Ok all, this one is now in the bag!! I had so much fun working on this story. I hope you all have enjoyed it as much as I have. Take a minute and let me know what you thought!


A Jedi's Return

Chapter 18


Mara headed through the ventilation shaft she came in from and looked into the control room she had been in earlier. There were two Imperial officers inside. Mara thought back to the training she received from Master Yoda. He had taught her many ways to distract an opponent. She reached out with the Force, causing a data pad near the door to fly out into the hall, crashing into the opposite wall. Both Imperials ran out to investigate. Mara quickly removed the screen covering the shaft opening and slipped out, dropping down to the floor. Unfortunately, her diversion wasn't long enough, she made it to the door as it opened again.

The Death Star shook with a direct hit. ~ The shields must be down! ~ Through the crack in the door, she saw them exchange glances then ran down the corridor, making a hasty exit. Mara slipped out the door and around a corner, wasting no time in heading off to the shuttle bay, keeping as far back in the shadows as possible, among the pandemonium going on around her as the Death Star continued to shake and rumble.

Entering the shuttle bay, Mara looked around at the activity. By now the Death Star shook violently, its orbit continually less stable under the attack it was undergoing. No one seemed to even notice her anymore. There was a frantic activity throughout the bay as pilots scrambled to their fighters, trying to beat back the Rebellion and win their fight. Others had seemed to decide that, once again, the Rebellion would win and were trying to make their own escape. Mara glanced around the corner discovering a Sorosuub 3000 luxury yacht sitting on the landing platform; apparently it had been captured along with other ships parked throughout the hangar. Two Imperial officers exited the ramp and ran over to a control panel to check out the situation. Stretching out to the Head Hunter with the Force, Mara sensed only one person still on board. She ran over to the ship and up the ramp.

As she entered the ship, a guard stepped out, pointing a blaster rifle at her. Before he could bring it completely around on her, Mara kicked up her foot and sent the weapon sailing from the guard's grip and immediately dropped down low, spinning her body and sweeping her leg out, knocking him down. As he hit the deck she rotated her body and brought her hand down for a quick chop to his neck and he was out.

Mara stretched out with the Force, trying to sense any more guards on board, but there were none. She bent down and grabbed the trooper under the arms and dragged him out onto the ramp rolling his unconscious form down to the deck below. Moving swiftly, she headed back through the entrance and immediately found the control panel and slapped the palm of her hand down on them, sealing the hatch behind her as she slid into the pilot's seat.

Inside the cockpit, Mara familiarized herself with the ship and began the preflight sequence. As she waited for the ship her thoughts turned back to Luke. It hurt to leave him, but he had made it clear he wanted her to go. There was something nagging at the edges of her mind, but she couldn't quite get it. The console beeped as the lights turned green. She was ready to go. Still she hesitated. After a few moments, Mara began keying the controls on her console, getting ready for take off.

Luke stood before the Emperor, his chest heaving from his battle with his father. The Emperor glowered menacingly at him. "If you will not be turned," as he spoke the Emperor raised his gnarled hands slowly, pointing them in the young Jedi's direction, "you will be destroyed!" Suddenly, blue lightning shot out of the Emperor's fingers and hit Luke squarely in the chest knocking him backwards into small generators surrounding the long chasm leading down to the main reactor. Luke grabbed on to one to keep from falling down. As he struggled to pull himself up the Emperor continued walking slowly towards him. "You have paid the price for lack of vision." Again blue lightning shot from his fingertips sending Luke crashing to the deck, jerking violently from the electricity coursing through his body.

As the Emperor continued his onslaught, Luke cried out in pain. "Father, please…ahhh" Vader got to his feet and slowly made his way to the Emperor's side, watching his son jerk and scream on the floor, fighting for his life. Luke's cries echoed through Vader's mind. He tried to block them out but could not. He looked back and forth from his master to his son. He was completely torn about his role. He flashed back to days long past, when the Emperor had punished him with the blue lightning. He knew the pain his son was in. He wanted so much to save him, but knew if he stopped the Emperor he would die. Then the Emperor stopped his deadly onslaught.

"Young fool. Only now, at the end, do you understand." He looked down at the crumpled figure before him. "Now young Skywalker. You will die." An evil grin spread over his features and he aimed his hands once again at Luke. When the lightning hit Luke he screamed out his agony. He tried to yell for his father, but the pain was too much. He knew he had failed.

Vader fought with his emotions, not sure what to do. He continued to look between the two most important people in his life. He had to do something. Just then Vader heard a shrill scream. "No!!!" He turned to see Mara Jade running full force towards the Emperor.

The Emperor just assumed that Vader was so completely under his control; he didn't even give Mara another thought. He was confident Lord Vader would stop her. The Emperor's Hand was charging forward to save his son. The one person Vader thought to be blindly loyal to the Emperor; the one person, who had been raised by the Emperor himself. In that moment, Vader made his decision; if she could love Luke and break away from her master, then so could he. He reached deep down inside himself and found his true soul and immersed himself in it. He was Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight and hero. As his last act as a Jedi, he would do what was right. He reached around behind the Emperor, grabbing him under his arms, picking him up off the floor over his head.

Mara saw Vader grab the Emperor and lift him up. She was shocked but didn't let it deter her. She quickly changed her direction to head towards Luke, and skidded on her knees to his side, checking to see if he was all right. They both looked up to see Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith, pitch the Emperor down the shaft leading to the main reactor, then collapse onto the same generators Luke had held onto so tightly before.

Mara helped Luke up and they both went to Vader, Pulling him back from the chasm. Luke laid him back against his chest and grabbed his hand. "Father. Are you alright?"

"Yes, my son." Vader said as he struggled to breathe, his portable respirator wheezing as it fought to continue working "Now you must leave."

"Yeah, right." Luke looked up at Mara and she nodded and they both struggled to help the fallen man up. Hooking his arms around their shoulders they managed to get him up to his feet, struggling to get him to the shuttle bay. By this time the massive space station had started to shake violently with explosions and people running around trying to get to ships to evacuate. Mara directed Luke to the Z95 headhunter she had found and ran ahead to the ship, quickly keying in the new password sequence she had programmed into the computer before she sealed the ship and went to find Luke.

Luke struggled to get Vader up the ramp but they collapsed in a heap on the end of the ramp. Luke reached up and pulled his father to a sitting position and was just getting up to get him inside when he stopped him. "Luke," Vader struggled, "help me take this mask off."

Luke looked shocked, "But you'll die."

"Nothing can stop that now. Just for once, let me look on you with my own eyes." He hoped Luke would do this for him. He so wanted to see his son, without all the mechanics involved.

Luke looked at him a moment, knowing deep down that he would do what was asked of him. He nodded at him and reached behind him to take off the helmet. As he reached to take off the mask, Mara came out to help get him inside and stopped short when she saw what was happening. Luke pulled the mask free and looked on his father and smiled. "Now go…my son…leave me."

Luke started to shake his head at him as he spoke. "No, I'll not leave you, I've got to save you."

Anakin Skywalker looked upon his son, a strange warm feeling churning inside him. A feeling he hadn't experienced in a long time. "You already have, Luke." Anakin's voice was softer and warmer as he spoke to his son. "You were right about me, Luke. Tell your sister. You were right." As he spoke his voice became weaker, then he blinked a few times and started to fall backwards as the life force drained from him and his soul became one with the Force.

Luke watched as his father passed away before his eyes, sliding silently to the deck. As his father's presence slipped away Luke bowed his head and cried for him.

Mara walked slowly down the ramp to kneel at Luke's side. Placing a hand on his shoulder, "Luke. We have to leave before this thing blows up." Around them pieces of the super structure started to fall as the massive station continued to shake violently.

Luke looked up at her and nodded. He bent forward and started to pick up his father to carry him aboard ship. Mara watched a moment then bent down to help him. Silently they got Anakin's body inside the ship and sealed the hatch. As the space station started to shake and fall apart, Luke and Mara flew out of the bay as a huge explosion ripped through it, sending structural parts falling to the deck, missing them by two meters. Luke and Mara blew out their breaths. They had made it. Luke reached over and took Mara's hand in his. Mara looked up in surprise, but then tightened her grip.

They flew down to land in a field on Endor. Without a word Luke began to gather wood. Mara watched him a moment and began to help him build a pier for a private funeral for a man who, in the end, was good at heart. By the time they were finished, night had started to fall.

Luke used the Force to lift his massive body onto the pier. He turned to Mara once he had his father's body settled on the pier and she handed him a torch. Luke locked gazes with her a moment before turning to look at the body of his father and smiled. He had been right. There was good in him. With that thought, Luke ignited the pier and watched as the flames claimed the body of Anakin Skywalker back unto the soil.

Luke mused over his life and that of his father. So many things could have been different. So many lives that could've been spared pain and grief. But that was the past. His father had taken that final step, after years of darkness, into the light. He was amazed at his incredible strength. He had to have had a lot of it to survive so long in the grip of the Darkside. Now he was one with the Force as it should be. He smiled at that thought. His father truly was a Jedi.

Mara watched Luke as the flames engulfed the body of his father. She was struck at the openness of his feelings, his feelings for his father…and his feelings for her. He was right all along about Vader. He did have good in him. Luke's unwavering strength, devotion and belief in goodness, had helped his father realize the truth and turn back to the light side of the Force. Then she realized that devotion and belief in goodness was also directed at her. Luke believed in her, too. No one had ever believed in her as he did. She could hardly believe it. And she believed in him too.

Mara came up beside Luke and instinctively; he draped an arm over her shoulders, pulling her closer. She put her arms around him, trying to give as much comfort to him as she could. After some time had passed Luke turned to Mara and pulled her closer to him. "Thank you, Mara." He whispered to her.

Mara looked into his eyes. "You're welcome." she whispered back. Then, Luke lowered his head and captured her lips in a kiss.

After a moment, Luke pulled away and gazed into Mara's eyes. "Mara?" He swallowed visibly before continuing. "I know we said we would figure out what was between us after this is all over, but I have to tell you…" He took a deep breath, "I love you, Mara." He had said it. He knew he may be rushing things but knew he had to tell her how he felt.

Mara watched him a moment. "Luke…" She thought she had no idea how to feel; how to love. But looking into Luke's eyes, she knew that she was capable of these emotions. She also knew that she wanted to be with Luke, for as long as he wanted her. Taking a deep breath she plunged ahead. "I love you, too."

At Mara's words, Luke grabbed her and pulled her to him wrapping his arms tightly around her once more and crushing her mouth with his. Mara's arms instinctively wrapped around his neck and, finally, she opened herself to him completely, letting him enter her mind while she simultaneously entered his. When they had melded together completely, they realized that they both felt a connection; a peace that seemed to radiate through them.

Later that evening Luke and Mara made their way to the Ewok village in the trees to join the celebration. As Luke and Mara made their way down the narrow walkway, Leia was waiting for them. Luke let go of Mara's hand and swept Leia into his arms. Mara stood back and watched and smiled as he finally was back with his real family. Suddenly, Han grabbed her and hugged her fiercely. "Thanks, Mara."

Mara had to force herself not to throw him down. She had never let anyone hug her until Luke so it was still new to her. She would just have to learn to deal with it. Frowning at him she replied. "For what. Solo?"

Han smiled at her, then looked at Luke and Leia; his family—and he would place odds that Mara would soon be a part of that family. "For bringing him home." Sliding his arm around her shoulders he led her over to join the celebration.


I hope you all have enjoyed my vision of what ROTJ may have been like with Mara Jade in it (without the 10 years it took to get these two together). I figure if they fell that hard that fast in the end of VOTF then why not here. I know I enjoyed writing this story immensely. I have always felt Mara should be in ROTJ but knew she had been created in the EU novels so there was no chance to have her in it. (What do you think?)