Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Stone Jade, Feb 27, 2013.
Exactly! Most people write AUs because they're dissatisfied how things were done...
I love making up facts. I used to do that for my college exams.
I don't think I could ever do a story that sticks to canon because that means I would have to read the books again and most of them are too depressing.
As for me I stick to recent stuff I actually memorize. My stuff with L/M ranges from Union to LOTF mainly missing moments stuff.
That's not even near the top of my list of objections to Dark Journey.
Fortunately, that book was followed by the unrelenting awesomeness of the Enemy Lines duology, Traitor, and Destiny's Way.
Here's the next installment. I only have one more ready after this, so I'd better get to finishing some of the stuff I have in progress.
This is the story of Luke's gift of the Jade Sabre to Mara after their wedding. I wrote in a few capabilities of the ship that are beyond what's listed in the books, mostly because it was around for such a short time that none of the authors really got a chance to describe the ship.
Some humor, some snark, and a few tender moments. Hope you enjoy it. Concrit appreciated as usual.
* * *
19.5 ABY - One month after Union
Luke gives his new wife a present.
Luke Skywalker had been waiting for Mara all day. Jedi Masters were known for their patience, and Luke was no exception. He had discovered, however, that a recently-wed Jedi Master who had not seen his beautiful wife in nearly a month was rather less patient. Finally, though, the call had come from Kam Solusar. The Starry Ice was in-system. He gave an unusual order to Kam, and was briefly annoyed when he was asked to repeat it. Then, he went to meet his wife.
Standing outside the Great Temple a few minutes later, at an auxiliary landing site, Luke smiled as he watched Mara Jade Skywalker descend down the ramp, a small bag in hand. She always traveled light. She had only just cleared the ramp when it began to close, and the freighter took off nearly as quickly. Clearly, Karrde's people had places to be.
Mara looked slightly perplexed as he made his way to her. "Luke, why did you have us land out here? Faughn was a bit annoyed about not being allowed into the main hangar."
Luke smiled at her as he approached. "Sorry, slight logistical problem. No offense intended." He carefully hid his thoughts on the matter behind a Force barrier. It wouldn't do to ruin the surprise.
He reached out for Mara as he finally got to her, then jumped slightly as she grabbed him and kissed him, hard. The kiss lasted a long moment, and he blushed a bit as he looked over at Kam, who had also come out to greet the Starry Ice. Kam simply chuckled softly, his thoughts locked away somewhere in his mind where Luke could not sense them. Kam quickly gathered up Mara's bag, and walked away quietly.
Luke chuckled softly as he looked his wife over. "I take it you missed me?"
Of course, Mara was unlikely to admit to it, and she didn't. Instead she simply narrowed her eyes and glared at him, but he felt a shimmer of happiness from her nonetheless. He enfolded her in a hug for a moment, then released and smiled at her again.
"Well, I missed you. I'm glad you're back."
Mara sighed softly. "I'm not back for long. Mirax is supposed to drop by tomorrow to pick me up. Karrde is running a small project with Booster and Mirax, and he wanted me in on it."
Luke surprised her with his amused smile. "I know."
She had expected sadness, if not anger, from him. They hadn't seen each other since just after the honeymoon, and they would only have a single night together before she left again. Mara knew it would not be enough for either of them.
She narrowed her eyes. The mission was also supposed to be a secret. "How did you know? You shouldn't have..."
Luke's smile remained on his face. "Corran is here, which reminds me, you should say hello to him when you get a chance. He told me about the mission." Corran had been one of her best friends while she trained at the Academy. They were not extremely close, but it was usually good to see him.
Mara wasn't sure why she was beginning to feel annoyed. "Then why are you smiling, Luke? You shouldn't be happy that I'm leaving with Mirax tomorrow."
Luke's gaze softened, and she noted him preparing to say something that might set her off. "Actually, Mirax is not coming tomorrow. Or at all, even. I asked her not to."
This did indeed set her off. "Dammit, Skywalker. You can't cancel my plans without even kriffing asking. I know we've been apart for a while, but this project is important. You know I still have obligations to Karrde."
She got even angrier when she saw another amused smile on Luke's face. His words didn't help anything. "Patience, Mara."
She had resigned herself to removing his head from the rest of his body with her lightsaber, but he quickly continued. "Please let me explain. Your involvement with this mysterious project of yours has not been canceled. The arrangements have merely been… altered, per my suggestion. It will not affect your schedule in the slightest."
Some of her anger had faded, and she didn't resist as he reached out and put his hand on her back. "Please, follow me."
They walked in silence into the Great Temple. He was leading her towards the main hangar bay, she noticed, but she was still a bit too upset to demand an explanation. Entering the main hangar bay, though, she gasped, all of her anger fading away in an instant.
Luke chuckled softly, having sensed her shock through the Force. "I've tentatively named her the Jade Sabre. You may of course change the name to whatever you like. Happy wedding, Mara."
She shivered with pleasure, and wrapped an arm around Luke's waist, resting her head on his shoulder for a moment. The name was perfect.
She smiled as she eyed the ship. To her eye roughly fifty meters long, the silver ship was sleek, clearly resembling the pointed blade of a sword. Two flared pods to the rear of the craft held ion drives. Mara did not recognize the ship's design as anything available commercially, and she was familiar with nearly every class of ship available commercially in the known galaxy. This meant a custom build, and custom was expensive.
She gaped at her husband. "How could you manage to afford this? And when did you find the time?"
Luke smiled at her. "The Jedi have a lot of friends around the galaxy. Much of the funding for the Academy comes from the New Republic, but it is not our only source of credits. The name Skywalker also opens doors in many places. It turned out to be rather easy to get the ship constructed quickly, once I found a receptive builder. Most of the rest of the modifications I did myself, while you were gone this past month. With the help of a few friends, of course." He winked at her.
Mara was speechless, and Luke turned serious for a moment. "I know how much the Fire meant to you, my love, and what it represented. I wanted to thank you for what you sacrificed on Nirauan. And, I wanted you to have your freedom back."
This comment jolted her. She looked up at her husband with a tear in her eye. "Luke, my freedom… it's not that important anymore. I could never leave you…"
Luke smiled gently. "I know, Mara. I did not mean freedom in that sense, particularly. You do have duties and obligations to others, not just to me. I want you to be able to fulfill them, when you need to. You've always relied on yourself. Your own ship allows you to do that. I will trust that you will be able and willing to rely on others too, when you need to do so. And, especially, to rely on me."
She was on the verge of crying, and pulled Luke close to kiss him again. The feeling of love that washed over her helped to calm her thoughts, and she wiped away the remaining moisture from her eyes. Beaming at Luke, she asked him to show her around her ship.
Luke took her hand and lead her onboard, talking as he went. "You'll meet up with Mirax aboard the Errant Venture in the Kessel system in five days," he said, speaking of Booster Terrik's personal Star Destroyer. "You and Mirax can fight about whose ship you'll use once you get there." He smiled impishly at her. "The change in plans will give you three nights here, instead of just one. I thought we might put the extra time together to good use."
He raised his eyebrows at her, and she snorted. "You're incorrigible, Skywalker."
He winked. "No, merely desperately in love."
She gave him a sigh of mock annoyance. "Ok, fine, you convinced me." She paused, and smiled sweetly. "But you'll have to show me the rest of my ship first."
He laughed. "Deal. Where do you want to start?"
She rolled her eyes at him. "The cockpit." Where else?
Luke nodded and pulled her along. While they walked, he began relating some of the aspects of the design. "The Sabre will accommodate fifteen passengers, if need be. She can also carry one hundred metric tons of cargo, and I had them put in a few… uh, hidden… compartments.
Mara frowned slightly. "One hundred tons isn't a large capacity for a ship this size. She's much bigger than the Falcon, with the same cargo space."
Luke smiled slyly at her. "True. The aft bay here holds a starfighter. We tracked down a new Z-95 for you. It's not been delivered yet, but we expect it in a few weeks. I've had a few modifications done on it, too." His voice changed slightly. "The bay can also hold an X-wing. I thought that might be a handy feature."
Mara felt a deep wellspring of happiness at the thought. "You plan to travel with me often?"
Luke nodded. "Off and on, for the next few years, while we transition the Academy into a pre-Jedi school, and while you finish up your obligations to Karrde. After that," he smiled, "you'll have to kill me to keep me away from you."
Mara laughed. "Don't give me any ideas," she said menacingly, but softened it with another kiss.
They finally reached the cockpit. Mara's eyes widened as she looked around the relatively large space.
Luke continued his explanations. "I went with side-by-side pilot/copilot seats. The entire ship can be run solely from the pilot's station, but I didn't want to sit behind you when I accompany you on the Sabre." He chuckled. "Despite how lovely the back of your head is."
Mara turned to glare at him, but she couldn't quite force herself to be annoyed at his joke.
Luke went on. "As you can see, I also had a navigator's station installed behind the pilot's chair, and an extra seat installed behind the copilot's."
Mara frowned a bit at this. The arrangement was standard on many light freighters, but it didn't really seem necessary on this one. "You planning on dragging others along with us when we travel?" She would have guessed that Luke would design a more intimate space.
Luke gave her a guarded smile. "Not immediately. But, I hope, someday…"
Mara had to call on the Force to keep her surprise from showing on her face. They hadn't really talked about children, but Luke was clearly hinting strongly at the subject now. Mara wasn't sure this was the right time to talk about it, but Luke apparently thought so.
She had to force herself to respond. "You really want children?"
Luke nodded. "Yes, I do. I don't know what the future holds, but with the peace between the Imperial Remnant and the New Republic, I have hope for a quieter life. I see what Han and Leia have, and how much joy their kids bring them, and I've realized I want that with you. We could be happy together forever with only each other, but I think we could be even happier with children."
He took a deep breath before asking the question. "What about you, Mara. Do you want kids?"
She was quiet for a moment, then nodded. "Yes, I think I do. At least one, anyway. I never could have imagined I'd say that, even a few years ago. It may be a while…"
Luke sighed. "I know. We both still have a lot left to do for a while. I can be patient." He winked at her again. "Besides, there are still some parts of the whole process of reproduction I'd like to continue practicing."
She rolled her eyes again, but the joke was the perfect way to lighten the mood. She was pleased to see him blush a little, as usual. Vintage Skywalker. Can't even proposition me in private without being embarrassed.
She gave him her best icy stare. "You still haven't finished showing me my ship."
He started speaking again before she even finished her objection, clearly having anticipated her response, and there was amusement in his voice. "As I mentioned, the Sabre can be controlled completely by the pilot. This includes propulsion as well as communications, which I tried to match as closely as possible to what you had available on the Fire. It also includes defensive systems and armaments, of course.
Mara smiled. "I thought you'd never get there. What armaments?"
Luke laughed. "Defensive systems include military-grade shields, on par with what you might find on a corvette, along with the usual missile detection and countermeasure systems found on that size of ship." Mara whistled at that, impressed.
Luke continued. "For armaments, I've put in four quad laser cannons, individually retractable, which gives you the ability to hide some or all of the Sabre's firepower if needed. There are dual concussion missile launchers up front. You also have a tractor beam projector salvaged from a Nebulon-B frigate."
Mara's eyes were wide. "How did you manage all that?" The ship was more heavily-armed than even the Falcon.
Luke raised an eyebrow in amusement. "A lot of people owe me a lot of favors. I called in a few. Karrde, Lando, Han, Booster, some others. It is somewhat worrisome how easily they all got their hands on military-grade hardware."
Mara wasn't surprised. Her former employer had numerous sources for such equipment, and each of the others was also well-connected. She wanted to know more. "Avionics?"
Luke responded. "As I mentioned, a full comm suite, including a holo array. A full military-grade sensor system, including jamming and decoys. Artoo hacked the transponder system, and we've set you up to be able to modulate transponder codes. You have the normal autopilot system, and I've had an astromech station included so Artoo can have control over most of the ship's functions if necessary, including basic flying. Also, astronav capabilities equivalent to that used on the Wild Karrde."
Luke had thought of nearly everything, she was pleased to note. The custom work made the Jade Sabre one of the most heavily-armed and most capable light freighters in the galaxy. There was only one more thing to ask.
Luke smiled at her. Instead of answering immediately, he reached over and punched the button to start the main engines. "Let's find out. Fancy a shakedown cruise?"
It took only a few short minutes for the ship to warm up. Almost tentatively, Mara activated the repulsorlifts and edged the Sabre out of the main hangar. She looked over at her husband, seated in the copilot's seat, and smiled. "Strap yourself in."
She goosed the main throttle, and the acceleration from the ion engines thrust her back in her seat. She managed to mutter "wow", then heard Luke laugh beside her.
"She won't quite match the Falcon at maximum sublight in vacuum, but she'll beat that old heap in atmosphere. Better aerodynamics. She's not going to outrun an A-wing, but she'll be faster than pretty much anything you're going to run across that's not a state-of-the-art military-grade starfighter."
Mara had to fight to keep her jaw from dropping. Luke knew piloting as well as anyone in the galaxy, but the ship he designed was more capable than she would ever have guessed.
One more question. "Hyperdrive?"
Interestingly, he got a slightly devious look. "You have a class four hyperdrive…" He paused.
Now her jaw dropped as she looked at him. Of all the things to skimp on…
He chuckled as he continued. "…as a backup. Main hyperdrive rates at just better than point-three, unofficially."
Mara almost choked. That rating made her ship faster through hyperspace than any ship of which she had ever heard. It was faster than any military ship in the New Republic or Imperial Remnant. It was faster than the Wild Karrde, faster than Boba Fett's famous Slave I. It was even faster than the Millennium Falcon, and by a significant margin.
Mara couldn't even ask how Luke had accomplished the feat. She noticed with some small annoyance that he just sat there and grinned at her. She was fairly certain that Karrde couldn't have found the drive, nor Solo or Calrissian, or they'd have outfitted their own ships with it. She also got the impression from Luke that, should she ask about the hyperdrive, she'd only receive an evasive answer delivered in that slightly superior tone he got on the rare occasions he managed to one-up her.
She was so awed by the gift he had given her that she couldn't even sustain her annoyance for long. The Sabre was more capable than the Fire in pretty much every measureable way. Nothing would ever replace her first ship in her heart, but she could envision herself coming to love this ship just as much, if not more.
So, she did the only thing she could. Reaching out, she squeezed Luke's hand, opening herself to the Force and letting all the love, affection, and admiration she felt for her husband wash out over him, feeling it returned even more strongly. Their touch was almost electric, and she felt a tingling sensation run up and down her spine, along with a warm feeling deep in her core.
She saw Luke smile gently at her. "We ran the Sabre through some basic tests, but no one wanted to take the privilege of the first true test flight from you. Perhaps you'd like to demonstrate what she can do?"
Mara smiled too as she let go of his hand. She felt a flutter of excitement as she dialed the inertial compensator down to 95%. She was gratified, as she launched into her first set of maneuvers, to see the white knuckles on the hand grasping the left armrest of the copilot's chair. The right hand gave no tell-tale sign.
* * *Mara had spent nearly four hours putting the Jade Sabre through her paces, systematically testing all the systems one-by-one. She reserved a small bit of her attention during this time for use in monitoring her husband's feelings through the Force. He had dropped more than one hint about potential evening activities during their tour of the ship, but she noticed nothing but patience and affection emanating from Luke during her flying. This annoyed her slightly. The longing had to be there, but he was clearly hiding it from her. Whether out of respect for her testing process, or out of his own farmboyish embarrassment, she couldn't guess.
Finishing the testing, she had landed the Sabre with confidence, as if she had been flying the ship her entire life. She saw a gentle smile on Luke's face as she touched down, and decided that it was admiration for her piloting. It better be, if he knows what's good for him.
She continued to sense nothing but patience and affectionate feelings through the Force as they left the main hangar, so she decided to twist the vibroblade a bit by forcing him to stop for dinner at the Academy mess hall. Even this delay didn't seem to upset his demeanor in the slightest, and Mara found herself annoyed again. Clearly, he's determined to win tonight.
Eventually they made it back to Luke's quarters. Mara entered to a dim glow of candles, and turned to look at her husband, surprised. He just smiled serenely at her, and she gave up any pretext of an effort to win a point from Luke tonight. He had clearly had too much time to prepare.
As Luke lay down on the bed, she nudged him over and burrowed into his arms. She expected a caress immediately, but he seemed to sense her need for a quiet moment of intimacy. Luke wrapped his arms tightly around her, and she felt an immediate warmth that was surely part natural body heat and part deep feelings of tenderness felt through the Force.
Mara lay there for a long moment, contemplating her feelings and basking in those she felt from Luke. Finally, she sighed softly and spoke. "Luke, does this ever feel like a dream to you?"
She could feel a bit of confusion from him, which no doubt matched the look on his face. She could not confirm this, given that they were not facing each other. It took him a few seconds to respond. "Does what feel like a dream?"
She sighed again. "All of this. Nirauan, the peace accords, our marriage, everything. Sometimes I find myself fearing that it's all a dream, and that I'll wake up and all of this will be gone."
She rolled over to see Luke shake his head. "No, Mara, it doesn't feel like a dream to me."
She frowned. "Not ever?"
He shook his head again. "No. What does feel like a dream to me is most of the last ten years. Not a dream, a nightmare. Like I fell asleep some short time after we met, and when I finally woke up, everything was as it should be. All the darkness, the mistakes, the fighting, all gone, and all that was left was us."
His words touched her heart, but she was naturally sarcastic. "You're a sentimental fool, Skywalker."
She saw him blink. "Perhaps," he allowed. "Sorry."
Mara's emerald eyes gleamed in the candlelight. "I might be able to forgive you. But you'll have to make it up to me."
As she pulled him close and kissed him deeply, her hands pressed firmly against the muscles in his back. It was clear what he would have to do to make it up to her.
Luke Skywalker was more than happy to oblige.
Splentabulous! SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE! This was spot-on character wise, banter-wise, and mushy on top. I think I love this missing moment the bestest! !!
This was amazing..I felt like a big puddle of mush at the end.
This was... perfect!
That's what I'm saying. Callista=Nightmare.
Luke knows the way into his woman's heart! That ship was such a perfect gift in so many ways. I hate that she lost it so early on. But it was just the gift she needed at the time. And I agree with JL on the Callista nightmare. But seriously, I loved that exchange. Great update!
Thanks everyone. I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Having Judge's Call available to read online makes writing 'romantic Luke' much easier, since it gives me a canon source for how he would do things.
I finished my SJRS February challenge entry. It took me an hour to write the first part, then I hit a brick wall and it took a few days to finally come up with how I wanted to finish the story, but I still got it done pretty quickly. This is a 10th anniversary story, so it's set just after the end of The Unifying Force. Han and Leia invited Luke and Mara to join them on vacation for a few weeks in the Corporate Sector, so this is a snapshot of that story.
The prompts were as follows:
- Something that traditionally represents the anniversary (1st – Paper; 10th – Tin/Aluminium; 25th – Silver; 50th – Gold; 75th – Diamond)
- The phrase “I’ve been with you far too long”
- A kiss
I used agrinium in place of aluminium, so I hope metal alloys meet the first requirement.
Hope you enjoy it. Concrit is appreciated as usual.
* * *29 ABY
Luke and Mara celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary.
Mara looked around with some disgust. “I think I preferred our cave on Zonama Sekot.” She glanced over to her husband, whose brow was furled in apparent discomfort at their surroundings.
Luke finally sighed and shook his head. “At least it’s better than Bonadan.”
The end of the Yuuzhan Vong War weeks earlier had been hailed as a return to normalcy for the galaxy, but the Skywalkers’ lives were anything but normal. Their home on Coruscant was buried under the Vongforming on that planet, and the temples of Yavin IV had been similarly destroyed.
Thus, as with untold trillions of others, the galaxy’s most famous Jedi couple was homeless. Both Luke and Mara had lived in enough different places over the course of their lives that Mara’s ship, the Jade Shadow, was as close to home as anything else could be, but both longed for something more permanent.
Ostensibly, they were on vacation. Unfortunately, they were on vacation with the Solos. Luke and Mara were extremely close with Han and Leia, Luke’s sister, but right now both regretted agreeing to this trip. Their tenth anniversary had snuck up on them to a certain extent, given the devastation of the Yuuzhan Vong War, but neither wanted to mark this occasion surrounded by the smog and factories of Ession. Unfortunately, their wedding anniversary was tomorrow, and it was now too late to avoid such an outcome.
Mara looked out the window for a moment before sadly shaking her head and sitting down. The couch on which she sat, hard and lumpy with a low back, was a standard representation of what passed for furniture in luxury hotels on the forsaken industrial world of Ession. She was not impressed.
Luke was not usually one to repeat himself, but in this instance he was helpless to resist. His voice now was quiet, and almost sad. “At least it’s better than Bonadan.”
Mara sighed. “Did your brother-in-law really have to choose the Corporate Sector as his dream vacation spot?”
Luke shrugged. “I don’t really know what he was thinking. He has been here before…”
The Skywalkers and Solos had spent their first post-war week on Bonadan. That planet had been even worse than Ession. Extensively mined, Bonadan was polluted and foul-smelling to the extreme, an industrial wasteland to make pre-war Duro look like a paradise. Ession was slightly better. Here it took only an extensive search to find an example of native flora, rather than an exhaustive one.
And yet, Han and Leia seemed to be having a great time. Granted, Luke thought wryly, all Han needs is a place to work on the Falcon to have a great time. The average Corporate Sector world was no problem in that regard, and Luke’s sister seemed to be enjoying just spending time with her husband.
Mara, on the other hand, was less-than-happy, and she had no compunction about showing it, at least in front of Luke. “I can’t believe your sister has been married to Solo for more than twenty years. I would have killed him long ago. Sometimes it seems like I’ve been with you far too long, and they were ten years and three kids in when you and I got together.”
Many a man might have been upset or offended by such a statement from his wife. Luke simply laughed. His bond in the Force with Mara was as strong as ever, and her words carried intense undercurrents of love and affection, despite her obvious displeasure with their current situation.
Thank the Force that Leia was willing to watch Ben for a few hours. Luke knew Mara’s pattern in these instances extremely well. A bit of witty banter and teasing between husband and wife, at the right tender moment, almost always got Mara going. Luke had been in enough relationships to know that this was somewhat unusual in a woman, although for him it worked exceedingly well.
It was also possible, sometimes, to short-circuit the process. Given the lack of viable alternatives for activities on the industrial wasteland that was Ession, Luke decided to gamble. Thus, instead of directly responding to Mara’s comment, Luke pulled her to her feet and kissed her deeply.
Mara practically melted into his arms, and they held their embrace for a long moment. Finally, Luke felt his wife pull away, and he opened his eyes to see a devious smile on Mara’s face.
“Nice sentiment, Skywalker, but keep it zipped.”
Luke’s own smile faded slightly as he raised his eyebrows in semi-amusement. This was not exactly how he had expected the moment to develop.
Mara chuckled a bit at his obvious confusion. “You’re dreaming, farmboy, if you think I’m ever going anywhere near that bed over there in something less than a full vac suit, let alone naked.”
Luke pretended for a moment to be disappointed, but found he couldn’t keep up the act. Breaking the façade, he laughed. “Why should that stop us? I’m sure Han has one of Chewie’s old suits lying around on the Falcon. I’ll bet we could both fit into that…”
It had been nearly five years since Chewbacca’s death, and although the pain of the Wookiee’s passing was still present for both Luke and Mara, they were far enough removed from the event itself to be able to lightly joke about such things. Chewie had been nearly as devoted and loyal to Luke as he had been to Han, and Luke suspected that Chewbacca would have no problem with his plan for repurposing an old vac suit.
Mara, however, wrinkled her nose at this suggestion. “Ugh. Can you imagine how bad that suit would end up smelling?”
Luke simply narrowed his eyes at her, but his tone was playful. “Nevertheless, I’ve come up with a sensible alternative to counter your objection. Do you have another concern, or shall I go and borrow a vac suit from Han?”
Mara waved him towards the room’s door with a “be my guest” gesture. As Luke turned to walk towards the door, though, Mara grabbed him from behind by the waist. Spinning her husband around, she shoved him roughly into the wall.
“Forget the bed. I have a better idea.”
* * *Luke awoke in a good mood the next morning. Mara’s objections to the bed had, fortunately, faded away rather quickly the previous evening. Leia had returned their son Ben to them just after dinnertime, thus Luke and Mara had gotten a blissful four hours alone together. The evening’s activities had left both exhausted, and blessedly, Ben had slept soundly through the night, allowing the Skywalkers a much-needed nine standard hours of sleep.
Luke did not move for a long moment. Mara’s right arm was draped across his chest, and their right legs were hopelessly intertwined. Luke was still considering how to extricate himself from Mara without waking her when he felt his wife begin to stir.
Mara was not a morning person. This fact was belied by her eyes, which were always impossibly clear even immediately upon awakening, lacking the unfocused haze inherent to most humans post-slumber. Today was no exception, and twin emeralds sparkled at Luke as Mara gave him a small and almost impish smile.
“Good morning, farmboy.” Her greeting was delivered in a quiet whisper, so as not to wake their nearly 3-year-old son Ben, still sleeping soundly on a small cot a few feet from the Skywalkers’ bed.
Luke rolled onto his side to kiss his wife, morning breath and all. “Happy anniversary, Mara.”
Mara smirked. “Oh yeah, I guess that is today, isn’t it.”
Luke was not convinced for a femtosecond that she had forgotten, but played along by glaring accusingly at her for a moment. Finally he broke the look with a smile. “Can you believe it’s been ten years?”
Mara’s amused laugh was a bit too loud, and she looked over at Ben with some guilt before responding. Fortunately, the boy did not stir.
“I can’t believe it’s been ten years and I’ve managed to keep from killing you.” Her voice softened considerably. “I guess that means we’re destined to be together forever.”
Luke chuckled lightly. “I could have told you that ten years ago.” After kissing his wife one more time, he rolled out of bed and headed to the refresher to prepare for the day, leaving Mara the duty of waking Ben.
* * *There were only a few things a tourist could do on Ession. Shopping was one of those things. The Corporate Sector had been mostly untouched by the war, and a number of new clothing boutiques had opened in the past year to cater to wealthy refugees from Core planets.
The war, and the life of a Jedi Master in general, had both left Mara with little use for fancy clothes. Most of her wardrobe had been lost on Coruscant, and what was left consisted mostly of work outfits – jumpsuits, fatigues, and Jedi robes. Thus, given the chance to acquire the beginnings of a new wardrobe on Ession, Mara seized the opportunity.
She found a kindred spirit in Leia. The two women left Ben in the care of Han and Luke and wandered through the shops for several hours, trading commentary on various dresses and, both men agreed, no doubt also trading sarcastic comments on their beloved husbands.
Luke and Han took Ben on a quick trip through a toy store, where Luke found and purchased a small bronzium model of the Millennium Falcon for Ben. This entertained Luke’s son for hours, although Luke quickly grew tired of Han’s criticisms of the egregious errors in the toy’s form and decoration. The men soon found a quiet cantina, where they settled in to wait for their wives, passing the hours in friendly conversation as they watched Ben play with his new toy.
Hours later, the Solos and Skywalkers separated for the night, having had a decent meal together for what seemed like the first time in years. Returning to their quarters, Ben rushed through to the adjoining sitting room to watch his favorite holoprogram, an animated Ewok adventure that was one of the few programs still being regularly-broadcast after the war. Remaining in the bedroom, Luke drew Mara in for a long kiss.
As they broke off, Luke sensed through the Force an odd dissonance in Mara. He looked at her with some concern and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Mara smiled at him gently. “Nothing’s wrong. I’ve just gotten used to your grand romantic gestures, and I half-expected to come back here tonight to… well, something besides an empty room.” Despite this, Luke got no sense of actual disappointment from her, only light amusement.
Luke sighed and shook his head as he looked away for a moment, then chuckled lightly. “I tried. I really did. There’s not a single candle to be found on this rotten planet, let alone velanie flowers, scented oils, or anything else I tried to get. Ask Han. I was on the comm for hours yesterday trying to find something.”
Mara smiled coyly at her husband. “You can make it up to me someday. I’ll let you off the hook this time, on account of our circumstances.” She narrowed her eyes threateningly. “But I expect to be seriously impressed when you do make it up to me.”
Luke laughed. “Deal.” Leaning forward, he kissed her on the nose.
Mara smiled at him again, a brilliant look that lit up her face and made her green eyes sparkle. “By the way, I got you a little something. You’ll have to wait a few days, though. It’s waiting for you on Ossus.”
Luke appraised his wife carefully, trying to get a hint of the surprise, but her neither her features nor the Force gave away anything but her amusement. Finally he shrugged.
“Ok.” Producing a small box, he handed it to Mara. “I got you something, too. Happy anniversary.”
Opening the box, she gasped.
Inside was a small pendant, suspended by a simple chain. Made of agrinium, it was shaped in a two-dimensional representation of the galaxy. Embedded in the pendant were dozens of tiny emeralds, each inscribed with a different rune. In the center was a larger emerald, also inscribed. Mara was still staring at the necklace when Luke spoke again.
“I went with emeralds to match your eyes. The glyphs on them are Dathomiri. Teneniel Djo helped me with that part at first, then Tenel Ka helped with the last few after her mother died.”
Mara still hadn’t looked up, so Luke continued. “Each of the gems is set in its place to represent a specific planet or system, and the glyphs are meant to represent a step in our relationship. The stone for Wayland has a symbol meaning ‘friend’. The stone for Nirauan means ‘lover’. The Coruscant stone represents ‘wife’. The stone marking the Colu system represents ‘mother’.”
There were a number of others, and Luke explained them all. Yavin 4 – learner. Myrkr – warrior. Dantooine – aunt. Almania – savior. Borleias – protector. Selonia – negotiator. Ossus – teacher. On he went, until only the center stone was left.
Luke paused before continuing. “The glyph on the center stone doesn’t really translate well into Basic. The stone is set in the center of the galaxy, and the symbol loosely means both ‘angel’ and ‘everything’.”
He blushed a bit, although Mara, still looking at the pendant, missed it. “After all, you are the center of my galaxy, my angel, and my everything.”
It took a moment for Mara to respond, but finally she did, quietly. “Skywalker, that is without a doubt the most nauseatingly sweet thing anyone has ever said to me.”
But when she finally looked up, Luke saw the tears in her eyes.
Oh, Luke is such a wonderful husband. Mara is truly blessed
That is exactly what I would expect Mara to say. Wonderful story!
Happy, melty melty Luke is just all kinds of a sweetie. Reminds me of the song by Monica, called Angel of Mine. Deliciously wonderful and mellow song.
@Stone Jade - you are becoming habit forming LOL
Another wonderful story!
Jade_eyes id right, you are spoiling us.
Ha, thanks. I'll only be able to keep it up for a little while longer before I run out of stuff that's already finished, so don't get too attached.
I guess I can post chapters of my half-finished novel when I run out of other stuff. That would at least force me to start working on that project again...
This was beyond excellent. Who are you, and where have you been all this time?
Seriously, I am a little late to the party. I read HoT and the NJO series years ago (and much of the Bantam stuff years before that), then picked them back up a few months ago after starting with Truce at Bakura and reading chronologically through the New Republic era. I've continued chronologically as best I could (I'm working on Fury right now) and have kept finding places where I was dissatisfied with the depiction of L/M.
So, I started writing my own stuff. I have a very flexible university research job, so I have a few hours to, here and there, when things are slow or when I'm waiting for a step in some process to take place.
Well, that comment was intended in gest, so I wasn't expecting you to explain! Regardless, we sure are happy you're here.
Hi. I finally decided to take the time to read these and I'm glad I did. These are great.
It took a moment for Mara to respond, but finally she did, quietly. “Skywalker, that is without a doubt the most nauseatingly sweet thing anyone has ever said to me.”
That is my favourite line from the last one. I look forward to more
That was beautiful. They really deserved some quiet moments after all they had been through. I love Luke's gift.
Ok, I finished up another story. The next few stories I post will have a much different tone compared to the last few. For this one, no romance/humor/mush/snark. And, no Mara. This is a Luke missing moment, inspired by Survivor's Quest. There is a bit of angst, but it's mostly philosophical. I realize that this won't be up everyone's alley.
Zahn created a small issue in SQ, when he wrote Luke as worrying about Jedi marriage. Why he did this I don't know, as by the NJO books (which were written first), this issue was nowhere to be found. Were I writing the story, I would have simply ignored that issue brought up in the PT entirely, as it's completely plausible that Luke would not have known about the prohibition of attachments in the old Jedi Order.
But, since Zahn did this, and there's no resolution to that plot, I wrote one. This is a discussion between Luke and Ikrit, so some familiarity with the Junior Jedi Knights series and Ikrit's character is helpful but certainly not essential. For those not familiar with the character, Ikrit is a small rabbit-like Jedi Master, found by Anakin and Tahiri in a temple on Yavin 4 in 22 ABY after having been in hibernation for 400 years.
There's a follow-up to this story, featuring L/M, that I'll probably post in a few days, but I need to change some details to match what's in this story first. Hope you enjoy it. Concrit welcomed as usual.
* * *Attachments
Immediately after Survivor’s Quest
He had been pacing for hours.
Mara was gone again, off on some mission with Mirax, and Luke found himself lonely.
This was not a particularly common occurrence. Luke had not often felt so lonely, not in the nearly four years since he married Mara on Coruscant. Granted, she was gone often, perhaps even more than she was here on Yavin IV. Luke always felt an emptiness in his life when Mara was away, but this time it was particularly acute.
Luke reflected that, maybe, he was feeling this way because, for the first time in a while, Mara was off somewhere without him. He had made the choice, months before, to accompany her on a dangerous mission to sever ties between Talon Karrde’s organization and a rather irritable smuggler.
That short trip had turned into a long one, as they eventually made their way into Chiss space to search the recently-discovered remains of the Outbound Flight project. It had been a perilous journey, yes, but they had come through it, as they always did. And more importantly, husband and wife had been able to spend some extended time together. Mara often traveled, and until recently, Luke often stayed behind. He had gotten a taste, though, of what life would be like without his unending obligation to the Jedi Academy. He found, now, that that one taste was simply not enough.
The Academy was transitioning to a pre-Jedi school, for training of younglings just starting out in their exploration of their Force powers. This transition was not complete, however, and Luke was still tasked with the duty of helping with that transition. Not for the first time in his life, he longed to be elsewhere.
So Luke found himself pacing to corridors of the Great Temple. His concern would have been palpable, were someone around to notice. His concern was not for Mara’s safety. At least not mostly. Mara was as capable as anyone he had ever met, and he trusted that she would return to him in one piece at the end of her mission.
Instead, Luke wrestled with another concern. Even after their marriage, he and Mara had each had separate worries about their relationship. His wife, so used to depending only on herself, had had difficulty in determining her own role in the galaxy. For Luke it was simple. A Jedi Knight kept the peace, protected the weak and the innocent, and fought the dark side. This had been his life, and he knew his destiny would keep him on this path forever.
For Mara it had not been so simple. Always uncomfortable with the notion of sacrificing her freedom for responsibility to trillions, her place in the Jedi Order had been uncertain. She had been drawn to the Empire of the Hand, the Thrawn-created organization offering some of the stability and purpose she had missed since the fall of the Galactic Empire.
And yet she had faced that challenge to her loyalty to Luke’s order, if not to Luke himself, and she had stood her ground. She had chosen the life of the Jedi, and Luke quietly celebrated her new sense of purpose in the galaxy. The current class of Jedi trainees would, in the short years to come, begin to choose Masters to oversee their training on an individual basis. And, Luke knew, Mara would be there to help.
Luke, though, still wrestled with his own private demon. One brief lesson, delivered years ago by Master Yoda, still haunted him. Prohibit attachments, the Jedi do. Or did, anyway, before they were wiped out by Luke’s father, the man who became Darth Vader. For Yoda, it had been simple. Attachments lead to the dark side. Fear of loss was a powerful motivator, and could lead a Jedi down the wrong path.
Luke did not know what had led his father to the dark side. That information had died with Palpatine, most likely. Luke did know that he himself existed, as did his sister Leia. He also knew that Darth Vader had once been Anakin Skywalker, his father. Finally, he knew he had a mother, although he did not know what had happened to her. It was easy for Luke to imagine, then, that his father’s attachment to his mother may have played a role, whether major or minor, in Anakin’s fall.
As Luke wandered aimlessly into the Great Hall, a quiet voice from behind startled him into focus.
“Your emotions are a raging torrent, young Master Skywalker, and you seem ill at ease. Has something gone wrong?”
It took Luke a moment to locate the speaker. Finally, he noticed the small Kushiban in the corner of the hall.
“Master Ikrit, I’m sorry to have disturbed you. I didn’t expect anyone to be in here.”
Luke watched as the small Master’s ears perked up, and Ikrit raised his white head to look with interest at the human Jedi Master.
“You did not disturb me, Master Skywalker. Please, join me for a moment. You seem preoccupied with something, and I have found that such preoccupations are most easily dismissed when they have been discussed.”
Luke smiled sadly, and shook his head. “Thank you, Ikrit, but I’m not sure you can help me.”
With that he began to turn to leave. The Kushiban’s ears drooped, and his fur took on a light blue color. The voice from the ancient Jedi Master was sad, and it stopped Luke in his tracks. “Luke, such distractions can be harmful to a Jedi Master. I may look like a child’s pet, but wisdom comes not from size or shape, but from age and life experience.”
Luke turned to look into Ikrit’s eyes, which turned an icy shade of blue, and smiled as he answered. “A lesson I learned long ago, Ikrit. You forget that we studied under the same Master.”
Ikrit’s face took on the Kushiban approximation of a smile as his ears perked back up. “Perhaps you have learned the lesson, Master Skywalker, although you seem to have failed to take it to heart. Please, Luke, sit, and tell me what is troubling you.”
Luke sighed as he sat down. He took a deep breath before starting. “I suppose, if there is anyone who can give me some insight, it might be you. I’ve been wrestling with the issue of Jedi marriage. It seems so ridiculous to me now, when I and half the other Masters are already married or in serious relationships, but Yoda told me years ago of the Jedi prohibition against attachments, and it’s been weighing on me recently.”
Ikrit’s lagomorph face was rather incapable of frowning, but Luke imagined that Ikrit was doing so anyway. The diminutive Jedi Master took a moment before responding.
“I see.” He paused again. “I must admit that I found many of the new Order’s policies to be rather surprising, when your nephew reawakened me.”
Luke nodded slowly. “Yoda once told me that attachment leads to jealousy, and that jealously leads to the dark side. Marriage seems to me to be the greatest form of attachment, and that is why the old Order banned it.”
Luke was surprised by Ikrit’s reaction, the Kushiban form of a chuckle. “I think perhaps you are making incorrect assumptions, Luke. Or, at least, operating under incomplete information.”
Luke looked at him quizzically, so Ikrit continued.
“First of all, not all marriages were banned under Jedi policy. Most Jedi were prohibited from marrying, yes, but not all. The Jedi Order was somewhat more practical than you give it credit for, Luke. For example, some beings in the Order came from endangered species. These Jedi were allowed to take mates, to play their part in the propagation of their species. Granted, this did not apply to humans, nor to most humanoids. Other Jedi came from cultures whose marriage customs were such that they were allowed to circumvent the Jedi Order’s policies, for a number of different reasons.”
Luke frowned slightly. “I didn’t know that.”
Ikrit’s fur changed hue, to a slight shade of blue that, in Luke’s mind, suggested some empathy, and a little sadness, on the part of the ancient Jedi Master.
“Nor indeed did you have any reason to, Master Skywalker. As I understand it, your training was necessarily abbreviated. Much of the history of the Jedi Order was likely omitted to give you more time to focus on more… practical matters.”
Luke reflected on this for a moment, then nodded. “That is true.”
Ikrit continued. “Regardless, Luke, marriage is not the greatest form of attachment by any definition. It may be argued that love is, perhaps. And, it is my experience that love and marriage are interrelated in fewer instances than you might expect.”
Luke sighed a bit. “Fine, Ikrit, but let’s not quibble over technicalities. I love Mara, so your distinction is moot in my case. That seems to be the same for Tionne and Kam, not to mention Corran and Mirax.”
Ikrit’s fur took on a darker blue as he spoke again, and his ears drooped slightly. “If we consider only love as an emotion, and ignore the symbolic aspects of relationships, then it will be easier for us to reach a proper conclusion. Now, your concerns over attachments, please.”
Luke was getting slightly impatient with the Kushiban, but he managed to respond calmly nevertheless. “You are familiar with some of my history, right?”
Ikrit’s ears perked up slightly. “Yes, I have had much time to read the recent history of the Jedi, now that Anakin has returned home to his parents.”
“Then you are aware of some of my more important… failings. Attachments have led me to do foolish things in the past. I rushed off to help my friends on Bespin and abandoned my training. Later I fell to the dark side and joined the cloned Emperor, thinking I could save the galaxy by abandoning my principles. Even later I abandoned the Jedi and tried to become a hermit, only to be manipulated into wandering around the galaxy in a vain attempt to find my mother.”
Ikrit responded. “Hmm, yes, all these things I know of. And many more unfortunate choices, on your path to where you are today?”
Luke nodded. “Yes, for a long time I didn’t know what I was doing with my life, or where I was going.”
Ikrit made his approximation of a chuckle again. “And why should you? As you yourself have stated, Yoda gave you only that training necessary to become a Jedi Knight. The tools to become a Jedi Master he trusted you to develop on your own. This is a process that many Jedi go through. All make mistakes along the way. Some fall to the dark side, as you did. Fewer come back to the light. Those that return do so often only moments before their death, as your father did. Those that are able to return, and yet survive, become the greatest of Jedi.”
Luke frowned again. “But in failing as I have, I’ve been directly or indirectly responsible for the death of billions. Is that worth the price of one man’s journey towards illumination? And what of the other Jedi? Even if my attachments are not sufficient to lead me to permanent darkness, what about them?”
“Each Jedi must face his or her own trials, Luke. It is up to the Masters of the Order only to prepare them as best they can to face those trials.”
Luke’s confusion showed on his face. “Then why the rules about attachment in the old Order?”
Ikrit’s fur reddened slightly, as if the he were feeling some degree of anger or anxiety. “Such rules did not exist back into perpetuity. Nor, indeed, were infants taken from their homes and raised by the Order for the entire history of the Jedi. Organizations, as they expand and age, tend to turn to dogma as a way of simplifying complex ideas for absorption by diverse beings.”
Luke’s brow furled. “I’m not sure I understand.”
“The Jedi Order often enacted rules which were meant to do nothing but prohibit a potential decision which could lead a student to the dark side. Because attachment can lead to jealousy, and jealousy to the dark side, attachment was forbidden, despite the fact that many Jedi could have and would have been able to form romantic attachments without any risk of falling.”
Luke’s reaction was one of shock. “But that’s inane.”
Ikrit chuckled again. “Many such policies are, when policymakers forget that shades of gray are as much a part of life as black and white. Rules which apply a single standard to a diverse group are often inane, but are enacted to distill a complex issue down to its simplest form. Thus, it limits the ability of a small group of individuals to make a potentially bad decision at the expense of a much larger group of individuals to which the freedom to make such a decision could be entrusted.”
Luke frowned yet again. “You sound like you blame Yoda for this.”
Ikrit’s fur reverted to a shade of light blue, and matted slightly. “It was in many ways Yoda’s doing, as he was Grand Master of the Order. Yoda was the greatest of all Jedi Masters in living memory, and I assure you he understood this issue much better than I. Yet the Master of the Order is often tasked with making decisions which have wide-reaching consequences, as you are in this instance. Not all will agree with your decisions, and you may occasionally make incorrect ones, as you have in the past, but that does not absolve you from the duty of making those decisions.”
“This is all enlightening, Ikrit, but it does not seem to give me any idea where to actually go with this issue.”
“Indeed, Luke, because you’re asking a philosophical question, rather than a practical one. But hold that thought for a moment. What instruction did Yoda give you during your training that might help with this decision?”
Luke’s eyes narrowed slightly as he thought about it. “None, really, except to relate the Jedi Order’s prohibition against attachments.”
Ikrit gave off an air of disappointment. “Then you have not considered the implications of his other teachings, Luke. For example, you felt a deep attachment to your father, despite his existence as a Sith Lord. What instructions did Yoda give you regarding your father?”
Luke sighed. “That I would have to kill him.”
Ikrit’s ears fell. “Is that what he told you?”
“No, he told me I had to confront Vader. But his meaning was clear.”
Ikrit’s coat of fur took on a bluer hue as he sadly responded. “Yoda was a masterful teacher, Luke. The instructions he gave you were necessarily vague, as a great teacher will always do with a gifted student. Do you know why this is?”
Luke shook his head. “No.”
Ikrit’s fur lightened substantially. “This is something you should consider carefully. Yoda may indeed have intended for you to kill Darth Vader. However, he gave you instructions only to confront him. An open-ended instruction allows for interpretation by the student. In this case, you chose to respond to your father with love, instead of with destruction. In doing so, you redeemed Anakin Skywalker, and destroyed Palpatine. Gifted students may often find solutions that are beyond the ability of their teacher to conceive. A master teacher takes such things into account when he instructs his pupil.”
Luke was silent for long minutes, as he mulled over Ikrit’s lesson. Finally, he spoke again. “We’re still speaking only philosophically.”
Ikrit’s ears perked up, and his mouth took on an approximation of a smile. “Good, then let us speak practically. Should you choose to continue to allow Jedi to form attachments, what are the implications?”
Luke took a moment before speaking. “Jedi who take a mate can produce Force-sensitive offspring, thereby expanding the Order. Young trainees are allowed to know their families, which can lead to relationships with parents, siblings, and relatives. On the other hand, such attachments may lead some Jedi to fall to the dark side.”
“Indeed, Luke, that will happen. However, to deny Jedi their natural inclination to form attachments, and to love, can also lead some Jedi to fall. The ability to love and to be loved is a hallmark of sentience, and to give up that ability is to become something less than fully sentient. You are familiar with the history of Count Dooku, and his fall during the Clone Wars?”
Luke nodded, and Ikrit continued. “Dooku left the Jedi Order because he disagreed with many of the issues we’ve discussed tonight. He eventually fell to the dark side and was a leader in one of the most devastating wars in the known history of this galaxy. Such an outcome may have been avoided were he given the freedom to make certain decisions for himself.”
Ikrit continued. “Indeed, even many Jedi who did not fall were prone to destructive behavior. Jedi were not allowed to form attachments, but were allowed sexual and other emotional outlets as necessary. Such rules invariably led some Jedi to make rather poor choices. This has consequences not only for the Jedi himself or herself, but also for those beings who entered into doomed relationships with those Jedi. In some ways, the old Order was unconcerned with the impact such policies had on non-Jedi.”
“I didn’t know that.”
Ikrit radiated amusement. “Nor should you have. The historians of the Jedi Order, for reasons you might imagine, tended to ignore or gloss over such incidents.”
Ikrit turned reflective for a moment. “Perhaps we’ve moved back into philosophy yet again. Here is another practical consideration. What would be the implications of changing the current policy? If you were to ban attachments as the old Order did, where would that leave you, or your sister, or any of the others among us who have already formed such attachments?”
This stopped Luke short. He had considered this question before, many times. The problem was, he did not have a satisfactory answer.
When Luke didn’t respond, Ikrit continued. “You could of course make the rule apply only to those Jedi who are not already in a committed relationship. But then, what of those Jedi who are in relationships that may become committed in the future, but who are not at that stage yet? And what of Jedi who are too young to be in such a relationship, but may have done so in the future? There are already young Jedi who have developed friendships that may, someday, lead to romance. The distinction between friendship and love is often a blurry one.”
Luke suspected Ikrit was speaking of Anakin and Tahiri, though this was the last thing he wanted to think about right now.
Ikrit continued. “You could also make it apply retroactively to all Jedi. Then those Jedi, yourself included, who are in relationships would have to make a choice either to sever their attachments or to leave the Jedi Order. I suspect that this is somewhat less likely.”
Luke only nodded.
Ikrit did not speak, so Luke asked the next question. “This is all very helpful, but I’m still not any closer to a good answer. What would you do, in my place?”
Ikrit again let out his unique chuckle. “I have my own opinion on what is the correct course of action, yes. However, I would prefer it if you came to this decision yourself. Even the greatest Jedi Masters still need instruction at times, and it is a foolish teacher who gives his student the answer without allowing that student to work through the problem to the extent of his ability.”
Luke frowned. “I appreciate that, Master Ikrit, but I’ve worked through this in every way possible, and I’m still no closer to the answer.”
Ikrit seemed disappointed. “Perhaps, Luke, but I doubt that very much. We may have examined most of the practical questions, and many of the philosophical ones. So let us speak hypothetically. Without your attachments, where would you be now?”
Luke did not answer for a long time. Many of his life events ran through his head, one after another. Finally, he responded.
“I suppose I’d be dead. If not dead, I’d be a Dark Lord of the Sith.”
Ikrit’s ears perked up. “Indeed?”
Luke nodded. “Without Ben, I would still be on Tatooine, or I would have died on the Death Star. Without Biggs and Wedge, I would have died in the Death Star’s trench. Without Han, I would have died on Hoth. Without my father, I would have died by Palpatine’s hand. Without Leia, I never would have been redeemed from the side of the Emperor reborn. Without Leia and the kids, and my students, I would dead or still unconscious at the hands of Exar Kun. There are many other examples I could give you.”
Luke felt a single tear roll down his cheek. “Without her, I would have died a dozen times over. On Myrkr, or on Wayland. On Almania, or at Centerpoint. Here on Yavin IV several times. And even if I hadn’t died, I might have lost myself forever.”
“In what way?”
Luke sighed. “My goals were always clear to me, after Endor. I was to re-establish the Jedi Order, to train the next generation. The path I had to take to reach those goals wasn’t that simple, as you know. I made a lot of mistakes. I was aimless for many years, and although I knew something was missing, I wasn’t sure what. And yet Mara was always there for me, in a way that no one save perhaps Leia and Han had ever been.
“It still almost wasn’t enough. I had lost nearly everyone that I was ever close to, and I almost lost Mara, too, until I made a decision to trust in the Force, to go off after her instead of staying and trying to help Han and Leia work out the Caamas situation a few years back. In the end, she was the one who finally taught me to trust fully in the Force. Ben and Yoda both tried, as did many others, but I never really understood that lesson until Mara.
“We both found something we needed in each other. I found a deeper understanding of the Force. She found someone to trust in other than herself, and discovered her capacity to love and to be loved. I imagine neither of us would be where we are today without the other.”
Ikrit did not directly respond, but instead asked another question. “And what of the rest of your loved ones? Without their attachments to you, where would they be?”
This stopped Luke short again. He looked away for a long moment before responding. Finally, he came up with an answer. “I suppose they’d all be dead, too. Leia on the Death Star. Han, probably dead by a bounty hunter, or he’d still be in carbonite in Jabba’s Palace. Their kids wouldn’t exist. My father would have remained on the dark side, and perhaps died that way.”
Ikrit simply stared at him. “Perhaps that’s your answer, then…”
Luke still had an argument. “But there might be others who would still be alive. Gantoris, Dorsk 81, Biggs, Dak, Gaeriel. How many others have died because of me? How can I balance the good with the bad?”
Ikrit again radiated some sadness, and perhaps, Luke thought, a hint of frustration. “All beings die, Luke, as you well know, and for many reasons. There is only death because there is life; likewise, there is only dark because there is light. Those you love will die, whether you love them or not, and whether you feel attachment to them or not. You indeed may either slow or hasten that process, but you can no more prevent the eventual death of those you love than you can destroy the dark side of the Force. As long as there is the light side, there will be the dark side. Similarly, as long as one lives, one must eventually die.”
Luke shook his head. “But how do I keep my attachments to others from harming them…?”
Ikrit cut him off, probably the first time he had ever done this when speaking to Luke. “The balance between harm and good is always fluctuating, Luke, and no being is fully the master of his or her own fate. Nor is he the master of another’s fate. As long as there is free will, others will make decisions that will affect, positively or negatively, those you love. You yourself will also make such decisions, knowingly or otherwise. Your duty is only to choose whether you will accept attachments, and the consequences thereof, or whether you will choose detachment, and the consequences of that choice.”
Luke narrowed his eyes. “And what was your choice, if you are willing to tell me?”
Ikrit chuckled again. “A direct answer will do you no good, but I will tell you how I made my choice.”
Luke sighed, but nodded.
“I recall the teachings of Yoda, one of the first lessons when I was a youngling. Attachments lead to jealousy. Jealousy leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate, to the dark side.”
Luke nodded again. “He taught me a similar lesson.”
Ikrit continued. “As I reached my status as a Master, I discovered for myself the rest of the lesson, as I imagine many Masters before me had. This is the same issue we have discussed. Sentience leads to love. Love leads to attachment. Attachment leads to jealousy, and so on.”
Ikrit paused, and his blue eyes, reflecting Luke’s own, bore down on the human Jedi Master until Luke could barely stand it.
Finally, Ikrit spoke again. “It is up to each individual, then, to determine where he or she draws the line. The Jedi Order instructed us to draw that line between love and attachment. Each Jedi, though, must one day choose where his or her particular line will be drawn. Do you draw the line after sentience, and fail to love? Do you draw it after love, and reject attachments, as the Order instructed? Do you draw it after attachments, and reject jealousy?”
Ikrit paused again, then spoke one final time. “At each step, the line is harder to draw, is less easy to define. The difference between attachment and jealousy is much less easily defined than between love and attachment. The distinction between hate and the dark side is nearly impossible to draw. It takes great strength of character, and a deep trust in the Force, to draw one’s own line and to hold it steady. Many fail to do so, some irrevocably. But each being must draw his or her own line, Jedi or not.
“You cannot choose where any other draws his or her line. You can only guide them on their path to this choice. You can choose to do so as the Jedi of the old Order did, and tell them where they should draw the line. This is still only guidance. Or, you can choose to help teach them how to draw their own line. Regardless, some will make the wrong choice, and will fall. Others may sometimes falter, as you have, but may be redeemed by their own strength or with the help of others.
“In the end, your choices are simple, yet more complex than for others. As with all other beings, you must draw your own line and hold it, as I did centuries ago. You, Master Skywalker, as head of the Order, have an additional burden. You must choose how others will be prepared to draw their own line. Do you tell them, as the Jedi of old, or do you show them?”
And in that moment, Luke finally found his answer.
Wonderful and bright thoughts about Force, love, and attachments! I wish Jedi of Old Order would have given this topic more attention.