A/N - Welcome back! This is the sequel to my previous story A Touch of Destiny, I strongly recommened that you read that story first before you begin this one. This chapter is going to tell you what everyone had been up to and takes place about two months after A Touch of Destiny. Without further ado I present to you...
Duel of the Fates
Mara opened her eyes slowly. Damn, it was early. Mara hated being up this early. Unfortunately, her bladder couldn't take too much more abuse. She rose stiffly and moved quickly to the fresher. She straightened her long white nightgown. It was a terribly fussy thing to sleep in, but Luke loved the long satin gowns for whatever reason. She looked at their bed, it was empty. Luke was always an early riser.
In the two months since their wedding Mara couldn't recall him ever lounging in bed for very long once the sun rose. But at least she knew where she could find him.
In the early morning light of the sun rise the emerald green saber bit into the warm color brightly. She was happy that he had retired the crimson saber. In fact, she had made him get rid of it all together. He said that in the time that they had been together he had come to consider green his favorite color. Mara blushed when she realized why.
He was shirtless practicing his already flawless technique, moving nimbly in the early morning light. Not only had he continued Jedi training with his father, but also had imput from Yoda, Obi Wan and Mace Windu. He was as formidable now with a saber as he ever would be. He and Mara had sparred a few times but Luke detested it. He hated unconsciously seeking out her weak spots, looking for the easiest way to dispatch her.
Mara stopped by the sofa hidden in the shadows to watch him. 'Force, he is so gorgeous.' she felt desire begin to burn through her. Luke was so consumed in his maneuvers that he didn't notice. She stared in appreciation as the muscles in his chest, arms and back flexed and shifted with his quick movements and soon she felt her desire quicken to lust.
She moved forward onto the balcony into the morning light and he smiled still not looking at her and deactivated his saber. A light sheen of sweat covered his chest doing nothing to settle the heat coursing through her. He asked laughingly, "Wow, am I really that good looking?" Mara smiled and moved towards him tracing a hand over the back of his shoulders answering, "Yes, yes you are."
She met his ice blue eyes and moved her arms around his neck with devious intentions. He bent his head down to meet her waiting lips when his comm beeped.
He pulled it from his pocket with a frustrated sigh, "Skywalker."he snapped a female's voice answered, "Luke? It's Leia." Luke frowned and asked, "Why are you comming me?" Leia answered, "I intended to ask you through the force but you felt distracted."
Luke rolled his eyes, "Right, well I am pretty busy at the moment." A naughty smile spread slowly across Mara's face and she moved to his back running her fingernails lightly up and down his taut skin. The effect was altogether distracting if not downright tantalizing.
Leia replied in an aggravated tone, "Fine, I won't take up too much of your time. I just wanted to make sure that you knew everything you needed to do before the rehearsal tonight? You do right? You still need to pick up all of Han's attire, the rest of the decorations, double check with the cook to make sure they are on schedule, finalize the dance numbers with the musicians and pick up the credits from father to pay them. Assemble the rest of the tables and chairs in the hall for the reception, fix the lighting because you saw how dreadful it was, make sure the florist knows where to put the flowers, set up the rest of the sound equipment then-" he finally cut her off for what he knew would be a never ending list. "Wait! Why aren't you doing this? Why do I have to do it?"
Leia yelled, loudly "Luke! You're the best man it's your JOB! I have plenty to do thank you very much! Is it so much that I ask my BROTHER, my TWIN BROTHER to help me with my wedding? Well? Is it?!"
Luke could tell that Leia was bordering on histrionics. He succumbed, Mara shook her head at him as he said, "Fine, fine whatever you need Leia of course." but Leia continued, "I mean it's not as though I'm just sitting around doing nothing here Luke! I have people running at me constantly! Mother too! I mean it would be nice if the galaxy had SOME consideration for the idea that someone is getting married! But no, they just keep coming in with all this problems for mother, father and I to just magically solve. I am planning a wedding! MY wedding!"
Mara took the comm from Luke and intercepted Leia's meltdown, "Leia? It's Mara. Is there anything I can help with?" Luke smiled as he heard Leia come back to her sensibilities, "Mara, of course not! You need your rest, make sure that my brother is taking good care of you. Are you doing all right? Any morning sickness? Fatigue?"
Mara smiled devilishly at Luke, "I'm okay, other than my appetite which has grown substantially." Luke covered his mouth to suppress a laugh at her innuendo and Mara continued, "I was just about to grab something before you commed." Luke turned away to laugh, as Leia played into Mara's game, "Oh force! Mara I'm so sorry! Tell Luke that I will talk to him later. Love you both!"
Mara put the comm back in Luke's pocket. He shook his head at her, "You're too much." She snaked her arms around his neck again, "Hey, don't underestimate me. No one gets between me and what I want." Luke swept her up into his arms and kissed her deeply, moving from her mouth to her neck whispering, "Oh force forbid." and they moved deftly into their bedroom.
Anakin sat with his head in his hands at the massive desk. This was madness, he was no politician! Mace Windu has been named de facto chancellor and had appointed Anakin his aide until a senate could be reformed and a chancellor elected.
The imperials had been a problem. For one they all had to be interrogated. Something they lacked adequate manpower for. Two, some would have to be tried for their crimes but they were still in the process of re-creating a legal system. In the meanwhile, the moffs and leaders they had imprisoned were crying out to the public that their rights had been grossly violated by the imprisonment.
He reclined in his chair and ran his fingers through his hair, yes the celebration was indeed over. Padme entered his office with R2D2 who was now less an astromech droid and more a glorified office assistant employed to attempt to keep Anakin sane the small droid was loaded down with papers, their other droid C3PO also encumbered by stacks of unruly papers and complaining loudly about it. Padme gave Anakin a small smile, her own hands full of documents.
Anakin sighed, "Oh force, not more letters of inquiry?" Padme nodded sadly. Ever since they had returned from Luke's wedding they had been working nearly non-stop to reestablish the long dead senate to create some kind of order and the Letters of Inquiry began to pour in from interested parties from all over the galaxy wanting to have a representative sit on the senate. Thousands of them.
Some were credible individuals who would be a credit to the galaxy. Most were not, and some were down right laughable. But despite their humor, each one must be read and replied to in a timely manner. Though a small part of Anakin would have loved to write "kriff off." on a few and merely send them back to their idiotic sender.
Anakin pinched the bridge of his nose, this was madness. He stood and said, "This is insane, I'm a jedi not a secretary! I cannot live a life behind a desk!" Padme smiled and quipped, "You know what Master Yoda would say about action and adventure." Anakin shook his head, "I don't care. I'm not going to go completely gray doing this. Hero with no fear indeed! No, I refuse to read another one of those things. Padme, get me a broadcast on the holonet now."
Padme nodded and moved quickly, happy that Anakin was invigorated and that maybe they would finally see some progression.
"Citizens of the galaxy." Anakin began "A period of unrest has reached us. We must come together and reach a common ground. Our lives have recently come out of a massive turmoil brought upon by oppression and tyranny. Those complications have been eradicated. I call on each planet to hold it's own election for the appointment of a senator to represent it at the senate of the New Republic. First session to be held in two months time, in which time if a planet has not selected a senator a private citizen from the planet of Coruscant will be appointed to look after the interests of said planet. And at that time a chancellor will be elected from the group of senators. Letters of Inquiry will no longer be accepted by the chancellor's office. Appeal to your monarchs and heads of intelligence for regulations regarding elections and selecting qualified applicants. Thank you."
Padme felt as though she may burst from pride. Anakin certainly was no politician but he was learning the ropes quite well in her opinion. He stepped down from the dais, and took her hand leaving the auditorium, nodding to Master Windu who bowed his head in thanks. Padme heard a beeping from the pocket of her dress.
She sighed heavily and sent her eyes to the stars trying to calm her own fiery temper, Anakin smiled asking, "Leia again?" Padme nodded and replied"It's not that I don't understand why she wants a big fancy wedding, I do. But force, all of the fuss involved hardly seems worth it! She hardly even seems like Leia lately. She's gone totally acklay-bride on all of us"
Anakin shuddered recalling the shrill beast they encountered in Geonosis, "Force Padme, she can't be that bad!" She laughed and said, "You're not the one taking her comm calls every twenty minutes! He smiled kissing Padme's hand, "Don't worry - one day she'll have a daughter and she will be wondering the same thing."
Leia was frantic - completely. "You're doing WHAT?" Han sunk deeper into his chair, trying to keep his head low and his sensitive areas covered as he answered, "I...was...am going out with some of the guys tonight."
Leia sent him a sharp look, "Han! Our wedding day is tomorrow!" He nodded, "Yeah I know. That's why we're doing it tonight. It's the last night that won't be spent in the company of my beautiful wife."
Han could see from her reaction that flattery was not going to get himself out of this. Instead he tried to change the subject, "Hey? Did you see your Dad on the holonet today? Wasn't that something? He's a smart guy Anakin." Leia fumed refusing to say anything merely attempted to burn holes into the man she loved with her eyes.
He appealed to her sense, one last time. "Come on Leia. Luke, Chewie and the rebellion boys all just want to give me a good party before I get married. What's so wrong with that?"
From the look on her face Han could see that he had unequivocally asked the wrong question. She yelled, "Han! Really? So you can stumble in to our wedding ceremony still under the influence of gallons of whyrens? And who knows the kind of female drabble those rebel pilots can stir up!"
Han took a deep breath and stiffened his spine, "Look sweetheart. I am going out tonight with my friends. Mara will be coming over here to stay with you. Tomorrow will be the most wonderful day of our lives, I will not be drunk. I will not get into trouble but I am going out tonight. I love you your highnessness. I'll see you tomorrow."
He kissed her on her forehead, and she crossed her arms and scowled. He started for the door and she cried out, "Han!" she ran into his arms, and sobbed "I'm sorry, this wedding is just making me crazy!" He held her tightly against him, "I know honey, I'm sorry too. No trouble I promise. I love you." She sniffed, "I know."
Mara threw another dress on the back of a chair and sighed standing in the middle of huge pile of clothes in only her black undergarments. Luke sat in a chair reading a holozine waiting for Mara to get ready and teased smiling, "Why don't you just wear what you have on?"
Mara sent to him a sharp look and laughed, "Two things. One I don't think my sister in-law would appreciate that very much. And two..." she turned to the side so Luke could see the bourgeoning stomach that was their son. "Isn't this just a bit obscene?"
Luke leapt up and threw his arms around her, "Not a bit." Mara kissed him, "Right. Like you'd really let me go like this." Luke brushed her hair behind her ear and asked, "Didn't L'wren make you something new this week?" Mara nodded and picked up a frilly purple dress, Luke laughed.
L'wren was forever creating new clothing creations for Mara, she was formally employed by the Skywalkers, and loved Mara like a daughter, doting on her every chance she got but L'wren was an eternal optimist that one day Mara would love bright happy colors when it was mostly ever black and green. Mara threw it back down, and sighed putting her hands on her hips. "None of my clothes look right on me any more. I'm just disgusting and fat."
Luke rolled his eyes...man he had heard this before it was getting to be a daily occurrence. He walked towards her, and cradled her face in his hands and said, "Mara Jade Skywalker, you are the most beautiful, special woman in this world. You aren't fat, or disgusting you never could be. You are pregnant with our child, come on Mara don't sell yourself short. Besides, you can barely tell that you're pregnant at all!"
She sent him a sharp look, but he insisted. Finally Mara selected a simple black empire waist dress, long silver earrings and pulled her dramatic scarlet hair back from her face. As she was fixing her hair Luke walked in looking confused, "Where is L'wren?"
Mara laughed, "Well, Leia commandeered her for the next day and a half. So I'm on my own." Luke assisted her with the clasp on her necklace, kissing her neck gently when it was done. "You look beautiful. Sure to incite a temper tantrum from the bride."
Mara rolled her eyes, "You know, she isn't that bad. You don't know what it's like to be a bride and be planning everything." Luke chuckled, "Neither do you, we had a grand total of ten people at our wedding, this one...I can't even imagine. I think Han wanted me to be his best man so I could keep him from bolting once he sees all those people. Majority of which he doesn't know."
Mara stood and wrapped her arms around Luke's neck, "It's important to Leia to show the solidarity of the New Republic and her love for Han. Showing everyone that if a princess can marry a former smuggler that the galaxy has become an open minded tolerant place to be. But, I did appreciate the intimacy of our wedding. It was sacred."
Luke caressed her cheek gently, he still couldn't believe that he was so lucky. He was married to the most beautiful girl in the galaxy. They were expecting their first child, his parents were healthy and happy albeit extremely busy. His Jedi training was complete, he was ready to face the trials to become a knight. His sister was marrying his best friend tomorrow. He would come home to his wife and take her in his arms and everything would be right with the galaxy.
Mara shook her head smiling, "I must look pretty good through rose tinted transparisteel."
Luke kissed her quickly and replied, "It's how I'll always see you love. Get used to it."
Several planets away, medical droids were working furiously in a sterile room. A booming voice commanded, "Do whatever is necessary! Do you understand me? We cannot lose him! He's the last one! You'll be piles of molten metal if he dies!"
The team of droids shuddered, and moved quicker for fear. The empty cloning cylinders behind them only served as a bleak reminder that they had never yet been successful at this operation. Former grand vizier Sate Pestage watched the machines with a grim face, not expecting them to be successful. This was their last opportunity to restore the order of the Empire, and dispose of the scum that had attempted to usurp its place.
His mein furious as he yelled again, "Do not fail! It is not an option!" He stepped onto a metal staircase and began to walk away from the scene, he turned and looked back down into the deep pit of sterile medical operation room. Where all of their hopes lie - in the fragile, feeble, broken and most frighteningly the last clone of Emperor Palpatine.