Beyond - Legends High Hopes (OTP Challenge #17, Luke/Mara)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Bel505, Oct 4, 2020.

  1. Bel505

    Bel505 Jedi Master star 2

    Jul 4, 2006
    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.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2020
  2. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Oct 30, 1999
    I don't really want to use the word 'sweet' for this, but it almost fits with the way Luke is reminiscing about what happened. Bitter sweet is probably better but still doesn't encompass the gamut of emotions you managed to evoke. Nicely done.
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Intense introspection, very much in character for everyone. Leia striving to make the many worlds cohesive and solid without degrading into chaos; Luke the optimist; Mara the realist. I too @Bel505 wanted L/M to reap the benefits of a long life well-spent seeking worthy goals [face_thinking] They deserve the rest and the serenity. [face_love]

    "Our vows didn't end with death." I love this line. I know more than one RL couple for whom this is true. @};-
  4. Mira_Jade

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

    Jun 29, 2004
    Oh wow! This was such a beautiful vignette - powerful and haunting and intense and even sweet in its own way, it's too true! [face_love] I loved Luke's introspection from start to finish - from what the Jedi Order truly is, and how it reflected the image of its new pillars and Mara in particular, to how doing the right thing and fighting for a better tomorrow is never truly over. Even when you'd rather be finished and fighting for the things worth fighting for just be done. That line really cut me for Luke. Because he's Luke Skywalker - he's never going to stop fighting and hoping. That's not who he is. And that's one of the main reasons Mara loved him. It's a quality that their daughter is now going to carry on long after them. [face_love]

    This story is going to stay with me for a while. Really, excellent work! Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to reading more of your work. =D=
  5. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Feb 27, 2014
    Oh yes, definitely echoing what the others have said above—what a powerful look into Luke’s feelings and psyche and reminiscences here, thinking of what went right, what went wrong, what’s left, and of course his and Mara’s place in it all. I love the idea of her as a tempering force, in the blacksmithing sense—helping the Jedi Order become only stronger through adversity. And even while maintaining that starkly realistic outlook, she believed in Luke and loved him for his capacity for hope—and he remembers that even now to help him carry on. So she’s still with him even now, and not just in their daughter’s eyes! [face_love] Beautiful work on this, and thanks so much for being part of the challenge! =D=
    devilinthedetails and Bel505 like this.
  6. Bel505

    Bel505 Jedi Master star 2

    Jul 4, 2006
    Thanks everyone for your kind words. Sometimes inspiration strikes and a story just spills out. This is not the Star Wars universe as I'd wish it to be when Luke reaches this age; I really hope Luke and Leia aren't quite so melancholy. But Mara is Luke's anchor, she keeps his feet firmly on the ground and dealing with today, rather than losing himself in tomorrow, and she's going to do that whether she's alive or not. I'm not sure whether Luke is actually hearing Mara's voice or just imagining it here, actually - I suppose that's up to the reader to decide.

    If you want more of Luke and Mara as I envision them... the next few chapters of Interregnum are going to be all Luke, Mara, or Luke and Mara, all the time! *pushes readers towards the bigger, longer fic encouragingly*
  7. JadeSphera

    JadeSphera Jedi Knight star 1

    Dec 10, 2018
    This is so beautiful! [face_love] Hauntingly sad, yet solemnly hopeful. Life goes on.
    You got Luke so right!
    Kudos to you! =D=
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2020
    Findswoman and devilinthedetails like this.
  8. brodiew

    brodiew Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Oct 11, 2005
    What a lovely piece of writing, Bel505! I love how you started with the history of the Marechal ship and how it outlived the New Republic. I also loved the transition into the birth and foundation of the new Jedi Order. I was saddened by those whom passed, but loved Luke remembrance of Mara and the first half, then full completion of her statement to him.

    Well done. In fact I'm not even sure of Mara's death was at the hand of Caedus. Given that Luke has blonde haired daughter, this must be an AU. No mention of Han, Jacen, Jaina, or Anakin.

    My point is you drew me in a with your writing style and by the time it was over, I wanted more. I hope you'll give us more in some form or other. =D=
    Findswoman and devilinthedetails like this.
  9. Bel505

    Bel505 Jedi Master star 2

    Jul 4, 2006
    Well, this story is in large part inspired by the (much much) bigger piece I link in my signature. It's not the same universe at all (in fact I did a couple things in this story that I very much do not intend to do in that universe), but the writing style is the same, as are a lot of the themes. And the Mareschal-class might be inspired by my need for such a ship at some point in Interregnum... eventually...

    Also, though we don't see much of her here, Luke's daughter here is very much inspired by ginchy's Betrys Skywalker, from her Echoes of Always, found here:
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
  10. Anedon

    Anedon Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 11, 2016
    That is an intresting story idea, for one it is an AU but it still seems to follow several beats of the OTL timeline. Sad to see Luke loosing Mara here as well.
  11. Bel505

    Bel505 Jedi Master star 2

    Jul 4, 2006
    Ultimately it just worked better for this story for Luke to be mourning her. If I were to rewrite all of Legends canon which... give me fifty years and a salary and I probably would ... I'm not sure I could bring myself to kill either of them. And yeah, my fanfic tends to be me taking ideas from other sources and ... tweaking them a bit to make them work better in my opinion. That's what I'm doing in Interregnum, and it's what I did in my very first fanfic, which was a rewrite of Star Trek Voyager's series finale. (Oh, how I hated Endgame.)
  12. amidalachick

    amidalachick Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Aug 3, 2003
    I tend to avoid fics with angst and character death because real life hurts enough, but this was so good and I really liked it!

    I love how you use the ship in the beginning and ending of the story. I also love the little glimpses of history that you've given us here - Leia's mourning for her dreams and the New Republic, the rebuilding of the Jedi Order, and then the losses.

    Beautifully written. I really like these lines.

    And this one too.

    Luke hearing Mara's voice, and what she says, is so poignant. But they have their daughter, and their love is still there and always will be. [face_love]

    And I loved this! This is Luke. [face_love]

    Fantastic job with this.
  13. Bel505

    Bel505 Jedi Master star 2

    Jul 4, 2006
    Thank you! I tend to avoid fics with angst and character death myself! But I wrote this one, and re-wrote it... Originally it was Mara reassuring Luke, and they were mourning all that had gone wrong in the galaxy, but it just wasn't enough. Then the question was okay, so if I have to kill one of them, which one and ultimately I really wanted to end with Luke refusing to give up on hope, since that was always a defining characteristic of his.

    Also, they definitely have more than one kid, we just only see the daughter here. :)
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2020
  14. devilinthedetails

    devilinthedetails Force Ghost star 5

    Jun 19, 2019
    A powerful and poignant piece, speaking to love and loss. I feel speechless after reading it. Thank you for sharing!
  15. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Aug 9, 2002
    Well, I definitely didn't mean to take two months to come back to this, so I'm sorry for that!

    There's just a quiet sadness to this that I found incredibly moving. Luke’s reflections on the downfall of the New Republic, the death of Leia’s dreams, and the development of the Jedi Order were poignant and rich with a history that feels very deep, given that this is a one-shot. Whether or not you’ve given any thought to a continuation of this AU or of stories set earlier in its timeline, it’s clear that there’s a lot of potential under the surface. Which is a sign of a well-crafted AU, I’d say. :)

    I really love this, how you explore each Jedi’s strengths and gifts, and how they helped shaped the Order. I especially love the line about Tionne bringing dreams and fables. I can’t quite pin down why this speaks to me most, but it does. Maybe something to do with being storytellers ourselves? [face_thinking]

    This is such a great observation. I’m going to be totally honest, there’s a part of me that bristled – if only for a second or two – at the idea that these new Jedi weren’t formed in Luke’s image. But really, what else would I expect from Luke? The man loves his wife, and Mara truly embodies that quality of a reforged blade - perfectly in keeping with a Jedi Order built from both the broken remnants of the old Order and the promising new students who will drive it forward.

    This is the line that has kept me thinking about this fic from time to time over the last couple months. As I told Gabri – jokingly at first, but then also strangely serious – this right here is the reason Kylo Ren exists in the sequel trilogy and why Mara Jade does not. Because if Mara was around, she would have stomped the stupid right out of Ben Solo, and they would have had to come up with a different story. (Okay, there are other reasons, but I like imagining this to be the case because it amuses me. Also, Luke wouldn’t have been a hermit if Mara was around to kick him in the rear, so I suppose that’s another reason they couldn’t have Mara… but I shouldn’t get into that too much here. :p)

    Anyway! I love this line, and I love imagining Mara teaching students and using her experiences to help them get past their own pride and arrogance. And sure, not every person responds well to that type of teaching or personality… but we’ve got Luke for those kids, right?

    This is such a perfect encapsulation of Luke and Mara’s relationship right here.

    Another passage that has stuck with me these past months. Whether Luke is hearing Mara through the Force or just imagining these words in his head, it’s very powerful and sad, and yet there’s hope, too. The reminder that she’s not really gone, and he still has their daughter (and other children?) to look out for. He can’t just stop being Luke Skywalker, because there are people who still need him. That’s the man Mara loved. [face_love]

    This made me chuckle. :p

    A really well-done vignette! If you ever have the urge to write more in this AU, I will be there to read it! (And really, any AU where Luke and Mara have a daughter, because I have needs.)
  16. Bel505

    Bel505 Jedi Master star 2

    Jul 4, 2006
    Thank you so much!

    "High Hopes" was a temporary diversion from working on Interregnum, so a lot of the themes that are in that story also exist here. That said, they don't exist in the same chronology (there's at least one very subtle thing in the latter chapters of Interregnum that makes clear that they don't... probably no one will catch it but me...), but my debating in my head what I want for the future there: what becomes of the Jedi, what becomes of the Republic, in particular, helped give this little ditty a bit more depth than it might otherwise have had.

    (... I haven't decided yet how I want a lot of these things to ultimately turn out, I'm torn and will probably let the story tell me as it develops. My objective generally is I always want to create more room for stories, rather than contract room for stories.)

    Oh, you and I are very much on the same page here. This line is definitely partially-born of my own annoyed frustrations with the sequel trilogy. I've said in other places I have no interest in seeing Mara Jade used in the Disney-verse, because a universe where Luke Skywalker becomes a hopeless, wayward hermit is a universe where Mara Jade isn't.

    (Definitely other children! Well, at least child. If I start imagining other children in my head I probably won't be able to resist putting them in the future of Interregnum, and I need to keep my character count down...)

    The story ultimately is about Luke. He probably doesn't give himself enough credit (no doubt were Mara alive to hear him call her the model of the new Jedi, she would have scoffed and rolled her eyes at him): his hopefulness in the face of adversity, unexpected setback, and crushing loss. He gets back up, finds hope where it's offered, and does what he needs to, always the right way.

    It's odd, and this is so tremendously off-topic, but when I think of Luke I oddly think of George Washington. Washington wasn't a perfect person by any stretch, but he always knew that he was setting a standard for all of his successors. Luke is the first of the new Jedi, and that will make the standard he sets the model for emulation by all who come after him. Stepping outside of Luke's head, we see that Luke is hopeful and forgiving and resilient, all very important things if you're going to keep future Jedi from falling to the Dark Side.

    I'm not sure that with just the qualities brought by the other five Jedi described that you don't still have trouble with the Dark Side. But if you add in Luke's qualities? It becomes less of a concern.

    .... Okay yeah, maybe more than that one line of this story was about my frustrated outrage at the Disney-verse. But you're right, this isn't the place to get into it.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2021
  17. mayo_durron_666

    mayo_durron_666 Jedi Grand Master star 2

    Nov 26, 2005
    Enjoyed this! The bittersweet tone was brilliantly written. =D=
    Shame things didn't turn out how Luke (or other characters) had dreamed.
    I like the stubbornness to keep hoping though. :) Gotta keep hope.
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha and Bel505 like this.