Beyond Echoes of Always - L/M - Complete - Second Fan Art added 4/10

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by ginchy, Jan 30, 2012.

Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Title: Echoes of Always
    Author: ginchy
    Timeline: post-LotF, pre-FotJ AU
    Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, but I certainly love them.
    Characters: Luke, Mara, Ben, OCs
    Notes: This is definitely a labor of love. I had the idea about two seconds after Sacrifice spoilers hit us but somehow knew I?d never actually write this story. It was too far above ginchy's scope of smut and mush. But with continued support and excellent plotting help from Jade_Pilot and later the wonderful betaing/plotting help of JediMara77 the story is realized and it's here. I wrote it for 2011's Nanowrimo, so other than a few scenes that still need to be written/fixed, the story is done.

    I will post a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete. There are three interludes that I will post periodically and will let you know on the Monday before they go up. I have so much more to say but will save it all for the end of the story. I hope you all enjoy this fic. I am on pins and needles over it! [face_worried]

    EDIT 1/30/14: I am attempting to fix the truncation issue by uploading the complete chapters. Let me know if you see anything amiss. Thanks!!




    [IMG]

    A huge thank you has to be said to the very talented Iverna for the beautiful cover-art she made. I cannot stop staring at it. It exactly conveys what I wanted from a book cover. Thank you so much!!

    ~**~2014 Fanfic Award Winner~**~

    Best AU
    Best Epic
    Best Original Character, Betrys Skywalker






    And now, on to the first chapter of Echoes of Always


    CHAPTER 1



    The cantina was loud, raucous. Luke Skywalker drew his hood further over his head and suppressed a sigh. Han liked to joke that they were too old for this, this being anything he didn’t feel particularly up to doing at the moment. And Luke most definitely did not feel up to this. He wasn’t some CSF agent whose job was to pull low level criminals off the street. In fact, he wasn’t sure why he had been called into this job, but figured it was like all the other jobs he’d been called into over the years—when a Jedi was needed, quite often not just any Jedi would do. Only he or a handful of others were ever asked for by name. And though he didn’t like to play favorites or allow himself to be used, it was a very different thing when the Chief of State called in a favor to the Jedi.

    Sidling up to the bar he ordered a drink in hopes of fitting in. Forty years on and he still knew that he was out of place in a cantina, probably more so now. And this cantina made Chalmun’s look tame in comparison. He was quite sure he could see at least eight different illegal activities in his line of sight, and he didn’t even want to think about what a Twi’lek barmaid was up to when she suddenly knelt down and crawled under a table.

    As it was, Luke didn’t care about Twi’lek barmaids or any of the other petty criminals in the pub. He was looking a specific man who was in a closed door private party. For a man with a billion credit secret and a price on his head from the GFFA, Marse Naelli had been surprisingly easy to find. It seemed that he had a bit of a gambling addiction and, under the persuasive guidance of a mind trick, his bookie had given up his address with barely a glazed look in his eye. The non-descript apartment rented in his name in Lower Coruscant had been empty, but after stopping at several local cantinas Luke had found the man he was looking for and was preparing to arrest him as soon as the party broke up. There was no use in biting off more than he could chew. He could take out at least a small group on his own, but his impulsiveness had dimmed somewhat with age and he was content to wait with a drink while Citizen Naelli blithely gambled away his last moments of freedom.

    As the door of the party swung open, Luke cast out with the Force, determining little danger coming from any inhabitants of the room. Conniving, maybe, but not particularly dangerous. Mara always liked to tease that his danger sense wasn’t fully formed, and she wasn’t far from wrong. Sometimes he also wondered about his own danger sense. As always, the thought of Mara made him pause for a moment, thinking of her by his side as he took on this lowly assignment. “A Farmboy in a bar?” she would have joked, probably.

    Would have.

    Pushing that thought aside, he remembered to keep a clear head. No use in messing up this operation. He was only to be in and out, arrest Citizen Naelli, take him to CSF booking, and return home to his empty apartment.

    Naelli barely looked up as he left the cantina, and Luke followed after a moment, hastily dropping some creds on the counter. He went out the back exit and followed around two buildings until he found Naelli walking towards a connecting skywalk. There was no need to drag it out any further. “Citizen Marse Naelli,” he said, coming up behind him, “you’re under arrest for crimes against the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances.” He stated his own name and authorization, waiting for Naelli to react.

    To his credit, Naelli didn’t run. He turned and looked at Luke with an upraised brow. “Luke Skywalker sent to arrest me? I’m honored.”

    Luke pulled out a pair of stun cuffs. “Place your hands out where I can see them,” he said, drawing closer.

    Naelli put a hand into his overcoat instead. The snap-hiss of Luke’s lightsaber was loud in the darkened street, the green glow of the blade ominous. “Put your hands where I can see them,” Luke ordered again.

    The short little man complied this time, quickly removing his hand from his coat. He held a small black device in one hand.

    Luke sharpened his senses and looked at the object Naelli was holding, hardly bigger than a standard datapad. It didn’t appear to be a weapon of any sort, but he had been warned that Naelli had special means to escape and that’s why a Jedi was needed to arrest him. Naelli starting tapping against the object and Luke deactivated and dropped his saber to his side, springing forward, moving faster than Naelli could track with his eyes. Luke grabbed the man’s hand and removed the object. He held it immobile in the air as he pulled Naelli’s arms behind his back and cuffed him. Following CSF protocol he began reciting a list of Naelli’s rights under Coruscant Law. It was all over in a matter of seconds.

    “No wonder they sent a Jedi,” Naelli muttered.

    Luke paid him little attention, grabbing the device and walking forward, forcing Naelli to move toward Luke’s waiting speeder. Reaching the speeder, Luke tossed the object into the front passenger seat and waved his hand toward the back door, using a simple Force command to open it.

    “Careful with that!” Naelli said, nodding his head towards the device.

    “Your property will be fine, Citizen Naelli,” Luke said, pushing him down and into the sealed back of the speeder. “You’ll get it back once you’ve served the time for your crime.”

    “And what crime is that?” Naelli muttered through the speaker in the transparisteel that separated the front from the back of the CSF speeder.

    Luke didn’t answer, as Naelli knew the answer to his own question. Naelli’s rights had been read to him and once he was delivered to the CSF offices, he wouldn’t be Luke’s problem any longer.

    Accelerating, Luke turned towards the judicial center to drop off his burden. He queued into a skylane and muttered a mild oath under his breath as he noticed a wreck ahead of them. Dropping out of that lane and around several buildings he headed in a longer and less direct direction toward their destination.

    Naelli was quiet in the back and Luke took a moment to glance over at the apparatus that meant so much to the criminal. It looked non-descript, black with a small screen.

    “Wondering what that is?” Naelli asked.

    Luke didn’t answer.

    “I should have used it to leave before you found me.” Silence again filled the cab until Naelli spoke again. “You’re tougher than I thought. That device there, it can give you anything you want. Anything. And I might just be willing to let you use it…if you let me go.”

    Luke still didn’t speak. He kept his eyes on the skylanes, though he could have driven blindfolded and Naelli probably knew that. Most sentients knew that about Jedi.

    “Look,” Naelli said with a small sigh, “isn’t there anything you want? I don’t want to go to prison for crimes that I…well, let’s just say that I don’t think the government wants me for the extortion and murder they’re claiming I committed.”

    Luke kept driving.

    “Gods, man. Kriffin’ Jedi patience. You’re not listening to what I’m telling you. That device…it can give us both what we want. It will give me a way out of this situation and you…what do you want? Money? Power?” He shrugged in the backseat. “I guess I can’t pander to you like a normal man.”

    Naelli quieted for a moment before expelling a breath of air. “I know what you want. You want your wife.”

    “What did you say?” Luke asked sharply, ignoring a tick that made his cheek jump.

    “I just remembered that you were married. And didn’t she die a couple of years back? I know if I were married to someone as hot as her…”

    The speeder slammed to a stop, dropping under a building overhang. Darkness saturated the car and Luke watched humorously as Naelli drew in a quick breath as if realizing who he was alone with in the speeder, separated only by transparisteel. “Look, I’m sorry,” Naelli quickly said, tripping over his words. “I didn’t mean to disrespect your wife. Hey—I mean, I’m giving you the chance to be with her again!”

    “I don’t make deals,” Luke said, but made no move to drive off again.

    “Well, this would be a deal we could both appreciate, Master Jedi. That device there—it’s worth more to me than anything I’ve ever had. The things I’ve been able to do with it…been able to amass…”

    “From what I’ve seen you’re a low-level criminal with a shabby apartment, a bookie who doesn’t care if you live or die, and hundreds of creds in gambling debt. Not to mention the price on your head.”

    “Well, you know why I have that price on my head, don’t you?” Naelli asked.

    “You’ve said it yourself Citizen. Extor—”

    “No!” Naelli cut him off. “You know those are not the reasons. I’m being framed so that the government can have my secret. You know that just as well as I do. Aren’t Jedi supposed to be able to discern the truth? Am I lying?”

    “I’m not playing these games with you.” Luke revved the engine and headed back into traffic. “We’ve wasted enough time as it is.”

    “The key to being with your wife again is right there next to you,” Naelli said. “It would be so easy. The simple touch of the screen—I’ve already programmed in the jump I’m planning to take—and you could have something that all your Jedi powers can’t give you.”

    “No,” Luke said. “My wife is gone. And your machine can’t bring her back.”

    “It can’t bring her back, but it could take you to her. Listen, I might as well tell you. You can’t make a deal if I’m not showing all my sabacc cards. The secret—and I’m assuming they didn’t tell you exactly what it was—is that my device can send you to other realities. That’s how I amassed all my wealth—that ‘shabby’ apartment is only my front. I have more wealth than you can imagine. I’ve seen things—been places—do you think this is the only reality Skywalker? You, of all people, should know that it’s not.”

    Luke was silent again, queuing into the traffic heading into the judicial center.

    “Look,” Naelli tried again, talking quickly, “all you have to do is let me go. You and I—we could jump this reality together. What’s really keeping you here? I’ve certainly outworn my welcome. We could jump into another realm and you could find your wife…. She’d be there, I’m sure of it. And if not, it only takes twenty-four standard hours for this thing to recharge and we could try again. Come on, Master Skywalker. These crimes have been pinned on me, and you—you could have so much more if you just let me go.”

    “Your empty promises mean nothing to me.” Luke’s voice was strained and tired. “I’ll be turning over you and the device to authorities. If what you say is true—”

    “If what I say is true, how can you hand me over? I did not murder anyone. I am not an extortionist. I merely use my resources carefully.”

    Luke nodded slowly. “And the gambling?”

    “What? You don’t have a hobby? It’s juvenile, but I like it. I like the chance of it all. But it never really matters, anyway. I’m usually only in one place long enough to get what I want, and then I leave.”

    “And the Mirialan you murdered?”

    Naelli groaned. “You’re not listening to me, man. I did not kill anyone. I didn’t even know her, here or in any other place. It’s a scam so that the government can get their hands on that machine. It’s just… Let’s say that I have something they want, and they’re going to get it from me anyway they can.”

    Luke pulled to the back landing pad of CSF headquarters. A door opened and two armed droids exited. “If that was true you would have left here before now. Hold your hands out and prepare to exit the vehicle,” he said, breaking a long silence.

    “You mean you don’t even want to think about my offer?” Naelli exclaimed.

    Luke didn’t answer, but exited the speeder. The back door was opened and Naelli was taken out, the droids searching him for weapons. Luke drew up his hood and watched.

    “Any other items taken from his person?” One of the silver droids asked Luke.

    “Yes,” Luke said, watching as the hopeful look on Naelli’s face crumpled. “But I’ll enter it into evidence.”

    “As you wish,” the droids monotoned and turned to march Naelli into the building.

    “Hey, Skywalker,” Naelli yelled. “What about my offer? Don’t you want to—”

    The doors to the security center closed on his words. Luke reached into the speeder to pick up the item Naelli seemed to believe was so highly prized by the heads of the GFFA. He passed it from hand to hand before turning to walk it into the CSF evidence room./>/>
    Last edited by ginchy, Apr 10, 2014
  2. JediMara77 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2004
    star 4
    SNAGS


    HOORAY! I am so excited that you are posting this!!! [face_dancing] It's been my honor to beta this - it's such a great story and I can't wait to get the last few chapters! [:D]

    The opening to this story is great - you describe the setting clearly, have faint echoes ( ;) ) of Luke's pain at losing Mara, and foreshadow the remainder of the story with a fabulous sci-fi-esque hook.

    Will Luke use the device? Will he meet up with Mara? What would another Mara say to him? So many possibilities!

    =D=
  3. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    ginchy? Uh, am I on Candid Camera? o_O Hmmmm. Is that you?

    First, congratulations on undertaking such a audacious project writing wise and for finishing =D=

    Sweetly poignant title. @};-


    There are certain points that still give Jade_eyes the surreal feeling :p of huh? Basically that you'd write Mara as gone at all! :eek: The only other person besides myself that I positively knew would never treat Sacrifice as canon I thought was you. Wowsers! [face_thinking]

    Waiting for a JL undo LOL ;) "It was all a dream." Or for Luke to use the device. :cool:



    I will definitely keep up with this. =D=

    Big Hugs!!!!!

  4. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Awesome...but if Mara is in an alternate reality...wouldn't another Luke be there? Then they would have to fight over her...unless Mara decides she wants both Farmboys. LOL![face_whistling]

    Great start to this story.
  5. mavjade It's so Fluffy Fanfic & New Movies Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2005
    star 5
    Oh ginchy!!

    What an awesome beginning!! The temptation would be so great, even for someone such a Luke. To have Mara back, to at least see her one more time?? This is a situation, I think, where one would not want to have such a decision to make.
    If he goes through with it, and I totally wouldn't blame him for doing so, I worry about the consequences of taking such an action. [face_worried]


    I'm eagerly looking forward to more!!

    =D==D=
  6. Hazel Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 9, 2010
    star 4
    Or Luke died in this other reality and now they can be together again. :D


    Still, I have to ask - am I going to need a brave hat for this story, Ginchy? 'Cause I see a lot of potential for angst [face_worried], and I'd rather know in advance and be prepared.
  7. Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Feb 25, 2010
    star 4
    Ohhh! Ginchy! I don't have much time, but I am so glad you are finally posting this. I really feel for poor Farmboy, but I am curious about this device!
    I want more!
  8. taramidala Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 1999
    star 4
    I just left a comment on your LJ, so I will just say here that I LOVE IT! So excited to see where this goes.
  9. the-Naboo-council Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 11, 2010
    That was an awsome start to the story.[face_dancing]
    Can you add me to the PM list if you have one please?
  10. wbsaw Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2008
    star 1
    Normally I refuse to read anything that has Mara or Luke dead..Yet here I have read 2(!) stories by YOU in 2 days with one or the other gone....
    I ALWAYS though that the force bond being severed by death would kill the other...so of course no-one has written it that way...
    Where are you going with this? I count on Ginchy for shine...
    If I want angst Jediamara77 or Briannakin always has plenty to go around.
  11. divapilot Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 30, 2005
    star 4
    Ginchy, this looks AWESOME. You have such a great knack for timing. I can see the temptation playing in Luke's mind, then the rejection of it.

    Be careful what you wish for, Luke!!

    I'm looking forward to reading this! =D=
  12. Mondra Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 12, 2010
    star 1
    Wow... I mean... wow. Why did you never write a long story before?! I love the beginning, and I'm pretty sure I'll love the rest.

    This has a Phillip K. Dick kind of climate that I'm really fond of; I can just see Luke in a "Blade Runner" like entourage, living in an empty, depressing apartment and dealing with petty criminals in the lower levels of Coruscant... Brilliant!=D=

    I can't wait to see how it will all unfold - now I have even more reasons to wait for next Monday!
  13. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    You know, the more I think about this story the more I wish I had thought up this particular plot bunny. There are so many quirky and weird things that Luke could find in an alternate reality. I'm sure your story will be serious, but I could think of a whole lot of freaky things and situations I could have thought up for Luke. [face_laugh] I won't post my ideas because we may be channeling the same muse (I doubt it though, I think my muse has mental problems...your fics make way more sense than mine.)

    I am really looking forward to reading this story. So hurry up and update, ginchy!!!=D= ;)
  14. Jade_Pilot Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2005
    star 5
    :D YOU POSTED IT!!! YOU POSTED IT!!!! :D



    [IMAGE=http://i1158.photobucket.com/albums/p610/jadepilot/Icons/Ilovethisstory.jpg]


    =D= =D= =D= =D=


    The great thing about ginchy's writing is that she has so many facets as an author. Her work in viggies and shines are enjoyed by so many. But don't forget she's in the archives with an angsty, multi-layered work (A Thin Veil)and I imagine this piece will end up right next to it.

    Bravo, girl for taking a risk and showing us all what an extremely talented writer you are! =D=

  15. DaenaBenjen42 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2005
    star 5
    I haven't read the chapter in full yet, but the title was so eye-catching I just couldn't not come in here and look...
  16. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Before I do individual replies I just want to say thank you to everyone for reading. [:D] I know this is probably somewhat different than some of you may have expected, but I?m very proud of it. I wrote it to help me reason-out Mara?s untimely death. I had the idea right after Sacrifice when so much seemed so unstable in the GFFA, including Luke and Mara?s relationship and Luke and Ben?s relationship. Several people have asked me if they will need my patented ?Brave Hat? for this story. I would say that you might need an emotional brave hat, but that I hope the highs will help you through the lows. And just remember, you know ginchy. You know how much I love Luke, Mara, L/M and you guys. [face_love]

    On another note, if the boards go down, I will still be updating EoA over on ff.net and on my LJ @ http://ginchy.livejournal.com/.



    JediMara77: Hey, lady!! Thank you SO much for all your help with EoA. You have been invaluable! I am grinning at your description of the ?sci-fi-esque? hook. I can see that scene in my mind and that?s just what I was going for. As for Luke using the device, I guess we?ll see in chapter 2. ;) Thanks!!

    Jade_eyes: Hey, gal?yep, it?s really me! Really ginchy. I?m stretching my wings a bit, but this story has been in my heart for a long time. Thank you for the congrats on finishing it?it was rough, but I made it! We?ll have to see in chapter 2 if Luke uses the device?. Thanks for peeking in!!

    Jedi_Lover: Thank you, lady!! Two Farmboys for Mara?now she?s just being greedy!! [face_mischief] I think maybe you should write that plot-bunny (but without Mark, who sees her as a sister. LOL)

    mavjade: I so agree with you?this is the sort of decision that you don?t want to have to make, and I love the way you put that. Because once the temptation is there? Thank you so much!

    Hazel: You know ginchy can?t abide by dead Luke?s? or can she?? [face_devil] You might need an emotional brave hat, but this is a love story. Thanks for reading!

    Briannakin: Bri, I guess you can have your laptop back now. ;) The device is a curious object. I hope you?ll enjoy chapter 2, as well. Thanks, gal!!

    taramidala: Thank you, lady! I?m so excited you?re enjoyed it so far!

    the-Naboo-council: I am going to update every Monday but I can PM you if you need! Thanks!! :D

    wbsaw: LOL! Well, I wrote ?A Thin Veil? many years ago, pre-Sacrifice. It was posted on the boards back then and then archived. But I decided to put it on ff.net, so it?s just a coincidence that I have a dead Luke and a dead Mara story in the same week. Luke muses about thinking that the break in the bond would kill both of them, too, so great minds? ;) This is a love story, but it?s also a drama. I hope you?ll enjoy but I understand if it?s too hard. Mara?s death was rough on everyone. Thanks for looking in!

    divapilot: HEY, lady!!! [:D] I miss you! Thank you so, so much. You probably remember me blathering on about this fic from years ago. LOL Better late than never, right?? ;) I agree that Luke should be careful in his wishing. You?ll see where that gets him later.

    Mondra: I haven?t written a long fic before because I was too busy writing ?shine! [face_mischief] Seriously, though, I didn?t think I could do it. I?m glad that with the support of friends I was able to prove myself wrong! And what a great compliment! Thank you so much. I really wanted to make it atmospheric to show Luke?s demeanor. And I?m totally updating on Mondays to make me look forward to them. LOL Thanks!!

    Jedi_Lover: I want to know these ideas! LOL And I?m waiting for you to write me a Mara/Farmboy Luke/Pilot Luke story. Rawr! [face_devil] (I would say throw in the Emp?s Hand but she might kill them all and that?s no fun.)

    Jade_Pilot: Lady, you w/>
  17. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    Can I just say that spacing issues are going to be the death of me?? :p This is what I get for working on this at home, at work, at the library... Anyway, I hope you enjoy chapter 2 and Luke's choice...

    EDIT 1/30/14: Copying and pasting is going okay, except for the spacing issues. I apologize for those. They seem to be my nemesis in life. ;)



    CHAPTER 2

    The lights in the evidence room were bright as Luke stepped in. He went to the center console to enter the information on Naelli and sat on the stool to start the system.

    He pulled up an evidence record and began to enter information—time of arrest, weapons on the individual, personal items. Luke filled in all the required fields before finally looking down at the device Naelli had carried. He picked it up from the console where he had placed it and held it up to get a closer look, now that he was alone.

    From a distance it was a non-descript object, black and sleek, small enough to fit the average human hand. There was a small screen that was dark and seemingly little else until the object was held to closer inspection. There was small and intricate lettering, the same color as the device itself, below the screen.

    “Maybe Threepio would understand this,” he muttered. He filled in a description of the item and tagged it with an evidence ID number. He also made a note that he had been in possession of the item since taking it from Naelli at the time of arrest.

    Ready to submit the form, he looked once more at the tiny device that had made Naelli so anxious. He had claimed the GFFA was arresting him on falsified charges, but to Luke the evidence had looked fairly clear. Besides, his job was only to arrest the citizen, not to pass judgment, though this was a far step from being a guardian of peace and justice.

    But a few things Naelli had said were sticking with him, and that’s why he had not submitted his evidence document yet. Naelli had asked him if he could discern if he were lying and as much as Luke hated to admit it, he couldn’t say that Naelli had been. The man’s sense in the Force had been free of deception, though Luke knew that delusional people often seemed the most sincere.

    And then, there was Mara. The key to being with your wife again is right there next to you, Naelli had said. What if he were right? What if the key to seeing Mara again was as simple as the mere touch of a screen?

    The thumb of his mechanical hand hovered over the dark screen for a long moment as he let Naelli’s words echo through his mind.

    Seeing Mara.

    Being with Mara again.

    “Another universe,” Luke whispered. “What did you mean, Naelli?” He had some experience with beings from other dimensions, but none that he particularly cared to remember. And no answer was forthcoming to his question. Even the Force was silent. The briefing from the CSF agents had mentioned that Naelli would use the device to escape, but they had made it sound more like a teleportation apparatus than something as spectacular as a device that could carry you to an alternate universe.

    Luke moved his thumb away from the screen and set the machine down on the desk. He looked at the evidence record before him, ready to be submitted. But still, he didn’t move or take action to submit it. He didn’t like being lied to and he wondered if the government—specifically Chief of State Daala—really were in this for Naelli’s machine.

    His eyes strayed to the small machine again just as his comlink beeped. He pulled it from his pocket and answered.

    “Dad,” Ben said by way of greeting, his voice tinny and far away.

    “Hi, son. Are you on your way back to Coruscant?”

    “No,” Ben answered. “I’m heading to Adumar, there’s a disturbance in a settlement there.”

    “Oh,” Luke said, his stomach dropping. Ben always seemed to be going from one mission to the next, never coming home. Luke was beginning to wonder if Ben didn’t want to come home because he loved being a Jedi Knight, or if it was because he didn’t want to be around his father. “What’s going on? Anything I need to be aware of or help you with?”

    “I don’t need a babysitter, if that’s what you mean,” Ben retorted defensively.

    “You sound like your mother,” Luke remarked, trying and failing to chuckle at the statement.

    The silence on the comm was deafening and for a moment he wondered if the call had been disconnected. “Are you—”

    “I’m here,” Ben said, before he could finish. “Look, Dad, I just wanted to let you know where I was going to be. I’ll see you.”

    “Wait, son, don’t hang up,” Luke said. His voice sounded desperate, even to himself. “Ben, I…” He trailed off; there was too much to say but no adequate words would come. “May the Force be with you,” he said, finally.

    “Sure,” Ben said, and again there was silence. Luke knew they had been disconnected for real this time. He let out a sigh, holding his hand to his forehead in defeat. His relationship with Ben was strained and had been so since Mara had died. Since before then, if he were honest with himself. All of the issues with Jacen and Ben’s fear of the Force had served to drive a wedge between him and his only son.

    It was ironic that he would have this kind of broken relationship with his son when all he had wanted as a young man was to have a relationship with his own father. He had fleeting moments with Anakin, and had carried those moments in his heart. He’d been sure that would be the kind of father to his children that his own father had never had the chance to be.

    But things hadn’t worked out in that manner. The chaos in the galaxy and the turmoil at home denied that kind of relationship to him and to Ben. It was rare for Ben to be home and even when he was, there was always distance between them. Sometimes Ben would flash him a look full of anger and hurt that would make Luke’s stomach drop. It was the same look that had once graced Mara’s face after she learned of his failure at Byss.

    She had tried to hide those emotions from him, but in less guarded moments he had seen the look on her face, and had been ashamed. After they had bonded in the Force he’d felt her conflicted feelings about what had happened between him and the reborn Emperor. But even then they had not discussed it, letting the power of their bond speak the words they couldn’t say. He had no such luxury with Ben, and their relationship suffered for it.

    If only Mara were still alive, still the center of their family. She and Ben were so similar: tough yet vulnerable, and quick of wit. Luke had prided himself on being able to keep up with Mara, but found it more difficult to keep up with his son, especially now that he seemed to have inherited his mother’s ability to build up walls and keep Luke out.

    The evidence document in front of him chimed, a pop-up window warning that the document was not yet saved to the system. Luke pressed the screen to allow him more time, and again picked up the device that Naelli had claimed could do such fantastic things. Could he really see Mara again? Maybe not his Mara, but a Mara… Any Mara. Luke closed his eyes and pictured his wife, not as she had looked on the last day he saw her, but how she had looked when they married, so strong and capable, beautiful and fit. Could she still be out there somewhere, perhaps even as alone as he was? Naelli had claimed that the device could jump to innumerable universes. Would she be married to him in these other universes? Or could there be universes where they had never met, never loved or married?

    He tried to imagine a Mara without him, a Mara who didn’t know his love, and wondered what it would be like to find her, to see her again, even if she was not exactly his wife.

    Ben didn’t need him. That thought ran constantly through his head. But maybe Mara did.

    And he was selfish enough to admit that he needed Mara. He missed her more and more each day, the ache in his heart growing deeper as each day passed. The giant hole she had left in his life and heart was no closer to mending today than it had been in the long days after her death. If time healed all wounds he would need more time than the galaxy had to offer to heal this one.






    Besides, his selfish desires couldn’t be helped. He couldn’t use this device. He couldn’t leave his universe and son behind for…what? A vast unknown, on only the word of a criminal and, perhaps, a murderer?



    The idea of a Mara out there in that vast unknown was intriguing, however. A Mara untouched by the Emperor’s long reach, perhaps, or a Mara who had never left behind the life of a Master Trader. The possibilities seemed endless.
    He began to type extraneous details into the document, his mind elsewhere. The door behind him opened and the security droids from the landing pad entered. He turned in his seat. “Yes?”
    “Master Skywalker, have you entered the prisoner’s personal effects into the system?”
    “I’m finishing that now.” He pushed down the guilt over the thoughts that had just plagued him.
    “Word has come from the Executive branch and the Chief of State herself that the item on Citizen Naelli’s person is too dangerous to be stored here. She asks that you personally guard it at the Jedi Temple.”
    The Force swirled around him at the droid’s words, but he let none of it show on his face. “Should I finish with the report?”
    “Yes, a report must be submitted for each item, Master,” the second droid said. “And here is an evidence bag so that we can ascertain chain of command.”
    Luke placed the device in the bag and sealed it, listening as the vacuum seal hissed closed. His foolish thoughts of Mara and what she may be doing in other realities disappeared with the sound. Finishing his report, he nodded to the droids and signed the evidence out. Then he headed home with the device heavy in his hand.
    **
    Heading out of CSF headquarters, Luke stepped onto the darkness of an empty skywalk. It was too late to go to the Temple tonight, but he would meet with the Master’s Council in the morning to discuss guarding the item. The Temple was equipped for such an assignment, though it seemed somewhat strange that the government would not have its own vault to hold such an item. Upon hearing Daala’s orders, the Force had given him a faint sense of something that he couldn’t yet understand. It was not a sense of fear or dread but more of a sense of change, and he wasn’t quite sure what that meant.
    Once home, he stowed the device in his personal safe and took a shower. He grabbed a quick instameal and ate it automatically, not really tasting any flavor or deriving any enjoyment from the act.

    The act. That was the rub. That’s what he felt his life was now, an act. He had known that he was depressed after Mara had died, and that he had acted rashly, skirting the Dark Side in the process. He had also known what Mara would have said and done to him had she been there. She would have been furious, but then, part of him was furious with her.

    As much as they had been through together and as much as they had meant to one another, she had left him in the middle of the night with barely a note. He had thought they were past that, beyond her leaving him with little explanation.

    Gone hunting for a few days. Don’t be mad at me, farmboy…

    But he was mad at her. Part of him was, anyway. The other part of him could see why she had done what she did, could see how her past had driven her to react in the way she had to the threat to their son. He could understand why she had done it.

    That understanding didn’t stop him from hurting.

    Everyone kept telling him that it would get better, that time would ease his broken heart. It hadn’t happened that way, though. The pain had not dulled, much less faded. He was no stranger to death or loss, but the loss of Mara completely eclipsed any other loss he had faced. She had been so much a part of him, his other half. Every thought, every glance, every touch between them had been electric, their bond magnifying their intense love and attraction.

    He couldn’t think of seeing anyone else, even if Leia, well-meaning and loving Leia, had tried to suggest the idea. He had been harsh in his answer, asking her to imagine Han dead and her dating another man, and she finally dropped the idea. But it wasn’t just Leia. One of the older Jedi adepts on Ossus, Leniya, had taken to sitting with him at meals in the cafeteria, and though she had a lovely smile and a sweet personality, she wasn’t for him. He was married to Mara still, and continued to wear his wedding band. Only now her band rested right next to his as he wore it on his smallest finger. When he pledged his life to her, he had meant it. Their vows had said they would be together until death parted them. He had always imagined that they would go out together, had even thought that perhaps the bond would not allow one to live if the other died.
    He finally left Ossus for Coruscant, feeling at home on neither planet. Home had been with Mara, and that was now lost to him completely.

    Finishing his bland meal, he tossed the container in the trash and headed into the bedroom, flopping down onto the bed, not bothering to change into night clothes or to take off his utility belt. He stared up at the ceiling, trying hard not to think about the small machine in his safe. He let his eyes drift over the nonsense pattern in the paint on the ceiling, so different here in this apartment than the ceiling in the Temple had been.

    Mara had never been in this apartment.

    They had lived in a suite at the Temple before she had died, and had kept a suite on Ossus as well. But he couldn’t bring himself to stay at either after her death. He bought a new apartment on Coruscant when he’d returned there permanently after her death, moving from the Temple. Even though he was at the Temple most of the time he was on planet, at night he preferred to go back to his apartment alone. It was small and just right for him, though he kept the second bedroom ready for Ben. The Shadow was really more of his home. Mara’s spirit seemed almost palpable there. When he was on her ship it was almost as if he could turn fast enough and catch her turning around a corner, the red tail of her braid following after her.
    Swinging up on the side of the bed, he went to the closet and pulled out a duffle bag, searching through it until he found a small package in the bottom of the bag. He pulled it out and returned to the bed, carefully unwrapping the precious item and setting it down next to him. It was a braid of Mara’s hair, her beautiful hair, so unique. Red hair was common enough in the galaxy, but not this hair, shot through as it was with golden strands. Even when he had first seen Mara, all those years ago back on Myrkr, the golden flame of her hair had mesmerized him. He had snagged this braid when she’d once cut her hair, before the Vong had invaded the galaxy and she had become sick.

    If Mara were there she would have laughed at him or called him maudlin for lying in the bed staring at a piece of her hair. They had once caught a program on the HoloNet about an ancient queen who had mourned her husband’s passing and had drank of his cremated remains, wanting to have a part of him always inside of her. Mara had laughed and snorted, saying that surely the queen had only expelled out her husband within the next few days. But Luke had claimed the action romantic and bittersweet. Mara had rolled her eyes at him, but smiled indulgently. Then they laughed about it together, hopeful that neither of them would ever face that sort of situation. And if they did, Mara had said at the time, please don’t drink my ashes.

    The thought of that still made him smile. Even if he had wanted to drink her ashes, her body had disappeared and all that was left of her was this small bit of her hair, the hair he had run his fingers through and caressed. Ben had her hair, and sometimes complained about it, buzzing it down short so that it didn’t seem as vibrantly red.

    Even if they were not close, it was a comfort to him to know that a part of Mara was still out there in the galaxy. Ben was so like her. That thought should have given him comfort, but it almost pained him instead. Because Ben, being so like his mother, especially knew how to cut him out of his life. He had to admit that it hurt, but he knew that it was mostly his fault. It just seemed there was no way to fix the situation, especially without Mara, who understood Ben in a way that he could not.

    Again, his thoughts strayed to Naelli’s device in the safe. Would it really lead him to Mara? Of course, she wouldn’t be his Mara…

    Eyeing the safe, he again got out of the bed and walked to it, palming it open to retrieve the item. Clutching Mara’s hair in one hand and the bagged device in the other, he walked out into the common room and sat on the couch, looking at both.
    The machine was dark and silent, and Luke realized that he didn’t even know how to use the item, even if he did want to jump dimensions. He pulled open the sealed bag, squashing a niggle of regret at breaking the chain of command, but he wanted a closer look at it. He ran his fingers over the smooth edges. Naelli had given him no real instruction and there certainly wasn’t a guidebook. He let his mind backtrack over the talk with Naelli and realized that all he had really said was that the device needed twenty-four standard hours to recharge between each jump and that he had already programmed in his next jump. He wondered where the con artist had obtained such a powerful instrument, and remembered Naelli’s fervent words that he had not murdered the woman he was accused of murdering, and that the government merely wanted this device.
    But if the government did want the device, then why did Daala ask Luke to keep it in his possession? In fact, by sending the device for safe keeping by the Jedi, Daala was insuring that no one would be able to look at it or use it. As the guardians of the item, the Jedi wouldn’t let it fall into unstable hands.
    Unstable hands. He smiled wryly to himself and looked down at his own hands, one holding the mysterious machine and the other a lock of his dead wife’s hair. He was sure there was a joke there, but couldn’t quite come up with the punch line. He lifted Mara’s hair to his mouth and kissed it, and in that moment the Force shifted around him, moving him into a dreamlike state that he had experienced many times before. It was a vision. He saw Mara, looking as beautiful and alive as she had the last time he saw her. She was right in front of him, her eyes so clear and green. She seemed to look into his very soul as she said, “Doubt will only hold you back…”
    Serenity flowed around him with those words and he felt a smile lift his lips in response. She’d always known just what to say to him, how to cut through the layers to find the simple truth he could have easily missed. He basked in the presence of her, so real…
    The vision began to swim around him. Mara faded into darkness and he reached out a hand to her. “No!” He fought and tried to keep the vision corporeal, but it was gone and he was alone again on his couch, shaken. He shook his head to clear it, wondering at what he had just witnessed. Was this the Will of the Force? He had, after all, the means to see Mara again. The vision seemed to push him in that direction, the Force swirling around him frantically. It would only be for twenty-four hours. And to be in her presence again would surely apply a balm to his broken soul.
    The Force always seemed to lead him in her direction, but he felt a flash of guilt as he thought of their son, so far away. But he would be back before Ben even realized he was gone, and that made the idea easier to bear. He looked at the innocuous device in his hand a feeling of nervous excitement broke out over his skin as he made a decision.
    Thumbing the device on, he took a moment to look at the strange letters and code that flashed on the screen. He wondered where Naelli’s programmed jump would take him but at that moment, with the Force vision fresh in his mind, any place seemed good enough.
    Taking a deep breath and centering himself with the Force, he pressed the screen and waited to see what would happen. />
    Last edited by ginchy, Jan 30, 2014
  18. JediMara77 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2004
    star 4
    You describe Luke's pain at losing Mara so well. It's heartbreaking to read, especially his relationship with Ben. Mara wouldn't want them to be like this - I hope Luke can do something about it. [face_worried]

    Even though the chapter overall was sad, I found myself laughing at your Mara snark, like her laughing at him about the braid and "please don't drink my ashes." I can just picture her saying that. [face_laugh]

    Ahhh, so Luke got the device after all. Interesting... And then he used it! But you had to leave it there! :p I hope he doesn't get sent to some weird dimension where Palpatine is still alive! :eek:

    Eagerly looking forward to more! [:D]
  19. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Its so sad that Luke lost Mara, but his relationship with his son is heartbreaking. To lose somebody to death is one thing, to lose a living person out of your life can become unbearable. I look forward to seeing where his next jump will be and which Mara will be there to face him.
  20. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    I am very pleased Luke took the plunge ;) with the device.

    Ah! So there's a time limit - i.e. 24 hours. I almost thought/wished LOL (I would!) that he might get "stuck on purpose" back then with another Mara. [face_dancing]

    [face_thinking]

    Your introspective characterization of Luke was magnificent! =D= =D= =D= !!!

    Like duh! @};-

    Especially resonated with two facets: his reaction to that sith-forsaken note - I too thought they were beyond that. I think that and the way she was taken out - like she was too stupid to sense a trap o_O - was part of what made "Sacrifice" so tweaky of my last nerve.

    Second, I also felt empathically that Luke's sense of her loss would grow bigger by the day. How could it not? Two who loved and shared such a bond literally and emotionally - there's a Mara-shaped void there now.



    :_|

    Intrigued by the mention of Leniya - and how incomprehensible it is for him to think of being with someone else. @};-

    The lovely poignant way you detail their loving Bond -- awwww!

    Her hair -- yes, a unique and lovely thing, shot through with shimmering gold. And those vibrant, sparkling green eyes :*


    Looking forward to more, and whichever Mara he finds LOL

    ***


    P.S. The Ben/Luke dynamic is touching!! The grief each feels is pushing one away from the other; there's an abyss they do not know how to bridge.

    :(



  21. taramidala Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 1999
    star 4
    Oh my goodness! I'm aching for him right now! I wasn't ready for such sadness. :(

    But this was lovely, truly. You really did capture Luke's loss so perfectly that as much as it makes your reader hurt along with him, it's not so bad because it's been "so artistically done." :)

    So with that said...MOAR!!!!
  22. Hazel Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 9, 2010
    star 4
    I wanna cry :(!

    With that said, magnificent job portraying Luke's emotions regarding Mara and Ben.


    I too don't understand the note and the whole Sacrifice plot. That is why in my personal canon it never happened.
  23. Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Feb 25, 2010
    star 4
    Luke! :_| You capture his emotions so well and his dilemma with his relationship with Ben. I understand Ben's position though, you always know you will outlive your parents, so even losing one at a young age, acceptance of their death is do-able.

    I NEEEEED MORE!
  24. wbsaw Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2008
    star 1
    Luke is completely miserable in this story.
    Is this 100% canon compliant up to the first word? Cause Luke's life without Mara is NOT worth living.
    Mara is gone, his son hates him, the rest of the galaxy uses him.

    He had thought they were past that, beyond her leaving him with little explanation.
    Yea, I did too. I call Mara OOC at this stage.

    I read another story once where Luke becomes a Sith Lord in order to use their time/dimension shift machine to go back in various time point to try and save Mara. He tries at many different points between his marriage and her death. They all fail. Either Ben or Leia or Jaina die instead. Finally, after a 400 page or so trilogy, he just gives up. I mention this because your story starts out as depressing as that one ended.

    Well, we can at least find out how your ride goes.
  25. Jade_Pilot Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2005
    star 5

    We are empathetic to Luke's plight and secretly root for him to push the button. At least I did. ;) Great characterization here, ginchy lee! You've set the stage for a great adventure and who could possibly fault Luke for his choice?

    Brilliant! =D=
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