Mara Jade blew through the former Imperial Palace, now seat of the New Republic government, like a angry vornskr, only more dangerous.
"Excuse me, Master Trader Jade, but President Organa Solo cannot be disturbed at this moment," a frightened aide approached her cautiously. She pushed past the young girl without a word, her eyes flashing dangerously.
"But Master Trader Jade..." The aide's frantic cries rang in her ears as she pushed open the massive doors that held the president's inner sanctuary.
With one swift glance she took in the scene in front of her. Leia stood beside her immense desk, looking small in comparison. She was in the middle of some sort of lecture, no doubt. Obviously not very interesting, an inner part of Mara's brain reflected as she took in the bored faces of various senators and other dignitaries that had immediately looked up at her whirlwind entrance. The aide spluttered behind her as Leia broke off whatever she had been saying.
"And so the trade route must...Hello Mara. I'm busy at the moment." Mara had to hand it to the tiny Alderaanian. She didn't lose her calm for a moment. Well, two could play at that game.
"Excuse me, President Organa Solo." she used Leia's formal name, something she hadn't done since the end of the Corellian fiasco, and her voice was cold as steel. Leia noticed the change, and modified her tone in reply. She had been expecting Mara to come, only not quite this soon.
"You'll have to wait, Master Trader Jade." She gestured to the senators in front of her.
"No need," one spoke up in concise Basic. "We will wait, Princess Organa."
It was a representative from Alderaan, Mara noted. No one else called Leia by that title. Leia looked as though she was about to argue, but then changed her mind. Maybe she saw how bored her minions had become.
"Very well. Meeting is adjourned." The president turned to face Mara as the lower dignitaries gathered their stuff and filed out.
"This is unacceptable, Mara." Her voice held mild rebuke as she gestured for an aide to shut the giant doors of her office.
"*This* is unacceptable?" Mara hissed, her voice dangerously low, red-gold hair glinting in the sunlight that came through the one window. "No. What you did, Madame Organa Solo, is unacceptable!" Leia looked bewildered.
"If you are referring to Luke," she began slowly.
"Yes, I am referring to Luke." Mara interrupted her. "Don't look innocent, Leia. This has your doing written all over it. I thought after Corellia we had an understanding."
"You mistrusted me then, and you had reason to. I would have done thesame in your situation. You didn't know me, and the timing was right. But I risked my life for your family. I never asked for anything in return. *This* is the gratitude I receive?"
"Mara, let me explain." Leia said.
"Fine. Explain. I'm listening." Mara said, and her voice conveyed that if she didn't like the explanation she received, she might just cleave Leia in half with Anakin's lightsaber, which hung unusually threateningly at her belt. Leia sighed.
"You better sit down. It's a long story..."
"I'll stand, if you don't mind."
"All right." Leia shuffled some of the papers in front of her to collect her thoughts. "I understood you and Luke had no personal connections with one another...was I correct in assuming that?"
"We're friends," Mara said in a flat tone, betraying nothing. "This doesn't have anything to do with my connection to Luke. It's what *you* did to him that I take issue with."
"There were circumstances..."
"Circumstances? Now what would that be? The slush fund they found in his name, the blame you tried to shift on me, or the fact that you and Callista have been keeping in touch all this time, and you've never once told Luke about it?"
Leia started at Mara's last remark. "How did you know---"
"About Callista? Please...you're already forgetting a fact that you've been pointing out so well; I'm the Emperor's Hand, and always will be."
"That wasn't how I meant it at the time."
"Then what was it supposed to mean? From your first comment, I'd take it that you think I'm sleeping with him too, as well as using his name and fund to keep all my black market profits in," Mara's voice was heavily laced with sarcasm. "Of course, it must be my fault, and of course, you don't consider how that makes Luke look! The fund was started by you, as a way to pay for his expenses and the miscellaneous needs for the Academy. Why hasn't anyone checked *you* out, Madame Chief of State?"
"I don't like what you're insinuating."
"I don't like what you've already insinuated, Madame," Mara spat, "so I guess we're even."
"Well, if you didn't do it, then who did, Master Trader?"
"I think you know, and you're covering for them. My reputation has been ruined by you, however, in a failed attempt to redeem your brother. That I can't forgive, both for me and for him. Maybe he'll forgive you, but the trust I had invested in you once is gone, Madame. I hope for your sake that he doesn't feel the same way I do."
With a final glare, Mara stalked out of the room, wishing she had given in on her earlier urges, and also glad at the same time that she hadn't. As she walked out the door, she never saw Leia turn on the comlink. "Make sure she leaves the building, Gerlian. I don't want her to get lost."
A beeping sound went off, and Leia realized it was her page. Who was calling her now? After securing a terminal to a private channel, she accessed the page's coordinates. In seconds a woman's face came into view, ash blonde hair pulled back into a clip, and grey eyes focused directly at the Chief of State. "I felt something odd, just now. What happened?"
Leia's mouth tightened into a grim line. "We have a problem."
Mara Jade walked angrily through the streets of Coruscant, shaking inside from what she and Leia had been discussing.
She leaned against the wall on a dimly lit alley, nearby the Coruscant night blossoms were blooming a few feet in front of her. During the day Coruscant blossoms were bright orange which changed color at night but were equally beautiful. Walking to it she picked it easily and sniffed it. No one had ever in her life given her flowers before. And she never gave a man reason to.
Mara looked at the high tower behind her recognizing it immediately. It was the tower with Luke's quarters at the top. Mara looked at the flower in her hand feeling a battle raging anew inside her. No, she didn't want to see him, she couldn't! She had pressing matters to attend to...
After walking back and forth about three times and dropping the flower twice, trying to convince herself she didn't need it, she began to scale the wall leading to Luke's room.
Walking up to the balcony, Mara Jade gazed over into the fairly simple apartment to where Luke Skywalker lay sleeping peacefully.
Mara knocked on the window, against her better judgement.
Trying hard not to make enough noise to alert the "woman" on the other end of the transmission, Lando slipped out from underneath Leia's desk. He grabbed the hand at her side and rubbed his moustache against it.
"Easy now, lover, " he whispered. "Just take it slow and explain it using small enough words for Callie to understand."
Leia's breath caught, a murmur escaping from her. It took all those years of cotillion practice and debutante balls to keep her expression perfectly stilled and calm for the benefit of the airhead on the other end of the transmission. "JUST GIVE ME A SEC, CAL-LIS-TA," she intoned slowly, annuciating each word clearly for the vapid blonde. No two syllable words for the woman who was an empty as a hard drive after a format c: command.
Leia ducked down behind the desk, hissing. "How many TIMES do have to tell you!!! Not here!! What is Han found out?"
A scraping of boots at the doorway caused Leia to peek around the side of her desk. Lando, too craned his neck to the desk's edge to see who had just entered.
"Han already knows," a deep baritone, that went with the boots announced.
Han looked down at his small wife, and was once again taken by her dimunitive beauty. Hard as durasteel, soft as a satin pillow on a spring night, she was never to be taken lightly. And now, here she was, consorting with Lando.
"Outta there, Lando," He said, sighing. "What game is it now? More gambling on the *Falcon?* You think we're going through that again?"
Lando gave everyone his abashed look. "I just want her back, that's all."
Han's face held a fleeting puzzled expression. "Who?" was all he could say, although the better expession would have been 'which one?'
"Mara!" The anguish on Lando's face was genuine. "It hasn't been the same without her, ole buddy! I dream about her all the time, that is when I can sleep....."
"Wait a minute, wait a minute...." Han put a hand up, stopping his erstwhile buddy in his proverbial tracks. "You mean to tell me that you're in love with....."
"Mara, I'm in love with Mara Jade!" Lando interrupted, his voice suddenly echoing off the muffled office walls.
Leia willed her mouth shut. "I thought..... I thought...." she stuttered and Han gave a moment to satisfaction as he finally saw his beloved wife speechless.
Lando stalked to the other side of the room and retrieved one of his gaudy capes. "You thought I was in it for the money, Princess," he said, forgetting himself and using the familiar title. "But, I'm telling you this time, it's for something else."
Han crossed his arms and sat down in a nearby chair. An expression of control was settled on his rakish features and he pulled a hand through his lanky hair. The hazel eyes were deep and penetrating. "What about Tendra?"
Lando turned away in something like embarrassment. "She's gone, Han. Turned me down cold. Told me I was on the rebound...."
Han started to laugh. "Well, well, so much for convenient plotlines...." he began.
But then an alarm went off. The secret palace alarm. Han gave his wife a searching look as she punched at a switch. "What is it?" she asked, an edge in her voice.
"Intruder, ma'am. Skywalker's quarters."
"Send in security. I'm on my way." Leia switched off the intercom and glared at the pair. "We will discuss this later," she said as she stalked out. Han grinned, but Lando blanched.
"So Han, old buddy, tell me. Does she still practice with that lightsaber?"
Luke groggily woke up to find that his window was being knocked on. Knocked on?! He was nearly at the top of the Imperial Palace! Who could possibly...?
The answer came swiftly enough. "Hey, Skywalker, you awake?"
Still groggy, he threw open the window without thinking. A silent alarm went off in the back of Mara's mind, and on pure instinct, she pounced into the room.
"Mara, what..?" Luke managed to mutter, before everything suddenly went black.
By the time Leia reached Luke's quarters, the Jedi Master was gone--and whoever had broken in.
Even the Chief of State's half-trained Jedi awareness could tell her that whoever had done this had used the Force extensively. So she barely listened as the chief of security drawled on about the lack of evidence of forced entry, lack of evidence of struggle, lack of physical evidence, lack of an original vocabulary, etc, etc, etc, and instead contemplated what she should do about it.
Only a fool would think that Mara Jade was not involved. The only other Force-user with enough power to overwhelm her twin was Kyp Durron, and he was currently on the other side of the galaxy, on his honeymoon. But at the same time, it was inconceivable that she would try something like this.
She had reason to be upset--even Leia, who had perpetrated the entire mess, could admit to that--but even at her worst, Jade was clear-headed enough to realize that becoming a known felon would do little to help and much to hurt.
The security chief was just winding down, so she cut him off before his closing remarks. "Thank you, chief. I will handle this personally." Because I can do more about it than you can, she added mentally, which amounted to nothing more than try to keep Mara Jade from getting off-planet (when the Master Trader had probably launched half and hour ago). Leia turned her steps to her own personal quarters, and contemplated the situation with Han and Lando.
Luke woke up. At least he thought he woke up. Drowsy with whatever Mara had done to him, he stared at the ceiling and listened to the slight sounds of ship's engines.
DAMN IT ALL TO HOTH! They were on a ship- her ship, it must be, though he'd never seen this particular part of it before. She had kidnapped him! The audacity. He'd never gain the respect of his students now, stolen right out of the supposedly safest place in the New Republic by a half trained smart-mouthed sith-spawned--
Mara. Where was she?
He realized that he was still flat on his back, glaring at inoffensive ship plating. This was NOT the way to gain revenge, or, more realistically, some sort of explanation.
Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master extraordinare, Hero of the Rebellion, tried in vain to gain some semblance of an upright position. He managed to roll out of the bunk and land flat on his face and crawl halfway across the tiny cabin. He found the door unlocked, and, with the help of the door frame pulled himself up to a questionably upright stance. He certainly didn't remember being this tall --
"What do you think you're doing?"
He hung onto the doorway like a Ewok called to stew. He managed to squeak out something that meant "What do you think YOU'RE doing?" only to suddenly find that he had a prior engagement with the deck.
When Luke awoke the next time, the thrumming of the ship was a dull echo of the throbbing in his head. What in Sith had that Jedi-wanna-be drugged him with?
He rolled over, and, in a terrible feeling, of "been there, done that," found that he was staring down the muzzle of a wicked looking hold out blaster. Following the slim little barrel, he traced up the hand, arm, shoulder and then face of his assailant.
"Jade," Luke groaned. "Is this anyway to celebrate our 10 year anniversary?"
Mara graced him with a quizzical look, but did not lower the blaster. "What in Hoth are you talking about, Skywalker?"
Head still throbbing, Luke managed to get out "Our truce. Ten years ago today, I gave you that blasted lightsaber." Sith, he couldn't decide which was worse--dealing with a psychotic red head or having a herd of banthas parading through his head. For a brief moment, he considered using one of his Jedi mind tricks to force her to pull the trigger and put him out of his misery, but he didn't think that his tortured brain was up to the task. Besides, considering the look in Mara's eyes, he had a feeling that she wouldn't need any subtle pushes.
"Then I'd say that this is an appropriate way to celebrate. Everyone knows that truces were made to be broken."
"I think that's 'promises,' Mara..." Luke decided that if he was going to die soon, he may as well have some fun on the way out. Irking Mara had become one of his favorite (and often dangerous) past times, ranking second only to feeding Ewoks to the Sarlacc.
"Promises, schmomises. If I were you, I wouldn't be too concerned with legistics."
"All right, I give. What's going on, and why is this blaster in my face?"
Mara flashed an evil grin before responding. "You, my friend are coming with me as my personal 'guest' on a little voyage."
"Doesn't look like I have any choice in the matter, now does it?" The banthas were slowing down to a light trot, and Luke was no longer looking forward to becoming better aquainted with Mara's blaster. "Do you mind telling me where we're going?"
"Where ever we need to go to clear my name. I know that Leia is behind this whole mess, but you didn't do anything to stop her, either."
Luke rolled his eyes and tried to sit up, only to be stopped by the combined efforts of the banthas and the muzzle of Mara's blaster. "I don't know any more about it than you do, Mara..."
Mara silenced him with a menacing glare and a tightened grip on the blaster. "I don't care--we are going to clear my name, or you are going to find out that I do keep some of my promises. Namely, one that I made to the Emperor fifteen years ago..." Even without the force, Luke could tell that was serious.
"Fine, captain. Where to?"
Grinning widely, Mara lowered her blaster slightly. "I knew that you'd come to see it my way. Next stop, Endor."
"Endor? There's nothing that will help us there."
"True, but I'm low on food stuffs, and there is nothing like fresh Ewok..."
Luke cocked an eyebrow in Mara's direction. "I didn't think you were the kind of person to eat meat on a hyperspace jump. I had you pegged as more of a salad person."
Mara glared, raising the blaster to point at Luke's stomach. "I don't appreciate smart comments from prisoners, you know."
He shrugged, unimpressed by the weapon. "I do have to do something to keep myself amused. You've relieved me of my lightsaber, so if I can't practice with that, I might as well sharpen my wit."
Mara sighed, lowering the blaster. "You know, just because you're a Jedi Master, you don't have to be so smug."
Luke shrugged again, turning away from his captor.
She reached out, grasping his arm and pulling him around to face her. "This is not about you, Skywalker. I just need your help to clear my name. In case you hadn't noticed, you're up to your neck in Bantha dung, too."
Luke sighed. "I have no idea what you're talking about, Mara."
Mara's face reddenned. "Don't give me that! I wouldn't have kidnapped you if I wasn't sure I saw your fingerprints all over it!"
Luke shook his head. "I admit, I know what this is about, but I don't even have the authority to access the account!"
"That's what I thought you'd say. You never trusted me, did you? You never felt comfortable with me at your back, so you've decided to sent me to the spice mines!"
Luke smiled at that. "Mara, you own the spice mines."
"That's irrelevant, Skywalker. The point is, you and your angelic sister saw an opportunity to increase your won political standings and discredit me at the same time."
"What?!" Luke was stunned. "Discredit you? How?"
Mara sighed disgustedly. "Where have you been? It's on the holonet, made all the news....Leia thinks that we're...well, that we're in this together."
Luke laughed the first clean, hearty laugh he'd had in ages. "Leia would think that, wouldn't she? Well, it should be simple enough to solve; I'll just call her and tell her the whole story--"
"Hold on there a second, farmboy. If you call her now, she'll just hunt us down like we're fugitives." She mulled over the situation for a few seconds, then said, "I think I've got an idea."
It took Mara hours to decide which Ewoks to store for her delicacies. Luke, meanwhile, remained carefully hidden -- not that he had a choice -- to avoid being spotted by Chief Chirpa or Wicket.
"How am I going to explain this to them?" Luke sent Mara a mental prod hoping to hurry her up before they both cause a galactic war between the New Republic and the Ewoks.
"In my own time Skywalker, in my own sweet time. Besides, you were not in a hurry to defend me last night when my name, as well as reputation, was slandered. Maybe I should return the favor and invite... Wicket... on board the Jade's Fire for dinner!" Mara responded.
That shut Luke up, and he settled in for a long wait.
Bagging the last of the Ewoks, Mara sauntered aboard her ship and took off. "Before you ask, we are going to take a little trip to Yavin. I have a bone to pick with one Miss Callista!"
"How is...?" Luke's question died on his lips as he saw the intense hate settle in Mara's eyes. "Mara, is there something that I need to know about?"
Eyes flashing with unknown rebuke, she pulled her blaster out and pointed it at him. For several moments, she only stared at Luke. Suddenly, Mara's lower lip stuck out petulently and quivered, as if she were a Sullustan delicately sampling the fetid air of a prospective home. Her eyes sparkled supernovas with an uncharacteristic wetness, and Luke inexplicably felt a pang for her deep in his heart.
"Mara, is there something you'd like to tell me?" Luke prompted softly, exuding Jedi calm, touching her tenderly in the Force.
Mara's breath choked in a half-sob and the blaster wavered, but she bit the quivering lip and jerked the weapon back on target.
"It's time you know, Luke," she mumbled almost incoherently, using one sleeve to wipe violently at her eyes and nose. "I love Lando."
The warbling alarm nearly scared St. Bernoulli into the previous dimension. Bernoulli, patron saint of engineers, had heard this alarm only once before during his tenure as Heaven's Engineer of Life, the Universe, and Everything. That had been when God decided to stop some little planet from rotating for a day without telling anyone first. Bernoulli had spent the better part of 700 years dealing with the universal repercussions from THAT incident.
"Sir Isaac! What in all Heaven is going on?" Bernoulli called out in annoyance as he stalked by the Pearly Gates. He had waited 10,000 years in the strange variable time-keeping of the afterlife for this job, and didn't have any intention of losing the position to some Mortal foul-up. "And turn off that infernal racket!"
"Sorry, chief," Newton grimaced, deactivating the alarm and sweeping his hand in a broad gesture to open a window to the trouble spot. "It's in the GFFA, chief."
"The GFFA? But we haven't had any problems there since...oh, since He thought'd it be neat to give Mortals the Force. What's happening now?"
"It's Jade; Mara Jade. She's turned sappy over Lando Calrissian."
Bernoulli frowned. "That's... just utterly preposterous, of course. But certainly not cause for alarm."
"But that's not it. The repercussions are...staggering. See, look here. The mean uniform temperature gradient across Hell has dropped 5000 degrees in the last five minutes. Sir, parts of Hell have already begun to freeze over!"
Bernoulli gasped in horror. The Boss was not going to like this one bit.
"Alright, damage control, we've got to fix this before too many inmates get comfortable down there."
"Chief, we have reports of ice skating already."
"Where's Kenobi? He still owes me for nearly botching that job in the GFFA a few years back."
"Uh, he's off with Arthur and Excalibur battling evil in the Andromeda galaxy, I think."
"Wonderful. What about Yoda?"
"Dathomir. With the witches."
"Again?!" Bernoulli stormed, furious. "What's he think the afterlife is -- some kind of resort vacation? He's the one who messed up Skywalker with all those pithy one-liners to begin with -- get him back here on this case. At once!"
After an anonymous call to Leia, Mara and Luke settled down to wait for her response.
"Do you really think Callista's behind this?" Luke asked tiredly.
"Yes, but this little plan should make her change her ways. She's always been a little too soft for furry creatures, and Ewoks make the best bait."
Luke turned to see the groaning Ewoks, lying on the cold surface of the Jade's Fire floor. "Why are they moaning like that?"
"How the hell should I know? They might just be..." she trailed off as she took a look behind her. "Sithspawn!" She swore aloud, then jumped from her seat to get a better look. Sure enough, she found discarded wrappers and crumbs scattered across the floor.
"What, what?" Luke asked, not understanding the scene.
"The little furry mops have gotten into my hold and eaten my profits!" She gazed sadly at the remnants of her cargo. "They've sucked my Spacepops."
In a matter of seconds, Leia had Callista on the other end of the connection, and began reading off Mara's anonymous message. A taunt was the best way to describe it. Mara had planned this well. "She'll be heading for Yavin, the place where this all started."
"I can't believe she's stooped this low...kidnapping poor, defenseless Ewoks!"
"Well, they're not exactly defenseless...."
Callista's eyes narrowed in anger. "I have to save them! Don't worry, I'll take care of this!" And with that, she ended the transmission.
Stupid, shallow woman! Leia thought angrily. She actually fell for that trick...but what Mara could want with both Luke and Callista left her completely dumbfounded. She knew that Mara was not as ruthless as she was often portrayed, but even the thought of Mara acting strangely was enough to make Leia nervous.
Luke and Mara managed to lug all the comatose Ewoks off the Jade's Fire, before Callista landed on Yavin. Several of the students had come to either attend to the Ewoks, or watch the display in amusement. When Callista made her way over to the crowd, the students instantly backed off with looks of astonishment.
"Oh, the poor things!" Callista's voice falsettoed, taking her first look at the bloated Ewoks. "What have you done?!"
Luke waved his hands defensively, "I didn't--"
"The cretins ate my cargo, that's what. But that's besides the point right now. We need to talk."
"About what?" Callie sniffed.
Mara nearly leapt at the woman. "My reputation, you idiot! Leia's ruined it, and since I had actually sent the message to Leia, it doesn't take a genius to see that you two have been working together."
Callie paled visibly. "That -- that doesn't mean anything!"
"You haven't liked me for some time....especially since you seem obsessed with the notion that he and I are...well, involved."
"Isn't she silly, Luke? I never said any such thing!"
Mara laughed at that. "Really? Then what was all that innuendo about? "I've heard that you were once interested in Luke,"...or something like that. Very shallow, and very petty. If you have a problem with me, you shouldn't have used Leia and Luke to get at me like this. Skywalker's rep has been destroyed as well as mine. Leia is involved, but the 'why' still escapes me. Maybe you could tell me?"
Callista's demeanor changed suddenly, the bewildered facade replaced by sheer hatred. "Leia doesn't know what's really going on. She thinks you scammed and bedded Luke to your own ends... which in your own way, you did. The funds were transferred to me, in truth, but I changed the records to make it appear that you had received it. Luke never knew anything about it, and wasn't supposed to know until I decided it was time to expose you. I had enough evidence collected to make him blameless, and to shift all blame to you. There isn't anything you can do now, anyway. Leia has already gotten everything underway, and can continue without my help. She would never believe anything I've told you, by the way -- my evidence was that convincing." She smirked, "Now, what have you to say to that?"
Mara shrugged. "Nothing, really. But I bet Han and Leia have something to say to you," she pointed back to the Jade's Fire. "My ship has excellent sensors and visual equipment....which has recorded and transmitted your entire confession to the offices of the Chief of State. I called Han, and made sure he had Leia watching and recording this." Mara smiled thinly. "I don't think I have anything else to say."
Furious, Callista turned to the man she considered her soulmate. "Luke, I didn't mean for you to get hurt, honest! All I wanted to do was--"
"--Take out your competition?" Luke finished. "Did you really did there was something going on between me and Mara?"
"Well, isn't there?"
Luke turned to look at Mara, and she shook her head. "No, Callie, there isn't. Mara is a very good friend of mine, but you were the one who held my heart."
" 'Were'?" Callista nearly wailed in desperation.
"You're not the person I thought I knew, Callie. I can't love someone who would lie to and hurt people who are supposed to be their friends, all for reasons that don't exist. Good-bye." Luke turned back to the Jade's Fire, and Mara followed after.
Callista watched as the ship drifted into the sky, and disappeared from sight. In darkened spirits, she turned her attention back to the unconscious Ewoks. A glint of light caught her eye, and she found a package of round, cream-colored candies clutched tightly in the paw of one of the furry aliens. Desperate for something to console her, she pried the bag out of the creature's hand and opened it, planning on devouring the whole thing--then reconsidered, and decided to eat only one. "One can't hurt me, now can it?" she said to herself right before she popped the dangerous Spacepop into her mouth.
The trip back for Luke and Mara was an uneventful one, until they found themselves discussing their past relationships.
"I'm just glad that I've finally broken it off with Callista, at last," Luke was saying. "I never knew she could be like this."
"I knew first hand, unfortunately. Well, I hope the memories aren't too bad."
"No, not really. She was much more rational back then."
"And the particular memories on that comet resort couldn't be too horrible -- unless she has less skill in that area than brains."
"You know what I mean...'the beast with two backs'?"
"What?!" Luke sputtered, catching the quote. "No, we never -- that is, I never, well...you know."
She laughed at his supposed jest, then realized the guilty look on his face wasn't an act. "By the Force, you're serious!" Mara replied, flabbergasted. But then she hit upon a sudden realization. "I get it now. All your failed romances in the past -- You've never been with a--"
Mara froze into speechlessness in mid-pronouncement. All time had appeared to stop around him, but before Luke could even begin to fathom what had happened, a familiar voice called out from thin cabin air:
"How you get so big, chasing women of this kind?" his old mentor demanded, materializing with his back to Luke, wizened little phosporescent head stuck halfway through Mara's jumpsuit. "Where are her breasts? And her hips too narrow, not good at all for child bearing. Awowahaa!! Freckles, you seek freckles!"
"Yoda!" Luke exclaimed in wonder.
The wizened little creature from the Jedi afterlife finally turned to face him. Gone were the tattered robes of his previous existence. Instead, the Master wore a bright green polyester suit with brilliant red Corusca jem sequins that seemed to portray different animations when he moved in time to some weird beat. The pointed colors of his silk shirt, doing nothing to hide tufts of wizened hair sprouting from his largely-bare chest, hung nearly down to the floor. Tapping out time were miniature banthahide boots, with aluminasteel tips and spurs. The gimmerstick was replaced by something that looked like a majorette's baton, but with a...beer tap sprouting from the top. Luke thought he heard a heavenly choir sing something about "stayin' alive" before Yoda poked him in the chest with the baton.
"When I was a Jedi, a Knight becomes Master when a pupil he takes--"
"So I am a Master..."
"Whoaaahh! Not yet. One thing remains..."
Luke looked concerned, having heard this speech before.
"....Mara, you must take Mara. Then, only then, a Master will you be. And sleep with her you will."
"But that's impossible. She loves another man."
Yoda sighed. "Always with you, it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?"
"Master, turning Vader is one thing. This is...totally different!"
"No! No different. Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned. Wait, what is this? Have you nothing to unlearn in this area? Pah! Kenobi never warned me of this. Hmph. Imagine it in your mind, and I will guide you."
"All right, I'll give it a try."
"Well, then stop dwaddling and start trying."
"What, no lecture about do, or do not, there is no try?"
"Did I say that? Stranger things have I said, having gone so long without companionship. Hmm, feel the Force. No, forget your sister! No, no, you have it all wrong. THIS one goes HERE, THAT one goes THERE. Hmp. Nothing more will I teach you today. Clear your mind of siblings. Hmmm."
"I can see! Master, I never knew!"
"That, is why you failed," Yoda reflected thoughtfully, taking a pull from the baton's beer tap, offering Luke a swig. Luke nearly gagged as Yoda faded away. "Good beer, uh?"
From Mara's perspective, Luke suddenly froze.
"...a woman," Mara finished to a silent cabin. "What is this, Skywalker?" She kicked his knee, but he didn't move a micron. "This isn't funny."
"Stop tormenting the poor boy," a mellifluous voice echoed lightly about the cabin.
"And just who the hell are you?" Mara demanded, tracking empty air with her blaster.
"Don't you recognize my voice? I'm Callista."
"Yeah, and I'm Vader's daughter."
"Be careful what you wish for, dear. I'm not that blonde airhead who's been walking around using my name."
"What exactly is the story on that, anyway?"
Callista sighed. "Most people only know about the Light and the Dark sides of the Force, which dwell in every being. But there is a third side. When it was my turn to die, the Light and the Dark joined on the other side as should happen. But my Dork Side decided to stay behind, and inhabit Cray's body."
"The Dork Side? That explains alot."
"Luke Skywalker is strong in the Dork Side of the Force, that is why he fell in love with her. You must save him from himself, restore the Light. You are our only hope."
"Yoda spoke of another."
"That's not your line," Callista scolded. "You never met Yoda."
"Duh!" Mara returned. "Just work with it."
"Very well. The other he spoke of was your triplet sister. She was filled with the Light, but they found out they were siblings too soon. Now it's up to you, filled with the Dark, to save him."
"You will know, when you are calm, at peace, passive--oops, sorry, wrong soundtrack. You will know, when you are strong, aggressive, passionate..."
With that, Callista faded away, and time began flowing again.
"... a woman before?" Mara finished for the second time, but to a living audience this time. She tossed the blaster casually aside and began uncoiling her plaited hair. She advanced on a speechless Luke, one hand tugging on the zipper of her jump suit, the other hand pinning him down, her lips perilously close to his. He opened his mouth to hers, but stopped her when he heard a barely-stifled belch beside him.
"Yoda, I must do this alone."
"No -- no, no! Stay and help you, I will. Find her--"
"YODA," a sonorous voice from on high rang about the cabin, "LEAVE THEM TO THEMSELVES."
"Oohh!" Yoda grumbled angrily as he disappeared. "When 900 years old you reach, get treated any better in the afterlife you will not. Hey, Callista, wait up!"