Title: High Hopes Author(s): Bel505 (Admiral Byzantium) Timeframe: Fifty years after the Battle of Endor Characters: Luke Skywalker Genre: Angst Keywords: Luke/Mara Summary: An old Luke Skywalker mourns the deaths of some equally old dreams. Notes: I was looking through the forums and stumbled across OTP Challenge #17. I listened to a song I love, High Hopes by Pink Floyd, and decided to write a story about it. This is a Legends AU, in that it doesn't follow the "official" chronology past The Last Command. More notes at the end. High Hopes The New Republic may not have survived the fifty years since its founding, but its ships had. The Mareschal-class flight cruiser had been one of the first generation of post-Imperial ships, designed to be able to play every non-capital role in Republican fleet. Reconnaissance, escort, picket, courier, freighter; the Mareschal could do it all. Could still do it all, because forty years after the first of the line had rolled out of Kuat and into Republican service, they were mainstays in virtually every one of the galaxy's premiere fleets, including the New Alderaan Expeditionary Forces. Even Corellia used them, and the Corellians were notorious about disdaining anything they hadn't designed and built themselves. The Mareschal had held up better than Luke Skywalker had. His back hurt. He'd hurt it three weeks before, training one of the newest generation of Solusars. Kam and Tionne's grandkids were tough as nails and energetic and fast, and he hadn't been having his best day. Things had only gone downhill from there. Fifty years ago, the Emperor dead, the Empire on the run, it had all seemed so simple. He'd known, even then, it wouldn't be. Leia had turned her attention to the Republic, put her prodigious talents and energy to making it work. She, more than Mon Mothma, more than Garm Bel Iblis, more than Gial Ackbar, had been the engine of the Republic. When the Republic had finally spun out of control, shattering on the rocky shore of a thousand worlds nursing a thousand petty grievances, propelled by a hundred souls burdened by avarice and ambition, it had left her heartbroken. She'd thrown herself into New Alderaan and the Jedi with the same passion, and it was thanks to her that New Alderaan stood as it did today, the heart and home of the Jedi Order, fighting the good fight to rid the galaxy of injustice and suffering. But Leia had never recovered from the death of her true dream, never recovered from the implosion of childhood daydreams which had come tantalizingly close to success, but which had always been just out of her reach. Luke had known rebuilding the Jedi would be just as complicated as giving a rebirth to the Republic. He'd found the other pillars of the order, who stood with him and gave it structure and focus. From Kam, the Order had strength and memory, the only one of them to have been a true Padawan before the fall, the only one to remember what the Order had been before. From Corran, the Order had purpose, an unerring resistance to corruption and clear eye for justice. From Tionne, the Order had arts and grace, dreams and fable, a magic that had nothing to do with the Force. From Kyp, the Order had power and energy, a restless sword that never stopped lashing out—one that had to be guided, Luke thought with a smile, lest it cut something it shouldn't—but which had never once failed to be guided by just intent. Not after Carida. From Mara… From Mara, the Jedi had temper. Not anger, no, but the hardness of a reforged blade, elastic and stretchy, one that had been broken and remade stronger. The newsies, if asked, would say that the Jedi had been built in Luke's image, but Luke knew better. The Jedi had been built in Mara's image. So many of them were gone now. Kam had met another of his kind, a fellow surviving Padawan, but one who had never emerged from their brush with the Dark Side. A light extinguished, two potentials annihilating one another and leaving a black hole of sorrow that still clung to Tionne, and gave their children a dedicated, sorrowful purpose. Corran's death had been less violent, of sorts. A wasting disease had infected him on a mission; they still weren't sure what exactly it had been, but it had been quick and painful. Luke could still remember Corran gripping his hand weakly, drawing him close. Keep the faith, the Corellian had said. Tell Mirax I love her. He didn't want to think about Mara's death. Somehow, when he was younger, he'd had this idea that someday they'd be finished. That the Jedi would be reborn, and the threats would be passed, and he'd be able to settle down and hold Mara close, let her snuggle into the crook of his shoulder as he wrapped his arm around her waist. That the galaxy would be safe and secure, standing firm on the bedrock of justice and freedom. That every sunrise would bring love, and every sunset would bring rest. Mara had known better. When she'd finally let him draw her into the Jedi Order, when they'd given that Order form, he'd been the optimist. He'd always been the optimist. She'd been the realist. "Blast it, Farmboy," her voice thick with annoyance and affection, "don't you get it? The galaxy is never going to just roll over and do what you hope it will." "Well," he'd said, a teasing grin on his lips, "I hope you're wrong." She'd been right, of course. He'd been born of dreams; she'd been born of the hardest of concrete reality. One could not live in dreams forever. That concrete reality was here again, proved by the Mareschal that currently carried him off to deal with yet another threat. Another Force-strong being, untrained by the Jedi, exploring their powers on their own. Another Force-strong being tempted by the ease of the Dark, by the lure of easy solutions. Another Force-strong being who hadn't had Mara there to stomp on their foot, get in their face and point out when they were being stupid. Blast it, Farmboy, her voice echoed in his head. Don't you get it? The mental voice was thick with affection and love, and he leaned into the touch, sending back all the love he had to give. The galaxy is never going to roll over and do what you hope it will… but the moment you stop hoping, is the moment you're not my Farmboy. Get over yourself. The galaxy still needs you. He laughed, rubbing his eyes, feeling his hand come away moist. He nodded a few times to no one in particular, and stood up. Our vows didn't stop at death. The door slid open with a metal whisper and a slim, blonde-haired woman walked in, quickly equipping herself with the gear that festooned the equipment room. She glanced up at him, shot him a frown. "You okay, Dad?" Were you really going to put her in danger by being anything other than completely focused? She had Mara's eyes. Seriously now. Were you? "I'm okay," he said, standing. The galaxy may not have turned out the way he and Leia had hoped. But that didn't mean that Luke Skywalker was about to stop hoping. You haven't lost me, and I certainly don't ever intend to lose you. The Mareschal hummed with calm purpose. The ship was old. It wasn't doing the tasks it had been built for; the Republic it had been built to serve was dead. But it wasn't about to give up either. He knocked his knuckles against the bulkhead, and followed his daughter towards the hangar. Notes: I killed Mara for this. I stopped reading Legends when they did that. Feel free to be mad at me about it.