Title: Tell Luke Author: Tarsier Characters: Mara, mostly; also Callista, Luke, Dankin, Aves, Odonnl, Karrde Genre: Angst Timeframe: late New Republic era, AU Summary: Who would you call with your last goodbye? Warning: Character death Mara should not have been surprised as she entered the dimly lit cantina. She’d gotten word of a job two days ago. Very lucrative, but extremely light on details. No who, or where, or how. Just a when: immediately. So after she’d agreed to hear out the offer, she should not have been surprised to see Talon Karrde, her former employer, sitting on the other side of the table. “I trust you’ve been well?” he asked. “Can’t complain,” Mara replied, taking a seat. “What’s the job?” “You never were one for small talk, were you?” “I was under the impression the clock was ticking on this one.” “It is indeed, but your ship won’t be ready for another hour.” Karrde glanced at his chrono. “Make that fifty-seven minutes.” Mara had left her ship in a docking bay a few blocks away. It was fueled and ready to fly, which meant Karrde intended for her to use one of his ships for this mission. That, or he was retrofitting her ship in some way as they spoke. She resisted the urge to ask, knowing he would tell her what he wanted her to know when he wanted her to know it. Karrde sighed, seeming uncharacteristically reluctant to continue. “I’m afraid I’ve made a mistake. I’ve sent an employee on a mission that proved to be far more dangerous than anticipated. I believe she’s been captured. I would like for you to retrieve her.” Mara nodded. She’d rescued her fair share of kidnap victims; she didn’t expect this would be too difficult. “Where is she?” “Atzerri. We had a lead that there was a large quantity of sun crystals moving through one of its ports. So I sent someone to do a little sniffing around. Her last report was that though she thought she was close to the crystals, the local gang rivalries were heating up and she didn’t feel safe.” Karrde swirled his drink in his glass. “Dankin and Odonnl are fitting some magnetic plates to the hull of your ship so you’ll blend in. I’ve already sent you her last known location and all the information on the locals she had gathered.” “Good,” Mara said approvingly. Not that she expected anything less than optimal efficiency from Karrde. “I trust you remember how to transfer funds to my account?” “Of course,” Karrde replied. They had not discussed the amount Mara would be paid for her services, but Mara trusted Karrde to treat her fairly based on the outcome of the mission. “Then I’m set,” Mara said, rising. Mara paused, half-turned to leave, suddenly realizing Karrde had never mentioned the kidnap victim’s name. Mara expected she knew the employee, at least by name and face. It wasn’t that long since she’d left the company after all. As she opened her mouth to ask Karrde for the employee’s name, Mara was struck by the thought that had she remained with the company, Mara would almost certainly have been the one sent on the ill-fated mission. “Her name’s Callista,” Karrde said, cutting off Mara’s question before she could ask it. Mara whirled back towards Karrde, thinking this was an ill-conceived joke. Karrde was staring into his drink, his expression drawn and weary, exactly as she would expect if one of his employees was in grave danger as a result of following his orders. It was not the expression of a close acquaintance pulling a prank, or teasing Mara about her recent (and massively overblown by the Holonet) flirtations with Luke Skywalker. “You’re serious?” Mara asked, although she already knew the answer. “I don’t joke Mara,” Karrde rebuked. “Certainly not about something like this. I hired Callista shortly after you left. She’s been a commendable employee and I don’t want to lose her.” Karrde looked up to meet Mara’s eyes. “I trust this does not change our agreement?” “Why would it?” Mara asked, a little too coolly. “I’m just surprised a former Jedi could get herself in such a mess.” Mara left, breaking into a brisk jog upon exiting the cantina.