Oh my, is it? No, it couldn't be! No wait! It is! It is a chapter update! By the Force...
Okay, so this is where the author goes all rambly with apologizes and excuses... Well A)I'm sorry for the wait and B)AP US History homework comes first. Nuff said.
Alright then! Last night, I went to the Hollywood Bowl and saw John Williams in Concert. It was amazing. Just amazing. He did an analysis of the Train scene in the beginning of Indiana Jones 3 to explain how music is put into movies and then he performed his explaination with the orchestra. It was so neat. Then of course he played Leia's Theme, my personal favorite of the night. That was powerful live. Then he topped it off with the Star Wars theme set to a montage of Star Wars clips. I nearly cried. So many people in the audience were holding lightsabers that they'd either brought or bought there for all the Star Wars music, it was so cool! Then he did three encores... Imperial March (with all the crowd lightsabers bobbing in time to the beat) and then ET's theme, followed by the Indiana Jones theme.
Oh, and as a small tribute to my ten year old potter fan ("We prefer to be called Potterheads!") sister, he also performed Hedwig's theme, which if you didn't know is the song played during the opening title of every Harry Potter movie. That was very neat, I'll admit. I happen to love the Harry Potter movies and knowing Williams scored the first three is so cool.
Anyways... Not that I've distracted you from the lateness of this post...
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Star Wars, but if I did, Mara would be in the movies.
"C'mon!" Mara sighed, her shoulders dropping in defeat.
"No! I know exactly what kinds of thoughts I'm having about you in that, and I'm not letting all the scum in Jabba's Palace do the same!" Luke explained, his arms crossed in front of him.
"What kind of thoughts would those be?" she asked flirtatiously, walking slowly towards him.
Luke scowled, trying to hide his obvious lust for her.
"C'mon," she said, walking two fingers up his arm and over his shoulder. "You can't hide from me. I can sense all your indecent thoughts through the bond..."
"Can you now?" he asked, raising his eyebrow. Mara nodded, leaning in to kiss his neck where his tunic met it.
"Yes," she whispered between kisses. Luke could feel his resolve failing.
"Mara, stop," he pleaded, trying to push her away lightly.
"Not Mara, Arica," she whispered.
"Arica, I can't cheat on my girlfriend," he laughed and she pulled away with a grin.
"No fun," she pouted teasingly. "Tell me you at least like my outfit."
Luke looked down again at her wardrobe. It was blue in tone, with silk barely covering her breasts before turning into a shear fabric that fell across her stomach. There was a shorter blue skirt that draped across her hips to her upper thighs and down at an angle.
Luke grinned. "I love your outfit."
She grinned and placed her hands on her hips. "Good! Now wait till I tell your girlfriend about this..."
She walked off, her hips swaying back and forth with each step as she returned back to the fresher to change back into her tunic and pants.
Luke shook his head. Mara was headstrong, tomboy when she wanted. But in a split second she was the sexy siren from a Corellian Hell. He wasn't quite sure what he liked better. . .
Leia walked in at that moment carrying a box and setting it down on the table. Chewie followed a second later with Artoo and Threepio, the latter bickering incessantly with the Astromech.
"Everything in order then?" Luke asked, and Leia sighed. She sat down in one of the chairs and opened the box, revealing an outfit of cloth and leather, with a mask.
"I think so," she said. "This mask has a voice changer and the outfit has a belt for weapons. Chewie said Han had a Thermal Detonator stored in his cabin. I can use that to impress Jabba."
"He'll like that," Mara said, the door to the fresher swishing shut behind her. She sat down in the seat next to Luke and tossed her dancing outfit on the table.
"I thought so," Leia nodded. "How are you getting in?"
"Lando said Jabba is low on dancers," she replied. "Lando will let me in and I present myself to Jabba."
"I still don't like it," Luke huffed.
"Lando will protect me," she insisted.
"Lando shouldn't have to protect you," he told her. "I should be there."
"You will," Mara grinned.
"We'll send the droids in a day later, and then a few hours after that I bring Chewie in," Leia said.
"Do you have the binders?" Luke asked and Chewie growled and held up a set of gold cuffs.
"Everything is in order," Leia assured.
"Not quite," Luke said. "I was fiddling around with Artoo the other day, working on cleaning some of the dust out of him when I discovered a compartment in his dome. Artoo, come over here!"
The blue and white droid obeyed with a quick tweet and rolled to a stop next to Luke.
"See here," Luke said, pressing the top of his dome lightly. A small flap opened and revealed a storage compartment. "It fits a lightsaber easily. I figured we could store Mara and my blades in here until we spring the trap."
"That's perfect!" Mara grinned.
"I know," he nodded. "After that I'll record a hologram for Jabba to see if he'll release Han first. Worst comes to worse, he'll be expecting my arrival."
"That ties up the loose ends," Leia nodded. "We'll infiltrate the Palace tomorrow."
They all nodded, standing to prepare last minute things. They were moving the ships closer to the Palace tomorrow as well, and using them as a base. Chewie left to prep the Falcon for a few days stay in the desert and Mara went off to prep the X-Wings. As Leia began to leave, Luke grabbed her wrist and held her back.
"Leia," he said quietly. "I know you're excited to get Han back, but whatever you do, stick to the plan. Don't get ahead of yourself. Jabba is tricky, vile, and predatory. Even if he looks fairly harmless, he's powerful. I don't want you getting hurt."
"I'll be fine, Luke," she said.
"Promise me you'll stick to the plan," he insisted.
"Everything will work out," she said, slipping out of his grip and out of the room. It didn't escape Luke's attention that she never promised anything...
Mara stood in the shadows behind Jabba as the screams of an unfortunate Twi'lek dancer came from the Rancor Pit beneath the floor. She glanced toward Lando, who stood near the door with a large mask to hide his features, sharing a small but disgusted look with him. Blaster fire sounded from the doorway and a guard rolled down the stairs with a grunt. A bounty hunter entered with Chewie in tow, an air of importance about them. It was show time.
"I have come for the bounty on this wookiee," the bounty hunter announced. Mara glanced at Jabba, and the giant slug leaned back slightly with a satisfied smile on his rounded face.
"At last we have the mighty Chewbacca," he boasted happily in Huttese. He tilted his head slightly called out once more for Threepio to translate. The golden protocol droid wobbled up quickly, an air of mild panic still about him.
"I am here, Your Worshipfulness," Threepio said, standing right next to the Hutt. Jabba said something more and Threepio turned to the visitors. "The illustrious Jabba bids you welcome and would gladly pay you the reward of ten thousand."
"I want 50,000, no less," the bounty hunter said, its voice rumbling through the mask. Jabba cried out in outrage as Threepio spoke to him and pushed him off the pedestal. The droid gave a slight cry as he fell backwards and out of sight. Threepio stood up and hobbled in front of Jabba, green slime sticking to parts of him.
"Oh, what did I say?" he moaned. Jabba barked out a response to the bounty hunter and Threepio turned to them. "The Mighty Jabba asks why he must make it 50,000."
The bounty hunter gave out a slightly proud response and revealed a small cylindrical orb from his pocket.
"Because he's holding a thermal detonator!" Threepio cried out, throwing his hands up in the air in panic.
The palace erupted in panic, people diving behind pillars and such. Mara shrank behind Jabba in mock fear, noting Lando's defensive stance as role of guard, and in the back corner, Boba Fett's pointed gun.
It was Jabba's booming laugh that silenced the panic. "Marushani rah doe kankee kung!" Jabba turned back to Threepio and spoke again and the droid turned once more to translate.
"Jabba offers a sum of thirty-five," Threepio said, forgetting Jabba's title. "And I do suggest you take it."
The bounty hunter responded and a small click was heard as he pushed the safety back in place. The tension in the air released as people started to come out of their hiding spots.
"He agrees!" Threepio cried out happily. Two gamorreans guards walked out of their positions and grabbed Chewie roughly, yanking him away. The wookiee gave a mournful cry at the rough handling. The music resumed and the bounty hunter glanced over at Boba Fett, who was still in the corner. The Madalorian tipped his masked head slightly in approval. The plan was in action.
Mara watched carefully at the scene before her. She focused on the various players they had positioned around the room: Lando in the corner where Chewie had been taken off, Leia in the Bounty hunter's costume standing near Boba Fett, chatting quietly. Bib Fortuna, the pale Twi'lek hand of Jabba's walked past her, looking her up and down appreciatively. She swallowed a grimace and wished Luke was there with her right now. She could feel his presence just a few clicks away in Obi-Wan's home still, meditating. He'd warned her about the vile people that resided with Jabba, and she'd brushed him off. Now, she wished she'd listened a little more carefully.
Night fell, and the palace fell into slumber. Various occupants either off and sleeping somewhere more comfortable or passed out in the main chamber. Leia crept around the corner, still in her disguise, and glanced about the palace. She ran into the hanging chimes, her wide helmet catching them in her attempt at stealth.
Mara ducked around the corner and spotted Leia, hissing slightly to get Leia's attention.
"What are you doing?" she cried out in a hushed voice. Leia jumped slightly and back tracked to the other side of the hall.
"You're breaking cover," Leia warned. "Go back."
"You're trying to break him out now, aren't you?" Mara asked, realizing immediately what Leia was up to."
"No," Leia lied weakly. Even without the Force Mara could have caught the deception.
"If you screw this up you might never get him back," Mara said firmly. Leia pulled off the mask, her hair sticking up slightly.
"I have to, Mara," Leia said, her natural voice much more soothing. "He's trapped!"
"Leia, I can't let you do this," Mara shook her head. "Stick to the plan."
Leia glanced forlornly at the Carbonite slab on the wall, but nodded to Mara. "Alright."
"Good," the redhead said firmly. "C'mon, let's go hide out till morning."
The doors to Jabba's palace cranked open and light filtered around the corner. Bib Fortuna walked off briskly towards it, and muffled voices could be heard. A small thrill went through Mara as Luke's presence touched her, making sure she was all right. The pale twi'lek returned, followed by a dark robe. Bib Fortuna returned to his Master's platform, speaking quietly in to wake him up.
"Master, Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight."
"I told you not to admit him!" Jabba cried out in Huttese.
"Jabba," Luke said firmly. "I request audience with you, as I mentioned in the hologram three days ago."
Jabba growled out something and Threepio came hobbling back over, before turning to Luke.
"Master Luke, sir, so good to see you," Threepio started before Jabba's tail flicked out and banged against Threepio's metal body. "Oh, my, I apologize. The wonderful Jabba requests that you leave the premises immediately."
"I must work out a deal with you regarding Captain Solo's freedom," Luke replied. "Surely we can come to an agreement."
Jabba rumbled out an angry reply, and Threepio quickly translated. "Master Jabba says that he wishes to keep his decoration where it is as an example to those that cross him."
"I understand," Luke nodded. "Perhaps then I should request the returning of my droids. My gift to you was to seek your audience, which you have thus far denied."
Jabba boomed out a laugh, eliciting wary chuckles around the room.
"The illustrious Jabba says that you have no position here," Threepio translated. "He orders your leave or you will face his wrath."
Luke smiled, glancing back at Mara over Jabba's shoulder.
"There is the Rancor Pit right under your feet," she sent through the bond. "If you move towards Han you'll be out of Jabba's power."
Luke casually glanced towards the Carbonite slab on the wall and wandered over casually and ran his fingers along the cool metal.
"Jabba," Luke started. "I am willing to offer you a sum of one hundred thousand credits for Captain Solo. Take it, and you may keep the droids."
"Jedi Scum," Jabba hissed, thoroughly annoyed at Luke's escape of the power of the Rancor pit. "Captain Solo is mine. Guards!"
Two gamorrean guards abruptly came forward and attempted to grab Luke. He reached out a hand and they flew across the room and into the opposite wall. Boba Fett raised his blaster to point it at Luke and Leia countered, firing off a shot into the Mandalorian's abdomen between his armored plates. Fett fell in an unconscious slump to the floor and Leia quickly crossed the room, firing off a killing shot to Bib Fortuna, and then joining Mara behind Jabba.
"It's over, Hutt," Leia hissed, pulling off her helmet and tossing it to the side. "Your cruel days are over."
"Blasters can't harm me, Rebel Scum," Jabba laughed in accented basic. "You and your friends are dead."
A small twitter from across the room sounded and two lightsabers launched out of the roof of Artoo's dome. One went straight to Luke and the other curved around in the air and fell gracefully into Mara's hand.
"How about lightsabers, Jabba?" Mara asked, igniting the violet blade and holding it next to the Hutt's neck. Jabba swallowed thickly.
"What can I pay you with?" he asked out, carefully.
"Captain Solo," Leia said. "The droids, and your life."
"Leia?" Mara asked and Leia glanced up at the red head. Mara's hand was outstretched, the Lightsaber within it an offering. "You want to do the honors?"
Leia smiled. She grabbed the blade and held it on the other side of the Hutt's neck. "Good night, Hutt Scum," she whispered before slicing through the blubbery slug skin of the Hutt. Jabba made a slight gurgling noise before falling still. Leia sighed and glanced over at the slab on the wall, passing the lightsaber back to Mara.
Mara immediately leapt over the deceased Hutt and began slicing through the remainder of loyal guards and the bounty hunters that chose not to run. Leia passed Luke and then Lando had come up out of the prisoner area with Chewie.
Chewie glanced about and ran over with Leia to free Han. Luke spared a slight glance as the slab of Carbonite fell to the floor with a metallic thud. Mara sidled up next to him, covering him as they finished up the fight.
"Jabba gone?" he asked, still focusing in the Force on the coming blaster shots.
"Jabba's gone," she replied, blocking a bolt and sending it into the forehead of its owner.
The last guard fell to the floor, and the Palace was silent save for the humming of the Carbonite defreezing.
Luke and Mara bounced up the stairs just as Han fell forward into the arms of Chewie and placed carefully onto the floor.
"Relax," Leia called out. "Han, relax, you're freed of the Carbonite."
"Le-Le-Leia? I, I can't see," he stuttered, rubbing his eyes.
"Hibernation sickness," Lando supplied.
"Where am I?" Han asked, trying to look around and not seeing anything.
"Jabba's palace," Leia said. "Everything's okay though. We're going to get you out."
"Jabba's? Oh boy," Han said, his shaking starting to finally stop. "We need to go before he sees us."
"We took care of Jabba," Mara assured. "Don't worry about that."
"Red?" Han asked. "Who all is here?"
Chewie gave out a small growl before loping his arms around Han happily.
"Yeah, I missed you too pal," Han said, a shake still in his voice. "All of you are here?"
"Even Lando," Leia said. "He helped us get you out."
"I'm sure he did," Han growled out angrily.
"I'm sorry, Han," Lando said. "I really am. But I fought to get you back. I've been in this blasted palace as a guard for months now."
"Months!" Han asked in surprise. "How long was I frozen?"
"Almost a year," Luke said sadly. "It was the fastest we could get you, I swear. The Empire has had some heavy patrols around Tatooine for a while."
"A year?" Han asked. "I'll bet I missed a lot, didn't I?"
"Not that much," Leia sighed. "C'mon, let's get you back to the Falcon and back to the fleet."
"Finally free of Carbonite and I can't even see to fly my own ship," he grumbled as Leia and Chewie helped him to his feet. "This just gets better and better."
Luke let out a slight chuckle at the return of Han's sarcasm. It was nice to hear it again.
Originally I was going to include the Pit of Carkoon as well but I decided against it while writing this. I just wanted to free Han and get back into the writing of this fic. So everything went down at JAbba's. Which I kinda like. It always bugged me that responsible Princess without a planet Leia would be so irresponsible as to free Han without a plan of escape. It just doesn't make sense that they'd have the foresight to see her becoming a slave. Unless Thrawn is secretly their planning commissioner I suppose.
YES! Actually, another reason this took so long was because for two weeks while I worked on my AP homework and simultaneously avoided doing it, I read the Thrawn Trilogy. That actually kinda messed with my head for awhile because, (I know a few of you are reading it as well) I have a new fic up, A More Perfect Future, which is my long planned time-travel fic. In that fic I screwed up the timing orignally, and then I pushed the dating to right after RotJ because I wanted Luke and Leia closer in age to Padme and Anakin when they went backwards. So the prologue takes place at the Temple on Yavin... But Luke doesn't start the New Jedi Order until after the Thrawn Trilogy. And then looking back on this, and Mara isn't so full of rage whereas her character is defined by a harboring anger for Luke. Which I guess you can draw from the fact she willingly left Palpatine's grasp instead of Forcefully being yanked from it. I don't know. But I had to do alot of thinking and though I really didn't want to give this up since I was so close to the end, for awhile I contemplated it.
BUT I WON'T GIVE THIS UP! It's official, as I've told a few of you via PM. But honestly, the little story delay thing is like a common occurence at the start of every school year for me. I've deleted all my old Twilight fics, but they all died a cold hard death between the months of August and October. Mostly because I didn't update, so I lost drive, and then I felt so guilty I didn't want to face any readers (all two, lmao) after the break that I just deleted the story. Chicken, I know.
But I probably wouldn't have kept them around much longer anyways since they all embarrassed me.
Okay, long note almost over. Updates come as they may, but I have begun writing the next chapter (Which means nothing because I wrote to the beginning of Jabba's palace in July) so there is something for me to go off of. Right now, my main want in the writing world is leaning towards A More Perfect Future, which I would love for you to read but it's ultimately your choice, so those will probably be Head Honcho Numero Uno. Mostly because like this, it's almost finished, but I've only posted two chapters. Mostly because I had no internet for like two weeks. (The two weeks after I read Thrawn. Literally, my Dad shut if so I'd work on my homework. So my creative outlet was writing AMPF. About two chapters a day it seemed. Oh, and I beat Force Unleashed one finally and all the extra Sith Levels for it. But that's not the point.)
THE POINT IS THIS A/N IS FINALLY OVER.