AUTHOR'S NOTE Welcome to my Arda trilogy part two! Part one can be found in "Cruel Trick of Fate," but this story can, for the most part, stand on its own. "Cruel Trick of Fate" is really a separate story and gives this one backstory.
For those of you who have read "Cruel Trick," this second part takes place 38 years after the end of that story. In the Star Wars universe, it takes place after Vision of the Future by before Survivor's Quest. Basically, Luke and Mara are newlyweds, but nothing after Vision of the Future has happened yet, because that's as far as I've read in the novels.
Unlike "Cruel Trick," which focused on Obi-Wan during the Clone Wars, this story focuses on Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade Skywalker. Lord of the Rings characters will enter later.
I hope you enjoy! Reviews are always welcome!
DISCLAIMER I made up characters that will appear later, but none in this chapter. They don't belong to me.
When she was a child being raised by the servants of the Emperor, Mara Jade Skywalker had been told bedtime stories just like every other little girl in the universe. But there was one story that Emperor Palpatine himself would tell her over and over again that remained in her memory for her entire life.
He would have her sit at the foot of his throne. These were her favorite times – his raspy voice and disfigured face never frightened her. He took care of her and taught her how to use her powers. The one who did frighten her was Darth Vader, though he was never cruel to her, so she could never figure out why.
Every time he started the story, Palpatine asked, "Mara, why were the Jedi destroyed?"
And every time, she answered, "Because they were weak traitors who turned on you and the Republic."
"Yes." He would nod. "Once upon a time, a very well-respected Jedi Master crash-landed on a planet that no one had ever found before. The very first thing he did was make his droid start to fix his ship, then he went exploring.
"He met the natives not very far away and began living with them. Then one day, he fell in love.
"This made him a bad Jedi, because they were not allowed to fall in love. Soon he found himself with a little girl, just like you. But then his droid fixed his ship and the Jedi flew off, leaving his little girl alone. Do you know what happened to her?"
Mara, whose bright green eyes were always round and wide by this point of the story, would shake her head. "What happened to her?" she would ask, though she knew the answer.
"She disappeared," was always the reply. "Was swallowed up by the Force and became a wraith who wandered the planet looking for revenge on the Jedi father who abandoned her." Then he would lean down so that she could see his face clearly. "So that, Mara, is why the Jedi were destroyed. They not only betrayed me, but also their own families. Never forget that."
She never did. As she grew older and began her training as the Emperor's Hand, Mara kept the story of the wraith-girl in the back of her mind. She imagined how it must feel to be a wraith. Eventually without realizing it, she began to move like she thought such a creature would move. By the time she was sent out on her first mission, she was nearly invisible.
Mara was never told anything about her family, other than that they had made the great sacrifice of offering her to the Emperor when she was just a young child. Nevertheless, her heart ached for the abandoned daughter in the story and that fueled her hatred of the Jedi even more.
It took her years to put her life back together after the death of Emperor Palpatine and the victory of the Rebel Alliance. Briefly, before she decided to dedicate her entire existence to fulfilling her master's last mission, she thought about letting herself be swallowed by the Force. Then she could find the wraith-girl and the two of them could spend eternity searching for the people who had ruined their lives.
The events on the backwater world of Wayland, when Mara killed the clone of Luke Skywalker, brought her peace of mind and began to change her outlook on the Jedi. She tried training with Luke at his Academy and slowly the two were able to admit that they were in love.
They story of the wraith-girl still haunted her. She could never find the right moment to ask Luke if he had ever heard of her. Even after they were married, she found that she was afraid that a story that painted the Jedi of the Old Republic in such a negative light would offend her new husband. All of her years in the Emperor's court made her unable to really trust anyone.
Although images of the wraith-girl had appeared on and off in her dreams since she had first heard the story, the first nightmare did not come until the first night she and Luke spend in their new Coruscant apartment after returning from their honeymoon on Ithor.
In the dream, she was a small child in a house on a planet that she had never seen before. Her imagined image of the wraith-girl watched her through a window as she looked around. The house was full of open courtyards and graceful arches, with soaring balconies that overlooked a rushing river. Murals and statues of slender humanoid aliens lined the long corridors. She followed closely behind a man as he walked into a room. There was a little boy beside her – her brother.
Brother? She had never known her family, but she felt like she would have known deep down if she had a sibling. The Force, in its infinite wisdom, had never led her to believe that she had been separated from anyone.
Suddenly the scene shifted and she was in the forest. A black shadow wrapped around her, enveloping everything but her eyes. She could see the figure of the man who had been leading them standing on a balcony behind her. She called out to him, but he just shook his head.
She turned and saw her brother standing in the woods alone. She called out to him too, but he began to fade away. Again she called his name, but he disappeared into thin air. The darkness around her crawled into her eyes and soon there was nothing.
She awoke with a start, drenched in sweat and shaking. On the other side of the bed, Luke sat up, his blonde hair tousled and his blue eyes dark with worry. "Are you okay?"
Mara took a few deep breaths, not trusting her voice. Finally she said, "I had a nightmare."
"I know. You were tossing and turning and shouting out words I've never heard before."
Mara looked at him sharply. "What words?"
Frowning, Luke said, "First you said 'Ada.' Then you kept shouting 'Alar.' Do you remember what the nightmare was about?"
She pushed herself up and leaned against the headboard. Luke reached over and stroked her hair with his left hand – his real hand. He tried always to touch her with his real hand. Mara suspected that he had some issues about the perceived superficiality of a bionic limb. "I do remember," she said. "The wraith-girl was there."
"Wraith-girl?" Luke repeated.
Mara nodded. "When I was a child, the Emperor used to tell me this story about a Jedi who crash-landed on some unknown planet and fathered a child there. Then as soon as his ship was fixed, he took off and abandoned her. She was swallowed up by the Force and became a wraith."
If Luke was offended, he did not show it. "What happened in the dream, love?" he asked, his voice gentle.
"I was a very small child in this beautiful house. It was a planet I've never seen before. I was following this man and my brother was with me. Then I was in the forest being engulfed in a black cloud. The man was watching me and I called out to him but he wouldn't help me. And my brother disappeared into thin air." Tears sprang to her eyes. "Then the darkness took me."
Luke held out his arm and Mara gratefully slid over to the center of the bed to let him wrap her in an embrace. "Do you think it was just a nightmare?" he asked as she leaned against his chest.
"No," she whispered. "But I don't see how it could be real either. I don't have a brother."
"You know that for sure?"
"Well no," Mara admitted. "But I've never felt like there was someone I was ripped away from. I mean – " She felt another lump form in her throat. "Except for my parents, but they gave me up willingly."
Luke held her close. She felt the calming touch of his mind on hers. "You know, until Ben told me, I never would have guessed that I had a twin sister somewhere. Once I knew, then I knew it was Leia, but before that, it never occurred to me. Maybe this Alar is a brother you just never knew about."
Mara shrugged. "Maybe. What about the man?"
"You said Ada," Luke said. "Maybe that's his name."
Yawning, Mara nodded. "It could be."
They fell into silence. Mara felt her eyes get heavy. "Do you feel better?" Luke murmured.
Sleeping, she nodded. "Thank you."
Mara tilted her head up to meet his lips for a goodnight kiss, then rolled back to her side. As she fell asleep, she could feel Luke's hand stroking her back.