Beyond - Legends Never The Whys ~ 2014 Winner Best All Around For Beyond!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by madman007, Dec 23, 2013.

  1. madman007

    madman007 Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 22, 2007
    This was a plot bunny that came to me when I was rereading one of my other L/M stories. I threw a line in about Mara's first kill was at age 12. It dawned on me that there wasn't many stories with Mara at such a young age. How would it affect her? At first, I thought this could be a story of a possible mentor for Mara. Then it evolved into a possible event that Mara may or may not have remembered. See what you think.​
    One more thing: I envisioned an actress for the young Mara. Jacqueline Emerson. Hunger Games fans will remember her as Foxface.​
    Enjoy and review as you see fit!​
    Never The Whys
    Summary: On her first assassination mission, twelve-year-old Mara Jade experiences more than she realizes when the job does not end smoothly.

    Part 1
    The big-boned man was directly in her sights. She breathed evenly but she still felt nervous. This was live. No hologram targets this time. As soon as she pulled the trigger on the sniper rifle, she would end a life. From what she had read about Chief Admin, Bruenor Olig, he didn't deserve to live. The people in the Valphrin system merely followed his rule by his force. That force's strings were attached to the Empire. Apparently, Bruenor's other interests interfered with the Empire's plan.
    "Easy," whispered Commander Adan from behind her. "The wind is picking up from the northeast. Shift your sight line about five degrees to the right."
    She compensated as he instructed. She wanted to get this right. It was an important part of her training. She had excelled at every category that was presented to her. Now there was one last challenge. A live target. Success would mean impressing him. The one who had raised her and gave her a home in the Imperial Palace. He put her through extensive training among the elite of his soldiers and guards. She wanted to continue on in her honorable service to the Empire.
    She focused on her target. She found that spot at the base of the neck where the spinal cord begins. One perfect shot there and it would be lights out. She breathed in gently and let it out slowly.
    She fired.
    The sound from the sniper rifle was different from a blaster. It was thinner and had less reverberation making it quieter. But no less lethal. Her shot hit the desired area and Bruenor went down to the ground. Panic began to spread though the crowd with whom Bruenor was speaking. Screams and shouts were heard around the area. Guards scrambled to their Chief's aid in a futile attempt to save him.
    Twelve year old Mara Jade knew Bruenor was dead. A slight grin formed on her lips. The moment was glorious. Her first true test of commitment to the Empire.
    Commander Adan peeked through the window and said, "Nice shooting, girl."
    "Better than you could do."
    Adan chuckled. "You dare challenge a member of the 501st ?"
    "Former member."
    "Once a member of Vader's Fist, always a member. But you keep up that level of confidence. Just don't overdo it. Come on, let's get out of here. You know how to fold that up?"
    "Yes," she said with a tone of defiance. She started taking apart the rifle as Adan retrieved their equipment. She separated the two sections of the weapon to place them inside the case. The section with the scope was angled towards the open window.
    Adan looked over. "Mara! Close the scope!"
    "The reflection from the scope. They can see it down there. Close it now."
    She quickly placed the cover over the glass and Adan came over to the window. They saw a group of guards looking up in their direction. Then a few took off towards the building they were in.
    "Ah, sithspawn! They saw it. Come on, we have to get out of here. Follow me."
    Mara felt a twinge of embarrassment as she shoved the pieces of rifle in its case and began to follow the Commander down the hall. They came to another room with a window on the opposite side of the plaza with the crowd. It led onto a small veranda. They climbed over the veranda wall and onto a low roof of the next building. They slid down a drain pipe to land on the ground floor.
    "This way," Adan commanded. He ran down an alley as she kept up with him. The alley twisted left and right in various patterns until they came to an opening. There was a bridge that was built over a small river . Once they reached the start of the bridge, they could hear the footsteps of the guards behind them.
    Adan looked at the river and then to the case holding the sniper rifle. "Throw that in there."
    Adan threw the bag full of their equipment into the river making a big splash. "Throw it in!"
    Hesitantly, Mara hurled the case into the river. What a waste of a good weapon. And her first one to use in an actual mission. She was reminded of what Palpatine had said about sentimental value. It was foolish greed.
    Almost as if he could read her thoughts, Adan said, "It was either that or your life."
    The sounds of the guards were approaching fast. Adan grabbed Mara by her shoulders and said, "We have to separate."
    "No, we have to stay together."
    "If we're both caught, we lose. You are too important at this stage. I have to distract the guards. I still have my comlink. Remember your training to find a way to contact me. Now run!"
    She hesitated only for a few seconds before she could actually see the shadows of the guards coming around the corner of the alley. She turned and ran across the bridge. She reached around the corner of another alley on the other side of the river. She turned to peek around to catch a glimpse of the guards in their red and grey uniforms approaching the Commander. He turned to dive into the river as they fired their DL Blasters at him. Mara could no longer tell if their shots hit their target. Commander Adan disappeared.
    She was on her own for the first time in her life.
    She started running along the alleyway not knowing if the Commander was alive or not. She had to dodge several of Valphrin's people on the way. She came to a wide open area in the middle of several dwellings. Mara spotted a small clothesline attached to one apartment. Clothes were hanging in the air to dry. She remembered her training. Make use of any disguise. She went towards the line and grabbed a dark tunic from the line. She continued to run through the maze of apartments. Once she was sure that nobody was following her, she stopped to catch her breath. Under a flight of stairs that reached the upper floors of housing was a dark alcove. She hid underneath.
    Mara then began her disguise. She put on the tunic, which was a few sizes too big for her. She then tied her long red-gold hair into a tight bun. She took a fistful of fine dirt and smeared it on her tunic, face, and hair. Now she belonged. She was now a temporary citizen of Valphrin. Just like she was taught.
    Her lessons before were merely drills accompanied by soldiers or Palpatine himself. Now she had no one but herself. She had time now. Time to reflect. She forgot to cover the scope. It seemed like such a simple thing. That was why she was hiding and the Commander fled. He might have escaped. He may have been shot. Or worse. Captured. But he was an experienced soldier. A member of Vader's own elite regiment. He knew what had to be done.
    But did she know? In all tense and purposes, she was still a child. There was something underneath the memories of her training that she had never felt before. Fear. She wondered. Had the Commander ever experienced fear? He had never shown it. Did that mean it wasn't there?
    Stop, Mara Jade! There is no fear. Only hate. It was useless to be afraid. Non productive. It was an unnecessary emotion. And what had Palpatine always said about emotion? It was the enemy of precision. She needed to move on. She needed to find a way to contact the Commander somehow. That could take time. She needed to take shelter first. She couldn't stay in this dark alcove forever. She could find an abandoned dwelling. Or an inhabited one. She had skills that could defeat any attempt at her life. She started to leave the alcove when she saw him.
    The small boy was dark-haired with scruffy uncombed locks. Mara judged his age at around six or seven years. He stood there in the light staring at her hiding in the shadows. He kept silent with a look of curiosity. It was beginning to be frustrating for Mara to be stalked at.
    "What?" she snapped at him. "What do you want? Go away!"
    The boy asked, "Are you lost?"
    "No. I know exactly where I am."
    HIs face brightened in joy. "Are you playing Hide And Seek?"
    "Sure, boy. I'm playing Hide And Seek by myself. One, two, three, here I come! Oh, look, I found me. Game over. I win. Now go away!"
    "You sound sad. And scared."
    "I'm not scared."
    He announced, "My name is Enoban Dusat. Eno for short. What's your name?"
    "Retta," Mara said on the spot.
    "Hi, Retta. Do you want to come over my house and play?"
    "Now, why would you invite a total stranger into your house?"
    "You're not a stranger. I know you're name is Retta."
    Mara had to chuckle at the young boy's simplicity. "That may be true, but you don't know me."
    "Not yet. But if you stay there hiding then no one will know you. You'll be all alone. Where's your mommy and daddy?"
    "I have neither," she said.
    "Maybe that's why you're sad. You should come to my room. I have lots of toys that don't make me sad no more."
    "Where's your mommy and daddy?"
    "My daddy's at work. He'll be home soon. My mommy isn't here anymore." He grabbed her arm and started pulling her. "Come on, Retta, come on!"
    Seeing how she did need a safe haven for the time being, and that she wasn't going to silence the boy short of killing him, Mara got up and let him lead. He pulled her through the many dwellings in the back alleys. She now noticed that they all were made of the same sand colored permacrete formation. It would be hard to tell them apart. Though, she could retrace her route back to the bridge if she had to. Part of her training was memorizing directions. She was being dragged by the boy until he stopped in front of a first floor dwelling.
    "Here it is," Eno announced.
    The boy went to the front door's controls and entered a code. Mara took note of the sequence and embedded it in her memory. Even Palpatine marveled at her perfect graphic memory at such a young age. They entered the apartment and the boy took off down the hallway. Mara looked around at the basic setup. A kitchen that led into a small dining area. A lounge area with a small holoprojector. The boy's father wasn't well off, but he got by.
    Mara memorized the layout for possible escapes. She followed the boy's path in the hall. She passed by the refresher and came to the end of the hall. Before her was another door locked with a code. She tried the same code as the front door and the controls flashed red. Not the same. And she would place several credits on the fact that the boy didn't have this code. She turned to her right to the second of two bedrooms. Inside Eno was already playing with his toys. A fake DL Blaster was in his hands.
    "Blam! You're dead!," cried the boy.
    She feigned death. "Oh! Such a young age for me to go."
    "Dad got me this for my Life Day this year." He dropped the toy gun and picked up a small model of what looked like a Z-95 Headhunter. "He got me this, too." He moved the ship with his hands as if it were maneuvering in space.
    Mara grinned. She was still too young to pilot a ship, but Palpatine promised those lessons when she became of age. Soon she would be flying the real version of Eno's model.
    Eno was inside his imagination with the model when they heard the sound of the front door sliding open. A deep voice called out, "Eno! Are you here, son?"
    Eno dropped his ship and ran out of the room and into the hallway screaming, "Daddy!"
    Mara followed him to see the boy clinging to a man who looked like a grown clone of his son. The eyes contained more sadness, she noted.
    The man saw her and put down Eno. "I see we have a guest."
    "Yeah, this is Retta. I found her hiding under the stairs."
    Before she spoke, Mara decided to add one more ingredient to her disguise. She added to her accent a hint of Coruscanti. She doubted if Eno could detect it, but his father may. "He's right, sir. Your son found me under the stairs."
    "Why were you hiding?" the man asked.
    "I ran as soon as I heard the shot that killed Bruenor. After he...went down...I thought it was the best time to..." She trailed off on purpose.
    She looked at the man directly into his eyes. "To escape, sir. You see, I was...well, it's embarrassing to explain."
    The man lifted his head in realization. "You were one of Bruenor's servant girls. You would have been much more when you came of age."
    Mara nodded slowly. Palpatine always said that the best made up stories were the ones that your targets made up themselves. Just give them a few statements and they formed their own conclusions.
    "No wonder you were scared. I'll bet you had no clue why you were at Bruenor's rally today."
    Mara shrugged. "They just brought me along. Whatever Bruenor needed."
    Eno added, "Retta doesn't have a mommy or daddy."
    "I bet she doesn't. You're safe for now. You're welcome to stay here for the time being. The authorities are telling everyone to stay inside. They're still looking for the assassins."
    "Yes, the guards believe there was a team working together. They must have separated."
    "And they're on the loose?" Mara added a sense of panic in her voice.
    "Apparently, so. But don't fret, girl. I'm more than capable of defending myself and my son. The whole administration is in an uproar. The villagers, well, they're celebrating. They're not going to miss Brutal Bruenor."
    Mara chuckled. "I heard that's what they called him."
    "I'll bet you have a ton of stories."
    "Yes, sir."
    The man scoffed and said, "Where are my manners? I am Nom Dusat. How about we share some Brutal Bruenor stories over dinner?"
    Eno cheered as Mara-nay-Retta said, "Sounds like a plan."
    Nom then proceeded to make them a small dinner, which consisted of freeze dried ronto sticks that he heated in the nanowave. He opened a can of fruit sauce with it. Simple. It was a meal that was certainly less than what Mara was used to in the Imperial Palace. She ate it nonetheless because she was hungry. At least it was better than the dry rations that the Commander would have supplied.
    Nom started in on Bruenor. He listed all of his faults, including cheating, gambling, and females no matter how old. His political views were always selfish. Never did he think of the villagers in his own district. His plans all benefited him alone. Nom asked Mara if she knew that Bruenor adopted the same mandate of the Empire of no aliens in the administration. Mara said she knew of Bruenor's rule, but not of the Empire's. Of course, Mara knew. She knew everything about Bruenor when she read the report on the way to Valphrin. Retta, the servant, wouldn't know about the Empire.
    Eno burst out with, "Daddy, do the ronto monster!"
    "No, I don't think Retta wants to see that."
    "Yes she does. You want to see the ronto monster, don't you?"
    "I'm not sure I want to see any monster."
    Nom gave an embarrassing look. "It's silly."
    "No, it's funny," cried Eno. "Come on, dad."
    "All right." Nom took two ronto sticks and placed them inside his mouth on end at opposites sides. They stuck out like fangs. "Rawwwarrrrr! I am the ronto monster and I'm here to eat up little boys."
    Eno could not stop giggling. His laughter spread to Mara. It made her wonder when the last time she did laugh. It was a silly act. Pointless. No purpose. But it was fun. She suddenly stopped herself from grinning. Fun was not allowed in her training. Yet, upon watching the joy between father and son, it was the first time she had asked a simple question. Why was fun forbidden?
    Nom kept on. "Why, here's a tasty morsel. I'll start tickling him to death first." Nom started poking Eno gently around the sides of his stomach. Eno laughed harder as he squirmed in his chair.
    It was a strange sight for Mara to see. She had never seen or experienced contact that didn't involve combat of some type. She could tell that there was much affection between father and son. She just couldn't accept it. Affection led to emotion. Emotion equals failure.
    Nom finally let go of Eno and took out the two ronto sticks. "All right, that's enough. That's all I need is for you to get sick from laughter on a full stomach. Are you done eating?" Eno nodded. "Good. Then you can show Retta how a big boy clears the table."
    After Eno picked up and stacked each of their plates, he disappeared into the adjoining kitchen. Mara uttered, "Special kid."
    "Same as you were once, I suppose."
    Mara looked away. "I'm not so sure. I was a servant since I was very young. Even younger than Eno." She said it to sustain her disguise. But when she really thought about it, there was a certain truth inside of it. "I was an orphan ever since I can remember."
    Nom chuckled. "Me, too. But I can remember my parents. They died in an accident when I wasn't much older than Eno now. " There was a silence before he asked, "Do you know what the best thing about being an orphan is? You can learn to be yourself."
    Mara gulped. She changed the subject slightly. "Eno said his mother wasn't here anymore. Did she leave?"
    "In a way. She died giving birth to Enoban. He was her last gift to me."
    "I'm sorry. Eno must be really special to you."
    "Yes. I would do anything for that boy."
    As if on cue, Eno appeared from the kitchen with a device in hand. "Daddy, I think you have a call." He laid the device on the table in front of his father.
    A comlink. Mara's eyes brightened for a few seconds. All of her questions about emotions disappeared in an instant. All that mattered now was the mission. She could use the comlink to contact Commander Adan, wherever he was.
    Nom took the comlink and answered, "Yes, Dresh? You're kidding. It's on now? All right, I'll turn it on." He clicked off the device and got up to turn on the HoloNet. "There's some kind of announcement on the Valphrin network."
    The image on the holoprojector showed a man at a news desk. He was already speaking.
    "...keeping you safe and sound. Again, the Valphrin Guard has ascertained that the gunman who shot and killed Chief Admin Bruenor Olig this evening is on the loose. He is suspected to be armed and dangerous. The Guard ask that you keep within your homes to allow a more thorough search of the area. It is also known that the gunman had an accomplice. The only description we have from the authorities is that it is a female with long red hair. Her whereabouts are also unknown. Authorities advise to not let anyone of unknown origin inside of your homes. The Valphrin Guard assure us that these perpetrators of this heinous crime will be caught and answer for what they have done. And what they have done was take the life of a great man, leader, and cornerstone of the Valphrin community. We now bring you the biography of the now late Bruenor Olig. May he rest in peace."
    At that point, Nom switched off the holo. "Now, isn't that something. Of all the hidden interests and backstabbing that man has done to Valphrin over the years, they're now putting him on a pedestal." He turned to Mara. "Personally, I would like to meet that assassin and shake his hand."
    Mara froze for a moment. She wondered if she put enough dirt into her hair to mask its redness. It gave off more of a bronze color than her natural red. And the part about letting strangers in the homes. Does Nom know? No. He couldn't. Regardless, she had to get away and contact Adan. They had to escape before the guards caught either of them. The act of getting caught didn't scare her. She could find ways to get away. What scared her most was facing the wrath of him for her failure. She couldn't let that happen.
    No matter what the cost.
    Nom then said, "Well, you two hold down the base for a moment. I have to visit the 'fresher." Nom set the comlink down on the table and walked down the hall.
    The comlink. Now was her chance. But Eno was watching. No problem. "Hey, Eno, do you know about the comlink here?"
    "Not really. Daddy never lets me touch it."
    She picked it up from the table. "Did you know it can make music?"
    "Really?" Eno's interest definitely perked.
    "Well, not actual music. It can make a bunch of beeps that can sound like music." She switched the setting to encrypt. She started depressing the comm button randomly. A series of beeps emitted from the speaker. Eno giggled. She continued the beeps until she secretly tuned the frequency to the one she and Adan agreed on to use in emergencies. The beeps were now no longer random. Yet they still sounded like beeps to Eno. On another comlink somewhere in Valphrin, a message was being sent. She hoped it got to the Commander. He could have lost his comlink. It could have been damaged. She had to take the chance that neither had happened. She had just finished the message when Nom's voice boomed.
    "What are you doing?"
    Before she could reply, Eno cheered, "She's making music, daddy."
    Nom gently took the comlink out of Mara's hands and sat down at his chair. He said nothing.
    Mara smiled and said, "I was just showing him a different use for the comlink."
    Finally, Nom said, "I don't let him play with this. It's not a toy. Right, Eno?"
    The boy hesitated before he said, "I guess. But it was fun."
    "I'm sure it was. Speaking of fun, why don't you go play in your room for a while? Daddy wants to talk to Retta for a moment."
    "But I thought we all could play a game."
    "Maybe later. Go on, now."
    The boy nodded and he went back to his room.
    Mara could tell a difference in Nom since he came back from the refresher. It wasn't just that his tone of voice dropped an octave. There was a physical change as well. She tried to concentrate on what it was without calling attention to herself. Nom began his own interrogation instead.
    "What exactly did you do for Bruenor?"
    She shrugged. "Whatever he needed. Food, drink, clean laundry, and, of course, companionship. Also he needed someone to laugh at his stupid jokes."
    "Uh huh. Were you performing any of those duties at the rally today?"
    "Some, yes. Why?"
    "Well, it just occurred to me why a servant such as yourself would be present at a political rally. Bruenor's servants, especially the ones he favored, would have stayed at his palace."
    "Oh, so you doubt me now? Is this because of what they said about letting strangers in your home? Your son invited me in because he saw that I was scared and alone."
    "I'm sure you were."
    "So, what? You think I made all this up? You think it would be that easy?"
    "It would be for a professional."
    "Oh, so I'm one of the assassins now. Nom, I'm only twelve years old."
    "I thought of that. The only way it could be possible was if you had a partner. An accomplice. Isn't that who you just messaged on the comlink?"
    He knows, she thought. She cursed herself for not thinking ahead.
    Nom continued. "See, I was just wondering after the broadcast. When I came back and heard the comlink, I knew."
    "Heard it? There was only the sounds of beeps."
    "To an untrained ear, yes. In my youth I took classes on encryption techniques because it was a requirement in order to be hired by Gailek Systems."
    Mara found herself mutter, "Valphrin's largest security system."
    "That's right. It amazes me how a servant like you could possibly know that. Now, I didn't understand all of your message before. It's been too long for me to remember all of the hundreds of translations. But I recognized the groupings of codes. Enough to know it was a message. Was it to your partner in crime? Will he be coming here?"
    Mara felt once more the cringe of defeat that day. Too many mistakes. What were her options now? She knew them. Each one ended with Eno becoming an orphan. Or worse. She could no longer make any room for hesitations. Her training in the Empire came back to the forefront. She had to do what she must. Like Nom. It suddenly occurred to her why he was confronting her now, after he went to the refresher. If he had gone to the refresher. She mentally scanned him for that difference she knew that was there. Was this part of the Force that Palpatine said she possessed? She noticed something about the sleeve of his tunic. A bulge. He was holding his right arm at a certain level. Something was there. Something that wasn't there before.
    She must have stared at the spot on his arm for too long. Nom noticed.
    In a flicker of motion, Nom quickly brought up his arm. Out into his hand from under his sleeve came a mini blaster. He gripped it and intended to aim at Mara.
    Mara was quicker.
    She grabbed his wrist that held the blaster up so that he couldn't fire. In the same motion, she picked up a knife on the table with her other hand and brought up the blade to Nom's jugular.
    She leaned into him and whispered, "It would be wise for you to let go of the blaster."
    End of Part 1
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Gripping action =D= I like your OCs. Mara's slip-ups seem very plausible. [face_thinking] Definitely she won't be repeating them the next time I'm sure.


    Liked how Nom got her to thinking about affection and other warm emotions during dinner. :)
  3. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    Ditto to the easy slip-ups Mara made. They were easy to make and most likely never to be repeated.
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  4. kecen

    kecen Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 12, 2005
    I think I like reading about this young Mara more than Jedi Mara.
    Now I really want to read more.
  5. Luminous beings are we...

    Luminous beings are we... Jedi Knight star 1

    Sep 19, 2013
    First things first: it's good to see you writing again. It was over this past summer that I became familiar with your work via FF.n ( "Bang!" is a favorite piece ), though I don't remember scattering any words of praise there. Hopefully I can make some headway in amends now.

    This is the kind of story—the kind of writing—I like to keep around and fall into every once in a while. I'm not sitting alone as I'm reading it; I'm there. And I enjoyed being privy to some of your thought processes on this one, as you discussed it in the SJRS thread.

    Young Mara's training. Her trainer. Yes, it makes sense that he should be a member of the 501st, and not the Emperor himself. I can see her pride, and the seeds of her dark wit, being learned from a soldier.

    I like how you've written this: such a simple detail tripping her up, while she's congratulating herself on accomplishing the rest. ( Ain't that always the way in our own lives? ) Even the grown-up Mara had some trouble with the simpler details—I remember the incident on Rishi in Dark Force Rising, and the ejection seat directed through the ion beam, and how she'd "walked her head into the side of that rock" in Specter of the Past... Gosh, Zahn wrote her well: as an incredible woman, but human.

    And that's the way you write her.

    A favorite moment:

    [blockquote]There was a silence before he asked, "Do you know what the best thing about being an orphan is? You can learn to be yourself."
    Mara gulped. She changed the subject slightly.
    That brought me up short. "Ooh." Such a long way she'll have to go there.

    And, one writer to another, I really liked this:

    [blockquote]They entered the apartment and the boy took off down the hallway. Mara looked around at the basic setup. A kitchen that led into a small dining area. A lounge area with a small holoprojector. The boy's father wasn't well off, but he got by.[/blockquote]
    Concise and expressive. That place feels familiar. Very well done.

    But, of course it was.

    You said this story would be something Mara "may or may not" remember. Okay, mister, you've got me hooked. What's gonna happen next?
  6. windu4

    windu4 Jedi Master star 4

    May 15, 2008
    This is really awesome.
  7. madman007

    madman007 Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 22, 2007
    Nyota's Heart and Lady Misty - Thanks for the reply. I thought the slip up had to be something trivial yet vital if ignored. Nom getting into her emotions are a first for Mara at this age. Glad you like it. There will be more.

    kecen - Don't know about liking the young Mara more than the Jedi Mara. They're essentially the same person just the younger is the trial run of the older, as most of us are. Thanks for replying.

    Luminous beings are we - Thanks for the extensive review! And here I thought Bang was one of my weakest stories. I'm not sitting alone as I'm reading it; I'm there. Probably one of the best compliments a writer can receive. I purposely placed hints of the Mara we all know and love in the younger version.

    As far as the description of the room, I follow my writing mentor, Elmore Leonard (R.I.P). Keep the description simple, yet give enough information to ignite the imagination.
    That orphan line I actually stole from a movie. What can I say? Even Shakespeare stole from others. Glad I got you "hooked". That's sort of the point of writing.

    windu4 - Thanks for the reply!

    I am currently typing in the second part now. You will have the ending in a few days.
  8. madman007

    madman007 Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 22, 2007
    And here we are! The second part. Enjoy at your own free will!

    Never The Whys
    Part II

    Mara was motionless as she held the knife to Nom Dusat's neck. It wasn't very sharp, but at the angle she placed it against his jugular, one slice would create quite a mess. For a few moments, Mara thought Nom was going to defy her threat and not let go of his blaster. She then realized that he was simply frozen with fear. She tried to assure him. "I'm not going to hurt you. Unless you are still pointing that blaster at me in the next five seconds.
    Nom didn't need the seconds. He let his finger off the trigger and let the weapon hang loosely in his hand. She released the knife away from his neck and put it down on the table. She reached for the small blaster. It fit neatly inside her small hands. She pulled back the charging pin like a pro.
    She uttered, "A BlasTech hold out blaster. Civilian model. Aww, it's still on stun setting. You really weren't going to harm me, were you. Thanks."
    Nom's expression didn't change from fear, but he did finally speak. "Your accent is gone."
    "Yes, one of my many tricks."
    "So, it is true. You are the assassin's accomplice."
    "Close." She reached out her hand for him to shake and said, "Allow me to grant your wish."
    It took a moment, but Nom eventually understood. He whispered, "You. You killed Bruenor."
    "And you don't want to shake my hand now? Such a double standard." She retracted her hand.
    "Are you his apprentice or something? Are you learning the ways of murder?"
    "Murdering only the scum of the galaxy. One who you despised earlier. I'm learning the ways to make the galaxy a better place. Bruenor may have been a small piece against that end, but he was a piece anyway."
    "You are so young."
    "All the better to deceive with. Except you. You did figure me out. Bravo, Nom."
    "All of your stories and appearances are false."
    "Pretty much. I had to keep up the disguise. Some of it was true, though."
    "Which part? No, let me guess. Orphan? I believe that. Assassins usually are creatures of alienation. No connections to bother them."
    "I became myself in your words," said Mara.
    "Perhaps. A servant at a young age? Maybe you're more of a pawn."
    She took the back of her hand to slap Nom across his face. "Keep going and I may have to really hurt you."
    "Ah, the defense mechanism. I must have touched a nerve. The truth is I don't care what you do to me. Unlike you, I have a family who will take care of Eno and raise him as their own. He's already lived without a mother. I've taught him to live on his own." Nom leaned in to her. "I only ask that you spare his life."
    "You say that as if you have the choice."
    "It's you who has the choice." Nom paused. "Or do you?"
    "Yes, I do. I choose the mission."
    "Or did your employers choose it for you?"
    Mara thought back to a standard week ago. Palpatine had called for her stating that he had a significant project for her. It would involve her first live kill. It would also test her abilities and her actions. It was he who chose the mission. He who chose the target. She complied without thought. Was that her determination to the Empire? To what purpose did Palpatine intend for her?
    Stop it, Mara! Nom is trying to get out of knowing what you are. "I know what you're trying to do. You're trying to confuse me."
    "Maybe you're already confused."
    "I'm not confused! You know, it may not be a good idea to make me angry. I have killed once already."
    "Yes, but that was under orders. Can you commit murder under your own free will? Do you have the taste for killing after one time?"
    "Keep going and you'll have the answer to those questions."
    Nom chuckled. "Maybe there isn't an answer. Or maybe you're just asking the wrong question. Why?"
    Mara was flustered when she snapped, "There's a reason behind every mission I do."
    "Oh, I'm sure there is. I'm betting that you are never given the true reason. See, that's why I quit being a soldier. I was tired of destroying things without knowing the reason. And when I say destroying things, I don't mean just buildings and ships. When you kill or destroy under orders by those in power, a piece of your soul is destroyed in the process. I resigned after Eno was born. I work in construction now. The complete opposite of destroying."
    Mara sighed. "I should just shoot you to ease my boredom."
    "I was just giving you some free advice about family."
    "I don't want a family."
    "You're still young. Someday, you will. Someday you will have a child of your own. Only then will you know true sacrifice. The same one I'm willing to make."
    He was suddenly interrupted by a series of clicks coming from his comlink. Mara felt a twinge of relief. Nom stared at the device and uttered, "Your partner in crime awaits."
    Mara shut him out to listen to the clicks. The encrypted message. Adan was indeed alive hiding somewhere. She made out the coordinates of their rendezvous. And the time in which to meet. She glanced up at Nom's silver chrono on the wall. She didn't have much time. Certainly not enough time to have another philosophical discussion with Nom.
    "Did you get your message?" Nom asked.
    "Didn't you understand it?"
    "I told you, I don't remember sequences. It's all gibberish to me now."
    "Good. I have to go now."
    "I'll fix up some leftovers for you before you go. Then what?"
    She stood with his blaster pointed at him. "I think you know."
    Nom looked down at the floor. "Yes. I know how this is supposed to end. It doesn't have to. I suppose it's useless to tell you that both of us can be silent."
    "Both of know there's only one way to guarantee that. Move over to the wall." She waved the blaster.
    Nom got up but his demeanor changed drastically from before. He had tried to talk his way out. He failed. She could hear his blubbering. His voice cracked. "No. No, please, no. If you're going to shoot, shoot me. Please don't involve my son."
    "The ironic thing is that your son invited me himself."
    "Then don't let that be his undoing. Please, I beg you. You are not prepared for this."
    The thought suddenly crossed Mara's mind. For two standard weeks she had prepared for her distant meeting with Bruenor. The plan was precise as it should have been. It was successful because of that plan. What she was about to do wasn't a mission. It was spur of the moment. She told herself it was necessary because of her mistake. If she had closed the scope in the first place, she and the Commander would have been on the way back to Coruscant by now. Nom and his son would have been untouched. Now that plan wasn't possible. It was now her duty. She told Nom so.
    "In my training, Nom, I am prepared for the unexpected. One of my lessons is to not allow loose ends. You may stay silent about my presence here. But Eno? He is a child. They don't know how to keep secrets. Why, you ask? Because children ask questions." She paused before she commanded, "Call for him."
    Nom was in tears now. He shook his head violently and said, "No. I'm not going to help you."
    Mara raised an eyebrow. "You do realize the price for not doing as I say?"
    "I do."
    Mara considered. "You really are prepared to die for him. To give up your life just like that?"
    "Yes. I've lived my life. I've made my choices, good and bad. Enoban hasn't had that chance yet."
    Mara shook her head. "Pathetic. Look what love has gotten you. And for what? A life half lived."
    For the first time since Nom was at gunpoint, he sounded serious and replied, "You only live once. But if you live right, once is enough."
    Mara scoffed. "All right. Plan B." She took the hand blaster and hid it under the sleeve of her borrowed tunic. She repeated the motion that Nom displayed earlier. She jerked her arm up and caught the weapon in her hand. She was impressed at how well concealed it was and how quick it was for her to arm it. Perfect for any unsuspecting enemy. "Nice trick. I may borrow that one." She hid the blaster again and then reverted to her Coruscanti accent. "Eno! Come in here! We're going to play a game!"
    Eno came darting into the room faster than any stormtrooper she had seen. He shouted, "All right! What game are we playing?"
    "We're going to play the game you thought I was playing when you met me. Hide and Seek."
    "Oh, cool. Am I gonna hide?"
    "No. I am. Both of you will have to find me. Now turn around and face the wall. That's it. You too, Nom."
    Nom hesitated, looking at Mara in disbelief. His son tugged at his father's tunic and said, "Come on, daddy. We have to count." Nom turned around while whimpering again. HIs son noticed his father's tears and assured him. "Don't cry, daddy. I'm sure we can find her."
    Nom said nothing else. Mara told Eno, "That's right, Eno. Now close your eyes and when I say, start counting to fifty. Can you do that?"
    Eno nodded. "Sure can, Retta."
    Mara thought a moment and said, "Hey kid, Retta is actually my middle name. I used it for protection. Back home people call me Mara."
    "Mara? Cool name. Should I start counting now?"
    "Yes." Children were so accepting. Maybe too much. Eno started counting when Nom muttered something loud enough for Mara to hear.
    "You will regret this for the rest of your life."
    Mara replied in monotone, "I regret nothing."
    As Eno continued to count, Mara stepped back a few paces behind them. She flipped her arm up and caught the hold out blaster. She raised it to point at their backs. The time had come. She knew what she had to do. All for the protection of the Empire. No witnesses. She imagined herself being back on the upper floor with the sniper rifle that morning. She breathed in and slowly out.
    She fired.
    And fired again.
    The counting stopped.

    Emperor Palpatine's Throne room - a few standard days later
    She entered the massive room with two Palace guards flanking her. Their bright red uniforms reflected the dim blue lighting surrounding the area. All three marched in unison toward the opposite end of the room. They walked in what seemed like forever to Mara. They stopped completely at the foot of the dais where the Emperor sat. The guards then did an about face and marched out of the room. She was now alone with him.
    Despite his generosity in taking her in at such a young age and training her, Palpatine's presence was still intimidating. He sat motionless as she stood before him on the lower steps of the dais.
    "I read your report on your last mission." As always, there was no greeting or pleasantries. Right to business. "I must say I am pleased."
    Mara let out a sigh of relief, yet she was also confused. "My Lord, what of my mishandling of the weapon? If not for that, the mission would have gone more efficiently."
    Palpatine cracked a smile. "You will find, my child, that there will be many missions that will not be efficient. Did you reach your target?"
    "Yes, sir."
    "And the target was eliminated?"
    "Then you accomplished your mission. The means of completing a mission is not as important as succeeding to reach its goal."
    "Yes, my Lord."
    "Then let that be a lesson for you to not make the same mistakes in the future."
    "Thank you, sir. I...I thought you would be angry at me."
    Palpatine lunged forward in his chair and hissed. "Do not mistake my words for admiration, young Jade. Mark my words that if you continue to make such trivial mistakes during your next missions, my mood will be less than lenient. Do you understand?"
    Mara gulped. "Yes, my Lord. It will not happen again."
    "Good. Now, that is the past. I want to talk about something else in your report. An encounter with a father and son."
    Mara shrugged. "What is there to say? I had to take refuge after my disguise. The child actually approached me and the opportunity presented itself. I found my chance to contact Commander Adan and I messaged him. He replied with our rendezvous point. The father and son were expendable. A risk not worth letting alone. Just like I said in my report."
    "Ah, but what I want to talk about is not in your report."
    Mara looked confused. "I don't understand."
    "Then let me be direct. I sense that you learned more than just correcting your mistakes on this mission."
    "How do you mean?"
    "Do not underestimate me, young Jade. I have told you about your use of the Force. You have yet to discover it but you still use it whether you know it or not. I can sense something in you that resembles confusion. I must admit, you hide it well. That will eventually become a useful skill. Against your enemies. But not me. Do you have something that you are not telling me? It is not wise to hide things from me, child."
    Instead of masking her feelings, Mara revealed them. "You are correct, my Lord. I am confused. The father offered his own life in exchange for keeping his son alive. What I couldn't understand was the sacrifice he was willing to make."
    "I have several officers and stormtroopers who would also sacrifice their lives."
    "But that is for the Empire. The father would give his own life for another life."
    "Ah, you are speaking of love. Attachments, Mara. What have I said about them? The price for having them is too great. Lord Vader even knows that cost. And before you act, let me give you some advice first. I know how you are. Do not ever ask him about that cost."
    "I will not. I could see the cost. The father's love for his child got them both killed. And I agree. Attachments are useless. Too much compromise. They seemed so happy together. It was the first time I had experienced a family."
    "Is that what you desire?"
    "No, sir. I am and will always be loyal to the Empire."
    Palpatine started to cackle. "Perhaps you did learn more on this mission. You shall become a great asset."
    "Thank you, my Lord."
    "Now, the hour is late. You will continue your training tomorrow."
    "Yes, sir."
    "You are dismissed, young one."


    Alone in her quarters and inside her bed, Mara considered what she thought was her greatest skill. Deception. Not only could she mask her voice and appearance on a whim, but also her feelings. She was positive that Palpatine would discover them tonight. The Force was still a mystery to her. There were so few Force users in the galaxy now besides the Emperor and Lord Vader. She was glad that Palpatine could not discover the doubt in her mind that began with Nom Dusat's discussion with her.
    Nom Dusat had forced her to ask questions that she never thought to ask. Why was she chosen for training? Why was she the only one training? Why was she so important to Palpatine? What plans did he have for her in the future? The most intriguing question she asked herself was why did she feel the need to answer them all. Maybe they had no answers. Maybe the answers are lies. She knew some things were certain.
    She knew that she wanted to continue her training to serve the Empire. She knew that she would contribute to keep the galaxy a better place in the future. No matter what it took. That, she knew, was her greatest goal. She also knew that she may not get all of her questions answered from the Emperor. He also dealt in his own deception. She would always be grateful to him for taking her in at such a young age and helping her serve the Empire. That didn't mean that she trusted him. Especially with secrets she wanted hidden from him.
    Like the words of Nom Dusat.
    When you kill or destroy under orders by those in power, a piece of your soul is destroyed in the process.
    She would never let that happen to her. She was determined. And she felt that her determination was a power to be reckoned with. She would never have a family. Not just because her role in the Empire forbid having one. But because the thought of sacrificing herself for the sake of love was so foreign to her. What Nom was willing to do for his son was a weakness to her. It was that weakness that spread across the galaxy. It was her job to help the Empire squelch that weakness. No matter what.
    But Mara knew the reality. So had Nom and little Enoban. To rid the galaxy of that weakness was to rid it of love. That would be like getting rid of hate and fear. Emotions again. They danced on a double-edged blade. Balance on that blade was the key. Which way one faltered formed their destiny.
    Ever since Mara pulled the trigger on Nom and Eno, she couldn't shake the thought of what her true destiny was. Which way did she fall from the blade of emotions? She was afraid of the answer. She could never reveal it to Palpatine. She would keep it hidden deep within herself perhaps all of her life. It would be her secret.
    She sat up in her bed and switched on the lamp. She reached for her newly borrowed weapon. The hold out blaster she took from Nom. The one she used against him. She had wanted a keepsake from her first kill. She thought it would be the sniper. Plans didn't turn out that way. Her mistake prevented that. Instead, she kept another memento. One that taught her a great deal more about death. And mercy.
    She fumbled the weapon in her hand. She switched off the setting for stun. Knowing Nom Dusant, it was probably for the first time. That was when she decided.
    The whys didn't matter.

    Draconarius and Random Comments like this.
  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wow! =D= Very much in character. She is absolutely in Hand mode. [face_thinking] And doesn't truly question or break out of it until -- :D someone comes along who makes her ask why again. [face_love] @};-
  10. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    You hit lots of good points; things that Mara had never thought or considered before. And the dash of irony where Mara's future was concerned.

    I got the slight impression that she didn't kill Nom and Eno just stunned them; just the end led me to wonder that.
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  11. Luminous beings are we...

    Luminous beings are we... Jedi Knight star 1

    Sep 19, 2013
    Ah. The beginning of that mercy she held, even in her days as Hand, for the honorable and for the innocent.

    Very, very interesting.

    [blockquote]She knew what she had to do. All for the protection of the Empire. No witnesses. She imagined herself being back on the upper floor with the sniper rifle that morning. She breathed in and slowly out.
    She fired.
    And fired again.
    The counting stopped.
    The hush on that moment was pitch-perfect. As was Palpatine's voice in the following section.

    And again Mara shows that dark, pragmatic humor:

    [blockquote]"So, it is true. You are the assassin's accomplice."
    "Close." She reached out her hand for him to shake and said, "Allow me to grant your wish."
    It took a moment, but Nom eventually understood. He whispered, "You. You killed Bruenor."
    "And you don't want to shake my hand now? Such a double standard."
    Maybe that bit is a little grown-up for her then; maybe not, considering how Mara is being raised, and by whom. How does one write a twelve-year-old assassin?

    The Madman does it very well indeed. To borrow a word of praise from his subject: "Bravo!" This is a fic I'll be revisiting.
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  12. madman007

    madman007 Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 22, 2007
    Nyota's Heart - Thank you! I always try to get characterization down first when I'm writing Mara. I tried to put hints of her adult personality inside a 12 year old. And doesn't truly question or break out of it until someone comes along who makes her ask why again. The next one to make her question herself won't come along for another twenty years in the form a certain ex-moisture farmer from Tatooine!

    Lady Misty - I got the slight impression that she didn't kill Nom and Eno just stunned them; just the end led me to wonder that. And that was my goal to make you forget which setting the blaster was on from when she first took it. And old writers trick. "Mine is an evil laugh!" [face_mischief]

    Ah, Luminous - How does one write a twelve-year-old assassin? Welcome to my challenge of this fic. The small percentage of stories portraying Mara at this age seemed to lack a realistic tone. She was either written too adult or too "cutesy". I was hoping to find that balance to just find the edges of Mara's personality and give the hints of what is to become of her. Your point about Mara seeming too grown up is valid. Mara was devoid of her childhood. She never acted her age because her training started so young. I've known 12 year-olds with more maturity than some adults. This is how I perceived Mara at this age. She was grown into the world of darkness in the Empire, yet she kept a light on in her soul just enough for that farmer from Tatooine to let it shine on. This is why Mara and Vader are my two favorite characters. When you look at their lives closer, they mirror each other.

    Thanks to all who read and reviewed. Share among others!
    Lady_Misty and Nyota's Heart like this.
  13. jacen200015

    jacen200015 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jan 11, 2002
    Great writing, lots of emotions. :) It would be cool to read a fic where Nom and Emo meet Mara again after Mara is rid of the Emperor's last command.
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    That would. If I'm not mistaken, this drew a nomination, one at least. =D= =D= @};-
  15. madman007

    madman007 Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 22, 2007

    Funny you should say that. I had an epilogue planned where this does happen...sort of. It was one of those decisions where I felt it was better to end it on an ambiguous note where you're not sure what setting the blaster was on. Now that it has been officially requested, I may go back and add it.

    And yes, Nyota's Heart, Never The Whys has been nominated for Best All Around in Beyond the Saga. Thanks to all those who nominated. And to bring in my inner Sally Field..."You like me! You really like me!"
    Nyota's Heart likes this.
  16. Luminous beings are we...

    Luminous beings are we... Jedi Knight star 1

    Sep 19, 2013
    We really, really do.
  17. madman007

    madman007 Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 22, 2007
    And the winner is…

    Never the Whys by @madman007 !


    Thanks to all who voted and loved this little story o' mine!