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Saga - OT [DDC 2017]Teenage Rebellion--Updated 11/27/2017 (Mara/Ezra/Luke)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Raissa Baiard, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    As always, thanks to Findswoman for beta-reading @};-

    Ezra

    Today is Empire Day.

    Twenty years ago today, Palpatine declared himself Emperor. Twenty years ago, the Republic was destroyed and the Jedi were slaughtered. And, oh yeah...twenty years ago, I was born.

    Sharing my birthday with the rise of the Empire and the death of the Republic has always kind of sucked. When I was little, it meant I had to spend my birthday at Empire Day rallies full of long boring speeches I didn’t understand, followed by my parents speaking at counter-rallies, full of angry people who would cheer them and angrier people who would boo them and sometimes even throw things. Eventually, the stormtroopers would come and break things up. Yeah, spending your fifth birthday being chased by troopers? Good times...or something. Not that things got any better when I was older and birthdays were just another sad reminder that I didn’t have anything—no family, no home, no friends.

    Birthdays were a little better after I joined the crew of the Ghost. I had people who cared about me again, and living on Rebel bases no one really observed the “holiday” anyway. For a couple years, I had my own day for a change.

    But this year is the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Empire, and everyone was talking about it. Mon Mothma and Princess Leia decided they needed to hold a rally for us. They spoke about the importance of keeping our hope alive and believing in our cause. And I understand why they had the assembly, but…

    Everyone said how great their speeches were, and how stirring, but I couldn’t say. I stood as far in the back as I could, between Zeb and Mara, trying to listen, trying not to think about all those other rallies, the ones with my parents, being booed and chased, and the ones without them, when I was working the crowd, picking pockets. Not a lot of great memories there. Mara held my hand the entire time, and every now and then, Zeb would punch my shoulder and whisper “You okay, kid?” I think the only thing that got me through the assembly was knowing that there were at least a few people who thought this was my day and not the Emperor’s.

    Still, I was more than ready to go by the time all the speeches and the cheering was done. By that time it was nearly time for lessons at the Ghost, and I really wasn’t looking forward to them. Skywalker’s improved a bit. He doesn’t glare at me any more, he doesn’t mope quite as much, and once he even brought cookies for me and Mara to share (kind of a change from all those times he “forgot” to bring me anything), but some days you just don’t feel like dealing with some people. It’s still kind of strained between us and today it just felt like more than I could take.

    To make matters worse, Mara had some mysterious special project she had to work on. Seriously? Cracken was making her run intel today, when everyone else was basically having a holiday—hanging out, discussing politics and trying to predict the Empire’s next move. And the very first thing Skywalker said when he showed up was: “Where’s Mara?” Yeah, hello to you, too. I guess some things never change and I’ll always be bantha fodder as far as he’s concerned.

    For some reason, Kanan decided that we were going to work on affect mind, and you should have seen Skywalker’s eyes light up. I saw the way he looked at me and I could just imagine what he thought he could make me do—or worse what he thought he could get Mara to do. My hands balled up into fists before I could stop them. “It doesn’t work on Jedi,” I informed him.

    “No, it doesn’t.” Kanan stepped in between us before I could explain in detail why it would be a very bad idea for Skywalker to even try. “And it wouldn’t be ethical to practice it on our friends, so we’re heading into the forest to see if we can find some woolamanders.” Kanan started off down the trail into the forest with Skywalker tagging at his heels like a mooka pup.

    Woolamanders would not have been my first choice. Those guys can be seriously annoying. They like to steal parts off our sensor arrays, get distracted by anything shiny, and they think it’s fun to throw things at anyone who gets too close. Skywalker was moodier than a tooka stuck out in the rain, not the best attitude for trying to do this sort of thing. Still, Kanan started me off with a Loth-cat who nearly scratched my face off—five years ago today, ironically —so maybe this was one of those Jedi Master challenge things. Who was I to interfere with the lesson plans?

    There’s a huge colony of woolamanders living in one of the old temples. I guess when the Alliance scouts found that one, the woolamanders attacked them, so it never got turned into hangars or barracks like the other temples did. The little primates didn’t attack us when we came into their territory, but they all stopped what they were doing to stare at us and started up their hooting call: we see you! This is our place, so don’t try anything funny. Great. Why couldn’t we have started with some nice florikeets or a tree frog instead? I was only half listening to Kanan explaining how the Force binds everything together when he said, “Ezra, why don’t you show Luke how to do it?”

    “Me?” Ah, okay...now I get it. This wasn’t a Jedi Master challenge thing, this was a give Ezra something to do so he’ll forget his miserable birthday thing. Thanks, Kanan. “Okay, so… like Kanan said, every living thing is connected in the Force, you just have to find it. We’ll try with this guy.” I looked up into the nearest tree and picked out a big, pudgy male who was munching messily on a juicy, red fruit. His thoughts were placid since his stomach was full and he barely spared a glance for me as I stepped toward him, reaching out one hand and closing my eyes. “Open yourself up to the Force and feel how it connects you to the woolamander. Once you find that connection, reach out to him.”

    Skywalker reached out—sort of, kind of—a faltering, fumbling grasp at everything and nothing. His thoughts were swimming around like a school of giju that someone had thrown a rock into. I remembered how scattered my thoughts had been when I’d tried this the first time, and how the Loth-cat had picked up on my reluctance. I sighed. This wasn’t going to go well for Skywalker if he couldn’t get his thoughts together. “Come on, Skywalker, you have to focus. Empty your mind of everything else, except for that connection.”

    And then, of course, things went really wrong...

    The pudgy woolamander shrieked and hurled its fruit at Skywalker’s head, where it exploded in a shower of juice and pulp. It leapt up and howled a long, shrill call, but this time it wasn’t just the “I’m warning you” call.

    This call meant “Intruder! Kill it!”

    All around the clearing, the other woolamanders joined in, howling and screeching, throwing the fruit they were eating. Next, they’d be throwing sticks and after that...well, they had some pretty impressive teeth for animals who ate mostly half rotten fruit. Skywalker may not be my favorite person in the Galaxy, but I couldn’t stand there and let him get mobbed. I jumped in front of him, found my link with the lead woolamander and followed it out to the rest of the troop. Easy, guys, easy. Not an intruder, just a..big...clumsy...creature passing through. Take it easy. Eat. Lots of fruit to eat…Tasty fruit. I repeated this kind of encouragement until the big woolamander sank back down on his haunches and the noise stopped, and heaved a sigh of relief. Woolamanders look funny and harmless, but any creature who feels threatened can be dangerous. When you multiply that by a hundred… “Good thing we weren’t working with a herd of runyips or you’d be dead about now, Skywalker, provoking a reaction like that! You have to..”

    “Focus?” he sneered, wiping the mess off his face and flinging the squishy, chewed up pulp in my direction. “You mentioned that. Too bad you didn’t mention anything else helpful. I bet you enjoyed that, didn’t you?!”

    This is the thanks I get for saving his shebs? And what did he want, an astrogation chart to show how we’re all connected? Yeah, not exactly how the Force works. “Oh, get over yourself! What’s your problem today, anyway? You’re moping so hard it’s a wonder every woolamander within a kilometer didn’t throw fruit at you!”

    “My problem? As if you care!” Skywalker’s face was still red, even after he’d cleaned off the juice, and he yelled at me, not the least bit worried about upsetting the mob of woolamanders that had nearly decided to tear off his face. “My problem is my birthday’s coming up and I don’t have anyone to celebrate with this year because the Empire murdered my aunt and uncle! Is that good enough for you?!”

    His voice was full of raw pain and anger, and it spilled over into the Force around him. It was like looking into a mirror and having my own emotions reflected back at at me—all the loss and grief this day brought no matter how hard I tried to fight them. “You’re not the only one who’s lost someone, you know.” The words rasped out, choked by tears I didn’t think I still had left. And I just couldn’t just stand there any more, pretending I was a good Jedi. It was too hard to try to be at peace, to make myself remember there was no death, only the Force. “I can’t do this today,” I told Kanan. “I know--a Jedi controls his emotions. But I can’t. Not today. I’m sorry.”

    I wandered off into the jungle not really paying any attention where I was going, and I think it’s only thanks to the Force that I didn’t blunder into a patch of touch-not bushes or a swarm of piranha beetles. I know it was thanks to the Force that I wound up right back at the clearing to overhear Skywalker telling Kanan how much he missed his aunt and uncle, and Kanan telling him that life never really ends. It was the same thing he’d told me when I’d learned that my parents had been killed….

    I had that surreal feeling of looking in a mirror again as I listened to them talk about family and life and death. Everything Skywalker was feeling, I’d felt once, too—still felt on days like today. It was weird to see him as something other than the Sad Mooka. I mean, sad, yeah, but sad for a a good reason, not his usual everybody-hates-me moping. And it was really weird to find out we felt the same way about anything—except Mara. Who would have expected that? Not me, that’s for sure. And yet, in a way, it almost made me feel better. There was something kind of comforting knowing I wasn’t alone in feeling this way, even if the other person feeling it was Skywalker.

    I was pretty sure Kanan knew I was there the whole time, and I was even more certain when he told Skywalker, “Maybe the lesson I had planned didn’t go so well, but I think the Force had a different lesson in mind for today.” You can say that again. But, then again, the Force did manage to remind me that we’re all connected, even when I don’t see it—or want it.

    “Huh? The Force had a lesson in mind…? Do Jedi always have to say things that don’t make sense?” Kanan laughed at Skywalker’s complaint, and I almost had to, too. You have no idea, I wanted to tell him. Stick with us and we’ll have you doing it, too.

    And, strangely, that thought didn’t bother me much at all.
     
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  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Great reading Ezra's POV. =D= Happy also that he heard Kanan's and Luke's talk. :) Things will continue to be smoother between Ezra and Luke now that they both know they have experiences in common.
     
  3. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Ez's life never gave him a break. It has been ironic, bittersweet...no, outright bitter from day one. I know people born on 04/26, 09/11 and other similar days that shook the Earth to its very core and they feel almost embarrassed to say when they were born. Of course, for Ezra it's MUCH worse, because the weight he's been carrying since his birth is literally on his back.

    And then, turning twenty turns into a complete hell, an echo chamber of the worst thing that happened to the Galaxy. It's almost like everybody loves to hate the Empire. When something's constantly ruining you, you tend to talk about it more than you talk about what you actually love.

    Kanan's idea for the practice is intriguing, if not irritating to Ezra. Yhen again, he's already irritated by Luke and assuming what he actually wanted to do before he was told that Jedi are prone to mind-tricks. :p

    The description of woolamanders is great. Come to think, I have never seen a picture of them to this day. I was relying onto what you and Kahara wrote in your Yavin stories.

    LOL, Luke's fail reminds me of how a chimp threw fruit at me...through the wire. I guess the most DRAMATIC of us are not that good with beastmaster powers. ;)

    And this is where Ezra has a change of heart! I did not expect it to happen this way and that's exactly why it's awesome. Of course that Luke doesn't initially believe it, but after some time, he will.

    Kanan is right - the Force wanted to teach Ezra this time and maybe, just maybe, it will focus on Luke the next time.

    Do Jedi always have to say things that don’t make sense?

    Well, I think the answer is "yes". ;)
     
  4. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    The Force has been guiding them both, and indeed, things should be much better now that they are starting to understand each other.
    Yep, birthdays have never been a happy occasion for Ezra—Born on the same day as the Empire itself. What should be a big day for him turns out to be a big day for the Empire because of the Big Twentieth Anniversary. And it is ironic how much easier it is to discuss what we hate, isn’t it?

    No doubt Kanan meant well, trying to give Ezra something to think about besides his birthday, and perhaps even a way for the two boys to connect over this exercise. It’s something that Ezra is normally very good at. But it takes on a different turn when it becomes a repeat of Ezra’s first experience with connecting with an animal. The Force doesn’t do coincidences. (And of course, Ezra has guessed the direction of Luke’s thoughts correctly.)

    I used the Wook’s entry and added some behavior of RL monkeys, and as I mentioned in the responses of the last entry, was also inspired by the monkeys of the Bandar-log in various versions of Kipling’s The Jungle Book

    Ezra didn’t do so well his first time, either! Even having the latent beastwarden talent is no guarantee the beasts will behave themselves when your emotions are running high!

    At least now both of them can see there’s more to the other than just the negative view they’ve had of each other. They’re not just a Stupid Nerf-herder and a Sad Mooka— they’re people with feelings and stories that are a lot the same.

    I think the lesson was for both of them in this case—that they do have something in common and they are connected, if only they take the time to see it. No doubt it has more to teach them about working together, but this is a big first step.

    You know it! And someday, Luke will be able to give cryptic non-answers with the best of them![/i]
     
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  5. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Ezra

    I took my time walking back to the Ghost. Even though I was feeling better now, I still felt like I needed to clear my a little before joining the party.

    Mara was waiting for me at the bottom of the ramp. “There you are,” she said, hugging me. “I was beginning to think you were going to be late for your own birthday party.”

    The rest of the crew was already gathered in common area, sitting around the dejarik table. Someone had strung up emergency landing lights for decoration and a couple of Imperial propaganda posters were hanging the wall. Sabine’s trademark graffiti added a festive touch to them. The “Empire Day” one that pictured TIE fighters flying in formation over Palpatine’s statue now read “Ezra Day” and the fighters were exploding in colorful plumes of smoke while Palpy’s face had been tagged with our starbird logo. The motto “Ezra was here” was scrawled across his robes. The stormtrooper helmet on the “Serving the Empire for a Glorious Future” recruiting poster had been painted like the one Sabine decorated for me back on Lothal. Its slogan was now “Fighting the Empire for a Glorious Future.”

    “’S about time you got here, kid,” Zeb grumbled as soon as we walked in. “I’m starving!”

    “Yeah, me too. Hera, whatever you made smells great!” And familiar… the savory scent wafting over from the impromptu buffet set up near the comm station reminded me of something, but I couldn’t quite place it.

    “Oh, it wasn’t me this time,” Hera chuckled. That sounded a little ominous … Sabine is a good cook, as long as you don’t need your nasal passages to work for at least a week afterwards. Kanan? Well, I guess he could use the Force, right? But I still wouldn’t expect much more than soup or eggs and toast. Zeb? If Zeb had done the cooking, I might as well head to the mess hall for apple slug stew right now.

    But it was Mara who picked the covered dish up off the counter. “Remember that special project I had to work on? I hope you like them.” She uncovered the plate and set it on the table in front of me.

    There were several thin, flat cakes arranged in the center of the plate. They were golden-brown, studded with bits of grated vegetable and crispy on the edges. I recognized them instantly, even though I hadn’t had them in close to fifteen years. “Topato flatcakes!”

    Mara smiled, but a current of nervousness thrummed in the Force around her. “I remembered you said your mother made them for special occasions. I found a recipe on the holo-net.” She fidgeted with the plate, straightening it a few degrees. “I hope...I hope they turned out okay.”

    You know that thing where an image or a smell or a taste brings back a memory, and it’s almost like you were there again? Well, that happened to me as soon as I took that first bite.

    It was my seventh birthday, the last one I had at home, the last one with Mom and Dad. I was already grumpy when I stomped downstairs for breakfast. It was Benduday, and my birthday, but I still had to get up early and get dressed to go to the Empire Day rallies—all of them. It was gonna be a long day, and I’d be expected to stand still and listen to a bunch of boring Imps tell me how great my life was because of Emperor Palpatine. Then I’d have to listen to my parents and their friends talk about how terrible my life was because of Palpatine, which was slightly more interesting, at least until the yelling started. I flopped into my chair and rested my chin on my folded arms.

    Mom kissed the top of my head and ruffled my hair, ignoring my sulky expression. “There you are, sleepyhead! I thought you were going to sleep through your big day!”

    I scowled. “It’s not my day. It’s the Emperor’s day. I hate my birthday!”

    “Ezra!” Mom stepped back, her eyebrows shooting up in surprise. “Why?

    “Because we have to go to all those stupid rallies and listen to stupid speeches and get stuff thrown at us and I hate it!” I squirmed in my seat. I knew on some level that speaking out against the Empire was important to my parents, and they wanted it to be important to me, too, but sometimes I just wanted to play smashball or build model ships instead of going to meetings. “Why do we always have to do it? I never get a party like the other kids. It’s the worst day of the year.”

    “Oh, Ezzie…” Mom’s expression melted and she knelt down next to my chair, wrapping her arms around me. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t know you felt that way. You’ve always been such a brave, strong little boy. But I should have known; you’re still just a boy….” She sighed and fussed with my hair, pushing it out of my face and back behind my ears. “Next year, we’ll have the biggest party ever, I promise. In the meantime, I made you a special breakfast. I hope it makes things a little better.” She stood, picked up a plate from the counter and set it in front of me

    “Topato flatcakes!” They were my favorite, and I loved how Mom made them, all crispy on the edges. “But we only have these on special days!”

    Mom smiled. “Today is a special day; the day you were born was the best day of my life.” She put a hand under my chin, tipping my face up gently so she could kiss my forehead. “No matter what the Emperor says, today will always be your day. I love you, Ezra, my brave, strong boy.”

    My mouth was already full of flatcakes when I answered, “I love you, too, Mom.”

    Slowly I realized that everyone was watching me expectantly, especially Mara, and I was sitting there like a moof-milker, staring off into nowhere. I hadn’t thought about that day in ages. I hadn’t let myself think of it, because for a long time it had been easier not to remember anything, even the good things—especially the good things—because if I didn’t remember them, I couldn’t miss them. But as bittersweet as that memory was, in a way it felt good to finally remember how much Mom loved me that day…how much she would always love me. I swallowed my bite of flatcake along with the lump in my throat and smiled at Mara, trying not to get all emotional again. “They taste just like Mom’s.”

    A wave of relief rolled through the Force as Mara let out the breath she’d been holding. She smiled back as she sank down onto the stool next to mine, and I could hear the Force humming softly when she leaned over and kissed my cheek. “Happy birthday, Ezra.”

    After that the party really turned into a party. Sabine turned on her quenk jazz and Zeb fought me over the last topato flatcake (he should know he can’t win against someone who can levitate flatcakes.) And even though we’re on a jungle moon in the middle of nowhere, the crew still came up with presents for me. Sabine’s was the posters

    “Nice.” I told her, punching her arm lightly just below her spaulder. “That’s some of your best work.”

    She grinned and punched my shoulder back—a lot harder than I punched hers, I might add. “What can I say? I had some great inspiration.”

    There was a tiny flimsi-board box from Zeb that contained half a dozen caf capsules in various flavors from his private stock. It might not have looked like much, but as much as Zeb loves his caf and as hard as is it is to get those capsules here on Yavin, it was really a sacrifice for him. Sometimes the big purple lug does all right.

    Hera gave me a really “mom” kind of present—new pajamas. “The white ones are getting a bit worn and I’m not sure that fizzyglug stain is ever coming out.” Um, thanks Hera, for discussing the state of my night clothes in front of my girlfriend. That wasn’t embarrassing at all. Still, the new pajamas were pretty nice, a long-sleeved orange tesh-tunic and flannel pants with a pattern of...banthas. Well, at least they weren’t the Brave Little Banthas

    Kanan’s package turned out to be a packet of Blaster Kleen wipes, a chamois, and a small bottle of Yinchorri Wax—a travel sized lightsaber cleaning kit. “Because you never know when you’re going to need to polish your lightsaber,” he explained sincerely, adding, “What? What’s so funny?” as Mara and I choked on suppressed snickers.

    “I’ll explain later, luv,” Hera said patting his hand.

    Zeb made a pot of Corellian Creme caf and Sabine popped a huge bowl of bangcorn to eat while we watched my favorite cheesy holo, “Gar-Jen vs. Garngantua” which turns out to be Mara’s favorite, too. I always knew she had good taste.

    Afterwards, Mara and I took a walk to our favorite clearing, the one with the waterfall. The orchids were glowing softly in shades of blue and purple. We sat on the fallen log, holding hands, and watched the lightbugs flitting around like dancing sparks. Mara was wearing the jade green vest her mom made her for Life Day, the one that matches her eyes, and her hair was loosely pulled back from her face with a silver clip. She looked great—well, she always looks great, but she looked especially beautiful in the soft moonlight that filtered through the forest canopy.

    Mara nestled closer to me; I could smell the cinnamon-spicy scent of her hair when she leaned her head against my shoulder. “I wish I could have gotten you something more for your birthday than the flatcakes.”

    “No, they were perfect. They were just what I needed today,” I assured her, wrapping my arms around her. Mara was just what I needed today—holding my hand through the entire rally, making my favorite dinner. Because of her, this day brought back a few good memories for a change. “I wasn’t kidding when I said they were just like Mom’s.”

    Her smile made the Force glow like the brightest orchid. “I can think of something else you might like, though,” she said, and her eyes sparkled mischievously as she reached up to smooth my hair.

    “Oh yeah? What’s that?” My smile started to slip into a moof-milker grin; I had a pretty good idea what it might be...

    Mara tucked back that one piece of hair on that never wants to stay in place. Her fingers trailed down to my neck, and she pulled me towards her. “I love you, Ezra,” she whispered. Our lips met, and the Force hummed, its music as sweet and warm as the kiss.

    “Love you, too, Ace. You’re always just what I need.”

    So, despite the rally and the woolamanders and everything, I think this has been one of my better birthdays. I guess I just had to remember I’m not the only one who’s lost someone I love, and I’m not alone anymore. I’ve got friends and a great family who care about me. And Mara…

    I know this sounds kind of silly, but I keep thinking about Mom and wondering what she’d think about Mara.

    I think you’d like her, Mom. She’s strong, just like you, She never shrinks from doing the right thing even when it’s not the easy thing. She kept me going on the right track a lot of times when I would rather have given Skywalker a swift kick in the pants. I love her. She’s my Ace, and I think…I really think... she’s my journey’s end.

    Notes:
    Apologies to Ewok Poet and Findswoman for not including these when I originally posted!

    Topato flatcakes: Space!Latkes, created by Ewok Poet in her story Family Is What You Make It (KOTOR | Mission Vao's observations of others | fic-gift for Findswoman)

    BlasterKleen wipes: created by @Findswoman in her story “Insert Tab A into Slot B: A Tale Of Kanan’s Lightsaber” in Findswoman's Fragments and Miscellanea

    And the notion that “polishing one’s lightsaber” is a euphemism for...something else entirely...is referenced in Date Night
     
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  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Happy so happy that the day was more sweet than bitter in the end for Ezra. The flatcakes and the lovely memory helped. SQUEEE! on Mara being his journey's end. :) [face_sigh]
     
  7. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    I TOTALLY KNEW THAT THERE WAS GOING TO BE A SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR EZ! And you didn't disappoint. I admit that the previous entry got me worried just a tiny wee bit, but 99% of me didn't doubt you, if that makes sense.

    Sabine's graffiti, EZRA DAY and everything else - fun, cool, witty AND extremly rebellous at the same time. That's the kind of a party every single being would wish for, r-right?

    Aww, Zebby-Zeb...always thinking about priorities.

    OMG, 'Bine cooked. You surprise me more and more with each world.

    ...wait, didn't I make this up? Then again, given that Ezra is a space!Jew, you didn't need my Before story to get to the same idea. XD

    And then, whoa...that flashback. Poor Ez. You don't know what you got until it's gone. At the same time, it's very neato that he remembers some details so clearly, such as the crispy edges of the topato flatcakes.

    SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Mara too felt it and empathised with her beloved. *goosebumps*

    ...that OTHER pair is reserved for Luke, two days later. *hint-hint*

    I could use new pajama bottoms, too. One pair makes me too warm, the other has three holes on the rear.

    Fanon, canon, or a mix of both?

    ....siiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhhhhhhhhh. ;)

    And cheesy holos RULE.

    The description of the little time Mara and Ezra had for themselves was lovely...with the texture and smell of their hairs, facial expressions, the touch and warmth.

    And then, the ending gave me goosebumps, again.

    Almost crying here. :( If there is an afterlife in the GFFA, Ezra's mom is proud of Ezra and likes Mara.

    Sweet, bitter, bittersweet and overall - a superb entry.
     
  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Ogosh, how did I let not one but two updates of this go by, and at such an important point in the story, too? All right, getting all kaught up here:

    I love the in-depth way both of these entries explore Ezra’s multivalent relationship with his birthday, taking the mixed feelings we first see in the S1 episode “Empire Day” to a deeper level. His memories of very early birthdays spent at rallies and being chased by stormtroopers are arresting—and whoa, I guess Imperial Stormtroopers aren’t above chasing a five-year-old, for crying out loud! :eek: And I totally get where even hearing all the Stirring Speeches from Rebellion high-ups would be an ambivalent thing for him even now—not only can those sorts of things can totally all start sounding the same after a while, even when you agree with them, but just the associations with rallies in general and the way it reminds him of the hardships of his life back on Lothal. At least this time he had two of his best friends by his side to support him: his true love and his space!big!bro. I can’t think of two better people to stand next to him at an event like that.

    With Mara and Luke in the picture, there’s a whole new added element of complexity to an already complex day. I really do feel for Ezra here—it’s asking a lot of him to have to go be the Calm, Knowledgeable Jedi Teacher-Slash-Woolamander-Handler after all those speeches, etc. With the insufferable way Luke snaps back at him (and yep, there’s his dark side again), and even with smaller barbs like the “Where’s Mara,” I don’t blame Ezra at all for walking out of the lesson. :( But it says a lot that he stops and listens to a bit to the conversation between Kanan and Luke, and indeed he learns some things from it that might pave the way toward reconciliation later. (As to the Affect Mind power itself, though: I wonder if Luke at this stage really would go so far as to use it on Mara in the way that Ezra imagines? Or is Ezra just being a little overworried?)

    The party and presents are absolutely superb, and it makes me so happy to see that Ezra got to have a happy day after all, even after all the bitter memories and bad feelings stirred up earlier in the day: “the darkest hour is just before dawn.” You have a real knack for these kinds of celebratory, life-affirming gatherings of friends. So many wonderful touches, from Sabine’s "Ezra Day" posters (because that’s what it is more than anything!) to the absolutely perfect gifts that express each crew member’s personality so well—I smiled at each of them. I can just picture Ezra in those new orange bantha-pattern pajamas, sipping a nice froufrou Zebspresso (and yes, six WHOLE CAPSULES from Zeb’s stash is VERY generous indeed under the circumstances). And of course I laughed aloud at the nod to “Insert Tab A into Slot B.” You never do know when you’ll need to, um, do that! ;) (And I can totally hear that in my mind’s ear, uttered in Very Serious Jedi Tones in Freddie Prinze Jr.’s voice!)

    Of course I shall squee a huge SQUEEEEEEE for the topato flatcakes, just as when I first came across them in Ewok Poet ’s “Family Is What You Make It.” (Seasonally appropriate, too—I’ll be making my own in just another week and a half or so!) I too absolutely adored the Proust-like flashback scene that the flatcakes spark. You know I’m a sucker for a good mother-son scene, and it’s not only cute to see that Ezra spunk in action even at that early age, it’s also a wonderful glimpse of the strong, loving mother he had. And what a gutpunch, given that ”next year,” when they were supposed to have the "biggest party ever,” turned out to be the very year that [hl=black]Ezra’s parents were taken prisoner[/hl]. :( :_| But I too bet Mira Bridger would have loved Mara, and indeed the latter loves him with the same kind of steadfast love as the former did. <3

    Finally, what a beautiful culminating moment of the day: a romantic moment in their favorite spot in the Yavin forest, with the waterfall purling, the orchids blooming, and the Force hummmmmming all around. Mara’s sweet kiss was definitely the best birthday gift Ez could get. And of course I didn’t miss that she smoothes out that one stray lock of hair. (Ah, what is it about those Moody Men of SW and their stray locks of hair! :D ) What a beautiful journey’s end for our Six of Sabers, and I have no doubt Mira is smiling down on these two darlings from somewhere. @};-

    I’m enjoying this whole diary, of course, but these recent entries have definitely been some of the most poignant and touching, and this very last one takes the cake (the ryshcate? ;) ) for sheer life-affirming sweetness. Which few can do like you! <3
     
  9. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    The love and support of his family—and Mara—turned things around for him. He’s not alone any more; there are many beings who care for him very much. Mara’s gift succeeded even better than she expected in bringing back some happy memories of his home. And thanks for the SQUEE [face_love] I think it’s fair to say that Ezra and Mara are both starting to see each other that way.
    Glad that I could meet your expectations, because of course Ezra’s space!fam would never let his birthday pass by without celebrating! Because it really is Ezra Day to them, whatever the calendar or the Emperor or even Alliance high-ups say. I think anyone would be happy to have such a party— I certainly would! Fun, family, sweet memories, even a little mush...who could ask for more?

    Yep, that’s our Zeb :zeb:

    Cooking is an ART! She makes a mean tiinglar, and I do mean “mean”— on the nasal passages. Of course, it was Mara who made the flatcakes for the party.

    Yes, you did make it up; I’m sorry i didn’t originally credit you. I’ve fixed that mistake. The flashback is bittersweet for Ezra. Yes, it’s sad to realize what he’s lost, but at the same time it’s good for him to let himself remember that he had—and still has— a mother who loves him very much. Food does have the power to evoke those kinds of vivid memories
    Mara may not have the kind of mystical Force-link with Ezra that Legends!Mara had with Luke, but she definitely picks up on his state of mind.

    [face_whistling]

    Fanon. I’ve now properly credited Findswoman for BlasterKleen wipes from her story “Insert Tab A Into Slot B.” Yinchorri Wax is my own invention, the GFFA equivalent of Turtle Wax. I mentioned it earlier in this story, that Zeb must kiss his caf machine good night after rubbing it down with Yinchorri Wax. ;)

    Cheesy holos are the best. I hope Kanan kept his comments about historical accuracy to himself for once!

    Glad you enjoyed their little interlude. After a long, emotional day, they probably both needed some quiet time together to enjoy their favorite spot and share that warmth [face_love]

    Thank you! I’m so glad I was able to get the emotional balance right here. I was concerned that it would tip over into maudlin or cheesy. And since Jedi philosophy teaches that life becomes one with the Force, and Ezra has had at least one vision of his parents, I think you’re right. Mira is proud of her son and how could she not like someone who stands by him through all his difficulties.
    The incident with the stormtroopers is my own invention, but from everything we’ve seen, they seem unlikely to care about pesky details like the presence of small children when shutting down dissent. The rally combined with the day stirs all sorts of unwanted memories for Ezra, but he’s not alone this time. (And of course the other Spectres were there as well, if not sitting right next to him. Hera was likely down front with the other generals)

    i’m sure Kanan had nothing but the best intentions by asking Ezra to demonstrate. It’s something he normally excels at, and under other circumstances might have been a good way to get his mind off his own emotions. But with Luke’s emotions coming into play—provoking the woolamanders’ aggression and then snapping at Ezra—it’s just too much. Even though Ezra says he can’t control his emotions, he does exactly the right thing by getting away from the situation before it escalates. It gives him enough of a break that when the Force leads him back, he can listen. As for Luke, well, he already admitted thinking about using affect mind on Mara—however, in my mind, he’s not thinking of taking advantage of her physically, but changing her feelings to make her fall for him.

    Thank you [face_blush] I wanted their gifts to be simple, since they’re in the middle of nowhere, but meaningful. The Alliance PX probably has a somewhat limited stock ;) Sabine and Mara give of their talents, Zeb gives part of the indulgence he loves best, and the Space!parents give gifts that are practical but thoughtful. I just had to include the bit about lightsaber polishing :D I take it as quite a compliment that you could hear it in Kanan’s voice. Their distinctive voices have certainly taken up residence in my mind, I am glad that I could capture them.

    We’ve not seen much of Mira, but judging from the few glimpses we’ve had of her and the man her son has grown into, I think she must have been a great mother. Her love just shines through in that one family image where young Ezra is climbing on her. He had to have been a spunky, happy boy before everything went wrong :( And I am sure wherever Mira is, she is happy to see that Ezra has found someone who truly loves him.

    The stray hair is another of my little inventions; what can I say, I kind of miss Ezra’s formerly unruly locks.:) (and of course it does tie in with the other Moody Men, particularly a Certain Cupcake and even, dare I say it [hL=black]Agent Kallus a.k.a. Hot Kallus at the end of Season 3[/hl] It was nice to be able to give Mara and Ezra a quiet, tender moment after all the emotion of the last few entries. What better way to end a birthday celebration?

    Thank you so much! [face_blush] [face_blush] [face_blush]
     
  10. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks to Findswoman and Ewok Poet for beta reading. @};-

    Mara

    The Force really does work in mysterious ways.

    I don’t know exactly how it happened, but Ezra and Luke are talking to each other like actual rational sentient beings now. Not the “I’m being nice to you because Kanan and Mara are MAKING ME” kind of fake chit-chat they’ve been doing, but really speaking to one another.

    Luke stayed after lessons yesterday, which was not unusual in and of itself. Sometimes he hangs out a bit and we chat about what’s going on with Leia or the Rogues or whatever—nothing really planet-shattering but almost like we used to back before the whole “soulmates” disaster. What was strange about yesterday, though, was that it wasn’t me Luke wanted to talk to after we finished sparring. “Oh, hey, Ezra…” Luke’s Force-presence was twitching like a hyperactive tree-frog, and he approached Ezra like Ezra was an animal he thought might snap at him. “I, um, wanted to say, nice job with the woolamanders yesterday. I know I kind of messed up Kanan’s lesson…”

    Ezra’s better at keeping his emotions in check than Luke (my little sister is better at keeping her emotions in check than Luke), but I still felt Ezra’s jolt of surprise. He’d told me about their experience with the woolamanders the day before, and how he’d calmed down the troop when they’d decided that Luke was a threat. He’d dismissed it all with a shrug—“Couldn’t just stand there and let him get pummeled with fruit”—and I could tell he’d never expected Luke to say thank you. Ezra covered up his astonishment with another of his “no-big-deal” shrugs. “No problem. And, hey, don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it. I didn’t do so well on my first try either.”

    “Thanks.” Luke’s lopsided smile brightened a little. “Um, so my birthday’s tomorrow and the Rogues were going to have a party...if you guys wanted to come…”

    “Yeah, sure,” Ezra agreed, even before I had a chance to gently suggest to him that it would be nice if we at least stopped by for a bit. “We’ll be there.”

    “We will?” I asked after Luke headed back to his barracks to clean up before dinner.

    He looked at me oddly. “You were going to say yes, weren’t you?”

    “Well, yes, but I didn’t know you were.” He and Luke weren’t scrapping like tookas any more. Every now and then Ezra would snark at Luke and Luke would whine back, but most of the time, they treated each other with a sort of indifference, if not exactly acceptance. But I still couldn’t believe that Ezra had volunteered to go to the party without any coaxing, bribery or threats on my part.

    “I heard him talking to Kanan yesterday about his birthday, and how it was making him miss his family,” Ezra shrugged again, looking pensive. “I kind of know the feeling.”

    That was an understatement. When I was holding Ezra’s hand through all of Leia and Mon Mothma’s speeches on Empire Day, I could sense the jumble of his feelings and how tied up the day was with loss and sadness for him. It warmed my heart that Ezra could get past any lingering feelings about his own birthday and support Luke, despite their ambivalence. I know Ezra seems like a jokester—okay, well, he is a jokester—but he has the heart of a true Jedi beneath it. I squeezed his hands and kissed him on the cheek. “I guess we need to come up with a present, then.”

    The party was already in full swing when Ezra and I arrived. Rogue Squadron had taken over the troops’ common area. All the worn-out furniture had been shoved to the sides of the room to create a dance floor and Steamy Wasaka Stew’s “Funk My Bit” was blaring over the PA system, the bass cranked loud enough to send small animals scurrying into their burrows. I almost wished I could have followed suit. When you work at a cantina, people assume you like to to drink and party, but I’d waited on and cleaned up after too many drunk beings for it to ever seem like fun to me. The Rogues were Luke’s friends and squadmates, and it was good that he had something to celebrate this year, but I wondered if the music and the booze and everything else that came along with them was what he really needed right now.

    We spotted Luke across the floor, standing between Janson and Hobbie at the beverage table. Normally, there was nothing stronger than second-rate Jardeeling tea available, but tonight an array of bottles in of shapes and sizes had magically appeared there. I recognized most of them: Corellian whiskey—the cheap stuff from Ethra’s Brewery—t’ssolok, tihaar, Sullustan gin… someone had some smuggler connections!

    The Rogues and Luke each a mug in their hands, and they were singing along to “Funk” in their best (or possibly worst) Antonio Nokaarbe impressions:

    “You, yes – you!
    Come funk my bit!
    Do me, do me, do!
    Come funk my bit!”

    “Do you think Luke has any idea what this song is about?” I asked Ezra as we made our way through the crowd of pilots and mechanics dancing, if you could call their random gyrations dancing, to the music, if you could call Steamy Wasaka Stew music.

    He glanced at Luke as he enthusiastically belted out the chorus again, and shook his head. “Not a clue.”

    “You think we should we tell him?”

    Ezra grinned. “Maybe after he’s done singing.”

    Boys… “You’re terrible, Ezra Bridger!” I told him, smacking him on one shoulder.

    His grin widened, and the arm that wasn’t holding the presents for Luke sneaked around my waist. “Yeah, and you love me!” I shook my head, trying not to grin back and encourage him. Really, boys…

    The song finished and Luke noticed us as he paused to refill his mug. “Hey, guys! You made it! You want something to drink?” He held up a bottle of a dark red liquor. “I don’t know what this red stuff is, but it’s good. One of the pilots from Red Squadron used to make it.”

    Ezra shook his head firmly, his nose wrinkling in distaste. “Yeah, you might want to take it easy on that stuff, Skywalker, unless you don’t mind not knowing what you did tomorrow morning.”

    I raised an eyebrow, and I think Mom would have been very proud of the Look I gave Ezra—the same one she gives Dad when he has more than one whiskey. “And you know this how, Master Bridger?”

    “Heh,” Ezra chuckled weakly and ran a hand through his hair. “We have presents!” he announced, holding up his lumpy flimsi-wrapped package and my small bag.

    Luke took the bag first and pulled out a small clay pot. Sabine had painted it for me with a pattern of swirling leaves. Inside the pot was a slender sapling, little more than a purplish-brown stick topped with a few broad leaves. Luke regarded it curiously, poking it gently with one finger. “What’s this? A plant?”

    “A tree,” I told him with a smile. “A Massassi tree sprout, so even if you go back to Tatooine, you’ll have something green to take with you.”

    Ezra handed Luke the other package. “This is from the Ghost’s crew.”

    He set the Massassi tree on the table and ripped into the flimsi as quickly a youngling on Life Day. “Pajamas!”

    “Hera picked them out. I guess she figured you might need a new pair, too.”

    Luke held them up, inspecting the blue tesh-tunic and the wildly patterned flannel pants. “Hey, it’s the Brave Little Banthas!”

    “Yeah, uh…” Ezra ducked his head with a sheepish grin. “Turns out they’re pretty popular after all.”

    “They’re great!” Luke beamed. If he remembered the bantha shorts incident, you’d never know it from his smile. “Tell Hera thank you for me. And thanks for the tree. It’s really sweet.” He hugged me, the briefest squeeze of my shoulders, and gave Ezra that awkward look guys give each other when they know they ought to do something to express their emotions but can’t figure out what it should be, because guys don’t hug. At least not unless they’re related or one just gave the other a starship or saved the other’s life...and even then not for more than thirty seconds, tops.

    “Attention, please!” Hobbie clanked a spoon against one of the half-empty bottles on the beverage table. The music stopped and chatting died down as everyone turned their attention to him. Hobbie raised his mug, which I noticed was full to the brim with the memory-wiping red liquor. “Now that everyone’s here, I’d like to raise a toast to the man of honor! Here’s to Luke Skywalker, a man of unique style and flair… no one else on Yavin can pull off the Tatooine pudding bowl haircut quite like you, pal!” Hobbie tipped his mug with a sardonic grin, took a hefty swig and continued. “No, really, Luke’s considered a trendsetter on the Outer Rim. Those wrap boots he wears? Really fashionable...last decade!” The gathered pilots laughed and cheered as they raised their own cups. Luke smiled, but it was crooked and his laugh was uncertain. His emotions spilled into the Force, even more strongly than usual, and I winced along with him. Someone like my dad or Ezra would have laughed off Hobbie’s stupid “tribute” and shot back out a couple wisecracks of his own, but Luke just felt uneasy. Why would his friend say something like that in front of everybody? I glanced at Ezra; from his frown I could tell he sensed it, too.

    *Nice,* he commented with a silent tsk of distaste. *Very nice—but what else could you expect from Hobbie?*

    Janson, who was next to Hobbie at the table, didn’t pick up on Luke’s discomfort either. He stepped up and clapped Luke on the back with a hearty thump. “To Luke Skywalker! The Hero of Yavin, who now has the highest score of anyone in flight sims, but has yet to score with a girl!” The laughter and hoots were louder this time, and Luke pulled into himself a little more, stung.

    I nudged Ezra. *This is Luke’s first birthday alone and all those barves can do is make cheap cracks at him? We need to do something, or Luke’s going to cry and won’t that give them something to tease him about?*

    *Right.*

    “Who’s next?” Janson grinned out at the crowd.

    “Me.” Ezra stepped up. Luke’s eyes grew wide and I could hear his Oh no! echo in the Force. And I have to admit, for moment I wondered what Ezra was going to say—there were so many things Ezra could say to embarrass Luke, so many reasons why he might want join in the “fun”. I think we were both kind of surprised when he spoke. “To Luke Skywalker. Like a lot of us here, he’s lost a lot to the Empire—his family, his home, good friends—but he’s never gotten bitter or let it make him angry. He’s always held onto the hope that he can make a difference—that all of us together can make a difference, and that we can bring that hope to the rest of the Galaxy. That’s what keeps him going. If we could all have that same kind of hope, imagine what we could do.”

    “Way to bring the party down, Bridger!” Janson grumbled, as the Rogues, who’d been laughing just a moment before exchanged subdued glances and murmurs.

    “Hey, I can’t help it if you have the emotional depth of a shot glass, Janson.” Ezra retorted. “Anyway, to Luke...a true hero of the Rebellion, and a friend.” This time the answering toasts of “to Luke” were less raucous, more sincere and Luke—well, Luke still looked like he might cry, but in a different way.

    “Play something fast,” I told the mechanic who was running the sound system.

    “Like what?”

    “I don’t care; anything you can dance to!”

    He shrugged and pulled a music chip out of the pile. “Gungan Style” started to play. *Dance!* I’d never used a Force-suggestion on that many beings before, but between the alcohol muddling their thoughts and the fact that most of them wanted to dance anyway, it worked. The crowd started to move in two and threes, little knots of dancers swaying to the music, and they forgot about offering any more tributes to Luke.

    Only the three of us remained on the sidelines. “Did you mean all that?” Luke asked, looking at Ezra as if what he’d thought was a nexu turned out to be just a tooka instead.

    Ezra shrugged. “Yeah, Skyw…Yeah, Luke, I did.” He held out a hand. Luke clasped it and this time their smiles were real and not the least bit awkward.

    Like I said, the Force moves in mysterious ways, and things were clearer to me in that moment than they ever have been since I left Merkesh. I am here because of Luke, and the Force does have more in store for us. But it isn’t just me and Luke it has plans for. It’s all of us. Me, Luke, Ezra...even Kanan and the rest of the crew. We’re all a part of this, and that’s how we’ll get through it.

    Together.

    Notes:

    Steamy Wasaka Stew Ewok Poet’s jizz wailer band. They and their womanizing lead singer, Antonio Nokaarbe, are featured in several of her stories.

    Funk My Bit: the result of me badly misreading funkymbti.com. Ewok Poet though it sounded like a Steamy Wasaka Stew song and wrote the entire lyrics. What’s it about? Pretty much exactly what you think…. :p

    The red liquor: Branon’s scarlet pulp-fruit liquor from What Do You Do with a Drunken Spectre?, the overconsumption of which makes Ezra quite drunk.

    Gungan Style: I’m not making that one up :p
     
  11. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    I knew it! Gungan Style is the GFFA version of Gangnam Style!
     
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh delightful!!!!! You can see the progression of Ezra and Luke becoming more than tentative reluctant allies in the whole Jedi training thing when 1. Ezra offered to go to the party and 2. the wonderful toast he gave which was true about Luke but also spurred by compassionate motives.

    Janson and Hobbie can just work the last nerve sometimes!! Their kind of humor only works on certain types and Luke's not one of those, thankfully. :rolleyes:

    The gifts Mara and Ezra gave were fraught with "this is how we started; it led to all kinds of awkward, but it's now something we can laugh about" or will someday [face_laugh]

    Mara is right. They'll all get through whatever comes, together. Solidarity and teamwork and genuine caring.

    @};-
    :)

    This has been a terrrific personal-growth journey filled with warmth and much! much laughter. Very realistic and perfectly paced, which for a year-long challenge is quite the accomplishment in and of itself.

    =D=
     
  13. Findswoman

    Findswoman Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Wonderful chapter! =D= It is so encouraging to see Luke and Ezra rising above their petty tensions with each other in such significant ways, from Luke’s comment about the woolamander lesson to the party invitation (and its unforced acceptance), to the gifts, to Ezra’s wonderful tribute to Luke. This could really be the start of a beautiful friendship, as someone said at the end of a certain cinematic classic. ;)

    I know that earlier on you were concerned that the Rogues were coming off as too jerky, but I think you got them very well in character here, and their cheap cracks at Luke seem very much in character for them. Poor Luke, though… I don’t think he totally knew what he was getting into when he agreed to letting the Rogues throw him a party (as he no doubt did, though in a way I guess he had no choice).

    I of course recognize the red fruit-pulp liquor, as well as this very clever little nod to another recent story of yours about raucous Rebel parties and their aftereffects:

    Yes, intertextuality most assuredly rox! :D

    Ezra’s beautiful speech is the heart of the chapter. This is where we can see that he really and truly is serious about turning things around in his relationship to Luke. We know from his rousing radio speech during Season 1 of Rebels that he does have a certain brand of oratorical talent, and this speech was very much in that same vein. And just like that radio speech, this speech clearly moved its listeners, too. @};-

    The presents brought by Mara and Ezra are both spot-on. The tree is an especially beautiful gesture. It’s pretty wonderful to see the “green as trees” image that was at the heart of some of Luke’s frightfully cheesy love poetry attempts turned around here in such a meaningful way—and of course one can’t help but think of Rey’s “so much green” comment in TFA. And I think I can guess who might have been the main instigator of the Ghost crew’s pajama gift (hint: :hera: )! This too is an instance of an image being turned around, given the pants-splitting incident much earlier on. Plus, it’s rather cute that these two will have matching jammie pants—slumber party time!

    Can’t wait to see where things will lead with the friendship between this diary’s three main characters newly strengthened like this! Together they most certainly can achieve wonderful things, for themselves, for the Rebellion, and for the Force. @};-
     
  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Speaking of where things are headed, do we perhaps have an ROTJ-style diary in the works? [face_batting] How cool is that? Ezra, Mara, and Luke on DS2. :cool:

    Can you tell I'm really sold on this version of the OT? Any version would do, natch. The OT still rules. =D=
     
  15. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    I'm with @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha here...perhaps we could even do a cross-over and have my folks in your story and your folks in my story, @Raissa Baiard? Sure, Luke needs to meet Doria and they need to be overly dramatic together. LMAO!

    I'm all like YAY, MEEEE, so my favourite part of this was the appearance of what has got to be one of the worst songs in the GFFA. In fact, I have no idea what I'm going to do with most of the SWS lyrics, because some of their stuff is waaaay too rude. I'm supposed to write one called "Lost Girls", which miiight have innuendos, but nothing more. Not sure if Wes and Hobbie would like that. Not sure if they like "Underlevels", either. IT'S NOT ABOUT WOMEN!1!!!1!1!oneoneone

    Also...wait, how do you know that SWS music has wildly pronounced bass? [face_thinking][face_hypnotized]

    Oh yeah, of course that you do. :p

    I love, love, adore Mara's snark. But you knew that.

    A-ha-ha! True, dat.;)

    I was surprised to see Ezra react so fast to the invitation, even before Mara. I can see that Mara would have suggested that they should come along as well, but Ezra blurted it out even before he thought about the implications of his own trauma, or so it seems. Then again, being around others who have lost their families, like Leia, surely helps both of the boys heal. Or, wait, they're men now. Men.

    Love it how bartender!Mara recognises all the drinks and...well, knows that it's too late.

    And of course that Luke has no flippin' idea what he's singing about. :D Once he finds out, there will be a huge NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. [face_rofl]


    Ha! A throwback to Ezra's experience in your other story. :D

    Love the tree (though I can kind of see it as a payback for Mara-the-tree poems[face_tee_hee]) and the BLB PJs. I kind of wonder if Ezra was not aware of the popularity of the franchise because he had to grow up so fast, while Luke did have parent figures with him until that faithful day?

    Kriff you, Hobbie. :p Not even funny. Foolish Rogue, you are!

    Now they have taken it too far. Slut-shaming and virgin-shaming are both a NO. :kylosaber:

    :_|[face_love] No words needed here. Luke might be dopey, even more so in this particular AU, but he's a positive young chap, full of innocence and hope. And hope is what the Rebels need most.

    [face_devil] Goooo, Ezra!

    And then, he starts calling Luke by his first name.

    A wonderful, wonderful entry. And it could have been a disaster, humiliation conga for Luke. He has truly found friends in Mara and Ezra.
     
  16. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Yup, I can’t even make this up :D

    Thanks to overhearing Luke talk with Kanan, Ezra knows now that he and Luke have something pretty big in common in the loss of their families. He understands the way Luke feels, because he’s been there himself, and it opens the door for greater understanding between them. Ezra realized how important his family and friends were in turning his birthday from a sad occasion into something he really can celebrate, and now he extends that same friendship to Luke.

    Can’t they, though? :p After hanging out with Han for awhile, Luke might be able to take some good natured teasing, but those two have to take the teasing up to eleven, on a day when Luke’s not in a frame of mind to handle

    Someday they’ll all laugh about things. They’ve started down the path towards a real and lasting friendship and together they’ll be able to deal with whatever the Force brings their way. Thank you so much for the compliment[:D] I have few more things in store for our intrepid trio before wrapping up the story.

    It really could be! I think now that Ezra and Luke finally see their commonality, they’re able to see that it’s bigger than those petty annoyances. Both of them are essentially good-hearted guys, and they’re willing to try to reach out to each other. And it pays off.

    No, I doubt he had any idea what they had in mind. Their idea of a party is a lot different from anything he’s used to (“smaller and with more Jawas” as another version of Luke once said). But in his mind, his buddies are throwing him a party! Yay! Why would he suspect anything but good wholesome fun?

    And just to add to the intertextuality, that story was inspired by a one-off mention in Star Crossed of Ezra getting tipsy at Red Squadron’s party...and this scene at Luke’s party was planned long before Drunken Spectre was written! :p

    I think Ezra’s a very empathetic person, perhaps because he’s been through so much himself. It’s easy for him to put himself in Luke’s place here, and act to spare Luke the kind of miserable birthdays he’s frequently had. Ezra’s speech reminds the partygoers that as fun as it my be to chuckle over Luke’s lack of fashion sense, the real Luke is the guy who’s everybody’s friend, and that positive, hopeful outlook is the reason they like him.

    Mara might not have appreciated the actual poetry, but she did find the sentiment behind it (“we don’t have trees on Tatooine; I think they’re kind of beautiful”) rather sweet. Her gift acknowledges that, and as @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha notes, moves the poems from being TEH MOST MORTIFYING THING EVAH to something they can laugh over, if not at the moment, then someday soon. Likewise, the pajamas—even if Hera picked out the pattern (she has certainly heard about the pants incident, even if she wasn’t present for it.) And yes, there totally needs to be a Jedi sleepover on the Ghost! I wonder what kind of jammies Kanan wears? :D

    Oh, I have a few ideas in store for their future :D Of course, they have to get through the events of ESB before they can get to the second Death Star....the three of them probably have a few interesting things to say to Master Yoda ;) :yoda:
    Hey, Luke’s not quite as dramatic now! He’s discovered a bit of perspective and gained some maturity.

    I had to include at least a little bit of “Funk”, it was just too good (and by good, I mean bad) not to! Yay you! And of course the Rogues appreciate the meaningful quality of the lyrics (and the pumping bass).

    The Snark is strong in her family...

    Maybe Annina can give him lessons ;)

    Yes. MEN. MANLY MEN. Who do manly things.

    I think it’s precisely because of his own feelings about his birthday that Ezra is so quick to respond to Luke. He overheard Luke’s conversation with Kanan, and realizes Luke’s feelings are very similar to the ones he’s experienced.

    Yup, growing up in a cantina, liquor holds no particular mystique for her. She’s seen the kind of stupidity drunk beings are capable of first hand.
    But let’s wait until after he’s finished his performance, okay?

    It might be a tiny bit of payback, but it’s meant more in the spirit of good-natured teasing between friends. And, yeah, Ezra probably did not watch many holo-toons growing up. Maybe he and Luke can catch up on some episodes at the Jedi slumber party (Kanan: I don’t get it. Why are there talking bantha superheroes?)

    See, now the Rogues are MANLY MEN who do MANLY THINGS...at least in their own minds. They’ve got a very narrow, stereotypical view of manliness and their “humor” reflects it. They don’t seem to realize that women like Mara don’t find them amusing and will take men like Ezra and Luke any day of the week.

    He is [face_love] [hl=“black”] And that’s why his evolution in TLJ was so painful. The character who embodied hope had lost all of his :([/hl]

    Ezra’s assessment of Janson is a nod to Hermione’s take on Ron’s emotional capacity. :)

    They’ve found friends in each other, at last.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
  17. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thank you, as always, to @Findswoman and @Ewok Poet for beta reading [:D]

    Luke

    I guess Leia was right— Ezra isn’t that bad after all. He’s actually kind of funny and he’s got a lot of great stories about all the things he and the other Spectres have done. I can’t believe half of it—I know I’m never going to do anything half as exciting, that’s for sure! And I still can’t believe all those nice things he said at my birthday party. Would I have done the same thing for him? I hate to admit it, but I don’t know…

    It’s not that I’m jealous, it’s just that…okay, sometimes I’m jealous. I see Ezra and Mara together, and I wonder, why not me? I mean, I know they were dating before I met Mara, so I never really had a chance, but what if she’d met me first? Would she have considered me then? Would we be together now? I shouldn’t think like that, because I really do like Ezra, but… I’m never going to find anyone else like Mara. The girls in Rogue Squadron, Cinda and Sera, they’re okay, I guess. But they definitely not Mara. I think they’re looking for guys like Hobbie and Janson, and that’s just not me. And then there’s Leia. When Artoo played that holo of her asking for help, she was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen, even prettier than Camie, and I thought it was love at first sight! But the weird thing is, even though I still think Leia’s pretty, and she’s smart and brave and funny like Mara, sometimes when we’re together, it feels like I’m talking to my sister. I don’t understand it.

    I don’t know. Kanan says that the Jedi aren’t supposed to have attachments anyway, and I should concentrate more on my Jedi training and worry less about finding my soulmate. And then later, when Kanan wasn’t around, Hera told me that these things happen in their own time and I still had plenty of time to find someone. I guess they’re both kind of right, but…I just don’t want to end up as some weird hermit living all alone.

    Right now, I’m trying to follow Kanan’s advice. I’m working really hard on my lightsaber skills. I think I’m improving, though I’m still nowhere near beating Mara or Ezra when we spar. And I even managed do that Force connection thing a couple times on some florikeets. I even helped Ezra persuade a runyip that wandered onto base to head back into the jungle. I still haven’t tried it with the woolamanders again, though. Maybe someday…

    Overall, I guess I’m not doing too bad, but I wasn’t expecting it when Kanan announced we were going on our first field mission. “Bring an overnight bag tomorrow and come ready for some hiking. We have a special assignment courtesy of the Alliance Corps of Engineers. Hera’s already cleared things with your commander, Luke, and with General Cracken.”

    “Engineers?” That seemed kind of strange to me. What could we do for them? I mean, we can stack crates with the Force, and we’ve gotten them almost three meters high, but not like that’s a really good way to build anything. Not really efficient… I think a construction droid would be faster. “What do they want with us?

    “Hera will explain everything in the morning.” You know, I like Kanan a lot, and he’s a great Jedi, but I wish he’d give me a straight answer sometimes. Is this one of those Jedi things or is it just him?

    When I arrived at the Ghost, the others were there, double-checking the contents of a row of backpacks at the bottom of the ramp. Hera stood up when she saw me. “Good morning, Luke. Now that we’re all here, let’s go over our assignment. The Corps recently finished recovering the final notes made by Dr’uun Unnh, a naturalist who worked with them.” She pulled a small holo-projector from the pocket of her coveralls, and flipped it on; the image of a squinting Sullustan in Rebellion fatigues appeared. “Unnh had been surveying some of the other Massassi temples, and he was excited to discover one on an island in the middle of a lake that seemed to be untouched by the ravages of time.” The image on the projector changed to show the dark shape of a temple looming over the jungle’s canopy. “Unfortunately, he was killed in a speeder crash, and datapad was damaged. The notes on it were corrupted, but he wrote of strange runes on the walls, as sharp as if they’d just been carved. Unnh seemed to believe they were incantations of some sort. Given the...mystical terms he described the temple in, the Corps asked for your opinion.”

    Ezra looked uneasy. “Are you sure we should have anything to do with this? Mysterious temple? Strange runes? Sounds kind of familiar, and I don’t mean that in a good way.”

    “That’s a fair point,” Kanan conceded. “And that’s why we’re all going. There’s strength in numbers.” He cocked his head and turned to me. “You have a question, Luke.”

    How does he…? I know...it’s a Jedi thing, but still… “Um, yeah….well, not to be, um… but if this is a Jedi mission, then why is Hera, um, I mean General Syndulla coming?”

    “I think Kanan mentioned that this could turn into an overnight outing…” She arched an eyebrow and smiled at at Ezra. I didn’t really get what she was hinting at until I saw Mara was blushing furiously, her face almost as red as her hair. And then I think I started blushing, too, because...well, I like Ezra now, but I don’t want to think of him and Mara…um, never mind...

    “Yeah, like we’d really do anything with Kanan and Luke there,” Ezra muttered.

    “Then just think of me as tactical support.” Hera smiled sweetly as she swung her backpack onto her shoulder. “It’s a long hike, so we should get started. Grab your gear and let’s go.”

    And then we hiked. And hiked. And hiked some more.

    At first it felt like an adventure, but by the time we stopped in a clearing for lunch, my feet hurt, my backpack was cutting into my shoulders and my hair was sticking to my forehead in sweaty tendrils. I sank down onto a fallen log and rummaged through my pack to find a bottle of water and field rations—leathermeat, dried fruit, and this really weird Mandalorian flatbread so thin you could almost see through it. “Ugh… it’s too hot to be hiking!” I complained as I gulped down my water—which had not been nearly enough to cool me off. “Why didn’t we just take speeder bikes?”

    “Because slogging through the jungle builds character.” Ezra poured a little of his water over the last of his Mando bread and shoved it all in his mouth. “Anyway, how can you be too hot? You’re from Tatooine. Isn’t it always like a thousand degrees in the shade there?”

    “Yeah, but it’s a dry heat! This is like trying to breathe through a wet towel.”

    “You could always meditate on the Jedi Code to take your mind off the heat,” Kanan suggested as he rose and shouldered his pack.

    “Or recite a poem,” Hera added. “ Sing a song…

    “A song?” I thought about it for a minute. “Hmm..” What was that one the Rogues kept singing?

    “You, yes – you!
    Come funk my bit!
    Do me, do me, do!
    Come funk my bit!”

    “NO!” Mara and Ezra shouted.

    “Okay, okay! So what do you suggest?”

    “Anything but that one,” Mara groaned. “And I do mean anything. Might as well stick with the classics...One hundred bottles of grog on the wall…”

    “One hundred bottles of grog!” Ezra joined in loudly, grinning when Kanan’s shoulders slumped and he shook his head.

    “Take one down, pass it around.
    Ninety-nine bottles of grog on the wall!”

    We made it to seventy-five bottles of grog before Kanan finally said, “Enough! If you three really have to sing something, I’ll teach you one Master Nu always had us sing in the Younglings’ Choir back at the Jedi Temple. At least it’s got useful historical information in it.

    “One! One Force, within, without, and all around!

    “Two! Two Sith, Master and Learner,
    One Force, within, without, and all around!

    “Three! Three our Order’s pillars,
    Two Sith, Master and Learner,
    One Force, within, without, and all around!

    “Four! Four our Temple’s founders,
    Three our Order’s pillars…”

    Fortunately, we reached the lake’s shore by the time Kanan got to seven (the battles of Ruusan), because the way the song droned on and on was making me feel kind of drowsy.

    The sight of the temple jolted me awake, though. I’d been expecting something like the temple that houses our headquarters…. but this...! The Great Temple is pretty impressive, but comparing it to the temple on the island was like comparing a bantha to a gualama. They might be in the same family, but one is a whole lot prettier than the other.

    The black temple rose like a gleaming mountain in the center of the lake. Unlike the crumbling pyramids I was used to, this one had a squat base topped with eight towers, four short ones at the corners and four tall, narrow spires in the middle. The late afternoon sun glinted off of them, and they looked more like the holos I’d seen of the shiny transparisteel towers on Coruscant and Corellia than stone. In the center of the structure, between the narrow towers was a huge statue, a cloaked figure—a man, I thought, though it was hard to tell from that distance. And it was weird, but I wanted to go there right then, like something was calling me, and yet something else was telling me to stay away. I looked over at the others. Kanan was looking out across the lake, frowning slightly like he was trying to listen to something far away. Ezra reminded me of a wary tooka that was ready to spring at any second, while Mara considered the Temple as if it was a puzzle, and Hera even looked a bit uneasy. “So how do we get across?” I asked. “I don’t think we should swim; I’ve heard there are fish in some of the lakes that can eat people down to the bone in five minutes flat!”

    “There are stepping stones,” Mara said, pointing. “You almost can’t see them, because they're below the surface of the water, but it it looks like they’ve got runes etched on them.”

    “We ought to set up camp before we do anything,” Hera said, and all of us kind of jumped, startled back into the moment. She took off her backpack and knelt to open it, pulling out the canvas wrapped bundle that contained one of our tents. “Just in case it takes longer to explore the temple than you think, we won’t have to pitch tents in the dark.”

    “I’ll stay and help if you three want to go have a look around,” Kanan offered, taking the bundle from her. “Just remember—we don’t know what’s over there, so stay together, keep your commlinks on, and stay alert.”

    Mara was right about the stepping stones. They were just a few centimeters underwater, and they were slippery as Hutt slime. Mara skipped over them like it was nothing, but I had to watch where my feet the whole time. It didn’t help that I could see the shapes of fish darting past. I tried telling them I’m not food, but I was so nervous, I don’t know they even got the message or if fish could could even understand. At any rate, nothing bit my toes and I made it across with only slightly soggy boots.

    A path lined with the same shiny black stone as the temple led away from the shore. It was quiet as we followed it through the jungle—way too quiet. There weren’t any of the usual sounds, no birds singing or animals scurrying around, not even any insects buzzing. It was creepy, and the three of us were just as quiet as the jungle.

    The forest ended abruptly five or six meters from the temple; there was a stretch of scrubby, stunted plants making a sort of lawn between the jungle’s edge and the stone courtyard around the temple. The statue on top of the temple seemed to be staring down at us as we approached. I knew I was being a silly, superstitious Outer-Rim farmboy, but I still felt like a scurrier trying to get to its burrow before the sand hawks spotted it.

    By the time we reached the temple’s massive doorway the sun was going down. We stood there, small as sand mites in its shadow. Mara spoke first, “I don’t like this place. It’s just wrong. The stone is...it’s like they’re reflecting a light that isn’t there.” She moved away from the entrance to examine the pictures that were carved onto the walls—people mostly, though there were creatures among them that looked like the kind of nightmare monsters that a youngling might draw. I followed behind her as she made her way along the wall, frowning. The figures were holding lightsabers and they were fighting a battle, and whoever had carved the pictures obviously didn’t care that anyone who saw them wouldn’t sleep for three weeks afterward.

    “Yeah, I’m with you, Ace. There’s something not quite right here,” Ezra said. He leaned closer in inspect the runes etched into the stone lintel, following the curve of one with a finger, but not actually touching it.

    Mara’s frown deepened as she continued down the wall, past one grisly drawing after another. “This is weird. I can almost see something moving in the stone...faces… figures…shadows…. Can you see them, too, Luke?”

    I never go the chance to look, and looking back, really I’m glad I didn’t.

    “We need to go.” I looked over my shoulder to see Ezra backing away from the cavernous doorway, a look of revulsion on his face. His right hand had strayed to the lightsaber at his side. “These symbols...I recognize them. They’re Sith runes. We need to leave NOW.”

    “No…” Mara’s voice was a harsh whisper, the barest thread of sound, but it echoed against the stones and made my hair stand on end more than Ezra’s urgent warning had. When I turned back to her, she had one hand against the gleaming black wall and was staring, into it. Whatever she saw there made her eyes wide in fear. She shook her head. “No!”

    “Mara!” Some instinct made me pull her away from the temple. She whirled around, still staring, and seized my wrists, but I don’t think she even saw me.

    “No!” she screamed the word this time. Her eyes rolled back, and Mara collapsed in my arms.

    Notes:
    Dr’uun Unnh
    Kanan’s song comes from @Findswoman’s drabble “Number” in [UDC VIII] Florilegium galacticum
     
  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Yikes, if the women in Rogue Squadron are only interested in dudes like Hobbie and Janson, Luke's right. He needs to look somewhere else for a soulmate. :p

    The sibling vibe he has with Leia -- [face_thinking] ;) LOL Found one more thing he and Ezra could/would agree on, Kanan's cryptic "that wasn't an answer" kind of answer. [face_laugh]

    Glad Hera is along -- teasing aside :D She had a good suggestion about setting up camp before dark.

    [face_rofl] Luke singing that Rogue song, not a good idea! 8-}

    [face_nail_biting] Wow, what was that at the temple?! and what has "grabbed" Mara? [face_worried] Sounds very Exar Kun-ish.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
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  19. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Before anything else - I know I'm being a BIG MEANIE to Kanan today, but OMG, dude, practice what you preach, re:attachment. ;) We know about Hera and you...even the mynocks know. :D

    Luke seems to be slowly, slowly getting over the fact that Mara and Ezra are a couple. The jealousy is slowly morphing to acceptance. And, phew, am I glad that he would not date any of those two. If they're into types like Wes and Hobbie, they surely have no standards. Like certain concubines in granny pants. ;) The second phew...am I glad that he has a hunch about Leia, that thing in the actual films has always been a bit icky.

    Well, until then...woolamanders 1, Luke Skywalker 0. :p

    She did this kind of a thing in two stories already - doesn't explain anything and then, boom, it's a done deal and Kanan & Ezra can't avoid it.

    Should I have an idea about this, given my limited knowledge of Rebels? Is it an allusion to Klik-Klak or something else?

    Gotta love Luke - he knows how is babby formed, but he doesn't understand a raunchy song. [face_rofl] Not even the second time around!

    Love the whole description of the impromptu pic-nic and how Luke described his exhaustion. And I hear you re: humidity + heat. Horrible. I hate it. And then, LMAO, another attempt to sing "Funk My Bit" and then...a drinking song? AND A TIE-IN TO @Findswoman's STORY. ELEVENTY-ONE!111!

    The temple itself looks awesome, but it's also kind of Indiana Jones and Ducktales. Plus, the runes on stepping stones almost look like a bait, Takeshi's castle style. And with THOSE fish around, that could have been a bad, bad idea. But Mara is ready to take the risk, without her usual approach to danger. Is something...dragging her to the Temple?

    At the point she says that she doesn't like the place and starts seeing faces and shadows - it gets serious. *bites nails* G.U.L.P!

    I have a rough idea of what she has seen...[face_hypnotized]
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
  20. Findswoman

    Findswoman Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Yep, Luke’s mellowing-out process is definitely continuing in a very good way here. It’s understandable that he would still feel a few occasional pangs of jealousy, but he’s making good progress toward moving on from it. And I too am glad he’s using his better judgment re those Rogue Squadron gals—he has messed up in love before, sure, but he still deserves better. Natch Kanan and Hera both offer very characteristic advice, and I too got an ironic little smile out of Kanan’s “no attachments” lecture. Love the little throw-ins re the feeling of talking to his sister and “end[ing] up as some weird hermit living all alone.” In this universe, as I recall...

    ...he isn’t going to have to worry about that second eventuality! :D

    And new mission, yay! [face_dancing] Not only yay for the inherent excitement and adventure, of course, but because it will be yet another opportunity for us readers to revel in your mad skillz at writing the Ordeals of Babysitting of Teen Jedi. :D Of course Hera is along as a chaperone—she knows what the situation calls for, and with these three Kanan will need all the help he can get (and I just mean that in a “herding teens” sort of way—really I do!).

    And of course the cute Lukely complaints start in immediately. :D Too much hiking! Too hot! Too humid! (“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity,” riiiiight, my fellow Midwesterner? ;) ) Love that singing is proposed as a means of bolstering morale, from the notorious “Funk My Bit” (I can just picture Luke belting that out to the grimaces of Mara and Ezra) to the old classic beer bottle song from the GNFA... and of course I squeed to see my goofy little accumulative Feast Day song in the mix! Love the idea of Kanan so fondly remembering from his Younglings’ Choir days... and now none of them will ever forget how many Battles of Ruusan there were! :D

    And then such a contrast in mood when we get to the temple and its environs. Incredible, breathtaking descriptions here; “a light that isn’t there,” wow, I can’t think of a better way of getting across the pervasive uncanniness of the place. Mara’s got an interesting kind of mixed reaction to the place: she can sense that something is WAY off about it, and yet she seems almost drawn to it in a way, given the way she’s examining the wall and the images and the runes. Even the fact that she was the member of the group who had the easiest time navigating the stepping stones seemed to suggest a certain draw to the place.

    And now... cliffhangeraceous! What just happened to her? :eek: Whatever it was, whatever she saw (!), I am so she’s not alone in this place, and I hope she’ll be all right. And Luke’s the one cho catches her: in a way I can see it harking back to his “what might have been” feelings at the start of the chapter—yes, he’s getting a chance to hold her or embrace her, sort of, but under completely different circumstances from what he’d originally hoped. (Rather deliciously ironic, really. :p )

    Something momentous has happened here, for sure, something that will undoubtedly have an effect not just on Mara but also on all three of our main characters. Don’t keep us waiting for too long to find out what it is! :eek:
     
  21. Findswoman

    Findswoman Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Double post—my mistake.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018
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  22. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Luke’s putting some thought into the soulmate search now—and that’s always a good thing. No more “SHE SMILED AT ME! I LOVE HER!” And of course, we know there’s a very good reason he’s feeling that way about Leia (listen to those feelings, Luke!) I think you’re right that he and Ezra (probably Mara too!) can commiserate about Kanan’s non-answers!

    Space!mom is nothing if not practical! It’s good that they have one team member who’s anchored in the real world, as opposed to thinking of matters of the Force. (Though she may regret suggesting they sing a song to take their minds off the heat. :p) You’re very perceptive—it is indeed the temple of Exar-Kun our heroes have stumbled upon.
    Yeah, Kanan’s just a little contradictory there. I guess old teachings die hard. You just know Hera’s listening to the whole thing shaking her head and rolling her eyes behind his back.

    Luke’s gaining perspective and maturity in a lot of areas—it just took him a bit long to figure out some things. But he’s learned some lessons about both friendship and romance from his experiences with Mara and Ezra, and he’s got a better idea of the things that are really important now.

    [face_monkey]

    in Hera’s defense (and you knew i was going to stick up for her, right? I’ll let you pick on Kanan a little, but don’t mess with Space!Mom ;) ), Kanan knows what the mission is, he’s just being Mr. Non-Answer Jedi Master there. And at this point, she’s a general. Not sure what actual rank Kanan holds (Ezra is Lt. Commander), but she probably outranks him, and could make those kind of decisions if she wanted to, though

    Ezra’s referring to the Sith temple on Malachor whereva lot of Really Bad Stuff happened to Ezra and his friends. Though as you note, mysterious dark temp,es are seldom good news in any unviverse.
    I wouldn’t know anyone like that [face_blush][face_whistling] Having been the unpaired third member of a trio of friends, I can say thinking of your buddies doing anything,—not just er, forming baby—is a bit odd. And Marzra aren’t...um, never mind. At this point, Mara’s still just 17.
    I don’t know that I’d call “100 Bottles of Grog” a drinking song. It’s RL analog is the go to song for bored middle schoolers on long field trips because it annoys chaperones, which is exactly what the teens are doing here.
    [face_devil]
    Aw, Luke’s growing up...it just takes some of us a little more time. Space!parental advice is great, isn’t it? As true and yet as unappreciated by its audience as the regular kind! (But yes, Mr. Non-attachment, perhaps you want to dial it back a bit in light of your personal situation!) Glad you enjoyed the little nod to TLJ; I just had to include it :D And no, I don’t plan to turn him into a lonely, weird hermit, though I can’t say much more than that right now.

    After this jaunt, the Space!Parents should collaborate with Raissa on that “Raising Your Force-Sensitive Rebel” article. And I’m sure Hera is only there as extra teen-herder, because teens totally never need chaperones for any reason! ;)

    Maybe Luke isn’t quite as mature as he could be. :) But he does have a valid point about the humidity, and yes, as a Midwesterner, I wholeheartedly agree! Thank you so much for letting me borrow your song! [:D] Music is a great way of occupying your time and a great way of remembering useful historical information! (I have the state capitals memorized thanks to the song “Wakko’s United States” from Animaniacs [face_blush])

    She has the same kind of simultaneous attraction and revulsion that Luke does, but zi think it’s stronger for her, because she’s stronger in the Force (in terms of training, if not raw potential). Ezra’s the one who has his guards up this time because of everything he’s experienced to this point; for all that she’s had much more training than him, Mara’s never experienced the draw of the Dark Side the way he has.

    It is kind of ironic that Luke is the one who’s there next to her—and that she’s finally in his arms, but unconscious. Not what he’d hoped for by a long shot! As for what she saw... I won’t keep you in suspense any longer!
     
  23. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks to my good friends, @Findswoman and @Ewok Poet, for beta-reading @};-

    ———-

    Mara
    Just looking at the dark temple made me feel cold, like those black stone walls had sucked in all the warmth of the jungle. The late afternoon sun reflected strangely off the glossy stone, with gleams of red flitting across the surface and shadows falling in the wrong places. The temples that house our barracks might be clammy. They might be old and crumbly and full of bugs and mold, but they’re just stone. This temple felt alive…it felt like it was watching me, waiting for me. I wished we had waited for Kanan and Hera, and I could sense that the guys were as anxious as I was, especially Ezra.

    *Malachor.* Tension hummed through his Force-presence. *This place reminds me of Malachor. Don’t go too far, and don’t touch anything.
    Under other circumstances, I would have been tempted to remind Ezra that I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself, thank you very much, but I wholeheartedly agreed with him. And for Ezra, saying “it reminds me of Malachor” was a lot like saying “it reminds me of hell.”

    I kept a respectful distance away from the temple as I made my way along the wall, following the story that had been carved on it, an epic battle in which both sides fought with lightsabers—Jedi and Sith. The scenes depicted were horrible, but not nearly as unsettling as the way something seemed to be moving beneath the surface of the stone. I couldn’t quite make it out. I wasn’t sure I wanted to, and yet…

    And then my foot found the one uneven stone in an otherwise perfectly paved courtyard. I tripped, putting one hand out to catch myself, my palm flat against the black stone wall...

    ...and fell into Darkness.

    But I wasn’t alone.

    The other girl was there in the shadows. She was almost a part of them; dressed in black, she slipped through the night unnoticed, silent as the shadows. Silent as death. Certainly the man she was following never noticed her until he heard the snap-hiss of her purple-bladed lightsaber igniting. He turned just in time to see the single ruthlessly efficient stroke that ended his life. The girl sheathed her blade, turning to go, and I saw her face…

    My face.

    “No!” I heard my voice from a long way off. I tried to follow it back to myself, but the vision wouldn’t let go. It pulled me in tighter and showed me myself killing again and again, sometimes with the purple lightsaber, but just as often with knives, blasters, poisons, even my bare hands. And I did it without remorse, with nothing but pride in a job done well, because it was my service to my Master. I made my way to his throne and knelt, waiting…

    Slowly, the massive chair turned and I saw him, the withered old man in dark robes. He leaned forward and said the words I’d been longing to hear, “Well done, Emperor’s Hand.”

    Suddenly, there were hands on my shoulders, and I was wrenched out of the vision. I clutched blindly at whoever had a hold of me, screaming as I fell again.

    The darkness was absolute.
     
  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Wow, Mara's POV is full of perceptiveness of the darkness and understandable wariness until :cool: =D= She gets a glimpse of "another Mara" in a completely different, to her, but familiar one, to the reader. Bravo for weaving that in!
     
  25. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016