The Alter of Waru Beyond the Saga Luke/Mara AU: romance/Angst/Humor I don't own Star Wars. This story is just like all my other stories...which usually involves fluff, angst, parody and L/M bootknocking. Don't get turned off by the beginning. It starts out sad, but it gets better. ___________________________________________________________________________ Jade Shadow currently orbiting Upekzar~~ Luke sat at the small desk in the captain's cabin of the Jade Shadow tapping on his datapad as he finalized the after-action report from his most recent mission. He stopped and starred blankly at the data readout until he decided he was too tired to finish anything tonight. He switched off the device and placed it in the side desk compartment. As he went to close the drawer he noticed something sparkling in the corner. He reached down and found an earring…Mara's earring. A sad smile crossed his face. He remembered finding it a year ago under the bunk. Mara had lost it about a month before her death and now it was another reminder of his loss; in fact, the whole ship was a reminder. He had yet to move out her belongings. Luke knew he should, but he couldn't give her up entirely. When he saw her flight suit tucked snuggly next to his in the small bulkhead closet he could imagine that she really wasn't gone. He could almost feel her spirit within the hull walls. He always felt comforted within the Shadow. He squeezed the earring in his hand at the sad realization that in two weeks it would have been their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. There was a light rap on the cabin door. Luke could sense his son's Force signature burning brightly on the other side. "Come on in Ben," he said as he dropped the earring back into the drawer and slid it shut. The redheaded teen entered the cabin and despite the horrific events of the last few weeks Luke found himself smiling at the sight of his son. Ben was now the light of his life…the only bright spot since Mara's death. Ben reminded Luke so much of his mother in looks and personality. Luke didn't know what he would do if he ever lost Ben. "Dad, the recovery team returned. They weren't able to retrieve any more bodies." Luke gave a stiff nod. The Jedi suffered severe casualties when they fell into Abeloth's trap on Upekzar. He was just lucky that Vestara was with his son when the mutated Dream Singer attacked. It was unfortunate that Natua didn't make it out with them. She was such an enthusiastic Jedi—full of life and promise. Luke had hoped he could bring her body home to her family. "Thanks Ben. Contact the other Jedi and tell them to rendezvous at the predetermined coordinates I issued." "Okay," Ben moved to leave but then hesitated and gave his father a concerned look. Luke knew his son worried about him. The search for Abeloth was exacting a high toil on Luke's health and mental wellbeing. Sometimes he wondered if peace would ever be achieved in his lifetime. He had been fighting wars since he left Tatooine and Ben was born into a war. The hostilities never ceased, only the players changed. Luke sighed. "I'm alright Ben, you go on ahead." Ben gave his father a somber half-smile as he turned and left the cabin. Luke stood and leaned back stretching his spine and working out the kinks. At sixty-three standard years of age he was only slightly past his midlife point, but the last few years seemed to accelerate the aging process. He was getting too old for this. Fighting galactic wars was a young man's job. Deciding to go into a meditative trance he moved toward his bunk when he suddenly felt lightheaded. He sat down heavily on his bed hoping the sensation of vertigo would ease, but the symptoms only became worse. He now had trouble breathing. It felt like the air around him had the consistency of syrup as his lungs struggled to take in oxygen. He had the sensation of floating and for a moment as he wondered if the gravity compensator of the Shadow had failed. "Ben!" he cried out as he collapsed to the deck. As darkness swam in front of his eyes two pair of arms suddenly grab him from under his shoulders and began tugging at him. 'It must be Ben and Vestara—they're moving me to the medical bay,' were Luke's last coherent thoughts before he blacked out. . . . "Luke, Luke!" Luke slowly blinked his eyes and squinted into the overhead lights. His vision was blurred but he could make out the outline of Leia and Han. 'What are they doing here? They're supposed to be on Coruscant.' Luke could hear the pounding of feet around him intermixed with a multitude of voices and sporadic screams. He was no longer on the Shadow; that he knew for certain. He turned his head and realized he was lying on the floor of some type of interior courtyard. "Where am I?" Luke asked trying to focus his eyes. "Crseih Station," Han said. Luke could hear the concern in his voice. "Are you alright Luke?" "Crseih Station! Why am I here?" Luke asked while spitting out a vile tasting viscous fluid from his mouth. "Luke," Leia said softly as she wiped some sticky syrupy liquid off his face. "You decided to save Anakin by giving yourself over to Waru. Han and I pulled you out." "That happened decades ago," Luke said as he wiped yellow ichor out of his eyes. He looked up and was finally was able to focus on Han and Leia's faces. He pulled in a quick breath—shocked at what he saw. It was his sister and brother-in-law, but they were so young. Leia looked no older than thirty. Luke reached out to her and caught a glimpse of his hand. The fine wrinkles that had appeared over the decades were gone. They were the hands of a young man. "Oh Force," he looked around the station. "Where's Ben?" Han gave him a strange look. "Luke, Ben died on the Death Star over a decade ago." Luke shook his head in frustration. "Not Obi-Wan. Where's my son Ben?" Leia and Han looked at each other in confusion. Leia put her hand on Luke's shoulder. "Luke, Waru must have done something to you. You don't have a son." Luke's mind frantically tried to understand what was happening. "What year is it?" Han frowned. "It's fourteen years after the Battle of Yavin." Luke started to shake. This couldn't be happening. What happened? Did he die? Was he in a coma hallucinating? But the main question was, where was his son? "He's going into shock Leia," Luke could hear Han's voice call out in panic…and then blackness. . . . ~Yavin IV~ Cilghal the Mon Calamari Jedi healer exited the examination room and went to the waiting area where Leia and Han paced anxiously. "I had to sedate him when he became too distraught, but he told me an extraordinary story." The Mon Calamari gestured for Leia and Han to sit down as she took a seat across from them. "I don't know what happened while he was in Waru, but Luke is under the impression that this is 44 ABY. In his mind he has lived out the last 30 years, he married, had a son, fought a galactic war, lost his wife and was now is a single father raising his teenage son." Han shook his head. "He was only inside Waru for a minute, how could he dream up thirty years of memories?" Cilghal cocked her head, the Mon Calamari equivalent of a shrug. "I'm not sure. I researched about other beings who have entered Waru and returned and they all reported seeing visions or having hallucinations. Waru is from an alternate dimension, so it is possible a few minutes could be perceived by a human as years…it may explain the great detail in this fantasy world he created." Leia and Han gave each other a quick curious glance. "We didn't get to talk to Luke after he passed out." Leia said perplexed. "So, I'm not quite sure what he believes. Does he have a name of this wife he thinks he is married to?" Cilghal hesitated for a moment. "He believes he married Mara Jade in 19 ABY and they conceived a son he named Ben in 26 ABY." Han couldn't help but scoff. "Mara! She barely tolerates his presence." The healer bobbed her head in agreement. "I think what happened is while Luke was trapped in Waru he concocted a world where he was able to experience his greatest desires, but at the same time his greatest fears were also played out." Cilghal looked down at the floor for a moment collecting her thoughts before continuing. "I believe he's been harboring some desire for Mara Jade. When he entered Waru, he subconsciously attempted to create a world revolving around that desire, but his greatest fears were also at work—which was the fear of rejection. Therefore he conceived an ingenious way to get her to marry him. He dreamed up a situation where he and Mara bonded within the Force. In his fantasy they both became of one mind…knowing everything about each other. It's my belief that Luke thought if Mara could see inside his soul she would understand his love for her and she would love him in return." The healer shook her head in wonder. "The detail and complexity of his story is amazing." Leia moaned. "Has he asked to see Mara?" "No," Cilghal said slowly. "In his world Mara died four years ago. He is still mourning her loss, but now he's in terrible anguish over the loss of his son." Han threw his hands up in frustration. "He doesn't have a son. Mara's alive. Nobody died." The Mon Calamari blinked her eyes slowly. "This is very real to him. Ben might not be a real person, but to Luke it feels like he has lost another loved one. He lost a wife and now a son…he has lost his entire family."