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Beyond - Legends Betrayal (Luke, Mara, Karrde, Leia, Han and others)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Jedi_Lover, Dec 4, 2019.

  1. Jâd Sphera

    Jâd Sphera Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Oh! I loved that I got to read this part so soon! [face_dancing]
    Never expected for this visitor to be who it ended up being! :eek:
    This is so good! I love your angry Luke! [face_love]

    And I love it that Luke has decided to take matters in his own hands without any influences: not from the Rebels, the Jedi or the Sith. He's just making his own decisions, following his own beliefs and I really like this approach you have concocted.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
    Jedi_Lover likes this.
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Very interesting speculation indeed about what would have happened if Shmi had been released from slavery and able to join Anakin and thus not be kidnapped, which tragic end was absolutely a turning point for Anakin. [face_thinking] Luke is full of quick snarky answers! ;)
     
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  3. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Thanks for reading. I know Luke seems a little OOC but his father had a couple years to tell his side of the story and Luke started looking at events differently. I always wondered why Obi-Wan let Vader kill him. How was he exactly becoming 'More powerful that you can imagine'? Well, he became a powerful image that was burned into Luke's mind. An image that made Luke hate Vader.

    When I watched ROTS I was horrified that Obi-Wan left his apprentice to burn. It seemed cruel. I can understand him not wanting to kill Anakin...but couldn't he have grabbed Anakin with the Force and pulled him out of the burning Lava?

    I never understood why Shmi was left as a slave. Why didn't Padme have one of her handmaiden's go to Tatooine and purchase Shmi from Watto? She was a QUEEN! I think she could have afforded it. I know that in later books that plothole was sort of repaired, but the fact that a repair was done means there was a gaping plothole.

    And then the lies from Obi-Wan. Luke is told that he must confront Vader. Luke now knows that the surviving Jedi was feeding him half truths in an effort to convince him to unknowingly kill his father. Luke was being manipulated. Think about it, in the movies the Jedi know Luke is the son of Vader but they tell him Vader killed his father and encourage him to confront Vader. What if they were successful? Luke would have to live with the pain of knowing he murdered his own father. I wonder who would pick up the therapy bill for that fiasco.

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.
     
  4. Jâd Sphera

    Jâd Sphera Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Honestly, I don't think he does.
    I can actually see Luke acting this way if events had played differently, and you're doing a great job with it :D

    _______________

    @Jedi_Lover - P.S. I forgot that, in this site, you can only post once per day in any given thread. Sorry about that, won't happen again [face_blush]
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
  5. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    I've caught this story in bits and pieces over the last month or so and have LOVED what I'm reading so far. What an unique, engaging AU you've constructed! I know that you say you're writing by the seat of your pants, but some clear thought and clever world building has clearly gone into this and I am really intrigued by the 'verse you've managed to create as a result. This is so, so creative! Now! To finally catch up with a proper review. :D

    Going all the way back to the beginning . . .

    Ooooh, but this entire exchange had a wonderful back and forth . . . and I even think that Luke came out of it slightly ahead, no matter how much Mara would like to call him a nobody who knows nothing from Tatooine! :p [face_thinking] This gave us much to chew on from this 'verse! It's a fascinating thing to think of, what Luke could accomplish at Vader's side without committing to either the Sith or the Jedi, just his own gut and morals. In many ways it is a universe for the better!

    I laughed out loud at this. Their snark had me snickering more than once all throughout this story. Just classic early stages L/M interaction at its finest. [face_love]

    I LOVE your characterization of Thrawn here and throughout the entire story. There's just
    a thoughtful, smart quality to him that can be so hard to capture as a writer, but you really did! =D=

    Also, I appreciate his insight on Luke here. All you have to do is ask! :p

    Oh, but this hurt my heart. =(( Of course Han and Leia feel betrayed and confused. And it's all the more frustrating seeing the good Luke is doing through the Empire while they are still fighting a losing battle against what the Empire used to be, for justice for everyone who suffered by the Empire's hands. But it is a losing battle, and they are turning their wheels in the mud so to speak. Karrde is more than right here, and I wonder what that is going to mean for Han and Leia and the rebellion coming up. [face_thinking]

    [face_laugh] Oh, but I have loved all of the bits and pieces of snark throughout this story . . .

    Oh my goodness, but drunk Mara had me laughing out loud, even as she and Luke continued their verbal repartee. Her reaction here was priceless. :p [face_laugh]

    Try as she might to resist, Luke has a charm that she already appreciates! Oh, but how I love seeing their attraction bloom no matter how much she'd like to protest it otherwise. [face_tee_hee]

    You know . . . that is definitely a plot hole now that you mention it!

    Ha! Point! I appreciated this not so subtle shade, here, even as I wonder if Palpatine is really as dead and gone as Luke thinks. [face_thinking]

    Ooooh, clever Thrawn is clever! And Luke just fell for it hook, line, and sinker. [face_mischief]

    Luke! [face_laugh] Again, I am loving the banter. Something tells me that Mara is the person he's been able to be most like himself around in far too long. [face_love]

    Ooooh, what a fascinating fanon and one that I fully accept and support! I adore the idea that this was more Mara's strength that Palpatine took advantage of rather than the other way around. It makes perfect sense. [face_thinking]

    This line made the entire story for me, though I know this wasn't exactly the traditional context we usually hear this speech in. But Vader is rightly concerned with thoughts of legacy and he wants Luke secure in his future, and even happy, in his own way. A strong woman at his side - and of course grandchildren! - are a plus along those lines. But only if Mara is willing and able to be a partner for Luke in every way. Vader, you ol' softy you. :p [face_mischief]

    Ha! Nope, not protective - or jealous [face_mischief] - at all. [face_whistling]

    Wow, but Luke just slaughtered Obi-Wan here - and the kicker is that he's not entirely wrong. I LOVE that Shmi was mentioned; that was definitely a badly handled series of decisions in the PT from those whom we expect more of. Vader was as much a monster created by his circumstance as well as he was by his own poor life choices, and the Jedi did play their part in his inception. Then, to compound that by how they did expect Luke to so easily kill his father, even if he was ignorant of that connection while doing so, just casts them in a bad light all the more so. That part of the OT never sat right with me, and I appreciated Luke being able to face Obi-Wan about his and Yoda's manipulations here. =D=

    Oh. My. Goodness. That's never an outlook I have considered before, and yet it makes perfect sense . . . [face_plain]

    [face_laugh] :rolleyes:!!

    This story is riveting and excellent so far! I can't wait for more. =D=
     
  6. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Thanks. I am trying to put myself in Luke's shoes. If Luke never gave up on evil Darth Vader in the movies, if Vader let him make positive changes and showed he wanted to redeem himself, I think Luke would be even more protective of his father. Both men were lied to and manipulated by those around him...so they have more in common then one would think.
    The leaving of Shmi never sat right with me. I have traveled all over the world and every country has a currency exchange place. Lucas could have fixed this by having somebody going back for Shmi and she tells them she is married and wants to stay.
    Thank you and thanks for such a long review. It is much appreciated. It is amazing how evil the Jedi look if you look at them from a certain point of view. They had a slave clone army. They tried to kill the Chancellor because of his religious beliefs. They supposedly took children from their parents if they were determined to be Force adepts. They forced the Jedi to a life of non-attachment and threatened to send them off to the agricultural corps if they didn't meet their standards or broke the rules. Sounds like a cult to me. ;)

    Thanks everybody for reading and taking the time to review.



    ~Two Months Later~

    “Kriff!” Aves shouted as he tried frantically to plot in a short jump away from the Imperial Star Destroyer blockade. Mara ran up behind him and dropped down into the co-pilot seat and took over the piloting duties as her comrade worked on plotting a course. “Karrde! She yelled back to the cargo bay. “Any chance of getting rid of any illegal cargo without being seen?”

    Before she could get an answer the Wild Karrde rocked. “Frack, they got us in a tractor beam.” There was no use piloting anymore. She ran back to the cargo bay where Karrde and Chin were shoving any questionable contraband into the ray-shielded hidden compartments. She looked to her boss. “Any chance that they won't find the spice?”

    Karrde’s face was grim. “Doubtful if they bring a scanning crew aboard.”

    She blew out a frustrated breath. “Luckily it is only Scarn. Having pre-spice is semi-legal…although it will put us on the ‘Search on sight’ list with the Imperials.”

    “Yeah,” Karrde said slowly as he held up a long, black mesh bag. “Unfortunately, the Mandalorian disruptor rifle and a thermal detonator in this bag are highly illegal. I was hoping to shoot them out the airlock, but now that we are caught in a tractor beam…” he trailed off, not finishing the sentence.

    “We only have a couple illegal weapons…for personal protection. They shouldn’t add in the smuggling charge on top of the possession.”

    Karrde shook his head. “Possession itself is a twenty-year sentence.” He let the bag drop to the floor as he walked up to the flight deck. “I’m sorry. The disruptor rifle was my idea. I’ll take full responsibility. Hopefully, my crew won’t suffer for my poor judgement.”

    Aves turned around when they walked onto the flight deck. “We are being hailed by the Imperial Star Destroyer Redeemer. We are to power down, drop shields and prepare to be boarded once we are in the ventral docking bay.”

    Aves looked to his boss for orders. Talon pointed out the viewing port. “Do what they say. We don’t want to give them an excuse to blow us into so much space dust.”

    Aves nodded and shut down the engines. “Shields down, boss.”

    Karrde looked down at the deck before gazing at his crew. “Let me do the talking. The Scarn shouldn’t get us in too much trouble as long as long as they can’t prove it is going to be refined as spice.” Karrde walked back to the cargo area. “I’ll hide the weapons and hope they don’t find it. If they do, I’ll tell them they’re mine.”

    About ten minutes later, there was some turbulence and then a thud as the ship landed on the deck of the Star Destroyer docking bay.

    Mara jumped when she heard a familiar voice sound off in her head. [“Hello, Mara. We meet again. Does this mean you’ve reconsidered my offer?”]

    Skywalker! She took a deep breath and blew it out. [“At this point I am willing to consider anything.”]

    There was a pause. [“Does that mean you’re not going to pass our custom’s check?”]

    [“It depends on how thorough your men are?”]

    [“I’ll meet you. Be cooperative until then.”]. Mara wasn’t sure, but she thought she sensed a tinge of amusement coming from the Supreme Commander.

    Mara walked back to the cargo area where Karrde had finished tucking away his weapons. “I’ll go and meet the inspection crew.”

    Karrde looked to her in surprise. “I’m the Captain of this ship. They'll want to see me.”

    “No,” Mara remarked. “The Supreme Commander is onboard. It's me he wants to see.”

    Talon looked toward the flight deck. “I didn’t hear any further communications from the Imperials. How do you know?”

    She gave him a look of exasperation. “You know how.”

    Karrde smirked knowingly. “Oh…I didn’t know that was possible. What else can you do?”

    “I’ll give you the whole story if we get out of this unscathed.”

    Chin ran into the cargo hold. “We are so screwed. Skywalker just walked onto the deck. You don’t think he’s still mad about the kidnapping and trying to sell him to the rebels, do you? I mean, I know he gave us a reward, but he may have had some second thoughts.”

    “Him mad?” Mara said sarcastically. “Why would he be mad? What’s a little kidnapping between friends?” She lowered the loading ramp and walked down to where Skywalker was waiting.

    “Hello Mara,” Luke said happily. “It is so nice to see you.” He turned to the captain in charge of the platoon of Stormtroopers accompanying him. “Captain Decker, I’ll inspect the ship. These are old friends of mine. You can dismiss your men.”

    The Captain opened his mouth, probably to protest, but then shut it and nodded. “Yes Sir.” He turned on his heel and dismissed his Platoon.

    Luke motioned toward the ship. “Shall we get on with the inspection?”

    Mara rolled her eyes. “Sure, do you have a list of things you want to inspect?”

    Luke chuckled. “No, but I thought I would improvise.”

    They walked side by side up the boarding ramp. Skywalker stopped when he met Talon on the top of the ramp. “Captain Karrde.” He held out his hand in greeting. “It’s always a pleasure.”

    Talon Karrde looked at Luke’s hand cautiously before he shook Luke’s hand. “No hard feelings?”

    “None at all…that is if you can let me borrow your second-in-command for a moment in private?”

    Karrde gave Mara a guarded look. “That is entirely up to Mara.”

    “It’s okay, Talon,” Mara replied. “He said he is going to do a search…so let him search.” She grasped the sleeve of Skywalker’s dress uniform and pulled him down the corridor. “We’ll start in my cabin.”

    “Ahhh…” Karrde muttered. “Exactly what type of search is he going to do?”

    Mara rolled her eyes. “Get your mind out of the gutter, Talon.”

    Luke turned and gave Karrde a wink. “I need to check her for tracking devices.”

    “Knock it off,” she growled at Luke as she pushed him inside her cabin and shut the door behind her. She leaned against the bulkhead, arms crossed across her chest, glaring at him. “You already know we can’t pass inspection, so what is it going to take to get out of our current predicament? Am I going to have to audition for your pleasure harem?”

    Luke’s eyes went wide. “First of all, I still don’t have a pleasure harem and second…what the hell are you smuggling that you are willing to offer up your virtue to hide it.”

    A sardonic laugh escaped her lips. “Virtue? Your choice of words is comical.”

    “Call it what you like. What are you smuggling? Slaves, nacro-spice, nerve gas?”

    “Scarn.”

    Luke’s brow furrowed. “Scarn is not illegal.”

    “And maybe a disruptor rifle…and a thermal detonator.”

    “Is that all?” Luke said looking relieved. “The way you were talking I thought you really did something horrible. I think I can look the other way when it comes to something that insignificant.”

    “Yeah, but at what price,” Mara asked him again.

    “Can we sit?” She nodded and sat on the edge of her bunk while Luke pulled out her desk chair and settled down in it. “I’ve missed you. I wondered if you perhaps reconsidered my job offer.”

    “No, I enjoy my job and my freedom.”

    “You would be free.”

    “Skywalker, you want something more from me…and I am not interested.”

    He shook his head adamantly. “No, I just want your friendship and I’d like to offer you a job. I am not asking for a relationship.”

    She sighed deeply. “Platonic friends?”

    He nodded with a smile. “Yes, completely.”

    She thought about it. “Okay, platonic is good because I’ve been dating someone.”

    The smile faded from his eyes and lips. “Oh, ummm…I didn’t know.”

    “Ha!” Mara smirked at the man. “See, if you only wanted a platonic friendship then me dating wouldn’t be a problem.”

    “No, but I was hopeful to lure you away to work for me…but luring you away from a lover is a different story.” He smiled weakly. “Congratulations.”

    “Kriff! Skywalker stop looking so miserable. I’m not dating anybody. I just wanted to see what you would say.”

    “That’s not very nice, Mara.” Skywalker expression was stern for about a nanosecond before he smiled and changed the subject. “If you won’t work for me…how about a date?”

    Her jaw dropped in astonishment. “What?”

    “Stay a few hours. Your crew will be welcome at the Officer’s Club as my guests and you and I can have some dinner.”

    “In your quarters, no doubt.”

    Luke grinned widely. “Wherever you like, Mara. I have a dining room in my quarters, but you can join me at the Officer Mess if you so desire. I can introduce you to Commodore Vanto who commands this ship when I’m not on board. Well, in all honesty, he really commands this ship all the time. My military experience is pretty much limited to X-Wings and air speeders. So, what do you say? Dinner?”

    Mara looked him up and down for a long moment. She had to admit, it wasn’t a bad way to get out of this mess and perhaps the crew can make some contacts onboard. Imperials are often their best customers, often asking for expensive liquors, cigaras and other hard to get luxury items.

    “Your quarters will be fine.”

    He gave her a devastating smile, “Outstanding.”
    .
    .
    .
    Mara walked into Luke’s quarters…his massive ship’s quarters. It was bigger than Palpatine’s throne room, with a huge sitting room, full kitchen, and two bedrooms with private ‘freshers. After Luke gave her the tour, he called down to the Officer Dining Facility and ordered room service. “I’m having them send a couple bottles of that wine you liked when on Admiral Thrawn’s ship.”

    “Are you going to try to get me drunk?”

    Luke laughed. “No, but maybe I’ll let you get me drunk.” He sat down on the large couch and patted the seat next to him. She reluctantly sat down, trying to keep a respectful distance from the man.

    “What are you doing on the Redeemer? I thought you traveled on the Chimaera.”

    “I have quarters on all the fleet flagships, but I prefer staying on the Redeemer.”

    “Why is that?”

    “Because Commodore Vanto doesn’t intimidate me like Grand Admiral Thrawn does. Eli Vanto is closer to my age and is very easy-going. When I am with Thrawn I always feel like I am under his scrutiny.”

    “I don’t blame you. He is hard to read through the Force.” She crossed her legs and regarded him. “Tell me, was your father mad that you lied about me kidnapping you?”

    Luke shrugged nonchalantly. “Not really. He said he couldn’t fault me for doing something he did as a young man…lie and deceive when it comes to women. As a Jedi he was banned from forming any attachments. The Jedi could not marry or have children. He wanted both but didn’t want to give up the Jedi Order.”

    Mara’s eyes narrowed. “Is that what you want…a wife and children?”

    He looked at her with a guilty smile. “One day…the Force willing.”

    She groaned in frustration. “Well, keep looking, because it isn’t going to be with me.”

    He rose and went to his cooler and pulled out a bottle of wine. “This isn’t exactly the type you favored, but it is a sweet white if you want some.”

    She rolled her eyes. “Are you just going to ignore what I said?”

    “No,” he sighed softly. “You’re not interested in me. I got it…but you have to admit, I am useful to you. Why don’t we work from there? You use me to get out of difficult smuggling situations and in exchange you tolerate me for an occasional dinner.” She opened her mouth to say something, but he held up a hand in a halting motion. “And that’s all! Dinner. I’m not going to conscript you for my imaginary pleasure harem, compel you to marry me, force you to bear my children or make you clean my apartment…nothing unseemly.” He stood a little taller, his head held high. “After all, I am an officer and a gentleman.”

    He lips twitched in amusement. “Okay, dinner it is.”

    “Good.” He picked up two long stem glasses and brought them over to the couch placing them on a glass top side table before opening the wine and pouring the drinks. He set the bottle down and handed Mara one glass and him the other. “We should toast to something.”

    “Sure.” Mara raised her glass. “To not being thrown in an Imperial brig.”

    Luke smiled warmly. “That is always an upside. How about toasting to friends.”

    “Why not.” She raised her glass higher. “To friends.” She sniffed the wine’s bouquet before sipping. “This is good.”

    “Thank you.” Luke risked settling down in the seat next to her. “Have you considered going legit? I can use regular shipments from a supplier. As you can imagine, getting some of the finer things in life are more difficult when dealing with Imperial supply chains. It will be regular work, less hassle from Imperial custom checks and good money.”

    Mara chewed her bottom lip in thought. “It will be up to Karrde. I’ll talk to him about it. Will we still be independent traders or have to fly under the Imperial flag?”

    “Whatever way you want. The Imperial trade league has priority in shipping lanes and berthing in spaceports. They can utilize Imperial facilities such as hospitals for free. They are eligible to shop in military commissaries if they are delivering to military bases.” He paused for a moment before adding. “Did I mention dental insurance?”

    She gave an unladylike snort. “You are really piling it on.”

    “I can use good people who I can trust.”

    “And you trust the people who kidnapped you and sold you off for a bounty.”

    “Captain Karrde seems like a man who doesn’t forget when a person does a favor for him. And you, you were a loyal Imperial once. I suspect you wouldn’t mind coming back to the Empire in one way or another. This could be a way to bring together your desire for freedom and your patriotism for your former government.”

    “I said I would tell Karrde. I’m not in a position to make that decision.”

    Luke nodded. “Fair enough.” He gave her a sideway glance. “I really wish you would reconsider working as my bodyguard. My father said you were one of Palpatine’s best operatives…as deadly as you are beautiful.”

    She let out a scathing laugh. “Darth Vader said no such thing.”

    Luke blushed slightly. “He didn’t say it that eloquently, but it was the general gist.”

    She put her glass down on the side table and looked at Skywalker questioningly. “Exactly what were his words?”

    Luke shrugged as he cleared his throat. “He told me the position of the Emperor’s Hand was given to the strongest Force adept and one that was the most alluring. The job of a spy and assassin is best performed by somebody who doesn’t look dangerous. It puts a person off guard. Men were often the targets of assassination and therefore a stunningly beautiful woman could often get close to the target with ease.” He took another sip of his drink. “He warned me that having you close could mean my downfall if you decided to turn on me.”

    “Then why did he allow me to live?”

    “He wouldn’t tell me exactly. He said he meditated on the subject and determined you might be useful in the future.”

    Mara shuttered not like the sound of that. “That is always scary when a Sith Lord thinks you might be of some use to them in the future.”

    “It can’t be too scary. You worked for Palpatine for a long time. I am fairly certain he didn’t have your welfare in mind during your employment with him.”

    Mara wanted to argue the fact, but realized he was right. Palpatine only valued her because she did his bidding. As soon as she failed him the punishment was swift and cruel.

    “In his meditations, he might have saw something totally benign. He once told me I desperately am in need of a…handler. Somebody who will keep me from making stupid rimworld blunders. Maybe that is what he thought you would be useful for.”

    “I think that might be beyond my abilities…or anybody’s abilities.” Mara thought about it. “It would help if we could make you look more natural in that uniform. You don’t look like a Supreme Commander as much as some bucolic farmboy dressing up as an imperial for a costume party. Also, you need to lose that thick rimworld accent.”

    “Is that all?” Luke looked hurt.

    She chuckled. “For now.”

    “You have a Coruscanti accent,” Luke ventured. “Were you born on Coruscant?”

    Mara gave a ‘who knows’ hand gesture. “I don’t remember my parents. I was raised in the royal court to be Palpatine’s servant. He was the closest thing I had to a father. I wouldn’t say it was a close relationship, but he could pop into my head at any instance, no matter where I was in the galaxy. It was sort of a creepily intimate connection. The communication back and forth was fine, but he could also sense my emotions and often read my thoughts…or at least my intentions, but to me, he was a wall. I only picked up from him what he wanted me to know. His mental shields were impenetrable.”

    “Oh,” Luke looked down at his glass. “I hope you didn’t see my…umm…my Force communication with you as intrusive.”

    “No, it just surprised me.” She turned to him; her expression was slightly troubled. “Your father believes our ability to communicate is due to a Force bonding.”

    “Do you feel…bonded to me?”

    She met his steady gaze, then quickly glanced away. “I don’t know what I feel.”

    Luke frowned when door indicator buzzed, interrupting their conversation. “That’s probably dinner.” He stood and moved to the front entrance and let a member of the dining hall staff wearing a light grey chef uniform entered pushing a serving cart. Luke pointed over to his dining table. “Over there please.”

    The young man pushed the cart up to the table and placed the various plates of food on the table. He then quickly left without saying a word. Luke gestured to the table. “Dinner is served.”

    Mara gave Luke a long hard look before convincing herself the Tatooine farm boy was harmless and she might as well have a nice meal. “Just a meal and then we get to leave right?”

    “Of course,” Luke assured her.

    “And don’t make it a habit of detaining me and the crew!”

    Luke gave his best innocent look. “I would never.”

    Mara wasn’t sure if she believed him. He was persistent.
    .
    .
    .
    Mara hated to admit, but she truly enjoyed Skywalker’s company. The food was good, he was courteous and didn’t nag her to work for him. Afterwards he walked her back to her ship. When she arrived, she was immediately wary about the conspicuous absence of her crew. She turned to Skywalker. “Where are they? Where’s the Wild Karrde crew?”

    “I don’t know.”

    Skywalker sounded sincere, but she still didn’t trust him fully. She pulled out her commlink and attempted to communicate with her boss. After a few minutes Karrde’s voice could be heard. “Yeah?”

    “Talon? Where are you?”

    “I’m in the Officer’s Club.” She could barely hear him over the cacophony of voices in the background.

    “Are you okay?”

    “I’m more than okay,” Talon said with a slight slur of his voice. “I am outstanding.” Mara heard a female voice calling out to her boss. “Don’t worry. We’re alright…all of us.” There was a pause as he said something to somebody in the background. “And Mara…don’t wait up for us. Have fun with your Imperial…see if you can find out what’s makes him so supreme.” Karrde laughed in a way she had never heard before. “What? Wait Mara, Chin is saying something. Oh…Chin asked if it’s the size of his lightsaber…you know…that makes him supreme.”

    “You are drunk,” Mara said in disbelief.

    “Oh, got to go. It turns out Imperial women really find civilian men with long hair and beards sexy.”

    With that Karrde disconnected the communication. Mara stared down at her commlink in shock. She had seen Karrde drunk before, but never in a public setting and she had never seen him pick up women in bars.

    “See, he’s alright,” Luke said brightly. “If you like I can get my men to round up your crew and bring them back.”

    She shook her head. “No, it sounds like Karrde is having fun…and that is a rarity.”

    “Do you want some company while they are out partying?” His blue eyes filled with mirth. “I know you handled my lightsaber before, but if you want a second look, I’m game.”

    “Oh, for the love of…no Skywalker, your lightsaber holds no interest to me.”

    “Ouch…you are brutally honest.” He rocked back on his heels as he gave her a toothy grin. “How about a drink while we wait for your crew to return?”

    She sighed in frustration but gave a nod of her head. “Sure, why not.”
     
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Nice easy camaraderie between the two of them. I love the way Luke and Mara are so easy with one another. The exchange about his lightsaber [face_rofl] [face_shhh] ...
     
    Jâd Sphera likes this.
  8. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Thanks for reading. I hope you like this next entry. I had the day off and have been writing frantically. These next few weeks I am working long hours and I didn't know if I would have time to write.

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    ~One month later~

    Mara Jade barged into Talon Karrde’s office onboard the Wild Karrde. “You joined the Imperial Trade League?” Mara gazed at Karrde in shock. “Why?”

    Talon had been going over ship manifests on his datapad when his second-in-command had interrupted his work. He lowered the device and looked at her perplexed. “Why not? The money is better than smuggling and we got exclusive high-end product shipping rights to the various fleet’s flagships.”

    She looked at him knowingly. “And you may get a chance to see your Imperial girlfriend…the one you met at the Redeemer's Officer's Club. What’s her name again…Karla?”

    “Karrina,” Talon corrected her.

    “Karrina, a woman who happens to be stationed onboard the same Star Destroyer Skywalker frequents.”

    Karrde smirked. “So? I thought you got along well with our exalted Supreme Commander.”

    “I do, but that doesn’t mean I want to see him on a regular basis.”

    Karrde put his arms out, palms up, in an apologetic gesture. “I guess we shouldn’t have kidnapped the second most powerful man in the galaxy and got into this strange position in the first place.” He ran a hand over his bearded face. “Or should I say Skywalker is the one that got you in a strange position.” There was a look of devilment in his eyes. “Did you ever find that subcutaneous tracking device we suspect he is carrying?”

    She rolled her eyes and groaned. “You know there is nothing between me and Skywalker.”

    He chuckled. “I know. I must say, he is a very patient man. It’s been…what…four months that he’s been trying to woo you?”

    “Knock it off, Talon.”

    “Come on, give me a hint as to how close he’s getting to his objective. Has he gotten a kiss?”

    Her face pinched together in irritation. “Watch it!”

    “Hand holding?”

    She glared at her boss as she leaned against the wall. “You know…after I finally admitted to you that I was Emperor Palpatine’s personal assassin you would think it would give you some pause before antagonizing me.”

    “Oh, it does,” Karrde struck a smug smile. “I paused, thought about the repercussions, and decided it was worth the risk.” He returned his attention to his datapad. “Now if you don’t mind, I need to go over these Imperial procurement requests. I think we can purchase most of the items on Hapes.”

    “What do the Imperials want?”

    He looked over the list. “High end wine and whiskey, fresh fruit and ten thousand units of male repress meds.”

    “Ten thousand units of birth control? How much sex is going on that ship?”

    “Not much I assume,” Karrde said drolly. “That was a private order from Skywalker.” He winked at her. “I guess he has big plans for your reunion.”

    Mara pushed away from the wall. “You are so dead.” As she moved around his desk Karrde jumped out of his seat and ran off in the opposite direction before making his escape out the office door. Mara poked her head outside his office and yelled, “You have to sleep sometime, Karrde. I’ll get my revenge eventually. Skywalker isn’t the only patient person in this galaxy.”
    .
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    ~Hapes~

    Mara walked down the ship’s boarding ramp and observed the bustling spaceport. She was always pleasantly surprised at the cleanliness of Hapan public facilities…but she supposed that shouldn’t be shocking knowing how much image means to the Hapan people. They value beauty over everything, and the result was a population of near-humans that were exceptionally attractive. Hapan citizens unfortunate enough to be born homely left the planet as soon as they were able since they were often deemed unemployable and finding a mate was an even more daunting task. She turned to her boss as he walked down the ramp to join her. “Do you want to bring the speeder transport or just have everything delivered to the ship?”

    Karrde took in a deep breath of highly filtered air before addressing his second-in-command. “Delivered. We can leave Chin on board to show the delivery people where to stack the wares.”

    “I guess I will call for a ride to the shopping warehouses. We can…” Mara’s words were cut off by a huge explosion at the other end of the massive docking bay. As dust and ash billowed through the building Mara and her boss ducked back into their ship and secured the doors. She looked at Talon. “I’ll contact port authority to find out what’s going on.”

    Mara ran up to the flight deck where Aves and Chin were already in contact with the docking bay supervisor. “What happened?” Mara asked.

    Aves turned around where he was sitting in the communications area. “There was an explosion that took out an Imperial Gozanti-Class Cruiser docked at the far end of the building. Everybody is in lockdown for now. Terrorism is suspected.”

    Karrde entered the flight deck. “Damn rebels. They can’t leave well enough alone.” He looked at his crew members. “After our first Imperial cargo run, we are probably going to be a target for rebels. I want operational security tight. Make sure no one gets near the ship when in port without proper authorization.”

    “Maybe we’re better off staying smugglers,” Mara muttered. “At least all we have to worry about is custom Patrols.”

    Talon blew out a breath as he walked down the ship corridor to the galley with Mara following close behind. “Let’s not get jumpy. The Rebel Alliance has to be on its last leg.”

    “We wouldn’t have a problem if Skywalker dealt with the rebellion like a real Imperial,” Mara groused.

    Karrde’s brow rose. “You mean kill them instead of exile?”

    “Yes, that is exactly what I mean or at least put them in prison. They are rebels…they are not going to remain in exile.”

    Karrde threw his hands up. “They were his friends and comrades. You can see why he couldn’t do what you are suggesting…not unless he went dark like the Emperor.”

    “If they keep blowing up things, he'll eventually have to deal with the rebels with deadly force.”

    “Is that what you would do?” Karrde asked. “If we found ourselves on the other side of a conflict…would you kill me, Aves or Chin?”

    She gave him a hard stare but eventually she averted her eyes. “Probably not.”

    “Probably not?” Karrde said with a ting of amusement. “That really makes me feel comfortable when I am flying around the galaxy with the former Emperor’s top assassin. ‘I probably won’t kill you’.” He snorted. “Very reassuring.”

    “Well, I haven’t killed you yet…despite your teasing…like asking me if I ever polished Skywalker’s lightsaber.” She blew out a frustrated breath. “Okay, I definitely, positively wouldn’t kill you…unless you were trying to kill me. And mark my words, there will be a time when Skywalker becomes a target of assassination and then…then he will have a change of heart.”

    “Maybe.” He gestured toward the ship’s caf maker. “Want to get a drink until the lockdown ends?”

    “Sure.” She went to the kitchen counter and poured a couple cups of caf and sat down at the table. When Karrde slide in the seat across from her she handed the second cup over to him. “So, tell me about your Imperial girlfriend. I didn’t see you return the night you and the crew went to the Officer’s Club. Can I assume you did the walk of shame down a Star Destroyer corridor?”

    Karrde blushed slightly. “Her name is Lieutenant Karrina Shotts. She is eight years younger than me…and very beautiful. She is a Medical Service Corps Officer…specializing in pharmaceuticals.”

    Mara laughed. “You have so much in common…we sometimes smuggle pharmaceuticals.”

    “Joke all you want, but I’ll have you know, she likes my rugged, bad boy looks.” He ran a hand over his facial hair that Mara noticed was now carefully trimmed. “She especially likes the beard…among other things.”

    Mara rolled her eyes unaccustomed to hearing Karrde brag about himself. “I’m happy that you found someone…I just wish she wasn’t stationed on the same ship that Skywalker is usually traveling on.”

    Karrde sat back in his chair and regarded her thoughtfully. “You know, you two seem like a good match. Both of you are Force adepts, you are a former Imperial and he is an Imperial. You worked for a Sith, he works for a Sith…hell, he’s not a bad looking guy and he didn’t have us executed us for treason when he could have easily. He’s a hell of a lot more forgiving than I would be if I was the one kidnapped and sold to the highest bidder. You can’t do much better than dating the Supreme Commander of the universe.” He grinned when Mara blushed. “I guess you can hold out for a celestial, but I was told those are few and far between.”

    “Shut up, Karrde.”

    “Admit it you like him.”

    “Sure I like him. He is a nice enough guy, but he has way too much baggage. He is hated by half the Imperials, or at least that is how he tells it, and he is hated by all the rebels. I don’t think I want to get involved with somebody that everybody in the galaxy knows and most hate. You might as well paint a target on my back.”

    “True, but if anybody could survive having a target on her back, it’s you. Could that be one of the reasons he’s so interested. He perhaps doesn’t want to put normal women…you know, those who are not Force strong assassins…into harm’s way. He has to be lonely…especially if what you say is true. He has no friends…just the Emperor. Can you imagine what that feels like?”

    “Yes,” she said slowly. “I know exactly what that feels like. I used to be just like him with only Emperor Palpatine as an ally.”

    “But now you have friends. Would you go back to having nobody but a Sith Lord as a friend?”

    “Palpatine was my Master. He was never a friend.”

    “Still,” Talon continued. “Would you ever want to go back to that existence…the loneliness?”

    She didn’t want to admit that Karrde was right, but he was. “No.”

    “Think about that the next time you see him.”

    She gave an unenthusiastic grunt as an acknowledgment. “So, are you going to see Karrina again?”

    A huge smile spread across his face. “I hope so. I really hope so.”

    He rose and walked over to the holonet projector and flicked it on. “Let’s see if there is any news about the bombing.” There was a slight delay before an image of the Emperor’s Media Briefing room appeared over a scrolling banner that said, ‘Breaking news from the office of the Emperor.’ “That’s quick,” Talon muttered. “The bomb just went off. How does the Emperor already have a response?”

    “I don’t think this has anything to do with the bombing,” Mara said as she stared at the image. “This isn’t local Hapan news and with the briefing room as crowded as it is this had to be planned much earlier today.”

    The projected image showed a podium with the Imperial seal embossed on the front and located on a small stage at the front of the room. Emperor Vader’s public relations representative, a middle-aged human female with dark skin and wiry black hair, walked to a podium facing a crowd of reporters. She cleared her throat before addressing the various journalists. “I want to thank all the members of the various news media outlets for attending today’s briefing. There will be no questions after my announcement. All inquiries are to be sent via electronic messaging to the Emperor’s office. Lord Vader will personally respond to any questions.”

    There was a soft moan of disappointment and Mara had a chuckle. It seemed that no media correspondent wanted to ask Lord Vader a question directly.

    “This briefing today is straight from the Emperor’s desk. As of today, Emperor Vader is officially declaring Supreme Commander Luke Skywalker as his anointed successor and heir apparent.” The room remained quiet. Mara assumed the reporters were wondering why call a press conference to tell them the obvious. “The Emperor would also like to announce the reason he chose the Supreme Commander as his successor. Luke Skywalker is the birth son of Lord Vader, born of his blood and conceived within marriage. That is the end of the briefing, thank you.” That announcement put the reporters in an uproar as they screamed out questions despite the warning that the PR representative wouldn’t respond to any queries.

    “What the hell?” Talon said as he turned to Mara, his face slack with surprise. “Did you know about this?”

    “Yes,” she said softly.

    “Oh,” Talon blew out a breath before flicking off the projector and returning to his seat. “Is this why you’ve been avoiding Skywalker?”

    She shook her head. “No, that doesn’t matter to me.”

    “How can it possibly not matter?” Worry darkened his expression. “He’s a Force adept and son of a Sith. He could end up like his father.”

    She sighed deeply. “He’s nothing like his father…otherwise we’d have been dead long ago.”

    “Still…you were right, he has too much baggage and this is just another thing added to the list. Your decision to avoid him is probably the right one.”

    She let out a scathing laugh. “First you try to play matchmaker and now you are acting like an overly protective father.”

    “I have reason to be protective.”

    She gave him a withering glare. “No, you don’t. Skywalker is the same man that you were praising for his patience and forgiveness just minutes ago.” She shook her head sadly. “Luke was worried that this would happen…that people would run from him once they knew his relationship to Darth Vader. Kriff!” She drummed her fingers on the galley table as she thought about the situation. “After we deliver our cargo, I would like to see Skywalker. He has been very good to us; we should be there for him.” She gazed at Karrde. “What do you think?”

    Karrde paused for a long moment before answering. “I think you’re right.” He sighed deeply as he ran a frustrated hand through his hair. “Sorry about my reaction. It just caught me off guard.”

    “That’s okay. I was a little taken aback when I first heard the news.”

    “Understandable and you are right…Skywalker has been very good to us…you should date him.”

    “What? I didn’t say that?”

    He tried to contain his smile. “You have to be the only woman in the galaxy that doesn’t care that Darth Vader is his father…face it, you two are meant for each other.”

    “Karrde, stop joking.”

    “Come on!” Karrde said with a laugh. “Do you want ten thousand units of male repress meds to go to waste?”

    She picked up her steaming cup of caf. “Stop talking or you're going to be wearing my drink.”

    “Fine.” He clicked his tongue in mock exasperation. “There is no pleasing you. First, I say date him and you get mad, then I say don’t date him and you get irritated and then when I change my mind…” He quickly rose to his feet when he saw Mara motion her cup at him in a threatening manner. "Okay, okay, I’m knocking it off.” He walked up to the flight deck of the ship while calling out to his crew. “Aves, Chin, see how much longer we’ll be locked down. We got cargo to buy and repress meds to deliver.”
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2020
  9. Jâd Sphera

    Jâd Sphera Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2018
    You really got me laughing here; after reading this whole section this was the cherry on top of the ice-cream [face_laugh][face_laugh]
    This is such good stuff! [face_love]

    LOL! [face_laugh]
    I really like your Talon; you write him so well :cool:

    This was so much fun to read! You had me cracking up all the way through.
    Mara and Talon's interactions were superbly written.
     
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  10. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Totally agree. Your Talon is a hoot! [face_laugh] The reciprocal teasing was fabulous.

    I love the progression of events, how the Emperor's grand announcement of paternity puts Luke in a very awkward position dating-wise [face_rofl] [face_mischief]
     
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  11. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Thank you. If Mara never hooked up with Luke I would have shipped Talon/Mara. They are a good team. Tim Zahn wrote those two characters exceptionally well. I am glad you like my take on them.
    Luke probably should have given Mara a heads up, but in my mind something triggered Vader into making the announcement. Perhaps an assassination attempt on Luke or Vader's health was failing. It will make Luke's life a bit tricky and it is going to just get worse for my poor boy.

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    Star Destroyer Redeemer

    Mara was somewhat surprised when she didn’t find Skywalker waiting for her at the docking bay. She could sense he was aboard the ship brooding. Obviously, the disclosure of his paternity was still causing him some angst.

    She strolled down the loading ramp to locate the docking master and was intercepted by a handsome human male in an Imperial officer’s dark grey naval uniform and wearing the rank of Commodore. The man was probably in his late thirties or early forties, with a few streaks of gray in his dark brown hair giving him a distinguished look. He stopped in front of Mara and smiled warmly. “Miss Jade, I assume.” He extended his hand out in greeting.

    She looked him up and down warily before grasping his hand and shaking it. “I am. You must be Commodore…” she reached back in her memory and came up with the proper response. “Vanto, isn’t it?”

    He gave a nod. “Yes, I am sorry that we haven’t met earlier. Supreme Commander Skywalker talks about you fondly.”

    “He’s talked about you also,” she said as she released her grip and brought her hand to her side.

    The man’s smile widened. “All good, I hope.”

    “Yes, in fact it was.” She regarded him quizzically. “Does he intend on joining us.”

    “Ah,” he looked down at the deck and then back to her. “The recent press release has upset him greatly…he has remained in his quarters for the last few days. He's asked me to escort you to his quarters…if you would be so inclined to accept his invitation.”

    “Yes, of course.”

    Relief colored his expression. “Thank you.” He motioned to a corridor across the bay. “If you would be so kind to follow me.”

    “Lead the way.” Mara fell in step next to Commodore Vanto. “I thought Emperor Vader’s press release might cause him some problems, but I didn’t think it would make him a recluse.”

    He gave her a sideways glance. “That is not what he’s upset about, it was response from the Rebel Alliance.”

    “What response? You have to excuse me, but we’ve been in hyperspace for the last four days and we don’t have a hyperwave radio.”

    “Oh,” Commodore Vanto said softly. “If you like, I can have one installed on your ship…at no cost to you.”

    She realized he was stalling. “What was the Rebel’s response?”

    He took in a deep breath and blew it out slowly, at the same time he slightly increased his pace in order to get them to Skywalker’s quarters quicker. “I think the Supreme Commander would like to tell you personally.”

    She sighed. “That bad, huh?”

    “It has…upset the Supreme Commander in more ways than one.”

    “Okay, I’ll ask him myself.” They continued down the corridor until they stood in front of the lavish double doors of Skywalker’s quarters.

    Commodore Vanto turned to Mara and smiled. “It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

    “Same here.” She went to knock on Skywalker’s door but stopped and turned to Vanto. “Were you kidding about the hyperwave transmitter?”

    “Not at all. I will have my men install one today.”

    “Thank you.” She knocked on the door as Commodore Vanto quickly turned and walked down the corridor. She waited for a moment and then knocked again.

    Eventually Skywalker opened the door and Mara was taken aback by his appearance. He wasn’t in his usual dress uniform but sleep pants and wrinkled undershirt. There were dark bags under his eyes and his hair was sticking up in various directions. He managed a small, sad smile as he motioned for her to enter.

    “Commodore Vanto said you were upset over the Rebel’s response to your parentage. What happened?”

    He sighed deeply before padding over barefoot to the holonet projector. “It is easier to show you.” He pushed a few buttons and played something he obviously recorded from an earlier date. “This is what happened.”

    Mara watched as the image of the former Princess of Alderaan appeared above the projection base. Underneath scrolled the words: Former Princess talks to reporters from place of exile.

    The princess looked straight at the camera and started her speech without preamble. “I just hope all the citizens of the Empire realize how they have been deceived over the years, but you are not alone, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker deceived us all. It is now obvious that Skywalker was an Imperial infiltrator from the start. He wormed his way into the rebellion and acted as a spy the entire time. In hindsight, it is so very clear. He is able to walk onto a supposedly impregnable battle station, rescue me, and escape easily. Dozens and dozens of stromtroopers were firing upon us and not one blasterbolt hit its mark. Imperial Stormtroopers are known for their deadly accuracy, but the day of our escape not one shot came close to hitting us. It was all preplanned. His job was to rescue me so I could lead him to the rebel outpost.

    "I know many of you may ask yourselves, ‘If he is an imperial, then why did he blow up the Death Star?’ I’ll tell you why. Darth Vader allowed his son to destroy the battle station to not only fortify Skywalker's position in the rebellion, allowing for his promotion and access to intelligence information, but it eliminated many of Lord Vader’s rivals---Grand Moff Tarkin, General Trech Molock, General Moradmin Bast. Chief of the Imperial Navy Admiral Conan Antonio Motti, Chief of the Imperial Army General Cassio Tagge, and Chief Major Siward Cass.

    "This is the only obvious explanation for Luke Skywalker’s ability to fly in and out of a combat situation without a scratch while most of his flight wing was decimated. Meanwhile, your current Emperor, Darth Vader, was safely off the Death Star and far enough away from the scene that he didn't get destroyed in the explosion. Darth Vader sacrificed over a million loyal Imperial citizens in order to eliminate political rivals and secure his son in a position of power among the Rebellion. Once Skywalker had enough information on the rebels he returned to his father and together they murdered Emperor Palpatine. Is this who you want leading your Empire? Rise up and join us in dethroning a brutal dictator!”

    Luke clicked off the holonet and turned to Mara. “I can’t believe Leia thought I was a traitor from the start.”

    His words irritated Mara to no end. “You’re worried that your old crush now hates you? Is that what is disturbing your sleep? What the kriff is wrong with you? You need to worry about what your people think about you! You are lined up to be Emperor eventually and you can’t do that if Imperials think you and Vader are capable of such deception and cruelty to your own people.” She pointed to the projector. “And how in the hell did that message get through Imperial holonet censors? I know Palpatine and Vader were experts at controlling the narrative. How did this get onto the holonet?”

    Luke looked down and shook his head. “Somebody sliced into the system. It was taken down almost immediately, but not before trillions of Imperial citizens saw it.”

    “Your father better figure out where that signal is coming from or find a way to block the transmission in the future. You can’t have the rebels using propaganda to destabilize the government.”

    “I know. You’re right.” Luke slowly sat on his couch, his face a mask of pain. “I can’t believe the lies that my friends are telling the galaxy. I was never an Imperial plant. I joined the rebellion because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to make this galaxy a better place to live in. I fought hard toward that goal. At first, I thought the rebellion was the only way, but my father showed me another path. And I've succeeded in making a difference. I've pushed through more government reforms than any previous leader. And I did it in only two years. Why can't Leia can’t see that? How can she think I would lie to her like that?”

    Mara rolled her eyes. “I know it is none of my business and I really don’t care, but you need to realize that you and the princess are no longer friends…not anymore! So, forget about her and concentrate on how you are going to respond to these allegations because it doesn’t bode well for the galaxy. Your father has been trying to do things your way…the nice way. But if there’s an uprising he will crack down on people…hard. You have to give a response to this.”

    His brow knitted. “Like what? If I deny it people won’t believe me.”

    “Use your own propaganda. The Jedi took you from your father. It was Leia that got you involved in the rebellion, not the other way around. You need to spin this in a way that the you are no longer the villain but the victim of the Jedi and the Rebel Alliance.”

    Luke threw up his hands. “I don’t know how to do that?”

    She sat down next to him. “It’s not that hard. Imperials want to remain loyal Imperials, just give them something slightly believable.”

    Luke dropped his head in his hands in frustration. “Mara, you were right when you said I was a naïve rimworld...bumpkin. I don’t have the head for politics, and I have never been good at lying.” He looked up her, his eyes pleading. “Please help me. I don’t want my father hunting down the rebels in exile and slaughtering them.”

    Mara blew out a frustrated breath. “There you go again…worrying about the rebels and not your constituents. Listen to me—the rebels are NOT your friends!”

    Luke ran his hands through his hair in exasperation. “It is difficult not to think of them as friends. They were my only friends since I left Tatooine. When I became an Imperial, I was at best…tolerated. You are the closest thing I have to a friend now…and even you don’t want to spend time with me.”

    Mara closed her eyes and for a moment contemplated leaving Skywalker to stew in his despair. It was obvious that his concern rested with the rebels and specifically Princess Leia…a woman who publicly denounced Luke as a traitor to the Empire and the Rebellion. The thought rolled around in her mind for a second or two before she remembered Talon’s words about how lonely Luke must be having only his father as a friend.

    “I will help you,” she said after much contemplation. “But you have to do what I say…and it will be difficult. Princess Leia is playing hardball and so must you. You can’t waiver.” She gazed at him, challenging him to make a firm decision. “Will you follow my advice and not quibble over my instructions? If you can, I will arrange with Talon to stay a few days.”

    Luke gazed at her warily. “Will I have to kill people?”

    She shook her head. “No, just piss them off.”

    He looked at the ceiling for a moment before returning his gaze to her. “Yes, I promise to do what you say. Just help me.”

    “Okay,” she stood and moved to the door. “I’m going back to my ship to talk to Talon and pack a bag. While I’m gone clean up. Take a shower and put on a starched uniform. You are the Supreme Commander…look the part!”
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Mara is absolutely right about everything and I'm glad Luke is taking her advice. He needs to take over the situation however he can. [face_thinking] =D=
     
  13. Jâd Sphera

    Jâd Sphera Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2018
    So interesting to read about what Mara will come up with and how Luke will deliver [face_nail_biting]
    It will be awesome, I'm sure ;)
     
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  14. mayo_durron_666

    mayo_durron_666 Jedi Master star 2

    Registered:
    Nov 26, 2005
    Woo.. I’m so behind on my fanfic reading. Apologies for the late response. [face_blush]

    I’m all caught up! And loving this fic SO much. :D

    I really enjoyed Mara and Vader’s meeting. The tension between them was well done, Vader seeing right through Luke’s lie both funny and scary.

    I liked Mara and Luke’s dinner date. I hope there’s more of those in future. ;)

    The announcement and reveal of Luke’s parentage was very interestingly handled. Feel so sorry for Luke. Leia’s words cut him deeply which is understandable. I’m super glad Mara went to check in on him and support him. :)

    I look forward to reading more. Such a great fic! =D=
     
  15. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Mara knows Vader will squash an uprising. She also knows Luke's reputation is being hurt by the rebels.
    Awesome...probably, but will Luke go along with the plan?
    I figured the announcement of Luke's parentage would be short and sweet. I am sure Darth Vader doesn't want his sweet Padme's memory be tainted...so he would want to avoid the obvious question of who the mother is. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

    I struggled with this chapter, so I hope it doesn't disappoint.

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    Star Destroyer Redeemer

    Mara returned a few hours later to find Skywalker in a nicely tailored Imperial uniform, his hair neatly combed and his mood a bit brighter.

    She walked into his quarters and circled around him appraisingly. “It looks like you took the advice I gave you last month and got a uniform that actually fits.”

    He looked down at his clothing and blushed slightly. “I was never a slave to fashion, but you were right. Now I just need to get rid of my rimworld accent and I’ll be set.”

    “This is a great start for improving your image.” She looked him up and down and smiled. “You really look great.”

    “A compliment from the former Emperor’s Hand.” he said with a grin while tugging his tunic straight. “That makes all the measuring the tailor did worth it. I swear he was a perfectionist. He measured my trouser inseam a half dozen times.”

    Mara laughed. “He was either a perfectionist or a pervert, either way, he’s definitely an excellent tailor.” She dropped her travel bag on the ground before gazing into his blue eyes and letting out a slow and controlled breath. “Before we begin…I want to apologize to you.”

    “For what?”

    “For getting so upset and yelling at you earlier today. The rebel’s response was just as upsetting to me as it was to you—probably for different reasons—but upsetting nonetheless.”

    He took a step closer to her and considered reaching out and putting a comforting hand on her shoulder but didn’t know if she would tolerate the gesture. “How so?”

    “I didn’t realize how good life has gotten in the Empire until now. The thought of things falling apart was a shock to the system. If there is an uprising, your father could end your reforms. And even though I hate to admit it…you have made this galaxy a better place…for everybody. You’re a great leader.” She shook her head sadly. “I’d hate to think what would have happened if I killed you when I had the chance.”

    Luke was startled by not only her admission, but the underlying remorse and honesty he felt flowing through the Force. This time he did reach out and pulled her into his embrace, smiling when she didn’t resist. “Hey, don’t worry. With your help we’ll tackle this problem.”

    She allowed him to hold her for a few more seconds before she pulled away awkwardly, looking embarrassed that she revealed her softer side.

    “Yeah…we need to repair the damage the rebels inflicted on your image. “She motioned to the couch. “Let’s sit down and work on your response.”

    “Of course.” He said, disappointed that the tender moment ended so quickly. He followed her to the couch and sat down next to her.

    “There are five basic rules of propaganda,” Mara instructed Luke. “Keep it simple, discredit the opposition, manipulate the values of your target audience to your own ends, present your argument as if all sane people should think the same way and then repeat the message over and over in a multitude of variations.”

    “Okay,” Luke said slowly. “That is easy enough…I think. So, what do you suggest?”

    “You told me how you were hidden from your father on Tatooine and how you were swept up in the rebellion. Start there.” When Luke stared at her blankly, she rolled her eyes and came up with a possible counter argument.

    “You can say, ‘The Jedi kidnapped me as a baby and gave me to a family with anti-imperial leanings. They were moisture farmers on the rimworld planet of Tatooine. My foster family knew who my father was but hid my parentage at the request of the Jedi.”

    “Wait,” Luke interrupted. “You're saying Jedi…like the order still exists.”

    “The Jedi might be gone, but we need an enemy for the Imperial population to latch onto,” Mara said. “They already hate the Jedi for attempting a coup to overthrow Chancellor Palpatine based solely on his religious beliefs.”

    “Religious beliefs?” Luke said incredulously. “You mean him being a Sith?”

    “Yes, a Sith. Look up the term on the holonet. It is an ancient religious order of Force-wielders.”

    “Yes, Force-users devoted to the dark side.”

    “That didn’t give the Jedi cause to attack Palpatine. There is no law against being a Sith. If Palpatine did something wrong, they should have brought up their grievances to the Senate. They could have impeached and removed him from office. The Republic had a system in place to remove tyrants. The Jedi thought they were above all that and tried to murder the man based solely on his religion.”

    Luke shook his head wide-eyed. “I can’t believe what you're saying.”

    She scowled melodramatically. “You disagree?”

    “It’s not that,” Luke said with a chuckle. “You sound just like my father.”

    “Well,” her mouth ease into a grin. “You father and I did serve the same Master.”

    “That is true." Luke gestured toward her. "Please continue.”

    “Didn’t you once tell me that you applied for the Imperial Naval Academy?”

    Luke shook his head. “No, I wanted to, but my Uncle kept telling me I needed to wait another season. I was their free labor, so if I departed, they would be hurting.”

    “Okay, you can say. ‘I dreamed of going to the Imperial Naval Academy, but I was always told no…because the Jedi didn’t want my father finding me. A Jedi Knight, who was also a rebel sympathizer, secretly watched over me…preventing me from leaving Tatooine. Unfortunately, Princess Leia involved my foster family in espionage and they paid the ultimate price when they were inadvertently killed during a law enforcement raid.”

    “Inadvertently?” Luke protested. “Mara, they were killed by Oppressor flamethrowers wielded by 501st Storm Commandos. My father sent those men…not Leia.”

    “Luke,” she said slowly gazing at him with tired eyes. “Was anything the Princess said about you true?”

    “No.”

    “Then stop worrying about the veracity of our story.”

    Luke let out a frustrated groan. Mara had told him he was going to piss off people…and he can see that was an understatement. “Go on.”

    “Then you tell the people what happened next. Say, ‘The very Jedi Knight that kidnapped me from my father, and essentially imprisoned me on that harsh rimworld planet, talked me into joining the rebellion and encouraged me to kill the man I later discovered was my father.”

    Mara gazed at Luke looking for approval or at least some response, but he remained silent with a miserable look on his face.

    Mara heaved a sigh before continued. “Then you firmly state, ‘I am not the bad guy in this story. I am the victim that was used and lied to and tricked into fighting for a cause whose goal was the destruction of my family. My father and I did not know the truth until after the destruction of the Death Star. Yes, I am guilty of killing Imperials, but I was told the Death Star destroyed Alderaan.’

    “Wait,” Luke interrupted. “The Death Star did destroy Alderaan…my father forced Leia to watch it’s destruction.”

    “Luke, haven’t you read your own Imperial propaganda? Alderaan was destroyed by one of their own superweapons.” She shook her head in disbelief. “Your father and Princess Leia are the only two survivors who witnessed Alderaan’s destruction. Imperial citizens don’t want to believe their tax dollars went toward a space station that destroyed an entire planet…that’s why they believe Imperial propaganda saying Alderaan was to blame.”

    Mara took a deep breath before continuing. “We are going to say the Rebels convinced you that Alderaan was destroyed by the Empire and that is why you fought with the rebels. Later you realized you were deceived. The Death Star was sent to Alderaan in an effort to coerce them into giving up their aggressive biological warfare program. When the Death Star arrived, the planetary government attempted to destroy the battle station with their own planet busting weapon, but it was untested, and it ended up destroying the planet instead.”

    Luke scoffed. “Nobody is going to believe that.”

    “Sure, they will,” Mara insisted. “People believe what they want to believe. Loyal imperials want to remain loyal and they will latch onto to any conspiracy theory that will justify their beliefs.”

    “Imperials will still be pissed that I killed a million troopers.”

    “Yes, but they’ve known that for years. What you need to do is own up to your actions, state you were duped by the rebels and apologize. You then earmark billions of credits to help the families of those who died on the Death Star. It can be in the form of college tuition or funds to attend tech schools for surviving children or spouses.”

    “We should do that anyway. That is a good gesture that might improve my image,” Luke said after some thought. “You are probably right, but I hate lying about the Jedi and the rebels. Leia watched her planet get destroyed and with it everybody she knew and loved. This is blaming the victim. She will never forgive me.”

    “Oh, for Sith sake,” Mara said softly, her voice bristling with frustration, tired of his ability to object to her every suggestion. “You need to stop worrying about what the woman thinks.” Mara rose and started walking toward the exit. “I need a break. I think we both need a break. You need to decide what you are willing to do to save this galaxy …save it from the Rebels and your father’s wrath if an uprising does occur.”

    “Sorry, Mara. Please don’t leave.” Luke rose off the couch and ran to the door, blocking the exit. “Please, you have to realize, this isn’t easy for me.”

    “It's not easy for anybody. Skywalker…this is war. The Empire and the Rebels are at war.” Mara poked her finger into his chest for emphasis. “And whether you like it or not, you and Princess Leia are on different sides of this conflict. She’s not letting any warm feelings for you to stay her hand. She denounced you as a traitor to the Empire and the Rebels. You need to stop worrying about her and her feelings.”

    Luke gazed at Mara for a very long time, his expression unreadable. “You really don’t like her…why?”

    She gritted her teeth, hating the fact that he is able to read her so easily. “It is just a bit irritating seeing you pining over a woman who is determined to destroy you. You worry about what she’s thinking or feeling, but she doesn’t reciprocate the same concern for you. Face it, she is just not that into you.”

    His expression went from perplexed to incredulous. “Are you jealous of her?”

    He immediately regretted the question as he felt anger radiating off the former assassin. He took a step back, putting his hands up defensively. “Sorry I asked…I guess it was just wishful thinking on my part. I like you, Mara. I wish…”

    “You wish what?” she said through gritted teeth.

    “I wish we could have a relationship. Or at least try. I have such a great time with you. When we're separated, all I do is think about you…and miss you. Leia was my friend. We fought side-by-side…but she’s just a friend.”

    She didn’t respond to his words but silently turned and returned to the couch. “Luke, you have to think of the galaxy…your people,” she said evenly, completely ignoring his heartfelt admission. “You have to risk infuriating your former friends. What you say and do now, despite how furious the rebels get, is for the good of the galaxy. If the rebel propaganda succeeds your father will squash any uprising with bloodthirsty glee. You’ve succeeded in tempering his homicidal tendencies, but I can tell he misses the days when he could crush his enemies. We don’t want to give him an excuse to go on a killing spree.”

    “You’re right. I know you’re right.” His shoulders sagged in defeat as he walked back to the couch and sat next to her. “It’s just…I just can’t win.”

    His words were steeped in emotion and she could feel him dropping into despair. Mara suppressed a sigh, realizing she was never good at comforting people. It was not a skill useful to an assassin. All she could do was improvise.

    “Luke,” she said as she pulled him into a reassuring, one-arm hug. “Don’t let this get to you. You are doing a great job. The Empire has never been this…” She took a deep breath as she tried to find the right word. “It’s never been this humane. Your Rebel friends are fighting when they should be supporting you and your changes.” She dropped her arm off his shoulder and looked him in the eyes. “I’ve talked to Karrde and he's okay with me staying here to help you for a while.”

    Luke nodded and smiled weakly. “I would like that.”

    “I’ll help you write up a response to the Rebels. We’ll practice it and get it recorded and put it out to the galaxy.”

    “Thank you. You’re a good friend.”

    “You’re welcome.” She put her hand on his knee and gave it a squeeze. “I know this is uncomfortable for you, but you’ll get through it.”

    Luke looked down at her hand then into her emerald eyes. He turned and leaned in toward her. Mara’s eyes went wide thinking he was about to kiss her, but instead he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and gave her a warm hug…a warm, friendly, platonic hug.

    Mara was confused that she was both relieved and inexplicably disappointed at the same time. “It’ll be alright, Luke,” she muttered. “It’ll be alright.”

    “Now that you’re here, it will be,” Luke said softly.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020
  16. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Wow... I can so incredibly and totally, totally empathize with Luke's emotions. Giving any kind of a spin on the devastation of Alderaan would absolutely stick in one's gut and twist! Loved the undercurrents of platonic versus romantic wistfulness on each side. :)
     
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  17. Jâd Sphera

    Jâd Sphera Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2018
    No way you could ever disappoint! [face_love]

    I was disappointed too :([face_laugh]

    Oh, loved this! [face_love][face_love]
    I loved how Mara was so to the point, so practical about things, just being her.
    And loved Luke's struggle.
    You did a great job with this chapter =D=
     
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  18. mayo_durron_666

    mayo_durron_666 Jedi Master star 2

    Registered:
    Nov 26, 2005
    This was great! :)

    Mara clearly showed how to play the propaganda game & knew the Imperial perspective so well.

    Luke’s hesitation/revulsion regarding spinning the truth about events was well done & understandable.

    I liked that Luke has the guts to ask if Mara was jealous. [face_mischief] And the affection between them at the end was sweet. [face_batting]

    Nice post! :D
     
  19. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    I love watching these two together. And isn't that just how politics works? The statement they are comparing is mostly BS, with just enough truth to be believable.
     
  20. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 1, 2004
    This has to kill Luke because he knows once he gives his speech he no longer has any friends. Leia and Han will hate him forever. He knows his actions will forever burn those bridges. It is heart breaking to him.
    Thank you. It is easy for Mara to make up that story because it isn't her losing friends over it. She is irritated that Luke worries so much about people that obviously hate him. She might be a bit jealous of Leia, but I think she also is a bit protective of Luke. She did a lot of bad things to him and he forgave her and her friends. She knows how honorable and compassionate he is. I think she worries about him.
    Thank you. Mara is good at spinning a story. And really, what she says is true by a certain point of view. Ben handed Luke his father's lightsaber and said, "Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough." What lies! Luke's father wasn't dead and he didn't know Luke was alive. Ben encourages Luke to fight against Darth Vader. He is hoping Luke will kill his own father. How cruel is that?
    Mara is good at lying. It was part of her job as the Emperor's Hand. And it is Legend's canon that the Empire tried to blame Alderaan for its own demise.

    Thanks everybody for reading.
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    Obi-wan was furious. “You are actually making me into a child abducting villain? I saved you from your father!”

    Luke sighed when the Jedi spirit appeared. He had a long day and after hours of practicing, recording and then airing his response to the rebel’s accusations, he was tired of talking. He was getting ready for bed when the spirit showed up. “Go away,” he grumbled his voice still hoarse from hours of talking.

    “I will not go away. You have told the entire galaxy that I spirited you away from your father and imprisoned you on Tatooine.”

    “You did take me from my father and left me on Tatooine where I had no money or any real job prospects. I was trapped on that dunghole of a planet.”

    “I did not kidnap you. I thought your father perished on Mustafar and I watched your mother die after giving birth to you and…” The Jedi apparition paused midsentence. “And…ummm…and I feared Emperor Palpatine would go after you. I had to put you into hiding.”

    “So, you place me on my father’s home planet and allow me to have his surname. You give me to my grandmother’s stepson to raise. How is that hiding me?”

    “You father hated Tatooine. I thought there was little chance of him returning. I stayed nearby in case he did.”

    “You said you thought my father was dead…so your explanation of why I was placed on Tatooine is nonsense.”

    “I said I thought he was dead…but I didn’t feel his death in the Force. So, there was always a chance that he lived.”

    “You know what I think…I think you placed me on my father’s home planet with his surname in the hopes that he would find me. I was bait. You wanted him to come to Tatooine so you could kill him.”

    “That’s utter hogwash.” The specter shook his head before sitting on Luke’s bed, pissing the Supreme Commander off even further.

    “Get off my bed. I don’t need to get blue ectoplasm all over my new sheets.”

    The apparition stood with a frown. “Your father never looked for you because he thought your mother was dead before giving birth. He strangled her himself…Force choked her.”

    “You told me that before, but my father’s interpretation of those events differs greatly.”

    “He’s lying.”

    “That is something you both do.” Luke slipped on his sleeping tunic and pulled back the blankets on his bed. “You’re dead. What do you care what I tell people?”

    “Because I was a member of the Jedi council and well respected.”

    “Until Palpatine told everybody that the Jedi tried to overthrow him. Admit it, your legacy is shot. It doesn’t matter what I say.”

    The spirit sighed deeply. “Luke your destiny is to rebuild the Jedi Order, but that will not be possible if you insist on vilifying the Jedi.

    “I will never rebuild the Jedi Order, so you don’t have to worry about that,” Luke said adamantly. “If I do train Force Adepts, they will be Imperial Knights—Force strong defenders of the new Empire.”

    “They will end up as darksiders.”

    Luke scoffed as he rolled over in bed. “If you believe I can train Jedi, then why do you think I can’t train light-side Imperial Knights? Your way is not the only way.” He reached over and turned off his side table lamp. “I’m going to sleep now. Please go back to…wherever you go when you’re not bothering me.” Luke waited for a response, when none came, he rolled over and looked for his ghostly stalker, but Kenobi was gone.

    “And stay gone,” Luke grumbled. He rolled over and closed his eyes, willing himself to sleep, and trying to not worry about any consequences from his actions today.
    .
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    The next day he found himself nervous to see the reaction to his prerecorded news conference that aired the night before. His speech was first transmitted to his father on Coruscant. After getting his father’s approval, his Address to the Empire was broadcast across the holonet to all Imperial worlds. By now everybody would have had the chance to view his response to the Rebels’ accusations.

    He sighed deeply knowing Leia and Han would never forgive him. He had to come to grips with the fact that his closest friends now, most likely, despised him. Despite his misgivings, he knew Mara was right, it was something that needed to be done. If the citizens of the Empire did rise up against his father, the results would be catastrophic.

    He showered, thankful that his rank granted him the privilege a hot water instead of a less-that-soothing sonic shower. He stood under the torrent of hot recycled water for a good ten minutes, allowing the heat of the water to seep into his skin and loosen his tense muscles.

    He exited the shower and quickly dried off before moving to his closet and setting out his dress uniform. He smiled as he pulled on his trousers remembering how Mara admired his highly tailored look. She tried to hide it, but he sensed her attraction…and that in itself was frustrating.

    He was dejected that she kept him at arm’s length, but, knowing her background, he really couldn’t blame her. According to his father, Emperor Palpatine had forbade Mara from having any friends or romantic attachments. All she had was the Emperor and he was a harsh an unforgiving Master.

    ‘He was a ruthless, manipulating egomaniac,’ his father described Emperor Palpatine. ‘He controlled people by first isolating from their loved ones…then the intimidation, physical and emotional abuse came next. He convinces his victims that without him they are nobody.’ Luke remembers a very long pause before he continued. ‘That is how he controlled the Emperor’s Hand.’ He was talking about Mara Jade, but at the same time, Luke knew Palpatine did the same to his father. Mara and is father were bonded in a way…there were both survivors of Palpatine’s cruelty. Luke didn’t ask but wondered if that was the reason his father spared Mara after she admitted to kidnapping his son.

    After dressing, he walked out of his room and was surprised to see Mara in his kitchen setting out plates on his dining table as the aroma of eggs, sausage and hotcakes seeped out from under domed plate covers centered on the tabletop. She turned to him and smiled. “I ordered breakfast.”

    “Thank you.” He walked over and stood for an awkward second before clearing his throat. “I hope the guest bedroom was comfortable.”

    “It was luxurious.” She gazed at him, a mixture of interest and compassion filling her eyes. “How are you? I know how upset you were yesterday.”

    He heaved a sigh before his mouth flattened to a hard line. “The whole speech made me feel dirty. I know it was for the best, but I was outright lying about some things and I’ve always prided myself on being honest.”

    “I understand.”

    He shook his head. “No, I don’t think you do. No matter how inaccurate the rebels’ statements were about me…they believed they were telling the truth. I, on the other hand, said things that I knew were blatantly false.”

    “Luke, I understand. I’m not without a conscious or moral compass. You lied…but you lied to your people in order to avoid uprisings…to prevent needless deaths…because you know your father will not tolerate unrest.”

    Her words did not bring him any comfort. He abhorred dishonesty, no matter what the circumstances.

    “And your speech succeeded,” Mara said as she sat down and motioned for Luke to join her. “I’ve looked at the analytics from yesterday’s announcement and you received a very positive response.”

    Luke sat down and removed the plate covers revealing a mouthwatering assortment of breakfast food. “How so.”

    Mara threw a few flat cakes on her plate before explaining. “Your statement about being abducted by a Jedi garnered sympathy from female Imperials. The assertion that the last surviving Jedi had told you that Darth Vader killed your father and convinced you to avenge his death by killing Darth Vader had a compassionate response in both male and female Imperials. Everybody thought that was a cruel deception. All in all, you have a 33% positive increase in how Imperials think of you.”

    “Great,” he said scornfully. “Unfortunately, I have a 100% decrease in how I feel about myself.”

    “I know this is hard for you, but it’s for the best.” She poured syrup on her flat cakes and cut off a piece. Before putting the food in her mouth, she commented, “I guess my work here is done.”

    Luke pulled himself out of his self-loathing and locked eyes on her. “What do you mean?”

    She swallowed her bit of flat cake. “I mean you needed my help in formulating a response to the rebels’ remarks. I did and your speech was a success. You managed to ease the tension the rebels succeeded in building. People are feeling more positive about you and Emperor Vader. Things appear to be settling down. You don’t need me anymore.”

    Her words put him in a near panic. “No, I still need you. Leia is bound to respond to my comments. There is no way she won’t. I accused her people of blowing up their own planet when she absolutely knows that’s not true. I’ll need you to help me reply to her counter-argument.”

    She chewed on her food for a long moment before setting her fork down and leaning back in her chair. “If she manages to get in another propaganda video through your censors, I’ll return to help you.”

    He gazed at her, his eyes pleading. “Mara, you’ve shown me that I am completely naïve about the ways of the galaxy. I need somebody like you by my side…as an assistant, bodyguard or handler. You know the ins-and-outs of politics. Together we can make the Empire something it has never been before…a wonderful place to live and not a government that blows up your planet if you irritate the leadership.”

    She shook her head slowly before narrowing her gaze on his face. “Your father told me you weren’t skilled at deception, but you’re getting better at it. Your reasons for me to stay are almost believable…with the exception that you revealed the real truth last night…your desire for a relationship. You were forthright last night…so why are you making up excuses now?”

    He clenched his teeth together before answering. “Because I poured my heart out to you yesterday. I told you how much I enjoyed your company and missed you when we’re apart…and you completely ignored me. So obviously being forthright and honest doesn’t work.”

    She gave a curt nod. “Fair enough. I didn’t respond because I really don’t know what I want yet…and this is a much bigger decision for me than it is for you. You’re not going to give up being Supreme Commander to fly around the galaxy as part of the Wild Karrde crew. No, it’s me that has to make all the changes. I have to give up my job and follow you around. Can’t you see that, for me, this is a far more difficult choice?”

    Luke poured himself a glass of green milk and took a long sip before answering. “Believe me…if I didn’t think all hell would break loose in the Empire…I would leave in a heartbeat to give us a chance.”

    She scoffed under her breath. “That is easy for you to say because you know the Empire will go to rack and ruin with you gone.” She waved him off. “Do we really have to make a decision about a relationship? Can’t you court me like a normal male and let things evolve naturally?”

    His brow rose as a broad smile crossed his face. “Are you saying you wouldn’t mind dating me?” He knew she could probably feel his happiness through the Force, but he didn’t try to hide it. “You wouldn’t mind me courting you?”

    She chuckled and shook her head in disbelief. “Gods Luke, you would think I agreed to marry you. Yes, I wouldn’t mind hanging out with you…on the occasions we are on the same planet or Star Destroyer.”

    “Well, we are currently on the same Star Destroyer. Do you want to go out tonight to the Officer’s Club?”

    She shrugged noncommittally. “I have to check with Karrde to see if he wants to stay another night…which he may because he found himself a lady friend onboard.”

    “Really?” Luke leaned back in his seat. “Who?”

    “Some pharmacist…Karrina I believe is her name.”

    “Lieutenant Shotts?”

    She looked at him in astonishment. With over thirty-five thousand crew members on board, she was surprised that he could recall the name of a particular service member. “Yes, I’m impressed that you know you crew members by name.”

    “I remember her because she made such a big deal out of my private requisition order for ten thousand units of male repress meds.” He gave Mara a wink and a grin. “I told her I had a big date.”

    She groaned. “You’ve talked to Karrde lately I see.”

    He chuckled as he put some eggs on his plate. “He contacted me last night about an hour before I went to bed. He wanted to know how things were going. We talked for a while.” He cut his eggs with the edge of his fork and took a bite, savoring the flavor of Gartro eggs yolk side up. “I’m really starting to like your employer. He’s a good man…for a kidnapper and extortionist.”

    “You just like him because he has a big mouth and is always encouraging me to date you.”

    “I did not know that…the dating part that is.” Luke’s smile widened. “That’s another reason to like the man.”

    “And he has a hundred thousand reasons to like you,” Mara pointed out.

    He raised one corner of his mouth. “As do you.” He looked down at his plate as he pushed his eggs around with a fork. “But you’re not the type of woman swayed by money and power.” He glanced up at her. “I like that in you. If I am going to win your heart it will have to be with my good looks and charming personality.”

    She laughed so hard she almost choked on her food. After a fierce coughing fit, she managed to regain her composure. “And don’t forget your rimworld, boyish naiveté. That’s your biggest selling point.”

    “And your caustic wit is yours,” he shot back.

    “Touché.” She said with a grin, liking this version of Luke much better than the somber individual he was fifteen minutes ago. “If Karrde is willing to stay another day, we can go out to the club tonight.”

    He gave her a devastating smile. “It’s a date then.”
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Luke is understandably despondent with what he had to do; Mara's prediction of the outcome - that it would lessen the tension and give Luke back a positive image - came true, which increases her credibility but he's still dejected. [face_thinking]

    Mara next embarks on a teasing exchange which lightens his mood, agreeing to a date didn't hurt! [face_mischief]
     
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  22. mayo_durron_666

    mayo_durron_666 Jedi Master star 2

    Registered:
    Nov 26, 2005
    It was interesting to have Obi-Wan show up and protest at how Luke told his story to the Imperials. [face_thinking] Kinda on Luke's side in that situation, totally see his frustration, anger and disappointment in his old master. Obi-Wan did push him to fight Darth Vader whilst not disclosing some very important information.. like, oh I don't know, that FACT that Vader was Luke's dad! [face_shame_on_you] Uncool!

    Mara appears to be getting more comfortable in Luke's quarters. [face_batting] She helped him out greatly with that propaganda and now she's even agreed to a date! :D Nice to see her slowly coming around to their attraction and bond.

    Can't wait for more!
     
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  23. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 1, 2004
    It breaks Luke's heart to hurt his old friends, but, as Mara Pointed out, it is something that needed to be done.
    When you watch the PT and then the OT you have to wonder what Obi-Wan was thinking. Did he just assume Luke would never find out? I can see not telling Luke about who his father is, but to actively encourage him to fight Vader is uncool. Of course, Yoda simply said, Luke's destiny was to confront Vader. Maybe the green Jedi Master had a plan that even Obi-Wan didn't know about. Maybe he foresaw Vader turning back to the light when he discovered her was a father. That is why he told Luke he must confront Vader. It was Luke that interpreted that meant 'Kill' Vader.

    Sorry that this update took so long. I have been sick for most of 2020. I am getting a lot of tests done and seeing specialists to find out what is going on. It is suspected I have a hiatal hernia. Sitting down is uncomfortable and it takes more effort to breath. And that is just one of a series of illnesses befalling me this year. [face_plain]. If you see any spelling errors please send me a PM.

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    Mara contacted Karrde and wasn’t surprised when he willingly agreed to spend another day onboard the Redeemer. The Club didn’t open until 1800 hours, so she had most of the day open to do whatever she wanted. She knew she should go back to the Wild Karrde and go over the expense reports, but for some unfathomable reason she was reluctant to leave. Instead, Mara opted to spend the rest of the day with the Jedi watching the holonet news networks and gauging the response from the public. She was also curious if the Rebel Alliance would somehow manage to slice into the system to air a response to Luke’s speech.

    They were currently sitting together on his couch watching a highly censored Imperial political news program. Mara turned to Luke. “Can we get any unlicensed channels…you know…ones that non-Imperials would watch?”

    He shook his head. “Not in my quarters. We’d have to go down to the Intelligence Division. They scrub the holonet and the DeepHolo…private holonet servers. That is how Leia got her message through. Somebody took it from the DeepHolo and sliced into a holonet relay transceiver and substituted for a regularly scheduled show. Our holonet technicians have since closed up any breaches in our security.”

    “That’s good.” She paused for a long moment. “What did your father say about the speech.”

    Luke smirked before giving his best impersonation of the Dark Lord, “‘I see you have put the Emperor’s Hand to good use. She always excelled in propaganda’”

    She humphed before looking at him suspiciously. “Is that all that he said?”

    He gave his best apathetic shrug. “He asked the normal stuff a father would…when am I going to come to visit…what have I been up to…and such.”

    She raised an eyebrow. “And such?”

    Luke closed his eyes and took a big breath before opening them and gazing into her brilliant green eyes. “He asked me how we were getting along.”

    She nodded. “And you said?”

    “I said we were getting along fine.”

    “Is that all?”

    He gave her a curious look. “Should I have told him something else?”

    She shook her head. “No, we get along fine. It’s just…it makes me nervous when a Sith Lord wants to know how his son is getting along with me. I don’t want things to devolve into something else.”

    Luke chuckled. “Don’t worry; my father likes you.”

    “He does not.”

    “No, really. After he saw the speech, he commented that my weaknesses are your strengths…and he thought we are a good fit.”

    She arched an eyebrow. “A good fit? Like I’m a socket interface to your scomp link?”

    Luke bit his lower lip trying not to laugh. “I really doubt my father was making that particular innuendo.” He twisted in his seat, so he was facing her fully. “I know this sounds strange, but I think he trusts you because you didn’t kill me when you had the chance.”

    “Then he trusts Karrde. I really wanted to kill you.” A chill went down her spine as she thought about how close she came to murdering Luke. She glanced over to him, thankful that she was unable to pull that trigger. “I still don’t know why I didn’t. It was all I thought about for years.”

    “Maybe it was the will of the Force,” Luke offered.

    She made a ‘Pfft’ sound. “You talk like the Force is sentient and not just an energy field we can tap into. Where did that idea come from?”

    Luke paused in thought. “My father has…interesting beliefs about the Force. He told me the Jedi and Sith both have prophecies…but how can you have a prophecy if things just happen randomly? He said prophecies are foreshadowing and that means something is already plotted out.”

    She tilted her head to better study his face. “Do you believe that? In fate?”

    He shrugged. “I don’t know enough about it to make an informed decision. I like to believe we have free will.”

    “I’d like to believe that also.” She looked at the chrono on the wall and stood. “It looks like the Princess wasn’t able to slice into the holonet to make a response. I should be getting back to the Wild Karrde and get some evening wear for the club…I assume it is semi-formal.”

    Luke smiled brightly. “Semi-formal is fine. Do you want to meet me back here in an hour?”

    “Sure.”

    .
    .
    .
    .

    Mara was right, Karrde was planning on going to the Officer’s Club with his new girlfriend. Chin and Aves decided go to the ‘less stuffy’ Senior Enlisted Club in hopes that other Imperial ladies might be attracted to civilian men.

    Mara rummaged through her closet for proper attire and decided on a forest-green, off the shoulder, figure-hugging, high slit, party dress.

    She exited her cabin and walked through the ship galley. Karrde had just taken a sip of his caf when she entered the room and nearly aspirated the warm fluid when he saw her. After coughing for a few seconds, he admonished his second-in-command. “Damn it, Mara, give me a warning before you decide to walk by me dressed like a Hapan courtesan.”

    She stopped and looked down at her clothing. “I’ll have you know this dress was created by Hector Renta the premier fashion designer on Naboo. A courtesan couldn’t afford it.”

    His brow rose. “Then how did you afford it? I don’t pay you that well.”

    She flashed a smile. “I used a bit of that reward money Skywalker gave us for stunning, abducting and drugging him.”

    Karrde looked her up and down appraisingly. “I see he’s going to get his money’s worth.”

    “You should talk.” She pointed to his clothing. “This is the first time I’ve seen you in black vest, tailcoat, and…” she reached up to the fabric around his neck. “Is that an ascot?”

    He playfully slapped her hand away. “No, it’s a silk puff tie.” He took a step back and held his hands out while turning full circle. “What do you think? Do you think Karrina will like it?”

    Mara tried to suppress a smirk but failed. “I can’t believe how smitten you are with this woman.”

    “Okay, I admit it, but tell me how I look.”

    She chuckled as she admired his tailored outfit, new haircut and well-groomed facial hair. “She’s not going to be able to keep her hands off you.”

    He burst out in a broad smile. “Great! That was the look I was going for.”

    She shook her head, amused by the change in her boss. “I’m going to meet Luke at his quarters and then swing by the club. See you there.”

    “Okay, see you soon.” Once Mara was out of hearing range Karrde muttered under his breath, “Maybe I’ll see you. I have a feeling when Luke sees you, he’ll won’t want to leave his quarters.”
    .
    .
    .
    .

    The air rushed out of Luke’s lungs when he opened the door of his billets to find Mara standing in the corridor and looking absolutely beautiful. It took him a full second before he remembered to breath. “Wow.”

    The fiery redhead smiled appreciatively as her gaze raked down Luke’s body. He decided not to wear his military uniform but instead opted for black trousers with a white shirt and dinner jacket. By the way she looked at him he obviously made the right choice.

    “Wow, yourself,” she returned his compliment.

    He stood in the doorway for a pregnant pause before he pulled himself out of his stupor. “I guess we should get to the club.” He offered her his arm and was pleased when she accepted. As they walked down the corridor arm in arm Luke couldn’t help but smile broadly. Mara Jade was easily the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on and today she was his date. This made being kidnapped and stunned worth it.

    As they walked to the Officer’s Club Luke could feel the eyes of passing stormtroopers follow their movements…or, he should say, follow Mara. One trooper actually walked into a wall after being distracted by the Mara’s gorgeous form.

    “Good thing he was wearing a helmet,” Mara whispered to Luke.

    “Yeah, we should hurry to the club before you give half of my crew concussions.”

    When they arrived at the Officer’s Club the band had already started playing to a packed room. Mara reached out with the Force and found Karrde sitting in the back of the club. She grabbed hold of Luke’s hand and pulled him in that direction. “Talon may have saved us seats,” she explained.

    When they made it to the back wall, she found Talon fawning over a pretty, dark-haired woman in civilian clothing. He pulled his gaze away from his date when he noticed Mara and Luke’s arrival. “There you are. Pull up a seat.” He gestured to his lady friend. “Mara, Luke, this is Karrina.”

    Talon’s date looked up to the newcomers and there was an immediate change in her demeanor. She swiftly stood at attention and greeted Skywalker. “Good evening, Sir.”

    Luke waved her off. “Sit down. I want to have a normal night without all the pomp and circumstance.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    Luke tried to carry on a casual conversation, but Lieutenant Shotts was obviously uncomfortable with second-in-command of the entire Empire sitting at her table. She sat ramrod straight in her seat and any questions from Luke she answered with a “Sir”. As in, ‘I am having a great time, Sir.’

    “Karrina, you don’t have to be so formal,” Mara tried to put the woman at ease. “Skywalker here puts his trousers on one leg at a time like everybody else.”

    Karrde smirked at Mara. “So, you have been around him when he puts on his pants.”

    Mara glared at Karrde. “You know it is just an expression.”

    “Mara,” Luke said as he stood holding out his hand to his date. “Why don’t we dance.” He turned to Karrde. “If the serving droid passes by order a bottle of Karvånte´ sparkling wine and have it put on my tab.”

    Karrde barked out a laugh. “Yeah, the five hundred credit bottle of sparkling wine is definitely going on your tab.”

    Mara smiled as she stood and followed Luke out to the dance floor. The music was fast with a strong beat that encouraged couples to jump up-and-down rhythmically while their arms undulated in front of their bodies interspersed with an occasional clap of the hands.

    Luke wasn’t familiar with this particular dance. Dancing was not a skill he had much time to hone when he lived on Tatooine or while working with the Rebellion. Not wanting to look like a fool, he faced his partner and tried to copy her movements. He was fairly certain he was failing miserably when he noticed Mara was actively trying to suppress a laugh. She stepped forward and wrapped her arms around his neck and slowed down her movement to a soft sway. “There is no rule saying you can’t slow dance to fast music.”

    Luke gently wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her closer to his body. “If there is such a rule, I will have it repealed by Imperial decree.”

    She leaned her head against his shoulder. “I think Lieutenant Shotts is a little overwhelmed about having her Supreme Commander at her table.”

    Luke turned his head enough to whisper in her ear. “I think she is more nervous about having a son of a Sith Lord in close proximity…and I don’t blame her. My father spent two decades crushing tracheas on Star Destroyers like this one.” He thought about it for a moment. “In fact, I think he did kill this ship’s Admiral four years ago, that is how Commodore Vanto got promoted to command.”

    “Ouch,” Mara whispered. She looked up when the music changed to a slow tune. “I think the band thinks you were giving them a hint.”

    “They are perceptive,” Luke whispered breathlessly as he clung to her, relishing her warmth and proximity. As they slowly swayed to the music the torture of wanting her was so great that Luke could hardly stand it. He knew he wasn’t alone in feeling this way; he could feel Mara’s attraction to him. She tried to hide it—shield herself within the Force—but she couldn’t fully conceal what she was feeling deep inside.

    He closed his eyes and allowed himself to daydream. In his mind’s eye he could see them together, in love, working side-by-side and building a family together. He imagined having a son of his own, or a daughter, or perhaps one of each…twins. They would have their mother’s hair and perhaps their father’s eyes. It was such a wonderful dream, but not one he was ready to share with Mara. Despite her obvious attraction to him, she had been very adamant that she didn’t desire a family…at least not at the moment.

    He was pulled out of his musings when he felt a shift of emotions from Mara. He opened his eyes and found her staring at him wide-eyed.

    “What was that?” She asked in a low, challenging whisper.

    Luke stopped dancing and looked around, completely confused as to what she was referring to. “What as what?”

    She dropped her hands from his shoulders and took a step back. “The images? Was it a vision of the future?”

    He looked at her blankly. “What images?”

    Her voice took on an impatient tone. “The vision of us as a family? Didn’t you see it?”

    His brow rose in shock. He knew they could communicate with each other, but he wasn’t trying to transmit images to her…she picked up his thoughts all on her own. “No, not a vision of the future…or at least I don’t think so. It was just wishful thinking on my part.” He swallowed the lump in his throat. “How did you see that?”

    She shook her head. “It just appeared in my head.” She took a deep calming breath before regarding him curiously. “Could it be the bond your father talked about?”

    “I don’t know.” They had stopped dancing and people were now regarding them curiously. “I don’t know,” He repeated softly as he took her hand in his and led her off the dance floor. “Let’s go back to my quarters and discuss this.”

    She didn’t argue but allowed him to lead her toward the exit. As they passed their table Karrde called out telling Luke his sparkling wine had arrived.

    “You drink it,” Luke said with a wave of his hand. Karrde grinned and gave Luke a ‘thumbs up’. A gesture indicating the older man assumed Luke and Mara were off to find a more private place to continue the party. Luke only wished that was true.

    “Oh, you do, do you?”

    “Yes, I do.” He let out a frustrated breath. “What is wrong with wishing I could spend some time with a woman I am interested in?”

    “What?” She turned to him stunned. “Luke, I didn’t say anything. You’re responding to something I thought.”

    “And your response was to something I didn’t verbalize.”

    Panic welled up in both of them. He risked grabbing her arm at the elbow and rushing her out of the Club. “I don’t know what is happening or why, but I think we shouldn’t be in a public area. If we can’t discern between thoughts and words…then that might be a problem.”

    He tried to make his mind blank as they hurried back to his quarters, but the situation had him unnerved. He started to wonder how this skilled assassin would murder him if she discovered what erotic daydreams that he’s been having in the last few months.

    “What daydreams?” Mara insisted.

    This time he was fairly sure she said the words out loud. “Kriff!” he muttered to himself. Trying to not think about something was nearly impossible. If somebody told him to not think about pink rancors the first thought that would pop into his head was a pink rancor. And now Mara was asking about his erotic daydreams.

    “Why am I now seeing thoughts of us making out on top of a pink rancor!” Mara practically hissed as they moved quickly down the corridor to his quarters.

    “Just stop asking me questions. Obviously, your mental shields are better than mine.”

    “That’s because I lived a life where a Sith Lord could pop in my head at any time. I needed to form strong mental shields if I wanted any privacy.”

    “I’m going to need some lessons from you,” Luke remarked.

    After an excruciating amount of time they made it back to his quarters. As he closed the door behind him and leaned against the wall before apologizing to Mara profusely. “I am so sorry. Whatever is happening, I’m not doing it.” He took in a shuttered breath. “And I am so sorry for any thoughts, pure or impure, I’ve had about you. This is…”

    She raised a hand stopping his soliloquy. “Skywalker I am not upset over your thoughts. You’re a man, I’d be surprised if you didn’t think of sex frequently. I am concerned over our inability to shield our thoughts from each other. Why is this happening?”

    “I’m as confused as you.” He pushed away from the wall and walked over to the kitchen and pulled bottles of ale out from the cooling unit and offered one to Mara. “I think we both need a drink.” She gave him a weary look but accepted his offer. “This has to be Force related. Maybe I should contact my father and ask him about it.”

    She grimaced at his suggestion as she sat on his couch. “What are you going to do, call your father up and ask him why you are projecting suggestive images of playing ‘hide the lightsaber’ with me?”

    He gave a grunt of disapproval. “I wouldn’t word it quite that inelegantly.” He moved to sit down next to her. “I will just ask him about the Force bond.”

    She took a sip of her drink and then looked up at the ceiling in thought. “I really don’t want to talk to your father. These images began when we started dancing.” She stood and took a step toward the door. “I’m going to see if distance weakens this bond.”

    Luke quickly stood and reached out, catching her hand in his. “Don’t go. We need to…” He stopped talking as his eyes went wide. There was an energy surge between them. One so intense that he could hear the crackling of its power. It only lasted a second, but in that second he saw a collage of images featuring Mara from her past. He envisioned her as a small child training to fight not long after she could walk. He saw images of Mara as she learned to dance, to speak multiple languages, to fly starships. He saw her relationship with Palpatine, her determination to serve her master faithfully, her fear of Darth Vader and jealousy that the Sith Lord was favored by the Emperor. He was privy to her grief over her Master’s death and her hatred of Luke Skywalker…a hatred that had changed over the last few months to one of grudging respect with a tinge of admiration and more than a little attraction.

    He pulled his hand away from Mara and both dropped to their knees. “I saw…” he hesitated, wondering how she would react to the news that he was now cognizant to her innermost private moments.

    “I saw it too,” she muttered in confusion. “Your life on Tatooine, seeing your family’s charred bodies, your relationship with the rebels.” She ran a hand over her face before gazing at Luke accusingly. “You’ve kissed Princess Leia. That doesn’t sound so ‘sisterly’ to me.”

    He stared at her dumbfounded before laughing at the absurdity of her comment. “We just experienced something so unique that we might be the only people in the galaxy to have this type of bonding and you’re jealous of Leia.”

    She rose to her feet. “I’m not jealous of that woman. I just caught you in a lie. ‘She’s like a sister to me,’” she said mockingly.

    “She is like a sister,” Luke chuckled darkly as he stood. “The sole intention to that kiss was to make Han jealous. She never felt anything but brotherly love for me.” He turned his gaze on her. “And I know what you’re doing. Desperately talking about everything but what we should be talking about—finding out what happened to us and why. We need to contact my father.”

    A fiery sigh spilled out of Mara and she turned away from the Jedi. “I suppose you’re right, but I’m not sure we’ll like the answer.”

    He knitted his brow. “What do you think he’s going to say?”

    She shrugged. “Maybe that there is such thing as fate and destiny…and we are predestined to be together.”

    He gazed at her sadly. “Would that be a bad thing?”

    He looked down at the floor. “No, but I don’t want the Force deciding these things for me.”

    Luke smiled weakly. “That’s understandable. Do you want to contact my father via transceiver, or should be take a shuttle to the Imperial Palace?”

    She thought about it. “Let’s take the shuttle.”
     
  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    SQUEE! SQUEE! Things have certainly deepened. Loved the slow dance and the sharing, if unknowingly, of images and memories.
     
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  25. Jâd Sphera

    Jâd Sphera Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2018
    Oh! This is so good! [face_dancing]
    I loved this whole chapter. How Luke and Mara are finding out that they are more linked in the Force than what they thought.
    And Mara has accepted to go see Vader! Oh, oh... Can't wait to see how that goes!
    Thank you for the update.
    I hope that you feel better soon. Take good care of yourself. [face_love]@};-
    :yoda:
     
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