Greetings readers! This is my first story to published here on . The description says it all; Mara Jade and Luke Skywalker out to survive yet again. Now I'm sure my story isn't 100% in line with the canon and timeline, but I did my best. I did draw from Heir to the Empire some, so it'll make a little more sense if you've read it. ;)
I own nothing! SW and Luke and Mara are copyright of Lucas Arts and Timothy Zahn.
Rate and Review! Thanks for viewing! :D
Mara wasn't sure whether to strangle him or to rejoice. Having her ship shot down wasn't the first on the list of joyous things happening to her that day. But her unexpected guest was sure to make it to the top.
"What in the blazes are you doing on my ship Skywalker?" she shouted over the sound of twisting metal and burning fire surrounding the exterior of the ship.
"Nice to see you too, Mara." Luke smiled as he crawled out of a small cargo closet and jumped to his feet.
"Get up, we're going down fast." He demanded, standing in front of an enraged Mara in the pilot's seat. "Not until you tell me why you're even here!" she refused.
"No time for that." Luke grabbed her arms and forced her up.
She jerked away, offended he even touched her. She was ready to give him a piece of her mind, but she bit her tongue seeing how they were now at the mercy of his piloting skills.
"You better know what you're doing." She threatened, watching him desperately trying to navigate the flying wreckage they were about to crash in.
"If your thinking of killing me, you may not have to." He replied, not breaking his concentration. "Those bounty hunters must really want your cargo." He continued.
"Obviously not enough to save it." She snapped, watching the surface of the planet enlarge as they passed through the atmosphere.
"I can't get control of it. We're going to have to jump it." He forced.
"Are you crazy? The escape pod will shred into scrap metal at this speed!" she yelled.
"I'll handle it! Get it the pod!" Luke returned her yell, becoming impatient she was still arguing, now over life or death.
Mara ran from the cockpit and took her seat inside. "Hurry up Skywalker!" she strapped herself in, feeling the temperature inside increasing from the flames engulfing the ship.
Luke locked the controls in level position, then made a mad dash to the pod as the glass of the cockpit window began to crack.
"Go!" he shouted, diving in. Mara pressed the release, jettisoning the pod into the lower levels of the atmosphere.
"Now what?" she shouted over the sound of the turbulence. Her face was stricken with worry as Luke only sat silent in the seat, eyes closed.
"Skywalker?" She was about to hit him until she was suddenly jolted in her seat.
The pod's speed was decreasing rapidly, as if by some outside force. Luke strained to slow it down, the force pulsing through him.
"We still won't make it at this speed!" Mara screamed, trying to figure out what to do before they crashed into oblivion.
"You're right." He replied, grabbing his lightsaber. Mara's eyes widened. "Oh no. You're not-"
"This or die Mara." He outstretched his hand.
She held her breath and grasped his hand, realizing the severity of the situation. Luke ignited his lightsaber, cutting a circular escape portal. The next few seconds where chaotic as they we sucked out of the crashing vessel and thrust into the treetops of the jungle below. Luke reached out with the force, creating a field of cushion for the both of them. They shut their eyes, ready for a painful impact. Everything went black as Mara hit the ground with a thud and rolled out of Luke's sight. He had grabbed a vine to slow his fall before he landed on his side. Beyond his own pain paralyzing his side, his first thought was to find Mara. He assessed his surroundings, searching for her presence in the force. His worst fears becoming true, she was unconscious, perhaps in harms way. He struggled to his feet, still holding his side. He determinedly trudged towards where he last saw a glimpse of her. Before him was a deep trench, covered with thick vegetation. He nervously walked up and down the edge of the trench's steep drop, calling her name and peering for any sign of her. Finally, behind a tall plant, he saw a lock of her fiery red hair. Mara slowly drifted back to consciousness, her eyes fluttering with confusion. Reflexively, she felt her holster to check if her blaster was still there. Upon feeling the weapons' presence, she faintly heard her name being called in the distance.
"I'm over here!" she called out to him, surprised she felt comfort knowing he was near by.
Luke almost smiled with relief to know she was at least well enough to talk.
"Can you climb up?" he shouted. 'Climb up?' she thought, for she hadn't seen what situation she had fallen in. Her heart began to pound as she looked into the deep trench bottom she was but inches away from plummeting into. She slowly felt around for stable ground to bear her weight on the small ledge she was clinging to. Her eyes narrowed with determination as she saw the length between her and the top. It was a distance, but she was going to try. She grasped onto the vegetation, trying to pull her weight inline with the slope wall. Suddenly, her leg gave out in pain, sending her sliding back farther than before.
"Hold on! I'll get you out!" Luke yelled, seeing her obvious blight.
"No! I can get this!" she snapped back, trying to regain her footing. She wasn't pleased that a little cliff trek was defeating her so easily.
After testing its sturdiness, Luke threw a long vine towards her position. Mara continued to claw the vegetation to pull herself from what she considered a pathetic defeat. To no avail, she grunted over what she could see of Luke's all knowing expression and grabbed the vine. Luke drained all of his strength in pulling Mara's only life line to the edge of safety. She succeeded in reaching the high ground, now lying on her back softly panting. The air was filled with a soft peace. Luke stood a little taller, the pain in his side slowly subsiding.
"You're missing something." Mara glanced at his belt.
Luke quickly reached down, only to feel the absent presence of his lightsaber.
"Well," she watched his disgusted motions, "You've proved me right Skywalker."
Luke rolled his eyes out of her glance. "And what would that be in?" he sighed, still steamed over his lost weapon.
"Hah. Bad luck never fails to follow you." She confirmed, beginning to stand. She let out a small yelp as her injured leg gave way again. She was stunned not to have hit the ground, but to be in her rescuers helping arms.
"Get off me Skywalker!" she shouted, trying to push him off. Her rage was stopped by his starring blue eyes.
"Luke." He corrected. She huffed and brushed off her arms after he stood her up again.
"Well you've managed to get us lost in the jungle, yet again." She refused to have her anger tamed, especially by who she considered her enemy.
"Can you walk?" Luke asked, ready to get chewed up and spit out.
"No." she sighed, still a little steamed.
Luke's expression reflected his surprise at Mara's unhesitant response. 'Perhaps she's growing tired of fighting with me about everything.' He bent at the knees to let her sling her arm around him for support. Although she did so, it was with a great amount of reluctance. They slowly made their way back to the crash site to inspect for any salvageable goods. Mara sat on a log nearby, batting her gaze as Luke made a makeshift lean-to out of tall pieces of metal.
"What planet is this anyways?" he tried starting a conversation. "
You mean you don't know? How would you know to spy on me?" she laughed, her demeanor smug but not with her usual fire.
"I only tagged along in the ship. Only my team knows where I am. Which is good news for us," he paused to adjust the structure, "They wouldn't have missed that crash."
"You hope." She sighed. "What were you spying on me for? Haven't you done enough to me already?" she cried, showing a rare bit emotion.
Luke walked over to her, feeling genuinely bad for his actions. "Our scouts picked up some intel that your goods were stolen directly from the New Republic."
She gazed up at him. "I'm just a middle dealer! You know that!"
He frowned, sitting down next to her. "Yes. That's why I set out to find you; to set things straight. I really didn't think you stole directly."
She gave him a knowing look. 'He actually was willing to give me the benefit of the doubt.' She thought cautiously. "My business has never been the same after that skirmish on Mrykr. I couldn't smuggle directly even if I wanted to." She lamented.
"I know." Luke tried to comfort, "I'm not accusing you."
She looked into his deep blue eyes. She half-smiled, pleasantly surprised someone was actually trying to understand her.
"I'm going to look for some food before nightfall." Luke stood up, but not before handing her his secondary blaster. "Here, you might need this."
"Your concern for my welfare is touching." She quoted herself, smirking for old times. 'A time that isn't far enough away.' She thought.
Luke walked into the jungle, calling to mind the edible fruit files he studied since his last time he was forced to survive in the jungle.
"Hopefully I'll only need to search for a day's worth of food." He sighed out loud, inspecting the bushes and planets. He reached an open area about a clik away from the crash site. 'Come on Wedge, don't fail me now.' He thought as he gazed from the open plain into the colorful sky.
Mara limped over to the lean-to, pondering weather the area was safe enough to let down her guard enough to sit down. There was a rustling in the bush a few feet away from her. She placed her hand on her blaster, scanning her surroundings. She outstretched the blaster taking a defensive position when the rustling repeated.
"Skywalker?" she called cautiously.
Mara's senses were rattled as a large beast lunged at her and pinned her down to the ground. She rapidly punched the unidentified creature in what seemed to be a snout; causing it to withdraw in pain and letting up on it's grip for a moment. With enough time to crawl free, Mara stumbled to reach the blaster knocked from her hands. Almost in her reach, she was pinned once again by the returning creature, immobilized completely. She flinched, preparing to be mauled to death. To her faint surprise, this beast had a different intention than the Vornskr on Myrkr. It widened its jaws as a green gas poured from its mouth. The final thing Mara felt was a jolt from her arm as she drifted into unconsciousness.
Luke carried various berries and leaves rolled up in his shirt. On his trek back to the make-shift camp, he came upon a cargo box that survived the crash. It contained an electro-staff and a grappling hook, amongst other survival tools like bandages and a small canister of bacta.
'These could come in handy.' He thought with a grin. 'I still don't know what kinds of predators wander this forest. I can sense something nearby. Really nearby.'
He wearily became tense. A few yards away from the disturbance, he found himself almost sprinting as it became clear it was at the camp. When he finally came upon the sight, he was horrified at what he saw. Before him was a humongous beast clutching an unconscious Mara dangling in its mouth. Luke dove behind a bush. Praying the beast hadn't seen him, fearing it would cause more harm to Mara, he peered out to confirm his suspicion. The beasts' stance was idle, still sniffing the air. Luke ducked back to gather his senses.
'What was I thinking? Giving her my blaster!' he rebuked himself for senselessly giving away his sole weapon.
He gave it to her so she could protect herself, but now he was desperate to keep her alive. He thought back to the last time he was in this tight situation. He had distracted the Vornskr, but at least Mara was conscious to defend herself from harm then. Luke writhed in frustration as he felt helpless to rescue her. He swallowed hard, knowing what he had to do. He grabbed the electro-staff off of his back and made a charge at the beast. The cat-like creature howled as it jumped to its back legs. Mara dropped from its mouth and was quickly forgotten as the beast made its charge towards the new found threat. Luke lashed the staff across the creatures face, causing it to fall back stunned. It turned back and drew its claws. Luke came back at it with another lash to the snout. It jumped at him in reaction, causing him to jump out of its raging charge. The creature took its opportunity and ran back to Mara, scooping her back into its jaws. Luke jumped to his feet and desperately dove to stop the retreating beast. He fell to the ground, his attempt failed, and watched the predator take off into the deep jungle with its victim.
"Blast!" he screamed. He held his head in anguish, running his fingers through his hair.
'How did I let this happen?' he harshly beat himself. "Mara's life is in grave danger, and I let that monster carry her away! Why couldn't I stop it? I'm a jedi!"
Nothing was making sense to him. If he was the Jedi Obi-Wan had always said he was, why couldn't he fend off that creature. Had he ruined Mara's destiny? He couldn't find himself to think of her life being ended in such a horrid way, on such a desolate planet. He wouldn't. Luke picked up the lone blaster that had been forgotten in the chaos. He was doing to save her, or die trying. Despite his growing determination, the fact remained that he didn't know where to look for her. The jungle covered hundreds of cliks. He started in the direction it took off when he noticed a trail of blood.
'I must have got it when I dove with the staff!' he jumped. The trail lead constant. 'I have to find her before this trail runs out.'
He strode at a fast pace through the jungle. The sounds all around him grew louder as the activities of the night began as the sunlight faded in the sky. The trail now lead up the side of a steep, tree-covered hill. Luke fought off the plants and thorns that were cutting his arms. There seemed little hope of finding her alive as the last bits of sunlight drifted behind the jungle canopy. Suddenly, he froze as a howling filled then air. He squinted in the growing darkness as his eyes were trying to adjust. Nothing would prepare him for what lie before him: The predator's glowing eyes, high above in a tree. Luke fought to see, but then hope was restored as he saw Mara dangling in a branch just above the beast. He felt her presence in the force; she was still alive.
'If she wakes up, she's in for a nasty surprise.' He thought, working up a plan. His thoughts were broken for just a moment, for he thought he heard what sounded like an X-Wing overhead. Unfortunately, the beast was now aware of his presence, and was creeping out of the tree to face him. Luke took the staff in hand and once again charged head on. The creature's attack was halted as it found the long side of the staff in its mouth, separating him by inches from his prey. Luke pushed with all of the might. He knew his and Mara's life was in the balance. The creature suddenly released row after row of teeth that had once been hidden. The staff began to crack under the pressure. Luke quickly ducked and slipped between the beast's legs as it lunged forward from the previous battle of strength.
'Retractable teeth. So that's how Mara didn't get injured.' He concluded as he turned to face the tree she hung from.
Without a weapon and now faced with a second attack, Luke resorted to plan B. He unsheathed the grappling hook from his belt and prepared to swing it into the branches. With his first swing, it didn't grab and fell straight to the forest floor.
"Come on!" he whispered, pulling the rope back in for a second try.
With a quick glance at the stalking threat behind him, he knew this was now or never. Reaching out with the force, he prepared to guide it to the right limb. With a final swing, it hooked.
'Thank the force.' He thought. But his victory was soon to be short lived as the creator prepared to finish its hunt with one final blow.
Luke was ready; with every bit of strength he had left, he would fist fight the monster if it came to it. He shouted in pain as is took an unexpected leap at his arm and bit down, hard. Mara shook her head as the screams in the distance registered in her mind. Only her slight movement made her fall from the limb she was nestled on, causing her to desperately grip onto the one she had just fallen on. Luke was tossed and thrown about has his arm was violently thrashed around. Even with his power in the force, his attempts to break free where not enough to overcome the beast's powerful grip. Mara had gone through too much with this guy to let him die from a ripped off arm. Thinking quickly, she shifted her weight and swung onto the limp with the grappling hook driven into it. She held her breath and gripped the rope tight. Gravity gave way as she soared from the tree's height. Legs stretched forward, the rope's pulled-tight force sent her flying into the beast, throwing it off of Luke. She skidded the ground as she jumped to her feet. Horror stricken, her blaster had flown from her belt. The beast's flying lung towards her ceased with the sounds of a blaster bolt, and a thud that seemed to shake the forest floor. Though the beast had fallen, danger had not. Mara found herself being quickly and painfully dragged down the hillside. The cable was tangled around the body, as well as her ankle.
"Luke!" she cried out as he practically flew off the hill to catch her. A metal shard of electro-staff in hand, he got just close enough to cut the vine before it dragged them both into the trench below. The air feel silent before a thud filled the air that could be heard from miles away. Pounding heartbeats and panting was now all that could be heard as Mara clenched onto Luke. Still breathing heavily, he smiled, finally satisfied. She turned away disgusted.
"I hate you." She hissed. Luke was throttled as he felt her lips against his. His breath was now truly taken away.
She pulled away with her usual fire in her expression, but something was different this time; and he liked it.
"Yeah, don't get used to it." She scolded, as if reading his mind.
"You don't need to be ashamed Mara." He simply said.
"What do you mean?" she inquired in a curiously cautious tone.
"Of not being angry." He replied softly.
She tried to keep from laughing, miffed and amused at him trying to teach her something, as if she needed it. She just shook her head and rolled her eyes, a faint smile on her face.
A bright light suddenly shone in their direction, causing them both to shield their eyes. "
Do I need to give you two some privacy?" a familiar voice teased from behind the blinding beam.
"Wedge! You've have no idea what you missed! It would have been a real good time if you'd been here." Luke called out in relief to see his friend. "It was just barely tolerable as it was." He looked with a playful smirk in Mara's direction, who had now shrunk off of him, giving him a death glare.
"Well I'm sure you'll have plenty to talk about on the trip home." Wedge smiled.
After a greatly exaggerated rescue operation and a nagging, unpleasant story time during flight back to Yavin, tempers were finally starting to settle as the threat of danger disappeared with distance from the planet.
"Yes sir. No sir, no one was injured badly. Yes, just her leg. Understood. Alright. I will. Goodbye." Luke finished a heated conversion with Admiral Ackbar over the holo-table.
"Never get a break do you?" Mara walked up behind him. Luke jumped to hear her voice.
"Looks like they fixed you up good. Ackbar sends his thanks." Mara raised her hand. "Don't mention it."
A few moments of silence followed as the two tried to figure out what to say next.
"I guess this is Good-bye, Mara." Luke nodded his head.
"You trying to get rid of me Skywalker?" she asked as if offended.
"Uh, no of course not! I just thought you were going to-" he stopped to save what dignity he had left.
"Farewell Jedi." She turned away and headed towards the rebel base hanger. Luke rolled his eyes, amazed at his childish stammering.
"Hey Luke," she called, facing him with a genuine smile, "I think you lost this."
Luke caught the object thrown at him. He stood in disbelief as he studied his lightsaber, now returned to its rightful owner. He stood silent for a moment, amazed she still hadn't trusted him with a weapon. He just shook his head and smiled.
The woman who had once hated him with a passion had found herself at the mercy of his heroism many times, perhaps enough to change what she thought about him. Hatred had blossomed into something perhaps unknowable before; respect.