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

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

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  1. DaenaBenjen42 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2005
    star 5
    This view of Caedus still makes me shudder... and poor, poor Ghent! And he's right. Mara will! (And who is really the fool here? Ghent, Mara, or Caedus? Somehow, I don't think it's the Computer Tech or the Former Emperor's Hand.)

    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.

    Like this bit about Jacen not even resembling himself. Very, very nice touch.
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  2. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Edit: Having issues with tags, hopefully they work now.

    @Nyota's Heart - Thank you! :D

    @Jedi_Lover - Thanks! You're on the tag list. :)

    @DaenaBenjen42 - Like this bit about Jacen not even resembling himself. I hated to even have to use Caedus in this story, so I figured teh least I could do was draw as thick a line as i could between him and Jacen. Thanks for commenting! :)



    Once again, thank you to DaenaBenjen42 for beta-reading!


    Chapter 20

    Almost exactly forty-eight hours after Luke had asked Mara to come with him, to leave both their past lives behind for an uncertain future together, he still didn’t have a formal answer. At the moment, however, neither the past nor the future held any interest at all to Luke. His only concern was the present.

    Benji!” Tears filled his eyes as he raced to his son. Benji was unconscious in a stranger’s arms. No, not a stranger. It was Aves, Mara’s second-in-command. Luke couldn’t recall having met the man before, but he recognized him instantly.

    “The doctor thinks it’s mostly superficial,” Aves said as Luke wrapped his arms beneath his son. “He’s in better shape than the others.”

    Luke nodded an acknowledgment and carried Benji to a nearby form couch, determined to make his own evaluation of his son’s health.

    Luke wasn’t certain why they’d come straight to Mirax’s private med center. He didn’t doubt that the medical team was top of the line, but the facilities were limited. He was debating rushing Benji to the nearest public emergency center, but Benji seemed stable enough that he could at least look him over before making a decision.

    Benji had many shallow cuts and bruises all over his body. “What happened to him?” Luke asked. He doubted Aves would know the whole story, but he may have a few more details than Luke. When there was no response, Luke looked over his shoulder. Aves was gone, the hallway now empty. Undoubtedly Aves had gone to find the others, the members of Mara’s crew who were in critical condition.

    A quick scan through the Force did not reveal Benji to have any serious injuries. There were deep bruises and a badly sprained ankle, but nothing that wouldn’t heal with a bit of rest. Luke exhaled deeply as tears ran down his cheeks. He was so relieved he was feeling light-headed, giddy even. He laughed softly as he silently whispered, He’s going to be alright.

    His words were intended for Mara. Somehow in the confusion he hadn’t noticed when she left his side. Having the uneasy feeling that she had not heard his words, he reached out to her in the Force. Despite the urgency and distress all around, she was not difficult to find. For she was deep in the Force, drawing more power from it than he’d ever known her to before.

    * * *

    Dankin sucked air between his teeth and his entire body went rigid with dread. The movement shot fresh agony through a dozen wounds. He squeezed his eyes shut wishing it would all just end. He couldn’t fight it, he knew he shouldn’t fight it. But he couldn’t take any more pain. He tried to scream, he tried to pull away. His efforts were barely noticed by the hands holding him in place.

    “Wait,” a voice, a miraculous voice, interrupted.

    The doctor released his grip on Dankin’s arm, one hand above the elbow, one hand below the shoulder. “This break needs to be set immediately. We may already be too late,” the doctor said.

    “It’s not too late. I’ll set it,” the miraculous voice, Mara’s voice, continued. Dankin opened his eyes to see her squeezing herself between the doctor and him. She was alive, and she was here. If she was here, Dankin knew everything would be okay.

    There was a brief, horrible moment, when he thought maybe this wasn’t real. Maybe he wasn’t out, maybe he was still there. There, in the hands of the monster who saw Dankin’s pain not as his own but as a way to hurt Benji. The fear passed the moment Mara touched him. To say her caress was soothing was an incredible understatement. She was using the Force to heal him, he knew. Her touch on his forehead, his chin, his chest, soothed the burning so intense he had lost consciousness several times already. Lost consciousness only to fall into a nightmare, a vicious nightmare that, unlike the usual, was fueled by an evil external to himself. The only escape from those nightmares had been the physical agony inflicted by a madman.

    When Mara’s hands grasped his arm, instead of bracing with fear he melted into her touch. With Dankin’s body fully relaxed, and the Force flowing off Mara in healing waves, setting the broken bone took only a moment.

    He wanted to say something to her, to speak despite the rawness of his throat, but instead of opening his mouth he closed his eyes and sank into sweet, dreamless oblivion.

    * * *

    “They’re going to be okay.” Mara was sure Luke said the words as much to reassure himself as to reassure her. She nodded, not taking her eyes off the wounded forms in front of her. Mirax’s med center was top of the line but small. Dankin and Benji were sharing a room, each deeply submerged in a healing trance. Odonnl was in surgery. They didn’t know if they’d be able to save the eye. H’sishi and Pormfil had blaster wounds that were being treated with bacta.

    Luke and Mara were unscathed. They hadn’t made it to Ghent’s ship. The engines failed mere parsecs away, and so they’d sat helpless while Darth Caedus tortured and maimed their loved ones.

    “Ghent’s awake,” a soft voice startled Mara. “He’d like to see you,” the voice, belonging to her second-in-command, continued. “I’ll stay with them.” Mara responded wordlessly, heading towards Ghent’s room. She was not ready to speak to Aves. Not too long ago, she’d thought he might be planning a hostile takeover of the company. It turned out his disappearance was not because he was embroiled in a scheme to undermine her, but rather because he was doing his best to take care of her. She felt bad enough about having so severely misjudged his intentions, but the fact that he’d flown to the rescue while she’d sat powerless was almost unbearable.

    Luke appeared at her side a few feet from Ghent’s door. He placed a hand on her shoulder. “We did what we could.”

    “It wasn’t much,” she replied.

    “It was enough,” Luke said. He said it confidently enough that Mara nodded slightly in agreement. Mara had told Luke what Callista had communicated to her about Jacen as soon as they realized the engines would not be getting back online. It took some time, but eventually through their combined strength in the Force they were able to contact Darth Caedus. They couldn’t stop him, but once he realized Luke would not be coming he seemed to lose interest. He ceased the torture, stopped his attempts to goad Benji into joining him on the Dark Side. It had never been about Benji, or the victims of his torture. His only interest had been in challenging Luke, taking down his former Master. The Sith Lord was gone by the time Aves arrived.

    “Mara!” Ghent exclaimed as soon as she entered the room.

    “How are you?” she asked, walking to his bedside.

    “Not bad,” he replied, reaching out to her. She bent down to him, allowing him to embrace her. She gave him a few pats on the back before straightening. “I’m quitting my job,” he added matter-of-factly.

    “Why would you do that?”

    “I’m a slicer, Mara. But somehow I ended up in charge of that whole ship. And…I’m just a slicer.” Already Ghent was starting to tear-up; Mara didn’t want to make him continue.

    “It’s okay. I understand. I’m sure you’ll find something else.”

    “With you,” Ghent said it as more of a statement than a question. Mara hesitated—she been hoping to reduce the number of people depending on her, not increase it. “You’ll need a slicer,” he added. “Why not me?”

    Mara blinked, at a loss for what to say. She glanced to Luke, standing in the doorway. He shrugged.

    “They must not have told you yet,” Ghent said, relief in his voice. “When they do, tell them I’ve already volunteered.”

    * * *

    Several minutes later, as Luke carefully closed the door to the room where Pormfil and H’sishi were floating in bacta, having stopped briefly to check on the crewers on his way back to Benji’s room, Luke sensed Corran approaching. And he was not happy.

    “Where in the nine hells have you been?” Corran demanded.

    “I’m sorry, Corran. I’ve had a lot on my mind.”

    “So you just walk away from the Council in our moment of crisis? The time we need you most, you disappear?”

    “Is the Council ever not in crisis?” Luke asked mildly. Then, sensing the flare in Corran’s emotions, he added, “I know the Council was in good hands. Better hands than mine.”

    “Don’t give me that,” Corran snarled. “We need to determine a new strategy. Saba has suggested—”

    “I’m sure you will come up with something great,” Luke cut in. “But it won’t include me. I’m retiring, Corran. Effective immediately.”

    “Are you out of your mind? You created the Council! The new Order, all of it is your doing! You will not desert us now.”

    “I am sorry. But my decision is final. My son is most important and I need to focus on him.” Luke dug into his pocket and presented a datachip to Corran. “My last actions as Grand Master are recorded here. You may play it at the next meeting of the Jedi Council.”

    Corran’s jaw was clenched tight and he was seething emotion into the Force. But he must have known Luke would not be swayed. “Very well,” Corran said with painfully forced calm, accepting the datachip. “You’re retired. But the very least you owe us is to stay around long enough for us to get a handle on the current situation and elect a new Grand Master.”

    “No. If I stay around for one more crisis, at the end of that you will ask me to stay for just one more. If I don’t make a clean break now I never will. You will be fine without me, and the sooner you start proving that to yourself, the better.”

    And suddenly, as he heard his own words, understanding dawned on Luke. He understood perfectly why Callista had not come back to him. She knew how much he loved her, and he knew how much she loved him. There were no last words that needed to be said, no final goodbye that could make things any easier. And if she had come back to him, even once, he would not have been willing to let her go again.

    Corran continued speaking, but Luke did not hear another word.

    I understand, he whispered into the Force.
    Last edited by Tarsier, Aug 10, 2013
  3. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Very nice update. Luke needs time with his son. He's doing the right thing.
    Tarsier likes this.
  4. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Thanks Tarsier, for making this Luke wake up and see the right priorities before it's too late. His son is worth fighting for. =D= =D= He's right, if he stuck around for one more crisis, there'd always be one more! :rolleyes: I think that's how Leia got stuck in politics. :p [face_thinking]
    Tarsier likes this.
  5. EmeraldJediFire Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2012
    star 4
    Okay, finally up to date..meaning to but finally got there. Very good story. I like it.
    Tarsier likes this.
  6. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    The crew is the best, especially Dankin and Odonnl. I especially liked the scenes with Benji talking to Mara and/or the crew; it's good for him to get some outside perspectives. Sounds like he might be happiest doing something other than Jedi things, even if his Force abilities do develop. I'm glad Luke realized that what he really wanted was to spend more time with Benji. They both need that family support, especially with Callista recently gone.

    Mara's joke theory about the lightsaber made me grin. I've always kind of wondered if that wouldn't be an awkward weapon to carry around; you'd almost expect it to be haunted after all it's been through.

    All of the broken friendships between Mara and Luke, Corran, and Mirax are difficult to read about, but it makes sense for what happened here. I'm happy to see them on the road to mending things, though also fiendishly glad that Ghent is leaving the New Republic's employ -- let's see how they like dealing with that! I was mildly afraid for Luke's continued health when he knocked out Mara and Faughn with the Force. Oh Luke. :rolleyes: How did you think this could end well? There had to have been other ways of keeping Mara from killing her, even if she did mean to. At least it got them to talk about all these things they've been pushing aside.

    Scary run-in with Caedus; they're lucky he figured out Luke wasn't going to be there. Horrible anyway, but it sounds like they're all alive at least. Hope Ghent and the rest of the crew heal up quickly.
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  7. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    @Jedi_Lover
    Thank you! I agree – Luke’s been saving the galaxy for too long, it’s about time he spent some time with his family.


    @Nyota's Heart
    Thank you! It seems one crisis just leads to another, at least in the GFFA.


    @EmeraldJediFire
    Thank you! I'm glad you like it!


    @Kahara
    I love the crew too. :) Though I will admit to being not being terribly comfortable writing aliens, so I’m afraid H’sishi and Pormfil got a bit short-changed in this story.

    Ah, yes, the cursed lightsaber. There so much more that wasn’t even mentioned, I’m certain it’s cursed. :p

    I’m afraid whenever I try to set things right for one character I end up throwing another under the bus. In this case it was Corran.

    Thanks so much for all your comments!


    @mavjade



    Author Note: This is the last numbered chapter. A short epilogue will be posted next week.



    Special thanks to @DaenaBenjen42 for beta-reading!




    Chapter 21

    “Good, Benji. I’m glad you’re awake.” Mirax Terrik entered the room and walked toward Benji’s bed. He was sitting up, playing a game on a datapad. The game helped to distract him, to keep him from thinking about the last few days. Dankin had taken the brunt of the physical damage, but the mental trauma had been directed primarily at Benji. And yet, despite the horror they had experienced, everyone had made it out alive. That victory made everything bearable. He had faced the demon from his nightmares and he had survived.

    Mirax’s eyes flicked to Dankin’s still unconscious form as she passed. “I have something for you,” she continued, hefting a large fabric box onto the foot of Benji’s bed.

    Mirax was a friend of Benji’s parents. Benji knew she was married to Corran Horn, a powerful Jedi within the Order. Benji thought she had even babysat him once or twice, when he was younger. All this meant Benji had no fear of Mirax. However, he did not remember her ever giving him a gift before and he vaguely knew that Mara found her untrustworthy. He noticed that the side and top of the box had mesh panels and Benji could see a flicker of something within. This was not the flowers or small toys that were usually given to acquaintances in the med ward.

    She seemed to pick up on his uncertainty because she added, “Here, I’ll open it for you.” She unzipped the mesh panel on the top and reached inside the box. For a moment Benji thought she had pulled out a stuffed animal. It was a smoke grey ball of fluff, much resembling Niki in a different color. But as Mirax set the fluff next to Benji he immediately saw that this whisperkit was not like Niki at all. This whisperkit was alive.

    The creature sniffed Benji carefully, and then rubbed her head against his chest, her long ears brushing against his chin.

    “She likes you,” Mirax said with a smile. She then reached in and removed another creature from the box. This one was a fiery red and Mirax set her right in front of the box, a bit away from Benji. “This one takes a bit to warm-up to you,” she explained.

    “We found them stowed away in the cargo hold of my ship a few weeks ago. They reminded me of…well, Jysella used to have a kit…” Mirax trailed off, pain clear in her eyes and voice. After a moment of composure she continued quickly. “I just didn’t have the heart to abandon them. But they can’t stay here, this base is no place for pets.”

    The grey whisperkit was curled up in Benji’s lap, purring audibly. He delighted in the sound as he stroked her soft fur. “I don’t know. My dad…”

    “Nonsense,” Mirax said, cutting him off. “I’m sure your dad will be fine. In fact, I believe he may be waiting for me now—I’ll let him know.” Mirax headed out into the hallway, pausing in the doorway to add, “You better start thinking of names. As soon as you name them, they’re yours.”

    * * *

    Mara was seated in the middle of a long table in a conference room adjacent to the med center. Aves was a few seats down, and across from her were a couple of officials in NRI uniforms. What the NRI was doing here she didn’t know. Nor did she know how Aves figured into any of this. She still wasn’t sure where he’d been before flying to the rescue at Faughn’s request. Clearly there was a lot more going on than she had yet been let in on. The meeting seemed far too formal to be an impromptu response to the last mission, yet Mara was sure Mirax had not been planning it when she first came by a few days ago.

    Luke entered and sat beside her, soon followed by Mirax who sat next to the NRI officials.

    “What’s going on?” Mara demanded.

    “Patience,” Mirax replied. “You of all people know he likes to make an entrance.”

    Mara’s eyes narrowed, she didn’t know who Mirax was referring to and was in no mood for games. She was about to get up and leave, preferring to stay with the injured than deal with Mirax for another moment, when a door in the back of the room swept open.

    Standing in the doorway was the last person Mara expected to see. But also the person whose appearance was never a surprise. Talon Karrde.

    * * *

    The red whisperkit had sniffed around Benji and allowed him a few pats on her head, but then had jumped off his bed to explore the room.

    The grey whisperkit had reacted by placing her front paws on Benji’s chest and rubbing her face against his cheek.

    “Jealous, are you?” Benji asked with a laugh.

    The whisperkit mewed in response and he noticed for the first time that she had a perfect triangle of white over her nose. “Snip,” he said thoughtfully. “What do you think of that name?”

    She mewed again, in what Benji decided was agreement. “Snip it is, then. Just one more name to go,” he said, visually searching the room for the other kit. He found her curled up on Dankin’s stomach, one eye closed, the other half open as though keeping watch.

    “Well, Snip,” Benji said softly, “I don’t think I can name her. I don’t think she’s mine.”

    * * *

    “I will explain everything,” Karrde said as he entered the room, preempting any questions from Mara. “Starting with Aves.” Karrde nodded acknowledgement to the blonde-haired smuggler. Aves did not seem to be the least bit surprised to see Karrde. Apparently Mara was even more out of the loop than she realized. “I’m not sure how much you know, but I know he has been out of contact with you for a while. That is my fault.

    “You see, Aves approached me, requesting assistance. He saw that the company’s ranks were getting thin. Knowing that you were busy with more important things, he intended to hire me as a sort of independent contractor to help find more suitable employees and replenish the ranks. At first I did not realize you were not involved with this idea, and for that I apologize, Mara. But you must understand that Aves did not tell you because he was afraid you would be offended by an offer of outside help, yet he could see the company would not survive the way things were going. I believe he thought you would be more accepting of the deal if the details were already worked out.

    “At any rate, I was more than happy to accept the offer. However, I found myself rather indisposed when first contacted. You see, retirement did not sit well with me. I stumbled upon a bit of information, and having nothing but time on my hands, I rather foolishly decided to do a bit of investigation. The intricacies of what happened are a story for a different day, but suffice it to say I found myself deep in the Unknown Regions confronted by an enemy I though was long since vanquished.

    “I had told Aves just enough to cause him great concern when I did not respond to his comms. Fortunately for me, NRI had some of the same information I did and found me during their own investigations. If not for their intervention, I would not be here before you today. Because of that debt I agreed to help them.”

    “If I may?” one of the NRI officials stood, looking pointedly at Karrde. With a hint of reluctance Karrde handed over the floor, taking a seat at the end of the table. The NRI official stared critically at Mara, as though not sure he wanted to be speaking to her. After a moment he tapped the controls embedded in the table and a star map displayed over the surface of the table. He indicated various points on the map as he spoke.

    “As we all know, the galaxy has been threatened by three separate invaders in the last fifty years. The Ssi-Ruuk, the Vagaari, and the Yuuzhan Vong. Fortunately all these invaders have been turned back, and the galaxy we know remains free from their oppression. The last thing this galaxy can afford, especially considering the current state of civil unrest, is a resurgence of any of these extra-galactic threats.

    “Republic Intelligence has, since the day each of these invaders was defeated, been monitoring for any hints of resurgence. A few weeks ago, we got our first pings, indications that the Ssi-Ruuk were beginning to test the borders. Within days we had similar pings for the Vagaari and the Vong. We could only hope that this was a mistake, surely you can imagine that a three-way invasion would leave the galaxy in tatters. As we searched for more information—which is where we came across Talon Karrde—we became confident that this was no mistake and no coincidence. Not only do all three invaders appear to be preparing for attack, there is evidence that they are working together to plan that attack.

    “This situation is absolutely unacceptable.” The official pounded the table with his fist and stared hard at Mara. “This is where you come in.”

    “Our analysts have determined that our best, and perhaps our only, shot against this threat is to unravel the alliance. If we can get the invaders to fight themselves, they may wipe each other out, or at least reduce the numbers remaining to antagonize our galaxy. Turning the invaders against each other will require a series of precise, carefully orchestrated assaults. We are in the process of forming a few elite teams to carry out these strikes. Talon Karrde has insisted that we will find no one better suited to this task than you, Mara Jade. We need the first strike team to leave immediately.”

    Shutting down the starmap, the official once again stared critically at Mara. He seemed to expect a response, but Mara simply stared at the wall beyond him. She found it extremely difficult to care about extra-galactic threats and precision assaults when members of her crew were in critical condition. She’d followed the explanations just enough to see that there wasn’t really a choice to make.

    Perhaps intending to fill the silence while Mara made up her mind, Mirax stood and began to speak. “If you accept this mission, you would of course be given the ship and the crew of your choosing. I then propose that the remains of your company would be integrated into mine. All your current employees would be offered similar positions within my company.

    “Regardless of your decision, I have already offered Aves the position of liaison between my company, NRI, and the strike teams.”

    Mara looked to Aves, who offered her a small smile and a slight shrug. It sounded like a perfect job for him; he’d be a fool not to take it.

    Then she turned to Luke. She had felt the reverberations of his conversation with Corran and was surprised at how calm and confident he seemed.

    A day ago he had asked her to join him as he walked away from all he knew. When he had asked they had both been seeking to escape from the past.

    Now she was about to ask him the same question. But this time, instead of fighting against the past, they would be fighting for the future.

    * * *

    A week later and deeper into the Unknown Regions than he’d ever been before, Luke strode down the main corridor of Incident Alley. The ship positively shone all around him with gleaming panels and bright lights. Although he hadn’t taken much note of what the ship looked like when he’d first started travelling in it, he knew it had been battered and in need of sundry repairs. Now it was in top working order, appearing brand new. Mirax and the NRI had really outdone themselves, turning the vessel into a perfect cutting-edge machine in only a few days. The ship was ready to go as soon as the crew was released from the medical ward.

    Luke entered the common area and was happy to see the entire crew was present. Mara entered from across the room just as Luke arrived. Odonnl looked up from a datapad and nodded a greeting at Luke. Luke was pleased to note the swelling around the copilot’s eye was almost gone—he’d be good as new in no time.

    Pormfil and H’sishi were playing dejarik in the corner. Dankin was stretched out, dozing on the couch with two whisperkits curled beside him. Mara gently shook him awake as she passed by. Benji and Ghent were at the table, playing a computer game. Faughn sat on the couch across form Dankin, studying a stack of flimsies.

    Fingering a data chip, Luke announced, “I have something I’d like to show. Everyone is welcome to view it.”

    “What is it?” Benji asked, eagerly taking a seat in front of the holoprojector.

    “It’s my last act as Jedi Grand Master. I gave a copy to Corran. He should be playing it at the High Council meeting any time now.” Although clearly uncertain what to expect, the rest of the crew gathered around as Luke started the projector. Luke was glad for their interest. Whether they were Jedi or not, he wanted an audience. He needed Benji to know how serious he was.

    Luke’s image appeared and began to speak. He hadn’t known how to properly introduce what he had needed to say, so he had cut right to the point. “The Jedi Order, under my guidance, has become very rigid. The rules are strict and the punishment for testing those rules is harsh. Because of these rules, many people, many capable, Force-sensitive individuals with a variety of skills to offer, have been turned away from the Order.

    “There were reasons for these rules, reasons I felt were righteous at the time. But now, on the dawn of a new day, I see vividly the mistakes I have made. And there are many. I regret that I have caused many to follow me in my folly, and that those who have not followed have often suffered as a result.

    “But I do not speak to you today to outline every past misstep. There is not time enough to list them all. Instead I approach you with one recommendation, one request for the future.

    “I propose to introduce a new class of Jedi. To be known as Jedi Paladin, this class will be roughly parallel to Jedi Knight. Jedi Paladins are those Force-sensitives with unique gifts, skills not common among Jedi. Jedi Paladins have varying levels of connection to the Force, some may have only the faintest attunement. But each of these Paladins is a valuable asset to the Jedi Order, an asset that has been largely overlooked before now. Jedi Paladins are scientists, diplomats, slicers, mechanics, doctors, and engineers.

    “Jedi Paladins will not be strictly beholden to the Council and its official missions, but rather are allowed and encouraged to seek pursuits beyond the purview of the Order. Paladins will spread the Jedi message of compassion and peace to all corners of the galaxy.

    “It is my hope that the introduction of Jedi Paladins will make the Order more accessible to more people, so that more gifted individuals will be able to commit themselves to the service of others.

    “Thank you for your consideration, and your service.” The small image of Luke gave a final bow to the camera.

    Luke shut off the projector and turned to his son. Benji’s eyes shone with excitement, and he radiated an eagerness Luke had never before seen his son show for anything Jedi-related. “Dad, can I be a Paladin?” he asked.

    “Of course,” Luke replied, hugging Benji tightly. “You can be anything you want.” For a moment he fought back tears, wondering why it had taken him so long to make even this small connection to his son. Luke loosened his embrace, his hands coming to rest gently on his son’s shoulders as he continued. “I’m serious. You don’t have to be a Paladin. You don’t have to be a Jedi Knight. You don’t have to be a Jedi at all. From now on, Benji, all I want you to be is happy.”

    Mara set a gentle hand on Luke’s back as he released Benji. “You did good,” she said softly.

    “You know, I wasn’t just talking about Benji,” Luke murmured as his son, still smiling, returned to his computer game.

    "I know," Mara replied.

    Last edited by Tarsier, Aug 16, 2013
  8. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
  9. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Happy [face_dancing] Tarsier! The Paladins sounds a wonderful career path and idea :cool: for Benji and for anyone else. Luke getting more connected to Benji - aww, and with Mara - yay!!!!!
    Tarsier likes this.
  10. DaenaBenjen42 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2005
    star 5
    I know I'm late. Late, but here! (...and that fandom I rediscovered this week is still utterly cheesy. So, so cheesy! But I love it! And maybe now I can get some writing done without a certain set of OC's trying to be in the story left and right. Hee.)

    “I’m sorry, Corran. I’ve had a lot on my mind.”

    Understatement!!!! (And, seriously... Corran's got a family of his own, he should understand somewhat. Not that he would have wanted to see logic when trying to get Luke to come back to the fold so they could again depend on him and not have to think as hard for themselves, that is. And... gosh, that was negative, wasn't it?)

    “Not bad,” he replied, reaching out to her. She bent down to him, allowing him to embrace her. She gave him a few pats on the back before straightening. “I’m quitting my job,” he added matter-of-factly.

    ...and it was right here, both during the beta, and again just now, that I wanted to reach beyond the words on the computer screen and give Ghent a hug for Sith-sponsored ephihany related to his leadership abilities. Ow.

    The doctor released his grip on Dankin’s arm, one hand above the elbow, one hand below the shoulder. “This break needs to be set immediately. We may already be too late,” the doctor said.

    ...that, or they'd have to set it again after breaking it a second time. Go Mara!

    “She likes you,” Mirax said with a smile. She then reached in and removed another creature from the box. This one was a fiery red and Mirax set her right in front of the box, a bit away from Benji. “This one takes a bit to warm-up to you,” she explained.

    Awwww!!!!!

    She mewed again, in what Benji decided was agreement. “Snip it is, then. Just one more name to go,” he said, visually searching the room for the other kit. He found her curled up on Dankin’s stomach, one eye closed, the other half open as though keeping watch.

    “Well, Snip,” Benji said softly, “I don’t think I can name her. I don’t think she’s mine.”

    ...that one, I totally get. Yay for Dankin! Adopted!!!!
    Tarsier likes this.
  11. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    Aww, Benji and Dankin got whisperkits! Adorable. I kind of hope that Luke, Mara, and Benji end up staying with that same ship and crew (+ whisperkits!) for a long time; they've begun to feel like unofficial family.

    So, Vagaari, Yuuzhan Vong, and Ssi-Ruuk all together? Sounds terrible, and yet all I can think of is the uncomfortable negotiations between them. Kind of impressive that the YV and Ssi-Ruuk made it two minutes without declaring holy war on each other. Mara's got an advantage, I think, in that none of these groups are particularly likely to trust the others. Especially the Vagaari. Something about those guys... they're just a little bit two-faced. :p

    Jedi Paladins sound extremely cool and like what I've wished they would do more often in the books. It's pretty much acknowledged that a lot of otherwise awesome Jedi candidates go to waste because they either want to do something else for their main career or they don't have the raw power for the whole action-hero Jedi thing. Really seems like the Jedi could use more of an outside-connected support network, not least of all so they don't get as removed from everyday life as the Old Republic Jedi.
    Last edited by Kahara, Aug 17, 2013
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  12. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    Thanks! :)



    I'm glad you like the Paladin idea. :) I've often wished the New Jedi Order would have been a bit more flexible than the old Order.

    Thanks for commenting!



    You're not late. I'm happy to get comments anytime. :D

    In Corran's defense, in an earlier draft I had him asking Luke where this epiphany was years ago, when it was Corran's (and other people's) kids he was training to fight a war.

    I like seeing Ghent with nothing to do but slice. Mara and the others can take care of the rest.

    :D I think everyone should have a pet, especially when there's a lot of trauma to deal with.

    Thank you for all your comments!



    I also like to think they stay together for a long time. :)

    At first I was just going to have only one of the three attacking, and the main characters sort of dragging a second or third enemy into it. Then I did a little research and it appeared both the Vagaari and the Ssi-Ruuk had allied with the Vong at some point, so I figured I'd just run with that idea. (It can't be far-fetched if it happens in canon, right? :p)

    Yes, I agree. Doesn't seem like Jedi should have to be an all-or-nothing choice. It seemed like in the early days of Luke's academy there was plenty of room for different levels of talent and commitment. Not sure why they had to turn away from that.

    Thank you for your comments!
  13. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    @Nyota's Heart
    @mavjade
    @Jedi_Lover

    Author Note: I'd like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read or comment on this story. I really appreciate every comment, and without all the awesome feedback I probably wouldn't have been able to finish this story. Thank you. @};-



    Thanks again to @DaenaBenjen42 for beta-reading!




    Epilogue

    “Did you check the calculations?” Dankin asked.

    “Checked and double-checked,” Benji replied.

    “Good. But since we’re in alien territory we’re going to triple-check.”

    “Yes, sir,” Benji said, obediently bringing up the calculations.

    Dankin scanned the numbers and nodded his approval. “Then we’re ready. Go ahead.”

    Benji pulled the hyperspace lever with a grin on his face. It was the first time Benji had done the entire course check himself. Dankin was there, providing guidance every step of the way, but Benji was learning. Before long he would be able to fly the ship on his own.

    Watching from afar, Callista released a contented sigh. Benji had spent the morning working on calisthenics with Mara. And now that the course check was complete he was on his way to assist Ghent in calibrating the new ultra-long range comm unit with the ship’s main computer. After the trouble they’d had finding a master to train Benji, it was indescribably wonderful to see that now there was a ship full of people eager to share their knowledge with him.

    Callista took a final look at her beloved Luke. She’d fallen in love with him all over again in the last few weeks. He truly possessed the most beautiful soul in the galaxy. He’d given a piece of it to her, and it was time she gave it back.

    With joy in her heart, knowing the future was bright for her husband and her son, Callista let go. She released her connection to the physical world.

    Gradually her spirit faded, until she was nothing but the Force.

    And the Force was her.
    Last edited by Tarsier, Aug 24, 2013
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  14. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Fantastic close =D= Benji and his dad both seem like they're headed in the right direction :) Benji has a larger extended family looks like @};-
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  15. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
  16. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    Very sweet, I liked that Callista felt she could now let go. She stuck around that long to make sure Benji was okay. Everyone's in a better place than they started and they've got a lot of adventuring to do. :)
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  17. DaenaBenjen42 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2005
    star 5
    Love the ending. [:D] Awesomely done, Tarsier. :)
    Tarsier and Nyota's Heart like this.
  18. EmeraldJediFire Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 23, 2012
    star 4
    Spectacular ending

    Sent from my Kindle Fire using Tapatalk 2
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  19. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    @Nyota's Heart Thank you very, very much for all the wonderful comments you have left throughout the story. They really did help to keep me going.
    Benji has a larger extended family looks like
    I like to think so. And not just Benji, but Mara, Dankin and all the others gained a bigger family too. :)


    @Jedi_Lover Thank you!!


    @Kahara Everyone's in a better place than they started and they've got a lot of adventuring to do.
    I like to think that the story is just beginning :) Although I don't have any plans to write a sequel, I know the characters have a lot of adventures in their future (the fun kind, that don't involve Sith Lords, of course :p) Thanks so much for your comments!


    @DaenaBenjen42 I'm really glad you like the ending. :) And once again, huge thanks to you for both your many comments throughout the story, and your beta-reading. [:D]


    @EmeraldJediFire Thank you!!
    Last edited by Tarsier, Aug 31, 2013
  20. Irish_Jedi_Jade Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 2007
    star 4
    I just finished this...sorry it took me a while to get back! But so well written and a great story!! I like how you don't just come out and say things, but talk about them in a roundabout way :) Love it!!!!! You did a great job with Benji too...he was a great little kiddo. And I really liked seeing Mara in the capacity of a captain and a smuggler--that was always one of my favorite aspects of her :)
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  21. Tarsier Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2005
    star 3
    @Irish_Jedi_Jade Thank you so much for your comments! I'm glad you enjoyed the story and that you like Benji! :) I agree, smuggler Mara is the best. :D I was actually very disappointed when I realized while writing this story that Mara was miserable being the chief - I'd always wanted to see her stay a smuggler and take over Karrde's company. Thanks again for your comments throughout the story!
  22. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Congrats on your nomination for Best AU!!
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