Beyond Worth Fighting For (Mara, Luke LOTF-AU) - Complete

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Tarsier, May 4, 2010.

Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. Jaded_Girl Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2001
    star 4
    Thank you for the update PMs, Tarsier! I've had a really busy couple of months, and now I can respond!

    Post 5/11: Drunk!Luke is pitiful... but still quite funny. Also loved your dialogue! Highlights enclude:

    ?Please think of something else to say before we get to your son,?

    ~?Wow, a totally toasted Jedi Master. I?m sorry I missed it.? A new voice, a male human with an accent Luke couldn?t quite place.
    ~?Uh, he?s not waking up. Are you sure you did it right? You didn?t kill him, did you?? Another male voice, this one with a Corellian accent.
    ~?If only Jedi Masters were so easy to kill?? she began.
    ~??you?d have killed him back when we had him on Mrykr?? her first companion finished.
    ?Ah, Myrkr. Those were the days weren?t they?? the Corellian added.




    Once her companions were out of earshot, Mara spoke again. ?You always were a good faker.?

    Awesome reference to the Myrkr trek! "I thought you were faking!..."[/blatant lie]



    5/18: He felt like he?d been fighting his entire life. One battle after another. So much so that it had all run together in his mind, into one long battle against a single opponent with a million different faces.

    *sniff* :(



    ?So is it okay if we call you Luke? Or do we need to use your full title? Grand Master of all that is Good and Pure in the Galaxy or whatever??

    I suppose that's probably what Mara calls him when she's muttering...



    Luke would have expected some underlying anguish to accompany this assertion, but if it was there it was well hidden behind Dankin?s bright eyes and the good humor he seemed to exude.

    "Angst? What angst?" I've always loved Dankin! It's so nice to see him featured in fanfic! H?sishi too!



    ~Odonnl smirked. ?How could I forget? It only seems like the galaxy revolves around certain people.?
    ~?Odonnl.? Mara hissed. There was an icy undercurrent to the word.


    Mmm. Odonnl's got a bit of attitude. Wonder why.



    ?Get some rest. You look like hell.?

    Aww! She still cares for him. Perfectly Mara.



    5/25: As H?sishi took the crate from them, she faltered off balance and nearly smacked herself in the face with it?the crate was far lighter than she expected. Mara felt a faint smile tugging at her lips. Every time they played the same prank on the Togorian, and every time she fell for it. H?sishi fixed Dankin with a withering glare and he skittered away.

    Oh, ex-Karrde crewmen, you are so adorable! ^_^



    ?You know he?s totally into you,? Dankin added playfully.

    It's like he's begging to be smacked.



    ~If his eyes are yellow . . . ? Mara trailed off, apparently not wanting to follow that thought all the way through.
    ~?All hell breaks loose?? Odonnl suggested.
    ~?Something like that.?


    [face_laugh]



    6/1: The dream had been so vivid Luke could still taste the salt on his lips. He could still hear the distant song of the cy?een. But he couldn?t sense Callista. He couldn?t smell her hair as it tickled his nose, couldn?t hear her sweet laughter, couldn?t feel her body pressed against his. Never in his life had he felt so empty.

    Come to think of it, Luke and Callista get together in dreams a lot.



    ~He was on his feet and halfway across the cargo hold when he heard Mara?s words in his mind:
    ~Don?t you dare.
    ~I can help?
    ~We?re handling it. Stay with Benji. Before Luke could argue further, the connection was severed as Mara directed her attention elsewhere.
    ~Luke continued to sprint towards the bridge.


    Excellent cliiffhanger! And even better- I don't have to wait to find out what happens! :p



    6/5: Totally loved Luke and Mara running into each other, and then Mara shoving Luke into the gunwell! [face_mischief]



    That was the last thing Benji heard before his station exploded into shards of glass and shrapnel.

    Oh no! Benji! *rushes to next post*



    6/15: ?Well then I?m sorry to tell you even hu
  2. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Jade_eyes
    This update works amazingly well showing Mara's unexpected caring for Benji

    Thanks so much for saying that! I?m glad it came across.

    and the last bit about Luke and complications seeming to follow one another LOL in a cause-effect loop Classic.

    Yeah, for better or worse I think Luke and Mara almost always complicate each other?s lives. But that?s what makes them so much fun to write together!


    DaenaBenjen42
    Two very good and interesting questions...
    As Callista would say, the galaxy has a sense of humor. ;) Thanks for reading!


    Jaded_Girl
    Wow, that was such a long and detailed review! :D Thank you!!

    Awesome reference to the Myrkr trek! "I thought you were faking!..."[/blatant lie]
    I?m glad you caught that! Luke and Mara on Myrkr are pretty much my favorite scenes in all of SW.

    "Angst? What angst?" I've always loved Dankin! It's so nice to see him featured in fanfic! H?sishi too!
    I love Dankin too! He?s so underutilized. But he?s about to get a bit angsty, I can?t even tell you where it comes from, but it will be interesting to see what you think...

    I like H?sishi too, but I?m always a little uncertain about writing aliens.

    Come to think of it, Luke and Callista get together in dreams a lot.
    That they do. ;)

    Totally loved Luke and Mara running into each other, and then Mara shoving Luke into the gunwell!
    I was kinda amused by that. Glad it?s not just me. :)



    I?m afraid I may not be able to do regular updates on this story for a while. Both because life is suddenly busy and because I feel like I?m trying to weave a lot of different threads together here (well, a lot for me anyway) and I?m afraid I?ll end up with a tangled mess if I?m not careful. But I?m definitely not abandoning the story, I?ll update it when I can. Thank you to everyone who?s reading! Hopefully I?ll get things back on track in a month or so.
  3. Wifflesnip Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 22, 2008
    star 2
    This story is great, an original. Though I'm a Luke/Mara fan and thus squirmed at the idea of Luke marrying Callista, you've sold me on this story :D.

    Despite the AU, you are spot-on with your characterisation. I can really picture Luke and Mara taking this pathway and reacting the way they do. Benji does seem very similiar to a certain red-haired child except he perhaps lacks the "mouthiness" that his canon counterpart inherited from his mother. Love that Mara is already bonding with Benji :)

    Love Mara's ragtag crew and her little stand-off with Mirax. Mara/Corran...now that's a pairing I haven't heard for a while [face_thinking]....Nahhhh, they would be a wee bit of a disaster[face_laugh].

    Hope you update soon, I'm really enjoying reading this story.

    Edit: Just saw your post above, hope DRL resolves itself soon :)
  4. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Wifflesnip
    Though I'm a Luke/Mara fan and thus squirmed at the idea of Luke marrying Callista, you've sold me on this story

    I seem to be getting that a lot. Though I'm not too surprised, Callista does seem to be quite polarizing. I'm glad you decided to give the story a shot anyway. :cool:

    Despite the AU, you are spot-on with your characterisation.

    I'm very happy to hear that. :D Keeping everyone in character is probably what I worry about the most with fanfic. Thank you!!

    Mara/Corran...now that's a pairing I haven't heard for a while

    I actually kinda do like them together. What's really weird is I can almost see Luke and Mirax as a couple. But not for this story of course.;)




    Chapter 7

    Luke stopped in the doorway of the bridge, contemplating what exactly he was going to say. Dankin was carefully picking broken glass off the floor and placing the tiny pieces in a refuse container. He jerked his hand back as a glass shard sliced his palm. For several seconds Dankin stared at the wound, watching as blood gathered in it.

    She doesn’t come running when I bleed.

    Luke looked away, suddenly aware that he was eavesdropping on private thoughts. He took a few moments to refocus through the Force, to narrow his awareness so he wouldn’t overhear any more stray thoughts. But he couldn’t unhear what he’d already heard. Or unfeel the emotions bubbling beneath the words. Luke realized for the first time that he was not the only person on this ship who was in pain.

    Then Luke shuffled onto the bridge, being sure to make noise so he wouldn’t startle Dankin. Dankin looked up and smiled at Luke, all negative emotions seeming to evaporate in an instant. “That was some impressive gunning.”

    “And some impressive flying. Do you guys always like to cut it that close?” Luke asked.

    “We just wanted to keep things interesting for our Jedi warriors,” Dankin replied with a wry grin. He quickly wrapped a bit of cloth around his hand to stop the bleeding and went back to collecting glass.

    “Let me help,” Luke offered. He reached out his hand and all the bits of glass rose into the air. He waved his hand slightly and all the glass flew through the air and landed neatly in the container beside Dankin.

    “That’s a pretty handy trick,” Dankin observed, nodding his approval. “But I bet you got all kinds of handy tricks up your sleeve.”

    Luke nodded vaguely and waved his hand again; this time all the scraps of metal and tiny parts from the sensors gathered in a pile beside the sensor station. “Do you think you can repair the sensors?”

    “I’m going to try,” Dankin replied. The smuggler set to work sorting through the parts and Luke did his best to assist him.

    After a few minutes Luke asked, “Are they really going to leave?”

    “I don’t know. They did seem pretty serious, didn’t they?” Dankin looked thoughtful for a moment, but then continued untangling wires. If he wondered how Luke knew about the earlier conversation, he didn't show it.

    “That doesn’t bother you?”

    Dankin shrugged. “They will or they won’t; I can’t control it, so there’s no point in worrying about it. Reach me that multitool, will you?”

    Luke reached for the tool. “I’m sorry about Benji,” Dankin said.

    “It wasn’t your fault,” Luke replied. “Benji was supposed to have stayed in his room.” Luke was silent for a moment before adding, “And maybe he would be a little better at following orders if his father tried it once in a while.”

    Dankin chuckled. “He just might.”

    Shortly thereafter Pormfil appeared. “I’ll take over here,” the Kerestian said. “You get some sleep, Dankin.” Dankin started to object, but Pormfil cut him off. “Everything is under control. This may be the last chance for you to sleep before we get to Corellia.”

    Dankin sighed. “Alright.” He retreated off the bridge.

    Pormfil crouched next to the sensor station and went to work. Luke sat nearby, wanting to be available to lend a hand without getting in the way.


    * * *

    Odonnl’s frustration quickly fizzled. By the time he was back at his room he’d forgiven Mara. He sent Pormfil to relieve Dankin and sat down to try and clear his head. Leaving the company was never really an option for him anyway. Not since Talon Karrde had saved his life.

    Odonnl was just shy of sixteen and stranded on Coruscant when Karrde found him. He grew up in an orphanage and spent most of his childhood learning all he could about starships. About six months before his sixteenth life day he was hired by a group of rich kids, not much older than him, to help out on their first flight without adults. They were going to visit the tourist hotspots of the galaxy, starting with Coruscant. They got in trouble—something about a party that got out of control, Odonnl didn’t know the details—and had to run home with their tails between their legs. No one bothered to tell Odonnl.

    He didn’t miss Corellia, he’d just hoped to see a little more of the galaxy before being grounded again. Odonnl had always prided himself on being raised on the mean streets of Corellia. But he was about to find out the mean streets of Corellia didn’t hold a candle to the downright wicked streets of Coruscant.

    It was several days after the ship had left without him and Odonnl was hungry. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten. On Corellia, people always had odd jobs for him to do; if nothing else he could wash dishes in a restaurant to cover a meal. Coruscant was different. First he tried the shipyards, hoping to earn a few credits working on ships. They said he was too young and inexperienced. The diners and cantinas on the upper levels threw him out, citing rules about homeless beings loitering. So he’d tried his luck down a few levels. And then down a few more. And a few more. He found himself on a level with no eateries, no stores, no legitimate commercial activity at all. He was lost and starving. He kicked a broken bottle lying in the middle of the street in frustration. The bottle glanced off a nearby building, eliciting movement from a huddled form.

    “Sorry, I didn’t see you there,” Odonnl said. He saw the form was human, a child a few years younger than himself. When the boy didn’t respond Odonnl walked over to him. “I didn’t hit you, did I?” The boy shook his head. “Hey, maybe you can help me. How do get I get to . . . somewhere less dark and creepy?” The boy said nothing, instead taking a bite of something in his hand. Food! “Or you could tell me where you got the food,” Odonnl suggested.

    “Have some.” The boy offered him what proved to be the remains of a very stale ration bar.

    In his mind Odonnl knew he ought to decline. But in the end his stomach won out. “Thank you,” he said, tearing off a good-sized chunk and handing the rest back to the boy.

    “Dankin!”boomed across the empty street as a door in the building opened behind the boys. Odonnl leapt to his feet and started to run. His new friend didn’t get up, but rather shrank away, hugging closer to the building. “What do you think you’re doing? Get back in here now!” The words were slurred but the tone sent shivers down Odonnl’s back. Odonnl paused to look back and saw the voice belonged to a ronto of a human, whose face was crisscrossed with scars and tattoos. The man grabbed Dankin by his shirt with one hand and struck him across the face with the other. “Now!” he screamed releasing Dankin’s shirt and then kicking his legs out from under him as he scrambled away. Odonnl could do nothing but stand and watch, stunned by the needless cruelty. He didn’t move until the door was shut, with the horrible man inside. Then he sprinted away, swearing to himself that once he had found his way back up he would never come down this low again.

    Odonnl eventually found a diner on an upper level willing to exchange food for work. He renewed his quest to find work at the shipyards, determined to get off the city planet as soon as possible. While wandering amongst a group of light freighters, a man pulled him aside and gave him a note, telling Odonnl he may have an opportunity for him. The note contained a time and an address. The address was at a midlevel, lower than Odonnl really wanted to go, but he could hardly ignore his first lead for something that might get him off the planet.

    It was a strange restaurant. It was very quiet, sparsely decorated with the tables spread far apart. The dress of the clientele indicated a range from the upper crust to common street thugs. Odonnl tried to focus on what his contact was saying, but aside from catching that his name was Chin, Odonnl heard very little. He was trying to figure out what kind of place this was when his eyes caught a familiar face—the child from the lower levels. Dankin.

    Dankin was sitting beside the tattooed man who had hit him before. Across the table was a very well-dressed man. There was something unsettling about the way the well-dressed man eyed Dankin. “What’s going on there?” Odonnl asked Chin.

    “Once you turn sixteen—What?” Chin glanced over his shoulder. “Best to just ignore them.” Then he added, under his breath, “Nothing you can do about recreation slaves.” Just then the well-dressed man slid a credstick across the table and reached for Dankin, a look of eager anticipation in his eyes.

    Odonnl had heard of recreation slaves. He’d just never believed that they existed until that moment. Back in the orphanage, when a child would complain about the quality of the food or the cramped sleeping areas, the guardians would tell him he ought to just be grateful he wasn’t a recreation slave. Recreation slaves, always young children, were rented out to anyone willing to pay, for any purpose. The children were subjected to molestation, abuse, torture, and rape. If they were returned injured or even dead, the renter was simply charged an additional fee, as though he had damaged a rented speeder. Odonnl had always thought the stories were made up to keep the orphans in line. But now he saw all too clearly that the stories were true.

    He didn’t know if it was guilt over taking food from someone who clearly needed it so much more, or frustration over his current situation, or outrage that the galaxy had suddenly become a place of unthinkable torment, but Odonnl did the bravest thing of his whole life. And the stupidest.

    “Don’t touch him!” Odonnl screamed, charging toward Dankin’s table. The tattooed man was a quickdraw. Luckily, Chin was equally nimble and hurled a chair into a glass divider nearby, providing just enough of a distraction that the blaster shot whizzed over Odonnl’s shoulder. Odonnl dropped his shoulder and slammed into the tattooed man. They both fell to the floor, the blaster sliding out of reach. Odonnl wrestled with the man, trying desperately to pin his arms so he couldn’t grab for any more weapons, until the security officers arrived and pulled them apart. As they were putting handcuffs on Odonnl he saw the well-dressed man slipping out a back door, Dankin in tow.

    The tattooed man pointed at Chin and snarled that he was with Odonnl. When the security officers asked him, Chin glanced at Odonnl and declared he’d never seen him before in his life. They hauled Odonnl away.

    Odonnl spent the worst night of his life in jail. He’d been in plenty of jails before—when he was a preteen he’d learned to pick pockets and had been picked up by CorSec on more than one occasion—and this jail was unremarkable. But Odonnl was tormented by thoughts of what was happening to Dankin, of whether he had made it worse, of what he could have done differently to save the younger boy.

    The next morning an older woman arrived at the jail and bailed Odonnl out. She told him she worked for Talon Karrde and that he was to report for duty. Odonnl vaguely recalled Chin having mentioned the name Karrde, but he had no intention of going anywhere but to find Dankin and somehow or another rescue him. Once away from the jail, Odonnl started to walk away. The woman grabbed him by the arm, her grip tight enough to bruise. “You aren’t going anywhere but with me. You already owe Karrde your first four of five paychecks to cover the bail I just paid.”

    Odonnl tried to twist away, but the woman’s grip was firm. She half-led, half-dragged Odonnl onto an action transport parked at a nearby landing strip. She didn’t let go until they entered a large room near the center of the ship. In the center of the room was a large, ornate desk. Sitting behind the desk was a man with sharp features and jet black hair who looked down appraisingly at the new recruit.

    “Let me go! This is kidnapping! You’ll be sorry!” Odonnl had been letting loose a steady stream of indignant retorts since being grabbed and he didn’t let up after entering the room. He was fighting mad and his attempts to free himself caused him to sprawl forward onto the floor when the woman finally released him.

    “You must be Odonnl,” the man behind the desk said.

    Odonnl ignored him, choosing instead to spin around toward the woman who was now blocking the exit, a fresh set of invectives on his lips. But he stopped short, seeing out of the corner of his eye that Chin was seated on the other side of the room. And beside him was Dankin.

    “He’s safe for now. And so are you.” Odonnl turned toward the desk and got his first good look at the man who had altered the course of his life forever—Talon Karrde. “Chin tells me you never gave him a response to my offer,” Karrde continued.

    “What offer?” Odonnl asked.

    Karrde glanced to Chin then back to Odonnl. “An offer of employment. You work on my ship, you follow my orders and in exchange I’ll provide you with a place to sleep, meals, and all other necessities. Not to mention training in a variety of fields. If you decide you don’t like our arrangement, you are free to leave at any time.”

    “What about Dankin?” Odonnl asked.

    Karrde looked very seriously at Odonnl. “He’s your brother, right?” Odonnl didn’t respond right away and Karrde continued quickly. “I do not hire anyone under the age of sixteen. But I could hardly split up orphan siblings. If you will take responsibility for him and work extra shifts to cover his expenses, I suppose there’s no reason why your little brother can’t come along.”

    For several seconds, Odonnl pretended to consider the offer. But in truth he’d already made up his mind.

    Whenever Odonnl felt like things were tough, when he was tired and frustrated and angry, he thought back to that day. The day his life changed. He had no idea what it was Karrde saw in him, why Karrde thought he was worth rescuing off the streets. But everyday he was grateful that he had.

    He’d never learned exactly how Dankin had ended up on Karrde’s ship that day, all he knew was that it must have been Chin’s idea. But Chin couldn’t have pulled it off without Karrde’s help.

    It didn’t matter what Mara said or did, it didn’t matter how bad things got. Odonnl could never abandon Dankin. And he could never turn his back on the company.
    Last edited by Tarsier, Jul 19, 2013
  5. Jaded_Girl Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2001
    star 4
    Personally, I've never understood the Mara/Corran people. That pairing always seemed doomed to catastrophic failure. But YMMV, of course...


    She doesn?t come running when I bleed.

    Whoa... could that possibly be resentment from Dankin? Or regret? Or sadnesss? *eager to find out*



    Odonnl had always prided himself on being raised on the mean streets of Corellia. But he was about to find out the mean streets of Corellia didn?t hold a candle to the downright wicked streets of Coruscant.

    *wince* Ouch.



    ?Dankin!?

    *Jaded_Girl watches in abject horror as Dankin's childhood is revealed...*



    ?Once you turn sixteen?What?? Chin glanced over his shoulder. ?Best to just ignore them.? Then he added, under his breath, ?Nothing you can do about recreation slaves.?

    *Jaded_Girl snaps, jumps onto the table, grabbing the heaviest blaster rifle she can hold...*



    But he stopped short, seeing out of the corner of his eye that Chin was seated on the other side of the room. And beside him was Dankin.

    Yay!!! *hugs everyone in the room* I know Karrde wouldn't let everyone down!


    THIS... CREW... IS... AWESOME.


    Up!
  6. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Glad to see an update and liked the Dankin/Luke exchange. :D

  7. Piper057 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 26, 2009
    star 2
    WOW.
    It's amazing. Looking forward for more. =D=
  8. DaenaBenjen42 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2005
    star 5
    ?And maybe he would be a little better at following orders if his father tried it once in a while.?

    Dankin chuckled. ?He just might.?


    :D There is that...

    He?d never learned exactly how Dankin and ended up on Karrde?s ship that day, all he knew was that it must have been Chin?s idea. But Chin couldn?t have pulled it off without Karrde?s help.

    Liked this.


    Good post. :)
  9. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Jaded_Girl
    Personally, I've never understood the Mara/Corran people. That pairing always seemed doomed to catastrophic failure. But YMMV, of course...

    I don?t disagree. I just think it could be a fun ride before they go down in flames:p... Anyway, back to the story....


    I know Karrde wouldn't let everyone down!
    Of course not!


    THIS... CREW... IS... AWESOME.
    They are, aren?t they? We have Zahn to thank for that.:cool:

    Thanks for reading!

    Jade_eyes
    Thanks! I think Dankin provides a nice foil for Luke.

    Piper057
    Thank you!

    DaenaBenjen42
    That was one of my favorite exchanges. :D Thanks for commenting!



    Chapter 8

    Luke was helping Pormfil to open what remained of the casing around the sensor station when something suddenly came over him. A wave of emotion crashed into him, so intense it threatened to engulf him. The only way he could describe the emotion was sheer terror. Luke didn’t know exactly what was causing it, he just knew something was wrong.

    He vaulted over the broken station and sprinted down the corridors in the direction of the sensation. He wasn’t sure who was so afraid, but he knew it was coming from somewhere on the ship.

    As suddenly as it began, it was over. Like waking from a bad dream, the terror was gone, leaving only a faint feeling of unease. Luke stopped short and looked around. He hadn’t been paying attention to where he was running and now noticed he was in a dimly lit corridor that dead ended up ahead. He was standing in the same spot he’d been in when he’d talked to Dankin about conduit worms. Which meant Dankin’s room was just up ahead. That’s where the feelings of terror had been coming from. Luke took a step forward, but then stopped as he heard voices on the other side of the door to Dankin’s room.

    “Do you want to talk about it?” Odonnl asked quietly.

    “No. I’m fine. Really. Sorry to wake you.” The voice was so raw, Luke didn’t recognize it at first. But it must have been Dankin.

    “No need to apologize. I’m not really all that tired. I’ve actually slept for more than ten minutes in the last week,” Odonnl replied dryly. They fell silent and Luke tried to convince himself that the being he sensed in the room was really Dankin. Instead of the good-humor and optimism that normally radiated off the smuggler, Luke felt only fear and shame.

    “Well, if you won’t talk about your dream, we’ll talk about something else,” Odonnl said. “Did you hear the Dreadnaughts lost to the Savages?”

    As Luke thought back, he remembered Benji commenting that Dankin never slept. And Dankin did always seem to be awake when everyone else was sleeping. If that level of emotion was caused by a nightmare, Luke understood why Dankin didn’t like to sleep. Fortunately, Luke was certain he could help. He could put mental walls in Dankin’s mind, blocking off whatever memories or bad thoughts caused the dreams. Luke took a step forward, eager for the chance to put his abilities to good use.

    “No.”

    Luke turned to see Mara standing with her arms crossed directly behind him. “I can help,” Luke said quietly.

    “No, you can’t,” Mara replied. “Don’t you think it’s occurred to me? Don’t you think if mental blocks would help I would have done it years ago?”

    Luke could tell there was no sense in arguing with Mara. She would not be persuaded. But the decision was not Mara’s. Luke took another step toward Dankin’s room. Mara was in front of him in an instant. She stood with her face mere inches from his and stated flatly, “Not now. Not here.”

    Dankin and Odonnl were still chatting about smashball. Luke could tell neither of them was particularly interested in the subject, but as they talked Dankin was starting to regain himself, to be almost recognizable.

    Luke hadn’t realized just how much his muscles had tensed, he’d been battle-ready moments ago. He relaxed and raised his hands to Mara, deciding that now was not the time.

    “Come with me,” Mara said. She walked away and he followed. She led him to her private quarters. She gestured for him to sit on a small couch and then pulled a chair away from her desk and took a seat facing him.

    “You will not enter his mind without his permission.”

    “Of course,” Luke replied. “I would never do that. But I can help him, I’m sure of it. Who wouldn’t want help if it meant they could sleep soundly for perhaps the first time in their life?”

    “Dankin, that’s who. He was traumatized as a child. That’s all I know. That’s all anyone knows. Because he won’t talk about it. He won’t spread his pain to others.”

    “But I’m offering—“

    “But nothing. I won’t let you bully him into something he doesn’t want just because you’re looking for a distraction.”

    “Bully? I’m the bully? You won’t even let him speak for himself!”

    “Because I’ve tried to help him. I’ve asked him to let me in. He always refuses. Talking about it only makes him feel worse. If he doesn’t sleep for too long at any one time, he’s okay—he doesn’t dream. We have a system and it works.”

    “That’s what you call working? I’ve never felt such deep terror before in my life.”

    Mara’s cheek twitched. She stared hard at Luke. “Ask him if you must. But you will respect his wishes.”

    Luke nodded. “That’s all I ever intended.” He strode out of the room before Mara could argue further.


    * * *

    “He would slit his own throat for you.”

    Karrde’s words echoed in Mara’s mind as she watched Luke leave. She hated Dankin’s nightmares, hated what had happened to him as a child more than she’d ever hated anything in her whole life. Yet there was nothing she could do about it. Mental blocks seemed so easy. But in order to place mental blocks, you had to see what you were blocking. See the haunting memories, see what was so carefully hidden from the world.

    Whenever this happened, when Dankin’s sleep pattern was disrupted and the nightmares returned, Mara thought about the last conversation she’d had with Karrde before he officially handed the company over to her.

    “There’s one last thing I’d like to talk about before I go. I’ve told you before that everyone has a price, a hierarchy of loyalties, other things they value above the company—for some it’s simply money, for others family, a homeplanet, or a pet cause. If it comes down to it, everyone can be bought, everyone has something closer to them than this company. And that’s okay, I demand loyalty but I know absolute loyalty is not possible.

    “There is one exception. Dankin. For a long time I thought I had his absolute loyalty, that he would choose nothing and no one above me. And then you came along.” Karrde stared intently at her. Mara met his gaze evenly, despite the lump forming in her throat.

    “You know what I’m talking about. He would slit his own throat for you.” Karrde paused, allowing his words to sink in. “I’m speaking as a friend when I make this last request.

    “Please, don’t ask him to.”

    Mara had resented Karrde’s words at first. Of course she would not demand any of her employees lay down their life for her. Lately though, when she saw the exhaustion etched on Dankin’s face, when she felt the overwhelming terror as he tried to sleep, Mara wondered if she hadn’t already failed Karrde’s final request.

    * * *

    Luke was once again in the corridor outside Dankin’s room when he stopped short. The door was slightly ajar and voices filtered out.

    “Did I wake you, Benji? I’m sorry,” Dankin said. There was a fresh current of hurt and shame flowing from Dankin, and Luke could see what Mara meant when she said talking about it made Dankin feel worse.

    “It’s okay,” Benji replied. “I used to have nightmares too. I could hardly sleep when my dad was away. Then my mom gave me this.” Benji paused as he presented something to Dankin. “She said it would keep bad dreams away. Here, take it, it really works.”

    “But then how will you sleep?” Dankin asked.

    “Oh, I don’t need it when my dad is nearby.”

    “Well . . . I’ll give it a shot. Thank you.”

    “Don’t worry, she won’t let you down. There’s just one thing . . . don’t tell my dad I still sleep with a stuffed animal.”

    A hint of Dankin’s exuberance returned as he replied, “I won’t tell your dad if you don’t tell the rest of the crew.”

    “It’s a deal,” Benji answered.

    Luke backed up quickly down the corridor, his own mind now in turmoil.

    Why hadn’t he known Benji had nightmares? Callista must have known, why had she never mentioned it? Most likely, she hadn’t wanted to worry him. But Benji was his son, he should have known. At the very least, he should have sensed something through the Force. And if he’d known, he would have been able to tell Benji how to overcome his fears through the Force.

    What else did he not know about his family? What else had Callista not been able to tell him while he was fighting and she was raising their son? What other moments had passed without him noticing? The war had taken so much of his time, so much time that he should have spent with his family. Time he would never get back.
    Last edited by Tarsier, Jul 19, 2013
  10. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Great update with Luke's compassion and sad because he found he doesn't know some things about Benji -- but now's his chance [face_thinking] The pitfalls of being an "indispensable" problem solver LOL i.e. putting out galactic fires :p

  11. DaenaBenjen42 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2005
    star 5
    ?Don?t worry, she won?t let you down. There?s just one thing... don?t tell my dad I still sleep with a stuffed animal.?

    This was my favorite part. And Luke's reaction? Wonderfully done... it made him think!


    Good post. :)
  12. Irish_Jedi_Jade Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 2007
    star 4
    This is freakin' fantastic! I think I thought I read it before, but I didn't and WOW! Totally amazing! =) Well, i'm hooked! Can you PM me when you update please? I can't wait to see what happens....i'm guessing there's gonna be some L/M action somewhere...but I almost don't think so. And as much as I'm a sucker for some schmooozing love, I really like how you have all the dynamics set up! And as far as dankin and such....hmmmmm! I feel so bad for him, but I'm wondering what else is going on beneath the surface!

    Huggles,
    [face_good_luck] Irish
  13. Jaded_Girl Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2001
    star 4
    ~Luke took a step forward, eager for the chance to put his abilities to good use.
    ~?No.?
    ~Luke turned to see Mara standing with her arms crossed directly behind him. ?I can help,? Luke said quietly.


    *is SO glad Mara was there* *And not just because it means that she's tuned in to Luke*



    ?There is one exception. Dankin. For a long time I thought I had his absolute loyalty, that he would choose nothing and no one above me. And then you came along.?... ?You know what I?m talking about. He would slit his own throat for you.? Karrde paused, allowing his words to sink in...?Please, don?t ask him to.?

    :(



    ~?Don?t worry, she won?t let you down. There?s just one thing . . . don?t tell my dad I still sleep with a stuffed animal.?
    ~A hint of Dankin?s exuberance returned as he replied, ?I won?t tell your dad if you don?t tell Mara and the rest of the crew.?
    ~?It?s a deal,? Benji answered.


    MUST... RESIST... HUGGING!



    Luke backed up quickly down the corridor, his own mind now in turmoil...Why hadn?t he known his son suffered from nightmares? Callista must have known, why had she never mentioned it?... What else did he not know about his family? What else had Callista not been able to tell him while he was fighting and she was raising their son? What other moments had passed without him noticing?

    Mmmm... kinda harsh. But most intriguing.


    UP! I want to know what happens next! :D
  14. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    First of all, I just want to tell you all how amazing it is to have so many regular readers. [:D] I value each and every comment, I really can't thank you all enough. Also, all this talk of Mara and Corran has stirred up a little plot bunny - and you're all right, they are pretty much a disaster. [face_devil]

    If anyone is wondering, I think we're just about halfway through the story at this point (of course, I'm quite bad at estimating that kind of thing, so no guarantee).

    Jade_eyes
    Yep, Luke's definitately reaching crisis point in his life. Time for some soul-searching and tough decisions. Thanks for the comments!

    DaenaBenjen42
    Yeah, Luke's got lots to think about. Thanks for commenting!

    Irish_Jedi_Jade
    Thank you! I'm glad you found the story, and so happy you like it! :D As far as L/M, sounds like you're pretty much on the right track. I will warn you that I'm not a huge fan of lots of mush.

    Jaded_Girl
    MUST... RESIST... HUGGING! No need to resist! Dankin and Benji are both very huggable. :) Thanks for reading!



    Chapter 9

    Dankin held the stuffed animal gingerly as he looked it over. It had soft fur, a little worn but still bright white. He stroked its fluffy tail, the long fibers silky between his fingers. He was struck by how much it resembled the whisperkit that slept at his feet when he was young. He’d always admired the whisperkit’s fur, pure white among so much filth. Strange, he hadn’t thought about the whisperkit since . . . ever, really. But he’d been reminded of it twice in just a few days. The only way he was able to move forward, away from his childhood, was to never look back—at least, not while he was conscious—but for the first time he wondered whatever became of the small creature. Nothing good, most likely.

    Dankin tried to push away all thoughts of the past as he lay back down in his bed. They would arrive at Corellia soon, and he needed to be rested before they got there. He took a final look at the stuffed whisperkit, silently pleading for a dreamless sleep. Then he tucked the toy under his arm and waited for unconsciousness to once again overtake him.


    * * *

    Mara headed to the exercise room, hoping to work off some stress with a bit of training. Normally she preferred to train alone, but this time she made an exception.

    “Are you up for a little sparring?” she asked as they arrived in what used to be a two-level cargo hold but now served primarily as a training area.

    Benji didn’t answer right away. He twisted his lip as he took in the catwalks crisscrossing above him.

    “I’ve got remotes if you prefer,” Mara suggested.

    “It’s not that.” Benji swallowed hard. “I don’t have my own lightsaber. I never built one,” he confessed, looking away from Mara as his cheeks flushed. “I usually just use my mom’s.” Benji’s voice trembled a bit at the last sentence, as a fresh wave of sorrow flowed over him.

    Well, Mara thought to herself, nice of the galaxy to finally throw me an easy one.

    “Here,” she said out loud, digging into her pocket and retrieving Callista’s lightsaber. “Your mother sent this for you.” Mara tossed the lightsaber to Benji, hoping he wouldn’t expect any further explanation.

    Benji’s eyes widened as he caught the lightsaber, his embarrassment forgotten, replaced with eagerness. He looked at Mara, but seemed to struggle to find the right words to say.

    Having had enough of the emotional rollercoaster her ship had become, Mara hurried on with the exercise. “Don’t just stare at it. Let’s see if it still works.”

    Benji nodded, then carefully pressed the ignition button. A bright topaz blade appeared accompanied by a familiar low hum. He experimentally waved it, seeming to savor the slight change in sound as it sliced through the air.

    “That blade might have belonged to your mother, but don’t be treating it like it’s sacred. It’s a weapon and it’s been around longer than your father. You’re not going to hurt it.”

    Benji still seemed mesmerized by the glowing blade. “Alright, let’s see what you’ve got.” Mara pulled her own lightsaber from her belt.

    Benji tore his eyes from his blade to look at Mara as she settled into a combat stance and ignited her weapon. She moved slowly and deliberately at first, and Benji was easily able to match each thrust and parry. Mostly she moved slowly because she didn’t want to overwhelm Benji, but in truth she herself had not fought against a living opponent with a lightsaber in far too long.

    After a few minutes she sped up a bit and he continued to keep pace. “So far, so good,” Mara commented. “Do you have any finishing moves?” She took a step back and let her blade slip outward, inviting Benji to attempt to disarm her. Benji eyes focused intently and he took a deep breath. Then in one motion he advanced toward her and twisted his blade around hers. Mara relaxed her wrist, intending to allow her weapon to be pulled from her grasp. But it wasn’t.

    Benji furrowed his brow in disappointment. Mara moved back into a fairly gentle attack. After a few more minutes of sparring, Mara once again let her lightsaber drop to where she could be easily disarmed. Once again Benji attempted to twist her blade away from her and once again she easily kept her grip.

    Benji stopped, took a step back and shut down his lightsaber. “I can’t do it.”

    “Why not?” Mara asked.

    “I know the technique, I just can’t make it work,” he replied miserably. From his tone, Mara guessed that he’d been struggling with this move for some time.

    “Let’s try it again. Relax,” Mara began.

    “I know. Let the Force flow through me,” Benji finished.

    “Never mind that,” Mara replied. “All you need is to decide what you’re going to do and then do it.”

    Benji looked uncertain. “What are you going to do?” Mara asked.

    “Disarm you?” he replied hesitantly.

    “What are you going to do?” Mara repeated.

    “Disarm you,” Benji said firmly.

    “What are you going to do?” Mara repeated a bit louder.

    “Disarm you,” Benji declared, matching Mara’s volume. He ignited his lightsaber, closed the distance between them, and went in for his finishing move before Mara could repeat the question a fourth time. Mara’s lightsaber was ripped from her hand and went sailing across the room. Benji watched as the lightsaber clattered to the ground and Mara nodded her approval.

    “You did it.”

    “I did it.” Benji said slowly, like he didn’t quite believe it. After a moment he looked up to Mara and grinned in satisfaction. “I really did it.”

    “Let’s not get cocky,” Mara warned. “See if you can do it again.” She collected her lightsaber and they continued to spar.

    An hour later, Mara and Benji sat on the floor, sipping water as they went over the high points of what proved to be a successful workout for both of them.

    “I’m sure your father will be pleased,” Mara said offhandedly. Suddenly Benji’s smile faded.

    “What’s wrong?” Mara asked.

    “I wasn’t going to tell my dad. I don’t think he’ll be very happy.”

    “Why not?”

    “He kinda forbid me from using Mom’s lightsaber. He thinks I need to build my own.”

    “Don’t you have a master?” Mara asked. “What does he think about it?”

    “My master,” Benji said, picking his words carefully, “My master lets me use it.”

    “Well, then you should be fine.” Benji nodded, but looked unconvinced. After a moment of silence Mara added, “ You know, I didn’t build this lightsaber.”

    “You didn’t?” Benji asked curiously.

    “No, you’re father gave it to me many years ago, before you were born.”

    “Why didn’t you make your own?”

    “Because . . .” Mara hesitated, trying to recall Luke’s exact words. “ ‘Not all Jedi take the same path.’ Or something like that. I’m sure it was terribly profound.”

    Benji looked skeptical. “That doesn’t sound like Dad. Well, maybe the profound part does. But not the rest.”

    “I’m not sure how to explain exactly, but at the time it did sound like your father.” Something passed over Benji’s features as he stared at the dull gray paneling of the floor. He ran a hand through his sandy brown hair.

    “Although,” Mara continued, “I have always wondered . . .” Benji looked up at her expectantly. “Your father was carrying this lightsaber when he lost his hand. And then his own clone nearly killed him with it. Sometimes I wonder if maybe he wasn’t just trying to unload a bad luck charm.” The young Jedi gave Mara an odd look, not quite certain how serious she was. “But it was probably the profound thing,” she added quickly. “Probably.”

    * * *

    Where are you Callista? Why won’t you come back to me?

    Luke didn’t understand. Obi-Wan had spoken to him long after his death. He’d caught glimpses of Yoda and even of his father as ghosts of the Force. Why not Callista? He needed to see her one last time, to speak to her just once more. He paced the room in frustration, bordering on despair.

    She had to be out there. She may have been Force-blind at her death, but she was still a Jedi. He had no doubt that she would be welcomed by the Force when she died, that she would have the same abilities as any other fallen Jedi. So why hadn’t she found him?

    * * *

    Hours after succumbing to sleep, Dankin drifted toward consciousness. It was a slow awakening, something he wasn’t used to. His thoughts began to order themselves as his mind kicked back into gear. That’s when it hit him.

    For months now the company’s books hadn’t been balancing. Dankin and Odonnl had spent weeks pouring over expense reports, trying to find the missing funds. Eventually they’d been forced to the conclusion that someone in the company was stealing money. Since then, they’d spent nearly every spare moment trying to determine who the thief was. And now, Dankin had it.

    Of course! We’ve been staring at it all along. That has to be who’s been siphoning money from the company.

    He sat up abruptly, his senses feeling sharper than they had in weeks. He was not only rested, but he’d finally solved the mystery, and just in time. He got to his feet, eager to share his discovery with Odonnl. He was halfway to the door when the stuffed whisperkit, lying in the middle of the bed, caught his eye. Dankin paused, considering what to do with it. After a moment he decided to tuck it into his jacket for safe-keeping. Then he hurried off to find Odonnl.
    Last edited by Tarsier, Jul 19, 2013
  15. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Nice Benji/Mara scene. :D

    So ... speaking as a fan of mush -- a sserious fan -- I suppose the L/M romance will be more subtle and understated -- I can deal with that [face_laugh] I have a vivid imagination [face_mischief]

    *

    Like how Dankin's character is given more focus. :D Another Karrde crewer I always thought was interesting is Aves. :)

  16. Piper057 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 26, 2009
    star 2
    I will warn you that I'm not a huge fan of lots of mush.

    But maybe just a little...?[face_blush]

    A conversation of Benji and Mara was brilliant! =D= Oh, and I love Dankin sleeping with a toy. We all really need it sometimes in any age.
    Wonderful job. :)
  17. Irish_Jedi_Jade Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 2007
    star 4
    That was wonderful!! I loved the Mara/Benji action, I can see her doing something like that...sweet, but not obviously, you know? I'm sure there's a heart in there! =) Well written, and I'm so excited to see where you take this! And dankin...SLEPT?? WOW! that's awesome! Now if only luke would get out of his funk and go join the party....

    Huggles,
    [face_good_luck] irish
  18. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Jade_eyes
    Thank you! I'll see what I can do about adding a bit more romance. Dankin is totally underplayed. But that's actually good in a way, because I make up pretty much anything I want to about him. :cool: Aves will be appearing later in the story, as well as Ghent and Karrde himself.:)

    Piper057
    Maybe a little mush. [face_thinking] Thanks for commenting!

    Irish_Jedi_Jade
    Thank you! I'm glad everyone seemed to like Mara and Benji - I know I can't write action for anything, but I thought the actual conversation came out pretty well.



    I would like to dedicate this chapter to Ambassador Cara Jade, who joined the Force five months ago yesterday.




    Interlude

    She watched Jacen, helpless.

    This isn’t you, Jacen. What happened to my sweet, compassionate nephew?

    Callista turned away. She could not stand to see any more.

    The most terrifying part was to think of how close Jacen and Benji had been just a few years ago. Thankfully, they weren’t that close anymore. What had once seemed a curse was now a blessing.

    * * *

    She watched Benji, uncertain.

    I love you, Benji. I’m so sorry I had to leave you.

    Callista wanted to feel hopeful, longed to be able to rest knowing he would be safe, now and always. But she couldn’t. Not now, not quite.

    * * *

    She watched Luke, brokenhearted.

    I miss you, Luke. More than you’ll ever know. But I can’t come back to you, not for a moment.

    Please understand.
    Last edited by Tarsier, Oct 26, 2012
  19. Irish_Jedi_Jade Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 2007
    star 4
    Hmmmm...the plot thickens....why can't Callista come back?? I can understand her pain though...You know, I swear, I hated her with such a passion, and now you're making me kinda almost sorta like her!! :eek:

    Haha, keep it up, can't wait for more!!!
    [face_good_luck] Irish
  20. DaenaBenjen42 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2005
    star 5
    This isn?t you, Jacen. What happened to my sweet, compassionate nephew?

    Just how much of an answer does she want? And if she got it, would she put Vergere to task on Jacen's behalf?
  21. Jaded_Girl Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2001
    star 4
    Well, Mara thought to herself, nice of the galaxy to finally throw me an easy one.

    "Surprise!" ;)



    Having had enough of the emotional rollercoaster her ship had become, Mara hurried on with the exercise. ?Don?t just stare at it. Let?s see if it still works.?

    [face_laugh] Classic Mara.



    ?That blade might have belonged to your mother, but don?t be treating it like it?s sacred. It?s a weapon and it?s been around longer than your father. You?re not going to hurt it.?

    *sigh* I love that girl. I really, really do.



    ~?Let?s try it again. Relax,? Mara began.
    ~?I know. Let the Force flow through me,? Benji finished.
    ~?Never mind that,? Mara replied. ?All you need is to decide what you?re going to do and then do it.?


    [face_laugh] Again, I find myself wondering how the Academy would have turned out if Mara taught there.



    ~Benji looked uncertain. ?What are you going to do?? Mara asked.
    ~?Disarm you?? he replied hesitantly.
    ~?What are you going to do?? Mara repeated.
    ~?Disarm you,? Benji said firmly.
    ~?What are you going to do?? Mara repeated a bit louder.
    ~?Disarm you,? Benji declared, matching Mara?s volume.


    I CAN'T HEAR YOU, PRIVATE!



    ~?Don?t you have a master?? Mara asked. ?What does he think about it??
    ~?My master,? Benji said, picking his words carefully, ?My master lets me use it.?


    Tee hee! ^_^



    ?Although,? Mara continued, ?I have always wondered . . .? Benji looked up at her expectantly. ?Your father was carrying this lightsaber when he lost his hand. And then his own clone nearly killed him with it. Sometimes I wonder if maybe he wasn?t just trying to unload a bad luck charm.? The young Jedi gave Mara an odd look, not quite certain how serious she was. ?But it was probably the profound thing,? she added quickly. ?Probably.?

    That's a bit darker reason fro the blush Luke had at the end of TLC, isn't it? Hmmm...



    Awww! Yay Dankin!!! [:D]


    Oooh! That's a sad, sweet, mysterious little interlude... How intriguing!


    Up!
  22. EGKenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 27, 2005
    star 3
    This is an excellent fic so far.

    I love your characterisations, and the interaction between them is excellent, I would very much like to be on the PM list for this fic.

    EG
  23. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Irish_Jedi_Jade

    You know, I swear, I hated her with such a passion, and now you're making me kinda almost sorta like her!!

    Heheh, the master plan is working...[face_devil] :p
    Seriously though, that's really cool to hear, thank you!


    DaenaBenjen42
    Just how much of an answer does she want? And if she got it, would she put Vergere to task on Jacen's behalf?
    I'm sure she would if she could....thanks for reading!:)


    Jaded_Girl
    You know, you have a knack for finding my favorite lines. :cool: Thank you for your comments!

    That's a bit darker reason fro the blush Luke had at the end of TLC, isn't it? Hmmm...
    I don't really think that's why Luke gave Mara the lightsaber, but I do think it's cursed. I mean, Anakin had it when he lost two legs, an arm, and caught on fire; Luke finds his aunt and uncle dead two minutes after Obi-Wan gives it to him; Mara had it when she tripped over a pile of dry leaves and knocked herself out on an unfortunately located rock; the list goes on....


    EGKenobi
    A new reader, yay!:D Thanks so much for the compliments and you are on the PM list.

    *

    I'm afraid it's going to be a little bit before I update this again. I feel like I may be right on the brink of writing myself into a corner, so I need to get several chapters written out before I post any more. The good news is, when I am able to post again I should have several chapters lined up so the updates should be fairly regular for a while.

    Anyway, thanks to everyone for sticking with this story! Below is a little preview of the next chapter:

    [Edit: Reposted below]
  24. JediMike2372 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2008
    star 1
    Late arival to this fic. I gotta say that it is an interesting storyline. One that I never would have considered myself. I like the characterizations and what you are doing with them. Still haven't figured out what you are going to do with Luke and Mara. I like the interaction between Mara and Benji. Could almost be a Master/Apprentice relationship. Especially since Luke doesn't seem too interested in teaching the Force. Look forward to seeing how this develops.
  25. Jaded_Girl Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2001
    star 4
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