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  1. In Memory of LAJ_FETT: Please share your remembrances and condolences HERE

Saga - Legends Reclamation (AU, Rebellion era, L/M, ensemble cast)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Gabri_Jade, Sep 1, 2022.

  1. Theodore Hawkwood

    Theodore Hawkwood Jedi Master star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 17, 2014
    Greetings,

    It's Theodore Hawkwood from the December Review Race yet again. I want to continue reading and reviewing your present take on how the Star Wars universe looks through the @Gabri_Jade lens.

    I like the imagery here. You do a great job of 'painting the picture' of Yavin IV without getting into George RR Martin territory for description of items and settings.

    I like the description of Winter's body language for a routine action here.

    I'm seeing 'A New Hope' playing out differently here with this sentence. Looks like Leia is gonna be delivering her plea in person versus via the droid. This should be interesting, so way to bait the proverbial hook for me.

    I'm also liking the Rogue One vibes I'm getting here. I'm finding myself curious how you'll tackle this particular storyline especially given the Death Star destroys Alderaan with Luke aboard at the time.

    With Leia dealing with smugglers on Kattada together with Winter, I'm now wondering if Han Solo's first appearance is going to be here versus Mos Eisley. In any case this alternate universe is getting more and more fascinating by the scrolldown.

    I like this particular sentence here, setting a good bit of normalcy before things go to all Hells in subsequent paragraphs.

    I like the discussion between Luke and Hobbie and their discussion about gambling (and Hobbie's loss of money to a point that he can't afford a drink) and similar matters. I also chuckled when Hobbie asked Luke for money for a drink and teased him about the girlfriend piece. Then things get serious when they speculate about the Death Star now in orbit around Alderaan.

    I do appreciate Luke using one of Leia's catchphrases in this instance.

    Oh no. This is not good, and I'm seeing the clock ticking before Vader discovers Luke.

    The next scene sets this up nicely.

    Clearly, Vader's detected, Luke. I get the sense of a cat-and-mouse game about to play out shortly here. This is a pretty good set up for the next chapter and I'm wondering things will go from here.

    I do see the connection to Revenge of the Sith here, especially knowing Vader had connection to these events.

    Now I'm wondering how the Mara/Vader or Vader/Luke confrontation is going to look here.

    Great Work,

    Theodore Hawkwood
     
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  2. Theodore Hawkwood

    Theodore Hawkwood Jedi Master star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 17, 2014
    If I were to summarize my reaction to this chapter in one word it would be this: WHOA!

    A lot is going on in this chapter, and that's not to be unexpected given the astropolitical shockwave that destroying Alderaan presents here. I really appreciate how you show the reaction of the Imperials aboard Death Star after it destroys Alderaan. I feel the first scene does a great job in showing what's going on with the 'little people' of the Imperial Navy here. The respectful attitudes of the pilots of Luke's Squadron to Tycho's devastating loss is treated well here. I also like how you show Tycho's going through the five stages of acceptance in just a couple of sentences here.

    Now this next sentence is also quite notable to me because I enjoy how you show both the friendship between Hobbie, Luke, and Tycho and how Luke and Hobbie are on the same wavelength about what to do about their grieving buddy:

    I really like the characterization of Mara in Luke's eyes in this sentence. I'm looking forward to what comes next here:

    I do appreciate the 'same but different' approach you take to Luke's joining the Rebellion in this fanfic. It comes about through the destruction of Alderaan clearly, but I also appreciate how his relationship with the Empire and military service is complicated. He's proud of his status as a TIE pilot, and yet he respects his Rebel opponents. I appreciate the nuances you take here.

    Uh oh, that's really all I have to say about this particular sentence. The cat and mouse foreshadowing is really well done here.

    Here I see one 'Uh Oh' and raise it to an 'Oh Fierfek'. I really get a sense of time being VERY limited for Luke to make good his escape, because I don't see things going too well if he faces Vader right now, even with Mara's help.

    I'm seeing the foreshadowing of a defection from the Empire here of three TIE Pilots and one of the Emperor's Hands. This should be very interesting reading material in the immediate future.

    Way to really up the ante here. I'm wondering if Mara is gonna get outta the Imperial Palace alive and in one piece after this particular line. Seems like both Luke and Mara have some very powerful Darksiders probing in their affairs in the future.

    Great cliffhanger here. I can hardly wait to see just what you come up with in Chapter Eight.

    Great Work,

    Theodore Hawkwood
     
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  3. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    And here I am with feedback for Chapters 16 through 18. :cool: (I'm close to being caught up, finally! :D)


    [​IMG]

    Am I already reduced to using gifs in place of proper feedback? Why yes, yes I am. Because they are just so adorable and happy and in love, and they deserve every moment to be adorable and happy and in love.

    . . . as well as a proper honeymoon, too. With a beach. [face_love]

    I could *hear* how softly this last line may have been uttered - like she's repeating it to herself and marveling over the fact that it's real, that this is her reality. That and the komorebi made for a beautiful moment in a truly beautiful scene. [face_love]

    ADORABLE AND HAPPY AND IN LOVE

    Why yes, I laughed out loud. [face_mischief]

    I KNOW I CAN'T AS A READER

    [​IMG]

    Okay, semi-coherent feedback now: your Vader POV is excellent, and it just gets better with each subsequent scene he features in. Pair that together with a spot-on Palpatine characterization, and I am just all sorts of fascinated. Because there's something so . . . well, petulant is the wrong word, but the vibe of an entitled child who has lost a favorite toy nonetheless applies to Palpatine, but to a lethal extreme. Because for all that Palpatine is a master manipulator - he's definitely the ultimate puppet-master who gets his kicks out of controlling others - I can't help but think of the utter glee that he faced down the Jedi with in RotS, or his equally manic battle with Maul in TCW, and his outright laughing and reveling when Luke confronted his own darkness in RotJ. He works best in the shadows, but when he wants an audience, oh boy does he glory in having an audience.

    . . . which really means that it's a no good really bad day(s) to be Darth Vader. :p

    [​IMG]

    [face_mischief] [face_whistling]

    (And now Vader's little side glance just means that he's thinking like father like son. :p)

    Welp, that was a powerful character insight. [face_plain]

    A+ adjective with "sulfurous" eyes. :cool:

    What I loved best about this sentence is that if you put it in a dark room, you can't tell if it's Anakin Skywalker grumbling or Darth Vader, it's so perfectly IC for both of them, no matter what side of the good or evil spectrum he currently falls on. [face_mischief]

    Dang, Sheev, going for the emotional jugular. [face_hypnotized]

    But this had such a fantastic OT flavor to it - like, I could feel the scene where Vader's bowing before Palpatine and hating every moment of his subservience while he spins his yarn to go after Luke for his own purposes. The tension and the resentment and the oh-so-Sithy pattern of self-cannibalization and betrayal was juuuuust right. :vader: :emperor:

    This was very IC for Leia - and Mon, too, who's used to spies as much as she is to politics and rebellion at this point - and I completely understand her reservations. [face_plain]

    "Oh." =((

    EVERY WORD OF THIS SCENE WAS SOOO GOOD

    I kept on picking out quotes before finally deciding that this one was the best to flail over - but know that I could have quoted every other line and indeed considered doing so. ;) You really communicated the sense that Mara is moving softly and carefully - holding up her hands to show that she's not a threat, so to speak - both around Leia and the Rebel Alliance as a whole. She's behaving so gingerly, and of course she's uncomfortable and uncertain and able to feel Leia's discomfort and uncertainty, which only adds to her own - and then, to spook her anyway . . .

    I appreciate how Mara dealt with Leia's kneejerk reaction for fear head-on, though, and, in return, Leia is just as quick to adjust her own course when she realizes that she needs adjustment. It's something else these two have in common. [face_love]

    Exactly! :_|

    They're both at their lowest points, in some ways, dealing with catastrophic loss and completely altered world views - of course there's going to be a few false starts and bumps in the road along the way. =((

    [​IMG]

    Every word of this.

    MY HEART! That Mara's honestly so curious, because she doesn't know - she's never had a single, good, healthy relationship in her life . . . =(( :_|

    I absolutely adore how warm and empathetic Leia is - but conscientious and respectful of Mara's boundaries, at the same time. [face_love]

    Great job, bringing this line full circle! =D=

    [face_love] =(( [face_love]

    [face_love]! [face_love]! [face_love]!

    I want to say something awesome and insightful, but again, my brain is just all heart emojis by this point and I love every word - I really, really do. [face_love]

    "I don't see any weapons."

    [face_hypnotized]! [face_love]! :D!

    THIS LINE, GABRI, THIS LINE IS EVERYTHING!

    This was so true to both Breha and Leia. [face_love]

    And as much as Luke is good for Mara, Mara is so good for Luke! They have such a strong partnership; they complete each other, in every sense of the word. [face_love]

    Agreed! The lack of concern the Empire shows, even for its own, is just nauseating. [face_bleh]

    Again: the softness of "yes". =((

    You're just slaying it with all of these spot-on character insights, and each one reads like the ton of bricks it is - in a good way, of course. It's the good kinda cathartic pain. [face_love]

    SO ADORABLE AND HAPPY AND HEALTHY!

    Because Luke totally would. :p

    I loved this olive branch when Leia first extended it, and I love it now that Mara's making it her own. [face_love]

    More excellent character insights, for both women. I didn't even think of this, and doubt I would have thought to write it! =D=

    THE CATHARSIS, GABRI, THE CATHARSIS!

    Oh, honey! [:D] Again, it's utterly amazing, just how much Mara is unpacking and processing on so many deep, messy levels - all the while overturning her entire way of life and not shying away from new and challenging people/places/things and diving in to fight on the "losing side" of a war for what's good and right. She's wading through the hard and scary feelings - and that is a scary feeling, to be sure - but that fact that she's even thinking it at all, let alone knows what she wants the answer to be, says so much. [face_love]

    Determination, thy name is Mara Jade - gosh, but I just love her so much, Gabri, and these insights are digging so deep in all the best ways. [face_love]

    ADORABLE AND HAPPY AND IN LOVE

    "beloved pet" is the best way to phrase it. [face_love]

    THIS - THIS, THIS, THIIIIIIIIIIS!!! ALL OF THE GOLD STARS FOR WEDGE!!!

    I appreciated this, as well! Up until now, it's been easy (safer?) for Mara to assume the worst - that the Rebellion is going to look at her with suspicion and mistrust. And while that may be true, especially in the beginning, Mara is an incredible asset, and her value is immediately more than apparent, in more ways than one. [face_love]

    SHE'S JUST SO ADORABLE, GABRI, I CAN'T STAND IT

    Yep: I had to walk off the happy squees by this point. :*

    They're making their first home together. And gosh, but Beru would! That was a wonderful detail. [face_love]

    I see what you did there, and I approve. [face_mischief]

    Mara the night-owl is now 100% my head-canon thanks to you. ;)

    ADORABLE! AND HAPPY! AND IN LOVE!

    Did they even get a honeymoon in canon? I can't even remember. Thank goodness for fan fiction. [face_not_talking]

    This was something else I appreciated: the Rebellion seems completely doomed to failure, but that doesn't stop Mara, and Luke too, from picking the side that's right. I know that's a cornerstone of both of their characters, and a reason they work so well together, but that really hit me all over again in this paragraph, the stakes of what they're up against.

    Then, there's that hope of what if, and a life together if they manage to accomplish the impossible. [face_love]

    This had me chucking out loud. [face_laugh] Besides being adorable banter - and very insightful, from Mara, as far as an instructor is concerned - she may nonetheless be tempted to incapacitate Wes once she meets him . . . just a very little. [face_mischief]


    But for that, I'm going to have to dive in and read more! [face_love] =D= [:D]
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2023
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  4. Theodore Hawkwood

    Theodore Hawkwood Jedi Master star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 17, 2014
    Greetings,

    It's Theodore Hawkwood from the December Review Race once again. I figured I'd get another review to this fine fic of yours.

    I love the extended tension from Chapter Seven and Mara's lengthy discussion with Palpatine. I can feel the tension and I worry for Mara as she goes to face the Sith Lord Palpatine himself. That particular sentence made me wonder just how Mara is gonna get through this meeting with Palpatine.

    Somehow I get a scary feeling there is more to this than meets the eye, honestly. I get a scary feeling Palpatine has some ace up his sleeve here.

    This line in particular I could hear in Palpatine's voice. Your characterization of the Emperor is very spot on here.

    Kudos to Mara for sticking to her proverbial blasters here. I like the notion that Palpatine's contempt for her love for Luke seems to be the straw that broke the eopie's back here.

    These two sentences paint quite the vivid picture of what life in the Imperial Court is like. I also like how Mara's reaction to her encounter with Palpatine caused tremors anyway.

    I love the finality of that single last sentence.

    I love this line from the Luke/Mara moment in this scene as they start their journey away from the Empire.

    Interesting observation on Galactic City's spaceport. Sounds like quite a vulnerability here and glad it seems to be working in Mara, Luke, Hobbie and Tycho's favor as well.

    I like this bit of characterization from Tycho in regards to Leia and her survival despite the destruction of Alderaan. I get the sense of some kind of connection to his now destroyed homeworld here and it comes across well.

    This could easily be how Tycho's story arc in the Rogue Squadron series could've started. In any case I'm looking forward to seeing how this particular plot thread unravels.

    Love the cliffhanger ending here. I'm curious just what's going to transpire in Chapter Nine.

    Excellent Work,

    Theodore Hawkwood
     
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  5. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    GABRI, I DID IT, I'M FINALLY ALL CAUGHT UP! FINALLYYY!


    I giggled at this, even though I know that Mara was rightly appraising Janson for his skills - not for his being a goof. Not yet. :p

    Yep. There he is. [face_laugh]


    *snorts*


    I could see Mara slow-blinking to process this thought. She's definitely adjusting to changes on every possible front, but, thankfully, what the Rebellion lacks in "discipline" they more than make up for in heart and the certainty of fighting for a cause they believe in. She can work with that. :cool:

    bursting with silent pride hit me right in the OTP feels! I love seeing Luke/Mara being able just to be a couple, here and throughout this story. It's not something we got terribly much of in canon, so these little moments are all the more precious in fan fic. I am here for all of these character moments, that said, which you write with the best of them! [face_love]

    Speaking of one partner being proud of the other. [face_mischief]

    And I noticed Hobbie shifting uneasily, too. He knows what's coming. :p

    Wes! [face_love] While he's still such a goof, I appreciate that you gave us Wes as a complete character: he's good humored in every regard. He doesn't have an ego that's going to be bruised as a sore loser; instead, he's humble and conscientious enough to appreciate Mara's talent for what it is and want to learn from her. He's one of those characters that can be one-dimensional in the hands of the wrong author, but you do him justice. And then he's still Wes with the demonstrate it on Wedge next time. [face_laugh]

    From there, I appreciated Mara sizing up Wes and all of the members of Rogue Squadron in return. She's an honest judge of their current talent, and their potential too. And she's a good teacher, which just . . . fits! No matter the less than nurturing experiences she's had to the contrary over the years. I just really enjoyed this scene for every angle you chose to explore within. =D=

    I continue to find life in all of the domestic L/M making a home together, yes indeed, I do! [face_love]

    Your Leia characterization continues to be so spot-on good. Grief comes and goes in waves, and any of our senses can be triggers - I could feel that sharp sting of her memories as her pained welled up again, and in typically Leia fashion, she cut them off at the root. She doesn't have the comfort of being in a place where she can allow herself to grieve, not yet; so she won't. =((

    And this is one of the reasons why - the odds are so incredibly stacked against them, in so many ways. And that's terrifying - I think it's easy to lose sight of just how much so. As an audience, we know how the story is going to go, but for those currently experiencing the story without the end we're assured of in sight . . . [face_worried]

    Seeming almost shy had me grinning such a grin - just as Leia thinking that she'd imagined it did. I am here for Leia and Mara's growing friendship like breathing.

    [​IMG]

    She's so practical and adorable. [face_love]

    GABRI, MY HEART!

    And I love that Leia gave Mara the space to be homesick without assigning any other sort of emotions to her missing a place for its familiarity, if nothing else. This was a really well written exchange of emotional vulnerability, once more. [face_love]

    [face_mischief] [face_whistling]

    In all seriousness, though, the Skywalker twins are only different on the surface - that indefatigable ability to believe in and hope for the best, along with the determination to fight for that hope. . . they share that in spades. [face_love]

    The Empire's not gonna know what hit them. :cool:

    The detail of raising her chin defiantly in response to her uncertainty and grief was such a quintessentially Leia gesture - and a mannerism that's so reminiscent of Mara, too!

    I also appreciate that, from Mara's own background, she knows a side of Leia and her adoptive parents that others may not be as familiar with. She was able to offer this comfort and truly mean it - and there's something special in that. There's so much weight on Leia's shoulders, and while she's been groomed to assume that mantle of responsibility, to a certain degree, it's still a heavy yoke to shoulder before she should have had to - let alone feels ready to do so. And Mara understands that.

    This dork - these dorks. :p [face_laugh] [face_love]

    Beautifully bittersweet introspection. [face_love]

    Maybe, indeed. [face_mischief] [face_batting] [face_whistling]

    And I love that this dovetailed right into . . .

    HAN AND CHEWIE ARE ALREADY REBELS, HAN AND CHEWIE ARE ALREADY REBELS!

    I 100% support this narrative decision! It just fits!

    &
    Han and Chewie have one of the best bromances in all of fiction, and I love the way you write them. :cool:

    Again, these are great orienting details from yet another character - though I'm happy that Chewie is feeling right at home on Yavin, at least. Someone has to. :p

    And this is why this just fits. Han has a good heart; he's stood up for what's right before, and he didn't need much convincing to do so again in ANH - and Chewie too has a moral compass that's more than pointing in the right direction. Even by another path, it makes sense that this is always right where they were going to end up.

    Of course, there's still that sense of pragmatism - which is also quintessentially Han. He's a survivor, and he's going to have his fail-safes in place with the Rebellion, too, if worse comes to worst.

    I see what you did there. [face_tee_hee]

    [face_rofl] I love every word of this. [face_mischief]

    You gotta love those lines that are so Vader and Anakin Skywalker that you can't separate one from the other. :p

    Welp, this hurt like pain! =((

    Lookie there, a promotion! (Even if it was close for a second. [face_devil])

    This was another great character insight, and it packed a wallop for being so. =((

    Heck yeah she did. :cool:

    I wonder if/when he'll put two and two together about Leia being there as well.

    . . . of course, once he processes the really big reveal. (It's been A Week for Vader, to say the least. 8-})

    All the painful parallels of pain . . . [face_hypnotized]

    IT STILL HURTS :_| =((

    AND IF I THOUGHT IT HURT BEFORE :_| =(( :_|

    Look at all of these poignant, evocative words being poignant and evocative. [face_hypnotized] You get extra gold stars for your prose in this paragraph, you better bet you do! =D=

    Because sometimes small mistakes spiral out of control and all you can do is deal with the fallout as best you can. Besides the inherent narrative issues that arose from Lucas telling a story in reverse, I like what this says on a character level: Obi-Wan is fallible and he made a mistake, especially when he was overwhelmed by grief and perhaps not thinking clearly. He's not omniscient - he never has been; he's simply doing the best he can, and he continues to do so.

    [​IMG]

    NOW THAT I AM ALL CAUGHT UP, I NEED MORE, I TELL YOU, MOOOAAAR!


    But of course, I will be patient, I promise. [face_batting] Until then, I just have to applaud what a stellar AU this is once more. This story fully has my heart, and I adore it to pieces. Thank you so much for sharing your talent with the rest of us! [face_love] =D= [:D]
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2023
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  6. Bel505

    Bel505 Jedi Grand Master star 2

    Registered:
    Jul 4, 2006
    It's so funny, Gabri. This is pretty much line for line what drove me to start working on Interregnum. Back in 2009 I was working on a post-TLC Luke/Mara fanfiction (Nadir, which can still be found in butchered form on these forums), which I abandoned because (1) I got busy and (2) I decided I didn't like what I had created and had posted it too early and there was just no fixing it. But after TRoS I said "no, I really, really want a Legends universe where Palpatine is really, absolutely dead!" and got to work again.

    Three novels later, and I have time to write some reviews again! I've decided to catch up on Renewal, and I'm going to start from the beginning.

    The introduction to the point of divergence here is simple and effective. Beru and Owen die, and Luke is forced to go to the Academy because he can't run the farm by himself and has nothing here to stay for. And then Luke, four years of Academy time and service experience later, and Mara just happen to run into each other!

    And Luke is such a flirt! But a subtle one, he's not too forward about it. I wonder how much of his ability to see through Mara's disseminations is the Force, and how much is just his natural ability to read people (which he certainly gets from his mother). The two of them have such a natural chemistry and comfort with one another, which in Legends really was only disrupted by her being under a compulsion to kill him (and despite that the two of them still had great camaraderie) and him going off the deep end for a while...

    Suddenly, they're a couple. But, let's be honest, even in the Thrawn Trilogy they were "a couple." The two of them have a unique chemistry that just exudes from the page whenever they're together, and once they find each other they'll be drawn together, unless there's some force that's keeping them apart. And Mara, poor Mara, has had no one in her life, perhaps ever, who treats her like a normal human being. Everyone has been a target, an asset, a trainer. Luke, because of how they met and because he wasn't part of her objectives or missions, he's just a normal person to her. That makes him special. It helps, too, that this normal person just simply likes her, and that the two of them get along easily.

    So it's not a surprise that she can't give him up.

    But of course, Mara has Palpatine in her head, and that makes everything a bit more complicated... and not only does she have Palpatine in her head, but Luke has a sense of that fact. Which means, just as she was getting used to him being normal... he's not.

    She makes up her mind pretty quick, though. The next time we see them, she's already come up with strategies to protect him. This is her first overt act of defiance against Palpatine, too, although she may not conceptualize it as such. She knows Luke isn't a threat to the Emperor (or thinks it at least, after all he's nobody), so protecting him doesn't go against Palpatine's will... but it's still a defiance of Imperial practice.

    Let's just move on past how this can equally describe Jedi practices...

    I love these two. The Force definitely helps, as it gives them more insight into how the other is feeling and makes it harder for ill-will to fester. The honesty -- and the fact that they genuinely enjoy each other's company -- really helps. Mara teaching Luke the basics of the Force is fun, if a bit more intimate than the Jedi would have preferred!

    The one place there is any strife, Palpatine, is predictable. After all, he was the source of all the strife we've ever seen between them. She loves him as a father figure, as a heroic figure, and as a political figure. Palpatine is larger than life in the Empire, and the average Imperial citizen takes for granted that he is Great. Mara is not an average citizen, but the Emperor has worked hard to cultivate in Mara the perspective that he is Great, and witnessing all the citizens loving him would just reinforce that reality for her ("social proof"). Luke is an Imperial here, but he's not a blind one -- he joined for the same reason someone like Han did, for opportunity -- and he has a moral center (probably grown in large part because Tatooine was far from Coruscant and less subject to propaganda, in combination with being raised by Beru and Owen, and his own innate instincts). So Luke realizes something is wrong when he sees it, while Mara (the more pragmatic one) is more willing to overlook things, make compromises, in order to sustain her conception of the Emperor as Good.

    Eventually she's going to have the reality rubbed in her face, but for right now... she's struggling.

    I tried to deal with this a whole lot in Interregnum, with lots of different Imperial characters. I find the dynamic fascinating.

    On to Chapter 4!
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2024
  7. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fanfic Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Registered:
    Nov 9, 2002
    @Chyntuck
    Nope, sorry :p

    I honestly thought when I started posting this that I'd be able to keep up a steady enough writing pace to finish the story before I ran out of what was already written at the time, but DRL has had other plans :oops:

    Honestly, the "I'm married" scene came to me long before I reached this part of the story in actual writing and I loved it enough that my objectivity was compromised and I couldn't quite tell if it really belonged or I was just shoehorning it in, so it's nice to know that it fits :p

    This is a structural issue that I think sometimes people overlook: characters don't know everything the readers do. Characters make mistakes, and misunderstand things, and have inherent biases and predilections that can compromise clear thinking. And from Vader's POV, this did seem like a very logical leap. He has a surviving son he didn't know about, and that son has been trained in the Force - who else could have trained him but Obi-Wan? And that assumption dovetails very well with his existing resentment anyway; let's be real, he'd love to have even more presumed sins to lay at Obi-Wan's doorstep. And it helps further my own narrative, so there's that :p

    Heh, okay, storytime :p Personally, I'm not convinced that Jedi or Sith can do this sort of very specific hunting of individuals through the Force. I thought the Jedi were frequently written as overpowered in the EU, and I think that tendency has gone even farther in the new canon. But a couple of factors came into play with my decision to go down this road for this fic: I started writing it after a handful of years of dormancy in the fandom and hadn't read any of the non-Zahn books recently and couldn't honestly remember if/how/to what degree this ability had been portrayed there; and there was the added complication of Mara and Palpatine's extremely unusual communication ability and at least the possibility that Palpatine could figure out how to use that connection to track her. Could he do so canonically? No, I don't think so. But I couldn't absolutely rule it out, either, and more importantly, Mara was bound to suddenly wonder that too, once he contacts her after she defects. And I knew that a lot of fans would disagree with my own take on more limited Jedi abilities, and honestly, the fear of him being able to track her (and Obi-Wan's teaching her to evade any such search within the Force) played very well into my plans for the narrative, and there was the whole Art of the Small stuff that started in the NJO that kinda-sorta related to all of this (and which I remembered only basic details of and wasn't going to reread the NJO to figure it out :p ), and basically what it boiled down to was that I decided to aim for the middle road: none of the Jedi or Sith involved can literally and precisely track down anyone else's physical location through the Force at distances such as these, but especially because Mara and Palpatine and Obi-Wan and Anakin had such close bonds to begin with and because Palpatine and Anakin/Vader were exceptionally strong in the Force, they can reach for each other, and the one being hunted has learned/learns to evade that awareness to avoid any possibility of the hunter learning something that could give them away. And I keep it all as vague as possible. :p

    But also, I'm glad it comes across as creepy, because it was certainly meant to :vader:

    Poor Obi-Wan; it's such an incredibly awful thing to have known and loved Anakin and seen all that magnificent potential and spent so long trying so hard to teach him to achieve it correctly, then have to face up to the reality of what Anakin chose instead. And yes, I do think that Obi-Wan is likely to see things more clearly, even if he doesn't have all the information to put every piece together just yet.

    lol by the time I actually finish this story everyone's going to have forgotten it, and fairly so :p But while I'm still a long way from the end, I do have a bit more ready to go that I'll try to post before too terribly long :p

    @Theodore Hawkwood
    Greetings! And one of the Gabri lenses, anyway :p

    Heh, I'm unlikely to ever be too verbose in physical descriptions; it's not something that comes very naturally to me :p

    Thank you! This is the sort of mini-description that I tend to default to instead; nice to know it works :D

    Take the path less traveled, that's my motto :p

    Thank you kindly!

    As I frequently say, I'm a character study writer. What fascinates me is figuring out what makes people tick, and how they relate to each other. I'd far rather write conversations than strategy - and truthfully, I think the key to all strategy anyway is learning to understand people, as Zahn demonstrated so well with Thrawn. So yeah, this is very much the sort of scene I'm likely to write, and the most important telltale details in any of my stories will be shown through character arcs and relationships.

    It's not Star Wars until someone has a bad feeling about this :p

    Thank you!

    Glad you're enjoying it!

    If anyone's going to know exactly how unlikely it is that anyone escaped from the Temple, it'd be Vader

    So many possibilities...

    Well, that's just music to an author's ears :D

    I mean, what did happen aboard the Death Star? There were over a million people on that thing, and it had been a top secret project, and Alderaan was the first planet to be destroyed. How many people aboard knew exactly what it was, or what it had done? Surely that couldn't have been kept secret after Alderaan's destruction, so how did people react? Not every Imperial would approve of such measures, as we see over and over again in SW when Imperials defect to join the Rebellion - but then again, some surely would, and probably more would at least try to convince themselves that the Empire had had just cause. It's not something I spend a lot of time on in the narrative, but it's something I gave a lot of thought to during the writing.

    One of my favorite scenes in RotJ is when Luke and Wedge embrace on Endor after the Death Star's destruction. Those two went through a war together, in the same squadron. Even though we only saw the briefest of interactions between them, I loved this final indication that they had a close friendship. That was the sort of camaraderie I wanted to capture here, that while their TIE squadron doesn't have the same personal bond that Alliance squadrons seemed to, Luke, Hobbie, and Tycho had genuinely become friends.

    Like I said, the most important details of my fics will be found within the characterization.

    Life is complicated. People are complicated. I want to portray that as accurately as possible. Nice to know it's working!

    Ha, thank you! Always nice to know I managed to handle the plot okay too despite myself :p

    Yeah, I don't see a confrontation like that turning out well [face_worried]

    [​IMG]

    It's a tricky thing, to be in a close relationship of any sort with Palpatine or Vader. They don't handle disappointment well.

    *tips hat*

    How do you have a face to face meeting with someone who has access to your brain when you're thinking about the possibility of defection? That's going to be really intimidating.

    Doesn't he always :p

    Thank you! Palpatine has a distinct voice that's honestly a lot of fun to capture. And yes, Mara is already completely convinced that Luke is a good person, and she loves him and knows he loves her. This was exactly the wrong tack for Palpatine to take. But as Luke so astutely perceived in RotJ, Palpatine's overconfidence is his weakness.

    The people who could rise to the top of Palpatine's court were highly unlikely to be kind or noble people, imho. And Mara's only human; even with all her strengths, and she's never before had the full force of Palpatine's anger turned on her personally. That's got to be terrifying.

    This girl's had it :p

    They're just inseparable, these two [face_love]

    Heh, as far as I recall, I totally made all this up. I imagine that Mara had multiple options for docking her ship, but this seemed a plausible possibility as one of those options. She was frequently undercover, after all, so she'd have made use of civilian services like this. Anyway, it would have been a lot harder to find a way for her to drag three TIE pilots into the Palace or something :p

    I think that learning of Leia's survival would have had a similar effect on nearly all Alderaanian survivors. The impression I always got was that Bail, Breha, and Leia were very down to earth monarchs who cared deeply about their people and were thought highly of in return.

    Thanks muchly, glad you're enjoying it! :D

    @Mira_Jade
    Closer than me :p

    I just love writing them in this 'verse, Mira [face_love]

    This has to be very, very high on the list of things that Mara would never have envisioned for herself, don't you think? And it's all happened so fast. It would definitely take some getting used to.

    THEY'RE THE BEST, MIRA

    Mara and Leia really are so much alike. There are key differences too, of course, but there are some very real similarities, and I'm enjoying playing with that in this story. Additionally, the fact that Luke is already married before he meets Leia preempts his initial attraction to her in ANH, but I might as well hang a lil lampshade on the whole thing, right? :p

    :D

    Right? And he was excellent performing in front of an audience the whole time he was chancellor, after all. Plus in this circumstance, he gets the added benefit of reinforcing Vader's subservient position. The whole galaxy trembles over Vader's presence, he unequivocally commands the Imperial starfleet, but if Palpatine says he's going to stand right there and dutifully listen for as long as Palpatine cares to rant, he has to do it. I feel like the whole scenario would have appealed to Palpatine on a number of levels.

    Of course, the enforced subservience only increases Vader's resentment, and ESB and especially RotJ make it clear that these two have been using each other for a long time, and each would have been entirely happy to off the other should the opportunity arise: for Vader, he can't (or doesn't dare try to) kill Palpatine alone; for Palpatine, Vader is an extremely useful tool and an extremely gratifying puppet and it would take his equal or better to make it worth his while to remove Vader - and both of them know all of this. But I liked that whole strategic backstabbing vibe and am attempting to channel it in this story. The current status quo serves both of them for the moment, but they also each know that the other can't be trusted.

    lollll

    Seriously, that one line in RotJ is absolutely crucial for Palpatine characterization. The guy very nearly has no weaknesses save for this one. He's brilliant, he's extraordinarily powerful, he may just be the best manipulator the galaxy's ever seen - but he also knows all of this, which means he's going to have some blind spots. You just have to be insightful enough yourself to find them, and a way to make use of them.

    It's almost a bookend to Palpatine's overconfidence, isn't it? Anakin/Vader has a longstanding resentment about being underestimated or being held back, and Palpatine stopped handling him with kid gloves pretty much as soon as he had him locked in. Add to all of that the obvious necessity of a Sith Lord focusing hard on negative emotions just as a general principle and Vader was probably ready to boil over at any moment. Which probably helps explain all the murder

    [​IMG]

    lol this is true :p

    He tends to do that :p

    Aw yeah :cool:

    Mira, I cannot even tell you how thrilled I was and still am that Mon Mothma's characterization in Endor was so well aligned with what I'd already imagined. I mean, Andor established so much more than I'd imagined, but the core of the character is exactly as I'd always seen her. As much as I was looking forward to Andor, I did have the tiny concern that maybe her role in this story, relatively small though it is, would somehow land all wrong after Andor and I'm so relieved.

    I gotta watch Andor again :p

    (I wonder if you can tell all old school fans by their difficulty in calling Mon Mothma anything but the full "Mon Mothma" or if that's just me :p )

    There's so much emotion behind that one word =((

    [face_blush]

    lol [:D] Really, Mara's in such a difficult position here, and she's not nearly as well equipped to handle it as well as HoT or even TTT Mara would be. This is a very young Mara who was still the fervently dedicated Emperor's Hand only - what, a week ago? She's trying to figure out who she is outside of that role, how to handle being married, how to handle interpersonal relationships where she can't just pull rank or walk away, and she's trying to do all of that right in the middle of a group of people who she so badly needs to trust her and take her in even though they have every reason in the world to do the opposite. And she's trying especially hard with Leia partly because she's a decent person herself and realizes the massive loss that Leia has suffered so recently, and partly because they were kinda-sorta-maybe-almost starting to break the ice with each other toward the end of their journey to Yavin and even if she can't quite articulate this, Mara desperately needs a friend right now. She gets along okay with Tycho and Hobbie, but they're still Luke's friends first and foremost, and with their Imperial background, it might well have been hard for them to get past the degree to which she outranked them. Leia's her social equal, someone who understands the world Mara comes from and who wouldn't feel intimidated by her rank, either social or military. Leia's such a good friend candidate, and Mara sees that, but she has no idea at all how to manage that potential.

    I still think it's criminal how little the EU ever explored Mara and Leia's friendship, I really do.

    Another fantastic development we got with new canon: the focused demonstration of young Leia's piercing personal insights in the Obi-Wan show, which itself was a very insightful continuation of her OT characterization. Leia is pretty phenomenal at reading people, and it makes so much sense that that's where her strength in the Force would lie - look how well it dovetails with Luke and his heightened empathy and utter faith in people who don't outwardly seem to deserve it. Leia right here and now has a lot of emotion and responsibility clouding her judgment and it takes her a little longer than it otherwise would to realize what's going on here, but she does get there.

    Exactly. And once Leia understands that Mara's going through similar difficulties, she's strong enough to take the first step and reach out, which is critical, because Mara simply doesn't know how to do that.

    On the other hand, once Leia does take that first step, Mara can match it. She just needs friendship training wheels, as it were. First Luke and then Leia were understanding enough to see her value and extend her a measure of grace as she learns how to have normal relationships, and that gives her both the knowledge and the confidence to begin making friends with other people, too.

    She just really doesn't and hasn't. She's confident in Luke, that he loves her and she loves him and that he can be trusted and they can build a life together, but she has no context at all for this sort of thing. While it wouldn't have occurred to her to suggest marriage herself, it also didn't really occur to her that there was anything particularly rushed about their timeline.

    Leia was always wise beyond her years that way, I think.

    Thank you :cool:

    Mara needs a friend, and Leia realizes it [face_love]

    This is another major character trait that Mara and Leia share: they will always do what they believe to be the right thing, no matter how much personal effort it takes. It's why it could be in character for Mara to turn her back on the Empire so quickly, and it's why Leia can offer friendship to an aloof near-stranger (who'd been ordered to kill her, let's not forget) despite her own massive emotional turmoil.

    [face_blush] :D And it's something Mara will never forget, either. This right here is the real beginning of their friendship, I think. Can you imagine the trust and kindness required on Leia's part to have Palpatine's personal assassin in the middle of the Alliance's main base, offering to let Leia confiscate her extensive personal arsenal, and she refuses? Just because Mara let a flicker of emotion show over the sacrifice? Mara may not know much about how to make friends, but she for sure understands military strategy and just how much Leia should not have done that, and this has got to be the most personally touching moment of Mara's life to date outside of her relationship with Luke, that Leia could value Mara's feelings so highly in the face of all logic.

    It just really sounded like something Breha would say [face_love]

    They do, they're the best, I love them so much [face_love]

    I can't help but feel that this falls at least a little bit under "your overconfidence is your weakness"; I know that the Empire essentially has a bottomless pit of personnel to draw on, but the time and effort it takes to train a fighter pilot surely shouldn't be something so lightly regarded as this, yet here we are. But also, yes, Palpatine just genuinely couldn't care less about anyone's life but his own, and that sort of leadership philosophy coming from the very top surely had great influence as it went down the ranks.

    My version of angst is the healing sort :p

    (Usually [face_devil] )

    You know, even in VotF, even after they were engaged, Mara told Luke straight out that in many ways she was still emotionally closed off and she knew that she needed to learn how not to be and she wanted to learn it from him. This dynamic has always been part of their relationship, and I love it, and not least of all because it reverses the usual trope of the cold inscrutable emotionally unavailable man won over by the love of a good woman. I love that Mara is given the opportunity to be an emotionally stunted female character, I love that this in no way diminishes her value in anyone's eyes, I love that Luke sees past the surface to who she really is, I love that he neither needs nor wants her to be a more stereotypical woman or wife, I love that it's the man in the relationship for once who's empathetic and patient and understanding. Have I said lately how brilliant Zahn is, to have crafted such a perfect counterpart for Luke, and to capture their dynamic so incredibly well, and to turn the standard tropes on their head like this? Because he is.

    I feel like this is Beru's influence, that Luke would want to make sure his loved ones are fed :p [face_love]

    [face_love]

    *curtsies*

    Catharsis is my specialty, apparently :p

    Just following Zahn's lead here. This is who Mara always was; I'm just tossing her into a different scenario and letting her personality react to it :cool:

    Mara never lets anything at all get in the way of what needs to be done [face_love]

    They really are [face_love]

    I liked that one myself :p

    I mean, the Alliance has to be cautious, yes. You can't rule out the possibility of a double agent. But the Empire is clearly the side to bet on here, so someone who, for the sake of their moral convictions, risks their life to walk away from that and fight for the side that's far more likely to be squashed like a bug, is in fact probably someone the Rebels can trust.

    It's something that came to me as I wrote the scene, not something I'd thought of long beforehand, but really, there are some specialties that require training and experience for any real efficiency, and fighter pilots and intel officers have to be among them. Surely the Alliance would highly value recruits in those areas. And Mara in particular has so much to offer.

    She's learning how to just be Mara, instead of the Emperor's Hand [face_love] I think the only time we really got to see Mara and Wedge have any real interaction in canon was the beginning of NJO: Rebel Dream (and I wish Allston had been able to write far, far more books, especially with Luke and Mara [in the pre-LotF EU; not even Allston could save it once it started down that path]), and it wasn't a whole lot, but I was grateful for what we got, where Luke and Wedge were clearly still close friends who cared about each other's families. Anyway, I think that Mara and Wedge would get along very well, and while their friendship isn't a huge part of this story either, I liked writing at least a little bit.

    Luke is thoughtful this way [face_love]

    It's an old-fashioned phrase, but it suits Beru so well. I could just see her putting together a bundle of necessities for a newly married couple in town "to help them set up housekeeping," and Luke remembering that.

    [face_batting]

    My work here is done [face_mischief]

    They went on kind of a pre-honeymoon camping trip to Garqi at the beginning of Union, but Union ends with the wedding ceremony and then the NJO picks up after they've been married for a number of years. Even SQ is set three years after the wedding, and makes no mention of a honeymoon, and does say that they've only had a handful of longer periods of time together. So the answer is: Maybe? Probably? But canon doesn't cover it and they didn't get nearly enough time together.

    It's something that's easy to forget as a fan when we've all known how the OT ends for about forty years now, but in-universe, the end of the war wasn't predetermined. Everyone in the Rebellion was fighting a seemingly hopeless guerilla war against a far, far stronger and more deeply entrenched enemy. (And as both the EU and the new canon books show, winning at Endor was only the beginning; if you're going to overthrow a government, you have to set up a new one in its place, which is an entirely different sort of endeavor.) Mara's far too pragmatic and analytical to not realize just how badly the odds are stacked against them, and in what ways.

    That honeymoon by a beach is very much the carrot they're dangling in front of themselves as motivation here :p

    Isn't everyone? :p

    HUZZAH [face_party]

    (I'm not :p )

    Not yet :p

    Wes is irrepressible

    Exactly :cool:

    You know it's my favorite thing to write. All my plots are only there to support my character study writing :p

    Luke is SO PROUD of her [face_love] Remember the lead-in to the line in my sig, where Luke says, "what do you mean by 'still'? You fight your own battles. If I forget that, I'm not very likely to make it to our twentieth anniversary." Luke is not even the slightest bit threatened by his badass wife's skills; he thinks she's amazing [face_love]

    Does Hobbie, though? [face_whistling] He wasn't in the cantina, remember. He hasn't actually seen Mara's combat skills. He's seeing his friend's wife, a rather small woman, being matched against a considerably larger man, and it's a little worrisome. For a minute or two, anyway [face_mischief]

    Exactly! Wes is so much more than a flamboyantly immature practical joker. Allston's X-Wing books show that in spades, and that's what I'm trying to channel here, even though his part is relatively small.

    Even though she hasn't been taught to be a teacher herself, Mara's a phenomenal student, or she wouldn't have survived her own training and career, and she's analytical and very conscientious. I feel like what that boils down to is that she'd pay careful attention to what she herself knows, what her students do or don't know, and what they're likely to need to know. I think that would make her a good teacher to start with, and that she'd only get better as she learned more about how to teach as well as what she's teaching.

    Honestly just about my favorite thing to write :p

    This is where written media has the advantage over visual: you can see the characters' thoughts. It's not that Leia didn't grieve Alderaan; it's exactly what she said in ANH: "we have no time for our sorrows, commander." Leia will drive herself until she drops - but in a written story, I can show the internal struggle behind the stoic determination.

    Heh, I have so many comments to reply to in this one go that I forgot you'd said exactly this already and said it myself above :p But yes, in-universe, the odds are far better that everyone in the Rebellion is going to end up dead or in a prison camp rather than victorious.

    Good to know, because their friendship is definitely a major part of this story [face_batting]

    She's so proud of him [face_love]

    She IS [face_love]

    Leia is an extremely kind and generous person; she can see past her own pain to accept the validity of another's, as well. Mara's lost her home as surely as Leia has, though in a different way.

    They really are so much alike in so many ways :luke: :leia:

    lol nope

    Thank you!

    Mara and Leia are very alike in more ways than this, but I do think that their similar social standing would be a bonding point. Despite the fact that one was a princess and one an intelligence agent, they grew up with basically the same overall culture of the wealthy Core World social strata, and understand the expectations of each other's early life in a way that most they meet wouldn't be able to.

    They're just so cute [face_love]

    Heh, I'm glad it works, because I had to lead into the entrance of a certain someone and frankly, it felt deeply disingenuous to jump from Leia's immediate and overwhelming grief to "oh hey maybe I should get myself a boyfriend." But of course, every reader's expectation the moment Han arrives on the scene is that romantic sparks will fly, so I can't entirely ignore that aspect, either. Tying it back to her parents and their happy marriage, and how Luke and Mara make her think of that, seemed to be my best option for a narrative bridge.

    [face_batting]

    The path less taken :p But this was also inspired by Allegiance, where, when Han was reluctant to commit to the Rebellion, Leia told him to start with committing to just one person then; Chewie wanted to join them, because of what his people had suffered under the Empire, so Han should join for his sake. That seemed like a very good AU scenario to use here.

    Thank you :cool:

    Can you imagine how happy Chewie would be in that jungle?

    Exactly :han:

    [face_whistling]

    I just really, really loved the idea of Mara being able to say, "I'm married" as a response to flirtation :p And Luke being totally secure in their relationship and just finding the whole thing funny (pretty sure Luke's whole take on this is, "of course he thinks she's beautiful; he'd be stupid if he didn't" and "she can take care of herself" :p ). And everyone smirking at Han :p

    :p

    He'd have to think of that here even if he did promptly shove the memory away, I think

    Mos Eisley is definitely the Big City on Tatooine, and definitely nothing of the sort to anyone from a Core World.

    lol yes she did

    He's had a busy few days; he's a little distracted

    [face_batting]

    [face_devil]

    [face_devil] [face_devil] [face_devil]

    Vader spent decades hating and resenting Obi-Wan, but Obi-Wan spent those same decades mourning Anakin =((

    Aw, shucks [face_blush]

    Exactly.

    And I was once discussing this with Vi, the in-universe reasons that Bail and Breha would have been Leia's mother and father while Owen and Beru remained Luke's aunt and uncle (though certainly his parents in actual practice), and I think there's a very strong case to be made that it's partly a matter of plausibility in difference settings and partly existing family connections. First of all, both the Organas and the Larses made sure that Leia and Luke knew they were adopted, but Bail and Breha weren't in a position where they had to explain where the adopted baby came from. They were the monarchs of an entire world; who was going to question their resources if they wanted to adopt a child? Owen and Beru lived on the outskirts of a small settlement on a sparsely populated planet; people would definitely ask where the new baby came from, and would be in a position to recognize any false story Owen and Beru could come up with. How many possibilities for acquiring an orphaned child are there? Everyone knows everyone; they'd know if someone had died and left a baby behind, and more importantly, they'd know that no one, in fact, had. But everyone knew that Owen had a stepbrother who lived offworld, too. The simple truth (as they knew it) that the stepbrother had died and a friend had brought his orphaned son to the only family he had left is by far the best cover story they had.

    Secondly, neither the Organas nor the Larses could tell Leia or Luke the real truth about their parents, but again, Owen and Beru already have a genuine familial connection to Luke that Bail and Breha don't. I can easily see Owen and Beru being the sort to feel that the only moral thing to do is to acknowledge that and remain Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru instead of "Mom and Dad". They changed the story up, certainly, making Anakin a navigator on a spice freighter instead of a Jedi, but they didn't try to take what they saw as Luke's parents' rightful place. And while neither of them knew Anakin well, they did know and love Shmi, and would have wanted her grandson to maintain that connection to her.

    Technically, Luke keeping his birth name and being given to Owen and Beru is definitely a plot hole, but it still has reasonable potential in-universe explanations.

    lolol Mira I need someone to pay the bills and handle the adulting so I can sit around writing fanfic full time :p

    Awwww [face_blush] [:D]

    @Bel505
    There was a time when I honestly thought I was done writing fanfic, but man, TRoS lit that fire right back up again. And I'd had this basic idea kicking around for a long time and figured I might as well try seeing where it went, and here we are :p

    Aw, I appreciate it! [:D] And take your time; heaven knows I'm behind on Interregnum the same way. It gets really hard sometimes to keep up with both writing and leaving reviews :p

    "What if Luke went to the Academy after all" seemed like a good starting point, and I decided that he'd have to go a good deal earlier than the time of ANH because Luke and Mara are at very different maturity levels at that point. If you put ANH!Luke straight off the farm in the same room with Mara, she'd think him a child. But ESB!Luke, who'd had years away from home and years of military experience - well. He's still young and impulsive, but also more mature and self-possessed. That was a Luke who I could see Mara finding charming instead of obnoxious. So this Luke got an early start on his military career - but he's still a little out of his element on Coruscant and not watching where he's going, and so he literally runs into Mara :p

    I feel like there's a serious blend of Force-sensitivity and natural insight and chemistry with Luke and Mara. Even if you took the Force-sensitivity away, I think they'd still understand each other very well, but the Force certainly doesn't hurt. And I admit that I liked having the chance to play with seeing how their chemistry developed without either the last command or DE.

    Absolutely. It was so obvious that they were a couple that it's still incredibly frustrating that the EU immediately broke them up. I think that almost every EU author wanted a chance to push their own OCs to the fore, almost none of them understood how to write Mara anyway, and everyone involved seemed to want to leave Luke single so he could play Captain Kirk and have a revolving door of doomed girlfriends. And it was a dumb move. I will never understand why so many writers think there's no story left to tell once a couple gets past the "will they, won't they" stage.

    On the other hand, even though Zahn had to kind of compress and rush their relationship's development in VotF, I rather doubt that anyone else could have done it half as well, so maybe we got the best case scenario after all.

    We can see a glimpse of this in CoO, where Mara becomes genuinely fond of the Hand of Judgment, and misses them when they disappear, and for the first time feels the lack of personal connections in her life. And that was a far cry from a one-on-one connection with Luke, and all the chemistry they have and the friendship they so quickly develop, with obvious romantic potential. The contrast between Luke and everyone else in her life is so sharp, and for all her training and isolation, Mara's still very human. She simply didn't know what she was missing. Luke's presence, though, shows her how much more there is to life.

    I put a lot of thought into exactly how Mara could discover that Luke was Force-sensitive, and this seemed plausible on both technical and narrative levels. It's fairly established that Jedi can sense the movement, if you will, of the Force when others are drawing on it, and while Luke's not trained, he is very strong in the Force, so it felt reasonable that he would be able to sense Mara's Force-communication on some level - and that was also a relatively easy thing to work into the narrative, as well as throwing Mara for a loop, as you say.

    It is, it absolutely is. She knows what Palpatine would say about this, but she rationalizes it to herself simply because she's unwilling to give Luke up, and that becomes a snowball rolling downhill.

    Yup. I'm perfectly willing to accept that the Jedi honestly believed it was the best way, and so far as I recall, parents could refuse to give their children up and the Jedi would respect that. But I still deeply disagree with the practice, and got a chance to play up Luke and Mara's horror when they realized the similarities in Renewal. I think that even without their respective experiences, neither of them would ever, ever go the old Jedi route with recruits for their Order, but all the more so when they both know what it is to have never known their birth parents. They'd never inflict that on anyone else.

    lol, yes, her teaching sessions are not Old Order-approved :p But they're just so great together, I love them so much [face_love]

    The number one factor in Mara's character development in this story comes from VotF, when Luke suggests that maybe she had a role model that helped keep her from turning to the dark side during her service to Palpatine, and Mara replies, "Not a chance. There wasn't a single person in the inner court with a scrap of what I'd consider virtue or morality."

    In canon, yes, SQ establishes that Palpatine deliberately tried to keep Mara ignorant of any especially big nasty things he was doing, because he didn't want her to begin having doubts. He couldn't have hidden Alderaan, though, and Mara stayed despite that. (I personally suspect that if the Death Star had survived, Palpatine would have spun her a story about the sad necessity of having such a weapon in reserve, since the Empire's enemies grew so many and so bold, but that since it hardly outlasted Alderaan, he could have done much the same thing but blamed Alderaan itself on Tarkin overstepping his authority.) So what changes in this story, to prompt Mara to defy Palpatine? Luke. And not just because she loves him, but because he provides that contrast between the inner court, the people she's surrounded by on a daily basis, and what people can be, the integrity that they can live by. Luke becomes her role model, in a way, and it's not only her love for him that makes her choose him over Palpatine, but that her trust in him shows so blatantly how Palpatine falls short of what she'd once believed him to be.

    I'm getting ahead of myself, but you already know where the story's going :p

    Agreed, it really is (and you do a fantastic job with it :cool: ). It's very easy to write two-dimensional Rebels and Imperials, unfailingly noble Good vs cackling and mustache-twirling Evil, but that's not realistic. People are complicated, life is complicated, and as Obi-Wan said, much depends on your point of view. The Empire was bad. Palpatine certainly was. But not every single Imperial was. Some were all but brainwashed, like Mara. Some saw occasional problems with the Empire but not any real atrocities, like Luke in this story or the Hand of Judgment before the opening of Allegiance. Some remembered the chaos of the Clone Wars and were grateful for the stability and order that the Empire seemed to bring. Some were happy to step on other people on their climb to power while others saw the corruption and thought they could fix it from the inside. There are so many nuances here, so many stories to be told. I think it does everyone involved an injustice to oversimplify these things. Very few people are truly all good or all bad.

    Thanks so much for the feedback! [:D]