Saga Masquerade [ROTJ AU] [Vader, Luke, Leia] (Updated 2/24)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Harpalyce, Jul 1, 2010.

Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. Valiowk Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2000
    star 6
    [face_laugh] [face_laugh] [face_laugh]

    I don't think I could laugh harder...the idea of Mara Jade trying to torture Luke Skywalker by showing a bunch of holoshows she thinks he'll hate is just too funny. :p

    Now, all that proximity makes it all the easier for them to fall in love with each other... [face_thinking] [face_whistling]
  2. Skywalker_T-65 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2009
    star 6
    *Blinks* Wha... what did I just read? *Picks jaw off floor* Wow, that is not a situation I would have ever seen Mara in. Though it was funny, that's for sure. If you need someone to bounce idea's off of, I might be able to help, though it depends, I'm not the most creative person in the world. It also doesn't help that I'm on borrowed time here, since I have to do this at school. So you might want to hold out for someone more qualified first, though I will do my best if no one else offers (trust me, you want someone else first).
  3. Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2006
    star 5
    [face_laugh][face_laugh][face_laugh]

    I love Mara's idea of torturing Luke, and how unimpressed Luke is by all of it. Awesome visual. Looking forward to more.
  4. Lord_Redav Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2005
    star 1
    I'm glad to see that you're bothered by the line about killing in anger too. So Ahsoka and Vader finally gets to meet, eh? Although I'm Su that neither of them is the same person they once were during the clone wars. Another thing I've noticed is that Thrawn has joined the fight too, it'll be really cool to see he and Vader on opposite sides of a battlefield. The chapter on Luke and Mara is hilarious, it seems to me that the 'lump of a farm boy' is rubbing off on her.

    I wouldn't mind being a beta for you, and I don't mind spoilers either, no matter how many or how bad they are. But I have to tell you first that I'm doing graduate school in China, so time may be a problem if your in need of instant replies.
  5. Harpalyce Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2010
    star 3
    I think I've got two people helping me, but if anyone else wants to help out, I'd be very happy! Redav, if you'd like, toss me a PM. I'll leave it up to you. :)

    In apologies for this bump, have a piece of art I'm working on...
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v193/PlaidButterfly/masquerade-headshot-2.jpg
  6. Harpalyce Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2010
    star 3
    Ok...

    I think after significant wrangling I've finally got it worked out what needs to come next. ...FINALLY. I'm still very much open to people who may want to beta for this story (or listen to me ramble, rather).

    I realize that I've been full of excuses, which is incredibly lame. I've been scared to write more of this out of fear of it not being good enough... but at the end of the day, it's fanfiction, and we're all here for a good time, right? (At least that's what I hope.) So I'm going to try to get this back on track. (Phew!)

    Here's a quick-and-dirty 'teaser' for what's coming up. http://fav.me/d4d1x54 I should have a proper chapter up later tonight or early tomorrow - I just wanted to post to make it clear that I haven't forgotten!
  7. Harpalyce Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2010
    star 3
    ---
    Grand Épreuve
    ---

    "She's adorable! You must be so proud... how old is she now?"

    Ahsoka smiled widely as the trooper thrust his chest out a little more. Three days in and already the assigned Rebel troops had settled into trusting the new togruta. Whatever reservations she had, Leia had to admit that Ahsoka had a natural rapport with them. Her dossier was certainly impressive: Leia paused to bring it up once more on her datapad.

    Ahsoka Tano. Known aliases of Breddan Tiju and Ziva Kiure. The recovered dossier from the Republic was full of glowing praise. A battlefied commendation at fourteen. Notes of distinguished service in what seemed to be like every major battle of the Clone Wars... a special award of gratitude from Tango Company. The only sanction seemed to be against an apparent recklessness - but Leia reminded herself of the other woman's age. Being overly bold at fifteen? Sounded about right. After all, Leia remembered ringing in her fifteenth birthday with a screaming argument in the Junior Senate that took the next two years to fully apologize for. Representing a system in politics was bad enough. It was hard to imagine leading an attachment of troops into battle, making split-second decisions of life or death.

    And now the woman was sitting three tables away, leaning in to look at the holovid as the trooper played it back again. "Look at those cheeks! I bet you're the proudest uncle here."

    "Damn straight! My sister promised me another holovid tonight. She's walking already. Walking! Took her first steps! Can you believe it?"

    "It's amazing how they grow so quickly. When I was teaching on Kant - out with the small settlement - it was always such a joy to see how quickly they all grew. You asked me to help come up with a birthday present for her, right? There's this wonderful educational toy - handmade out of wood, but not that expensive..."

    The happily animated conversation continued, and Leia looked back to her datapad, tapping at it; Ahsoka's dossier danced off the screen. Leia still had the sense that the document was heavily redacted and edited, but given that it was recovered from the Empire's hands, she expected nothing less. For all the trouble Vader had given them settling in, Ahsoka was amazingly pleasant to be around. She actually wanted to be respected as a person on some fundamental level that Vader didn't. Maybe it was initial saccharine snake-oil and good first impressions, but Leia knew a good thing when she saw it. For right now, she would enjoy the relative calm.

    A small chime at her wrist chirped incessantly, and she groaned lightly as she pushed herself up. Another alarm for yet another meeting. Even though this was her native territory, Leia was starting to get more than slightly tired of plotting strategy. Thrawn had conservatively kept back: Saleucami wasn't a trap as much as it was an invitation. Apparently the Chiss mastermind was being coquettish. At least it afforded them plenty of gallows humor about how the Rebellion needed to add more romance to their obvious ambushes. But there was always another avenue, always another plan...

    ...always another meeting.

    Maybe this one would have a fresh pot of stimcaf.

    Vader turned into the corridor moments after she did, and he settled in to walking beside her, likely only to aggravate her further. Instead Leia put on her best pleasant smile. "Commander."

    "Princess." A curt half-nod.

    "I'd been meaning to speak with you, actually. Off the record." One eyebrow slowly raised as they walked along the corridor. "Your honest opinion on Tano. Not that your word is worth much, but she seems almost too good to be true."

    A slight smirk tugged at the edge of his lips. "We can trust her," he said after a moment before adding the words that Leia was expecting and dreading: "...for now."

    Not what she wanted to hear, but it would do, especially coupled with the knowledge that Vader had to sit in the same meeting with her for the next few hours. Ahsoka was also there - smiling and gracious, though she locked eyes with V
  8. Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2006
    star 5
    How does Vader manage to get himself into races that he needs to win all the time? :D I love how just rude he is in the meeting, and how Ahsoka is the one to smooth things over. It is all so very interesting, all these characters in the same room talking to each other, and I'd love to know what each of them knows/thinks. Great update--and the image of Leia having a screaming match hat 15 sounds just about right!
  9. Valiowk Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2000
    star 6
    Indeed, it's so difficult to connect this Ahsoka with the Ahsoka who could kill without batting an eyelid earlier on. I do hope that Ahsoka won't end up giving the Rebellion an awful shock later on... [face_praying]

    And, as Luna commented, how does Vader make everything into another race that needs to be won? [face_thinking] The most amazing thing is, he actually manages to win all of them!
  10. Harpalyce Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2010
    star 3
    Yeah, I'm going to go ahead and admit that these chapters are just a wee bit silly. :'D

    I figure that Vaderkin deserves some happiness. And by happiness, of course, I mean a chance to go very very very fast. Don't worry, after these shenanigans we'll get back to regularly scheduled battle scenes, angst, and tension.

    And just in case anyone catches it... yes, this section is rife with Top Gear references.

    ---
    Ambitious But Rubbish
    ---

    The overhead lights slowly turned on, bank after bank flickering with a soft buzz.

    Zasi sighed, stepping aside the garage to let Leia file in, Vader after him, and then several other Rebels. Lando had insisted on coming along, though Leia suspected it was more for the glitter and glitz of the Tarisian Grand Prix, especially since he was relaxing with the few other Rebel soldiers that had come along. The vast majority of the forces were with Ahsoka at the carefully planned and structured mission. Leia was sure she would hear near-endless grumbling over the next few days from the troops about how they were on guard duty instead of anything more glamorous and exciting.

    "It's not very much, but it's all the Shadowed Beks have." The quarren sighed. "That's the best swoop we have - and two more. If you need to strip them for parts, it's understandable, but if it's possible we'd rather have them intact so the Beks can at least have a showing..."

    Vader said nothing, merely stepping into the wide garage, slowly pacing around the prized swoop as if it were some prey he was about to pounce upon.

    "If there's any tools or parts that are needed - I'm not sure how much of a budget the Rebellion has for this operation, but we can send Bek runners for anything you need... familiar faces will keep suspicion down. And if -"

    "No, this will do."

    The quarren blinked slowly at Vader. "...er. I mean no disrespect, but - you haven't even looked in the cabinets yet, sir."

    He gestured out towards one of the counters. "The stimcaf machine is in the garage instead of in some breakroom. That shows that someone competent has actually put in the hours here instead of pretending to work." He paused in front of the swoop, staring it down before going over and deftly ripping off an entire side-panel.

    Leia saw the quarren flinch as if someone had just hit her across the face. "What - what are you doing?!"

    "Shedding weight." The panel hit the floor with a loud clatter, and Vader wasted no time, reaching into the machine to continue unhooking systems and tossing them aside. "Basic rule of racing. If the Beks don't know that, it explains why you've been doing so abysmally in races."

    "You do realize this is a... an open-rules race. You're stripping out the blaster turrets! All the other racers will have weapons - you're stripping out the armor shielding - the crowd's not going to be satisfied unless there's at least one dogfight and racers die!"

    "Miss... Zasi, was it? I trust you know who I am." He reached to his belt, and the red lightsaber blade snapped out into the air. "This is all I need. This... and two hours of uninterrupted working time." He finally looked back to the group as he twisted a dial on the lightsaber, the blade retracting to a small glowing nub perfect for cutting the heavy shielding free. "That was your cue to leave, by the way."

    Leia got the point. And they left.

    --

    A few hours later, Lando Calrissian flopped down on the wide couch beside Leia. The accommodations were rather nice, even for the lower levels of Taris. The Shadowed Beks were progeny of one of the oldest gangs, and had the status and power to prove it. This meant that the wait leading up to the Taris Grand Prix was at least comfortable. She had been invited to sabacc games at least five times over the last day, but she preferred to review her reports from the rest of the Rebellion in peace. If it wasn't for the mounting anxiousness, it would have been a nice little vacation.

    As Lando sat, her eyes flicked over to catch his expression - one of rattled despair. "What is it? Lose the latest sabacc game?
  11. anakin_sal-solo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 2, 2011
    star 1
    FIRST!!!!!!

    and its my 21st birthday!!:D:cool:

    pm list please[face_praying]
  12. Valiowk Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2000
    star 6
    What a beautiful, beautiful line. Great work! =D=
  13. Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2006
    star 5
    That was so very old-school Ani. I love it, especially his stupidly sweet caf. I can't wait to see what he ends up creating when it is all done. I love seeing Ani "in his element." Great update!
  14. Harpalyce Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2010
    star 3
    :D I'm glad everyone is enjoying it! Some fun racing action coming up.
    Yes, this is so full of Top Gear references. It's going to be so full of Top Gear references. I REGRET NOTHING.

    Oh.. and HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANAKIN SAL-SOLO!
    A bit late - sorry, lol!

    Also this is fondly dedicated to Kee, who sent me the most wonderful and flattering fanmail that I am still trying to figure out how to respond to beyond weepy keyboard-mashing as I flail in excitement. ...no seriously I cried irl, it was that amazing.

    ---
    Some Say...
    ---

    All things considered, Leia thought they had found a nice spot to watch the race.

    Yes, it was one of those bars that usually catered to crime lords and other people of technically illegal profession, but Leia was starting to get used to that; after all, the Rebellion was more or less in the same lot. This at least aimed to the classier sort of outlaws, which was why Lando was completely in his element, schmoozing with the crowd. She had seen him flirt with at least three women (and two twi'leks) already, and they had only been in the bar ten minutes. But it would be only a half-hour until the race started, and they had prime seats in the box attached to the bar for the main event. The skybox meant that all they could see were colorful specks, but the plethora of screens would more than make up for it.

    She had almost been feeling confident: the finished speeder actually looked quite elegant, in its own way, and Vader had actually gotten four hours of sleep. He claimed it would be more than enough, and Leia had been honestly quite amused at seeing him sleeping stretched out on another one of the speeders, enjoying the plush seat, resting his arms on the handlebars and head propped up by his hands. In fact, Leia felt quite cheerful up until she saw the constantly updating board of odds right next to the droids and scantily-clad girls ready to accept bets. 'Unidentified Racer - Rebel Alliance' was solidly placed in the bottom third, with extremely low odds.

    "Well, it could be worse," she said bravely. "500 credits on the Rebel racer to win, please."

    The twi'lek girl twittered a little. "Oh, that's not the odds for winning, ma'am. That's the odds for surviving the race! Just a moment and I'll pull up the odds for winning. ...There you go!"

    Three spots away from dead last. Well. It could be worse. She supposed.

    "Still want to place that bet?" The twi'lek fluttered her false eyelashes.

    "On second thought, I'll just... I'll spend those credits on another drink."

    "Wise idea, ma'am! The bar's just over there but you can place your order at any kiosk and a waitress droid will bring it right out!"

    Leia somewhat dizzily turned around to go find their private skybox, flopping into one of the seats and massaging her temples. She wouldn't get out of this without a headache, that was for sure. Just as long as she got out of this without having to plan a funeral. At least she could count on Ahsoka's team, their mission already underway to gather Imperial data, ready at the first mention of trouble to swoop in and enact plan B. She slyly looked at the menu on a holoscreen built into the comfortable chair's armrest, and debated with herself what to order. By the time Lando had shed the last of his adoring female fans, the race was nearing its start, and she was sipping her drink.

    "Corellian iced tea?" He raised an eyebrow, half-grinning. "I think Han's rubbing off on you. Isn't that a mixture of at least seven types of hard liquor?"

    "Sixteen, actually, at this bar," she said smoothly, taking another sip.

    "Do you always drink like this, or just on special occasions?" he teased.

    "Only when I'm stuck holding Vader's leash," Leia said morosely before taking a gulp and immediately regretting it. The burning sensation went straight down her throat onto her cheeks in a heavy, alcohol-induced blush.

    The skybox looked down on the immense stadium, packed full of what easily could have been a quarter of Taris' population. Colorful banners wove th
  15. anakin_sal-solo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 2, 2011
    star 1
    FIRST again!!!!!!!!:D
    and thank u harpalyce on the birthday wishes!!:D

    and to add to that there is never a bad time for top gear refrences[face_dancing] :cool:
  16. Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2006
    star 5
    Squee for the start of the race! I also quite enjoyed Vvader's trash talking. Seems like he would be the one to be able to pull it off quite well. Looking forward to the outcome of the race! I hope it is just like expect. :p Great update!
  17. Harpalyce Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2010
    star 3
    Good to know my Top Gear references are being appreciated <3<3<3

    I realize that was a very, very evil cliffhanger, lol. I'm going to try to get through this chapter through the power of Top Gear reruns!

    ----
    How Hard Can It Be?
    ----

    The race's start was rather boring, from Vader's point of view.

    The front swoops were first off the line, engines thundering, but the progression was sluggish as it dwindled down to the lesser racers. By the time it reached him, he started at an aggravating crawl before finally gaining speed. As the swoops gained some distance from one another, there was enough room for him to open up the throttle and begin to weave in and out between them. The tension was thick, full of cutting glares as the other racers with old rivalries and gang allegiances sized each other up. It was a temporary truce. Vader knew that at any moment the first shot would be fired - the first match into a powderkeg - and it would only be up to his skill and dexterity to keep him from becoming a charred smear of blood. That was completely discounting all other booby-traps and weaponry that they had managed to tack on to their speeders. Perhaps there was some unspoken rule that they would wait until the first hairpin - he wasn't sure. All he knew was that the course was long and twisting, going through the heart of the near-perpetual Taris city, and he was looking forward to every curve.

    It took a moment's fiddling, but he did manage to tune in to the announcer's obnoxious commentary through the in-helm comm. "...a very exciting race for you today! Half the course is under construction so it's a playground for our racers, if they can dodge the debris! In addition, the course has been enhanced with several new obstacles, such the newest, coming up right around this next bend - the fire trap!"

    There was half a second's pause as Vader squinted in thought and Leia leaned forward in her seat and clutched her armrests. Both father and daughter uttered the same phrase in the same indignant tone. "FIRE TRAP?!"

    The crowd gave an excited yell as the first pillar of fire came up, and Vader had dodged it even before he fully realized what had happened. The Force managed to steer him clear of it entirely. The other drivers were not so lucky as they entered the shining silver tunnel. Another large jet of fire leapt up at them, and a Bothan driver gave a shrill scream, unable to steer his heavy craft out of the way in time. He swerved in blind panic, catching another driver in the side; the spun out, and then more of the swoops were caught in the entanglement. While he could dodge in the nimble and light swoop, the heavier ones could not: it was a cruel test of shielding systems and of luck.

    He could feel the heat of another jet even through the helmet. The plume of fire scorched the top of the gleaming silver tunnel, and another set of screams followed. By the time two more traps were triggered, Vader was sure he was in the upper third among the racers.

    And suddenly the end of the tunnel was completely ablaze - a solid sheet of flames. Around him, racers desperately tried to pull up, and his heartbeat pounded in his throat: there was no stopping, not in time, and there was no dodging. There was only one thing to do, the same conclusion that others were reaching around him, but he didn't have the benefit of heavy shielding. Instead he just had his swoop.

    ...so he gunned it.

    The flames rushed by him claustrophobically. Other riders thundered past, heavy engines growling.

    Up in the skybox, Leia let out a heavy sigh of relief, flopping back into her chair. As she watched Vader take a few moments to realize his sleeve had caught on fire, she reached up to pinch her nose with a groan. Hadn't he learned anything since Coruscant? At least there wasn't any room on the swoop for a passenger...

    A dizzying array of billboards greeted him as he roared out with the rest of the pack onto the open straight.

    "...and just a reminder that the fire trap was brought to you by Initech Solutions! We're down to twenty-
  18. Valiowk Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2000
    star 6
    Wonderful action scene, Harpalyce! =D= You brought me back to the race in TPM, except that the Anakin here has learnt one more thing: forgiveness, and the preciousness of human life. A wonderful way to illustrate Anakin's turn back to the light. @};-
  19. voxynking Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 12, 2005
    star 1
    Love the story so far. Hope everything turns out well in the end. If you have a PM list would you please add me to it. Thanks
  20. Harpalyce Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2010
    star 3
    ---
    And on that bombshell...
    ---

    "What do you mean, you quit?" The plump Imperial paced in front of one of the exits of the stadium, yelling into his comlink. "It's the EMPIRE, you can't QUIT, Aran! I don't care what you think! The Empire is not some summer job, and your father can't - your father will be hearing about this - " Behind him, the doors behind him were flung open, and the screaming, excitable crowd began to pour out. He was quick to move out of the way.

    If there was one thing Taris loved more than an underdog, it was a winner. Divisions between gangs were forgotten, united in a common winner - and a common enemy. The excitement in the air was infectious to the point of being destructive. As the crowds swarmed through the city, the Rebel agents dissipated into it, services not needed after the victory. Ahsoka was smart. She knew an excited crowd was a resource to be used, like the rushing waters of a flood. It could be guided and manipulated for their purposes. The crowd just needed to be guided towards the right targets, since it was only a matter of time before someone lit a wick in their bottle of cheap liquor and tossed it through a window. Even the doubters loved the Rebellion after they broke into the main Imperial base. Nobody noticed Ahsoka as she snuck in to download the most valuable documents. They just cheered on the slicer that broke into their database of various fines and fees and automatically refunded every single one. Temporary loyalty was easy to buy, at least on Taris.

    Stoic and silent, Vader made his way through back to the pits. Every news agency was armed with a camera droid, buzzing around him like a swarm of gnats as the reporters leaned in to shout questions. But he remained stoically silent, pushing his way through the crowd with a quiet grace. Desperate pleas for autographs were ignored from all sides.

    When he finally did make his way back, both Leia and Lando were waiting for him... though Lando was quickly distracted: one of the rabid fans had decided the way to get attention was to strip off her shirt and press herself against the window.

    As soon as he was out of view, Vader took off the helmet, shaking off his hair. "If you're interested, Calrissian, feel free. Wear it and I'm sure they won't notice the difference." He tossed it over and Lando caught it, obviously considering the proposition as more adoring fans pressed against the glass in various states of undress. Leia took a breath, about to compliment him, but he neatly cut her off. "If you'll excuse me..." He ducked behind a row of lockers, stripping off the plain white jumpsuit, entering as the mystery hero of the day and exiting as just another bland face in the crowd. "I have business to attend to."

    "And what would that be, exactly?" Leia raised an eyebrow at him.

    "You'll find that a certain Anakin Naberrie made a very large bet for the Rebellion's racer to win." He ran a hand through his hair before turning in the doorway to give her a thoroughly smug, cocky smile. "Also, lunch."

    Fortunately, they were all in too good of a mood to object any more strongly. There was much more still to be done. There were reports to be gathered from the Rebel operatives milling through the crowd, being the whisper that directed the excited collective to serve Rebellion causes. Most importantly, there was the official prize to be collected, including the precious data-dagger they had gone to Taris to retrieve.

    ...In fact, it was several hours later when Leia found herself wandering throughout the massive city, following Vader's comm signal. She had been expecting the man to either find some greasy diner, the sort that you were vaguely ashamed to eat at and every waitress inevitably called you 'hon', or she expected him to be blowing his money at the most expensive place he could find. After all, she did hear the Toydarian in charge of the bets curse the name of Anakin Naberrie again and again with increasing fury. Instead, following the small chirping signal of his comm led her to somewhere totally unexpect
  21. Queengodess Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 2000
    star 4
    See, the thing I really liked about this post - and this little trip to Taris generally - is that we get to see Anakin doing something he's not only good at, but also truly enjoys doing. For a moment, he can almost forget all the horrors of the past and just have fun. And being damn cocky about it, too... [face_love] I think one of your greatest strenght as a writer - apart from incorporating all kind of little details that makes the story truly come alive - is your ability to mix the angst with the fun.

    Never would have thought of Anakin as a fan of fine drinking - that being more of Obi-Wan's thing in my mind - but the scene in the restaurant was very nice (as was the fact that our Imperial friend decided to join the Rebels - that's the way to wind them over, Ani!) and fun. No matter what Leia tells herself, she is warming up to her father. Love it! :D Clever Anakin, winning her over with candy.

    Best line has to be:

    That had me laughing out lout. Every time I read it...
  22. Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2006
    star 5
    I love seeing Vader succeed in something, clearly enjoy it, and having that something not be killing people. Leia's snark with him is also fun, and I can definitely see Vader's battle plan as "we'll wing it." I love this unusual situation they're in. Great update!
  23. Valiowk Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2000
    star 6
    Like Queengodess and Luna, it was great fun to see Anakin just having some harmless fun. A bit on the kiddy end, perhaps, with all that dessert and the Taris Grand Prix trophy :D , but if it helps Anakin heal psychologically and Leia warm up to him, why not? :)
  24. Harpalyce Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2010
    star 3
    I'm so glad to hear everyone is enjoying it! Taris was a fun little romp and truly fun to write. I do think Leia and Vader are slowly, slowly warming up to one another... emphasis on slow... or, at least, Leia is warming up to him when they both are busy acting like normal people instead of The Senator and The Commander.

    All right... /stretch I can promise THREE updates this month, the first two in very quick succession I hope :)

    Some babbling first-off... People are free to ignore the titles, but I've already explained what I mean by the Interludes: they're basically meant to be fluff chapters to lighten the mood, you could take them out, but I love to write them, so they're in. When I preface something with 'Masquerade' again, as in the upcoming Masquerade: Shadow Puppets, it basically means it's an extra-important chapter, one that I think could even stand on its own two feet with some tweaking.

    Put on some headphones if you like; with these chapters I think the music suits them perfectly. (I even uploaded something on Grooveshark just to link it here!)

    (And yes...the first chapter's title? I heard you like sci-fi, so I put some sci-fi in your sci-fi...)

    ===
    Kobayashi Maru

    ---

    Leia was unafraid to admit that the bridge of Mon Calamari ships made her slightly nervous. She was grateful for the fact the Alliance had such ships, and admired the bravery of the crew. But she was used to battles meaning information speeding across screens where she could catch a glimpse here or there of how the battle was going. With all the data flashing in wavelengths only Mon Calamari could see, it was rather unnerving.

    There had been some makeshift seats found and placed out of the way, looking down on the command bridge. Leia shifted in her seat and gave an aggravated sigh. "He's late."

    "Figures," Han drawled, stretching back in his own seat and glaring out the wide observational window at the ongoing battle.

    So far it was going surprisingly well. Ahsoka, leading her own X-wing squadron, was enough of a new variable for even Thrawn to be thrown off-balance. The meticulous Chiss would not be outwitted for long, but until then, they were picking off the other X-wing fighters and generally causing chaos. One of the three Imperial Star Destroyers was already having to deal with a hull breech on the left side of the command tower and was nearly out of the fight, but with the Alliance spread so thin, they were still outnumbered even though Thrawn had only brought two ships. The Chimaera's lack of further escort showed Thrawn's confidence in an easy victory. The Endeavor was a fine ship, but no match for them, even with Home One, various others, and Admiral Ackbar's prowess.

    The doors to the bridge opened and Vader swept in, his cape fluttering behind him. Fashionably late, even to a battle. Leia supposed that she couldn't expect a man who had worn a floor-length cape and armor designed to intimidate to give up great sense of drama so quickly.

    "Commander Vader." Ackbar did not try to hide an undertone of annoyance. "I suppose now you are finally ready to reveal your master plan for this battle?"

    "Yes. I very much am." He was more than slightly smug, striding out onto the command deck like he owned it, stance aggressively wide and hands behind his back with his shoulders square: an impressive and intimidating figure. Truthfully, it was the first time anyone had seen him in days. After the win at Taris, he retired to his quarters, first answering runners and inquiries but then turning away everyone, citing preparations for battle. Even if he seemingly hadn't come out even for meals, he seemed flush with a confident excitement.

    "Helmsman!"

    One of the Mon Calamari jumped, but answered immediately. "Yessir, Commander?"

    "Keep us in visual contact with the Chimaera at all times."

    The crew waited expectantly. One cleared his throat - a wet, chuffing noise - before someone piped up. "Any other orders, sir?"

    A slightly reckless grin crosse
  25. Harpalyce Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2010
    star 3
    (Nah, I'm not mean enough to leave you with that cliffhanger, especially when the next bit is largely written already. Again, grab your headphones... I made sure this was on grooveshark just for y'all. :) )

    --
    Masquerade: Shadow Puppets
    ==

    He knew that something was very, very wrong as soon as thoughts bubbled up out of the darkness. The command deck, even of a Mon Calamari ship, should be much harder. It should not be soft and downy, and it most decidedly did not have smooth cotton sheets.

    For a long moment he held his breath as if everything around him would fall away if he dared to sigh out, like a dandelion seed-ball held to his lips. But the sunlight was burning crimson through his eyes, and there were distant sounds that were most decidedly not part of a battleship - and smells, something tart and flowery... It took him a moment to place it, and when he did, he sucked in a breath. Padme's favourite morning tsane.

    When his eyes finally focused to make sense out of the whiteness, everything looked familiar, but in a way that disquieted him. Even the window made him gulp back a dizzy knot in his throat, because he did not know what was going on, and that made him inherently uncomfortable. But there was something else here - the same thing that made him scared to breathe. It all seemed so fragile and delicate, and most importantly, false.

    He flexed his hand against the blanket, trying to get his bearings, but after a moment more of staring at himself he sat bolt upright. He didn't question his lack of uniform, or why the bed was large enough for two - he was too busy trying to find the line of the seam on his arms that marked the split between the biological and the mechanic. He could not find any of them, save for one on his wrist. It was a dreamy sort of memory that told him he had gotten the old golden prosthetic replaced with a new - no, not even a memory, just sure in the knowledge even if he was not sure how it happened.

    His head still throbbed as he held his wrist, still careful with each breath, but now appreciating how every muscle he felt was his own. It was too unreal, he knew, but his own giddiness broke over him like waves on a shore. Perhaps he could see what was going to happen, since he was here. He would stay reserved, and stay apart, if it was a trick -

    Then her voice came from the other room.

    "Ani? Are you up yet?"

    It wasn't roughened with age the way his was, but instead smoothed like a river pebble, but this minute change in her voice made it more believable. He had hardly processed actually hearing her when Padme appeared at the door - grey-haired, crow's feet around her eyes, a little pudgier around the waist where age had taken its toll, but still smiling with goddesslike benevolence. When she saw him, she gave a smile. "Goodness, you must have been having quite a nightmare. I'm glad I let you sleep in, you still look half dead on your feet." She was every bit as graceful as he remembered, and he was thankful she took his gaping as sleepiness. Teasingly, she tossed him a set of clothes from the closet onto the bed. "I got Corde to bring over some of the kjuni-berry cakes for breakfast that are your favourite. Go ahead and get up, it's a big day."

    He expected to stumble and trip over words as she leaned in to give him a kiss on the cheek, but instead they tumbled out from his lips so easily it shocked him. "I know, I'll be up in a moment. Thank you for the kjuni-berry cakes." It was so simple and easy, as if he had said that to her every day for many years - too simple and easy, thrillingly and breathtakingly slow. He was too dazed to pull the kiss further, to hold her and beg at her feet with apologies as he always wished, but he found himself mirroring her smile as she wandered back into the other room.

    It was still all wrong, down to the loose Jedi-style tunic and pants she had tossed at him to wear. It was all wrong, but as he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, it seemed very much like a wrong
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