Well, here is it, the final chapter which remained unwritten for several months. I was threatened on more than one occasion to finish it… ginchy going so far as to show me where she'd bury my body if I didn't (true story).
I'd like to thank everyone from the Jedi Council Forums who waited so long and (not-so) patiently for the final chapter and who made the trek over here to see how it all turned out. You are my first Fan Fic family and I love you!
I'd also like to thank the members of my new Fan Fic family here on FFNet. I haven't been here long but so far you've been very warm and inviting! You have been more than I could have hoped for!
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I know I'm not the best at responding to reviews, but know that you guys are awesome and deserve all the free chocolate covered strizzleberries you can get!
And so… here we go!
Chapter 29 – Symbolism
"I say we string up the lot of them over a pit full of Rancors and see who gives in first," Mara said very casually to the men who were sitting at the other end of the table, blanching at her words.
"Or," Luke interrupted, "they could give us the detailed environmental impact reports we asked for and we'll compare that to what our own ecologists think before we even get to the point of considering the legitimacy of the Messilian Mine purchase."
"Oh, sure," she gave him a wry look but he could see the twinkle in her eyes, "that would be more reasonable but not much fun."
"I know," he nodded wisely at her and attempted not to laugh or grin all that much. It's not like the men they were dealing with didn't deserve the childish treatment, after all, they thought they could get away with being stubborn and refusing acknowledgement of Mara and Luke's new roles in the Galactic stage.
The Messilian Mine was on a border world and was a previously untapped precious metals deposit which was bought by an Imperial company under the previous treaty rules. Now that everything was getting reworked, the New Republic claimed they had ownership and the Imperials had purchased it illegally, or at least unlawfully. Mara was inclined to side with the Imperials stating that they had, at the time, purchased in good faith. Luke agreed to the point that the only reason the New Republic seemed to want it now was because they hadn't known about the deposits previously… however, that didn't mean that the New Republic weren't the legitimate owners and deserved some kind of compensation.
Overall though, Luke and Mara wasn't going to let anyone have the mine if they couldn't prove they wouldn't do more harm than good.
And they had the right to not let anyone own the mine. They could give it to anyone they wanted or declare that its resources remained untouched. This was part of the recently approved charter that declared the couple to be the Supreme Chancellors of the Planetary Alliance.
Luke took a particular irony to the fact that a governmental structure which employed an absolute ruler was called an Alliance, the name of the Rebellion which had gone against the last such ruler.
Every planet which listed themselves as either members of the Empire or New Republic were included automatically under their absolute rule. Whatever Luke and Mara said, went, whether it be accepting a particular tax plan or changing their planetary flag from yellow to blue… not that they would actually do the latter.
Seeing how well it was working in just the first month with Luke and Mara forcibly fixing everything that had gone wrong, resettling knee-jerk reactions and forcing corporations to behave themselves, many planets that had existed outside the direct membership of the two governments had started to inquire about joining the Alliance.
"You know," Mara said thoughtfully, "we could see if the Hapens are interested in the mines?"
"Oh," Luke raised his brow at that, "maybe we could work out something using it to help pay off the New Republican debt?"
"Hhmmm," she chewed her lip for a second, "possibly, but totally at wholesale."
"Of course," he nodded sagely at her, "but above cost."
"How does three days sound?" the Imperial lawyer gave in first.
"Sounds good to me," Mara gave him her best political smile then turned to the New Republican.
With a sour look the other representative said, "We'll have it in two."
"Good," Luke genuinely smiled, "the sooner we can take care of this, the better for everyone."
With that the men gathered up their stuff and left the couple in the conference room.
"And that was the last group for the day," Luke sad happily as he put his flimsiplast documents back in his folder.
"Thank goodness," Mara stretched in her seat. "If I had to listen to one more simpering egotistical reprobate in a suit I'd start lobbing off heads," she then paused, "I think I understand my grandfather a little better."
Luke knew he shouldn't but he let out a laugh at those words, "Well, Palpatine was at a disadvantage."
"Oh?" she turned and looked at him curiously.
"He didn't have me," Luke smiled at her, letting her know that he was right there with her and she never had to worry about becoming her worst fear.
"I'm glad he didn't," Mara leaned in, a rare actual smile on her face, "cause that would be so awkward."
The couple shared a laugh and kissed, lips gently brushing at first as if wondering if the other was truly there and this wasn't some strange dream. Reality was confirmed and they spent several minutes just enjoying each other's company.
"Let's go home," she whispered to him and he agreed. Packing up the rest of their stuff they headed out of the conference room towards the shuttle bay.
One of the first major decisions they made upon accepting their position as Supreme Chancellors was figuring out where their home base would be. Luke knew Mara would have preferred to ride around in her Star Destroyer but, for one, that wouldn't exactly be welcome on New Republic worlds considering the symbolism of the ship.
Second, even when Palpatine was Emperor he had staff to take care of the day to day for him, it was a simple by-product of any kind of mechanism, be it corporate or political. The Planetary Alliance staff would be a mix of Imperial and Republican nationalities, as well as some neutral worlds, and they would need to be placed somewhere.
They were still deciding who would be included on their staff, right now working with a skeleton crew of Mara's personal assistants plus a few New Republicans that Luke wanted, but they had chosen an old mining colony in the Tion Cluster as their base of operations.
"They say it will take only another standard month to finish," Luke gestured to some of the unfinished hallways.
"I'd rather stay on my ship," Mara frowned, though not many would be able to see the slight curve of her lips.
"I know," he pulled her against his side, "but that was your home, this will be our home."
"Yeah," she sighed and then as they came towards a specific cross hallway Mara let out a deep breath, "Ugh."
"Come on," Luke veered her towards the other hall to the large room at the end, "it's not that bad."
As they passed through the drop sheets that were slung across the door, looking at the various hover platforms the decorators used but where now on the floor as the men had gone to their apartments in the old mining barracks, Mara groaned, "Do we really need a ball room?"
"Unfortunately, yes," he grinned at her, she was much more open to him nowadays, though only when she thought they were alone. "We need a place to be able to receive large groups, we'll have to hold functions now again, you know the drill. I don't like it either but we knew it was part of the job."
"Yeah," she gestured to the two thrones on the end, both were ornate, armless, and carved from one block of sturdy wood from the forest moon of Endor. They were exactly equal down to their design, except one was a mirror of the other, "but do we really need thrones."
He frowned, "Apparently that's something both our sides agreed on, something to do with their symbolism and our place in the hierarchy."
"Symbolism, huh?" she walked over to the thrones and stared down at them for a moment. "Which one is mine?"
"I'm not sure…" Luke admitted as he joined her, "traditionally the man, the King or Emperor, sat to the left with this Queen or Empress to his right."
"But we're equal," she pointed out, walking between the thrones, "and hardly traditional."
"Maybe we can trade off," he suggested, "maybe whoever's side is receiving dignitaries can have the left throne?"
Mara thought about it, then frowned, "But what if it's a neutral party, or both sides are equally present?"
"Hmm," he nodded, walking forward and keeping a stern face, "I guess you'll just have to sit in my lap then."
"Uh huh," she kept a cool demeanor, "seems to me that would give you an advantage."
"Would it?" he raised an eyebrow and desperately tried to hold a grin.
She put her hands on her hip, "What if I wanted you in my lap."
"Let's see," Luke sat down in the left throne and quickly pulled Mara down onto his lap, "no, this is definitely the better arrangement."
"Luke!" she squeaked and he silenced her with a kiss.
When they finally took a breath, Mara let herself be held in his arms and laid her head on his shoulder. "A few years ago and I never would have imagined myself in this place, like this, with anyone, let alone you. What have you done to me?"
"What have I done to you?" he let out a little laugh. "What have you done to me? I was all set to dedicate my life completely to the Jedi way, but being here, in this place, with you, I'm going to be able to do more for the Galaxy than I ever imagined, and have fun doing it too."
To accent his point he nuzzled against her ear, making Mara groan and shift to where she ended up straddling him on the throne.
"Luke," Mara said softly.
"Yeah," he looked up at her and smiled.
"It can't last," she frowned.
He echoed her frown, "What can't last? Us?"
"No," she shook her head, "everything we're doing here, we do because the people let us. They look to us as symbols of everything they want."
"Yes," he nodded his understanding.
"But when we are gone," she chewed her lip, "what happens then?"
"Ah," he had to stop and think about that one, "I guess they will choose a new Emperor and Empress."
"How?" she instantly said as if she expected his answer, "Will there be elections? I doubt they will conveniently find another couple such as ourselves."
"That does seem unlikely," he nodded, still thinking it over, "perhaps we should set down some time to speak to the heads of both governments in regards to succession, should anything happen to one or both of us."
"That's a good idea," she agreed with him, "we'll set that up for after the New Republican elections. Likely your Mon Mothma will be re-elected but all the same, we should would wait and see."
"Sounds good," Luke smiled and hadn't forgotten that she was sitting across his lap, so went in for another kiss only to have her pull back again.
"Luke," Mara looked thoughtful, "how is succession traditionally handled?
"Ah, well," he was now thoroughly confused, he would think she would know the answer to this, "usually through bloodlines, parent to child, sometimes siblings or nieces and nephews."
"Right," she nodded, "because if you had a child, presumably you could teach them, groom them, to be as wise a ruler as you."
"In theory," Luke couldn't help but think of Isolder and what all must have gone wrong there.
"In theory," she gave him a curious look, "so you're saying we'd need empirical data to know for sure?"
Luke was about to reply but then he stopped, not actually sure with what he was about to say. He acutely remembered the last time she wanted empirical data…
"Mara?" he tried to read her but her face has gone blank. "A child is not empirical data."
"I know that," Mara sounded a tad unsure. "I've just," she chewed her lip, "been thinking about it lately," she showed him a rare amount of uncertainty and confusion on her part. "Never mind," she started to remove herself from his lap but his hands stayed at her waist, making sure she'd literally have to remove herself, not just shrink away.
"Is this because of what my father said?" he looked her in the eye, "And Leia?" when his sister and her husband came to visit as Luke and Mara were starting the construction of their new home, Leia came with the news that she was expecting twins.
His wife looked as if she was going to argue or fight, but then her eyes collapsed shut and with a sigh her head fell softly to his shoulder, "Look what you've done to me, Luke, you've broken me."
"No," he responded quietly, running a hand through her hair, "I've given you back all your missing pieces."
They held each other like that for as long as they needed to, Mara weeping silently against him. "I'm scared, Luke, I've never been scared in my life."
He tilted her face up so he could see her shining green eyes, "We'll always have each other, Mara… as I said before…"
"we're in this together…"
Their lips met in mutual reverence, something more than lust… something even stronger than love…
Without the need of joining their bodies, their minds became one, flooding into each other and filling every crevice with their understanding, their love, their peace…
blurring the lines between their own souls…
offering everything that was one to the other…
permanently bonding themselves to one another…
a level of trust, of faith, of love, that could never break…
Luke jerked his head back, seeing in Mara's eyes the same surprise at the Force bond connection which seemed to have taken permanent root… but this was not his primary concern.
That's it, the end, I remember revealing my plans for the story to ginchy and jade_lotus in a closed coffee shop in a grocery store in Kentucky back in 2011. Didn't quite come out the way I had envisioned back then, but most things rarely do. Thank you all again for enjoying the ride this story took me and the characters on. It was a blast!
Now, if I might be allowed a moment of self-promotion…
If you like how I wrote Mara here, then please check out my first ever fan fic, Emperor's Shadow. It's a canon interpretation of the events between the Corellian Trilogy and the Thrawn Duology. I always thought that something had to have happened to Luke and Mara to get their characterizations into the right place for the events at the end of Vision of the Future. So, in this action murder mystery… everyone is a suspect but only Mara believes she's guilty.
In a few weeks, I will also start posting another L/M AU which was previously posted on the JFC…
What if there was a second Chosen One after Anakin… and Mara was the one to carry him? How would Mara react to such a violation of her body? How will Luke help Mara make it through this with her sanity intact? What would Luke do to make sure the child doesn't suffer the same fate as Anakin?
You thought Symbols was bad with the angst and evil cliffies… consider this a warm-up to the main event that is Bearing the Chosen.
I've also recently gotten into writing X-Men fan fic. If you are interested in the X-Men franchise or looking for something a little different, please check out my first X-Men fan fic X-Men: Among Thieves, which is a movie (in prose form) to follow the movie X-Men: First Class. In this origin story, a mystery will send Rogue and Gambit travelling across the world, deeper into their pasts, and closer to each other… if it doesn't kill them first.
I also have a blog for an upcoming project called X-Men: The (fan fic) Series. It's a series of short stories which are done in a faux tv show fashion. It's literally episodes of a proposed live-action X-Men tv series done in prose form, with four acts plus teaser and tag, and with an average 'running time' of 44 minutes. Check out my blog (which is linked in my profile) for more information, plus I also post news and articles about upcoming movies such as X-Men: Days of Future Past and Star Wars: Episode VII.
I also have a workshop on the blog with tips and information about writing fan fiction. Check it out!
Well, thank you all again! I wouldn't do this without you! You guys are awesome, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. ;-)