Luke's breathing got heavier and faster until he suddenly snapped up and swatted the light on.
"Callista! No!" he shouted, not quite out of his dream.
Beside him, Mara stirred and mumbled, "Huh? What?"
"It was a dream," Luke realized, now fully awake.
"Uh... What dream?" the drowsy Mara replied.
Luke started, "It was horrible. I fell to the Dark Side, and..."
Mara interrupted, "So what? You always have that nightmare . Now go back to sleep. It's 3:00 in the morning."
"But it seemed so real," Luke continued. "All of a sudden, there I was, in the middle of Imperial City. The Imperials had taken over the planet, and I crashed a Star Destroyer on it."
"So you dreamed that Thrawn came back for revenge and managed to take over Coruscant. Big deal. I hear that most of the military planners have the same nightmare. It's nothing new. Who in their right mind would give you command of a Star Destroyer, even in a dream, is beyond me. Now turn off the light and go to sleep," Mara said, pulling her pillow over her head.
"But it wasn't the Grand Admiral. It was just some Imperial factions," he explained.
"Uh huh, sure. And how did they manage that?" came Mara's voice from under the pillow.
"I don't know," he replied. "They were just...there. And then I found out that the Emperor had returned, and then..."
At the mention of her former master, Mara sat up, and said, "You must have been probing my mind in your sleep. I have that dream all the time."
"You do?" Luke said, quite surprised.
"Yeah," she said. "The Emperor comes back and wants to know why I married you instead of killed you."
"What do you tell him?"
"Actually, before I can answer, I'm usually helping you and Vader hack him up. Anyway, good night!" She crashed down into her pillow again.
"Well, I haven't been probing your mind in my sleep," he replied. "In my dream, the Emperor came back into a clone of himself. Then he invited me to join the Dark Side, and I just went along."
"And why did you do that?" said the increasingly tired voice of his wife.
"I don't know..." Luke said. "I just...did. But Leia helped me out of it and we killed the Emperor again."
"Good for you. Now go to sleep."
"But there's more. He came back again a few months later. Sort of like one of those bad chain ads on the holonet. And he was blowing up planets again. And he had the ability to turn any of his servants into Dark Siders, whether or not they were Force sensitive. Sort of like 'Zap! You're a Dark Jedi!' But I managed to hold out against them with some potential Jedi I found. I actually stumbled across a planet full of decendants of the Jedi, and they all had Force potential."
"Gee, a whole planet full. Sure. One or two Jedi, here and there, maybe, but there's no way the Emperor would have missed a whole planet full of them."
"I don't know how he missed them. But anyway, we killed the Emperor a third time, and he tried to possess the body of one of Han and Leia's kids, but a dying Jedi got in the way, so he took the Emperor with him when he died."
"Tried to possess another body? How could he do that?"
"I don't know. But we were all worried about the possibility of him coming back again."
Mara, now quite annoyed, replied, "Well, don't worry about him coming back. He's dead. And even if he did come back, I would be the first to know. Now shut off that light. I've heard enough about the Emperor for tonight - or this morning - or whatever this is."
"But there's more," Luke insisted. "I started a Jedi academy."
"Don't tell me, let me guess...on Dagobah?" came the pillow-muffled voice.
"No. On Yavin 4. And there was this 4,000 year old Sith lord that tried to possess my students."
"Trying to possess your students, huh? Why didn't you just leave?"
"I don't know," Luke replied. "Even after he almost killed me, I still stayed there."
Mara, now realizing that she would not get to sleep until Luke was done, sat up and asked, "So this is when I come in and destroy the ghost that tried to kill you, right?"
"Actually, no. You didn't even know it had happened. And what's even more bizzarre, neither did Leia."
"You're right. That is strange. Why didn't we know?"
"I don't know," Luke replied again. "At the same time, there was this ship that could destroy stars."
"A super Death Star, right?"
"No," Luke said. "A fighter sized ship that could fire a torpedo and was indestructible. In fact, Han was flying it while being chased by four Star Destroyers, and they couldn't destroy it. He actually ran it through one of them as a diversion to get to hyperspace. Destroyed the Destroyer, but Han came out just fine."
"So," Mara asked, "if Han could run it through one of the Star Destroyers that was chasing him, why didn't he just run it through the rest of them and be done with them all?"
"I don't know," Luke said. "Anyway, the thing eventually got sucked into a black hole, along with the prototype Death Star."
"Don't tell me the Death Star came back again, too?"
"No," Luke replied, "it was the prototype Death Star."
"Luke, you yourself blew up the prototype a long time ago. What, do you think the Emperor would have built a prototype planet smashing Super-Laser and then just left it in storage?"
"You're right. What a strange dream."
Mara was about to tell Luke to shut the lights off again when she noticed the handeled mug with a strange brown liquid in it sitting on the night stand on Luke's side of the bed. "You've been drinking one of Lando's exotic concoctions again, haven't you? How many times have I warned you not to drink that hot chocolate stuff late at night?"
"Funny you should mention Lando. He was in my dream, too."
"As strange as this dream is, I guess he must have gotten a real money making enterprise going - and kept it. Right?"
"Well, it was a strange dream - but not THAT strange. Actually, he was hitting up on you."
Mara laughed out loud. "You know, I wish he would. Just to see the look on his face when I turn him down. Must've been fun to watch in that dream."
"Actually, no. In the dream, you took him up on it. You took to living with him and wearing his clothes, but then turned around and denied the whole thing."
"I did WHAT!? You have GOT to be kidding. There's no way I'd let Lando... I'd never... I'd sooner take my lightsaber and cut him in half!"
"Actually, I don't think you had that lightsaber in my dream. At least, I never saw it."
"Please, Luke. Tell me YOU cut him in half! Tell me that YOU saved me from that fate worse than death. That's almost as bad as if C'baoth got me. If you didn't kill him, at least tell me that you put ME out of my misery!"
"Sorry. I didn't."
"I don't know," Luke said again. "I didn't seem to care. It was terrible. I felt like I was nobody for a while. I had no emotions when Lando was hitting on you, and then once you were intimate, I didn't care. About you, that is. I still cared about Han, Leia, and their kids. Their kids were kidnapped at one point in my dream."
Mara, more than a little angry about Luke's dream, nevertheless questioned this new information. "You mean to tell me that someone actually got through the Noghri? Or did Leia actually manage to get the Noghri to stop surrounding her and the kids in your dream?" As she said this, she got a strange feeling that something was amiss. "Mahk?" she said in no particular direction. The door slid open and a Noghri bodyguard appeared with a wicked looking knife in his hand.
"What is wrong, Consort of the Son of Vader?" he said in a gravelly voice.
"Nothing," Mara said. "Just checking to see if you were hiding under the bed again. Just last week I caught one of you under there."
"We are here to protect the Son of Vader. The bed presents an excellent hiding space to ambush those who would harm him. There are some new bodyguards who have not yet been told of your preferences in this matter and seek to take advantage of the hiding place to better protect the Son of Vader. I shall talk to the others about this. Is there anything else?"
Mara shook her head. "No. I'm sorry about bothering you."
"Sleep well, Consort of the Son of Vader." The door slid shut behind the Noghri. "Why does he still call me 'Consort'? I don't know how many times I've told him to stop it."
"We tried to work something out, remember?" Luke pointed out.
"Oh, yeah, we did. It's just that it works a lot better for Han. I mean, 'Mara clan Skywalker' just doesn't sound as good as 'Han clan Solo'. Even 'Mara clan Jade' doesn't sound right. But now, back to this dream."
"Well, there weren't any Noghri in my dream. Strange. I see them often enough. Anyhow, there was this incident in the Corellian system where someone was blowing up stars in an attempt to secede from the New Republic."
"Wait a minute. I thought you said that thing got sucked into a black hole?"
"No, it was a different one."
"Another star killing super weapon?"
"Well, yeah. But the really strange thing was, Han and Leia thought you did it."
"Luke this is ridiculous. Why would I destroy stars?"
"They figured you might want to set up a new Empire with yourself in charge. But they came around. It turned out that one of the people involved in the plot was Han's evil twin cousin."
"Twin cousin? Luke, you're scaring me."
"I mean, they looked like each other. Anyway, at this other part of the dream, I was aboard some enormous ship that was taking aliens and turning them into Stormtroopers. There were even these Basic-speaking Gamorreans that thought they were Stormtroopers."
"You're right, it is a strange dream. Talking Gamorreans. They must have looked funny in Stormtrooper armor, though."
"They sure did. Then there was this ghost Jedi."
Mara groaned. "Another one?"
"Not a Sith Lord," Luke said. "She had given her life to stop the ship, and her spirit was stuck in it. She came back to life in a leggy blonde student of mine and we fell in love, but then she left me because she couldn't get her Jedi skills back."
"So THAT's what this is all about. You've been fantasizing about someone else and made up this elaborate story to cover it up. Then you wind up confessing, anyway. I told you that farm-boy honesty was going to get you into trouble. Hmm. And you try to accuse me of being involved with Lando. Some noble Jedi you are."
Luke didn't need the Force to know that he was in trouble. "It was just a dream! I couldn't help it! It just happened! Just like the girl from that planet of Jedi that I fell in love with, only she died.
"Luke! How could you! Dreaming of other women..."
"Mara, please! It was only a dream! It doesn't mean anything."
"No, you usually dream about things that you have seen before and thought about. You probably saw these girls somewhere and regretted that I'm not a blonde. I'm too tired to talk about it now, but tomorrow morning, we'll have a long discussion."
Luke got a face full of Mara's long red-gold hair as she leaned over him to turn off the lights. "But Mara, I didn't mean..."
"Go to sleep. Don't talk to me again tonight. Good night." Mara turned her head away from her husband and ran through some Jedi relaxation techniques that he had taught her.
With this, Luke lay back down, but couldn't sleep. The dream seemed so real. He lay awake trying to figure out what it all ment, whether there was any sense to be made out of the jumble of episodes that had tormented his rest. After about 20 minutes, a new thought dawned on him. He sat up and snapped on the lights again.
"Uhhh...What is it now?" asked Mara, feeling quite annoyed at being awakened again.
"I've got it! I know what it is!" Luke said triumphantly. "It was a Jedi vision! That explains why I've never seen some of those people before. That's why my emotions were mixed up."
"Are you saying that all those things are going to happen in the future? Well, don't worry, 'cause they won't. I don't have much confidence in Jedi visions of the future. Or is this just your way of trying to get out of the trouble you're in? Are you just making up another excuse for your fantasies?"
"No, I'm not!" Luke defended. "Besides, it didn't seem like the future. More like the past."
"But none of that ever happened."
"I know," Luke said. "It must have been an alternate past."
"Sure. Alternate pasts. I knew I should have thought twice about marrying a Jedi. Of course, if what you say is true, and I consider the alternative... never mind."
"No, really!" Luke replied. "I saw one once on Dagobah. I saw that if Jabba the Hutt had let you come along to the Sarlacc Pit, you would have succeeded in killing me.
"Don't go digging up my past again. I've put it behind me. You of all people should know that."
"I didn't mean it that way, Mara. I meant that I could have been seeing what would have happened if something else didn't happen. I wonder what it was..."
"While you're wondering, could I get some sleep? Please?"
"Oh, all right," Luke said as he turned the lights off.
Luke was too interested in his vision to sleep. He looked to the Force for insight into the meaning of the vision, hoping to figure out what could have made the difference. After a half hour of dead-ends, it suddenly came to him.
"I've got it!" he shouted, as he turned the lights on again.
"Uhhh...fine. Now turn off the lights."
"Don't you want to know what it was?"
"No, and if you don't shut up about it, I'll make you sleep on the couch for the next week. Wait a minute - that's probably what you want, isn't it? Oh, all right. What was it?"
"The lightsaber!" Luke said, a little too loud for this time of night. "I gave you my father's lightsaber! That's why all those things never happened!" he explained excitedly.
Mara felt a tremor in the Force coming from the next room. She groaned, "Oh, no..." and reached out with the Force. "You're really lucky, you know that? You were just about to get in even more trouble than you're already in," Mara said with an obviously softer voice.
"What's wrong?" Luke replied, not quite catching on.
"All your shouting almost woke the kids up. And you know how hard it is to get them back to sleep. Now keep it down."
"Sorry," Luke said, much quieter.
"That's an interesting interpretation. But I don't think that some of those things would have happened anyway. I seriously doubt that the Emperor would return and you'd meet a 4,000 year old Sith Lord if you didn't give me the lightsaber."
"You're right," Luke said. "I guess it must have started as just a dream, and then a Jedi vision popped up in the middle of it. That might explain why you didn't show up until later. Well, I guess I could turn off the lights now."
Mara stopped him. "Just a minute. Before you do that, I want you to tell me something. If this was a vision, and if some of those things would have happened if you hadn't given me that lightsaber, are you still glad you did, or do you wish you didn't?"
"Why do you think I would wish I didn't?"
"Well, you seemed to come out of that pretty well. You got your blonde, and Lando got me. So I want to know if you honestly wish that it happened."
"How could you even think that I would want that to happen?" Luke said, getting a bit louder.
"Shhh!" Mara whispered. "Maybe because you had no feelings for me in this dream, or vision, or whatever it was. Or perhaps you wish I looked different."
"Actually, for a while, you did. When you first showed up, your hair was shorter, and sort of a red-brown color. Then it turned back. Then auburn again, then normal again.""
"Get real. That's about as likely as this whole Lando thing. I don't dye my hair. Why would I do that?"
"Yeah, yeah, you don't know."
"It was kind of interesting when you and Callista got a chance to talk together..."
"Who is Callista? Never mind, I think I know."
"She asked you if you were attracted to me at one time."
Mara got an evil look on her face as she briefly contemplated some wonderfully wicked things she'd like to say to such a person. "So what did I tell her?"
"Something about how you had once wanted to kill me, so it wouldn't work out."
"At least THAT sounds familiar. We always used to tell people that, remember?"
"But I suppose the only reason I said that in your dream was because of that ...Lando business."
"Actually, that was when you started denying it. By the way, now that you've mentioned Lando again..."
"No! I don't want to hear any more about Lando in your dream!" Mara said, her voice rising a few decibels.
"No, not in my dream," Luke reassured her. "I think you were right. Maybe it was one of his concoctions that brought this on. But not the chocolate. I think it was that bowl of that strange spiced stew. My stomach is a little upset. I guess that might explain how that incompetent female Imperial Admiral could lose three out of four Star Destroyers and still be given command of a Super Star Destroyer and team up with Thrawn's second-in- command."
"WHAT? Well... I don't see why not. Those indigestion dreams can get really weird sometimes. They never seem to make any sense."
"Tell me about it. Nothing was the least bit logical. I think that dream may have actually made my indigestion worse. Maybe I can use a Jedi technique to ease the pain," Luke said.
"Actually, I have a better idea," Mara volunteered. "If you know a Jedi technique to help you forget things, use it. Now, turn off the light."
"Sure," Luke said and flicked the lights off. "I don't suppose you'd want to hear about the Death Star type thing the Hutts were building?"
"No. Now go to sleep."
It really was a strange, pointless dream, he thought. But there was a Jedi vision mixed in there. An alternate past could never be changed, but perhaps there was a lesson in it for the present. Luke fell asleep contemplating what this could be.