Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by JainaSoloYJK, Jul 17, 2011.
My computer is acting up so I can't do individual replies...
...but since I'll be leaving with my family for a 6-day road trip tomorrow, I'll upload the next chapter today!
They had fled under cover of darkness. Hawk may have been impulsive and cocky, but he wasn’t completely stupid. He knew that the New Republic was closing in. So, he convinced his gang to take Ami and vacate the warehouse. Their destination? The old ironium mines.
Ironium was a little-known metal seldom used in places outside Mynce. It was strong and solid, but brittle if dropped, and had a tendency to rust horribly. Deposits honeycombed the entire Southern Hemisphere, giving the soil a rich red color. Toward the end of the Clone Wars, the newly-formed Empire had revived the old mines, though the ore was more expensive to process than to mine. There, workers were paid slave wages and lived in the worst slums on the planet. Over the years the memory of the mines had been twisted. The miners wanted to go back to work because, at least working for the Empire, they’d had a few decent meals. A group of crotchety old miners from the time of the Empire had never left. They cropped up in bedtime stories as bogeymen or crazed hermits. Those foolish enough to venture into their domain never returned.
Hawk had met the old miners and, through the bribery of liquor and the promise of credits, had convinced them to let him and his gang hide there. He also got them to promise not to let anyone else inside.
Ami wept for hours after she saw what was left of Tarfful. Her tears were quiet, but numerous. Ferret kept a close eye on her and, through her staunch protection of the girl, earned back Ami’s trust. Ami was confused at Ferret’s attitude and even asked her why she was ‘nice’ and the others were ‘mean’.
“I had a little sister long time ago,” Ferret had replied with a sad look on her face. “You remind me of her.”
The mines were cold, scary, and very dark. Without Tarfful, whatever boldness or confidence Ami had gained was gone. She could hardly sleep at night and was plagued with nightmares. The little girl didn’t dare make too much noise or try to escape again. Her arm was sore and bruised from the twisting and a red mark had appeared on the cheek where she had been slapped. Ami hated the entire gang, but feared Hawk and the Changelings more than anything. She knew what they could and would do to her and Ferret if they were angry.
They had been in the caves for a day and a half. When Luke called to Ami she had heard and responded, but when she opened her eyes and Luke wasn’t there, she figured she’d been imagining things. Somewhere, far in the back of her mind, Ami knew that Luke was sad and worried, but she didn’t know he was trying desperately to find her. By that point she had given up hope of ever seeing him again…of ever having any family.
* * * * * * *
The mines were easy enough for Luke and Mara to locate. The nearest entrance was some two kilometers away. Getting in was a different story.
They had been dug long ago…nearly a decade before the Clone Wars. They honeycombed the hills surrounding the main city in the Southern Hemisphere without rhyme or reason. Ironium deposits were plentiful, but difficult to track. A vein of ore might zig-zag, branch off, or stop suddenly. As a result there were at least a dozen entrances. Tunnels were convoluted and labyrinthine, with twists, turns, sudden drops, and dead-ends. Getting lost was almost a certainty. Lack of maintenance and the passage of time had led to several tunnel collapses, increasing the danger.
The real question was which entrance to pick.
Luke surveyed the gaping holes in the hillside with a frown. He knew Ami was in there somewhere. How close, or how far she was, wasn’t as obvious. If he locked on to her Force signature, it could only lead him in the straight line. The tunnels might not be so cooperative.
Mara grimaced at the monumental task before them. This was not going to be easy. Which way do we go? She asked Luke with her mind.
Luke’s intense blue eyes turned to Mara for only a moment before once again focusing on the rusty, pockmarked hill. I’m not sure…did you get any clues in your vision?
Mara shivered in remembrance. No…I didn’t even know where we were. All I know is that it was dark and confusing.
Luke nodded and closed his eyes, stretching out with the Force. Ami’s small presence sent back a whisper of fear…but that whisper was enough. He opened his eyes. She’s this way, to the left. He cautiously walked up to the mine entrance. It seemed empty like the others, but this one had a fresh set of footprints…and Luke could sense others inside. Some were nearer, some were farther, but all of them had an air of something dark and sinister about them. The interior was as dark as the Emperor’s mind. Luke’s hand went to his lightsaber.
As Luke took the first few steps inside, Mara’s unease over her vision began to grow. She jogged several steps from behind and touched his arm. Just don’t think you have to do this alone.
Luke’s mouth twitched into a smile. I’m not. You’re with me. He took Mara’s hand, sending thoughts of love and gratitude to her.
Mara didn’t smile back, but squeezed Luke’s hand. You’re welcome. Her other hand wandered down to her belt and unclipped her lightsaber. At the same moment both blades were ignited, throwing blue-green light into the dark, ruddy tunnels. Hand in hand and with one purpose, the pair made their way into the mines.
Inside the ancient tunnels was an odd assortment of different eras of mining equipment. The first hundred meters or so were the crooked, rough tunnels made by handheld drilling tools and detonations. Long-disabled ore carts and rusted hover-rails cropped up every so often, along with bits of various scrap metal. Several times the tunnels forked off in various directions, but Luke didn’t turn aside to any of them.
Further along, the tunnels grew smoother. They had been mined by the laser-cutting rigs of the Empire. Luke and Mara saw one of them on its side, missing wires, lights, and the lasers. Obviously anything electronic had long-since been stripped of anything useful.
Ami’s presence didn’t seem to move any closer. She had to have been back in the deepest tunnels. Luke kept pressing on, sending out a tendril of the Force every so often to be sure of his position. Mara stuck to him like adhesive, keeping her own senses alert. As they ventured deeper, the air grew colder. Mara shivered in her sleeveless tank top and wished she had brought her jacket with her. Images from her vision kept coming back, making her stomach twist.
Luke ran his thumb along Mara’s fingers and sent thoughts of calm. Despite this he, too, was growing uneasy. The pair glanced at each other and at the same moment they knew that they were feeling the same thing
That nagging feeling wasn’t from Mara’s vision…it was a warning. Danger was near.
An old metal support beam creaked, sending a shower of rust down on them. Luke and Mara ducked.
Is it coming down? Mara wondered.
No, replied Luke. It’s just the mountain settling.
As long as it doesn’t settle on top of us. Mara ran her green eyes over the ceiling and walls before pressing forward. Her unease grew with every step and everything from the uneven floor to the musty, metallic smell to the weird tingling on the back of her neck sent her senses into high alert. The fact that Luke was focusing almost everything he had into tracking down Ami increased her tension.
Luke wasn’t completely distracted. His pace slowed and he frowned, closing his eyes.
Mara scanned the darkness for whatever was making them both sense danger. Soon every hair on the back of her neck was standing on end.
The groaning support let out a dull noise and the shower of rust began again. Mara’s nerves grew tense and her danger sense was screaming at her to get down. She noticed that Luke was making no attempt to duck or take cover. He didn’t seem to sense anything.
The groaning support gave a sickening shriek and came loose. At the same instant Mara powered down her lightsaber and launched herself at Luke, tackling him to the ground. Rocks, soil, and chunks of ore rained down on them. Luke, who had only begun to duck and put away his own lightsaber when Mara had tackled him, quickly switched positions with Mara and covered her head and neck with his arms, fending off debris with the Force.
The dust hung in the air for a long while. Mara took a deep breath and got an airway full of dust. She coughed, trying to clear the air.
Luke waved his hand and pushed the dust away, then turned to Mara. “You…*cough* you all right?”
Mara nodded. “Sure.” Her throat was dry, so she settled for sending her thoughts to Luke. Are you?
Luke cleared his throat. I’m fine. He got to his feet and looked around, re-igniting his lightsaber. The tunnel had caved in, but only a little bit. The fallen beam and debris only took up half the passageway. It was still possible to get back. The Jedi turned and offered Mara his hand.
Normally Mara would scoff at the offer of help, but the collapse had rattled her nerves enough that she gladly took Luke’s hand and didn’t let go after she had gotten to her feet. She gave Luke a somewhat sour look. I’d say ‘I told you so’, but…
Luke grimaced. I guess it wasn’t just settling. I didn’t even know what was happening until the last minute. He swiveled a stiff shoulder.
You were distracted. Did I hurt you? Mara glanced at Luke’s shoulder.
No. You probably saved me from getting a broken arm or worse. Thank you. Luke gave a brief smile.
Mara wouldn’t smile back. Look, Farmboy, I know you want to find Ami. But if you put all your energy into finding her without worrying about watching your back…
I know. Luke sighed. It was difficult to split his attention.
OK…how about you look for Ami and I watch your butt. Deal? Mara raised her eyebrows.
Luke’s mouth twitched. He was fine with Mara watching his butt…as long as he got to watch hers. He kept the thought to himself and focused on the situation at hand. Thank you. I’d appreciate that.
Mara flipped her blue lightsaber back on, and they continued down the long passageway. All the while she never let go of Luke’s hand. His touch was reassuring and seemed to bring with it all of Luke’s emotions from calm, focus, and determination to love and worry. Mara gripped Luke’s hand a little tighter and silently promised to stay with him until Ami was safe.
The passages continued to twist and turn, heading deeper and deeper into the mountainside. Mara had no way of knowing how far they had gone or how long they had been underground, but soon that nagging sense of danger began to return. This time it was different than the danger they had sensed from the tunnel collapse. Skywalker, do you…?
Luke nodded, slowing his pace a little. Yes. I feel it. Keep your guard up.
Whatever it was, it was getting closer…no, it wasn’t a ‘what’…it was people…a lot of them.
The passage ahead narrowed, and then came to a complete stop.
Dead-end. The danger drew nearer.
We have company. Luke stopped and switched his lightsaber to a two-handed grip.
Mara didn’t have time to wonder who was coming, because all at once the air exploded with blaster fire from behind. Mara and Luke whipped around at the exact same second and raised their lightsabers high.
Great update with teasing and focus and warmth.
Uh oh, here comes trouble! I just hope Ami isn't in the middle of it.
Getting shot at is never fun from what I understand.
Well the cliffhanger isn't so bad that we are climbing the walls in panic.
Luke is lucky he has Mara to watch his butt.
I eagerly await your next chapter.
Another cliffhanger. It looks like Luke's in trouble. You better send in some fangirls to watch his butt! His taunt, cute little butt. Nicely done!
Ditto on that!
Jade_eyes: Glad you like it.
Book-Geek: I'm not saying.
Lady_Misty: No, that will be the next cliffhangar....
Hazel: Hang on, I still need to write the durn thing!
Jedi_Lover: I was kind of worried about using that phrasing...but yes, Luke's butt is one worth watching.
Jedi_Liz: Hang on...
Back from vacation! Unfortunately I wasn't able to do any writing during that time, so the next chapter is nowhere near being done. I'll post it when i can, but I can't give any guarantees.
A/N: Wow! Got a wild hair last night and actually finished the next two chapters! Here comes the next one!
WARNING: Cliffhanger ahead!
@Lady_Misty @Jade_eyes @Book-Geek @Jedi_Lover @CurtisZidaneZiraa @Jedi_Liz @Hazel
Luke got into a fighting stance and let go of Mara’s hand. Mara did the same. Without any kind of signal, they stood back-to-back to fend off the blaster bolts. What followed was unlike anything they had ever experienced. Their bond in the Force exploded. No longer were they just sharing thoughts. They shared feelings, hopes, and fears. Alerts about another enemy moving in from the left or someone changing direction were sent instantly. It was a perfect union, deeper and more intimate than anything physical.
At first Mara was frightened by the new connection and wanted to resist, but after a brief argument with her subconscious, she gave in. There was no reason to fear Luke. Any thought or memory that she wasn’t ready to share with anyone else would remain private. She trusted him completely, and was amazed that Luke trusted her…he loved her.
They had exchanged words and thoughts of love before, but this connection went beyond just an abstract thought or physical attraction. This was total and complete devotion. Hearing about love was one thing. Feeling it was something else.
Luke and Mara fought as a single unit. Neither knew why they were being attacked, and the reigning thought between them was confusion. Luke deflected a bolt back into one of the blasters, making its user yelp and drop the weapon.
“Why are you attacking us?” Luke asked in the pause that followed.
The men answered by continuing to fire. Dressed shabbily in coveralls and broken goggles, they looked like they had once been miners.
Mara would never have as much patience as Luke did. He would have probably kept trying to negotiate a way for the miners to stop firing until they ran out of ammunition. Mara’s solution in the past would have been to slice every one of the grizzled old characters in half. That of course wasn’t very Jedi-like. Instead she let Luke ‘see’ a different solution forming in her mind. Luke seemed receptive to the idea.
Luke and Mara lowered their lightsabers and raised their hands toward the miners. With a hard yank, they pulled the blasters of the first row of miners out of their hands with the Force and sliced the weapons in half. While the first row scattered in alarm, the rest of the miners alternated between fleeing back into the tunnels and trying to get a clean shot at either Luke or Mara. Before long there were only five miners left in the passage.
In the melee Mara administered a flying tackle to one of the miners, rolled him over, and pointed her lightsaber at his neck. “Where’s Ami?” she growled.
The miner was one of the rougher-looking ones. He had a horrible scar down his face that ran from his missing eye down to the corner of his mouth- giving him something of a lisp- and was missing four fingers. “Hey! Who?”
“Where?” snarled the woman. “If she’s hurt-“
Luke came up behind Mara. “Hold on, Mara. I don’t think he knows what you’re talking about. Why were you firing on us?”
The miner scowled. “We don’ like kriffin’ outshidersh pokin’ dere noshesh in’ta our kriffin’ binnesh.”
“We meant you no harm,” insisted Luke. “We’re looking for a little girl-“
“I don’ know nuffin’ ‘bout no kriffin’ kidsh,” interrupted the miner. “All he shed wash ta make sure nobody got in here. Shed he’d pay ush fer it.”
“Who said?” asked Mara. “Who are you working for?”
The miner shrugged. “Beatsh da kriff outta me. Shome lasher-brained kid who acted like he owned da playsh.” He wrinkled his face up and looked away. “Didn’t shay we wash gonna go up againsht no kriffin’ Jedi…”
Stang! Mara sighed and let the old miner go, deactivating her lightsaber. She glanced at Luke.
“Will the others give us any more trouble?” Luke asked.
The miner got to his feet and gave a nightmare-inducing grin. His mouth was half-full of rotten teeth. The rest were missing completely. “Heh! Onsh da word getsh ‘round bout you, Jedi, ya ain’t gonna have no more trouble from ush. Ya can’t get paid from a dead man.” He shrugged and the scowl returned to his scarred face. “But I ain’t givin’ no guaranteesh. Plush ya gonna have plenty ‘a trouble from doshe kriffin’ thugsh up dere.” He started toward one of the tunnels, then stopped and turned around. “You gonna shlishe me if I run?”
Luke and Mara glanced at each other, sharing a thought. He’s harmless. Let him go. Luke shook his head. “No…but wait!” he cried, taking a step forward. “Did you see where they’ve gone? Do you have any idea where they might be keeping the girl?”
The miner raised an eyebrow. “What kid?”
Luke’s eyes stung and he blinked. “My daughter.”
The old miner flinched and backed up, muttering a dosen curse words under his breath. He then waved his hand to the left. “Keep on da lef’ shide…but’sha didn’t hear it from me!” And with that, he disappeared back into the darkness.
Quickly Luke headed down the tunnels on the left. His thoughts were on Ami, but he kept turning to look at Mara. Their connection through the Force was unmistakable. His resolve to both find Ami and keep Mara with him always doubled. Why break the bond?
Mara didn’t even have to ‘hear’ Luke’s thoughts. She already knew what they were. We belong together. Reluctantly she agreed. Despite her bond to Luke in the Force, his hand on her shoulder still startled her.
Luke’s blue eyes were more intense than ever. They projected thoughts of love, admiration, and…it wasn’t quite desperation, but it was pretty close. Mara, when this is over, would you… How Luke could cut off his thoughts midway was a mystery. Will you marry me, Mara Jade?
Mara’s entire body flinched. Marriage? The thought was ridiculous. Her, the former Emperor’s Hand, marry him, a farmboy from Tatooine who was part ace pilot, part Jedi warrior, part Jedi teacher, and all doting father? The man she had once wanted to kill? Mara eyed Luke, caught between fear and amusement. Farmboy, you’ve got the worst timing in history! We’re fighting for our lives and trying to find a little girl in some Force-foresaken old mines, and you ask me if I want to marry you!?
Luke just nodded. It was amazing…he could keep running full-tilt while searching for Ami and gazing at Mara.
While Mara already knew what her answer was going to be, she guarded the thought closely. Ask me again when we’re out of this mess.
Luke managed a halfhearted smile…which disappeared when another feeling of danger exploded from around the next corner.
* * * *
Hawk was not having a good day. The noise of the tunnel collapse and the following battle had carried back to him, and he pushed the unlucky Speed out of the cavern to see what was going on. Speed had not yet returned. On top of that, Ami was breaking her silence with crying..it wasn't loud, but the whimpering sniffles were getting on his nerves and Ferret wasn’t even trying to keep the girl quiet. Finally the young man turned around, pulled his blaster, and pointed it at Ami. “Kid, if you don’t shut up right now-“
Ferret jumped to her feet, standing between Hawk and Ami. “Leave her alone! She’s been through enough.”
Hawk bristled. “She won’t shut up! Keeping her quiet is your job, and you ain’t doin’ it!”
The girl crossed her arms. “You won’t make her quiet pointing a blaster in her face. You can’t scare her any more. She’s already scared shavitless of you.”
Hawk stood up a little straighter. “She better be. You better be too, if ya know what’s good for you.”
Ferret shook off the impending shudder. She was afraid of Hawk…deathly afraid….but she wasn’t about to let him see it. No one else was going to stand between him and Ami.
The ill-tempered youth growled and turned away, surveying the other members of his gang. “Where the h--- is Speed? He shoulda been back by now.”
Jitters’ eyes darted around and his hands shook. He was low on spice and Hawk wouldn’t give him another dose. “May….maybe they caught him.”
“Who?” demanded Hawk.
“The New Republic, laser-brains,” said Venom sourly. “Come on. You know they found us. Wouldn’t be too hard with all those footprints you left behind.”
“They ain’t gonna find us,” Hawk spat angrily. “Nobody ever comes in here.”
“Oh yeah? What about all that noise?” reminded one of the Changelings.
“What did you think it was, fireworks?” Ferret noticed the others doubting Hawk’s plan and decided to jump on the bandwagon. “Come on. You’re caught and you just don’t want to admit it.”
Hawk whirled around with fire in his eyes, marching back up to Ferret and shoving the blaster into her temple. “You sound like you want to get caught! Whose side are you on, anyway?”
Ferret trembled with the cold muzzle digging into her face, but held her ground and swallowed. “Whaddya gonna do, Hawk? Shoot me? That’d leave you one member short. So go ahead. Shoot.”
“No!” yelped Ami, jumping up. A kick in her direction made the girl duck and scurry away.
Hawk trembled with rage. All eyes were on him. Shooting Ferret would solve several problems, but then again he had never killed a gang member before…not like this. He preferred to take them down in a fight rather than kill them outright, and Ferret was just asking to be shot.
Instead of pulling the trigger, he reared back and whipped Ferret across the back of the head.
Ferret let out a cry of pain, then fell to the floor and did not rise. Ami burst into tears and tugged at Ferret’s arm. The others regarded the scene with open mouths.
Hawk lowered his arm. Half afraid that Ferret was right and his plan was about to be foiled and half angry that the little girl was still making noise, he whirled around to look at the others. There was a very brief flash of satisfaction when everyone flinched. “Anybody else think this was a stupid idea?”
No one, not even Venom, dared to move. Ferret was breathing, but the back of her head was bleeding. She could still die. If the New Republic did burst in on them, every last one of the gang could be brought in on a count of murder. Hawk was the only one who had intentionally killed someone before.
Hawk snorted and stuffed the blaster back into his pants. “Good. Looks like that idiot Speed went and got himself lost. So get out there and find him. All of you!”
The others shifted around uneasily. If Speed had been caught or killed, chances were the same thing was going to happen to them.
“Whadday waitin’ for?” demanded Hawk. “Get out there! Now!”
Not waiting for the blaster to come up again, Venom, the Changelings, and Jitters all grabbed whatever weapons they could find and headed down the tunnel.
Hawk knew that his inexperienced sidekicks would have no chance of standing up to New Republic Security Forces. He growled in anger, fished his blaster out of his waistband, and grabbed for Ami. “So, your precious Jedi wants to fight, huh? He wants you, he’s gonna have to get through me.”
Ami struggled against the teenager, then froze. “He’th comin’?” she asked quietly. The hope that had been stifled began struggling back to life. So she hadn’t imagined it?
“If he thinks I’m just gonna hand you over, he’s got somthin’ else comin. And if he doesn’t bring anything for you…” Hawk smirked and eyed his blaster.
Ami’s eyes widened and she realized what Hawk intended to do. He was going to hurt Luke! Having lost everything else in her young life, having had everything taken away from her, she would not lose her only chance at having a family again. Something came over the shy little girl and she let out a bloodcurdling scream. “NO!” Ami struggled against Hawk’s strong grip and pushed at his arm with her fists. “No! No! Nooo! Luke! Luke!”
Hawk covered her mouth. “Shut up!”
Ami didn’t even hesitate. She chomped down on Hawk’s hand as hard as she could with her teeth.
Hawk yelled in pain and gave Ami a hard shove into the wall. “That’s it! I’ve had enough of your mouth, you little maggot! Now either you zip it, or you’re dead!”
Ami yelped in alarm, then covered her mouth with wide eyes. She scrambled for cover and realized there was nowhere to go.
Hawk smirked as he leveled his blaster and fired.
JainaSoloYJK -- yay for getting two chapters knocked out Yum, the description of the Force bonding/melding. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Only Luke would propose in the middle of a fight. And I cannot wait for him to ask her properly. When you said cliffie, you weren't playing!
You're evil but brilliant for a cliffhanger like that.
And I'm with
@Jade_eyes only Luke would propose in the middle of a battle but then his mother confessed her feelings for his father before they thought that they were going to die.
*lets out a scream of fear* AMI!!!!! No, why did you leave us with a cliffhanger like that?
And I too am looking forward to Luke's proposal after they get out of this mess.
HAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! Evil cliffhanger. That was mean Jaina.
I Loled at Luke's proposal. Only our Farmboy could have that sense of timming.
PS - Please save Ami.
maybe Ami will unconsciously use the force and somehow block the blaster bolt
Why does Luke always seem to propose when it looks like he is going to get killed? Are blasters an aphrodisiac for the Farmboy? Kinky! I guess that would explain his taste for dangerous women.
Jade_eyes: And the next will be coming shortly. Glad you liked the mush!
Lady_Misty: Evil? Me?
Book-Geek: Why? Because that’s what good writing is all about; create a loveable character, stick them into a horrifying situation and then add a cliffhanger.
Hazel: Three screams in a row? Yikes!
Jedi_Liz: I’m not saying anything.
Jedi_lover: LOL only you would post a reply like that. No, no, no- he’s just passing on the family tradition.
ccp: OK, thank you for reading.
The next chapter will be posted a day early. Only two chapters left now! Hopefully I’ll get this thing finished by the end of the year.
A/N: You may want tissues for this one.
As it turned out, the danger sense that both Luke and Mara had was not from more miners, but from Speed. He stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Luke and Mara, then decided to take his chances and run.
He didn’t get very far. Luke was on him in a minute and as angry as Mara had ever seen him. She joined him as he backed Speed into a wall, holding a fistful of shirt collar.
“Hey! It wasn’t me! I didn’t do nothin’!” Speed waved his hands around frantically.
“Where is she?” asked Luke quietly. He didn’t have to raise his voice to be intimidating. The look on his face was enough.
“Huh?” Speed was a horrible liar. His eyes were wide with fear and guilt. “Wh-where’s who?”
“Ami. Where is she?” Luke demanded.
“The kid you snatched, you rotten little coward.” Mara scowled.
Speed put on a feeble air of defiance. “What if I forgot?”
Mara shrugged. “Well, I’m sure we can think of a way to help you remember.” She ignited her lightsaber.
The kid slouched. “You’re Jedi?!” he squeaked.
Mara rolled her eyes. Thank you, Captain Obvious. “If you think that’s scary, take a look at him,” she said, nodding toward Luke. “That kid you’re hiding is his daughter.”
Speed’s face crumpled and he shook his head. “Aw, man! I told him this was a bad idea!”
Mara and Luke glanced at each other. So this wasn’t the gang leader? “Told who?” asked Mara. “Who are you working for?”
Speed squirmed and tried to sink into the wall to avoid the deadly blade. “Hawk. He…he thought up this whole thing…wanted to get back at the Jedi or something…I dunno. He figured he’d get rich off the ransom money.”
Hawk? Who’s that? Wondered Mara.
I have no idea. Luke turned back to Speed. “Where is he keeping her?” When Speed hesitated, Luke’s grip on the boy’s collar tightened. “Where is she?”
Speed turned away. “Ah! Shavit! Okay, Okay! Just up the tunnel; turn right after the dropoff. Now let me go!”
Luke pushed Speed toward Mara. It was none too gentle, but not enough to hurt the boy. He turned to her. Call the NRSF and keep an eye on him. I’m going after Ami.
Mara’s nightmarish vision danced in front of her eyes. Not alone, you’re not. I’m going with you.
No. You keep an eye on this one. Luke’s head whipped around at the sudden explosion of noise coming from further up the tunnel. He closed his eyes and probed around with the Force…and he heard everything- the heated argument, the yelling, and the thud of a body hitting the wall.
All at once the tunnel was filled with teenage thugs, one of whom looked like he was either high on spice or waiting for his next fix. None of them had blasters and took one look at the Jedi before desperately seeking cover behind outcroppings and throwing various loose objects at Luke and Mara. These were nothing but nuisances and were easily waved away with the Force. The teens quickly swore and tripped over each other trying to get away from those lightsabers.
Then Ami screamed, making Luke reel. Without knowing it she had amplified her call through the Force, and behind it was fear, anger, and desperation. It reminded Luke of when Leia had screamed at him on Bespin, trying to tell him that he was walking into a trap. He called to her. Ami? Luke’s only answer was more feelings of danger and fear. He more or less chased the teenagers toward Mara, who had only to brandish her lightsaber and slice the club one of the identical twins was holding in half.
The Changeling let out a cry of fear. The others looked around, realized there was nowhere left to go, and raised their hands in the air in surrender. Venom dashed into one of the side tunnels.
Luke and Mara exchanged brief thoughts of love, confusion, and worry, directed towards Ami. Luke had taken one step forward when Ami’s struggling went abruptly silent, she gasped, and there was another wave of fear and danger sent out through the Force. Then the blaster fired.
Luke’s stomach dropped out from under him and his heart went to his throat. “AMI!” he cried, his voice choked with emotion. He ran down the corridor and burst into the room.
The room was very dark, illuminated only by a flickering glowlamp and one glowrod set on an outcropping. To the left, two teenagers lay motionless next to each other, showing clear signs of a struggle. One, a male of about nineteen with dark hair, appeared to have hit his head against the rough rock wall. He moaned, but didn’t stir. A blaster lay near his hand. The other was a girl matching Mina’s description. She lay curled up on her side, still breathing but in obvious pain. The smell of ozone and burned flesh lay thick in the air. Ami was nowhere in sight.
Luke wanted to help the injured teenager, even if she was a gang member, but had to find Ami first. He forced the fear out of his mind and probed the room with the Force. Ami was there, very much frightened, and hurting, but she was alive. Luke deactivated his lightsaber and rushed toward the whimpering presence in the corner. “Ami?” He had to resist the impulse to run to her and scoop her up. The sudden act might frighten her more, and she couldn’t actively sense him.
Ami was crouched in the farthest corner of the room, trying to make herself as small as possible. She wouldn’t turn around and shook like leaf.
“Ami? Are you all right?” Luke sent out thoughts of calm and security while pushing back his own raw emotions. Everything was held back. Nothing would be all right until she was safe in his arms. Slowly he extended his hand and touched Ami’s shoulder.
Ami yelped in alarm and whipped around, but her face was transfigured when she saw Luke. Shock and disbelief were soon replaced by a tentative, cautious relief. “Muh…muh…mithter Luke?” Even then, she was unsure.
Luke nodded, feeling the tears come despite his fighting them. “It’s me, Ami. It’s okay.”
In the space of half a second Ami closed the final gap and practically knocked Luke over in a fierce hug. She burst into tears. All the fear, worry, and sadness from the past few days was released as she clung to the strong Jedi.
Luke, so overwhelmed at finding Ami alive, didn’t know that Hawk had awakened and was reaching for his blaster.
* * * * *
Mara resented being left behind like some damsel in distress, but knew that Luke was right to tell her to take care of the gang members. It would be easier for the New Republic to catch them and try them for the kidnapping this way. Using whatever scraps of rope or leather she could find, she quickly had all of them tied up and neatly lined up against the wall.
The danger sense had not faded in the least when the teenagers had been captured. Mara thought for a moment it was remnants of her vision, but as the hair on the back of her neck stood on end and her stomach twisted, she knew that she had to get to Luke.
Mara burst into the room, eyes and hair wild, saber held high. Just as Hawk’s hand closed around the blaster, Mara’s lightsaber swept around and sliced through all five of his fingers.
Hawk howled and curled into a fetal position, cradling his maimed limb.
Mara let out a slow breath and deactivated her lightsaber before turning to Luke, who was hiding Ami’s eyes. He regarded Mara with a look of gratitude, then turned his attention back to Ami.
Luke certainly didn’t feel very strong as he picked Ami up and held her. “Shh…shh…it’s all right now,” he said in a broken voice. “You’re safe. I’ve got you.” Luke’s voice finally cracked and he wept in complete relief. The two most important people in his life were there with him. He didn’t wail, but the tears fell freely. “Shh…” it was tricky to calm a little girl when he himself was crying, but after taking several slow, deep breaths and letting the Force wash over both of them, he could feel calm and peace returning. He sniffled. “Are you okay?”
Ami was still whimpering, but didn’t seem hurt. “Dey…dey h-hurt my arm….”
Luke pulled away in brief worry. He was sure that if she was badly hurt he would have sensed something, but the thought of Ami being somehow injured after all she had already gone through… “They did? Which one?”
Ami lifted her weaker arm. “D-dis one…”
Immediately Luke took Ami’s arm in his, gently examining it. He didn’t see any cuts, but the lighting was poor. He looked it over with the Force as well. Ami’s arm was still weaker than the other one and it was hurting her. Luke sensed, rather than saw, several bruises and marks that spoke of Ami’s arm being twisted. A red mark across her left cheek indicated a blow. His anger rose knowing that these rough teenagers had hurt Ami and he had to take another couple of breaths to calm down. The kidnappers could be dealt with later. “You’ll be all right.”
She’s all right? Came a thought from Mara. She hung back, having put a bacta bandage on the teenage girl’s blaster wound. The male teenager was still whimpering and wasn’t going to be pulling his blaster on anyone else…especially since Mara had melted it into a pile of slag.
Luke nodded. She’s fine. He noted Mara’s trembling hands. Are you?
Mara found her eyes damp and stinging. She had told herself she wouldn’t cry…that Ami was safe now and with her father…but the tears came anyway. When Luke opened an arm to welcome her into the embrace, she practically fell into his arms. Holding Luke and Ami when she thought she might lose both of them was the best feeling in the world.
It felt like a family. It felt…right. Mara lifted her head and brushed Ami’s messy hair back from her face and gave Luke a brief kiss.
Sandwiched between the two Jedi, Ami had finally calmed down. Her tears had stopped and the fear had left. She shyly looked up at Luke. “Do I gotta go back ta da orf-nage now?” she asked in a tiny voice.
“No. You don’t,” said Luke firmly. “Once we make sure you’re OK, you’re going to be coming home with me. The adoption is all finished.”
“It ith?” A beautiful light, filled with hope and love, entered Ami’s face. “Are you my daddy now?”
Luke slowly nodded. “Yes.”
Ami’s eyes filled with happy tears and she again threw her arms around Luke’s neck. “Daddy,” she crooned, as if the one word she had wanted to say for the past four months. “I love you, Daddy.”
Luke’s eyes threatened to overflow yet again. In his call to be a Jedi, ‘daddy’ wasn’t something he had ever expected to be called. Hearing the assertion of love for ‘daddy’ from a tiny voice was, Luke realized, all he had ever wanted. The sound was absolutely beautiful. The feelings that overwhelmed him were varied. Part of him was terrified of this new course in life, but the other part welcomed the challenge with open arms. Fatherhood beckoned, and Luke answered. “I love you, too.”
WHOOPS! *tags everyone*
Eh, I'm doing the same thing with another fanfic, so I guess it's true.
You're right. Need tissues now. I'm blinking away tears as I write this, and grinning all the while! Such a great reunion!
Oh joy, joy! All the cliffies were actually worth this d'aww! + swoon = d'awwoon! moment. Deliciously wonderful family bonding moment. If anyone doesn't know it yet, Daddy!Luke is just off the charts edible
for a delightful & early read.
@Hazel a wonderful reunion!
So Mina saved Ami's life. I do hope that that she's alright.