The stars looked beautiful to Luke. They really looked no different than they did when he left Coruscant two months ago, but now that he was returning, they seemed brighter somehow. Perhaps it was just his feelings of happiness reflected in the stars. "Artoo, what's our estimated time to Coruscant?" Luke asked. R2-D2 beeped faintly from his position in the X-Wing, as the figures began to appear on Luke's screen. The little droid said it would be another 20 minutes. "That's 20 minutes too long," Luke mumbled. Artoo beeped questioningly. "No, that's alright. I don't want to strain the engines. I guess I'm just anxious to get home," Luke answered. Artoo twittered in agreement. Luke laughed. "I thought you missed Threepio. I'm sure he misses you as well. It'll only be a few minutes until..." Luke broke off as Artoo began beeping excitedly.
A bright light filled the cockpit, as an unusual phenomena appeared in front of the X-Wing. Luke's instruments began to fail, as they were somehow pulled toward the anomaly. "Artoo, full reverse!" Luke yelled. It was no use. The ship continued to move into the phenomena. The X-Wing shuttered violently against the strain of the opposing forces. Luke was afraid it would break apart under the stress. Luke screamed over the noise, "Artoo, shut down the engines. The strain is too much for..." Luke's body was thrown like a rag doll in his seat. The reaction of the sudden loss of engine power threw Luke forward. His head hit the instrument panel. Then everything went black.
"Luke, can you hear me? Please wake up."
Leia. That was Leia's voice. Luke struggled to pull himself from unconsciousness. "Leia," he whispered.
"I'm right here, Luke," Leia replied, relief in her voice.
Luke slowly opened his eyes and tried to focus. He could barely make out Leia's face through the blur. "Where am I?" he asked. "
You're in the medical center on Coruscant," Leia answered. "Your ship was found floating in space just out of orbit. You were unconscious when they found you. Can you tell me what happened?"
"I'm not sure," Luke said as he tried to sit up. "One minute I was talking to Artoo, the next, I don't know. Some kind of anomaly appeared in front of us and started to drag the ship toward it. When I tried to reverse the ship, it began to vibrate from the strain. I must have hit my head and blacked out." Luke looked around the room. It looked different than he remembered. Well, he hadn't spent much time in the med center lately. Perhaps they'd made changes recently.
"Where's Mara?" he asked.
Leia looked shocked. "Mara?" she asked. "I think she's in her room."
She paused, baffled. "Do you want to see her?"
"Of course," Luke replied.
Leia's surprise worried Luke. He hoped nothing had happened while he was gone. Leia called Mara on the comm. She arrived a few minutes later. She seemed different to Luke. He couldn't quite put his finger on the difference, but it was there.
"Hello, Luke," Mara said. "You wanted to see me?"
Luke tried to get up from the bed. As he did, the dizziness began to overtake him. Leia and Mara caught him on either side before he fell.
"Perhaps you should lie down, Luke," Mara said.
"No, I just want to go to my room. I think I may need your help, though," Luke said as he stood supported by the two women. Leia and Mara helped Luke upstairs to a room in the palace. As Luke entered the room, he looked around. Something was definitely wrong. Everything had changed. It looked...It looked sparse. As though he hadn't lived there in a long time.
"What's going on? Where is everything? Mara, what's happened to the room?" Luke asked. "You didn't move us without telling me, did you?"
Mara and Leia looked at each other, confused. "How hard did he hit his head?" Mara asked Leia.
Leia just shrugged. "Maybe we should take you back to the medical center. They can run some tests, and I'm sure you'll feel much better..."
"I don't need to go back to the med center. I just want someone to explain what's happened here," Luke said as he sat on the sofa.
As Leia began to reply, her comm beeped. "Yes, what is it?" she asked.
"Madame Organa-Solo, we've found something we think you should see," the voice said.
"I'll be right there." Leia glanced at Luke, then Mara.
"I'll stay with him," Mara said.
Leia hesitated, then turned and left the room.
"Well, are you going to explain this to me, or do I have to persuade you?" Luke asked teasingly.
Mara was really confused now. "What has gotten into you?" Mara asked him as she sat on the couch a good arms length away from him. She didn't know what was going on, but she thought it best to keep her distance. "Why don't you tell me why you left Yavin IV.
"Luke looked at her sharply. "Yavin IV?! Why in the galaxy would I go to Yavin IV? I haven't been there since the Death Star was destroyed."
"That blow to the head must have scrambled your senses worse than I thought," Mara commented. "Leia was right. You should go back and have the doctors take another look at you."
Luke closed his eyes and calmed himself through the force. Concentrating, he could feel the difference in this place, the place he thought he knew so well. His home. But was it? It felt wrong somehow. Terribly wrong. He opened his eyes and looked at Mara. She looked back concerned, but distant. That was wrong, too. "Mara, something is wrong, but I don't believe it's me. Or maybe it is. I don't know. Perhaps my memory was affected in the...whatever it was. Can you just tell me what's going on? Why did you think I was on Yavin IV?"
Now Mara was worried. She decided that she'd better go along with him, at least until Leia came back. Maybe Leia could talk some sense into him. "Alright," Mara began. "After the Emperor was resurrected..."
Luke reached over and grabbed her arm. "The Emperor?! When did that happen? Did he come after you? Are you ok?" Luke blurted out in alarm.
"Ow. Luke, let go of my arm." Mara twisted out of his grip. "You don't remember the Emperor cloning himself and turning you to the dark side?" she asked, alarmed. Luke took a deep breath.
"When did that happen?"
"About a year after Thrawn and C'Baoth were defeated."
"At least that I remember," Luke mumbled. "Why don't you start at the beginning. How did the Emperor turn me to the dark side? Did he use you as bait somehow?" Luke asked.
"No," Mara said. "I wasn't involved in that. I was still with the Smugglers' Alliance." Luke looked at her, surprised.
"You didn't feel him when he was resurrected? He didn't call to you, The Emperor's Hand?" Mara thought for a moment.
"That is odd, isn't it," she replied. "You'd think I'd be the first to know." Now Mara was confused. She'd never thought about that before. Funny, it had never come up in a conversation, either.
Luke shook his head. "I've got a bad feeling about this," he said under his breath. He had to find out what was going on. "Let's move on. What happened after that?" "Well, about a year after you and Leia defeated the Emperor, you formed a Jedi Academy on Yavin IV. You started with nearly ten students, I think," Mara said.
"Ten students at one time? How in the world could anyone teach so many students at once and give them the attention they needed to become a Jedi? Not to mention the potential dangers to the students should a dark Jedi surface." Luke was baffled by his supposed actions.
"Were you there? Is that where I taught you to become a Jedi?" he asked.
"I started the training, but I left before it was complete," she said. "Why would you leave? I gave you my old lightsaber and told you that you were on your way to becoming a Jedi Knight. You do remember that, don't you?" He asked her.
"Of course, but things were different after that. You had other students, and I wasn't interested," Mara replied.
"Not interested?" Luke asked. "What could have been more important than becoming a Jedi? You had, have, such potential. I can't believe you would throw that away?"
"Now, wait a minute," Mara responded. "You weren't all that interested back then. You seemed more concerned about that kid that Han found on Kessel, Kyp. You said he was the most powerful potential Jedi you'd ever met. Then that 4,000 year old Sith lord tried to possess your students and tried to kill you..."
"Please tell me that's when I left Yavin," Luke pleaded.
"No. You stayed. In fact, you still have the academy there and that's where you live with Callista." Luke looked up sharply. This was getting worse by the minute.
"Who is Callista?" Mara stared at him. "You don't remember your wife?"
"My wife?! But you're..." Luke broke off. This was more than just his memory. He knew who his wife was, and she wasn't named Callista. He definitely didn't belong here. Luke rose and looked out the window. Even Coruscant itself seemed changed. It looked as if it had been through some kind of war. But that wasn't possible. This was the most heavily guarded planet in the universe.
Mara got up and followed him to the window. She could tell something was somehow off about Luke. He was a Jedi Master. There was no way he could just forget such events completely.
Luke turned to face Mara. He looked in her eyes and saw a glimmer of the woman he knew, but just a glimmer. She looked the same on the outside, but the inside...he could sense she wasn't the Mara he knew. Mara could feel his eyes peering into her soul. It made her feel uncomfortable.
"Luke," Mara began. Luke leaned towards her and cut the words off with a kiss. He had to know for sure. Her lips felt the same, but, again, different. If this were his Mara, she would at least return the gesture with more feeling, more passion.
Mara pulled away. She stared at him in astonishment. "Luke, what was that all about?" she asked breathlessly.
"Mara, I don't belong here," he replied. He paused, considering his options. There wasn't much he could do at the moment. He wasn't even sure how he got here. He may as well learn all he could about this place, just in case these events threatened to occur back home. "Why don't you tell me more about this Callista. Who is she? How did I meet her?" he asked. Mara looked puzzled, but decided to humor him.
"You met her on a ship that was taking aliens and turning them into Stormtroopers. She was a dead Jedi whose spirit became trapped when she tried to stop the ship. She came back to life when she transferred her spirit into a student who was with you at the time."
"What?! There is no way that could happen. A Jedi can't just transfer his spirit into another person's body. Besides that, a Jedi's spirit has to have another Jedi to anchor itself to in order to remain on this plane of existence. Don't you think Ben or Yoda would have come back in another person's body if they could. We certainly could have used them to help defeat the Empire. Not only that, but ALL the Jedi, light and dark, would have come back before! They would never have died if they didn't have to. There was still work to be done."
Luke was clearly becoming agitated. He couldn't believe this ridiculous scenario. And how could he fall in love with a DEAD woman?! None of this made any sense. Perhaps the force worked differently in this universe. "At least she's a Jedi," he said.
"But she lost her powers when she transferred her spirit," Mara said. "Then how could she ever protect herself, or our children? Do we have any children?" Luke asked. He hoped not. After all the precautions he'd made to protect his family; the Jedi training, the Nogrhi body guards. He could never live with himself if he knew he'd put them in danger out of ignorance. Especially after discovering what happened to Mara and her family when she was a child. "Please tell me we don't have children," he pleaded.
"No. Not yet," she replied. "You weren't concerned about that before."
"Let's change the subject. That one's too weird and disturbing for me to think about," Luke paused. "What about you? What have you been doing all this time if you haven't become a Jedi?" he asked.
"Well, Lando and I are still together..." Mara started.
"Lando?! You're with Lando?" This was really wierd. "How did that happen?" Mara shrugged. "He was very persistent. After all, he bet Han for the Falcon and won, then he gave it back. I thought that was very generous of him."
Luke laughed. This was getting ridiculous. "Why would Han bet the Falcon? He loves that ship more than anything. And Lando would never give up anything he won unless there was something in it for him."
Luke thought for a moment. Then it occured to him. "You weren't impressed by that, were you? He must have done that to get on your good side. I can't believe you would fall for it. With your Jedi senses, although undeveloped, you should have been able to see right through him. And Lando. He never trusted you before. Remember he was the one who first recognized you from Jabba's Palace. He wouldn't even believe me when I tried to tell him you were on our side. Even Han wanted to leave you on the ship back on Wayland. You 'd think Han would have talked Lando out of it at least." Luke continued to laugh.
"I don't think it's that funny,"
Mara replied. "At least someone found me attractive. You certainly never gave me a second thought. In fact, you've practically ignored me since we defeated C'Baoth and your clone."
Luke stopped laughing. "I didn't mean you aren't attractive. I happen to think you're extremely beautiful. I always have. It's just that nothing here makes sense."
"So what do you think is going on?" she asked. "I think that anomaly I ran into was some kind of rip in space, a portal to an alternate reality," he hesitated. "Either that, or I'm losing my mind."
Mara smiled. "I doubt that. You're not acting crazy, like C'Baoth," she said. "If your other theory is true, how are you going to get back?"
As Luke started to answer, Leia burst into the room followed be a man in a general's uniform.
"Luke," Leia began, "When I spoke to Callista on Yavin, she said you were still there. 'You' had never left. I spoke to the real Luke and you're not him! Who are you, and what is going on here." Luke and Mara looked at each other.
Luke said, "I don't believe I'm the Luke you know. I think that anomaly I flew threw brought me to your universe, taking me out of mine. If I'm right, I should leave before the anomaly disappears." The general spoke up, "The anomaly is still there, but it is beginning to close." He turned to Leia. "How do we know he's telling the truth?" "He has no reason to lie. Besides, I can feel he's telling the truth." She looked at Luke. "I'll make sure your ship is ready. Mara said, "I'll take him to his ship."
Mara stood beside Luke as he checked on Artoo. The little droid appeared to be unharmed. He had stayed with the ship when Luke was brought to the medical center and had seemed quite relieved to see Luke in one piece. Mara turned to Luke. "The Mara you know, is she very different from me?"
Luke turned to the woman he knew, yet was unfamiliar to him. "She's beautiful, intelligent, stubborn, independent, forthright," he paused and smiled, "she's the most wonderful woman I've ever known."
Luke looked at Mara. He thought he felt a sadness deep inside her. This Mara hadn't yet overcome the obstacles his had. The obstacles that had helped her become one of the strongest Jedi he's known.
Mara said, "Perhaps there's still hope for me, then." She leaned forward and kissed him farewell. "I don't suppose you'd consider staying here, would you?" she asked.
Luke smiled. "I can't. I still have work to do in my universe, and a family to see." Luke climbed into the cockpit of his X-Wing and started the preflight sequence.
"Let's get out of here, Artoo."
The flight through the anomaly went off without a hitch. Especially since he had the sense not to fight the forces pulling him in. It made for a much smoother ride. When he was through, he contacted Coruscant's Defense Control to arrange destruction of the anomaly. He certainly didn't want to go back to that universe again!
He landed the X- Wing and climbed out of the ship. There were two people waiting for him when he arrived. "Daddy!" a little blonde boy, about four years old, yelled as he flew into Luke's arms. Luke swung the child up into his arms.
'What happened to you? I could feel you come closer to the planet, but then you disappeared. I was worried. And you know what I'm like when I'm worried,' his wife spoke in his mind.
`I'll explain everything later,' Luke replied. He put his son down, pulled Mara to him and kissed her. Yes, this was most definitely his wife, the woman he loved. "It sure is good to be home," he said.