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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part 2: Talking Things Out
Sleepily she rolled around, too tired to open her eyes. "What's up? We don't have school today, let me sleep."
"Mia, wake up."
Reluctantly she opened her eyes. Her room was still dark, and a glance to the window confirmed her sense of time, it was before dawn. Her brother sat on the edge of her bed, watching her impatiently. "Tycho, it's in the middle of the night. What do you want?"
"It's already four o'clock. I want to go to the canyons. Do you want to join me?"
Mia's eyes had adjusted to the dim light now and she saw he was already wearing the tight black jumpsuit he always wore when they went climbing. She sighed. *And I thought only my kid brother was weird.* "Since I'm now awake anyway, why not? Give me ten minutes to dress."
At noon Mia was still trying to work out what was going on in Tycho's mind. She suspected he'd wanted to spend the day outside Aldera to avoid their parents, but the fact that he had asked her to come along meant he wanted to talk to her, or didn't it?
So far they hadn't spoken much. Not that they'd had many opportunities. Climbing a vertical wall or dangling on a rope dozens of meters above the ground wasn't such a great situation for deep discussions. To boot, she had chosen a new, technically difficult, and strenuous route which had finally led them to the top of a very small, isolated mesa in the middle of the canyon labyrinth.
The sun was burning hot now, and she was thankful for the light breeze. Her brother was lying on his back, still breathing heavily. A smile spread across her face. Climbing was one of the few things she could do better than Tycho. When they were hiking through the mountains he could outrun her, if not by much, but on vertical walls she was more agile and skillful.
"I don't want to annoy anyone."
*What?* It took her a few moments to realize Tycho was -- finally -- responding to her accusation from the night before.
"But what do you want? You could do anything, why the military academy?"
"I want to be able to fight. It's necessary. Pacifism is honorable, but reality isn't like we want it to be. Alderaan thinks it is oh so progressive and noble, but in my opinion we hide behind our pacifism, cut ourselves off from the problems in the rest of the galaxy. I don't want to talk, I want to act."
Mia watched him silently for a while. He met her stare seriously. His whole argument was valid, and while she didn't agree completely, she understood his point. And now, when she'd heard his thoughts on this matter in compressed form, and had been confronted with its results, she realized it actually didn't come overnight. She recalled him arguing like this several times over the past years. *We just didn't pay enough attention to it.*
"I understand you. Although I don't think we hide, we've chosen a different approach to make this galaxy a better place, and I really can't say which approach is better or more successful. Only time will tell. But don't tell me your enthusiasm for flying in general and TIEs specifically hadn't the least bit to do with your decision."
Grinning he pushed a lock of his sweat-drenched hair from his forehead. "Of course it's all a noble, selfless sacrifice. No, sure I want to fly. You're a very good pilot yourself, Mia. Don't you ever dream about flying TIEs, in space?"
"Not really, no. I would love to fly in space, but civilian vessels. I'm toying with the idea of becoming a civilian pilot one day." She chuckled. "I wasn't sure how Mum and Dad would take it, but after learning about your career plans nothing will shock them anymore. But I would never join the military. Flying TIEs is a fascinating thought, and tempting, but in the Navy it isn't a game, it's deadly serious. I don't want to kill, and I don't want to be killed. Although I think it's unfair, I don't really mind the Imperial military doesn't want women in their ranks. Military life isn't for me. Drill, obedience, punishment, getting up early, no thanks. Are you sure you can cope with it?"
"It's what I want. I think it will be very challenging. Don't laugh, I know it's going to be tough, but I'm looking forward to it. I grew up as a spoiled kid in a wealthy family on an equally wealthy world, I've never known a hard life, never had to fight for anything. It may sound strange, but I really long for the hard drill, for training until you're completely exhausted and don't even know how to crawl back to your bunk."
"I didn't know you had masochistic tendencies." Both laughed.
"I don't, and I guess when I haul myself with hurting muscles over an obstacle course I'll change my mind pretty quickly. But it's the way I feel. I've no idea why I want exactly the things I don't have. Other people would be happy to live the life I have, but to me it's boring, and without challenges. Everything I do, flying, climbing, hiking, playing zone-ball, even going to school I do voluntarily, just for fun, with no one kicking me in the backside from time to time. I don't know my limits, because I've never been forced to get to them. I want to compete with others, and find out how good I am."
A grin slowly spread over his sister's face. "You want competition? Well, let's see who's first to the canyon floor."
"Can I talk with you?"
"There is nothing to talk about. I made my decision, you don't like it, that's it."
"Tycho, please." His father remained standing at the door, his arms a little bit outstretched to the side, with his palms to the ground, a calming gesture.
Tycho turned away from the door. "What for? I won't change my mind about the academy. So we might as well save the trouble of arguing about it."
"I don't want to argue. I want to understand your decision. To me it came completely out of the blue. I never expected it. But you must have thought about it for a long time, and it would mean a lot to me if you'd share your thoughts with me."
Tycho activated his datapad and started to work at his desk, stubbornly ignoring his father.
"Please." Patiently his father waited a few more minutes, but when Tycho continued hacking words into his pad he finally gave up and left the room.
After the door had closed behind him, Tycho pushed away his pad and sighed. His father had sounded sad. Maybe he was sincerely interested in the reasons behind his decision. But the 'What do you know?' still rang in his ears.
Over the last two days the short conversation with his father had played in his head over and over again, and the more he thought about it, the angrier he became. He'd expected his parents would be surprised, probably shocked, but he'd been sure they would accept his decision. They'd always told him and his siblings that it was their life and they should do with it what they thought was right.
"Tycho, you ought to talk with Dad." Mia carefully closed the door behind her.
"It hurts him that you refuse to talk. You can't hide forever. And you shouldn't. Dad will understand if you give him a chance. "
About an hour later Tycho entered the large roof-terrace which had turned into a labyrinth of trees and flowers under the skillful hands of his mother. His father sat on his favorite bench at one corner of the roof, almost completely cut off from the rest of the terrace by a thicket of plants, with a great view of Aldera's skyline that now, in the late evening, was lit by thousands of lights.
Not knowing what to say, or whether his father would talk to him at all after he'd so impolitely refused to do so earlier, Tycho remained standing near the bench, waiting for his father to notice him.
When he did, he smiled at his son. "Thank you for coming. Sit down, please."
Tycho did, and both continued to watch the brightly lit city for a while.
"I want to apologize, Dad. For my rude behavior. I didn't mean to, it's just..." *Oh great. Start with an apology and almost finish with an accusation. This will most certainly end in a fight.*
His father didn't do him the favor of ignoring his unfinished sentence. "It's just what?" He watched his son closely. When Tycho didn't answer, he continued. "Tycho, listen. I didn't ask you to talk with me so we could either shout at each other or avoid any confrontation at all. I want you to be honest, and I promise to be honest with you, too. So please, finish your sentence."
"I..., when I told you about the academy, you said that I'd lost my mind, that I'm not sensible, that I don't know anything about the military and about war. It's not fair. I did think about my decision thoroughly, and for a long time. I didn't send my application on a whim. Mum and you always said we were responsible for our own lives and you trusted us and would support us whatever we did. I know you don't like me joining the Imperial Military, I expected that, but you could at least believe me capable of making a decision that feels right to me."
"I do believe you thought about this decision long and thoroughly. And I apologize that my initial reaction hurt you. I shouldn't have reacted so spontaneously, but slept on it. Which I have in the meantime." He sighed. "Tycho, this isn't the same as if I had a problem with you studying art instead of economics, or engineering instead of linguistics. Joining the military isn't like choosing any other job. Becoming a soldier means you need to be ready to kill, and ready to be killed."
"I know that, and I'm ready to do it if necessary. But I don't want to join the military because I want to kill, I want to protect people who can't protect themselves. The Imperial military ensures peace and stability. I want to become a part of it, want to learn how to fight to help those who can't or won't."
"But you'll join an organization based on hierarchy and obedience. No one will ask you whether you think it is right to wage war on somebody, or whether you think it necessary to kill those people. They will order you, and you'll obey. Period."
"In the beginning, yes. But I intend to rise to a position where I'll be able to make decisions, to change the things I don't like in the Imperial Navy and in the Empire," Tycho said eagerly.
His father slightly shook his head. "As an officer you might be able to influence certain decisions, or interpret your orders a bit differently than they were meant, but you have to be aware that you'll swear an oath to the government, to the Emperor, and you need to be ready to fight, to kill, and to die for the Empire. This decision of yours is more far-reaching than any other because you aren't just choosing a profession, you're offering yourself as a weapon for others to use. And who uses it and what for is mostly beyond your influence. This has to be absolutely clear to you."
"You want me to become a politician instead?" Both had to smile at this thought. "Dad, I understand my influence will be limited. But it will be more than most other career paths I might choose would offer. The military is an important factor in the Empire, and it is important that there are responsible officers. I'm no pacifist, but I grew up on Alderaan. You taught me the values which are most important to you, and please don't think it was all for nothing. I value life, peace, and freedom. Who do you want as an officer instead? Thugs who love to fight, to oppress, and to kill?"
His father sighed. "No. But I don't believe in violence, in the necessity of a strong military, of a military at all. I haven't always been like this; I wasn't a pacifist when I was your age. But then your mother and I experienced the Clone Wars; I fought in it. War isn't an adventure. You can't understand what war means, you grew up in peace. And I hope you'll never understand. After the Clone Wars, to ensure peace has become the thing I -- like many other citizens of the Empire -- consider most important." He watched the distant city lights for a while before he continued. "The opinions on how to achieve this goal vary greatly, and I won't say my opinion is right and the others are wrong. But I believe the only way to a peaceful future is to unarm, to refuse to fight, to refuse to kill."
"But then you might not be able to protect someone from a person who isn't as pacifistic as you are! If an armed robber threatens somebody, do you just look away or try to talk to him nicely?" Tycho jumped up angrily. His father watched him calmly and waited for him to sit down again before he answered.
"I know that dilemma. But you're in a dilemma as well. You say you need to bear arms because other people do as well, and you continue as long as the others do. And the others continue as long as you do. It's never-ending unless someone puts his weapons down first. Alderaan did this, and I'm proud we did. Other planets will follow our lead one day."
Tycho shook his head vehemently. "They won't. Everyone thinks we are freaks who know nothing about reality. And in a way they're right. Alderaan is an exception, not the rule. The galaxy isn't peaceful. I don't know why, and I wish it were otherwise, but people obviously aren't peaceful. People who can't fight, or don't want to, need others to protect them, to fight for them, or they will be oppressed by those who fight only for themselves, who only care for their own well-being, who are only interested in power or money."
His father nodded. "I realize our decision is risky, and we are vulnerable and dependent on others' goodwill. But I'm sure it will be worth it in the end." He hesitated briefly, and Tycho was shocked to see pain in his father's eyes. "Tycho, I killed people in the Clone Wars. Their faces still haunt me at night. Once I witnessed a mother with three small children searching for her husband's corpse. I'll never forget the tears on the children's faces, their pain and their lack of understanding why their father would never come back, would never again play with them, tousle their hair, laugh with them. I was the reason. I killed their father. What could I possibly have said to those children? What reason for taking their father away could I have given to them? I still don't have an answer. And as long as I don't, I won't bear arms again. For no reason. Whatever the cost."
There was a long silence. Tycho looked at the ground. He had never known his father felt so strongly about bearing arms. "Will you hate me for what I'm about to do?"
Shock was written all over his father's face. "No. Tycho, no, never. I love you. I don't want to lie to you, your decision hurts deeply. What you want to do contradicts the very core of my beliefs. I don't want you to bear arms, I don't want you to kill, and of course I don't want you to be killed. But I know your intentions are good. Our values and goals are very similar; we just choose different paths. All my life I've hoped I could protect you and your siblings from war. It's hard to understand that you want to become a soldier voluntarily, choose the life I so much wanted to protect you from. But I accept your decision, and I'll support you."
"We'll support you, Tycho."
Surprised Tycho turned around. He hadn't noticed that his mother had walked in during his conversation with his father. She smiled at him, but he noticed a sadness about her that made his heart ache.
She gently tousled his hair. "I know."
"Are we doing the right thing?" Lycha leaned her head against her husband's shoulder, seeking comfort. Since Tycho had left Samir looked at the distant city lights with unseeing eyes again.
"We can't live his life for him. I wish he'd made a different choice, but he is very serious about it, and we have to step back and allow him to do what he thinks is right." He gently hugged his wife.
"I know, and I agree. But I'm scared. If one day we'll receive a message 'We regret to inform you that your son was killed in action. He died for the Empire.', I'll never forgive myself for not even trying to make him stay at home."
continue to part 3