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 Running Into Old Friends - L/M, H/L Completed 
RebelMom


Joined: 02 Aug 2007
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Location: Tucson, Arizona
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Since I've started writing the sequel to this, I thought I'd go ahead and post this.


Running into Old Friends
By RebelMom


Prologue
Just prior to the Battle of Endor

Shore leave was rare for Admiral Piett. In this case, it was also sudden. His wife didn’t even know that he was back; she wasn’t even home. The household droid said that she was shopping. It worked for the better that he could have some time alone. After excusing his aide, he entered his study. He took a seat and opened the box he had brought with him from the Executor. The object inside was fascinating and unique. It seemed a shame to have to store it away, but it was entrusted to his care. He was responsible for its safety while it was in his possession. A smile grew on his face. It was an honor to serve and he was proud to do it. There was a noise from the main room. Carefully packing the figurine back into its box, he set it into his wall safe. Once the door was secured, he left the room. It would be best if his wife didn’t know about the piece just yet. He’d tell her later, after the Rebels were defeated.

Chapter 1
Shortly after Thrawn crisis

“Did you make contact?”

Garrick watched as his slicer continued to tap the keys. Finally, she hit the send key and looked up at him.

“Yes, I’ve made contact. He’ll meet me in the Hyper Café next week,” she answered.

Nodding, Garrick replied, “Good. That should work into our timeframe. I need that encryption code.”

“I’ll get it,” she replied, returning to her work.

A loud noise drew his attention to the other side of the room. Several power packs had fallen to the floor. A young man sporting a spiky haircut picked them up, placing them on a table next to a couple of thermal detonators. One of the detonators began to roll. Rushing to the table, Garrick caught it before it could hit the ground. The young man spared a glance at him, shrugged and finished arranging the power packs on the table.

“You could have blown us up, Faren.”

Unconcerned, Faren grabbed another detonator and tossed it in the air a few times. “It’s not activated.”

Garrick snatched the globe mid-flight. “That’s not a guarantee.” Verifying that the detonator was indeed inoperable, he set it on the table and made a quick mental inventory. A nerve disruptor, several blasters, power packs, thermal detonators, vibroblades, timed charges and a pair of stun cuffs. It wasn’t the best arsenal, but sufficient for their needs.

The door slid open and the man who entered was greeted by blasters. “Don’t shoot!” he yelled, putting his hands up in surrender.

Shaking his head in disbelief, Garrick holstered his blaster. “Nerf, that wasn’t the smartest way to enter this room.”

“Sorry, sir. I was in a hurry.” Nerf was always in a hurry. Sturdily built, he appeared to resemble a domesticated nerf. His hurried manner reminded others of an animal going to the slaughter, but he somehow always managed to come out alive. “There’s a comm call from Millton.”

Rushing to the com, Garrick activated the receiver. Without preamble, he asked, “Did you get the artifact from Piett’s widow?”

There was no sound from the other end. “Millton?”

“She didn’t have it,” came the answer finally.

Garrick’s mouth gaped in shock. “Piett had it with him when he went on leave. I saw him take it in.”

“I know. She did have it. Unfortunately, the Empire is having trouble with its pension plan. She was out of money, so she sold it.”

Garrick slammed his fist on the table. “Do you know who she sold it to?”

“Yes.”

**

Talon Karrde held the sculpture in his hands and ran his finger along the carvings in the shiny black material. The icy smooth surface caught him like a magnet, drawing his touch into a caress and captivating his imagination. He shivered uncontrollably – the reaction stopped as soon as he pulled his hand away from the lettering. Setting the miniature castle back on his desk, he picked up the magnifier and studied the carvings. At least, he attempted to study them. He was unfamiliar with the lettering. The ship’s database couldn’t find a match.

The sum he paid for the artifact was steep, but was still only half of what Karrde believed it was worth. The owner had found it when she was clearing her late husband’s study in preparation for a move. She had an eye for art and realized that she had come upon something valuable. Keeping it would have been desirable, but her financial straits dictated otherwise. She set up a showing with a private art dealer.

An acquaintance of Talon Karrde, the dealer notified the information broker. Talon was instantly drawn to the piece, not only for its aesthetic qualities, but also for its mystical presence.

The castle had been formed in the obsidian so skillfully that Talon couldn’t find a flaw or really determine exactly how it was processed. The artifact itself had significance, but he could help thinking that it was also part of a larger treasure. He continued to stare at it, hoping that something would click. The puzzle still remained unsolved two hours later. His frustration at the lack of sufficient information to solve the mystery was rising. Fortunately, when faced with lack of knowledge, Talon Karrde knew where to find it - or more precisely for this case, with whom.

Karrde clicked on the com. “Aves, get me a secure line to Coruscant.”
**

“This is Dr. Joans,” said the man answering the holocall.

“Hello, Joachim.” Talon waited for recognition to set in

The small hologram of a graying gentleman scratched his head and then smiled. “Talon Karrde. It’s great to hear from you.” He folded his hands together and leaned forward eagerly. “You have something for me?”

Talon grinned at the man’s anxiousness. Karrde had been doing business with Joachim Joans for several years – mostly obtaining appraisals for various artifacts of which he’d gained possession. Several items eventually ended up in the University of Coruscant’s Museum.

Talon moved the artifact into viewing range. “I’m hoping you are familiar with this.”

The professor adjusted his controls to get a better view of the object. His eyes widened at first, and then his face took on a studious look. “Magnificent,” he whispered. “You must bring this to me.”

Talon twisted his mustache. “Is that necessary?”

His question went unanswered. Joachim was scanning a datapad, muttering excitedly about the find of the century.

“How soon can you be here?”

“A standard week.” Karrde shifted his position. Joachim’s insistence was unusual. Most of the time, they’d make mutual arrangements – sort of at your convenience. His forcefulness combined with his transparent excitement spoke volumes. “I take it that there is more than meets the eye with this?”

Joachim stared intently at Karrde. “I’ll need to see this in person to verify my suspicions. This is an unprecedented find. Contact me on my personal comlink when you arrive.”

“Certainly. I look forward…”

“Wait a minute, Talon. Let’s meet for dinner. I’ll make reservations at the Ambrian. If that’s what I think it is, we’ll need to celebrate in style. I’ll request that the maitre d’ provide a vintage Alderaanian wine. Nothing but the best for us.”

Talon smiled. “That sounds wonderful, Joachim. See you in a week.”

“Goodbye, Talon, my friend.” The hologram fizzled.

Karrde picked up the castle. “Seems I was right about you.” He carried it to his safe and set it inside. After he closed it, his comlink beeped. “Yes?”

“Boss, turn on your holonet. There’s a news feed you might want to see,” came Aves’ voice.

Talon acknowledged him and switched on his holonet to the frequency Aves supplied. What greeted him was a view of a protest by the Intergalactic Spacers Union on the streets of Coruscant. Many protestors held signs decreeing, “Shipping jobs for legitimate spacers”, “No profiteering”, and “Leave smuggling to the Hutts”. The union president gave a highly charged speech that incited the members to shout anti-smuggler slogans. Then, a couple of senators offered their support and declared that they would fight against the New Republic’s liaison with the Smuggler’s Alliance.

Karrde cut the feed and relaxed back into his chair. Liaison with the Smuggler’s Alliance. As he thought about his second in command, he knew that she had to be chewing blaster bolts over all the media attention. He hadn’t seen her on the news yet, but it wouldn’t be long before the holoshills tracked her down, especially if the protests escalated. He wouldn’t want to be the holoshill who received the brunt of Mara Jade’s wrath.

**

Her foot slammed against the heavy material with a satisfying thud. Swinging her leg quickly from the left, she managed to get the bag to sway. Her fists pummeled the twirling bag. One more swift kick and the bag broke from its anchor, fell to the floor and split open. Mara Jade smiled tiredly.

She’d been coming to the gym daily since the Senate hearings had started regarding the Smuggler’s Alliance. At first, it seemed simple enough and she actually thought it would have been completed by now. Then the holoshills started badgering her. Soon after, protests appeared – mostly written. Today’s rally only made it worse.

Working out her anger and frustration was easy. She just imagined that the bag was whatever senator or holoshill was annoying her the most. It would have been more satisfying to have a live opponent (perhaps, Borsk Fey’lya), but such indulgence would certainly put a damper on her work, not to mention setting her on a track to the Dark Side.

She wiped perspiration from her brow and took a swig of water. If only there was some way she could fight a live opponent – without losing her temper. Some of the Senators had to be in decent shape – there was a gym for councilor use at the palace. It would be easier to get a reporter to fight her. All she’d have to do is offer credits and they’d be fighting a path to her door. No, the temptation was too great. It was safer to pummel the nerfhide bag. Finishing the water, she threw the bottle into the trash with disgust. Hopefully, the political sessions would go quickly and she could return to her normal life. She snatched her towel, throwing it over her shoulder and headed for the door. Her way was blocked by Luke Skywalker.

Cocking an eyebrow, he glanced over her shoulder. “Who had the honor of being beaten in effigy today?”

“Lech Merrit,” she said bluntly, masking her surprise. So intent on her task, she’d failed to sense his presence.

“Ah, the Spacer’s Union President.” He leaned against the doorjamb. “That’s the third bag this week. What’d the owner say?”

She shrugged. “Not much. I bought seven replacements.” Crossing her arms, she glared at him. “You going to be moving anytime soon? I’d like to leave.”

Luke stood up straight and stepped to the side. “Yes, ma’am. I don’t want to end up like that bag.”

Mara smiled mischievously. “You wouldn’t. Lightsaber burns leave different markings.” She strode past him, calling over her shoulder, “And don’t call me ma’am.”

“Yes, Mara,” Luke answered obediently.

He watched the fiery redhead walk down the corridor, taking notice of her loose fitting outfit. His thoughts drifted to the previous day. She’d been wearing a sleek, form fitting jumpsuit. It accentuated her figure, emphasizing every curve. He found himself exploring the curves with his eyes, sliding into the valleys and over the hills. So smooth. His imagination bloomed, bringing about the sensation of his hands following the path of his eyes. Slamming down his shields, Luke blushed at his thoughts and tried to put the image out of his mind, but found it difficult. He liked what he saw.

Then, self preservation kicked in and he managed to banish the image. It seemed that Mara hadn’t picked up his errant thoughts. She hadn’t returned to skewer him.

It took a deliberate sigh to chase away the emotions lingering after her and to redirect his thoughts on Mara toward their friendship. Ever since the Senate hearings began, he’d been spending more and more time with Mara, helping, training and advising. She was glad for his aid; his connections were useful. The bantering continued, she still glared and called him “Skywalker”, but occasionally Mara would also smile at him and feel happy in his presence. Each day brought him closer to her, evolving their friendship into something more like a relationship, at least for him. His feelings for her were deepening.

He could only hope to keep his feelings in check, at least for now, or his heart would surely be broken.


Last edited by RebelMom on Sun Oct 07, 2007 1:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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EtahnAbaht


Joined: 01 Aug 2007
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Fascinating beginning. The bit with Piett really draws one in, the mystery so enticing. Interesting OCs, enough so to make me curious about them and the artificat. As to Talon, very nice work with his perspective on the acquisition and the little glimpses we see of it. Then of course, there is Dr. Joans - the question that leaps to mind is whether he or his son is Han's doppelganger. Finally, while I do look forward to seeing more Luke and Mara, nice touch with what we see - especially his infatuation. I like the mixture of prickliness and humor that you have instilled in her. Its early days yet, but I look forward to more.

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JayCee
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oooo... i remember this but i can't remember how it worked out... yah!

I love it when my memory fails me... I can enjoy things all over again!

Very Happy

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Myriad


Joined: 07 Aug 2007
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Hmm, I don't think I've ever read this before... Thinking How is that possible?! Anyways, I like what I see so far, and have no idea where this is going... Laughing I love the Luke/Mara interaction, as usual. Very Happy Can't wait for more!

Favorite bit: It would have been more satisfying to have a live opponent (perhaps, Borsk Fey’lya), but such indulgence would certainly put a damper on her work, not to mention setting her on a track to the Dark Side.

I don't think anyone likes that tricky bothan, eh? Laughing

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RebelMom


Joined: 02 Aug 2007
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EtahnAbaht Posted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 2:40 am Post subject:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fascinating beginning. The bit with Piett really draws one in, the mystery so enticing. Interesting OCs, enough so to make me curious about them and the artificat. As to Talon, very nice work with his perspective on the acquisition and the little glimpses we see of it. Then of course, there is Dr. Joans - the question that leaps to mind is whether he or his son is Han's doppelganger. Finally, while I do look forward to seeing more Luke and Mara, nice touch with what we see - especially his infatuation. I like the mixture of prickliness and humor that you have instilled in her. Its early days yet, but I look forward to more.

I really wanted to add mystery to the artifact, but I do give little hints until what it is is revealed. I've never really written Talon much, so his appearance here is exploratory. I wanted to expand on my writing, making this an ensemble piece with a heavy dose of L/M. Alas there is no Han doppelganger. Dr Joans is my little joke about artifacts. This was also my first pre-marriage L/M. I had to make sure they didn't fall for each other too fast.

JayCee Posted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 9:51 am Post subject:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

oooo... i remember this but i can't remember how it worked out... yah!

I love it when my memory fails me... I can enjoy things all over again !


It might be the fact that this story is 2 years old

miss dreams Posted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 3:53 pm Post subject:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hmm, I don't think I've ever read this before... How is that possible?! Anyways, I like what I see so far, and have no idea where this is going... I love the Luke/Mara interaction, as usual. Can't wait for more!

Favorite bit: It would have been more satisfying to have a live opponent (perhaps, Borsk Fey’lya), but such indulgence would certainly put a damper on her work, not to mention setting her on a track to the Dark Side.

I don't think anyone likes that tricky bothan, eh?

And here I thought this would be old news. I'm glad to give you something new to read.
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RebelMom


Joined: 02 Aug 2007
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Chapter 2

Mara’s heart rate accelerated as she increased her pace, mirroring Luke’s precise movements. She slashed high, her blue blade sizzling as it met Luke’s green one. Her muscles strained at the pressure and her determination to take control, but Luke broke off quickly and swung his saber low. Unsurprised by his action, Mara blocked it and spun away, putting some distance between them. Then coming back on the attack, Mara lunged at Luke who parried with ease. After several parries, Luke riposted, catching Mara off guard. She couldn’t get her blade up in time. The tip of his lightsaber was pointed at her throat, just under her chin. He grinned at her. “My point.” Holding his lightsaber just a little longer than necessary, he finally extinguished it and stepped back.

Mara gritted her teeth and glared at him. It was the second match today that he’d bested her. “It’s your last point, Skywalker,” she declared as she shut down her lightsaber and hooked it to her belt.

Walking to a bench, she grabbed a couple bottles of water from a small cooler, tossed one at Luke and opened the other. Taking a swig, she watched as Luke did the same. She continued to watch him as he toweled off his neck and arms. His tank top was drenched with sweat and it stretched tightly over his muscular chest. That physical training was as important to a Jedi as mental training was something Luke had continually brought to her attention. And he certainly adhered to it as evidenced by his well-toned body. His eyes shifted in her direction and Mara forced herself to stop staring by drinking more water. Peeking over the bottle, she saw him pull the drawstring of his shorts to tighten the waist. I wonder what would happen if I cut the string? She thought with devilish amusement. It’d certainly give me an advantage. Luke turned, facing the wall and placed his palms on it, one knee bent, one foot in front of the other. Then he pushed, stretching his muscles. Mara’s eyes trailed down his back and stopped at his buttocks. When she realized what she was doing, she quickly turned away and closed her eyes. Stop it, Mara. This is Skywalker.

“Ready when you are, Jade.”

Luke’s words pulled her out of her reverie. Swallowing the last drop of water, she tossed the bottle on the ground and turned around to face her opponent. He held his lightsaber loosely in his hand and grinned at Mara. She meant to wipe that smile off his face.

Mara lunged. Luke parried her attack easily. She riposted, her lightsaber whipping over his, and launched a series of quick-timed attacks. Her relentless assault pushed him back. Suddenly, he somersaulted out of her reach. She ran towards him, lunging immediately, determined to not let him get away that easily. Faster than she thought possible, he spun to face her, his lightsaber meeting hers with a spark. Over extended from her lunge, Luke’s firm parry knocked her blade off center. She was vulnerable to attack, and retreated a little, falling into a defensive stance. Using her falling back to his advantage, Luke began a flurry of offensive maneuvers to keep her off balance. A green haze flashed as he swung his blade quickly from side to side and gained the upper hand. Mara tried to riposte, but Luke’s attacks didn’t falter. His face showed no strain. The fact that he could stay so calm was unnerving. Only his blue eyes sparkled with the excitement of the battle. He’s got beautiful eyes.

Her momentary distraction gave Luke the advantage he needed. He feinted to the left. Mara quickly swung her saber to meet his but he feinted again, her blade totally missing his. Slightly off balance, she backhanded her lightsaber at him. Their blades met near the hilt, Mara struggling to keep him at bay. Luke slid his blade down Mara’s and pushed her backwards. Barely regaining her footing, Mara slashed at Luke. His blade caught the tip of hers and with a twist of his wrist, sent it flying from her grip.

“My point, Ja…” Luke began, stopping when Mara’s lightsaber was suddenly back in her hand, ignited and pointed at his chin.

“It’s my point this time,” Mara declared triumphantly.

The shocked expression on Luke’s face was priceless. She waited patiently for him to concede.

“Good recovery,” he said.

“You got that right, farmboy,” she said coldly, her green eyes focused impassively at his throat.

Luke shut down his saber, but hers remained ignited. Swallowing, Luke said, “Mara, it’s your point.”

Her expression didn’t change. “I know.”

“Would you shut down the lightsaber now?” he asked quietly.

There was a delay of several seconds before Mara brought herself to comply. Taking a deep breath, Luke went to the bench and began to gather his things. He absently called over his shoulder, “I’ve got to run. I’m meeting Leia for lunch. Same time tomorrow?”

“Yes,” came the soft reply.

His bag in his hand, Luke turned to face Mara. “Great. Until tomorrow.” Then he winked at her before walking out the door.

As soon as Luke exited the room, Mara slumped onto the bench. She was disgusted with herself for allowing Skywalker to distract her. Nothing had changed about him – his body was still wiry and well conditioned, and his eyes still blue. Just weeks ago, she concentrated on her lessons. Now, she found herself becoming distracted by the teacher. I’ve got to get my mind off of him.

Mara spent the next half an hour destroying a fourth nerfhide punching bag.

**
Luke had barely finished punching in the code for Leia and Han’s apartment when the door slid open and his sister pulled him inside.

“You’re late.”

“Sorry. I had to shower first. You didn’t want a sweaty man stinking up the place, did you?”

She pulled him into a hug. “I probably wouldn’t have noticed. I’ve been discovering all kinds of wonderful smells courtesy of the twins.”

Laughing at her comment, Luke kissed her cheek and headed towards the twins’ bedroom. At four months old, they seemed so small. “Hello, Jacen.” He held Jacen, letting his nephew squeeze his finger. Jaina made gurgling noises to get his attention. “Don’t be impatient, Jaina. I’m coming.” After placing Jacen back in his crib, he picked up Jaina. He held her up and smiled at her. “You are adorable.” Giggling, she reached out her hand and grabbed his nose. “Ow! You got me. Now I’m going to get you.” Luke moved his head and pretended to bite her fingers. She screamed with delight. Hearing his sister’s excitement, Jacen began to flail his arms and legs. Luke cradled Jaina in one arm and picked up Jacen with the other. “I bet you’d both like to go for a ride.” Both smiled at him. Luke sat in the glider chair beside the crib and eased a child onto each thigh, their backs against his abdomen, his arms holding them gently in place. Slowly, he moved his legs up and down, giving the twins a slight bounce. Both kicked their legs and Luke sped up slightly. He could feel their excitement through the Force, especially from Jaina. He was about to go even faster when Leia entered the room.

“Luke! They just ate.”

He stopped moving immediately. “Now you tell me.”

”Since you’re already in the glider, why don’t you rock them to sleep? It’s time for their nap anyway,” Leia suggested.

“Sure, I’d love to.”

Leia handed him a blanket. “Good luck. See you in an hour.”

“This will not take an hour,” Luke announced as he began to rock with the children cuddled close to him.

“Whatever you say, Luke,” Leia said as she left the room.

His sister’s time estimate ended up being fairly accurate. The twins dozed off after a quarter hour, but every time Luke tried to stand up and put them in their crib, they woke up and cried, so he had to keep rocking. Finally, the children were sound asleep.

Leia returned to find her brother still sitting in the glider with the babies on his lap. All three of them were sleeping. I need a holo of this.

After taking the holo, she gazed at them for a while, enjoying the peacefulness of the scene. Luke looked so natural with the children. He’s a wonderful uncle. His face was relaxed in sleep – he seemed younger and less stressed. As much as she wanted to leave them as they were, she knew that Luke would want to eat.

"Of course I want to eat. A little help please?" he whispered.

She glared at him. “I thought you were asleep.”

“Nope.”

Before Leia could say anything else, he added, “And I wasn’t really reading your mind. I’m starving and I can smell lunch.”

Smiling at her brother’s comment, Leia picked up Jacen and placed him in the crib. Luke did the same with Jaina. He let out a sigh of relief when neither awoke, and followed his sister out of the room.

**
After lunch, Luke and Leia made their way out to the balcony. Luke sat in a chair near the railing, Leia in one near the slider. Nibbling on some confections, Luke watched a few speeders fly by. He turned his attention to his sister and watched as she pulled out a datapad. When Leia started to make entries into a datapad, Luke asked, “What are you doing? You’re not going back to work already are you?”

She stared defiantly at him. “And if I was…”

“I wasn’t going to stop you. I just thought you had planned on taking at least six months off.” Luke popped another confection in his mouth.

“You certainly are a nosy one,” Leia said. “For your information, I’m not writing a speech or planning a coup. Just checking my calendar. I’m going on a date tonight.”

Luke casually tossed another confection in the air. This one went wide, missing his mouth entirely and flying over his shoulder. “Does Han know?”

“Of course he knows,” she answered, picking up a confection and throwing it at him. Luke caught it in his mouth. “He made it. We’re going to dinner tonight. Just the two of us.”

Smiling, Luke replied, “That’s great. It’ll be good for you to get out of here. Want me to watch the twins?”

“Nope. Got it covered.” Leia looked thoughtfully at her brother. “You should try it sometime.”

Luke cocked his head, his expression confused.

“Going on a date, Luke. You need to get out some, too.”

Luke sighed. “I do get out. I go to the gym every day.”

“That’s not the same.” Leia paused as an idea came to mind. “Why don’t you take Mara to dinner?”

His mouth fell open. “Are you crazy?”

“Han thinks so.” Leia grinned. “Seriously, Luke. I think it would do both of you some good. She could use the distraction.”

I’m the one who’d be distracted. Luke quickly clamped down on his thoughts. “I don’t know…”

“Think about it. Tell her it’s to discuss her training, if you think it will help.”

“Yeah, I could do that,” he mumbled distantly.

“I’m going to check on the twins.” She stood up and entered the apartment. Luke hadn’t moved. Smirking, she shook her head. She’d caught his errant thought before he’d slammed down his shields. So, Mara’s a distraction now, little brother. Encouraging, very encouraging.
**
Meditation wasn’t a high priority for Mara, but Luke insisted she included it in her regimen. Usually they meditated prior to committee meetings. Today, he asked her to meditate before they commenced their workout. Perhaps he was trying to see how she’d deal with change or it was just to keep her off guard. The reason for the change continued to nag at her throughout their session. The workout progressed nicely, with little distraction on her part, ending with no embarrassing moments.

After the workout, she was finished packing her bag before she realized that Luke was standing next to her. His hands were clasped behind his back and he had a thoughtful expression on his face. Cocking her eyebrow, Mara folded her arms across her chest and waited. It was unusual for Luke to hang around after a workout. Showers were first priority, not conversation. Luke shuffled his feet a little and cleared his throat. Finally looking at her, he began, “Mara, I thought it would be a good idea to get together…to discuss things.”

Things? Gesturing for him to continue, she asked, “What things?”

He brought his hands together in front of his body. “Different things. Your training for one.”

My training, huh? Somehow that didn’t sound right to her. Tilting her head slightly, she studied Luke. His shields were up, but from his stance he seemed…nervous. Curious, she decided to prod him a bit. Shrugging, she said, “Okay. I don’t have any meetings for a while. Let’s discuss my training.”

His eyes widened at her words. “I don’t mean now, Mara. I was thinking we could do it over dinner.”

Mara narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “Are you trying to ask me out, Skywalker?”

Luke’s cheek twitched. “Yes, I am,” he declared boldly. “Think you can handle a nice dinner with me at the most exclusive restaurant in the known galaxy?”

The Ambrian! It’s almost impossible to get reservations there, was all she could think. Somewhere between astonishment and unfamiliar excitement, she heard herself accept his challenge. “I can handle dinner with you – if you can get reservations.”

A grin spread on his face. “Already done. I’ll pick you up a week from today at 1700.”
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MaraJade001


Joined: 02 Aug 2007
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I am SO loving this story, RebelMom! It's a new one for me as well. I can't wait to see how this dinner works out. Popcorn

And there's a sequel?! Yay!! Very Happy

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BigFatty


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I think the most difficult thing about finding this story is not going and searching where it's already finished and ignoring my homework. It's a great start and I love how the story gets started with the little bit featuring Piett. Can't wait to see where this goes.
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JayCee
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Aww... Luke is a cute uncle! Very Happy

And yay, he's made it past the first hurtle with Mara! Wink

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RebelMom


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MaraJade001 Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 12:55 am Post subject:
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I am SO loving this story, RebelMom! It's a new one for me as well. I can't wait to see how this dinner works out.

And there's a sequel?! Yay
!!

The dinner will be interesting to say the least.

BigFatty Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 2:38 am Post subject:
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I think the most difficult thing about finding this story is not going and searching where it's already finished and ignoring my homework. It's a great start and I love how the story gets started with the little bit featuring Piett. Can't wait to see where this goes.


I understand not wanting to do homework. It's been a long time since I've had to do it though.

JayCee Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 12:12 pm Post subject:
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Aww... Luke is a cute uncle!

And yay, he's made it past the first hurtle with Mara!


I totally agree about the cute part. And he has many hurtles to go.
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RebelMom


Joined: 02 Aug 2007
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Chapter 3

The encrypted message was picked up as the freighter reached one of the Golan I defense platforms orbiting Coruscant. Ghent quickly decoded it. In simple terms, it warned them to avoid the political district as well as the University. Having seen the newsfeeds, Karrde knew about the anti-smuggling climate and had no qualms about following the advice. His crew was more important than any pride. The Wild Karrde was soon docked on the outskirts of Invisec.

Talon gathered the crew for a meeting before giving them shore leave. For their own safety, the crew needed to be aware of the hostile climate. He kept it brief and to the point – don’t draw attention to yourself and avoid confrontation. Most of the crew had seen the news, so they understood. They didn’t want any problems.

**

It was a somber group that walked by Mara Jade as she boarded the Wild Karrde. Talon greeted her warmly at the top of the ramp. “Welcome, Mara.”

“Hello, Talon. It’s nice to see you again. I thought I’d fill you in on what’s been happening in committee.” She spoke softly at first, then her voice took on a harder edge. “It’s a rancor’s den in there.”

Karrde gestured towards his office. “That doesn’t sound promising.”

“It’s not.” The door slid open and they both entered. “And it’s gotten worse with the riots at the University. A student was injured and the blame was immediately placed on a spacer who was nearby. An anonymous tip claimed that the incident was the responsibility of smugglers and no one sought to disprove it.” She took a deep breath. “Ever since then, every single suggestion I make is met with suspicion. I may not be a smuggler any more, but I associate with them, so I’ve been declared suspect. It doesn’t matter that I have connections with the NR hierarchy and their heroes. Nothing seems to assure them and I’ve reached the limits of my patience with that committee. I don’t know how Organa Solo can deal with these idiots on a daily basis year after year.”

After pulling a chair out for her, Talon sat behind his desk. “She’s been a councilor for years. Not only is she a gifted orator, she’s skilled in diplomatic negotiations,” he said.

As Mara plopped into the chair, her senses came alert to a shifting current in the Force. It swirled around her, its energy sending shivers down her spine. Voices echoed in the background. Words came in whispers. “Forget diplomacy. I’m ready to try aggressive negotiations.” It wasn’t what she was going to say, but she felt compelled to repeat the suggestion.

Talon responded, “That sounds interesting, but…”

His words didn’t register clearly; they seemed muffled. Darkness crept into her vision. The air was oppressive and heavy, yet she could still breathe. For a moment, the cloud lifted, and light streamed out around the edges of the darkness. Staring straight ahead, she saw the shadows form into the vague shape of a man. Though not defined, his essence seemed familiar, yet not familiar. As quickly as it came, it was gone.

“Mara? Are you okay?”

Blinking a couple of times, she looked for the shadow man.

“Mara?” Karrde repeated.

“I’m sorry. Where were we?” she asked, avoiding his concerned look.

“You were telling me what was happening in committee.”

Mara could tell he wanted to know what had happened. It would be difficult to explain, since she didn’t know herself. Perhaps later, she might have something to say, but for now, the subject would be ignored. She pushed it to the back of her mind. Relaxing into her chair, she began to recap the hearings.

The meeting ran longer than expected. Talon insisted that she have lunch before she left, delaying her even more. Once she had left the Wild Karrde, she thought about the strange Force experience, replaying it in her mind. It was as if someone was trying to tell her something. Meditating about it would be nice, but she would not have the time. It was 1500 when she finally returned to her apartment and Skywalker was scheduled to arrive at 1630.

Interpreting the vision would have to wait.

**
Clutching his bag close to his body, Ghent hurried along the crowded slideway. Late morning commuters glared at him as he pushed against them, but he didn’t slow his pace or heed their insults. His goal was near, only a few short blocks. Suddenly stepping off the slidewalk, and causing several people to bump into each other, Ghent looked up at the sign flashing over his destination: the Hyper Café. Two quick strides and he was through the door. Scanning the room, his eyes found her seated at a corner table.

Besides computers and slicing, few things caught Ghent’s attention. So it was no surprise that when he finally noticed the opposite sex, she would be a slicer. They met the last time the Wild Karrde was in Coruscant, and it was love at first byte. The Wild Karrde remained in port three months, giving the two slicers plenty of time together. Even after he had to leave, they continued to keep in contact and he felt like her knew her inside and out. Slipping into a chair next to her, he planted a kiss on her cheek. “Hi Cache.”

Her hazel eyes shifted to glance at him. “Hey, Ghent. I’ve ordered a caf for you.”

Bending over, he pulled his portable computer out of his carryall. “Thanks.” With a quick flip, the lid was popped open and his system was booting up. He noticed that she was staring intently at her own computer. “What’re you looking at?”

“A code I’m trying to break.”

His computer forgotten, Ghent slid closer to Cache, rested his hand on the back of her neck, messaging it, while he studied her monitor. “It looks like ILKO.”

“That’s what I thought, but my crack doesn’t work on it.” She closed her eyes a moment. “That feels wonderful.”

“Here’s your caf. Would you like to order?” asked the server as she approached their table.

Slightly startled at the interruption, Ghent jerked in his seat. Cache laughed at him. “Give us a few microns, please?” she asked.

The server shrugged and grumbled, as she walked away. Ghent composed himself, grabbed his caf, and pointed at the monitor. “I think I can crack this.”

Her smile grew. “That’s great.”

He tenderly brushed an errant hair off her cheek. “It’ll take a long time, though.”

“That’s fine. We’ll order carry-out and go to my place.”

**

A beeping alarm woke Cache from her light slumber. Ghent mumbled something incomprehensible into her ear as he cuddled closer to her. After giving him a quick kiss, she disentangled herself from him and the sheets and got out of bed. Padding across the floor, she stopped in front of the computer and read the monitor. The slicing program had finished its job and the document she’d been asked to crack was scrolling across the screen. Its contents surprised her and she let out a low whistle. The noise woke up Ghent.

“Did it finish?” Ghent said with a yawn.

Blocking his view of the screen, she answered, “Yes.” Her fingers worked on the keys. She heard him walk up behind her and wrap his arms around her waist.

“Can I see? Aren’t you cold standing here naked?”

Twisting his arms, she turned to face him. “Sorry, I can’t let you see it. My boss was pretty specific about that.” She cocked an eyebrow at him. “And I could ask the same bout you, Zakarisz.”

The mention of his name got the expected response. He groaned. “You know I hate that.”

Her hand snaked behind his neck and she pulled him forward for a kiss. Then she walked back towards the bed and picked up her clothes to get dressed. “I already promised I wouldn’t tell anybody. I still think it’s a nice name.”

“I don’t.” He started towards the computer.

“Zak!” she called, drawing his attention back to her. “You better get dressed. I’ve got to go to work.”

Sighing heavily and turning away from the computer, Ghent began to dress. Cache wouldn’t have minded showing him what she’d cracked with his help; it was the right of any slicer to know, but Garrick told her it was not an option. She vowed to make it up to him later.

**
The Neimoid Marketplace advertisement called it ‘Sultry simplicity in Shimmersilk’. The features included an inverted-V neckline with a halter strap, front gathers and fully lined. It was made of 100% imported Shimmersilk which added to the price. The major selling point for Mara was the full dance skirt; it was perfect for hiding weaponry.

Standing in front of a full-length mirror, she twirled. The shiny black material floated perfectly. Not too heavy and she was able to move comfortably. It covered enough leg to keep her lightsaber out of sight. She strapped her lightsaber to her left thigh and practiced grabbing it quickly. The special hook and loop material holster worked great; the saber came free easily. A simple garter went on her right thigh and she slid a small vibroblade into it. The holdout blaster would go into the pocket book. Her final accessory was a string of Jorallan pearls.

Mara pulled up her hair, twisted it and pinned it in place with a clamshell comb. There, all done. Just need farmboy. Farmboy. She’d never thought she’d be getting dressed up to go out to an exclusive restaurant with Skywalker. It wasn’t just a meal - it was a date. He actually had the nerve to ask her out. A smile spread on her lips as she remembered his initial anxiety. It was endearing and sort of flattering, but she wouldn’t admit it to him. Never the one to back down, she viewed his request as a challenge and accepted, conditioning her response. She should have known that Luke wouldn’t have difficulty obtaining reservations at the Ambrian. The man was a celebrity to the entire galaxy, except her. Still, she was looking forward to the evening, especially since she was going with Luke. Her thoughts froze. What was she thinking? It’s Skywalker and it’s just dinner. That’s all. They’re just discussing her training. Purely professional, she insisted to herself. It’s purely professional.

**
Luke pulled his speeder into a lot near Mara’s apartment. The doorman, who doubled as a security guard, recognized him and allowed him entrance. As he waited for the turbolift, he caught a glimpse of himself in the transparisteel. It was an unfamiliar sight. Dressing up formally was not one of his favorite pastimes, but he didn’t have much choice. The Ambrian had a dress code. His closet was sparse, requiring him to go shopping. Not wanting to ask for the help of any of his friends who would all grill him about his plans, he went alone and was fortunate enough to find a discreet personal shopper service. He brushed a piece of lint from off his sleeve. The dark blue material of the suit showed everything that landed on it and he didn’t want to be scruffy looking. The turbolift door slid open and he entered, requesting Mara’s level. Even though he was nervous, he had to admit that Leia’s suggestion was good. It was nice to go out, especially with Mara.

Tonight would be special. He had never been to the Ambrian even though Leia had told him he had automatic reservations. It wasn’t a place he had wanted to go – until now. He was still surprised that Mara had agreed to accompany him. It wasn’t something he had thought possible. Maybe he had a chance with her after all. Suddenly, he found himself at her front door.

The door slid open and they stared at each other for a few moments. “You look great, Mara.”

“Not so bad yourself, farmboy.” Her eyes skimmed over him. “Though you seem to have missed something.”

Startled, Luke looked down at his suit. Shirt was buttoned, pants zipped, boots on.

Mara laughed. He loved hearing her laugh. “Your tie, Skywalker,” she said, pointing at his collar.

Relieved he hadn’t made a major faux pas, Luke smiled and reached into his pocket. He dangled it in front of her. “I know it’s required at the restaurant, but we aren’t there yet.”

Raising an eyebrow, she nodded. “Clip on. Smart choice.”

Luke stuffed the tie back into his pocket. “I prepare for all possible scenarios. Being choked with my own tie isn’t appealing.” He held out his elbow. “Ready?”

Mara ignored his arm and stepped in front of him. “Yes.”

They began walking down the corridor. Mara asked, “I noticed you don’t have your lightsaber. Leave it at home?”

“No.”

They had reached the turbolift. “You’re not bringing that tin can of yours on our date, are you?”

The door slid open. Puzzled, he looked at her. “No. Why would you think that?”

“Lobby,” Mara requested, and then returned her attention to Luke. “Where else would your lightsaber be?”

“I’ve got it on me. Would you like to search for it?”

**
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JayCee
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Joined: 17 Jul 2007
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Ghent is cute... he really is. Very Happy

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BigFatty


Joined: 23 Sep 2007
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The part with Ghent made me think of Scrubs and the line about JD and Elliot having "white, nerdy sex." Really hope this girl doesn't turn out to be trouble for Ghent.

And I loved the line about Mara getting the dancer's style skirt. Not for dancing, for hiding weapons.
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redtenko


Joined: 01 Aug 2007
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Ghent is my baby, I love it when he's in fanfic Very Happy

I don't believe I've read this one before, which'll add to the fun since it'll be new to me. Love the start here, so far so great!

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If a man, sitting all alone, cannot dream strange things, and make them look like truth, he need never try to write romances ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
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RebelMom


Joined: 02 Aug 2007
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Location: Tucson, Arizona
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redtenko Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 9:00 am Post subject:
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Ghent is my baby, I love it when he's in fanfic

I don't believe I've read this one before, which'll add to the fun since it'll be new to me. Love the start here, so far so great!

I was expanding my horizons with characters. It's nice to have some normal (non-Jedi) characters involved in the story.


BigFatty Posted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 3:59 am Post subject:
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The part with Ghent made me think of Scrubs and the line about JD and Elliot having "white, nerdy sex." Really hope this girl doesn't turn out to be trouble for Ghent.

And I loved the line about Mara getting the dancer's style skirt. Not for dancing, for hiding weapons.


Even nerds can have sex.
I had fun dressing Mara. She knows how to accessorize.

JayCee Posted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 9:36 pm Post subject:
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Ghent is cute... he really is.

He is, isn't he?
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