This is my NaNoWriMo 2010 Novel!!!! I have written, re-written, and published this story! 🙂 This is published on Fanfiction.net actually. XD But I’ll post it here!!!!!! The whole kriffing thing!!!!! 🙂 xD LOL! Enjoy! Comment, and let me know what you think. 🙂
She bent over the cradle; a single tear rolling down her cheek. Gently Marlinda picked up her tiny baby girl and looked lovingly into her deep emerald eyes. The small pudgy baby cooed in her mother’s arms. Soon, there was a knock on the door.
Anxious, Marlinda hurried to open it. She cracked open the door to find a tall female red-skinned alien. Dressed in elegant robes and a tunic with a belt, the female introduced herself as Shaak Ti, Jedi Knight. Shaak Ti was a species called Togruta, from the planet Shili. Togrutans had long blue and white head tails, which resembled human hair in some respects.
As the Dantooine prairie winds battered her cloak and robes, Marlinda invited the exotic Jedi into her humble hut-like home. Squeezing her eyes shut in a fruitless effort to stop the tears flowing from them, she turned to face the Jedi Master and Marlinda spoke.
“Master Jedi, I know that my child is Force sensitive. One of your fellow Jedi Knights told me of it on a mission here to Dantooine. I have decided to give my darling baby up to the Jedi Temple in hopes you will train her to use and understand her unique powers.” Marlinda finished, choking a sob.
After a moment, Shaak Ti spoke, “Madame Marlinda Sunstar, the Jedi Order thanks you, and we can promise you that your child will be taken care of. We will teach her and train her as our own. That is the Jedi Way.”
She smiled at Marlinda as the baby was placed in her arms. The little baby’s vibrant green eyes snapped open, and upon noticing the woman holding her was not her mother, she began to cry. Shaak Ti rocked the baby softly in her arms. Marlinda walked the Jedi and her precious baby back to the Jedi’s star-ship, where they began to say goodbye. Marlinda held her baby close one last time, and as her lips kissed the baby’s soft cheek, Marlinda whispered to her child.
“Goodbye my darling, I will always love you, my Marilee” and with that she carried her baby into the Jedi’s ship, placed her in the prepared cradle and walked back down the loading ramp. Standing in the doorway of her home, Marlinda watched the Jedi take off and continued to watch the ship until it blinked from the sky. Only then did she fall to the ground and weep.
20 YEARS LATER…
Jedi Master Shaak Ti walked quickly and with purpose down the rough flagstone corridors of the revered Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Upon reaching The Room of a Thousand Fountains she swept inside. Near a small clearing of soft yellow-green grass sat her former Padawan, Marilee Sunstar deep in mediation.
“Greetings Master Ti,” Marilee’s melodic voice called out to her once master, “I can sense you have something important to tell me.” Shaak smiled and nodded her head, head-tails swaying.
“Yes, my old Padawan, you and I have both been called on a mission. Our presence is expected in the Grand Council Chambers immediately.” Marilee blinked her evergreen eyes open.
“A mission? Together?” she asked remembering old times with her master. Shaak Ti nodded again and a bubbly Marilee exclaimed, “Then let’s go!”
The Grand Council Chamber was spacious yet simply decorated. Jedi Masters Yoda, Mace Windu, Plo Koon, and Ki-Adi-Mundi were present in the chamber. Several holographic images provided the presence of multiple other masters whose holograms flickered in the early morning sun, which shone through the large window.
“Master Ti, Knight Sunstar, we have a request for you” Master Windu said.
“Throughout the Galaxy the Clone Wars has spread. Return to Kamino you two must. Need training the new clones do.” Master Yoda finished, folding his diminutive hands in his lap. Marilee could hardly contain her excitement and joy. She loved Kamino. Whenever she was on Kamino, she felt like she was sincerely making a difference to the war effort by training up new soldiers and preparing them for the current and coming battles against the Separatists. She loved to help and spend time with the clones, befriending them.
She was “officially” called “Commander Sunstar” when she was there, but in private with the clones they called her Master Jedi or just Mari. She only half-listened as Master Mundi explained their importance to the war by training new squadrons of clone troopers. Mari listened more intently when she felt Mace Windu’s piercing stare looking straight at her. When Master Mundi finished speaking Master Windu told the team that they would depart in two hours standard time.
Marilee could hardly wait She bowed respectfully and followed Master Ti out of the room. She could already hear the “plit, plit, plink” of the Kaminoan rain.
“Plit, plit, plink, plit, plit, plink” rain thundered and pelted the metal dome of the clone trooper barracks. Shadow sat cleaning his weapon in a corner of his squad’s barracks. As he wiped his gun clean after a day full of training the rest of his squad came in from the mess hall.
Still talking and laughing about the havoc of the “mess”, the crew of clones saw Shadow sitting alone, looking distraught. Shadow was a special clone; he felt feelings his brothers didn’t feel. War was not something he was good at; in fact he hated to fight. He became depressed after witnessing the deaths of so many of his brothers and decided to protest against fighting.
This caused some of the Kaminoans to think that he was a defective clone and sent him to “detention” on Kamino, making him help take care of young clone cadets. After two months of that tedious work, Shadow was sent back out to the battlefield where he kept his mouth shut. Yet he couldn’t stop himself from thinking that there was more to life, well, at least his life, than blasting battle droids to bits. His thoughts were interrupted by Dagger, one of the men in his squad.
“Where were ‘ya Shadow? Didn’t see ‘ya in the mess.”
Shadow rolled his eyes and simply said, “I wasn’t hungry.”
Zipper, one of the other clones in the squad looked at Shadow and laughed, “Kept in your growth chamber too long, eh Shadow?”
“I said I wasn’t hungry,” Shadow muttered, turning away from his brothers who constantly mocked him.
“Oh come on boys, Lay off,” said Longshot, another brother from the Delta Squad,
“We’ve got to greet a bunch on Jedi anyway. Let’s get going boys.”
The Jedi starship landed on the water world of Kamino in the middle of a terrible torrential downpour. Rushing inside as to get out of the rain, Shaak Ti and Marilee Sunstar ran into the white, sparkling clean looking lobby of the Clone Reproduction Facility.
The Kaminoan Cloning Facility was a like a floating building in the middle of the ocean. The rocking waves didn’t seem to bother the fiercely strong metal of the facility’s walls though, as it was stronger than steel.
Two Kaminoan Leaders, two Clone Commanders, and two Clone Trooper Squadrons greeted the soggy Jedi as they entered the building. Immediately recognizing the two Commanders, Marilee excitedly greeted them.
“Rocky, Spike!! So good to see you again!” She shook their hands and continued to greet the two squads, Aqua and Delta, two of the three squads that she trained herself. Even though she shook each clone’s hand, one clone’s shake felt different from the rest. Shadow’s. The Force surged from this clone. Was he Force-sensitive? His embrace wasn’t hard and stiff, instead it was rather warm, kind and friendly. Mari was surprised, but hid it from her face. The Kaminoan leaders asked to speak to Shaak in private and offered to give her a tour of the new wings of the facility, leaving Mari alone to spend time with “her” clones.
“Commander Mari!” exclaimed Longshot of Delta Squad, after the Kaminoans left with Master Ti.
“You came back! We knew you would.” said Ink, another excited clone.
“Zipper, Dagger, Longshot, Ink and Shadow! I’m so glad to be back, it’s nice to see my boys again! And Aqua squad, Jet, Flash, Dax, Flame, Split and Skimmer, it’s nice to see you again too! How have all ‘ya boys been?!?”
All the clones smiled, Mari’s cheerful personality was contagious even in the thick of war-time. Ink replied, “We are holding our own Commander, though the war takes its toll on us clones.”
“Agreed, Commander, we have had no breaks from the war. We only arrived home to Kamino yesterday.” Zipper chimed in.
“We were on our way to the training field” said Longshot.
“Care to join us?” asked Shadow politely.
“Why yes,” Mari answered taking his awaiting arm “I would be honored to join you.”
The mess hall was large, loud and crowded. Clones were everywhere, sitting together in their squads, talking, laughing and eating with each other. Shaak Ti and the two Kaminoan leaders walked through the different rooms explaining their purposes and locations.
Shaak Ti nodded politely and asked some questions about the trainers and training grounds, but she was not entirely focused, as she felt distracted by an unnamed disturbance in the Force. What was it? The future?
“Always in motion is the future, and many possible futures there are” Shaak thought to herself, repeating Master Yoda’s wise words. She felt for certain that something terrible was going to happen. If only she could figure out what…
In the training field, the squads were given “brain teaser” type exercises and then sent to complete them on the indoor grid-like battlefield. The squads ran onto the field in teams, having to work together to accomplish the goal.
Mari sat in a balcony box overlooking the domed training arena with a clone trainer named Greendol. Greendol was a tall Rodian male with green-yellow skin. He wrote out comments on the squads’ performance on a datapad. Mari observed in admiration as the stubborn clones she had trained to work out their differences months ago were now working together and fighting as one.
“They are the best of the best”, Greendol stated, looking down at the fighting troopers. Mari smiled; they had come a long way since the last time she was on Kamino. By the time they had reached the goal point, most of the practice droids had been deactivated and none of the clone troopers were hurt. The alarm sounded signaling the end of the practice run.
“An all-time high record!” exclaimed an impressed Greendol. Mari applauded loudly and cheered for her clone friends. With extremely high marks, and the highest and top time score ever, the proud clones clapped each other on the back in excitement. Mari came down from the floating balcony and celebrated with them. Cheering and hugging happily, the clones decided to go out to the “Clone Cantina” as they called it where Greendol would supply drinks for all.
Everyone was celebrating and happy yet something didn’t feel right. Mari felt uneasy, a disturbance in the Force as Master Yoda would call it. Suddenly she felt her head spin as the disturbance grew. She suddenly felt faint. Something terrible was going to happen. Her gaze found its way over to Shadow, who in the midst of celebration obviously felt the same way. He looked as if he was going to pass out as well. Mari rushed to his side and asked him if he was all right. Pulling him aside and assuring the others to meet them at the bar, Mari asked Shadow what he felt.
“M-my head.” He stammered, “it’s spinning, I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach, l-like something bad is about to happen.” Mari’s bright green eyes snapped open wider and her light red hair swished as she jerked her head upright.
“You are sensing the Force.” She stated, and then she added, “I feel it too.”
Mari skipped the Clone party that evening and went to seek her Master’s council.
“Master? May I speak to you for a moment?” Mari asked, tapping lightly on Shaak Ti’s quarter door, which was slightly ajar.
“Yes, Marilee, come in.” Silently sliding the door closed behind her, Mari stepped into her Master’s room feeling quite uneasy.
“Marilee, what is it?” Shaak Ti asked in her gentle Spanish accent, “I can sense you’re uneasy.”
“Yes, Master” Marilee replied honestly, “Today I felt a strong disturbance in the Force. So did a Clone in Delta Squadron, Shadow.” Mari sighed, something just wasn’t right.
“I have felt it too. I believe that it is a sign for things to come. There is nothing we can do but be prepared.” Shaak Ti answered her former Padawan, knowing that this answer would not satisfy Marilee.
“But Master!” Marilee exclaimed in disbelief, “We cannot simply do anything?! We have to try and do something, anything, to protect us and the others from what is to come!”
“Marilee, Patience young one” Shaak Ti replied matter-of-factly, “We cannot stop what we do not know of”. Mari looked embarrassed by her outburst and stared at her feet.
“We must remain calm, Mari” Shaak Ti told her worried old Padawan. “The only thing we can be is prepared” Shaak added.
“For what Master?” asked Mari earnestly.
“I do not know, Mari,” Shaak Ti said sincerely, “I do not know.”
Together on Kamino, Shaak Ti and Marilee were somewhat cut off from the war and happenings on Coruscant. The Jedi team stayed on the water world and helped aide injured clones, train new clones, teach clone cadets, and work on military strategy. Mari was also able to get closer with her clone friends. The men were often in and out of the base, sent back and forth from the field to the Kaminoan facility.
When off duty, the clones of Delta squad especially liked to spend time with Marilee. Sitting happily in the clone trooper barracks, Delta Squad and Mari loved talking, exchanging stories, playing cards and sharing jokes. Mari was especially drawn to Shadow, the clone who surged with the Force. Together they spent hours talking, about the war, their jobs and the limits of them.
“Being a clone, you are bred for war. To fight, to kill, to destroy. I just, just don’t see how the others can be okay with it. I’ve seen too many of my brothers die at the hands of the Seppies. It makes me want to do many things, fight them and do my duty, and also to stop the fighting and stop risking the lives of my brothers. Because I have trouble choosing, the other clones and cloners think I am, a mistake. I am a free thinker, not a mistake.”
Shadow and Mari were sitting in the mess hall late into the hours of the night, sitting in their favorite corner where they couldn’t be seen by the nighttime scopes. It was dark but the emergency lights provided enough light to see by.
“How do you feel about that?” Mari asked gently prodding him to let her see the real Shadow, the man behind the helmet, so to speak.
“Well, I feel like there is more to life than fighting. But what? All clones are trained to do is fight the Separatists and shoot weapons. But what is so wrong about wanting to leave the army and do something more with my life?”
Marilee nodded and said, “I understand how you feel. As a Jedi, you dedicate your entire life to the Order and that can cause great gaps in your soul. We can’t have personal possessions, care about looks or what people think of us, we can’t do just about anything without getting the Council’s approval first, and we can’t marry or love. Yet we are supposed to be compassionate and use the Force to guide our decisions and choices. If I know all of this by heart, then why do I question it all, wondering if I should be doing something else or be with someone else in my life. Not that I don’t care about the Jedi and the Order, I do, honestly I do, yet I can’t help but wonder why. Why don’t we know our families, or why we aren’t even allowed to know where we come from?”
Mari finished and looked at Shadow’s handsome face. He looked back and added to her statement.
“Why we are expected to follow orders, no matter what they may be.”
“And never question, always be at peace.” She added.
“Why we were bred to fight, and to be someone’s servant.”
“Never allowed to marry or love anyone, yet be passionate and compassionate in all we do.”
In unison, the two said.
“Why we aren’t allowed to leave the Order.”
They looked into each other’s eyes and shared a silent look that said, “This never leaves this room”. Mari smiled lovingly and looked deeper into Shadow’s eyes.
“You are not just an ordinary clone Shadow,” She said softly as she moved closer to him.
“And you’re no ordinary Jedi.” He moved in closer.
Then in the dim light of the mess hall, Mari and Shadow kissed. He felt her silky soft hair brush against his neck and he relaxed. His hands wrapped her around the waist and they held each other tenderly in the corner of the mess hall. They hugged each other and after several minutes, let go. Both Shadow and Mari never wanted the moment to end.
They looked at each other again, now for the first time acknowledging their forbidden love and Mari whispered.
“We can’t do this, we just spoke about it, it’s against both of what we were taught to believe.”
Shadow nodded and said, “Yes, but who says we have to believe it?” Mari smiled and shook her head.
“I can’t, and neither can you. We both have jobs and duties to the Republic. If we…fall in love, we can never be together. We are forbidden.” Shadow’s brown eyes dulled slightly in disappointment.
“But maybe we could keep it secret and no one would have to know…and…”
“Shadow, you and I both know we can’t live a lie. We both sensed a disturbance in the Force…maybe… maybe things will change.”
Unbeknownst to the Jedi and Clones on Kamino, terrible things were happening on Coruscant, things that would jeopardize all of their very existence. The Separatist leaders Count Dooku and General Grievous had been killed. The Clone Wars were over. But another war had begun. The great Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker had fallen to the dark side. He had murdered Master Mace Windu, and joined forces with the great evil that was Darth Sideous, Lord of the Sith. To eliminate the Jedi, Anakin, no, Darth Vader had been sent to slay any remaining Jedi and destroy the Jedi Temple. He killed all the Jedi there, including the younglings. But how would Jedi out on other planets be eliminated?
Mari sat with her clone friends in their barracks while she awaited Master Ti’s instructions. Shaak was out in the training balcony overlooking a group of Cadets practice. She promised to beep Mari on her commlink when she was ready for the ARC Troopers to come in and show the young Cadets what real troopers looked like.
Shaak Ti was then called in on commlink to report to the Kaminoan Cloner’s office, where she needed to report on the scores of the days Cadets. Shaak called Mari on commlink to tell her where she was going and to dispatch the troop’s looks like training’s over for today.
Mari sighed and leaned back against the wall. “Sorry boys, no action today, Kaminoan’s decided to call off any of the day’s demonstrations.” She said. “You guys can go and do what you like now, if you so choose.”
“Sir, yes, sir!” the clones replied in unison and swept out of the room. Once out in the hallway, Zipper got a message on his commlink.
“The time has come. Execute Order 66” the hideous voice of Darth Sideous said on holotransmission. Order 66 was meant for Clones to betray and slaughter the Jedi. Everyone in Aqua and Delta squads returned to the barracks where Mari was packing up her things.
“Oh, troopers… back so soon?” she asked innocently, though confused. Then the shooting began. Without any warning, the clones turned and fired upon their friend Mari. She whipped out her green lightsaber and counter attacked their precise firing.
All the clones fired on Mari, all except Shadow. His gun was raised but only set for stun. He shot and fired pretending to kill the outgunned Jedi. The other clones stopped firing and looked at Shadow.
“Excellent Job men,” said Zipper, “Let’s move”. Everyone left the barracks except Shadow, who took on the chore of cleaning up the Jedi’s “dead” body. He removed his helmet and lifted Mari’s lifeless form to carry her to safety. Unsure of where to go and knowing his backstabbing brothers would continue to try and assassinate the Jedi until they were positive she was destroyed, he headed toward the hangar bay.
He could not believe that one order would make his brothers want to kill their friend. He refused to kill her, knowing that he…well, loved her. It would destroy him to know that he, or one of his brothers, killed the promising young and cheerful Jedi. Carrying her to the deserted hangar bay, Shadow laid the stunned Mari gently on the inside of the Jedi Star fighter, which was stationed at the clone base. As Shadow took off, not knowing where he was going, Mari began to stir.
“What happened?” she asked, sounding completely dazed. “Shadow? What are you doing? Why did you try and kill me, where am I???” she demanded, her voice rising and sounding completely afraid.
“Commander Mari, all the clones were issued an order to betray the Republic and the Jedi. I did not fire on you, though the others did, I stunned you and brought you to this star fighter which I honestly don’t know where is going.” Said Shadow honestly.
“Shadow,” Mari said, her voice full of gratitude, “I owe you my life! You saved me.” Then a horrible thought struck her and she gasped.
“Master!!!” Mari cried, “Shadow, we have to go back, my Master is still in the facility!! She could be in serious trouble!” Shadow looked at her in alarm and after a moment of thought replied to her calmly.
“Try and raise her on the commlink because I think we have some troubles of our own, two fighter squadrons headed our way!” Mari beeped Shaak Ti on her comm channel but the unit was full of static. She tried a different channel and got a better result. Shaak’s voice came in loud and clear.
“Master! Are you all right? The clones were issued an order from an unknown source to betray the Jedi, are you there Master??”
Shaak Ti’s voice came in a burst of static and then clearly. “I had a little trouble, but now I am on my way to, *static* *static*, Felucia, I’ll be safe there. Where is your destination Marilee?”
Mari looked sideways at Shadow and replied, “We are unsure for the moment, Master,”
“We?” Shaak Ti interrupted.
“Yes we, Clone Trooper Shadow rescued me from the betraying clones. He saved my life.” Mari replied.
Then Shadow called out, “Two fighters have shown up on the scanners, I can’t shake them, I think they know you are still alive!” Mari’s face went from alarm to panic and then she said into her commlink, “Master, we are having some problems, contact me when you arrive on Felucia.” And she cut off the comm channel.
Shadow shot down two of the clone fighter jets that were coming toward and firing at the Jedi Cruiser. Six more were on the way and approaching quickly. Mari seeing the blips on the scanner rushed to the turret gunner and began to aim. As a Jedi who had seen little action in the battlefield, she was only mildly good at aiming and shooting. Managing to down one ship and disable another, Mari cheered for herself, seeing she was not exactly a “fighting type” of Jedi.
The sounds of ships were everywhere, zooming, crashing, exploding, firing, “pew, pew, pew” they were so loud. It was hard for a being to find peace amidst the confusion. But Mari was a Jedi and she found her inner calm, center peace and with her eyes closed, she sensed the different ships with the Force.
Once she felt and saw them in her head, she opened her eyes and fired. She had a direct hit on the leader of the attack. The explosion was so huge; it engulfed the two other fighters surrounding it. Only two left. The range of the two twin fighters was much smaller than their leader’s and they couldn’t seem to lock on a target. Suddenly, the two fighters began to retreat. They would tell their leader where Mari was going!! Shadow couldn’t let that happen.
He blasted the two retreating ships to pieces with proton torpedoes. He was confused. These men who were firing against him were his brothers. He had fought for them and they had fought for him. They worked together and lived to aid the Republic. What was happening?
Mari ran into the pilot area of the cruiser. Shadow was staring at the console in incredulity.
“What is it?” asked Mari, who was actually afraid to find out.
“The engines were damaged” Shadow replied feeling horrible. His self-proclaimed mission to save Mari was failing.
“We won’t make it through hyperspace.” He said, his voice sounding incredibly dismayed.
“Oh,” Mari said, realizing that they were probably going to die, “well that’s not good.”
“We will have to land the ship before the engines go out.” Shadow told her, trying to take charge of the situation once again. “If we get the ship down to the surface of the upcoming system we might make it.” He finished. Mari nodded her head and reached over to the navicomputer to her left.
“Look!” she said excitedly, “We are coming up on the Dantooine system now! We just might make it!!” Mari brushed her fine red hair out of her eyes and began to flip the appropriate switches to land the ship.
“Uh-Oh,” she said suddenly, “We have trouble.”
“What is going on?” Shadow asked, his accent sounding extremely distressed. Mari looked at him in alarm and said.
“We have no landing gear!! We’ll crash!” Shadow looked from the beautiful girl on his left to the beautiful green-yellow planet below him.
“Get to an escape pod.”
Mari looked at him defiantly and said, “No. I’m not leaving here without you. I owe you my life and I intend to repay that debt.”
“Mari! We don’t have time for this! I order you to get to an escape pod immediately!”
“You order me?” Mari snorted “Ha, funny, last time I checked, the Jedi were the ones who ordered the clones. Not the other way around.”
“You said it yourself Mari, I’m no ordinary clone. If but if you want it your way, fine, order yourself to get to an escape pod so you can get to safety!”
“No! I’m not ordering myself to do anything and even if I did, it wouldn’t matter, I won’t go! If this ship goes down, I am going with it.”
Shadow sighed and said, “Fine, but we are going to crash, without the landing gear we will have no way to stop the ship.” The two of them were silent for a moment.
“I guess things changed,” Mari said, looking almost at peace. “We have both somewhat abandoned our jobs, maybe we can…”
Shadow looked at her and answered, “Mari, we are probably going to die and if that happens, how can we do anything?!?”
Mari looked deeply into his brown eyes and said, “We’ll never know unless we try.” Shadow smiled, the feelings he felt in the mess hall over two months ago flooded back to him. Shadow and Mari both came closer to each other and as the warning lights flashed and the alarms sounded, they kissed, happy to be alone even if the cruiser they were alone in was about to crash.
As Shadow’s lips touched hers, everything else faded out for Mari. It was just her and the love of her life. She loved him, he was special, he was not a mistake, he was hers. Shadow’s hands held her lower back and they just sat there for a long time, just holding each other in love.
They both wanted to just stay like that, in each other’s arms. The flashing lights and warning alarms sounded louder and flashed brighter. They had to do something. The ship was going down and Dantooine’s grassy surface was nearing them faster and faster with each passing second. Reluctantly, they let each other go.
There was nothing that they could do. The ship was flailing down toward the grassland planet at accelerated speeds. All they could do was safely crash the ship, which was near impossible. Shadow kept an eye on the controls as Mari gathered all the soft things she could find. If there was any chance of survival, they would go at it together. Using pillows and mattresses from the cabins (which were not very comforting), Mari and Shadow bundled up and held onto something strong in order to keep from flying across the room upon planetary impact.
Shoved between thin mattresses and four pillows around her head, Mari awaited the blow. She looked through a crack in her pillow prison and was able to see Shadow crawl into a similar position as she was in. His plastioid armor clinked as he shimmied in between two blankets and six pillows plus a foam mattress.
Then it hit. The cruiser jammed into the planet’s surface sending Mari and Shadow flying around the pillow and mattresses. Mari was thrown against a wall, her right arm cut and she heard it break with a sickening crack. She screamed out in pain.
Marilee collapsed and as her damaged arm bled and bruised, Shadow rushed to her aide. The ship would explode any minute, and they needed to be off of it. Thinking quickly, Shadow kicked off the half-hanging open door and picked up the injured Mari to carry her to safety. Tears dripped down her face and Marilee tried very hard to hide it, but Shadow couldn’t do anything about it, yet.
As soon as he dashed Mari over to a nearby boulder, the ship imploded. The boom of its explosion seemed to rock the planet itself. He looked down at Mari only to find that her arm was more injured than he thought.
Shadow immediately jumped into action. He reached into the emergency packs that he was suddenly grateful for grabbing. Injecting bacta into her neck to cleanse the wound and calm the pain, he began to gently mop up some of the blood. Then he put on a bandage over it to try and stop the bleeding. Even though his make-shift bandage would have to work, he knew she would eventually need real medical attention.
Shadow propped Mari’s body up against the large rock and continued to check her for any further wounds. Finding none, he sighed and sat down exhausted next to her behind the rock.
“You know this wouldn’t have happened if you went to the escape pod.” She looked into his eyes and smiled.
“Shadow, you have saved me once again. I don’t know how to repay you.” Blushing slightly, he replied.
“No, you needed help, no repay needed.” He reached over and pointed at her wound. “We need to find you a real medic. That’s broken and cut up. Too bad for a bit of bacta to fix.”
Mari nodded and added, “It hurts like hell too.” Shadow chuckled softly and stood up to take a look around. At first all he saw was grass, grass, grass, and more grass. Then somewhere very far in the distance, he saw a tree, what looked like a blob but was probably an animal of some kind, and…smoke.
Shielding his eyes from the sun, he bent back down and spoke to Marilee.
“There, in the distance, there’s some smoke, maybe a town or farm.” Mari’s sea-green eyes lit up in hope and she said, “Then we should go!”
She tried to get up but failed. Her legs went out from under her and she landed in a heap on the grassy ground. She yelped sharply upon falling to the hard ground.
“Mari!” exclaimed Shadow, now really worried. “You’re more injured than I thought. We have to get you to a medic now.”
“Shadow, I’m fine, just in shock… help me up, I can make it.” Shadow was not convinced but he lifted her up, careful not to touch her injured arm which hung limply at her side. Supporting her almost more than she could support herself, Shadow half carried Mari off in the direction of the smoke in the distance.
It was getting dark and Shadow didn’t really know what kind of night creatures were on Dantooine. After about an hour of moving slowly across the open prairie, Mari’s legs went limp again and she almost fell. Shadow caught her by her good arm and lifted her body into his arms. It was obvious she needed to rest.
Gently putting her down on the ground, he lowered himself too. Her body leaned against his and they sat there, Mari’s shallow breathing much labored. Mari’s vision faltered as she had a sudden visualization in her mind. A woman, kind, middle-aged, staring at her animals and looking into the distance. The woman looked incredibly familiar but Mari didn’t know from where. Her eyes snapped open again and she used her good hand to touch Shadow’s cheek.
“Shadow,” she gasped for breath before continuing. “I… just had a vision…the smoke and animals, I think they were a woman’s.” She stopped once more to take a deep breath.
“She…will help us…I know her somehow…” Then after another moment, Mari continued. “I will only slow you down. Go on without me…go get help and then come back.”
Shadow stared at her, and then said, “No, I won’t leave you. If I leave, something could come and get you or you could…” He didn’t finish. He knew as well as Mari did that she was weak. Infection had probably already set in, and she might’ve had a concussion from hitting her head in the ship.
If Shadow left, something could happen and she might die. Shadow then added defiantly, “You wouldn’t leave me, and I won’t leave you. I’ll carry you to the farm before I leave you alone here.”
Mari nodded and thanked him with her eyes. It was apparent that talking or moving exerted too much effort. She needed to sleep. Shadow gripped her limp hand in his strong one and repeated, “I won’t leave you. Not ever.” Mari then closed her eyes and began to drift off to sleep, her head on Shadow’s lap.
It was daybreak; Shadow had stayed alert all night keeping watch over Mari and their surrounding area. Softly tapping Mari, he tried to wake her. She looked very pale, and it worried Shadow. He lifted her listless looking body from the ground and began to walk toward the trees and animals in the distance.
After about an hour of walking, Mari began to wake. Shadow stopped walking and helped her down to the ground where she woke up fully. Mari’s soft green eyes were alert and as bright as ever despite the fact that her arm was not any better except that the bleeding had stopped.
He could see that her arm was broken by the way it was twisted in an awkward position.
Mari’s light red hair glistened in the early morning sun as it shone down from the Dantooine sky. Shadow stopped and just basked in her beauty. He loved her…so much. After taking in her surroundings slightly, Mari’s face suddenly twisted with pain as the bacta wore off. Shadow looked at how fragile she was at the moment and realized that something must not be right. He looked at the bloody bandage and told her, “Mari, that needs to come off; I need to assess it better and clean it better too.”
Mari nodded miserably. As he gently and carefully unwrapped her arm, Mari winced in pain. Underneath the bandage, Mari’s arm was very badly injured. It was sliced by the metal of the debris and the impact of the ship probably caused it to break. It was critical that Shadow get it cleaned up and better wrapped so that it did not get infected, or rather, more infected. He would not let that happen. Hissing in pain, Mari tried not to think about it and just think about keeping calm, though that was physically impossible at the moment. As Shadow gently sanitized her sensitive arm, Marilee tried to use a Jedi Mind Trick to calm her nerves.
Shadow injected more bacta and with the med supplies in his pack, he washed her wound with caring hands. Mari’s pained cries that escaped her lips every so often echoed in his ears as he cleaned the wound. She was in too much pain, even with the bacta, her pain did not subside. What was wrong? He was no medic, Shadow only knew the basics, but he could tell that her arm was probably already infected, and it was affecting the rest of her.
He rewrapped her arm tightly and created a makeshift sling from part of Mari’s tunic. Breathing heavily, Mari finally sighed and laid back on the soft grass. Her arm throbbed and she focused on finding her center calm. After a moment she did and used the Force to strengthen her body. Gradually, with Shadow’s help, Mari made it to her feet and began to walk again. They walked slowly side by side for hours, occasionally stopping so Mari could rest, before they reached the outskirts of the farm that seemed so far off in the distance just that morning.
Shadow laid the exhausted and tremendously weak Mari down in the pasture of the farm animals. Two curious cow-like animals called shaaks came over and sniffed her pained body with their long snouts. Shadow walked up the walkway to the door of the hut and knocked on it. A woman answered, surprised by visitors because no one ever came this far out into the wilderness. She was even more surprised to find a clone trooper on her doorstep.
“Who are you?” She demanded, “And where do you come from, and why are you here?”
“I have a gun.” She added.
Shadow bowed to the lady and answered her questions. “I am Clone Trooper Shadow, number CC-5445. I have come with my companion from the water world of Kamino and we seek help. My friend was very badly injured when our ship crashed and she is very ill. I fear she may not live if she doesn’t get help right away.” Glancing behind Shadow and seeing Mari at the edge of her pasture, the woman’s expression changed from defensive too kindly.
“Oh dear, please bring her in. I’ll do all I can to help you.” Full of gratitude, Shadow said,
“Thank you Madame, your help would be greatly appreciated.” Shadow lifted Mari’s seemingly lifeless body from the base of the tree and carried her into the house. The woman closed the door behind them and instructed Shadow to lay his companion down on the sleep-couch. Mari’s body lay limply in Shadow’s arms.
He warily placed her precious body on the couch and brushed the hair from her face. Mari’s eyes blinked open slightly and she glanced around the room. Seeing confusion in her eyes, Shadow told her quietly, “We are in the house we saw. You made it Mari, you made it.” And a tear of relief rolled down his cheek.
The kindly woman fed and clothed Shadow and Mari. Although Mari was weak, Shadow took care of her and gave her the best medical treatment he could manage. As the days passed, their relationship grew and so did their love.
Mari got stronger and stronger and even though she could not walk yet, and her arm was still very injured, Mari was strong enough to talk, change her clothes, and eat. Shadow and the woman were good friends now, but he did not realize that he didn’t even introduce Mari. The woman just called her “your friend” or “her”.
When Marilee was strong enough to speak and eat, she and the woman got to know each other.
“Thank you,” Mari told her when she brought her some soup and bread. “Your kindness is much appreciated…but… I do not even know your name! May I have it so I can thank you properly?” She asked politely.
“Oh yes,” the woman said, “silly me, I did not even introduce myself to you. Well, when we first met you were unconscious!” she laughed for a moment and then answered, “Marlinda,” she said jovially, “My name is Marlinda Sunstar, but you can just call me Marlinda.”
Mari sat bolt upright. Her green eyes widened in disbelief. “Did you say Sunstar?” she asked, wondering if it could be true.
“Why yes, what is the matter?” Marlinda asked with concern.
Mari’s eyes returned to their normal size and she asked suddenly, “Did you ever have a daughter?”
Confused by the question, Marlinda answered, “Umm, yes, yes I did. But that was a long time ago.”
“What did you name her?!?” Mari demanded.
“Marilee.” Marlinda answered getting choked up at the thought of her daughter. Mari gasped and shook her head slowly, as if she could not believe her ears.
“My name is Marilee Sunstar.” she replied, her eyes filling with tears.
The woman, Marlinda, was crying now, the tears dripping down her cheeks.
“My Marilee?” she asked tentatively, “You became a Jedi?” She stopped for a moment to dab her eyes. “I haven’t seen you since you were an infant. Oh my gods, my daughter!!” the two women embraced in complete joy and excitement.
Shadow walked into the room at that moment and upon seeing the women in tears looked incredibly confused.
“What, what’s wrong? Mari, are you alright?” Marlinda and Mari let go of each other and both nodded. Mari told Shadow, “Shadow, you will never believe this!! Marlinda is my mom! I know where I came from! I have a family!”
Shadow smiled clearly happy for them. Marlinda looked from Shadow to Mari and smiled, overjoyed to be a mother to Marilee once again. Mari nodded her gaze never leaving Shadow’s. She smiled then looked at her new mother.
“Mom,” she whispered, as if she was still having trouble believing it.
“You became a Jedi?” Marlinda asked again, hoping her choice to give her daughter up would be worth it.
“Yes, I am a Jedi.” Mari answered. “I have mastered the Force and became a Jedi Knight. I am a Jedi Clone Trainer.” Marlinda’s eyes filled with tears, happy to hear these words. “I am so glad…so, so glad.”
Overjoyed to know where she came from and that she had a family, Mari immediately wanted to meet the rest of her family. She discovered that her father was constantly out of town when she was born and that shortly after her little brother was born, he was killed by robbers while traveling in the middle of the night.
Excited to discover she had a brother, Mari asked about him. Marlinda looked excited and answered, “Why, he’s in town! He is only a few years younger than you and he works at a restaurant in the town.”
Marilee perked up and asked if she could go to meet him. Marlinda said that she was not at all ready to be up and walking around, her body was much weaker than her mind. Shadow began to argue too when Mari said, “Well, I will eventually need to go to town for medical treatment anyway, can’t I meet my brother there?” Nodding reluctantly, Shadow gave in.
“To get to town it is a half a day’s journey.” Marlinda reminded them, “It can be tiring to get there on foot, and I only have a small wagon that I use to bring my fruits to the market in.”
Two hours later, Mari found herself sitting wrapped in a blanket, inside her mother’s small produce wagon. Shadow had a backpack on with four days rations in it. He pulled the wagon behind him with Mari’s still fairly weak body in the back of it. Mari did not want to be pushed around in a wagon for a day, but after trying to walk and having her legs collapse, she gave into the wagon idea.
“Goodbye!!” Marlinda called to them as they left to cross the prairie to get to town later that day, “Good Luck! I’ll see you in a few days!”
They waved behind them and then Mari and Shadow started off across the prairie. Marlinda re-entered her hut and began to fix a midday meal for herself.
The half a day’s journey passed quickly for Mari and Shadow. They spoke about what had just happened, their jobs, what would happen if and when they got off of Dantooine and what had caused the clones to turn on Mari like that. Finally, they began to talk about themselves. “We still have to remember that we have duties to the Jedi Order and Clone Order.” Mari said, “We can’t just go planning our future when we have no ideas as to what is going on in the rest of the galaxy.” Shadow nodded and said, “I know that, and you know that, but what we don’t know is what is going on, on Coruscant I mean. Order 66 meant that the Jedi had betrayed the Republic and that they needed to be eliminated.” He stated. “But I don’t believe that the Jedi would do that. Something isn’t right on Coruscant.” Shadow said decisively. “And we have to get to the bottom of it.” Mari finished for him. “Yes,” Shadow said, “And I know how to, in town.” He said gesturing to the town in the near distance. They smiled and Shadow broke into a run, pulling the wagon with Mari in it behind him.
The bustling town of Tre’nar was full of villagers and eager vendors selling their goods. Mari felt foolish being pulled into town on a tiny crate wagon, so she asked Shadow if she could walk into town. With the help of Shadow, Marilee stood and limped slowly into Tre’nar. The first place the two stopped was in a tavern. Women and men alike were welcomed in the Dantooine tavern and this being one of the only settlements, it had only a few people in it. Dressed in farmer clothes, the out-of-towners didn’t look to strange. Shadow was dressed in a pair of rawhide slacks and a cotton olive green tunic. He also wore his clone trooper belt with his blaster attached.
Mari was dressed in a beautiful dark green dress that had lovely yet simple embroidery on the bodice and cuffs of the sleeves. On her leather belt she had a money purse that held their remaining credits, and her lightsaber. Her short red hair was brushed and fell on her shoulders showing off her natural beauty. Mari’s green eyes matched perfectly with her dress, completing her entire look.
The two of them fit in perfectly with the locals and looked like a perfect couple. The tavern owner stood up upon their entry and looked somewhat perplexed.
“Who are you?” the burly man demanded, “You ‘ain’t from around ‘ere.” Shadow looked nervously at Marilee for a moment but quickly regained his composure.
“No, we’re not,” Shadow said coolly, “We are from the core worlds and our ship crashed here. A local named Marlinda Sunstar helped us out and gave us food, shelter and medical attention. My companion here was badly injured.” Mari shifted slightly next to Shadow reveal her bandaged arm.
Shadow looked lovingly at her and said to the man at the counter, “Do you know where we can find a Medic Center?” The man went from unfriendly to slightly sympathetic and answered, “Yea, three shops down, blue door. Ask for Bruce, he’ll ‘elp ‘ya.”
“Thank you kind sir” answered Mari sincerely, giving him a small smile. The two left the tavern with a few strange looks from the locals who were inside.
Inside the medic office, Shadow and Mari sat in the waiting room waiting until the secretary came to the counter and took their names. Shadow had helped Mari from her wagon onto a chair in the waiting room. When the doors of the office slid open, Shadow stood to talk to the receptionist. The receptionist was a young boy, probably around 16 or 17 with light hair and features. His brown eyes looked up and he smiled politely.
“Welcome to the Tre’nar Institute for Excellence in Medical and Doctorial Services,” the boy said pleasantly, “how can I help you?”
Shadow smiled then his face turned more serious, “We need some help, you see, your ship crashed and her arm is injured.” Shadow said, putting a protective arm around Mari’s waist, “Whatever the cost; I’ll find a way to cover it. She was in critical condition for a few days, but a kind local woman helped us. Now that she’s stable we were able to make the journey to get here so she can be better checked out.”
After hearing their story, the receptionist nodded his head and said, “The doctor will be with you in a moment.”
Then remembering Shadow added, “Oh, we were told to ask for Bruce!”
Behind his shoulder the receptionist waved his hand and said “Yup! Just a minute!” Shadow then returned to Mari’s side and smiled affectionately. He took her hand in his and patted it tenderly.
She looked into his eyes, smiled and said, “Thanks Shadow, for everything.” Then he bent his head to touch hers and whispered in her ear, “Anytime darlin’, anytime.”
Bruce was the main and best doctor in all of Dantooine. He sat in his office clicking a few keys on his datapad when the receptionist walked into his office.
“Dr. Bruce, you have another patient.”
“Thank you George, I’ll be in room 4 in two minutes.” When Dr. Bruce arrived in room 4, Mari was sitting on the examination table with a medical droid examining and taking scans of Mari’s arm. After explaining their situation again so the doctor could have a record on his datapad, the doctor examined Mari’s arm again and then asked about her symptoms.
“Well,” Mari said, “I was unconscious for two days, my arm is very painful, and, Oh yea, I couldn’t walk and still can’t without feeling faint, what does that amount to?” her voice was so thick with sarcasm that Shadow almost laughed out loud. He tried to hide his smile but was having serious problems doing so.
Dr. Bruce laughed and said, “Well, I believe that it means that we have quite a few tests to take.” Mari so wanted to say that she hadn’t studied, but she could tell by the look on Dr. Bruce’s face that this was no joking matter.
One hour and several tests later, Dr. Bruce had his answer. Mari had broken her arm in two places and lost quite a bit of blood from the damage to her arm by the broken ship. He also diagnosed that because of the blood loss and infection she still could not walk and often felt faint.
After a half an hour in a bacta tank, Mari’s arm was almost healed and her blood count was back to normal. Shadow anxiously awaited her to come out of the bacta and was pacing in the waiting room when George the receptionist came in and told him that Mari had come out of the bacta and was resting in the Recovery Ward.
Shadow walked in and found Mari laying on a repulsorlift bed looking completely at peace. Her closed eyes were gently shut as if in a light sleep. Her hands were folded across her chest and they moved slightly when she breathed. Mari’s strawberry hair draped the back of the bed and her green dress was folded on a nearby chair along with her belt and shoes. She wore the medical robes that were supplied after treatment and her left arm was professionally bandaged up.
Shadow sighed and lightly brushed his fingertips against her silky smooth cheek. Her eyelids fluttered at his touch. He felt the Force surge from her body. Mari was healing and her body was growing stronger by the minute. The Medical Droid came and handed Shadow a datapad with all of Mari’s medical information on it.
He read it and discovered that: She would probably wake up within an hour and should be able to walk again. And, her injured arm would take time to heal as it was broken. Mari’s eyelids fluttered again, and the droid checked her charts and scanners dutifully.
Shadow smiled, everything would be all right. He could sense it. Mari would heal, and they would be together. He couldn’t tell how or why he knew these things, but he did. And he did not doubt them.
“Rise Lord Vader, you have a new assignment.” The old and horrid voice of Darth Sideous now Emperor Palpatine rang through the room.
The Imperial Palace on Coruscant had a very important meeting of Darth Vader and his Master in his Master’s main chamber. The room held Darth Vader encased in his mechanical prison and also held Emperor Palpatine, now leader of the galaxy, plus the two dismissed Royal Guards.
“You are to locate and exterminate any Jedi who escaped the in the middle of the night Great Jedi Purge or Order 66. They are to be killed on sight. Prove to me your new powers Lord Vader, show me that you are worthy of being my apprentice.” His distorted old withered voice demanded his apprentice.
“Yes my Master,” Lord Vader’s mechanical sounding voice answered obediently. “It will be done.” As Emperor Palpatine dismissed Darth Vader from his throne room, Vader’s mechanical breathing could be heard down the corridors of the Palace.
Mari sat up to find Shadow asleep in a chair next to her. His eyes were closed and he was snoring quite loudly. Mari stifled a giggle listening to him. She looked around and it took her a moment to remember where she was. Then she sniffed the air.
“Ugh,” she thought, “Smells like bacta.” Then she looked over to sleeping Shadow again.
“Oh,” she continued to speak to herself through thoughts, “He is so handsome,” and then Shadow rolled over in the chair and almost fell out. She suppressed a fit of laughter.
“He is my hero; I wouldn’t be alive right now if it weren’t for him.” Her face broke into a grin as Shadow flicked open his eyes and saw her sitting up and looking very refreshed and healthy. He smiled happily upon seeing her so alert and awake.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
“So much better.” Marilee replied with a grin.
“Can you walk?” he asked her and she replied, “I haven’t even tried it yet.” T
hen together with some help from Shadow, Mari began to walk, slowly but surely down the hallway of the Med Center. As her rejuvenated muscles started to work properly again, her footing became steadier and within just minutes she was able to walk around on her own.
“Goodbye! And thank you so much!!” Mari called behind her as she and Shadow left the Med Clinic. The kind Dr. Bruce covered the cost of treatment and told them that no debt needed to be paid, he was glad to help some foreigners out.
Once out in the Plaza again, Mari began to scan the area for restaurants. It felt good to walk again, flexing her muscles. Her arm hurt something awful, even after the treatments. Dr. Bruce had explained that she had come in contact with after the explosion.
Marilee eventually discovered a building with a crude sign that read, Clay’s Creations: A Dantooine Dining Experience. Eagerly Mari tapped Shadow’s shoulder and said to him.
“Look, restaurant, straight ahead!” She slipped her small slender hand into his strong muscular one as they started off down the dirt road to the restaurant. A bell dinged as they opened the door to the warm and cozy dining establishment. A fairly young man, probably around 18 years old greeted them upon walking in the door.
“Welcome to Clay’s how may I serve you today?” he asked pleasantly.
“Hello,” Mari said sweetly to him, “We would like a table for two please, and a favor.” The young man winked and picked up two menus and started to move towards the depths of the restaurant.
“Table for two with a side of favors, ah, our specialty” Mari and Shadow clasped hands again and started off after the animated and enthusiastic young man. After seating them at their table and offering them some drinks, the young man brought up their favor.
“So, you ordered the favor special, hmmm, very popular these days, very popular. Now, I can tell that you two are from out of town. I know everyone from within miles of here and I would have remembered a beautiful lady such as you,” he said nodding towards Mari.
“So what brings you to Dantooine?” Shadow and Mari told them their story and explained why they were in town. Upon hearing how injured Mari had been, he felt somewhat understanding to their situation.
“Ah, I see,” he said once their story was through.
“So this local woman, what was her name?” Mari looked into his eyes and said, “Marlinda Sunstar. And I am her long lost daughter, Marilee Sunstar.” The boy’s face went from curiosity to shock. He paled and stared at Mari with wide eyes.
“Marilee?” he gasped, sounding almost afraid to say her name, “You are my…Sister? I mean, my mother always talked about my big sister who became a Jedi Knight, but she would always be so sad that I learned to never say her, or your, name. I-I just can’t believe it. This is incredible!! Are you really a Jedi, have you been to other worlds? Can you tell the future? Do you have a lightsaber?”
“Whoa, slow down!” Mari laughed at her excitable newfound brother’s reaction.
“First of all, yes, I am a Jedi, yes I’ve been to other worlds, I can’t tell the future but sometimes I have visions or feelings of what are to come.” Marilee smiled and winked at her Shadow.
“Also does this answer your question?” She unclipped the lightsaber from her belt and held it over the table for the young waiter to see. She flipped the switch that activated the precious weapon. The boy’s mouth dropped open in awe as he saw the Jedi weapon in action.
“No…way…” he breathed as Mari expertly maneuvered the lightsaber. She deactivated it and clipped it back onto her belt.
She looked at him and said, “You said that Marilee was your sister, and if you know my name that would probably make me a terrible sister for not knowing yours.”
The boy smiled and said, “Oh, yes, well, my name is Clay. I am the owner of this restaurant and my mother and I have lived on Dantooine for well, pretty much ever. She never left after she had to give away you to the Jedi temple, and then after I was born, she would tell me stories of my big sister who would become a Jedi. You don’t know how long I have wanted to meet you!”
The siblings hugged and Mari noticed that the Force surged from Clay. He had a lot of Force potential. Then Mari remembered to introduce Shadow.
“Oh and this is my friend Shadow. He is a Clone Trooper who rescued me from a certain death more than once.” She leaned her head on his shoulder lovingly and smiled up at him. He put his arm around her shoulders and smiled back.
“Oh, I see what’s going on… You two are in love.” Clay said knowingly. Mari looked up and was slightly embarrassed that she and Shadow were so easily read. Shadow blushed too. Then they both busted out laughing.
“Wow, that was a bit obvious, wasn’t it?” said Mari laughingly.
“Yea…” Clay said now clearly confused. “I was just assuming, but the way you looked at each other it made me think that…”
“Ha-ha, its ok Clay, you are right. I suppose that there is no point in hiding our love anymore. You see Clay, when someone saves your life multiple times and takes care of you in some of your weakest moments in life; you begin to fall in love with them.”
Clay nodded and said, “Well, in that case, I’m happy for you. Mom will be very pleased. She’ll want to plan the wedding.” He smiled and Mari laughed and nodded and then frowned slightly.
“Clay,” she asked, changing the subject, “Does Dantooine gets any news from the outside worlds? Is there any way we can find out what is happening on Coruscant?” Clay looked thoughtful for a moment and then replied.
“Yes, Market day. On Market day a big freighter comes into town carrying visiting passengers, news of the galaxy, and takes people off the planet too. If you want I suppose that you could leave the planet and head to Coruscant or wherever you are going.” Mari and Shadow both nodded thoughtfully.
“Yes, I supposed that would work” said Shadow. “But your mother is expecting us to come back home. When is market day?”
Clay answered, “Three days from today. You can stay with me if you’d like. My apartment is small but it’ll fit all of us.”
“Thank you brother,” Mari said, “But most of our few possessions are at Mom’s house. If we go there tonight, explain to her what are plans are, and then come back tomorrow, we can stay with you for one more night until it is Market day. Does that sound all right?”
“Sounds great. Now how about I get you some food for the road?” Mari and Shadow nodded gratefully, they hadn’t eaten a decent meal all day. Now as they filled their hungry stomachs with delicious food, the two smiled at each other thinking that for the first time in quite a while they had a plan as to what they should do next.
The late afternoon sun shone down on the tired but happy and healthy faces of Mari and Shadow. They spent the half day’s walk back to Mari’s mother’s home by talking about themselves and their future. After walking in a comfortable silence for a while, Shadow spoke.
“What, you said back there, in your brother’s restaurant, did you mean it?” Shadow asked somewhat cautiously. Mari stopped walking and looked around for a moment. The town of Tre’nar was no longer in sight and they couldn’t see her mother’s hut yet so she assumed they were somewhere halfway between the two places.
She locked her eyes on Shadow’s and said completely honest, “Yes. I did mean it. I believe that it is the will of the Force that we are together.” She drew closer to him and said, “I don’t care about the rules of the Jedi Order…I truly and deeply love you, Shadow. I really do.”
Her eyes brimmed with tears of joy as he pulled her close to him and they kissed. The sun was setting behind them and a flock of birds flew across the sky, flying silhouettes flickering across the orange red sky. Mari and Shadow released their lips and held each other watching the sun begin to go down. It would be dark soon but Mari didn’t care. She and Shadow could handle themselves.
Shadow smiled to himself as the two watched the sunset. He caressed her smooth red hair and just held her against him. He knew ever since that moment in the mess hall back on Kamino, which now seemed like a lifetime ago, that this was the girl he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. He kissed her again and she whispered in his ear, “I love you.”
Back on Coruscant, Darth Vader’s shuttle departed on a course set for three systems. He was supposed to track down and kill a squadron of disobedient clone troopers who helped to save a Jedi Team from Order 66. There were three reports of disloyal clones. One of which was on Dantooine.
A squadron of Clones came to the Imperial Palace with a report that a Jedi escaped Order 66 and it was believed that a defective clone helped her do it. Their last known port of trajectory was the Dantooine system. He would head there next. As the shuttle landed on the first planet’s surface, Vader planned on his battle tactics. Murder; Outright slaughter. That was his plan, and he would stick to it.
“Yes, Yes,” Marlinda said to the couple who just arrived back from the long journey home. “He has lived there for some time now, ever since Old Farmer Jones died and left him the restaurant. Clay always loved to cook and now he’s got his own restaurant to cook in! It was fate.” Marlinda said of Mari meeting her brother. Marlinda was so thrilled to see her daughter standing, walking, and healing.
The mother and daughter stayed up together long after Shadow fell asleep in Clay’s old bedroom. Mari and Shadow were supposed to share it, but Mari was too busy up catching up with her mom.
“Marilee, dear,” Marlinda said after a while of exchanging their stories, “are you in love with your………companion?” she asked somewhat unsurely.
Mari’s eyes became more alert and she said, “Shadow? Oh…well, to be honest, yes, Mom, I think that I am. He saved my life more than once, and he is just so deep, and caring and gentle and…” her voice trailed off. Mari just smiled contently for a while and then looked at her satisfied mother.
“Do you want to get married?” she asked eagerly.
“I don’t know!” Mari said defiantly, “We both were…..are, part of Orders where we are not allowed to marry. We are going to find out on Market day what is going on, on Coruscant so we can plan our future. We can’t go planning weddings when it is forbidden for Clones and Jedi to marry.” Mari finished.
“Clones? Her mother asked clearly perplexed, “What do you mean Clones?” Mari looked up in realization that her mother did not know what a clone was.
“Oh. Um…a clone is a genetically altered human, Mom. The Clones were bred to be used as an army for the Republic and they were programmed to follow orders and not to ask questions. Yet my Shadow is a different clone. He can think freely, has a deeper understanding, and does not like war. He can choose not to follow orders and he can choose to….love.”
Marlinda smiled and said, “He’s a keeper.” She winked. Mari giggled slightly and nodded. Then sighing, Marlinda said, “It’s getting quite late dear, we should head to bed.”
Mari answered, “Yeah, I’ll see you in the morning mom.” She smiled as she turned down the short hallway to the room she and Shadow were sharing. There were two sleep couches in the room and she flopped down on the couch nearest the window.
She looked over at the sleeping form of her beloved and suddenly got butterflies in her stomach. She wanted to run up and hug and kiss him but she restrained herself and began to meditate before bed.
“Lightsabers flashed and crashed into each other. One red, one green. There was firing, blue and red laserbolts flew past her. Then she saw her attacker. He had a black outfit and armor including a shiny black helmet. His breathing sounded mechanical. Something struck her weaker arm, the one that been injured before, crippling her. She fell to the ground hugging the arm with torn flesh close, trying in vain to will away the pain but still she screamed in it. The red lightsaber was held above her waiting to strike the final blow…”
Mari snapped out of her trance with a start. What had she just seen?!? She was terrified and silently began to cry. She curled up into a ball and hung her head between her knees thinking about the horrifying vision that she just saw in her mind.
“Premonitions,” Master Yoda would say, “Ignore them, you should not.” Premonitions were visions of the future, but was that her future? She turned over on the sleep-couch and began, reluctantly, to fall into a dreamless sleep.
As Mari and Shadow started out on the now familiar trek to Tre’nar, Shadow noticed that Mari was not in the mood for talking. Something was troubling her and he just couldn’t figure out what it was. He also decided not to ask of bother her about it and just let her tell him when she was ready.
He made some small talk on the way there but did not push her to explain her unusual silence. What shocked Shadow even more was that when they stopped for a midday meal, Mari ate quickly and then walked a few yards off to go meditate. He’d known her long enough that she was not the type of Jedi who just sat down to meditate.
Now he was nervous. What was going on that lead her to do unusual things like meditate and be quiet? He would just have to wait and see.
“Blasterbolts were everywhere, zooming past her ears, nearly singeing her red hair. She heard a yelp of pain as Shadow was struck in the leg. She instinctively turned her head to look at him, and that moment was when something struck her arm, causing the terrifying, gut wrenching pain to return to her weaker arm.
The red lightsaber raised above her head, ready to strike the blow when a sudden kick from Shadow’s good leg sent an Imperial Storm Trooper into the direct path of the gleaming evil red lightsaber. It sliced through the plastioid armor as if it was cutting through thin paper. Instantly killing the trooper, a confused attacker moved backward in order to avoid tripping on the dead trooper body. The distraction gave Mari just enough time to roll out of the way and back herself against Shadow.
The monster that continually attacked them moved in closer. The two remaining troopers had their blasters raised and pointed at the two immobile victims. A mechanical chatter that was probably supposed to be laughter came from the dark helmet. He raised his weapon again ready to kill both of them this time.”
Mari gasped and opened her eyes, inhaling gulps of air. Shadow ran to her side and asked her what was wrong, what had happened. She just shook her head miserably, pulled her knees up to her chin as she did the night before, and cry.
What was happening, why did she keep having these visions? They frightened her, rocked her core. Shadow sat next to her and wrapped his arms around her shaking frame.
“What happened, why are you so upset?” he asked her, prodding slightly.
“I-I had a vision…” Mari said still weeping, “I think that it’s of the future.” Shadow looked perplexed.
Mari continued her voice steadying, “We were both there, fighting with… a…monster, a mechanical…droid? No that wasn’t it,” she said her voice starting to steady even more, “He fought with a lightsaber, dressed in black, he had troopers with him. I-I-I don’t know what happened.” She said her voice filling with upset once again.
“We were both fighting him and you were shot in the leg and my arm was injured, and…and, that was it…I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if we live.” Her voice cracked on the last bit.
She lifted her still bandaged arm and grimaced, it still hurt now but even the thought of something else happening to that arm was too much for her to bear. Shadow held her close, kissing her forehead, and stroking her goosebumped shoulders. He tried to calm her down, speaking soothingly to her.
“Shhhhhh, it’s all right. Everything will be fine. No need to worry.”
Mari shook her head and said, “No, we won’t be. Something is going to happen…. to both of us…and I don’t know when…why…or even if we…make it.” The two of them stood up and Shadow hugged Mari close.
“Whatever happens, we will be together.” He said assuredly. “We will make it through. Don’t you worry.” And with that said, the two of them started down the long path to Tre’nar where they would stay until Market Day.
Market day was very busy. Many of Dantooine’s locals came to Market Day to sell their goods and buying things. Marilee and Shadow stayed with Mari’s brother Clay until the transport arrived with news. When the large transport freighter touched down on the grassy Dantooine the few hundred residents of Ecarg ran toward it to get news, leave the planet or greet friends and family coming back.
Mari and Shadow moved toward the freighter with the rest of the crowd and found an attendant who was not yet being spoken too.
They made their way over to him and Mari said, “Hello sir, we seek some information about Coruscant, the core worlds and the war.” Mari was feeling so much better now, having talked to Shadow and spent a day catching up with her brother. Mari and Clay were now great friends and loved each other very much. They found they had a lot in common too.
“The War is over;” the attendant said simply, “the Jedi betrayed the Republic and were destroyed. Chancellor Palpatine is now the Emperor of the Galaxy. The Emperor took on Darth Vader as his new lackey.” Mari’s jaw practically hit the ground in absolute shock.
“Did you say that the War was over? The Clone Wars? And, Empire, Emperor?” She was so confused. So was Shadow. They needed better information. This man seemed like he could care less about politics and the fate of the galaxy. Instead he seemed more interested in getting his next meal. The man walked away rudely leaving Mari’s questions unanswered.
Shadow had a mixture of feelings. If the war was over, that meant he didn’t have to fight anymore and could leave the Army. But Empire, what was that? And who was Darth Vader? The Sith weren’t real, were they?
Still unable to uncover enough information of the happenings of the core worlds, Mari and Shadow began the long trek back to Mari’s mother’s house. Clay promised to visit soon, as soon as he was able to get his girlfriend to cover the restaurant for him. Halfway back to the house, Mari and Shadow took a short break to eat a mid-day meal. When they both were ready to keep moving toward the house, Mari and Shadow got up and packed their things.
Then, Shadow surprised Mari by getting down on one knee. He pulled a small gold ring from his pocket and said to Mari, taking her hand.
“Marilee Sunstar, you are the love of my life. We have been through so much together. I knew ever since that day back on Kamino that we were meant to be. Will…..will you marry me?” Mari’s face flew from pure joy to surprise, excitement, to shock. Her eyes brimming with tears, she answered him.
“Oh my gods, Shadow….Yes. Yes I will marry you!!” As he stood up and placed the ring on her finger, she flung her arms around his neck and began to cry happy tears. The two of them practically ran back to Mari’s mom’s home excited to share their news.
Bursting into the small home, Mari squealed in excitement.
“Mom!!” she called out. “Mom, we’re home! Mom, Guess what?!?” Marlinda came in to the living room where the happy couple was standing, just home.
“What, what is it my child?” Mari thrust out her left hand, somewhat gently, seeing it was still injured to some extent. Upon seeing the slender golden ring on her finger, Marlinda’s face broke into a genuine smile.
“He Propsed?!?” She nearly screamed, “I can’t believe it!!!!” Marilee was at such a loss for words, all she could do was beam raidiantly and nod her head enthusiastically.
“Congratulations to both of you! Oh, we have to plan the wedding, and the food and the guests and everything!”
Mari laughed and said, “Slow down Mother, we can wait a while!”
Marlinda nodded and said abruptly “You must be hungry, come, come, we must eat.” After a filling dinner, the newly engaged couple went down the short hallway to speak in private.
“Aren’t you happy, Mari?” Shadow asked.
“Of course!” Mari said confidently, “It’s just that…….I don’t know what we will do, my dreams…..I don’t want them to come true. Especially if we are to be married and start a family.” Shadow nodded and agreed heartily.
“I know. But we shouldn’t let that stop us from following our destinies. I believe that we are destined to be together, and nothing, not even some….mechanical monster, as you put it, will pull that apart. We are not going to let some vision push our love away, will we?” Mari shook her head sullenly and locked her eyes on his.
“No,” she said, “We will not. I love you, no matter what happens.” They embraced and kissed, Mari’s body relaxed, being held in Shadow’s arms. They both knew that getting married would be a big risk, but at this point in time, it would be a risk they would to take. When they finally let go of the kiss, they continued to stay in each other’s arms. Nothing, no dreams, no injuries, no monsters would ever tear them apart. Their love was stronger than that. They would make it through. It was meant to be. After a while, the two of them let go and decided to get some rest. After all, tomorrow would be busy. They had a wedding to plan.
“But why do you have to leave?” Maryanna Sorun complained to her boyfriend Clay.
“My sister and her boyfriend wanted to visit with me,” Clay replied. “At home. I haven’t been home in ages, my mother only sees me on Market Day, Maryanna can’t you just watch……”
Maryanna’s blue eyes flickered, she sighed and said, “Ok Clayie, I’ll watch the shop for you. But only for one day understand?!?”
Clay smiled at his girlfriend, kissed her cheek and said, “Thanks Annie, I owe ‘ya one!” He stood up from the table that the two were sitting at, cleared the dishes into the bust-droid, grabbed Maryanna’s hand and lifted her from the booth like a true gentleman.
She smiled blissfully as he kissed her hand. After taking Maryanna home to her parents and siblings, Clay returned home to pack all of his things. He had a long walk ahead of him.
Clay sighed as he walked the long and tedious route to his mother’s home. It would be another three hours before he even came into sight of his mom’s home so he stopped to take a break from the walking and eat a snack. Clay smiled to himself, around this time; Maryanna would be opening the shop.
He wasn’t worried. His shop would be in good hands, Maryanna was very good at keeping her word. Maryanna Sorun was a beautiful, happy and athletic girl with a great personality. She had short wavy auburn hair with blue eyes.
She was perfect for him, practical, smart, funny, and even slightly sarcastic. He loved her so much and could spend the rest of his life with her. Maybe, someday…. Clay stood up, brushed off his pants and began on the long trek to his mom’s house.
Clay arrived at his mom’s home just after midday. He was met with extreme excitement from Mari and Shadow who exclaimed that they were to be married, soon. Clay was so thrilled for them. Even though he only met his big sister a week and a half ago, but he felt so happy and lucky to get to know her. As Clay set down his things and got something to eat and drink, Mari sat down on the chair next to him.
“What?” Clay asked, seeing how Mari was staring at him.
“Hmm? Oh nothing, just thinking.” Mari answered.
“Bout what?” asked Clay his mouth full of bread and curious to know what his sister was thinking about.
“You. I’m still so excited to have a little brother,” Mari said, grinning at him.
“Oh,” Clay said, “I’m excited too Mari, I never thought I would get to meet you.”
He gazed into her eyes and then said, “Wow, You look so much like Mom.” Mari smiled and laughed shortly, “I would say that I’ve heard that before, but I haven’t.”
Clay laughed too and said, “You know, she was so sad for years and years since giving you up. She wanted the best for you but didn’t want to let you go. She was like that for as long as I remember.” Clay gripped the mug he was holding tightly and said, “I remember one time I asked a question about the little holo of the baby in the family room and she got so upset she only said “Your sister” and teared up. I never asked again.”
Mari nodded. “I wasn’t allowed to ask questions at the Temple. We were always told not to question. I never knew where I came from, why I was there, who my family was…I didn’t understand why I couldn’t know these things.” She picked up the warm mug in front of her and took a sip.
Mari glanced out the little window and grinned, Shadow was having a hard time rounding up some shaaks for her mom. It was quite amusing, watching him. He rounded up three shaaks only to have two of them run away. Then he tripped and fell and landed in a bale of hay. Mari snickered under her breath watching. Her mother then came and helped her soon to be son in law up.
Mari returned her gaze to Clay and asked him abruptly, “Clay, have you ever felt things before they happened?” Clay, startled by this question replied, “What, why, what do you mean?” Realizing how nervous this made her brother, she dug deep into his soul with the Force.
“You know what I mean” she said knowingly. Clay looked upset, reluctant and then he nodded.
“Yes, I-I have. More than once. One time a bunch of Grauls were coming to attack the shaaks in the middle of the night and I dreamt they did before it happened. I woke up and shot those monsters before they even touched my mom’s herd. I also dreamt that a ship would crash in the fields, way out there.” He pointed in the direction that Mari and Shadow came in from on their first time on Dantooine.
“That was my ship.” Mari breathed. “Clay, you sensed I was coming! You are Force-Sensitive!”
Clay looked up and said, “You mean I could be a Jedi?” Mari nodded and got very excited very quickly.
“Yes! You have a lot of potential and I could teach you, you would be my Padawan and it would be amazing!” Clay looked up again and said, “Oh, and Maryanna has dreams too. Only hers aren’t about shaaks and family members. She has dreamt of other worlds, of the war, and stuff happening on the core worlds.”
Marilee looked confused and asked “Who is Maryanna?” Clay smiled warmly and blushed.
“My girlfriend. She is watching the restaurant for me.”
Mari lifted one eyebrow and said, “Awwww, you have a girlfriend! How sweet. Maybe she is Force-Sensitive too. I could train both of you, and Shadow, and if we were to have children them too.” Mari stopped herself and said, “Now, now, I’m getting way ahead of myself. Clay, you will definitely have to introduce me to this girlfriend of yours”
He smiled, “All right Mari, I will, maybe you can come back to town with me tomorrow.” “Shadow too?” she questioned.
“Well, that depends on what Shadow wants to do. But he is definitely welcome to come.” Clay smiled at his sister. Marilee winked back.
It was decided that Mari and Clay would return to town the next day and that Shadow would stay with Mrs. Sunstar to help around the farm. Shadow would come in three days to visit Mari and Clay and then Mari and Shadow would return to Mrs. Sunstar’s home to prepare for their wedding.
As Clay and Mari walked the long hike back to the town, Marilee ran and walked quickly, encouraging her brother to keep up. Clay didn’t realize it at the time, but she was testing his Force-Sensitivity. A Jedi could walk, run, and jump for hours before even getting tired. Mari had been through proper training and this exercise was easy for her.
Clay did surprisingly well; he hardly broke a sweat for the first few hours of walking. Mari recited Jedi Lore for him and explained about the Order. She repeated entire lessons and explained their meanings. She said that if she could change one thing about the Jedi Order it would be the inability to form attachments. She was going to get married after all, and Clay had a girlfriend.
“That was why it was forbidden to know our families. We weren’t supposed to become attached to them. One very rare case, a friend of mine, Anakin Skywalker, knew his mother for nine years before becoming a Jedi, and then there were rumors that after his mother died, he took is anger out on a bunch of Tusken Raiders from the planet Tatooine. He made two mistakes, going after his mother who he wasn’t even supposed to know, and giving into his anger.”
Clay nodded thoughtfully and said, “So having so much love for something can sometimes make you do things you aren’t supposed to do, right?” Mari smiled; her brother was a fast learner.
“Exactly, but if you can balance the two, you can have peace, harmony, and love at the same time.”
“Oh, so you mean, if I understand that death is a part of life, then I wouldn’t go to the Dark Side if you, mom, or Maryanna died?” Whoa, this kid got it. No wonder, he was her brother after all.
“Yes, all the people close to you. A friend, a pet, a place, if you can balance compassion and love with the Force, you can be at peace.” Clay nodded and didn’t ask any more questions for a while.
Eventually he said, “Are you still a Jedi even though you are getting married?” Mari thought for a moment and replied.
“Yes. The Jedi are masters of the Force and have the ability to use the Force to do things normal beings can’t. Just because I am getting married doesn’t mean that I am abandoning the Jedi Way all together.” Clay nodded again and smiled at his big sister. He had a Jedi as his big sister. That was so amazing. Best part was that she was going to make him a Jedi too, and maybe even his girlfriend.
He looked down and remembered the bandages on his sister’s arm and became curious. Mari and Shadow only told him that their ship crashed and they needed medical attention and that was why they were on Dantooine, but what had really happened, he wondered.
“Mari,” Clay asked, “What happened to your arm?” Mari, startled by the question sighed and explained what had happened to her and Shadow.
“Our ship crashed. Way out in the middle of nowhere. There was no room in the escape pods for both of us and I refused to leave. Shadow was fine, but I was thrown against a wall and broke my arm. Then, something flew from the ship and cut my arm. It hurt like crazy. All I remember was screaming and then nearly passing out. Shadow picked me up and we ran away from the ship. Then it exploded.” Clay looked sympathetic as his sister gingerly touched the wrap on her arm with a sad look in her eyes.
“Then,” she said, “We saw way out in the distance what was our mom’s house. We began to walk all the way there but after too long, my legs gave out. I passed out, probably from exhaustion, but we found out later that it’s because my arm was already infected. The next day was terrible. I could barely breathe I was so ill. Shadow had to carry me most of the way to mom’s house. It was….not good. Without Shadow or our Mom, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
Clay looked at her and said, “Weren’t you afraid…..and didn’t it hurt?”
Mari chuckled and said, “Jedi don’t feel fear, or pain, but to me, I was sick and boy did it hurt.”
Clay laughed and said, “Yeah, it must’ve.” They were almost to town now and Clay turned to Mari and spoke to her.
“You know, as bad as that was, I’m glad it happened.” “Why?” Mari asked. “Because, if you didn’t need help or a medic, I wouldn’t have gotten to meet my big sister.” He smiled and gave Mari a hug.
Mari met Maryanna for the first time in Clay’s Creations just before closing that day. “Maryanna, how nice to meet you! Clay has told me all about you.” Mari smiled her charming smile at Clay’s girlfriend.
“It’s nice to meet you as well Marilee,” Maryanna said, politely using Mari’s full name. Giggling, Mari said, “Just Mari will do.” Maryanna smiled, her pretty face practically lighting up with her smile. They shook hands and almost as soon as Mari’s hand touched Maryanna’s, Maryanna withdrew her hand quickly. She looked startled. Mari was not startled however, she had a feeling that Maryanna would be frightened and remove her grip. It happened sometimes when Force-Sensitive beings came into contact with other Force-Sensitives.
Mari guessed that something similar had happened the first time she met her brother. Mari’s eyes drilled into Maryanna as she waited for her to figure things out.
“What…Who, are you?”
Mari nodded slowly and said, “I am like you. I am a Force-Sensitive. I am a Jedi, I have mastered my powers and I understand why I have visions, just like you do.” Maryanna gasped and took a few steps back. She stopped abruptly when she walked into Clay, who held her in his arms.
Maryanna looked at Mari and said, “How did you know I had visions?” She demanded. Mari shifted her gaze toward her brother who simply said meekly, “Guilty.” Maryanna looked a mixture of wanting to kiss him and punch him.
Marilee said, “Maryanna, you have extreme Jedi potential. You probably have as many midi-chlorians as Clay, who also is very Force-Sensitive. If you so choose, I can teach you to control and manipulate your powers to become a Jedi.”
Maryanna, now standing next to Clay, holding his hand, answered, “Ummm, Maybe, I mean, If Clay will. You really think I can become a Jedi?” Mari nodded and Clay did too.
“Annie, I want to be a Jedi too. We can go on missions and…stuff.” Clay said, unsure of what to say.
Mari nodded and said, “I will train you. As soon as Shadow and I are married and we get settled down. We may even move off planet if you so choose.”
Maryanna looked uncertain, “I’m not so sure on that one. My parents, my siblings….”
Mari bobbed her head and said, “I understand. I’m not exactly keen on leaving my new-found mother either.”
Maryanna nodded enthusiastically, “Thanks. Now how does this Jedi thing work? Are there rules?” Mari rolled her eyes.
“Unfortunately, the Jedi are all about rules. But never fear, I think that we can “tweak” the Jedi Order a little. Maybe even improve it. I’m not really sure what is going on Coruscant right now, so I don’t know the latest with the Jedi Temple.”
Clay smiled at his sister and girlfriend and said, “Who’s hungry?”
Shadow arrived within two days and the wedding was in the planning stages. Maryanna was a close friend of Mari’s now, she often went to her for advice, news and even just to talk. They spent hours together, chatting about life, family, and their futures. No matter what their topic of conversation was, Mari and Maryanna always found something to talk about. They acted like teenage girls who were best friends, like the kind you found on Coruscant, rather than the practically grown adults that they both were.
Maryanna invited Mari over one night to come to dinner with her family. Maryanna’s home was quite large, as her family was fairly big. Maryanna had five siblings, plus her two parents and a couple family pets. Maryanna was the oldest of all the children. Justin, Valerieen, Holly, Lizzy and Jordin were her siblings, all very excitable, loud, and intruiged by the ‘Jedi Knight’ who came to visit.
Mari was introduced to the whole family, including the many pets. Jordin had adopted a Dantooine Bull Frog, naming him Toady. Valerieen and Justin had two small rabbit-like creatures whose species were impossible to tell. Mari enjoyed spending time with the kids, and her best friend. The dinner was incredible and everyone had a great time.
Jordin and Elizabeth bonded immediately with Mari, sitting on her lap whenever they had the chance. Justin kept staring at Mari, thinking about how pretty and nice she was. Maryanna had a feeling that her little brother had a crush on her best friend. Valerieen and Holly peppered Mari with multiple and fast questions on being a Jedi, the Jedi way, the Jedi Order, Lightsabers, where they could get one, why their sister was Jedi material and they weren’t, and so on. The list was endless.
When it was finally time for Mari to go home, it was already dark out. Clay had pulled up in his landspeeder and knocked on the door. Holly answered it and upon seeing Clay she smirked and shouted across the house.
“MARYANNA!!! CLAY’S HERE!!!!!!!!!” Maryanna’s face turned bright red, as did Clay’s as she walked Mari out to Clay’s speeder. Maryanna wanted to kick Holly for doing that but refrained as her parents were sitting right there. Clay laughed as Maryanna mumbled an embarrassed goodnight, and then he kissed her.
“Awwww, how sweet!” Mari thought, although she wouldn’t dare ruin the moment. Walking back inside and basically floating on air, Maryanna thought of how lucky she was to have a Jedi as a best friend.
A Jedi whose brother just kissed her. Whose brother was her boyfriend. A best friend who was teaching her all about how to become a Jedi herself. She was excited; not only was she going to be a Jedi, she was going to be in her new best friend’s wedding!
Two short weeks later, Mari and Shadow were wed. They had a sweet little ceremony in town with the Dantooine Holy Man. Guests included the Dr. Bruce and his intern/receptionist George, Mr. Murls the tavern owner, Clay, Maryanna, Maryanna’s family, Mrs. Sunstar, Clay’s friends, Some of Marlinda’s friends and even a few unknown townspeople.
It was a beautiful sunny day on the day of the wedding and Marilee looked beautiful. She wore an elegant white and silver dress that her mother wore on her wedding day. Shadow looked his best too, wearing a suit that Clay borrowed to him. Mari had her short hair up in a braided bun with small curls framing her face. Her arm was now fully healed, though it was still weaker than her other arm, and the bandages had come off.
“I now pronounce you Husband and Wife.” the Holy Man said pleasantly, “You may kiss your bride.” Mari flew into Shadow’s arms and they spun around, kissing, and completely happy. After walking back down the aisle, the crowd headed to Clay’s Creations for dinner.
Clay and his beautiful girlfriend Maryanna sat next to the newlyweds who were beyond delighted. Their joy was overflowing as they sat together hugging and kissing. Clay looked somewhat uncomfortable until his girlfriend Maryanna kissed him on the cheek. They smiled at each other and enjoyed their dinners.
As Mari lay down in the bed that she and Shadow now shared as a married couple, she felt uneasy. Not only had they missed any chance of getting off Dantooine, but they also had gotten no news. Mari promised Clay and Maryanna that she and Shadow would come and help in the restaurant tomorrow, as to pay off the food that was served at her wedding. Shadow sat down on the bed, pulling his new wife into his arms.
“I love you.” He whispered. Mari smiled and looked up at him.
“I love you too.” She said, kissing him happily. The two laid together in the bed, content in each other’s arms. After a while, Mari fell asleep, only to have another frightening dream.
“A baby began to cry. Mari reached down and picked up the baby, calming it. Then, there were blasts outside, and the windows of the home blew in. Mari shielded the baby in her arms, protecting her from the flying glass.
Mari screamed as the Black Monster walked into her home, red lightsaber ignited. Shadow ran into the room upon hearing her scream. His cheek was cut, from a shard of glass. Mari had scrapes all over both arms and her face. The baby was safe.
The Black Monster walked forward and signaled the troopers to stay by his side, weapons raised. Mari held the baby in one hand and lightsaber in the other. She sliced two troopers down, handing one gun to Shadow, who shot down two more. The Black Monster raised his weapon higher and sliced through the baby cradle next to Mari. The battle had begun.”
Mari awoke and started shuddering. She began to cry and Shadow, roused from his sleep, immediately asked her what was wrong. She only managed to choke out the words, “Dreams, Black Monster, Baby, and Battle.” Shadow looked at her, wondering if she was slightly delirious and calmed her down. Why was his Marilee having these dreams? And a Baby? What did that mean? They would figure things out. He would help her through it. If some Monster did come, they would just have to be ready.
Darth Vader’s shuttle touched down on the borders of Tre’nar during the thick black of night. He stepped out of his shuttle and made his way over to the Stormtroopers who were assessing the area. He was feeling defeated. His previous missions had been failures. He needed to impress his master. He needed to win this one.
Darth Vader felt so destroyed. He had no one to live for anymore, his wife…Padmè was…dead, killed, by his own two hands. That was one death he could not stand to have on his conscience. It absolutely tore him apart to know that it was himself who took the life of his wife and their unborn child. How could he have done it?
He wanted to cry, but his distorted and damaged face wouldn’t produce the tears. He bitterly thought of Obi-Wan, his former Jedi Master who practically killed him. He wished he was dead. He hated him. Darth Vader couldn’t wait until he was ordered to search out Obi-Wan Kenobi. That was one life he would take pleasure in diminishing.
It was Obi-Wan’s fault that he was like this, trapped in this wretched life support suit. He had stringed along his precious Padme` to try and kill him. It was HIS FAULT!!! Vader calmed himself and then his thoughts trailed to the Jedi he had killed. He felt somewhat guilty about taking the lives of the younglings but the older Jedi had deserved to die.
They were traitors to the Republic, and to his new Master, Emperor Palpatine. It was Palpatine who helped him discover his true powers, his strength. This time he would not fail his master, he would destroy the disobedient clone, and the Jedi he was protecting.
“In time,” he told himself, “in time.” He needed a plan. No plan is what caused him to fail last time. This time there was no room for failures in planning.
Marilee fiddled with the lightsaber hook on her belt. The dress she wore felt very comfortable and light. She felt happy. Yet the visions from her nightmares continued to dance in her head, torturing her with the unknown. She and Shadow were helping clean up at her brother’s restaurant after a busy day of cooking and baking. After such a long day, Mari, Shadow and Clay were glad to turn in early and get some rest. Throughout the restaurant, there were rumors that the Republic had fallen; leaving a ruthless Empire that was led by Palpatine. The only information they could find was tidbits of Sith Lord, Darth Vader, Empire, Dead Jedi, and a Destroyed Jedi Temple… The parts about the Jedi deeply upset Mari; the Temple was her home, the Jedi the only family she had ever known.
“Mari,” Clay asked cautiously once they shut the restaurant for the night and was finally sitting down for their own dinner, “Is everything ok? You seem upset.” Mari nodded her head and looked gloomily down at her plate. It was as if the life had been sucked from her.
Then she lifted her head and her bright sea-green eyes shining she said, “I’ll be just fine, Clay. I have a family now and an amazing husband.” She smiled up at Shadow upon whose shoulder she rested her head.
“I will be just fine” she repeated “Hopefully” under her breath but Clay didn’t hear. Shadow did, however and looked at her pointedly.
“Honey,” he said, “It will be fine, let’s not worry about that right now.”
“What is wrong?” Maryanna asked, somewhat confused, Clay answered her.
“Oh, Mari had another Jedi Dream that might be telling the future. This one was really bad, and Mari is still shaken from it.” Maryanna looked curiously at Mari and nodded sympathetically.
Mari nodded back and repeated, “Everything is ok, and I’ll be fine,” But inside, Mari knew something wasn’t right. She and Shadow had a long way to walk tomorrow to get all of their belongings from Marlinda’s house so that they could move into the town, and be with their friends. Mari looked down at her plate and simply picked at her food. She wasn’t very hungry. She had good reason to be as well; despite she had no idea of the coming battle.
“Good Night Mari, Shadow” Maryanna said as Clay offered to walk her home. Mari hugged her friend good night and Clay told them that he would meet Mari and Shadow in his apartment later. Maryanna and Clay left the restaurant with a ding from the door. Then all was silent, for now.
Mari and Shadow probably made it around a mile away from the town of Tre’nar before Mari felt anything. Suddenly, while walking, Mari felt faint, and she collapsed. Shadow’s head started to pound as if someone was beating on it like a drum. He collapsed as well.
“The Dark Side,” Mari murmured, holding her head in her hands. “It is very strong here.”
Shadow nodded and said, “I feel it. We must be careful.” Mari shook her head as if to rid herself of the darkness. She had never, in all her days at the Jedi Temple felt anything like it. That was when she saw it. The Black Monster. He was here, on Dantooine, red lightsaber raised, poised for attack.
Mari wanted to cry out, but her lungs wouldn’t produce the sound. She wanted to run as fast as her legs would carry her, but her legs felt like lead. Shadow knew immediately that this, this thing, was the monster that tortured Mari’s dreams.
Then suddenly snapping back to attention, Mari jumped up and swung her lightsaber out from her belt and raised it to counter attack her worst nightmare. Shadow pulled out his rifle and shot at two of the Stormtroopers standing between Mari and the monster. Mari’s green lightsaber contrasted with the Black Monster’s red one. He raised his weapon and slashed it down on Mari’s. The fight had begun.
As Mari clashed and flashed her lightsaber to counter attack the monster’s red one, he taunted her. “Weakling,” he said, trying to make her angry. “You should be dead, just like all the other Jedi in the Galaxy! I am Lord Darth Vader. The most powerful Sith Lord in the universe!!” Suddenly, Mari felt her feet lift from the ground and the air leave her windpipe. He was choking her! She knew that she needed air, fast. She gathered what power she could from the Force and pushed back at Vader, sending him sprawling back into one of his troopers.
Momentarily confused, Mari gulped in giant gasps of breath and then began once again to slice down the growing number of Stormtroopers. Looking at Shadow, the couple fought in synchronization. Quickly and precisely, they shot and sliced the stormtroopers down, one by one. Darth Vader, now recovered from his Force push, rushed at Mari, abruptly continuing to battle her with his lightsaber. Almost right after Mari and Shadow broke up their fight pattern; Shadow was shot in the leg by a blaster bolt. Without the strong and durable plastioid suit he was used to, the bolt caused him great pain and to fall.
“Shadow!” Mari yelled out, upset to see her husband fall. Shadow’s leg was injured, but he still shot his gun at the remaining troopers.
Darth Vader pulled his lightsaber down hard on Marilee’s. “Marilee Sunstar.” He sneered. “You never were a particularly strong Jedi in a fight.” The Sith Lord said with vengeance. “I should know….we were in class together after all!!”
Marilee felt shaken. “Anakin?” she whispered. “Anakin Skywalker?” Darth Vader clashed his lightsaber down with even more strength.
“That name has NO meaning to me!” he cried, “I am Darth Vader! Lord of the Sith!!!” Marilee pushed back with unexpected Force from her lightsaber.
“Anakin! This is not you!! What happened? You were the Chosen One! The nicest Padawan I knew! How did you fall so far?” Darth Vader snarled in anger and moved in on Marilee.
In one fluid motion, he severed her left arm, the one holding her lightsaber. Mari screamed in pain, as her hand, wrist, and part of her forearm were cut away from the rest of her body. She screamed intensely and pulled her maimed arm close. She fell to the ground in pain and fear. She couldn’t move. Then to her horror, exactly as her dream predicted, the red lightsaber blazed above her head, ready to strike the final blow.
Again, just as her dream depicted, Shadow kicked a stormtrooper in the path of Darth Vader’s lightsaber, giving Mari enough time to roll out of the way. Shadow looked in dismay at his wife’s missing hand and was shocked.
“No.” he thought, he wouldn’t let his wife’s pain be in vain. He shot at Darth Vader who dodged each blast. Just as two stormtroopers moved in to kill defenseless Mari and Shadow, two blaster bolts struck each of the troopers in the back.
The troopers fell away revealing Clay and Maryanna, standing with blasters in hand. The two began to shoot at Vader, who backed away, parrying every shot with his lightsaber. Almost every shot. Shadow shot him from the behind, causing Vader’s life support system inside his suit to malfunction. He began to retreat, moving to a ship not so far off. After a few minutes, the Sith Lord was gone.
Clay looked horrified as upon seeing his sister’s mutilated arm. He shook his head.
“No,” he whined quietly, feeling horribly for his sister, “Oh, Mari, look at you.” Mari began to cry, pain and shock starting to set in. Maryanna fell to Mari’s side, carefully taking Mari’s maimed arm in her gentle hands.
“Mari,” she whispered, feeling a tear drop down her cheek, “What happened?” Clay looked at Shadow, who lay a few feet off, unable to get up because of his injured leg. Clay walked over and helped his brother in law up and let him lean on him as they got to a speeder.
“Mari,” Shadow croaked, looking back at his wife, who clutched her injured arm to her chest. Maryanna picked up Marilee’s lightsaber, which lay a few feet off near a rock. Clay, seeing and feeling Mari’s pain, hurried her and Shadow over to the speeder that he and Maryanna used to get to their aide. Within minutes, they reached the town where the newly married couple was instantly admitted into Dr. Bruce’s office.
Hurriedly explaining his sister’s case, Clay expressed her need for immediate help. Because Marilee’s arm was severed by a lightsaber, the laser energy from the weapon caused the skin around the severed area to burn and cauterize, leaving very little blood. Mari held her disfigured arm against her chest, gently and as carefully as possible to avoid more pain than she was already experiencing. Dr. Bruce was surprised to see what had happened to Mari’s arm, and hooked her up to many rejuvenating machines straightaway. Mari was now numb with pain and shock, still trying to comprehend the monster from her nightmares was a man she had respected and was good friends with when she was younger.
Two days had passed since the living nightmare of the fight with Darth Vader. Mari had since healed fairly fast, a trip to the bacta tank had solved Shadow’s wounds and most of Mari’s as well. Unfortunately, a bacta tank couldn’t bring back her hand so Marilee was fitted with a cybernetic hand which was joined to her nerve endings already existing in her arm, allowing her new hand to not only look and feel like the original, but also be able to touch and function and feel like her natural arm did. Shadow’s leg was completely healed and he no longer felt pain thanks to the powerful bacta. Mari’s arm was better too, although the throbbing pain would sometimes return as something called “phantom limb syndrome”. It often happened to Force-Sensitives who lost limbs in combat. When fear or the Dark Side was near, their injury would pain them.
Though it was unfortunate, but Mari was more than glad that she was able to have something to help her recovery. Shadow came in to see her with Clay and Maryanna on the second day of her stay to the Medical Ward. Shadow beamed at her to see her awake and in little pain. Mari smiled back and sat up on the medical bed that she lay on.
She hugged and kissed her husband, and hugged her brother and best friend as well. Shadow was amazed at the incredible technology that had replaced his wife’s hand. Clay gently touched her new hand, and Mari, upon feeling his touch lifted her fingers to grip him back. Clay smiled, Mari would be fine. Maryanna hugged her again and they started to talk and chat like the girlfriends that they were. Shadow broke into the conversation when there was a slight gap.
“How exactly did you guys know we were in trouble?” he asked Maryanna and Clay. Clay shrugged and said, “I had a bad feeling, and so did Annie, and we left. We used what Mari taught us about the Force to find you guys. It wasn’t all that hard; we heard Mari’s scream from a mile away.” Clay said the last part teasingly. Mari giggled.
“She was loud.” Maryanna chimed in now, “We saw that you were in quite a situation and decided to help out.” Mari and Shadow once again expressed their gratefulness to their friends.
Mari then gasped and said, “No one told Mom!” Clay looked at her and they both busted out laughed.
“Uh-oh. She won’t be happy about that one!” Mari laughed too. Just then, Dr. Bruce walked in the room.
“Well, I can see someone is feeling better!” he said, “And Shadow, it’s good to see you up and about again.” Mari looked at the doctor and smiled. She and Shadow thanked him multiple times too. Dr. Bruce flipped a few switches and politely asked for a pathway to be made so that he could get through. Clay and Maryanna stepped aside, and Shadow stepped over to Mari’s side, where he grasped her good hand.
Dr. Bruce moved over and after flipping a few more switches, overturned a small panel on Mari’s new hand. He opened it and flipped even more switches, allowing her full and functional movement.
“There,” he said, satisfied, “You are good to go. Just like new.” The medical droid next to the doctor handed the datapad he was holding to the doctor upon which he took notes. Mari got up from the bed and felt her new hand, testing it out. She and Shadow embraced, glad to be together again, and alive.
Maryanna and Clay hugged her again as well and she tested her new hand with them. Although Mari felt slightly uncomfortable, she knew that she would be just fine. Her hand was replaced, her husband was healed, and her family was together, now all that was left to do was explain it all to her mother.
“You did WHAT?” Marlinda exclaimed, upset and worried for her children.
“I told you, we were attacked, and then I…” Marlinda interrupted, shook her head and said,
“Oh, my baby Marilee, are you sure you are all right?” Marlinda brought her hands up to Mari’s cheeks, which was kind of awkward because Mari was taller than her mother.
“Mom, I’m just fine! I told you, it doesn’t hurt and I’ll be just fine. The doctor said that I would not have any problems.” Marlinda nodded and then smiled at her daughter, pulling her into warm hug once again.
“Oh Baby, promise me you won’t ever do that again, please stop getting hurt! It kills me a little inside, each time I see you so hurt.” Mari nodded and smiled as her mother stroked her new hand tenderly, and carefully.
“Ok Mom, I’ll try.” Yoda’s voice rang through her head as soon as she spoke the word “try”. “Do or Do Not. There is no Try.”
“Yes Master Yoda,” she murmured, out of habit.
“Hmmm, What was that Marilee? Are you alright?” Snapping out of thought, Mari said,
“What? Oh, Yes, I’m fine. Just… reminiscing.” Mari sighed; she missed Master Yoda’s backwards way of speaking, his wise sayings, her Master Shaak Ti’s kind but strict voice, Master Kenobi’s English accent and sense of humor, Master Windu’s deep and penetrating eyes, and Master Luminara Unduli’s strict by the book teachings, and Master Jocasta Nu’s helpful hints in the Jedi Library. Where were they all now? Would she ever see any of them again? What had really happened to them? Were the Jedi really dead, as Anakin….Darth Vader had said? Or was he just trying to scare her? She had so many questions. All of them unanswered.
It was hard to take in, all her friends, her family practically, were…..dead. As she thought all of these things, Mari’s eyes welled up with tears. They began to drip down her face, the salty tears running down her cheeks. Marlinda had left the room to check on her animals and as Mari began crying Shadow walked in. He walked with a very slight limp; the blaster bolt wound had a small side effect.
He saw her wet cheeks and wrapped her in his arms, and then asked what was wrong. Mari snuggled up against her husband and heaved a shuddering sigh.
“What’s up? Are you ok?” Shadow asked for the second time, “Just tell me Mari.”
Mari nodded and smiling through her tears she said, “I was just…thinking….remembering the Temple and my friends there. I just…miss them, I guess.”
Shadow nodded. “I understand, don’t worry, you’re here, with us now. I’m your family, and so are your mom and Clay and Maryanna. Please don’t get worried about it now, ok?”
“I’ll try” said Mari, who once again started to tear up upon saying “try” again. Shadow calmed her and hugged her close.
“Please Mari, please.” Mari stopped crying and agreed, “I will, do or do not. There is no try.” Shadow nodded and smiled at her.
“Good” he said in the accent that Marilee loved so much. “I’m glad. Now let’s gather our things. We have a lot to do before we can get to our new home.” Mari nodded and dried her eyes.
“Yes. Let’s” and together they walked out of the door.
Mari and Shadow worked together all day that day and the next day to pack all of their belongings and prepare everything to move into the town of Tre’nar. Mari wasn’t even sure if they should stay in Tre’nar………what if Darth Vader came back to seek revenge?
No. She shook her head as if to remove the thoughts from her brain. She had voiced her concerns with Shadow who pretty much told her to stay calm and that they’d discuss it with Maryanna and Clay when they got to Tre’nar. After saying goodbye to Marlinda, the couple started on their way, with all of their possessions in tow, toward the tiny town of Tre’nar.
Mari toyed with her lightsaber as they walked, probably thinking too much for her own good again. She glanced down at her artificial hand and grimaced. She recalled the moment it was severed with dread. It was still just as horrifying over a week later. Shadow didn’t make comments on her hand or her feelings on it. That relieved Mari to know that her husband knew when to just stay quiet.
She was secretly grateful that Shadow didn’t pry into her feelings, partly because she was afraid to find them out for herself. After all that had happened, Mari felt sure that Darth Vader wouldn’t be happy with simply leaving and not coming back for revenge. He would, she just knew it.
She didn’t want her family or friends to get hurt just because he wanted her dead. But Mari didn’t think she could face him again. Not after…..she looked down at her replica hand again and lowered her head, and then used her new hand to brush the hair out of her eyes. It was odd, because it felt the same as her natural hand, yet different in the same way.
Shadow was quietly keeping his eye on her, trying to sense her feelings. He knew that Mari was upset about losing her hand to Darth Vader, and that was perfectly understandable. In fact he was quite upset too. Shadow knew that Vader would be back, and hopefully they wouldn’t be here. They would leave; take Maryanna and Clay with them, as they were Force-Sensitive too. They would fly to……Well, who knew where on the next freighter, taking their belongings with them.
Shadow knew that and was planning on it, but decided not to tell Mari just yet. She would jump to conclusions and he didn’t want her disappointed. Maryanna may not want to leave her family and Clay his mom. Mari and Shadow already said a tearful goodbye that morning when leaving. As Mari and Shadow walked together down the long path to Tre’nar, Shadow held Mari’s good hand, the one not damaged by a lightsaber or a ship crash. Mari smiled at him, although her smile was somewhat sad. He kissed her quickly and then continued to walk, almost to their destination.
“But why?” Maryanna asked in an exasperated and almost whiny voice. “I have siblings and parents and chores…”
Mari had just brought up the topic of moving off planet. Maryanna was resisting. Her heart was torn. She knew how important it was to be safe yet she had no desire to leave her family or friends in Tre’nar.
“Annie, please, you know how important this is.” Clay was trying to help convince his girlfriend to come with them to whatever planet they were going to. Mari took Maryanna’s hands in hers and looked deep into her eyes.
“Come on Maryanna, what happens if he comes back, looking for me and finds …you, you’re Force-Sensitive. You’re in danger too! Maryanna, I probably wouldn’t ever get to see you again.”
Maryanna’s face scrunched up in thought and she finally said, “I need to think about it Ok? I’ll need to talk it over with my parents.”
“Good, we’ll be here when you’re ready. Remember, Market day is in four days, so we have to decide by then.” Maryanna nodded and left Clay’s apartment where everyone had gathered. Boxes and bags were packed against the wall, all of them filled with Mari and Shadows things. Because their ship crashing they were left with basically nothing, Marlinda gave them clothes and they now had more belongings that they bought from Tre’nar.
Clay walked back in the room and smiled, he and Maryanna just kissed goodnight. He loved her, she was so sweet. Now back in his apartment, and with Mari and Shadow staring at him strangely, Clay hid his excitement. Mari chuckled beside herself as her brother tried in vain to hide his smile. After saying goodnight to his sister and his brother in law, Clay went upstairs to his room, where he planned to stay until morning.
Mari and Shadow went into the spare room which they shared until they could buy their own place. The married couple stayed up into the late hours of the night talking about their futures and where they would go from here. Eventually, Shadow began to prod gently at her fear of Vader.
“So, you’re afraid he’ll come back?” he asked carefully, not wanting to upset Mari.
She nodded her head and said, “Yes. If he came back and found me not to be here, he would take down anyone else who knew me or anyone with similar powers.”
“Like Clay or Maryanna.” Shadow said. Mari nodded again.
“Exactly. But after what happened last time…..” She lightly touched her left hand and shuddered. Shadow looked at her sympathetically. Visions of Mari’s hand being severed and her dropping to the ground screaming in pain flew back into the minds of both of them.
Shadow pulled Mari into his arms and he just held her for the longest time. They drew close and kissed, the moonlight streaming through the small window bright like a spotlight. After a few moments they drew away and sat back down on the bed.
“You are…afraid,” Shadow stated after a while, quietly, trying once again to not upset Mari. In the moonlight, she looked up slightly startled by what he said.
“A Jedi does not feel fear, or anger. We feel it, but it does not affect us. That is the Jedi Way.” She stated simply. Shadow nodded although in the dark Mari couldn’t see.
He answered, “It is alright to feel fear, Mari. I don’t think that you could tell me that you weren’t afraid when Darth Vader cut off your hand.” Mari winced, surprised that he spoke about it out right like that, and not wanting to remember it herself. She almost felt tears welling up inside her eyes again, but she pushed them back down.
“Of course I was afraid, more afraid than I had ever been in my life. And probably in as much pain. That was like going to hell and back and I was terrified. I still am, though I am not supposed to be.”
Shadow put his arm around her shoulders and said, “Darling, you can still be a Jedi and not follow the Order exactly. If you are feeling guilty about betraying the Jedi, don’t be. According to Darth Vader, the Jedi were all slaughtered, killed. The Jedi Order destroyed. You and probably a few others are the only Jedi left. You are part of a real family now. Me, Clay, Mother, and Maryanna too. Aren’t you glad you have that?” Mari sighed and relaxed her shoulders, leaning on Shadow gently.
“I am overjoyed to have a family. I love you all so much….it just that I need to get used to being free of the rules. I never, in all my life, have been able to love freely. I was always told that no attachments were allowed, yet I grew attached to everyone. My Masters, my friends, my teachers, my partners, my clones….” She looked at Shadow who kissed her cheek.
“I know. Just think of it this way. You can still be a Jedi and you can also be free.” Mari pondered his words after a while she whispered to her husband.
“Goodnight Shadow, I love you. And thank you, for everything.” Mari and Shadow kissed again and then they both rolled over and fell asleep.
It was five days later. Maryanna, Clay, Shadow and Mari were sitting in the cramped quarters that they shared in the Market day freighter. Maryanna decided in her best interest to leave Dantooine and go with her boyfriend and her best friend on an adventure.
Mari trained Clay, Maryanna and Shadow while they were in the freighter to pass the time it would take for them to get to Coruscant, their destination of choice. They made a vague plan for their arrival on the city world, they would buy a ship with the credits they pulled together, and then they would try and contact Mari’s master, Shaak Ti on Felucia. They had failed to reach her, and Mari now knew that she was on her own.
Mari made everyone understand that being a Jedi meant sometimes being secretive.
While on Coruscant, they would all have to be very careful not to raise attention to themselves. The freighter docked around sundown on the third day of their journey. Mari, Shadow, Clay and Maryanna disembarked, dressed as pheasant people.
After stepping into Coruscant, Mari’s jaw dropped open in complete and utter shock. It was so different. The place where the Jedi Temple had been was demolished. Instead a menacing Imperial building was in its place.
Stormtroopers lined the streets and people hurried around in total fear. Mari looked around and felt that the one place that she called home for so long was no longer there. The Coruscant shops and businesses had all been changed or closed, but Mari felt certain that she could still find her way around.
“Wow,” Maryanna and Clay both gasped, amazed at the large city planet.
“Mari,” asked Shadow, who had been to Coruscant many times before, “Do you think you can still find your way around? Everything is so….different.” Mari nodded reluctantly. She swept her vision around once again, searching for familiar landmarks.
“Yes, I think I can. I doubt that the Underworld has been changed….that much.” Each grabbing Maryanna and Clay by the hand, and dragged them down the dank Coruscant streets toward the “lower” part of town. Once in the “slum district” Mari and Shadow practically hauled Maryanna and Clay through the crazy and crowded and even dangerous Coruscant Underworld. Mari signaled for Shadow to wait with her distracted brother and best friend, who were still trying to take in all the sights of the large city that was Coruscant.
Mari entered the closest pawn shop which was about twenty feet in front of her, and stood at the counter. A husky looking man with one eye came to the counter. He had receding hair and a scar over the place where his missing eye would be. Mari’s lip curled instinctively at the man’s hideousness.
He growled at her, “What do you want? I’ve got things to do!” Mari immediately hid the disgust on her face and made her attitude mysterious and sly.
“What I want,” she said smoothly “is a ship, something fast, and small enough for me and three passengers, plus cargo. Now if you’re busy sir, I can go the shop up the street, and just…”
The man cut in, “Now, now, I said I was busy, not that I wasn’t interested in doing business, a ship you say, hmmmmmm, I can get you one. For a price.” Mari smiled smugly at him and said, “Name it.” He named a price. Mari was kind of shocked. To buy the ship she would have to use all of her credits. Leaving nothing left for fuel, food, or port entry fees.
Mari thought it over and said, “That would take all my credits. Now if you include port and fuel fees I might consider the deal.”
The man looked at her and said, “No deal. I want the money up front. No attachment fees.” Mari tilted her head and looked out the mucky window in the front of the store.
“Well, maybe the fine establishment up the street would be able to provide a better deal…” The man looked uneasy.
“No. He’ll….he’ll cheat ya out of your money. You’re better off going with my deal.”
Mari gave him a stare that only a Jedi could withstand and said, “And why should I believe you? What if the man down the street could give me the kind of deal I’m looking for?”
The man cracked, “Fine, you’ve got yourself a deal. I need the credits more than that shlub does.” Only the man didn’t say “shlub”.
Less than an hour later, Mari had a ship and credits for fuel and port entries. Shadow had sat with Maryanna and Clay for over an hour on the bench that Mari had left them at. He was getting worried. She sure was taking a long time.
“She’s a Jedi.” He told himself. “Mari can take care of herself. No need to worry.” Almost exactly after he thought these things, Mari appeared with the keys to a ship, and a pocket full of credits.
Together, Mari, Shadow, Clay and Maryanna walked through Coruscant to get to the loading docks, where they tried to get some information. Mari was incredibly overjoyed to find a friend of hers from the Temple who had apparently gone undercover as a pilot. She walked up to Ember Sparkstone and tapped her shoulder.
“Marilee!!!!” Ember said excitedly and wrapping her in a hug, “I can’t believe you are here, how did you escape the purge?”
Confused, Mari asked, “Purge? Ember, what are you talking about? What has happened to Coruscant? And where is the Temple?” Ember shifted her gaze around the room to make sure no one was watching them.
“Mari, the Jedi have been killed. The Temple was destroyed. The Clones have been working with for the Seppies all along. They were programmed by Darth Sideous to betray and murder the Jedi. Only a handful of us are left.” Looking behind Mari’s troubled eyes; Ember saw Shadow, Clay and Maryanna.
“Who are they?” she asked Mari.
Mari looked over her shoulder and said, “Oh that is Shadow, my…..” She looked into Ember’s eyes and said, “Husband.” Ember’s violet eyes opened wide.
“You broke the Order?” she gasped, “You? Marilee Sunstar? Are you sure?”
Mari smiled sheepishly and replied, “Yes….and that is my brother Clay and friend Maryanna. They are both from Dantooine. I found my birth-mother there, and a lot has happened.” Mari unconsciously clasped her left wrist, where the small black glove she wore covered her prosthetic.
Curious, Ember said, “What’s going on Mari? And by the Force, why are you on Coruscant? The remaining Jedi are being hunted down and killed by Darth Vader. I’m surprised you are still alive! I’m only here to fuel up and then I’m heading for the Naboo system. Got more business there anyway.” Mari nodded and looked seriously at her friend.
“Ember, I did meet with Darth Vader, and that is why I had to run away from Dantooine, I was afraid he would come back and this time, I wouldn’t escape.” Mari looked at her left hand again, and hid it behind her back.
“What is with the glove Marilee? Are you sportin’ the whole ‘Michaelll Jaxxon’ thing too?”
Mari rolled her eyes and clenched her left hand behind her back. She quietly explained what had happened with Darth Vader to her friend through the Force. Ember lost the smirk on her face and looked sympathetic.
“Oh, Mari! I..I didn’t realize…” She stuttered in apology.
Mari just shook her head shortly and said, “It’s fine. Only reason we’re here is because we needed a ship, fast. I don’t know where we’ll go next.” Ember nodded and then spun around and she gasped.
“Stormtrooper inspection! You need to hide! All the Jedi are on a Wanted list and they are supposed to be on the lookout for them.”
“But what about you?” Mari asked. Ember lifted off the hat that she wore on her head, which Mari thought was to keep her hair out of her face. To Mari’s surprise, underneath Ember’s hat was…..nothing. She had cut off all her hair, shaved her thick curls to disguise herself from the Empire. Ember wore a scarf on her head and was wearing overalls and a pilot’s uniform.
Mari gasped, and Ember, obviously not wanting to talk about it shoved Mari and her companions inside of her ship. Ember closed and locked the door, grabbed a wrench and pretended to be working on repairs. Two Stormtroopers walked by and stopped in front of Ember’s ship. Ember saluted the two troopers and continued to work on her ship.
“Cargo and Destination,” asked the first trooper.
“Imperial Cargo and Uniforms to Belazura,” Ember said.
The second trooper then demanded, “Name and Ship number.” Ember looked up from her work and said, “Rean Stone, ship number 1138.” The first trooper held out his hand.
“ID docs.” Ember reached into her back pocket and handed the trooper her fake ID docs.
“Everything checks out…” said trooper one, and then he added, “Continue with your business.” He signaled to trooper two and the both of them moved on to the last ship and out of the building. Ember finally let out her breath and opened her ship door again. Mari, Shadow, Clay and Maryanna basically tumbled out.
Ember helped her old friend up and then helped up her “husband” and friends.
Mari dusted herself off and said “Thanks….Rean.” Ember laughed and shook her hairless head.
“That was too close. I made fake ID docs for that reason.” Mari nodded and hugged her friend.
“Seriously, thank you Ember. We need to get going before the next inspection. Hopefully I’ll see you again soon?” Ember nodded and hugged Mari again.
“Good Luck. I’ll be thinking about you.” Mari nodded and said goodbye.
Marilee and her family got into their own ship and began to make preparations before takeoff.
“Everyone strapped in?” asked Shadow who was in the pilot’s seat. After everyone nodding in agreement, Mari spoke.
“Then we are go in 3……2……1…..Ignition.” The ship began to lift off and then rose up into the Coruscant atmosphere. Mari glanced back from where she was sitting in the co-pilot’s seat.
Then she said, “Jump to hyperspace in 30 seconds.” Thirty seconds later, the ship blasted into hyperspace, headed toward the outer rim systems.
“Lord Vader, were your missions successful?” asked the menacing Darth Sideous, of his apprentice.
“No, my Master. All but one escaped.”
Darth Sideous looked up from his dark hood and said, “Lord Vader, Failure is not acceptable. You know this to be true.”
Vader bowed low to his Master and said, “Yes, Master, I will not fail you again.”
“Good, good,” Sideous said in his crackly haggard voice.
“You will search out the remaining Jedi before going back to re-attain the others.”
Vader bowed and repeated, “Yes, Master. I will not fail you.”
Mari, Shadow, Clay and Maryanna sat in the ship while it was in Hyperspace. They waited until the ship’s system bell dinged to announce their arrival in the Yavin System. They were preparing to land the ship when Mari’s left hand started to ache. She rubbed her wrist gently, trying to ease the pain. Shadow looked at her out of his peripheral vision and saw her massaging her left hand.
He then turned his head and said, “You ok?”
She winced and said, “Yes, I think that this is Phantom Limb Syndrome. I didn’t know it hurt so much.” Shadow realized how badly his wife was in pain when tears sprang up in her eyes. He put his arm around her shoulder and rubbed her arm gently.
She smiled sadly at him and said, “I’ll be fine. I’ll try some Jedi pain reducing techniques.” Shadow nodded and said, “Ok, we are almost at Yavin II.”
Yavin II was a beautiful forest planet with lush vegetation covering basically the entire planet. Luckily, the old abandon temples of the Masssai people were perfect for hiding and living in. Quickly making a home for themselves, Shadow, Mari, Maryanna and Clay got settled in.
Within their second week of being on Yavin II, Mari began to train her husband, brother and best friend in the ways of the Jedi. She took each of them on as “Padawans” and then began their training.
Mari taught them the basics of the Force, levitation, sensing, feeling and being one with the Force. Then after Mastering that, Mari began to teach them more advanced tricks like Jedi mind tricks and leaps and jumps. Then was the final test. The building of the lightsaber.
Mari was very proud of Maryanna, Clay and her husband Shadow, who were becoming excellent masters of the Force. Shadow was the first to build a lightsaber, which was beautifully made and had a lovely dark blue blade.
Maryanna was the next to become a Force master and was ready to create and build her own lightsaber. To make a lightsaber, a Jedi used the Force to build weapon out of metals and a special Force-Sensitive crystal that created the blade. Maryanna’s blade was a brilliant blue, with a tinge of green. It was a beautiful teal weapon.
Clay was the last of the Jedi trainees to make his lightsaber. Clay’s lightsaber was very unique. His blade was a yellow-green color. Mari was now extremely proud of her trainees. They were now Jedi; Masters of the Force.
All the training they did took over six months to complete. Mari noticed that she was not feeling so well over the last month or so, in fact, she often felt nauseous and sick. Unsure of what to do, and not wanting to worry her family, Mari sought out the hologram Medical Droid that came with every standard starship.
While Shadow, Maryanna and Clay were meditating in the Masssai Temple, Mari snuck out to the ship for a medical exam.
“What can I do for you…..” asked the Medical Droid in the hologram. Mari answered in an almost whisper.
“I have not been feeling well lately, nausea, headaches, fatigue….” The droid directed Mari to lie still on the examination table that protruded out of the wall. Mari lay down and a blue colored laser type scanner zipped across her body. She was told that the test results would take a moment to process before the droid would have any answers.
Mari went and checked on some things in the ship and came back around ten minutes later. The droid, realizing that she was back, began to speak.
“Hmmmrmmm, yes. It appears that the cause of your health problems have to do with your pregnancy.” Mari’s eyes opened wide and her jaw dropped to the floor.
“Pregnancy?!?” she practically yelled. Upon realizing her outburst, she quieted herself and said in a more whispered tone, “Pregnancy? Doc, are you sure?” The droid did something that made a datapad with her test results come from the ships panels and siding. Mari scanned the datapad and what she saw left her in complete shock.
There were ultra-sound pictures and heartbeat recordings and all the recorded tests matched up. Her hand shifted toward her still flat stomach as the doctor explained that she was about a month or two pregnant. He congratulated her and turned the transmission off. Mari sat dumbfounded on the table inside the ship. She stared at her hands for a moment and then jumped up and bolted for the temple where her husband was.
“Mari, what is it, what’s wrong?” Mari came running up from the opening of the temple into the room that Mari and Shadow shared. She was so excited and thrilled that Mari didn’t know what to do other than rush into the room crying tears of joy. Shadow was alarmed about his wife coming in in such a whirlwind of emotions.
Mari looked up into her husband’s confused face and said, “Shadow, honey, guess what?!?”
Still confused, Shadow said, “What? What is it Mari?” She began to beam, a smile spreading across her face.
“Oh, Shadow, I’m Pregnant!” Shadow’s face went to complete shock, and he stumbled backwards onto the bed in the room.
“Pregnant.” He mumbled, and then understanding and his excitement growing, he said, “Pregnant! Mari, we are going to be parents!” He hugged her and swung her around. They hugged and kissed again and then Marilee explained about her sick feelings lately and that the Dr. Droid that she went to on the ship gave the explanation and test results for her sickness.
Shadow was so excited. He was going to be a father, and his wife was going to be a mother. This was the best thing that had happened to them in a long time. He was so excited, so, so excited.
“YOU ARE WHAT?!?!?!” Maryanna and Clay shouted in unison.
“Pregnant!!” Mari cried, once again explaining that she was going to have a baby.
“NO WAY!!!!” Maryanna hugged her best friend and was just as excited as Shadow had been. Clay hugged her as well, only he was slightly more confused than excited.
Mari was ecstatic. She had secretly always wanted to be a mother. That was one of the reasons that she couldn’t wait to have her own Padawan, then she could mother him or her and take care of them and….. Well, now she was going to have her own child, who was most likely going to be very Force-Sensitive because she was and so was Shadow. It was all very overwhelming.
The next four months were filled with more Jedi training, Force practice and baby arrangements. Mari’s belly grew quite large over the months and was now very big.
Maryanna, who was very good at sewing and weaving thanks to her large family, helped Mari to sew baby clothes and maternity clothes. Mari was very healthy for being around six months pregnant and still could do most things her family could.
Almost everyone was feeling quite homesick, as Mari wanted to tell her mother that she was going to have a baby, and Maryanna really missed her family. They were making plans to leave Yavin II for Dantooine, but they were worried about the Empire capturing them. Yet no one was very prepared for what would happen next.
Mari woke up one morning in a lot of pain. The baby inside her was kicking pretty hard and her back hurt. The worst of that was that her left hand, the replica one, had very severe Phantom Limb Syndrome. She didn’t know what to do. Then, when she was near to tears, Mari felt a disturbance in the Force.
“Great,” she thought, “Now my head is ringing.” Shadow then ran into the room upon feeling a disturbance as well.
“Mari, are you alright?”
Mari shook her head and said, “Oh Shadow, I just felt something. A disturbance in the Force, and the baby is kicking and my hand hurts, bad.” Shadow sat next to his wife on their bed and put his arm around her waist and rubbed her belly. She was still massaging her hand, to no avail, but she still tried to ease the pain.
Shadow looked at her hand, her left one, which she took the black glove off of. He kissed her cheek and said, “You’ll be Ok, just calm down. You’ll be fine.”
That was when they heard a scream. Maryanna’s scream.
Panicked, Mari and Shadow looked at each other in alarm and immediately got up and ran toward the scream. Maryanna was surrounded by Space Pirates. She stood in the center of a circle of Pirates her lightsaber held in a fight position.
Six pirates stood around her each with a blaster rifle and a vibroblade in hand. Maryanna was obviously out numbered. Clay, Shadow and Mari instantly drew their lightsabers and broke through the blockade of pirates and rescued Maryanna. Mari was the first to speak.
“Who are you and why are you here???” she spoke in a demanding tone. The leader of the pirates walked to the center of the circle where Maryanna stood. She now was standing with Clay, behind Shadow.
“We,” the leader pirate said, “are simple space pirates,” the pirate’s voice had a thick accent.
“We have come to do what we do best. Take what is ours.” Mari was confused for a moment. Then she understood. The Masssai temples were filled with rare spice, a very valuable good. The Space Pirates were known for stealing and selling the spice anywhere and everywhere they could find it.
Mari was now worried. The spice was not theirs, or the pirates’, but the pirates wouldn’t be happy knowing that Mari and her family knew where they had been. Knowing the pirate’s ways, they would probably try to destroy the evidence.
That was when the pirates began shooting. With four Jedi and around ten pirates, the Jedi were winning. They blocked and repelled the blaster shots and destroyed vibroblades as they flew past them. When the shooting had stopped and the pirates were out of weapons, the leader pirate with the thick accent spoke once again. This time he was trying a different tactic.
“Well my friends. I can see that you are very good at using those flashy swords of yours. But, sadly there will be no need for them anymore. You are free to go. We will just take the spice and be on our way.” Mari looked skeptical. Something told her these pirates were not who they said they were. Turning slightly she looked at the nearest pirate and then looked at his feet. The blaster that he had was not that of a pirate but of a ….. droid. She sliced the pirate in two with her lightsaber and her family gasped.
She looked down to see instead of flesh and blood, mechanics and wires.
“You aren’t pirates, you are Imperial search droids. Who just happen to be very well disguised.” Maryanna, Clay and Shadow destroyed the rest of the pirate droids quickly and then looked at their ship far off. Mari groaned, her hand throbbed, the baby was kicking, and her head spun. She stumbled and Shadow caught her as she almost fell down. Shadow helped her over to a rock where she could sit down.
Mari sat on the rock and Shadow kneeled next to her helping to keep her straight. After a moment of sitting with her eyes closed, Mari suddenly snapped her green eyes open and cried, “Look!!”
Clay, Maryanna and Shadow spun around to see a bunch of Imperial Assassin Droids coming out of the pirate’s ship. Mari stayed on the rock as Shadow Maryanna and Clay sliced down the remaining droids. When they were gone, Mari spoke. She stood up and walked over to her husband.
“Looks like someone knows we’re here.”
The next day and a half was spent loading all of their belongings into the cargo bay of the family ship. Mari was able to help a lot now that the Force warnings were gone. They were all happy to get going because their next destination was set for Dantooine. They would go and visit their family and friends there and then eventually find a new place to go live where the Empire would not find them.
The ship took off and three days later, Mari, Shadow, Clay and Maryanna were on Dantooine. Their ship was safely parked in Tre’nar. After visiting all their town friends, Maryanna and Clay went to visit Maryanna’s family.
All the kids were so excited to see their big sister again. Mari and Shadow met them at Maryanna’s home after taking care of their ship. Mari greeted all the siblings, and Elizabeth, or Lizzy, the little girl who liked Mari best, came and gave her a big hug. After enjoying a visit with all of Maryanna’s family, Shadow, Clay and Mari borrowed Maryanna’s family speeder to Marlinda’s house.
Clay walked knocked on the door first, and smiled happily when his mom opened the door. Marlinda was very excited and smiled and kissed her son. She hugged him and eagerly welcomed him in. Shadow stood behind him and Marlinda hugged and kissed him too. Then she asked where Mari was. Mari came to the doorway, her pregnant belly looking obvious in the dress she wore. Marlinda spun around and gasped, her Marilee was…pregnant!
“Marilee!!!!” she cried, ecstatic to see her daughter again. She wrapped her in a hug and kissed her head a million times. Marlinda put her hand on Mari’s belly and said, “Look at you! You look so beautiful! I can’t believe it!!!! Oh my gods, this is amazing! How far along are you?”
Mari smiled and laughed and then said, “I am around six months pregnant. Can you believe this?!? I am so excited.” She beamed as she spoke.
Marlinda hugged her again and told her to get out of the door. She fed them mid-day meal and they all caught up on what had been going on for the past year that they had been apart. Marlinda was still very excited to find out that she was going to become a grandmother. Mari promised to come back and visit once the baby was born. After spending two days in Tre’nar, Mari, Shadow, Clay and Maryanna left on their ship “The Starlighter”.
Now, everyone didn’t really know where to go. Shadow suggested an Outer Rim system where no one would find them, Clay suggested they go to Tatooine or a system in that sector, agreeing with Shadow. Maryanna and Mari wanted to find a system with maybe some population, so they could socialize and bring up the baby around other people. The women won out on that one, and before they knew it, the entire family was on a course set for Alderaan.
Shadow and Marilee had kept in some contact with Ember Sparkstone, and they knew of the Alliance against the Empire, which was temporarily stationed on Alderaan.
Now that they had a safe destination, Mari and Shadow felt alright about bringing their baby up in a safe and populated environment. Mari placed her hand, her left hand, on her belly as the baby kicked and moved inside of her.
As the ship touched down on Alderaan, everyone was excited to be on a safe system. Mari was very excited when she saw Ember Sparkstone, her friend who helped them around what seemed like a lifetime ago. Ember was safe and greeted them coming out of their ship. She looked amazed and confused that her friend Mari was so…..big.
“Well, what have I missed?” Ember said in her sarcastic voice, “Have you gained some weight?”
Mari smirked at that last comment and said, “Yea, that’s it. Nice to see you too Ember.” They hugged, somewhat awkwardly because of Mari’s baby bump. Ember’s hair had grown back, and was now around chin length, but as thick and curly as ever. Ember greeted all the rest of Mari’s family and looked even more surprised when they all had Lightsabers hanging from their belts.
She gave Mari a look and said, “By the Force what is going on?!? Why am I the last to know everything?!?” Ember’s favorite saying was “By the Force”. Mari explained what was going on and what had happened in the almost year since they had seen each other last.
“Well then….Welcome to Alderaan. Are you guys going to stay here, or just stopping by or what?” Mari looked around the beautiful Alderaan countryside, and answered her old friend,
“Staying. We have come to see Bail Organa.”
Ember’s eyebrows lifted slightly and she said, “Ok then. Follow me.”
Ember led Mari and her companions down a long corridor in the Alderaan Senate Office. Mari straightened her dress and rubbed her big belly absentmindedly. Shadow stood next to her, keeping a close eye on Maryanna and Clay who apparently never had seen a government building before.
Ember signaled for them to stop in front of a large wooden door with intricate designs. Bail Organa’s office. Ember tapped it and waited for a signal to be let in. When a secretary answered the door, Mari and Shadow were let into Bail’s office while Maryanna and Clay sat in the waiting room. Bail Organa was the Viceroy of Alderaan, a peaceful and patriotic system.
Bail was a true gentleman; his office was very spacious and decorated purple accents. Two handmaidens or ladies in waiting, sat on the floor of his office playing with a small baby. The little baby was very small with pink cheeks and dark brown hair. She was probably only a few years old. Senator Organa directed the woman to take the baby out of the room as the Secretary entered with Mari and Shadow behind her.
“Viceroy; Marilee and Shadow Sunstar, here to see you.” Bail Organa’s eyes lit up in recognition of Marilee, who he knew during the days of the Jedi.
“Master Jedi, so good to see you!” Bail said, even though his eyes looked incredibly confused as to why a Jedi, or former Jedi as of now, would be pregnant and had who looked like a Clone Trooper at her side.
Marilee looked at him and said, “Bail Organa, we seek shelter on your world of Alderaan, as we are wanted by the Galactic Empire.” Bail’s eyes looked sympathetic as he realized that this former Jedi needed his help. Not only was she with child, but she was on the run from those blasted Imperials.
“Master Sunstar, anything I can do to help you I will do, but be warned, Alderaan is not safe from the Empire. We have our struggles too.”
Mari looked around her and then after making sure nobody was nearby, she asked Viceroy Organa, “Viceroy, I have heard of your great Rebellion against the Empire. If it is alright with you, I would like to employ mine and my family’s services to your Rebel Alliance.”
Bail arched one eyebrow and said, “Our Rebellion is getting quite the reputation, isn’t it. We need all the help we can get. A Jedi on our side would be more than an advantage.” Mari smiled and bowed awkwardly to the senator.
She then said, “If you agree, you will be getting four Jedi, possibly five.” She smiled and put her right hand on her large belly. Bail Organa noticed that Mari’s left hand had a dark glove on it and that she held it tighter her side, although he wouldn’t dare say anything about it.
“Four?” Bail asked, interested in how she was able to find so many Jedi.
“Yes,” Mari said, “My husband, Shadow Sunstar,” she said indicating her husband who stood by her side, “and my brother Clay Sunstar and his girlfriend, my best friend, Maryanna Sorun.” Bail looked happy and smiled.
“Come Marilee, and Shadow, please sit, I care to know your story and how you managed to get here.” Senator Organa motioned at the two chairs in front of his desk. Mari glanced at Shadow who nodded at her. He squeezed her hand and they took a seat.
As Mari and Shadow told their whole story, everything since Order 66 to making their way here to Alderaan, Bail Organa listened intently. He looked sympathetic when Mari and Shadow spoke of their ship crash and was happy for Mari to have found her family. He was very excited for Mari and Shadow when they spoke of their wedding, but his heart went out to them upon hearing of the encounter with Darth Vader.
“We were walking in the meadow and I suddenly fell down. I felt such darkness in the Force I didn’t know what was happening. Then Darth Vader and I fought fiercely, and Shadow was shot in the leg. I was momentarily distracted and he…..” she stopped speaking and only looked down at her gloved left hand. She couldn’t even say what had happened, but Bail got the message. He knew many Jedi ‘back in the day’ and was pretty sure he understood what had happened.
“Marilee,” he spoke quietly, “It’s alright, we are friends, and I feel your pain. Many of the bravest warriors suffer from battle scars.” He smiled at her kindly.
The way he said it made Mari feel better. She continued her story, “he severed my left hand. I was very injured. If my brother and best friend hadn’t come to the rescue, I probably would have been dead. Shadow too. Clay and Maryanna shot at Vader and Shadow made his suit malfunction. Then he just…..left.” Bail Organa nodded and occasionally made comments every once in a while as he listened to the rest of the story.
As she finished, Bail Organa told them, “The Alliance would be honored to have Jedi as part of our team. I will speak with Mon Mothma and see what we can work out. You’ve already met Ember, who is one of our infiltration spies and flight squadron leaders. You four can work on convincing more systems to join our cause. That will not only be interesting to two Jedi who haven’t seen the Galaxy, but will also keep you on the move from the Imperials.” Mari nodded and thanked Senator Organa profusely.
Then he added, “Oh, but you should probably wait until your child is born,” he said indicating her oversized belly. Mari grinned and gripped Shadow’s hand.
Bail smiled and said quietly, “I am happy for you both. I am a father myself and I will tell you that there is nothing more important than raising the next generation of great leaders. My little Leia is the light of my life. I can assure you that your child will be too.” Shadow placed his hand on Mari’s belly and kissed her. He was very eager to become a daddy.
Bail smiled and added, “Anything that you need, I will provide. Medical service, food, clothes, you’ve got it. Just find me or one of my employees.” He then signaled his secretary to come in.
“Beth,” he said to her, “Please show the newest members of our Alliance to their cottage.”
Beth smiled kindly and said, “Certainly, right this way!” Mari and Shadow followed Beth into the waiting area where they found Maryanna and Clay looking very bored. What was supposed to be a few minutes took a few hours. Mari hugged Maryanna and Clay and explained that they were welcome on Alderaan and that Bail Organa was a friend. A small speeder ride into the countryside only around a mile away from the city, Mari, Shadow, Clay and Maryanna found their cottage which they would share and make into their new home.
Mari looked around the spacy cabin-like house. It was small, but enough for Mari, Shadow, Clay and Maryanna to share.
“And when the baby’s born,” Mari thought, “there will be room for it too.” She placed her right hand on her belly and sighed. Then she sat down on the sofa. Shadow walked in and smiled at his wife. He then sat beside her and kissed her cheek.
“Are you seeing potential?” he asked of their new home.
“Oh yes.” Mari said excitedly, “Lots. We can have our own room and the baby will stay there and Maryanna and Clay will have their own rooms too, and we can have a play area for the baby, Oh, it’ll be perfect!”
Shadow chuckled and said, “Yes, it will be.” He stood up again and helped his wife up from the couch. He hoped that they would be safe for a while, because he didn’t know how much more “fun” he could take.
“Mari?” Shadow poked his head into their room, looking for his wife. “Where is she?” he wondered, still searching for her.
It had been around two months since their arrival on Alderaan and everything had stayed somewhat normal. Mari and Shadow were leading members of the Rebel Alliance Against the Empire, and stayed busy by conducting missions to convince other systems to join their cause.
As Mari grew closer and closer to her due date, her belly grew larger and larger. Now, as the due date was coming upon them, Shadow watched Mari like a hawk stalking its prey. He was always with her, never leaving her side for a moment. Yet every time he left, even for a moment, she seemed to disappear.
Shadow continued to look for his wife when he came across Maryanna and Clay flirting with each other in the kitchen. He asked them if they had seen Mari. When they both answered no, he walked outside. There he found Mari, meditating in middle of the open meadow.
“Mari honey, you should come in now, it’s not safe out here.” Without opening her eyes, Mari answered him calmly.
“Shadow, just because I’m pregnant doesn’t mean I am in danger. There is absolutely no reason I can’t be….” Just then, Mari’s bright sea-green eyes popped open. She leaned backwards from her sitting position on the ground and began to breathe heavily. She held her swollen stomach and looked in pain.
“Mari? What is going on?” Asked Shadow upon seeing his wife’s face.
“Shadow…..Honey….I think I’m going into labor.”
Shadow looked extremely panic stricken as he helped his wife into the house. He knew she needed a medic, fast. He called Clay and Maryanna to come from their flirt session in the kitchen and help him. Clay called Senator Organa on the commlink and asked for a medic. Bail Organa, happy and nervous for Mari, immediately called for a medical droid to help Mari deliver her child. Within twenty minutes, Mari was in the Alderaan Community Med Clinic very much in labor.
Soon, a little baby girl was born. Celeste Sunstar was the most beautiful little baby in the entire galaxy. Shadow and Mari were both crying, in pure joy of becoming parents. Mari was able to hold her daughter for the first time after being assessed by the Medical Droid and she couldn’t help but let a few tears escape her eyes.
She rocked tiny Celeste in her arms and touched her little cheeks. Celeste began to cry and whimper but Mari calmed her down. Shadow held her next, kissing the baby’s teeny head. The baby opened her eyes to reveal bright blue eyes, sparkling and shining in the med-ward’s lights. Mari held her once again, and brushed Celeste’s little head with her left hand.
She whispered to the baby, “Oh my Celeste you look so pretty.” She smiled up at Shadow who kissed her. The baby was one hundred percent healthy according to the medic charts and was free to go home when Mari was. Mari was kept at the med center for two more days, to rebuild her strength. On the second day of her med center stay, Maryanna and Clay visited the new mother and the new baby.
“Mari?” Shadow called from the doorway of her medic room, “You’ve got visitors!” Maryanna and Clay walked in, hugged Mari and sat at the edge of her bed.
“She’s so beautiful!” Maryanna said of new baby Celeste.
“So bright and alert,” added Clay. They each got to take turns holding her and then handed the baby back to her mommy.
Mari smiled and said with a wink, “The Force is strong with this one! It looks like we’ve got another potential Jedi in our midst.”
After the three days were up, Mari was finally released from the med center. She and new baby Celeste went to visit “Uncle Bail” or better known as Bail Organa, who wanted to see the new baby. Bail, the secretary Beth and several of the Princess Leia’s handmaidens were very excited to see the baby and liked her very much.
Bail insisted that the baby come and meet his Leia, who was now two years old. Young Princess Leia Organa smiled and said in her two year old voice, “Baby”, and patted the new baby’s cheek upon seeing Celeste. All the adults around smiled
Eventually, Marilee finally was able to go home and get caught up on her sleep, and take care of baby Celeste. With the help of Shadow, Clay and Maryanna, Mari was able to sleep and was very energized and happy. She seemed back to her normal bubbly self. That is until the unthinkable happened.
Celeste was now three months old and had a personality as bubbly as her mother’s. Mari was sitting on the couch in the family room bouncing baby Celeste on her knee. She cooed and cuddled the little baby, making her laugh. That was when she felt it. Suddenly, Mari’s head began to spin and her vision blurred. She suddenly felt very weak and placed the baby back down in her cradle.
Celeste began to cry. Mari’s wrist ached and images of Darth Vader’s black helmet of evil swirled in her head. Shadow staggered in, obviously feeling the disturbance that Mari felt. Meanwhile, on the other side of the cottage, Maryanna and Clay felt the disturbance too. They were sitting outside, talking in the garden and picking herbs when it happened. Maryanna held her head in her hands and fell over. Clay, who was already on the ground, knelt next to her, trying in vain to steady himself.
“Mari,” Shadow said, back in the house, “What is happening?”
Mari mumbled an answer, “A disturbance in the Force. Try Force healing…” The baby screamed louder, whatever was bothering Mari and Shadow, the baby obviously felt it too.
Then there was a blast. The windows of the home blew in and Mari immediately jumped into action. She shielded her face with her arms and grabbed the baby. Celeste cried and screamed, evidently terrified. Mari looked around and saw Shadow with cuts on his arms from the glass shards, looking at her in panic. Then Mari heard screaming from outside the cottage.
“No!!!!!!!!!!” Clay yelled as he watched Maryanna fall to the ground, hit by the blast from the bomb that just landed near their home on the Alderaanian Countryside. Mari and Shadow ran outside where they found Clay crying over Maryanna’s body.
Maryanna was badly burned and injured. She was only barely breathing. Mari ran to her side, handing Shadow baby Celeste. Mari was horrified, Maryanna lay there, near dead and very limp, and Mari’s own arms were bleeding and stinging from the glass cuts. Clay was crying, tears rolling down his cheeks. He watched in horror as Maryanna’s eyes closed and she passed out.
He picked up Maryanna’s bloody and burned body in his strong arms and brought her to the house. Mari looked up and saw three TIE fighter Imperial attack vessels. They were who dropped the bombs.
Clay was injured too, but not nearly as bad as Maryanna was. Clay suffered from minor burns and bruises, but he didn’t even care about his own pain. He was too afraid for Maryanna.
Mari saw a flicker of the Dark Side in her brother’s eyes. It startled her. She put her hand on his shoulder, and said in almost shock, “Clay, remember your lessons.”
Clay looked up at her and then became angry. Maryanna lay cradled in his arms near the house. Because the house was damaged and had too much fallen debris, they did not bring her inside. Clay was infuriated.
“She’s dying Marilee!!!” he cried, yelling at his sister, “How can you tell me to remember my lessons, when my girlfriend is dying?!?” Tears streaked down his cheeks, as he came dangerously close to the Dark Side of the Force. Mari stayed calm and looked deep into his eyes.
She said, “Remember the Dark Side. That is why the Jedi were not allowed to form attachments, Clay! Fear of death and loss is what leads one to fall to the Dark Side!!! Don’t you see? Your worry for her life is blinding you to what you will become if you don’t keep yourself in check!!” Mari’s voice grew to a shrill as she yelled back at her brother.
Shadow shifted his weight, and rocked the baby in his arms, placing one hand on Marilee’s shoulder. Clay looked down at Maryanna’s scraped face and then snapped his head back at his sister.
“I’m sorry.” He said quiet and hesitantly, “I-I was scared. I love her Mari, I can’t let anything happen to her. I’m not afraid of death or loss, but I want to save her life. I know I can.” Mari nodded and took Celeste back from Shadow’s arms. The baby cooed at her mommy and Mari bounced her on her hip.
“I understand” she said to her brother, “and I will do everything in my power to help you.”
Mari and Clay rushed Maryanna to the capital of Alderaan, Aldera, where Bail Organa met them. “I heard the blast and smelled the smoke, is everyone alright?” Upon seeing Mari’s cuts and Clay’s injuries, and then Maryanna’s near dead body, Bail called out in shock and worry.
“Medic! We need an Emergency Medic here now!!” Mari looked very nervous yet strong when talking to Bail Organa. Shadow and Celeste were coming soon. Bail had sent Beth out to get them from the ruins of the house. Bail walked with Mari through the hospital’s long white corridors as they spoke of what to do now that the Empire knew that they were there.
Mari was even more frightened for her baby, as a Jedi child would be very valuable to the Empire and would be great Sith potential. Mari sighed. She did not want to encounter Darth Vader again, not after what happened last time. Bail and Mari sat in the cafeteria talking about what to do.
“We could send you off planet,” Senator Organa suggested, “Or hide you all in the underground.” Mari shook her head.
“I am not going to hide. In fact, I would rather meet that monster face to face instead of running from him. Jedi do not run. And now that I am a mother, I have a baby to protect.”
Bail nodded and said, “Yes, I understand, but please Mari, you are so important to the Rebellion and your family. We can’t lose you.” Mari nodded. Then, Ember came rushing in.
“Mari, Your husband and baby are here and I think that you’d better see this.” Mari looked up, her eyes puffy and red from crying, and followed Ember out of the room.
Shadow hugged his wife and kissed her multiple times.
“Are you sure you are alright? You aren’t too badly hurt are you?” Mari absentmindedly shook her head and took the baby from his arms. Marilee’s tunic and pants were dirty and burned, the tips of her strawberry hair singed, her arms covered in small cuts still, and she had a small cut on her face. Other than that, she was just fine.
“There, there,” she soothed to the upset baby, “Momma’s got you. You’ll be fine, don’t you worry.” The baby began to fall asleep in her arms when Ember walked up the hallway again, this time carrying a datapad in her hand. She brought it over and showed Shadow and Mari.
On the holoscreen were maps of the Alderaan Atmosphere. A blockade of Imperial ships was situated in attack positions. They would attack when given the chance. Bail jumped into action.
“Ember, order your pilots to be ready for and upfront assault. Mari, stay with your family. They need you. I’ll handle everything out there. Whatever you do, do not leave the building. You are in danger even here.” Ember saluted Bail and walked back down the hallway, her boots clicking against the plastioid floors.
Mari went into Maryanna’s hospital room, before which she handed Celeste back to Shadow. She found her brother, kneeling at the foot of Maryanna’s hospital bed, holding her hand, sobbing silently. He looked up to see Mari and stood up. He gently placed Maryanna’s bruised and battered hand on her chest and met his sister.
Mari looked at his tortured and sorrowful face and wrapped him in a hug. She held him against her trying to comfort him.
She told him, “Don’t worry Clay. Everything will be fine. Maryanna will be okay. You’ll see, she’ll be just fine.” Clay nodded and sniffed, trying in a hopeless attempt to pull himself together. He leaned against his sister’s shoulder, his own shoulders shaking as he was beginning to sob again.
Mari proceeded toward Maryanna’s bedside, where several life support machines were keeping her alive. She took Maryanna’s limp hand in hers and prayed silently, “Oh Please Maryanna, Please stay alive. Just keep fighting. You’ll make it, you’re strong.” Mari began to tear up and tried to keep herself from crying anymore. The Force still flickered off of Maryanna so Mari knew that however weak she may be, she was still strong on the inside.
Mari walked rapidly down the halls of the Alderaan Senate building, even though she was not supposed to leave the hospital. Mari entered the War and Strategic Planning Room and sat next to Bail Organa. Bail raised his eyebrow and gave her a look that said, “I thought I told you not to leave.”
Mari returned his gaze by a look that said, “Yes, but I didn’t listen.” The small blips of assault ships flickered and moved across a holoscreen in the room, jumping and disappearing quickly. Mari heard the comm units of all of the remaining pilots speaking with each other and shouting warnings and goodbyes.
Marilee recognized Ember’s voice as the leader of the group. She broke off and reattached attacks, monitored and destroyed enemy ships, and kept her troops in line. Several TIE Fighters exploded and were defeated. Although at this point in time the Rebels were winning, they were also much outnumbered.
Mari watched as many of the blips were destroyed and disappeared from the screen. Bail Organa frowned each time a blip vanished from the holoscreen.
He turned to Mari and said quietly, “Marilee, you should get back to your family. We need to keep you and them safe. Jedi are very valuable to the Empire. They will do everything and anything in their power to destroy you. Or worse.”
Mari nodded her head and said, “Thank you, Bail, we are so grateful to have your help. Keep me posted, ok?” Bail nodded and said goodbye. Then he returned his gaze to the holoscreen.
Mari found herself back in Maryanna’s hospital room before too long, and she sat on the edge of her bed. “Please Maryanna,” she thought, “Please hold on. I need you, Clay needs you, we all need you.”
Mari looked at Maryanna’s battered face, burned arms and legs and her chest slowly and shallowly rising and falling. Then Mari closed her eyes and began a Jedi Healing trick. She grasped Maryanna’s lifeless hand in hers and began to become one with the Force.
Carefully, Mari began to talk to Maryanna through the Force, “Maryanna,” she thought to her friend, “I am going to try to heal you with the Force. I need you to try too. I will walk you through it, but you need to do the rest yourself. Do you understand? Please Maryanna, give me a sign.” Mari looked expectantly into Maryanna’s closed eyes and waited for some kind of sign. Then, Maryanna’s hand tensed. Mari looked down at her left hand, which was holding Maryanna’s hand. Maryanna’s hand then weakly squeezed Mari’s. Relieved, Mari began to Force Speak to Maryanna once again.
“Maryanna,” she began again, “You are hurt. The doctors can heal you, but you need to help heal yourself. Find the source of the pain, the injuries, and heal them. Stay calm and still. Use the Force to heal yourself. I know you can. Keep healing Maryanna, keep healing until you can be yourself again.” When Mari opened her eyes, she saw the medical scanners hooked up to Maryanna flourish. They bounced up and down, showing signs of remedial improvement. Maryanna’s pained face looked perfectly peaceful and her breathing steadied. She took deep, long breaths, soothing breaths. She was healing, Mari was sure of it.
Two days had passed since Mari gave Maryanna a lesson in Jedi healing. Clay, Mari, Shadow, and baby Celeste sat in the small hospital room, watching for a sign of life from Maryanna. She had kept the peaceful smile on her face for two straight days. Clay kept getting up to check on her, and each time found the same thing. Mari waited patiently, getting back to her old Jedi self during times of crisis. Mari then got up to check on Maryanna and searched her with the Force.
“I’m healed Marilee.” She heard Maryanna’s voice inside her head. She was Force speaking to her!!
Mari excitedly replied in her mind, “Good. Don’t push yourself. Clay has been worried sick about you. Keep healing. Wake up only when you are ready.” Mari opened her eyes and looked down at Maryanna’s still injured body. The Alderaan doctors had cleaned and taken care of her wounds, her right arm was in a bandage, and her left leg was severely damaged. Doctors said that she would be lucky to walk on it ever again. Mari knew that if the Jedi healing tricks worked, Maryanna would be able to walk, maybe with a limp or small pain, but she would be ok.
Then, Maryanna’s eyelids flicked. Clay, feeling her with the Force, walked over to Mari at Maryanna’s bedside. Then Maryanna’s eyes opened. Clay brightened, happy to see Maryanna’s blue eyes again. Both Clay and Mari smiled at Maryanna, waiting for her to speak or acknowledge them. Maryanna reached out with her left hand, the one not bandaged, and touched Clay’s hand. He bent down and kissed her lips, so glad to have his Annie back.
Maryanna softly spoke, “I missed you Clay, I love you.” Clay, beginning to cry again, only managed to nod. Mari watched and smiled.
Maryanna turned her head to Mari and said, her voice still soft, “Mari, y-you saved my life. I don’t think I would’ve known what to do if you didn’t help me. Thank you Mari, Thank you.”
Marilee smiled and said, “You were the one who healed yourself, I only walked you through on how to get started.” Maryanna’s eyes still looked grateful and she smiled at her best friend. Clay kissed his girlfriend again, smoothed her hair and just stood there, holding her not bandaged but still weak hand. They smiled at each other and Mari returned to her husband and baby, sitting on a chair on the other side of the room.
Shadow smiled at Mari and said, “You did good honey, you did the right thing.” Mari sighed and sat next to her husband, leaning on his shoulder.
“Ahh, young love,” she sighed. “How sweet.” Shadow chuckled and shifted the sleeping baby up onto his shoulder. He was really getting the hang of this being-a-daddy thing. The baby gurgled in her sleep and snuggled up against her daddy.
Shadow sighed too and kissed his wife’s forehead. They were going to be okay. Once again, when things looked like they were going to fall apart, they were pulling together again. But he couldn’t help but wonder why their family was always such a magnet for trouble.
Maryanna grew stronger each day, now able to talk, sit up, eat normal food, and even walk a few feet at a time. After almost two weeks of staying at the hospital, Maryanna was released with a certificate of good health. Clay pushed Maryanna’s wheelchair around the Alderaan Senate office while Mari and Shadow worked with Bail Organa on an effort to deter the oncoming Imperial Reinforcements.
The battle in space had been won out by the Imperials, but the Rebellion didn’t lose hope. They had broken the blockade and crippled the defenses of the Imperials who were attacking them. Mari knew as well as Bail Organa did that it would only take time before the Imperials invaded Alderaan and took innocent people into custody. Mari also knew that the Imperials were chasing her, and her family. She just dragged Bail Organa down with her.
Bail had told her many times that it would’ve been sooner or later that the Empire got angry with Alderaan for its resistance to the One Galaxy Government Movement. Mari still had a deep concern about Darth Vader wanting to kill her or her family. Now that her husband was a Jedi as well as her brother and best friend, the danger was even greater. It didn’t surprise either Mari or Senator Organa when a Stormtrooper raid came to the Capital City of Alderaan, Aldera.
Stormtroopers were everywhere, in and out of buildings, standing on the streets all with blasters raised. Mari was very wary of letting any of her family out of her sight. Maryanna was still quite weak, and needed either a repulsorlift chair or crutches to get around. Clay was extremely overprotective of Maryanna and was constantly with her. She didn’t mind, in fact, Maryanna liked all the attention Clay was giving her. Clay was happy to attend to her anyway.
Mari was busy with the baby and Shadow was too, so he gladly took care of Maryanna. In fact, his affection for her was growing and he was thinking seriously about asking her to marry him. He just hoped that he could bring himself to pop the question.
Everyone seemed to be on edge, with all the Stormtroopers on Alderaan, yet at the same time, the people of Alderaan wouldn’t back down. Mari and Shadow kept the baby safe while Maryanna healed and Clay attended to her. Little did Mari and company know that things were about to get a whole lot more difficult.
“Assassin, do you understand your assignment?”
Vanna Ri nodded, “Yes, Lord Vader, It will be done.”
Darth Vader nodded his head with one short nod and left the room. Vanna stared out into the Coruscant nightlife and sighed underneath her disguising helmet. She whipped the helmet off to reveal jet black straight hair and dark evil looking eyes.
Vanna Ri was an assassin, a bounty hunter by profession, and was very good at her job. She always got what she wanted. Nothing stood in her way, especially petty Jedi. The Jedi were weak. The Force was a fake. If she wanted the Force to be with her, it would be. No one gave her orders. She worked and did a good job. For a price. Her mission was simple, get in, kill the victim, get out, and don’t die. Now all she had to do was head to Alderaan. Vanna spun on her sharp heeled boots and click, click, walked down the hall of the Imperial Palace.
Mari and Shadow were back at the house on the Alderaan Countryside. They were working through the rubble, searching for any of their clothes, baby toys, dishes, bedding, anything really, that had survived the bomb. Now all that Mari and Shadow had to do was pack up all, which wasn’t much, of the supplies and take them back to the Aldera with them.
Mari and her family were staying with Bail Organa until the Imperial blockade was won out by the Alliance. Mari had befriended many of the great people of the Rebel Alliance, such as Flight Commander Zaren Reesh, X-Wing Captain Kite Zitar, and Strategy Specialist, also an X-Wing pilot, Glo’ri Marren.
Mari, with her background as a Jedi and a military Clone trainer, was very good at teaching the young and motivated Rebels some proper military strategy. Shadow was also a big help, as he was a soldier in a past life. Mari had accepted that the easy breezy days at the Jedi Temple were over, now she had a family to take care of, an organization to contribute to, and a battle to be won.
Mari and Shadow packed the rest of the boxes and packed them onto the gravelsled that was parked outside of their old ruined home. Within twenty minutes, Mari and Shadow were back on Aldera, toting all of their boxes, which were not that many, into Bail Organa’s guest apartment that he lent to them until they found a set home.
Mari and Shadow dragged the boxes into the apartment and then set them down. Then, Mari sank down and sat on a nearby bench. She sighed and put her head between her hands. Shadow sat next to her, and hugged her.
“What’s wrong Mari,” he asked inquisitively, “I sense you’re upset. Tell me what’s going on.”
Mari lifted her head and said, “Shadow honey, you may be Force-Sensitive, and a Jedi, but don’t try to sense my feelings. A Jedi can be deceiving that way, you know.” Shadow smiled slyly and said, “Oh, I know that. But I also know that I know you better than anyone, and I can tell you are upset about something.”
Mari shook her head playfully and said, “Sweetie, nothing is wrong. I’m just……thinking is all.”
Shadow smiled and said, “Oh No, you’re thinking again. This can’t be good.”
Mari teasingly punched his shoulder, and said, “No, I was thinking about, you know…life.”
“Oh,” Shadow said, “that kind of thinking.”
She nodded, “Yes, like, around two years ago, I never would have even thought about falling in love, becoming a mother, finding my brother, or best friend, or the Alliance even existing or, or, anything really. It’s strange how much time changes things.”
“Nothing stays the same Mari.” Shadow said.
Simultaneously they said, “Always in motion is the Future, and many possible futures there are.”
They laughed at their unison and kissed happily. For a few moments, Mari and Shadow just sat on the bench, in each other’s arms, until finally they got up, knowing that Maryanna and Clay could handle Celeste for only so long.
Celeste Sunstar was screaming her head off.
“What do we do?!?” Maryanna asked in panic, “She won’t stop crying!!!!” Clay looked as confused as Maryanna was and he answered fairly loudly over the baby’s crying.
“I don’t know! Whenever she’s with Mari she’s so quiet! I don’t know what her problem is!!” They were both quite unsure of what to do with the baby, Celeste usually never left her mother’s side. It wasn’t until Mari needed, and wanted, to go alone with Shadow to rummage through the rubble of their old home did she let Maryanna and Clay babysit.
“When did Mari say she would be back again?!?” yelled Maryanna to Clay, trying ineffectively to rock Celeste to sleep for the fifteenth time.
“Soon I hope!!” Clay yelled back, warming up another bottle of blue milk for Celeste, which was probably her tenth one. Maryanna and Clay had tried everything, they fed, changed, rocked, played with, and burped the baby, but nothing would get her to stop crying. They even used Jedi Mind tricks to try and calm her, but apparently she was too strong minded, even for a four month old.
Mari and Shadow took their time getting back to the small temporary apartment that they were living in. Bail Organa gave them a more spacious place around a week ago. They were yet to move into it.
Maryanna was very strong now, her wounds almost completely healed, thanks to some powerful bacta, though she still wore a bandage on her right leg and used a set of crutches to get around. Other than that, Maryanna was as strong as she was around a month ago.
Clay grew more and more in love with Maryanna, and the more time they spent together, the more they wanted to spend time together.
“If only this baby would shut up!” thought Maryanna to herself, her sixteenth attempt to “shut up” the baby failed. Just then Mari walked through the door. What she saw made her laugh outright.
“What happened to you two?!?” she asked Maryanna and Clay, who still wore worried and panicked expressions. Maryanna sat on the sleepcouch, holding the red-faced now unusually silent baby in her arms. She was covered in baby spit-up and blue milk, her hair all over the place, as if Celeste liked playing in it. Clay had blue milk, spit-up, and baby food stains all over his clothes, and looked like he was hit by a tornado.
Mari giggled and took the baby in her arms, and Celeste cooed “Mama,” happily. Shadow was laughing too and began to clean up some of the baby spit-up and blue milk. Around ten minutes later, Mari and Shadow had the room cleaned up and the baby sleeping. Maryanna and Clay looked incredulous as Mari then proceeded to clean them up.
“How do you DO that?!?” Maryanna asked, amazed that Mari had calmed the baby and cleaned the room in the same amount of time that it took for them to change just one of Celeste’s diapers. Mari brushed the hair off of her face, shifted the sleeping baby up higher on her shoulder and said, “Ahhh, Practice. You’ll learn in time.” Mari winked at Maryanna and then looked at Clay.
“So,” she said breezily, “Looks like you two had fun babysitting.”
Maryanna and Clay rolled their eyes and then Clay said, “Is that what they call it these days? Fun?”
Maryanna nodded and said, “All morning she didn’t stop crying. She was loud, and small and nothing would make her stop. No matter what we did for her, she wouldn’t shut up!!!”
Mari smiled and laughed, “Ha, maybe she just missed her mommy.” She kissed the baby’s head and winked at her husband.
“Oh, and sorry we took so long.” Mari said slyly, “We were busy, we stopped for a brunch, went shopping, took a walk in the park….” Maryanna and Clay looked at them as if they were crazy and then Mari said, “I’m just kidding you guys! Don’t worry, we won’t leave you three alone again.”
Maryanna and Clay sighed and laughed nervously. Mari rolled her eyes and handed the baby to Shadow. “Alright, let’s get finished packing.”
Vanna Ri looked up and down the streets of Aldera, looking and searching for her victims. Upon seeing a women with dark hair and blue eyes walk down the street toward the State Building, Vanna’s intuition told her to follow this women closely. She followed carefully and silently as not to be seen. She was an expert tracker, trailer, and traitor, when it came to that….
The dark blue cloak she wore concealed her many weapons. Underneath the wrap she wore a tight, form fitting vest type shirt with gleaming gold buttons, the top revealing a few inches of her stomach. Silently, Vanna walked down the sidewalks of Aldera, her slanted red leather belt hardly making a sound as she moved.
Beth was walking back from the Market when she suddenly felt someone following her. But as soon as Beth turned around, she only saw three men crossing the street, a woman with black hair looking in some windows and a mother holding the hand of a little child, speaking softly to her. Beth frowned, and then turned around. She continued to walk toward the State Building, carrying two large grocery bags of blue milk and baby food when she felt someone’s eyes on her again. She spun around and saw six different people, and the same dark haired woman. She seemed to be……following her.
What was with that woman? Beth kept walking and then suddenly turned down an alley. The woman followed. Beth pretended to throw something away and then left the alleyway, walking quickly in the opposite direction she was headed. No matter which way Beth moved, the mysterious woman followed, however nonchalantly she seemed.
Yet she looked like she was just shopping, going in and out of stores, sometimes ending up in front of her or way behind. But always there. Beth wanted to scream, fear rising in her chest. She calmed herself and then walked calmly back to the market where she bought two more bottles of baby food. The woman picked up a box of something and then stood in the check-out line. Beth was four people ahead in line, and was able to check out and leave the store, without a second look from the mysterious woman.
As soon as she was outside, Beth broke into a run, speeding away as fast as she could from the strange woman following her. Looking behind her every few moments to try and see if the woman was following her, Beth kept running. Beth was glad when she didn’t see the woman following her, but just to be sure, she didn’t stop running until she reached the back alley of the Senate Building.
Out of breath and still very afraid, Beth quickly unlocked, opened, and then relocked the back door. Beth sighed and sank down against the gray concrete floor in the basement of the Alderaanian Senate Building. Then she immediately ran up six flights of stairs to the indoor and upstairs entrance to the Senate Building.
Bail Organa’s office was on the twelfth level but Beth knew that she could take a lift from level one to level twelve. Ten minutes later, Beth tore into Bail Organa’s office, still frazzled and distressed. Bail looked startled at his secretary’s abrupt intrusion, asked her what was wrong.
“A-a woman, she was….following me.”
Bail looked skeptical, “Are you sure Beth?” he asked, knowing that his secretary could sometimes over exaggerate things.
“Yes. This woman, she had dark black hair, dark clothes, and she followed me everywhere I went, and, no matter which way I went, she followed me. I-I had to climb six flights of stairs, I came in the back way and….and….I…” Beth was running out of breath.
After a moment she said, “I got the baby food……and…..blue milk.”
Bail was overwhelmed, “Do you think you will be alright Beth?” Beth, still out of breath nodded enthusiastically. Bail had one of the handmaidens come and escort Beth back to her desk where she could calm down.
Mari was playing with Celeste when Bail Organa tapped on their old apartment door. Shadow stood up from the sleepcouch he was sitting on and answered it. Celeste was crawling around on the floor while Mari kept her from going too far away. Bail Organa had brought his daughter Leia over to play with Celeste so that Mari and Shadow could speak with him.
The two little children played together under the watchful eyes of their parents. Mari and Shadow’s main concern was the threats of all the Imperials on Alderaan, but they also became concerned when Bail told them about Beth’s encounter with the stalker woman. Mari knew that the mysterious woman could easily be a spy, bounty hunter, or assassin. Mari voiced her concern with Bail who heartily agreed.
“Yes,” he said, “We should take extreme care. No one who is to be linked with you or the Alliance should go out in the streets.”
Mari sighed and said, “I understand your concern Bail, but I really have to disagree. If someone is after us, they will stop at nothing to reach their goal. And Bail, don’t think I don’t know what is going on. The Dark Side shrouds everything. Your people are afraid, fearing for their lives. We cannot deter you from taking care of your people. That is what is most important. Of all the things that the Alliance should be worried about, my safety is not one of them. Please, Bail, my family and I will be fine.”
Bail Organa looked troubled and said, “Marilee, please, we can help you. Just….hang in there.”
Celeste began to cry. She was extremely loud, just screaming her little head off. Mari ran into the baby’s room and picked her up. Unlike Celeste’s usual behavior, when Mari picked her up, Celeste didn’t stop crying, but started crying louder. Mari tried to calm her but only to discover that her baby was still upset. Mari rocked, changed, fed, burped and held Celeste, but she only screamed louder and louder.
Mari began to panic, and tried to calm the baby again and again. Suddenly, Mari felt a strong disturbance in the Force, and danger sense spiking, she spun around, holding the bawling baby as the large city overlook window shattered open. Mari shielded the baby and herself from the flying glass as someone blew in. Celeste screamed even louder, if that was possible. Vanna Ri swung in the window. Mari, still holding Celeste, ignited her emerald green lightsaber and held it in the ready position.
“Jedi.” Seethed Vanna with bitter anger in her voice, “And such a beautiful baby..” the bounty hunter mocked, “it’s too bad she’ll be dead soon too.” Vanna spoke with such sarcastic sweetness that Mari shuddered.
Mari shook her head and said, “No, I will never allow that to happen. I am a Jedi Knight, Master of the-” Before Mari could say “Force” the bounty hunter shot a laser whip, slicing against Mari’s lightsaber, which she used to block the blow.
Marilee used the Force to fling a terrified Celeste across the room away from the dangerous bounty hunter. Mari and Vanna engaged in a fierce battle with blasters, laser whips, sharp pistols and a lightsaber. The bounty hunter then surprised Mari by whipping out two dark purple lightsabers, which she used to slash through the furniture in the room, trying to distract Mari. After several minutes of fighting, Mari was pushed behind Vanna Ri, allowing Vanna to get to the baby.
“NO!!!” Mari cried as the evil woman reached for her child. Mari concentrated and with an enormous Force Push, the bounty hunter was flung back through the wooden door and into the hallway. Vanna, not expecting the fling from the Force, smacked her head and passed out upon flying through the splintered door and into the plastioid wall of the Alderaan Senate Building.
Mari swept her baby off of the sleepcouch and held her close. Then Mari checked the strange woman assassin’s vital signs, only to discover that she was still alive. Mari didn’t want to kill her, but the woman was trying to kill her, and her child. Mari watched the woman and then dragged her body down the hallway toward Bail Organa’s security office. She flung open the doors, still completely upset and worried for her baby.
The startled police officers quickly took Vanna into custody preparing to lock her into a jail cell. Mari explained everything that had taken place, and the lead officer took notes for the bounty hunter’s custody. Mari was about to leave when Vanna came to, flipping backward, twisting the two guards arms who held her. Mari cried out, and protected her baby. Vanna ran and back-flipped out of the room, running with all of her weapons in tow. Mari shouted at the guards.
“Go after her!! Don’t just stand there, do something!!” The guards stumbled out of the room, chasing after the woman, Mari following out into the hall. Mari ran in the opposite direction the woman left in and ran toward Bail Organa’s office. Mari ran in and handed Celeste to Bail as quickly as she could and then spun around and activated her lightsaber.
Seconds later, Vanna blew into the room, and upon seeing Mari she began to fire many blasts from her double sharp pistol and BlasTech blaster. Mari deflected every blow and ordered to a stunned Bail Organa, “Get under the desk! Take the baby and get under the desk!!!”
Bail did not argue but fell to the ground clutching Mari’s baby in his arms. Celeste screeched as her mother fought above her in Bail’s office. Mari blocked every blast and bash, but she knew that she was outnumbered. The bounty hunter flung out her two purple lightsabers. She began to fight with both, the electric clashing loud and vibrant.
If only Clay or Shadow or Maryanna were there. Clay and Maryanna were at a follow up doctor’s appointment for Maryanna’s severely burned leg and Shadow was busy working with the Alliance. Mari had been left home with the baby for a few hours, not expecting anything to go wrong of course.
“You are weak.” The bounty hunter hissed. “Give up. You cannot win!” Mari rolled her eyes and continued to fight, ignoring Vanna’s snide and pouty comments, her lightsaber flashing and slicing against Vanna’s lightsabers. The dark haired bounty hunter spun around and ran up a nearby wall, leaving small heel dents in the wall, leaping over Mari, facing the desk. She backed Mari into a corner where Vanna prepared to slice her with the two lightsabers when two small shots fired from behind her. Vanna Ri fell, shot in the leg. Her anger grew deeper as her leg felt like it was on fire. Vanna screeched in rage before managing to crawl toward the twelve story window. She pressed a small button on her arm armor before smashing the window with her laserwhip and dropping from the building.
Mari shielded her face from the glass and then looked out to see the woman escape on a speeder. Model I-3556 air speeder. She got away. Mari ran to Bail Organa, and hugged him.
“Thank you Bail, thank you. You saved me and my baby.” Bail shook his head.
“She got away. I think this is the same woman who was following Beth, she matches the description.”
He handed Celeste back to Mari and said, “Now go find your family. They will be wondering where you are.” He looked into Mari’s eyes and then noticed a deep cut on her lip and one on her cheek.
“You are hurt.” He stated, “You are bleeding.” Mari felt the wound on her lip and sighed.
“Nothing too bad, I’ll be fine.” Mari clasped Celeste tightly in her arms and said goodbye to Bail Organa. He nodded to her and said goodbye as well. Mari then turned walked down the hall toward the lunch room. All the excitement was making her quite hungry.
As Mari entered the lunch room, she was greeted by Zaren, Kite, and Glo’ri. At first they were excited to see her, but then noticing her worried expression and cuts on her face, they began to ask questions. Zaren approached her first and asked, “What happened Mari? Are you alright?”
Mari smiled, causing her lip to bleed even more, and said, “I am fine. I just…had some trouble in the east corridor.” All three of her Alliance friends nodded curiously, understanding that Mari did not want to talk about it.
“Have you seen my husband?” she asked them.
“No, I was doing some target practice.” answered Kite.
“I was with him earlier in strategy and defense practice,” said Glo’ri, and Zaren answered with what Mari was looking for.
“I was just with him around ten or fifteen minutes ago. He was in the weapons room with Admiral Ackbar.”
Mari nodded and thanked her friends. She shifted the baby up higher on her hip and said goodbye. Mari took a pit stop in the refresher, where she checked her lip. It was a fairly deep cut, probably sliced by flying glass. Her cheek was the same. Still holding Celeste, Mari dabbed at the wounds on her face with a wet towel and cleaned away some of the blood. After taking care of her cheek and lip wounds, Mari headed back down the hallway to find Shadow in the weapons and artillery room, on the other side of the Senate Building.
With Bail Organa the head of the new Alliance, along with Mon Mothma, the Rebel headquarters was actually at his Senate Building for the time being. Unbeknownst to many of the people of Alderaan, the Rebel Alliance was crucial to the Alderaanian government. Bail Organa was one of the few politicians left with any values or good morals. Along with his late friend Padme` Amidala, and fellow Alliance leader Mon Mothma, Bail was a good and fair senator, listening to his people’s pleas and votes for peace.
Weapons were not allowed on Alderaan, except in cases of self-defense as was needed in Bail’s office earlier. Mari headed to the Alliance’s weapons room, while rocking a fidgety baby Celeste in her arms. Mari noticed that Celeste had received a whack to her head, which was now a dark bruise. She figured it was from sending the baby Force Flying to the sleepcouch. Mari kissed the baby’s bruise gently and calmed the baby.
Finally, Mari reached the weapons room. Shadow stood inside, alone, as Admiral Ackbar must have left. Mari stepped through the doorway and walked toward her husband. Shadow looked up and upon seeing his wife and baby, smiled, but his smile disappeared when he saw they were both hurt. He wore a confused look on his face, and said, “Mari, what happened? Are you two alright?” Mari sighed and shook her head.
“No honey,” she answered her husband, “We aren’t. Today a bounty hunter attacked us and tried to kill both me and the baby. We escaped her at the apartment, but she caught up with us at Bail Organa’s office. We fought there and if Bail didn’t shoot her down, I would not be alive right now. I was outgunned and cornered. She was going to hit me with her laser whip when Bail Organa shot her in the leg. She crawled out the window and escaped on a Model I-3556 airspeeder. Shadow looked incredulous and finally spoke.
“Well I can’t leave you alone for a minute can I??” Mari smiled giggled at him.
“No, I suppose you can’t.” Shadow wrapped his arms around his wife and their baby, and kissed Mari on the lips. They held each other for a moment and then let go, noticing they were in a weapons room once again.
Mari said to Shadow, “Are you busy? Or can you come to the mess with me?”
Shadow smiled and said, “I’m free for the afternoon as soon as I finish doing this inventory sheet.” Mari nodded.
“Great. I’m going to try and get a hold of Clay and Maryanna, and see how her appointment went. I’ll see you in the mess hall then?” Shadow nodded and picked up his datapad with the inventory sheet on it.
“Yes, mess hall. I’ll meet you there in around ten minutes.” Mari nodded and kissed his cheek before leaving the room and starting back down the hallway.
“Zzzztzzzttttzzzzzzzzttszt” said Mari’s commlink. The darn things were so unreliable. Mari wished that the commlink would just work, so that she could get a hold of Maryanna and Clay who were still not responding. Maryanna was doing very well now, in fact, the doctors couldn’t believe that she was still alive. Maryanna had survived such severe burns that she was not even supposed to be able to ever walk again.
But thanks to some Jedi Healing tricks, Maryanna could walk pretty well. Though it was like learning how to do so all over again. She had been bed and wheelchair bound for around a month, allowing in that time for her legs to heal. When Maryanna walked, she did with a pronounced limp, because of the brutal burns she received to her left leg. Maryanna was still growing stronger and stronger each day and was not giving up for anything on her health. Clay was taking excellent care of her, helping her walk, bringing her food and entertainment, and even just cheering her up when she had a bad day.
Maryanna and Clay were often as busy as Mari and Shadow were, doing things together while the other half of the family worked. Clay was thinking more and more seriously about asking Maryanna to marry him. Then again, they were only nineteen years old and still pretty young. Yet something told Clay that Maryanna was the girl for him, if only he could get himself to be brave enough to ask her.
Mari fiddled with the commlink again and again, trying to reach her brother and his girlfriend. Frustrated, she shoved the commlink back into her pocket and grabbed a lunch tray. She got some food for herself and then took some baby food out of her bag to feed Celeste. Shadow arrived a few minutes later, and the couple ate together.
After several more failed attempts to reach Clay and Maryanna, Mari became slightly worried. What if something happened? What if that was why they weren’t answering? Mari shook her head, “You’re just over exaggerating,” she told herself, “quit going to the Dark Side about everything” she thought, as she stuffed her mouth with food. She fed Celeste her baby food again, the fussy baby not really wanting to eat. Then, before too long, Mari’s commlink buzzed and beeped, signaling that someone was calling.
“Hello?” Mari said into the commlink.
“Mari? Mari is that you?” It was Clay’s voice, and Mari said back into the commlink.
“Clay, Clay, are you two done at the Medic’s? Shadow and I are at the Senate Building still and I ran into some problems this morning. Are you two ever coming back? It’s been all morning.” Mari heard something that sounded like laughter and Clay answered, his voice filled with static, “Yes Mari….We are…..*static* What?….*static*…..soon…..*static*….apartment.” Mari rolled her eyes as the commlink zapped out.
“Stupid Thing!!!” she yelled at it. She sighed, and then looked at Shadow.
“This commlink must be defective; we have zero connection on this planet.” Shadow tried to hide his smile, as he saw the frustration on his wife’s face.
“What?” Mari asked, seeing the smirk on her husband’s face, “And what do you think is so funny?” she said, annoyed. Shadow, noticing her annoyance, stopped laughing.
“Oh, umm, Nothing dear. I can tell you’ve had a tough day and you just yelled at your commlink. No need to yell at inanimate objects sweetheart.” Mari smiled and chuckled a bit.
“You’re right. I’ve had a trying morning. Sorry. Not very Jedi-like of me now is it?” Mari laughed, and Shadow did too. Then they both began to laugh harder. After having a good laugh, Mari kissed Shadow and then said, “We should go find Clay and Maryanna, I’m assuming they will meet us at the apartment, only to find it destroyed.” Shadow nodded in agreement.
“Then we better get a move on if we are going to keep them from freaking out.” Mari nodded and smirked.
“Ok then.” She replied, picking up the baby as Shadow cleared their trays and headed back down the long hallways of the Alderaan Senate Building.
Maryanna laughed and giggled as Clay pushed her in a repulsorlift chair down the streets of Aldera. They had just finished going to the Medic ward for like the millionth time, and was finally allowed to go home. Maryanna was healing for a long time. It felt like years but it was really only a couple of months, and she knew that she was lucky to be alive. The doctors said that nobody could survive that kind of explosion, and she would probably be dead if Mari didn’t help her with a Jedi Healing trick.
Maryanna was grateful that she could still walk, even if she was in pain when she did so. The doctors also said that she would never walk again. They didn’t know her. Maryanna was stubborn. She wasn’t going to let some Imperial explosion make her unable to walk again. Mari told her not to give up, and that was what she was going to do. Everyone was rooting for her, and she wanted more than anything to be as healthy and happy as she was a few months ago.
The only good thing that came out of this terrible event was that Maryanna got undivided attention from her boyfriend and the love of her life, Clay. She was happy to be with him. Mari told her when they had a chance to talk alone, which was hardly ever, that he almost went to the Dark Side because of her. Mari had said that the love they shared was so great that he almost went crazy at the thought of her dying.
That both touched and worried Maryanna. She hadn’t spoken to Clay about what had happened, but she knew that he wasn’t part of the Dark side now.
“Ow.” She muttered as the repulsorlift went over a rock in the road.
“Sorry, you ok?” Clay answered her.
“Yea, I’m fine.” said Maryanna, telling the half-truth. She was fine, and she didn’t want to complain, but her leg really hurt. It had been burned so bad that synthiflesh pretty much covered her entire leg, along with bandages. It was extremely weak and she only got up to walk when completely necessary, which was hardly ever, under her circumstances.
“We really should find Mari, she said something about having some problems this morning.” Maryanna nodded at what her boyfriend said.
“Yeah, I don’t want her worried, or we worried for that matter.” She said. Mari was her dearest and closest friend, next to Clay of course, and she didn’t want anything to happen to her or her baby. Maryanna was usually great with the baby, except for their babysitting experience last week, and Celeste loved Maryanna. Maryanna was Celeste’s god-mother and Clay was her uncle. Bail Organa was her god-father, so the baby was pretty well off. Maryanna winced as they went over a pothole in the road. Any shift in movement caused the burning sensation to return to her left leg. Maryanna now had a glimpse as to what Mari went through with her arm. Only Mari was no longer in pain. Maryanna was.
“Hey Annie, what do you want for midday meal?” asked Clay, breaking Maryanna’s train of thought.
“Ummm, whatever you want I guess. Nothing special. I’m not really that hungry.” Clay nodded and placed his hand on her shoulder. She turned her head and looked up into Clay’s deep blue eyes. He smiled and then, in the middle of Aldera, they kissed happily, two teenagers in love.
“Whoa, what happened here?” Clay said out loud as he and Maryanna reached the apartment that they shared with Mari and Shadow and their baby. There was glass everywhere and the door was broken in two. There was a dent in the wall outside the door and the inside of the apartment was overturned. The large window as shattered, which was where all the glass came from. Maryanna gasped as she peered into the broken door.
“This must’ve been Mari’s problem this morning.” She said. Just then, Mari and Shadow came from down the hall, Mari carrying Celeste.
“Welcome Home.” Marilee said sarcastically to her brother and best friend.
“How did your appointment go?” she asked Maryanna.
Maryanna looked perplexed and said, “Mari, what happened here? Are you Ok? And why is your face cut?”
Mari nodded and said, “I’m fine, we had trouble with a bounty hunter who probably wants us all dead but only knew I had escaped the Jedi Purge and then was happy to discover my baby, who she also tried to kill, but I got her into custody and then she escaped and Bail Organa saved the day, and the woman escaped again, this time out of a twelve story window. She left on an airspeeder and we don’t know where she is going or who hired her.” Mari spoke all of this quickly and in one breath and was now somewhat winded.
She inhaled deeply and said, “I repeat, how did your appointment go?”
Maryanna nodded and said, “Good. I’m healing well, and the synthiflesh is doing its job. I’ll probably not be able to walk as normally as before, probably with a bad limp, but if I keep trying I’ll be fine.” Mari nodded and smiled.
“Good to hear, progress is good.” Maryanna smiled back.
“But now what are we going to do? Where are we going to live?” she asked.
Mari shrugged and said, “Well, Bail permitting, to escape this bounty hunter, I say we take a little trip back home.”
“Home?!?” asked Clay.
“As in Dantooine home?” Maryanna added.
“Yes, that home. But remember, nothing is definite, but we are thinking about it.” Clay and Maryanna hugged excitedly about going home. They were excited to see their parents and siblings, and Mari must be excited too, she’ll get to show off her baby.
“I don’t know…” Bail Organa questioned Mari’s judgment on returning to Dantooine. “Is it wise to return there?”
Mari nodded and said, “Bail, my family is homesick. My mother hasn’t seen her grandchild yet, and it would be nice to get away from everything for a while. We can go and get away from that bounty hunter for a while. Maybe she’ll lose our trail. And who knows, maybe this can solve some of our problems.”
Bail looked sympathetic and finally said, “You and your family have been through so much. You are right, it is time you take a trip back home. You need a vacation. No more fun with the Imperials, alright?” Mari smirked and winked at Bail Organa.
“Thank you Bail, I’ll do my best.” She left the room. Mari started back down the hallway into yet another temporary apartment.
“Ok everyone!” she announced as she walked into the room, “Looks like we’re taking a vacation.” Maryanna and Clay smiled at each other, and hugged again. Maryanna, with her still weak leg, sat on the sleepcouch and Clay sat next to her. It was obvious that they were excited to go home, Maryanna and Clay hadn’t seen their families in several months, since Mari was still pregnant with Celeste. Shadow sat on an overstuffed chair holding Celeste and playing with a rattle with her.
Mari came and sat on the arm of the overstuffed chair and picked up Celeste’s favorite stuffed toy off of the ground. Maryanna and Clay immediately questioned where and when they were able to go home, and how long it would be before they were able to get there. After answering all of their questions, Mari began to pack all of their remaining things, and she instructed Maryanna and Clay to do the same. It turned out that Maryanna held the box and Clay got up and gathered all of their items, and Shadow helped Mari. Bail Organa provided a new cradle for Celeste, and the baby was now happily asleep in it while the adults in the room prepared for a trip.
About an hour later, Mari, Shadow, Celeste, Clay, and Maryanna were in the empty hangar bay in Aldera getting ready to board their ship. Mari was carrying the baby while Shadow took over the boxes. Mari suddenly felt a sharp pain in her left hand, and looked down at her hand with the black glove on it. Mari shifted the baby into her other arm and flexed her left hand. It hurt her, but she was more worried about why it hurt versus the pain it caused her. Shadow glanced in his wife’s direction and seeing her struggling face, he quietly asked her if she was ok.
“Yes, I’ll be fine, I just…….” Mari searched for the right words, and then spun around, causing the baby to squeal.
“Mari what are you…” Shadow asked and Mari signaled him to be quiet.
The baby started to whimper and cry, and Mari said to her family, “Quick, go hide. Clay, take Maryanna to safety. She is here. The bounty hunter. She probably wants to leave this planet too. Either that or she knows that I am here.”
Shadow looked confused as Mari handed Celeste to him, even though he was having trouble holding the boxes already in his arms. He handed Celeste to Maryanna who held the baby on her lap in her repulsorlift chair. The rest of the family quickly boarded their ship. Mari walked and stood by the wall of the hangar bay, where she began to meditate, something she rarely did.
Mari became one with the Force, time slowed, and everything moved in slow motion. Then Mari sensed the bounty hunter. She saw her jet black hair, her dark clothes with concealed weapons, she heard the click, click, of her high boots, and saw her pouty red lips. Then Mari opened her eyes, only to come face to face with the bounty hunter herself.
“So, we meet again, Jedi.” Bounty hunter Vanna Ri said with a huff. Mari activated her lightsaber, in the middle of a deserted hangar bay. Vanna activated her two, purple blazing lightsabers and crossed them in a fighting stance. Mari did the same, holding her lightsaber in her favorite stance. Vanna screeched and rushed at Mari, lightsabers radiating burning blades of energy.
Mari backed away, and fought furiously with her lightsaber. She flipped, leaped, jumped and pushed away and around the bounty hunter, making Vanna more and more angry. Shadow watched in horror as his wife fought with a bounty hunter and he couldn’t do anything about it. The baby screamed and cried, knowing her mother was in danger.
Maryanna began to panic and wanted to get up from her repulsorlift to help her best friend fight, but Clay stopped her from injuring herself further. Mari had instructed all of them to stay put and not come out. This was her battle and Shadow could sense that she didn’t need help, at least not yet. Mari jumped against the wall and landed on some flight equipment and then leaped again, away from Vanna, confusing her momentarily. The bounty hunter ran and jumped forward colliding with Mari. Mari and Vanna both fell backward upon impact, each landing on the hard concrete floor. Shadow, Maryanna and Clay all gasped as they watched both Mari and Vanna sprawl across the floor and slide to a stop.
Almost immediately, Vanna Ri got up, and Mari began to retreat. She’s not as flexible as she was before having the baby, and her stamina was dropping quickly. She was getting worn out from all Force using and fighting. Then in her growing weakness,Vanna caught up with her. She turned and attacked, pushing Mari aggressively to the ground. She sliced sloppily and angrily with her lightsabers, at Mari who was now in a vulnerable position on the floor. Then in a blast from the Force, Mari whisked the purple lightsabers from Vanna’s hands, leaving her disorganized for a moment before she shot a laser whip out of a holster in her red leather belt sitting slanted on her hip.
Mari half blocked the laser, but it still managed to wrap itself around her forearm, causing her cybernetic hand to malfunction and her forearm to burn. Mari cried out in pain and sank to her knees. Mari grasped her arm and a fire came into her eyes, and with anger she never felt before, Mari Force Leapt up, and kicked a satisfied Vanna in the stomach, knocking her back several feet.
Vanna gasped as the breath got knocked out of her and she struggled to get it again. She fell to her knees in pain, and reached for breath. Marilee, the Force leap stealing any energy she had left, fell to the ground as well, still holding her burning arm. The black glove on her hand was ripped and melted, burning her hand. The laser whip, unlike a lightsaber, it burned and tore flesh. Mari’s left forearm was injured and she curled on the ground, in pain and out of energy. Vanna found her breath and was more enraged than ever before, and ran at defenseless Mari, on the ground.
Shadow was fuming inside the ship. He began to tear up at seeing his wife fall, and now knew that she needed help. He burst from the ship, surprising Vanna, who was about to strike the final blow on Mari. Shadow activated his glowing dark blue blade.
He stepped over Mari’s weak body and blocked Vanna’s blow. She shouted insults at Shadow, trying to disorient him.
“You, you’re no Jedi, You are just a useless, mindless Clone!” Shadow frowned at her words, they made the deepest part of him burn with anger. Mari heard the words and said weakly starting to retreat, she called to her husband.
“Shadow, don’t listen to her. She’s trying…to make you angry! Here!” She threw her lightsaber at him, and he caught and activated its emerald blade. Shadow smiled slyly and crossed the blades. Vanna shook her head.
“Silly, silly little clone. I have two lightsabers too.” She activated the second lightsaber that now hung from her belt. Vanna’s dark hair glistened next to the blades. She lunged at Shadow who counter attacked her swipes. Shadow ducked and parried her attacks, but Vanna was surprisingly good. She swiped and slashed like a professional, occasionally throwing Shadow off balance.
Clay emerged from the ship to help Marilee get to safety, where she was beginning to regain some of her strength. Once Maryanna, who was walking now, for it was an emergency, took Mari’s arm gently and applied a bacta patch, Clay joined Shadow, activating his yellow-green lightsaber and began to help Shadow fend off the attacking assassin. Upon seeing yet another Jedi, Vanna began to retreat.
“Another One?” she seethed, “You all deserve to die!” She then fought back harder and more viciously, trying in vain to destroy the Jedi. Even if they were not as experienced as Mari was, Shadow and Clay put up a pretty good fight.
In the corner, Mari was fading fast. Not only was she exhausted, but her arm was hanging limply at her side. Celeste was crying in her cradle, inside the ship, while Maryanna helped Marilee. Maryanna carefully inserted a bacta injection into Mari’s neck, and then bandaged her arm quickly. Mari’s damaged hand sparked and was sliced open, showing the wires and droid parts in it. Maryanna grimaced; it hurt her to see her best friend like this. Then she quietly spoke to Mari.
“Mari? Mari can you hear me?!” she asked. Mari’s eyelids fluttered and she Force Spoke to Maryanna.
“Maryanna, I can hear you, but I am too worn out. I need to rest. Thank you for helping. I will be alright. Do not worry.” Mari’s voice stopped. Maryanna opened her eyes and saw Mari’s head droop back on the hard cold ground. Her face looked slightly peaceful and Maryanna tried to Force Speak to her again.
“Mari! Mari! Are you still there? Marilee Sunstar, whatever you do, hang on! We need you to stay strong Mari.” Mari’s lips curled into a small smile as she began to Force Heal herself. Maryanna took Mari’s arm in her gentle hands and began to clean her wound better. Mari’s hand was really damaged, but Maryanna didn’t know how to fix droid parts. She just let it be. Then she looked out across the hangar bay to see her boyfriend Clay and Shadow fighting for their lives.
As Shadow dodged one strike, Clay avoided another. Vanna fought relentlessly, her anger boiling as she fought now two Jedi, one with two lightsabers. She still spat out insults, trying to intimidate the two male Jedi. Her words apparently had no effect, as Clay and Shadow still fought without a problem. Then something seemed to occur to the bounty hunter and she cackled evilly. Surprising the boys, Vanna Ri leaped over their heads and ran up the ramp into their ship. Maryanna, Clay and Shadow all cried out at once.
“NOOO!!!!!!!” Then, as quick as a wink, Vanna blasted off into the Alderaan atmosphere in the ship that was supposed to take Maryanna, Clay, Mari and Shadow home. Celeste was still onboard.
Shadow sank to his knees in distress. Maryanna looked up, in complete shock and horror at Clay, who was completely speechless. Shadow, who began to cry, stood and walked to Mari’s side. He lifted her limp body in his arms and held her close. He whispered in her ear.
“Oh Mari….I have failed you….we lost our baby. It is all my fault. But we will get her back. I promise you…..we will get her back.” Mari stirred in her deep sleep, and tears began to roll down her cheeks as she understood her husband’s words. He hugged her close and then stood up. Maryanna was beginning to panic as she stumbled for words.
“Shadow, I….I…it’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have left her alone…..I-I…I’m so, so sorry.” Tears now rolled down her cheeks as well and Maryanna looked terrified. Clay helped Maryanna up.
“Annie, it’s not your fault, please don’t cry….Shadow, she didn’t mean…” Shadow shook his head.
“It isn’t her fault, she was helping Mari….we will get Celeste back…we will get her back.”
Medical machines beeped and buzzed. Marilee lay on a bed in the Alderaan Medic Center. It was two days since the battle of the hangar bay. Mari was stable and doing better, though her left arm was pretty badly injured. Her left hand was replaced with a different prosthetic, and her glove was also replaced. The laser whip burned her arm, leaving a few scars.
Mari was awake, and able to feel everything like normal again. Shadow had already come in and explained what had happened after she passed out, and that their baby daughter was lost. Mari had sobbed and cried bitter tears, and then tried to get up from the hospital bed to go after her missing child. Shadow had stopped her, making her sit back down, and then comforted her. Mari was now plotting in her head how, where and when they would rescue their baby. They did not know of any tracking devices or ship locaters available on their ship, but Mari knew better than to give up hope. Shadow had already spoken with Bail Organa, who gave them a ship and any and all the preparations and medical attention they needed.
Maryanna was having trouble believing that the loss of Celeste was not her fault, as she was supposed to be the one to watch the baby. Clay had helped her to calm down, and to calm Mari down too. Shadow was completely distraught, and he needed to make up for their baby’s loss by finding her. That was the only thing that would make it better. He now sat in Mari’s hospital room, waiting for her to come out of surgery. The doctors were correcting and connecting her new droid hand to the rest of her arm. When Mari came out of surgery, Shadow was there, already waiting for her. She awoke, and found her loving husband sitting by her bedside. Mari felt groggy but smiled at him. She glanced down at her hand and frowned in slight pain. She pulled her new glove over the droid-like arm, and then hugged her husband who now stood over her. They kissed and she held him close.
“Will you be ok?” he asked her concernedly, and after a minute, she answered him.
“No, I won’t be. Not until Celeste is found, unharmed and back in our arms. I think I have an idea of where she is too.”
Shadow perked up and said, “Well tell me then! We can get to finding her!” Mari nodded,
“I think she’s on Coruscant.”
Vanna sat at the controls of the ship and plugged her coordinates into the navicomputer before pressing the hyperdrive set. Then she stood up and walked over to the baby cradle, where little red faced Celeste scowled at the strange woman over her bed. Celeste began to scream, crying and shrieking loudly. She didn’t like this strange woman, she wanted her mommy! Vanna smirked and hushed the baby.
“Don’t worry little baby,” she said with sarcastic sweetness.
“Mommy won’t ever be coming back.” Celeste screamed harder and was crying so hard she had the hiccups. The bounty hunter rolled her eyes and shouted in annoyance at the baby.
“Shut Up you little brat! You are going where I’m taking you and there’s nothing you can darn well do about it!” With that Celeste carried on for a moment or so and then stopped crying. She slept soundly the whole trip.
Mari and Shadow were crestfallen at the loss of their baby. Mari felt lost without Celeste, and wished with all her heart that she could hold her just one more time. Who knew what that wretched woman was doing to her precious daughter? Mari felt sure that if something had happened to her child, she would have sensed it. For now, Mari sensed nothing but her baby’s presence. Mari and Shadow made plans to go to Coruscant and search for their child while Clay and Maryanna would still return home to Dantooine, where they would relay the news of all that had happened in the past few months to all of their family there. After a tearful goodbye to their brother and best friend, newly hospital released Mari and her husband Shadow departed from Alderaan on a lower class shuttle, one that would not be recognized by the Coruscant authorities.
As Mari sat quietly on the ship’s bridge, watching Shadow fiddle with the controls of the ship, she reflected on the past few days and the effects they had on her. Not only did she lose her only child, she had nearly lost her life. The bounty hunter wore her out, fighting with such relentlessness that Mari was frightened. What frightened her even more was the anger she used when she Force Leaped so high before passing out. She had fought with anger, and was, at the time, very close to the edge of the light side of the Force. She had touched the Dark side. No matter how lightly, she did feel it. It almost gave her power. It also scared her. What would have happened if she embraced the Dark side and didn’t push it away? What would’ve happened to her family? Her friends? Her baby? Could it get worse? It was too much.
Mari put her head in her hands and rubbed her temples. Shadow could sense his wife’s uneasiness, but didn’t comment on it because he knew that he himself felt uneasy and upset. Mari stood from her seat and walked over to her husband in the pilot’s chair.
“It’s too quiet.” She stated. They were more than an hour into their long trip to Coruscant and they had hardly spoken the entire time. Shadow lifted an eyebrow.
“Is it now? Well, what do you want to talk about?” Mari shrugged and sat next to him on a different chair. He leaned over and kissed her cheek, reassuring her that everything would be alright. He knew that no matter what happened they would still be together. Mari kissed him back.
“I’m sorry all this happened. Trouble just seems to follow us everywhere we go now doesn’t it?” she said with a small smile.
Shadow nodded and said, “Tell me about it. There’s just no escaping it all, is there?” Mari shook her head.
“I suppose not.” She looked deep into his eyes and asked him, “Honey, how are we going to find her? There is no tracking device, nothing except the Force, which can be deceiving. What if we can’t find her, or if she’s already in the hands of the Empire?”
Shadow shook his head and said, “Don’t think like that! We will find her and we won’t get caught by the Empire. Don’t lose hope now Mari, we’ve all come quite far since that day back on Kamino.” Mari smiled genuinely.
“That’s for sure. I’m not losing hope, it’s just that….back in the hangar bay, when I was fighting with that bounty hunter, I…I touched the Dark Side, it wanted to eat me, but I wouldn’t let it. It took all of my remaining energy to push it away. I….I was worried for you, and Maryanna and Clay, and Celeste. Then I was hurt, bad, and I couldn’t stand it any longer. I cracked. I couldn’t handle it anymore. Everything just went weak and I fell. It reminded me of Darth Vader, when I fought with him. When we fought with him. Then that Vanna Ri escaped, with our baby. I can’t let her get away with her Shadow, I just can’t!” Mari spoke softly but her voice grew in upset when she said “Can’t” Shadow held her close and calmed her.
“Hush, Mari, we will be alright. Everything will work out. We will get Celeste and visit your mother and get back to Clay and Maryanna and it will just all be fine. You’ll see it’ll be fine.” Although Mari heard his words, she didn’t really believe them. Shadow wasn’t sure if he did either.
“Bounty hunter, was your mission successful?”
Vanna’s sharp features appeared on the screen and she answered in a crisp voice, “Lord Vader, I have partially succeeded. I did not kill the Jedi, but I have captured their child, who is said to be very powerful.”
Darth Vader’s unchanging black gaze of his helmet looked at Vanna through the holoscreen and he replied with a bitter tone.
“We have no room for failures bounty hunter, but a child with Force Potential would be useful to us. Bring the child to the Imperial Palace on Coruscant. My master will want to see it. Be sure to leave the baby unharmed. She may be of some use to our growing Empire.”
Vanna bowed slightly and said, “Yes Lord Vader, as you wish. I am entering hyperspace now.” Vader cut off the transmission and Vanna spun around and walked down the short hall into the cabin where she was storing her valuable cargo. She was not usually one to follow direct orders, but when you were with Lord Vader, one needed to be careful. It was said that he could Force Choke people even over holotransmissions. “That is one guy you don’t want to tick off.,” thought Vanna to herself, glad that nothing went wrong and that Lord Vader was happy with her baby prize that she was bringing to Coruscant.
“She woke up with a start, suddenly feeling a tremor in the Force. They were on Coruscant, and Celeste was close. She could hear her scream, but try as she might, something kept her from reaching her baby. Marilee cried out as blue lightning struck around and near her, deflecting off of her lightsaber blade.
Her Celeste was in the hands of a hideous creature. He was clad in a quilted black velvet cloak, a lightsaber in one hand, Celeste in the other. Mari cried out again, as the blue lightning electrocuted her husband, and then her brother and best friend. She stood, but the lightning was reaching her. She lay there, writhing on the floor, unable to help anyone near her.
Then, to her amazement, people filed in the room and began to shoot at the evil man holding her daughter. The lightning stopped and Mari was able to catch Celeste with the Force from falling to the ground. The man, at least it looked like a man, spun his metal backed, bulletproof chair around, deflecting the blasts from the different blasters. Mari crawled to her baby, who she hugged and held like there was no tomorrow.
Another Jedi entered the room, lightsaber lit, ready to defend. Mari couldn’t move from her position on the floor, as the lightning she had just experienced had rocked her bones to the core. She felt terrible. Shadow dragged himself across the floor to where Mari sat holding her daughter. Celeste squirmed and reached for her daddy. Mari placed her in his hands and then, to her horror, more of the wretched lightning came their way. She screamed in terrible pain. Her left hand sparked and sputtered and then she fell to back to the ground. Barely hanging on to consciousness, Mari blinked agonizingly as the lightning continued relentlessly.
Darkness was closing in on her when two lightsabers clashed in front of her body, deflecting the lightning, sending it back toward it sender. The evil cackling provided by the monster in the chair ceased and was then silenced. She felt Shadow’s strong hands on the back of her neck as he lifted her from the danger. Then more blaster fire occurred and then…”
Mari sat straight up in bed. She was sleeping in a small cabin bed on the tiny ship she and Shadow were riding to Coruscant. She was resting as the Medics back on Alderaan told her to do. Mari’s breathing was quick and lively, and her hands were still shaking, upset by her startling dream.
Mari stepped from her bed, and walked out to find her husband. Shadow sat, staring at all of the censors on his navicomputer board. Shadow turned around and smiled at his wife. She looked at him with troubled eyes and he stood up to see what was wrong. She explained her horrible nightmare and he consoled her upset soul.
Mari snuggled close to him and he just held her, stroking her silky light red hair gently. She had wrapped a blanket around herself and in such worry and nervousness, she was glad to be safe in her husband’s arms. For the time being.
Clay smiled at Maryanna. They were on their way to Dantooine, sitting on a bench together in the ship. Clay and Maryanna sat close together and were busy talking. They were both very talkative, speaking about everything and anything. They were laughing and enjoying themselves while in hyperspace. Then Clay stood up and checked a few controls on the bridge. Maryanna stood as well, stretching her sore leg. Maryanna walked over to where her boyfriend stood, looking out the window into space. Clay put his arm around Maryanna’s shoulders, and squeezed. She turned to look at him, and then they drew closer and closer until their lips were touching.
They kissed happily for a moment and after a while they drew back, still holding hands. Clay looked into Maryanna’s beautiful blue eyes and said quietly, “I love you.”
Maryanna smiled and replied, “I love you too.”
He smiled at her and said, “Maryanna, we….we’ve been through a lot together haven’t we?” Maryanna nodded and laughed shortly.
“Yeah, we have been. We’ve been dating for how many years now?” Clay looked thoughtful for a moment.
“Four years? Maybe five.” Maryanna nodded again.
“Yup. Don’t you think that now we are…..I dunno, more, than just boyfriend and girlfriend?” Clay looked surprised for a moment and then smiled slowly at her and reached deep into his pocket. He got down on one knee.
“You are right Annie, we are much more than that. Maryanna….will you marry me?” Tears filled Maryanna’s eyes as her dreams were beginning to come true.
“Oh, Clay, Yes! Yes! I will marry you!!!!” He placed the pretty Alderaanian ring on her finger and spun her around. They hugged and kissed some more as the ship flew through hyperspace.
Maryanna had never felt such joy before. The boy she was friends with since childhood, and in love with for years just asked her to marry him. How could she say anything but yes? She’d dreamt of this day for years, and it was finally coming true.
He captured her lips again, and Maryanna fell into his arms in bliss. Clay held her close, and whispered in her ear.
“I’m so lucky to have you.” He said, holding her tight and the bridge of their small ship. “I’ve waited for this day for too long,” he continued. “And I couldn’t wait any longer.”
“I’m glad you didn’t,” she whispered through happy tears, “or I would’ve asked you!” They both laughed and kissed again, happy to finally be engaged.
“I love you Maryanna Sorun…..so, so much.” He said into her hair, holding her close once again.
“I love you even more Clay Sunstar. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I love you so much!” she kissed him this time, eyes smiling as she leaned her head on his shoulder.
Vanna touched the little baby’s soft cheek and smiled slightly, it was kind of cute when it was sleeping. Then Vanna got a hold of herself and thought to herself, “No. You are a bounty hunter, an assassin. You are heartless, let’s keep it that way.” She removed her hand and spoke out loud this time.
“Stupid baby, you are going to Darth Daddy now, no hope of your precious parents saving you.” Vanna Ri smirked at the sleeping child and then spun on her heel and walked out of the cabin. She slumped back in the pilot’s chair, her lips pursed in annoyance. How long was this trip supposed to take?!? She slammed the dashboard with her fist as the ship was slowly coming out of hyperspace.
She saw, even from the dark vacuum of space, the glowing lights of Coruscant nightlife. She began to enter its atmosphere when she suddenly picked up on another ship on her scanners. It was a small servants ship, probably delivering supplies and other goods to the Imperial Stormtrooper barracks. Vanna rolled her eyes and waited for the useless ship to pass her. She would usually bombard a ship like that, just for the fun of it. Just to give her pleasure. But with this ship, she decided not to bother it. Not only was she carrying extremely valuable cargo, but she just didn’t feel like exerting that much effort.
Vanna slumped back further and awaited the comm message allowing her to land. Soon, the message came in and within minutes; she was flying toward landing platform B34. She looked on as the other ships zoomed rudely past her, annoying the living daylights out of her. “Why I could slice those inconsiderate beings right out of the living galaxy if I wanted to…..” Vanna stopped thinking so harshly when the baby began to cry. She poked her head into the little aggravating brat’s room and shouted.
“Shut Up! I’m busy!!” Truth was, Celeste felt her mother and father’s presence on Coruscant and was crying for them. She wanted to get up and crawl to them, but the mean lady would never let her do that. Plus her teeth hurt!! The baby quieted, knowing her parents could not hear her.
Mari stood slowly as she saw the ship that was once hers allowing them to pass through hyperspace. Shadow saw it too. Marilee looked at him with panic.
“That’s her! That’s the bounty hunter!!! She still has our ship! And our baby!” Mari cried, looking to her husband for suggestions.
“Do something!” she said, reaching out with the Force for her daughter’s presence.
“I can’t do anything! If we shoot down the ship, we could hurt Celeste! We need to just let her get to Coruscant. We’ll catch up with her there.”
Mari nodded and watched the ship carefully on the scanners. She was heading for Coruscant alright, but there was nothing she could do to stop her from keeping her child hostage on the ship.
Marilee felt for her daughter’s presence. She was okay, for now. She sent comforting words through the Force to her daughter, telling her that mommy and daddy were on their way. She almost instantly felt Celeste’s Force Signature calm down. It comforted Mari to know that their daughter understood they were on the way to rescue her. And she would rescue Celeste, even if she died trying.
“She’s here. I still feel her.” Mari said to her husband Shadow who stood next to her, disguised in traveling cloaks and clothes of an outlander. Mari was dressed in a calico style dress with a chocolate brown cloak. Shadow held her left hand, which felt slightly mechanical despite the dark leather glove she wore on it. Mari felt his grip, thanks to the cybernetic technology in her hand and held it back.
Marilee looked around the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of their ship. Finally, she spotted it. Mari felt her heart skip a beat as she saw Vanna Ri, the bounty hunter who seemed to be constantly causing problems for her family. Vanna stepped from the ship cautiously and said something into her wrist-commlink. She yanked on Shadow’s arm and pointed at the bounty hunter.
“There she is.” She whispered to her husband. Shadow nodded and gave Mari a pointed look. She nodded as well. Then the two of them split up. Marilee headed one way while Shadow headed the other, trying their best to surround the bounty hunter. Mari got to a point where she could hear the bounty hunter speaking.
“I just delivered it.” She said in a hushed voice into the commlink, crushing any hope Mari had to find her daughter before the empire.
“I’m ditching the ship and heading to the rendezvous point.” Vanna Ri pressed a button on her commlink and quickly walked away, heading down a dark ally. Mari caught Shadow’s eye from where he was standing on the other side of their stolen ship. He had heard what she did. Tears were glistening in Mari’s eyes as she felt for her daughter’s presence in the ship. It wasn’t there.
The disappointed couple hid their faces from the people of Coruscant as they walked quickly down the streets toward a nearby bed and breakfast. After checking in with false ID docs that Bail Organa provided for them, Mari and Shadow, also known as Riley and Ruth Starrling, went to their room, where they began to meditate. Mari and Shadow both sat in their hotel room, meditating intently when Mari suddenly had another snippet of a vision.
“The familiar sharp boots snap clicked down the plastioid hallways of the Imperial Palace. Vanna Ri the bounty hunter was barely carrying small blond-white haired baby Celeste in her strong and arms. Darth Vader and several Stormtroopers stood outside a blockaded door.
Vanna sneered at them and politely handed the baby to Darth Vader who took her in his arms more carefully then Vanna was holding her. Celeste started to squall, afraid of the big black thing that was now holding her. Darth Vader carried the baby into his boss’s office, Sith Lord Emperor Palpatine, who spoke in his gravelly cracked voice.
“Good, Good. Bring her before me.” Celeste screamed as she was placed in the evil Emperors arms. He cackled and evil and loud scratchy sounding laugh and then stared down at the screeching baby.”
Mari’s eyes popped open and Shadow looked at her in fright. He just had the same vision too.
“Did you just see what I saw?” he asked her, looking slightly panicked. Mari nodded solemnly.
“Yes, I think I just did. Celeste is in the hands of that….that….Vader.” Shadow nodded gravely and replied.
“And we need to save her.” Mari nodded and they plotted their next move.
Clay and Maryanna half ran half walked into Tre’nar for the first time in several months. Maryanna’s leg had improved increasingly with the excitement of the news of Clay’s engagement to her. They were incredibly excited and couldn’t wait to tell everyone in town.
Their first stop was Maryanna’s house, where her family was exceedingly surprised and thrilled that their daughter and sister had returned. Maryanna showed off her ring to all of them, and her parents were overjoyed. Clay was a proper gentleman and asked Maryanna’s father for her hand in marriage which he instantly agreed to, seeing he had hoped that his daughter would end up with such an excellent boy as Clay.
After Maryanna and Clay visited for a while, they reluctantly left so that they could visit with Clay’s mother. Clay and Maryanna held hands as they walked up the short pathway into his mother’s home from where they parked the speeder. Clay knocked on the door and broke into a joyous smile upon seeing his mother’s face.
“Clay!” she exclaimed when she saw her son. “Oh, Clay, you’ve grown so much! And Maryanna! So good to see you too!” Clay and Maryanna looked at each other and without a word Maryanna stuck out her hand and showed Marlinda her sparkling, shiny ring. Marlinda gasped in surprise and embraced them both in the astounding excitement that her only other child was getting married. After talking for a while about their engagement and wedding plans, Marlinda asked about Mari and Shadow.
“Is your sister with you?” she asked, curious and hopeful to see her daughter and possibly her grandchild. At the mention of Mari, Clay and Maryanna’s happy smiles turned to frowns and they shared a look of worry. Clay answered his mother gently.
“Mom, Mari’s not with us this time. She and Shadow are on Coruscant searching for their daughter.” Marlinda looked terribly confused and asked Clay to explain what he meant.
“Well,” he said looking at Maryanna for help, “It’s a long story. Let me start at the beginning. First of all, Mari gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby. The baby’s a girl and her name is Celeste. Celeste is also very, very Force Sensitive. Mari had recently run into some trouble with a bounty hunter by the name of Vanna Ri. Vanna was supposedly sent by the Empire to find and kill Mari. When Vanna discovered that Mari had a baby, she tried to kill her too. Mari fought very hard three times with the bounty hunter, but in the long run…Mari got hurt, and the bounty hunter got away….with the baby.” Clay stopped speaking, beginning to get choked up at his sister’s ordeals.
Maryanna stepped in and said quietly, “She is searching for her now on Coruscant, where the head of the Imperials lives. She thinks that they want to use Celeste’s Force powers for evil.” Marlinda looked crestfallen and sat down stunned in a nearby chair.
“B-but I, I don’t understand. What, how, and….” Marlinda was confused and worried for her daughter, son in law, and granddaughter. Clay walked over to his mom and tried to explain again.
“Mom, we…I…” he sighed. “There’s nothing we can do. Maryanna and I decided to come back home and share the news so that you would all know what was going on. I’m sorry we didn’t come back sooner. Mari and Shadow are going to contact us if they are in possible or coming danger, and then we will continue to Coruscant so we can help them. But for now, we are going to stay here in Tre’nar.” Marlinda nodded.
“I’m so sorry. I will be praying even harder than I usually do for my children’s safety. I wish there was more that I could do.”
Maryanna and Clay both smiled sadly at her and Clay said, “Thank you mom, for everything. It’s good to be home.”
Darth Vader was instructed by Palpatine to take the baby back to his private quarters until it was necessary that the baby be in his presence. Vader did as he was told and sat in his private and roomy quarters looking at the baby curiously. He was still mourning his late wife Padmè’s death, and seeing a real baby just added to the pain. It made him think and remember his unborn child. He remembered how nervous and excited he was to become a father. How beautiful Padme looked with her swelling belly, and how her eyes glowed when she spoke of the baby. He remembered picking names with her, two names, a girl and a boy.
He chose the boy’s name, Luke. Luke Skywalker. He would’ve been such a great boy. Such a great Jedi, no, a great Sith Lord. But now, because of his decisions and failure to oppose the Dark side, Anakin was dead. Along with Padme`, Luke and the possibility of them ever having more children together. He continued to stare at the little baby in question and wondered if his child would’ve had Padme`s eyes. He would’ve loved to become a father.
Correction, Anakin would’ve loved to become a father, he was Darth Vader, and children didn’t mean anything to him anymore. After all of his pain and loss, Vader felt his heart turn to stone, crushing more and more remnants of Skywalker each day.
Mari and Shadow walked down the crowded streets of Coruscant toward the large and ominous Imperial Palace. Mari and Shadow approached with caution, not wanting to be caught or stopped by any Imperial officers or droids. Mari and Shadow reached the front entrance of the palace and showed their ID docs, and announced that they had to do business inside.
Knowing that the two Stormtroopers who guarded the enormous building would not be satisfied with that answer, Mari and Shadow waited patiently for them to question them, and they two troopers did, asking why, where, and who they were meeting. Mari and Shadow exchanged a glance that said, “time for plan B.”
At the same time, Mari and Shadow waved their hands across the helmets of the two troopers and said, “You will let us enter.”
After a moment, the troopers answered, “We will let you enter.”
Together, Marilee and Shadow walked into the Imperial Palace, trying very hard to remain ‘low- key’ while avoiding Stormtroopers and guards.
Mari and Shadow held hands nervously as they hid from two trooper battalions marched past, plastioid armor clanking as they walked. Mari was very nervous, but she reached out with the Force, trying to sense her baby. Mari closed her eyes and suddenly felt it.
“This way,” she whispered to Shadow indicating a long dark hallway. Shadow gave her a look and said, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
Then they continued to run soundlessly down the long dimly lit corridors.
Clay and Maryanna were sitting inside the former ‘Clay’s Creations’, which was now owned by Clay’s friend. Clay felt it odd to have his friend running the restaurant and not him, but he knew that since the days he’d owned the restaurant he’d been on more adventures than he could have ever imagined.
Clay smiled and hugged his friend, Gabe, who was now the proud owner of Clay’s Creations. He gave Maryanna and Clay an engagement lunch, and the happy couple smiled, sitting in the same booth they did after Shadow and Mari’s wedding.
“Brings back memories, doesn’t it?” Clay mentioned, as Maryanna smiled at him, looking up from her food.
“Yes, it does.” She said, shaking her head slightly as she thought about all that had occurred in the past year and a half.
“Hard to believe, isn’t it?” Clay asked, gently taking Maryanna’s hand and playing with the engagement ring on it.
“For the record, I always knew we’d get married.” She said, winking at him.
“But I never imagined working for the Rebellion, or being a Jedi.” Clay smiled at his fiancé.
“Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I got where I am, ya know? Like…five years ago, even three years ago, I would have never imagined being a Jedi, traveling the universe, or being engaged to the girl of my dreams.” Clay captured Maryanna’s lips before she replied.
Maryanna nodded and said, “If you and I feel this introspective, imagine how Mari feels. She was never allowed to love or even think about a family, let alone have one.” Clay nodded.
“I know. I’m glad that she changed the Order when teaching us….I can’t imagine my life without you.” Maryanna briefly remembered what Marilee had told her about Clay’s reaction to the Imperial Bombing a few months back. She decided now was a good time to bring that up.
“Speaking of that…” Maryanna said, “A few months ago…when I was…hurt, Mari told me that you kinda….freaked.” Clay smiled and shrugged.
“Uhh…yeah. But at the time, I was really scared. You almost died there Annie. I couldn’t handle at the time the thought of losing you. I still can’t, but I won’t go to the dark side, or get close, ever again. I promise.” He said, kissing Maryanna’s hand. Maryanna smiled and cupped his cheek with her hand.
“I love you Clay.” She said lovingly, stroking his cheek with the back of her hand.
“I love you too.” He stated, kissing her hand again.
“And I promise not to leave you,” she said, “Not ever.”
Mari and Shadow plotted quietly in the motel room they rented, trying to come up with a plan to rescue their baby daughter. Finally, they came up with a simple plan. Well, somewhat simple. They would somehow infiltrate the Imperial Palace without the Emperor or Vader knowing, and then somehow steal back Celeste, who was probably around either Vader or the Emperor, who they were trying to avoid…..
Okay, so the plan could use some work. But it was still a start. Mari and Shadow also had contacted Bail Organa, who agreed to lend Ember’s X-wing squadron along with Commanders Zaren and Glo’ri and steal coordinator Kite. They would be joining them on Coruscant in a few days, hopefully to help them come up with a better plan.
The couple sat together in their room, discussing where to go from here.
Clay and Maryanna continued down the dark and eerie alleys of the Coruscant Slum District. Both Clay and Maryanna felt strong Force disturbances as Vader and the Emperor were on-planet. Maryanna looked up at her soon to be husband and whispered to him.
“Stormtroopers, quick, we need to hide.” Clay nodded.
“Where? We’re in an alley!!” Maryanna panicked for a moment and then mouthed to Clay, “UP!” just as the Stormtroopers began to march around the corner to the alley they were standing in. At the same instant, Maryanna and Clay used the Force to levitate and silently Force leap up and away from the troopers patrolling the streets.
Maryanna looked up at Clay, who was stretched between two tall posts on the other side of the street, and looked at him in worry. When the Stormtroopers left, Maryanna and Clay silently jumped down from their hiding places and then began down the alley way once again, further into the darkness.
Mari and Shadow both felt Clay and Maryanna as they arrived on planet, and were searching the streets in search of them. The two had only been to Coruscant twice in their lives, while Mari and Shadow had been practically raised on the planet. Stopping every so often so that they could tune into the Force, the married couple ran quickly and quietly down several alleys and crowded streets.
Soon, Mari and Shadow ran down a new sidewalk, only to run right into Maryanna and Clay.
“What are you doing here?!?” Mari asked, surprised to see her brother and her best friend. “I thought you were going to wait for us!” she whispered annoyed at them for not listening.
“Well,” Maryanna whispered somewhat loudly, “We were tired of waiting, sensed something was going to happen and didn’t want to leave you alone. Oh, plus, we’ve got big news.” She added. Mari looked even more annoyed.
“What? What could be so important that you didn’t listen and just had to come and tell us?”
Maryanna grinned and said, “We’re getting married!” as she thrust out her left hand, showing off the sparkly ring.
“Oh Force, I’m so happy for you!!” Mari replied her voice and expression softening a lot and growing excited for her best friend.
“That’s so great!” Shadow said.
Then Mari grew more serious again and said, “We’ve sensed Celeste is with either Vader or the Emperor, someone powerful. We already alerted the Alliance and let them know, in case we need a bail out.”
Maryanna, Clay, and Shadow all nodded, agreeing to Mari’s plan. They contacted Bail Organa, who was thus given the go-ahead to send a squad of his best fighters to Coruscant to help Mari and her family in their fight against the Empire.
Zaren nodded and saluted Bail Organa.
“Yes, Viceroy Organa, I will round up my troops. We will start for Coruscant immediately.” Zaren bowed to Bail and turned to leave the office, walking out the door with his head held high. Zaren hurried to Commander Sparkstone’s quarters and knocked on the door. Ember answered the door and saw Zaren’s anxious face.
Zaren saluted Ember and said, “Commander Sparkstone, we have a mission from Bail Organa.” Ember rolled her eyes and smiled sarcastically.
“Come on Zaren I’m not falling for that again.” Zaren smiled deviously and followed her inside the room.
“So,” said Ember, sitting on a sleepcouch, “What are our orders?” she looked at him sarcastically and added, “If this is a joke, I’m going to throttle you.” Zaren looked up and laughed out loud.
“Well, we are ordered to head to Coruscant, where we are supposed to break into the Imperial Palace and help aid Mari and her family, who are searching for her daughter. I’m really not joking, you can ask Bail.” Ember nodded, clapped her hands together and stood up.
“In that case, we better get a move on. Go gather the rest of your squad so we can get going to Coruscant.” Zaren nodded, left Ember’s room, and walked into the Squad quarters. Kite and Glo’ri were sitting on a bunk gossiping about who knows what when Zaren walked in.
“Come on girls, we have a mission to go on.” He said, pointing at their X-Wing Helmets. Glo’ri looked at him with a raised eyebrow and said, “Wait, what mission? And, since when are you the boss?” Zaren said, “Ember will brief you all, just come on will you, I don’t have all day!” Kite and Glo’ri stood up, grabbed their helmets, pulled their orange X-Wing Pilot uniforms on and followed Zaren out the door.
“Coruscant has a thick Imperial Defense System. Stormtroopers will be everywhere. Everyone will need disguises, and concealed weapons. We will need to break into the Imperial Palace. That will be extremely difficult, and because we can only guess their defense on the most important building in the Empire, we will have to play that one by ear.”
Ember was briefing the troops on when, where, and how they were supposed help Mari and her family. Mari had called in for help after having her visions, and already explained her plans to Bail Organa and Ember Sparkstone. Ember was leading the mission, and not only was she in charge of the mission, but she also was in charge of the Rebel Alliance’s weapons and strategy department.
“Everybody needs to report to their stations and prep their transports, understand?” Everyone nodded and looked to Ember for further instructions.
“Well,” she said, “May the Force be with us and Good Luck.” The Alliance turned and left the briefing room.
Vanna Ri sat in the waiting room for Darth Vader’s office, he had called to meet with her. That was probably the one guy that could make Vanna scared. If she valued anything, it was money and her life, probably in that order.
She tapped her tall high heel boot against the dinky uncomfortable plastic chair, waiting for some Imperial named Piett, a young intern, to come and tell her to enter Vader’s office. When she was at the point of where Vanna was practically bored to tears, Piett opened the door and signaled her into the room.
Vader’s electronic breathing could be heard from behind a large desk. He stood as the bounty hunter entered. Vader felt her fear and walked forward, causing Vanna to take a few protective steps backward. He enjoyed toying with the usually fearless bounty hunter. He stopped himself and spoke.
“Bounty Hunter, your services are needed again.” He stopped to breathe before continuing. “Intelligence has told us that the small Rebel Alliance is growing. We need you to discover where they are based and who their leader is so we can take them out. Can you manage that?”
Vanna raised her eyebrow and answered coolly, “Well of course I can manage it, but it’s going to cost you a pretty penny.”
Vader didn’t answer for a while and then said, “You will be paid at the highest expense if you can uncover all the information we need.” Vader signaled Piett, who seemed quite nervous and on edge. He stuttered before telling Vanna that she was dismissed.
Mari shook her head.
“No,” she whispered, “We can’t just burst in there, we have to come up with some kind of real plan!” Shadow nodded in agreement and then spoke to Clay and Maryanna.
“There is nothing we can do right now, we need to wait for the Alliance to arrive.” The family was hiding in a utility closet while they plotted their next plan.
“But if you know where she is,” said Clay, “then why don’t we go after her instead of sitting around on a bunch of buckets and broken droids?”
Mari shook her head again and said to her headstrong younger brother, “Patience, Clay, a Jedi practices patience. I more than anyone want to go get Celeste, but I know that now is not the time to do so. Plus, we aren’t even sure if she’s where we think she is.”
Clay nodded slowly and apologized for not thinking and waiting. Maryanna sat next to her fiancé and waited for her instructions on how she could help get her soon to be niece back. Maryanna still felt the blame fall on her for the loss of Celeste, even though everyone insisted that it was not her fault. Maryanna wanted to do anything and everything to help her sister to be get her daughter back.
“Sister,” she thought to herself, “Mari will be my sister in law soon.” Maryanna smiled and hugged Clay. He hugged her back and smiled at his wife to be. He was so glad that he finally asked for her hand in marriage. He loved her so much, and he knew that their relationship would last.
Mari smiled at them, they were so sweet. She was thrilled for her brother; Maryanna was the perfect girl for him. Mari then thought of her own romance with her husband and remembered the times she spent, practically fighting for her life when and how he saved her life multiple times.
Now they were in love, married and parents. And as parents, it was their duty to protect and nurture their child. They had to protect their baby, and to do that, they had to rescue her from the clutches of evil.
Ember signaled her squadron from her purple painted X-Wing in the Coruscant atmosphere. She did a roll-call of her troops and then gave them orders to don their disguises so that when they landed on Coruscant, nothing seemed out of place, at least that much out of place.
Most people did not, and could not afford a personal fighter jet for travel. Not with the prices of things as high as they these days. Ember called into the comm-station.
“Gold Leader, checking in,”
Zaren’s voice came in next, “Silver Leader, checking in,” six other pilots checked in, either in Zaren’s Silver Squadron or Ember’s Gold Squadron. Then in planned and evenly spaced times, they entered the Coruscant landing lanes.
Once on the city planet, the two squadrons met in designated places, but separately as to not draw attention to themselves. Zaren’s group met in a small park in the center of Coruscant. Their plan was to hide in plain sight. Everyone was working to keep quiet and look like they were busy.
Zaren had given instructions to the distracted looking, undercover troops to work their way around town, getting Intel about the Empire and what they were up against, while still staying undercover. Meanwhile, on the other side of Coruscant, in the slum district, Ember worked with her troops to head to the Imperial Palace’s “back door” or garbage entrance where they would take a more precautious approach to the Palace. She signaled her troops and spoke to them.
“Well then, let’s move.”
Mari stood up and paced the small barely walk in closet.
“When??” she demanded, now losing her patience, “When will they call us?!?” Shadow put his hand on his wife’s arm as she paced by.
She stopped and he said, “Honey, calm down. We just have to be patient, remember, Jedi are patient.” Mari rolled her eyes.
“Yes dear, I know.” Shadow shook his head.
“But also remember that we need to stay calm, worrying and getting anxious won’t help anything.” Mari sighed and sat down next to her husband on another overturned bucket. He hugged her and kissed her cheek.
“Just keep calm Mari, we can wait, just be calm.” She nodded sadly and then closed her eyes in meditation. Shadow stroked her hair as she calmed herself.
Clay looked at Maryanna and smiled wistfully, and leaned in to kiss her. They kissed, and she wrapped her arms around him. Clay pulled his arms around her waist and after they let go of the kiss, they held each other for a while. Who knew that one of the most romantic moments of their lives would take place in an abandoned utility closet?
Vanna loaded her weapons and credits into her own ship, the one that she didn’t steal. When she finished packing everything up, Vanna pressed the ignition. Everything was set, all that she had to do was head to Alderaan. Again. Vanna had a hunch that something was going on, on Alderaan, and she was going to find out what it was.
When she was in the State Building, why was that Jedi so friendly with Bail Organa? And what did that outspoken Senator have to do with the small Rebel Alliance? Was he involved? Or was he the leader?
Now, as the ship was preparing to take off, Vanna started to wonder what the Empire would do with the Alliance, and what would become of them.
“What are you thinking?” she told herself, “You are a heartless bounty hunter. That is your job, which is what you are good at. What does it matter to you if a bunch of lunatic rebels die or get wiped out? You’re getting paid, and that is what matters.”
After being reassured by her thoughts, Vanna plugged the coordinates in the navicomputer and then pressed the ignition button. All was right, now she was off. “Another job, another credit.” She said under her breath, as she started to pilot the ship.
Ember jumped down into a ditch, but not just any ditch. The ditch led down to the bottom of the Imperial Palace. If the Gold Squadron followed the ditch long enough, they would reach the “back door” entrance of the Palace.
She had already spoken to Zaren, whose opinions and ideas of “attack” she did not agree with always, but he was getting ready to enter the building which meant she had to too if they were both going to meet with Mari and help get baby Celeste back.
Ember led her group of six other rebels down the six foot high ditch and looked down a two way fork in the road and chose, using the Force, to move down the left passage. Moving quickly and quietly down the damp and dripping tunnel, Ember fearlessly lead the group deep into the passage.
Up on the other side of Imperial Palace, Zaren and the Silver Squadron had split up and were “casually” working their way around to the main entrance of the Imperial Palace. Three of the rebels had snuck around the side of the Palace while Zaren and two others worked their way other side.
When they arrived near the entrance, the “quietly” blasted the two stormtroopers standing guard. With the two troopers dead, Zaren grabbed a code cylinder from one of the dead trooper’s belt and used it to open the door. Then, Zaren and Glo’ri grabbed the dead troopers and pulled them inside. They pulled the stormtrooper carcasses into a small closet that was next to the door.
Zaren and Kite pulled on the stormtroopers armor and pretended to take Glo’ri into custody.
“There must be NO girl stormtroopers!” Kite muttered, pulling the armor on awkwardly, as Zaren snickered at her.
The team exited the closet and pulled along a seemingly reluctant young rebel through a hallway toward the detention area. Zaren commed the other rebels of his squad and found that they had similar success; they were also headed to the detention area with a seemingly unwilling captured rebel.
Silver Squadron regrouped near the detention area, and then they commed in Ember and the Gold Squad.
“Ember, Ember, are you there? Come in,” Ember’s comm echoed throughout the deep tunnel and she then answered it, really annoyed.
“What is it Zaren?!?” she whispered violently into the comm.
“Ember, we’re in. We are going to come in and open the back door for you, alright?” Zaren said into his comm.
“Fine,” Ember whispered to him through the comm unit. “We will be there to meet you in five minutes.”
Zaren answered her, “Great, I’ll be there in six.” On the other end of the comm conversation, Ember rolled her eyes and closed the channel.
Mari stood up, again, and began to pace, again, waiting for her comm unit to ring. Shadow stood and stretched his legs as he waited as well, for all they could do was continue wait for the signal from the Alliance. Then after what seemed like hours, Mari’s comm unit buzzed.
She eagerly answered it only to hear static and said, “Hello?!? Ember? Zaren? Is anyone there??”
Ember answered after a moment and said, “We’re both here Mari, and we’re ready when you are. We are on our way to the center of the Palace. Zaren and three others are disguised as stormtroopers and we are their “prisoners”. So don’t worry ok?” Mari looked excitedly at Shadow, Clay and Maryanna, and then answered her friend.
“Sounds good. We are at the coordinates fifty two, thirty two. Can you get there or should we meet you?” Ember consulted with Zaren before giving Mari an answer.
“Yes, we will make it. We are going to be coming up from the western corridor and then we will find the utility closet. See you in a few!” Ember finished.
Mari smiled and then said, “Sounds good, see you then.” She hung up the channel and said to her husband excitedly, “Finally!!! We can actually take action.” Mari had grown quite restless over the hours and was relieved to start taking action to save her baby.
Darth Vader sat in deep mediation in his white orb office-like quarters. He still considered himself a Force Sensitive, even though he was no longer a Jedi, he was a Sith Lord, and he was far more powerful than he ever would be as a weak Jedi. Now, as he sat in deep meditation, his bald scarred head revealed as he wasn’t wearing his helmet, and instead was sitting in the life support chamber that was keeping his maimed and damaged form alive for evil purposes.
Vader saw images in his twisted mind. Flashes of his past flew into his mind. His wife Padme`, his Jedi master Obi-Wan, his Jedi apprentice Ahsoka, the sandy and dry planet of Tatooine and the different missions he was on as a young Knight.
Then, he saw pictures of his final days as a Jedi Knight. He saw his wife’s pregnant belly, Chancellor Palpatine’s evil glare and heard his cackle, he felt his body burn as he slipped into the molten lava on Mustafar, he heard the voice of his former self scream “I hate you!” to Obi-Wan, and he felt….felt….regret.
Out of all the things he did in total hate and anger, he was beginning to regret them. Then he started to feel the hate for all of it. The Jedi Order had betrayed him. Obi-Wan was a liar, and he had made his wife believe that he was….against her, and a murder. He didn’t know Anakin Skywalker anymore, he was Darth Vader. If this was who he was, then why did he feel regret and sadness and grief? What was wrong with him?
He sat back in his chamber in thought before pressing the button on the arm of his chair that released the lever on his helmet and placed it on his head. When it was settled on, he stood and left the chamber. Darth Vader knew that it was time for the baby to be brought into his Master’s chamber for evaluation. He would test the baby for Force-Sensitivity and discover if the baby would be worth anything to their Empire.
If she was as sensitive as she gave off to be, the baby would make a great Sith Lord. Maybe she would be Vader’s apprentice, even though he swore he wouldn’t have anyone other than Ahsoka….but that was in a past life. This was now, and he was NOT Anakin Skywalker. He had to keep reminding himself that he there was no turning back; he was feared and revered Darth Vader. Anakin Skywalker was part of a past life, something that was no longer a part of him. He walked out of the room and let the hate flow through him. He felt it run through his veins.
Mari ran through the Imperial Palace, feeling fearless. She had four stormtrooper disguised rebels behind her and her husband beside her. Mari felt the Force flow from her daughter, and the source of Force flow was coming from……that room. Biggest door, middle of the four way intersection that was the center of the Palace. Mari pointed to the door and said only three words, “This is it.”
Everyone looked around and immediately hid when the sound of stormtrooper boots clacked down the hallway. They stopped in front of the door and opened it, then stood in a salute in front of the door before entering. Then Mari saw why. Darth Vader walked through the stormtrooper lineup, holding Mari’s daughter Celeste. As Mari saw her baby asleep in that…that monster’s arms, she almost began to cry.
She calmed herself and then became worried, there were a lot of troopers there, and….Darth Vader, and the….Emperor. This was going to be hard, Mari knew it, and she felt it in her bones as she pressed the button that opened the door to the chamber, lightsaber blazed.
The inside of the Emperor’s meeting chamber looked like a large open room with a broad open center. The large throne was in the middle which held the Emperor in a big, bullet proof, metal chair. In his scraggly thin and weak arms he held…Celeste. Mari stood in the center of the room; her lightsaber was raised high, ready for anything that these Sith Lords could through at her.
Behind her in practically perfect formation stood Shadow, Maryanna and Clay, their lightsabers also blazed high and ready for attack. Six rebel troops stood behind them, blasters, guns, vibroblades, any weapon, really, were also aimed and poised for attack. Mari smiled at the totally evil Emperor and spoke in a sweet sounding voice.
“I think you have something that belongs to me.”
The Emperor began to cackle and said, “Ohhh, I think that you have it quite wrong, dearest child, but this baby is no longer yours, she is mine.”
His voice sounded as if he was mocking Mari, as if it was all just a game. Nothing but a game. With that, Darth Vader raised his lightsaber and moved toward Mari and her crew of rebels. The game had begun.
Darth Vader smashed his lightsaber against Mari’s, pushing hard. The surrounding stormtroopers began to fire at the rebel troops. Each rebel fought valiantly back at the stormtroopers. While Mari engaged in a fierce battle with Darth Vader, Maryanna, Clay and Shadow cut down the stormtroopers, who kept coming like a bunch of battle droids.
They worked quickly and were able to disarm or kill most of the stormtroopers, without any casualties. Mari fought and slashed her lightsaber against Darth Vader’s, creating a loud clanging and electronic clashing sound that echoed through the chamber. Then, Vader stepped back and the Emperor kicked in.
The blue lightning slashed against Mari’s lightsaber, deflecting back toward the Emperor. The Emperor only absorbed the power and pushed it out further now hitting several victims at once, while still holding the thankfully unharmed baby in one arm. The blue Sith Lightning pulled down Clay and Maryanna, causing them to writhe and spasm on the ground.
Mari looked in panic as she watched her husband Shadow fall as well, the blue lightning causing him to fall and struggle on the cold ground. Mari shook her head and fought back harder. She focused the Force on her baby and the lightning that was now overflowing her lightsaber and hitting her body. Mari gritted her teeth in pain as she felt the blue lightning ricochet through her body. Fighting back with all that she had, Mari used the Force to fight for her baby.
Then, unable to help it anymore, Mari fell, landing near her husband on the ground where she lay in a vulnerable position, on the floor. Then the Emperor said to Darth Vader in his raspy and cocky voice, “Lord Vader, finish them.”
Darth Vader approached Mari with his lightsaber poised for kill. Then, before he could do anything, a purple lightsaber crashed onto his, protecting Mari. Then six more rebels entered, and began to shoot at the Emperor, who spun around in his metal, bullet proof chair, deflecting the fire. The Emperor, followed and surrounded by his Royal Guards, escaped the room, hurrying away, still carrying Marilee and Shadow’s daughter.
Meanwhile, Ember Sparkstone was in a fierce battle with Darth Vader. Mari, regaining her strength, stood and ignited her lightsaber as she ran to help her friend. Mari then looked over to her husband, who had worked his way to the back of the room, where he, Maryanna, and Clay were surrounding the remaining Stormtroopers. Mari smiled at him from across the room and then continued to fight Darth Vader.
Suddenly, Darth Vader began to retreat, deactivated his lightsaber, and used the Force to yank items from the room, using them to bash and batter the two girls fighting him. At first, Mari and Ember were able to Force leap out of the way before being hit by flying debris. Chunks of plastioid and wall ornaments flew from the walls, whacking into Ember’s body, causing her to fall down, injured and having the air knocked from her.
Mari, defending her friend, bounced back and slashed her lightsaber back against Darth Vader’s. He Force yanked a large chair and then a piece of tubing from the room. The debris crashed into Ember, who was already worn out. Now she was bleeding and broken, unable to move from under the heavy wreckage.
Mari gasped when she saw Ember crushed, and then engaged in a fierce battle with Darth Vader until the rebel troops were getting worn out and knew that it was time for a final retreat.
Knowing that the Empire would work her troops until they were all dead, and seeing that they were clearly outnumbered for this fight, Mari gave Zaren the signal to retreat and split up, so they wouldn’t be found by the vicious Empire.
Then, from her uncomfortable position underneath the garbage that crushed her body, Ember tossed her ignited lightsaber toward an unsuspecting Darth Vader, hitting the lighted control panel on the front of his suit. With a satisfied sigh, Ember passed out, and Darth Vader retreated.
After Darth Vader left, Mari ran to Ember’s side, and grabbed her under her arms and then dragged her trapped body out of the debris and to safety as well. Everyone split up, some going in the air vents, out the exit, through the garbage chutes, the basement, back door, and others. Mari took off with Ember and lost track of her other family members. When they entered the basement exits, Mari laid down Ember on her lap and tried to read her with the Force. Ember was still alive, but was beaten pretty hard by all the debris that hit her. Mari’s body ached terribly from the callous Sith Lightning that had rocketed through her.
Mari then looked down and for the first time, noticed that her left hand was zapping and electrocuting, blue sparks flying off of it. Surprised, Mari rubbed it and then focused on Ember. Ember was breathing shallowly and opened her eyes slightly. She looked at Mari and spoke so quiet that it was barely a whisper.
“Mari…….leave me…..I don’t think…..I will…..make…it…” Ember stopped speaking to breathe and Mari shook her head violently.
“No, Ember, you will make it. Don’t give up. I’ll get you to a Medic. Force-Heal yourself, like we learned at the Temple. Come on Ember!” Mari, now seeing that Ember’s vital signs were failing, lifted her over her shoulder and then ran the rest of the way through the basement tunnels.
Vanna Ri landed on Alderaan and donned a disguise. She put on a blond wig, put on a pheasant dress, and went out into the Alderaan capital, Aldera. She came up with a simple plan. Vanna would walk up to the Senate Building, ask about the Alliance, and get some Intel. She went by the name Adia Greian, and she was just an innocent lady who wanted to become a part of the Rebellion Against the Empire.
She was met by Beth, the secretary, who had a very strange feeling about the “innocent” woman. Yet, Beth did her job and met the woman, then led her to Bail Organa’s office.
“Welcome, and what can I do for you?” Bail Organa asked politely to the outlander woman. Vanna fake bowed and spoke softly.
“Greetings Viceroy Organa, it’s an honor to be in your presence.” The way she said “honor” and “viceroy” made a fake but convincing attempt to impress Bail Organa. Vanna then shifted the topics and turned it from flattery to the Alliance. Yet the disguised Bounty Hunter was met with extreme care.
Vanna looked up and batted her long eyelashes in an effort to try and look flirty and harmless and safe to be trusted. Bail Organa explained that he was only a member of the Imperial Senate, and that he did not and is not a part of the Alliance. It was still a secret, even on his home planet, because if the information got in the hands of the wrong person….well, who knows what would happen?
Turned down at each attempt to get information about the Alliance, Vanna ditched her original plan and took to the streets and looked for information there. She asked random, stupid looking people for info, sucking any information that she could from them. A few people told her that it was Bail Organa who was the leader, others said that someone named Mon Mothma was the leader, and a few people said that the Rebellion was a hoax and that they didn’t believe that it even existed.
Many folks said that they had heard rumors that the Empire was getting restless with the Rebellion, and that they were on the move, prepared to head to a planet called Dantooine, or was it Tatooine? Vanna Ri knew that the Jedi that always seemed to avoid her was from Dantooine, and decided that, that was the planet she try first.
Mari brought Ember through the labyrinth basement tunnels and then met back up with her husband, family, and rebel friends. Several young rebels were either injured or bruised, but not dead, yet they still needed medical attention. Shadow ran to his wife, the two kissed and hugged, holding each other for a while before Shadow looked down and saw Ember, lying on the ground.
Mari knew as well as Shadow did that Ember was dying. She needed help…now. Mari knelt down and felt Ember’s vital signs. Quietly, she spoke to Shadow.
“She’s….dying. We need to get her to a medic before….” Mari looked down, tears in her eyes. Shadow lifted Ember’s lifeless body from the ground. Zaren trotted over and looked worried.
“Is everything ok? What happened?”
“Zaren,” said Mari seriously, “Ember is…..very hurt. We need to take her to a medic….now.” Zaren only looked more nervous and replied feebly.
“Oh, I-I, hope she’ll be ok, and….just….take care of her, alright?” Mari looked sympathetic and nodded.
“We can only do our best.”
Zaren nodded and still looked worried. As much as he and Ember clashed, he still liked and respected her, and wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to her. Then Mari and Shadow whisked away, with a few other injured Rebels toward the medic center.
Ember was still unconscious three days later, even after several bacta baths and a few operations, she was still not awake. Mari sat on the edge of her old friend’s hospital bed. Ember’s chest rose and fell silently, proving that she was still alive, just not awake. Mari had already Force Spoken to Ember, trying to provoke her to awaken, but to no avail.
Discouraged, Mari knew that she had to prepare to leave Coruscant, because of the dangers of the Empire finding them. Mari took a risk one day by going from one side of the hospital to the other, where she went to visit her other rebel friends who were injured during the past battle.
Mari and Shadow kept an unspoken vow not to speak of the failure of Celeste’s rescue mission. They would try again, at some point, with better planning and clearer minds. But for now, both parents focused on the Rebels and their own injuries, focusing on anything but their still stolen daughter.
As Mari walked back from her visit to Ember’s room, she was apprehended by a bunch of stormtroopers. Mari struggled, but kept her lightsaber concealed so that the troopers would not discover she was a Jedi.
“No!” Mari shouted, “You must be mistaken! I am no rebel!” she lied, “Leave me be!!” she thrashed and turned, trying to release herself from the stormtroopers surprisingly strong grip. She grunted and pulled, striving to get away.
Mari almost felt like crying when the troopers dropped her off in a detention block. She was being charged for being a rebel and for not cooperating with the authorities. Mari slumped down on the cold stone ground, now working hard to use the Force to warn her husband or her brother that something was amiss and that she was trapped. The stormtroopers had stripped her of all and any weapons, unfortunately including her lightsaber. The stormtroopers locked her in the dimly lit cell, with no food, no means of communication, and no way out.
Shadow suddenly felt a tremor in the Force. He tried to reach out and feel what was going on, and why he suddenly felt the need to find his wife. He went to Clay and Maryanna’s room where they were staying in the hospital together. They had all been hit with the Sith Lightning, which could cause serious damage to the human body. All of the Jedi who were hit were with the lightning were healed in bacta and then were supposed to rest. Shadow walked into Maryanna and Clay’s shared hospital room to find her sitting on his lap, and they were kissing. Shadow at first wanted to laugh and then looked away uncomfortably.
“Am I interrupting something?” he said, as the embarrassed couple let go of their kiss and Maryanna got up off of Clay’s lap. They began to laugh nervously and then asked Shadow what he needed.
“I think that Mari is in trouble.” He said, sounding increasingly worried, “Have either of you seen her?” he asked them. They both shook their heads and also began to feel and look worried.
“Where was she last?” Maryanna asked Shadow, hoping that there would be a reasonable explanation for their friend’s disappearance.
“Last time I checked in with her, she was visiting with Ember and some of the Rebels. If either of you hear anything, contact me immediately.” Maryanna and Clay both nodded as Shadow left the room.
Mari sat crying in the cell, feeling hopeless and like a failure. She felt so stuck. Her lightsaber was taken away, either left in the detention lock bay or already in the hands of Vader or the Emperor, them knowing she was a Jedi.
Mari knelt down, and felt the surrounding people with the Force. Then, like a tiny blip on her Force senses, Mari felt something familiar….her husband. Mari wiped her eyes and felt harder with the Force. She searched for anything that was even close to familiar, and then upon feeling her husband approaching the detention block, though he was still fairly far away. Mari stood up and then sat down on the metal and uncomfortable bunk, continuing to meditate on the Force sense of her husband.
Shadow approached the Imperial Palace with caution, and entered using the code cylinder that Zaren had “borrowed” earlier that week. Then, using his clone likeness, he entered the stormtrooper barracks without a problem. He changed into a stormtrooper uniform and then headed to the detention block. He grew closer and closer to the cell that Mari was being held in, Shadow was able to sense her with the Force.
Mari was close, and he felt it. Shadow stopped in Detention Block 34, cell 29DR33. He pressed the button that opened the door and was relieved to find Mari, sitting on the bunk. She stood up and waited for the stormtrooper standing in her doorway to speak. To Mari’s joy, the stormtrooper closed the door and pulled off his helmet, revealing his face. Shadow’s face.
Mari’s face softened with relief and she began to cry relieved tears. She ran into Shadow’s arms and he hugged and kissed her.
Mari kissed him back and asked, “What are you doing here? How did you get in without being seen?”
Shadow grinned and said, “Sometimes being a clone has its perks.” Mari smiled at him.
“Oh, I love you.” She leaned in and kissed him again, and then he said, “Come on, I’ve got to get you out of here. Let’s move.” As soon as they exited the cell, four stormtroopers stood in front of them, blasters raised and pointed at them, set for kill. Shadow pretended to shoot at Mari as the other stormtroopers did, but instead of setting his weapon for kill, Shadow’s blaster was set for stun.
Memories of how their epic adventure started flooded back to Shadow as he expertly shot Mari with a stun blast. Mari fell and Shadow watched as the other stormtroopers dumped her body into the cell, and then left. He returned after undoing any security in the block, and then lifted Mari’s stunned body from her position on the floor and carried her to the closest exit.
As they ran Mari came to and said in a groggy voice, “Brings back memories, doesn’t it?”
Shadow smiled wistfully under his helmet and replied, “That’s for sure!” And then they ran out the exit. Shadow dumped the armor before leaving the building, but kept the code cylinder. They ran through the Coruscant slum district toward the hospital where the rebels were being treated.
It was obvious now that Mari, her family, and the Alliance were not safe of Coruscant. If Ember would get better, they would be able to leave. No one would be left behind. That was a rule of the Alliance. They were a family. Mari returned to Ember’s hospital room and sat next to her bed. Ember’s eyelids flickered, and then opened.
She said out loud, “Mari? What happened?” Then her hand flew to her stomach, where she had been so gravely injured by the Force flung debris that Darth Vader had crushed her with. Mari quickly explained to her friend.
“Ember, you were seriously injured by Darth Vader and you had some bad internal bleeding, but now you are alright. I am so relieved that you are awake. The Alliance is in danger here, I was arrested today, and I only escaped with the help of my husband. If you are alright, we will need to get moving. I’ll go get the doctor.” Mari went out the door before Ember could even get another word out. The medical droid came and gave Mari a quick and precise physical exam that gave her the state of Ember’s medical situation.
Mari was told that Ember’s health was stable, but that it would be some time before she would be strong enough to walk, and fly for that matter, again. Her internal wounds were mostly healed, yet she would still be in some pain. She had fractured and broken several bones, so she would need a repulsorlift to get around for a while. The med droid gave them a permit to use a repulsorlift chair so that Ember could get around and then they could leave the Imperial loaded planet of Coruscant, for good.
READ THIS BEFORE CONTINUING WITH THE STORY!!!!!!
You will hate me. I can see the evil rant reviews now. XD Seriously, if you love me, read on, if you love this story, I recommend either bringing tissues or a lightsaber to kill me with. XD Read on, enjoy (if that’s humanly possible) and review. Feel free to flame me for this chapter. It was SO HARD to write…..*sigh* Thanks to Ley for helping me with this. I owe you a BIG one. xD This chapter is in Marilee’s Point Of View, something I’ve never done for this story….until now. XD It was by the request of Ley, who I still owe for helping me on this chapter. 😉 NOW. Before you continue, I need to tell you…..
I AM SORRY. I TRULY AM. NOW READ AND REVIEW. I’ll be crying in this corner. xDD
P.S. ANGST ANGST ANGST ANGST ANGST. That is the name of this chapter. Chapter 27: ANGST CENTRAL.
I sighed to myself as I loaded another box onto a gravelsled and made another check on my datapad list. It had been a week since our failed mission to find Celeste. I couldn’t bring myself to think about our failure. I need to keep busy. As Clay would joke with me, “I’d go to the Dark Side in worry.” I don’t even want to think about that possibility.
I miss my baby. All I want is to hold her in my arms again, play peek-a-boo with her, or even get spit up on. Shadow is hurting too. He hides it well, he doesn’t want to let me know how much it affects him to not have Celeste with us, but I can tell he hasn’t given up hope we will find her. Neither have I.
But I suddenly get a very strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. I feel like something bad is about to happen. I know this feeling. I’ve had it before. Before I faced Vader, before I fought with the bounty hunter, before the Emperor struck us with Sith Lightning…..something was going to happen. And not to me or my husband, or other family or friends. To Celeste.
A vision flickers in my mind. It’s fast. It’s vivid. The fear in the pit of my stomach grows.
A tiny baby squeals in terror.
“Finish it.” The man calls, and a red lightsaber sticks through the baby, killing it instantly.
One tiny, final breath is released before the child perishes.
I drop my datapad and stagger back in horror. I know that baby. It was my baby. My Celeste. Killed. Dead. The vision….I rubbed my temples, my hands shaking with fear. I glance to my left, Shadow is still doing inventory, either not experiencing the same vision or ignoring the feeling in the Force.
“Why am I the only one to get the blasted Force-Visions?!?” I cry in my head, hurrying to my husband’s side. He looks at me in concern, his warm brown eyes flickering as he senses the disturbance in the Force.
Tears fill my eyes and I quietly tell him what I saw in my vision. My voice cracked when I explained the baby died. Or rather, was killed. He tried to soothe me, tell me that it was just a vision, and that it couldn’t come true. But he knew as well as I did that it very well could come true, and it was a likely prospect for the evil Emperor.
Shadow held me tight, and kissed my head gently. “Don’t worry Mari,” he said sweetly, “Everything will be just fine.” I nod, and though I am not quite reassured, I go back to my inventory work.
I pick up the datapad and continue to count and lift boxes. I can’t help but feel uneasy about the vision I saw, and the feeling in my gut. Soon, all too soon, what I knew was coming, came.
I doubled over in pain, losing my balance and falling to my knees. Tears escape my eyes. It happens too fast for me to even think. My vision comes true. I feel through the Force as the ruby red lightsaber is rammed through her small heart. Celeste is dead. My heart shattered. I felt the burn of the lightsaber through my chest just as vividly as if it were the real thing. I cried out and Shadow rushed to my aide. Within fifteen seconds of coming to my side, he felt it too.
Shadow cried out, “Celeste!” and joined me on the floor. He pulled me close, and together, we wept for our daughter. I couldn’t comprehend what had just happened. I had a feeling something was coming…so why didn’t I trust the feelings? Why didn’t I do anything? There wasn’t anything I truly could have done, and I knew that, but I couldn’t help but feel guilty for not trusting the Force on this.
And now I am paying for it. Celeste is dead! She was murdered by the Empire. My tears drenched Shadow’s tunic as I sobbed into him. My heart was broken. I felt like dying. My baby was gone. I had nothing to live for. Everything in my world was tearing apart.
This was worse than anything we’d come up against so far. This was worse than losing my hand to Darth Vader. Worse than nearly losing Maryanna or Ember. They both lived. Celeste didn’t!!! She was so young! She hardly started her life! And already, it was extinguished. She was only two years old as of tomorrow. The thought of my dead baby girl’s lifeday made my sobs harder and even more filled with pain.
Shadow had tears dripping down his face as well. He pulled me into his lap, as we sat on the ground in the inventory room, and held me close. I put my arms around his neck, kissing him despite the tears we both were shedding. When we released the kiss, he held my head against his shoulder, letting me cry until my tears were gone.
How could this be? What did I do to deserve this? What did I do to deserve such pain? Was this the Force’s way of getting back at me for leaving the Jedi Order? Why destroy such a young life? I’d trade myself for Celeste in a heartbeat. She had her whole life ahead of her. She had a future, a family; she had so many people who were looking out for her, and after her. And now…..my chest began to ache as I wept. I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t handle the thought of life without my daughter. She was so beautiful. I loved her so much. I still love her. I can’t let go. I won’t.
Before too long, I felt Clay’s Force Presence spike. He felt my distress. Of course he did. He’s my brother. He loves to show off by knowing how I’m feeling. I hope he doesn’t know now. I hope he doesn’t have to feel what I am feeling. Ever.
Clay, followed by Maryanna come into the inventory room, to find Shadow and I sobbing on the floor. Clay’s eyes met mine and with a single look he knew what had happened.
“No.” he whispered, voice cracking. “But…how….” He was at a loss for words. Maryanna looked at Clay and placed a hand on his arm. He held her hand and squeezed it. She turned to him and silently, he Force Spoke the situation to Maryanna. She gasped and covered her mouth with her hand. Tears streamed down her cheeks immediately, and she rushed to me.
I stood up, as did Shadow, and embraced my best friend tightly.
“Oh Force I’m so sorry Mari,” she said, “I….I am so, so sorry.” I nodded miserably and hugged her again.
We let go, and I pulled Clay into my arms. He cried with me, he lost his only niece, who he was extremely fond of, and I lost my only daughter, with whom I shared a bond like no other, even at such a young age. Clay’s eyes were unbelieving. He didn’t want to believe it’s true. He was confused. I was confused.
The same questions still ran through my mind. “Why Celeste? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Is it my fault Celeste is dead?” I wiped at my eyes, feeling my tears beginning to trail away. I returned to Shadow’s loving embrace and looked up into his eyes. He closed his eyes and shook his head in sorrow. I bit my trembling lip and closed my eyes as well. Now sitting on a bench in the Inventory room aboard Home One, our entire family fell into a meditative trance, trying to heal as best as we could.
But I knew that I’d never heal. The scar left by Celeste’s absence was too deep. And too fresh. I couldn’t even bear to think about children, or toys or anything that would lead me to think of Celeste, the baby I lost. But each image that flashed across my meditative vision was of Celeste. I could literally feel my heart ripping apart with each image flashing across my eyes.
As I miserably held my head in my hands I knew one thing, I would never be the same again. Never. This is one scar that would never heal. Tears silently fell down my face as I meditated. My hand found Shadows and together we tried to meditate away the pain of the daughter we’ve lost.
Right Before the Tragedy of Celeste:
In the mess hall of Home One, a few X-Wing pilots were enjoying themselves, Ember Sparkstone, Zaren Reesh, Kite Zitar and Glo’Ri Marren among them.
“Having fun?” asked Zaren, poking fun at Ember, who was struggling to maneuver the new repulsorlift chair. Ember felt healed, but she was still overcome by serious bouts of pain every once in a while.
“Why yes, yes I am!” She said sarcastically, causing the others to laugh. Zaren winked at Ember and went sat across from Kite in the mess hall of Home One.
“How are you feeling Ember?” Kite asked, smiling at the pilot.
“Fine.” Ember ground out, beginning to get frustrated with the repulsorlift, hitting it repeatedly with her fist. Kite flipped a switch on the side of the chair and Ember soon had full control of its functions. She smiled gratefully and threw part of her ration bar at Zaren’s head in response to his snickering.
“Can it Zaren! I am not in the mood for your idiot-head remarks!” Ember bit out angrily, causing the other girls to laugh and smack Zaren for her.
“What did I do?!?” Zaren cried, blocking the blows from the other pilots. Ember glared at him.
“Shut up.” She said simply, throwing another piece of rock-hard-ration bar at his head. Zaren caught it and popped it into his mouth.
“Make me.” He said raising an eyebrow at Ember.
Ember smirked and used the Force to make Zaren’s plate of ribenes spill all over his lap.
“HEY!” he cried, grabbing a napkin to clean up the mess on his flight suit.
“Gonna re-think that now Zar?” she said with mock sweetness. Zaren got an evil look in his eyes and stood up, some of the ribenes falling off his lap and splatting on the floor. He stalked over to where Ember was sitting in her malfunctioning repulsorlift, and leaned over, planting a long, firm kiss on her lips.
Ember’s eyes widened in shock and then fluttered in joy. Then widened in shock again as she realized what was going on. Zaren released the kiss and smirked at Ember’s dismayed face. Numb with shock, Ember lifted her hand and smacked Zaren so hard he had a bright red handprint on his cheek.
Now Zaren had the shocked look on his face and Ember was smirking. Kite and Glo’ri, who were still watching with their chins on the ground, started bursting out laughing.
Ember hit the control panel again before spinning around in her repulsorlift and exiting the mess hall, leaving a very stunned Zaren in her wake.
Six Months after the tragedy of Celeste:
Marilee Sunstar sat down next to her husband in their temporary quarters on Alderaan. Things had been going fairly well lately. Marilee and Shadow had focused their time and energy into the Rebellion Against the Empire. Both of them had fallen into a deep depression after the death of their daughter. Though both parents were hit hard, Mari was hit hardest. It was hard for her family and friends to see her so sad.
Clay and Maryanna preoccupied Mari by involving her with the planning of their wedding. It kept Mari’s spirits up, pulling Shadow, Clay and Maryanna’s spirits with them.
Now Mari and Shadow were doing some business on Alderaan, where they both got back in touch with Bail Organa.
After losing her baby, Mari had grown very fond of Bail’s daughter, Leia. Mari offered to babysit for Bail whenever he needed it. Bail’s wife Breha passed away a few months back, and because he often traveled and was working in the Senate and with the Rebellion, he needed someone to watch Leia. Leia and Winter, Bail’s two adopted little girls, took to Mari as an aunt more than a babysitter.
Shadow was glad that Bail understood and let Mari spend time with Leia and Winter. Some of the only times Shadow had seen Mari smile in the past few months was when she was playing with the little girls.
Because of how busy they’d been the past few months, Mari and Shadow had avoided talking about Celeste’s death. The wound was still too fresh to reopen for the heart-broken couple, but both of them knew that the day would eventually come where they would need to talk. Now, as Mari sat next to her husband on the bed in their quarters, she had a feeling that time was now.
“How’re you holding up?” Shadow asked gently, placing his arms around Mari’s shoulders.
Mari sighed and looked up at her husband, leaning into him.
“I’m fine.” She said quietly, closing her eyes in exhaustion. She had been running herself into the ground trying to keep busy. It was mission after mission for the hurting couple, they were sent from one side of the galaxy to the other, doing work for the Rebellion. Mari hadn’t been sleeping since Celeste’s death. Her dreams would constantly torture her, and she couldn’t handle it anymore. Mari had deep dark circles under her normally bright green eyes, which made her look years older than she really was.
Shadow pulled her closer. “We can’t keep mourning her forever Mari.” He said quietly. “You’re going to make yourself sick if you don’t rest.” Mari didn’t respond and just let silent tears fall as she leaned against Shadow’s chest.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, “I…I can’t Shadow.” She said softly, “I can’t keep going.” Shadow kissed her forehead and shook his head.
“Yes you can.” He said, “It’s just as hard for me to move on, and part of me doesn’t want to. But I am. You will too Mari, you just need time to heal.” She nodded and closed her eyes, a few tears trickling down her cheeks.
Shadow wiped them away and kissed her gently. “We can do it Mari.” He said, “I know we can. Just hold on.”
Nine Months After the Tragedy of Celeste:
Mari worked with Maryanna, doing her hair and helping her get dressed. It was Maryanna and Clay’s wedding day, and everything was going to be perfect. Clay and Shadow were getting ready in Clay’s old apartment on Dantooine, getting dressed and ready for the wedding.
Marlinda and Maryanna’s parents prepared the wedding, which was taking place at the same place as Mari and Shadow’s. Mari was Maryanna’s maid of honor, and she wore a pretty little white dress that matched Maryanna’s elaborate white one. Shadow was the best man, and he wore a tuxedo, which he hadn’t gotten to wear since his own wedding day.
The family had arrived back on Dantooine about a month prior to the wedding. All family members were caught up with and filled in on all the happenings in the recent months, including the death of Celeste. Marlinda, Marilee and Clay’s mother, was heartbroken to hear about the death of the granddaughter she never even got to know. With the help of her mother, Mari was beginning to heal after the loss of her child. Though it was hard, and many tears were shed, Mari felt better. She smiled a lot more, and was more herself than she’d been in months. Shadow was forever grateful to Marlinda for helping get his wife back.
When it was time for the wedding ceremony, Maryanna’s father walked her down the aisle and gave her away to her fiancé. Maryanna was excited and nervous, but she loved Clay and knew that their love would overcome anything that life could throw at them. They had already.
“You may kiss the bride.” Said the Dantooine holy man, pronouncing them husband and wife. Clay kissed his bride, swirling her around and around, overjoyed that they were finally married.
Mari, Shadow, Clay and Maryanna celebrated and partied into the night, all of their family and friends surrounding them. They were able to celebrate with their other Rebel friends who were at the wedding and party, relaxing versus always being on the move and in secret. Everyone was celebrating and having a great time, taking their minds off the Empire and all the problems that had occurred in recent months.
Bail Organa, Leia and Winter, Ember, Zaren, Kite, Glo’ri, and several other Rebel personnel were in attendance and it was refreshing for them to be at a party instead of a war-zone.
Mari sat down at a table next to her husband and smiled at him. The dark circles under her eyes weren’t as noticeable, thanks to some much needed rest and relaxation, she now even felt happy something of which she thought she’d never feel again. Shadow leaned over and kissed Mari sweetly, holding her close.
“I love you.” She said quietly, smiling in bliss.
“I love you too.” He said, “And I’m proud of you.” She raised her eyebrow.
“Huh?” Mari asked, smiling a little at her husband.
“I’m proud of you.” He said, “For coming back to us. For letting her go.” Mari sighed and nodded.
“We can’t mourn forever.” She said knowingly, “Besides, she’s with the Force now.” Shadow nodded and kissed her cheek.
“Yes. And we will never forget her.” Mari held Shadow’s hands.
“No, we won’t. But we can move on. We will keep on living.” Shadow stood and pulled Mari to follow him.
“You’re absolutely right. We are going to keep moving forward, and continue to live our lives.” Shadow tugged Mari to follow him.
“Where are you going? “ She asked laughingly, following her husband.
“To the dance-floor.” He said, smiling at her. “Marilee, may I have this dance?” he asked, holding out his hand like a gentleman.
She giggled, “Of course you may.” She said, taking his hand and following him to the center of the dance-floor.
Thirteen Months after the Tragedy of Celeste:
“Oh Force!” Mari breathed, running her hand through her hair as she stared at the datapad before her. She didn’t know whether to be incredibly excited, terrified out of her mind, or a little bit of both. Mari held in her hands the result of a doctor’s pregnancy test. The results were positive. She was pregnant. Again.
Mari sat down and placed her left hand on her flat stomach. Tears formed in her eyes as she remembered her first child, Celeste, who had perished at the hand of the Empire, not but a year ago. Mari wasn’t sure if she was ready to have another baby. She wasn’t sure if she could handle the possibility of losing another child. She couldn’t think. She couldn’t breathe. Too many thoughts were running through her mind at once.
Mari regained her composure and smiled to herself. She was pregnant. Maybe this was a second chance….another chance at becoming a mother. She stood and fled her quarters, desperate to find her husband. She found him in the weapons room, speaking to Admiral Ackbar and General Dodanna about….something to do with weapons, she supposed.
Tears streaming down her cheeks, but smiling as wide as possible, Mari rushed into the room without a second thought. She flew into her husband’s arms, sobbing into him as she smiled, confusing the life out of Shadow. The two army leaders excused themselves as Shadow turned his full attention to his hysterical wife.
“Darling, Mari, what is it?” he asked, still very confused.
“Oh Shadow,” Mari cried, pulling his face toward hers and kissing him in joy.
“Uhmm…..Mari, what is it? What’s wrong?”
“Wrong?” she asked, wiping at her eyes, “Nothing’s wrong! It’s wonderful!!!” She began to sob again, pulling him closer to her.
“What is it, baby? Tell me, Mari.” He pressed, stroking her back soothingly.
“That’s just it!” she cried, “We’re having a baby!!”
Shadow looked at her in shock. “We’re…you’re….wait…” Mari stopped him with another kiss, and smiled brightly.
“Isn’t it wonderful honey?” she asked, looking lovingly into his eyes, wiping the tears from hers.
“Yes…of course it is…it’s just, Mari, are you sure you’re ready for this?” She nodded.
“This is our second chance Shadow. Our second chance at being parents!” He nodded and broke into a grin.
“This is amazing.” He stated, his excitement growing as his thoughts registered.
“I know it is.” She said, lovingly stroking her stomach with her right hand. “I think I’m ready to be a mother again.” She said quietly, smiling at her husband. He nodded.
“I’m glad.” He said, pulling her into a hug. Mari hugged back and the couple kissed happily.
*sniffs* Aww, so sweet! 😉 Well, I hope this lifted your spirits after the last chapter.
That’s it everyone! It’s over!!!! …..
HA! Just kidding!!! I am going to write a sequel!!!!!! Dontcha love me now? 😉 The sequel’s gonna rock, as soon as I actually write the darn thing. xD It’s still in the planning stages/writing stages now, but I have an ‘in-between’ story that will be published very soon! 🙂 Now for my acknowledgements. 😉
Special thanks to:
Jesus, for the ideas and power to get through writing and rewriting this story.
George Lucas and all the other people who own and operate the Star Wars universe. I do not own it. I never will, despite all the Star Wars junk I’ve got in my room. xD
My parents and other family for support.
My cousin/best friend for the character of Ember Sparkstone, and for not killing me when I wrote all day on her birthday. XD
My best friend for the character of Maryanna, Clay and Gabe (who I didn’t even mean to give her until she brought it to my attention. xD)
The Real Maryanna’s sister (also one of my best friends) for the character of Kite Zitar.
The Real Zaren for the character of Zaren Reesh. Don’t kill me for making you kiss Ember. XD It was the character. Not you. ;-P
The Real Vanna for the character of Vanna Ri.
My sister for the character of Glo’ri Marren.
My chiropractor for his support and the character of Dr. Bruce.
MY REVIEWERS!!!!!! OMG YOU ROCK! 😉
Inksaber, you’ve been there since the beginning. Girl, I looked forward to your reviews every day I put a chapter up. 😉
Ley, you’re so kriffing awesome. I had to send you the links, but you read and reviewed, and you helped me with the sequel/last few chapters. So thank you girl, for everything!!!
Kathleen, when you read this, you’ll be caught up. 😉 I owe you! You gave me the character/name Shadow!!! THAT WAS YOU! So thank you. And I love you for that!!!
Lareen, I know you’re a clone trooper fangirl, and I wrote the interaction with the clones for you. 😉
StarWarsNerdGirl, thank you for reading and reviewing!!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!! That’s all I can say! Haha!
StarWarsHarryPotterfangirl1996, thank you for reading and reviewing as well! And adding me to your favorites! That made my day!
Tara, I know you’ll get caught up too, and thank you for your support of ALL my writing. LOVE YOU SISTAH! 😉
To my internet sisters, who I didn’t take in account for, YOU ALL ROCK. You are always there for me to bounce ideas off of, and keep me upbeat and happy. Thank you.
I think that’s about it. Everyone, thank you so much!!! I love you all, and I will be writing like crazy to get the sequel up soon!!!! I promise I won’t abandon the story!! It’ll be good. xD *hugs* May the Force be with you my friends!!!! God Bless!
I hope you enjoyed Reaching for the Stars!!!!! I will be writing a sequel!!!!!!!! 😀
Here are the main (girl) Characters:
Marilee Sunstar ❤
Ember Sparkstone ❤
Maryanna Sorun-Sunstar ❤
Kite Zitar ❤
Glo’ri Marren (my sister designed this one, as it is her character. xD) ❤