Beyond "The Shadow of Fate" (SJRS Challenge: Episode VII) Updated 13 September

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by JadeLotus, Jun 9, 2014.

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  1. JadeLotus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 4
    Thanks as always to the wonderful @ginchy for looking this over for me [:D]

    Tags: @Gemma

    ________________


    Chapter 6


    1 NRE

    Mara Jade walked swiftly through the hallways of the Myrkr smuggling base, telling herself that her pace was because Karrde had summonded her, not because she wanted to put as much distance as possible between her and Skywalker.

    Two years she had spent hating him. Two years she had been living with her failure. Two years of watching his every move on the holonews, every one of his victories a bitter twist in her heart. And now he had fallen quite by accident into her lap, and she couldn’t even do anything about it. At least not until she could talk some sense into Karrde.

    Despite herself, Skywalker had unnerved her. Mara had expected arrogance and conceit – he was a Jedi after all. And yet he had seemed quite…normal. More a farmboy in appearance and demeanor than the terrorist she had expected. It had caught her offguard, which had likely been his intention. Mara berated herself for slipping. She never should have told Skywalker she was going to kill him, but her pride and anticipation had gotten the best of her. Now he would be expecting her attack, when it came.

    But Mara shook those thoughts off, squared her shoulders and walked into Talon Karrde’s office without knocking. Karrde sat behind the ornate desk, shifting through flimsiplasts. He was perhaps ten years Mara’s senior, with brown skin that had seen many summers on the homeworld he refused to disclose, and deep-set, dark eyes watched everything and everyone. When he saw her enter Karrde looked up and beckoned her to take a seat.

    “Is Skywalker secure?” he asked conversationally.

    “As you requested,” she answered as she sat down and crossed one leg over the other, trying to appear nonchalant. “Now we need to decide what to do with him.”

    The corner of Karde’s mouth quirked into a smile at her use of “we.” She was his second in command, but Mara knew ultimately the decision would rest with him, and she respected that. It was how she’d been raised, to follow a clear chain of command without question.

    “He’s a hero of the New Republic,” Talon stroked his chin thoughtfully. “They are the obvious choice for ransom. We could contact them.”

    “And make yourself and this organization known to them,” Mara pointed out. “Better to deal with someone like the Hutts, they won’t ask questions and they won’t come after us later.” There had been a price on Skywalker’s head ever since his destruction of Jabba on Tatooine; the Hutts bitter about their fallen brother. Mara had even considered offering her services as a bounty hunter to them, but had been waylaid by her duties to Karrde’s organization.

    The man himself regarded her for several moments, the ghost of a smile on his face. “And your counsel, Mara, has nothing to do with the fact that the New Republic will want him alive?” he queried. “Whereas the Hutts would be quite happy and pay us just as much if we delivered Skywalker’s corpse?”

    Mara raised her chin. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Karrde.”

    “Of course not, my dear,” Karrde said, although his tone indicated his opinion was otherwise. “I have ordered that Skywalker remain safe and well cared for until I decide what to do with him,” he continued, his penetrating gaze on her again, but she held firm. “And I know you follow orders, Mara,” he added smoothly. “I just ask that, for now, my orders take precedence over any…others that you may feel are unfulfilled.”

    His words struck her with cold dread as she took his meaning. Mara thought she had been so clever destroying all record of her origins and life before the death of the Emperor, but Karrde had been more diligent and resourceful than she’d given him credit for.

    “You know about that?” she asked anyway.

    “I’ve always known, Mara.” Karrde was inscrutable.

    Mara furrowed her brow, unsure of what to do with the knowledge. “And you let me in there alone with him?” she queried. “How did you know I wouldn’t just do it?”

    “I didn’t,” Karrde answered simply. “I trusted you.”

    Mara looked away. The last man to trust her had been the Emperor, and she had failed him. And now she had a choice – avenge her former master, the only person who had ever meant anything to her, and kill Skywalker as he had ordered. Or follow Karrde, whom she genuinely liked and respected and had given her a fresh start despite knowing her origins.

    For perhaps the first time in her life, Mara Jade wasn’t sure what to do.

    ___________________________________________________________________________________




    Leia Organa Solo stood on the balcony of the Varykino villa on Naboo, looking out over the beautiful vista of lochs and mountains. Warm orange light from the rising sun rippled against the gentle waters of the lake surrounding the island, and in the distance she could hear the calls of water gulls in their nests.

    Naboo reminded Leia a great deal of Alderaan – the majestic peaks and swirling seas of her homeworld long lost to her. And yet her sadness was countered with a new happiness to see the home of her biological mother, Padmé Amidala, and to know that the world Leia had been raised on resembled it so closely. That, in turn, made her feel closer to Padmé. Briefly, Leia had wondered whether, if her mother had survived childbirth, Padmé would have raised her and Luke here on Naboo, perhaps in the very Lake House she and Han now shared. There was an intense and bitter longing in Leia’s heart for that, to know the woman who had given birth to her, to have grown up beside Luke having always shared the deep connection which gave her such fulfillment.

    The connection which she no longer felt.

    “Morning, sweetheart.” Han appeared and wrapped his arms around her, kissing the top of her head. Leia leaned back into his chest and closed her eyes, taking his strength for her own and telling herself she was worrying over nothing. “Something wrong?” Han asked, sensing her discontent.

    “It’s Luke,” Leia told him. She’d felt it since the previous day, a loss of contact with her brother. It had been a sharp, intense pain, as if half of her heart had been ripped away. The sting had slowly reduced to a dull ache which refused to go away.

    “What?” Han asked worriedly. “Is he hurt?”

    “I don’t know,” Leia answered truthfully. “I still can’t feel him at all.”

    “That damn kid,” Han growled. “I told him to take backup to that stupid planet.”

    “It could be nothing,” Leia reasoned. “He told me this might happen. I just didn’t expect it to feel like this.” It was true their bond in the Force had strengthened with the knowledge that they were twins, but Leia didn’t remember ever feeling so devoid. The bond had always been there, even before they met. It had never broken before.

    Han tightened his grip around her and Leia accepted his comfort gratefully.

    “I just thought he would have contacted me by now,” Leia added. “To let me know he was okay.”

    “He would’ve,” Han agreed and kissed her hair again. “I’ll comm Wedge, get him to send a squad to check on him.” He slipped away and went over to the comm station, and Leia was flooded with relief and love for her new husband. Han would never dismiss her concerns, or complain about their honeymoon being interrupted. He simply acted.

    Leia turned back to the view over the lake, and although the emptiness in her heart was still there, her worry was alleviated. Her thoughts returned to her dream of a childhood with Luke and Padmé; of swimming in the lake, of days spent in the sand of the beach making castles, of visiting family in Theed and making friends with the local Gungan children. Of her and Luke whispering secrets to each other in the night, teasing and poking each other through the Force while their mother scolded them playfully.

    And yet, Leia knew those thoughts were treacherous, because her life may have turned out very differently. She would never have known Bail and Breha Organa, or perhaps only know them indifferently as her mother’s friends. She may never have met Han, and that would be a loss she would not bear.

    It was enough, Leia decided, to be here now. To know Naboo and meet her mother’s family. To spend time in the beautiful villa, and to dream of the day she and Han would bring their own children there to swim in the lake and play on the beach and know the life that she never had.


    __________________________________________________________________________


    29 NRE

    Practice remotes hovered in the air around her. Although Jaina’s eyes were closed, she could sense them – two in front of her and one to her left, which was her weak side. Jaina’s hand hovered over her lightsaber, still clipped to her belt, her fingers twitching in anticipation.

    When she’d been just a youngling Uncle Luke had taught her to reach out through the Force and sense when the remotes were about to fire. But while her Uncle relied on his instincts alone, Jaina was more practical, sharpening her focus and hearing to the internal mechanicals of the drone and the slight whir which indicated the shot a split-second before it was released.

    Both of the remotes in front of her fired - Jaina opened her eyes, grasping and activating her saber instantly. The violet blade blurred in the air as she deflected each bolt in a flurry of movement. The fire from both remotes increased, but Jaina was too quick and precise, the exercise easy for her.

    But she kept one eye on the remote to her left, which hovered dangerously but had yet to cast a shot. That made her nervous, and Jaina always struggled with split concentration. She reached out through the Force and finally heard the left remote whir and fire.

    She spun to deflect the sole blaster bolt her left side, but was a split-second too late, the blast stunning her arm slightly. Jaina deactivated the drones with a wave of her hand, thumbed off her saber and clipped it back onto her belt. Then she pushed up the sleeve of her robe and rubbed the reddening mark on her arm with a grimace.

    “I thought those things weren’t meant to hurt?”

    Jaina turned to see Zebula Pavish approach, and noted that he wasn’t wearing senatorial robes, but tight-fitting black trousers and a hooded leather jacket with a wool lining. She guessed he must be finished work for the day.

    “Yeah, Aunt Mara must have raised the setting on that one,” Jaina said and pushed the sleeve of her robe back down. “Even when she’s not here, she’s teaching me.”

    Zeb raised his eyebrows. “How so?”

    “I favour my right hand,” Jaina explained, grabbing her saber again to demonstrate. “So she deliberately set that drone up to focus on my left, but I tried to keep both hands on my saber and turn to deflect the bolt.” She pivoted on her feet, and swung the saber handle with a two-handed grip. “But I wasn’t fast enough,” she continued. “What I should have done was use my left hand only,” she dropped her right hand from the grip and swung the saber with the left, showing him how much quicker the movement was. “I tried to compensate, when I should have adapted.”

    Zeb nodded. “Still, it’s a painful lesson.” He reached forward to take her hand and gently pushed her sleeve back up to examine the skin of her forearm which was red and already starting to blister.

    “Better I learn it with a remote than in battle,” Jaina answered, suddenly aware of the gentle warmth of his hand holding hers. “I think that’s what Aunt Mara wanted to remind me.”

    Zeb grinned at that. “She’s a tough lady.”

    “Most of the time,” Jaina agreed. She knew her Aunt often came across as cold and even hostile sometimes, but Jaina also knew when it came to her family, Mara felt things as deeply as any of them. Jaina had felt how much she had missed Uncle Luke while he’d been on Dathomir, and now he was gone again.

    “Your Mum sent me,” Zeb changed the subject and brought Jaina’s attention back to him. “There was a breach of NRI security today, and….an attack on Corellia.”

    “I know,” Jaina replied solemnly, dropping her hand from Zeb’s grip. “I know about Dad, too. They commed Master Soulser about Jedi Riu.” Jaina knew the Twi’lek well, and wasn’t afraid for her. Yara was strong and determined, and she would pull through. As for her father – well, Jaina knew nothing could keep him down.

    “Leia needs to work tonight as I’m sure you can imagine,” Zeb continued. “But she suggested – actually she ordered me to take you out. I mean, erm…” Zeb was suddenly flustered. “That we go out together. No…”

    “Alright,” Jaina smiled, the first time she had done so all day. “Let me change into my civvies and we’ll go.”

    It was a quick stop off at the women’s locker room, and Jaina neatly folded her Jedi robes away in her personal compartment and slapped a bacta patch on her red arm. There were some Jedi who chose to wear their robes constantly as the old Order had done, but Jaina liked the thought of being out of “uniform.” Of course, a Jedi was always on duty and mindful of when their skills might be needed, but on some level she considered that being a Jedi was no different from being a fighter pilot or NRI operative or a soldier. It was nice to wear civilian clothes.

    She didn’t have much to choose from in her locker, not that Jaina was particularly fussed about appearances. She changed into black trousers and boots, a light green tunic and a fitted dark green jacket. Always cautious, Jaina also pulled on her holster and blaster and clipped her lightaber to her belt. She pulled her hair out of the tight ponytail she wore for training and before leaving the room paused at the mirror. She brushed her fingers through her brown locks to smooth out the kinks, something she usually wouldn’t have bothered with.

    Zeb took her down to the lower levels, as if sensing she needed to go somewhere inconspicuous. Jaina liked the pulse and thrill of Coruscant’s underbelly, so different from her parent’s large and luxurious apartments, the Jedi Temple, or the family lake house on Naboo. It was exhilarating to be among the life of Coruscant, a million different beings of a thousand different species and worlds – smugglers and criminals and carefree socialites, people seeking their fortune, or drowning their sorrows, all together in a melting pot of a city.

    They went to a small bar in the smuggler’s district where no one paid them much attention. Zeb led her to a quiet corner and they sat down in a small private booth across from one another. A harried waitress arrived and plonked down two glasses of ale without them even ordering anything.

    “This an old haunt of yours?” Jaina asked, although she knew Zeb didn’t like to talk much about his childhood.

    “Nah,” Zeb said with a smile, and she knew he was not offended. “I think your father would kill me if I ever took you to one of those, yeah?”

    Jaina liked that when they were alone, the crisp formality of Zeb’s inflection faded slightly and his natural accent bled through. His speech became slightly more punctuated with lower-level slang, his pronunciation of ‘th’ came across more like ‘f’, ‘were’ became ‘was’ and he said ‘da’ instead of ‘the’. Jaina had spent a lot of time cataloguing the differences in his speech, and it made her smile whenever she heard it.

    They chatted quietly for a while, and Zeb did an admirable job of keeping her mind off the day’s events as she made short work of her ale, but they were soon interrupted by a brash voice calling out across the bar.

    “Oi, Zeb!”

    Jaina looked up to see two figures approaching. The one who had spoken was almost two metres tall with greyish-purple skin and yellowed eyes – a Lasat, Jaina surmised. His pointed ears were feline in appearance and he was bald except for thick purple whiskers on his chin and jaw. The other was a human male with olive skin and dark, curly hair.

    Zeb seemed surprised but pleased, and rose to greet the pair as they approached, sharing a complicated handshake with them both. “What’re you two doing here?” Zeb asked them, sinking back into the booth. “Isn’t this place a little tame for you?”

    “Good for a change sometimes, innit,” the Lasat shrugged, then turned and looked at Jaina appreciatively. “Hello, luv.”

    “Alright, lay off,” Zeb waved his hand. “Jaina, this is Quix Treelaj,” he indicated the Lasat. “And Petar Sillow.” The human male gave a sardonic little wave. “Mates from the old days.”

    “So you’re the Solo girl, huh?” Petar gave her a smile. Whilst Quix had the accent and slang of a Coruscant lower-leveller, she could tell that Petar was Corellian.

    “Jaina,” she corrected him. “Nice to meet you.”

    “Check you, with your new fam, bruv” Quix slapped Zeb on the arm. “Heard you levelled up. And talking like a right toff, too.”

    Zeb shrugged and took a large gulp of his ale.

    “You don’t, though,” Quix observed, turning to Jaina. “You sound like ‘im” he pointed a thumb at Petar.

    Jaina was well aware that she didn’t have the crisp Coruscanti accent of her aunt and cousins. “I spent a lot of time on Corellia as a kid,” she explained. “And when we came back here I guess I couldn’t get rid of the accent.”

    “That’s the way it’s meant to be,” Petar grinned. “Once a Corellian, always a Corellian.”

    “That’s what my Dad says,” Jaina returned his smile.

    “So you’re a Jedi, yeah?” Quix’s sharp eyes looked down at her lightsaber. “Ya know, my Uncle used da ride around with one of youse.”

    “Really?” Jaina sat up straighter, intrigued.

    But Zeb waved a dismissive hand. “Knock it off, Quix, she ain’t impressed.”

    “We heard what happened at the pig-pen today,” Petar said, changing the subject, his glee a little too evident.

    “Pig-pen?” Jaina queried.

    “NRI,” Zeb clarified.

    “That’s not public knowledge,” Jaina frowned.

    Petar and Quiz both laughed heartily, and even Zeb gave her an indulgent smile.

    “Ain’t no secrets on Coruscant, me lovely,” Quix told her.

    “So, any word on who was behind it?” Zeb asked.

    Quix gave Jaina an appraising look, and then turned back to Zeb and shrugged. “We don’t know nothin’, bruv,” Quix said.

    Jaina didn’t need to Force to know he was lying, and almost reached out to touch his mind and see what she could glean, but stopped herself. Uncle Luke always said that just because you could do something, didn’t mean you should, and that went double when it came to using the Force.

    “Quix,” Peter nudged the Lasat and nodded towards the doorway, where a group of uniformed officers had just entered. “The fuzz.”

    “Alright bruv?” Zeb asked, falling back into his childhood slang.

    “Nah, da NRI, bruv,” Quix said, indicating the officers, who approached the bar and ordered drinks. “They find us, they’ll give us a right bollocking.”

    “Probably shouldn’t tell me why they’re after you,” Zeb advised. “Plausible deniability and all that.”

    “Alright bruv, good to see ya.” Quix clapped him on the shoulder. “Laters.”

    “Laters,” Zeb replied. Quix gave Jaina a wink, and Petar a two-fingered mock salute before the pair sidled off into the crowd.

    “You don’t think they’re involved, do you?” Jaina asked softly, watching them retreat.

    “Nah,” Zeb shook his head. “They know something though.”

    “We should go after them,” Jaina suggested, but Zeb shook his head again.

    “They won’t tell me anything with you around,” he shrugged. “Sorry, Jaina, it’s the way things work down here.”

    Jaina huffed in frustration. “Then I should learn how things work,” she said.

    “Your Mum and Dad wouldn’t like that.” Zeb took another sip of his ale, and signaled to the waitress to bring him another.

    “I’m starting to not give a damn about what they wouldn’t like,” Jaina complained, drowning her own ale and accepting the fresh one gratefully when the waitress arrived. “I’m nineteen - by the time Mom was my age she’d was already working for the Alliance and going on covert missions – Dad was already exploring the galaxy as a smuggler, and Uncle Luke had blown up the Death Star. How am I ever going to prove myself if I’m not allowed to do anything?”

    “Well, you’re their only child,” Zeb pointed out, ever the diplomat. “They’re protective – especially your mother.”

    Jaina knew that – and she knew why. Still, it rankled. “Yeah, but they didn’t have to drag Uncle Luke and Aunt Mara into it,” Jaina pouted. “I know I’m ready for the Jedi Trials, but have they let me take them? No.”

    “Did you maybe think you’re just not ready?” Zeb shrugged. “You said yourself, you need more experience.”

    “That’s the problem!” Jaina exclaimed. “I need more experience to be Knighted, but I can’t be Knighted until I get that experience.”

    “They got you sewn up real good, Jaina,” Zeb laughed. “I don’t know why you’re worried,” he continued dismissively. “Most Jedi are still padawans at your age, yeah?”

    “I guess,” Jaina answered. “But I’ve been training practically since birth to be a Jedi.”

    “So was your cousin,” Zeb pointed out. “And he only became a Jedi a few years ago.”

    Jaina bit her lip to stop her smile and looked away.

    “Oh, I see,” Zen said with a chuckle. “You want to beat him to knighthood.”

    Jaina could no longer stop herself from grinning and turned back to Zeb, laughing. “So what?” she said, slapping his arm. “Everyone thinks it’s just a given Ben will be Grand Master of the Order someday. They still see me as a little girl, but I’m not,” she insisted. “I could do it.”

    “I thought you wanted to join Rogue Squadron?” Zeb asked.

    Jaina shrugged. “I could do both.”

    Zeb laughed again. “I bet you could.” He saluted her with his glass of ale and took a generous gulp. “And when I’m Chancellor and you’re Grand Master of the Jedi and Admiral of the fleet, we’ll rule the galaxy together.”

    “Count on it,” Jaina laughed.

    Zeb put down his drink and relaxed back into the booth, sighing deeply. “Might be too much like hard work, though,” he said conversationally. “Your parents were married for ten years before they had you. I always wondered why they didn’t have kids before,” he continued, and despite herself, Jaina tensed, her good mood dissipating. “But now I understand, most nights I’m too exhausted to move.” He laughed and ran a hand over his eyes.

    “Yeah,” Jaina said dryly. “Sitting down all day talking sounds like it would really drain you,” she added. “Try training with Aunt Mara – one hundred push-ups and a five mile run, and that’s just the warm up!”

    They both laughed, but his words hung at the back of her mind. Jaina took a sip of her ale and held it on the table, tracing the rim of the glass with her finger so she didn’t have to look back up at Zeb.

    “My parents did have another child before me,” she said quietly.

    “What?” Zeb sat up straight, shocked by her revelation.

    “I was never supposed to know,” she continued, eyes still on her glass. “But Aunt Mara told me once after she’d had too much whiskey.” Jaina chanced a glance up to gauge Zeb’s reaction, and saw confusion, but acceptance and curiosity. She took a shaky breath – no one would ever talk about it, and yet it was something Jaina had desperately wanted to share with someone. And who could she trust, if not Zeb?

    “It was about a year after my parents got married,” Jaina continued, thinking back to the time when, blind drunk, her Aunt hadn’t had the presence of mind or inclination to lie. “Aunt Mara hadn’t known them very long, she’d only just become friends with Uncle Luke,” Jaina thought back to what she was sure was a highly edited version of meeting her Aunt and Uncle’s first meeting. “Well…she’d stopped wanting to kill him at least.”

    “What happened?” Zeb asked gently.

    “He died,” Jaina looked away, hot tears burning behind her eyes. “Stillborn.”

    “I’m sorry.” Zeb moved from the other side of the booth to take a seat next to her. He took her hand gently, and Jaina watched as their fingers intertwined.

    “After that,” she forced herself to continue. “Aunt Mara said my Mom and Dad couldn’t bear the thought of having another child. Not even when Ben and Micah were born.”

    “So what changed?” Zeb asked. Jaina looked up, into his dark eyes and knew that he would not be offended if she didn’t answer. And yet, Jaina found such comfort and relief in his presence that she wanted to tell him everything about herself, every thought and desire she had ever kept hidden.

    “Aunt Mara said it was the will of the Force,” Jaina told him simply.

    Zeb furrowed his brow. “That doesn’t sound like her.”

    Jaina managed a light laugh. “Yeah, well she was pretty drunk at the time.” But then she sobered as she remembered the date. “It would have been his birthday next week,” Jaina added sadly. “That’s why Mom always gets sad around this time of year.”

    Zeb nodded. “I did wonder.” He looked down at his hand in hers, running the fingers of his free hand lightly over the scars on his knuckles. They were souvenirs, Jaina knew, from his childhood. “It was about this time of year that I first met her.”

    Jaina squeezed his hand in comfort and solidarity, feeling a closeness to him that she never had before. She and Zeb had been friends since her mother had brought him home one day out of the blue, but it was only in the past year or so that they’d become close. When they’d been younger, Zeb had spent most of his time getting into mischief with Micah, but since her cousin had left to join Talon Karrde’s organization Zeb had been spending much more time in Jaina’s company.

    They were not her cousin Ben and Syal Antilles, who had been in each other’s pockets since childhood to the point where romantic entanglement had been a foregone conclusion. She’d had her own entanglements at the Jedi Academy – first a serious crush on Master Durron when she’d been fourteen, until her friend Tenal Ka had talked sense into her and prevented Jaina from embarrassing herself. She was forever grateful that Master Durron had never discovered her crush, or worse, that her cousins had become aware of it which would have meant merciless teasing until the day she died. She had dated fellow student Zekk for a while, but it had never been love, and when he’d been knighted and left for missions with Corran Horn they’d lost touch.

    Zeb had always been there, of course, but she had never looked at him as a romantic prospect. Trying to be objective, Jaina wondered why not. He was certainly good looking, and clever. Jaina felt comfortable in his presence. She loved her family and Jedi friends dearly, but she always felt an undercurrent of obligation and expectation. She was Jaina Solo, the only child of Han Solo and Leia Organa, the child the Force had gifted to them to heal the chasm in both of their hearts.

    But Zeb was different. He knew what it was like to be misunderstood, to feel the need to prove himself, to always be on edge about what others thought. But when Jaina was with him, she felt none of those things, and suspected it was the same for him. They could just be.

    “Are you alright, Jaina?” Zeb asked, his dark eyes gazing into her own. She had shifted closer so that their knees were touching, and Jaina felt her heart race at the contact.

    “I’m fine,” she told him, smiling brilliantly and brimming with newfound confidence and daring.

    Impulsively, she cupped his face in her hands, leaned forward and kissed him.
    Kahara, Gemma and force.net.login like this.
  2. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    @JadeLotus -- Woot on the Mara/Karrde scene. I like that Karrde knew of Mara's origins and this impressed her too, I noticed. :) I took note of the fact that her loyalty to Karrde is worlds apart - based on respect and liking not intimidation. [face_thinking]

    Aww on the H/L part ... very them. :* =D=

    ~

    The Jaina/Zeb section. Like their dynamic [face_love] And learning about H/L's early loss @};- I love Jaina's impulsiveness there at the end ;) It seems totally understandable and IC for her to feel a different and welcome kind of closeness and "I can be me" around Zeb that she can't around the others like Ben and her fellow Jedi-in-training. Her restlessness and Catch-22 is timeless in its frustration. :p You need experience before ---- but you're not allowed to have any. :rolleyes:
    Last edited by Nyota's Heart, Aug 5, 2014
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  3. taramidala Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 1999
    star 4
    You have this wonderful ability to add in layer after layer to the simplest things. Karrde knowing Mara's true past, Leia and the mental image of her and Luke playing with Gungan babies and their Naboo family (30+ years my eye!), Jaina and her civvies and her Temple crushes. The storytelling is more than Point A to Point B. It's Point A to Point B, flavored by Points C, D, and E. Some names are familiar to us but they're not. Their histories are totally different, and yet because of the little details you're sprinkling throughout, we do know them after all. Again, I'm in awe. ^:)^
    Kahara, JadeLotus and Nyota's Heart like this.
  4. Revanfan1 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2013
    star 5
    Awesome! I like the Lasat (subtle reference to Zeb's namesake there?) and his buddy, and Jaina and Zeb work together so well!
    Kahara and JadeLotus like this.
  5. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Go Jaina! Very nice scene between her and Zeb! Of course I love the L/M flashback scenes.
  6. JadeLotus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 4
    @Nyota's Heart - Thank you!:D I went back to HttE for inspiration and had forgotten that Mara had only been with Karrde six months and he didn't know why she wanted to kill Luke - I wanted to change it up a bit and give them a closer relationship from the start. I'm glad you like Jaina and Zeb as well - the Solo and Skywalker kids are almost in the opposite situation here from the profic - there they had to grow up too soon but I wanted them to have easier and peaceful childhoods in this fic. Before all hell breaks loose :p

    @taramidala - [:D]I appreciate that so much. I'm trying to find a balance between exposition to fill in the gaps and getting on with the story, but I like fleshing these characters and their histories out (and hopefully fix the things about the profic I don't like!)

    @Revanfan1 - Thanks! I felt a bit bad for ditching Jag in this fic as Jaina's love interest, but hey. And yes, there was a little Rebels easter egg in there. ;) Good catch!

    @Jedi_Lover - With Han and Leia as parents, Jaina sure isn't shy :p I'm really liking the opportunity to re-write L/M, not that it can touch Zahn of course, but it's fun.
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  7. JadeLotus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 4
    For anyone who is interested, below is the "dramatis personae" of the fic.

    Ben Skywalker, human male, Jedi Knight
    C-3PO, protocol droid
    Cilla Skywalker, human female, Jedi youngling
    Chewbacca, wookie male, co-pilot Millennium Falcon
    Corran Horn, human male, Jedi Master
    Eren Pax, humanoid female, Jedi Master
    Fin Delrond, human male, Sith Apprentice
    Han Solo, human male, NR General, Captain Millenium Falcon
    Jaina Solo, human female, Jedi Padawan
    Kara Ravenlok, human female, Jedi Knight
    Leia Organa Solo, human female, NR Chancellor, Jedi Master
    Luke Skywalker, human male, Jedi Grand Master
    Mara Jade Skywalker, human female, Jedi Master
    Micah Skywalker, human male, NR Lieutenant, Apprentice Trader
    Petar Sillow, human male, Coruscant resident
    Quix Treelaj, lasat male, Coruscant resident
    R2-D2, astromech droid
    Shada D’ukal, human female, Master Trader
    Sola Naberrie, human female, Naboo resident
    Svel Delrond, human male, Sith
    Syal Antilles, human female, NRI Commander, Rogue Squadron pilot
    Talon Karrde, human male, Master Trader
    Toula, freesi female, pirate
    Whit, freesi male, pirate
    Zebula Pavish, human male, Chancellor’s aide


    And now that everyone has been introduced or at least mentioned, the "cast" of characters, incorporating the announced Ep VII cast and my own additions.


    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    [IMG]
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  8. taramidala Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 1999
    star 4
    Ming Na as Shada is genius.

    And...and SOLA???? I could kiss you.
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  9. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    You know I love this. The story, the cast list, the everything!! The flashbacks are my bread and butter, and I love our first glimpse of young Mara and how conflicted she is. Leia's thoughts of growing up with her brother are heart breaking, but I love how she put it into perspective. Also heartbreaking is the loss of Han and Leia's firstborn. I can't begin to imagine how they coped with that loss, but I love Mara's answer that Jaina was part of the Will of the Force. I loved Jaina and Zeb's scenes and want to know more about him.

    In short: I LOVE THIS FIC ^:)^
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  10. JadeLotus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 4
    @taramidala - I love Ming Na, and she seemed the perfect choice for Shada! Yep, Luke's already met Sola, but she'll have some scenes with Leia in upcoming flashbacks.

    @ginchy - Thanks, lady, and thanks for all your help! I'm really enjoying re-writing the EU through flashbacks ;)
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  11. Gemma Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 25, 2013
    star 3
    Really like the cast pics --- interesting choice for Corran Horn. Totally enjoyed the latest chapter and that the fact that Jaina is not shy with Zeb!
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  12. JadeLotus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 4
    Thanks! I thought for a long time about Corran, and Oded Fehr is a bit young, perhaps, but I loved him in The Mummy and thought he could pull off the role well.
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  13. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    Absolutely love the casting! :D

    Some favorite parts:


    Re-reading the Thrawn trilogy (by listening to the audio), I was impressed by the quiet but complex-seeming Mara/Karrde friendship; this is a great variation on that theme. Anyway, I really liked this scene. :)


    Leia's wistfulness is moving and sounds like her, right down to the part where she's determined to move along and savor the life she does have.


    I really liked the Zeb/Jaina section; fantastic chemistry and I loved the insight into how they both relate to their chosen fields -- and the frustrations that come with it. Jaina's revelations about her elder sibling were surprising, but I love that it then fits seamlessly into what we've already seen. Anyway, really liking the development of their bond and how they seem to work so well together. :)
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  14. JediMaster_Jen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2002
    star 4
    Loving everything about this--the flashbacks, Zeb/Jaina. I like the confidence and cockiness of Micah.

    Your cast picks are awesome. As said above, Ming Na as Shada is perfect.
    Kahara likes this.
  15. divapilot Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 30, 2005
    star 4
    Gorgeous. How do you keep coming up with these brilliant ideas? And the cast pictures are genius.
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  16. JadeLotus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 4
    Thank you! I really like Mara and Karrde's friendship, and thought I would put a bit of a spin on it since the storyline is so condensed. I've been seeing a lot of John Boyega and Daisy Ridley posting things together and they are totally adorable, so that does have an influence on Jaina/Zeb. As for Jaina's sibling, I had to come up with some reason why Han and Leia didn't have any other children, and thought that made sense - it also impacts a lot on Leia's arc and character which will be explored in upcoming chapters.

    Thank you! I'm really enjoying writing Micah. I love Ming Na in everything, she would fit perfectly into the SW cast.

    Aw, thanks! This is the most ambitious fic in terms of plot and characters that I have ever done, which is rather daunting.
    Kahara likes this.
  17. JadeLotus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 4
    Edit: I forgot to thank the marvellous @ginchy for her help with this chapter - she is a gem!


    Tags: @Gemma


    1 NRE

    Luke was in the dark, alone and the only person he’d spoken to in three days claimed she wanted to kill him. Well, he thought to himself ruefully, I’ve been in worse situations.

    Jade came morning and night to deliver him food and take him to the ‘fresher. She spoke little, but even without the Force he could sense her hate – it seeped from her like blood from a poorly stitched wound. Luke had chatted away to her nonetheless, hoping to prod her into revealing something, about his situation, about the facility, why he couldn’t feel the Force, about why she wanted to kill him – why she had not done it yet. But Jade was a vault, refusing even to admit that she worked for Talon Karrde or where Artoo was.

    When she appeared the morning of the fourth day Luke’s internal chrono told him that it was around 0800 – a full hour earlier than she usually arrived. He’d been up for hours anyway, years of early mornings back on the moisture farm and in the Rebellion had meant he slept little, even if he wanted to.

    “Couldn’t wait to see me, huh?” he asked her, rising from his sleeping pallet and throwing her what he hoped was a charming grin.

    She scowled at him, her ever-present blaster pointed at his chest. “Come on, Skywalker,” Jade put his wrists into binders, grabbed his shoulder and pushed him out the door.

    “We going somewhere?” he asked lightly, wondering if he was headed to his execution or salvation. He knew the Hutts had the biggest bounty on him, but there were a dozen other crimelords, ex-Imperials or terrorists he’d tangled with over the years who would be pay dearly to end his life.

    “How observant, Skywalker,” she retorted, one hand in a vice grip on his shoulder and the other holding the nub of her blaster against his back. “Must be that famed Jedi intuition,” she added snidely.

    “Can’t be,” Luke replied cheerfully, determined to unnerve her with friendliness. “I can’t feel the Force, so it’s good old Skywalker intuition.”

    Mara snorted dismissively. “Like it makes a difference,” she muttered, and Luke found himself smiling again. Her tone had been softer, her words not as harsh, and he could swear that she’d been almost amused by him.

    She led him down several suspiciously empty hallways until eventually they reached a small hanger, where a lone ship – a repurposed Imperial shuttle - was docked and a figure stood at the base of the ramp. Luke took in his stylish, expensively cut clothing, the sly, appraising expression on his face and confident stance and guessed he was in the presence of the smuggler chief himself.

    “Talon Karrde, I presume?” Luke asked as they approached.

    “Luke Skywalker,” Karrde replied in a rich baritone, and a smile tugged at the corner of his lips. “I wish that we were meeting under more pleasant circumstances.”

    Luke tugged at his binders. “We can make the circumstances more pleasant, if you like,” he suggested. “I’m here at your design, not the other way around.”

    “You are correct.” Karrde’s voice was rich, smooth silk, and yet there was an edge to it, a warning that there was steel under pleasantries.

    “Karrde,” Jade spoke up warningly.

    “Where are you taking me?” he asked, refusing to move even when Mara pushed the nub of her blaster into his back yet again, more forcefully this time.

    “Always with the questions,” Mara snarled at him, sliding around to face him. “Shut up and do what you’re told.”

    “Or you’ll what?” Luke asked, holding his ground. “Shoot me?” He saw Mara’s finger twitch on her blaster and knew he was pushing his luck. “You would have done it by now unless you needed me alive,” he addressed Karrde.

    “We don’t need you alive, Skywalker,” Karrde told him. “I’m still considering my options – don’t make up my mind for me.”

    “Where’s Artoo?” Luke asked as his suspicions about his being held captive for a bounty were confirmed.

    “Who?” Karrde looked confused.

    Mara exhaled harshly. “His stupid droid,” she told him. “He’s always asking about it.”

    “Promise me that no matter what you decide, you’ll return Artoo to the New Republic,” Luke demanded. “And I’ll get in the ship.”

    “Why is he so important?” Karrde asked. “Is he carrying information?”

    “He’s a friend.” Of course, Luke knew that Artoo had a wealth of information vital to a man like Karrde, but also did not fear that information being revealed. As he had recently learned, Artoo knew how to keep a secret.

    Karrde gazed at him thoughtfully. “Alright, Skywalker,” he agreed. “You have my word.”

    Luke sighed thankfully and walked up the ramp to the shuttle, Mara’s blaster in his back all the way. Karrde followed swiftly behind and made immediately for the cockpit. Luke stood by the bulkhead as the ramp closed behind him and Karrde started up the flight cycle.

    “Aren’t you going to co-pilot?” he asked as Mara sidled around Luke until she stood between him and the cockpit, her blaster now pointed at his chest. They were less than three feet from one another in the cramped body of the shuttle.

    “Shut up, Skywalker.”

    Luke felt a smile creep onto his face. “You need to work on your vocabulary, Jade,” he teased her. “I would’ve expected better of a smuggler,” he continued, banking on the fact that she wouldn’t shoot him in front of her boss. “Maybe next time mix it up with ‘seal your stoopa mouth, Skywalker,’ or ‘tighten your Tatooine trap’ or something.” He cocked his head as if in contemplation. “Or you can use my first name – it’s Luke, by the way,” he added, although he knew full well she was aware of his name.

    “Shut up, Skywalker,” she said through gritted teeth. “I’ll stop saying it when you actually do it.”

    Luke shrugged. “Guess I’ll have to get used to it then.” He craned his neck to look over Mara’s shoulder, seeing that they had left the hanger and were flying low over the forest.

    In the cockpit, the comm crackled to life. “This is General Antilles of the New Republic Star Destroyer Victory,” a clipped, familiar voice flowed through the comm and into the shuttle, and Luke stood up a bit straighter. So that was why they were moving him. “Please prepare your landing platform-”

    The voice was cut off when Karrde hit the comm with a closed fist, and Mara cast a worried glance over her shoulder back into the cockpit. Taking advantage of her distraction, Luke slammed his body into hers, throwing her off balance. She quickly righted herself and levelled her blaster, but not before Luke had grabbed his lightsaber from her belt and cut off his binders.

    He held the saber in front of him defensively, and saw Jade hesitate. She desperately wanted to pull the trigger, that much was obvious, but would she chance it, knowing he would likely be able to deflect the bolt back and eliminate her? Luke would never to such a thing, of course. But she didn’t know that.

    “Mara!” Karrde called warningly, hands busy at the controls to keep the ship flying, and he chanced a look back to them to assess the situation. Mara’s eyes narrowed as she pointed her blaster at Luke and pulled the trigger.

    He had meant to deflect it harmlessly to the side of the ship, but in the moment Mara fired Karrde rose and grabbed her shoulder, occupying the space where Luke had meant to aim. He was able to swing his saber in enough of an arc to carry the blaster bolt upwards and miss the smuggler’s head by a few inches. However, that sent it back into the cockpit where it impacted against the viewscreen and upper part of the control panel.

    Part of the transparisteel window cracked and splintered, the outside air rushing in with thunderous force.

    “What have you done?” Mara shrieked as she grabbed hold of a nearby rail. Luke did the same, deactivating his lightsaber and looking towards the cockpit where Karrde was frantically trying the controls. But Luke could see it was no use – the blaster bolt had short-circuited them and they began to freefall.

    Luke went to help him, but Mara got there first, flicking the switches of the panel to the side of the cockpit. He saw the spark on the control panel before Karrde a split second before it blew up, but could not call a warning before the force of the explosion pushed Karrde violently back against the pilot’s chair. Luke grabbed Mara and smothered her body in his own as he pushed them back into the body of the shuttle and down to the floor.

    A few seconds later they crashed into the ground and everything went black.


    *****************************************


    29 NRE

    In the depths of hyperspace, there was nothing for Luke Skywalker to do but surrender to the visions which had plagued his sleep for months.

    It always started in a forest, where he stood alone among the trees. There was something unsettling about those woods, familiar, although he could never quite pinpoint what it was. In the distance he heard a youngling crying, alighting his paternal instincts, and Luke wondered which of his children was in such pain. He couldn’t see where the cry originated, so he plunged blindly into the forest, caring not for the sharp branches that ripped at his skin as he pushed them aside. The cries grew louder, the loneliness and despair of the sound tearing at Luke’s heart as he ran faster, desperately trying to locate the child and hold them in his arms, to soothe them and protect them. And yet he could not find the child, his eyes blocked by darkness at every turn.

    When the darkness receded, he was in a different forest, and saw the funeral pyre he had built for his father on Endor. He saw a cloaked figure, its hand reaching to pick up what remained of Darth Vader’s helmet. The figure was shrouded in darkness, but he saw a prosthetic hand join the flesh one to grasp the helmet, mechanical fingers winding through the cracks, embracing them.

    Then he was transported to an island in a vast and swirling sea, volcanic rock formations pointing like spires to the grey skies above. He saw Jaina among the rocks above him, her face half in shadow.

    She wielded her lightsaber, the hilt as familiar to him and Luke’s own, and yet the violet hue had been replaced by an unfamiliar blood red. There was a shadow behind her, but it moved too quickly for Luke to grasp. Jaina stared at him, unblinking, but made no move to strike him down.

    Suddenly the shadows were all around him, leaping from the rocks and crevices and attaching themselves to his body like mynocks to a ship. The army of dark souls pulled him down into the depths of the darkness, where he was assaulted by rapid-fire images. A sky alight with fire, dark, unfamiliar eyes, a lightsaber which had been broken in two. Leia, tears streaking down her face, clutching her chest as he felt her heart break. His beautiful wife, his Mara, looking at him with coldness in her eyes as their connection in the Force shattered.

    An insistent beeping woke Luke from his trance, and his eyes snapped open to a familiar looking planet before him. Luke realised that the beeping had emanated from Artoo, who must have brought them out of hyperspace himself. He glanced at the translator module, which read [are you alright Master Luke?]

    “I’m fine Artoo,” he reassured the droid.

    [I could not wake you] Artoo warbled, transferring the ship back to manual, and Luke took over control of the X-wing.

    “You worry too much,” Luke dismissed him. “You’re starting to sound like Threepio.”

    Artoo led forth a string of beeps which the translator evidently could not decipher, but Luke could understand the string of curses through the Force. He chuckled to himself and looked back at the dusty planet which loomed in his viewscreen. He hadn’t lived there for thirty four years and he visited rarely, but a part of him would always consider it home, always gain comfort from it. Except this time, he felt the dark side emanating from Tatooine, tainting the very essence of the planet and clouding Luke’s senses.

    That was why his vision had been so vivid, and why Artoo had been unable to wake him from his trance. He’d told only Mara the full details of what he’d been seeing, even her place in the vision, for they had no secrets. She’d comforted him with a kiss and a teasing quip that the reason for her anger was probably because he’d forgotten to put his socks in the hamper again. It was the child crying which had disturbed both of them, and what Luke feared more than anything else he had seen. He simply couldn’t bear the thought of his children being in such pain, and hoped that part of the vision would never come to pass.

    “So this is Tatooine,” Kara’s voice flooded through the comm and broke Luke from his reverie. “Does it always feel like this?” she asked, and Luke knew that she had sensed the dark side, too.

    “No,” Luke told her with a grimace. “It looks like Ben and Eren were right.”

    “Can you feel them, Master?” Kara asked.

    Luke reached out for the two Jedi, sensing the presence of his son and former student, but unable to pinpoint their location due to the cloud of the dark side. “We’ll land just outside Anchorhead,” he instructed. “Ben said that’s where they were staying.”

    “Lead the way, Luke,” Kara said with a hint of wryness, and he belatedly realised that she would have no idea where Anchorhead was on the planet. So he took point, directing his X-Wing through the dusty atmosphere and to the small settlement where he had spent much of his youth.

    The landing cycle was relatively easy, despite the minor sandstorm raging in the distance. Luke climbed out of the cockpit and breathed in the familiar dryness. Kara was already removing her flightsuit and discarding it in her own ship. And yet she did not pull on her cloak, he noted, and he gave her a wry smile as she climbed down into the sand beside him. Kara shrugged and looked skeptically around her, taking in the sand dunes and red cliffs in the distance; the crashed starship and dilapidated group of buildings that made up Anchorhead.

    Dust flittered in the air around them, and Luke drew the hood of his own cloak over his head. Kara squared her shoulders and walking directly towards the Tosche Station.

    It was much as Luke remembered and he stopped in the doorway to take it in. The grimy counter, the odds and sods which were offered for sale, the dim light. It was as if he’d stepped back thirty four years.

    “Can I help you?” A woman appeared at the counter and he recognized Camie immediately. She was still pretty with fine brown hair streaked with blonde, although she was older, a little plumper, and had deep lines on her face that all life-long residents of Tatooine bore.

    “We’re looking for our friends,” Kara told her, walking forward. “A tall woman, blonde, and a young man with red hair. I understand they’ve been in town.”

    “Oh, them?” Camie scrunched up her nose. “They’re at the old Lars homestead.”

    Fixer popped his head out from the back room. “I can take you out there too and show you around,” he offered, scurrying up to the counter. “Fifty credits. For an extra ten I’ll even tell you some stories about Skywalker. I knew him, you know.”

    Luke realised that they hadn’t recognized him. Once he’d practically begged for the attention of their small Anchorhead gang – only Biggs had ever shown him real kindness, the others preferring to mock him. And now they were taking tourists around his old home. Luke wasn’t sure whether to be amused or aghast.

    “You still do.” Luke pulled back the hood of his cloak and stepped forward into the light. Having one of the most recognizable faces in the galaxy was more often a burden than a benefit to Luke, but he was somewhat amused that he could be recognized by strangers in an instant and yet his childhood companions had difficulty placing him.

    “Oh!” Camie reacted first, and then a sly smile slid over her surprise. “Hey Wormie.”

    Kara gave him a sideways look and raised her eyebrow. Luke shrugged dismissively. That nickname had been the bane of his childhood, but in the scope of his life the old hurt mattered little.

    Fixer laughed and did not seem ashamed that he’d just offered the Grand Master of the Jedi a trip to his own childhood home. “Luke,” he greeted, looking him up and down. “That kid said he was your son,” he continued. “I didn’t believe him.”

    “I hope you didn’t charge him for a tour,” Luke said wryly.

    “Didn’t get the chance, small fry,” Fixer looked somewhat irritated. “Said he knew the way.”

    Camie leant against the counter. “You’re not such a small fry now, Luke,” she shrugged. “Least you could do was support your old friends.”

    Luke fought the urge to roll his eyes but thought she had a point, so he haggled over a price to rent a speeder that was generous but not insulting. Fixer spent that time trying to sweet talk Kara as she politely ignored him and Camie grew angrier, so Luke was relieved to get out of there.

    It was late afternoon when they arrived at the moisture farm where Luke had spent most of his childhood. It was owned by the Darklighter family, now, who worked the vaporators but had kept the homestead as it had been decades earlier, preserving its memory.

    Kara bit her lip as they descended into the main living pit, Artoo and Kara’s own R4 unit rolling down the ramp on the outside of the crater. “It’s nice,” Kara said with a smile, surveying the surroundings.

    Luke laughed, since she was a terrible liar. “Not as nice as a Coruscanti mansion,” he teased her. “No butler droids or swimming pools, here.”

    “Shame,” Kara chuckled, and Luke led her through the courtyard to the family dining room. He’d sensed his son’s presence as they’d arrived, and had grasped it gratefully. Eren and Ben were waiting for them, Eren tapping away at a datapad at the table and Ben leaning against the wall, his eyes already on the doorway.

    “Ben,” Luke greeted him, and pulled the young man forward into a hug.

    “Hi Dad,” his son answered, and Luke could feel his relief through the Force.

    Luke pulled back to arm’s length and patted his son’s cheek, where a healthy ginger beard had grown. It was far more neatly trimmed than Luke’s own, but the sight made him smile. “I hope you’re willing to incur your mother’s wrath with this,” he said with a wink.

    Ben shrugged, grinning. “What’s her logic?” he joked. “There is no beard, there is only the chin.”

    Eren looked up from her datapad and smiled, emphasizing her prominent Utapaun cheekbones. “But it makes Ben look so much like you, Master Skywalker,” she countered. “I think she’d like that.”

    Luke laughed, and Kara rolled her eyes with good-natured affection, moving past them to the table and taking a seat across from Eren.

    “Do you think so?” Ben asked, stroking his beard. “I met someone in Mos Eisley who said I didn’t look much like you at all,” he said absently. Luke patted his son fondly on the shoulder, not seeing how whether they looked alike was relevant to anything.

    “You were right about the dark side being here,” he said, taking a seat next to Kara at the table. Ben sat opposite him and clasped his hands together on the table.

    “It has been getting stronger,” Eren said seriously. “Every day we feel it grow, out in the wastes.”

    “Tomorrow we’ll go investigate,” Luke promised them. “Have you felt anything specific?” he asked, remembering Ben’s uneasy demeanor when he’d called Coruscant. “Seen anything?”

    Ben shot Eren a look, his hands clenched on the table, and she sighed and shrugged. “I had a vision,” Ben explained, nervously. “Eren advised me not to say anything, but I think you have to know.”

    “You can tell me anything, Ben.” Luke touched his hand lightly.

    Ben sighed and stood, turning towards the open doorway and leaning against the pourstone frame.

    “It was the Sith,” he said darkly, his back rigid and stiff. “I couldn’t see his face, but I think you’d been fighting him - you were unconscious, anyway.” Ben turned around, and Luke could fully see his distress. “He was above you, his lightsaber drawn. He was about the make the killing stroke…”

    Luke stood and drew Ben into a tight embrace, trying to take Ben’s burdens into himself and disperse them. “Do not worry, Ben,” he told him fervently. “The future is always in motion.” He pulled back and put each hand on Ben’s shoulders, giving him a reassuring smile. “Just because you had a vision of something does not mean it will happen.”

    “But it might,” Ben insisted.

    “Anything at all might happen,” Luke replied, trying to placate him. “Where did this take place - here on Tatooine?”

    Ben looked at him incredulously and there was a flash of anger in his pale blue eyes. “Do you think that if the vision took place here I would ever ask you to come?” he said, pulling away from Luke’s hold. “I wouldn’t let you within a system of this planet!”

    Luke couldn’t help but smile at the confidence his son had in himself to believe that he could ever prevent Luke from doing anything.

    “It’s not funny, Dad!” Ben continued angrily. “You think you’re invincible, but you’re not,” he continued, incensed. “You’re not,” he added, his voice breaking. Luke tried to reach for him again, but Ben shook off his hold and stalked out of the room.

    Luke rubbed his forehead wearily and turned back to the two women at the table who gave him sympathetic looks. “He gets that from me,” he said, trying to lighten the mood. “I used to get angry and stomp out of this room all the time.”

    Eren and Kara shared a look, and Kara had the good grace to give him a weak smile. Eren, however, remained serious.

    “I did not wish to withhold information from you, Luke,” Eren told him, regret flickering in her dark eyes. “I just thought - ”

    “I know,” Luke nodded, bearing no ill will towards her. “Knowledge of the future can be dangerous. Trying to prevent a vision may only ensure that it happens.” If, Luke thought to himself, his father had not been so obsessed with finding a way to save his mother after having a vision of her death, history may have been very different.

    “I refuse to be cowed by fate,” he told them. “Or let those I love be frightened into making choices they otherwise would not in fear for my life.”

    “But neither should you discount Ben’s vision, Luke,” Kara said evenly. “Even if it is only a possible future.”

    “I’m not discounting it,” Luke told her. “I’m just going to avoid being consumed by it.”

    Kara looked skeptical, and Luke thought it best to leave her and Eren to their own counsel. Maybe they would be able to assess the situation from fresh eyes - and without the encumbrance of Skywalker overaction, he thought wryly to himself. Luke withdrew to the outer courtyard, passing Artoo on the way and giving him a friendly pat on his domed head before climbing the stairs back up to ground level.

    His son stood at the ridge of the homestead, gazing out towards the scarlet, orange and amber sunset. The brilliant light of the setting twin suns lit up the gold in Ben’s red hair, and it struck Luke how young it made his son look. He thought back to the crying child in his vision, and his heart ached at the memory, wondering if the child was crying because it had lost a father, and Luke could not find them because he was dead. But Luke was resolved to take his own advice and not let the vision divert him.

    “Beautiful, isn’t it,” Luke said conversationally as he stood next to Ben. “I used to stand out here all the time.”

    Ben nodded, but did not look at him, his jaw remaining firmly clenched.

    “I never told you, Ben,” Luke continued. “About the prophesy of the Chosen One.”

    Ben turned to him then, his brow furrowed. “The one destined to bring balance to the Force?” Ben sighed dismissively and scratched the side of his chin. “I know about that, Dad.”

    Now Luke was confused. “How?”

    “I can do my own research,” Ben answered dryly. “All that was required was access to the Archive and two fingers to type.”

    “Alright,” Luke nodded, somewhat proud that Ben had been able to find those records. “So you know that from the age of nine, your grandfather was told that he was destined to bring the Force into balance, to be the savior of the Jedi.”

    Ben nodded slowly.

    “What you don’t know is that Obi-Wan told me about it after Yoda died – told me that the prophesy had been…misinterpreted, and that I was the Chosen One destined to destroy the Sith.” Luke took a deep breath and closed his eyes, the memory still painful. “I had refused to try and kill Vader and perhaps he thought it would give me the…courage to try.”

    “But you did bring balance to the Force, Dad,” Ben countered. “You are the balance of the Force.”

    Luke wasn’t sure if he was touched by Ben’s high esteem or concerned that it was misplaced. Perhaps both. “The point is that if I had bowed to what I was told was my destiny, I would likely have been turned to the dark side by killing my own father,” he continued. “In the end, the prophesy didn’t matter.” Luke placed a hand on Ben’s shoulder and squeezed lightly. “And the reason why I never told you was because I never wanted you to feel burdened with purpose, as Anakin was, as I was.” Luke waited until Ben’s eyes met his own, and continued emphatically. “We cannot let fate or prophesy, or visions of the future cloud our judgment.” Then he pulled his son close again, as he had done when Ben was a child, gently stroking his hair. “We make our own fate, Ben,” he whispered to his son, and felt the understanding in Ben’s heart.

    “And the Sith?” he asked as he pulled away, looking back out towards the wastes where the dark side loomed. “What’s their fate?”

    “I guess we’ll see,” Luke patted him on the shoulder and tried to smile.

    They talked for some time after that, discussing the details of what Ben had discovered so far as the suns lowered, the hues of the sky changing to soft pinks and purples, until finally they both slipped below the horizon. Eventually Ben went back to the homestead to bunk down for the night, but Luke remained on the ridge, looking out over the darkened landscape and up into the clear sky where a million stars burned.

    He reached out into the Force, this time deliberately seeking the visions which had plagued his nightmares. They came again, stronger and more numerous than before but Luke endured them. He saw the shadows again, he saw Vader’s helmet and the grey sky and spires of the unknown island. He saw Jaina with her impassive face and blood-red blade. He saw his sister and wife, both heartbroken, he saw his children crying and brother-in-law alone in an unfamiliar cockpit.

    The darkness clung to his body like a shroud, but Luke would not let it consume him. Rather, he brought his mind back to an old Jedi poem Yoda had once told him about, to always remind Luke that there was hope.

    The darkness is generous and it is patient and it always wins, Luke recited to himself the words Yoda had spoken so long ago. But in the heart of its strength lies its weakness: one lone candle is enough to hold it back.

    Luke opened his eyes and sighed heavily. He could not find the candle, could not see it’s light, but he knew it was there, just outside the fringes of his reach. And he would find it, eventually, when the Force was ready to show it to him.

    He thought back to the days after Endor, when he had studied Yoda’s holocron and searched the galaxy for lost Jedi teachings. He had found an original version of the poem, many thousands of years old, from before the dawn of the Old Republic, before the schism and the great Sith Wars. It had been scrawled on parchment, and Luke had realized that Yoda had omitted the most crucial aspect of the teaching – or perhaps he had never known it.

    Love is more than a candle, the final words of the poem had read. Love can ignite the stars.
  18. ginchy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2005
    star 4
    *nabs*

    Well, I love all of it. I love how you write Luke. Mara's going to be pissed with him over that trick he pulled. But I think once she realizes that he was in the act of saving Karrde that she'll be somewhat mollified, but still pissed. Those crazy kids. How did they ever make a go of it? (Luckily you're going to show us. [face_love])

    I also love Fixer and Camie offering tours there on Tatooine. LOL! And Luke's line about 'running out of the room' is perfect. But his and Ben's conversation was the highlight of the chapter. Fathers and sons, don't you know. I also love the ending. Perfectly perfect. ^:)^
    Last edited by ginchy, Aug 22, 2014
  19. Revanfan1 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2013
    star 5
    I absolutely love the use of the final epigraph of the ROTS novel as a Jedi poem! =D=

    Also, great casting on the non-movie characters!
    Kahara and JadeLotus like this.
  20. ThreadSketch Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2013
    star 2
    I hereby vote for this fic to be canon. Like, now. For reals. :p
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  21. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Awesome update. I love the flashback. I think Mara was warming up to Luke a bit...at least to the point where she probably would only cause him bodily harm instead of killing him.

    Everybody is working the beards into their stories. I love it.
    Last edited by Jedi_Lover, Aug 22, 2014
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  22. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Seconded and tripled. =D= Great fast thinking on Luke's part with deflection during the flashback although it caused a crash. But no one was fatally injured, thankfully.

    **

    Spooky and downright chilling visions Luke has been having, giving a clue or indication of the meaning behind the title. =D= [face_nail_biting] If they can't get enough hints about the true nature of the threat, they might unwittingly fulfill the visions. :eek:

    I love the father/son dynamic here. @};- full of warmth and candor. I love that full last line about love igniting the stars. :)
    Last edited by Nyota's Heart, Aug 23, 2014
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  23. ThreadSketch Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2013
    star 2
    Forgot to mention: nice job working the revealed locations and some of the recent rumors into the plotline through Luke's vision. I wish I had that ability to think on the fly and still craft a compelling, intelligent story.
    Kahara, JadeLotus and Nyota's Heart like this.
  24. Gemma Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 25, 2013
    star 3
    I really enjoyed the part with Luke, Mara and Karrde in the shuttle and how Luke was coming back at her and taunting her. I would really love to see them on screen. I enjoyed that Camie and Fixer didn't recognize Luke right away. I like a ginger colored beard. My dad used to be a red head.
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  25. K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 18, 2000
    star 2
    I think my favorite part is the poem, because that just sums it all up, and Luke knows it.

    Very well done!
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