*Note: Spoilers for everything up to Vision of the Future!*
Here's another little Luke and Mara ditty for all you fans out there who expected to get more out of Visions of the Future and can't wait for the new book Vector Prime to come out (Not that Visions wasn't good, but . . .). This story takes place about twenty-five years after Return of the Jedi (I'm pretty sure, but I may be off just a bit), and is a fun read. Oh, and if you can't imagine Luke not being a good cook, stop reading now. And please forgive me for my ignorance of military time.
Now the dedication stuff: First, I'd like to thank my fave fan-fic authors Melissa Boberick, Jen Bakht, Kelly Frieders, and Heather Lynn for inspiring this whole story and all my others. I also want to thank Jen for putting up with me e-mailing her constantly and being a diligent fan of her writing (which probably got REAL annoying after a while *sorry*). Secondly, I'd like to thank Danie (to whom this story is dedicated) for co-writing two stories with me, and putting up with an extremely fussy writer, who had to have everything perfect all the time! She deserves a medal for that one, folks, I tell you! Anyway, last, but not least, I'd like to thank Annie for inspiring me all the way, and encouraging me to keep going no matter what! Thanx guys!!!
And now, the disclaimer: All character and situations (except the Skywalker triplets and the planet Tir'hree) belong to George Lucas and various other pro fic authors, including the ALMIGHTY ZAHN. I am making no money off this piece (as if anyone would want to buy it) and I never will. Please get my permission before sending it to other sites.
E-mail me with questions, praise and candy (flowers are nice, too) at email@example.com
The only other story I have out right now is Mara Jade-Skywalker and Time machine Part 1, but I'm working on two co-written stories: Jade (we'll have to change the title, sorry again Jen:) and a story named Choose Title (cause we have to remember to do that before we send it in. That one may never get finished). If you think of any titles that would fit that sketchy plotline, let me know, please! All of this stuff, by the way, is, or has something to do with, Luke and Mara. Oh, and I am working on a Luke/Mara romance of sorts which I hope'll be finished soon.
Now that I'm done talking, you can sit back and enjoy!
"Hey, Skywalker, long time no see."
Luke turned toward the ship sitting on the landing pad of Coruscant Spaceport twenty meters away from him and smiled at the figure exiting the ramp. "Too long for me," he told his wife, embracing her tightly. "I missed you, Mar."
"I miss you, too," she murmured, kissing him gently. "But," she added a mischievous grin, "I didn't miss your cooking. Han is even a better cook than you"
Luke laughed. "Now that was an insult," he said, a hurt look on his farm-boy face.
Mara rolled her eyes. " Dear, have you actually tried any of your own home cooking?"
Luke glared at her and she gave him a sugary smile, as reach wrapped her arms around his neck. "Oh, don't take it personally, I'm sure it just runs in the family. Leia can't cook, either, as I recall."
"Really, I didn't know. But that means . . . " Luke got a look of mock horror on his face as he said, "That means no one in our family can cook. I mean, I can't, my sister can't, my wife can't . . . "
At this point in his list, Mara got a fiery look in her eyes, but before he could give a good whack across the head, he pulled her into his arms and gave a long, slow kiss.
"Fine," she managed as she pulled gently away. "You win, for now." She slipped an arm around his waist and led him away toward their apartment.
Mara sighed. It was good to be home, on Coruscant . . . especially since the kids were here. Nyisha, Nathaniel, and Loreina (or Neesha, Nathan, and Lora) were staying with Leia and Chewie because of business. Mara's new contracting job with NRI had her running across the galaxy to investigate a recent distress call from a planet out near the core worlds with Han. Luke had had to go find another Jedi candidate so, deciding that both trips were too dangerous to take the children on, they had sent them to spend some time with their cousins and aunt.
But now that Mara and Luke were finished with their respective missions, they could go be with the kids.
A great end to a very busy week, thought Mara, contentedly leading her husband into the Imperial Palace.
* * * * *
Gavin Darklighter groaned as his comm beeped. He was still on ship time, and he hadn't quite adjusted to Coruscant time yet. Having so many time shifts to deal with was the fault of his decision to join Rogue Squad in the first place.
He sat up in bed and slapped the answer switch on his comm. "Darklighter," he muttered into his comm link.
"Hey, kid, been a while, you know," a familiar voice came from the comm.
Gavin was now fully awake. "No way. Fixer?"
"In the flesh, more of less," his old friend drawled. "We thought we'd, you know, come visit the center of the universe."
"We?" Gavin repeated incredulously. "Yeah mean..."
"Right. Deak and Me and Cami and Windy and the Kids . . . "
"Kids? Okay . . . I think I'd better meet you somewhere so I can catch up. How 'bout the Grand Corridor in Imperial Palace at 0100?"
"Sure. See ya, Darklighter."
The comm shut off. Gavin pulled himself out of his bunk, and set to work getting dressed, still not quite believing it. His friends from Tatooine, as far as he knew, had never even left the planet, yet, here they were. Wow, he thought, as he headed for the door.
* * * * *
Another Inner Council Meeting. Just what everyone needed, Han thought wryly, glancing around the chamber and trying hard not to look as bored as he felt. He and Mara had been called in to be debriefed about their mission to the planet Tir'hree, but first the Chief of State had to go over about twenty other issues concerning NR government and planetary workings.
Finally, Han heard his daughter clear her throat and call out, "Next on our agenda, we have the issue of the investigation on the planet Tir'hree. Mara Jade and Han Solo, leaders of the investigation have that report. Dad?" Jaina may have been the leader of the galaxy, but that didn't keep from setting a relaxing tone to every senate meeting.
Han nodded to his daughter. "Thank you, President. As many of you already know, Jade and I were sent to Tir'hree to investigate a distress call from a village near the equator. What we found out is very alarming. It seems the whole village was either evacuated quickly or completely slaughtered with the bodies removed to remove evidence by whomever's responsible. We've seen evidence that the latter could be the case. At any rate, it's vital that we find out what happened to that village, so we can prevent it from occurring in the future to the other villages on the planet." With that, Han sat down and Mara stood.
"Your dad and I would like to go back and get to the bottom of what's happening, Jaina," she said, eyeing all the council members. "Their native reps trust us, and we know quite a bit more about their culture than most people, having spent quite a lot of time with them. We'd like the your approval to take control of this investigation personally and see it through." She sat back down next to Han, knowing what the Jaina's next argument would undoubtedly be.
"That's a generous offer, Dad, Aunt Mara," Jaina said carefully, eyeing her aunt thoughtfully. "But what about your . . . uh, confinement, Aunt Mara? Won't that put it and you yourself at considerable risk?"
Mara sighed. She had been feeling guilty about the unborn child herself, but they all knew she could fight well enough. She'd proven that when she'd carried the triplets. She'd be fine. Plus, she was barely three months pregnant, and was hardly showing at all yet. The only problem was that she hadn't discussed it with Luke yet. But they wanted her answer now, so Luke could wait till later.
"I've already considered the risks, Jay. But I would remind you and the Council that your dad and a task force will be there with me and I have proven my ability to defend myself during a pregnancy before. Myself, and the child," she added, for effect as much as anything else.
The young leader nodded slowly. "Very well. We will take your request into consideration and discuss it in a private session later today. Thank you for your report. Now, onto other matters . . . "
As Jaina continued the meeting, Mara leaned over to Han. "Do you think I'm taking too much of a risk, Solo?"
Han glanced over at her and saw, to his mild surprise, the lines of worry on his sister-in-law's face, and he realized how much she had changed since he'd met her in Talon Karrade's smuggling base on Myrkr. He also realized he understood exactly how she was feeling. "Don't worry about it, kid," he assured her, reaching over to squeeze her arm. "We'll make sure nothing happens to you or the child while we're there. Besides, Jaina's a little paranoid herself, for obvious reasons. And she's still working, although she's almost due. You'll be fine."
Mara nodded and some of the lines left her face. "Thanks, Han."
He waved the thanks away, reaching over to squeeze her hand briefly. "No charge."
The council meeting ran on for several more hours before the young Jedi Knight finally called it a day.
As Han and Mara moved to exit the chamber, they noticed seven figures standing just outside the Council with an X-wing pilot who Han could almost, but not quite identify. He tapped Mara's shoulder. "Mar, have I seen that pilot or any of those people before?"
Mara glanced over at the group. "I know the pilot. That's Gavin Darklighter, Biggs Darklighter's cousin from Tatooine. An old friend of Luke's. I don't recognize any of the others. Relatives, maybe."
"Ah, so thou hath escaped the terrors of the Inner Council Chamber," Luke's voice crowed dramatically.
"Yeah, sure, whatever," she said, giving him a strange look before embracing him, then his sister who stood beside him. "So what gives, Leia? Why weren't you in there?"
"I told them I had 'family business' that I needed to see to and Jaina could tell me anything I needed to know," Leia told her, returning the hug. "And those kids of yours are quite a hand full."
"Don't I know it," Mara replied, rolling her eyes. "But I'll be more than ready to take them back after--" Mara stopped short, realizing that she had no desire to tell Luke (who was generally over-protective of her and the kids) about the mission just yet.
"After what?" Luke inquired his tone more curious than suspicious.
"Nothing," she muttered, throwing a warning look at Han. He nodded fractionally and wisely kept his mouth shut.
*Mar, what are you hiding from me?* Luke asked silently as the party headed toward the Solo's apartment.
She sighed. *I, well . . . you know the planet I was checking out?* He nodded. *I, um, offered to go back there and finish our investigation and find out what's behind the--*
"You what?" he said, throwing a glare at a certain guilty faced brother-in-law.
"Hey, I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. Han'll be with me, so will a whole task force."
*What about the baby?*
"I consider him part of me, thank you."
*You really think you're up to it yet, sweety? You're barely into your first trimester.*
"That's Mrs. Sweety to you, Flyboy!" Mara retorted.
"You know," Han cut in, sounding annoyed and somewhat amused, "it's real annoying when you two do that. It's like Mara's raving at herself."
"Not now, Solo," Mara said, turning back to Luke. "I have to go, Skywalker. Those people are trusting Han and I to get to the bottom of the whole mess."
"Oh, so you already promised them?" Luke demanded, hotly. Only Mara could bring out this side of him, Han knew. That's why Mara was so good for him. About now, he looked very much like the psychotic farmboy he'd rescued from Tatooine all those years ago.
*What, do I need your seal of approval?* Mara cried silently. Managing to calm herself, she continued, "Luke, I really can take care of myself. I did it with the triplets, I can now." They had reached the Solo's door, and Mara stopped, taking Luke's arm and turning him to face her, raising a hand to brush a stray strand of hair off his forehead. "Look, hon, if it makes you feel better, you can come along."
"What about the kids?"
He had the satisfaction of seeing her wince guiltily. "They can stay with Leia a little while longer. We'll see them tonight and, if the Council approves, leave tomorrow morning."
Luke sighed. "Fine, I'll come along. What the hell, I need a vacation."
*That's the spirit, Mr. Flyboy.*
* * * * *
"So, this is Imp Palace," Cami said admiringly as Gavin led them through the passages and walkways of the place. Cami had dreamed of coming here herself before, but she couldn't have dreamed of anything this perfect. Most of the palace walls seemed to be made of transparisteel, and all kinds of exotic plants grew everywhere.
"Mom, I'm hungry!" came the whiny voice of her five-year-old daughter, Tahralissa.
"You're always hungry," her thirteen-year-old brother admonished her, rolling his eyes dramatically.
"Lissa, Kieran, stop," Fixer told the children. "If we get something now, will it tide you over till dinner?"
Both nodded eagerly, and little Tahralissa took her father's hand. "Thank you, Daddy."
Cami smiled to herself. Fixer had softened so much since the kids where born.
"So, Mom," Kieran said, "we gonna see Luke Skywalker?"
"Don't get your hopes up, kid," Windy put in. "He's pretty busy."
Fixer's face, Cami noticed, tightened just a bit. She reached over squeezed his hand. He squeezed back and his face relaxed slightly.
As if to contradict Windy, Deak suddenly burst out, "Hey, guys, look."
They all turned, and Cami stared in amazement. Worm--er, Luke. Luke Skywalker. Standing no more than twenty meters away. Beside him stood a beautiful woman with long exotic red hair (he did well in the marriage category if that was his wife, she observed) and standing with them were three children, who all looked to be about the same age.
"Oh, there's Luke," Gavin observed, casually, as if it were no big deal that Luke Skywalker, hero of the rebellion and the Galactic Republic was standing directly across from them. "Wanna go say hi?"
"Sure," Deak said, grinning like a child.
* * * * *
"So, when'll you guys get back?"
Even though she was trying hard not to look disappointed, Luke could tell Nyisha was. She had always been the one who loved family time. He felt really bad that Mara and him had been so busy lately.
Now they all stood together in the Grand Corridor, waiting for Han to bring the Falcon over to the landing platform just off the Corridor.
"Soon, we hope, sweetheart," he told her, putting a comforting arm around her shoulders. "I'm sorry your mom and I have been so busy lately. Just remember that if you ever become a damned war hero, your life will be just like this," he added, letting his gaze sweep across the vast city of Coruscant visible from the transparent wall of the Grand Corridor.
"I know, Dad. I just wish we had more time together, that's all," she said, quietly.
"Oh, get a grip, sis," her brother said, rolling his eyes. "You're always so emotional about everything."
"Leave her along, you insensitive nerf!" Lora cried defensively, giving her brother a look of disgust. "You're just as upset as we are." She looked up at her mother. "Men are so immature, aren't they, Mom?"
"They sure are, sweetheart," Mara quipped, throwing particularly teasing look at Luke. "It runs in the Skywalker genes, especially." She wrapped her arms around Loreina's shoulders and pulled her eldest close to her. Lora leaned her head back on her mom's shoulder and stared out the wall sized viewport at the early morning Coruscant traffic. Whether she admitted it or not, she was just as troubled as her little sister.
Luke was trying to think of a sufficient rejoinder, when a voice said from behind his shoulder, "Witty family you have here, Wormy."
Luke jumped and spun around. "Cami? Windy, Fixer, oh, my gosh! What are you all doing here?"
"Thought we'd come see what happened to you, kid," Fixer said, giving an astonished Luke a backslapping hug.
Luke returned it, still looking amazed. "Honest? Wow, I just can't believe this."
"Neither can we, Luke," Cami said, smiling at him shyly and giving him a brief hug.
*Who are these people, Skywalker?* came Mara's voice in his mind.
"Oh, Fix, Cami, Deak, Windy, this is my family: my wife, Mara and my kids Nyisha, Nathan, and Loreina. Guys, these are my friends from Tatooine: Windy, Deak, Cami, Fixer and--?" he looked questioningly at the two children standing next to Cami.
"Oh, these are our children--"
"Whose?" Luke demanded, once again looking utterly astonished. "You have kids??"
"Sure, why not?" Fix asked. "Cami and I are married."
"Now I've heard everything."
Fixer glared at him. Even after all these years, they could never resist verbally driving each other crazy. Cami added quickly, "Anyway, these are our kids. Kieran and Tahralissa."
After shaking hands with everyone, Mara asked, "So, you guys here just for sightseeing or what?"
Windy shrugged. "Pretty much. Mostly to see what the center of the universe is like. You guys know of any good sights to see?"
Luke thought a moment. "Definitely. I could direct you to a travel agency. They'll probably have maps and everything. To be honest, I would offer to show you around myself, but Mar and I have a--" then his eyes brightened. "Hey, wait. You could--"
"No, Luke, it's too dangerous." This was Mara, surprisingly.
"No, not if they just kind of watch us conduct the search," Luke assured her.
Mara looked doubtful, but nodded. "Anyway, what I was going to offer," Luke continued, "is Mara and I are going on a trip to a fairly new planet in the NR to do some investigations, and I was thinking it would be fun for you guys to come along for the ride, see what us heroes do every day."
Fixer gave Luke a wry look, then turned to Cami. She opened her mouth to voice her concerns about the children, but Luke said quickly, "Your kids could stay with Leia. That's where the triplets are staying."
*Luke, you know how much of a hand full the triplets are for her. You think they can handle five kids?* Mara demanded.
*Sure, why not? They have Winter there still, and I think Jaina and Tenel Ka are there right now too. Jaina is I know, cause she's due in a few weeks and if she goes into labor, she might not make it to the med center in time.* Jaina and Tenel Ka were both pregnant at this point, and Jaina was almost due. Jacen and Zekk were out doing "Jedi stuff", so the girls had decided to stay somewhere safe while the guys were away.
Mara rolled her eyes, but nodded submissively at him.
Cami thought it over for a moment, then nodded. "All right. Thanks. How long will we be gone?"
"We're hoping no more than a week, but I'd say, to be safe, two. Before we promise anything, though, let's make sure that it's okay with everyone."
It was actually quite easy to arrange. Han was sort of excited to have more company on the trip, and Leia got Jaina and Tenel Ka to agree to watch the kids. Winter even agreed to come over as often as possible to watch them.
It wasn't until the next day that they got going.
* * * * *
Kieran stared around him in wonder, taking in every detail of the Solo house's living area. He'd been taught to respect and admire them for all of their heroic deeds and feats. Now here he was, about to live two weeks in the famous Solo household. Not only that, but the Skywalker triplets, already famous, would be staying here too, along with the Hapan heiress and princess Tenel Ka Chume Ta` Djo Solo (or something like that). Wait till all his friends back home heard about this!
And then, into the living area glided the former Chief of State, Leia Organa Solo, somehow managing to look regal while only wearing a drab jumpsuit, a too big shirt that probably belonged to Captain Solo, and a pair of fluffy black slippers.
Leia greeted them all, introduced herself to the Tatooine crew, and told them to "please, call her Leia", and showed the children to their quarters. Kieran, the whole time, was staring in wonder at everything, until finally the Chief of--er, Leia, said kindly, "You think this is something. Just wait till you see the upstairs."
Kieran blushed softly at being noticed, but smiled shyly anyway, and followed her up the stairs.
Their rooms were amazing. The central room had chairs in a circle around a blue glass table. A wall length window (there seemed to be quite a few around here, he noted) gave them a breathe-taking view of the city-covered planet. There were two adjoining rooms to the living area, which, Kieran found later, were identical. There was a large bed in the corner, a refresher unit in the other, a spacious closet, and a large window set into the wall, giving another spectacular view of the city, and the distant Manarei Mountains.
When he and his sister were settled in, Leia said, "I hope you two will make yourselves at home to anything you need. I need to go make some arrangements with your parents." She smiled at them and left.
As she had told them to make themselves at home, Kieran decided that exploring the suite wasn't out of the question, so he left his sister exploring a shelf full of hologames, and wandered off down the hall.
At the outside of the door at the end of the hall, he heard soft music. The door was glass so he could see through into the room.
The Skywalker girls (Nyisha and Lora, he remembered vaguely) stood in the middle of the tangle of cords and various wires that attached to various machines in various parts of the room. The room itself was filled with tons of equipment (expensive, Kieran noticed), speakers, recording devices of various sizes, headphones and mikes lay askew around the edges of a blue staging area.
One of the girls glanced over at the door, and looked slightly surprised to see him there. But she waved him into the room, putting her finger to her lips, indicating that he be quiet.
As he entered, he could finally hear what they were singing. Both girls had soft tenors' voices that seemed to echo softly off the walls of the room, he noted with some admiration.
When they were done, Neesha pulled the headsets off her ears and pressed several buttons on a large recording device, then she turned to Lora. "It's done. Your first album is done." This news was followed by lots of squeals from both girls and hugs all around. Finally Lora noticed Kieran standing there.
She smiled brightly. "Hi. Sorry we forgot about you, we're just excited cause I finished my first album."
Kieran was surprised. "You're a recording artist?"
She nodded slowly. "Actually, this'll be my first album. Tendra Calrissian, my agent, says this one should go over well with the critics and I should be able to start on my second album in a month or so."
"Soooooo," he said, taking this news in with stride, "I guess I can say `I knew you when . . ."
She laughed and nodded. "Yeah, I guess," she said, but she didn't sound that convinced.
Neesha rolled her eyes. "Lora, you're good and you know it!"
Lora blushed slightly, then suddenly turned serious. "Are Mom and Dad still downstairs?"
Kieran shook his head. "No, they dropped us off and then headed for the spaceport. They're supposed to leave in an hour or so."
Both Lora and Neesh seemed to hunch slightly, sinking onto the stools they had occupied while recording. Kieran looked concernedly at both of them. "What's wrong?"
"Oh, nothing," Lora said quietly. "It's just that, well . . . we hadn't seen them in a while, and then they get back, then they take off again. We'd just like them to be around a little more often, that's all."
Nyisha sighed and stood. "Well, I've got some homework to finish, so I'll be in my room. Make yourself at home," she added, almost as an afterthought, to Kieran.
Lora stood and followed.
Kieran watched them leave. The Skywalker girls had certainly given him enough to think about.
* * * * *
Neesha sat quietly, alone in her room in the dark. She hated the dark, because she couldn't use her sense of sight, which tended to frighten her a bit, but now she didn't care. She was upset. Her mind was on one thing. Her family.
It didn't really seem like she had a family anymore, though. Not now that Mom and Dad were gone so often. Plus her unborn brother (she wasn't quite sure how she knew that, but she did), who she hadn't been able to sense, due to her mother's distance from her. This feeling of separation made Nyisha feel . . . depressed. Alone. Ignored.
Tears came to her eyes. She didn't bother to wipe them anymore than she did with her pain. She felt awful. Eventually she fell asleep.
She awoke to a quiet knocking on her door. She rubbed furiously at her eyes, then called, "Come in," cursing her horse voice from crying. The door slid open to reveal Kieran and Nathan, both looking somewhat concerned.
"Are you all right, sis?" Nathan asked, coming to sit down next to her on the bed. "You and Lora are causing quite a Force disturbance, you know."
Kieran came to kneel beside Nate, staring up intently into her eyes. "Is there anything we can do?"
Neesha was about to say no, but thanks anyway, when suddenly she had an idea. An idea Nathan wasn't going to like one bit. "There might be, but--"
Nathan, of course, knew right away what she was thinking, and said, "Oh, no, Nyisha Mariah Skywalker, you are not going to even think of doing that."
Nyisha Mariah Skywalker pursed her lips defiantly and said, "Too late! Ha, this is my best scheme yet! Kieran, how are you at getting into trouble?"
"Oh, I'm the best," he hurried to assure her. "What's the plan?"
"First, Nate, please, please don't tell Aunt Leia. Or Lora. They'll freak out. Can you cover for us?" She stuck out her lower lip, blinking her eyes pleadingly.
He sighed. "You owe me. Big time."
* * * * *
It took some ingenuity on Kieran and Neesha's parts to get down to the spacedock before the grownups (Nyisha hadn't slept more than fifteen minutes, so they hadn't lost too much time) and aboard the Falcon without being noticed, but once aboard it was easy. Uncle Han's "secret" smuggling compartments provided more than enough room for the stowaways to be comfortable for a few days, and, with a special mental pattern Nyisha set up through the Force to block her parents from picking up on Kieran or her sense, they were set.
The only problem was that she couldn't hold the barrier and sleep at the same time, and by the second day of the trip, she was starting to feel weary. No, utterly exhausted.
Kieran, of course, was able to sleep, but did not know Neesha was not. Neesha knew that if she told him, he would refuse to sleep himself and they did not need two exhausted stowaways.
Now, he snorted softly, sitting up sharply. "Ugh," he muttered. "What a dream!"
Neesha was too tired to ask what it was about, and she could barely muster the strength to turn her head and ask, "Did you sleep well?"
"Yeah, I guess, but what a dream! I--" he glanced over at Nyisha. "Are you all right? You look awful."
"I'm fine," she said, but she knew she wasn't convincing him. He leaned over and rested his hand on hers, making her blush slightly. Thankfully, it was too dark for him to see her too well. "You didn't sleep very well at all, did you?" It wasn't really a question.
She sighed. He'd dig the truth out of her sooner or later. "I can't sleep, Kieran. If I do, I can't hold up the mind block, and Mom and Dad will figure out I'm here."
"Nyisha!" he cried, but she clamped her free hand over his mouth. "Sorry," he murmured, much quieter this time. "But, Neesha, why didn't you tell me? I would never have agreed to this." He said softly, "I don't want you to get sick from sleep depravation, Nyisha. I don't . . . I don't want you to get hurt because you can't concentrate. Do you understand?"
She barely managed to nod. She stared into his eyes for a moment in amazement and weariness, before Kieran reached out and pulled her into his firm, strong embrace, where she practically collapsed, finally having to drop the barriers and fall asleep from pure exhaustion. Kieran kept his arms around her, not wanting to let go, enjoying the feeling of her against him, her soft sweet breath against his cheek.
Tired beyond words, Kieran felt himself drift off as well . . .
* * * * *
Luke sat in the co-pilots station of the Millennium Falcon, staring lazily out the viewscreen at the mottle sky of hyperspace. So, here they all were, off on yet another adventure, again leaving the kids for the governmental jobs. Luke had thought that marrying Mara and having children would help the officials slack off a little. That had been a bit naïve, even for him.
*Wallowing again, Luke?* came the voice of his wife in his mind.
*Sorry. I just miss the kids, I guess,* Luke replied sleepily.
*Ah, so that's what's been keeping you up so late the past few nights.*
Luke heard her quiet footsteps as she entered the cockpit. She seated herself in the captain's chair across from him, curled her legs up under her, and turned slightly to face him.
"Speaking of which, the other night I reached out toward home, just to make sure the kids were okay, and for some reason it felt as if on of them was . . . I don't know . . . like, well, one of them was closer than they should be to us."
Luke sat up a little straighter. "Now that you mention it, I felt the same thing." He stopped, as a horrible thought pushed it's way into his mind.
Mara apparently had the same thought. The two stood in unison, and headed for the smuggling compartments.
* * * * *
Kieran had drifted off after ten minutes or so of holding Nyisha's sleeping figure, and Nyisha was the first to drift awake. She shook soft golden red hair out of her eyes, then with a jolt of horror realized that she felt two very familiar presence's standing directly over the compartments. And she knew she and Kieran were about to get into a swirl of trouble in about ten seconds.
Knowing there was nothing she could do she reached over and shook him awake. "Kieran. Wake up."
He did, sitting bolt upright. "Whaaa . . .?" he strangled off the question as the smuggling compartment hatch popped open and Nyisha came face to face with her parents, who's faces reminded her very much of two intimidating rain clouds.
After helping the two stowaways out of the compartment, Mara fixed her daughter with a decidedly unpleasant look, a look that Nyisha had received before. It was the look she'd gotten from her father the week before when she'd snuck away from her school work to have a sun stick duel with a friend from the Jedi Academy on the Palace roof. That had gotten her several rather severe lectures from both her Jedi parents. Now, with her Aunt Leia and cousins Tenel Ka and Jaina probably going crazy looking for her at home, she was going to get more than a couple severe verbal poundings.
Her mother nodded. "You bet you are, young lady," she said, sternly. "But first, I want you and Kieran to go get Kieran's parents, then you can explain this venture to us all together."
Nyisha glanced meekly at her father. He had a very troubled look on his face, not nearly as stern as her mother's, but somehow just as meaningful to Nyisha. She sighed, taking Kieran's hand. "Come on. Let's go get your parents."