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. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Jade_eyes
    she won't thank him for that at least not right away.
    No, she really won't.;)

    Odynl and Dankin are right about everything they told Benji
    Yes, let's just hope he heard them....Thank you for commenting!

    DaenaBenjen42
    Beta: in this context, it's 'breathe.' As in: "Taking a breath, he breathed easily." (It was repeated again in the next paragraph, or I wouldn't have mentioned it.)
    Ack! I knew that too. I guess this is why I should really have a beta. Thanks for pointing that out, and please don't hesitate to point out any other errors you find.

    He's young, so he'll get better!
    He is young....

    Good chapter.
    Thank you! I'm always afraid I'm going to lose momentum, so that's good to hear. :)

    mavjade
    Good update!!
    Thank you!

    It would be hard to be Luke Skywalker's kid and if he is weaker in the Force that would make it all that much harder on him.
    Very true.

    I'm sure Mara isn't going to execute Faughn but I do wonder why they told Luke that and what really is going on!
    Perhaps they believe it, whether it's true or not.

    *

    The next few chapters are getting a bit sticky, but hopefully I'll get this updated again in the next couple weeks. Thanks for bearing with me, I know my updates haven't been very consistent. I think I'm about two-thirds of the way through the story, so we're getting there!
  2. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Author Note: An update, finally! Sorry it took so long, I wrote myself into a bit of a corner and just figured out how to get out. I'm hoping to keep updating on a semi-regular basis every few weeks, but no promises. Thanks to anyone who reads this story, I hope you enjoy it!

    This is the current PM list, let me know if you want on or off:

    Jade_eyes
    DaenaBenjen42
    Jaded_Girl
    Irish_Jedi_Jade
    EGKenobi
    mavjade



    Chapter 15

    There was no one around as Mara approached the Starry Ice. She went to the keypad by the boarding ramp and punched in a twelve-digit code. The ramp lowered.

    Thank you, Ghent, Mara thought as she strode up the ramp. Years ago, Mara had told her former slicer to program every ship in the fleet with a backup passcode that only Mara knew. No one else even knew the passcode existed. Even if the ship captains had found out, Ghent assured her that it would be nearly impossible for them to disable or override it. Apparently he was true to his word.

    The ship was silent except for the echo of Mara’s footsteps as she made her way to the bridge. Faughn’s crew must have been smart enough to disappear once they knew they were caught. But Mara knew Faughn, like a true captain, would stay with her ship until the bitter end.

    The bridge was dark, but it took Mara less than a second to spot Faughn waiting in the shadows with blaster drawn.

    Mara aimed her blaster. “It’s over, Faughn.”

    Mara, stop! The voice sliced through the air. No, actually, it didn’t. It never hit the air at all. Luke was screaming directly into Mara’s mind. Stay out of my mind, Skywalker! Mara mentally rebuked.

    “I’m not leaving,” Faughn said simply.

    “I wasn’t planning on letting you,” Mara growled. She adjusted her aim—

    And the world went dark.

    * * *

    “Alright, drop it,” Odonnl ordered as he set his end of the large packing crate on the ground. “What’s wrong?” he asked as he made his way around the crate. “Do you have a broken rib?”

    “No, my ribs are fine. Promise. I just can’t get a grip today,” Dankin replied. He took a step to the side, not liking Odonnl’s scrutiny as he looked him over.

    “You dropped that crate three times. Something’s wrong,” Odonnl said.

    “What happened to your hand?” Benji asked, looking curiously down from his perch on top of another crate.

    Odonnl had noticed Dankin’s right hand was wrapped, but since he hadn’t said anything Odonnl hadn’t thought much about it. But it had been the right side Dankin dropped, all three times. “Okay, let’s see it.” Odonnl stepped up to Dankin. He gripped his wrist with one hand and unwrapped the cloth from his hand with the other. Odonnl sucked in his breath as he revealed Dankin’s palm, bearing a deep cut, bright red and oozing. Dankin winced as the open gash was exposed to the air. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

    Dankin shrugged. “It’s not that bad.” He peered down at his hand. “Or at least it wasn’t.”

    “Come on, we’re getting this treated,” Odonnl replied. “I’m sure Mirax has a medical droid or two.”

    “But—”

    “Mara will work something out when she gets back,” Odonnl cut off Dankin’s objection. He pulled Dankin forward. “Come on, Benji.”

    Benji hopped down and took Dankin’s other arm.

    * * *

    Luke charged onto the bridge of the unfamiliar ship, searching for signs of life. He saw no movement and sensed no conscious beings. There were, however, two crumpled forms sprawled on the deck.

    Luke knelt by the first form. He shifted her body so she was lying flat on her back, with arms and legs lying straight and natural. He brushed the flame red hair out of her eyes. “Sorry, Mara. I couldn’t let you do something I knew you would regret.”

    Next Luke moved to other unmoving figure. She had a trim but muscular build and at least an inch or two of height on Mara, Luke noticed as he rolled her onto her side, but the Jedi Master rather doubted she’d last more than a few minutes in a fight against her boss. “I’m sorry I had to knock you out, but you have no idea how lucky you are,” he muttered to the unconscious woman as he fastened a set of binders to her wrists.

    It had been easy enough for Luke. Once he’d made the mental connection to Mara it was no trick at all to find the right part of her mind and send a “lights-out” signal to quickly and painlessly render her unconscious. It had been only marginally more difficult to find the mind of the other woman and do the same. The hardest part had been timing it so they would both fall unconscious at the same time.

    He’d put only the gentlest pressure on Mara’s mind—he only needed her to be out until he could arrive and sort through things—and already he could sense her starting to stir. He collected both blasters from the deck and positioned himself between Mara and her would-be victim. And he waited for Mara to wake up.

    * * *

    “Do you hear that?” Dankin asked. Odonnl didn’t hear anything other than the whirring of the medical droid as it treated Dankin’s hand onboard the Pulsar Skate.

    “That voice . . .” Dankin continued.

    Odonnl thought he could just barely make out what might have been the sound of voices through the wall, but he certainly couldn’t identify them. Dankin, however, had always had superior hearing. “Where are you going?” Odonnl asked as Dankin pulled his arm away from the droid and headed for the door.

    “I know that voice.” Dankin walked up to the next door down the hall and pushed his ear up against it. The only available medical droid had been in Mirax’s personal medical facility. The door Dankin was leaning against belonged to one of Mirax’s private offices.

    The medical droid had followed Dankin and was trying to grab a hold of his hand as Dankin tried to simultaneously push the droid away and listen at the door. Finally, he gave the droid a big push backward and opened the door.

    “You’re going to have to hold it together, Zakarisz. There’s just no way anyone can get to you—” Mirax stopped, narrowing her eyes as she looked up from the holoscreen on her desk to regard the sudden intruders.

    “Ghent,” Dankin cried, rushing around Mirax’s desk so he could get a better look at the holoscreen. As he stepped up beside Mirax, Dankin immediately recognized the figure on the screen as the best slicer who had ever worked for Karrde.

    “Dankin?” came the uncertain reply. Uncertain, but with an edge of desperate hope.

    * * *

    When Mara awoke to find herself on the cold metal deck she was not happy. She stayed down for several seconds after she awakened to gather her bearings. She wasn’t certain what had caused her to lose consciousness, but she knew it wasn’t Faughn. And since she could sense Luke standing serenely a few meters away, she figured it must have been him. She took another moment to throw up every mental barrier she could muster, and then leapt to her feet.

    “You self-righteous, meddlesome, good-for-nothing oaf!” She quickly closed the distance between herself and Luke, sparing a brief glance at Faughn who was just beginning to stir, stretched out on the deck with her hands bound behind her.

    “Whoa, Mara. Calm down. I was just trying to help.” Luke raised his hands defensively and took a step back. At first Mara was somewhat satisfied to see the Jedi Master backing down from her, but when she realized he had shifted to position himself more fully between her and Faughn her anger peaked again.

    “I. Don’t. Need. Your. Help,” she bit out.

    “I saved you from doing something you would regret,” Luke answered calmly.

    “You ‘saved’ me?” Mara spat, her tone dripping venom. “Since when are my actions any of your business?”

    “Since you’ve turned into a killer. Since you’ve fallen back on old habits. You’re better than this Mara.”

    Faughn was struggling to her feet. Luke moved to help her up.

    Mara was at a loss. She wanted to continue screaming at Luke, but she knew it would be futile. Moments ago she’d been furious that he was trying to control her. But now that she could plainly see that he had lost all faith in her, the anger had shriveled into nothing.

    Mara started when her comlink chirped. “I’m here,” Mara said into the device as she turned away from Luke as he helped to steady Faughn.

    “It’s Ghent,” Dankin’s voice crackled over the comlink. “He needs our help.” Dankin explained the situation quickly.

    “On my way,” Mara replied curtly. She had no idea why her former employee thought that he could call on her for help, and she was not at all certain that she was willing to lend him any aid, but she hadn’t liked the urgency in her normally laid-back pilot’s tone. Not to mention she was eager to have something to think about that didn’t involve Faughn or Luke.

    * * *

    “Hey, Skywalker.” Faughn rolled her shoulders and shifted her wrists, trying to find a more comfortable position within in the confines of the binders.

    Luke was studying Mara as she answered her comlink, but looked away to focus on Faughn.

    “Check her blaster,” Faughn said.

    Keeping one eye on the restrained smuggler, Luke pulled out the blaster he’d found closest to Mara. He turned it over in his hand, seeing nothing out of the ordinary. He’d just opened his mouth to ask Faughn what he was looking for when he noticed the setting: stun.

    Faughn gave him a bemused smile. “As much as I appreciate your stepping in to provide an unexpected nap,” Faughn repositioned herself to gaze thoughtfully at Mara, “I knew Jade wasn’t going to kill me. She just doesn’t have it in her. Not anymore.”
    Last edited by Tarsier, Oct 22, 2012
  3. DaenaBenjen42 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2005
    star 5
    I'm confused about Faughn.
  4. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Great update and Luke just shattered something with Mara :( :( [face_thinking]

    He could have helped certainly but in a way that didn't reflect a lack of confidence in the fact she's changed. Somehow, I think "sorry" isn't gonna do the trick :p

  5. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    I can't say I'm too too surprised, Faughn has been giving me all kinds of trouble. I'll try to clarify things in the next chapter. Thanks for the feedback, Daena.
  6. mavjade It's so Fluffy Fanfic & New Movies Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2005
    star 5
    Luke is always trying to do the right thing but sometimes in doing that he makes things worse for himself. 8-}

    I loved the line about Mara not having it in her any more to kill.

    Good update!

    =D=
  7. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Jade_eyes
    Luke just shattered something with Mara
    I'm glad you picked up on that, I was afraid it wouldn't come across. :)

    Somehow, I think "sorry" isn't gonna do the trick
    You're right about that! Thanks for commenting!


    mavjade
    Luke is always trying to do the right thing but sometimes in doing that he makes things worse for himself.
    Very true! Thanks for your comments! :)



    Chapter 16

    Mara yanked the blasters away from Luke, returning hers to the holster at her side and shoving Faughn’s into her belt. She grabbed Faughn by the elbow and dragged her roughly along. She never even glanced at Luke as she brushed by him.

    There was a dramatic change in Mara’s sense that Luke couldn't quite make sense of. She had, not surprisingly, thrown up her mental defenses. Still, Luke could feel the cadence of her emotions and it was not quite what he expected. Just a moment ago the heat of her anger had been enough for him to feel as though he was about to be enveloped in fire. Now when he reached toward her mind he felt something akin to the cold hardness of a stone cliff face.

    Luke wordlessly followed Mara off the ship. There were things that needed to be discussed, but they would have to wait. Luke hadn’t been able to hear what was said over Mara’s comlink, but her quick stride told Luke something serious had happened.

    She shoved Faughn into the speeder and then hastily slid in herself, the vehicle moving the second her foot could reach the pedal, which was a second before Luke reached the rear door. He had to run for a few strides and pull himself into the vehicle as it was accelerating.

    After Luke got himself settled and several seconds of tense silence, Faughn asked, “So where are we going?”

    “You’re going wherever the Hoth I take you,” Mara snarled.

    Figuring he wasn’t likely to get a better opening, Luke asked, “And what about me?” He wouldn’t have been at all surprised if she decided to kick him off her ship, and he wasn’t so sure that was such a bad idea. It might be time to contact Leia and the Jedi Order, and it would be a lot easier to do that from Corellia than any other planet Mara was likely to be visiting in the near future.

    She seemed to consider this for a moment before replying, “I’d leave your sorry backside on this planet if I had any confidence that you’d be able to take care of that son of yours on your own.”

    Faughn twisted around awkwardly to face Luke. She whispered conspiratorially and flashed Luke a toothy grin. “Oh, good. It looks like you and I get to be roommates in Mara’s houndhouse for a while yet.”

    Luke didn’t get a chance to respond because Mara slammed on the brakes pitching him forward to crash against the back the front seat. In a matter of seconds Mara was out of the speeder and halfway up the ramp of Incident Alley.

    * * *

    Dankin had already begun the startup sequence as they waited for Mara. The sensor array was still in shambles but they didn’t have time to repair it. At least they wouldn’t if they decided to help Ghent. Dankin didn’t know what Mara would decide about that, her voice had betrayed nothing when he’d commed her.

    Not a moment too soon, Mara rushed onto the bridge. “H’sishi, Pormfil, go out and keep an eye on Faughn,” she ordered. “Benji, go . . . give your father a kiss for me, will you?”

    Dankin raised his eyebrows. Her words had said kiss, but her tone had implied something more along the lines of a kick to the teeth.

    Mara waited until she, Dankin, and Odonnl were alone on the bridge. “Explain this to me again.”

    “Ghent was on a mission. All the other officers died, leaving him the ranking officer. His ship was damaged but limping back to Corellia when the hyperdrive blew. Just about twenty-six parsecs directly counter-core.” Dankin paused.

    “In other words,” Mara replied, “Almost exactly where the pirates hit us.”

    Dankin nodded. “It sounds like they’d lost half their shields and nearly all of their weapons. They’re sitting mynocks out there.

    “The Republic doesn’t have any spare warships in the area and Mirax just removed her life support systems for an upgrade. It’s us or no one.”

    Mara exhaled deeply and looked from Dankin to Odonnl. “What do you think?”

    “Well,” Odonnl began as he tried to filter out his feelings and focus on the purely analytical arguments, “If we get involved it could appear that we are choosing sides in the war. Ghent is essentially no one to us, having him in our debt probably won’t do us any good . . .”

    “Never mind all that,” Mara interrupted. “I mean what do you think we should do? How do you feel about it?”

    Dankin and Odonnl exchanged a look, then Odonnl nodded to Dankin. Dankin took a deep breath. “We don’t owe Ghent anything. But he’s our friend and I don’t want him to die.”

    Mara stared hard at Dankin. “Are you willing to risk your own life to give him a better chance at survival?”

    “I am.”

    Mara turned her stare to Odonnl. “And you?”

    “Ghent’s a good man, not to mention the best slicer in the galaxy. He’s worth saving.”

    * * *

    Benji hesitated in the corridor of the ship. He was nervous to see his father. He was afraid he would be able to tell he’d been crying, maybe he would even know what he’d said to Dankin and Odonnl earlier. Worse, maybe his father would be able to sense his failure to lift the crates and help his friend.

    Benji regretted his words, he hadn’t meant to suggest he didn’t love his parents, or that he wished they didn’t exist. It made him sick to know he’d never see his mom again, how could he have wished he never knew her? That wasn’t what he meant, he thought fiercely, fighting the tears that welled in his eyes. He had to get a grip on himself before he found his father.

    Wrapping his arms tightly around himself, Benji wished he had his stuffed whisperkit with him. Niki was her name, after his late cousin Anakin. The plush animal had once belonged to Anakin, and Anakin had given her to Benji the day he was born.

    Benji treasured Niki because she reminded him of the cousin he had never met but had always known. Despite having died many years before, Anakin’s name was mentioned often when Benji was growing up. People had often commented on how much Benji looked like Anakin, how much Benji reminded them of his older cousin. Benji had relished the comments. He knew Anakin had been a hero, he could hear the reverence in their voices when they said his name. As he grew older the comparisons had lessened. At some point in the last few years they had stopped completely, from all except his Uncle Han.

    Suddenly aware of how long he had lingered on the ship despite Mara’s instructions, Benji headed for the boarding ramp in the rear of the ship, wishing intensely that he had Niki with him. The whisperkit reminded him of Anakin’s strength, and sometimes when he squeezed her tight he could feel a glimmer of that strength in himself.

    * * *

    Three years ago, the Etherway, under the command of Fynn Torve, failed to make a delivery. All contact with the ship was lost for several days. Everyone feared the worst. Then the ship’s distress signal was located, coming from a dingy port dozens of parsecs off course.

    Mara had been riding along on the Starry Ice with Faughn and they diverted to check on the wayward ship. Suspicions were raised when the Etherway would not respond to repeated hailing. Blasters at the ready, Mara and Faughn had approached the ship. The boarding ramp was down and a ruckus could be heard onboard. Mara and Faughn hurried onto the ship.

    Faughn had feared the Etherway had been attacked, or perhaps a disease had swept through the crew. At first it was not clear to Faughn that those things hadn’t happened. Crewers were strung about the deck semi-conscious, a few unknown beings among them. There were broken bottles and ripped open crates, the place was generally trashed. It reeked of alcohol, vomit, and a dozen other odors Faughn didn’t want to place.

    In the middle of it all was Torve, unsteady on his feet, his eyes so dilated they looked like belonged on a skrat. It wasn’t until she noticed the residue of glitterstim dusting his face and clothes that Faughn understood what was going on. There had been no attack and any illness was self-induced. Karrde didn’t often run spice these days, but apparently he’d assigned a load to Torve. And from the looks of it, Torve had sampled the cargo.

    Sampled, decided he liked what he found, and turned it into an all-out spicefest.

    Torve, so far out of his mind that he probably didn’t remember his own name, drew his blaster. He yelled something incomprehensible at Mara and opened fire. His aim was wild and blaster bolts bounced off the ceiling and walls, never coming near Mara or Faughn.

    Faughn had braced herself, fully expecting Mara to drop Torve like the mangy scumsucker he was. But she didn’t. She didn’t blast him or even stun him. Faughn knew stunning a man that spiced could easily result in death—the stun blast could easily overwhelm a system already compromised by the effects of spice. Still, Faughn would gladly have shot Torve herself except Mara was already on him, wresting his blaster away from him.

    Once Mara had Torve’s blaster, Faughn relaxed and holstered her own weapon. Fortunately, Mara was not so quick to let her guard down. Torve came at Mara with a vibroblade. Mara reacted instantly, shoving her palm into Torve’s nose, the most basic self-defense move there was.

    An awful crack resounded in the cabin and Torve fell to the deck. The bone shards from his shattered nose musty have found their way into his brain because Torve never got back up.

    It had not been so much Mara’s reluctance to open fire on Torve—though that had helped—as her reaction to his death that had given Faughn the confidence to face Mara. It was the only time Faughn had ever seen Mara visibly shaken. Her hands trembled as she carried the body away. Her eyes were distant as she fired each member of the sobered-up crew. And when they returned to base, Karrde had told Mara to take some time off. She complied without objection.

    A formidable assassin she may once have been, but now Mara Jade was no more a cold-blooded killer than the Jedi currently sitting in the backseat. Speaking of which, Faughn wondered briefly if Skywalker would stop her if she tried to escape. Then she quickly dismissed the notion of escape as pure folly. It was clear Mara wasn’t going to hurt her, and being shipless and creditless on Corellia was practically a death sentence. With the company unraveling, it was just possible that if she stuck around Faughn might be able to prove herself useful enough for Mara to forgive her and eventually let her go. At this point, Faughn would rather be a prisoner on a fast ship than be liberated with no way off the planet.



    Author Note: For a little more background on Niki, check out Part 2 of R.S.V.P.
    Last edited by Tarsier, Jul 19, 2013
  8. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Enjoyed Shirlee's POV and Benji's and the crew's decision about Ghent. =D= and :D about squeeing in a pre-move post. LOL


  9. DaenaBenjen42 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2005
    star 5
    **blinks in confusion, goes back to re-read last update...* Oh. Get it now. She really didn't want Luke to come along and do that. Ouch. (However, Faughn still does confuses me in how she's reacting. But at least she's reacting with humor, yes?)

    There was a dramatic change in Mara?s sense that Luke couldn?t quite make sense of. She had, not surprisingly, thrown up her mental defenses. Still, Luke could feel the cadence of her emotions and it was not quite what he expected. Just a moment ago the heat of her anger had been enough for him to feel as though he was about to be enveloped in fire. Now when he reached toward her mind he felt something akin to the cold hardness of a stone cliff face.

    He ticked her off, and she's not hiding this fact from him. Not at all.

    ?I?d leave your sorry backside on this planet if I had any confidence that you?d be able to take care of that son of yours on your own.?

    Given that she had to go find him, and the state she found him in... He deserves the telling off.


    Good update. :)
  10. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    @Jade_eyes I'm glad you liked it! As always, thanks so much for commenting!

    @DaenaBenjen42 However, Faughn still does confuses me in how she's reacting. But at least she's reacting with humor, yes? Yes - at the risk of over-explaining, Faughn is really quite terrified, but she's trying to play it cool, acting like she doesn't care. I think of her as the typical smuggler with a heart--she looks out for herself first, but that doesn't mean she doesn't care about other people. She likes her job working for Mara well enough, but she fears the company won't last much longer and she doesn't want to risk losing everything, so she was trying to get out while she still could. At this point it seems to be in her best interest to follow Mara, so she will (at least for now). If this isn't coming across, it's probably because I didn't intend for Faughn to play much of a role in the story. But there's a lot in this story that didn't come out quite how I'd intended.... (I know that was probably way more information than you needed, but typing all that out helped me sort through things in my mind a bit.)

    He ticked her off, and she's not hiding this fact from him. Not at all.
    Definitely not.

    Given that she had to go find him, and the state she found him in... He deserves the telling off.
    Oh, but Mara's just getting warmed up now! ;)

    Thank you very much for your comments, Daena. It's very helpful to know where I lose my readers and what I need to work on.

    ----

    Look for an update soon!!
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  11. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Finally updated! I'm trying to fix the earlier posts as time permits, but if anyone would rather I send them a PDF with the story up to this point, please send me a convo with your email address.

    I am going to turn the PM list into a tag list. If anyone would prefer a PM (convo) just let me know.
    @DaenaBenjen42

    Any and all comments and criticisms are very much appreciated! :D



    Chapter 17

    “I know you’re really mad,” Luke ventured.

    Mara slowly looked up from the pilot’s console on the bridge of Incident Alley and turned towards Luke. At least he’d waited until they made hyperspace on their way to rescue Ghent. “Picked up on that did you?”

    Faughn snickered from the passenger bench in the back of the bridge. Her hands were still bound, but she was otherwise unrestrained. The binders were just for show anyway, Faughn had nowhere to go. Mara would have to take them off soon; she would need all the help she could get once they found Ghent. Especially since the rest of her crew was currently on the Starry Ice. But for now Mara was content to continue the mild annoyance the binders gave Faughn.

    Luke continued. “I’m sorry I had to do what I did, but I was afraid—”

    “You had to do what you did?” Mara cut in. “My actions, whether you like them or not, are none of your concern.”

    “When there are lives at stake, it is always my concern.”

    “Remind me again—who died and made you divine arbiter of all justice in the galaxy?”

    Luke stood up and took a step toward Mara. His eyes narrowed and he stared hard at her as he spoke. “As a Jedi I am obliged to intervene if I can prevent bloodshed.” He took a breath and added, “I suppose that’s probably a difficult concept for someone who’s never cared about another person for a moment of her life.”

    Mara had been trying to control her temper up to this point, but now she no longer cared. If Luke wanted to have it out, they were going to have it out. “And how’s this Jedi obligation nonsense working out for you? Aside from the dead wife and a son you don’t even know?”

    She braced herself for a scathing retort. But it never came.

    For several moments Luke was silent. Mara had probably crossed a line with that last comment. When Luke finally replied, he’d dropped his gaze to the floor and his voice was quiet. “Just because you know exactly where it hurts the most, do you always have to go there?”

    “You push my buttons, I push yours back. That’s the way this relationship works,” Mara replied. Her voice was subdued, her tone matter-of fact.

    Luke nodded. “You’re right.” Luke sank against the console and after a moment he looked up at Mara. “But is that the way it has to be?”

    Mara’s check twitched. Sith, she hated to apologize. She took a deep breath, but hadn’t quite found the words before Luke spoke again.

    “Never mind,” he growled. “Someday I’ll learn to just stop trying with you.”

    Mara swallowed her apology. “You lost interest in me fifteen years ago.”

    “Me? Lose interest in you? You made it pretty clear you didn’t want anything to do with me. I finally took the hint and let you go. And never heard from you again”

    Mara stared hard at Luke. Her instinct was to deny any responsibility, to turn the accusation back on him. It would be easy, natural, to tell him it was his fault, to make him feel bad for their fractured relationship. But then again, it wasn’t like she had any pride left to lose at this point. Why not just tell the truth?

    “I never thought you would give up on me,” Mara said quietly into the growing silence. Luke narrowed his eyes but Mara continued before he could interrupt. “I don’t blame you. I would have done the same. Stang, I would have given up on me the first time I bolted from your academy. But you didn’t. You kept inviting me back, kept telling me I could be Jedi. I’d tell you I wasn’t interested and a few months later you’d be back again, like I hadn’t already rejected you a hundred times. It was annoying as hell.” Mara tried to summon a smile, or at least a softening of her features. She couldn’t, so she pressed on.

    “But I got use to it. To you. Always being there. And it was sorta nice, having someone with so much blind faith in me. Then Nirauna happened and I finally found a way to push you away for good.”

    “Mara, I . . .” Luke began, then stopped. “Do you really believe that?” His voice was filled with the earnestness only a farmboy could muster. Mara gave a vague sort of nod and turned her face away from him.

    “You had Callista. You had a million other things going on. I was stupid to think you might have time for a lost cause like me.”

    “But, Corran . . .” Luke trailed off.

    Mara could sense his mind churning, trying to fit together pieces that didn’t match. “What does Corran have to do with this?” Mara couldn’t help but snarl the name, just a little.

    “He says he’s been all but begging you to join us and you won’t give him the time of day.”

    “Yeah, well, I wasn’t going to go anywhere for Corran.”

    Luke placed a gentle hand on Mara’s shoulder and pulled her around to face him. The obvious question was on his lips, she could read it in his eyes: What if I had asked? Would you have come for me?

    Yet somehow, miraculously, he didn’t ask it. “I never gave up on you Mara.” Luke must have mistaken her relief for skepticism because he continued, “Corran kept telling me it was no use, you just weren’t interested. I told him to keep trying. And trying. So you would always know you had a place among the Jedi. I didn’t approach you because I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable. I knew it was my fault things were weird between us. I never stopped believing in you, not for a second.”

    Mara’s eyes flicked to Faughn, who had been sitting quietly by throughout the conversation. Mara wanted to believe Luke, but she couldn’t. He may have intended to tell her the truth, he may even have believed his own words. But the fact was a few hours ago he’d knocked her unconscious rather than let her deal with her own problems her own way. “I’m happy to hear that,” Mara lied. Luke was still recovering from the loss of Callista and a million other things. He didn’t need to worry about trivialities like Mara’s hurt feelings. “I need to check on the engines,” she said, dismissing herself from the bridge.

    ***

    Luke stared blankly after Mara. He knew that wasn’t the proper end to the conversation.

    Luke turned to Faughn. “ ‘ A son you don’t even know.’ What did she mean by that?”

    Faughn held her hands out in front of her and looked away. “I am not getting in the middle of this.” She bolted for the doorway before Luke could stop her.

    Luke scowled as a memory bubbled to the surface. Many years ago, he had asked his nephew Jacen to train Benji. Jacen had flatly refused. So then Luke ordered Kyp Durron to train him. Kyp too refused.

    “Please, Master. Try to understand. I don’t want Benji to get hurt.”

    “I don’t want him to be hurt either; that’s why I need you to train him, to teach him the ways of the Force.”

    Kyp had shaken his head slowly in response. “You still don’t see it, do you?”

    “No, I don’t see why my oldest student would refuse what I ask of him! If you can’t follow my orders, I may have to rethink your position within the Order.”

    There was pain in Kyp’s eyes when he replied, “Very well.” But there was a seething frustration when he turned and muttered under his breath, “It must be hell not knowing your own son.”

    How could Kyp and Mara, two people who had never in their natural lives agreed on anything, turn the same damning accusation on him?
    Last edited by Tarsier, Jul 19, 2013
  12. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Wow, Tarsier - that was a very candid conversation =D= =D= Usually when that kind of thing happens, things are awkward for a bit but not as tense ... The friendship gradually reasserts itself. Strange, though I have a feeling though they shared stuff, things aren't any better :(

    Another thing that could happen ;) is the underlying attraction bubbles up, things heat up and SQUEE! happens [face_laugh] That's the option I favor [face_dancing] :)
  13. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    I just found this story. It is very interesting. I hope the truncated posts get fixed soon. I think I only have half the story from before the move. Nice work. I look forward to reading more.
  14. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Consider Jedi_Lover's presence a serious compliment to your writing Tarsier :* or perhaps it's due to the fact that Callista is not actually around [face_laugh] ;)

    [:D]

    I have been thinking more about Kyp's comment to Luke -- that definitely shows he was shutting Benji out a long long time :( And there's gonna be a lot of work mending those bridges [face_thinking]
  15. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Well...my favorite kind of fanfic usually involves a dead or missing Callista. ;) But I wrote a story where Mara turned down Luke's marriage proposal and a few years later Luke marries somebody else...so I am open to Luke having been married prior to being with Mara.

    It's a well written story. I just wish the first couple pages worth of posts weren't truncated and full of questions marks. Half the time the only reason I knew something happened was because of the replies of the readers.
    Last edited by Jedi_Lover, Oct 26, 2012
  16. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Okay, I got all the previous chapters reposted. One caveat - I have a habit of keeping multiple drafts of almost everything I write, so it's possible I may have posted a slightly wrong version of a chapter. I will try to go back through and make sure everything is correct soon. Also, the Word documents I'm working from have the titles of each chapter in a handwriting font. I was surprised to discover that font appears here on the boards when I copy and paste. I'm guessing the correct font will not appear for everyone, so if the titles look bad to anyone, let me know and I will change them.


    @Jade_eyes
    I've rewritten that conversation many times trying to get it right, I hope I did the characters justice. There was a lot that needed to be said. Part of your concerns may be because not quite everything has been said yet...

    I was definitely surprised to see Jedi_Lover's name. And I'm honored to have her as a reader. :)

    I'm not sure about shutting-out. Maybe more a certain level of obliviousness? Next chapter may shed a little more light on that. :)


    @Jedi_Lover
    I'm so glad you like it! Thank you for the compliments. The truncated posts should all be fixed now, but I haven't had a chance to go back over everything and make sure it looks just right yet.

    Although she's one of my favorite characters, I do tend to kill off Callista a lot, so I suppose we have that in common! :p
    Last edited by Tarsier, Oct 26, 2012
  17. DaenaBenjen42 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2005
    star 5
    “Remind me again—who died and made you divine arbiter of all justice in the galaxy?”

    She has a point, and so does he.

    Mara had been trying to control her temper up to this point, but now she longer cared.

    Missing word: no, right after 'she'

    Luke was still recovering from the loss of Callista and a million other things. He didn’t need to worry about trivialities like Mara’s hurt feelings.

    Uh-huh... and though he might still be recovering from badness, who says he doesn't need to worry about her? Of course he does! That's why they call it recovery!


    Very well done, Tarsier. Loved post!!!!
    Tarsier and Jade_eyes like this.
  18. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Author Note: A great big thank you to DaenaBenjen42 for betaing!

    @Jade_eyes
    @DaenaBenjen42
    @Jaded_Girl
    @Irish_Jedi_Jade
    @EGKenobi
    @mavjade



    Chapter 18

    Resting in the pilot’s seat of the Starry Ice, Dankin gazed at the silky white fur of the stuffed whisperkit. On a whim he’d set the toy on the console before him, as though it could help guide him through space. He needed to return the stuffed animal to Benji, but for the moment he was enjoying the silent company of the creature.

    [I have a question.]

    Startled, Dankin looked up. H’sishi could move surprisingly quietly for a being of her size. [What pirates paint their ships black?]

    “I don’t know of any off-hand. Why?”

    [The child. He said the ships that attacked us were painted black.]

    “I hadn’t noticed. That’s peculiar.” Pirates tended to operate with stolen or salvaged equipment, including ships. He couldn’t think of any reason why they would take the time to repaint anything.

    Dankin’s thoughts were interrupted as Odonnl entered the bridge. Benji was close on his heels.

    “What’s wrong?” Dankin asked. Benji looked panicked and near tears.

    “He wanted to see you,” Odonnl offered. Benji threw his arms around Dankin.

    “I had a bad dream,” Benji mumbled into Dankin’s jacket.

    Dankin put his arm around Benji and handed the whisperkit to him. “It’s okay. It was just a dream. It’s over now.”

    Benji shook his head. "It still feels bad. Like the dream, when someone is coming to get me." He hugged closer to Dankin.

    Dankin was getting an uneasy feeling. And he wasn't the only one.

    “Line creepers,” Odonnl said suddenly. The others looked curiously at Odonnl. “Ghent said he was having trouble with line creepers. Why would he bring up such a minor detail?”

    “I don’t know,” Dankin replied hesitantly. “Some think line creepers are a bad omen. Do you think Ghent could have been trying to warn us about something?”

    Sithspawn.” Odonnl chewed his lip. “This could be bad. This could be really bad.” Odonnl pressed the button for the hypercomm. “I’m calling Mara.”

    The others nodded a silent agreement.

    ***
    Mara stood just inside the engine room, staring blankly into the glow of the hyperdrive and trying not to panic. Mara had thought she was being logical, rational when she made the plan. Luke could fly a ship without sensors—Luke was a sensor, probably a better sensor than any of the electronics that had been blown to pieces days before. And Mara knew the ship, knew its limits and capabilities like she knew her own heartbeat. And they could connect through the Force, they’d done it before. Luke would guide them, alert them to danger, and Mara would control the ship. Meanwhile, Dankin, Odonnl, and the rest of the crew would lend support in the Starry Ice. It would work, if not for that one detail.

    When Mara and Luke had connected through the Force on Nirauan, there had been no room for secrets. They had known each other’s minds like they knew their own. If that happened again, Luke would know all her secrets. Including those about Callista’s last words and Jacen’s hidden identity. The middle of the battle was not the time Mara wanted to drop that bombshell.

    ***

    We are so kriffed, Faughn thought as she tiptoed through the corridor. Jade and Skywalker appeared to each independently be about to lose it. She definitely needed backup.

    Faughn slipped into the communications pod and fired up the hypercomm. It took a few minutes to connect and even then the signal was fuzzy and intermittent. But Faughn was just able to make out a voice on the other end.

    “Thank Corell,” she sighed into the comm. “I really need your help...”

    ***

    “We need to talk about Callista,” Mara announced when she found Luke in the cargo hold.

    “I know. I think I’m beginning to understand,” he replied.

    Mara was a bit surprised, but decided to go with it. “Yes?”

    “Benji isn’t meant to be a Jedi. She knew it. She knew it all along. Everyone knows it. You know it.”

    Mara was silent for a moment; this was not the conversation she’d planned on having.

    “Why did no one tell me?”

    “Would you have believed them if they did?” Mara asked carefully.

    “No, probably not,” Luke confessed. “That’s why—” Luke grabbed Mara and pulled her toward him. Surprised and confused, Mara didn’t fight back. And then she was in Luke’s mind. There was something he wanted to show her. A memory.

    Luke was flipping through a sheaf of flimsies, reading through the notes and status reports tracking Benji’s progress since the last time Luke had been home. “I’ve been gone nearly two months and all he’s done in that time is play on the computer? The only thing worthwhile he’s done is spend a few hours on the flight simulator.”

    “But his cryptology scores—” Callista began.

    “And he hasn’t even beaten it yet?” Luke continued, exasperation edging its way into his voice. “At his age Jaina could have completed this simulation in her sleep!”

    “Jaina?” Callista repeated quizzically.

    “Yes, Jaina Solo—Benji’s cousin? Jedi Knight and Commander of Rogue Squadron?” Luke replied, his exasperation now full-blown.

    “I know who she is! What I don’t know is why you’re comparing Benji to her.” Callista’s voice had that rare harsh edge, a tone it took on only when they argued. A tone he had heard all too often lately, ever since Kyp had refused to take Benji as a padawan.

    Luke breathed deeply. He hated fighting with Callista and wanted to end the argument quickly. But he couldn’t compromise his son’s training—it was far too important. When he continued his voice was calm. Calm, but very serious. “Benji is to be a Jedi. You’re not just his mother—you are his Master now. You’re supposed to be teaching him the ways of the Force. Leave the cryptology nonsense to Republic Intelligence. Please?”

    Callista nodded, layers of hurt and frustration etched on her face. He knew the emotions were there, but he couldn’t sort through them. Why was this so hard for her? After all, it was her idea in the first place to become Benji’s Master. Why wasn’t she helping Benji progress the way he should? “Look, I know Benji’s young. I know I’m asking a lot of him.

    “It’s just that, I was nineteen before I began my Jedi training. And when I think of all that time wasted, of all the lives I could have saved if I’d only learned how to use the Force sooner—maybe I could have saved my aunt and uncle. Maybe I could have changed the tide of the war earlier. Maybe . . .” Luke trailed off, knowing that line of thinking was futile. He took a step closer to Callista and pulled her close to him.

    “I just don’t want Benji to have the same regrets I do,” he said softly.

    “Alright,” Callista relented. She leaned into him, resting her head against his chest. “We’ll stop the cryptology and focus on the Force exercises.”

    “I was so stupid.” Luke released Mara and stepped back. “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

    Breathless, Mara stared at Luke. She wanted to be offended, or at least annoyed, that he would spring such a personal memory on her. But he was obviously in such a crisis that she only felt sorry for him. Especially since that crisis was bound to get much worse.

    ***

    Stepping away from Mara, Luke suddenly felt entirely unbalanced and dropped unceremoniously to the floor. Seeking solid ground, he pressed his palms hard against the floorboards.

    Luke had always hated it when people compared him to his father. Yet that was exactly what he had done to Benji, expecting his son to follow in his footsteps, measuring his son’s progress against that of his niece and nephews.

    How could I not see how foolish I sounded? No wonder Callista resisted every time I made plans for our son.

    Benji was Force-sensitive. But that didn’t mean he was destined to be the galaxy’s most powerful Jedi yet. Though his son had access to the Force, that didn’t mean he could feel it and manipulate it the way Luke could. Benji was young, so his connection to the Force still had time to grow. But what if it didn’t? What if he was always limited to just barely tasting the power Luke could drink in so easily?

    Years ago, Luke had sworn it wouldn’t matter to him whether his child was Force-sensitive.

    But it had.

    The day Benji was born, Luke had decided his son would be a Jedi like himself. He’d set his child’s destiny in stone and had never looked back.

    It was about time he broke that stone.

    ***

    Half an hour after firing up the hypercomm, and the crew had heard nothing but the grating hiss of static from the device.

    “It’s no use,” Dankin declared, reaching across Odonnl to flip off the hypercomm switch. “Incy’s comm was probably damaged in the last attack.”

    “So what are we going to do?” Pormfil asked. “We can’t fly right into a trap.”

    “I don’t see that we have a choice,” Dankin replied. “We can’t just leave Mara and Luke to go it alone. Especially if it’s a trap.”

    “But Mara and Luke are not our only consideration,” Odonnl said softly, looking at Benji, who was huddled between Pormfil and H’sishi on the passenger bench, clutching his stuffed animal.

    Dankin swore under his breath. “You’re right. Maybe we should turn around.”

    “No,” Benji said steadily. Strangely, the panic that had seemed about to consume him minutes before appeared to have dissipated. “We have to keep going.” His tone was more forceful than Dankin had ever heard it before.

    “But Benji,” Odonnl replied, “We can’t just walk into a trap. You said yourself you had a bad feeling about it.”

    “I know,” Benji replied quickly. “But it’s gone now. I want to see my dad. We have to keep going.”

    “We still may be able to reach Mara with the comm laser as soon as we hit realspace,” Pormfil offered. He shrugged. “That’s our best chance to warn her.”

    “Okay,” Odonnl said looking around to each member of the crew in turn. “We’ll continue on and try to reach Mara as soon as we break hyperspace. Any objections?”

    Pormfil, H’sishi, and Dankin shook their heads. Benji stood up, an odd look in his eyes. “I’m going to my room,” he announced and left the bridge quickly.

    Dankin watched him leave and then turned slowly to Odonnl. “Do you remember Ralltiir?”

    “Of course,” Odonnl replied. “Why do you bring it up?”

    “When I fell in that river, I was sure I was going to die. At first I was terrified. But, after a while, I felt...calm. At some point, once I was certain death was coming, I wasn’t so scared—what good would fear do me?” Dankin’s eyes had been focused on the mottled view of hyperspace just beyond Odonnl. They came to focus on Odonnl as he finished his sentence. “How did Benji seem to you just now?”

    “Calm,” Odonnl responded. “Very calm.”

    Dankin nodded. “That’s what I thought too.”

    ***

    They were sitting together on the deck of the cargo hold, talking. Just talking. Like two people who had known each other for half their lives. Like two people who had a lot in common and a way of understanding each other that ran deeper than words.

    “It was selfish, really,” Luke confessed. “I wanted to spend more time with Benji. I figured when he began his Jedi training in earnest I’d be able to see him a lot more often. Before long we’d be fighting side-by-side, the way I couldn’t with Callista.

    “The worst part is, I think sometimes, on some level, I ascribed the same motives to Callista. I thought she was avoiding training him as a Jedi so he would stay home with her.” Luke sighed deeply. “How could I be so blind?”

    “Sometimes you don’t see what’s right in front of you until it’s too late,” Mara replied. For several moments she looked around the ship, taking in each detail. She knew the ship as well as she knew her own body. Which is what made her next words so painful. “I hate my job,” she said quietly.

    Luke blinked, surprised by Mara’s words. She’d worked hard to get where she was, he’d always assumed it was exactly where she wanted to be.

    “But I can’t give up now,” she continued. “There’s too many people depending on me.”

    Luke nodded, not in agreement, but wanting to encourage her to continue. “I thought this is what you wanted to do. What Karrde trained you for.”

    “It is what I trained for. But I never wanted the responsibility. You weren’t too far off when you said I’d never cared about another person.”

    “Mara, I was out of line—”

    “I’ve never wanted to care for anyone else,” Mara cut in. “I’ve never been comfortable with people depending on me. But I do care. There are people—more than a few—who I can’t possibly let down. I don’t know how I ended up here. I wish I only had to care about myself. I’m good at taking care of myself.”

    “You may not like it, but you’re pretty good at taking care of others. Your crew adores you. You’ve been a better parent to Benji than I have these last few weeks.”

    “Luke, I…” Mara trailed off, so he continued.

    “You’re not the only one who ended up somewhere they never thought they’d be. ‘Grand Master’? What does that title even mean? It’s just...I can’t believe how I squandered my time with Callista. What’s the point in fighting a war if you can’t even enjoy a moment of peace?”

    “It’s not too late,” Mara said. “You could walk away. You could spend the time with Benji you never got to spend with Callista.”

    Luke furrowed his brow. “Maybe.”

    “Definitely,” Mara corrected. “You’re a Grand Master, who’s going to stop you?”

    Luke took Mara’s hand and held it gingerly between his own. He looked her straight in the eye and asked, “Would you come with me if I did?”

    Mara opened her mouth, but before she was able to form words, Faughn appeared.

    “You ready to take these binders off yet?” the blonde smuggler asked, thrusting her bound wrists toward Mara. “We break hyperspace in fourteen minutes.”
    Last edited by Tarsier, Jul 19, 2013
  19. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Faughn couldn't have picked a worse moment to interrupt. Just 10 more seconds LOL But a briliant and wonderfully written conversation =D= =D= Now they understand themselves and each other better. @};- Excellent insightful characterizations for each. :)
    Tarsier likes this.
  20. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Damn you Faughn and your bad timing!![face_frustrated] Nice update!
    Tarsier and Jade_eyes like this.
  21. Kingsdaughter613 Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Great fic! I can't wait to read more!
    Tarsier likes this.
  22. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    @Nyota's Heart Thank you very much! I’m very glad you like the last scene, and that they seemed in character. :)

    @Jedi_Lover Faughn has exquisite timing, doesn’t she? :p Thanks!

    @Kingsdaughter613 Thank you! It’s always exciting to have new readers! :D



    Author Notes: Believe it or not, this story is finally finished. Four more chapter and we are done! The rest is written, and should be updated once a week.

    Also, I have decided to rework the tagging/PMing a bit – for people who requested PMs on the old boards and haven’t been around lately, I will send a PM. For people who requested PMs and have been around, I will tag you. If you have a different preference, please let me know.
    @mavjade
    Last edited by Tarsier, Aug 3, 2013
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  23. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Author Note: Special thanks to @DaenaBenjen42 for beta-reading!


    Chapter 19

    Ghent had faith in Mara. Absolute faith. It was about all he had at the moment.

    The being across from him—who was not Jacen Solo, Ghent was certain of that—peered at the slicer through bright yellow eyes, rimmed in red. “You truly think she can save you, don’t you?” he asked. “Even after you’ve led her right into a trap?” When Ghent did not respond, he continued. “Her blood’s on your hands. Mara’s and anyone else’s who is foolish enough to try and come for you.”

    “No,” Ghent said softly but defiantly.

    The yellow-red eyes hardened. “What did you say?”

    Ghent stared evenly back, feeling as though he could fall into the abyss swirling deep within those eyes. Ghent had met Jacen Solo once. He had felt honored to share the company of the bright-eyed young Jedi Knight. The monster before him bore no resemblance. Caedus he had called himself, but Ghent had no intention of calling the fiend by name. “No. Mara will kill you, and all those loyal to you if she has to.”

    “Fool,” was the snarled response, uttered as he turned on his heel and stalked away. Leaving Ghent alone. Completely alone.
    Last edited by Tarsier, Aug 3, 2013
  24. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Awesome and gripping Tarsier! =D= Bravo for Ghent! :) He's right about Mara, too.
    Tarsier likes this.
  25. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Go Ghent! Can I get a tag for updates. Thanks!
    Last edited by Jedi_Lover, Aug 3, 2013
    Tarsier and Nyota's Heart like this.
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