As the wedding date drew ever closer, both Leia and Mirax had declined to accompany Mara during further expeditions, so Iella Antilles and Winter Celchu had been roped into going along for shopping for flowers and picking out the cake. Mara had insisted on the famous Chef Gormaanda catering her wedding dinner, as well as creating her elaborate ten-tiered cake. After several trips with the bride-to-be and the producer of SithBrides, Iella and Winter came down with a mysteriously long-lasting stomach ailment and stated they could no longer help Mara with her wedding planning.
Mara finally convinced Leia and Mirax to view her completed wedding cake, as she was running out of willing victims… err, friends.
The three ladies (followed by Xizzel Xazzel and his recording droid) entered the large catering store, gazing around in awe at the various droid workers busily chopping, dicing, blending and mashing. In the middle of all this activity was none other than the four-armed, four-starred Chef Gormaanda! Seeing her illustrious customers, the large humanoid female hurried over and gave Mara an enthusiastic hug with her many limbs.
"Darling! I've been expecting you!" Gormaanda gushed.
"Hello, Chef," Mara returned with far less enthusiasm as she extracted herself from the lady's bosomy embrace.
She smiled at Mirax and Leia. "I see you brought some different friends this time. Is that the President? I must say, I am so honored to meet you, darling." She leaned closer to Leia, and said quite loudly, "Can I confide something to you? I've had the biggest crush on that man you're married to for years! Ever since I watched your wedding on the HoloNet. If he weren't already spoken for, I swear I'd kidnap him, chain him up in my dungeon and have my way with him." She winked at the shocked Princess. "Believe me, he'd like it, too."
Mara turned toward Xazzel. "That might be a fun reality show to record."
"Uh," Leia said to the large female, while wondering if Gormaanda really had a dungeon somewhere, "I'll be sure to tell Han he's got a, um, fan."
"Fan … stalker," Mirax murmured. "Half dozen of one, six of the other…"
"I'd like to see my cake now, if you don't mind," Mara interrupted. "I have my bachelorette party tonight, and my wedding is tomorrow, and I want everything to be perfect."
"Of course, darling!" Gormaanda said fawningly. "I've prepared the best meal of my entire career for you, and you should know that I have received the Orto Culinary Academy Award for Engorgable Excellence THREE times! So for me to claim that I have outdone myself is saying something indeed." She pointed to her droids. "Glowblue Noodles! Chav! Bantha rump! All my specialties will be there for your guests' enjoyment. I'm so honored to be doing this for such a wonderful, famous couple."
"And we're paying you well, too," Mara pointed out.
"I am well worth it," Gormaanda assured her.
"Where's the cake?"
Gormaanda took Mara's elbow and hustled her off to another room, while Leia and Mirax tagged after the producer and the recording droid.
Inside the bakery area stood the tallest wedding cake currently in existence. Leia thought it was beautiful, but Mara apparently had a different viewpoint.
"It's LAVENDER!" Mara yelled in shock. "I don't want a LAVENDER cake!"
Gormaanda's eyes widened in surprise. "But, darling, that's the exact color you asked for."
Wild-eyed, Mara stomped over to the cake. "I said mauve! MAUVE! This cake is LAVENDER! I want mauve! Mauve, mauve, mauve! Is the filling even flavored with Berry Bliss like I asked for? I'll bet it's not. How stupid are you, anyway?"
"Mauve and lavender are essentially the same color," Mirax tried to point out.
"They are not," Mara snapped out. "Stay out of this, Mirax! If I want your opinion, I'll ask for it!"
"You asked me to come along," Mirax shot back hotly. "Isn't that the same thing?"
"No, it isn't," Mara responded, her tone icy.
"Maybe she can put another layer of icing over the cake," Leia suggested.
"Then it will be nothing but thick, gloppy icing," Mara complained. "My guests will gag from all that disgusting sugar!"
"That's not the only thing they'll be gagging on," Mirax said.
"What's THAT supposed to mean?"
"It means that your wedding is so over-the-top, excessive and gaudy that Luke will never live it down!"
"Why, why… you…." Mara spluttered out, and unable to think of a strong enough verbal response, she grabbed a handful of the lavender cake and threw it into Mirax's face.
"MARA!" Leia yelled, shocked.
"She deserved it!" Mara shouted, then took a step back, her expression changing from anger to embarrassment.
Mirax calmly wiped off the gooey mess from her face. "That's okay, Leia. This shows me what kind of person Mara truly is." She turned to the red-faced former assassin. "I quit, Jade. Find some other dupe to be in your wedding and wear that Force-cursed dress." With those words, Mirax Horn turned and walked out of the catering shop.
"You went too far," Leia told Mara sternly.
Holding her hands to her face, Mara said, "I…I don't know what came over me."
"You'll need to apologize to Mirax."
"No, you don't," Xazzel said. "This is exactly what you signed up for, Jade. Keep it going. Besides, we've already paid for your wedding dress, flowers, the rental hall and all this food. If you quit now, you'll be obligated to reimburse us for…" He looked down at a small calculator. "One hundred and two thousand, six hundred and forty-eight credits. Plus lawyer fees and fines for dropping out once the recording started, which should about double that number. Do you have that kind of money, honey?"
Leia's eyes widened at the amount. "Oh, my Stars!"
"I've ruined my wedding cake," Mara whispered, staring at her sticky hand.
"There, there, darling," Gormaanda said, patting Mara on the back. "I'll fix it right up and you'll never know there was a little accident. And I can lighten up the frosting without making it too thick, too."
Mara blinked, trying to focus on her current predicament. "You do that, Chef Gormaanda. I've got a bachelorette party to go to, and I want to have fun and not worry about my cake anymore." She addressed Leia, "You're my Maid of Honor, and a really good politician, so I'll expect you to patch things up with Mirax. It won't be a problem, will it?"
"And just like that, the Sith Bride is back," Leia said sadly.
Leia used every set of negotiating skills she possessed to put things right between Mara and Mirax. Eventually, with Mara apologizing over the comlink, Mirax agreed to be in the wedding and go to the bachelorette party, which, not coincidentally, was taking place at the same time Han was throwing Luke his bachelor party.
Mara's party took place in a private room inside an upscale Coruscant restaurant. It turned out to be a lot of fun, despite the annoying presence of the recording droid. At least Xizzel Xazzel, on the grounds he was a male, did not make an appearance, and without him there constantly egging on his 'star', Mara was also well-behaved, particularly to Mirax.
It was only toward the end of the party that things started getting a bit strange. Mara had consumed a bit too much alcohol and while she stood looking out of the open doorway, another boisterous group made their way inside the main part of the restaurant.
"Who that is?" Mara asked Winter.
Winter smiled. Of course she knew, because Winter never forgot a face or a conversation. "His name is General Horton Salms, and he is in charge of a Y-Wing squadron. His group also holds the title for Champion Slingball."
"Ha," Mara said loudly, blinking as the room swayed a bit. "Look how arrogant they are." She held up her glass and shouted across the restaurant. "Hey, Horton Salami!" The General as well as the other patrons turned their attention toward Mara. "Yeah, you, the General Dude lording over those other loser dudes! I have a proposition for you."
By this time, Leia, Iella, Mirax and Tionne Solusar had noticed the new commotion Mara was making. "Mara, maybe you should come back inside our room," Leia whispered.
General Salms swaggered over to the ladies. "I'm always open for a proposition, especially from beautiful women."
Mara stepped closer to the man, jabbing her fingernail into his chest. "That's not the kind of proposition I'm talking about, so drag your mind out of the tutter… err, I mean gutter."
"What are you doing now?" Iella hissed at her friend.
"I'm making a bet," Mara said, grinning. "I think we can beat these men at their own game – slingball."
"Now?" Mirax asked, stunned. "You want to go play a slingball game right now? It's night!"
"What are we playing for, pretty lady?" Salms questioned, leering.
"If we win, you have to pay us two hundred and ten thousand credits," Mara stated.
The man looked startled at the amount. "That's a lot of money. What do we get if - I should say - what do we get when we win?"
Mara frowned in thought. "If you win, I'll sign over ownership of my private ship."
"I doubt it's worth two hundred thousand credits," Salms stated. "You'll have to throw in a second ship." He gave a wicked grin and pointed to Leia. "Throw her husband's ship into the mix and we've got a bet."
"What?!" Leia gasped.
"The Millennium Falcon?" Mara asked dubiously. "Why in the galaxy would you want that piece of kreth?"
The man grinned. "Bragging rights."
"I can't do that. The Falcon's not even mine to gamble!" Leia stated firmly.
"It's half yours," Mara argued. "Besides, Han will never know, will he?"
"Then it's a deal?" the General asked eagerly.
"Deal!" Mara said, shaking the man's hand and totally ignoring Leia's loud protests to the contrary.
Several hours later…
Luke tried desperately to be heard over the loud music coming from the enthusiastic band. "Han? HAN?"
"What?" Han shouted back, taking a draw from his expensive cigga and blowing the smoke toward Luke.
The Jedi blinked, his eyes watering in the blue haze of the room. "I want to go home now."
"Are you crazy? The Twi'lek dancing girls haven't even arrived yet. Lando brought in the best from halfway across the galaxy. You don't want to disappoint Lando, do you?"
The younger man waved his hand toward the group of males filling the room. They were busy drinking, smoking and gambling. "I doubt anyone would notice I'm gone."
"Sure they would," Han said. "You can't leave your own party before three in the morning, anyway. It's rude."
"I've got to get up early tomorrow. I'm getting married, remember?"
"Yeah, I remember. Are you sure about that, kid? It's not too late to back out, ya know."
"I'm sure," Luke replied. "After tomorrow is over, everything will be fine. Mara will go back to her normal self."
"And that's a good thing?"
"Ha," Luke muttered. "Not funny, Han."
Han took another drag on his cigga, knowing Leia would be livid upon smelling his clothes and his breath. She despised the smell of cigga smoke, and normally Han wasn't fond of it, either. But this was a special occasion, so Leia would simply have to forgive him.
Suddenly, the door burst open and six women quickly entered the smoke-filled room. It wasn't the Twi'lek dancing girls, however.
"Luke Skywalker!?" Mara shouted over the noise. "Where are you?"
The Jedi pushed forward, heart pounding. "Mara? Is something wrong?"
Mara Jade gave a huge grin, and threw her arms around Luke. "Have I told you how much I love you?"
"Not lately," Luke muttered, looking over Mara's shoulder at his sister for an explanation.
"She's had a bit too much to drink," Leia said.
Luke backed up from his fiancée, and then noticed the other women. "Why are all of you bruised? And all your clothes are torn up, too."
"Mara challenged General Salms Champion Slingball team to a game," Iella said, taking Wedge's arm.
"You've got to be kidding me," Han said in awe. "Those guys are the best."
Mara's grin got wider. "Not anymore! We beat them, we beat them!" She started dancing around the room. "I've got the credit voucher to prove it!" She shoved the disk in Luke's hand.
"This… this is for over two hundred thousand credits!" Luke gasped.
"It sure is! Now we can pay for our wedding ourselves, and pay the fine to get out of my contract," Mara said. "But we will have to replace Xazzel's recording droid. It sorta had an accident… it ran into my lightsaber."
"I see," Luke said thoughtfully. "So this holo-show thing is done with?"
"Great," Luke stated. "But if I ever catch the person responsible for sending in your name…" He trailed off, noticing Mara's sudden change of demeanor. "Mara? Do you know who did it?"
"Uh, Luke?" Mara mumbled, looking at the floor. "I had Threepio send in my name."
"What?! Why would you do that?"
Mara grinned sheepishly. "Ever since I was a little girl I've wanted a fancy wedding. All little girls want fancy weddings. And we couldn't really afford it, so I thought, uh, why not? It's only an act, and no one gets hurt, and I'll get my fancy wedding paid for… and…." She stopped rambling. "After all that, do you still want to marry me?"
Luke smiled. "More than ever." He leaned forward and kissed her passionately, and everyone in the room broke into applause.
Just at that moment, the Twi'lek dancing girls came wiggling into the room. Mara drew back from her fiancé, frowning at the intrusion. "Who are they?"
"Uh," Luke mumbled, pointing at Calrissian. "Blame Lando."
"I should have suspected as much," Mara said with a curt nod. "Come on, Jedi Master. It's time you went home. We have a busy day tomorrow."
Mara Jade pulled Luke's arm, and they disappeared out of the door.
"Is that really the end of Darth Jade?" Han asked his wife.
Leia looked up at her husband. Hopefully he would never know how close he came to losing his beloved ship that night. "Yes, I do believe that truly is ..