Hello there!

This is an Infinities – Canon Deviation – story based on the Legends continuity. It starts near the end of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and after Mara's return from Svivren in the comic By the Emperor's Hand.
Quite a number of characters from the Original Trilogy and the Legends Extended Universe will appear in this story and some of them will have a very different fate. A few original characters will also appear. Expect to see action/adventure, political intrigues, humor, romance, dark moments and a touch of erotism (hence the Mature rating).
You can read this story without knowledge of the Legends Universe but it assumes that you've seen the movies. Feel free to ask me questions if something is not clear for you. The story is complete in french and translation in english is in progress. I will update as soon as a chapter is completed.
It goes without saying that Star Wars and its characters are the property of Lucasfilm. I'm only borrowing them. I would like to thank all the Star Wars official authors for the universe and the characters they have created, in particular Georges Lucas, Timothy Zahn, Michael A. Stackpole, Aaron Allston (may the Force be with him) and Barbara Hambly.


Darth Claria: Red Lady of the Sith

Prologue

4 years after the battle of Yavin

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away...

Emperor Palpatine left to join Darth Vader on board the second Death Star orbiting the forest moon of Endor. He is about to put the final touch to the trap he set up for the Rebel Alliance.

Luke Skywalker, back from Dagobah where he saw old master Yoda blend into the Force and learned that Leia was his twin sister, joined his rebel friends to take part in the decisive battle against the Empire.

Her last mission accomplished, Mara Jade, The Emperor's Hand, is back on Coruscant for a well earned leave.

Lumiya, Vader's young cyborg pupil, was secretly sent by her master on Ziost, an ancient Sith world, in search of millennia forgotten secrets.

Ysanne Isard, the all powerful director of Imperial Intelligence, is worried: the Rebels are amassing a huge fleet in the Sullust system and she has no news from the Emperor since his departure for Endor.

The Galaxy's fate is about to tip over.


Chapter 1: The vision

Imperial City, Coruscant

Mara Jade was sitting on the floor in her private apartment of the Imperial Palace, meditating. After the failure of her mission on Tatooine to eliminate Luke Skywalker, Emperor Palpatine had sent her to Svivren to eliminate a crime lord who sought to build a new criminal empire called the Black Nebula. This mission was successful and the Emperor, having no other task to give her immediately, told her to go back to Coruscant to rest and clear her mind.

But something was not right. The Black Nebula should have been seriously destabilized by its leader's death, yet the activities of the criminal organization appeared undisrupted.

Could it happen that Mara was deceived by a decoy, that she had not eliminated the right person?

She decided to reach into the Force to try to find answers. Meditation was not her best skill, she was rather an action woman, but after several minutes of intense concentration, images began to form in her mind.

But she didn't saw what she was expecting. She saw a large dark room she recognized from holographic simulations she had already seen: the Imperial throne room on the new Death Star. Two dark figures clashed in a lightsaber duel. The first one, imposing, was dressed in black armor and wielded a red lightsaber. She recognized him immediately: Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith, apprentice and right hand man of the Emperor. The second one, also dressed in black, wielded a green blade. She also recognized him: Luke Skywalker, the Rebel Alliance hero who destroyed the first Death Star, the young man Vader hunted for years, the one she failed to kill.

As incredible as it might seem, the young Skywalker seemed to take the advantage over the Sith Lord. The face distorted by anger, his lightsaber struck with incredible speed and precision, Vader could only parry the blows, backing out gradually. He was soon cornered on a catwalk hanging over the core shaft, he could not back out further.

Luke continued to attack, Vader had to kneel to block his strikes. But eventually, the green saber overshoot his guard and severed his right hand. Mara then heard an ominous chuckle she knew very well, that of her Lord and master, Emperor Palpatine:

"Good, boy!" the Emperor said. "Your hate has made you powerful! Now, fulfill your destiny and take your father's place at my side!"

Luke froze for a moment, he stared at Vader lying on the ground, whose robotic right hand he had just severed, then at his own right hand, artificial too, which replaced the one the Dark Lord had severed on Bespin. He switched off his lightsaber and turned to the Emperor.

"Never!" he said. "Never will I turn to the Dark Side! You have failed, your Highness. I am a Jedi, as my father was before me."

"So be it, Jedi," the Emperor replied contemptuously. "If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed."

Without further warning, blue lightning left the Emperor's hands and struck the young man. He fell to the ground, screaming with pain.

"Young fool!" the Emperor barked. "Your puerile skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side. You will now pay the price for your total lack of vision!"

Force lightning struck Luke harder and harder. Vader had risen and placed himself behind the Emperor. Luke begged him:

"Father! Help me!"

"He's my slave, not your father!" the Emperor replied. "Lord Vader, when I'd have slain this last Jedi, you will cast his body down the core shaft!"

"Father, no!"

"Now, young Skywalker, you will die!"

Lightning struck again, harder than ever. Vader stared at his son screaming, then at his master. Suddenly he turned and grabbed the Emperor.

"Vader, what are you doing? Release me, I command you, I am your master!"

"Darth Vader's master," he replied, "but not Anakin Skywalker's."

The lightning was now striking Vader, with such an intensity that one could see his skull shining through the metal helmet. But he continued to advance towards the core shaft and in a final effort, threw the Emperor into the void. He screamed as he fell and then seemed to explode in a flash of blue light.

The vision vanished and Mara found herself back in her apartment. She was sweating and her heart was pounding. She took a deep breath and tried to put her thoughts in order. So, Luke Skywalker was Darth Vader's son, this explained the Dark Lord's obsession for the young rebel and why the Emperor wanted her to eliminate him. But she had failed. By her fault, her master would die.

No, this had not yet happened, she would have felt it, she could still prevent it. But what could she do? Attempting to contact the Emperor through the Force to warn him? But would he listen to her? Kadann, the Supreme Prophet of the Dark Side, had warned him that the trap he had patiently set up for the Rebel Alliance could turn against him, but he had not listened. Since then, the Supreme Prophet and his followers had fled Coruscant and the imperial wrath for a distant exile.

No, this would get her nowhere, she plunged back into her thoughts, looking for an answer.

Born just over a year after the rise of the Empire, Mara had almost no memory of her true parents. She had been abducted very young and raised at the Imperial Palace on Coruscant. The Emperor had told her that she was different, a child of the Force with great power. He would teach her how to use that power in service of the Empire. Officially, she was a young dancing girl in the Palace troupe, but she also underwent intensive training as a secret agent specialized in espionage and assassination. The Emperor personally undertook to teach her how to use the Force and wield a lightsaber. When her training was complete, he presented her with a magenta-colored lightsaber and took her to his service as a trusted agent. Vader was the Emperor's main enforcer, she was his Hand, charged with missions requiring discretion and finesse. Although their assignments were complementary and not competing, the Dark Lord had always been cold and dismissive with her, as if he feared that the young woman could one day take his place. Mara had not received Sith teachings but, having access to the Emperor's extensive private library, she had been able to learn the basic principles of the secret order of the Dark Side. In particular, the Rule of Two: a master to embody power and an apprentice to crave it. It was clear that the Emperor was the master of the order and Vader his apprentice. She also understood that Vador would one day betray his master, trying to take his place, it was the Sith way. If he failed in his attempt, she would then have a chance to replace him at the Emperor's side.

What she had to do now became clear: she had to go as soon as possible aboard the Death Star and confront Vader. It was the only way to avoid her master the fatal outcome she had glimpsed and her chance to prove that she was worthy to become a Sith Lady.

She got up to take her comlink and called her protocol droid.

"K3? Mara Jade here. Have my ship prepared for immediate takeoff, I will join you at the Palace spaceport in a quarter of an hour."

"At your orders, mistress," the droid replied.

She took a sanisteam, put on her battle outfit and headed for the spaceport. The cargo ship the Emperor placed at her disposal was ready for departure according to her orders, and a flight path had been established for her to leave the capital planet. Her ship soon jumped into hyperspace towards the Endor system.


In her office, Ysanne Isard was reviewing on her terminal the latest reports from her intelligence services. All confirmed a massive gathering of the rebel fleet in the Sullust system and rebel activists had been spotted on Coruscant as well as on Naboo. She had tried without success to call the Emperor aboard the Death Star, but had only managed to speak to advisor Janus Greejatus who repeated to her every time that the Emperor and Lord Vader didn't want to be disturbed under any circumstances and that the situation was perfectly under control. To hell with these insignificant and sycophantic bureaucrats! She had a bad feeling about this. She was thinking how best to handle the situation when her comlink rang.

"Isard." she answered.

"Madam Director, lieutenant Malik here, Palace spaceport security. You may be interested to know that the Emperor's Hand has just left Coruscant in all haste."

"Have you picked up her departure vector?"

"Yes Madam, I'm transferring the data."

"Thanks Lieutenant, you did well to warn me."

"At your service, Madam Director."

She entered the data on her terminal. A ship's departure vector did not always allow to deduce its destination, it was common practice to make intermediate jumps to cover one's tracks. But if Jade was in such a hurry, she might go directly to her final destination.

Ysanne grinned as the trajectory projected onto her screen, superimposed on a galactic map. It went straight to the Endor system. The Emperor's Hand left to rejoin her master.


Note: Additional dialogues in Mara's vision, not present in the movie, are taken from the radio drama Star Wars: Return of the Jedi adapted in 1996 by Brian Daley for the US National Public Radio.