldier. We both remember the war. And I didn't raise my children just to sit back now and watch the Empire use them as cannon-fodder." She jumped up. "I'll go upstairs and talk him out of this madness immediately."
Samir gently pushed his wife back onto her chair. "It is Tycho's decision. I don't know what made him do it, or if there is still a chance to make him change his mind, but talking with him now will most certainly end in a shouting match. I think it is best we both sleep on it and talk with him tomorrow."
"Go down, Skoloc. You'll get into trouble."
"You're not going, are you?"
"No." Tycho leaned on the window and stared across their huge garden to the distant silhouette of the Royal Palace. His father's reaction hurt. *'What do you know?' What does he know? I'm no child anymore, and I considered it for a long time. He always says he trusts me no matter what I do, but obviously that is only true when he agrees with my decisions.*
"What happened, Tycho?" Skoloc watched him attentively with his intense blue eyes.
His brother didn't take his eyes from him. Tycho knew from experience that Skoloc would sit there for hours, waiting for an explanation. Patience was one of his little brother's strong points. Sometimes he wondered how brothers could be as different as Skoloc and he were.
"Did Mum and Dad learn about your application to the military academy?"
+That+ made Tycho whirl around. "What? How do you know about the academy?"
"I accidentally read your application letter when I looked for something in your files."
"What business did you have reading +my+ files?" Angrily he grabbed Skoloc by the collar and dragged him to his feet.
"I was looking for the manual of your newest flight simulation. The file said 'academy,' so I thought it might be a part of the game." At least he sounded sheepish.
"Let me rephrase the question: how do you have access to my files?"
"I sliced your password, two years ago actually. Everyone's passwords. I wanted to test my new slicing program."
"Everyone's passwords? Mum's and Dad's, too?"
The boy nodded. "But I seldom use them, really. Only yours to play some of your games. It was an accident that I read your letter."
Despite his brother's excuses Tycho strengthened his grip, causing Skoloc to wince. "Does the word 'privacy' mean anything to you? You don't sneak around in other people's stuff, period. For no reason. You want something, you ask. Understood?"
"Yes. I'm sorry." The boy glanced up at him, obviously expecting a punishment.
But Tycho's anger was already decreasing. One or two years ago he would have torn him apart, he had even beaten his brother several times. But his parents had forced him to spend time with Skoloc, to get to know his little brother. And in Tycho's estimation he had slowly risen from an annoying little kid to a friend and confidant who was surprisingly serious and thoughtful for his age. And who still managed to surprise him time and again.
*He sliced our passwords just for fun two years ago. I don't believe it.* But nevertheless, he had to teach him that slicing computer systems wasn't a silly prank but could get him into serious trouble. Skoloc had to understand that. Tycho raised his brother and with a slight grin stuck him under his arm, giving him a not too gentle slap on the backside.
The younger boy tensed, obviously expecting a sound thrashing, but he didn't try to defend himself. Tycho sighed inwardly. Another thing he needed to teach his kid brother was to fight back. He never did, hadn't even tried to when some bullies at school had tormented him for years until Tycho accidentally learned about it and put an end to it.
He carried the frightened boy to his bed and let him fall onto it; pinning him down with one hand he tickled him with the other until Skoloc begged for mercy. Tycho let him go with a smile. "If Mum and Dad find out you spend your time slicing computer systems, you're in serious trouble."
"You won't tell them, will you?"
"No, I won't. But you need to respect other people's privacy. You wouldn't like people rummaging through your things, would you?"
The ten-year-old shook his head thoughtfully. "I won't do it again."
"Good. Did you limit your activities to our family or did you cause havoc someplace else, too? Slicing computer systems is a crime, Skoloc."
"I don't +break+ anything. I just wander around and look for interesting things. I can use most parts of the holonet, even the ones Dad doesn't want us to use. Right now I'm working on decoding the holonet programs, sports and stuff. You know, the programs Mum doesn't want us to have because she thinks it's too expensive." He couldn't hide his pride, but he also fidgeted nervously, obviously unsure whether Tycho would forbid him to do anything like that.
But Tycho wasn't planning to discourage him -- not at all. Decoding the programs would mean he could watch his favorite sport games live. He had talked with his parents for years about getting these programs, but they stubbornly refused. As CEO of Novacom his father could simply decode them without paying anything for it, but he refused to do so, not wanting to take advantage of his position. And his mother was of the opinion that you could do much more useful things with the money than watch holos and zone-ball games.
"Do you think you'll manage to decode them?"
The boy smiled proudly. "I can slice anything. I'm almost finished with it; I just need to find the algorithm they use to rotate the codes. Maybe you can help me with it."
"I'll do my best. But you promise to stop sneaking around in other people's files." *Dad will kill us.* More soberly he added, "You realize Dad will punish us severely if he ever finds out?"
Skoloc nodded. "He won't catch me."
"Tycho, open the door." For the fifth time that night Mia impatiently knocked at the door. To her surprise, this time her brother opened and let her in. "What is wrong with you, Tych? Do you want to hide in here forever?"
"I'm not hiding."
"Yeah, I noticed."
She turned to her younger brother. "Skoloc, Mum wants you to go to bed immediately. It's already two hours past your bedtime."
Her brother was concentrating on piloting a TIE fighter through an asteroid field and ignored her.
"Damn. I almost finished the run this time, Mia." He angrily pushed away the joystick, looking accusingly at his sister.
"You better watch your language." She sighed. "Go to the refresher now."
When the sullen boy had left, Mia joined her older brother at the window. *His thoughts are out there in the galaxy again.* "Skoloc spends way too much time at the computer. He ought to play outside with his friends more often."
"Tell him, not me. Besides, he doesn't have any friends."
"Because he doesn't try to make any." She leaned back against the wall next to her brother. "Tycho, he adores you. He'll do anything you want. And you shouldn't let him play with your war games. Mum is already angry that you have them; she'll be furious if she learns you let Skoloc play."
"I don't let him, he just does. Sliced my password."
"Oh what a lame excuse." *Sliced his password. He's a child.*
Tycho let himself fall back onto his bed. "What do you want, Mia?"
"Why didn't you tell us? Why didn't you tell +me+?"
"I was going to. As soon as I got an answer."
"As soon as everything was said and done, I see. We should have discussed it before you sent in your application."
Frustrated, Tycho tossed his pillow against the opposite wall. "Discuss this, discuss that. Why does everyone on this damn planet have to discuss everything with everybody? We talk so much we hardly have time to actually +do+ anything."
Not believing what she'd just heard Mia stared at her brother. She'd never before heard him talk in such a derogatory way about his homeplanet. "What? Until now I thought you wanted to go to the academy because of your thirst for adventure and your enthusiasm for flying. But right now it sounds much more like 'I just want to do it to annoy everyone around.' How old are you? This isn't one of your stupid games!" She whirled around and stormed out of the room.
continue to part 2