AN: This came out of looking at the last line of Last Command and Vision of the Future. Don't believe me? Look it up.
AN2: This entire piece is written, I just feel the need to break it up into chapters. I'll post twice a week or more often if I get enough reviews. (evil grin)
Disclaimer: I love Mara. But she belongs to Timothy Zahn and whoever he chooses to share her with. I am unfortunately not on that list, but Tim, (I can call you Tim, can't I?) I wouldn't say no if you asked, so please don't say no to me.
Come With You
"Mara!" Naomi's shriek drew the overly-serious child out of her musings and into action. With reflexes worthy of her father, Naomi's golden-haired treasure was up and running toward her mother leaving her cryptic message scrawled in the dust where she'd been playing. Naomi scooped the child into her arms as her husband, Aiden, came barreling out of the workshop.
"Naomi, what is it?" he asked gathering his distraught wife and her preternaturally calm child in a shielding embrace. He looked around, trying to figure out what was wrong.
Not surprisingly, it was Mara who first identified the source of her mother's distress. "Da!" she squealed jabbing a small finger toward the now vanishing con-trail that heralded an approaching ship. The shuttle was just beginning to level out its flight over the tall grain fields. Even from a distance, the blazing markings of a Rep- Imperial, Aiden corrected himself, diplomatic courier were visible. "Bright ship," Mara cooed snuggling against her mother.
Naomi's eyes went wide with terror at her child's statement. "He's found us, Aiden," she whispered tears starting to well in her eyes washing out the green and sparking the gold to brilliant life. "He's found us and he'll think we're hiding him." Suddenly, the three year old clutched to her mother's breast was the calmest of the trio.
"Are we?" Aiden whispered furiously. If she was putting his family at risk to help an old love so help him . . .
"No Aiden," Naomi denied following his thoughts with her usual disturbing accuracy. "I would never put you or Mara at risk that way. Obi-Wan forgive me if I've done wrong, but I couldn't hide him." The whispered conversation came to a tremulous halt as the shuttle landed with a sigh.
Palpatine watched the little family grow larger in the veiwport. Oh how touching, he sneered. It was without a single twinge of conscious that he intended to disrupt the tableau. Lord Vader had alerted him to the potential that lay hidden in this little patch of Alderaan. Now he saw the child, shining like a beacon. Young, moldable, yes she would serve her lord well. He turned attention to the two who surrounded his quarry in a net of sickening love. The father was dull as a rock, not even worth the effort to crush. The mother had some small talent of her own, but not enough to bother. That fool of a Viceroy, Organa, would object strenuously to the loss of even one farm family. One child, however, was less of a problem, especially if the parents knew the consequences of complaining.
With a bump, the shuttle touched down in the small patch of open space in front of the family dwelling. A nod of the head sent his personal guards parading down the ramp. Palpatine followed at a dignified pace. He glided toward the knot of people huddling in front of their door like so many snared birds, pausing only once to examine a child's meaningless scrawl in the dust. Meaningless to all but those who knew how to read it. There among the inane curlicues and stick figures were signs of a darker significance. "Sidious" the Sith-runes hissed. With a wave of Palpatine's hand, a small burst of wind erased the Sith script that had flowed from such an innocent hand.
"Good day," the Emperor called in the honeyed tones that had wooed more than one politician to their ruin.
Aiden Jade stepped away from his wife, partially shielding her and the child from Palpatine's jaundiced gaze. "Good day, Your Highness," he returned dispassionately, bowing. Behind him, Naomi dipped a curtsey, Mara still tightly bound to her mother's hip.
Suddenly, the girl shrieked in delight, small dustdaemons dancing around the feet of the Imperial Guards. Naomi, startled, set little Mara down. With unblinking serious green eyes Mara approached the most powerful man in the galaxy and knelt at his feet.
A triumphant smirk blossomed on the Emperor's face. "Such a clever child. How old?"
"Three, my lord," Naomi informed him going another shade paler. "Her name is Mara."
"Mara," Palpatine cooed directing the small child to stand. "A pretty name for a pretty girl. Would you like to come away with me, Mara?"
The mother started foreword, but was held in check by her husband. Aiden, for his part, glared impotently at the Emperor. "Mommy doesn't want me to go." Mara informed the man in front of her never looking away from the pale, gaunt face.
"Your mother will let you go," Palpatine reassured the little girl shooting a warning glare over the red-gold mop to her parents. When the child's uncertainty refused to dissipate, he knelt to bring himself to eye level with Mara and captured her small hands in his larger paws.
"So what do you say, Mara? Will you come away with me? Be my helping hand?"
The little girl, barely more than a toddler, scrunched her face as she considered the offer. For the first time since she approached the Emperor, Mara looked back at her mother. Naomi bit her lip to hold back the tears and nodded.
"Want to help . . ." Mara sighed. It sounded enough like an excuse that Palpatine tightened his grip on her hands in a farce of reassurance meant to keep her from escaping. The child's eyes went wide and she tried a little to pull her hands from the Emperor's grip. Palpatine held on firmly, refusing to relinquish his prize. Finally Mara sighed, bowing her head in acceptance of what she could not change. "Come with you," she assented.