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 3: Looking Forward
Nyiestra watched Tycho closely as they flew out of the city. He was concentrating on piloting the small landspeeder through the narrow and winding creek he followed instead of the nearby road. They were going way too fast, but she wasn't scared. She had gotten used to it, and she knew he was a good pilot.
Not that she cared whether he set a new record racing through the Antija stone field or whether he wasn't able to park a landspeeder in a four-meter-wide parking space. She loved him for what he was, not for what he could do. Not that he understood. She sighed. He had to show off, sometimes even when they were alone. *Men.*
But today running through the creek at top speed was also his way of relieving some of the frustration that had built up inside him during the previous weeks. He had evaded her attempts to talk about it with him -- when they had time to talk about private things, that was, as preparing for their final exams took most of their time -- but she knew how much it hurt him to have become an outsider. Ever since people at school and in their quarter had learned he was going to attend the military academy, they treated him like an intruder.
Some, especially the younger kids, secretly admired him for what he was going to do and envied him the adventures they thought were waiting for him in the galaxy. But most people felt that his decision was an attack on the Alderaanian way of life, on everything that Alderaan valued, and they let him feel it. Their attitude was so unfair that she found herself supporting Tycho wholeheartedly now, even though she was a pacifist herself.
*Everyone has to find his own way, it isn't right to force your beliefs on someone else.* But a lot of people wanted her to do exactly that. Neighbors, teachers, friends, all had come to her or her parents and said she should talk reason to Tycho, she should prevent him from going to the academy, for his own good. Even her parents had asked her to use her influence to make him change his mind. And she knew he would withdraw his application if she asked him to.
The thought was tempting. Lying in her bed at night thinking about the future she couldn't imagine him not being with her for at least three years. They had known each other all their lives and had never been apart for more than three months, and even those months had felt like an eternity to her.
And she wondered how the academy would change him. She wasn't so much afraid that he would be killed -- that thought was so alien it hardly ever came to her mind -- but that the military would change him, would estrange him from her. It was this fear that sometimes made her lie awake all night.
But nevertheless she wouldn't try to change his mind. She had promised to support him whatever he did, and she meant it. It was the right thing to do. He had very good reasons to act the way he did, and though she didn't share some of his sentiments, she knew he didn't do it lightly, or on a whim. And just because the majority of people thought he was wrong didn't mean he was. *Maybe he is right and we are wrong. Or, more likely, there isn't right and wrong, just different ways to reach a common goal.*
She had been so deep in thought she hadn't even realized the speeder had stopped.
Tycho looked at her curiously. "What are you thinking about?"
Nyiestra watched him intently for a while. "You." She jumped out of the speeder and started to run down the steep path leading to a hidden lake. He followed her quickly, but she was already down at the shore, sitting on one of the rocks when he reached her.
Tycho knelt down before her. "And what were you thinking about me?"
She detected hints of uncertainty in his voice. After all the criticism that had rained down on him he apparently wasn't even sure of her unwavering support anymore. "I thought about the way people have treated you these last weeks, and how unfair that is."
He shrugged. "I expected it."
*No, you didn't. At least you didn't expect it would hurt so much.* "People even come to my parents to convince them to convince me to convince you not to go to the academy. It must be a lot worse for your parents."
He sighed. "It is, I guess. They support me openly, but it must tear them apart on the inside because they don't agree with my decision. They have accepted it, and their support is genuine, but they still think I made the wrong choice. I guess they have decided it is best to let me make my own mistakes. But it has to be very hard for them to defend me against people who voice the same objections they themselves have."
He had stood up and was now staring across the lake to the distant waterfall, looking alone and sad. She hugged him closely. "Your parents are great people, you know that. We're both very lucky we have homes we can always fall back on, whatever happens. That's a blessing we ought to be very grateful for."
To lighten up the mood, she tousled his hair. "Will they really cut it off completely?"
He smiled. "I'm afraid so, yes. But it will grow out again."
"That alone would be reason enough for me never to go to the academy." Even the thought of someone cutting off her hair for no reason but harassment made her shiver.
He playfully curled a lock of her dark hair around his finger. "I can understand that. And yours would take a lot longer to grow to its original length again." He bit his lip nervously, looking at her intensely. When she slid her hand along his body she felt him tremble. *Tremble with what?*
"Ny, I... I want to ask you something. It's very bad timing, I know, with me going away soon and leaving you alone for so long, but I was wondering... ehm, I wanted to ask you... will you marry me when I come back?"
Her heart jumped at these words, and she had to resist the urge to fling her arms around his neck immediately. Instead, she took his chin and made him look her squarely in the eyes for several moments. Eventually, she smiled. "Yes, I will." She cut off any reply he was about to give with a kiss.
"Here we go again." Nyiestra sighed when she quietly closed the door. Their neighbors had come over for the evening, and the topic they were discussing with her parents -- again -- she'd recognized as soon as she'd opened the door. She tiptoed to the curtain which separated the hall and living room.
"I don't understand why the Celchus don't forbid it. If he were my son..."
"What can they possibly do? He doesn't need their permission to go to the academy."
"Who knows, maybe they don't even oppose it."
"That's absurd. We've known the Celchus for years, our children grew up together. Both are pacifists through and through. We often talk about the Clone Wars, and Alderaan's future. They are as shocked as everyone else."
"They love their son. And they try to protect him from all the people who attack him now. Tycho has made his choice, and I think highly of his parents that they support him even though they don't like his decision."
"I don't agree. He is too young to understand the consequences of this decision. It would be for his own good if they just forbade him to go. He would listen to them."
"He might listen to them, but I'm sure he would resent them for it -- probably forever."
"And Nyiestra? Did she try to bring him to his senses?"
"No. She defends him vehemently. I don't understand her."
"She loves him, Levy."
"Sure she does. But him? He leaves her alone for three +years+."
Nyiestra clenched her fists. How could they talk about Tycho like that? Especially her father. She was ready to storm into the room when someone took her elbow to hold her back. Her sister shook her head. She sighed inwardly and remained standing in the hall.
Her mother snorted. "C'mon, you make it sound as if he would leave her alone in the middle of a desert. She'll go to the university, and I suppose she'll have plenty of work to do. She can live her own life. Besides, I recall not so long ago you used to wish him as far away from her as possible."
Her father mumbled something Nyiestra couldn't hear.
"Did Nyiestra already register at the university? Which subject?"
"Yes, she did, two weeks ago. Mathematics with astrophysics as a minor."
"Mathematics and astrophysics? Isn't that a bit unusual for a girl?"
Her sister used the change of subject to retreat and gestured her to follow her up to their rooms, and Nyiestra reluctantly did, fuming.
"I know I shouldn't eavesdrop, but did you hear what they said about Tycho? What gives them the right to condemn him?"
Waloja pushed her down onto the bed. "I know. And I agree with you that it is unfair. But you won't make it any better if you storm into the room and start shouting at them."
"But I have to defend him. No one else does."
"Take it easy. They will calm down again. Let the dust settle."
"I can't. It hurts to hear people talk about him as if he were a traitor. He says he doesn't mind, but he does. He stands aloof, and that's starting to wear him down. He has become so grim."
"I know, and I feel sorry for him. But he is strong, and his parents and you support him. He'll survive it. And I suppose he'll have to endure worse things when he's at the academy."
Nyiestra crossed her legs and stared at her feet. Waloja patted her shoulder. "Did you talk with him about your future?"
"Yes. Today." Her face lighted up.
"And?" her sister asked impatiently.
"And what?" Nyiestra replied, trying to sound as non-chalently as possible. Probably not very successfully, as she was practically beaming with happiness.
"Don't keep me waiting, Ny! Tell me."
Nyiestra smiled broadly. "He asked me to marry him when he comes back."
"What? I'm so happy for you!" Waloja hugged her sister enthusiastically.
"The only question that remains now: how do I tell Mum and Dad?"
"Don't look at me as if you'll never see me again. It's only three years, Skoloc."
"Yes, I know." His brother's voice quivered, and Tycho could see tears glittering in his eyes.
Well, three years must sound like an eternity when you're only eleven. Tycho threw a last tunic into his duffel bag and sat down next to his brother. "Hey, I'm the one who is supposed to cry, not you. You're staying at home with the rest of the family, nothing will change for you except that you'll have your room for yourself."
"But you will be gone."
"It's only two years at the academy and then my first year in the Navy. After that I'll be able to come home from time to time."
"But only to visit, not to stay."
"That's life. In a few years you'll leave home, too, to live your own life." He tousled Skoloc's hair. "C'mon, the years will fly by. Before you notice, I'll be back. And Dad promised to call me on my birthdays, so we will be able to talk via a realtime connection."
"Will you write me letters? I want to know what it is like at the academy."
"I promise." He grabbed his bag. "Let's go."
"Wait." Skoloc leapt up and ran to his desk. "I have a farewell gift for you." He handed his brother a gaudily colored datacard. Tycho took it curiously.
"What is it?"
"Mainly holos of our family, Aldera, and Alderaan. And Nyiestra, of course. And some other stuff, a few of your favorite short stories, useful programs, whatever I could think of. I hope you like it. Just so you don't forget us. And maybe you can use some of the stuff."
Tycho knelt down and hugged his brother. "Thanks, Skoloc."
A corpulent man wearing an expensive Alderaanian style business suit frowned at him unkindly as Tycho squeezed past to get to a group of seats in the rear end of the ship, near one of the large windows. Anxious as he was, he hardly noticed. It wasn't the first time he left the planet, but all the previous times he had been with his family or at least his father. It felt great to be all on his own.
And then there was the academy. He had dreamed about what it would be like for so long he had trouble comprehending he was on his way now. A whole new life was waiting for him. He didn't delude himself, it was going to be tough. But he was up to the challenge.
Remembering Skoloc's datacard, he rummaged in his bag fishing for his datapad. He'd better check whether his little brother had included anything suspicious. Skoloc's enthusiasm for the Jedi Knights had made him collect every bit of data he could get his hands on, even some Rebel propaganda.
Tycho snorted. He didn't blame his brother. Skoloc was too young to unmask the lies the terrorists who called themselves Rebels spread. Some of their propaganda was really good, Tycho had to admit. But lies nonetheless. Sure, the Empire wasn't perfect, and he intended to rise to a position where he could change some things that were wrong, but it ensured peace and stability. Some of the terrorists might have personal reasons for their rebellion, but in the end they were responsible for people dying, for chaos and anarchy.
The slight vibration of the starting ship awakened him from his thoughts. He inserted the colorful datacard into the pad and skimmed the contents. As Skoloc had said, it contained mainly holos from family vacations, parties, school celebrations, even some promotional holos that were popular among the many tourists who visited Alderaan.
He laughed out loud when he recognized the program they had used to slice into the holonet broadcast. What had made Skoloc think he could use +that+ in the Imperial Navy? He quickly scanned the rest and was relieved to find no compromising material. It would have been a great start to get arrested upon his arrival at the academy.
He glanced out of the window to his now distant homeplanet that from orbit looked like a beautiful green-blue ball. But his mind was already focused upon the future, so he barely noticed when the view of the world he had lived on all his life was replaced by the white wall that indicated they had made the jump to hyperspace. That was the past. He was looking forward to an exciting future.
continue to part 4