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Beyond - Legends Saga - Legends Overplayed Hands | Drama, Mara-centric, pre-ANH to post-TTT | Short story

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Chyntuck, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb parallel of the outward and internal exchanges! =D= Brilliant characterizations of both. What I, as a fan and admirer of Mara's initiative and "sleuthing" did not feel she overreached anything, so I was taken aback by such a strong disapprobation for it. Uncovering a traitor period should be the major thing and something you're glad to do. Otherwise more leaks and more sabotage occurs.
     
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  2. whiskers

    whiskers Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 19, 2005
    Another good chapter! I especially loved the mental conversation between Palpatine and Mara and how out of control his anger was upon finding out about both Pelegard and Mara's overextention of her mandate. It was all very Palpatine.

    As for Isard... Well, she's being Isard, isn't she? And I certainly pity anyone that comes between her and the power that she craves, even if it is Mara.
     
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  3. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 25, 2010
    Isard is just... Isard.

    Great chapter. I enjoyed the parallel conversation between Mara and the Emperor in the Force and out loud.
     
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  4. Annia Piet

    Annia Piet Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Feb 7, 2015
    Fantastic chapter, really nice depiction of Mara's relationship with her master and the power he has over her. Presumably he's so annoyed because he *wants* the plans to leak to lure the Rebels into his trap? Plus he's a sadistic ******* who probably enjoys the opportunity to put his pets in their place...
     
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  5. Exeter

    Exeter Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 2, 2005

    Same place that Mara found the chutzpah to stealth-slink about the private quarters of high-ranking Navy officers—the wellspring of following orders from the emperor of the known galaxy. It's bound to give a bit of swagger to your step.

    And no matter how many scenes we saw in the prequels illustrating Palpatine's charisma and hobnobbing skills, it's still hard for me to picture him entertaining guests and functionaries in his court. Especially post-disfigurement. You've done wondrous work showing that Senator/Chancellor side coexisting perfectly (simultaneously, even) with his, well, dark side.

    I've always thought the relationship between Palpatine and Mara was super creepy, but I got downright chills reading the part where the two of them maintain their calm and courtly demeanor even as he's furiously scolding her.

    Still maintain that Mara could've destroyed the rebellion if her talents hadn't been so wasted. She's so damned loyal here, eliminating traitors not only because that's how she's interpreted her orders but also because treason personally pisses her off, and she exceeded her mandate only in the service of the Empire. It's too bad (for the Empire, and the Alliance too, considering the Emperor's plans for the DS II) that she's being punished for it.

    Not that it's any real surprise. A remote-controlled infilitration drone is useful and no particular threat to Palpatine, but a likeable cunning ninja who thinks for herself and acts upon those thoughts...well, who needs that?

    See, this one's on Palps. Whole thing could've been avoided if he'd just stressed that point up-front. That's why you always ask follow-up questions, Mara.

    With stuff like this, you start to realize how literal her title is. An Emperor's Hand is exactly what Palpatine wants—an extension of his will that carries out his instructions to the letter and does very little thinking of its own beyond those parameters.

    And, as always, we see the consequences of compartmentalizing too much information. If Mara had known...

    A classic case of the left Hand not knowing what the right Hand is doing. Just as He wants it.

    MARA: So what you're saying is, I Overplayed my Hand? (looks at camera and winks)

    Now there's a guy who can follow an order. Though it does make you think—at some point, over a much longer period of time, Palpatine did the same exact thing to Vader. He goes from being (from his perspective) a 50/50 co-owner in the Sith New Order, a full partner who's going to restore peace & justice to the galaxy, to a subservient asthmatic who repeatedly has to remind his son that he “must obey his master.”

    No wonder Mara was so messed up after Endor.

    CAUSE: Palpatine.
    CONSEQUENCE: Palpatine.

    You're doing a great job with this, Chyn. I'm getting an idea what the format of this story is going to look like, an inside look at some of the dysfunction and (overreach) maneuvering of the Empire through Mara's eyes, and the lessons she learns (for better or worse) along the way.

    I feel like a time jump isn't too far away.

    Also, I'd appreciate if you could tag me. I'm still getting used to the way things work now. On the old boards, you had to send a separate PM to each reader (one recipient only) to let them know about an update, which was as awful as it sounds. Lazy K (who is anything but lazy) came up with a tool to automate the process, but it broke when IGN upgraded their software. Later, Kidan developed an external utility to handle it, but another upgrade broke that. So the tag system is pretty great.

    Without it I feel like a kid who's a little too good at hide-and-seek, the other kids get bored trying to find him and go play baseball, and he ends up missing out on all the fun :p
     
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  6. JadeLotus

    JadeLotus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 27, 2005
    I'm waaaay behind on my fic reading, but you know I love this. Your Mara characterisation is wonderful and spot-on for this period of her life - where she is full of hubris and purpose. Up until now she's likely been aware of the Emperor's dark side (so to speak) but has probably never had it directed at her so forcefully, and sadly rather than pushing her away from Palpatine this will likely only make her cleave to him and her ideals even more,
     
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  7. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! I’m back to the one-post-per-week schedule now – my beta was away on holiday, so I had to reconstitute my little buffer of chapters after she came back, but now I’m all set and ready to go.

    But first, some replies.

    Nyota's Heart Thank you! Mara has been very well-trained, but she’s still a bit green in the job – in Allegiance, which takes place approx one year after this scene, she speaks of her “admittedly short career as the Emperor’s Hand”, so she’s not only loyal but also very keen to prove herself. As for if she overreached... well, let’s just say that there’s a difference between what should be done and what Palpatine wants done. Like Annia Piet said (thank you too for your very kind comments, by the way):
    Yeah, that pretty much sums it up ;)

    Briannakin Thanks! Writing the parallel conversations was a lot of fun. I may be something of a sadist here, but I’m enjoying writing how Palps is tormenting Mara to do the impossible, just to have more control over her.

    whiskers Thank you! I’ve written Palpatine elsewhere, but this was my first time writing Isard, and she’s really something. She’s only just beginning to suspect what Mara really is at this point, but as you said, she’s not going to make her life easy [face_understatement] :p

    Exeter Thank you for the very detailed reviews!
    [face_blush] I should probably be doing endnotes for these things, but I usually forget – or I’m too lazy, or I don’t have time, or (insert lousy pretext here). I’ll go back and fix that at some point.
    [face_laugh]

    About what Pelegard and Kalast are up to, as you guess that will be explained at some point later in this story. What I can say though is that the fact that the DSII project was launched before the Battle of Yavin is Legends-canon (see here), I just shifted it a teeny bit earlier.

    Completely agree that Mara was “criminally underused”. In fact, one reason I started writing this was to fill that gap and explain why (answer: [hl=black]Palpatine’s megalomania[/hl]
    Thanks! Writing this aspect of Palps has become over time one of my favourite hobbies (there’s a lot of that in Ἀνάγκη too). I think that has to do with the fact that I really like the character, but most importantly I thought Ian McDiarmid’s performance as Palps was simply stunning. He took this all-evil character and managed to make him something far more complex and creepy than just a baddie. And if you thought that the Mara-Palps relationship in this chapter was creepy, I have creepier and creepiest coming up – I hope it will work for you.
    You just stole half of my lines! But this is of course the general idea. Palpatine is walking a fine line in shaping Mara into what he wants her to be – she should carry out his will of course, but because she’s outside the system she should also be able to understand the purpose of what she’s doing and understand the parameters without requiring any extra explanations. And of course, this doesn’t happen overnight...
    Am I really that predictable? [face_laugh]
    Will do! :)
    Thank you! And thanks again for your help with this story. Re: the Emperor’s dark side, my interpretation of her at this point in her life is that she views it as something necessary, even unavoidable, to ensure order and stability, etc, etc. But this is the first time she gets to experience the unpleasantness of it first hand (hehe, see what I did there? :p) so she needs to find a way to handle it.

    Thanks again, everyone! Next chapter up straight away.
     
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  8. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Tags: Annia Piet Briannakin Exeter Gemma K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku madman007
    Please let me know if you would like to be added to or removed from the tag list.

    ------------------------

    Five

    One week after the Battle of Yavin

    The red blade sliced through the armour-clad forearm and a gloved hand waltzed across the room. The wires and servomotors emerging from the severed wrist were clearly visible in the lightsaber’s glow, even from the corner where Mara was cowering, but she knew that the wave of agony that swept the room did not come from the artificial nerve endings embedded in the cybernetic limb – if anything, Darth Vader was drawing on the pain to prevent himself from succumbing to the sense of helplessness that was about to overtake him. No, this was something deeper, something primal, a core of pure, inextinguishable rage and hatred. Despite her best efforts at putting up her mental barriers, Mara was overwhelmed with his emotions.

    The Dark Lord had lost control over his own mind, and she could glimpse his most painful memories as they flooded the Force. She felt his natural limbs being cleaved mercilessly from his body; she felt devouring flames burn every millimetre of his skin and smoulder his organs; and, with every tendril of thought that the Emperor sent in his direction, she felt his charred flesh being picked piece by piece from his body to be replaced with prosthetics and synthskin. In that moment, Mara understood that the cyborg she knew as Darth Vader was a product of his own failure – and that such failure was a fate worse than death.

    The Emperor climbed the steps to his throne to lay Vader’s lightsaber on the armrest, and Mara thought for a moment that an appropriate sanction had been dispensed. But then he raised a hand, almost casually. A faint flash of lightning illuminated the room. Smoke rose from the control box that the Dark Lord wore on his chest and Mara experienced his surge of panic as if it were her own. Her breathing became laboured as his life maintenance systems struggled to reroute functions to those circuits that weren’t damaged, but pride suddenly swelled where fear had been and the mental bond snapped. Vader lifted himself to one knee and raised his chin defiantly, as if daring their master to deal him the final blow.

    The Emperor and his apprentice stared at each other for a moment in a contest of wills, until Vader lowered his gaze. His lightsaber left the armrest and rolled down from the top of the dais. “You may go and have yourself... repaired, Lord Vader,” Palpatine said scornfully. He opened the doors with a wave of his hand. “Show yourself out.”

    The sound of the heavy orichalc slabs slamming shut hung heavy in the air after Darth Vader had limped out of the room. Another, more distant spike of anger and agony told Mara that the royal guards on duty in the antechamber were no more, and she wondered if the Dark Lord knew that she had been a witness to his punishment. Her days were numbered if he did.

    The Emperor seemed to be deep in meditation, but she could sense the fury and disdain rolling off him in waves and she willed herself to remain immobile and silent. The glimpse into Vader’s deranged mind had left her faint and shaky, but she expected her master to summon her any moment now, and she knew that he would scold her for failing to repel the mental onslaught. As if on cue, a noncommittal nudge prodded her forward. She emerged from behind the openwork screen where she had been hiding and stepped towards the dais. Her master let her drop to one knee, in the very same position Vader had adopted only minutes prior, before gesturing for her to come closer. She climbed the steps wearily and curled up at his feet.

    A wrinkled hand came to rest on her red-gold hair, but it was an invisible touch that soothed the turmoil of her thoughts, eliminating the Sith apprentice’s parasitic effect. A thread slowly formed, taking her from the throne room to a TIE Advanced starfighter spinning in space, to a duel with a white-bearded man and to a ship above a desert planet. The ship had the plans, she knew, and it was essential that they be found, but now it was too late, and the Death Star had been destroyed. The scene abruptly shifted to a city of furry anthropoids who were bowing respectfully before the Emperor. Bothans? she asked. Pelegard?

    The focus and serenity that her master had poured into her mind suddenly vanished as she saw lightning flash towards the canid-equine aliens. His fingers dug into her hair like claws to keep her in place and he let her feel every second of their agony as they fell dead one after the other. She finally found herself standing among a sea of corpses, and the silent voice in her head said, No, Kalast.

    She should have paid more heed to her master’s instructions when he ordered her to investigate the leaks. She should have caught Kalast first. She had failed.

    “Yes,” the Emperor said aloud as he removed his hand from her head. “You have failed.” His crooked finger came under her chin to lift her face up. “But you will not fail again.”

    “No, My Lord, I will not,” she said as firmly as she could. “I will henceforth execute your orders to the letter. No more, but no less – only what you tasked me to do, only what is necessary.”

    Her master smiled. “Good. Very good.” He sat back in his throne and gestured for her to return to the foot of the dais. She dropped to one knee and awaited his instructions.

    “Dance for me.”

    Her head jerked up – she was surprised at her own defiance. The Emperor’s expression of mock sympathy morphed into a scowl. “For now, you are merely a dancer, Mara Jade,” he spat. “You will dance for me.”

    -----------------------

    Note: Mission to Bothawui
     
  9. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 25, 2010
    Wow. Very interesting to see the "Vader lost his right arm for the failure at Yavin" incident from Mara's point of view.

    I get a sense of just how twisted Palpatine is at this point. He is so comfortable within his power that he can punish Vader by loping off his arm - almost like spanking a child, but to an extreme, tell Vader to go repair himself, and that he can make Mara, who, like Vader, is a valuable asset, dance for him like a slave girl. Excellent characterization.
     
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  10. Annia Piet

    Annia Piet Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Feb 7, 2015
    Wow! I love this scene! Really nice filling out of that off hand comment about Vader losing his hand after Yavin. And provides a really nice bit of context for that moment in The Last Command when Mara finds out Luke is Vaders son, and she realises that the last command is really just Palpatines petty revenge in this personal conflict between him and Vader. Very nicely done.
     
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  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I agree with Bri and Annia. :) The psychological domination is well portrayed here. The Emperor is so used to cowing his subordinates and they're acclimated to tame subservience for sheer survival if nothing else... [face_thinking] He likes pulling them around on a figurative "leash." What I found to admire so much about Mara in TTT and beyond was that she was never really broken and still had a strong inner self-core. (I do love the resilient female protagonists.) @};- ^:)^
     
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  12. JadeLotus

    JadeLotus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 27, 2005
    In many ways Mara is still such a child, curling up at her master's feet not realising that she is one of his favoured pets rather than trusted subordinates. But servitude is all she knows and she will keep going back no matter the abuse - as will Vader. It strikes me that they are such enemies when they should be allies, but of course, that's exactly how the Emperor wants it.

    And that demotion must sting!
     
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  13. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing! A few quick Tuesday morning replies...
    Thanks! I always found that there was something supremely creepy in the way Mara speaks about the scene in TLC, even if it's just one line. I never thought that Palps was one to share such information with anyone without having a further purpose, so I had to assume that she was there.
    The slave girl comparison is really what I was going for here, so I'm happy it came across that way :) My idea of Palpatine is that he thinks of everything and everyone in the Empire as "things" that are really his personal property, and he seeks to make those who serve him think of themselves in that way. (Or, put simply, he's just being a sheevhole!)
    I see what you did there [face_laugh]
    Thank you! As you guessed, this fic is leading to that scene (that was kinda obvious, wasn't it?) and to me this is another way in which Palps "overplays his hand". He's so full of himself that he doesn't realise his subordinates will understand at some point that they are being manipulated.
    Another great comparison -- basically Palps is a control freak, but he's also a subtle one in the sense that he doesn't rely only on brute force but also on manipulation. He doesn't only beat Vader to a pulp, to remind him who's boss, he also wants to remind him how diminished he is by being in the suit, and therefore that he'll be an apprentice forever. Similarly, he dominates Mara by showing her that she will only ever have a fraction of the power he has, and he essentially makes her believe that she can never be more than what she is.
    IIRC the phrase you used to describe Mara when we were working on this chapter was "emotionally stunted", and that's just about right. Palpatine has made her not to look any further when it comes to her relationship with him, and she thinks that being invited to sit at his side is a sign of praise -- until he shows her that what he gives, he can also take away. A mentally healthy person would have realised that the reason all this mess with Kalast took place was the fact that the Emperor failed to disclose important information to her, but she can't even see it that way -- she believes that the failure is hers, not his.
    Oh yes, it hurts. Now Mara feels that she has to start from scratch.

    Thanks again, everyone! Next chapter up straight away.
     
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  14. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

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    Jul 11, 2014
    Tags: Annia Piet Briannakin Exeter Gemma K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku madman007
    Please let me know if you would like to be added to or removed from the tag list.

    --------------------------------

    Six

    Six months after the Battle of Yavin

    Mara raised herself to her full height to take a better look at the field of flowers ahead of her and sighed. Nothing. Once again, as had been his habit since her Pelegard misstep, her master had sent her on a wild bantha chase.

    For the past six months, her work had been only peripherally related to the security of the Empire. For the first two of those six months, it hadn’t actually had anything to do with security at all – she was asked to visit every hall of the Galactic Museum and write a detailed analysis of the exhibits, she was taught to appreciate new styles of music, she was made to attend every possible theatre and opera performance on Imperial Centre. She’d spent hours with fashion designers to renew her wardrobe and jewellery collection, and she was ordered again and again to dance for the Emperor while he read reports on his datapad. The truth was that she had become more apt as a courtesan, she had developed a better taste in art and she had even grown to genuinely appreciate the finery and the talent surrounding her. But this did little to compensate for her frustration at being sidelined. Any of her fellow courtesans could collect information in social events and report it to Isard, and she wasn’t asked to collect information in the first place.

    The next four months were hardly less frustrating. The Emperor started assigning her missions once more around the time when she was reaching the limits of her patience with being confined to her cover role, but her targets were of minimal importance – failed businessmen, small-time smugglers, petty officials who had somehow run afoul of the Empire. Worse, they were often already dead, or had been arrested by local law enforcement, by the time she reached them. She had to return to her master empty-handed, and, even though he did not berate her, she experienced the humiliation of failure every time. She had achieved nothing in particular, she had nothing of value to report, and she was acting as a mere courier. She was better than that. Her calling was to serve her master in a higher capacity – she was the Emperor’s Hand.

    And now here she was on Aeithera, looking for Ob Khaddor, and after three days of going around in circles, she was beginning to suspect that he was not there at all. Aeithera was a planet of the Colonies that House Organa had settled millennia ago, and it was home to the largest number of Alderaanian refugees in the Galaxy. The world was as affluent and cultured as any place where Alderaanians had set foot. She had marvelled at the collections of the local museums, she had admired the planetary capital’s architecture, and the Shard Monument, which had been unveiled on the day of her arrival, was stunning in its transparent beauty – she spent hours in an elegant tapcafe on the outskirts of the Cita dav Ilo gardens in Krisoti, the planetary capital, to observe the rainbow of colours that the wall of crystal refracted at different times of the day. But Ob Khaddor was nowhere to be seen, and that hardly came as a surprise. The man would be foolish to hide among his compatriots, if nothing else because it was the first place where the Empire would go looking for him – that is, if he were still alive.

    Ob Khaddor’s reputation as a grass painter of exceptional talent had protected him from Imperial wrath in the early days of his career. The historical records Mara read described him as an staunch defender of the Republic, and he often edged dangerously close to the limit of acceptable outspokenness against the Empire in his discourse as well as his art. However, the Emperor, in one of his flights of fancy, allowed him to continue to exist, until Ob Khaddor finally crossed the line. He was commissioned to create a flower portrait of Palpatine for one of the Emperor’s official visits to Alderaan, and he carefully planted black lilies that bloomed at precisely the right time for the entire audience to witness the Emperor facing a mirror image of his decaying self. Palpatine ordered the entire grassplain to be burnt down, Bail Organa apologised on behalf of the Alderaanian people – not that he had fooled anyone, Mara thought, his planet was blasted into oblivion only months later – and Ob Khaddor went into hiding. With the destruction of Alderaan, it was widely assumed that he died together with the rest of the population, but for some reason only he knew, her master sent Mara to track him down now, on Aeithera, as if there were the remotest chance that she would find him there.

    Mara sighed again and resumed her trek along the neatly maintained path. This mission was a test, she thought, it could only be a test – her master was trying her to see if she could manage her frustration, if she could think ahead, if she could put her new knowledge about art to good use. Well, at least she would enjoy the landscape. The countryside on the outskirts of Krisoti was a lovely area of rolling hills and meadows, and she was breathing more fresh air today than she would in a year on Coruscant. There was a picnic area at the entrance of the next valley, and she sat on one of the benches to admire the view. Every slope and plane was covered in fragrant flowers. Despite the apparent wilderness, she could notice the telltale signs indicating that this meadow, like every other, was carefully maintained to convey the Alderaanian sense of grace and harmony. A single gardener was wandering in its middle, plucking out and planting flowers in what appeared to be a random pattern, but, knowing Alderaanians, she knew that it was anything but.

    The sun was low on the horizon when the gardener left, and as dusk settled the flowers curled up upon themselves to enclose the petals in the calyx for the night. Mara wondered at the transformation of the landscape before her – the colourful meadow was now a plain of blue-green, where the pale grey hue of the closed buds shone like pearls in the moonlight. And suddenly it dawned on her.

    She ran to the top of the hill to see the valley from above. At this time of the day, the flowers and grass formed a map of Alderaan engulfed in a sea of tears – a monument to the dead hidden in plain sight. Mara smiled. Ob Khaddor was there after all, and she had found him.

    -------------------------------------

    Note: Aeithera, Krisoti and the Cita dav Ilo are the creation of leiamoody as a home for the Shard Memorial. Her vignette Crystalline was a lifesaver for me, as it gave me the location I was looking for for this scene (plus, there’s a private joke in this chapter that only those who read that fic will understand).
     
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  15. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 25, 2010
    It doesn't surprise me that Palps would send Mara on so many missions she would fail. Humiliation, for someone as headstrong and prideful as Mara, would be the worst form of punishment and a real mind game.

    (also sheevhole is my new favourite insult :p )
     
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  16. Annia Piet

    Annia Piet Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Feb 7, 2015
    Love Ob Khaddor's hidden art! Also like the back story of his insult to Sheeve. I always imagine Alderaan as a world that was a constant thorn in his side, always teetering carefully on that line, and poor Leia just provided him and Tarkington with the final excuse to actually strike out at them. The idea of a deadly insult by an artist fits really well into that!

    And Sheevehole - yes, that's gonna stick! :D
     
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  17. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I simply adore intertwined fanons, with the appearance of Aeithera :cool: Bravo on describing expertly Mara's frustration and, again, Palpatine's machinations with activities Mara sees as pointless and missions that go nowhere until ... =D=

    The grass painting of the Emperor with black lilies - ha! Perfect! :p Lovely detailing of Alderaanian garden/meadow scapes and how wonderfully artistic and serene they are.
     
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  18. JadeLotus

    JadeLotus Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 27, 2005
    Mara's frustration is palpable here - while most of us would be quite happy to have a job which included some of the tasks she'd been assigned (museums! clothes! art!) - for Mara it is a severe demotion hammered home in the Emperor's own insidious way. She is being treated as a mere courtesan rather than just playing the part and her self-belief in her duty and purpose just can't allow that.

    And yet her study has paid off - the grass painting a neat trick and one she might not have gotten so quickly if not for her diligent research. I love the image of Palpatine's portrait decaying and revealing his true self - some of the most powerful and defiant rebellion is through art, although sadly Alderaan and Ob Khaddor paid for it in the end.
     
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  19. whiskers

    whiskers Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 19, 2005
    The frustrating and already failed missions followed by the ones in which a lowly intelligence officer could handle. I'm loving the abusive relationship that Palpatine has with his underlings because it's so very in character. The description of the meadow was very nice, but also filled this rebel-loving reader with dread.

    Please add me to the notification list, please.
     
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  20. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2005
    I'm sorry I got so far behind, it wasn't because I don't love this I completely do!

    I love how you show Mara in this, how she can be ruthless and strong-willed, to a fault. She overstepped and is being punished in a way that shows Palps knows exactly what it does to her. His characterization is also fantastic, how he does not tolerate failure from anyone and the consequences of doing so will be cruel, but very individualized.

    Fantastic job! I look forward to more!

    Would you mind adding me to your tag list? I make no promises that I'll be any faster about commenting, but I'll try! ;)
     
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  21. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2005
    Okay, I really love the way you portrayed my planet here. =D= I don't think even I imagined it as quite so expansive as you described it here (really, I was just trying to come up with a planet that would serve as home for a quartet of university students and one Jedi Master [face_dunno]). May I use your section here as influence for my future works (particularly your description of the Cita dav Ilo)? Of course credit will be given. :)

    I knew next to nothing about the concept of grass painting, except for whatever was described in Tatooine Ghost with that moss painting. (Did I mention I wasn't much of an EU/Legends reader?). So thanks for introducing this lost soul to that concept. It sounds lovely.

    As for Mara's dilemma, yes, it doesn't take much imagination to suppose she would be frustrated at being the Emperor's errand girl. The concept of "courtesan" doesn't even fit a woman with her skill level and ambition.
    But she will inevitably find her target, because that's what she always does.

    Once again, thank you for doing such an amazing job with my little world. ^:)^
     
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  22. yahiko

    yahiko Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Well. What to say?
    To be honest, I am not a big fan of Mara Jade, but this novel shall definitely change my mind.
    Excellently written, your descriptions litteraly transport me in her universe.
    Each line is a pleasure to read. I cannot say much more apart copy/paste all your text here which might not be a good idea ^_^
    I am going to follow Mara's mission on Aeithera with a lot of interest ;)
     
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  23. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Thank you all for reading and reviewing!

    First, a general reply: I last saw "sheevhole" in my correspondence with Jade_Lotus, but I think it already made an appearance in my other story thread, so I'm not entirely sure who I should credit for it. As a matter of fact, the reader comments in Ἀνάγκη are a festival of sheev-based insults such as "sheevy little sheevster", "the sheeviest sheever who ever sheeved a sheeve" and "His Sheeviness the Palpster". I need to compile them in a resource thread some day.
    Thanks! My idea of how Palps 'tamed' Mara was that he would know exactly which buttons to press in order to manipulate her into what he wants her to be, I'm glad it came across that way.
    Thank you! I completely agree with the way you imagine Alderaan. A very vague fic project that has been forming in my mind (but probably won't see the light for another year) includes that idea that they're the 'polite' rebels -- they're in the Emperor's face, but so courteously and subtly that there's not much he can do against them until he blows them up.
    Thanks! I just fell in love with Aeithera when I read leiamoody's vignette. There was something so perfectly Alderaanian about it in so few words that I changed the scene to make it happen there (I had originally placed it on Chandrila). And of course there was the bonus that Mara is so focused on Ob Khaddor that she fails to notice that the Shard Memorial is another act of resistance in plain sight.
    Thank you! My idea here is that Sheev's mind game serves a double, or even a triple, purpose -- he's punishing Mara of course, but he's also motivating her to serve him better, and at the same time he continues her training. She understands the first element, and she kind of senses the second, but she doesn't even notice the third.
    I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but the story with Palpatine's portrait is Legends-canon (borrowed from The Illustrated Star Wars Universe). I thought it was a brilliant idea when I read about it, one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it acts of resistance. But as you said, it came with a heavy price.
    Thank you! I'm discovering with this story that I really like writing Palps. And dread... well, let's just say that Ob Khaddor is in deep doodoo (but so is Mara -- ultimately).
    Thank you! First of all don't worry about falling behind, because it's the sort of thing that happens to me so often that I completely, totally empathise. Second, yes, Palps knows exactly what he's doing -- he's not a blunt Vader type who goes around Force-choking people left, right and centre, he's far more devious, and, as you said, more cruel. He just keeps everyone on a tight leash.
    Thank *you*!!! It goes without saying that you can keep or discard anything I do with Aeithera and I'm just grateful that you'd let me use it for this story -- it was just the perfect fit.

    There's actually very little about grass paintings in the EU. AFAIK the only two mentions are Palpatine's portrait and Killik Twilight, so I had to elaborate a little, but I really liked the concept of an ephemeral form of art for those pieces that are created in the open. I have this vague concept about a philosophy regarding life and death to go with that sort of art that I haven't elaborated on yet, but that could be a future fanon post...
    Thank you and welcome to this story! Funnily enough, I'm not a particularly big fan of Mara either -- don't get me wrong, I like her well enough, but I just dislike so many of the NJO/Legacy books that I had to get into fanfic to appreciate her better as a character. But then this plot bunny bit me hard. This was supposed to be a long one-shot, and somehow it took a life of its own because she's just such an interesting character to write.

    Thanks again, everyone! Next chapter coming up straight away.
     
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  24. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Tags: Annia Piet Briannakin Exeter Gemma K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku madman007 mavjade whiskers
    Please let me know if you would like to be added to or removed from the tag list.

    -----------------------------------------

    Seven

    Mara stayed up late that night reading up on Alderaanian grass paintings, and only went to sleep when she was confident that the gardener would be visiting the meadow at least every other day. The next morning, she slipped on one of her no-nonsense tunic and trousers outfits and a pair of sturdy walking shoes and paid a visit to the Tourism Guild Office. The employee was a trekker himself and supplied her enthusiastically with everything she needed, including a fold-up holomap that provided every detail of the Krisoti countryside. All she had to do was place her finger on the flexible surface, and the projection would zoom in to tell her the name of the locale, highlight the paths that led there and indicate the closest inhabited area in case of emergency.

    “Not that there are any real risks,” he concluded. “These are all easy treks. It’s just in case you feel unwell, and some of those paths are pretty isolated. Make sure you take plenty of water and a hat, the sun can be quite potent in this season.”

    The map indicated only one settlement in the vicinity of the meadow, and she hadn’t seen or heard a transport when Ob Khaddor had left – or rather, the man she assumed to be Ob Khaddor. She set out along a different route from the one she had followed the day before. It took her around the picnic hill to a cluster of little houses some two hundred meters away from a quiet provincial road. As she came closer, she saw that the hamlet consisted of three cottages built in pure Art Aeon style. The stone façades were sculpted in a vine pattern and covered in ceramic and glass tiles with floral motives, melding with the landscape so thoroughly that they were nearly unnoticeable to the untrained eye.

    The wrought durasteel shutters were lowered on the windows of two of the houses, implying that their owners were away – holiday homes, she thought, and she shifted her attention to the third cottage. The little garden was carefully manicured to tame the wild flowers growing over the fence, the windows were wide open and the door was ajar. This gave Mara pause. Surely Ob Khaddor would be aware of his status as a wanted man and stay on his guard? Her eyes fell on the nameplate by the gate. Hodad Bork – an anagram. The man either thought that Imperial investigators were exceedingly dim-witted, or he had no sense of danger. Her mind wandered briefly to the little artist who had chatted up Darth Vader to avoid Zaarin. Perhaps being oblivious to threats came with the territory.

    She extracted her lightsaber from her satchel, pushed the door carefully and tiptoed into the cottage, reaching out with the Force to see if anyone was there. What struck her was the abundance of life. The Force signature of plants was weak, but what she could sense indicated that every single room was decorated with some form of greenery. She oriented herself towards the area that emitted the brightest glow and followed the thread of light to a small greenhouse adjacent to the back yard. A man was hunched over a table covered in seed trays. Mara could see his reflection in the sun-filtering transparisteel, and she recognised the greying hair, the angular chin and the sparkling black eyes of Ob Khaddor.

    The magenta blade came to life with its characteristic snap-hiss. Ob Khaddor spun around to face her, but he seemed utterly unperturbed. The only emotion Mara could sense emanating from him was curiosity as he examined her carefully. He finally gave her a wistful smile.

    “I have been expecting this moment,” he said. “Palpatine was always the vengeful type. But I never thought that his assassin would be so young and full of life.”

    Mara’s expression hardened. “I take it that you are disappointed.”

    “Not at all. I merely feel sorrow for you. He has been cultivating you like I cultivate these saplings.” She felt a wisp of his longing as he gazed at his plants, but he returned his attention to her and gestured serenely towards her weapon. “Shall we get this over with?”

    She let her eyes wander around the greenhouse for a moment and deactivated her lightsaber, eliciting a puzzled look from the artist. A smiled played across her lips, and suddenly the blue flash of a stun bolt sprang from her hand.

    “This is not over yet,” she whispered to his limp form as she re-holstered the holdout blaster hidden in her sleeve. “This is only the beginning.”

    * * *​

    Mara had barely finished loading the crates on her ship when the mental prod came. She made her way to the cockpit and opened herself to the Force. Were you successful, child?

    She shivered slightly with an odd mix of anticipation and apprehension. Yes, My Lord. I believe I was.

    Did you kill him, Mara Jade? the silent voice snapped. She could feel his obvious disapproval at her cockiness.

    No, My Lord, I did not, she replied firmly. It would not have been an appropriate punishment for one who does not fear death.

    The Emperor’s displeasure took a faint tint of curiosity. And what punishment did you choose?

    Mara took a deep breath. She expected that her master would commend her for her initiative, but at the same time she braced herself for a possible reprimand. I will abandon him on a desert planet with his works, his seedlings and a single moisture vaporator. He will spend the remainder of his days watching his art wither and die.

    There was a pause in the soundless conversation, and suddenly warmth flooded her mind. You did well, my child. You did very well. I will be waiting for you when your mission is completed. I have a new assignment for you, one I believe you will greatly enjoy.

    The mental contact faded, but the sense of praise and endearment lingered on. Mara smiled, her first real smile in several months. She requested clearance to take off and activated the nav computer to look up a suitable destination.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Note: Art Aeon, a GFFA version of Art Nouveau, is also a creation of leiamoody. She hasn’t written up a fanon post about it yet, but she kindly shared the idea with me on PM. Thank you!
     
  25. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    =D= Hmm Now Mara is becoming more inventive in the "punishments" she metes out. Customized to fit the psychological facets of the target. [face_thinking] And woot, I must applaud leiamoody for her wonderful contributions. No wonder her fics are so marvy packed with details that make worlds come to life. :cool:
     
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