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Beyond - Legends ~~Paternal Instinct~~ 20 ABY, L/M, some H/L/Solo kids, OCs *DONE! EPILOGUE 12/14*

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Ridley Solo, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 27, 2010
    Book-Geek: Oh, they're beyond jerks....a jerk is a bully. These guys are worse than that. :(
    Hazel: It's going to take another couple of chapters, but help is coming...I promise [:D]
    Jade_eyes: If I have to make follow-up vignettes, don't worry. It'll get plenty of screen-time.
    Jedi_Liz: He's working on it!
    Lady_Misty: Swats? Don't think that would work on these guys...:rolleyes:
    Jedi-Lover: Luke's trying...

    I got a huge writing boost and hammered out another four chapters. I'll be posting one a week starting this coming Tuesday. The end is within sight! [face_dancing] The rescue effort is taking a very long time to write about, but Luke has to wait for some...erm....reinforcements. ;)
    Hazel and Jade_eyes like this.
  2. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 27, 2010
    Jade_eyes Lady_Misty Book-Geek Hazel Jedi_Lover Jedi_Liz CurtisZidaneZiraa


    Ami, where are you? Wondered Luke as he lay awake in bed.

    After determining that Luke was in the clear due to his numerous alibis and lack of motivation for kidnapping, the New Republic Security Forces eagerly accepted his help in the investigation. However, after a very long day of questioning nearby residents and scouring every place within an eight-kilometer radius, they were no closer to finding Ami. Interplanetary traffic had been restricted, as had travel via the rail line. Surveillance systems showed no sign of the girl, so the NRSF was certain that Ami was still in the Southern Hemisphere.

    Unfortunately that was still half a planet to search and three questions to answer; why, who, and where. The ‘how, what and when’ had already been answered; since the windows were locked from the inside and none of them were broken, someone from inside the orphanage had let the kidnappers in. While the staff and older children had been questioned, their main suspected accomplice was the new girl Mina, who was also missing.

    The ‘why’ behind the abduction was a bit of a riddle. With Luke so well-known and the region so poor, the going theory was for ransom. Conducting a kidnapping of a celebrity’s child and then asking for ransom was a fairly common occurrence. Leia’s children had been the victims of numerous attempted kidnappings for the same reason. But then, why abduct a child who was still legally an orphan? No one else had expressed interest in adopting Ami except Ambassador Fereen, and he had already been cleared.

    ‘Who’ was another mystery. Luke assured his questioners that he knew of no one who would want to abduct Ami. With ransom as a motivation, it could be anyone, meaning the investigation could take a very long time.

    ‘Where’ was perhaps the most difficult question to answer. The swoop bikes had last been seen heading East, but could have changed direction since then. With the immediate area cleared, NRSF’s next steps would be to extend their search radius by another seven kilometers and bring in more people to question.

    Luke had turned in for the night. He slept in his ship with Artoo keeping watch. The droid knew his master was sad and gave quiet ‘oooh’ sounds every so often.

    Luke simply couldn’t sleep. He was too worried about Ami. Even his senses had turned up nothing. Rolling over in his cot and sighing heavily, Luke sent his thoughts out to the great unknown. Where are you, Ami? What’s happened to you? Hold on. I’ll find you. I know you’re probably scared, but don’t worry. Everything is going to be all right. Will you be brave for me?
    Luke bit his lip, fighting the feeling of helplessness that rose with each passing moment. I love you, Ami. No matter what happens, I’m going to find you. I promise.

    There was no reply, no feelings…not even a trace of Ami’s presence. Luke’s eyes stung, making him blink. With a hoarse sigh, the Jedi Master closed his eyes to try and sleep.

    * * * * *

    Luke wasn’t the only one having trouble sleeping. Across the galaxy, in the oddly-shaped planetoid of Kessel, Mara Jade tossed and turned, disturbed by the images in her mind.

    Darkness…fear…loneliness…the feelings were heavy and oppressive. She was in a dark place- a room or perhaps a cave –and all alone. No matter how Mara would twist and turn, she could see no one.

    Gradually the darkness lifted, and Mara recognized Luke. He was angry and afraid…more so than she had ever seen him. He was yelling about something, on the edge of being frantic. Mara got the distinct sense that someone was missing.

    “Ami!” Luke called “Ami!”

    Mara’s heart dropped. Ami was missing? She joined Luke to help him look for the little girl. They entered a dark cave or underground passage. Enemies hid in the shadows with blasters and began to fire. Together Luke and Mara held them off. Their connection grew strong…it was almost as if they were fighting as a single individual rather than two different people. Love radiated from Luke and Mara felt a little better.

    Then, from out of nowhere, the feelings of fear came back, stronger than ever. This time they were from Ami. Luke screamed her name and ran down a dark passage. Mara tried to follow but she couldn’t. It was as if her limbs were caught in quicksand or held back by the Force.

    The wall in front of her seemed to go transparent. A teenage boy was aiming a blaster square at Luke and Ami. Mara bristled and struggled harder than ever, yelling for Luke. The blaster fired, and the vision was obscured. Mara let out a feral yell of rage and suddenly her limbs were free again. She swung her lightsaber wildly, completely furious. The chill of the Dark Side touched her, and somewhere the Emperor cackled. In horror Mara dropped her lightsaber…

    With a gasp and a shout, Mara sat up in bed, panting. There was a strong sense of danger. Instinctively she rolled over and reached for her lightsaber, but even as her fingers grasped the hilt, she knew that the danger she felt was not in this room. It was somewhere else…
    somewhere very far away…

    “Luke!” Mara closed her eyes and tried to remember Luke’s lessons about touching minds across long distances. She had never done it before, but remembered at the last minute that it was nearly impossible to do when one did not know where the other person was. Upon not finding Luke on either Coruscant or Yavin IV, Mara groaned. The adoption finalization should only have taken a few hours at most. Was he still on Mynce? It was too far from Kessel to check. Shavit! Where are you, Farmboy? Worry welled up in her, and she fought it. Get a grip, Jade. He’s fine.

    In her heart Mara knew this wasn’t so. She knew that something was very, very wrong… something having to do with Ami. Her worry was not eased as a lump rose in her throat at the thought of Luke losing the little girl. The poor kid had already been through too much. So had Luke, for that matter.

    Mara angrily wiped away the tears that filled her eyes. What was this? She never cried. Never! Not since she was small…Ami’s age…when she had lost her family…

    Mara’s eyes narrowed. No. She would not let it happen. Ami deserved to be loved and Luke deserved to have a family. And she? Mara figured she didn’t much deserve anything, but knew that she could not just sit around and wait. She would find Luke and help him get Ami back, and Force help anyone who got in her way.

    But what about her job? Karrde would throw a fit if she left before her current deal was made, especially on a personal errand.

    As she climbed into her form-fitting flightsuit, Mara realized that she didn’t care about her job anymore. Luke and Ami were all that mattered.
  3. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    That is one hell of an Amber alert! Hopefully with Luke and Mara's help Ami can be found.
  4. Book-Geek

    Book-Geek Jedi Knight star 3

    May 28, 2011
    Go Mara! [face_dancing] I know that together she and Luke will find Ami!
  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Buya Mara!!!!!!! She is so utterly and indisputably perfect for Luke in a way no other lady could or would ever ever be!!!! [face_love] [face_dancing]

    I love your Mara too, trying not to be "sentimental" LOL

    [:D] !!!!!!
  6. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    How about spankings then? Those supposedly hurt a lot more than swats.

    Yay! Mara's getting involved now! [face_dancing]
  7. Hazel

    Hazel Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 9, 2010
    Yay! Mara's going to help. Luke will be glad.

    Please, please, please, let it be okay.

    Excellent chapter!
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  8. Jedi_Liz

    Jedi_Liz Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Apr 24, 2000
    Mara's involved? Those bad teens don't stand a chance! [face_praying]
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  9. CurtisZidaneZiraa

    CurtisZidaneZiraa Jedi Padawan star 1

    Nov 18, 2010
    Squee, update! Ramping up the tension are we?
  10. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 27, 2010
    I'm going to be lazy and not do individual replies...but yes, Mara is going to (at least try to) get underway and go help Luke! Did you expect anything less of our favorite feisty redhead? :p

    Due to the news about Episode 7 (and falling behind on a screenplay i'm supposed to be doing AND working on my parent's anniversary present) I haven't written any more yet, but I promise I WILL post the planned update tomorrow.
  11. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 27, 2010
    Jedi_Lover Book-Geek Jade_eyes Lady_Misty Hazel Jedi_Liz CurtisZidaneZiraa

    One would not think such a small, fragile-looking child could be so stubborn. But, after only two days with the Hawkbat gang, little Ami had made up her mind that she was going to escape. The question was, how?

    Ami was young, but had not survived six months alone on the streets for nothing. She knew how to hide, when to run, and when to fight back. Evening would be her best chance.

    On the evening of the third day, the little girl pretended to fall asleep after her meager rations of stale bread, bantha jerky, and water. Then she waited. As usual, half of the teenagers got drunk on the local liquor before passing out not long after midnight. When Hawk and Venom had disappeared into their room, the Changelings were mumbling in their sleep, Twitch and Ferret were sleeping in their respective corners, and Speed was snoring loudly, Ami got up from her blanket to take a look around.

    The warehouse was still and dark. Not a soul stirred. Ami figured it was time to go. She gathered Tarfful in her arms, looked around, and made a dash for the door, weaving around the piled crates and sleeping gangsters. Just as freedom came in sight, her toe caught on the edge of one of the empty crates. It and those on top of it came down with a deafening crash.

    “Hey, what the…?” A drowsy, drunken Changeling was the first to awaken.

    “Whush goin’ on?” muttered his brother with a yawn. He stood up and promptly fell over.

    Ami, unhurt but very much afraid, was torn between making a break for it or giving up on the idea. She decided to wait for a little while. Maybe everyone would go back to sleep.

    No such luck. Hawk leapt out of his bed and stormed out the door. “What’s goin’ on?” he hissed. In surveying the dim scene below his sharp eyes caught sight of a tiny shape crawling out from under a pile of fallen crates and tiptoeing for the door.

    In a flash he knew it was Ami. That was unexpected…she was so timid Hawk didn’t see her as the type to try and pull a stunt like that. His temper flared. “Hey!” he yelled. “You!” The tall teen stormed down the stairs, kicking Speed on the way down. “Wake up, you idiots! She’s getting away!”

    Half-crippled by the liquor, Hawk’s lackeys staggered to do his bidding. The Changelings bumped into each other and began to argue. Venom whined that it was too dark to see anything. Twitch was nearly comatose, even when tripped over by Speed. Ferret was either asleep or hiding.

    Ami’s heart leapt into her throat. She had been seen! Whimpering in fear, she bumped into the door and struggled with the bolt as Hawk and Speed closed in on her. The girl pushed and strained, wished that the door would open. As if by magic, it did. Ami burst through the door just as Hawk rounded the corner pile of crates.

    “Get back here!” he yelled. He wasn’t much worried about noise out here. The nearest people were some 2 kilometers away and well out of earshot. Even if there were people around, he was angry enough to risk it. The young man tripped headlong over a crate and cursed in rage.
    Speed, meanwhile, ran ahead of his boss. He didn’t have to look far to see Ami running as fast as her short legs could carry her. The lanky boy immediately took off after her. Even half-drunk, Speed’s long legs worked to his advantage. It was a simple matter for him to overtake the girl and scoop her up. It was not so simple a matter for him to quiet her screams or stop her wild kicks. Once he was inside he let out a cry of pain as one kick met its mark below his belt.

    Hawk closed in like a predator. “I warned you, little maggot. You broke the rules. Now you’re gonna pay.”

    Ami panicked. Speed was doubled over in front of the door and there was nowhere else to go. She made for the stack of crates off to the left.

    Hawk was too quick. He grabbed Ami around the waist and viciously twisted her bad arm behind her back. “Why didn’t you listen, huh? You’d have got out of here eventually…your stupid Jedi friend would have come for you. But you went and tried to run off like a scared little ranat, didn’t you?”

    Ami couldn’t answer. She was whimpering from the pain in her arm and fear at being caught. What was this mean boy going to do? Was he going to break her arm again? The thought made her yelp.

    “Answer me, maggot.” Hawk glowered and twisted harder. “I said answer me!”

    “Let her go,” said Mina. She had come out of hiding to see what was going to happen.

    “Shut up, Ferret.” Hawk growled. “This ain’t none of your business.”

    “You’ll break her arm!” Mina cried.

    Hawk glowered, but let go of Ami’s arm and shoved her away. A sudden, sharp pain in his shin caught him by surprise, as did the snickering of his tipsy cronies. Ami had kicked him.

    “She gosha, Hawk,” slurred one the Changelings with a stupid grin.

    The laughter and the pain only served to make Hawk’s temper flare even further. “D---it!” He responded by dealing Ami a backhanded slap across the face, knocking her to the ground.

    Ami howled in pain and shock. Her fear of the horrible teenager grew. As Hawk approached her again, she crawled backwards, desperately trying to get away.

    “Shut up!” growled Hawk. He slapped Ami again. She of course howled all the louder.

    Mina, sickened by the gangsters’ laughter, pushed toward Hawk. “Stop it!”

    Hawk ignored her and kept advancing toward the sobbing little girl. “You’re gonna wish you never even looked at the door, you filthy little maggot.”

    “Stop it, Hawk!” Mina grabbed Hawk’s raised arm and kept him from hitting Ami again.

    “Why should I?” Hawk sneered and pushed Mina roughly away. “She kicked me first.”

    “She’s just a little girl.” When Hawk reared back yet again, Mina deflected the raised hand. “You’re gonna hurt her!”

    “Ferret, shut your kriffing mouth!” Hawk snatched his hand away and used it to push Mina over hard enough to make a dull noise on the cracked duracrete.

    Realizing that she wasn’t strong enough to overpower the older, taller teenager, Mina used a different strategy. She crawled in front of Ami, shielding the little girl with her body. “You’re too big to be slapping her around. Hit her too hard and you’ll kill her.” Her voice choked with pain and desperation. “Wha…whaddya want? A hostage or a corpse? Ain’t gonna get nothin’ if you beat her up. S-Skywalker’ll slice you.”

    Hawk was inclined to disagree just because it was Ferret talking, but then again she had a point. The way Ami was crying, she had learned her lesson, anyway. That kid wasn’t going to do anything else. “Fine,” he sneered. “I’ll tell you what, Ferret. You like the maggot so much…she’s yours. From now on, you feed her, you watch her, you keep her quiet. You don’t…” the boy shrugged and let the question hang. Seeing Tarfful lying apart from Ami, he snatched it up. “Hey, boys! Wanna have some fun?” He tossed he stuffed animal to the laughing Changelings, who proceeded to further abuse the poor toy. Hawk marched back up to his room.

    The only other sounds from the warehouse that night were drunken laughter, ripping faux fur, and the heartbroken sobs of a little girl.

    * * * * * * * *

    Three long days of searching turned up nothing. The radius had been extended to some thirty kilometers, and while there was a clear line that the swoop bikes had traveled in- found out in part thanks to the testimony of witnesses –they were still no closer to finding Ami or the kidnappers.

    Luke was normally an optimist. His trust in the Force reinforced that trait. But even that wasn’t helping. His heart ached to find her, save her from whatever dangers she was in, and take her away from this planet once and for all. Luke’s inability to locate the girl frustrated him beyond measure. If Ami possessed any Force talents there was always the chance she was unconsciously hiding her presence. The Solo children had done that once or twice when they were frightened.

    Then again, Luke’s emotions could be clouding his mind. He knew this but refused to stifle them. It was his emotions that kept him steadfastly searching for the little girl even when the NRSF had turned in for the evening. It was his emotions that had made him apply for adoption. And, it was his emotions that had made him help the girl in the first place.

    Artoo-Detoo, being Luke’s friend, had tried his best with his scanners but they were only short-range. He had relayed the thought to Luke what he would do with the kidnappers when he caught them. It involved his electrical ‘zapper’.

    That evening as Luke was again trying to reach for Ami through the Force, he sensed an aggravated NRSF officer at the door of his cruiser. Luke was nearly to the door as they knocked and had opened it half a second later. “Yes? Have you found something?” Luke asked quickly.

    The officer nodded and carefully handed Luke a half-rotten piece of flimsiplast bearing a sales receipt on one side and a handwritten note on the other. “Sorry to disturb you, Master Skywalker. But we’ve just received this note. My superiors have ordered me to show it to you.”

    Luke took the note and read it. ‘To the so-called ‘master’ Skywaker: we have your preshus little girl. We won’t hurt her as long as you listen. Deliver 2000 credits in small, unmarked chips to the address on the back and we’ll let you have her. If you don’t we will kill her. You have 2 days. Come alone, or you will wish you had.’

    “That was just delivered to our station outside the orphanage. Witnesses have seen a teenage boy fleeing East, but our officers have been unable to locate him as yet,” explained the nervous officer.

    Luke’s heart sank. He already knew the New Republic’s stance on ransom notes. The official guidelines were to wait it out and try every way possible to extricate the missing person without paying the ransom. If the criminals were desperate, that often ended badly for the hostage.

    “Please, master Skywalker,” the officer continued. “My superiors would like to speak with you about this and devise a plan of action.”

    “Yes…yes, of course,” replied Luke. He closed his eyes and sent out another brief thought. Ami…

    A/N: Don't forget to vote! [face_flag]
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    =D= =D= It must be a really icky time when Luke gets discouraged :( Glad the law enforcers are working on a plan :)
  13. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    Nice update. Only 2000 credits? Come on Luke, you probably make that much with one speaking gig on Coruscant. Let's hope this works out.

    Luke should get on the HoloNet and pull a Tom Mullen speech (from the movie Ransom)

    "This is your ransom. Two thousand credits in unmarked chips, just like you wanted. But this is as close as you'll ever get to it. You'll never see one credit of this money, because no ransom will ever be paid for my little Ami. Not one credit, not one milli-credit. Instead, I'm offering this money as a reward on your head. Dead or alive, it doesn't matter. Understand... you will never see these credits. So you still have a chance to do the right thing. If you don't, well, then, gods be with you, because nobody else in this galaxy will be."
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  14. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    Those . . . ARGH! Hawk needs to be whipped with a cat'o'nine tails! A bull whip at the least. :mad:

    I did vote and I think I chose well.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  15. Book-Geek

    Book-Geek Jedi Knight star 3

    May 28, 2011
    I don't think I've ever wanted to strangle a fanfic bad guy more so than I do now!:mad:

    Just do the switch, Luke, you and I both know you can whip their tails with your mind as soon as Ami's back in your arms!
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  16. Hazel

    Hazel Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 9, 2010
    Those bad bad boys! :mad:I really want to kick them.

    Sorry, I'm in the wrong country to vote. ;)
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  17. CurtisZidaneZiraa

    CurtisZidaneZiraa Jedi Padawan star 1

    Nov 18, 2010
    Wanna kick bad boys hard, where it hurts.
    Don't live in the US. No voting for me.
  18. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 27, 2010
    Jade_Eyes: He may be a Jedi, but he's only human.
    Jedi_Lover: Hmmm...interesting idea, but I don't want to be accused of plagiarism. :p
    Lady_Misty, Book-Geek, Hazel, CirtosZidaneZiraa: Don't worry...they'll get their just desserts.

    Look out, this next chapter is pretty long! I haven't finished next week's chapter yet, but hopefully I'll be able to coninue with one update a week.
  19. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 27, 2010
    Jade_eyes Jedi_Lover Lady_Misty Hazel Book-Geek CurtisZidaneZiraa Jedi_Liz



    Mara flinched out of her nap and scrambled toward the cockpit as the reversion alarm beeped. Soon she was seated and buckled into the pilot’s seat of her personal freighter, the Jade’s Fire. As she eased back on the hyperspace controls, she shook her head, trying to clear it.

    Mara had not expected Talon Karrde to agree to her request to leave her transport assignment for ‘personal matters’. But, by some miracle, he had.

    “Ah, sure Jade. Go rescue Skywalker again,” Talon had said with a wink. “And make sure he pays you back this time.” He went on to tease her about ‘getting soft’, but Mara was rattled enough that she didn’t bother to correct him. She just wanted Luke to be all right.

    Confirming where Luke was likely to be was simple enough. According to Leia he had left to pick up Ami some four days ago and had never reported back except to say that Ami had been kidnapped. Mara’s worry increased at the confirmation. Kidnapped? Who? Why? Either way, Mara knew that once Ami was found, someone was going to get fried.

    After the reversion back to normalspace Mara flinched as the asteroid field came into sight. She was an excellent pilot and the asteroid field shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but she knew that as worried as she was, it might be difficult to focus. The smuggler took a brief moment to try and clear her mind before throttling forward.

    The field was a bit more difficult to navigate than Mara had expected, but she still made it through without a scratch. Soon she had landed and began looking around for Luke.
    The spaceport security had increased from what Luke had described. Mara had to have her blaster checked and her cargo hold searched before she was cleared to exit. No one would tell her why, except that it had been ordered by the highest authority on that planet, Ambassador Fereen. Mara fought back the twist in her stomach and looked around, searching with eyes, ears, and the Force. Come on, Farmboy…where are you?

    Suddenly Luke’s telltale presence jumped out at Mara from roughly two kilometers down one of the main streets. With that, the redheaded woman wasted no more time and ran flat-out for the orphanage, hoping that she had overreacted and Ami had been found.

    A bevy of HoloNet speeders were parked outside, along with several NRSA vehicles. A crowd of reporters pushed to try and get in, while the security officers held them back. In the middle of it all a tired, worried, disheveled Luke shuffled out to one of the speeders with a group of officers. His gait and presence told of sadness, anger, and worry.

    Mara increased her speed. Luke!

    Luke’s head snapped up and he made eye contact from afar. Mara! His emotion changed to surprise and suddenly he was making his way through the crowd. He broke away and had only two more steps to take before he had gathered Mara into his arms.

    Luke’s embrace was stiff and clingy, and that alone was enough reason for Mara’s sense of urgency to increase. She pulled back. “Farmboy, what’s going on?”

    Luke’s shoulders heaved, as if he had been holding in strong emotions for days. “Ami…she’s gone. They took her-”

    “I know,” nodded Mara. “Your sister told me. Who took her? Did they find anything yet?”

    Luke quickly filled her in on all the details and introduced her to the NRSF, who ushered the two into the orphanages’ lobby so they could be away from the flashing holo-cams and questions of the reporters. He then tilted his head in confusion. “Not that I’m not happy to see you, but what are you doing here?”

    Mara squinted and shook her head “Had some kinda weird nightmare…that you and Ami were in trouble…”

    Luke straightened his spine a little. “A vision?”

    The redhead shrugged. “I guess…someone had you cornered and…well, you’ve saved my rear end enough times, I just figured I owed you one.”

    Luke smiled softly. Normally Mara was as stern and unemotional as they came, but in the last few months she had been opening up. He had little doubt that she cared for him…she just had her own way of showing it. “You were worried.”

    Mara frowned. “Of course I was worried! Besides, that kid’s been through enough. She needs a dad…she needs you.”

    Luke nodded. He had wondered how Mara really felt about Ami, but this- and the fact that her green eyes showed the strain of holding back tears –was proof that Mara did care about the girl. Her body was tense with worry, and her prevailing thought was wanting to find Ami and deal with the kidnappers personally. He had his own ideas what could be done with those thugs, but pushed them aside.

    “So what’s the plan?” asked Mara.


    All at once a New Republic officer burst in the doors and strode up to the commander of the operation, showing him something on a datapad. The commander seemed to brighten a little, then strode up to Luke, exuding determination and a hurry to get things done. “Master Skywalker?”

    Luke jumped to his feet. “Yes?”

    “We’ve finally got a solid lead. It seems the speeder bikes matching the description of those used in the kidnapping were seen being dumped outside town into a garbage heap by a teenage boy. He’s been identified as a member of some sort of a gang, who have been coming and going regularly from an old warehouse in the abandoned industrial center,” said the commander.

    “A gang?” Luke frowned. “I thought all the street gangs had been rounded up.”

    “Not all of them. This one’s been on the run for a while but we’ve never been able to find out where they’ve been hiding.” The commander pursed his lips.

    “Do you think they have Ami?” Luke wanted to know.

    “We have strong reason to believe it. Oh, and here’s the kicker. The address on the ransom note? It’s across the street from that warehouse.”

    Luke’s heart soared. Finally, they had a viable lead! “Where is this industrial complex? How far is it?”

    The commander grinned. “About forty-five klicks to the Southeast.”

    Luke nodded, and picked up his utility belt and Jedi robe. “How soon can you be ready to go?”
    The commander frowned, but sighed. “I figured you’d want to come along. We’ll leave within the hour.”

    The Jedi glanced at Mara. “And Mara?”

    The tall man cringed. “I’m sorry. She’s not family, and-“

    Luke clipped on his lightsaber. “Commander, Mara is a Jedi. We’ll cover more ground and be able to sense any danger that much sooner with her along. Besides, Ami knows her.”

    The commander sighed heavily and glanced at Mara. Upon seeing the look in Mara’s green eyes, he nodded. “All right, Jade. Just be careful. They may be teenagers, but you don’t know the street kids out here. They’re just as dangerous as any hardened criminals.”

    Mara nodded and watched as the unhappy Commander strode away. She turned to Luke, holstering her blaster. “Think they found her?”

    Luke shrugged. “I don’t know, but I’ve got a good feeling about this lead. I just hope Ami’s all right.”

    With a sigh that was uncharacteristically tender, Mara edged next to Luke and ran her hands along his shoulders. “She will be, Farmboy.” And she gave him a kiss. “She will be.”

    Luke gave Mara a deep smile of thanks and put his hands on her waist. Thank you.

    For what?

    For being here. I need you.

    Mara shrugged, looking away with a wistful expression. Come on. Let’s just find the kid.

    * * * * * *

    “Ami!” Luke shouted, his voice echoing back at him. “Ami!”

    “Ami,” called Mara. Even as she turned around to look at Luke, her sinking heart told her that Ami was not there.

    They and the New Republic Security Forces had rushed to the warehouse, only to find it empty. There were signs of recent habitation- the old food, the makeshift cots, and the glowrods –but not a single person, living or dead.

    Luke felt deflated and completely forlorn. He clipped his lightsaber back to his belt and shuffled around, searching for any sign that Ami had even been there. He hardly heard when the officers announced that the building was clear.

    Mara followed him from a short distance. She felt simultaneous anger and helplessness. Where had those cowards gone? Where was Ami? What was the point in keeping her?

    When Luke stopped in the middle of the floor he hunched his shoulders, trembling with the effort of holding back his emotions. Anger of an alarming sort rose like boiling water, then abruptly slacked off. It was replaced by sadness. He closed his blue eyes, letting three tears roll down his cheeks. He felt Mara’s hand on his arm and took it. He clung to her as if his life depended on it. At an unspoken signal, he and Mara started forward, walking to perimeter of the warehouse and circling around, halfheartedly watching the officers comb the area for clues.
    A vague sense of familiarity hit Luke as he passed a sort of makeshift room walled off by stacked cargo crates. Following the nag in the back of his mind, he stopped and peered inside…and felt his blood run cold.

    The toy Wookiee Tarfful lay in pieces. Head, arms and legs had been viciously ripped from his body and thrown about, along with the stuffing. One eye hung from a thread. A second piece of flimsiplast bore another handwritten note. ‘Nice try, Sky-wampa. You have 1 more day. Pay up or this is all you’ll find.’

    Luke wasn’t often given to despair, but the frustration of the last few days and the pain of missing Ami worked against him. Gently he gathered what was left of Tarfful into his hands and buried his face in it. “Ami…” his voice grew hoarse and he shook, trying not to cry. Several tears rolled off his face anyway.

    Mara trembled with rage. If anything was done to hurt Ami…her anger faded as she turned to Luke. She hated seeing him like this. Her heart ached along with his. On impulse she knelt beside him and wrapped her arms around him, pulling him into an embrace. The invulnerable Jedi master was no longer so invulnerable. While there was nothing more heartbreaking than hearing Luke cry, Mara wanted to give him someone to cry with. She threaded her fingers through his thick hair and rubbed her cheek against his. She didn’t care when several tears escaped from her own eyes and mingled with Luke’s. They were together in worry, together in grief, and together in love.

    * * * *

    Some hours later when the NRSF had conducted a search of the surrounding area, Luke had regained control of his emotions and walked hand-in-hand with Mara. He sighed, shook his head, and looked around. “They aren’t going to find anything here. I can’t sense her.”

    Mara nodded. If anyone knew Ami’s Force-signature it would be Luke. “How far away would she have to be for that?” She didn’t know all the particulars of sensing people.

    Luke shrugged. “Sensing over distances depends on several things. First of all, it depends on how much training and experience the Force-user has. It’s generally easier if they’re contacting another Force-user, but with Ami….” he sighed.

    Something in the tone of his voice made Mara frown. Was there another angle to this? “What do you mean?”

    Luke’s face twisted into a grimace. “Well…I think Ami may be Force-sensitive.”

    Whoa! Mara flinched in surprise. “What? How do you know; have you tested her?”

    Luke shook his head. “No, but she’s proven very receptive to my moods. If I’m uneasy, happy, sad, or feeling something else, she catches on to it in a matter of seconds. I think that’s why I felt her nightmare so strongly that one time…she may have been subconsciously calling for help.”

    Mara nodded cautiously. “You gonna train her?”

    “I don’t know…I can’t test her in the same way I usually do. She’s too young.” Luke shook his head. “But that doesn’t matter now. What matters is finding her…and soon.”

    “You tried calling to her?” Mara wanted to know.

    “Through the Force?” Here Luke sighed. “Yes…but remember when I told you how hard it is to call to someone when you don’t know where they are? Besides, even if she is Force-sensitive, she’s untrained. There’s no guarantee she’d be able to answer, or even ‘hear’ me.”

    “So? Your sister wasn’t trained on Bespin and she heard you.”

    “Yes, but-“

    “So try it again, Farmboy!” said Mara in exasperation. “It’s not gonna hurt anything, and you might at least know if she’s okay.”

    Luke sighed heavily. Mara did have a point…as a matter of fact she was dead-on and Luke felt foolish for giving up so soon. Nodding sheepishly, he took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and stretched out through the Force, reaching for Ami’s Force signature. “Ami…” No answer. Luke bit his lip briefly. “Ami, are you there? Can you hear me?”

    Out of the blue there was a sudden explosion of emotion launched at Luke; feelings of fear mingled with the tiniest bit of hope.

    Joy and relief mingling with worry, Luke immediately focused feelings of calm on the indeterminate location of the little girl. Shh. It’s all right, Ami. It’s Luke.

    Help! Came the strong call.

    I will, Ami. Calm down. Luke took in a deep breath. Ami was somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, but must have been too far away to get a definite location. Beneath the fear he didn’t know if she was hurt or not. Are you hurt?

    Ami didn’t answer the question, but loneliness came in a wave, along with a strong want to get out of wherever she was. Want to go home!

    Luke pushed back his own feelings of frustration and focused his energy on calming the frightened little girl down. I promise you that I’m coming, Ami. I need you to calm down. Look around. Where are you?

    Don’t know.

    Can you see buildings?

    No. Dark.

    Luke frowned. Either she was on the other side of the planet where it was nighttime, or inside someplace dark. The odd thing was he could sense her close but not close enough…

    Suddenly Luke wheeled his head around and stared at the far-off, long-abandoned mining facilities. Of course! The mines! Are you inside or outside?

    Inside. Dark! Wanna go home!

    Luke opened his eyes. “The mines!” he exclaimed.

    Mara flinched. “What? Did you find her?”

    “She’s in the mines,” said Luke, starting to make his way toward the far-off entrance. “That’s why I can sense her but can’t get a definitive location. She’s underground.”

    Mara’s stomach twisted as she remembered her vision. She fought back the impulse to panic and hold Luke back. “Lead the way, Farmboy.”

    Luke sent a quick comm message to the NRSF to let them know what was going on. He received a message of caution in return, stating something about crusty old miners living in the old mines. Luke acknowledged the warning and, taking Mara, ran for the mines. He focused on Ami’s frightened Force-signature and sent more thoughts of comfort. We’re coming, Ami. Hold on. We’ll get you out of there.
  20. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    Good for Mara! You tell Luke that all you should have to do is call out. :)

    Those villains' punishment can't come fast enough.
  21. Book-Geek

    Book-Geek Jedi Knight star 3

    May 28, 2011
    Mara has arrived! Awesome! And now they know where Ami is! Let's go rescue her![face_dancing]
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  22. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Aug 31, 2004
    Super duper team work and warm support from Mara. [face_dancing]
  23. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    I like the scene where Mara cries with Luke. That was touching.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  24. Jedi_Liz

    Jedi_Liz Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Apr 24, 2000
    Thank goodness Mara has arrived. Interesting that Ami is probably force sensitive....I just hope they find her in time. Mara has street smarts from her experience after the Emperor's death...maybe her skills can come in handy here.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  25. Hazel

    Hazel Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 9, 2010
    Love all the support Mara is giving Luke. :)

    Please update soon [face_batting] @};-
    Jade_eyes likes this.