The Disclaimer. I own none of these wonderful charactersand the locations we love so well they are all the property of Lucasfilm and I will not make an Imperial credit from using them. This is my first venture in fanfiction writing so any feedback would be most welcome.
Chapter 22 - The Power of the Light
Caaper Ginnohlm Spaceport
Lieutenant Page gingerly picked up the piece of space freight he'd been toting around for the last two days. Dressed as a spaceport mechanic he blended in as if born to the life on the planet. Several of his best people were dotted around in similar uniforms and some as fake members of the Deegani Military. Even if they didn't rescue Luke's wife, they'd still found out vital evidence on current Imperial stats and troop deployment. Some of the undercover people had been working on Deegan for years and only now were coming into their own. Deegan was functioning under Imperial occupation, there was no question about that and the people had begun to wake up to it. As for his lost operative, Paman Roet was dead. His death had been one of the last things Maija had located from the files before her capture. They would have learned nothing from him, but it didn't make his loss any easier.
His comlink clicked twice. That was his signal. Something was about to happen.
The Reigning Queen of Deegan stalked out from the Royal transport dressed in a form-fitting black jump-suit, followed by the limping figure of Admiral Joulwe. Page edged as close as he dared and listened hard, but his audio link was too far away from the voices to pick up anything specific. Any information on the Admiral was sketchy, so this was the chance to augment their files. Page leant forward as far as he could without drawing attention to himself.
Most of the prisoners had been moved the previous evening, the aliens and the petty thieves. The more important ones were being hauled in as they watched. Then the prisoners who couldn't make their own way onto the shuttle were dragged on board. Maija was among them. She was still unconscious, a large purple bruise graced her forehead and matched the dried blood around her swollen lip. He hoped that Luke didn't see her, but if he did, she had recovered a bit, because it would be enough to drive a Jedi to the Dark side. It was the senseless, inexplicable cruelty that drove the Empire on and which made Page keep on with his own task.
"We should just kill her now," the soldier argued. "She'll die in hyperspace."
"No!" said the admiral firmly. "We want her to be more aware of what is happening to her. She'll die on her way to, or in Kallinn."
"The force wills it." muttered Antaara.
"Careful Taara, your gracious princess image is slipping and I need you to maintain order here. When the Empire rises we will need Deegan as a coreward base. A sort of half-way point from Chiaase to Coruscant. Calm down Taara and start behaving in a more rational manner, or the good people of this planet will begin to wonder if you are fit to rule, and we don't want that to happen, do we?"
"Are you threatening me Gtrec? You come from a minor Noble house and I am your Queen. Don't forget that," she bit out malignantly.
"I do not forget Taara. But take care. Do not let this petty hatred eat at you from the inside out."
The Queen jumped and a flicker of fear crossed her features. "That's what she said would happen."
"My dear Taara, you're being ridiculous." the Admiral drawled amusedly.
A wave of fury filled her at the Admirals mocking words and she unleashed a tendril of dark side anger. The guard in front of Joulwe choked and sank to his knees.
"Enough!" thundered the Admiral. The guards around him tensed.
Antaara gazed at him amazed. Gtrec had assumed the mantle of Imperial power and even though she had the force at her command, he had the might of the Empire at his fingertips. The thought scared her, yet she felt elated, for together they were truly powerful. But it would not do for him to totally know her feelings. A small flame of anger started to grow as indignation replaced her momentary awe. How dare he take her to task in front of inferiors. "Never speak to me like that again," she hissed. Turning on her heel she marched back to her transport. "Rivn! Take over."
The oily Prime Minister sneered after his departing mistress. "Her paranoia has reached new levels since we captured the force adept, even though she has been no threat. One almost wonders what the fuss was about. It's possible we missed something."
"Perhaps," mused Joulwe. "She would have been an excellent candidate for turning to our will if Isaard had still been alive, but proved obdurate under interrogation. Too strongly rooted in weak NR propaganda, even after Imperial training. One or two always slip through the net. I would rather kill her now, but her Serene Highness wants the suffering to linger. Ah, well." the Admiral bored of the subject. "She'll die soon enough on Kallinn - they all do. She doesn't look strong enough to reach there, never mind work there. Antaara has let this weigh her down. I'm tired of this inward looking planet. I wasn't good enough for it twenty years ago. Now it's not good enough for me. I've had enough."
"And enough of her Serene Highness too I'll warrant," remarked Rivn slyly.
"Yes she has become somewhat cloyingly overpowering of late."
"It's a pity," drawled the Admiral. "But she's no Darth Vader, whatever we built her up to believe. However I do have plans for her. I'll marry her off."
"It's a possibility. I am her weakness. Always have been, but it depends if it is worth my while. She will travel part of the way to Chiaase, there is a conference on Haltt which she will attend, it will remove her from the scene while we make some little alterations here. Some of the Imperial leadership have made their homes there. You will stay here to keep control and tighten our grip on the people."
Rivn's small eyes gleamed. "Of course, Cousin."
On board the Millennium Falcon.
Leia sat by her brothers side as he lay in his healing trance. She gently smoothed his thick fair hair back from his forehead. 'He's a good looking man,' she thought. "I want him to be happy. If it is Maija he has chosen I must accept that." She picked up his left hand, his real one and examined the fingers. If you didn't know his right hand was a prosthetic, there was no way of telling. Why did I get it so wrong, did I let the larger picture blur the happiness of my own family, those I love the best. In her inner heart, Leia knew she'd often been unfair to Han also. But because he loved her, he put up with all the things she dished out. "And I said we'd put children on hold for a few years. I love Han I want his children and I'll do something about that soon." She glanced at the peaceful Jedi and tried to sense him through the force, but the trance was a deep one and he'd been very badly hurt. Would Luke survive the loss of Maija. She couldn't quite say 'his wife' yet. "But I will, because she must be a very special girl. Luke wouldn't love her if she wasn't," and Leia knew then that her brother desperately loved the dark eyed Lieutenant, she'd failed so badly. "Oh Luke, I'm so sorry, I'm so very sorry." But the silent Jedi never stirred.
He came out of his healing trance three hours later and limped slowly into the Falcon's cockpit. "I owe you an apology."
"No!" Leia rushed to reassure him. "I didn't understand and I'm sorry. It's I who should offer the apology, I was trying to control the things around me and I lost the vision of what I should have done. "
Luke nodded, "I know."
"I didn't realise I was hurting those closest to me." She stood silently, tears forming in her dark eyes and she blinked bravely. Luke took an awkward step forward and put his arm round his sister. Leia hugged him back but prudently, mindful of his injured ribcage.
Han smiled in relief and Chewbacca barked good naturedly. "I would like to know where I've to go Kid?"
"We're heading back to Deegan?" Leia showed what she thought about that idea.
"My wife's down there and she needs me." It still felt funny, but right, saying 'My wife'. He stood in a daydream as he recalled the days on Tatooine and the week on Bestine after the wedding. Her smooth, slim form as it pressed against his own in the heat of passion. The way her eyes shone when they looked at him and her shy smile when he told her how he loved her.
"Kid, Kid?" Han's voice broke through his consciousness.
"You were miles away there."
Luke blushed, the red in his face showing despite the tan and the bruises. Han smiled in sympathy. He'd a very good idea of where the Jedi's mind had been. Poor soul. Suppose they didn't get Maija back. Han wanted to thank the girl for the care she'd taken of Leia. He owed her one.
Luke stiffened and held out his hands as if trying to touch something in front of him. Leia closed her eyes and stretched out with the force. She saw a dark, small place, smelling of fear and despair. It was a holding cell on an Imperial ship. She recognised that, as she'd been in one herself. The lone occupant was lying on a bunk, her face bruised and her lip bloodied. Leia could feel the girl's anguish and her brother's hopelessness.
Leia withdrew from the vision and went to sit near Han, this was not hers to see. They all watched Luke solemnly as he tried to contact the prisoner.
"Maija, my darling. Can you hear me. We're coming for you. We have to. Without you I'm only half a person, you know that."
"Luke, they've moved me off the planet. I'm to die on Kallinn. I don't wish for you to share my fate. Where are you?"
"I'm on the Falcon with Han and Leia. Where are you?"
"I really don't know," Maija's voice was vague, dreamy. "Page is on the ship. I keep seeing him, or it's someone who looks like him, or like someone familiar. They've put all this stuff into me with a needle and I can't think. But we're going to Chiaase, then Kallinn. I love you, I've always loved........"
"Maija!" Luke shouted, but she'd gone. "I know you love me, it was always meant to be," he whispered. He opened his eyes and stared hard at the Nav computer, as if he could see right through it. Stretching out with the force he abruptly stabbed at a point. "We go there and wait."
"Yes Commander Skywalker," joked Han. This was more like it. This was what they did best.
"Contact the Rogues and Arrow Squadron, they should be able to back us up. I'm serious about this. I'm getting her out of there, and all the others. Virtually every non-human on Deegan has been shipped out of there in the last few weeks. We can make a small dent in their plans."
Leia grinned. Her brother was at once the boy she'd first met. "I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm here to rescue you." She still caught fleeting glimpses of him and strangely enough if she'd compared notes with Maija, Leia would have found the Luke of old had slowly been re-emerging more and more.
"One small thing guys," Han chipped in. "Page is not on the ship, he's still on the planet. We've to pick him up."
"Can we sneak in, the back way"
"It's a breeze sweetheart, one of his men is in the spaceport control tower. We've been directed to an obscure landing sight. We pick up Page there."
Two hours later they'd cleared the planet and were heading off into Imperial Space. Luke had taken over the Falcon's controls as he could find a quicker route to the co-ordinates using the force, with any luck they'd be there before the Imperial transport. The young Jedi's legendary flying skills allied with his force ability got the Falcon to the required place well in advance of anyone else. He sat back in the pilot's chair and sighed heavily. Leia drew him from the cockpit and led him back to the cabin. "Come on Luke, a few more hours in a healing trance will do you and the Lieutenant a power of good."
"No problem. I'll alert you if anything happens." Luke just smiled tiredly and closed his blue eyes. As Leia left the cabin, she could have sworn that he murmured his wife's name.
He was in the small dark place again, but this time Maija was not alone. The figure of Antaara dressed in black armed with a lightsaber stood guard over the sleeping girl.
"If you want her back, you'll have to get past me first."
Luke pulled his saber from his belt and ignited it. His green blade rose to meet the white one of the dark princess. Already the evil had worked at her from within, her skin had lost it's lustre and she had aged. The beauty which had been evident on Coruscant had gone sour. But this was a vision not an actual event, he tried to reassure himself with that, but it didn't make it seem any less real.
"Already the evil eats at you from the inside Your Highness." His words enraged the woman and she rushed at him, saber held high. He parried her blow with ease and knocked the saber from her grasp. With a swift lunge he passed his own saber through her body and she completely disappeared. "What!" he gasped bewildered. Then he remembered this was a dream. Maija opened her eyes and gazed at him as he stood, the saber humming in his hands. He looked at his Jedi's weapon and discovered it was not his own. He shut it off and handed it to Maija, as she sat on the sleeping pallet. "This is yours, it's not mine. Hide it, you'll need it." He bent forward to kiss her.
"Luke, Luke!" Leia shook him awake. Page has contacted one of the NR capital ships working in the area. We've got the back-up we need. The Victorious has been patrolling around the borderland regions without getting too close to Imperial territory. It's coming to our assistance."
A wave of energy rushed through Luke's body. He jerked himself upright, then groaned as his ribs protested at the sharp movement. "I'm with you Leia."
Closing his eyes he searched for Maija. Her sense flickered and brightened as he made contact. Then a chill entered his soul as another presence made itself felt. He shuddered. That had torn it. The Dark Princess knew they were coming.
"Han, We'd better move fast. I think they know we're on our way!"
The Imperial Slave ship
The Imperial Lieutenant's eyes widened in panic. "Sir!" he shouted to his superior officer. "There's something wrong. The vessel is not responding to controls."
"Nothing's happening, we're stuck out here, worse than a Tusken Raider without a bantha, Sir."
"Better get the Admiral up here immediately." he leaned over to the comlink and spoke urgently. The Lieutenant frowned. He needed a little more delay and flicked the switch that jammed the broadcast. Anxiously he gazed at the others on the bridge. A signal was given and acknowledged, but most people were unaware of that fact. Another officer mutter a swift imprecation. "My instruments are not responding Sir, they've just gone dead."
There was a strange unnatural rumbling from the vessel's engines.
A quiet voice was heard to say. "It's because we have the sorcerer Jedi on board." A few superstitious mutterings ran round the crew. Imperial bias against the Jedi had turned them into monsters who beat up old ladies and preyed on children and ewok cubs. On an Imperial ship, this was not uncommon. The Captain ground his teeth in annoyance. "Don't be ridiculous. I'll go and contact the Admiral personally. Brekkin! Take over and try to fix the problem, otherwise we'll sit dead in space with a hold full of prison scum, waiting for supplies." He straightened his tight uniform jacket and moved swiftly from the Bridge.
Fife Brekkin moved slowly to the view screen. Ahead loomed the graceful shape of a NR capital ship. Bending down he fiddled with the heel of his boot and a signal went flying. He just needed a few more minutes.
"Lieutenant! My instruments have just gone dead, there's nothing on the scopes."
Trying to look as if he was on the verge of panic. Fife raced to the officer's side. Sure enough the instruments were dead.
"Can we contact Admiral Joulwe?"
Fife made a decision. "We have to, we're sitting here just waiting for trouble. I think sabotage has been done. There must be rebel trash on board"
The rest of the bridge crew turned horrified and some terrified faces towards the tall Lieutenant.
"If we don't do something, we'll be dead anyway once the Admiral gets hold of us. Contact Captain Vhlasshe and then try to start the back-up engines." He looked quickly in the direction of another officer on the far side of the bridge and gave a slight dip of the head. Simultaneously they pulled at some wires and the ship gave a sudden lurch and the lights flickered wildly. "We're moving again!" someone shouted jubilantly. The vessel tilted and the techs grabbed a handhold. A blast rocked the ship. Realisation came to the crew. They hadn't succeeded in getting the back-up engines to work. They were being attacked!
Klaxons wailed, men ran and Fife desperately pulled at a few more wires. He only hoped he had done enough. A blaster dug into his side. "What are you doing Lieutenant?"
"Trying to fix this comm unit so I can contact the Captain or the Admiral," he answered trying to keep his voice steady.
"You've not done a very good job then," came a quiet voice calmly. There was a blue flash and the trooper who'd held the blaster to Brekkin's side hit the deck.
"These Tatooine farmboys are all the same." Page grinned broadly as more of his commandos moved into position.
"You took your time, Sir." Remarked Gavin Darklighter mildly.
Antaara felt the treachery in the air, her dark side senses fed on it. She didn't know where it was coming from, but the power of the force alerted her to it's presence. Gtrec failed to listen to her until it was too late and warning sirens rang through the ship.
"I told you this would happen." she bit out viciously. "Never underestimate the power of the force." She stopped to take a deep breath and continue haranguing Joulwe, then froze. Her eyes wide and staring. "He's coming. He's on the ship."
"Who is? Antaara!" the Admiral shook her warningly.
Luke frantically searched through the imperial ship. He could feel her force sense, she was still alive. The Imperial ship had had time to ready itself for the attack, but had reckoned without the attack from within. Gavin Darklighter, had returned to his alias as Fife Brekkin and had infiltrated the Deegani military. Luke wasn't sure how it had been done, he'd mentioned his thoughts out loud in Wedge and Gavin's hearing and the pair of them had acted upon it. Cullen Page had been impressed. Wedge had remained in command of the Rogues and Gavin had somehow wiggled his way back into the Deegani army with duty in the detention centre. Antaara had escaped, but Luke had his suspicions she was still around, but hiding her presence. Where was Maija, where was she? He reached out once again and felt a chill run down his spine. Luke began to run, he still wasn't properly healed himself and a sense of fear gnawed at his breast. What if I'm too late. What if......? He got a hold of himself. This wouldn't help his beautiful girl, he put his hand to the pocket of his tunic and patted the crystal pendant. Their marriage gift, she was never to be without it again, that's if she was all right.
Gtrec Joulwe's face turned red with fury. "What!" he roared, his fingers gripping Antaara's shoulders.
"He's alive and on board. This is all her doing. She shall pay." She twisted angrily from his grasp and stormed from her quarters. Gtrec limped thoughtfully to the transparisteel window and gazed thoughtfully at the NR ship Victorious which had arrived along with several squadrons of small snubnose fighters. It was obvious to his eyes that they had been betrayed very cleverly and that they were losing the battle. He smiled thinly to himself. He always had contingency plans.
He needed her to be all right, again the fear gnawed at Luke as he ran. The detention block was no different to any of the others and he ran past anonymous cells, row after row. He could sense her, she was alive, but unconscious. Pulling out his saber he swiped at the door of the cell and stepped inside. He ignited his saber and brought it up sharply Antaara brought her saber down abruptly, narrowly missing the Jedi Knights head.
"I didn't know you were interested in underlings and inferiors Skywalker," she hissed.
"A Jedi cherishes all forms of life, Your Highness," he replied evenly as he blocked a swift swipe of her saber. "But you wouldn't know about that because you're not a true Jedi, are you?"
"This one was a traitor to the Empire. She is no more."
"No!" Luke yelled desperately as he tried to contact his unconscious wife. "Mai, hold on, we've not come this far only to lose each other." breathing heavily he circled the Dark Princess, his eyes never leaving hers.
The Dark Princess narrowed ice blue eyes, there was more emotion here than there should be for a mere employee. He was good, she had to admit that, but she had the dark side at her disposal and attacked the weakest thing in the room - Maija. Luke screamed again and this time Antaara responded with a volley of blows at the Jedi. It had to be said that her saber technique was poor, but Luke was far from healed and was trying to keep the Princess's attention away from Maija.
Leia felt the disturbance in the force and tried to boost her brother's strength. Something rippled in her senses as she helped the injured and starving prisoners to the NR ship. Leia brushed a stray wisp of hair from one of her braids. There was an elusive something. Someone was trying to contact her, but it was weak. She closed her eyes and focused. "Leia," the words formed in her head, but only whispers of sound. "Help us,"
A stunned realisation hit Leia. "Han!" she yelled. "Maija's still alive and Luke needs help." She took off at a run and followed by Han and Chewbacca they rushed towards the detention block. Leia felt the coldness as soon as she attuned herself to Luke. "Antaara." she breathed. "And she's winning."
Maija struggled to awareness as Luke and Antaara fought. Luke was the superior swordsman, but the Dark Princess had evil on her side and wasn't trying to compensate for barely healed injuries She pulled her saber stealthily from her sleeve where it had been hidden and rolled it beneath her body. Then without warning Antaara diverted some Dark energy towards the injured Lieutenant and she felt something snap in her ankle. "Aaargh!" she screamed. Luke turned his attention to Maija as he felt a sympathetic pain in his own ankle. Antaara turned on Luke again and slashed wildly catching him across the cheek.
"Blow after blow was exchanged and Luke was tiring in front of her eyes. Maija felt tears of pain run down her face. "What can I do, I can barely move, let alone fight. I cannot help him, I'm only a hindrance to him. I have to save Luke I have to keep the light burning. "Leia, help us."
Luke was tiring, he knew it, the Dark Princess knew it, but he wasn't giving up. He manoeuvred himself around the cell until he was beside Maija. Battling on, saber flying Luke fought for their lives. When a small hand grasped his own he thought he was dreaming. Antaara stopped amazed her own saber humming. Maija drew herself upright and ignited her own saber. How it had materialised beside her she didn't know, but it meant that the force was with them, for it hadn't been in her possession earlier. "Go Luke," she instructed gently.
"No, I've got to save you," he answered.
Antaara threw her head back and laughed. The eerily joyful sound echoed down the now deserted detention area. "My dear traitorous fool," she addressed Maija scornfully. "You cannot match the power of the dark side. You are injured, beaten. You ,who trained with the best the Empire has. You've made a fatal mistake Lieutenant, a fatal mistake." She laughed again.
"No, Your Highness." Maija's voice sounded surprisingly strong and cold as she pulled herself towards Luke's side."It's you who made the mistake. I've never regretted the choice I made: Never." her eyes flicked to Luke's and away and her hand grasped his tighter. "Now go Luke. Go."
He suddenly felt a warm feeling of hope and optimism rush through his body. Maija was giving him a message. He fumbled in his pocket and pulled the crystal pendant from within it's depths and placed it quickly around her neck. "No, I'm not leaving you. I'm only half a person without you."
Antaara's eyes narrowed. A Tatooine marriage token.
Luke grinned despite the seriousness of their situation. The warmth passed from him to Maija and where their hands joined a light began to grow and flickered between them. Antaara backed slowly away in amazement. What was this?
"We are the light of the force, your Highness."
"Pathetic fools!" she screamed and lunged in their direction, but Luke had his saber ready. The little breather had helped him, but he knew he couldn't go on indefinitely as the fight intensified. If he'd been fully fit perhaps and not worrying about Maija, things might have been different. Maija had again sunk to the pallet, her strength depleted from the small task of helping to focus his energies.
"Leia, help us," Maija begged silently through the force.
Antaara lunged and parried as the Jedi defended vigorously. She felt engorged with power. If she could only get past Skywalker's defences and attack the girl. Destroy her and then the Jedi. It was only then she realised the significance of the Tatooine Marriage token. In front of her was the means to finish Skywalker. The Jedi's wife. She circled Luke carefully and then made for Maija, but Luke had anticipated her move and was there in her defence. The battle raged on, fast and furious. Both combatants completely focused on each other. "I'll destroy him through her."
Maija struggled to remain conscious. She ached in every part of her body, plus the drugs they had pumped into her were making her extremely light headed. There was no way they could win. The hopelessness dragged at her spirit. She could not help Luke. He would die and it would be her fault. Luke had to live. She reached deep into herself and dragged on reserves she didn't know she had and cautiously began to rise to her feet. "Leia help me, please." A feeling of reassurance and support flowed into her weakened body. Cautiously she moved, keeping a careful eye on the warriors. Luke and Antaara were still trying to take chunks out of each other. She placed her weight on her injured ankle and nearly screamed with the pain, but managed to keep the pain inside her. Luke suddenly became aware of Maija's shaky movements and distracted he let Antaara's saber come too near his head. 'That was close', he thought to himself. As he thought that, his feet went from under him as he slipped, his saber flew from his grasp and landed near Antaara who picked it up.
"Well ,well ,well," she murmured mockingly. "Looks like I've won."
"Oh I wouldn't be too sure of that," Luke gasped winded by his fall. But he was done for and he knew it. Maija was in too poor a state to improve their desperate situation.
Antaara lifted her saber and savoured the moment. Next thing she knew she had been shoved by the force to the side, her sword arm cannoned off the durasteel wall and Luke swerved to the side. The falling saber missed him by a miniscule distance. A lavender beam of light swiped through the Dark Princess's torso. Antaara clattered to the floor landing on top of her own saber. Maija stood wavering unsteadily on her feet behind the falling Princess, her own lightsaber hummimg in her hands. "Is she..... Did I?"
Luke scrambled to his knees and turned Antaara to face them. Apart from the shocked expression on the beautiful face, he realised that she had landed on her own saber. Maija had somehow managed to push the Dark princess and wound her enough to make her fall inevitable. She was dead. No lightning bolts, no dark side energy burst. The Dark Princess had died without a whimper.
"Luke......" Maija swayed. "She would have hated to go so quietly."
"Luke......" Maija went ashen and collapsed in a heap on the floor.
Leia and Han ran desperately through the ship, followed by Page, Gavin and other Commandos. They checked all the cells and herded the remaining prisoners towards the NR ship and freedom. Leia could feel the darkness and despair wearing her down. She stretched out with her feelings to try to locate her brother as her fear intensified. "I can't sense them Han." She panicked. "No... I can feel him. He's alive, but tired and hurt.
""Maija?" Han questioned.
"I don't know. I'm not attuned to her presence in the force yet. But I think she's still alive. I would surely feel it. I'm sure I felt her presence earlier, but it was very weak."
"What about Antaara?"
"I don't.......oh Han!" the Alderaanian Princess turned a pasty white and nearly ended up on the floor. But Gavin's quick reflexes caught her.
"Leia! Leia!." Han was torn, should he stay and tend to his wife or go and search for his brother-in-law. Leia was affected by her brother's condition if he suffered pain she often felt it too. He rubbed her hands and patted her anxiously on the cheek, this didn't look good for Luke.
"Sweetheart, Leia.... Darklighter stay with her, take her to the medical bay on the frigate." Han steeled himself. "Come on Page, we gotta find Luke. Hurry!"
Han stood at the cell door. The body of Antaara lay wide eyed, but very dead. Page threw a blanket over the body. At the back of the cell Luke sat cradling the limp figure of his wife. All his concentration was on her. He crooned softly, an old melody from Tatooine and rocked her gently. Han swallowed carefully and took an uncertain step forward. "She must be......."
But the Jedi looked up, his eyes were wet, a tremulous smile on his lips. "She's alive Han, but so fragile. I'm almost too scared to hope." Leia's voice could be heard querulously demanding to walk. She'd refused to go anywhere near the medbay until she found out about her brother and Maija. Gavin still unaware of the marriage, just wanted to know if his cousin was still alive. He was surprised to see Luke holding on to Maija so possessively. Page flicked on his comlink. "Send a medical team down here right away."
Leia clutched at Han as his arm went round her. "Come on Sweetheart. Let's get out of here. This place gives me the creeps. Luke's fine Leia. The kid's alive and so's his wife." He watched solemnly as the medical team loaded the Skywalkers onto stretchers and carried them off. "It's over."
Page shook his head as he followed the last of the party out of the Imperial ship. The human spirit was a strange one, or perhaps it was still the spirit of the rebellion that burned in these special individuals. But there was still work to be done. For the moment things would quieten down until the Imperial faction had a chance to regroup. Gtrec Joulwe had escaped and Janss Rivn was in charge on Deegan, which didn't bode well for the planet. Yes, they still had work to do.
Three days later Maija was transferred to a room in the Coruscant Imperial Palace Medical Centre. It had been touch and go for a while, but she was finally on the mend, although still very weak. Luke was also sent there as he'd refused point blank to be parted from her. Leia had been checked over and released, but Han had put his foot down and demanded she rest. Winter had been covering duties in her place.
Luke walked into Maija's room where she lay asleep. He'd just been given the all clear and also released by the medics. He sat in the form chair by her bedside and reached for her hand. He'd been told to go home and rest, but had found that idea to be alien to his thinking, so he had returned to Maija's side. Home was where she was and his apartment was cold and empty without her. Until she was well, here was where he would stay. He watched the pale face as she slept and his eyelids too closed.
Leia sighed in frustration. "He hasn't left her side in ten days, not even to go out of the building. The press are having a field day, they don't know about Maija yet, very few people do. I don't think they've even told Gavin. The press think that Luke is fatally injured or dying and I'm pulling the wool over Coruscants eyes because it was my fault."
Han paced the room. "I've tried Leia. I threatened to stun him and have Chewie cart him out of there unconscious. But he fixed me with that inscrutable look he has and said 'I'm fine'. Just leave me be. The people will know the truth when I walk out of here." He opened his hands in appeal. "He's a grown man and a stubborn one. But perhaps that's part of being a Skywalker."
"Han, I spoke to him yesterday and he's so tired he's practically asleep on his feet. Nothing I said to him registered, not even when I told him that Chewie had painted himself bright green and you liked your new ceremonial uniform and wore it all the time. He mumbled 'Sounds fine' and returned to Maija's side."
"I'm going to get him Leia, he's worse than I thought. Enough is enough."
Maija moved in the bed and opened her eyes. Luke immediately went to her. Brown eyes met blue, wary and defensive, but the blue eyes smiled lovingly. "I don't regret the choice I made either," he whispered. The eyelids fluttered closed and a solitary tear escaped them. "Ah don't, please Mai, don't cry," he pleaded, pulling out a large white handkerchief and mopping her face. "Think of the water you're wasting. A girl from Tatooine shouldn't waste water." He brought his lips to hers and kissed her tenderly. But one kiss wasn't enough and his lips met hers again, deeper and more desperate on both their parts. It had been too long since they'd been alone together. He opened her mouth and his tongue caressed hers. They were still kissing when a commotion was heard in the hall outside. When the door burst open the couple's eyes turned to see what the intrusion was. Luke shifted slightly until he sat on the bed with his arms around his wife.
"But you can't go in," the hapless guardian droid protested. "Who says," demanded Kendra Darklighter crossly.
"Order of the NR security, Ma'am," inserted the guard who'd arrived to back up the guardian droid and sort out the problem. Han was also heading in the direction of Maija's room in the medbay when his comlink shrilled. He'd come to the end of Leia's tether and was prepared to drag Skywalker out of the medbay by the scruff of the neck if he had to. He flicked on the comm.
"Problem in the Darklighter suite. Unauthorised visitors, Sir." Han took to his heels and ran the rest of the way, not sure at what he would find once he arrived, apart from an overtired Jedi guarding his comatose wife. None of whom were up to rational discussion.
"I'm going in and this overeducated piece of scrap can't stop me," she poked at the droid crossly.
"Ma'am!" Solo stepped in front of the droid and looked down at the little woman sternly. "Do you have identification? How did you get into a restricted area?"
"I walked General Solo. That is who you are? Tell him Luke, I've better things to do than stand arguing at the door." With that she swerved past Han and dived into the room.
"It's alright Han, this is...." Luke sounded tired, but amused.
"I'm here to look after my niece" The little woman looked fierce as if she would battle her way to her objective.
Luke intervened swiftly. "Ma'am it's good to see you again, but why here?"
"I knew the pair of you would get into trouble. She attracts it," she indicated the girl in the bed. Maija tried to sit up indignantly. "And so do you. So I figured I might be needed and I came." she concluded. "The pair of you should be married by now and........"
"Aunt Ken," broke in Luke smilingly, his blue eyes shining. A startled "Oh!" left Kendra's lips as comprehension chased it's way across her features. "We did manage that much, thanks to the data you gave me last time I was on Tatooine. I guessed that was a way of giving me your approval. Along with the holoarticle on Tatooine crystal Marriage gifts?" he raised his eyebrows enquiringly.
"Oh Luke," she wrapped her arms round him. "I hoped you would take the hint. Merdom says I'm an interfering old woman, but the two of you are so stubborn. That one in particular." She pointed at her niece who sat blushing furiously. Luke led her to Maija who found that her eyes had gone blurry again as she was enfolded in her aunt's loving arms. Luke proffered his handkerchief again and Kendra mopped eyes and dished out hugs. "Will someone tell me what is going on?" Han's voice intruded. "I hate to break up the family party, but if you could just confirm identities." He groaned to himself. 'I sound like a stuck data disc'.
"This is Maija and Gavin's aunt from Tatooine, she's come to care for Maija."
Han smiled. "Well could you send the Jedi Knight home to his apartment to get some rest or I'll get Chewie to do it, whether Skywalker here likes it or not. He's run out of chances and excuses. It would be easier and less painful to your sensibilities Ma'am and Lieutenant. But seriously Commander, that's an order. You're too tired kid."
"Han, I'm fine," the young Jedi protested.
"No you're not. Luke, you're so tired you can barely see straight and what good will that do Maija if she has to care for you instead of concentrating on her own recovery. Leia is worried about you and so am I. You'll not help your wife this way."
"General Solo, I'll see that he rests." Kendra laid a hand on Luke's shoulder. "He doesn't want Maija to br alone just yet. I'll stay with her."
When Han left Kendra fussed over Her niece and also over Luke, sending him back to his apartment with the strict instructions he was not to be seen until the following day. For Maija it was strange as Luke had been a constant presence by her side since she'd been taken off the ship. But Han was correct. Luke couldn't continue like this. Kendra had decided that she was needed and had packed her bags and left Tatooine. Huff had arranged passage for her along various routes until she reached NR space. "It might have been the force calling me to you. I don't know, but I had to see if he was treating you right. Anyone with eyes in their heads could see that you were crazy about each other, but too stubborn to do anything about it. I'm still surprised he talked you into it."
Maija smiled tiredly. "He didn't really. He just kidnapped me off the NR space station and walked me into the office of a man on Bestine planet with the words 'We're getting married'. I was so surprised and stunned, that I let him."
Kendra laughed. "Good for Luke, he does know you well."
"Aunt Ken!" Maija's tone was solemn. "I do love him. I did have the choice."
" Your Uncle will be pleased, he has a lot of time for your young man, but we couldn't both come. The Empire are still rather interested in our comings and goings. Now go to sleep sweetheart, you're getting out of here real soon."
Two days later
A few miles away from the Coruscant Imperial Palace Medicentre was Rogue Squadron HQ, consisting of hangar facilities, living quarters, and training and teaching rooms. It boasted some of the most up-to-date facilities in accordance with the squads importance to the NR. But the building was quiet as most of the Rogues were taking a well deserved breather after the conclusion of the Deegan Conflict. Those not on their home planets or holidaying in some exotic location clustered round the holovid in the recreation room.
Gavin Darklighter sipped at his lomin-ale gloomily.
"Hey Gavin!" A voice yelled in his ear, then a hand thumped him genially on the back. The young pilot spluttered.
"I could have choked on this Hobbie."
"Why the long face, I know it goes with the rest of you, but why the gloom?" Hobbie's face sobered. "Your cousin, she's not worse or anything, I mean she's ok."
"I wouldn't know. She was carted off by the medics on the Victorious along with Luke and we haven't heard spit about the two of them since. The press are rumbling because there has been no statement from the Princess about the Commander but I'm worried about her. She's there on her own with none of her family near her."
"Why don't you go and see her Gavin?" Hobbie asked in confusion.
"She's in the private wing of the Imperial Palace medicentre and there's no way I'll get in there."
Hobbie gave his head a small shake. Young Darklighter on occasions didn't think. "But Gavin, you're her family, her only family on Coruscant. Princess Leia and Luke will keep an eye on her. And I'm pretty sure if Luke is well, she'll come to no harm," he grinned broadly. "He will monitor her progress very closely."
Gavin took a swig of the lomin-ale. "Why on earth would he do that?"
"Did you hear the rumours about Luke having a ladyfriend?"
"No, has he?" Gavin shook his head morosely. Asyr was on Bothawui with her family and he missed her. It was high time Luke found himself a woman.
"Well the suspicion among the Bestine crewers is that Luke was rather friendly with Maija and I would have to agree because I saw them together on Bestine and ..."
Gavin turned a stunned, disbelieving face towards his friend and colleague as the credit dropped. "No, she wouldn't get involved with him. She's ordinary, just a girl from Tatooine with no background."
"Gavin Darklighter, do you realise how that sounds," Tycho screwed up his face disapprovingly. "I never thought you were a snob. Luke is just a man from Tatooine, albeit a rather special one." Tycho turned to his companion, the Lady Winter of Alderaan. "Don't you agree Winter?" The white haired woman stiffened slightly, then forced herself to relax.
"Anyway Darklighter, you never said she was your cousin until recently, so she can't have asked your permission to go dating Luke." inserted Hobbie
"Couldn't you have told us who Maija was, Gavin, it would have spared us and your cousin a lot of unpleasantness. And I think the background is not nothing, is it?" The graceful woman from Alderaan spoke up. "There are things we don't know for certain."
Gavin had the grace to look a little discomfited. "I'm sorry Lady Winter, but the information was not mine to give. Princess Leia had to be completely unaware of Maija as an extra bodyguard. It's like when Tycho was framed by the Empire. General Cracken let it happen, knowing that Tycho was innocent and the spy eventually came to light. The more people who knew what my headstrong cousin was planning, the more dangerous it would have been for all involved. As for the other thing. You know why I don't mention that."
"I understand, I think. She saved a lot of lives, as did you yourself Captain Darklighter."
There was a whooping and cheering and slapping the new Captain on the back as the remaining Rogues gathered round him. "I'm a Rogue Ma'am, I do."
The white haired woman relaxed and leaned into Tycho's side.
"One thing puzzles me broke in Hobbie thoughtfully. "How could you let a slip of a thing like Maija knock you unconscious so quickly?" Gavin's cheeks reddened at the question and he buried his head into his glass.
Wedge heard the question as he sauntered into the rec room. He grinned. "Crumpled like melting plasti, according to Lieutenant Page."
"So would you, if she got hold of the back of your head," he retorted grumpily. "It hurt like hell, when I eventually came round. She never fought fair, even when she was a kid."
The news bulletin flashed on the screen in front of them. It had made headline news because of the non-appearance of Luke and rumours had been flying about the true state of his health, but there he was leaving the centre by a side entrance and escorting what looked to be a very shaky Maija Darklighter to the waiting shuttle. Gavin with the rumours about his cousin and Luke fresh in his mind noted the Jedi's arm around his cousin's waist, as did Winter. It was only then he noticed the other figure with the pair. "That's my Aunt, from Tatooine," he exclaimed in shock. "She's never been off the planet in her life!"
The little woman with the salt and pepper hair supported Maija on the other side. For a moment all three of them looked suspiciously into the holocams before moving quickly into the waiting vehicle.
The newsreader cleared her throat. "Commander Skywalker helping some of his colleagues, injured in the recent conflict as they leave the medicentre."
Wedge grinned he'd quite a piece of news to tell, but not while Gavin was in the room. He motioned the newly promoted Captain to his side. "Gavin, you could have gone to see her anytime, you would have been given clearance you know."
Gavin felt ashamed, he'd just assumed that the Coruscrats would have blocked the way. Sometimes he almost forgot that Maija was family and she needed all the family she had, if anyone did.
"She would like to see you, to thank you and apologise for hitting you on the head. She maybe fears retaliation sometime, and Gavin," he paused. "She's with Luke." Wedge held his gaze steadily. The younger man nodded.
"Hey Gavin!" shouted Tycho. "Your cousin is some girl. Not only can she render large men unconscious, she can wipe all the data about the facts later on."
Gavin laughed. They wouldn't let him forget that in a hurry. "She's a good kid guys. Comes from superior stock, like myself." he then waved goodbye and left to the accompaniment of hoots and whistles.
"Guys, guys! Oh man listen to this. Luke sure has done it this time."
"Shut up Hobbie, then we can all hear." Wedge rolled his eyes, but he had a feeling that he already knew what was coming." He turned up the volume quickly.
"We have a galaxywide exclusive. A statement was issued from the Senate. Senator Princess Leia Organa-Solo is pleased to announce the marriage of her brother Commander Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight of Tatooine to Lieutenant Maija Darklighter-Kenobi also of Tatooine. Both were involved in the conflict on Deegan and are taking time to rest before returning to their duties. The pair married quietly on Bestine, but will hold an official state event later this year."
Winter looked hard at Wedge. "You knew about this?" she questioned.
"I didn't know for certain, not that they'd married, but I had my suspicions. He's been interested in her all along. You knew that."
The Alderaanian sighed. "I suppose I did. Leia wanted another girl for him, but under the circumstances it is better this way. Although I never considered he might actually marry. We wondered if we'd just left him in peace this affair would have fizzled out"
"He's a grown man Winter, and Leia wasn't treating him like that. Maija's a good kid, as I said once before and she saved your princess's life. He's crazy about her, he always has been. As soon as he realised she was there, there was no contest. I've never seen him like that before about anyone, he just gazed at her as if he'd been hit very hard over the head. It's the sand in their veins that did it. Why shouldn't he want to marry her. Being a Jedi Knight doesn't mean that you can't try to live a normal life."
Winter conceded Wedge's argument, but added. "Well as normal as life for the Skywalkers ever gets."
"Too true, Ma'am."
Gavin exited the shuttle which took him into the restricted quarters in the Imperial Palace. Most of the Inner Council had apartments in the building as did the staff. Gavin preferred his accommodations at Rogue Headquarters. They were less impressive. He walked to Maija's rooms before the import of Wedge's words struck him. "She's with Luke." Gavin wasn't a hundred percent happy with Maija dating Skywalker. He respected Luke and admired him greatly for what he had done, but Maija had suffered so much turmoil in her life, as had the whole Darklighter clan. Conceivably because they had been mixed up with the Skywalkers and the Jedi. Gavin felt responsible for his cousin, but reality dawned and he knew she wouldn't like the idea one little bit. She'd always gone her own way. If she was force strong she'd probably train as a Jedi with Luke. "Who am I to curtail her freedom. I haven't the right. But he can't be good for her, he'll just get her or himself killed."
He paused outside Maija's quarters and raised his hand to the doorcomm and again remembered Wedge's words. "She's with Luke."
"Of course, this place was attacked and her apartment destroyed." he thought. All evidence of the bomb blast had been cleared away and the place looked newly painted, but the tall man realised Maija would have been moved after such an event anyway. He took the turbolift to where he knew Luke had his suite. But the opulence and grandeur that Gavin expected were not in evidence as he cleared the security levels and exited the lift into the silent corridor. The door at the far end opened. It was clear he was expected and Luke stood silently waiting.
As he entered Luke's modest apartment, his aunt bustled into the room with a glad cry. "Gavin, my boy. It's so good to see you." The next thing he knew she had engulfed him in a flurry of arms.
"Where's Maija?" His voice was harsher than he had intended it to be.
"Luke measured the younger man, blue eyes cool. "She's resting, but you may see her. She wants to thank you, we both do. I'll go and get her."
Luke walked through to the bedchamber, where Maija lay dozing lightly. He smoothed a strand of shining hair from her heart shaped face and gently kissed her on the brow. "Mai," he called quietly. "It's Gavin, and I think he might be hostile."
She opened her eyes and smiled into his face, reaching up her hand she stroked it down his cheek. Luke bent his head and his mouth covered hers. Five minutes later Kendra knocked sharply on the door. The lovers broke from each other guiltily as they realised that they had again forgotten the outside world and one of the people they had to thank for their lives. Luke rearranged Maija's clothing quickly, but again they moved together for a final kiss.
Luke swung Maija into his arms and carried her to the main room. Gavin stopped what he'd been saying to his aunt and turned to stare at the pair. Maija looked different, he couldn't explain it, but she seemed more open, less withdrawn.
"We want to thank you Gavin. I would be dead if it wasn't for you and what you did." She turned her head to Luke and sought his gaze, he nodded solemnly. The unspoken communication between them was easily apparent. "I know you're not entirely happy about this," she indicated herself still clutched protectively in Luke's arms. "But......" She turned again to the Jedi and a slight hint of nervousness crossed her features. "What I mean is...... You don't realise what I," she fumbled for the correct words. "What we owe you."
Luke fixed Gavin with a penetrating stare. "What my wife is trying to tell you is, that we are grateful to you, but you have no right to make decisions for her."
Gavin opened his mouth to argue then the one word Luke had casually slipped into the sentence leapt out at him. He took a step towards the couple. "Wife!" he croaked hoarsely.
"Isn't it wonderful Gavin." his Aunt bubbled with enthusiasm.
"Wife!" he mouthed again. He sat down on Luke's comfy old sofa. Luke deposited Maija beside her cousin and went to tell the serving droid to procure them some drinks. Gavin looked as if he needed a strong one.
Kendra stroked her nieces hair and kissed Gavin gently on the cheek as she exited the room, ostensibly to help Luke and the droid. Maija smiled at her cousin and held out her hand. He grasped it and smiled in return. She let out her breath carefully, unaware that she'd been holding it.
"We were meant to be Luke and I. I've only begun to accept it myself and I didn't originally, even when we first got married. I thought my destiny was to die to save Luke and the Princess. But it didn't happen that way. I'm taking things slowly as I've entered a different phase of my life. I've been living under a false identity since I was a child. You've always known openly that you were Gavin Darklighter of Tatooine since birth. I've shuttled from place to place, from identity to identity and from crisis to crisis. It's only since I accepted Luke truly that I've come to know myself. He's also had a life with a hidden identity. We make each other complete. I've only been Maija Kenobi briefly, but as Maija Skywalker I can grow in the light and be myself."
Gavin tilted his head to the side and studied his cousin, she was still too pale and thin and barely healed scars were still faintly visible, but she was at peace within herself. The luminous beauty they had suspected was there had blossomed.
Luke strolled back into the lounge and sat as near to his wife as he could. For a moment their eyes met and that beauty blazed forth. The Jedi stretched out a hand then remembered they had company. Gavin stood and awkwardly cleared his throat. "May I congratulate you on your marriage. I'm glad to see you so happy little cousin." He stretched out a hand to Luke. "May the force be with you both."
Luke clasped the younger man's hand firmly. "It is Gavin, it is."
"I can't say that I'm entirely comfortable with this, but I realise that she would be dead if it wasn't for you. I suppose I can't stop her from getting herself into trouble all the time. Hopefully you will be able to sort her out."
"Huh! I like that Darklighter. I fixed you once I can do it again." she challenged, then looked at him out of the corner of her eyes. "I did apologise."
"Just after I knocked you unconscious." She returned meekly. Luke laughed because the meekness was definitely assumed. He sat on the sofa and gathered Maija into his arms again. She smiled at her husband and then glanced down as she searched for the correct words. "I want to thank you both and I love you both. I was only doing what I had to do, I didn't expect to be alive after it." Her voice broke, "but the Empire hurt my family so much that I had to do something."
Luke enclosed his wife in his arms and murmured soothing words into her ears. Kendra came out of the kitchen and motioned Gavin towards her. "Lets give them some time alone, come on boy. I want to hear about your promotion. You could show me the best shopping areas on Coruscant. Being on holiday with newlyweds is proving to be quite a strain. They're trying hard, but they don't want an old woman with them." The young couple never noticed Gavin and Kendra leaving.
A stray beam of sunshine penetrated the window and shone upon the blond man with the dark haired girl in his arms. Maija raised her mouth to meet Luke's lips. There was such hunger in his kiss, she was stunned to her depths, his tongue caressing hers. Luke stopped and gazed at the flushed, beautiful face in front of him. Bending his head he kissed the hollow beside her ear, and a moan emitted from his wife.
Luke grabbed Maija to him and bolted for the door to the bedchamber. "Lock the doors" he directed towards the security droid and bore her unprotesting to bed.
She gasped as his tongue entered her mouth, twining with hers intimately. Inflamed she melted against him, his body holding her against the wall of their chamber, thrusting his hands through her hair until it rippled over her shoulders and fell in shining waves. Maija forgot everything in the surge of response which bathed her entire body in fire. Breathing raggedly, he bent his head to kiss her throat, his hands reaching to undo the fastenings to her clothes. Luke continued to kiss her as he traced every contour of her body with his fingertips. The tortured, unsteady rhythm of their breathing was loud in the deserted suite as Maija pulled Luke's tunic over his head and pressed open-mouth kisses against the taut muscles of his bare chest.
"I can only stand so much of this," groaned Luke as he lifted her onto the bed. With shaking hands he traced her curves, then bent his head and his lips found her breasts. His fingers slid slowly up her parted thighs and she gave a smothered sound, her whole body on fire. They lay together in a tangle of arms and legs, kissing and caressing wildly as if their lives depended on it, the coming together of hands and mouths and bodies that strained together as though neither could exist in separation. Maija's touch brought Luke to breaking point, his knee nudging her thighs apart and entered her swiftly. He began to move involuntarily, and Maija clutched him close and moved with him in a rhythm. Luke's thrusts became more urgent until they both reached that wonderful sense of fulfilment.
"Sweetheart" Luke could not say more. He raised his hand and Maija placed hers within his grasp. Again the light glowed. He traced the faint scars left on her face and they faded to nothingness. She traced her way gently round his ribcage and the bruises healed. Laughing like children, thay moved the shimmering power over each other and cleansed themselves from all the evil that had been done. Maija finally took his hand and placed it over her smooth stomach. The light flickered, growing stronger, much brighter than before, then fading as they kissed once more.
"Your son still lives."
The Jedi froze in shock. He cleared his throat. "Son?" he queried huskily. Shifting suddenly in the bed Luke gazed down at his wife. She blushed deeply, and closed her eyes against his searching stare. "Maija?"
"I couldn't believe he had survived this long, after everything I thought he was dead. I wasn't going to tell you because you've lost so much in life. But the medic told me he had survived."
She opened her eyes and stared into his dear face. He rolled onto his back, silent. "Luke! What is it, you are pleased?" she queried anxiously. He sat up and pulled her towards him. "I cannot believe the wonder of you. I could have lost you."
"But you didn't. You kept us both. The medics were concerned because of what happened on Deegan. No child should be able to live through what I went through. But he is strong in the force and hid himself away."
Luke stretched out his senses and searched for his son, then he felt his presence and reassured him that he would be safe and loved. His hands travelled over Maija's body and drew her to him. "I love you."
Later that evening
The door comm went at the Skywalker's apartment. Luke embraced Leia and recieved a hearty slap on the back from Han. At their questioning glance he smiled. "She's resting, but will be through shortly."
Leia smiled at her twin. "How is she?"
"Fine. Still suspicious of most things and most people, but trying hard to be more open. It's difficult for her. She's been consciously hiding her identity for all of her life and it's difficult to start now. The Kenobi handle was a problem, but she's getting used to it."
"But she's a Skywalker now, not a Kenobi." Han put in his credits worth.
Luke laughed, "And you think that's easier to manage?"
Han smiled back. "I guess she might manage it, coping with one thing at a time and having to deal with you as well Farmboy. Not easy."
Luke led the Solo's into his simply furnished lounge. Again it was a product of his lifestyle on the move. He'd never been anywhere long enough since he'd been a boy to put down any real roots. The walls were cream and decorated with some holos of Tatooine, but everything was simple and plain.The furniture was functional, portable and looked well used. If he had to, Luke could move himself, his wife and all their wordly goods anywhere in the galaxy in very little time. The door swished open and a composed Maija Skywalker walked through, but Luke and Leia picked up her nervousness through the force. Leia was impressed. Maija looked less and less like the aide minus personality that she'd once been. There was a vitality that had been missing before. Dressed in a flowing crimson tunic with a cream over gown she was every inch the Jedi's young wife. Her hair had been simply arranged back from her face with jewelled pins. Luke too had made an effort and looked smart in his best black tunic. Even his tousled blond head had been calmed. His face lit up as Maija joined them.
Leia realised she had worried over nothing and rushed forward to embrace her sister in law. "Welcome to the family," she whispered as she kissed the girl's soft cheek. Han shook Luke's hand. "I must say kid, you've almost done as well for yourself as I have.
"Leia, Han!" Luke clasped Maija's hand firmly in his own and was surprised to feel it tremble slightly. "May I present my wife. Maija Darklighter-Kenobi Skywalker." He sent comfort, warmth and love through the force. Maija's hand tightened in his thankfully.
Han stifled a smile, the kid looked so proud and why not. He stepped forward and followed his own wife's example by kissing Maija on the cheek. "This will be your most taxing mission yet, Lieutenant." Maija raised her eyebrows in puzzlement. Han smirked and glanced quickly at Leia. "Being married to a Skywalker. But don't worry I can give you plenty tips. Just expect trouble."
"Ignore him," remarked Leia loftily and strode towards a cream stuffed sofa. Luke just smiled and gazed at Maija. She felt his stare and blushed nervously. "Sorry," he whispered in her mind. "But you are so beautiful." He pulled her to him again and met her lips in a passionate kiss. Leia could feel the heat rising between her brother and his wife. When the door chimed Han looked at the embracing couple, but they were oblivious to all around them. With a rueful glance at Leia Han went to answer the door. Leia inserted herself into Luke's mind. "Luke! You have guests."
The handsome young man smiled, but kept a firm hold on Maija.
A rather stiff Gavin Darklighter entered with some of Rogue Squadron, but relaxed when Maija threw her arms round him and hugged him. This was the closest they had ever been and it would always remain that way. By the time Maija's former colleagues from the Diplomatic Centre arrived the party was in full swing. Helas had taken one look at her friend and had burst into tears. Maija rushed over to the Omwati girl and greeted her fondly. "I can't believe it Maija, you look so well and so different."
I'm happy Helas. He's really wonderful but," she lowered her voice "Don't tell him I said that or he'll never get his helmet on again."
"I heard that, young lady. You're not so bad yourself."
Leia surveyed the room and signalled to Han. He crossed the room to her side and they watched the proceedings with indulgent expressions on their faces. Luke was never far from his young wife's side and she always followed him with her eyes.
"You'll have to have an official 'do'." declared Leia wickedly, knowing that Luke would hate it, as would Maija.
The Skywalkers yelped in unison. "Oh no!"
"As a hero of the New Republic, Luke it would be right and proper." Mon Mothma entered the discussion at this juncture. She had arrived just after the Rogues, but General Xenon had been unable to leave Bestine so had spoken to the couple earlier on the Holonet.
Luke shuddered and sought Maija's gaze. There was a quick conversation through the force, which Leia tried not to eavesdrop on. Then found that she couldn't anyway as it was conducted on a level far deeper than she was used to. This was between the Jedi and his force strong wife.
"Go ahead Luke, tell them. I don't want to keep secrets anymore and I love you so much I want everyone to share our happy news. We deserve this happiness, Luke. We've earned it." The Jedi Knight pulled Maija into his arms and kissed her soundly in front of the whole party. Han shook his head, this was a new Luke too . The blue eyes shone, gone was the muted air, the tense watchfulness and the boyish enthusiasim and love of life was apparent for all to see. As for Maija, the difference was total. She glowed.
Luke wrapped his arm round Maija and took a deep breath, everyone sensed he had something really important to divulge."The official 'do' will have to wait until after my son is born then, as I don't want my wife to be stressed out anymore than she has been of late. We want time to settle into our new life and recover from what's past."
There was a stunned gasp in the room. Luke could have burst with pride as he continued. "Even though she was imprisoned and tortured, Maija kept that baby hidden from all around her and kept him so deeply within her that he survives. She is truly full of the light of the force and will to continue to grow in that light. As will my sister and her sons and daughter." Leia blinked in shock and Han went pale. "The Jedi will rise again. We are surely the Light of the force."
As the assembled company raised their glasses to the young couple. Luke kissed his wife again and they seemed momentarily to shimmer. Leia blinked again, it must have been a trick of the light. Luke heard in his mind the mischievous chuckle of a crazy old wizard. Maija spoke for them both. "Thankyou Obi Wan," as Luke's arms closed round her once more.
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Just to thank the people who created the SW Universe. The people who write FanFiction everywhere and others who have given me support on my first venture. Anna.S.Hamilton@BTInternet.com