The four ships all came out of hyperspace at the exact same time, and this was the first indication that today was not going to be a normal one. More portents of this, of course, would show themselves as the day progressed.

            Each ship required just a one-person crew to function, though they could do with full crews, and each did, in fact, have a single person at the pilot's seat. All four were young, attractive, and female. All four were there for the same purpose.

            Somehow, they knew the other ships carried in them rivals for the prize. The ships did a very good job of conveying the sense of glaring at each other, for non-sentient machines about a thousand kilometers from each other. Other ships there for different reasons either decided to wait until later to make planetfall, or immediately started to calculate new hyperspace jumps to places of relative safety.

            None of the four noticed. Ships were aimed at the planet, hands flew over controls, eyes narrowed and teeth were gritted. Then four ships began the descent to Yavin IV.


            The Jade's Fire was the first to touch down, and its mistress regarded this as nothing more than her due – after all, her ship was the best of them all, and unlike herself, none of the other women were especially known for their piloting skills. Still, she could not banish entirely the smirk at this victory. The other three noted, and fumed, and promised that the battle may have been lost, but not the war.

            The Wheel of Balance was the next to land. Its mistress strolled out of the landing ramp, gracefully, elegantly. The Chad's Glory was not far behind, and its mistress was out of the ship almost before it had landed completely. The last to land was the Mud Sloth but by taking her own sweet time getting out, its mistress showed that she regarded this as being fashionably late, not as a loss.

            The four women gathered in the middle of the great stone square that served as the Jedi Academy's landing pad, glaring daggers and stroking weapons. Usually, a Jedi student or teacher would await each arrival to guide them to the destination they needed, but the temple was as deserted as the Lars farm after the Empire got through with it. The students were Jedi, after all, and could feel the danger inherent in being anywhere near those four women. It was not the Dark Side at work here, this was something more ancient and more dangerous.

            It was a woman getting ready to defend what she saw as encroachers upon her mate.

            So, no one was there to take away the lightsabers, blasters, vibroknives and other deadly paraphernalia hung upon the four women. No one was there to try and inject some good sense into the events that would follow. No one was there to serve as an impartial observer, as the Jedi used to in the Old Republic. Most of all, no one was there to tell them that as soon as Jedi Master Luke Skywalker glanced up at the sky at the four ships and discerned the identities of the pilots through the Force, he had turned as pale as an albino Aelfin (which was very pale indeed) and ran to his rooms, which he then shielded with more Force barriers than R2-D2 had insults for C-3PO.

            This fact would be of particular interest to the women later, but now they were too busy with each other.

            Mara Jade was first to speak. "Fancy meeting you here, ladies," she said coolly, managing to imply insult in every word she spoke. The other three bristled and glared at the green-eyed trader.

            "Yes, fancy that," was Gaeriel Captison's acid reply. "I'm quite surprised to see you three here – haven't you all tried your best to get away from Luke in the past?" There was a possessive caress in her voice as she said Luke, a fact the others were quick to pick up on.

            "Wait a minute," interrupted Akanah, looking suspiciously at the Bakuran. "Aren't you dead?"

            Gaeriel snapped back, "Well, so's Callista!"

            "But I never really died…my intelligence was saved onto a computer when my physical elements perished, and then I got a body when the computer was destroyed, so I was never really dead…whereas you, Captison, were quite thoroughly and fully deceased in that whole Corellian incident…"

            "You are both dead, and you won't admit it," Mara said coldly. "Why don't you butt out and leave the living to the living?"

            Callista and Gaeriel glared. "Shut up, Jade," spat Callista, gray eyes flaring. "Better someone dead than someone who wants him dead."

            Gaeriel added, "Just because your creator was the first one to write in the Expanded Universe, you don't need to feel like…"

            Thunder rumbled. A voice, deep, commanding, god-like, split the air. "No breaking the Fourth Wall*!" the voice demanded.

            "Yes, George Lucas-sama," murmured the women, bowing their heads in respect.

            "Alright then, carry on!" said the voice. "I wonder who ol' Wormie will end up with…" it murmured as it faded away, chuckling.

            Deep inside the Temple, Luke Skywalker sneezed. **

            The women carried on as if nothing had happened. They were now ganging up on Akanah, pointing out that not only had she lied to Luke, manipulated him, preyed on his sympathies in order to make him sleep with her, broke in on him while he was feeling particularly horrible and lured him to help her with promises of his mother (of his mother! Using blood relations! Had she no shame!) she had also left him with little, actually no, notice. She was the type of person who made men feel like they were justified when they 'slept and then left' as Gaeriel declared in a strident voice.

            Akanah objected that Callista and Gaeriel had left him too, and at least she hadn't made him search for her for eight months with false hope. Nor gone off and died on him, leaving him feeling horribly guilty. Then it had descended into an insult-match with terms such as 'Necromancer!', 'Zombie!', 'Manipulator!' and 'You made him sleep in a tiny little ship!'

            The three then realized that Mara Jade was getting off very lightly in this exchange. As one, they spun to face the former Imperial assassin. Mara narrowed her eyes and prepared for combat.

            "You wanted to kill him!"

            "That was all in the past," Mara protested. "We've all done things that we've regretted in the past. Such as left a certain blond Jedi Master broken-hearted as you people headed off into the wild blue yonder…"

            The three squirmed uncomfortably; her words hit home.

            "At least we don't insult him continually, even if all he does is try to help!" Callista said.

            Gaeriel coughed uncomfortably. 

            The insults continued, swirling first around Mara, then Gaeriel, then Callista, then Akanah, then back again. Each barrage trying to prove how horrible a human being she was, how selfish, how totally untrustworthy, how completely undeserving of Luke Skywalker.

It continued until Gaeriel and Akanah were locked in a screaming match, one small step away from pulling each other's hair, while Callista and Mara had ignited their lightsabers and were squaring off for a duel. Then things got truly weird.

Another shuttle landed, this one bearing the royal markings of Hapes. They froze, lightsabers in the air, mouths open, as the door opened and out stepped Teneniel Djo. She looked at them. They looked at her.

"What do you want?" they snarled, pretty much in unison.

            Teneniel Djo smoothed her reptile-skin armor as she walked nearer the other women. "Once, Luke Skywalker promised me that he would consider me as his match when he was ready to find a bond-mate. The time has come, and I have come to hold him to his promise," she said, head held high.

            "That was a totally informal affair, and you know it!" hissed Akanah.

            "Besides, you're married already! To that Isolder guy," pointed out Callista. Teneniel Djo shrugged. "Dathomir rules say one can have more than one bond-mate."

            "You have a daughter!"

            "Who adores Luke and wants to learn being a Jedi from him."

            "She's Force-strong?" Callista asked.

            "Very." Teneniel Djo smiled at her. It was not a particularly nice smile; the entire galaxy knew what Callista's disappearance had done to Luke, and Teneniel was fond of Luke. More than fond, if this sudden appearance was anything to go by.

            Callista's eyes filled with tears for what she had lost. The others rolled their eyes and ignored her.

            "And how is Isolder taking this decision to court Luke Skywalker?" Mara asked acidly. Teneniel shrugged again. "He likes Luke; he admires him. They were nearly brothers-in-law, you know. And they still might be…he's taking advantage of the Dathomir ruling, since he's a citizen by law, to press his suit on Princess Leia again."

            The others stared. "You have a very strange concept of marriage," Gaeriel said finally.

            Another ship landed, and Guri stepped out. She did not bother waiting for the ramp to lower; the HRD plowed straight through the wall of her ship, leaving a Guri-shaped hole in the sleek Black Sun craft.

            "I should be used to people who are supposed to be dead popping up around us," said Akanah with a sigh, looking at Callista and Gaeriel, "but weren't you destroyed when Luke brought down the Black Sun tower?"

            "I was in terrible danger of ceasing functions, but I was found and nursed back to health by the Joketsuzoku Amazons," Guri replied politely. "I was accepted into their tribe, and now I am here to fulfill their laws."

            "Which law is that?" asked Teneniel Djo, having some knowledge of the Amazons – they were allies of the Dathomir clans.

            "The Marriage Law," Guri said. "If an Amazon female is defeated by a male in single, fair, declared combat, the male is her husband. Luke Skywalker was the only such man to defeat me. I must now marry him."

            A storm of shouting broke out at her words. It was only halted when the women saw a vast fleet of ships hovering over the skies of Yavin IV. More rivals were to descend.

            Screaming fangirls piled out of shuttles, with huge holoprojectors saying "We Love Luke!" They were all shapes and sizes, human, humanoid, alien – some weren't even totally sentient. Then there were those who had known the brash young leader of Rogue Squadron, or the cute farmboy on Tatooine, way back when, and would welcome the chance to know him better. There were the girls whose lives he had saved, usually inadvertently. There was even a small group of males. When the other females figured out what they were there for, they were given a very wide berth. Deep in the Jedi Academy, certain female students saw this and suddenly were very close to embracing the Dark Side.

            Leia Organa Solo sensed this from the Force and would have come haring over to drive these harlots after her darling twin brother away (she was extremely jealous of her brother's time, and was convinced that in the galaxy had not yet been born the woman good enough for him) only she was somewhat preoccupied with keeping Han from killing Isolder.

            Certain people were watching this and laughing their heads off. (I'll leave you to guess who they are – and no, they are not necessarily Star Wars characters)

            In the afterlife, Amidala was studying the females now converging around Yavin IV the same way her daughter was – which is to say, with much misgiving and enough criticism to make every one of the girls look like a mass of faults with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. This was her darling precious little baby boy Lukie after all – her innocent, sweet, only son. NONE of them were good enough for him! Hmph.

            In the background, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-wan Kenobi were beaming proudly. The mugs of Corellian ale next to them could have something to do with their slightly-less-than-sober grins.

            "Hah! I knew it! Who's the Skywalker? Who's the Skywalker? Damn, that kid is me all over again!" crowed Anakin (but softly; Amidala was in the room) "Blond, blue-eyed, and hot with the ladies! Who da man? My son's da man!" he proclaimed in fatherly pride.

            "Excuse me, Aniiii…" interrupted Obi-wan, deliberately stretching out Anakin's childhood nickname. "But you weren't there to raise the boy. I was…well, sort of. I was nearer, anyway. Obviously, it is my dreamboat aura he has picked up and is using to charm all the ladies!"

            "In your dreams, Kenobi!"

            "Denial is of the Darkside, young Padawan."

            "I am not your Padawan!"

            "Technically, you are – you never hung around to graduate to full Jedi Knight status. Nooo, you had to run off with ol' Palpy. What's he got that I don't?"

            "An Empire?"

            Amidala turned to glare at them. "Force save me from arrogant, loudmouthed men! Shut up!"

            Anakin and Obi-wan glanced at each other slyly, and said at the same time, "Amidala…anger is of the Dark Side…"

            Amidala waved off their mocking admonition. "We're dead, we can't turn. We don't have the option anymore."

            Anakin winced. "Dear…we prefer to call it 'being one with the Force', not dead…"

            "Shut up! That Akanah adherian tivonsta is about to say something about my Lukie!"

            Anakin and Obi-wan again traded glances, these ones scandalized. "Wow…" Obi-wan said in disbelief. "I didn't even think she knew those words…"

            Anakin pointed out, "Obi-Wan, I  don't know those words, and I'm a fighter pilot! Well, was, anyway…"

            "SHUT UP!"

            "At once, your Highness."

            "Yes, dear."

            In the Temple, Luke Skywalker shoved all his personal belongings (considering that he was one of the richest people in the galaxy – Vader had left him his entire fortune, which Luke had invested secretly and surprisingly well – the number of them was sparse) into a travel-bag, all the while conferring frantically with Artoo-Detoo as to the most secret way out of the Temple. Cloaking himself with the Force, he made his way to the Temple's underground hangar, hurled himself into the X-Wing he kept there, and blasted off.

            His sigh of relief lasted as long as R2-D2's happy whistle – that is, 1.5 seconds.

A minute earlier, the scene in the Temple landing pad had been thus: Teneniel Djo, Guri, and a number of other females (mostly those of clannish warrior societies) were discussing the option of becoming sister-wives to Luke. A contingent of other girls was rushing into the Temple to form a body-guard for Luke once they found out that Mara Jade was there. An even larger number, enraged beyond reasoning upon finding that Akanah was there, had set upon the White Current user and were beating her to a pulp. No one really tried to stop them. Callista and Mara were still facing off for a lightsaber duel.

            Then someone pointed upwards. The distinctive silhouette of an X-Wing fighter could be seen arrowing its way into space. "He's getting away!" howled several voices. In a twinkling, the landing pad was completely devoid of ships as the air filled with pursuit.

            In the afterlife, Obi-Wan and Anakin could only shake their heads and mutter, "May the Force be with him," while Amidala tried to contact her daughter and convince her to hide Luke.       

* Fourth Wall: a term developed, I think, in MSTing; meaning to have the 'wall' between stories and reality; when characters recognize the fact that they are characters, they break the Wall.

** Sneezing: in anime, when a character sneezes it means someone is talking or thinking about them somewhere far away