Part Three - Suns And Lovers

Tatooine - Lars residence

Luke Skywalker stood at the fence that separated the fields from his uncle's dwelling. The double suns were low in the sky and Luke knew he had to return to the house soon but try as he might, he didn't want to return just yet. During the day, he had been able to push the strange dream that was haunting him ever since he had come back from his maintenance run a week ago back into his sub-consciousness. He had tried to talk to his friends Biggs and Fixer, but both men had laughed about his dream and the dream girl he had met there. Strangely enough it had bothered him that they would make fun of his dream, deep down inside he knew it had been more than a dream, more than just his vivid imagination playing tricks with his mind.

The young man sighed and looked back over his shoulder towards the round house. Beyond that, the outline of the dark Toshe mountains could be seen and for a week now Luke had been able to resist the pull to go there. He knew that something important had happened there, something that had changed him, but what it was he did not know.

Closing his eyes, he could recall the green eyes from his dream girl but apart from this he could only remember tastes, and touches, distorted images of kissing and hugging .. lovemaking. Luke smirked at that. Yeah sure, as if I just happen to come across a girl in the desert like that! Luke picked up a small stone and tossed it across the field that lay beyond the small natural stone wall. He turned and walked over to the house. He could hear his aunt Beru calling out for him and he did not want to meet his uncle Owen's wrath again if he came in late for dinner.

Little did he notice the figure that had somehow managed to hide itself in the desert and had kept a close eye on the young boy. As Obi-Wan Kenobi watched the slim figure of the boy walk back to the house, he sighed. He should have known that the mind wipe that the girl had executed on him had been too weak and that he would remember. Obi-Wan sighed again and gripped his cane tighter as he made his way back to his own humble abode.

"Young Skywalker, you met your destiny and I have to make sure that it will not end in pain and anguish," the old man said and turned his back to the house where a young boy sat sullenly over his dinner, dreaming about a girl he had not been supposed to meet so soon.

Coruscant Imperial Palace - private throne room

Visitors who came to the Imperial palace on Coruscant for the first time were always duly impressed by the massive yet elegant marble columns that framed the tall hall of the throne room. Mara on the other hand, who had spent most of her life within these halls was not impressed. In fact, the sights of the palace bored her more or less, but today she felt anticipation rising within her as she made her way over to the throne where a dark cloaked figure sat, awaiting her return.

When Mara let her gaze sweep through the room, she could see Lord Vader standing in the shadows beside the throne and a stab of fear ran through her. During her training as the personal assassin of the Emperor, she had had her fair share of meetings with the Sith Lord but never had he been present during her mission briefings before. Deep down inside her where had not already hardened to the training she had been submitted, she could feel something like fear creeping to the surface.

Focusing her thoughts back to the Emperor she came to a sudden halt as she reached the throne. Kneeling down and lowering her head in reverence, she shuddered slightly.

"My Master, Lord Vader," Mara said by way of greeting and waited. She could hear the cloak of her Master rustling and suddenly she felt a gnarled hand reaching out and touching her chin. Mara resisted the urge to cringe and let her face be tilted upwards towards the one of the Emperor. Yellow eyes stared at her and for a moment she could feel the contained anger of the man before her.

"Isn't she lovely, Vader?" The Emperor asked and the Sith Lord took a step forward, pretending to inspect the girl kneeling in front of his master.

"She will become an exceptional beauty once she has grown," Darth Vader replied non-committal and watched the young girl. He could feel the disturbance in the Force at his words and he pitied the young Emperor's Hand. But something else he felt, something he couldn't quite place. It was like the lingering of a Force signature, imprinted in her like a mark and the imprint felt familiar. But before the Dark Lord could inquire the sentiment any further, his attention snapped back to his Master.

"Once she is grown yes, but she is flawed already, my dear Vader," the Emperor wheezed and rose to his feet. "She violated a direct order, isn't it so, my dear?" Yellow eyes bored into Mara's green ones.

"Master, please ..." Mara said and almost flinched when the grip of her Master's hand tightened on her jaw.

"What, Emperor's Hand? Show Mercy? Compassion?" he asked relentlessly. "Should I show as much compassion as you did ... or shall I call it passion? That is what you submitted yourself to, isn't it? Against my strict orders!"

Mara was pushed back onto her back by a flick of the Emperor's hand. Struggling to keep her composure she tried to rise to her feet but she was viciously pushed back again onto the marble slabs.

"You went against my orders, Emperor's Hand. I had thought to use you and your physical intactness in some mission but now I have to change plans. What do you have to say, Emperor's Hand?"

"I'm sorry, Master. I didn't ... I didn't know it was so important ..." she choked when the Emperor used the Force to tighten the grip on her throat. "Master, please ... I ... didn't ...," she gasped for air.

"You did not think, Mara Jade. You let yourself be engulfed by passion! Passion, my dear, that will ultimately lead to your demise." The young girl writhed in pain when her throat tightened again and for a short moment she thought she would black out from her lack of oxygen.

"You will never fall for the charms of a man again, Mara Jade. Your life will be void of love, except for one thing. If you ever find that boy again, you will remember what you did and how you were punished for it." With this the Emperor raised his arms and Force bolts engulfed the slender form of the girl. Mara bit her tongue as the first lightning flashes hit her body, engulfed her in all their evilness. She could feel the pain racing through her body, trying to take over her mind as she lay on the floor, her limbs contracting with every muscle in her body.

As her cries of agony reverberated through the throne room, Lord Vader stood impassively beside his Master and watched the young girl writhe in pain. He felt a twinge of regret for the child and that surprised the dark Sith Lord. Ever since he had felt the imprint of another Force sensitive in her signature in the Force, his attitude to her had changed minutely. He knew this signature, it tugged at the corner of his mind but he could not place it.

Exasperated at his own failure to place the memory, he turned his mind back to the image in front of him. The Emperor was standing over the girl now, the Force bolts not only engulfing her but also violating her body in the most demeaning way possible. He could feel the glee with which the Emperor, his Master, penetrated the defenceless body of the child and a snort of disgust disturbed the even breathing behind his mask.

It seemed like hours before the Emperor ceased from the deadly still figure of the girl. Palpatine turned towards his faithful pupil. "Vader, take her to the med center and let her get fixed up again. But tell them not to ease her mental pain. It is my wish that she is to remember every bit of her punishment."

"Yes, my lord," Darth Vader answered solemnly and took the few steps over to Mara Jade and bending slightly, he swept the girl up into his arms. While he walked the short distance to the med center, he took a careful look at the burden in his arms and for the first time in years, he felt a sadness engulfing him and for the first time in years he was glad that he had never sired children. Children who might as well be subjected to the wrath of the Emperor like this young girl.

Star Cruiser shuttle en route to Tatooine - five standard years later

The young woman was gazing out of the rare ports of the ship and the Imperial officers present on the small bridge gave the personal assassin of the Emperor a wide berth. The whole demeanour of the woman showed clearly that she was one to be reckoned with and that attention of any kind was unwanted and uncalled for.

Mara Jade could sense the conflicting feelings and thoughts of the crew. She knew that most men found her attractive but her reputation and her cold demeanour kept even the boldest men at bay. Mara smirked at that.

As if I need their attention, she told herself silently and focused back onto the planet that came into view. It had been five years since she returned to this dust ball of an outer rim planet and she felt slightly shaken. A feeling that she had not had in a long time... a sentiment that she had not have in five years to be correct.

Five years ... Mara closed her eyes briefly and tried to suppress the images that rose in her mind, but try as she might she could see the image of the one man that she had been close to appear in her mind clearly, so clearly as if it had been only yesterday that a fifteen year old Mara had lost her virginity to a farmboy.

But what could have been her greatest joy had been perverted into something mean, something that was so painful that even after five years the young woman shuddered when she remembered the events. Closing her eyes, she tried to shake the memories, tried to focus on her mission at hand.

Mara Jade, personal assassin and Emperor's Hand, had been dispatched by the Emperor himself on a mission to kill a Rebel. Over the last half year, she had studied every data pad, every scrap of information she could get her hands on. She was so familiar with the Rebel Alliance and their commanders that she knew she could have easily infiltrated them without raising suspicion. But that was not her ordnance.

She was en route to Jabba the Hutt's palace down on Tatooine. Jabba had the renegade Han Solo in his custody, safely frozen in carbonate, and Darth Vader as well as the Emperor were certain that one of the leaders of the Rebellion, Commander Luke Skywalker, Jedi, would try to rescue his best friend.

Commander Skywalker, Mara mused and recalled the holo image the Emperor had shown her. When she had first seen it, she had experienced a slight stab of recognition but after she had read his file she was certain she did not know the Jedi Master. So many innocent lives he has claimed, Mara thought. He deserves to die. Not only for the Emperor but also for the countless lives he has taken.

Turning back to the port, she stared down onto the planet. But first things first, she thought. I have to find the farmboy, I have to know if the Emperor was right ... if he changed me in some way.

The young Imperial officer cleared his throat nervously as he came to stand in parade rest behind the woman.

"Ma'am ..." he started and when Mara turned around, he added: "Miss Jade, we will land in twenty standard minutes."

With a level gaze Jade watched the young man. Although the officers aboard this ship did not know her true status with the Emperor, they knew she was important enough that she was issued the Emperor's personal shuttle.

"Thank you, officer," Mara replied, dismissing the young officer as she turned back towards the port. Well then, Farmboy, here I come.

Tatooine Beggar's Canyon

Luke Skywalker woke up with a start and groaned. Ever since he had arrived back on his home planet, he had the dream again. The dream he had thought faded when he had joined the Rebellion. But here near the Toshe mountains, near his old home, the dream had started again.

Sitting up straighter in the seat of his borrowed X-Wing, Luke rubbed his face and slowly climbed out of the cockpit. The Rogues had leant him this new fighter after he had told them he would go after Han. Luke would have preferred to tell Leia where he was going but she and Chewie seemed to have vanished. Sighing he rubbed his eyes again and took in the scenery around him, resting his hand against the silver sleek hull of the fighter.

Nothing had much changed and he still could see himself as a kid racing through the canyon with a sky hopper. But this happy time was long gone, he had other responsibilities now. Responsibilities that had led him here, led him back to his home planet, back to his haunting dream.

Luke sighed again as images came to his mind, green beautiful eyes that shone like Corellian jade, soft skin, white as Twilek silk but soft and warm to his touch. Hair .... Luke had to think hard. She had exceptional hair the colour of ... sunset? he asked himself and was not sure. Groping his memory he could only find the lingering images and sounds of passionate sighs and moans that mingled as two bodies came together as one, loving, hugging, heaving with desire and passion.

This has to stop! Skywalker told himself firmly. She is nothing but a figment of my teenage dreams. But try as he might he still had the nagging feeling that it had happened that he indeed lost himself in the arms of a beautiful dream girl all those years ago, before he joined the Rebellion, before he lost his only known family.

But the images lingered. Luke smirked to himself and shrugged his shoulders. He felt a tingle of the Force ripple though him and for a short moment he stiffened. His head snapped up and he thought he would see Yoda or Ben but there was nothing, only the darkness of the Tatooine night in Beggar's Canyon. Dismissing the feeling, he shook his head.

"You are really getting weird, Wormie," he grinned to himself as he recalled his old nickname of times long past.

Checking his chrono, he circled the fighter before he turned towards the pit again. No use to think about things that are not important, he thought and checking his surroundings through the Force again, he settled himself back into the seat and tried to catch some well deserved sleep before he prepared to face Jabba the Hutt in the morning.

Dust whirled up with every step Mara took as she stepped into the still fresh and crisp air of the early Tatooine morning. Anchorhead was a dirty, dusty little merchant town and Mara noticed that nothing had changed in five years. It was still as dreary and unexciting as it had been the last time she had been here. The young woman sighed and rubbed her temple absent-mindedly. Ever since the Emperor had informed her of her impending mission, posing as a dancer in Jabba's palace to kill Skywalker, she had mulled over the possibility to look up her Farmboy but now as she was on planet she was lost. She didn't know his name and walking into the public registration office was not helping her in any way.

She turned a corner and walked into a dusty road with little merchant stalls on both sides and Jade decided that perhaps she could find someone here, who knew the Farmboy. Walking along the lined up stalls she came upon an eatery where an old man was sitting in the shade. While she ordered a small snack, she struck up a conversation.

"Say, old man, do you know a young man ... he is from a moisture farm around here," she said while she paid the man with Hutt credits. "Blonde, blue eyes. Cute face, cleft in his chin."

"Why do you wanna know, gal?" the old man asked, giving her a wide grin that showed up too many teeth missing in his gum.

"Used to live around here and I wondered if he was still around." Mara said non-committal, popping a Cin'chi sweet into her mouth.

"Only young man around here from a moisture farm fitting your description is that Lars boy, though haven't seen him around in years," the old man replied. "Haven't seen old man Lars either, come to think about it."

"Lars?" Mara inquired, storing the info for further use.

"Aye, Lars ... that was the name ... you know him?"

"Thank you for your time," she cut him short and with a last look she made her way over to the public registration office. Now I have a name to work from.

Finding information on a moisture farmer called Lars was easy to come by. In fact it was one of the few entries that was in the database. The little woman who kept the records in order informed Mara that there had been a fire a few months back and that most of the records were lost. After Mara had thanked the woman, she pulled up the data pad and inserted the small disk. Skimming through the file, she soon came upon information on the data pad.

"O. Lars, wife and son - DECEASED" it read and Mara closed her eyes for a short moment. No, it can't be, she thought and searched further. She found part of a holo net article.

"The Lars residence was destroyed by a fire in which O. Lars, his wife and his 18 year old son were all killed. As to the cause of the fire it is claimed that Tusken Raider had jumped the family and upon not finding any valuables had executed Lars and his wife and only son..." she read aloud, her usually calm and strong voice quivering.

Slowly, Mara put the data disk back into its holding place and returned the data pad to the woman at the counter. Afterwards, she never knew how she had gotten out of the office and into the street, let alone to the small cemetery.

Stumbling across orphaned graves she soon came upon the small family grave of the Lars family. Three small graves that held the charred remains of her farmboy and his parents. Mara had a hard time imagining her farmboy being dead. She could still remember how he smelled and tasted and how it felt to touch his skin as likewise being touched by him.

Staring off into the far distance, Mara Jade, Emperor's Hand, stood at the grave of her farmboy, ignoring the twin suns that shone down on her relentlessly, bleaching and drying out everything in their wake.

Both her fear and her joy at the possibility to see her farmboy again, and perhaps test the prophecy the Emperor had cast five years ago, were now shattered.
"Good bye," the young woman finally managed to say, her lips dried up like parchment, and she turned her back towards the graves and made her way to Jabba's palace.

Jabba's barge
Mara was seething as the guard tried to stop her again from accessing the barge. She needed to be there. Ever since she had seen Luke Skywalker walking cockily into Jabba's palace all she wanted to do was fulfilling her ordnance and get out of the place. But up till now everything had gone awry and she felt more than frustrated.

"You don't understand, Jabba asked me to dance for him. If you don't let me up there, he will be very angry if he finds out that you prevented me from doing my duty!" Mara said again and she could see the flitter of doubt crossing the man's face.

"Alright, you go!" the guard said and stepped out of her way. Making sure she still had the blaster secreted away in the thigh holster between her legs, she raced up the steps. She was the last to embark and immediately looked around for the rebels. She had been surprised to see the almighty Jedi. He had been nothing she had thought. He was only slightly taller than she was and if he was well built he hid it behind the black robes he had been wearing.

Even if he doesn't look like the killer he is he will die! Mara reminded herself and made her way over to Skywalker.

Mara was as surprised as every one else when the fight started. Being the Emperor's Hand she was prepared for these eventualities but for the first few seconds she found herself staring open-mouthed at the Rebels who put up a good fight. Han Solo had been freed, how she did not know and now the Rebels were preparing to procure a skiff. She had to stop and dodging a guard of Jabba's she raced towards the skiff and its occupants.

Luke felt a tingle in the Force and when he turned around he saw the red-haired dancing girl coming his way. He had noticed her the first time he had set foot into Jabba's palace. She was not an exceptional beauty but her hair and her eyes had immediately captured his attention. The dream images came back to the surface and for a moment, Luke had thought that his dream had come true. He had chided himself for this but the feeling still lingered.

Now he watched her as she sped up to catch up with him. Perhaps she sees her chance to flee with us, he thought and stepped closer to the edge of the skiff and extended his hand.

"Jump!" he called out to her, motioning for her to take the risk but also sending out reassuring thoughts that he would catch her. For a short moment their eyes met and it seemed as if time itself stood still for a few heart beats.

He wants me to come with them? Mara thought and her step faltered. Why would he burden himself with a lowly dancer like me? Unless ...unless he thinks I'm one of Jabba's whores and would repay my rescue with bed services to the Jedi!
As soon as the moment had come it was gone and Mara was shaken from her reverie. She grabbed the blaster she had hidden away between her thighs and took aim. The last thing she saw, was Skywalker's stricken expression as she turned her blaster onto him.

Then an explosion ripped the barge in two and Mara fell down into the sand that was hot to the touch. She watched as the skiff sped away from her and she swore beneath her breath. It was the second time she had failed her Master on Tatooine and she had the nagging feeling, this time the Emperor would most certainly kill her for her failure to kill Luke Skywalker.

The End

Tatooine Suns
A Farmboy's Touch | The Emperor's Hand | Suns and Lovers

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